My 2015 Reader Survey

I really want to make my blog better and ensure that it stays relevant to the needs and interests of those reading it. To do that, I would love to know more about YOU. As a result, I have created my 2015 Reader Survey.

In will only take you a few minutes to fill out, so I hope you will. In doing so, you are helping me to help you, because then I can make the content more of what you want.

Thanks for your input, its important to me. The survey is easy to fill out and the results are completely anonymous. I can’t tell who said what and as I said before, it will only take five minutes of your time.

What Questions Do People Want Answers For?

In the summer we are doing a series called ‘The Elephant in the Room’. The idea is to make time to answer the questions that sometimes never get answered. It’s going to be a challenge for the teaching team but worth it.

So…here’s the thing – this won’t work without questions. Ask around. What do people want to know? If we can answer the questions that people are asking, what a great opportunity for us to then invite them to hear an answer.

Post your questions here or email to: questions@xcelchurch.com

Once there is a bunch they might get put on the website for you to vote on. Get involved. Make it happen. It’s going to be fun!!

Book Review: How Good is Good Enough by Andy Stanley

51uXnmdqVNL._SL75_ Part of my October reads…

Good people go to heaven…at least that’s what some people say. But how good is good enough? Who decides what good is? What measure should we use? What is good to me may not be good to you? Some think blowing people up is good but I’m not sure I would agree with that.

The argument is presented excellently by Andy Stanley. I would expect nothing less. For anyone in your world who thinks like this I reckon this little book would be a great read. It would not offend them but it would certainly make them think about their own way of thinking. The alternative of the Gospel of Jesus looks great in comparison because ‘good enough’ doesn’t even come into the equation.

Buy a copy, read it and tell me what you think.

[More reviews to follow plus check out what I am reading now]

Answering the Questions People Are Asking

Just completed a session about Other Faiths and hoping that I did my best to equip those who attended with the ability to hold a half-intelligent conversation. What about? ‘All roads lead to God’.

Easy to say that it’s wrong but that doesn’t make it the right reply.

Been an interesting exercise from my perspective. I think we step back from so many opportunities due to a lack of confidence, which comes from a lack of knowledge. We don’t know enough about our own faith, let alone any other beliefs so why would we start a conversation. Avoidance often seems the best solution.

However…how can you make disciples with an unwillingness to talk.

Facts are ok.
Facts alone though are not enough.
You need to know how to use them. That was my aim.

How would you answer this?
What would you say to start a great conversation with someone about their beliefs?

Are You Questioning Your Faith?

This is a dangerous question to ask but one that we should not be afraid of asking. Recently heard of a few people who are experiencing the whole ‘question my faith’ issue. Feel the need to say – that’s okay.

Questions are good.
Questions are how we learn.
Questions don’t mean you don’t love God, they just mean you want to know more (I hope).

Faith is a subjective thing. Isn’t it? Everyone experiences it in different ways. The fundamentals may be the same but the outworking of it can look different. Yes?

Anyway…just wondered what are the questions that people have in respect to their Christian faith?
Are they questions of doubt?
Are they questions of clarity?
Or are they not really questions at all and the phrase is just being used as a ‘get out’ clause.

We should not be afraid to ask questions. As Pastors & Christian leaders we should not be afraid to enter in to dialogue about our faith. Surely that’s a good thing. Something to be encouraged. To just sit and say ‘because’ or keep stating that ‘Jesus is the only way to God’ is not usually enough. It could be deemed arrogant. It could be deemed ignorant. Either way, it’s probably not good. Possibly paints a rather dim view of Christians too.

Is your faith being tested? Are you having doubts? Do you need some clarity?
What are the questions that need answering that can help you move forward in your journey with God?

I’m not saying that I have all the answers. Maybe we can learn something together…

[Leave your questions as a comment]

Book Review: No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke

Some books come across your path at just the right timer and this is definitely one of those books. As someone who holds the role of Service Pastor for Xcel Darlington, how to connect, create growth and love people has taken on a new level of meaning. This book then was very challenging and thought-provoking.

Occasionally you read statements and the simplicity of what you are reading is like ‘WOW’. Taking on board the real-life stories just adds the right dimension, proving a convincing point.

Challenging thoughts: My focus needs to change!
‘Our responsibility is not to make people grow or change. Our task (as Church leaders) is to create the right soil, a rich healthy environment, in which people can grow up in faith…’ ‘God is responsible for the growth, for changed hearts, but the soil is the responsibilty of the leader and Christ-followers who make up the Church.’

To give someone the chance to grow spiritually, they must be given the right food. That’s one of the roles of being their Pastor. That’s a continuous challenge.

To be honest I enjoyed the journey that John Burke took me on through this book – helping to build a picture of what it takes to reach the emerging generation. Building trust, answering the right questions, creating an environment of acceptance and a culture of growth. The chapter on creating a culture of family was read at just the right time, reminding me that life in Church is about people, not about programmes. Being part of the family can help change someones life.

Difficult to express how this book impacted me, except to say ‘Thanks’ to the author for putting pen to paper and being ready to share honestly what it takes to grow a life-changing, hope bringing church in the 21st Century. I would recommend this to Pastors and Church leaders. Get your copy here

Obvious Truth: Jesus is THE MAN

Reading through the gospels at the moment and I know I shouldn’t be but I am just astounded at how absolutely incredible Jesus really was. His capacity to do stuff was immense.

Marvelling at the pace Jesus did life at. Everyday was filled with so much. Usually unplanned, unexpected and unusual. Is it just me but Jesus seemed to have no two days the same. I realise it’s not an exact timeline for his 3 years of ministry but WOW! So much going on. Things coming at him from every conceivable direction.

So many demands on him.
So many people wanting a piece of him.
So many questions from all different types of people.
So many opportunities.
So many choices.

Yet amidst it all he still had time to teach. He still managed to stay on course. He still maintained times of quietness and stillness which I guess are what maintained him. He still had compassion for people. He never tired of helping. He always spoke with clarity and purpose. There were not many empty words that he spoke, he wasn’t frivolous in his actions, thoughts or words. Instructing, challenging, rebuking.

His ability to answer questions is just incredible. Knowing that many times the questions were loaded, an attempt to catch him out and trap him, yet his thought processes were always sharp, ready, never dull.

My life is nowhere near that pace and I so easily become careless, thoughtless and useless. I probably miss out on so many opportunities because I’m not alive enough to what is going on around me. Maybe I’m to inward looking while Jesus was always outward looking. That’s not to be to down on myself but when you reflect your life on Jesus the shortcomings always seem so much more obvious.

I realise I’m talking about the SON OF GOD here but nonetheless…what a role model…what an inspiration…what a challenge…
…to not get distracted or frustrated or exasperated with people
…to live life on purpose
…to be centred around the needs of others rather than my own
…and so much more!!!

Interesting though? Do you agree?

Book Review: Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

97815813497572This book is a must read for any Christian, wherever you are in life. You don’t need to be a Pastor or leader to read this. Why? It will load you up with answers to questions that people actually ask and that is incredibly important.

Thank God for Christian leaders who can communicate answers to those questions in a way that the people listening can understand. Who know their stuff. Who are not afraid to sometimes just tell it like it is. That is real, honest Christianity. That makes it accessible for anyone.

As a Pastor, I am always feeling that my theology is a little light at times. I study, I read, I chew over stuff and meditate. This book is more than a good read but a whacking great big toolbox, full of reference, full of insight and full of truth. Very much timeless answers to timely questions.

Get your copy here and get some knowledge that can help you reach the people around you. No more do you need to say that you don’t have the answers.

Anyone else read this? Care to leave a review?