Stanley and Hybels

I attended the Leaders Gathering in Bracknell yesterday with the elders from church. Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley were doing some Q&A’s on leadership, and Stanley spoke on communication. Here are some of the highlights:

BH – “you’ll never harvest more than you sow”

AS – “a healthy marriage and healthy family, lived out before a watching world, are evangelistic – they are the salt and light in our culture”

AS – “if people are going to invite people to our services, they must be of high quality”

AS – on preaching “write down your goal in communication; then ask if your approach matches your goal” ; “approach is everything – truth with the wrong approach will meet a dead end” ; “we can’t make people fall in love with author [of Scripture], but we can set up the date”

AS – 5 good questions to ask when preaching:

  1. Who is this all about really?
  2. What’s my burden?
  3. Where’s the tension?
  4. Do I own it?
  5. Am I allowing the text to speak?

Lots of good insights – would certainly recommend Stanley’s book on communication entitled Communicating for a Change. 

Going Deeper

Read this beautiful prayer in The Valley of Vision this morning entitled “The Deeps”

Lord Jesus,


Give me a deeper repentance,

a horror of sin; a dread of its approach;

Help me chastely flee it, and jealously to resolve that my heart shall    be thine alone.


Give me a deeper trust,

that I may lose myself to find myself in thee,

the ground of my rest, the spring of my being.


Give me a deeper knowledge of thyself

as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King.


Give me deeper power in private prayer,

more sweetness in thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth.


Give me deeper holiness in speech, though, action,

             and let me not seek moral virtue apart from thee.


Plough deep in me, great Lord,

        heavenly Husbandman,

        that my being may be a tilled field,

        the roots of grace spreading far and wife,

        until thou alone art seen in me,

        thy beauty golden like summer harvest,

        thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no Master but thee,

        no law but thy will,

        no delight but thyself,

        no wealth but that though givest,

        no good but that though blesset,

        no peace but that though bestowest.

I am nothing but that though makest me,

I have nothing but that I receive from thee,

I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.


Quarry me deep, Dear Lord,

and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

A note for preachers

Here’s a powerful quote from John Chrysostom (nicknamed Golden Tongue for his preaching abilities):

“when you applaud me as I speak, I feel at that moment as it is nature for a man to feel. I am delighted and overjoyed. And then when I go home and reflect that the people who have been applauding me have received no benefit, and indeed that whatever benefit they might have had has been killed by the applause and praises, I am sore at heart, and I lament and fall to tears, and I feel as though I had spoken altogether in vain, and I say to myself, What is the good of all your labours seeing that your hearers don’t want to reap any fruit out of all that you say?”

Facebook isn’t the problem – you are

In the last 6 months I’ve heard a number of seminars, and read a few pieces, about how Christians should engage with social media. The general tone has been negative – Social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter) encourages narcissism, shallow relationships, idealized (read false) self presentation, gossip etc etc. I hear little commending the positive uses to which social media may be put – such as encouraging others, sharing news and information, promoting a Church and their upcoming events, linking friends to other helpful resources. For every negative use to which Facebook can be put, there is a positive. Add to this the ubiquity of Facebook among Generation Y and below, and we need to stop fighting against it and start thinking about positive use of it. At the end of the day the problem is not Facebook – it’s you. Sin is the reason we’re self-centred, proud, and nasty, not Facebook. Any Christian who has a strong doctrine of creation and common grace will see that with all things there are positive uses to which humans can put things and negative (the wider internet would be a good example), but at bottom the misuse of something is not a problem with the thing itself – it’s a sin problem in us. Let’s stop blame-shifting and externalising like little Luddite Pharisees, and let’s start thinking about positive ways to use and redeem creation and culture.
Incidentally, if you want a helpful read to start you thinking see Tim Challies The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion. His theological underpinning in the first chapter is excellent in spelling out in clear terms the doctrine of creation, the imago Dei, and the effects of the fall. Overall I’d have liked a few more suggestions on positive engagement (again the tone is slightly negative) but that’s a personal opinion on emphasis rather than any disagreement with the content.

Borrowed Capital

Cornelius Van Til spoke about the way in which non-Christians say/do/stumble upon lots of good things by virtue of common grace. He used the analogy of borrowed capital. The non-C speaks truth and does good because he’s living in God’s world, sucking in God’s air, functioning by God’s grace. Each and every good is only ever achieved by drawing upon God’s ‘capital’.  Here it is briefly in his own words:

“To be sure, the non-Christian does not self-consciously borrow the Christian‘s principles. Like the
prodigal son, he lives on the father‘s substance without owning this to be the case [Lk 15:11–16]. But
as the prodigal was able to live and prosper  in spite of being a prodigal so also the non-Christian
scientist can describe the uniformities of nature in spite of his worship of Chance”
For a startling example of an atheist consciously doing this see this TED talk by Alain de Botton:

Church Dating

I’ve been reading Josh Harris’ excellent Stop Dating the Church recently with one of our students. One of the highlights is the description of church-daters as being:

  1.  me-centred
  2. independent
  3. critical

I’m sure this description brings people to mind for us pastors. He’s go on to say that such an attitude is harmful to the individual, their brothers and sisters, and the wider world. He also includes a great quote from Spurgeon in the book as follows:

“What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick.”

It is, as I say, a wonderful little book to read with young Christians, and has many excellent insights into making the most of our new family. In Harris’ words “don’t be a consumer, be a communer.” Epic!

How to Win Friends and Influence People

ImageI found an old copy of this book, originally published in 1936 and found it more enjoyable, and less cheesy/manipulative than I’d feared. If you’re a leader it’s certainly worth thumbing. Here’s his principles:

Part 1: Techniques for handling people

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
  • Give honest and sincere appreciation
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want


Part 2: Six Way to Make People Like you

  • Be genuinely interested in others
  • Smile
  • Remember a name
  • Be a good listener – encourage people to talk about themselves
  • Talk in terms of the other persons interests
  • Make the other person feel important – do it sincerely


Part 3: Win People to your Way of thinking

  • Avoid argument
  • Show respect for the other opinion – don’t say “you’re wrong”
  • If you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically
  • Begin in a friendly way
  • Get the other person saying “yes” quickly
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  • Let the other person feel the idea is theirs
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  • By sympathetic to their ideas and opinions
  • Appeal to the nobler motives
  • Dramatize your ideas
  • Throw down a challenge


Part 4: Be A Leader

  • Begin with honest praise and appreciation
  • Call attention to mistakes indirectly
  • Talk about your own mistakes first
  • Ask questions instead of giving orders
  • Let the other person save face
  • Praise any small improvements
  • Give others a fine reputation to live up to
  • Use encouragement. Make faults seem easy to correct
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest