How to have a ‘good’ Good Friday

How can Good Friday be good? Good Friday is the day that Christians all around the world remember the suffering of Jesus Christ on a cross.

Depictions of Jesus Christ’s suffering are immortalized within our cultural framework because of such movies as The Passion of the Christ. However, we are not meant to wallow or suffer in the grief of Jesus with torment and pain.

On this day of sadness, we wonder: what is so good about this phrase Good Friday?  There is no clear answer, but the word “good” and “God” were mixed together in the English speaking world.  For instance, the surname “Goodspeed” derives from “Godspeed”, which comes from the expression “God speed (with you)”  The expression, “good bye” came from the phase, “God be with ye (you). 

Despite the origins of the phases, we don’t really feel “good” on Good Friday.

No matter what the origins of the phase, we cannot escape our feelings.  Are we meant to feel guilty and depressed on Good Friday? We don’t feel “good” about Christ suffering.  Are we meant to feel the pressure to be grateful of Jesus’ torment? 

No! We must acknowledge our feelings of grief and loss regarding Jesus’ suffering on Good Friday.  We cannot deny these feelings, nor should we. The stages of grief are real for us as they were for Jesus and his disciples:

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Join me on HuffPost Live today, 1:20 PM

Join me on HuffPost Live today @ 1:20 PM discussing “Creationists, Skeptics, and Science”: How do creationists maintain their beliefs against all scientific evidence? How do professional skeptics avoid being driven by their knee-jerk reactions?

I’ll be a on a panel with Will Storr the author of “The Unpersuadables” about the strength of fringe beliefs.


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You can have an email sent to you when the segment starts. Click here.

Or, click here to join the discussion or watch. 1:20 PM Eastern.

Leadership lessons from ‘Game Of Thrones’

Game_of_Thrones

The HBO hit show ‘Game of Thrones‘ has watchers captivated with the story line. Waring factions and kingdoms are at each other’s throats, but is there a leadership case study we can learn from?

Forbes magazine believes that ‘Game of Thrones‘ offers lessons in leadership with the way in which characters lead and act. Cameron Welter provides insightful commentary on several of the main characters:

The combination of my love for all things Westeros and the work we do with business leaders at Kotter International has made me keenly aware that the leadership styles we see in Game of Thrones are frequently played out in real life. Therefore, in the spirit of our favorite show’s return, let’s take a look at some of the parallels we can draw and see what we can learn from each.

Welter gives his ‘Game of Thrones‘ leadership analysis:

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Finding the associate pastor you need

bible-reading

The role of the associate pastor or minister is one that many churches think they cannot afford. In reality, the are a variety of ministry callings that do not involve staffing a full-time pastor or minister. In many cases, the associate pastor or minister can be found in their church.

As church budgets get tighter congregations struggle to use lay people to meet the needs of church goers. This model can be effective but there are particular situations where a church needs an associate pastor. The typical indicator of the need for staffing another minister is when the worship or membership begins to approach the hundred mark: 200, 300, and so on.

Typically, the larger the church the more likely that a church can fund a full-time associate pastor. For those churches that hover around the 150-200 membership range, they should make a plan for staffing an associate pastor. Not every pastor or ministry on staff needs to be seminary trained.

I use the term associate pastor/minister interchangeably. In the free church tradition, every member is a minister. Depending on your tradition, the tile of pastor may carry a different meaning. Regardless, most denominational polity allows for a church to empower a person with a specific ministry as “minister of ….”. Your church would benefit from utilizing people in your own congregation for the work of an associate pastor/minister. Here are some ways to staff such a position:

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4 ways to engage Millennial leaders

millenials

As over 40 million Millennials are entering or have entered the workforce, their ability to lead is critical. Baby boomers are exiting the workforce at rapid rates and companies and non-profits must understand how to lead and encourage these young people.  How will employers respond to this demand?

 Nicole Fallon of BusinessNewsDaily offers 4 key ways to engage Millennials:

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Why it doesn’t matter if Noah film is inaccurate

Russell Crowe as Noah

Noah staring Russell Crowe has seen success at the box office with the general public but not everyone is happy about the film.  Some claim that the Noah story was hijacked and is inaccurate.

True, there are parts of Noah that are inaccurate. These inaccuracies would be the things that Hollywood uses to make the story more entertaining, though these facts do not appear in the Bible. I’ll name a few without giving the movie away:

  • Noah is given snake-skin from the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
  • Watchers, fallen angels play a role in Noah’s story
  • Methuselah, the oldest person in the Bible, appears in the Noah story
  • A ruler named Tubal-Cain is the antagonist
  • An army wages battle
  • Several ploys to kill characters in the story
  • Noah experiences recurring dreams

There are many more. If you remember your Bible story about Noah, you know that none of those things are found in the biblical account.

However, it does not matter. It does not matter if Hollywood added or took away facts from the biblical story of Noah. Heresy you say?

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The unraveling church

undone

A close friend of mine over the past six months has said several times, “It might feel like things are unraveling, but at least we know who holds the string.”  The first time I heard it I didn’t really get what he was trying to say.  I understood he was bringing comfort to churches and leaders who feel like their ministries, churches, and whole worlds were falling apart around them.  So on some level I understood, but I didn’t really get it until I thought about it in another way.

My wife is an excellent crafter.  She loves to use cool tools to make things.  Her greatest gift lies in knitting.  By working with yarn and needles she is able to create just about anything she sets her mind toward.  However, sometimes she really likes a particular yarn for its color or texture but has already made it into a scarf and used it as such for some time, then one day decides, “I think I want that to be socks!”  What is she to do?  She simply finds the end, unravels the existing completed project that has served its purpose and begins to turn it into something completely new. 

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Social media reaction to World Vision controversy

world vision

This week World Vision, the para-church organization that fights hunger, announced that they ended their ban on hiring people in a same sex marriage. After considerable blow back from supporters and Christians, World Vision reversed its policy. Some supporters said that they would stop funding World Vision and end sponsorship of children in need. World Vision president Richard Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere wrote,

We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

People took to Twitter to express their frustration in this story. Here are a few that are notable:

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Don’t be a Fred Phelps hater

The enigmatic Fred Phelps has died. The church that he founded, the Westboro Baptist Church, made a name for itself by picketing funerals and public gatherings with signs proclaiming hate for soldiers, gays, and Jews – to name a few. At the end of his life his church kicked him out, his granddaughters rejected their family, and was deserted by the very people he led.

What can we say about a man who preached hate and bitterness?

It wasn’t until the 1990′s did America first hear about Fred Phelps, his family, and the Westboro Baptist Church. Millions were shocked to see so-called Christians carrying signs that read, “God hates fags” and “God hates you”. Over time the notoriety of Phelps and his family grew. Perhaps it was fascination. Certainly, as the age of the internet grew, America begin to love to hate them. More stories of this radical band and their message of hate spread through news websites, Facebook, and Twitter.

Fred Phelps and his ministry of hate was bizarre. It was not a message consistent with the message of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 is a common passage to refer to as an easy verse to describe God’s message of salvation. However, many folks do not read the next verse:

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I made Breitbart.com

breitbart

It’s not something I’m bragging about, but this is surprising. In response to my Times Union blog post on why church gun giveaways do not send a postive message, Breitbart.com sited my blog post.

The headline reads, “Pastor Quotes Daily Kos, Apostle Paul Against AR-15 Giveaway”[Read more...]

6 restorative practices for well-being

wellbeing

Leaders constantly give of themselves to those who serve. How can they recharge? Where can they find restorative practices for ministry that build up our well-being?

Today I’m attending the Lewis Fellows alumni gathering at Wesley Theological Seminary and we are engaging in reflecting and reviewing our role as young leaders in the church. This morning, Dr. Matt Bloom led us pastors in examining our well-being. Dr. Bloom and his team surveyed over 1,000 pastors in 8 different denominations in an attempt to learn:

  1. The characteristics of clergy well-being.
  2. What factors or impede well-being?
  3. How well-being changes over a life-span.

Dr. Bloom presented the following guidance for “recharging” our batteries for well-being:

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Church gun giveaways send wrong message

A local church in Troy, NY is promoting a gun giveaway and its not the first church to do so. Churches in Texas and Kentucky have offered gun giveaways.

The practice of a church gun giveaway sends the wrong message.  Is it wrong because it is illegal to own a gun? No. Is it wrong because it is immoral to own a gun? No.

The apostle Paul once wrote to the church in Corinth,

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

It may be lawful for a church to have a AR-15 gun giveaway, but it is not profitable to Christianity. To some, having more guns means more safety. However, studies show no strong empirical evidence to support this. For instance, in the only peer review published study on gun related deaths, the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported:

“…on a case-controlled study in which household were matched on a number of demographic factors, and then incidences of gun violence were compared.  They found that people who keep a gun in their home are almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide.”

In 2004, American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found:

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