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In The Name Of Jesus: Reflection of Christian Leadership


IMG_0659I recently picked up Henri Nouwen’s book In The Name Of Jesus; Reflection of Christian Leadership. I’ve been reading and dialoging over another leadership book with some folks at church and this book came to my mind. It’s a very different angle on leadership and is structured largely around Jesus and his temptations in the desert that took place right before he stepped into his earthly ministry / leadership role. The thought is that if Jesus faced these temptations as he was getting ready to lead so will we.

Here are the temptations as Nouwen sees them and the corresponding discipline for said temptation…

* The temptation to be relevant // the discipline of contemplative prayer
* The temptation to be spectacular // the discipline of confession and forgiveness
* The temptation to be powerful // the discipline of theological reflection

I think these temptations in Christian leadership, really any kind of leadership, are spot on! I’m have see then, experienced other leaders who have given into them and have struggle with them myself.

Nouwen provides great thoughts and challenges as he reflects on Jesus’ life and his own life. He largely draws from his experience as a priest living with and serving alongside folks who are mentally handicapped in his community L’Arche .

For me, this book raises some extremely helpful questions and challenges some very common notions that are prominent for myself and for anyone in leadership but are questions and challenges that I think every Christian leader will be better for having engaged.

Here are just a few quotes and thoughts.
Really I wanted to record these quotes for myself, as reminders and recurring challenges to the ever present temptations I will face as a leader in the modern day church. Since I was typing up some of my favorites I thought I would share here as well.


“I asked myself, ‘What decisions have you been making lately and how are they a refection of the way you sense the future?’ Somehow I have to trust that God is at work in me and that the way I am being moved to new inner and outer places is part of a larger movement of which i am only a very small part.”
— Intro, p.9

(personally for me that is HUGE these days and I really want to live into this and believe it deep in my bones! But it’s hard, right?!?!)

“I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of human life.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.17

“The leader of the future will be the one who dares to claim his irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows him or her to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.22

“The question is not: how many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? How can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be: Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred. It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.24
(As like most of these quotes I could keep going. This is a really great little chance though!)

“Through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own and God’s heart. Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place, and often surrounded by sounds of violence and war. Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keeps suggesting the opposite.”
— From Relevance to Prayer, p.29

“I have found over and over again how hard it is to be truly faithful to Jesus when I am alone. I need my brothers and sisters to pray with me, to speak with me about the spiritual task at hand, and to challenge me to stay pure in mind, heart, and body.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.41

“Somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.43

“Medicine, psychiatry, and social work all offer us models in which “service”takes place in a one-way direction. Someone serves, someone else is being served, and be sure not to mix up the roles! But how can anyone lay down his life for those which whom he is not even allowed to enter into a deep personal relationship? Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to other as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of Life.
We are not healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Therefore, true ministry must be mutual.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.43-44

“The leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership, in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who need the people as much as they need him or her.”
From this it is clear that a whole new type of leadership is asked for in the Church of tomorrow, a leadership which is not modeled on the power games of the world, but on the servant-leader, Jesus, who came to give his life for the salvation of many.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.44-45

“When ministers and priests live their ministry mostly in their heads and relate to the Gospel as a set of valuable ideas to be announced, the body quickly takes revenge by screaming loudly for affection and intimacy. Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, that is to live in the body—not only in the their own bodies but also in the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.48

“Ministers and priests are also called to be full members of their communities, are accountable to them and need their affection and support, and are called to minister with their whole being, including their wounded selves.”
— From Popularity to Ministry, p.49

(He goes on here to talk about ministers and priests needing a truly safe place to share with people who do not need them. This is where some of the tension comes in, right. Most ministers and priests use this tension to disconnect themselves and have a good “professional distance” from their parish. I think that can’t be the best and only option. Thoughts?)

“I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.57
(And he isn’t simply spiritualizing and talking about being led by Jesus. That’s part of it be even the leader needs to let their community lead them from time to time.)

“The temptation to consider power an apt instrument fro proclamation of the Gospel is the greatest of all.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.58

(I think of the recent implosion of a certain mega church illustrated this perfectly.)

“…we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.
What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.59

“Here we touch the most important quality of Christian leadership in the future. It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is make manifest. I, obviously, am not speaking about a psychologically weak leadership in which the Christian leader is simply the passive victim of the manipulations of his milieu. No, I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love. It is true spiritual leadership Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.63-64

“Wealth and riches prevent us from truly discerning the way of Jesus. Paul writes to Timothy: ‘People who long to be rich are a pretty to trail; they get trapped into all sorts of foolish and harmful ambitions which plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Tim. 6:9).

“If there is any hope for the Church in the future, it will be hope for a poor Church in which its leaders are willing to be led.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.64

“The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained—through prayer, study, and careful analysis—to manifest the diving event of God’s saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time.”
— From Leading to Being Led, p.68

(I would completely agree with this but might also point out I don’t think this necessarily means a seminary degree or Phd. It might, but it might not.)

“I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility. It is the image of the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader. May that image fill your hearts with hope, courage, and confidence as you anticipate the next century.”

(I typed up all these quotes. There may be some typos, I did it fast! Go pick up the book to get the official goods!)



Camp, Church & Small Town American…


I almost just didn’t blog this week because things have been CRAZY! Regular student ministry moves on which is already busy in the summer time. It was also VBS week (which just about doubles our work), I had to prepare for a camp which started Friday and goes through Tuesday, the deadline for a book project i’m working on is at the end of this month – gulp – and about a dozen other things. Life is to busy!

With that said things are going great this weekend at camp and i sense God moving in some cool way here and also at home. I was going to post some pictures of camp, even a fancy new Instagram video but i’m at McDonalds and don’t have the best internet ever. If you care you can find it on my instagram feed.

The camp i’m at this week is very cool! It’s the mid-high camp  (there words for middle school) for Church of the Woodlands. A UMC church in the Houston suburbs. I’ve had a some good friends work and even grow up in this church. It’s the place where Chris Tomlin kinda got his start (i heard a bunch of really funny Tomlin stories last night). My friend Brandon Heath worked at this church a few years back. He left Nashville and the small group we were in together because of the opportunity. So it’s been cool to connect with this church and their student ministry. To see how they do things… super high quality, organized, invested in and intentional on so many levels. Very cool! There about 350 mid-high (6-8 grade) students at the camp and it’s great to see them with their Bibles and journals ready to dig it! And dig in were are!

My time with these students inspires me to challenge and encourage my students at Christ Church Plano more. Knowing they are capable of so much and trusting that God wants to lead us into passion and purpose is exciting.

It’s also really cool to share some of things that God has done in our ministry with other ministries. Usually i come to a camp that has a theme and i craft a handful of messages for that camp according to their theme and scriptures. But at this camp they told me  “bring your best 4 messages.” So it’s been really cool to bring 4 messages that have really made an impact on our students and to see how these students at camp interact with them and to see how God uses the messages in a different context.

ALSO… i was able to go to Christ Church Austin this morning. A church i’ve heard about form friends in nashville and also we have some graduated students who attend. It was a great service. Reminded me A LOT of our church in Nashville. Lots of energy and creativity. A really chill, acoustic-ey vibe but with robes and some collars. Yea, i loved it! It’s always cool to get the opportunity to worship with other Anglican congregations. There are familiar parts and unique parts and then there is the Eucharist! It’s great!


I’ve got about an hour before i need to head back to camp. I’m gonna try and get some work done. And when you’re in small town American with no coffee shop for miles… you work at McDonalds. Civilzation, i can’t wait to get back to you! And by civilzation, i mean Starbucks!




Beauty & Worship // Space & Values…


The church values beauty and creativity because God values these things, right? Maybe it’s because God IS beauty and creativity so when we live fully as we were created to live, made in his image and filled with this spirit, when we embrace beauty and creativity we are participating in the life of God. Maybe it’s something like that.

I think in our worship we often forget this kind of stuff these days.

Our buildings are big square office boxes next to other office boxes. Even when we spend LOTS of money on a building it probably just looks like the school down the street. Our art… wait, we don’t really do art anymore. Our music is often times mimics of a pop culture with very little redemptive imagination.

Mostly we come to worship / sing a few songs about Jesus and listen to a message about Jesus, we don’t value much else. And it better not last much longer than an hour… after all, we have things to do.

Well on a night like tonight i remember the value of sacred music and sacred spaces. I think of the good, the true and the beautiful and how the church has always valued these things.

Screen Shot 2011-12-05 at 1.16.32 AM

Don’t get me wrong, i struggle with the amount of money that is spent on some church buildings and chapels, i personally don’t put a high value on appearances (in some ways), on pomp and circumstance, and on flashy kinds of things. I live in a tension when it comes to these things. I see value in space and beauty and creativity… but i also like low key, come as you are environments offered by many churches these days.

Screen Shot 2011-12-05 at 10.28.34 AMI’m not sure i like one over the other, i probably prefer beauty to bland but a mix of the 2… i guess.

I do know when i come to a night of worship at a church like the one i am privileged to work and worship at i remember that historically the Church has valued beauty and creativity and has lead the way in sharing it, often through architecture and art. I definitely think the church, in some ways, needs to regain that place in the world.

What do you think?
How do we reclaim space? Especially when it comes to worship and buildings / architecture… or does it matter?

Do we care about beauty or art or creativity? What does this look like as communities of faith if we say we do value these things?

Is it possible to value mission and beauty at the same time? (i’m thinking of the argument, “we could have spent that money on the mission field instead of a building.”

Alright, enough rambling.

My wife and i had an awesome night of enjoying Christmas music in a beautiful building created for worshiping God. It was great and these are some of my rambling thoughts at 1 in the morning.






NASHVILLE #1 :: Exodus to Texas party…


This week is dedicated to Nashville! By Thursday my family and i will have loaded up a 16 foot Penske truck and by 8 in the am we will be making our way to Dallas, Texas—Plano to be precise. The move, like so many, is bittersweet. I am more than excited to get to Plano and dig in to ministry at Christ Church (my new church family). I’m giddy, excited, totally pumped! to get to know the middle school students and the adults that are currently leading them – all the crew that make up the group i will be getting to lead with and share life with. I can’t wait. And Texas is an adventure and i’m always up for an adventure!

But i am leaving Nashville—this is the bitter part of the deal. Nashville, more than any other place i’ve ever lived, feels like home. The other time i left i never stopped missing her, so finally i just came back. But now i leave again. I leave friends i absolutely love, a church that is amazing, and a city that has taught me a lot in the 7 years i lived here.

So in honor of Nashville i will be attempting to post my favorite things about her and my fondest memories while living with her.

Probably the #1 thing i will miss about Nashville are the friends i met here. I have a TON of friends in Nashville, some good, some fair weather, some i see often, some not so often, but all of whom i value and will miss a ton.

Some of my best friends in Nashville threw my family a little going away party or a little “Exodus to Texas” party.

Here is the proof (and to see all the pics check out our party facebook page).

Screen Shot 2011-09-25 at 11.01.36 PM

(if you click on this picture twice you can see it full size)

I love these people and will miss every one of them more than i even want to admit.

More Nashville-inspired blogging to come.



2010 Reading List


I read a pretty good amount, not as much as i would like but a decent amount non the less. There are quite a few books i read portions of but here is my 2010 reading list (books i actually completed).
In the Order that i read them not in the order i liked them.

2010 Book List…

#1. iDentity : Who you are in ChristScreen shot 2011-01-21 at 12.18.50 AM

Eric Geiger

#2. Introduction to the Devout Life

Saint Francis de Sales

#3. The Waste Land and other Selected Writings

T.S. Eliot

A little poetry is always good for the soul. I don’t get about 90% but maybe that’s ok.

#4. The Sacred Meal

Nora Gallegar

I believed i blogged about this book. It was solid, not the best account or greatest insight i have ever read on the Eucharist but it was solid. I would recommend it!

#5.  Giving Church Another Chance Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 12.26.20 AM

Bishop Todd Hunter

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Todd back in May so i picked up his book and read it quick. And i really enjoyed it! It didn’t rip my face off with amazing and deep theological reflection but is spoken honestly, authentically, and practically about worship, about liturgy, and about the church. It was a really good read and when and if God does open the door for me to plant a church this is a book i will probably read again. Most of all i just love Todd’s heart not only for the church, tradition and liturgy (all passions i share with him) but also his passion for evangelism (which i also share). Reaching those who either have been disenfranchised by church or just don’t care and never have. Todd wants his church community to meet the needs of those who Jesus is after not just those of us who are already on the journey and to do that in the context of high church (i use that loosely) is really refreshing and inspiring! So… go read this book. His new book is on my 2011 reading list… i’ll share that later.

#6. Reflecting Glory :: Meditations for Living Christ’s Life in the World

NT Wright

NT Wright is a stud, we all know that but this book is more on the devotional side of things. So if your looking for a stellar devotional book, especially during the lenten season this year. Pick up this book!

#7. Born To Run borntorun

Christopher McDougall

Ummm… how to say this without overstating it. AMAZING! This is probably one of the best non-fiction books i have ever read. Simply inspiring! 

#8. Surprised By Hope

N.T. Wright

Tom again. This book was great. Not as great mind blowing as i thought it was going to be but great non the less. And if you haven’t read or thought much about eschatology and mission this book will probably blow your mind and probably even change you life. It really is a must read for all of us to grew up in the Left Behind (is my end time doctrine) era. MUST READ! And i’m reading the follow up book right now.

#9. The Dwelling of the Light :: Praying with the Icons of Christ

Rowan Williams
I’m preparing myself for some new ink. This was a great little devotional book and also part of my preparation.

#10. Our Anglican Heritage

John W. Howe

#11. The identity of Anglicanism :: Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology

Paul Avis

The last two books on the list are some Anglican reading i’m doing these days. The church i go to is apart of the AMIA (The Anglican Mission in American) a really great group of people who i am really excited about linking arms with.


So, that’s my 2010 reading list.


What was you favorite book of 2010?


What’s on your list for 2011?
Do share! I will soon.


Grace and peace




word / song – picture association…


We talk about word – picture association. A certain word will pull up a picture your mind. Well i have a song that pulls up a certain picture in my mind

Let God Arise :: Chris Tomlin

Cross Point Church, Nashville TN. When i work on Sunday mornings i usually go to Cross Point Sunday night, really enjoy worshiping there and seeing a few peoples i know! Great place. Well one particular time i went to Cross Point  there was a black guy sitting in the front row and this song came on and he started dancing like a machine! This gentleman was probably homeless, at least it looked that way and he didn’t care that he was surrounded by white hipsters and young white family… he went after it! It was awesome.

So whenever i hear this song i think of that picture :: a black, homeless guy sing “death has no sting, no final word… let God arise… Our God reigns now and forever…”  LOVE IT!

I randomly heard that song today, thought i’d share!




A day of church & some God time…


So, despite my disinterest in church I want to go. I know, that almost makes sense. Almost!

The thing is, I just want to find a community of people I can connect with, that I can serve, that I grow with, that I can simply share life with. The best place I know to find that kind of intentional community is at a church building that probably meets at some point on a Sunday. So I went to church today, twice!

Church #1. St. Bartholomew’s [ Episcopal / Anglican ] Church
I actually know some people that participate in this community and I have heard good thing so Andrea and I thought we would try it. I really did enjoy it, the homily was great and the service had such a great life to it. Not just your sing, announcements, sing a bit more, sermon, your dismissed deal. It actually had a life, a liturgy if you will. I really enjoyed that. BUT at the same time high church liturgy is so different that what I am accustomed to, I am definitely not completely comfortable with it. The question is, could I be? Hmmm… not sure. I just like the idea of coming as you are (which this church does. Lots of jeans here) but when the minister is in a robe there is a barrier put up I feel. I really like the idea of a pastor being just another dude or dude-et who happens to be leading the congregation in a spiritual journey. The robes throw me off I think.

Church #2. The Villiage Chapel [ Non-denominational / Calvary Chapel style ]
I went to this church often on Sunday nights when I live in Nashville before. I really enjoy it. The pastor is solid and preaches primarily verse by verse. I like that focus on the bible despite the fact I don’t think the bible is meant to be preached verse by verse all the time. The worship is laid back and not showy AT ALL. I really like that. The worship team actually sits off to the side, always sits and it’s kidna acoustic, singer / song writer style, pretty chill. BUT there is no life to the service. It’s just wam – bam – thank you God. Sing / announcement / sing / preach / goodbye. No real liturgy to be had.

So the bottom line is that I liked both churches. Something more about one and other things more about the other.

MY FREAR :: am I becoming a church shopper?

[ long pause — NOOOOOOOO!!! ]

But how do you find the right community if you don’t “shop a big? I have decided to go to a few churches, mostly one I have been recommended or heard about some way. We (my wife and i) will go and instead of shopping for a long period of time and then “feeling” it out our plan is to just pick up and plug in and poor ourselves out. So we have a few more we have either been invited to or want to try… we’ll see where we end up. I am praying we find a community that just fits! Not sure we have yet.

I am sure I will post more of this conversation over at community planting sometime soon.

Live Love



Sunday @ Saddleback // Warren, McCain, & Obama…


Well I went to church on-line today! It is Sunday so I had to go to church this morning, right? But this Sunday morning was a little different. I decided to watch the Leadership and Compassion / Civil Forum, hosted by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church (so I went to church).

This blog has entire forum setup to watch. It’s all youtube so it loads like butter and is easy to watch. You can find this video all over the place though.

Rick Warren asked the same questions to both candidates separately. I thought it was a pretty helpful format. I think it helps to get a feel for both candidates and helps to really hear what they each have to say on particular topics.

If you want a real side-by-side comparison check this out. It’s the transcript with the answers next to each other, pretty helpful to be able to read it this way.

For me, Obama said a lot of convincing things and carries himself way better than McCain… in my opinion. I probably agree with them both on some things but with neither of them on all things.

Politics :: Who knows!

That’s where i’m at. I really want to follow Jesus and still don’t feel like I have a good grasp on how the Jesus following Christian would interact in the world of politics. I think it’s way more complicated that most of us let it be. Or maybe I just make it to complicated. Who knows!

What do you think? 

I like the idea of voting for Jesus. I’m looking forward to reading Shane Claiborne’s book. I do understand that can be a trite escape from a real obligation. But maybe not.

Who are you getting behind these days? And why?

PS: I am going to REAL church tonight. A friend of mine is playing drums at North Coast Church, Carlsbad campus. Haven’t been there and I am looking forward to it!

Shalom (now that’s political !!!)



Community planting & my story…


My friend Todd Maberry and i are having a conversation over at 

The conversation is just starting so it’s the prefect time to jump in. We have set up this website / blog to facilitate a conversation about church planting / community planting. We are both dreaming about planting a community of people that would exist to love God & follow Jesus and bring his kingdom to come on earth, right now. 
We will be posting a few times a week and would love anybody and everybody to participate in the conversation.

The most recent post tells a bit of my story and how i even started thinking about planting a church / community. Here is a chunk of that post but make sure you go check out the blog, bookmark us, add us to your blog roll, post a comment or two, keep coming back…

PS: if you have the blog app on facebook come find both Community Planting and Revolutionary Thoughts, we’re on there and we need some more friends!


Here’s that post…

It was the summer of 2001, I was getting ready to do an internship with an itinerate evangelist, Stephen Manley. I really felt like God was leading me into the traveling, preaching/teaching gig. I knew it would look a bit different than the guy I was going to be traveling with and a bit different than most of the guys and gals that I know who travel full-time as “evangelists”. First off I probably wouldn’t go by the title evangelist. But regardless of the unique expression my life might take I was feeling strongly lead into itinerate evangelism, being the traveling speaker guy.

Before my internship started that summer I lived with a family for about 4 weeks, the Moore family. {Side note; they were / are an amazing family. I feel like I learned a lot from living with them, interacting with them, and just watching them as they interacted with each other.}

Living with them had it’s perks, primarily the home theater they had in their basement and right next to the room I was staying it. I LOVED IT! Watched the entire Star Wars trilogy multiple times on the big screen during those weeks as the basement dweller. But I also picked up another random video. The video was a denominational video about ministry or something, not specifically about church planting. I watched the video for some odd reason. A chunk of the video happened to be about church planting and a pretty amazing thing happened. As I was watching there was a 10 minutes or so chunk of a guy sharing his heart about church planting and his story about planting a church. As I was watching this guy the Spirit whispered in my ear as he squeezed my heart and said, “plant a church…

(to read the rest of this post click here…)



Publication of piety…


Here are some thoughts that have been running around my little head for awhile, just thought I would get some input…

So… i want to share my experience; when I fast, when I serve the homeless, when I tithe to a certain organization I really believe in, when I read the bible, preach a message, bla bla bla…

But the avenue of the blog begs the question, “am I bragging?” Am I publicizing my piety or lifting myself up or am I just sharing my experience as a short of public journal of my journey.

If I blog / on-line journal about my experience am I still not letting my right hand know what my left if doing? Am I sufficiently hiding my “piety” / my Christian practices / my faithfulness to what God is leading me into? Do I even need to try and hide my “piety”?

(PS: I hate the word piety. It has such negative connotations that I do not intend to give it and maybe aren’t inherently there. But yea, piety…)

Another PS.S. is the fact that I don’t hardly EVER fast, I NEVER actually help the homeless, tithing is hard but I do and giving beyond my tithe is even harder… I don’t list these things because I do them often I list them because I don’t do them often but I hope to do them often as I grow and find opportunity. My question is when and if I ever do these things that might be considered pious should I write about them. Should I share my experience our should I “in secret” do and keep it there.

Just something I thought about as I was thinking of ways I want to serve and follow Jesus.

Be Peace