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No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Blog, Church, Creativity, Culture, Encouragement, Fathering, Leadership, Pain and Suffering | 0 comments

(Intro: This is a post I wrote in Sept of 2012, when I was fairly upset about some stuff, so I wrote this article and never published it. I just reread it and wanted to share it with you.)

Sometimes when it feels like we’ve failed at something, I think the basis of what we’re feeling is based on someone else’s imposed definition of who they think you should be – and you’re not living up to it.

You know what I’m talking about. People see a pastor at another church while they’re visiting on a weekend, and they instantly start comparing you (their pastor) to them. They notice all the little things they do that you don’t do. They notice their style and their voice. They notice all the things that make them who they are, and compare them to you.

What they don’t realize is that, they are experiencing them in a vacuum. For one, it’s not a fair, side by side comparison. It’s not like they’re in a Best Buy, looking at the TV’s where they can see the same movie on a hundred TV’s. Can you imagine that store? A hundred different worship leaders singing the same song or a hundred different pastors preaching the same sermon so you can pick the one you like best?

When they take the TV home, they begin to notice the flaws.

You’ve been there. You buy the TV, get home and realize it doesn’t have enough connections, or doesn’t look as big as you thought it did, or it looks bigger. You buy a used car, and on the way home you hear a noise you didn’t hear. You go to a new church, and then the pastor says something you don’t think is funny, he’s kind of a nerd, the worship leader is a little pitchy or sings a song you don’t like every weekend. Then they start to remember all the things they liked about their old pastor, forget all the things they didn’t like and long for the days when they were at their previous church.

I know I’ve been there before. I’ve had, in my life and ministry on a regular basis, people who judge me and how I do ministry against how they think I should be doing ministry. They have an image of what they think I should be in their head, and when I don’t live up to it, I am failing.

I’ve had people judge me against a flawed perception of themselves. They believe they are great at my job (even though they may have no training or experience) and that I should be doing my job as good as they think they could do my job.

Maybe they can do my job better, but the bottom line is, we shouldn’t judge anyone based on what we think they should be. But, you know how you work at a job for 40+ hours a week? You do this thing for 40+ hours a week that I don’t claim to know all about. There are things about your job that I don’t understand. Things that can’t be understood unless you’re in it all the time. The reverse is also true, but it’s not real PC to say. But I will. Unless you are a Pastor and you make your living pastoring a church and work in the church 7 days a week, you just don’t have an understanding of what it really means to lead a church.

The other bottom line, you shouldn’t let people judge you based on who they think you should be.

I know you can’t control them, but you can control how much you let them in your head. Don’t let their judgement of you drive you to try to be someone you’re not.

You are awesome just how God created you. The other guy they are comparing you to is awesome how God created him. When you try to be like him, you are being an imitation of a creation, not being the creation God created. When you’re trying to be someone else, that’s idolatry. We are made in God’s image, and our only pursuit can be the image the designer put in us since before we were born.

One thing I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. But only if that improvement is based on principle and truth, not comparison. If the improvement is to keep up with someone else, or because we are under pressure from people around us to be something we’re not, we shouldn’t do it.

As we shape who we are and the people we lead, we need to build into them the ability to think and appreciate people for who they are. Don’t let your people get caught up in the comparison game. Don’t let them talk negatively about your pastor, don’t let them talk negatively about your subordinates. Teach them to learn to appreciate the good things and find ways they can step in and fill in the perceived gaps.

One final note: with the highly connected world we live in, it’s very easy to see what every other church on the planet is doing. Whether it’s worship styles or songs, programs or ministries, videos, graphics, stage designs or sermons. We need to be careful to be sure that we aren’t comparing what we do to what the rest of the world is doing. God has a plan and design for your church body, just as he as a plan and design for you.

Just as God created you uniquely, he created your church body uniquely. If he wanted us to all be the same and act the same, he would have prescribed it for us. And in the areas we do have such prescriptions, I do think we should strive to live up that prescription. However, just as each of us are unique, he wants your church body to represent him uniquely.

So, no more cookie cutter pastors, no more cookie cutter churches.

Creativity the Missing Piece(s) – Part 4

Posted by on Oct 22, 2014 in Blog, Creativity, Fathering, Leadership, Worship | 0 comments

Slowly, but surely, this series is going to get finished! I started the series in 2009! What the heck Lindner! Get it together, it’s 2014!

So, since the chances are astronomical that you’ve never even heard of this series, therefore you’ve never read the first three articles, you might want to go check them out. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

In Part 4 of the series, I want to talk about setting the ground rules for the team & the meetings.

There are probably a hundred rules you could make up for a team like this. Maybe you want everyone to wear skinny jeans and a scarf. So you make a rule that no baggy pants are allowed.

But that’s not really what I’m thinking of. I’m looking more at those rules that keep the team functioning in a healthy manner. These rules are blunt and straightforward by design. It is better to be clear at the beginning with expectations. It’s easier to hold people to something they are aware of. If they don’t know a rule exists, they’ll break it every time.

So, what are they?

Team Rules

1.) Everyone is committed. 

If you’re on the team, you are an owner. You’re self-employed. You are not a road construction employee. We can’t have 5 guys watching one guy work. Everyone is committed. It needs to be made clear to those coming onto the team for the first time, that this is a Getting Stuff Done team. We don’t just talk, we do. For every meeting, we have a series we are executing, a series we are planning and a series we are brainstorming. We model the way by working the hardest. If you commit to this team, you’re committing to diligence.

2.) If you miss the meeting, it’s your responsibility to find out what you missed. 

Because we are committed to the team, we don’t wait until the next meeting to get caught up on what we missed. We get in touch with the leader or someone else who was there to find out what happened. It’s not the leaders’ responsibility to call me, it’s my responsibility to call my leader. I realize that I may have been assigned some tasks based on the strengths my team knows about me, and if I wait to find out what they are until the next meeting I might miss something that needs to be done this week. It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s mine.

3.) Everyone Follows Through

We don’t drop the ball. Period. If we drop the ball, it’s not just a loss of a service element. It’s the loss of an experience for hundreds if not thousands of people. It’s not just me who loses out, it’s the whole body. Every minute of the worship service is multiplied by the number of people in attendance. If 100 people come to church, a 60 minute service accounts for 6,000 minutes. If I don’t follow through, my 3 minute responsibility costs the church 300 minutes of potentially life-changing experience.

4.) Not meetings after the meeting

We are committed to being united as a team. If there is a problem between members of the team, we don’t engage in gossip about them outside the meeting, we encourage them and possibly force them to work it out with the other person. We confront ideas in the meeting because we are trying to get the best idea to the church. So, we don’t have meetings after the meeting about how this person just doesn’t get it. Or how that person isn’t very creative. Every person on the team is there for a reason. We confront and keep short accounts, because we are too busy with the big idea to get bogged down with drama.

5.) A God-honoring experience is primary, personal feelings are secondary. 

We don’t allow our personal feelings to be attached to an idea. My feelings aren’t important – Jesus is. We are here to create the most creative experience and expression of our collective bodies adoration of Jesus. We aren’t here to get credit. We aren’t here to prove that we are the most creative, crazy person in the church. We aren’t here to get our immature ego’s an extra stroke on the back. We are here to be a part of a team creating a God-honoring experience. My personal feelings cannot get in the way of that. That’s idolatry.

Meeting Rules

1.) Everyone is on time. 

We start our meetings on time. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late. We don’t show up 15 minutes after the meeting starts, even if we are musicians. We respect the time of everyone on the team, and we understand that when we are late, we are disrespecting the time of those who cared enough about me to be there on time. That makes me an egotistical hypocrite who expect people to serve me, but I’m not willing to serve them in the same way.

2.) More from the thinkers less from the talkers. 

Just because you can talk a lot doesn’t mean you have the best idea. Often times those who have the most words need to shut their pie hole so someone who thinks can process the ideas on there and come up with a better idea. We don’t need you to prove how smart you are, how creative you are, how in touch with culture you are or anything of the like. We get the hint by your beard. You’re cooler than us. We get it. Now, please be quiet so I can come up with an idea that will make you cry.

3.) Only the team leader gets to cut someone off. 

We aren’t afraid to confront ideas that come to the table. But we also don’t get to be jerks. We are respectful of the people on the team. So we let them finish their idea before we jump in and change the subject. And just because the person takes a breath doesn’t mean they are finished. It is the responsibility of the leader to know the people on the team so they can silence the ones who talk too much and pull in the ones who talk too little.

4.) During brainstorming times, completion is not the goal – initiation of an idea is the goal. 

We aren’t trying to finish an idea during brainstorming. We are trying to find the best idea. My idea might initiate a better idea in your head. And your idea might initiate an even better idea in someone else’s head. So, we don’t stop and try to complete my idea. We don’t try to begin to implement my idea because I want my idea to win. When we are brainstorming, we are flooding the board with ideas in the hope that our idea might implement a coalition of creativity that truly expressed the creativity of the collected body of Christ.

5.) During implementation times of the meeting, financially responsible execution is the goal. It’s time to shut off the new ideas and implement the best idea you have. 

When you’re being creative, it’s hard to stop coming up with new ideas and get to work. This is a problem for creatives around the world. They never get started doing anything because as soon as they start, they have a newer and better idea. Creatives are awful for completing things.

Given the magnitude of the role of this team, (preparing experiences that prepare people), we don’t have the luxury of waiting until the absolute best idea comes along. Instead, we have the responsibility of implementing and executing the best idea we have. It’s not fair to those showing up on Sunday to drop the ball because we thought we had a better idea, and if we just had another week, we could make it happen.

Brainstorming Rules: If you need some good rules for brainstorming, make sure to check out the 10 commandments of brainstorming. 

 

True North: The Need for an External Point of Reference

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Lost Virtues, Truth, Values | 0 comments

I grew up watching the Waltons. It was one of the shows that was in our daily diet. I think it was because of John Boy for the most part. The narrative he added to their lives and the morals they lived by from a different time were solid. Of course, you’re probably making fun of my for that admission, nevertheless, it’s was a good show.

I remember an episode of that show where Olivia was out with Elizabeth and Jim Bob (I think). One way or another, in the dense forrest of Virginia, they got lost. They encountered different trials, including one where Jim Bob had to scare away a bear by banging a couple of rocks together. As they navigated their way back to the main road, Olivia (the mom) said that moss grows on the north side of the tree, so that would help them know which way they were going. It was a point of reference. But there’s a problem with it.

Her point of reference isn’t global. That doesn’t work everywhere. For instance is the same true in the southern hemisphere? I know for a fact the same principle does not apply here in the Northwest where moss grows on all sides of the tree. So, what do we do then? Some may say you can use the sun. And while that’s true on a sunny day, we also have a lot of days where the sun isn’t visible. What do we do then? When you don’t know which way you’re going, even a map will do you no good.

The only real answer is to have an external point of reference. Like a compass. You need to have something that is outside of your current circumstance that points you in the direction you need to go. You need to have something outside of you that can lead you to safety. Your rescue is dependent on the external point of reference. You may not see the sun, but as long as you have that needle that is pointing to true north, you can navigate.

The problem we are facing in todays society is that we have removed the external point of reference. It’s not for a lack of tools and things that point to it. Those all exist and have not changed. But for some strange reason we have decided that we no longer need something outside ourselves to guide us. We believe that we are able and competent to lead from within the circumstance.

We don’t use true north anymore. Many don’t even believe that true north exists. Many believe each of us gets to decide what true north is for ourselves. And so, we are all out there in the same woods, using our own true norths to try to navigate this life.

“What’s the big deal with that?” you might be asking. One problem is that we are all sharing the same forrest. We are all on this planet sharing oxygen. Our paths cross. no one lives in true isolation. What happens when my north contradicts your north? What happens when your north gets in the way of my north? Who gets to decide which north is the right north? Who gets to win the battle of the norths?

In this scenario, one might think that everyone would just assume that everyone is right. But that’s not the case. And we can see that being played out all over media on a daily basis. It never happens that everyone is right. In fact, what most commonly happens is that everyone is wrong. What I mean by that, is we don’t hear people commending one another for being right, we hear people condemning one another for being wrong. How idiotic is it of us to claim that what’s right for me may not be right for you and yet, at the same time condemn you for not doing what I think is right?

So, when your north contradicts my north, then you must be punished. And whichever way the justice scales of public opinion are tilting that day is what will be the winning north. The scales may swing widely from contradiction to contradiction, and that doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and how I feel in this moment.

It does not make any sense. The reason we are such a messed up people is that we have abandoned our True North. The only way for us to find that sense is to abandon the ridiculous notion that I get to decide what north is and turn back to the real source of north – God. For it is God and God alone that sits outside our circumstance, and only he knows which direction we should go.

If you are unfamiliar with Frank Peretti’s illustration called “The Chair” I strongly recommend you make yourself familiar with it. Unfortunately this is an old video and it looks old, but the point is great.

Lawrence D. Shinn – Eulogy

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Family, Featured | 3 comments

Lawrence D. Shinn

May 30, 1924 ~ August 29, 2014

Grandpa-Shinn

How do you summarize a life? How do you put into words all of the various dimensions of a life that spanned 90 years? The life of Lawrence D. Shinn is one that spanned across some of the greatest time periods in American History. His life also spanned some of the greatest industrial and technological advances in Human history. And amid all that change there are a few words that stand out:

Determined. From the very beginning of his life he was faced with extraordinary circumstances  that would cause most of us to hang up our hat and call it quits. He worked on farms, picked fruit, built houses and pole buildings; he raised turkeys, chickens and cattle and operated a sawmill. And of course, he worked on the farm and logged the great forests of the Pacific Northwest. Whatever was necessary to provide for his family, he was determined to provide.

Laughter. He loved to laugh. He loved to poke fun whenever given the opportunity. He wasn’t afraid of putting on a wig, some girly glasses and a couple clip on earrings to get a reaction out of you. He probably had inside jokes with all the family members and took advantage of the opportunity to individualize his approach to best suit his audience. And of course, nobody could touch his strawberry jam without an adequate dose of overinflated, righteous indignation.

Diligent. There aren’t many people on the planet who worked as hard as Lawrence did. Of course he would tell you that if you didn’t do it, it won’t get done. But as long as there was work to do, he did it.

Exploration. He loved to travel. He had a passion for the National Parks, especially the Grand Canyon, and the beauty that could be soaked in to the bone. He worked hard enough to be able to explore without feeling guilty, and he absorbed as much of God’s creation as one could aspire to see in one lifetime. This love of the sheer beauty and wonder of nature has been passed down through the generations. His passion for exploration led to him spending his retired years traveling with Maude.  They bought a motor home and traveled all over the United States.  They truly enjoyed this time together and shared many stories about their adventures.

Farm. Lawrence had an understanding of what it mean to be a steward of the land he had been blessed with. He also knew that you needed to produce things to make a living. Even when his mother grace experienced health issues related to the chickens they were raising that just meant he had to find something else to produce. So, whether it was trees, chickens, sheep, cattle, turkeys or children, his love for his farm has created another generation of children and grandchildren who have the same love.

Innovation. He wasn’t afraid to try something new to provide either. Whether that was buying the TD-9 to log on and off the farm, setting up a sawmill to sell railroad ties, flipping properties for a profit, being the first to work at the Broadmore plant in woodland, and eventually starting a construction business with his son, Larry which lasted for 26 years – he tried new things.

Tough. He went through a lot in his lifetime. As can be expected when you work hard on the farm, from time to time you get injured. But this didn’t keep him from getting back on the horse, the tractor, the roof or anything else. But he wasn’t just tough, he also wasn’t afraid to be tough. When his kids and grandkids needed to be told something, he wasn’t afraid to pull them aside and say it. He was always kind in his rebuke, and never judgemental, but he knew that being tough was what was needed and he was tough enough to be tough. And he didn’t complain – at least not much. Even in the end of his life.

Love. As much as he loved to travel, he loved his high school sweetheart incomparably more. He loved one woman until the day he died, and none of us were unaware of just how much he missed his bride. He adapted his life to meet her needs, especially as she struggled for a long time. And even then, he was motivated to care for her out of love. He showed us all how to love your spouse selflessly and unconditionally. He had and undying love for the love of his life.

Family. Lawrence had a love for his family. He had a desire for his young family to be vested in the interests of his predecessors. And he sought to raise a family that would pass on the tradition of selflessly caring for one another. If you asked him what he thought his legacy would be, I’m sure family would be at the top of the list.

We haven’t done justice to the life he lived with these few words, but they’re a start to an understanding of a life that has affected the lives of so many others. There simply aren’t words to express the influence and impact of his life, but I guess that’s kind of the point. We don’t do his life justice by mentioning a few words, we do his life justice by carrying on where he left off.

So perhaps the greatest praise we could sing of Lawrence D. Shinn will not be in the words we share on this day – though we must and we should tell the stories he would tell; but could it be that the greatest praise of his life will be in the kinds of lives we lead with the tools he gave us to lead them?

Click below to listen to the audio of the memorial service:

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Selling A Beautiful House is Hard!

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Blog, Family, Featured, Values | 2 comments

We are selling our house we have called home for the last 6+ years. We have so many wonderful memories in this house. We’ve watched our kids grow up there. All of our kids but our oldest took their first steps there. We’ve had family gatherings there. Birthday parties, barbecues for friends and many other things. We’ve even kept a guest book of all the people we’ve had to that house over the years.

That makes it hard. Not just because you don’t want to leave all the memories behind, because the truth is we take all the memories with us. What makes it hard, is that at the end of the day, your house becomes a commodity.

And that’s been especially hard for me to learn to separate memory from commodity. To me the house is worth a lot because I know how awesome you can live life when you’re living in that house. I know how amazing it is at facilitating gatherings of groups large and small, and I know how great it is for families and kids. I know how well the garden produces and have spent many of my own years and dollars building into that place. I know the names of the three hummingbirds we’ve been feeding for years now.

For me, it’s worth a lot because I know how great it is once you’re in it.

But it’s hard to turn from that mindset to the mindset of selling something.

So, we’re selling out house. It’s a great house with a lot of great memories that have been made. And if you are looking or know someone who is looking for a great house, would you consider passing this along? It’s full of great life, and is just waiting for someone else to come and carry on that tradition!

Coldwell Banker Listing: http://www.cbseal.com/Homes/WA/Washougal/4537-ROLLING-MEADOWS-DR-98671/14373586

Redfin Listing: http://www.redfin.com/WA/Washougal/4537-Rolling-Meadows-Dr-98671/home/14651466

Zillow Listing: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/4537-Rolling-Meadows-Dr-Washougal-WA-98671/23256305_zpid/

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If We’re Being Honest… #lessofme

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Featured, Humility | 0 comments

I’ve been in this place lately, and it’s hard to explain.

I have things I want to say to people. In other words I want to be heard.

And I know what you have to do to be heard, according to most things you read, that’s build a platform so you have an audience to hear your thoughts and musings and whatever witty banter I might have for you that day.

However, the hard part of that isn’t finding followers. Sure, that’s a challenge, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Because, I’m sure if I disciplined myself, I could find thousands of followers on twitter and gather a fairly decent following.

The hard part is, that it seems the thing we have to do in order to be heard is to be somewhat of a narcissist and talk all about how great and awesome you are. You have to talk down to the world and be able to say things about the world that make you look like Aristotle’s teacher.

In other words, it seems you have to be proud and arrogant to build a following. I’m not saying that everyone who has built a following is that way, but it seems to be important.

And that’s a big problem for me. Not because I don’t want the attention, because the truth is, I do. I’d love to have a billion followers.

But, the message I want to share is about walking humbly. Making much of Jesus instead of making much of me. Because, I don’t really have all that much to share with you apart from Jesus. Because, without the wisdom I’ve received from a life of following Him, I’m just an idiot. In fact, I’m still an idiot quite a lot of the time.

We talk about this at SixEight Church quite a bit. If this thing is built around me, we’re going to fail. Because I don’t have the eternal significance with which to sustain such a movement as that of the Bride of Jesus Christ.

We must always keep this in check. I think there is extreme danger in building things around ourselves. There are the obvious dangers of, what if you mess up and everything comes crashing down.

But, I think there’s the bigger danger of losing your soul.

“Whoah there, hang on. You thing you can lose your soul through the simple act of pride?”

That wasn’t me, that was the wisdom of Jesus:

25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matt 16:25-26)

“Really bruh, what do you think it means to gain the world?”

Well, perhaps this:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom 12:2) 

The way the world thinks is to make much of ourselves. The pattern of this world is to make everything revolve around ourselves, and to build our lives on the foundation of me. The world screams at us all the time about how we need to do this or that to be truly happy. And somehow, we never are.

But, we aren’t supposed to be like the world. We’re supposed to have transformed minds that don’t think like the world.

And it’s here that I see a grave danger. If the world is still about us, if we gain the whole world – then our minds have never been renewed and transformed. Our minds still think like the old man who’s a part of the fallen, broken and ultimately condemned to death world.

So, how’s your soul? Are you making everything about you? Or is it about Jesus? Am I doing a good job of this- on most days I probably fail miserably. It’s a process we will never be finished with. But, are we at least aware of it, and attempting, however imperfectly to make our lives about Jesus? That’s what I’m afraid of. I just don’t know how many of us are doing that today.

This is an extremely important message, and I have an intense burden for it and that’s why it’s hard to share. Maybe you’ll share it with some people you know, probably not. But, if you do, do so with the intention of making much of Jesus. Not yourself. And certainly not me. Because at the end of the day, I’m still an idiot.

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