From the Editor:

Spiritual Leadership

The Changing Church
Churches, Pastors Need to Set Spiritual Goals

Helping, Parents
Father’s Day Quotes
Luck, Marriage

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf


And Finally…

“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.”
(Amelia Earhart)

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    Vol. 8, No. 21 June 9 , 2009    
Michael Duduit

As I prepare to teach a Master of Ministry course on Leadership in Ministry this fall (www.auministry.com), I’ve been doing a lot of reading on that subject of leadership. One of the best books I’ve come across is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. Early in the volume, he expressed the urgency of the need:

“If the world is to hear the church’s voice today, leaders are needed who are authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial. Authoritative, because people desire reliable leaders who know where they are going and are confident of getting there. Spiritual, because without a strong relationship to God, even the most attractive and competent person cannot lead people to God. Sacrificial, because this trait follows the model of Jesus, who gave Himself for the whole world and who calls us to follow in His steps.

“Churches grow in every way when they are guided by strong, spiritual leaders with the touch of the supernatural radiating in their service. The church sinks into confusion and malaise without such leadership. Today those who preach with majesty and spiritual power are few, and the booming voice of the church has become a pathetic whisper. Leaders today — those who are truly spiritual — must take to heart their responsibility to pass on the torch to younger people as a first-line duty.” (Click here to learn more about the book Spiritual Leadership.)

May God give us leaders who are authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial. And may God make us those kinds of leaders.

Michael Duduit, Editor

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MichaelDuduit

On this week’s Preaching Podcast: Jud Wilhite is pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas and author of the new book Eyes Wide Open. Listen in as we visit about helping people recognize the power of God’s grace in their lives.


In his new book The New Shape of World Christianity (IVP), Mark Noll illustrates how dramatically the face of world Christianity has changed in recent years. He writes: “The most important thing to realize about the current situation of Christianity throughout the world is that things are not as they were. A Christian Rip Van Winkle, who fell asleep under a tree midway through the 20th century and then woke up this past week to the sound of church bells (or a synthesizer with drums) on a Sunday morning, would not recognize the shifted shape of world Christianity. It is as if the globe had been turned upside down and sideways.

“A few short decades ago, Christian believers were concentrated in the global north and west, but now a rapidly swelling majority lives in the global south and east. As Rip Van Winkle wiped a half-century of sleep from his eyes and tried to locate his fellow Christian believers, he would find them in surprising places, expressing their faith in surprising ways, under surprising conditions, with surprising relationships to culture and politics, and raising surprising theological questions that would not have seemed possible when he fell asleep.

“A series of contrasts can underscore the great changes of the recent past.
• This past Sunday it is possible that more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called ‘Christian Europe.’ Yet in 1970 there were no legally functioning churches in all of China; only in 1971 did the communist regime allow for one Protestant and one Roman Catholic Church to hold public worship services, and this was mostly a concession to visiting Europeans and African students from Tanzania and Zambia.
• This past Sunday more Anglicans attended church in each of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda than did Anglicans in Britain and Canada and Episcopalians in the United States combined — and the number of Anglicans in church in Nigeria was several times the number in those other African countries.
• This past Sunday more Presbyterians were at church in Ghana than in Scotland, and more were in congregations of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa than in the United States.
• This past week in Great Britain, at least fifteen thousand Christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelizing the locals. Most of these missionaries are from Africa and Asia.” (Click here to read the full chapter, courtesy of IVP. Click here to learn more or order from Amazon.)


An unclear understanding of spiritual maturity may be an underlying reason why there is so little progress in seeing people develop spiritually in the United States, despite overwhelming access to churches and unlimited products and resources, The Barna Group says.

“America has a spiritual depth problem partly because the faith community does not have a robust definition of its spiritual goals,” David Kinnaman, Barna’s president, said. “The study shows the need for new types of spiritual metrics.”

Barna found that most Christians equate spiritual maturity with following the rules described in the Bible. Also, many churchgoers were unable to identify how their church defines spiritual maturity. Most Christians, Barna said, offer one-dimensional views of personal spiritual maturity, giving answers such as having a relationship with Jesus, living a moral lifestyle or applying the Bible.

Most pastors struggle with articulating a specific set of objectives for spirituality and instead list activities over attitudes, the study said. Pastors are willing to acknowledge that a lack of spiritual maturity is one of the largest problems in the nation, but few of them say spiritual immaturity is a problem in their church.

When Barna asked the 600-plus pastors who were part of the survey to identify biblical references to chart spiritual maturity, most gave generic responses such as “the whole Bible,” “the gospels” or “the New Testament.” Just 2 percent mentioned the Galatians 5 passage listing the fruit of the Spirit.

“One new metric might be a renewed effort on the part of leaders to articulate the outcomes of spiritual growth. Another might be the relational engagement and accountability that people maintain,” Kinnaman said. “Of course, spirituality is neither a science nor a business, so there is a natural resistance to ascribing scientific or operational standards to what most people believe is an organic process.

“Yet, the process of spiritual growth is neither simplistic nor without guidelines, so hard work and solid thinking in this arena is needed.” (Baptist Press, 6-1-09; click here to read the full story.)


Because Harold Wilke was born without arms, he learned at an early age to trust his mother. Harold recalls sitting on the bedroom floor while trying to put on a shirt and having a very difficult time. “I was grunting and sweating, and my mother just stood there and watched. Obviously, I now realize that her arms must have been rigidly at her side; every instinct in her had wanted to reach out and do it for me.” A well-meaning friend observed the situation and questioned his mom, “‘Ida, why don’t you help that child?’ My mother responded through gritted teeth, ‘I am helping him.'”

Sometimes our heavenly Father deals with us in a similar way. Perhaps He has said no to one of your most heartfelt requests, or He allowed you to go through a painful situation. As the ultimate parent, God’s answers always have a loving purpose. He only gives us what’s good for us. He tries to prepare us to have faith and go out on our own to face challenges. Trust Him today. (Turning Point Daily Devotional, 3-16-06)


“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.” (Charles Wadsworth)

“I’ve had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships that my father went through in order to get me to where I started.” (Bartrand Hubbard)

“The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” (Tim Russert)

“A father’s words are like a thermostat that sets the temperature in the house.” (Paul Lewis)

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a 50 percent chance of being right.” (Bill Cosby)

From the July-August issue of Preaching …

Bill Fleming begins an article with this picture: “When I was a boy, my grandfather had a painting of a sailing ship on his living room wall. Sometimes I would stare at the picture for a long time, looking at the ship, its masts and lines and the rolling waves.

“Then I noticed something strange. I found that I could make the ship disappear! If I stopped looking directly at the ship and focused instead on the wall or frame around the ship, then I would no longer notice the painting. If I did it long enough, the ship would seem to disappear. It would still be there, but I would no longer notice it.

“It’s an old magician’s trick-getting people to focus on the edge of something, instead of what is happening in the middle. But there was no magic here. When I lost my focus on the ship, my mind simply overlooked it. Once concentration on the picture was lost, the ship seemed to disappear.

“Something like this is happening in our pulpits every Sunday. The cross, which is central to our faith, is too often overlooked and ignored to the point of disappearing.”  


Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles on preaching, plus great model sermons and practical resources. If you’re not a current subscriber to Preaching magazine, click here (or call, toll free, 1-800-527-5226) to go begin your subscription!


Also in the July-August issue of Preaching: “Safety in the Sanctuary,” “The Curious Case of the Illusive Illustration,” an interview with Michael Quicke and much more. Order your subscription today!

Mark Roberts is a gifted writer and former pastor (for 16 years) of Irvine Presbyterian Church, who now serves as Senior Director and Scholar-in-residence of Laity Lodge in Kerrville, Texas. Mark is also a prolific blogger, who often uses that outlet to craft fascinating series on important topics. One of those series is on the biblical view of worship, and it is a worthwhile investment for any pastor or church leader. You can read it here.

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” (Dorothy Nevill)

Earlier in this newsletter we talked about Christian leadership. An excellent little book on the subject is The Character of Leadership (B&H Books) by Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. Iorg talks about the “nine qualities that define great leaders” — integrity, humility, discipline, security, servanthood, courage, purity, wisdom and passion. This will be a useful book for pastors and an excellent resource to share with staff and lay leaders in your church.


Another small book (you can likely read it in under an hour) that is worth its weight in gold is Making Vision Stick (Zondervan) by Andy Stanley. Stanley helps us understand why vision is so often allowed to slip away and helps leaders understand how to share vision so that it becomes established in the hearts of people.



People in the pews hunger for relevance, and in his book What Does the Lord Require? A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics (Baker Academic), Walter Kaiser shows how we can effectively apply God’s Word to a host of pressing ethical issues. Among the topics he covers: racism, gambling, sexual misconduct, homosexuality, suicide, war and peace, and much more. The resources provided could launch a powerful sermon series about how God’s Word addresses contemporary issues.

(Click on the title to learn more or order from Amazon.)


A woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he came to, he motioned for her to come nearer.

As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been with me through all the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side… You know what?”

“What dear?” she gently asked, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth.

“I think you’re bad luck.”



~ Adam: “You are what you eat.”

~ Eve: “At least he doesn’t compare me to his mother.”

~ Abraham: “I’m goin’ not knowin’.”

~ Noah: “Honk if you believe in treading water.”

~ Moses: “From a basket case to the promised land.”

~ Elijah: “When Jezebel ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

~ Balaam: “My second donkey talks!”

~ Prodigal Son: “All roads lead to home.”

~ At the Sinai desert: “Winding road next 40 years.”

I’ve heard speakers refer to going “wheels off,” but I had no idea you could take it so literally.

But that’s what happened to a driver traveling on a motorway in Switzerland, when his car lost all four wheels simultaneously, coming to an immediate halt in the middle of the highway.

According to a June 1 Reuters story, the car’s passengers had just changed from winter to summer wheels themselves, “a common task in Switzerland where there is plenty of snow in winter. But (they) used the wrong nuts when mounting the new set.”

“When they then drove back on to the motorway, all of the wheels disconnected,” St. Gallen cantonal police said in a statement. “Luckily, no one was injured and no other vehicle was damaged.”

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