Three Things You Should Cut From Your Writing
If you want to improve your writing craft, cutting precious words might be the most important discipline you learn. You want to write in such a way that the experience for the reader is enjoyable. You don’t want to make them work so hard they give up after the first paragraph. So after you’ve written, give yourself some time and space and then come back and use your scalpel to cut.
The Worst Ministry Advice I Ever Received
“Son,” the pastor whispered to me as he put his hand on my shoulder, “You need to listen up to what I’m about to tell you, because it will be the key to your ministry success.” I leaned in, eager to hear this crucial insight. “Don’t become friends with anyone in your congregation.” This pastor […]
The Essential Art of Forgiveness in Ministry
I’ll never forget where I was when I nearly quit the ministry: sitting in my office at church, weeping. My wife was out of town with our children, ministering to a friend whose husband had just died from cancer. It was very early in my first pastorate. Being a senior pastor was new, different, and […]
7 Times Your ‘Righteous’ Anger Probably Isn’t
When pastors get angry, things can get complicated. On the one hand, we know that anger is not always an indication of sin. After all, we say to ourselves, Jesus got angry. Paul also counseled the Ephesians on anger, saying, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26): implying that anger is inevitable in human […]
Here is the Church, but Where is the Steeple?
Several years ago, a church I pastored went through a massive remodeling effort, updating a tired, ‘90s-era look with more modern, chic, 21st-century décor. Peeling wallpaper was replaced with fresh paint. Hideous brown siding was covered over with a beautiful new stone treatment. A landscaper transformed some tired and unkempt bushes into a beautiful garden […]
Funeral for a Stranger
I sat in my office late on a Thursday afternoon after a week of meetings, study, and a thousand other crises big and small. By that point in the week I was thinking about what I would do on Friday: lock myself in my office, take no phone calls, and crank out the final draft of […]
Who Exactly Am I Preaching To?
“Um, so, did someone tell you about Dave’s job?” an anxious member told me, as she shook my hand on the way out of the auditorium one Sunday morning. “Because it seemed like you were talking to us.” I told her this was the first I had heard of their fragile employment situation. The sermon […]
Boring Church Services Changed My Life
I’ve never really had a moment in my life—39 years—when I wasn’t going to church. My parents got engaged and married in the church. I was born into, raised in, and baptized in church. My parents, first-generation Christians, were devout church-goers. We went every time the doors were open—and many times when they weren’t. My […]
The Church’s Next 10,000 Years
It was a slick PowerPoint—presented by a (self-described) cutting-edge ministry practitioner—that sent me over the edge. Carefully presenting cherry-picked research, this ministry leader offered a doomsday scenario for the American church: heresy is rising. Millennials are fleeing. Culture is changing. Of course, this inevitable slouch toward Gomorrah could be prevented, we were told, if we […]
The glory we don’t see: Looking harder for glimpses of God at work around us
Every week I met with a drug dealer, a shady business-man, and a serial gambler. Only you wouldn’t know it, because sitting in the pew next to me, they looked just like church people. Middle class. Put together. Churchy. But here they were, trophies of grace, evidence of some strange and mysterious redemption. Glimpses of […]
The Tension of Influence and Humility
In his book Playing God, Andy Crouch writes of an incident with a well-known megachurch pastor. In the pastor’s study, Andy quizzed the leader about how he managed his power. “We are all servant leaders here!” he said. “We don’t care about power.” Then the two left and walked into an office space where church staff […]
Some Thoughts on Writers and Platform
There is a lot of conversation these days (mostly on digital platforms) about writers, publishing, and platform. The conversation has been stimulating and thought-provoking in some ways and unhelpful, I think, in other ways. Mostly, it seems, that some are frustrated about the difficulty of getting published and the demands publishers make and the reality that […]