I spent Monday and Tuesday at a software training program in Oklahoma City. From time to time people ask me if I use a Bible Study Software to study for my sermons.

Up until about 3 years ago, the answer was "no." I don't know why I was such a late adopter; I wasn't opposed to using them. I just didn't have the money for a good one, and wasn't noticing a huge gap between what I was doing and what I could do if I invested in a Bible Study software.

3 years ago I repented, and purchased Logos.

This isn't a commercial for Logos, but I did my research when I got ready to make the investment, and for a pastor or general Bible student, Logos is far and away the best investment.

At my fingertips, I have hundreds of searchable books. Want to know what John Calvin, or John Piper, or John MacArthur said about Ephesians 1:3? Just type "Ephesians 1:3" in your search box, direct it to your electronic books, and in .41 seconds I can have each of those books open to each place they mention the verse.

Wondering about the meaning of the Greek word for "sick" in James 5:14? You're one click away. Don't know Greek? It doesn't matter - the resource will explain the meaning for you.

Seriously, if I had invested in Logos 10 years ago, I could have graduated from seminary a year earlier. No exaggeration.

The only problem with Logos is that it is not necessarily very intuitive. That is, you can't pull it out of the box and figure out all its functions on your own. Enter Morris Proctor. This guy is a Logos Jedi, and a tremendous communicator. He conducts various levels of training seminars for Logos users and completely opens up the software for you whether you're a seminary professor or a small group leader with no formal Bible training. The first seminar I went to turned out to jump-start a complete paradigm shift in my Bible study.

The basic version of Logos and a MP Seminar will set you back a couple hundred dollars, but if your experience is anything like mine, it will be some of the best money you invest this year.

Great Quote

Found this great quote last night from an otherwise boring book, "Missional Church, A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America."

"Prayer is certainly personal, but it is never individual in the way that [some] comparisons would suggest. The language used in the Lord's Prayer is not "mine" and "me," but "our" and "us." In giving advice on prayer, Martin Luther counseled, "Remember that you are not kneeling or standing there alone... all devout Christians are standing there with you in one unanimous, united prayer which God cannot ignore." Whether we are in the presence of others or physically alone, when we pray we are united with all those who through faith in Jesus Christ have become the adopted children of God."


Last week blew up on me a bit and I didn't get a chance to queue up something for today and tomorrow. That would ordinarily be okay except that I'm out of the office for a software training today and tomorrow and my time is limited. So, today's blog comes from my father-in-law even though he doesn't know he's guest-posting.

We had a conversation on the ride in this morning (the software training is at his church) about monkeys and leadership.

There's an old story about a bunch of monkeys climbing the tree. When the leaders look down, all they see is a bunch of smiling faces. When the followers look up the tree, all they see is a bunch of... well... you know.

The point is: in an organization, perspective is everything.

From the bottom, it's easy to see everyone above you as a "you-know-what." From the top, it's easy to see a bunch of smiling faces. If you want perspective to change without your position changing, you have to bend over backwards.

Worship or Fear?

It's hard to really follow Jesus. Not to trust Jesus for eternal life; that's simple. It's hard to follow Jesus as a disciple.

Discipleship is not the path of least resistance, the path toward riches, or the path of convenience. It isn't usually popular or logical, and can bring times of temporary heartache and doubts. And when it does, we have a response.

In Mark 10, we read about a Rich Young Ruler who went away sorrowful because he was not as good as he thought and was unwilling to trust Jesus. That completely blew the disciples' paradigm - they thought riches were a sign of God's blessing and said "Who can be saved then?" (Mark 10:26). Jesus says, "With man, it is impossible; with God all things are possible" (Mark 10:27) reminding them that if they're going to have eternal life, God is going to have to do something. Mankind can't make things right on their own.

That reminder freaks Peter out. Unlike the Rich Young Ruler, the disciples had left everything behind to follow Jesus (Mark 10:28). Jesus lays out the paradigm for discipleship saying that's exactly the kind of commitment he's looking for: the people who are last in the world's eyes will be first in God's economy.

I love verse 32. "The disciples were now on the way up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with awe, and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear."

It's hard to be a sold-out follower of Jesus, but you see two groups of people here. The people who were closest to Jesus were filled with awe; the people who were haphazardly going along were overwhelmed with fear.

The closer you get to Jesus, the more fear turns into worship.

Following Jesus is hard. When it gets difficult, will you be awestruck at the power of the One through whom "all things are possible" or will you start lagging behind, overwhelmed with fear?

Responding and Reacting

The most important job of the leader is to anticipate, because the second most important job of the leader is to deal with situations and circumstances that threaten the overall direction the leader (or organization, or family) is trying to lead the organization.

When dealing with these threats, large or small, the leader has two choices: he/she can choose to respond or react.

Both options are situational - that is, they are a potential way to deal with the given situation.

A response is measured and controlled. It reflects anticipation. Obviously, the leader can't anticipate every situation that might complicate his day. He has to anticipate that.

Reactions are reflexes. You can't possibly predict the outcome of a reaction before it happens; it just happens.

Think of a tennis game. Great leaders are like great tennis players. Great tennis players respond to the ball. You see them begin to move even before their opponent hits the ball. They're anticipating where the opponent will place the ball, or simply getting to a place where they could respond adequately to several different actions.

Great tennis players don't react. Great tennis balls react. They spend all their energy going wherever the most recent situation (racket) sends them. They're never in control, never able to make any progress. All they do is react.

Which kind of leader are you?

Consistency and Flexibility

I had a good conversation with a guy yesterday around the concept of leading people.

The very best leaders of people find a way to lead with both consistency and flexibility.

Consistency establishes the normal pattern. If you don't have consistency, the people you lead will never know what to expect from you. This will either cause them to hold back out of fear of you or take advantage of you until you finally draw a line in the sand. You need consistency of philosophy and vision so people know your expectations of them and are free to make decisions within that. They also need to know the boundaries on them and their peers so there is a mutual understanding and accountability for decisions they make.

Flexibility provides for exceptions to the normal pattern. If you are too rigid a leader on the consistency spectrum you'll be a horrible person to work with, much less for. You need the ability to see special situations and circumstances and to treat them as such. Organizations, just like interpersonal relationships, don't exist in black and white. Flexible leaders can see the grey as grey, but only when it's appropriate.

The guy I talked to yesterday said his preference in hiring senior level staff would always be to err toward consistency and try to train a consistent person to be flexible. I certainly see wisdom in that, but I'm not so sure it's that easy for me. What do you think?

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect - Book Review

John Maxwell is a nationally known leader of leaders. A former pastor, his books, seminars, teaching and other media have served as resources for scores of leaders throughout the past many years. I'm certainly an example of a leader who has benefited from Maxwell's ministry.

Maxwell's newest book, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" is an attempt to help others master the art of going to the heart of effective communication. The point of the book, as should be obvious from the title, is that all of us communicate hundreds of messages to different people throughout our day. But few people have truly mastered the art of connecting with other people. As a result, the message is misunderstood, misapplied, or even worse, un-applied.

As is true with most of Maxwell's books, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" is easy to read. Maxwell is a voracious collector of quotes and anecdotes. With a story, quote, joke, or illustration on every page, this book is simple to work through; hard to apply.

You will find little to dispute in this book. Maxwell lays out several principles and several practices of effective connectors that are irrefutable (I don't know why the publisher didn't go back to the "irrefutable" well that provided the title for Maxwell's other books; this one is a natural fit in that mold). Maxwell's advice for communicators will be helpful, no matter what you are trying to communicate or with whom you want to connect. This is really good material.

In the interest of full-disclosure, the one thing that irks me about this book is the same thing that bothers me about several of Maxwell's books: Maxwell is not lacking in confidence. I know, I know, "it ain't bragging if you done it," and John Maxwell has done it. But, I find that Maxwell is the hero of most of his personal anecdotes and the model for most of his ideas. Whenever another great leader is quoted or referenced, Mr. Maxwell makes sure the reader knows that the leader is "his friend," or that the quote took place in a private conversation at Maxwell's home. I hesitate to even mention that challenge because I don't know Mr. Maxwell and am sure he is a fine man, but the truth is: it provided a barrier that made it hard for me to "connect" with this book on connecting.

As a person currently serving in a leadership position, I have a high value on books that will strengthen my skills without wasting my time. If you're interested in reading a good book about connecting with a spouse or an audience, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" contains principles that will make you much more effective without wasting your time. It's worth picking up.

(FYI - I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my review. In compliance with the regulations of the ever-present Federal Trade Commission (16 CFR, Part 255), it is important for you to know that I was not required to write anything other than an honest review)

Thoughts on Social Justice - Part 3

  • I'm interested in the fact that many of the most outspoken proponents of social justice are focused almost exclusively overseas. How many books are written about the Church doing justice in its own backyard?
  • I'm impressed with how easy it is to talk about social justice, kingdom theory, and the "bifurcation of the Gospel," and how difficult it seems to actually do something about it. Many of the most recognized social justice promoters are not actually involved in social justice aside from simply throwing money at the problem. We've been throwing money at these problems for decades; it is time to start doing something different.
  • I'm excited about the Church in America thinking through how to put feet on our faith. I'm terrified that the feet are going to get ahead of the faith, or leave the faith behind altogether.
  • Spurgeon once said "A man's nose is a prominent feature on his face, but it is possible to make it so large that eyes and mouth and everything else are thrown into insignificance and the drawing is a caricature and not a portrait: so certain important doctrines of the gospel can be proclaimed in excess as to throw th rest of the truth into the shade and the preaching is no longer the gospel in its natural beauty but a caricature of the truth." When we de-emphasize the death and resurrection in order to emphasize the Christian's temporal responsibility, I am afraid we create a caricature of the gospel at best.
  • Many of the accusations about the "blindness" of the American Church when it comes to social issues may be true, but such sweeping claims are probably highly exaggerated. American Christianity in the 20th century deserves much of the credit for the social justice we see in America. Chances are you can't name an organization currently dedicated to helping the homeless and destitute that doesn't have its roots in evangelical Christianity.
  • It is easy to see the Church through exclusively Western eyes. I'm thankful to be a part of a church that partners with people who are doing effective ministry in other parts of the world rather than simply believing our Western solutions are the answer to third-world problems.
  • The right thing done for the wrong reasons is the wrong thing. Loving your neighbor is the right thing. Loving your neighbor to help the church's image is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
  • The Church's perception problem in the world is primarily God's issue. My perception problem in my world is primarily my issue. If enough Christians were serious about being ambassadors for Christ in their unique sphere of influence, we wouldn't have a personal or global perception problem.

Thoughts on Social Justice - Part 2

  • Even if we were grant that the modern church in America has been too focused on converting sinners to Christianity's message and not focused enough on living out Christianity's message, does it follow that there is no error in the opposite direction?
  • Matthew 26:11 makes it abundantly clear that if it comes down to a decision between justice and the person of Jesus, Jesus wins.
  • If social justice is a necessary part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as many contemporary authors suggest, why is there not a stronger emphasis in the New Testament commanding the church to take on Roman inequity, slavery, totalitarianism and injustice?
  • I have a hard time believing that the church is the presence of the Millenial Kingdom in the world, and the Millenial Kingdom is a place where the leopard will lie down with the goat (Isaiah 11:6), when a large part of most pastors' week is spent dealing with conflict between church members.
  • An entirely future kingdom is perfectly compatible with a heart for justice in the world today. The fact that things cannot be what they will be does not mean that they should not be what they should be.
  • In most of the OT passages in which God judges the Jews for injustice, their active acts of doing injustice against the poor were in God's sights (defrauding and exploiting the poor) , not just the fact that the poor existed in their society (see Leviticus 19, Isaiah 1, Jeremiah 22, Amos 5:7-15; Micah 6:8-12) . God's problem wasn't that the poor existed in the same society as the Jews. His problem was when the Jewish people took advantage of the poor to make themselves rich.
  • I have no problem affirming that the Church consists of "aliens and strangers" (1 Peter 2:11) in the world who are called to be "ambassadors" of a coming King and kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20). The result is the same: we should reflect God's agenda and priorities to a watching world, including God's heart for true justice. But we don't have to monkey with hermeneutics about the Kingdom or the gospel to get to the same place.
  • Whatever Jesus meant by being salt and light (Matthew 5:13); whatever Peter meant by "Be holy" (1 Peter 1:16); whatever Paul meant by "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27), it had to be more than just actions or behavior. Well-behaving people killed Jesus, Peter, and Paul.

Thoughts on Social Justice - Part 1

  • The term "social justice" is a bit like the term "fundamentalist." It can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts. So, before you can use the word you have to define your use of the word, which ultimately makes the word unhelpful.
  • As a Christian, you can't use the word "justice" in the context of what we need to believe or do without understanding God's purpose for demanding and commanding justice in the first place. If what the Church is doing is disconnected from what God is ultimately up to in human history, the Church has a problem - even if the rest of the world responds positively to what the Church is doing.
  • When it comes to "social justice," we have to define our expectations. If we expect Christians to show love to their neighbor, that's one thing. If we expect pagan nations and their unregenerate leaders to show justice to the people they have trampled to get their power apart from the Holy Spirit working in their lives, we are insane.
  • The consistent purpose for Israel throughout the Old Testament (Leviticus 11:44) and the Church throughout the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15) is to different from the rest of the world because the God we serve is different from the gods of the rest of the world. Therefore, if what we do is not distinguishably, tangibly different from what the rest of the world does, we miss the point.
  • The book of Romans is clear that ultimate, eternal justice is found only in the cross of Jesus Christ. If we engage in any "social justice" that does not have the cross in the near view, we have missed both the true definition of justice and the purpose for which we exist.

Thoughts on Social Justice

If you're at all up on current trends within American Christianity these days, you know there is a huge push in the area of "social justice." (If you're not up on current trends, but listen to Glenn Beck you might have some idea of the issues, though Beck himself seems to be a little fuzzy on exactly what "social justice" is). Some of the current trend toward "social justice" stems from theologies that see the church responsible for ushering in or manifesting the Kingdom of God on the earth. Some of it comes for more visceral reasons, one being an embarrassment that the church has been a latecomer to the scene on many contemporary issues of justice (I think a lot of this healthy discussion started with Bill Hybels and Rick Warren's conviction about the church's lack of response to the AIDS issue).

The other more visceral reason is connected - many trend-trackers show an increasing dissatisfaction with the relevance of the Church. Church leaders feel like the church needs to prove relevance in issues of social justice in order to fix a perception issue with the church.

I'm still thinking my way through all the issues. Certainly I believe the church should be involved in what's going on in the world. But, I've got some serious concerns about both "how" and "why" many contemporary leaders say that needs to happen.

For the rest of the week, I'm going to record some of my current disjointed, stream-of-consciousness thoughts on this - more because I need to get them down than because I think you care to read them. Even still, feel free to interact if you've got an opinion. Like I said, I'm still very much in process.


Looks like I forgot to queue up a blog post for today. Oops.

If you're too disappointed, you could head over to my wife's blog for a big announcement.

See you Monday.

When to Risk

People who know me well laugh at my approach to risk-taking. I'm probably the riskiest risk-adverse guy I know. On some things, I'm ready to charge the hill with a butter-knife. On others (which seem to be really similar situations), I tend to be way behind the curve. That makes me a frustrating team member for someone who tends toward one edge of the spectrum: I can be pretty unpredictable.

In reality, I'm pretty calculating when it comes to risk. Everyone runs a quick risk/reward assessment when deciding whether or not to move forward. The difference between a good risk and a bad risk isn't a risk/reward calculation; it's a risk/reward calculation about the right things.

Here is my grid (as far as I can understand it right now).
  1. What am I really trying to accomplish? (Purposeless risk is cavalier foolishness)
  2. Are there moral issues involved? (If staying "above reproach" is the risk, no reward is worth it)
  3. Is there a safer way that will achieve the same result? (Risk just for kicks is not in my play book. I played slot machines once and they took all my money. Lesson learned.)
  4. Who will bear the consequences? (I am much more likely to favor risk-taking where the risk is only to me or my reputation as opposed to a risk that could affect, say, my entire church's reputation)
  5. Can I/we execute this? (A poorly executed risk is a good way to look stupid and waste a great opportunity)
  6. Does this fit "us?" (Organ transplants are always risky, but if the organ is not a "match" they are always deadly. If a risk doesn't "match" the DNA of the organization or person shouldering the risk, it will kill you or the organization)
I may be missing a thing or two. Anything you could add?


A large part of the job-description for any leader, whether or not it actually shows up in a written job description, involves the task of putting out fires. In any organization, small fires spring up all the time: unsatisfied customers, disgruntled employees, non-compliance issues, under-performing reports, miscommunication, and a host of other issues can dominate the leader's time if he/she isn't careful.

Most of the fires the leader is called to put out are inconsequential. Then again, so are most cigarettes, but just one left unattended can destroy an entire forest. So, firefighting is a necessary part of the leader's job.

What isn't a necessary part of the leader's job is fighting the same fire over and over. If you find yourself dealing with the issue over and over, you either (1) haven't really ever extinguished the fire or (2) missed the source of the fire altogether.

You'll save yourself a lot of time if you do some work on the front-end and back-end of firefighting making sure the presenting issue is really the issue that needs to be dealt with, and that the fire has been extinguished rather than simply minimized at the end.

Crucial Confrontations - Book Review

"Crucial Confrontations" is the partner book to a book I reviewed last year called "Crucial Conversations." As the subtitle suggests, the book is an attempt to offer "tools for talking about broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior."

I'll just cut to the chase: if you deal with people on a regular basis, are not omnipotent or omniscient, and choose not to read this book, you're making a huge mistake if not being altogether irresponsible.

There are only a few people on the planet who enjoy confrontation. Those people do not need to be doing it.

The rest of us normally hate confrontation because we are lousy at it. Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler have provided us with a resource to help all of us prepare for confronting virtually anyone, and develop a game plan for engaging in and managing high-stakes confrontations about any topic.

This book will be helpful for the parent who needs a healthy way to confront a child about her lack of piano practicing as well as for the Senior Vice President of a corporation who needs to confront his CEO about a serious character issue. The authors lay out a no-nonsense, simple road map for navigating difficult confrontations of any shape or size.

Crucial Confrontations will give you a strategy for your anger (mastering stories), the other person's emotions (protecting safety), articulating the problem (describing the gap), detours in the confrontation (focus and flexibility), and developing an action plan to end the conversation and move forward (move to action).

On every page of this book, I saw specific ways that confrontations in my past could have gone differently. I wish I had read this book ten years ago.

Although I'm still not excited about engaging in confrontation and cannot guarantee that all my confrontations in the future will go well, I can guarantee that after reading this book I'll go into those hard conversations exponentially more equipped and confident of a good outcome than I have been able to be in the past.


This is unbelievable: The precision, creativity, out-of-the-boxness.

When I waste time, I want to waste time like this.

Open-Handed Part 4 - Personal Ministry

This is my last post on this particular soap box. I don't know if it has been at all helpful to anyone besides me to think through these things, but that's the beauty of this being my blog!

The final major distinctive (there are many other minor features) of "open-handed" churches is an emphasis on personal ministry.

Open-handed churches are not anti-institutional, but they certainly de-emphasize the institution in favor of more organic forms of ministry. To put it more simply, and I've already said this, individuals don't feel the need to check-in with headquarters before they do great ministry.

To take it even further, an open-handed ministry can't by definition be a church with an attractional model of ministry. The emphasis of an open-handed church is getting the people in here out there to do the ministry, not getting all the people out there in here so that ministry can be done to them.

Here's what a commitment to personal ministry means:
  1. You cannot have your people at church 4 nights a week and expect them to do personal ministry outside the walls of your church. Don't try.
  2. There will often be highly effective servants of Christ who should not serve as a part of your "official" ministry. Teaching a Sunday School class or putting them on your board would be a distraction from their involvement somewhere else. You can't make a guy feel guilty for doing great ministry somewhere else and simply attending your church.
  3. You have to be selective in the programs you institute. If the primary function of a program is to bring people in and minister to them, you'll waste time and energy. If the program is designed to develop people to do great personal ministry, you'll get a huge bang for your buck.
  4. You have to be a champion for personal ministry. Most people grew up in churches that had a "you catch-em, we'll clean-em" mentality. You've got to help people see that ministry is their responsibility, not the institution's.
Celebrating personal ministry can be tough, and messy. But the dividend it pays over trying to micro-manage everything and hang onto ministry with a closed fist is well worth it.

Open-Handed Part 3 - Valuing Partnerships

A huge part of being "open-handed" means valuing partnerships. I already touched on this idea a little in my two previous posts this week, but it is important enough to deserve its own post.

When you think primarily in terms of Church as opposed to church, and are excited about giving ministry away, you don't care as much about which ministry gets the credit for what God is doing. The result of that is that you begin focusing on how you can partner with people doing great ministry rather than simply trying to co-opt good ministry ideas.

In Dallas, there are two crisis pregnancy centers less than a block from each other. One of them is a para-church ministry that has existed for more than twenty years. The other is the ministry of a mainline denomination who saw what the existing center was doing and wanted to replicate it so they could do it "their way." The result? Neither crisis pregnancy center is doing great ministry. The original ministry doesn't see as many clients since they're split between the two. Meanwhile, the denominational ministry doesn't have the knowledge, skill, or infrastructure to effectively operate a non-profit agency as well as the original center. But because they wanted the credit and focused on the church (with a small c), both ministries suffer.

When someone comes to our church leadership with an idea for a new ministry, our first question is "Who is already doing this effectively in our area?" If there is an answer, our second question is, "Is it possible for us to partner with them without compromising their ministry?"

Sometimes that means a public partnership, but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes we end up helping behind the scenes. When a big church comes in and publicly "partners with" another ministry, it can often have an adverse effect because other churches feel like a need no longer exists.

This isn't just with para-church ministries. Open-handed churches are quick to point people with specific needs to other churches who are better equipped to handle it. For example, our church never got on the Celebrate Recovery bandwagon, but not because we were uninterested in that ministry. We think it's vital. But another solid church just a few miles away got in on the front-end and is doing CR really well. When someone in our church needs that kind of community, we send them to the other church.

Sometimes they come back; sometimes they don't. That's okay; we're not keeping score. We want to encourage the best possible ministry wherever it is happening, and don't see the need to re-invent an already existing ministry just so it has our name on it.

We'd rather partner with someone who is doing great ministry and be an encouragement for them than wade into an area that is not our area of expertise and try to make a go of it. There are plenty of people to go around. We want to focus on what we're good at and partner with people who are better at other things.

Open-Handed Part 2 - Giving Ministry Away

Yesterday I started talking about what it looks like to be an "open-handed church" by saying that open-handed churches think in terms of Church (with a big "C") before they think about their own individual church (with a small "c"). The local church is not the hope of the world; Jesus is.

One of the primary ways this kind of thinking shows up is in giving ministry away.

In a lot of churches you get the distinct feeling that the people in the pew exist to help the pastor (or staff) have a really great ministry. Open-handed churches feel like that's a backward philosophy. The pastor and staff (according to Ephesians 4:11-13) exist to help the people have great ministry wherever they are.

When a person trusts Christ or begins to grow spiritually, the question is "how could that person serve Christ?" before it is "how could that person serve our local church?". The difference is subtle, but extraordinarily profound.

Close-handed churches expect their people to check-in with the church staff before they begin a Bible study with their neighbors. Kids aren't encouraged to be a part of Young Life, or FCA, or something else at their school because it might take them away from a youth event. Pastors lead everything; volunteers set up and clean up. Close-handed churches see materials they have developed as an opportunity to promote their brand; not as a way to further ministry.

The open-handed church looks for ways to give ministry away. Their staffs exist to develop and empower others so that they are fully equipped to have great ministry whether that ministry contributes to the the little "c" church's nickels and noses or not.

Open-Handed Part 1 - Big or Small "C?"

One of the unique things I love about the church where I serve is its "open-handedness." It's one of our core values that we talk the most about, and also one of the things that makes McKinney a unique church.

This week, I want to unpack just a little of what it means to be an open-handed church. Hopefully it will be a reminder for those of you who attend McKinney, and a thought-provoker for those of you who found this blog somewhere else.

Perhaps the foundational thing that makes a church "open-handed" is a commitment to Church (with a big "C") above a commitment to church (with a little "c").

In a lot of churches, you get the feeling that if a particular ministry doesn't happen as a function of that church, it is as if it didn't happen at all. If college students don't choose to attend a particular church's college ministry over and above another campus ministry, they aren't seen as serious about their faith. If another church does a specific program, some churches either try to re-create it and re-brand it, or take pot-shots at it.

Open-handed churches want to be the first to recognize that they don't have the corner on the God market in their particular town. Rather than evangelize people to their church they evangelize people to their Savior. They are more serious about expanding the Church than their church.

I'm not talking about ecumenism, where we celebrate ministries that have abandoned essential doctrines of the faith. I am talking about looking for ways to value ministries that are preaching the same salvation in the name of the same Jesus from the same Bible whether or not those ministries were your idea or share your same budget.

Throughout the New Testament, the primary focus is on Christ building His Church, not us building our churches. I'll talk more about what open-handedness looks like throughout the week which may clarify this distinction even more, but I'm interested in your feedback today: Would you say your church is "open-handed" based on this part of the definition? Why or why not?