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PLEASE DON’T QUIT

by Bob Roberts Jr

Last week I was with several church planters who are at at different stages in their ministry, but all pushing hard.  Some of them were about to start and faced obstacles and were wondering if they could really pull it off.   Some of them were in the middle of it and didn’t have answers for obstacles.   One church planter is a now full-fledged “church” and was wondering if he shouldn’t start another church because of the struggles, the new and excitement had worn off.  I was also with some pastors of established churches – some fairly large and influential – one was weary of the constant complaining, another weary of dealing with staff issues.  I was with a married couple who was hanging on by a thread.  I was with a young man whose job didn’t work out and he was feeling like a failure.  Everyone, no exceptions, regardless of the situation would love to simply escape.  I was recently with a prominent pastor who is now 80, and he  told me of everyone he went to seminary with and started out in the pastorate, only three made it to the finish line.  One my mentors and heroes, now with the Lord, told me a few months before he died that as we get older things actually get more difficult and challenging. Read more

THE UNIQUE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH & BELIEVER GLOBALLY

by Bob Roberts Jr. 

I believe the sleeping giant of the American Church globally is its African American believers.  The narrative most often related to biblically with the African American is that of Moses and deliverance being applied to the African American experience from slavery to the Civil War to Civil Rights to our first African American President Barak Obama. 

The world is ready for African Americans to be on the global public stage in a bigger way.  There are many who have paved the way – but in reality, in this modern period, no one more than Colin Powell.  He could have been President had he wanted it, by both parties and by all races, he is a leader xtraordinaire.  When President Obama was running for the Presidency and then won, his crowds globally were unprecedented for an American President – the world was ready.  Read more

“THE CHURCH IS THE WORLD’S HOPE”

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I’ve heard this quote a lot over the past 20 years from many different people. I’ve even said it myself.  I believe when functioning properly as the body of Christ, it is.  In a technical sense, it is Jesus that is the hope of the world, but Jesus in Acts has a new body he establishes, a body called the “ecclesia” (called out ones, colony as an outpost).  In Luke Jesus had a physical body, in Acts it’s a spiritual body as a community of believers.  When those believers are connected to Jesus, the HEAD of the church, their FEET move in the direction he wants them to.  What Jesus came to do as one, we also do as one, but as a community of Jesus followers with diverse gifts, callings, and ministries.  It takes all of these in operation for the Good News of Jesus to spread and for lives and communities to be transformed.  It is to be the church that actually brings the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the peace of the Kingdom to life and the world, whether it always does or not.  The Kingdom of God will always have its church, yet the Kingdom is bigger than any single, local church.  I learned 20 years ago, when I was first discovering the kingdom, that what was good for the Kingdom would always be good for the local church, though at times it hurt a specific local church – we aren’t to hoard and hold on to, but give away and spread around. Read more

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.

WHY START A MOVEMENT WHEN YOU CAN JOIN THE WORLD’S GREATEST MOVEMENT – THE JESUS MOVEMENT!

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

Blog: I LOVE YOU MARK DRISCOLL

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