Category: Lectureships (Page 1 of 10)

Actual Leadership

Today is Opening Day and this is the year the Texas Rangers win 90-games and lay the groundwork for a World Series Championship in 2024! They have the best team they’ve ever had in their miserable history, the best starting rotation in the Major Leagues, an All-Star duo up the middle, and the best pitcher in the world in Jacob deGrom. Bochy-Ball begins today. And it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

Yes. I know. I’m drinking in every bit of it. I’m swallowing it whole. Hook, line, and sinker. I’m in.

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When a baseball team is picking its captain, they don’t choose a rookie. Has a rookie ever been made the captain of a sports team? Healthy teams pick the ones who’ve won championships and played in All-Star Games. They select as captains those who’ve been doing it at a high level for a long time. They choose the ones who arrive early and stay late and live in the weight room. They don’t pick a guy because he’s all blinged-out and he drives a million dollar car and he just filmed a really funny commercial for Nissan. They pick a man with experience. A man who goes above and beyond.

They look around the locker room and say, “Who do we want to be like? Who can we imitate? Who’s already been there and might be able to get us there with him?”

That’s the guy they choose as their leader.

It’s very similar to selecting shepherds to lead your church family. We look around the congregation and ask, “Who do we want to be like? Who can we imitate? Who looks the most like Jesus?¬† Who’s acting and thinking and living like the Christ?” Let’s pick that guy.

You’re not looking for men who CAN be shepherds; you’re looking for men who already ARE shepherds. You just need to make it official.

“Respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Designate the ones who are acting like shepherds. The ones who are working hard to serve the saints. Submit to them (1 Corinthians 16:16). The ones who are already teaching, praying, and encouraging; the ones  who are already making the visits and volunteering and leading small groups and pouring themselves into the relationships and the mission of your congregation. Follow them.

“Take note of those who live according to the pattern.” ~Philippians 3:17

Those who live according to the Gospel. Those who live in the name and manner of our crucified and coming Lord Jesus. Take note of them. Recognize them. Point them out. And follow them.

These church leaders are selected because of their work; they don’t start working because they get selected. The Bible says look at the people who are already serving the Lord and his Church and acknowledge them. These people are surfacing as spiritual leaders, so recognize it officially. Does he act like Jesus? Does he sacrifice and serve? Does he consider the needs of others more important than his own? Does he dwell in the Word and pass on the faith? Is his life being visibly transformed by the Holy Spirit?

Then he’d probably make a good elder.

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Our Worship Minister here at GCR, Cory Legg, and I are heading to Abilene today for the now twice-annual ACU Summit. The highlight of the day will be the keynote dinner with and presentation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez, the history professor at Calvin University and author of “Jesus and John Wayne.” Her 2020 book articulates so well the problem the American Church has with credibility and Christian influence because of our ties with national politics. She connects the dots so clearly between the Church’s grab for power by using the ways and means of the world as opposed to transforming the world by Christ Jesus’ ways of sacrifice and service. She says so well in this book what I’ve been trying to say clumsily and without much effect for almost twenty years. I can’t wait to hear her this evening.

And if you’ve been thinking deep down in your gut for a while now that there’s something wrong with Christians asserting their rights, demanding their positions become everybody’s positions, and using power, threat, and violence to accomplish it, then I urge you to read her book. There’s a reason the Church is dying in the United States. And we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Lord, have mercy on us.

Peace,

Allan

GCR at ACU

Road trip! We jumped into J.E.’s Suburban Thursday morning and headed east to Abilene for some team-building and the restructured Summit. Cory, Kristin, Ryan, J.E., and I were eager to hang out with groups of ministers in our own areas of interests, to reconnect with old friends, and to hear Andrew Root, the theologian and author of last year’s “Churches and the Crisis of Decline.” But a beautiful side benefit was the bonding a group experiences on even a two-hour road trip.

You can learn a lot about people when you get them together away from their regular day-to-day contexts: the extremes Ryan goes to in planning every detail of our adventure, Cory’s shaving habits, Kristin’s chewing gum obsession, J.E.’s questionable tastes in music. The things that make us laugh and Ryan’s “bit” about Jerry Seinfeld not being that funny. The things that stir our hearts to action. The love we share for Christ and God’s people at Golf Course Road. The pressures and stresses that come with congregational ministry in a time like ours. The varying levels of concern we shared about the lack of a good late night ice cream place in Abilene.

 

 

 

 

 

We were overjoyed to see some of our GCR kids who are attending school at ACU. We ran into sweet Callie Doke and her boyfriend, Gabe, after chapel at the newly remodeled Moody Coliseum. The super-fun Emma Daman drove us around campus in her golf cart with supreme skill and professionalism – five stars! I was blessed to see a couple of our Central kids from our church in Amarillo: Chelsea Flow and her new husband, Riley, who are now ministering in San Antonio, and an exuberant Eli McCall who seems to be truly loving his Wildcat life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was great seeing Todd Lewis and Lance Parrish. Todd and I served on the city council together in Marble Falls a million years ago and worshiped and served and raised young children together in that wonderful Marble Falls church during the ’90s. Lance and I began our congregational ministries together at Legacy – he was our Junior High Youth Minister and I was a first time preacher in 2007. I enjoyed sitting at the feet of Randy Harris again. It was at once terribly sobering and wonderfully encouraging – just like every session with Randy. I was thrilled to hug Judy Siburt’s neck and catch up with Carson Reed. I ran into Jake Perkins and Wes Crawford. It was really good to be in a familiar place with so many familiar people, worshiping together, talking about ministry together, praying together. Our gracious Lord has been very kind to put so many of his best people in front of me over the past 20 years, to walk with me and help me, to teach me and encourage me in this task for which I’ve been divinely called, but for which I am so horribly ill-equipped. None of that is lost on me. Some of the very brightest and best people in our Christian tribe have poured themselves into me over the years. I have been highly favored by our God. And I am forever shocked and eternally grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to our ministry gang at GCR. Another tremendous blessing for me from our Lord. Carrie-Anne and I have been in Midland now for about 14-months. That’s long enough to learn enough about where we’ve landed, the people we’re with, and what’s probably ahead. And it’s good. It’s very good. It was just two hours in a Suburban to Abilene there and back, a few meals together, an impulsive hour at Minter Park, and some conversations about ministry and our current culture. But it confirmed my love for this group our God has put together at Golf Course Road. We’re committed to the vision and direction the Lord has mapped out for our church, to the relationships within our ministry team and our families, and to working and serving together in Midland, Texas by his grace. God can work with a ministry team like ours. And he is.

Peace,

Allan

Our Own Chuy’s!

We celebrated the grand opening of the Midland Chuy’s last night and it was fabulous! Yes, every person in the world will tell you never to go to a restaurant during their opening month, much less their very first day. But we ignore that advice when it’s the opening of our very own Chuy’s. Yes, we waited in line for a solid hour to get our table, and it took another ten minutes before we saw a tortilla chip. But we love the excitement and the anxiety, the thrill and the nerves of that first day. We love the surprise of exploring all the unique art work and decorations. A portrait of Queen Elizabeth in a sequined, high-collared, Elvis jumpsuit? Of course!

The place was packed with a mix of curious folks who had never eaten at Chuy’s before and more seasoned folks, like us, who’ve been eating at Chuy’s for decades and have been anticipating this Midland store with great joy since it was announced during the winter. There were managers from Lubbock and Amarillo there to oversee a service crew that was still trying to get everything figured out. How do you close these blinds to block out the west sun? Do we charge for tortillas or not? Our poor server was raw and maybe a little overwhelmed. She brought us five drinks for our party of four and admitted she’s never eaten at a Chuy’s before. But it was all part of the fun. It’s a blast to be in the middle of a crew trying to do something together for the first time. They’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off and we’re trying to encourage them and keep them going.

C-A got her tacos. I got my Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, the most perfect chicken enchilada in Texas. The girls got their cheese enchiladas. And we were extremely complimentary to the servers and the managers and wished everybody great luck as we left.

If I think about it honestly, Chuy’s is probably more nostalgic for me than anything else. When we lived in Marble Falls during the early years of our marriage, driving to Austin and eating at the original Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road was a real treat for Carrie-Anne and me. My Austin Grad seminary running buddies Charlie, Brooke, and Cynthia and I would open each new semester together with a fun lunch at the newer location on Lamar. Annual sermon seminars in Austin always include at least one loud dinner at Chuy’s with people I love but don’t see very often. And it’s always been our go-to Tex-Mex when we visit my brother Keith and his family in the capital city.

Now, finally, we have a location here in Midland. If we can only write enough letters and sign enough petitions to force them to bring back the green chili rice, it’ll be perfect.

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I’m unbelievably honored to be delivering the keynote this evening for LCU’s Encounter. And a little terrified. Teenagers don’t fake it with a speaker.

Old people? They’ll fake it. If they’re bored out of their minds, if they’re not getting anything out of the lesson, older people will still sit there and pretend like it’s fine. God’s watching. Somebody’s watching. Older people act like they’re listening.

But not teenagers. If they don’t like it, I’m going to know and everybody in the whole room is going to know. Teenagers will lay down in the floor and go to sleep – they don’t care! They’ll start scrolling through their phones. They’ll start talking to each other, they’ll get up and start walking around the room, ordering cheese fries. I’ll know. It’s so scary.

Peace,

Allan

Another Initiative Quote

Quote of the day from a wonderful hermeneutics session at the Initiative in Dallas:

“Nobody goes to church to learn what happened with the Jebusites.” ~Anna Carter Florence (quoting Harry Emerson Fosdick, I think)

Initiative Quote

Quote of the day from the Initiative, an annual gathering of preachers in Dallas:

“Competence is important, but not as important as character and integrity and relationships.” ~Jim Martin

The Initiative

Quote of the day from this evening’s opening session of the seventh annual Initiative, a Church of Christ preachers’ conference at the Highland Oaks CofC in Dallas:

“We must have more confidence in the God who called us than in the human power structures and organized religious and political systems that sometimes oppose us.” ~Jerry Taylor

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