Your Opinion Matters

I need your help.

I’ll cut to the chase. Would you mind taking a moment and writing a review for my book Shipwrecked: A Journey to Discover Authentic Faith? With so many self-published books available the only thing that separates the good from the not so good are the reviews. This month my author rank on Amazon has gone from over 500,000 to 80,000. This is for all authors, and is a big jump. I’d like to take advantage of any momentum to help get this book in the hands of people it can help.

It would mean so much if you could take a couple of minutes and write a quick review by clicking this link: Write a Review.

But what if I haven’t read the book? Can I still write a review?

Here are three answers:

  1. Yes, you can always buy the book, and then write a review. Posting a picture or verifying you have read the book in your review is enormous! It is available in paperback and e-reader version to make it easy to get in your hands. Click here to purchase.
  2. Yes, you can write on a review based on being a reader of my blog even though you haven’t read that particular book. Again, this helps legitimize the book for those who do not know me.
  3. Yes, I will send you a free copy if you do not have it in your budget to buy the book and you would like to read it. I do not want money to be an obstacle. Use the contact me form on my blog to request a free copy (include your email address), and I will send you a digital version with no strings attached.

That last one is a big deal because I have never made this book free. I have worked hard on it and believe it is worth purchasing. I also don’t want anyone who wants to read it to not to be able to if they are interested.

You can find out more about the book here.

You can purchase the book here.

You can write a review of the book here.

I would appreciate your help in getting the word out about this short story that is written to help anyone who has experienced or wants to avoid a shipwrecked faith.

Creating a Compelling Culture

“Culture is the soul of the organization.” – Dee Ann Turner

You can have an excellent weekend service and efficient systems, but still lose momentum by not being attentive to your church culture. It is crucial to win the battle in the spiritual, but also to remember the influence culture has on your church as well. Culture is not just your best intentions. It is the reality of what you guard, emphasize, and reward. Culture is the air your team breathes as they operate in your ministry and pursue your church’s mission.

Great culture is not always easy to create or maintain. In her book, It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture, Dee Ann Turner offers some great advice to those seeking to create a healthy culture in their organization. Here are four simple steps she gives to create a compelling culture.

4 Steps to a Compelling Culture

  1. “A Clear Purpose for Existing” – This is the why for your church or your vision statement. We have this purpose from the Great Commission, but what language will you use to contextualize this for your specific part in that great work?
  2. “A Challenging Mission” – Your vision is the world you see because of your church exists. Your mission is what you and your team are going to do every day to achieve your vision. This should be simple and easily repeatable by everyone on your team.
  3. “Determine Core Values” – Your church will be and do a lot of things, but if you could only focus on a few repeatable, memorable values, what would they be? Everything else will grow from there. “Businesses [or churches] do not become excellent in the big areas without focusing on the small details too. Excellence in small things leads to excellence in big things.”Dee Ann Turner
  4. “Guiding principles” – These are your culture statements. What phrases are you using to summarize the different aspects of the culture you want to create?

Leaders love seeing external growth. And who can blame them? But we need to also focus on creating cultures in our ministries that will cause us to be internally strong. When we have internal growing up, the external growing out will come and be sustained.

What do you think creates a compelling culture? What are some things that hurt your culture? Anything you would add or take-a-way? Let me know!

Finish Messy

If you’re anything like me, you may have already messed up on your New Year’s Resolution. One last snack… One more morning sleeping in… I’ll start next week… Sound familiar?

Don’t worry if your perfect record hasn’t even lasted a week. The reality is the only way to finish is to finish messy.

Exposing Perfectionism

If you read one book about goals this year or are planning to set goals, then you need to read FINISH by Jon Acuff. If I could recommend only one book about self-development that I read last year, it would be this one.

One of my favorite things this book does is expose the lies of perfectionism. Trying to maintain ridiculously high standard and the appearance of perfection sets us up for failure. It may even be a way we can make excuses for not finishing. “Ugh, I slipped up. Goals over I guess! Back to life as usual. Nom, nom, nom (that’s my eating junk food noise).”

In Finish Jon says, “perfectionism is a desperate attempt to live up to impossible standards. Perfectionism will do anything to protect those impossible standards. It can’t let you find out how impossible they are, especially with the cold eye of data, so it terrifies you into thinking that you’ll be crushed by disappointment if you peer behind that curtain.”

He continues with, “But more than just analysis, perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions: Hiding places Noble obstacles A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal. A noble obstacle is a virtuous-sounding reason for not working toward a finish. Both are toxic to your ability to finish.”

Lets Talk About Goals

We are starting the second week of the year, and maybe you have realized you are not perfect and are ready to give up. I want to encourage you to keep going. I am going to write a series of blogs over the few weeks on goals. My goal, with my blogs about goals, is to encourage you to keep going right here at the beginning when many people give up.

Come back next week to check them out. Let me know what you are doing to attain your goals this year. You may even disagree with some of my approaches. I’d like to hear from you about that as well.

And remember, check out this excellent book by Jon Acuff. He is also a great follow on Twitter. I got the audible version, and I loved hearing Jon read the book himself. Very entertaining! Felt like we were sharing a bowl of queso and laughing together as I learned about setting and finishing my goals.

Burned Out on Church?

5 Books to Read if You Are Burned Out

Your church should be a place that refreshes you and gives you the opportunity to refresh others as well. Even in the best environments we can get caught up in what we are doing and lose sight of the why behind it. In general, it’s just a good idea to take time to refresh your soul. If you find yourself in this place, or maybe you have given up on church entirely, then here are five books that may encourage you from those who have walked through similar experiences.

Pharisectomy: How to Joyfully Remove Your Inner Pharisee and Other Religiously Transmitted Diseases by Peter Haas

The name gives you a good indicator of what you can expect from this book. It is irreverent, hilarious, and packed with insightful research and biblical clarity on healthy and unhealthy church culture. I was surprised by how much I laughed out loud reading this book. It’s a good thing it keeps you chuckling because the smiling provides an excellent anesthetic for the heart surgery that will take place as you read this book.

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning

Someone asked me recently what my all-time favorite book was. This is definitely a contender for first place. Rich Mullins credits the message of this book with changing his life, but only after first resisting it. This was the same for me. I came across this book for the first time over 15 years ago, but my religious mindset at the time caused me to reject it. I sometimes wonder if exploring this book then may have saved me a lot of heartache. On the other hand, the lost time has only increased my appreciation for this simple message of grace.

In this book, Brennan artfully confronts the destructive falsehood of manmade religion with brilliant strokes of grace. It is tweetable, readable, and utterly unforgettable. It is packed with stories of brokenness and redemption, including his own. The Ragamuffin Gospel is a balm to any broken heart that desires more of God and less of man-made religion.

Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

Toxic Faith could be a textbook in a class on how to recover from church burnout. It takes a spiritual and psychological approach to revealing the cause and solution to a toxic faith, as well as church burnout, in a believers life. If you are interested in a Christ-centered and psychological approach to understanding how to get out of a religious rut, then this book is for you. Toxic Faith has given me the language to discuss ministry burnout and how to recover from it more than any other resource.

Soul Survivor: How Thirteen Unlikely Mentors Helped My Faith Survive the Church by Philip Yancey

This book took me completely by surprised and redirected my life in a path of healing and grace but not before helping me confront my own religious pride. Philip Yancey is without a doubt, my favorite Christian author. Scratch that. He is my favorite author. In this book, he discusses how 13 unlikely mentors who, starting with Martin Luther King Jr., helped restore his faith in the church after growing up in a racist fundamentalist church in the South. His access and background as a successful journalist give him a unique approach and delivery on this subject.

A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards

If you want to serve in ministry leadership in any capacity, then you need to read this book over and over again. It has more one-liners and zingers than just about any other book on this list. It is also the shortest and probably the easiest to read. It is a parable following the stories of David, Saul, and Absalom, that will help you identify healthy leadership and the unhealth that is in your own soul. A healing and enjoyable read.

Bonus – Shipwrecked: A Journey to Discover Authentic Faith by Josh Roberie

I decided to write this book after reading somewhere that there is more truth in fiction than non-fiction. From that idea, I wondered how I could share the emotions that surround the struggle of breaking away from religious pride and finding authentic faith in the humblest of circumstances. I wanted to weave together a journey that was enjoyable to read and also included the gems of truth that have helped me find enjoyable and meaningful Christianity in my own life. In Shipwrecked, I use an allegorical parable of a sinking ship to tell a story, loosely based on my own, of finding healing and hope after experiencing religious exhaustion.

What did I miss? Comment with your favorite book on this topic. I’d love to check it out!

Make Friends Not Points

3 Benefits of Connecting before Correcting

In my last post I shared how a battle for an armrest turned into an opportunity to share my faith. While this was happening I was actually reading the book The Daniel Dilemma by my pastor Chris Hodges.

After getting off the plane I would later come to the chapter “Connecting before Correcting”. In it Pastor Chris begins with a story of another uncomfortable encounter on a plane. Eventually the door opened for him to share the gospel. I thought this was pretty interesting considering how similar the story was to my own and that it took place I was reading this very book.

This chapter ended up being one of my favorites from The Daniel Dilemma. Here are some of highlights.

Highlights from The Daniel Dilemma

As followers of Jesus we have real hope. And we’re called to share it. But how we share it makes a difference.

Sharing your faith is all about relationship, not being right or slick presentations.

We’re not trying to prove we’re right. We’re just trying to be effective.

Jesus connected with people before he corrected them.

People don’t care what you know; first, they want to know that you care.

We have to earn someone’s respect before we can build a relationship. And we have to have relationship before we can have influence.

Evangelism is not telling people what they should do; it’s telling them what happen in you.

I used to feel a lot of pressure when it came time to share my faith but also didn’t want things to get awkward. Eventually that changed when I shifted my perspective from convincing people I was right to valuing people in my community. Instead of trying to make a point I began focusing on making friends. If we do a good job of that eventually the other person will ask about the things we care about and talking about our faith will happen naturally.

Three Ways This Helped Me Share My Faith

Takes the Pressure Off

When we put all this pressure on ourselves things get weird and the other person can sense this. We stop being authentic and it turns people off. Sometimes we even put pressure on people to hear our point which actually takes away from it.

Sets Other Believers Up for Success

Even if you don’t get to “close the deal” you can still set the next Christian that person encounters up for success. When you genuinely care about others because they are people and not just a potential convert or worse, someone on the other team, then they are more likely to hear out the next Christian they meet.

Surprise Teacher

Listening may be our most effective tool in evangelism. I am often surprise by what I am able to learn from those in the past I only saw as someone I wanted to teach. Sometimes you don’t know what you need to share until you have first listened to someone else share. Not every person you meet is someone God wants you teach. Sometimes God brings people into our lives he wants to teach us.

Stand Firm & Love Well

I was so excited to hear that Pastor Chris was writing a book on how to stand firm and love well in a culture of comprise. I love how he is always able to balance loving people in a relevant way and sharing God’s truth. If that sounds like something you would be interested in than I recommend checking out The Daniel Dilemma for your self.

What were your favorite parts of The Daniel Dilemma?

Do you have a favorite airplane story?

What happens when we get connecting and correcting turned around in relationships and in ministry on a larger scale?