Church Life

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What is a Family Pastor?

As I travel around the country  and speak at mid-sizes churches I have been
introduced to those who have the title of Family Pastor. Interestingly, when I
ask them to describe their responsibilities, I hear varied answers.

In larger churches, the title is usually given to a young person who is responsible to minister to the youth and oversee the children’s ministry. He also might be given other roles that accompany an associate pastor. But his primary responsibility is to oversee the children and youth.

As one who has a heart for family discipleship and as a former lead pastor, I would like to think through this. Might we be changing the name without changing the philosophy? Perhaps we should keep calling those who oversee youth and children’s […]

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Family Love Makes The Triune God Visible

If we emphasize the unity of God, we picture in our mind, a lonely, mysterious God who, we think, may have created man and woman because he was lonely. Much as a widower might purchase a dog to overcome loneliness, God made man and woman to have a relationship with.

The truth could not be further from this thought. Our God who is one in essence, is nevertheless three in persons. Before time began, God dwelt in perfect community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Tim Keller states it this way: “So we believe that the world was made not by a God who is an individual nor by an emanation of an impersonal force. But by a God who is a community of persons who have loved […]

Oobleck and The Qualities of a Good Leader

There is a unique quality of substances that can be liquid and solid. Normal substances change from liquid to solid based on the temperature. These substances change based on the pressure. Scientists tell us it is a nonNewtonian fluid.

You can make oobleck, which gets its name from Dr. Seuss, by simply mixing cornstarch and water. With the right mix, you have a substance that you can dip your hand into and the fluild will move away. But if you hit it, the fluid solidifies for a moment. It feels like you are not hitting jello but a brick wall. (For a fun link click here. For demo videos simple search Youtube.)

Oobleck and Leadership
In walking through the qualities God looks for in an elder, we eventually […]

A Tale of a Men’s Retreat and a Father/Son Retreat

This past week I had the privilege of speaking at our men’s retreat. Sharing our camp was another church that was having a father-son retreat. I came away with several thoughts.

1. A men’s retreat can include young men. The children in our church are relatively young. But we did have one teen come along with us. He circulated among the men, sitting at different tables when eating. He was appropriately engaged and listened.  And he sat in on men talking about, among other things, their struggle with pornography.

This fits well into my understanding of the teen years. In our house we saw the 12/13 age as a transition from childhood to young adulthood. We called it adult-in-training.

I think it is very appropriate for churches to invite […]

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Funerals, Grieving, and Discipleship

Part of disciple-making is bringing our disciples into new situations and coaching them through those. We see this strategy in the life of Jesus. He brought his disciples with him as he went out to minister.

Recently, I had an occasion to hear a godly women who received her Ph.D on the subject of how the church can help those who are newly widowed. This subject became personal for her when she became a widow in the midst of writing her thesis.

Her burden is for the church to care for widows in appropriate ways. In her presentation, she made a number of excellent suggestions for the church.

But I found myself asking, how does this fit into a family-discipleship model? And how does this give us a […]

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Cookouts, Family, and Discipleship



How does family discipleship fit into summer activities?

One simple response is to encourage natural intergenerational relationships.


Just this week, my 20-year-old son unexpectedly reminded me of an event that happened when he was around seven.

That year I was participating in a midweek men’s Bible study. To break up the routine and to celebrate summer, we decided to have a cookout/pool party and then end with a time of prayer. We would also invite our sons to come.

In a low-key way, we cooked, swam, and prayed. (Oh yes, as dads we debated if they should get out of the pool because of the thunder!)

Not a Program
It wasn’t a program. We were just doing life together and wanted to include our children in that. They were expected to […]

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Welcoming Church Guests as a Family Ministry

“I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matt 25:35)

One summer, I was at wits end. The elders graciously granted me a sabbatical of several months. During the Sundays of those two months, my family continued to attend my church while I took Sunday morning road trips to different churches.

Several impressions remain from those visits. First, I remember how intimidating it was to go to a church where I did not know anyone. Second, I clearly remember how few people greeted me or took an interest in me. Of the eight churches I visited, exactly one person held a conversation with me. At church after church, I walked in alone, sat alone, worshipped alone and walked out alone without having one significant conversation.

But let […]

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Reading and Discussing the Bible – Help from Henry Halley – Repost

Reading And Discussing the Bible Together 

Our church family has had the tradition of using a church-wide reading schedule. Up to the present day, our family of church has given a handout to aid in personal and family devotions. And they have used that topic for Sunday School.

The goal of this activity is to provide structure for our daily reading and connect the reading of the family members and the church. It provides the basis for our biblical fellowship.

I remember when I first saw the idea in practice how helpful I thought it was. But this idea was not original with our family of churches. In the Halley’s Bible Handbook, which sold over 5 million copies, Henry Halley states,

“The most important things in this book is this simple suggestion: […]

How Pastors Can Care For Their Own Children

The Gospel Coalition published a followup article on How Pastors Can Care for Their Children. My thanks to TGC for help in getting this message out.

My points were:
1. Think long-term.
2. Be intentional about your children’s behavior on Sundays.
3. Praise your congregation to your children.
4. Don’t talk about church conflicts in the hearing of your children.
5. Train and deploy the elder team.
6. Focus on the heart.
7. Guard your special family times.

Pastors, let’s make sure to shepherd those closest to us!

Leadership: The First in Battle, The Last Off

Haven’t seen the movie and don’t know the backstory, but I love this portrayal of leadership.

Dads? Elders? Will you be the first one on the field of battle and the last one off?

Here’s the text.
Colonel Hal Moore
Look around you. In the Seventh Cavalry, we got a captain from the Ukraine. Another from Puerto Rico. We’ve got Japanese, Chinese, blacks, Hispanics, Cherokee Indians, Jews and gentiles — all Americans. Now, here in the States, some men in this unit may experience discrimination because of race or creed. But for you and me now, all that is gone.

We’re moving into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where you will watch the back of the man next to you, as he will watch yours. And […]