Fuel For The Week.4


In education that question has been posed, “is there still room for the ‘sage on the stage?” After all, don’t students learn better in discussion groups or hands on activities? Check out this piece by the New York Times–perhaps it doesn’t have to be an either/or but rather, a both/and.


I have been aware of Peacemaker Ministries for sometime but it was not until that enrolled in “Managing Conflict in Congregations” taught by Dr. Gupton that I took an in-depth look at their material. I’d recommend checking out some of their Foundational Principles.

1 Corinthians:

The Bible Project has just released a new overview video on the book of 1 Corinthians. You can watch it here.

Fuel For The Week.3


I’m always looking for ways to increase productivity. One way is to try to stay on top by making and keeping lists. However, the piles of envelopes and stick notes that I write my reminders on have a tendency to be misplaced. I tried using a journal that I carried with me, but that in itself was not as helpful as I had hoped. For a while I have been experimenting with Bullet Journaling and it has helped me out greatly. It’s an easy way to organize lists and tasks. Check out at the video was their webpage for more information.


In keeping with the theme of productivity. Chad Brooks is a minister in Louisiana who has a website and a podcast devoted to productivity in ministry. Chad consistently shares helpful material. Check out his page.

Fuel For the Week.2


Justin Imel is currently blogging about how God has walked with him as he has suffered with a physical disability. Justin has some great insights and shares his own story in a powerful way. Join in on the journey over at And He Walked With Me.


Luke Dockery a friend and classmate of mine is currently blogging on suffering as well. You can catch those posts over at A Theological View of Suffering.


The Bible Project puts out some great videos on Biblical books and themes. Check out their two videos on the book of Genesis. Part 1 and Part 2.

If you’re looking for a study guide for the book of Genesis you need to pick up a copy of The Epic of God: A Guide to Genesis by Michael Whitworth. Michael consistently puts out engaging, well-researched, and well written material that is accessible to a wide audience.

Valuing Community in the Small Church

“What life have you if you have not life together?
 There is no life that is not in community,
 And no community not lived in praise of God.”

–T.S. Elliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock”

In beginning a series on the unique characteristics of smaller churches and how to navigate them I began with a post on why I love smaller churches. As we begin this journey together it’s helpful to remember that regardless of size, churches are and are called to be community. Community exists from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation. From creation in the garden where Adam and Eve are both created and live in community, to the Exodus and the people of God who emerge into God’s covenant community, all the way through Jesus’ relationship with his disciples, the church as the body of Christ, to the ending of Revelation where God will dwell with them as their God; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them (Rev. 21:3). David Ray makes an excellent point concerning this, “The beginning and end of creation is community, and this community is not just our community but also God’s community and our mutual community.”

Community is not a system contrived from human intellect but from a loving God who created people to be together. We need relationships and all that comes from them—encouragement, counsel, correction, conversation.

Perhaps you are asking, “What on earth does this have to do with smaller churches?” If humans are created for community and we crave and need what community has to offer, it would follow that a requirement for this is that the people making up the community must first know each other but also care for each other. Can this type of community take place in medium and large congregations? Of course, but it takes more intentionality to do so.

David Ray notes, “the smaller the community, the more intimately the members can and should know one another, and the more deeply they can care about and for one another.” Even Ray notes the importance on being intentional concerning the cultivation of community. Just because it’s supposed to happen does not always mean that it does.

The desire to be known, cared for, and affirmed is natural. We all want to be loved, we want people to care about us, we want to know that we matter. There is no better place to meet these common human needs than in the context of a smaller community. Middle sized and larger congregations commonly and often offer these through classes and fellowship/life/cell groups. For smaller congregations that is often what you inherently are—a small group. It’s important to utilize this. By being hospitable, open, and welcoming you have the ability to not only meet the spiritual needs of people who are searching, but also an innate need in the desires to be loved and cared about.

Congregations of all size have unique offerings and are all needed, but it’s important to remember that the value is not in the size, but rather in being a faithful witness in the context where you are.

Fuel for the Week.1

Ministry: Check out this great post on Street Smarts for Church Leaders by Jim Martin. Jim is the Vice President of Harding School of Theology and has many years of ministry experience. I always enjoy reading his thoughts on ministry.

Productivity: Productivity Guru Michael Hyatt addresses The 2 Most Powerful Words for Reaching Your Goals.

Biblical Languages:  Check out Daily Dose of Greek where Dr. Robert Plummer works through one verse of the New Testament in the original language. Videos are usually two minutes long and he does 5 videos per week.

Congregational Helps: Check out this video by Dale Jenkins where he talks about Take Them a Meal and Perfect Potluck. Take Them a Meal would be useful for congregations to make sure meals are covered when there is a need. Perfect Potluck is similar but would be used to see what is covered or needed for congregational potlucks.

What I Love About Smaller Churches


“Big things come in small packages” is a phrase that no doubt we are familiar with. The meaning of it is of course that an object should not be underestimated because of it’s size. My experience in churches is mainly limited to congregations that are classified as small. Although size dynamics in churches are not exactly concrete, Lyle Schaller notes that small churches are those who have 35-100 in a worship service. I grew up in a smaller church that in my early years had around 60 and is a little bit less than that now. I minister for a congregation that has around 100 present for worship on Sunday mornings.

It seems that often times smaller congregations can have a complex that revolves around image. Are we doing something wrong if we are not a large church? It is my belief, but also my experience that smaller churches have a lot to offer. In this blog series I want to examine the unique traits and characteristics of smaller churches and also to provide hope and some ideas for navigating through congregational life as a smaller church.

David Ray explored smaller churches for sometime and recorded his findings in his book The Indispensable Guide for Smaller Churches. Upon visiting with a church in Utah he found that there had been some were questioning their value as a smaller group. Their minister compiled a list of reasons “Why I am Not Ashamed” that included some great assets of a smaller congregation. Here are some of my own reasons for “Why I am not ashamed of smaller churches:”

*Disclaimer: This is not to say that these characteristics are not present in other size groups.

  1. I am not ashamed that there were times that I received “One-on-One” attention in a Sunday school class.

Growing up I always had classmates in Sunday school. It was in those classes that a respect for the Bible, a love for God, and a love for the church reaffirmed what my parents taught me. I owe so much to the ladies that taught my bible school classes—they didn’t just teach me, they put up with me. As I got a little older there would be times that I was the only one. It was in these instances that I had people who invested in my life as an individual. That taught me not only Bible, but how their own faith was shaped by their experience. I think congregations of any size have unique traits that are great—but so often in smaller churches the ability to give one-on-one attention is present.

  1. I’m not ashamed that our “get-togethers” were almost always in themselves a small-group.

In the congregation that I grew up we would often have an “in-home devotional” once a month that were held in the homes of the members. A very large percentage of the whole congregation would attend these…and we were all able to fit in each home. Sure, all of the comfy seats were usually taken and there were a lot of people who sat in the floor, but those times of singing, bible study, had such an impact on shaping my faith. It was during these times that we really got to know each other on a personal level—the hurts, hang-ups, heartaches, and joys of each person. Those are some of my greatest memories.

  1. I’m not ashamed because I was able to experience an inter-generational church.

I was blessed to grow up in a congregation whose size aided fostering relationships between people of different age groups. It was almost guaranteed that three-generations would be involved in all things that happened. In our worship services we often had grandfathers, fathers, and sons participating together. In the life of the congregation as well as outside, older people invested in the lives of those younger by teaching, sharing, and listening.

I hope you’ll join me as we explore the characteristics as well as possible problems and prescriptions in the smaller church.

Because of Him,

Looking Back, Pressing Forward

Upon the yearly renewal of this blog I noticed that I did not post here nearly as often as I thought I did. So it’s that time once again for the obligatory “I know I haven’t written much, but I’m recommitting to it” post. So much has changed in just the last year. This time last year I was struggling through Greek I, we were just starting to buy all the things Emma Claire was going to need, and we had absolutely no clue just how much EC was going to change our lives.

Emma Claire was born in January, two days before the start of the Spring semester. We spent a week in the hospital, several days of which we were visiting EC in the NICU. Life has been on warp speed every since. It is amazing and somewhat terrifying how fast time has flown by. We’ve settled into our routines–as much as you can with an 8 month old.

Few things have impacted my faith in the way that the birth of Emma Claire has. Within those swaddling blankets in that clear plastic basinet was a child who was just starting her journey. New life filled with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Who is she going to become (my prayer is that she is just like her mother)? What will she do? More importantly who will she be? How will she impact the world around her?

It wasn’t until that moment that I more clearly able to understand Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” New hopes, new dreams, new aspirations, and a new direction.

I hope that in some way, today can be a rebirth of this blog. Since my experience is in congregational ministry I hope to use this blog to reflect on practical theology, congregational ministry, preaching, and books. My goal is to make at least one post a week. I hope they are helpful to you.

Review: Esau’s Doom

ObadiahWhen was the last time you studied the Old Testament book of Obadiah? Sure, we’ve read through it in our Bible reading—recognizing that it is one of the shortest books of the Bible weighing in at a whopping 21 verses. Michael Whitworth is able to unpack Obadiah and provide some explanation into its themes that would greatly benefit any Bible student.

Whitworth combines great academic sources with an easy-to-read writing style that conveys the deep truths of this prophetic book in a very engaging way. Not only does Whitworth cite the heavyweights of Old Testament scholarship, but plugs in 93 endnotes in this one alone–just to give you an idea of how well-researched it is.

From an editorial standpoint the book is divided well. Michael breaks Obadiah into four sections (vv. 1-9; 10-14; 15-18; and 19-21). One of the best assets of any of Whitworth’s books is his “talking points” section and he does not disappoint in Esau’s Doom.




Click here for to get a copy for yourself.

Review: Living and Longing for the Lord

ImageLiving and Longing for the Lord is Michael Whitworth’s new commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Michael has already proven to be a talented commentator with his work on Genesis (The Epic of God, 2012) and Daniel (The Derision of Heaven, 2013). Living and Longing strikes a great balance between scholarship and devotional reading; making deeper exploration of the text available for people of varying biblical knowledge. Whether you are a seminary graduate with an M.Div., a high school student, a bible class teacher, or someone who is still trying to figure all of this out Living and Longing for the Lord is written in a way that you will gain much from it.

Michael is able to masterfully weave his humor, personal insights and experiences with New Testament scholars such as: F. F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Bruce Metzger, Warren Wiersbe, Ben Witherington III,  NT Wright, and many others to present a great work on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

At 186 pages Living and Longing is a concise work that is able to convey the great truths of Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence without being overwhelming. Each chapter concludes with a “Talking Points” section to help solidify and further apply the information in turn making this a great text for use in the bible classroom as well as for personal study. Get your copy today, you’ll be glad you did!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Living and Longing for the Lord:

“The Thessalonians were simply a group of Christians trying to live out the radical implications of their faith in the midst of a hostile environment.” (26)

“God’s work is our greatest cause for gratitude.” (26)

“Given that the American church invests a lot of faith in the U.S. military and the Bill of Rights, Paul’s warning should convict us of so great an idolatry. Trust the government all you want, but know that such trust is utterly misplaced. The only thing that can save us from the greatest disaster the world will ever know is a radical, sincere confession of Jesus’ lordship and preparation for his return.” (97)

“I find joy in a large bag of M&M’s, a hot cup of coffee, or when my wife makes my favorite dessert. In the grander scheme of things, however, none of these delights matter nearly as much as what God has done for us in Christ. Christians can “rejoice always” because “setback” isn’t in God’s vocabulary (cf. Romans 8:31).” (115)