Why You Need To Ask Yourself Tough Questions

Why You Need To Ask Yourself Tough Questions

Beatles or Stones?

Earlier this year I asked this question on Facebook and got around 200 comments. I love the question. It tells me so much about a person and their musical taste and preferences.

Good questions tell us so much more than a simple answer.

I wrote a piece on Why I became a Methodist. In the article, I mentioned one of the primary decision points being my belief in the effectiveness and necessity of Wesleyan discipleship.

Part of  historic discipleship and formation (growing closer to Christ) in the Methodist tradition is the act of asking questions. We ask them to ourselves in our own personal devotion. We ask them to others we are in accountability with.  This was important in the Methodist movement and I feel a recovery of the asking of questions will be a key thing to any spiritual development in our world now.

A little history…

Wesley organized his folks (you couldn’t really call them a formal church yet) into 3 groups. From largest to smallest; the Societies, The Classes and The Bands. Part of the fundamental design of the two smallest (classes and bands) was a series of questions designed to keep each person in forward motion towards Jesus Christ. The Class met as a mixed group of sexes and ages. When they met, these questions formed the main conversation points. They got SERIOUS!

When the Bands met, the questions got even more in depth. They also centered on this small group (usually no more than 5-6 and same sex) really keeping each other on track. You gave the others the permission to get into your business.

Here are another set of questions Wesley and his original small group, called The Holy Club, asked themselves in their lives and meetings.

Our life now

These questions matter. They help us to be real and honest with each other. One of the best small group experiences I have ever had focused on asking a few of these questions every week. This isn’t casual discipleship. It is changing and transformational discipleship. It is the kind of spiritual relationships each Christian needs to have in their life.

Several groups have done a great job trying to incorporate these classic notions of discipleship into current life. Most of them are going really well. What I really appreciate are the attempts to quickly get the emotive qualities of these HUGE lists into a few simple questions. You can answer them openly, in front of people you know and don’t know. You can be asked them by people who know you really well. The most important quality is these questions are approachable. It is frightening allowing others into what most modern Christians consider to be pretty private.  Here is a listing of the ones I have found, liked and used.

1. Are you growing closer or further away from God since the last time we met?
2. How do you see God moving in your life right now?
3. How is your life in God?

Lately, I have a new one I have been thinking about, asking myself and asking others. It comes from my own personal conviction and values.

How have you allowed God to change you lately?

This question tells much more than a simple yes or no. In my own examination it causes me to think about my openness to Christ, my expectation of his presence and activity, how my false self is being broken down, etc, etc. It is great and broad.

Self-examination has long been part of Christian tradition. It helps us to make the points in which we have grown closer to God, progressed in our sanctification, won victory over things controlling us or simply mark our maturation in Christ.

So friends, How have you allowed God to change you lately?

Productive Pastor 29: Social Media Scheduling

Productive Pastor 29: Social Media Scheduling

Welcome to the 29th Productive Pastor. This episode is all about social media scheduling and how that might affect transparency and honesty. I also give a social media scheduling sheet at the bottom of the shownotes. This whole episode came from this instagram picture from a few months back.

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While I am not scheduling a month in advance right now, I totally believe in mapping out social media scheduling. My friend David Lyell asked a great question and I promised I would hit it up in a future episode. Well now you have it!

The Middle

Thanks for all the great folks who shouted out about the last episode with Omar and Michelle. They got open and honest with us and it really resonated with people.

I also want to thank Michael Romans for this awesome tweet.

Project Management Links 

We did a couple of episodes on project management in season two and I found two great links this week about project management tools. I want to share them with you, I think both are great ideas for how to actually manage a project.

How To Organize Your Entire Life with Trello

No Project Manager? Try Bullet Journaling for Business Productivity

How to use Social Media Scheduling (and not lose your soul)

I believe highly in social media scheduling, just for the sake of productivity, much less for intentionality. Many people argue that doing great social media takes to much time, but with scheduling you can take care of it in a few minutes a week. Let’s break this into the Why, What, When, Who and How.

Why
If you think everyone in your network see’s the posts you make, you will be really surprised. A tweet has a lifespan of about 18 minutes, Most Facebook page updates are seen by 6-20% of the audience. I think Instagram probably has the best ratio, but I am not convinced they aren’t using a viewing algorithm. If you want to make maximum impact, you have to schedule your most important updates.

Simply Measured for Facebook

What
Look at your insights, analytics and statistics. Let that data tell you what you need to be posting, what people are responding to best and how they are responding.

When
What are the best times of the day for you? When is it a bad idea to post?

Who
Your data tells you who follows you. What questions should that make you ask?

How
Each network has the best tools to schedule your posts.

So how do I use this sheet?
I highlight one thing to be my Major Emphasis. This is the most important “thing” I am trying to communicate that week. I also have a few medium items as well. I also make sure to emphasize a few posts that are more than likely to get high levels of engagement (based on my research). I then begin to fill in my posts for each network based off of the times I know things work best in each network. If a post is really important, I make sure to schedule it at the time I know the most people are online. I feel in the blanks after that.

Productive Pastor Social Media Schedule (download)

Transparency
The kicker in all of this is exactly what Dave asked about. We have to be strategic but we also have to be transparent. Folks will shut us off in a heartbeat if we are just advertising to them. Part of the beauty of doing this all at one time is realizing how you aren’t being social and you are just asking, asking and asking.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Listen:
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Productive Pastor 25: Project Management with Rich Birch

Productive Pastor 25: Project Management with Rich Birch

 

On this episode of The Productive Pastor I interview Rich Birch, of Unseminary.com and Liquid Church. Rich is a great pastor, leader and project manager.

The List
Your Not Going Fast Enough:
Do you ever feel like you aren’t working, pastoring or leading as good as you can? Perhaps the problem is your speed.

How to Be an Effective Road Warrior
I work almost exclusively mobile. It’s part of my strategic ministry. What’s rough is learning to work when you are on the road and out of town. In either situation, the blog post gives some great tips.

Tomorrow Tonight: The Importance of Pre-Planning
How do you prepare for tomorrow? Is it when you get to the office? That my friend is a recipe for disaster. I wrote about the same issue earlier this week here

 

Rich Birch on Project Management

Rich and I talk about project management and what it looks like for church leadership to learn about project management and why it is vital to ministry. Our conversation focuses around 3 questions.

1. What is your organizational sweet spot?

2. What do ministry leaders need to not just understand, but rock project management?

3. How can a leader get their feet wet with project management?

We talked about these books to help people begin to rock project management.

Getting Things Done: David Allen

The Four Hour Work Week: Tim Ferris

The E-Myth: Michael Gerber

Rich also shares about his passion for excellent announcements in worship and offers the Productive Pastor community a great free resource. You can grab it at unseminary.com/chad Check out Rich at unseminary.com and follow him on twitter @richbirch. Make sure to listen to his podcast. It consistently is one of my ministry favorites.

Confession Time

Over the last few weeks you might have missed the Productive Pastor Podcast (at least I hope you did). Last week I shared this email with the folks signed up for the insider list. What I realized is I had lost my motivation, the “why”, of why this podcast matters tremendously to me. As I was contemplating this I read a blog post entitled “How I Went from Mad to Motivated“. The quote that stuck out the most to me was this… “Once I woke up from that false perspective – the perspective that the other stuff was more of a distraction at the time than anything else – I got mad at myself. Then I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get back on the horse – the right horse. I was motivated.” So I did what I normally do. I made a list. I made a list of why many different things mattered to me. I realized many things I really care about had dropped off the map. So the podcast will be back. In January. With amazing new stuff and a great interview to kick off the new season. In the interim I will be producing some great new additions to the Productive Pastor community.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Listen:
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Direct Download
iTunes

 

Why Plant Churches

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Some of you know I was recently appointed to start a new Methodist congregation in North Louisiana. I have a mailing list I send out to anyone interested. A few people liked the first email so much I decided to post it here.

Why Plant Churches

One of the first questions I am asked when people hear about my appointment to plant a church is isn’t there already a Methodist church in Sterlington?
 
Yep. There is.
 
Then why start a new one?”
 
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The average church plant will bring 6-8 times more new people into faith than an older congregation of the same size.  Newer people groups and situations require new methods and new churches. New churches are able to streamline and focus ministry in unique ways that existing churches can’t.
 
This isn’t just institutional reproduction. Starting new churches is evangelism.
 
If we want to introduce new people to Jesus, we have to start new churches. 
 
Plain and simple. 
 
Starting a new church isn’t just a desire for something new or cool, but it is about reaching new people for Jesus. I don’t want to pour years of my life and expend tremendous resources for “just another worship optionfor church folks. It is about following the call to be part of something Holy Spirit led. For people who are already followers of Jesus, our highest calling is fulfilling the Great Commission. To follow the pioneering of the Holy Spirit and break new ground, go to new places, do new things and reach new people. God is calling not just Meredith and me, but others to be part of this new church. I don’t know who these people are yet, but I have been praying for them for the past year.
 
And I deeply believe that God is calling me to begin this in the Sterlington area. Not to be better or newer, but to go to a new mission field and meet new people and introduce them to Jesus. To follow the call of God without abandon. To create environments for them to experience God, possibly for the very first time. To help them discover the God-given purpose and call in their life. To create a culture of holiness and sacrificial love. To meet with God, see and experience His kingdom, and be part of doing everything we can to pull it into our place and time“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” type stuff
 
This is why we are planting a church.

 

 

Guest Post: Connecting With Muslims

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We haven’t done a guest post in a while. This one is from a good friend who has ministry and passion for Muslims. He wrote a great review of a book all of us could stand to read as we live in an increasingly multicultural setting. If you want to write a guest post, here are the things I ask for.

Connecting with Muslims by Fouad Masri. IVP Press, Downders Grove, IL. 2014. $12.00

Muslims are a great enigma in Western culture; especially in the Christian community. From terrorists who are commanded by their prophet and holy book to kill Americans, to Islamic evangelists poised to forcibly convert the world over to Islam and Sharia law, much of Islam is misunderstood. Yet, the Gospel mandate to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” compels us to go to Muslims with the Gospel, but sadly that rarely translates to our next door neighbor. Through immigration and globalized diaspora communities, millions of Muslims live next door and most Christians are too afraid to show them and share with them the love of Jesus. That reason alone is why Fouad Masri’s latest book Connecting with Muslims: A Guide to Communicating Effectively is such an important resource for North American Christians.

Masri not only answers many of the enigma’s that is Islam, he build bridges between Muslims and the average church member so the two can meet and Christ can be shared. The first half of the book focuses on practical ways to connect with Muslims like inviting them to share a meal or simply asking them to explain why they believe what they believe. Masri states “as ambassadors for Jesus, our goal is to construct a bridge by which our friends can cross over from misunderstanding to truth, from fear to faith. However, paralyzed with fear, many Christians hesitate to reach out to Muslims to offer them the same hope and security Jesus offered to them (24).” Jesus died for Muslims to know God and God has given us the responsibility and privilege to share that message with our Muslim neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens. How that is done is the contents of the second part of Masri’s book.

Addressing seven major “questions” or “themes” that may get brought up while in conversation with Muslims, Masri first and foremost reminds us that we must be intentional about sharing Jesus with Muslims. Being a Muslim’s friend does not create room for them to meet Jesus, only introducing them to Jesus does that. We do not convert or save, all we do is tell our story. Going through common objections like the Injeel (Arabic New Testament) has been corrupted or that Christians worship three gods, Masri gives helpful and visionary leading to North American Christians to most past fear and indifference, to evangelists who are sharing the life-transforming power of Jesus with a religion that desperately needs to know. “Muslims don’t know what we believe. They don’t know that Jesus has come to be the Savior- their Savior. It is a crisis of information.”

Practically sharing how and inspirationally sharing the what, Masri gives the church a practical and very helpful text in an area that very little has been written about- ministry to Muslims. Evangelism, missions, and church planting pastors need to read this book. God’s heart breaks for Muslims to know Jesus; will we be the carriers of that message? Masri says we must and I cannot recommend this book enough.

Changes!

Today my appointment to begin a new Methodist church in the Sterlington/North Monroe area was announced at St. Paul’s.

The last three years have been an amazing season of ministry. I have learned many things and treasure being allowed to pastor the people of St. Paul’s UMC. Meredith and I will deeply miss our St. Paul’s family.

This appointment has been the process of years of prayer, conversation and discernment. We know many of our friends (local and worldwide) have questions about the generalities and specifics of the new church. We want to answer any and all questions! We have set up an email list to share what God is doing as we follow the Holy Spirit in this new ministry opportunity.

This is an exciting time for Meredith and me. I would love for you to sign up for the email updates to learn about the unfolding of God’s story here in Northeast Louisiana.