Proverbs, Laws, or Commands?


The book of Proverbs in the Bible is often mistaken for a collection of “if-then” rules we can use to command and predict the outcome of our lives. Proverbs are actually general observations about how the world tends to work, but they are not intended to be promises. If we think of every proverb as an unbreakable rule or promise from God, we will misunderstand, misapply, and misrepresent them when we engage with them. The wisdom in the book of Proverbs is more about how its knowledge and wisdom will affect us than a list of rewards we get for following the rules. 

We must be very careful in how we approach and implement these wise sayings. Simply because they are inspired does not mean that the biblical proverbs are like laws, imposing a universal obligation. Yet, some people treat them as if they were divine commandments. If we regard them in that way, we run into all kinds of trouble. Even divinely inspired proverbs do not necessarily apply to all life situations. Rather, they reflect insights that are generally true.



Wisdom, Trust, and Baseball


Children learning to play baseball are often afraid of the ball when it is their turn at bat. Their instinct is to duck or step out of the path of the oncoming ball. Their perception of the situation is that the ball is going to hit them. They have to trust when the coach tells them the ball is not going to hit them. They have to let go of their own assessment of the situation and trust, having the wisdom to stand where the coach tells them so they can swing the bat properly and hit the ball. The same way the child has to trust the coach and avoid a natural reaction to what is going on, we have to trust God with every situation in our lives and ask him what the proper way to respond should be.

Below is a good Bible verse for you to memorize. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own wisdom; in all your ways listen to him, and he will lead you wherever you go.” Proverbs 3:5-6 



Wisdom Or Folly


Sometimes choosing between right and wrong, wisdom and folly is hard, even when the wiser of the choices is obvious. We will face this many times in our lives. We know that going to bed on time will pay off in the morning when we wake up refreshed, but when we are only three episodes away from the end of a really good series, we want to stay up and finish it. We know getting our homework done quickly and getting it out of the way will free us up for the rest of the night, but our friend just got a new game, and want us to go play with them. We know when the person we are dating tells us their parents are out of town it is best to say goodnight at the door and go home, but they are just so much fun to be around. Both options in each of these scenarios have their own appeal, but only one of the them is wise. Are you practicing folly or wise living in your life? What needs to do to change in your life so that you’ll live a life of wisdom vs folly?  



Wise Thoughts #2


I was traveling back from Vietnam a few years ago, and my point of entry was Miami. After deplaning, and walking through the terminal, I placed my backpack on the ground near a kiosk and started searching for my passport. Pocket after pocket produced no passport, and panic set-in. My passport was gone, and I had no idea what had happened to it. Did someone steal it? Did I accidentally drop it? Was it still on the plane? Where in the world was the only document that proved my identity, and the only document that would give me entry back into the United States? 

It didn’t take me long to screw my head on straight, and go into survival mode. I headed to an agent, shared my story, and began to pray. The agent radioed the airline to search the plane. We began backtracking where I had walked to see if my passport may be laying on the ground somewhere. I also dumped out my backpack and all its contents to no avail. In fact, I would’ve stripped down if it would’ve produced my passport. Nothing! In the end, customs let me through using my global entry card, but advised me to report a stolen passport, and to ultimately get a new one ASAP. I did, and now I keep my travel docs on me at all times while traveling abroad. A passport is a valuable doc to say the least, and something worth searching for when it goes missing.  

Now, something of true value will always be worth searching for, and even worth fighting for, especially if it's no where to be found. We all have something of value that if we lost it, we’d search high and low to make sure the lost item was put back into its rightful owners hands. Yours! Depending on the value of what we lost, we may even spend a ton of money to locate the precious commodity that went missing. Right? 

A proverb in the Bible says, “If you seek wisdom, you need to seek after wisdom like searching for something valuable (silver, hidden treasures, passports, etc), then you’ll discover who God really is.” Why so valuable is this thing called wisdom? Because finding wisdom restores a new relationship with our Creator, produces peace, keeps us from harm, gives us a good life, removes fear, disallows anxiety, and even helps us to sleep well at night. Doesn’t that sound great? It sounds so wonderful that I just might disregard most of my trivial pursuits, and hunt down, search for, wisdom with everything in me. Yes, my passport is valuable. Yes, your precious items are worth hunting down. But nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the eureka moment, when wisdom becomes not only a daily way of life, but a quality that dwells in your innermost being. So…above all else seek wisdom! 




Wise Thoughts #1




This weekend I taught out of the book of Proverbs in the Bible, and entitled my teaching series, “Purple People Eater.” Purple is the color of wisdom, and God’s desire for us, is to live a life of wisdom, and to surround ourselves with wise people. Not only surround ourselves with wise people, but learn to be consumers of the wisdom of these wise individuals. Hence, becoming a “Purple People Eater.” 

The book of Proverbs is wisdom filled, and challenging to all humanity. If we all applied the wisdom of this book, life would be so much easier. But, many people struggle with the principles in this book, and life tends to be much harder than it really needs to be. Why? Wisdom is learned, hence, not something we just readily apply to our lives. My hope through this teaching is, that wisdom, and its application, will become something all of us seek to live by. 

The opening paragraph of the book of Proverbs makes clear its intentions, that the book was written to teach wisdom and understanding.  Acting upon the wisdom taught in this book and doing so while we are young are two important keys to living a good life. Don’t worry, even if you’re not young, you still can start making wise, better decisions today. 

My wife (Angel), and I have grown to understand that making wise choices is a lot like saving and spending. The choices we make with our money today will impact us years from now. For example, buying an $8 meal at a fast food restaurant does not seem like an event that will greatly impact your future, but if you buy one meal every day and twice on weekend days, by the end of the week that comes to $72. In one year that is $3,744. That is money you may need one day to fix your car. If you can manage to keep saving that for five years, you will have $18,720. That could buy a car that may not break down as often.  Spending a little here and a little there, never feels like a waste. Saving a little here and a little there rarely feels like progress, but if we are able to start making wise choices now, we will see their impact as they compound and grow into things that last for the rest of our lives. 

So…are you ready to become a purple people eater? I hope so! #BeAPurplePeopleEater

Would you like to listen to my sermon? Listen to it hear:



New Sermon Series - Purple People Eater


This weekend at we start a new series I’ve entitled, “Purple People Eater.” Maybe you’ve heard the lyrics to the 1958 song, “It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater.” Funny song to say the least, and there was also a movie with the same name that came out in 1988. The photo’s for the movie are cute, and that gave me a little inspiration for this new series in the book of Proverbs in the Bible. 

Why “Purple People Eater” to walk through Proverbs? Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents the meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, and………WISDOM. Wisdom (the color purple for emphasis sake), is a big deal to God. It’s a big deal, because He’s the very essence of wisdom. It’s who He is! If we experience wisdom in our life, or see it played out in the lives of others, we can be confident the source of the wisdom is from God. 

Wisdom is such a big deal in the Bible, that we’re told to pursue it above all else. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do in the weeks to come. Pursue wisdom! 

If we want to build successful careers, have great relationships, and even experience a thriving family, we must learn wisdom. 

Here’s a little insight into Proverbs: The book of Proverbs is a collection of instructions for acquiring wisdom and living wisely. Many of the instructions in the book are self-contained thoughts that are arranged in a way that is easy to remember. Most of them are composed with opposing actions of the wise and the wicked presented side by side.  Proverbs will bring great debate, explain wickednesses plan to take from the innocent, and the punishment that wicked people will receive. But wisdom is the ultimate winner in the end. So my prayer for this new series is, that each and every person that listens to my teachings on this topic, will reap the reward of choosing wisdom over folly, and ultimately become a “Purple People Eater.” 

Come back to my blog in the weeks to come, as I’ll be posting my sermons, and writing more on the topic of wisdom. Feedback is not only welcome from you, but encouraged.



Delayed Creativity


If you are constantly engaged in reading, and responding, reading, and responding to social media, it will greatly diminish your ability to create.  A world without creatives would be a world without sunshine. Tragic & devastating! We need creatives. We need inventors. The world needs idea people. But every time you pick up your phone, read a text, respond, etc…., is a moment, a tick, a blip in time that you aren’t creating. In fact you are delaying creation. Stop it! Create something! Stressed about the thought? Probably because original thought (creativity) takes intentional disconnect, and you maybe have not done it……ever!?

I am not anti social media. I am not anti Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. I really like my I-phone. Probably too much. But……if I never learn to turn it off, disengage, be still, be quiet, I would never create either. I choose the latter. I choose to intentionally quit looking down, quit responding, quit typing. 

One goal today……create something new. 





If you’ve not been introduced to one of my all time favorite people? Here you go: Zig Ziglar was one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time. He helped move people from zero, to hero through his books, talks, and goal oriented resources. 

One of the resources that has altered the way I do, life is, The Zig Ziglar Performance Planner. I just received my 21st performance planner, which outlines my life dreams and yearly goals. The planner challenges me to exceed my wildest expectations. 

Because Zig was never willing to embrace a motionless life, his planner will push the nominal bystander to achieve something in life. 

So….when I accomplish anything worth noting, I call it ziging. I ziged my way to a successful day. I ziged my month over the hump. I ziged my year out of the blur. Those are just a few sayings I’ve used over the years to stamp the things I’ve accomplished. Fun to say the least.

Interested in accomplishing goals, and fulfilling dreams? Get the performance planner here:



Of Resume's & Eulogy's


Who doesn’t want a good looking resume? If you want to land a job worth keeping, you’re advised to have a resume that will make potential employers call you, and better yet, hire you. Resume’s are often the first look at your life, your accomplishments, and the key moments that may or may not give you the job of your choosing. But resumes are the surface. The best. The shining you. At least the good ones. But, a resume doesn’t reveal your heart, the core, your true character. What will? Your eulogy! 

Eulogy’s, or “Youlogy’s”, as I like to call them, are the stories of praise that people share about you at funerals. By the time you get to the end of your days, what is spoken of you, both publicly, and privately is the real you. It’s the true you. Why would someone give you praise for a poor life after your dead? They won’t! 

In his book, “Who Switched the Price Tags?”, Anthony Campolo related the words of the pastor of a black Baptist church, speaking to a group of college students in his congregation. Campolo wrote,

“Children,” he said, “you’re going to die!…One of these days, they’re going to take you out to the cemetery, drop you in a hole, throw some dirt on your face, and go back to the church and eat potato salad.

“When you were born,” he said, “you alone were crying and everybody else was happy. The important questions I want to ask is this: When you die are you alone going to be happy, leaving everybody else crying? When they lay you in the grave, are people going to stand around reciting the fancy titles you earned, or are they going to stand around giving stories of the good things you did for them?…Will you leave behind just a newspaper column telling people how important you were, or will you leave crying people who share stories of how they’ve lost the best friend they ever had.”

So….shine up that resume, but work way harder on that eulogy prep.  



Drinks & God


Drink machines aren’t going away anytime soon, to which all of us are grateful. Hot days, parched lips, dry mouths, an antsy child, will always make us grateful for these wonderful liquid oasis’s. 

Now imagine with me for a moment, that God is the machine, and we can insert some type of currency in Him, and out comes our relief. Makes sense when you’re talking drink machines, but God isn’t anywhere close to the analogy. So why do so many of us attempt to do good things, only to wait for the great machine to give us the beverage of our choosing? The beverage being, a miracle, an answer to our problems, getting our own way, etc.

God doesn’t work the same way a vending machine does. God never has, and never will be a machine waiting to give us what we want. Why? God has never been about the drinks. Oh, He can produce the drinks for sure, but He’s far more interested in you knowing Him, and obeying Him, than about giving you the beverage of your choice.

So, how do you start the journey of knowing and obeying Him? It all starts with taking a look at the life of Jesus Christ. The more you understand Jesus, the more you’ll grow to understand who God is, and come to realize He’s way more about relationship, and far less about the drinks. Trust me!  





Characteristics Of People You Want On Your Team


Not in any specific order, and not exhaustive. 

  1. Well groomed
  2. Humble
  3. Encourager 
  4. Somebody with a good track record
  5. Loyal
  6. Competent 
  7. Change Agent 
  8. A stable spouse
  9. Humorous
  10. Can handle stress
  11. Likable
  12. Good social skills
  13. Good parenting skills
  14. Discernment 
  15. Tough 
  16. Vulnerable 
  17. Authentic 
  18. Social Media IQ
  19. No major skeletons

Any others you can think of?



Thanksgiving Quotes


Thanksgiving is here in the United States. Even outside of the USA, you can benefit from a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. Here are fifteen quotes to get you started:

“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.” –Amy Grant

“Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then they discover once a year is way too often.” – Johnny Carson

“I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centered around food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.” – Marcus Samuelsson

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” – W.J. Cameron

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” – Erma Bombeck

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.” – Irv Kupcient

“Thanksgiving Day comes…once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” – Edward Sandford Martin

“I like football. It’s a great way to avoid conversation with your family at Thanksgiving.” – Craig Ferguson

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” – Wilbur D. Nesbit

“I absolutely adore Thanksgiving. It’s the only holiday I insist on making myself.” - Ina Garten

“Thanksgiving is America’s national chow down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.” – Michael Dresser

“My thanksgiving is perpetual.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.” – E.P. Powell

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” – William Jennings Bryan

“There is no better opportunity to receive more than to be thankful for what you already have. Thanksgiving opens the windows of opportunity for ideas to flow your way.” - Jim Rohn



Thanks + Giving


Rethink the Order

We celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow in the United States. It’s a holiday that I love for many reasons.

A tradition in many homes on Thanksgiving is to ask, “What are you most thankful for?”

Growing up, I heard all types of answers from the serious to the hilarious.

The focus on thankfulness and gratitude is a welcome one in a world that’s often negative and draining. It’s impossible to feel entitled when you’re busy thanking those who have made a difference in your life. Expressing thankfulness has numerous benefits from reducing depression to boosting your immune system.

But today I was thinking about the holiday differently.

Because it’s not only about being thankful and grateful.

The equation, in my way of thinking, is backwards. We often think of it this way:

Giving ⇒ thanks.

We think of Thanksgiving as the time to give thanks. We stop and show appreciation, express gratitude for all that we have in our lives. And that’s good.

But perhaps the equation is supposed to be exactly as stated:

Thanks ⇒ giving

Instead of giving thanks as the end result, it’s the beginning. We should give to others as a result of our thanks. In other words, because of our thankfulness, we are to be giving. Does that way of looking at it change anything?

It does for me. I realize that I can use this opportunity to do more for others.

Instead of simply expressing thankfulness, what about getting active in the giving part of this equation? Thanksgiving is not only expressing thankful appreciation but also about paying it forward.

As you gather for Thanksgiving this year, remember that it’s not about the turkey, the mashed potatoes or the stuffing. It’s about the two words: THANKS and GIVING.

So, give THANKS.

1. Send some thank you notes.

2. Meditate and pray.

3. Recognize everyone you can who has made a difference in your life.

4. Express your gratitude for all your many blessings.

And then start GIVING.

A few ideas:

1. Get involved with a local charity.

2. Volunteer at a hospice, hospital, or nursing home.

3. Give financially. If you have the means, write some checks to some charitable organizations.

4. Bake something for a friend or neighbor.

5. Invite others over for dinner. Know someone who doesn’t have family around? Make it a Thanksgiving dinner to remember.

6. Work at the local homeless shelter. And yes, even clean up the dishes without being asked…

Rethink the Recipe

****Be thankful and get giving. It’s the recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving!****






I just arrived back from England (Oxford & London), as well as South Africa (Johannesburg & Cape Town). All locations focused on Equipping leaders, and specifically emerging young ones too. So I thought it appropriate to share one of the best resources on helping you do just that. It’s the book “KidLead”.  In it, Alan Nelson believes that we can, and should, start developing leaders when they are young. In KidLead, he argues persuasively that we should not wait until potential leaders are 25+ years old to develop them; we can start much earlier. He gives some great ideas for how to spot and develop young leaders, both in the home and outside it. For anyone with a passion for young people or leadership, this book will very encouraging and insightful. Enjoy the synopsis……

The goal of this book is to unleash leadership potential. Every child is filled with incredible potential in a variety of areas. Unfortunately, the typical leader in our culture doesn’t begin to receive formal leadership training until the ages of twenty-five through thirty-five, if at all. How sad that kids have to wait so long to not only lead but also to receive skill development in this area. As a result, we miss a very critical time in the point of young leaders’ lives when we can teach them the character components that may make or break their leading as adults. 

Honesty, honor, integrity, servanthood, commitment, and responsibility are vital qualities in leading. Character is very important for effective leading, so learning leadership in the context of ethics is essential. When we interweave character issues with skills, we increase the likelihood these won’t be separated during leading. We should not assume leaders possess these qualities or understand how they apply to real-world situations. Good leadership development focuses on this intersection because when it fails to do this, collisions will occur. 

The good news is that whether you’re a leader or not, you can grow the young leaders around you. Here is how: 

Look at your child as a young leader. See his or her potential. Leadership development of your child begins between your ears, with how you think about him or her. 

Treat your child as a young leader. The reason why we need to begin seeing our children as leaders is because this will directly affect how we treat them. How we treat them influences how they see themselves and, as a result, how they react. 

Develop at-home opportunities to lead. You can, with a little tweaking, transform everyday activities into leadership training opportunities. The main point is that you can give your child a big head start in leadership by transitioning from parent to leadership coach in any number of ongoing chores and events. 

Discuss leadership situations as they arise from school, news, movie and work. Nearly everyday, you’ll have life events, stories, and media that provide opportunities to talk about leadership, whether in brief sound bytes or more prolonged discussions. The goal is to make your child aware of situations where leaders influence others—for good and for bad—in order to create an unconscious orientation so that they can “read” leadership situations. 

Find opportunities for leading in the community. The key, as in all leadership projects, is that you have a clear objective, that there are multiple people involved, and that you truly let your child lead, as opposed to telling him or her what to do and then calling the task leadership. 

Introduce your child to other leaders. Leaders recognize other leaders. A child with leadership aptitude will have a certain amount of natural affinity with other leaders regardless of their age. When you are meeting someone who is a leader in his or her organization or field, go out of your way to have your child meet this person. 

Help your child find a mentor. One thing parents can do to nurture their young leaders is help them find mentors who lead in different organizations and with varying style. 

Seek formal and informal leadership training. When we detect musical talent, we get our child music lessons. When we discern academic ability, we move them toward AP classes and Gifted and Talented programs. When we observe athletic ability, we hire coaching from a pro and seek a competitive-level team. Why not the same with leadership? 

We teach that KidLead training programs are not substitutes for parents and guardians being involved with leadership development in a child’s everyday life. The difference between a parent growing a great grown-up and being a leader developer is that the latter establishes leadership situations. There are three basic ingredients needed to constitute a “leadership” situation: 

1. There needs to be at least two other people involved on the “team.” Great life skills are numerous, but leading is about helping others achieve together. Being in charge of one person is okay, but there are far more dynamics for learning leadership when you have a minimum of three. 

2. There needs to be a measurable goal. What is expected? Measuring outcomes is important, but be sure that the objective involves setting direction, organizing and/or accomplishing it in a new way. 

3. There needs to be legitimate authority. Although you’re ultimately responsible as the parent, your young leader needs to know that s/he has a certain amount of authority to determine how to accomplish the task. This is room to spread his or her wings. Being in charge creates confidence. 

Most importantly, debrief after the project. Feedback questions are very important to the learning process, but they often get overlooked because we don’t make time for them and they can feel anticlimactic to the activity. “What went well? What didn’t go well? What could you do next time to be more effective?” Avoid scolding or punishing. Keep the questions neutral and matter-of-fact, and be very affirming. Treat your young leader the way you’d like to be treated as an adult in the workplace. 

We do have the power to significantly improve the future by influencing those who are and will be influential. I can think of no greater legacy than to leave the world in the hands of people like these. Remember, if you want to change the world, focus on leaders. If you want to change leaders, focus on them when they’re young. 

Interested in reading this book in its entirety? You can purchase it here:



More Than Miracles: Sons! - Guest Post by Michael Brodeur

Someone once said that the true measure of success is succession. Part of the spiritual life cycle is pouring our lives into emerging leaders in such a way that they can carry the message of the kingdom into the future. As I grow older I have an increasing desire to pour into the next generation. We need to raise up powerful sons and daughters.

Recently a friend of mine was preaching and he unintentionally used the phrase “sons and wonders.” What might have been a verbal misstep to me was a profound statement. My friend’s unintentional play on words reminded me that the work of Holy Spirit is not just visible in miracles and divine encounters. He is also visible in the spiritual sons and daughters that we raise up.

Envision No Division

One of the most profound statements of scripture is found in the final verses of the Old Testament. In Malachi 4:6 the prophet declares that in the last days God will send again the spirit of Elijah and turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and sons to the fathers, lest God come and strike the earth with a curse.

We live in a world cursed with division and conflict. When sin first entered the world the immediate result was a separation between humanity and God. The next was a separation between man and woman, followed by brother and brother, and then finally between the generations. Sin is the source of all division and strife.

Uniting Generations

I believe the most harmful division that afflicts humanity is the division between the generations. This division hinders so much progress. Each generation seems to repeat the mistakes of the previous one. We have a not humbled ourselves to learn the lessons of our fathers and mothers.

Looking deeper into Malachi he says that as the generations are united it removes the curse from the earth. It’s important for us to remember that most of what scripture calls the curse is simply the natural consequence of violating the creative order of God. In other words, a curse is not normally a lightning bolt hurled from heaven, but more along the lines of a broken leg from falling off a ladder.

Gravity is a law. When it is violated there’s a consequence.  Generational unity and integrity is also a law, and its violation also has consequences..

To verify this look at the statistics surrounding people in prison, people who are bound by alcoholism and immoralities, people struggling with life-controlling problems. The majority of these individuals are from broken homes, raised in the absence of a loving two-parent family.

Orphan Spirit

Our world is plagued by teenage rebellion. Sons and daughters are being raised to think their parents are idiots. Every TV show and movie emphasizes the view that the only way to freedom is rejecting your parents and pursuing your own ideas. This mindset has infiltrated church culture. Many pastors and leaders have a difficult time raising their spiritual sons and daughters effectively. Some are too controlling and abusive, others abdicate and neglect. The net result in both cases is the spirit of orphanhood and abandonment. Disapproval fuels generational division.

The Good News

God is at work within biological and spiritual families to restore generational unity. He is moving the hearts of spiritual leaders around the world to pour into the next generation. Fathers and mothers are now equipping and empowering emerging leaders, then getting out of the driver seat. They are releasing emerging leaders to move us forward! They’re trustingthem with the keys and the title deed of the vehicle. Soon we’ll see spiritual sons and daughters coming to the fullness of their purpose in the Lord. Now more than ever spiritual sons and daughters are honoring fathers and mothers. They’re positioning themselves to receive all that they can from those who’ve gone before them.

Who is the number one person God is calling you to pour into right now?

Article written by Michael Brodeur

Dr. Michael Brodeur, served for over three decades as a senior pastor and ministry leader in the city of San Francisco and a ministry consultant to scores of churches around the world. In 2010, Michael turned over the leadership of his church to his associate pastor and relocated permanently to Redding CA, where he devotes himself to writing, teaching, and coaching leaders, churches and ministries.

Want to learn more about Michael? Go here:



3 Overlooked Leadership Roles In The Church

3 Overlooked Leadership Roles

It was while leading South Melbourne Restoration Community, an inner city church committed to reaching the marginalized people of our city, that I realized something was fundamentally wrong.

We were a ragtag band of ex-druggies with a church situated in a profoundly postmodern and tribalized part of the city. The model of church we had inherited was clearly not cutting it. Scarcely anything in my training for ministry had prepared me to for this.

In this post-Christian context, we needed to be more than ministers running a church. We needed a different type of leadership.

We morphed from an institutional church into a missional one. In the years that followed, we planted five more churches among the homosexuals, prostitutes, street kids, the rave scene, blue-collar workers, Jewish people, and Gen-Xers. It was exciting, but we felt totally inadequate to the task. It forced us to a broader understanding of the church's mission, and a better grasp of what leadership involved.

While at South, I was invited to lead a revitalization movement within my denomination—the fourth largest Protestant denomination in Australia. Seeing things from this higher altitude, I recognized that South was not the only church facing a crisis. My entire denomination needed to shift toward a missional culture if it was to grow and survive. But how?

We needed a new type of leadership, one with the courage to question the status quo, to dream of new possibilities, and to innovate new ways of being the people of God in a post-Christian culture. We needed missionaries to the West, but our seminaries were not producing them. If we take the five categories of church leadership from Ephesians 4:11, they were training leaders to be teachers and pastors for established congregations, but where were the evangelists, the prophets, and the apostles to lead the mission of the gospel into the world?

Missional churches require all Five aspects of ministry Leadership on the team.

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers—I refer to these together as APEST. But when I looked at my church and most others, I saw congregations dominated by leaders who were shepherds and teachers. What happened to the other leadership types?

Where have all the APEs gone?

During Christendom, the centuries when Christianity dominated the culture, the church acquired a fundamentally non-missional posture. Mission beyond the walls of the institution was downplayed because every citizen was deemed at least a nominal Christian already. What was needed were pastoral and teaching ministries to care for and instruct the congregation, and to draw underdeveloped Christians back into the church on Sunday.

So, these two functions were eventually instituted as the leadership offices in the church, and the other three roles listed in Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, and evangelists) faded away as largely unnecessary. The system of church leadership we inherited from Christendom heavily favors maintenance and pastoral care, thus neglecting the church's larger mission and ministry.

Consequently the A, P, and E leadership functions were marginalized from the church's leadership structure.

In my years of ministry, I've seen how many churches sideline people with more APE type gifts. Of course, this is not to say that apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic ministries have totally disappeared. Many within the church have managed to fill these roles without necessarily being tagged "apostles" or "prophets," but, by and large, these lacked formal recognition, and they have tended to be exercised outside the context of the local church.

For example, the work of St. Patrick and the Celtic movement, that of John Wesley, William Booth, and many others is clearly of a different type than that of a shepherd-teacher. And it is not hard to see how the exiling of apostles, prophets, and evangelists gave rise to the development of para-church agencies and missionary orders, each with a somewhat atomized ministry focus.

The Navigators, for instance, arose out of a need to evangelize and disciple people outside of the church structures because the church was neither effective nor interested. Sojourners emerged to represent the social justice concerns that the church was largely ignoring, as did World Vision, the aid and development agency.

This divorce of APE from ST has been disastrous for the local church and has damaged the cause of Christ and his mission. In my opinion, this contraction of fivefold to twofold ministry is one of the main factors in the decline of evangelical Christianity in the West. If we want a vibrant missional church, we simply have to have a missional leadership structure with all five functions engaged. It's that simple!

We need more than a pastor and/or teacher leading a congregation. A missional church requires pioneering, innovative, organizationally adaptive, and externally focused leadership, and this means a five-fold understanding of ministry leadership. Let me describe each of the APEST roles, the core task of each, and the impact when one dominates or works in isolation from the others.

APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the "sent ones," they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.

PROPHETS know God's will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.

EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God's redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.

SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God's flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.

TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God's truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God's will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ's word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church's ministry.

When all five of these functions are present, the church operates at peak performance. To use Paul's terms, it "grows," "matures," "builds itself up," and "reaches unity in the faith.”

Sometimes it is easier for people to see the wisdom of this fivefold structure when it isn't presented in biblical language. If we apply a sociological approach to the differing ministry styles, we discover that Paul's missional ecclesiology is confirmed by the best current thinking in leadership theory and practice.

In most organizational systems, there is acknowledgement of the importance of these leadership functions:

The entrepreneur: Innovator and cultural architect who initiates a new product, or service, and develops the organization.

The questioner: Provocateur who probes awareness and fosters questioning of current programming leading to organizational learning.

The communicator: Recruiter to the organization who markets the idea or product and gains loyalty to a brand or cause.

The humanizer: People-oriented motivator who fosters a healthy relational environment through the management of meaning.

The philosopher: Systems-thinker who is able to clearly articulate the organizational ideology in a way as to advance corporate learning.

Various leadership experts use different terms for these categories, but they would all recognize the vital contributions these different types of leaders bring to an organization. Leadership theory says that the conflicting agendas and motivations of these five kinds of leaders will tend to pull them in different directions. But if these five could be properly developed, focused, and coordinated, together they would create a very potent leadership team.

Imagine a leadership system in any setting (corporate, governmental, non-profit, educational, etc.) where the entrepreneurial innovator interacts dynamically with the disturber of the status quo. Imagine that both are in active dialogue and relationship with the passionate communicator/recruiter, the infectious person who carries the message beyond organizational borders and sells the idea/s or product/s. And these in turn are in constant engagement with the emotionally intelligent humanizer (HR) and the philosopher-leader who is able to articulate core ideas and pass them on. Clearly the combination of these different leadership styles is greater than the sum of its parts.

Because of our search for a more distinctly missional leadership model at South Melbourne Restoration Community, we decided about eight years ago to implement the APEST model at our church.

The first step was restructuring the leadership so we could ensure that all five ministries were present on the team. Each member of the team would represent one aspect of the fivefold model and be responsible for heading up a team related to that area of ministry.

We appointed an apostolic leader to oversee the team focusing on the translocal, missional, strategic, and experimental issues facing the church.

The prophetic leader initiated a team focused on listening to God, discerning his will for us, being aware of social justice issues we could address, and questioning the status quo of an increasingly middle class church.

The evangelist among us developed a team to oversee and develop outreach.

The shepherd's team strengthened community, cell-groups, worship, counseling, and generally enhanced the relational capacity of the church.

The teaching team's task was to create contexts for learning and develop the love of wisdom and understanding through Bible studies and theological discussion groups.

Our structure went from a traditional Christendom hierarchy with a shepherd/teacher at the top, to a team structure with all five ministry functions playing a vital role.

Yes, we can all just get along!

Admittedly, our working within this APEST structure did create significant debate at times. This is what makes having a traditional hierarchy attractive—one person makes the final decisions. But even the debates on our leadership team were thoroughly invigorating and led directly to the church's adopting a more aggressive missional posture.

The key was learning to manage the dynamic in order to draw upon the increased energy of the team and not be torn apart by opposing opinions. We adopted the approach advocated by Richard Pascale in his book, Managing from the Edge.

Pascale suggests two polarities that, if managed well, create synergy on the leadership team. He calls them "fit—split" and "contend—transcend." The term "fit" refers to that which binds an organization together. It is the group's common ethos and purpose. "Split" happens when we intentionally allow for diversity of expression and thought on the team.

"Contend" is the permission, even encouragement, given by leadership to disagree, debate, and dialogue around core tasks. "Transcend" is the collective agreement everyone makes to overcome disagreement in order to find new solutions.

When facing any ministry issue, we begin by committing ourselves to the common mission of the group. We covenant to do whatever it takes to see our mission fulfilled. But this kind of interpersonal commitment requires a bond that goes beyond the professional relationships that exist on many church staffs.

We lived out our unity in Christ by living together, struggling together, worshiping together, praying together, and facing our problems together. It was the healthy trust developed on the team (fit) that allowed divergent opinions (split) to be expressed without fear of offending one another. It was the strong sense of commitment to one another that gave each member permission to operate out of his or her own ministry biases, and then unapologetically represent their perspectives on the issue at hand.

The apostle would press the need to galvanize the community around mission and extension. The prophet would challenge just about everything and ask probing questions about how God fit into our grand schemes. The evangelist would always emphasize the need to bring people to faith and expand the reach of the gospel. The shepherd inevitably expressed concerns about how the community could remain healthy amid change. And the teacher tried to discern the validity of any new idea from Scripture and history.

The presence of these divergent interests inevitably caused debates and arguments (contend). But we did not try to resolve disagreement too quickly—much to the discomfort of the shepherd on the team. In my experience, the greatest tension usually arose between the apostle (with the missional drive) and the shepherd (with the community health impulse), but we almost always managed to overcome conflict through dialogue and prayer (transcend).

Remember, we were committed to stay with the problem until we had assessed all options and had, through dialogue and debate, arrived at the best solution. As a result, the outcomes we reached were more full-orbed, faithful to God, sensitive to the needs of not-yet-believers, sustainable, mature, and theologically well grounded.

One of the techniques we used to help our team structure function is modeled from an idea developed by creative guru Edward DeBono.

Put on your APEST hats"Thinking Hats" is a game in which participants adopt one another's perspectives in order to solve problems. DeBono's six hats represent six different modes of thinking. Participants agree to switch hats for a period of time in order to assume an approach to a problem other than the one they are naturally inclined toward.

The key is committing to think only in accord with the hat you are wearing. The goal is for each player to achieve a broader perspective.

We adapted DeBono's method to the APEST typology. With the "A" hat on, everyone is forced to think apostolically. When the "P" hat is on, the whole group steps into the prophetic perspective, and so forth. This practice trains everyone to think more holistically on any given subject, and it also teaches the team to value one another's perspective.

I have been in local, national, and "glocal" ministry for over 18 years, and I have had many successful leaders from outside the church tell me about their desire to be in "the ministry." But when they pursued this calling, they were turned away from the church because they didn't possess the right skills or gifts, meaning, they were not shepherds or teachers. Many of these gifted people have gone on to make a significant impact (and in many cases, a lot of money) in other domains, but it's hard to calculate the loss this has meant to the church and its mission.

It is time for the church to recognize the importance of welcoming leaders with all five of the Ephesians 4 functions into the church. Every significant missional movement has in some way incorporated the five functions into its system.When apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers are working together, a wonderful missional ecology is created. Not only is this a more biblically faithful model, it also provides a theologically rich, organically consistent, and organizationally comprehensive framework to help the church become more missionally effective and culturally agile. The time has come for the church in the West to rediscover the lost potential of biblical leadership that has been dormant for too long.

Author - Allen Hirsch

Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.



Grief And Loss

My wife (Angel Hirsch) recently faced the loss of her mother, and I’m sharing her recent writing on the topic. I pray it will help those who may be facing similar loss, and who may be going the through the grief process. She writes…..

To grieve is to pay ransom to love."  Edwin Shneidman

Grief and grieving are no easy tasks. I understand firsthand, as one acquainted with loss and death. Loss and death visit us all in one form or another. Where the loss is, grief is close by. I have learned the best way to handle grief is to deal with grief.

I have a lot of questions about grief and its process. Here are a few; Is there any value or virtue that can be found in the suffering that accompanies grief? Why is it that the grieving has to feel so bad for so long? What good does it do? Is it necessary to give in to grief and let it take us to the depths of despair?  Does it not make more sense to spend our time in more positive, less disturbing pursuits?”

Though I don't have all my questions answered, in my grief journey, I had a friend well acquainted with pain and grieving say to me, “Grief is not a problem to be solved; it is a process, a natural process.” That piece of wisdom from my friend initially stung. As it sank in, it became like a healing balm; grief is only avoidable if one has no attachments. That thought lead me to the question, ”what kind of a life would an attachment-less life be?” I conclude, though the pain of death and loss may be agonizing, I would not trade the love from and for my loved one or lost dreams for freedom from the pain that proceeds. 

I understand that grief is a reasonable emotional reaction to loss. There are no limits, boundaries, or rules regarding loss or what could be considered a loss. There are various forms of significant losses that can trigger grief responses in addition to death, such as the end of a relationship, a move to a new community, an anticipated opportunity or life goal that is no longer a possibility, or the death of a pet or someone significant to us is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness.

Grief involves emotional upset that varies by individual and by loss. Grief may be especially burdensome in response to a loss that was traumatic, sudden, or severe. No matter the loss, it is necessary to grieve, even biblical. Experiencing grief is individual; no two people are likely to experience grief in the same way.

Although grief of some sort is inevitable, wearisome, time-consuming, and often unaccommodating, in all truth, it does result in good. Ultimately, one is better off for having walked through the grief, as this is the route toward healing. We all grieve and need guidance, direction, and strategies to help us cope with grief. It may take more time, love, and patience than we ever imagined, however, when we grieve we heal.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”  Thomas Merton

Angelia (Angel) Hirsch




Ted Talks

While you may never speak at an actual TED conference, if you want to succeed in business you’d better be able to deliver a TED-worthy presentation. It represents a bold, fresh, contemporary, and compelling style that will help you win over your audience. Let’s look at some of the factors that make for a powerful presentation. 

The most popular TED speakers share something in common with the most engaging communicators in any - field—a passion, an obsession they must share with others. The most popular TED speakers don’t have a “job.” They have a passion, an obsession, a vocation, but not a job. These people are called to share their ideas. The first step to inspiring others is to make sure you are inspired yourself. 

Researchers have discovered that our brains are more active when we hear stories. A wordy PowerPoint slide with bullet points activates the language-processing center of the brain, where we turn words into meaning. Stories do much more, using the whole brain and activating language, sensory, visual, and motor areas. 

A well-told story gives leaders a strong advantage in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. A powerful narrative can persuade customers, employees, investors, and stakeholders that your company, product, or idea can help them achieve the success they desire. Your delivery and gestures, mastered though hours and hours of practice, will enhance your overall message, but without passion and practice, your presence will be severely diminished. Your strength as a speaker comes from the inside. 

Your audience craves knowledge, even if they have only a mild interest in the topic. As long as you relate your topic to the audience by teaching them something new they can use in their daily lives, you’ll hook them too. Reveal information that is completely new to your audience, is packaged differently, or offers a fresh and novel way to solve an old problem. TEDX speaker and designer Oliver Uberti once said, “Every superhero has an origin story. So do you. Don’t follow someone else’s. Create your own masterpiece.” I find that most communicators are far more creative than they give themselves credit for. When they are encouraged to unleash their creativity and to take an innovative approach to presenting their ideas, they rise to the challenge. 

I call the “emotionally charged event,” or what some refer to as the wow moment, the “holy smokes moment.” It’s the one moment in a presentation when you drive your point home, your listener’s jaw drops, and she says to herself, “Holy smokes, I get it now!” It’s the first thing they remember about your presentation and the first thing they say to someone else who didn’t see it but wants to know about your presentation. A holy smokes moment need not be fancy. It might be something as simple as a short, personal story. 

Every performer has at least one jaw-dropping moment—an emotionally charged event that your audience members will be talking about the next day. Every presentation needs one. Get one and use it. Your presentation content will make a better impact if it can be stamped onto the minds of your listeners. 

Humor plays a key role in the play-books of the world’s most inspiring public speakers. It will work for you, too, but you must learn to incorporate humor creatively and naturally. Repeating tired or, worse, crass or dirty jokes won’t get you far. In fact, it might turn off your audience. The most popular TED speakers do not tell jokes! Unless you’re a professional comedian, jokes are not authentic. Think about it. When you meet a customer for the first time do you open the conversation with the latest joke you read on the Internet? No? Then why would you feel compelled to start a business presentation with one? A humorous observation, however, is perfectly appropriate and very effective. 

A long, confusing, meandering presentation forces your listener’s brain to work hard and to consume energy. Your brain cells need twice as much energy as other cells in your body. Mental glucose. That’s why an 18-minute presentation works so well. It leaves your audience with some brainpower and glucose remaining to think about your presentation, share your ideas, and act on them. Talk for too long and your audience will find ways to distract themselves from your content. 

Neuroscientists have found that the visual cortex of your brain cannot tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. If you can think of something vividly—really imagine it—the same brain areas are activated as if you were actually seeing the event. That’s why metaphors, analogies, and rich imagery are powerful ways to paint a picture in a mind’s eye, in some cases even more effective than an actual image. 

The holy grail of a presentation is to transport the audience to another place. The visual display of information helps them to see it, but if the audience cannot physically touch something, how do we complete the journey? Again, think about a presentation as a Broadway play. An award-winning play has a wonderful story, intriguing characters, and relevant props. Great presentations have each of those elements, including simple props that give the audience a feel for what it’s like to be in the scene. 

Please keep this in mind. When you deliver a presentation, your goal should not be to “deliver a presentation.” It should be to inspire your audience, to move them, and to encourage them to dream bigger. You cannot move people if they don’t think you’re real. You’ll never convince your audience of anything if they don’t trust, admire, and genuinely like you. 

The next time you deliver a presentation, you’ll be compared to TED speakers. Your audience will be aware that there’s a fresh, bold style of delivering information; a style that lifts their spirits, fills their souls, and inspires them to think differently about the world and their roles in it. As you learn to do that kind of presentation, your impact will be increasingly powerful. 




Grieving Jewish Style

With the recent loss of one of my greatest hero’s (my mother in-law), and watching as my wife and family grieves intensely her mother leaving this known world, and entering the unknown, I’ve become very sensitized to how our culture grieves, or bypasses the process all-together. I’m guilty as charged! One of the sub-cultures (the Jewish community - my roots), seems to have a process that our family is embracing, and one that you should consider. What is it? 

Sitting in Shiva. Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

Shiva is a time to show support to the family of the person who died. Even if you knew the person who died, and you’re personally devastated, it’s important that at the shiva, you make an effort to be a comforting presence to the family. If you’re so emotional that you think you can’t get past your own grief you may want to plan a very short visit, or send a card instead.

Different families make different choices about where, when, and how long they want to sit shiva. Usually the shiva is held in the home of the deceased, but this is not always possible or convenient for the family, so it’s best to check. Traditionally shiva lasts for seven days, starting immediately after the funeral, but some people choose to observe fewer days of shiva. Find out how long the family will be sitting shiva, and if they have designated hours for visitation. Some shiva houses are open for shiva calls all day, others only for a few hours in the morning and/or evening. Check ahead of time to make sure you don’t show up at a time when the family was hoping to grieve privately. This information is often available from the funeral home or the synagogue that the family belongs to. If all else fails, call the house, or cell phone.

A shiva need not be a formal occasion, but it’s important to dress respectfully. Go for something simple.

Many communities will have set up a rotation of people bringing meals to the mourners during and immediately after the shiva. If you’d like to help by bringing a meal, see if you can find out if someone is coordinating such efforts, and be in touch with them. You can also bring some prepared food with you when you make the shiva call. If you’re not into cooking, and don’t want to get something delivered, consider bringing a plant, or a book (a book about mourning or grief is a good choice). It’s customary not to bring flowers to a shiva, because flowers die. 

Should you bring kids? The deciding factor here should be whether or not the mourners know (and like) your kids, and whether there will be other kids there. If the grandmother of one of your daughter’s preschool friends dies, and you know her parents are sitting shiva, it might be nice to bring your daughter over to play for a bit while you visit with the parents. If you don’t think there will be any kids there, or if the mourners don’t know your children, you may want to leave the kids at home.

Some shiva houses have a pitcher with water just outside the front door on the day of the funeral. Because cemeteries are places of spiritual impurity, there is a custom of washing your hands before entering the house after having gone to the cemetery. You can choose if you’d like to wash your hands with the pitcher and water provided.

You may notice that the mirrors are covered inside a shiva house, and the relatives of the deceased sit on couches or seats that have been stripped of their cushions. The covered mirrors symbolize the absence of vanity and self-indulgence in a place of grief, and the low seating is a throwback to a time when sitting on the ground symbolized mourning. Other common customs include wearing a shirt or a ribbon that has been torn over the heart, to symbolize the way that grief tears at our hearts, and going barefoot, because shoes were traditionally seen as luxury items.

There is a tradition not to greet people at a shiva house, and in fact not to speak at all until one of the mourners has first spoken to you. Though this may seem strange, the idea is that there really isn’t much that one can say to someone experiencing profound loss. And they may not want to talk at all. Of course, not everyone observes this custom, but if you walk into a shiva house and find it eerily quiet even though it’s filled with people, this is probably what’s going on.

If the mourner does seem to be in the mood to talk, shiva is a great opportunity to share some memories of the deceased. If you didn’t know the person who died, you can ask the mourners to tell you some of their favorite memories. Many families take out family photos at a shiva, and they can be a nice way to get a mourner to share some stories about the person who passed away.

If you can’t think of anything else to say, there is a traditional line for Jewish mourners: in Hebrew, “Hamakom yenachem etchem b’toch sha’ar avlei tzion ve’yerushaluyim” or in English, “May God comfort you with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

A really nice thing to do at a shiva is offering to come by and spend some time with the person after shiva is over. Getting back to everyday life after a loss is difficult, and it can be really meaningful and nice for people to know that you’re still happy to be supportive when shiva is done. If they have kids, offer to set up a playdate, or just ask if they’d like to have a coffee or take a walk the next week. A small gesture like this can go a long way to making sure someone knows you care and have them in your thoughts.

So….in an often rushed grieving culture, maybe you’ll consider “Shiva”? Maybe you won’t embrace everything the Jewish community does, but either way grieving is a journey filled process that allows your God given emotions to realign with His. It’s healthy to grieve, and you ought to re-think the way you approach it. Your future may just depend on it? I think ours does! 

Note: Much content was taken from 



Passions 6 Elements

There’s a man that wrote most of the New Testament in the Christian bible. Don’t stop reading just because I said “Christian”, and “bible”. These elements of passion transcend being a Christian, but they’re particularly powerful to those desiring to impact culture for the glory of G_D. 

Here’s how Paul’s passion to share Jesus Christ with everyone moved him to be one of the most influential individuals of the 1st century Church. Yes we live in an ADD culture on info overload, so I won’t expound. Yay, right? 

1. His passion added value to everyone. Does yours? 

2. Included everyone. Does yours? 

3. Established His Identity. How about you? 

4. Challenged Him To Enter Other Peoples Environments. Do you do that? 

5. Helped Him Become Creative. Do you think outside the box? 

6. Allowed Him To Love & Live Out The Message. Do you lead by example?