Embracing the beauty of diversity

by Jill King

I believe that every human is born with value and worth, therefore should be entitled to rights. I also believe that every person is unique, characterized with specific attributes which contribute to who they are and what they have to offer the world. When we look to a level playing field of equality as an end goal, it’s important to keep this masterful mosaic of the human race in mind. No one should be treated poorly because of their classification, but perhaps individuals should be considered in light of the diversity they represent. There’s an attitude that I perceive to be somewhat forced when we attempt to view the world through the lens of color-blindness, sexual orientation blindness, religious blindness- the list goes on. This practice really does us a disservice and manifests itself through our societal ignorance. We were all created in the image of God, and this is one telling commonality that humans share. He created this world with color and variety, and it would be a shame to dilute these characteristics that reflect his very nature. I believe in advocacy and justice for those without a voice, but when the motivation is pure power, not supported by experience or relationships, I think we are missing the point.

As a woman, I want to be perceived and remembered for the unique person God made me to be. He gave me a feminine nature, a compassionate spirit, and zest for life. I do not want to assert power and control to simply prove something to the world. I want to thrive in my God given identity. I think it would serve us well to see others for who they really are, not only through association of the tribe that they belong to. I wish we could boldly admit to one another that we are different and intentionally celebrate or advocate for the difficulty that comes along with certain classifications. We can’t ignore the fact that we live among people who are not like us. I don’t want to look past skin, which tells a story of history and surrounds eyes that have witnessed things that some of us have only had nightmares about. I want to be seen differently than a man, because some of my God given qualities are based on the distinguishing characteristics of being a woman. I will not assume someone with a different sexual orientation is just like me, because I know their experience of facing society is vastly different from my own. I want to have an understanding of different religions, because our faith and beliefs significantly impact the way we choose to live our lives.

My desire is to deeply understand others, not to assume that everyone is like me or that we are simply all the same. I’ve always been burdened by the fact that even when we seek to walk in the shoes of another, we still only have our own perception of their perspective. We can not get outside of our own mind, but the Holy Spirit can bring wisdom and understanding. When we view people in light of who they are, understanding that there is no replication of them in this world, it shifts the way we see others, and it deepens our expression of love. If our hearts are centered on the beauty of diversity, I believe we will take advances toward being more direct with one another, and less concerned about being politically correct. Our uniqueness matters, and it’s all part of His eternal Kingdom.


by Bob Roberts Jr.

I had so much fun last week speaking and participating at the SENTRALIZED CONFERENCE put on by Lance Ford and Brad Briscoe.  As usual Alan Hirsch is brilliant and listening to Ori Brafman was a treat.  I always learn something from Neil Cole.  Brad and Lance we’re really good.  Caesar Kalinowski really did excellent teaching on the Holy Spirit.  Michael Frost brought such a great word on grace . . . I could go on and on.  One of the things I like about this conference is the freshness of questioning everything – even themselves!  That’s transparency and real thinking in my book.  So as we began the session Saturday morning they talked about the whole “missional movement” and where it is heading, where it is running out of steam, why that is, if it is, and what needs to happen?  The answers were simple, Brad talked about loving people, Caesar talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and Michael talked about living in grace.  I’ve heard some mega-church pastors have the same conversation about the “mega-church movement”.  Read more

D. L. MOODY – A LIFE By Kevin Belmonte

By Bob Roberts

Recently I was at Moody Publishing and Moody Bible Institute and met many people and had some great conversations.  I loved what I saw taking place there.  After reading this biography on Moody, and being reminded of who he was and what he did – I think he’d love the direction Moody Publishing, Radio, and Institute is headed.  While there, the publishing department gave me some books, one was the biography on Moody.  It was really good.  Long enough to give you more than a historical line allowing you to get inside his head and character, but not so long that you get lost and have to fight to stay focused.  I love reading biographies and thought this was one of the best written biographies on anyone I’ve ever read.

Young pastors would do well, and anyone for that matter, to read this biography.  I learned things about Moody that I didn’t know.  Often I will say or write that we must engage our world with a 21st century mentality not an 18th or 19th century mentality – Moody in many ways would be a 21st century faith leader.  Here are some things that really stood out. Read more


by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I remember the first time I met you – you were in your 20’s and I was in my 30’s.  Our mutual friend Dave Travis introduced us.  We were in that first church planting learning community Leadership Network put together with maybe ten of us.  Bob Buford was a gift to us, not so much in the finances but in bringing us together to learn from one another.  What set us apart were not our networks,  we didn’t have them, but that each of us as pastors were starting churches out of our churches.  I still believe that is superior to any network, denomination or organization and is the only way we will ever see a legitimate movement (for another blog).  Read more

Blog: Less Is More

By Jill King

Are you tired? Me too…kind of.

Overwhelmed? Bombarded? Fatigued? I don’t know the most appropriate word, really. But I do know that this communal drag we experience is the result of excess. We accidentally seek it, our flesh desires it, but we don’t respond well to it. The misery inflicting collection of excess is our misguided approach to fulfilling our call to abundance. 

In considering this thought, I’ve begun to identify this specific drain that comes from overload that we routinely succumb to. I sense it as my eyes glaze over while my thumb is involuntarily sliding up and down my phone screen, not even paying attention to the words on my Facebook mini feed. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH FACEBOOK. I love social media, and I confess I judge the bashers (my bad). But get with it people- connect with the world. It’s how we do things these days. Our social media addiction is just as sufficient example as our longing for approval by the way we dress, the cars we drive, the compliments that our starving ego tries to live off of. We collect all of these things in an attempt to fill ourselves until our beings become so tired. When we reach this place, there is no oil, no patch, no drink mix that can waken us in the way our spirits were intended to be alive.  Read more

Blog: Why People Crash in the Ministry

By Bob Roberts Jr.

Everyone has junk.  There are no perfect people.  Everybody has inabilities and weaknesses. No one has the whole package.  It’s a lot more fun to look at someone else’s imperfection than to look at our own.  As a matter of fact, I’m convinced the reason we love judging others is because it makes us feel better about ourselves – “we aren’t ‘that’ bad!”

I recently read somewhere that in America 1300+ pastors per month leave the ministry.  There’s no doubt about it, leading a church can be hell. Read more

Blog: 10 Marks I look for in Exceptional Church Planters – Part 1

By Bob Roberts Jr.

When I started Northwood in 1985 no one was really talking church planting that much. Pastors coming out of seminary definitely were not doing it – Rick Warren & Bill Hybels were anomalies. Today, it’s just the opposite, no one wants to pastor an established church and everyone wants to start a church. Sad to say, in my day many started churches because they couldn’t get an established church – but some were called and gifted and went out because of that call. Today, some, but not all, start churches because they see it as the quickest way to grow a church real big real fast.

1. An exceptional church planter has dealt with their brokenness. A church planter with a checkered past or a checkered present, that is being kept hidden from everyone else, sooner or later comes to the surface. Read more


By Bob Roberts Jr.

There are some things that simply will not develop in our lives until we are faced with crisis, danger, or hardships. Most people live lives trying to avoid pain and hardships- it’s normal, who wants to suffer? When a situation comes uninvited, we see what we are made of. In our heart we desire to answer the challenge with faith and courage – sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. No one gets off free, but this is where character and integrity are developed. In the past few weeks I have watched people get bad doctors diagnosis, lose their jobs, struggle through a divorce they did not want, get a bad report on a child they love with all their heart. Generally, everyone has tried to “do the right thing” even though that can be confusing at times. Read more


By Bob Roberts Jr.

“God First Church” meets upstairs – no joke!
“God First Church” meets upstairs – no joke!

The global church really doesn’t argue over forms of church.  You will find them all.  I believe there are three expressions of church from Ephesians and we need all three to be healthy.  First, there is the cell, organic, or house church from where the gifts and ministry takes place.  Second, there is the congregation from where equipping, celebration and strategic engagement take place.   Third, there is the global church from which we connect to learn from each other, see what God is doing on the fringes so we can prepare for the future and engage the world together.  I believe everyone should and will be connected to those forms in some way.  But how they look and what they are like are incredibly diverse.  Read more

Blog: MULTIFAITH! The Basis of the Global Faith Forum

by Bob Roberts Jr



The Global Faith Forum was a fantastic event!  The response, the connections, the opportunities, the learning – all of it was simply incredible.  I’ve been swamped by many emails, inquiries, and next steps for people moving forward with people of other faiths.  A friend of mine who is a rabbi was here for the event.  The picture above doesn’t have him, but the others in his study group of

Notice what he wrote:

“Yesterday morning I had  a great conversation with my neighborhood clergy colleagues, while discussing your book. I suggested we read it and discuss it together. Everyone liked the book a lot.      The conversation helped me to better see everyone’s genuine interest in reaching out across barriers.

This time the group included Evangelical and Mainline pastors, and me. Next time hopefully we’ll include Muslim colleagues. Before I was afraid to invite the Muslims, because I doubted some of my Christian colleagues’ ability to greet them with sincere interest and kindness. I now feel confident about their intentions and their open hearts. The conversation paved the way to help make the group larger and more interesting in the future.”

Incredible, a Jewish rabbi leading a study group with Christians and other Jews on Bold as Love.  We, as evangelicals should be leading the way.  EVANGELICALS – WE HAVE A SERIOUS PERCEPTION PROBLEM!  Our view of the Gospel and Scriptures should have us out front, not seen as the ones who treat others with disrespect.

The video’s are all up from the Global Faith Forum - you can see them from 2010 and now 2013.  The main sessions were war, women, communication, reconciliation, and engagement.

I’ve had many who are ready to move forward in their own communities.  We have church members who are veterans at this that actually train others with Bold as Love community groups and projects.  Feel free to contact us if you want to move forward.

I’m realizing more everyday the greatest need that evangelicals have is to understand the world and the 21st century and not revert to an 18th or even 20th century mindset on engaging the world.  It simply does not work, and will create so many obstacles that prevent people from getting to hear the good news of Jesus in a practical and intelligent way.  May we not be ‘ignorance on fire’ but a ‘focused intelligent fire’ that lives in the public square loving all people, serving all people, sharing with all people unashamedly about who Jesus is in our life but in natural everyday ways.

No one speaks that much anymore about modernity or postmodernity and how that affects ministry – instead the words are relevance, spirituality, and authenticity.  You simply cannot ignore the world or be tribal in your faith and expect to be any of the above three.  The whole Christian justice movement where young people are concerned about water, human trafficking, adoption – and on and on and on globally – is the impact of the millinials now in the global square and it’s wonderful.  When I was a teenager when you thought about the world you thought about being a “missionary” – this generation when they think about the world they think about being “humanitarians” and I for one think it’s great.  As long as our humanitarian outlook is driven by Jesus and his love.  Deliverance, hearings, miracles – all of these were signs the Kingdom of God had come.  The message of Jesus was welcome to my Kingdom, and then he defined it.  Growing up, the only Gospel I understand was the Gospel of salvation – I didn’t understand Colossians 1.  May we believe it, live it, and organically and relationally see his kingdom flow out from our lives to the ends of the earth.