8 Baby Steps To Christian Courage

Christian leaders face many difficult, daunting, demanding, and, sometimes, dangerous situations – both outside the church and inside the church. That’s why the military model of leadership is used so commonly in Scripture. And yet the vast majority of us are cowards. We avoid danger. We walk away from conflict. We prefer comfort and ease to sacrifice and pain. Christians especially may have a tendency towards timidity rather than bravery. Fear comes more naturally than faith.

That’s why God calls us to courage in the Bible (Josh. 1:6, 9, 18; 1 Cor. 9:26; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; 2:3-4), and also gives us many examples of it in the Bible and in Church History. These exhortations and examples set the bar high but don’t really provide help in reaching it. So, although I feel I have more expertise in cowardice than courage, here are a few things I’ve found useful in times when I have been enabled to put my head above the parapet.

You can read the rest of the post at The Christward Collective.

The bullet points are:

1. Memorize scripture

2. Ponder the potential

3. Seek the En-courager

4. Take baby-steps

5. Trust the Lord with your future

6. Hold on to the promises

7. Maintain a clear conscience

8. Remember the final judgment.

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Have We Forgotten The Power of Touch?
This is worth reading, especially as to re-balance our modern paranoia about how the slightest “touch” might be interpreted.

Diversity? Look No Further Than The Church
Jason Helopoulos: “Is Sunday morning at 10 a.m. the most segregated hour of the week? I don’t know. But I do know that there is no entity, no institution, no movement, and no organization that is as multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-national, or multi-linguistic as the Christian Church.  It is a tapestry of colors, dialects, and ethnicities.”

Too Posh To Be Effective In Inner-City Ministry?
Mez McConnell helps you decide if you’re up to inner-city ministry.

Dear Kids, We’re Not Going To Disneyworld, Period
Parents, you might find this useful.

Do Fathers Matter?
Science is discovering that Fathers contribute far more to their children than many realize. “After birth, children whose fathers play with them, read to them, take them on outings, and care for them have fewer behavioral problems during their early school years. And they have a lower risk of delinquency or criminal behavior as adolescents.”

The Farmer With No Arms Or Legs
This might maker you work a bit happier and harder today.

Top 10 Books on Using Technology

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:

Today I’m listing the Top 10 Books on Using Technology. These are the books that I would recommend to any Christian trying to get to grips with this digital age and not be overwhelmed by the digital revolution. These books, though not all by Christian authors, include both warnings about the dangers and practical encouragements for how to use technology in a healthy and profitable way.

After this list you’ll find a poll where you can cast three votes for your favorite books in this category. Click on “View Results” to see what books are most popular.

You can also add any book not on the list by writing the title in “Other” or in the Comments  I’ll add these to the end of the post under “Reader Suggestions.”

You may also want to look at Top 40 Online Resources on Using Social Media In Ministry.

1. The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion by Tim Challies

This book strikes a perfect balance between warning against the dangers of technology while also encouraging a positive approach to using it for personal profit and God’s glory. It also has a good balance between biblical teaching and scientific research. Well-written, well-argued, and well worth reading.

2. You, Your Family and the Internet by David Clark

This is the simplest book on the list. A good starter book for any family that is just beginning to struggle with the Internet and other new technologies. Readable and do-able.

3. Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by

Not by a Christian author, but it helps us to understand the science of what we are doing to our brains with our current work practices, and guides us to manage our limited mental resources in a healthier and happier way. The author follows a totally stressed-out couple as they try to cope with the digital deluge in their work settings. He analyzes their failings and then suggests alternative scenarios that would help them to work more efficiently and enjoyably. He also shows how knowing how our brains work and respond to pressure enables us to understand others better, resulting in better communication, collaboration, and long-term change.

4. Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst

On the same subject as Your Brain at Work, but a bit more basic with more emphasis on the practical. A good place to start if you want to pick up numerous tips on how to change bad the digital habits most of us have acquired into good habits that will improve our work and lives. If you want to learn how to better manage all the “bits” that swirl around your life – email, to-do lists, photos, files, etc., – begin here.

5. From the Garden to the City by John Dyer

A biblical theology of technology and how it interacts with us and our culture by a reliable Christian author. Good companion volume to The Next Story.

6. Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence by Erik Qualman

So important for anyone with any leadership role to understand the powerful influence of using digital technology well. Here’s A Digital Dictionary For Leaders and 10 Digital Commandments I gleaned from this book.

7. Ministry in the Digital Age: Strategies and Best Practices for a Post-Website World by David Bourgeois

You won’t agree with everything in here, but it’s a good place to start for some ideas on how to utilize social media and other new digital technologies for ministry purposes.

8. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

Written by an MIT science professor, this book majors on the dangers and downsides of technology. Makes a compelling scientific case for much greater discernment in our choice and use of technology. Similar in approach, outlook, and tone to the best-selling book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Alone Together focuses more on the social impact, and The Shallows more on the intellectual impact.

9. The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication by Justin Wise

Back to distinctly Christian books with this good combination of theology and practice. Like #7, you don’t need to embrace everything to benefit from this book, but it will make you think more deeply about social media and also do it more thoughtfully and theologically.

10. iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives by Craig Detweiller

Traces the history of modern technologies, takes a balanced look at their present impact, and looks into the future to predict where this is all going.

Honorable Mentions

Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships by Archibald D. Hart

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman

Now you decide, what are your favorites? You can cast three votes and write a book in “Other” if it’s not on the list and I’ll add it to Reader Suggestions below. Click on “View Results” to see voting results.

Reader Suggestions

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman

iPod, YouTube, Wii Play: Theological Engagements with Entertainment by D. Brent Laytham.

Top 40 Online Resources on Using Social Media In Ministry

I was recently preparing a conference address for pastors on using social media in ministry. When I looked up my online bookmarks on the subject I found I’d accumulated over 40 posts by different authors on using social media for ministry purposes. I’ve listed them below, but first here are links to previous lists of online resources in different categories:

You may also want to look at my list of Top 10 Books On Using Technology.

Top 40 Online Resources on Using Social Media In Ministry

Facebook and the call to ministry

A digital dictionary for leaders

10 digital commandments

The Christian Leader in the Digital Age

Leading Distracted People

10 Tips for Leaders who Don’t Want to Become Self-Promoting Jerks Online

Twitter as a Leadership Tool

Social Tools, Better Leadership

Not Tweeting? Repent!

A Post-website World

The Tweeting Disciple

The Discipline of Secrecy and the Joy of Honoring Others

Social Media and Christian Ministry: Reaching the World for the Kingdom of God

Using Social Media in Your Church

7 Ways to Think Differently About Your Church Social Media Content

4 Things a Pastor Should Consider Before Engaging Social Media

7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastoring More Difficult

Facebook Etiquette: Why Quitting Social Media Is a Losing Proposition

What Your Facebook Updates Say About You, Your Faith, and Your Mental Health

Five Questions We Should Ask Ourselves Before Posting on Social Media

Don’t Let Social Media Destroy Your Marriage

Why Pastors Should Blog

The Dangers of Online Christianity

Pastors: #rethink your Instagram

Pondering a Digital Future

The Plastic Fruit of Online Living

The Digital World Of Teens

The Pastor’s Guide to Blogging

A web of wisdom

A Social Media Heart Check

The 6 Essential Social Media Skills of Leaders

Using Common Media for Church Growth

12 Social Media Tips For Church Leaders

Social Media Changes Everything

Your Best Image Now

Posting Strategy for Social Media

The Best Social Media Tip I Can Give You

Facebook, Privacy and Marital Oneness

The Ultimate List of Social Media Policies for Churches & Ministries

Social Media Best Practices

The Perils and Promise of Social Media by Collin Hansen

Social Media and Digital Discernment

Social Media: Blessing or Curse? 

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Pastors, You Make Your Own Sandwich
Hearty Amen to this article that challenges pastors to stop whining.

Never Teach A Class Outdoors And Other Key Lessons I’ve Learned
Some funny lessons for teachers.

The Deathlessness Of Paper
Rod Dreher says that predictions about the death of physical books have been greatly exaggerated and explains why.

Beach Books For Children and Teens
RedeemedReader.com with a summer reading list for kids up to 12 years old.

Stop Reading Your Email And Start Acting On It
“You don’t go to your physical mailbox take out the mail, open a few pieces of it, and then stuff it back in there. The same should apply to your email inbox. Only go there when you are ready to act upon your email. If you open a message, act on it. Resist the urge to simply close it and leave it be.”

American Strong: Blind Pole Vaulter Soars Past The Odds

12 Boxes to Organize Your Life

In my Most Boring Commencement Speech Ever, I mentioned how I use Evernote to get as much of my life and work into as digital and searchable a form as I can. I wanted to expand upon this a bit to explain how I use this piece of software. My life basically revolves around 12 boxes. That may seem a bit complex, but I’ve found it’s the best way to simplify my life.

Box 1: Inbox 
This is the place I put every piece of paper that enters my life – letters, checks, invoices, receipts, notes, magazines, catalogs, statements, etc. It’s absolutely key to have one box that you put everything into. Then once a week, usually Friday afternoon, I spend some time processing this Inbox. I deal with as much as I can within a given time – usually one hour. Each item goes into one of the following boxes.

Box 2: Evernote
This is where most of Box 1 ends up. Let’s say it’s my notes from a conference. I put a yellow sticky on it with three pieces of information, for example:

  • Folder: Conferences
  • Title: Positive Leadership
  • Tag: Leadership

If it’s something for my tax return, I’ll put:

  • Folder: 2014 Tax
  • Title: Airport car parking
  • Tag: Expense

Up till now I processed all this monthly in a batch; scanning it in, uploading to Evernote, and filling out the tag, title, etc., and then shredding the physical documents. Thankfully an assistant will be doing this in the future, releasing maybe a couple of hours a month.

Box 3: To-Do
These pieces of paper will eventually end up in Evernote but I have to do something with them first like pay a bill, reply to a question, make a phone call, etc.

Box 4: Pending
Again, these will end up in Evernote but at the moment I’m waiting for some other piece of information: a returned phone call, someone else to do something before I can take any further action, etc. Pending could be kept in a “Pending” folder in Evernote, but I like to have a physical reminder of what I’m waiting for.

Box 5: Certificates
This includes birth and marriage certificates, immigration files, passports, social security, etc. I also keep a digital copy of these on a hard drive, but obviously I need physical copies. I keep them in a fire-proof safe box.

Box 6: Catalogs
I like to keep copies of publishers catalogs, Cabela’s, and office supplies brocures. I find it easier to find what I’m looking for than the websites.

Box 7: Reading
These are magazines, journals, articles, reports, etc., that I’ve been sent or people have given me to read. I will often mark pages with a post-it note and have my secretary scan articles straight into Evernote. Again I tend to batch process these every week or two then return them, which brings me to…

Box 8: Return
I get given a lot of books, magazines, and articles to read, as well as CD’s to listen to and DVD’s to watch. But I want to keep track of what I should return. It’s my attempt to quash the myth that pastors have a black hole in their studies that all loaned books are mysteriously drawn into and never seen again.

Box 9: Prayer
I put items for prayer into this box, maybe scribbled notes, an email, a blog article, a news item, my church directory, etc.

Box 10: Finance
This is where I keep check books, tax returns, etc.

Box 11: Rubbish
The garbage bin, which I usually empty and burn every few weeks.

Box 12: Office Supplies
Pens, pencils, staples, tape, index cards, and so on. All my office supplies in one place.

The most helpful book I’ve read on this subject is Organizing from the Inside Out, second edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern.

I’m sure I don’t have the perfect system, so any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.