When you were a kid it was a lot easier. In college you almost had to be trying not to make friends. But then you’re an adult. You get busy with work. Your friends get busy with work. People get married. Have kids. And pretty soon being “close” means a text message twice a year.
You’re not alone… Or, actually, the whole point of this is you really may be alone. But you’re not alone in being alone. These days we’re all alone together. In 1985 most people said they had 3 close friends. In 2004 the most common number was zero.
Via Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect:
In a survey given in 1985, people were asked to list their friends in response to the question “Over the last six months, who are the people with whom you discussed matters important to you?” The most common number of friends listed was three; 59 percent of respondents listed three or more friends fitting this description. The same survey was given again in 2004. This time the most common number of friends was zero. And only 37 percent of respondents listed three or more friends. Back in 1985, only 10 percent indicated that they had zero confidants. In 2004, this number skyrocketed to 25 percent. One out of every four of us is walking around with no one to share our lives with.
Friends are important. Nobody would dispute that. But I doubt you know how very important they are.
So let’s see just how critical friends can be — and the scientifically backed ways to get more of them in your life…
Lead Pastors, you want the quality of your teaching team to be as excellent as possible. Likely, you are the Senior Pastor because you have the strongest teaching gift on your team. However, to continue to be the best communicator you can be and to keep good stewardship of life with a proper work/life balance (one of our nine core values here at Vanderbloemen), you need regular breaks.
But perhaps you or your people are worried about the quality of teaching when it isn’t you. So you end up teaching more than you likely should for the sake of the church. I believe this actually hurts you and your church. I recently wrote an article on why you should teach less.
Here is a simple plan that I used for years to improve the teaching team’s abilities to communicate on the weekend: Make them preach their sermon to you early, and give them feedback before the weekend services – not just after. And I don’t mean have a short conversation about the sermon. I mean make them preach it early, before they deliver it to the entire church. They should preach it start to finish in front of you and a small group of staff or volunteers.
Ricky Gervais is a British comedian who some consider more influential among atheists than the famed Richard Dawkins. I guess that means the time had to come when I would respond to him here.
He had a short conversation with Stephen Colbert recently about God. He probably thought he scored some points on Colbert, a devout Catholic. Maybe so for entertainment value, but not much else, I’m afraid. He makes the usual atheist mistakes.
Let’s look at some of his main points.
“Not a Belief”
At 1:10 Colbert asks, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Gervais ducks the question, calling it irrelevant. Not much there.
At 1:36 Colbert asks, “Is there a prime mover that started everything?” It’s a great question that’s motivated tons of discussion among thinkers down through the ages. Gervais ducks it, too, answering simply, “outside science and nature I don’t believe so.”
But he doesn’t explain why; he only goes on to tell what kind of atheist he is: “Atheism isn’t a belief system; it’s only rejecting the claim that there is a God.”
That’s an all-too-common answer among atheists. “Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s a lack of belief.” The problem is, though, that for the great majority of atheists in the Western world, their atheism includes a belief in a purely materialistic reality, which makes it a belief system after all. Among other things, it’s the belief that:
- Every religion is wrong.
- The universe exists without any morality or intelligence at its foundation. It is a happy accident
- There is no soul, so death is final; therefore there is no ultimate justice, no accountability beyond what we can see with our own eyes.
There aren’t many books like Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke that encourage my soul with rich pastoral theology and the practical outworking of God’s amazing grace. I read this book like I read many; highlighting and taking notes like a madman. From those notes and highlights are ten lessons below, featuring quotes from John Newton and author Tony Reinke. (Quotes containing quotation marks signify Reinke quoting Newton.)
1. Find the right communication medium for you.
While many influential pastors are best known for their sermons or books, Newton’s best-known work is a song—but not just any song, one of history’s most famous: “Amazing Grace.” His personal pastoral letters also are much more influential than either his books or sermons.
Maybe your medium is a Sunday school class, giving away good Christian books, or counseling a friend at a Starbucks. Newton’s example should encourage us to serve faithfully, pray for ways we can uniquely serve Christ, and not compare ourselves to others with different gifts.
2. There is power in a testimony.
Newton’s former life as a slave trader helped him establish an influential public ministry platform. When God’s amazing grace intervenes in a life like he did Newton’s, we cannot tire to tell the story. (Read: How to Write (and Share) Your Christian Testimony.)