Spiritual Formation

Who Are You?

One thing I love about the personality assessment, Clifton StrengthsFinder, is that it reveals how unique a person truly is! The assessment reveals what your top 5 talent or strength themes are out of a possible 34. According to Gallup’s research, to find someone with the same top 5 themes that you have, in the same order is one in over 33.3 million. Thus, there’s only about 250 people in the world with your top 5 themes in your theme order. To go further, Gallup also says that to find someone with the same top eight themes in your same order is one in over 77 billion. So, at this moment, you are a unique person on this planet. No one exists who is just like you!

Today, I read a devotional by Billy Graham. He begins by telling that the first astronauts were required to give twenty answers to the question, “Who are you?” Can you give twenty answers to that question? What kind of answers would you give? Do you know who you really are? Graham writes, “Scientists agree that our desperate search leads all humans to seek heroes and to imitate others, to ‘paste bits and pieces of other people on ourselves’.” What Graham means by that is we imitate others in the way we do things. Yes, we learn by doing, but instead of doing it through our own creativity, we try to act or be like someone else. For example, do you know someone who tries to drive like a Nascar driver on the freeway? Do you know an armchair quarterback who thinks he makes better decisions than the one on the field?

The problem of imitating and trying to be like others is that our true self that God created does not come out. There are many passages, like Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” God intimately knows us because he uniquely created us! By imitating others, we do not honor the way God created and gifted us.

Graham concludes the devotional by writing, “Consider this: there are three of you. There is the person you think you are. There is the person others think you are. There is the person God knows you are and can be through Christ.” As you go through this day, seek God to understand and be the person you were created to be. Nobody can do things just like you do!

Jeff Glass

Ministry Formation, Spiritual Formation

Clifton StrengthsFinder and Personal Evangelism

Gallup has created a wonderful personality tool called, Clifton StrengthsFinder. It has been proven to help people achieve greater success at work and in relationships. Can it also do the same for personal evangelism? I’m doing research through Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN.), to discover if StrengthsFinder can also empower Christians who feel inadequate for personal evangelism.

As part of my Doctor of Ministry research, I surveyed Christians who have taken Clifton StrengthsFinder and who come from a variety of Christian backgrounds. I want to thank everyone who took the survey! Your participation in this survey provided information to support others to be more faithful to God’s call to share our faith.

Soon, I will start a series of posts on how Clifton StrengthsFinder can empower Christians in personal evangelism.

Thank you for assisting in this research!

Jeff Glass

Books / Readings, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Worship

Common Prayer

This past Spring, I attended the Church of the Brethren (CoB) church planter’s gathering at Bethany Theological Seminary. It was my first CoB event in almost 3 years. It was good to reconnect with some of the relationships I cultivated during my tenure with the Church of the Brethren General Board.

One of my big take-away’s from the conference was buying the book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro (Zondervan Press, 2010). I have been mostly using it for my daily devotions since then. Each day has a liturgy that is like a mini Sunday worship service. For someone who enjoys the contemporary praise and worship format, I find it surprising that I enjoy this book so much!

Today, I read a prayer from the book that really touches my heart. May it bless your’s, as well.
Lord God, help us to live out your gospel in the world. We pray for those who do not know your love, tha they would be wooed by your goodness and seduced by your beauty. Form us into a family that runs deeper than biology or nationality or ethnicity, a family that is born again in you. May we be creators of holy mischief and agitators of comfort. . . people who do not accept the world as it is but insist on its becoming what you want it to be. Let us groan as in the pains of childbirth for your kingdome to come on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to be midwives of that kingdom. Amen. (p. 409)

Blessings to you!

Books / Readings, Change!?!, Missional

Viral Christianity?

Today, Ryan Braught (church planter in Lancaster, PA) posted a review of the book, Viral Jesus: Recovering the Contagious Power of the Gospel. Ryan writes, “The premise of this book is to recover the viral movement nature of the church. Rohde puts it this way, “In the early centuries Christianity was an explosive, viral movement that spread by word of mouth.” He then continues, “But today, the gospel is no longer spreading like wildfire throughout the western world. Slowly, Christianity has morphed into something much different…a stable institutionalized religion that no longer grips us with the excitement and spirituality of the early years.”

Ryan continues: “Rhode lays out 5 key aspects of a viral Jesus movement.
1. Apostolic teams found organic churches and networks that follow Jesus in every gathering. Yet every component, from individual Christians to networks, is easily reproducible and simple in design; simple but not simplistic.
2. Viral Jesus movements are focused on the kingdom, not on the church per se. This is because they are focused on the King and his commands.
3. Viral Jesus movements are founded with the fivefold ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11.
4. Viral movements, by their nature, are supernaturally powerful because they are under the authority and power of Jesus.
5. Finally, viral Jesus movements are led by Jesus alone. He is the one who provides stability and control.

From what Ryan writes, it sounds like this book is written under some of the same premises as The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch and Leonard Sweet. In this book, Hirsch writes that when we recover our spiritual DNA and focus on Jesus, the gospel spreads quickly.

Is it possible for Christianity to spread like a virus in the U.S. today? What might this look like in your community? Have you seen or experienced anything like this?

One of the key quotes for Ryan in the book is, “I believe that Jesus gives ministry success to a person or team because they are obedient, not because they have great technique.”.

If you would like to read more of Ryan’s review of Viral Jesus, click here.


Change!?!, Community, Understanding Context

Guest Post — Ramblings of a Pastor

One of my pleasures, which I wish I had more time for, is reading the writings of pastors in their church newsletter. Sometimes, each pastor comes-up with a real gem that I think needs a larger audience than just their local church. The following comes from Pastor Don Shankster, of the Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Don is a bit closer to retirement than most of us. Yet, his life experiences can teach many of us things that we may not have had time to learn on our own. The following is one good lesson on dealing with “CHANGE”. Jeff

Ramblings of a Pastor

I have become a bit of a snob with my taste buds. After more than eight years of enjoying whole wheat breads, I am on alert in many restaurants that do not offer whole wheat (which is deemed healthier for you). I enjoy buckwheat pancakes on a regular basis, especially loaded with blueberries. Even Denny’s restaurants have upgraded to offering whole wheat pancakes with the extra “texture” that whole grains provide.

Recently I stopped at “The Place” in Flagstaff for breakfast. When I questioned the server on the availability of whole wheat in their menu she said, “Oh no, we don’t have anything ‘healthy’ on our menu here.” Denny’s has made the change, but The Place has not.

I do not like change. But my eating habits have changed as I learn what is better for me and as I begin to appreciate the healthier choices. My body is changing, not able to perform like it did ten years ago let alone twenty or thirty. I can throw all the tantrums I want to about going paperless in my banking, but the world is well on its way in that direction with or without me.

We serve a God we claim to be changeless, but one who looks for change in our hearts and actions. When God created the human body, it was made to go through changes. The earth is constantly changing with wind and water and pressure. Some natural landmarks like arches eventually fall down and change the landscape through freezing and thawing and erosion.

Faith that keeps us looking to God is also in flux. Our faith may be strengthening or weakening depending on our attention to it or the particular situation we find ourselves in. For our church to be relevant in this world, it, too, must change. Culture, media, social connections are all changing rapidly around us. A generation that has grown up with iPods and Facebook does not understand the vocabulary of the typewriter age. This new generation is more comfortable in public places with many options than in “sanctuaries” with limited offerings.

For a church these changes can be daunting. But underneath the façade of different music styles, seating arrangements, or media use are people still needing to belong, still looking for someone to care, still seeking to be loved. Our human form may change on the outside, but our needs remain constant on the inside. As God told Samuel when he went to anoint a new king, “Do not judge by his appearance or height (surface characteristics) … The Lord does not see as mortals see. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7) And, remember, the apostle Paul went to marketplaces to share the Good News.

Yes, I need to change to stay connected in this world. In the midst of this change the core interest to God does not change. Trying to be more diligent in searching the hearts of those around me, while working with the changes around me, Pastor Don

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