I hated Ty Gibson

imprrh@gmail.com —  January 11, 2018

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Actually not hate, hate. Just no interest in…

You are probably wondering why that is. Is it because his good looks? His sharp wit or his inspirational quotes on twitter? Why do you hate Ty Gibson? Aren’t you like a pastor or something?

Let me share a story. Several years ago I met Ty Gibson for the first time. All I knew about him is what other people said about him.
*He leads an “independent ministry”. (that was used pejoratively)
*He does not support the work.
*We have some concerns about him.
Then we had a meal together. We sat around a table and started a conversation. That day I also met the Rosario brothers who were involved with GYC en Espanol. I knew no one in those circles either. Hispanic churches (as many ethnic churches) are usually on their own vibe without much interaction with the wider Adventist body.
A strange thing happened. The longer the conversation went on I found myself saying: “these guys are not crazy at all. In fact they are normal people!”
Fast forward several years. Ty has become a good friend. I have grown from suspicion to tolerance to acceptance to connection. How does that happen? Here are some lessons learned:
1. Let’s not pretend.
We are a fragmented body. There are websites and battle lines drawn. There are allegiances and dismissive comments. Attacks and dismissal of the “other”. The first step is not to play nice but to be loving. That includes realizing that you are not the sole possessor of ultimate truth in every single item. What we have now is the belief that being together is the same as unity. I made a decision to get to know Ty. Warning: it usually gets worst before it gets better, but it’s worth it.
2. Let’s get to know people, not caricatures of people.
Are you GYC or the TOP? For or against WO? Drums or organ? Vegan or super vegan? The list is interminable. For example here is a comment of a pastor I know. “Only in the crazy, wonderfully wacky world of Adventism can a Pro-life, 2nd amendment supporter republican be called a liberal because he preaches from the NIV.” So true. I am so happy to be friends with people who are not like me. That has given me a deeper perspective on life. If I have a God that always agrees with my positions what I really have is a God made in my image. That’s called idolatry.
3. You can have your preferences, but love trumps all.
I have a family member who loves Trump. In his mind Trump has brought prayer and God back to the White House and America. The best president ever! I’m not a big fan. One thing I noticed. I have my political preferences but I love my family member more than I do the donkey or the elephant. Someone said that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Instead of living my life constantly trying to convince people who dumb they are and hammering every position into people I want to seek a relationship. A deep relationship can change a heart with greater effectiveness.

I was just thinking the other day. What a great friendship I would have missed out on if I had never taken the time to get to know someone!

I love Ty.

Most of the preachers you admire that lead a local congregation preach in series. When I discovered it was life transforming. Here is my process.
1. When picking the series I like to use the following acronym: PREACH.
Preach Jesus. If you can’t connect it to the gospel and Jesus flush it.
Rely on Holy Spirit. Don’t start with what you have to say. Start with what He knows people need. Regular fasting and prayer (by this I mean weekly fasting) is key.
Evaluate every series. Ask a diverse crowd not just your leaders. Don’t cry when its trash. Don’t gloat when its glory.
Ask your congregation. One of my best series was when I asked teens what they wanted to hear. Congregational input via surveys and personal conversation gives them buy in.
Create a buzz. I printed big posters and put in urinals. Use social media. Email. Bulletin. People don’t come to church every week so you must advertise one month in advance. Please don’t use 90’s clip art! Titles are important: use this article as a guide http://pastors.com/improve-your-sermon-titles-with-these-four-questions-by-rick-warren-if/
Helpful truth. If it is only one of those series will not connect. Truth that doesn’t help is just religious information. “Help” that isn’t biblical will not create change. So ask yourself: What are their needs? What are their hurts? What are their dreams?

2. Pick a theme for the year. I did this in a retreat in November. You can share with your leadership team how the sermons are structured around the theme. It’s a mistake not to have a yearly leadership retreat.

3. I always divided the year in 12 segments and I included every year series on the following meta-topics:
Stewardship. Prophecy. OT Book. NT Book. Doctrine*. Hot/Difficult Topic. Marriage. Evangelism.
Grace. Christmas. (the last two I picked based on surveys, needs, requests, concerns)
*I preached doctrine, grace etc throughout just picked that month a specific aspect for a more extensive development.

4. Sample Year: 2018
January- Stewardship. It’s a great month for giving, goals. Good series can be based on the book Be Rich.
February- Marriage/relationships. Flows with Valentine’s day. Best months for series are Jan-April and September to Mid-December.
March- Evangelism. This month we usually had spring revival so we tailored series in a way that friends could invite their friends with as few cringe worthy moments as possible. What do people in my community care about? (Clue: not the same thing we do)
April- OT Book of Ruth.
May- Hot Topic- Did a series on sex. Church was packed both Wednesday night and Sabbath!
June- Prophecy. Daniel is a good way to start.
July- Guest Series- Prayer. Vacation time for me but I had guests come and speak on the topic.
August- Bible Character- Abraham. Bold. Bad. Beautiful. Bountiful.
September- NT Book. Philippians.
October- Doctrine of the Sabbath. Four really good messages from different perspectives.
November- Grace. People need grace at the end of the year when they feel they didn’t accomplish what they wanted.
December- Christmas.

What other ideas do you have?

It may come as a surprise to some that October has been divinely ordained as Pastor Appreciation Month. (I know those three words didn’t need to be bolded and in caps but I like to live in the danger zone)

It’s true. October is the one time a year you are required to give your pastor something other than those “encouraging” notes you usually send. Now the question becomes: what should I get this person who sacrifices so much for us? You’re in luck. I have a list for you. This is a list of what NOT to get them. Anything else would be amazing.

He/she would never say this too you. They’ll even deny it if asked and will act happy. So I’ll do it for them.
1. A bible. Does that sound strange? Isn’t he/she supposed to have a good one to preach from? Most pastors I know have enough Bibles in their library to evangelize a small town. Now, an IPhone with a Bible in it? That’s a different story. (BTW I hate everything Apple, not sure what possessed me to write that)

2. A tie. If your pastor is a female that would be awkward. If he is a male that would be like saying “what’s the easiest, spend the least amount of preparation and thoughtfulness and still look like I care” kind of gift I can give. Especially grievous are ties with words on them. In summary: Ties from Ross, no. A gift card to Ross, maybe. A gift card to somewhere nice? Amen!

3. Praying hands. He got four of those in different sizes from his previous church. So no.

4. An envelope with a card with just air inside. Who does this? Who gets in a room and says “yep, that’s a great idea.” You know who you are. Do you like getting those at Christmas? I didn’t think so.

5. Any type of decoration. When someone gives me a decoration, I often have two thoughts:
a. More things to pack on my next move.
b. Why didn’t they take off the Goodwill sign?

Appreciate your pastor. Ask their spouse/parent/ministerial director what meaningful gifts you could give them this month. Start by looking them in the eye and saying…

PS If you are a previous parishioner of mine, there are no expiration dates on the effects of ministry so…
PSS Here are some ideas…http://leadsu.org/2013/09/24/pastor-appreciation-month-tips-ideas-execution

In 2007 I published my first book. It was a book on marriage that still has great support even 10 years later. I had no idea about how to self-publish. That’s the reason I am writing this short article, so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. It’s hard work but worth it.

Here are ten steps/guidelines for writing books.
1. There are two ways you can go about it. You can get a Publishing House to publish it pr you can do self-publishing. Since the probability of you getting published is very slim I will help you with the process of going the self-publishing route.
2. Write it. There are two types of writers. One writes something every day. The other binge writes. I am writer #2. Whatever you are, put it in paper.
3. Resist the temptation to make it perfect. No one wants to read trash, so it’s good to revise it, but you can read a book 100 times and still find ways of saying it different. Done > perfect. That’s what editors are for.
4. A good editor is gold. Don’t save money by using a guy you know or an ex-girlfriend. Good editors can charge from .01 per word to a flat fee of $900 or more. My preferred editor is Tim Lale. He worked for PP so he knows what it takes for a good book to be published. His email is tjlale@gmail.com
5. Layout/cover. Once again, get someone who knows what they are doing and that won’t give your book that 90’s look no one wants but they are very familiar with. I personally use www.fiverr.com for cover and a different person for layout gfpimentel@earthlink.net This part costs $500 to $1,000 NOTE: people in other countries will do a great job for much less.
6. Write an outline for the book. Don’t worry about catchy titles at this point. Then write an easy to follow outline for chapter one and commence to write. Don’t worry about every detail. Just finish the chapter. Then review it, make revisions and let it sit for a day. Come back again and re-write it. I usually revise the chapter three times before I leave it alone so that the editor can massacre it.
7. There will almost never be perfect ideal conditions to write. There are kids, noise, games and just life to deal with. So instead of waiting for that perfect time in an idyllic cabin in the woods, just write.
8. Always ask people you contract three questions:
a. Let me see your other work?
b. Will I pay until its done? Nope. (Don’t. No matter how well you know them)
c. What specific date will you have it back to me?
9. What are you passionate about? That will carry the day. Writing books is not a hobby. If you have little passion for what you are writing about, it will show.
10. Publish it. It’s basically the printing of the book. After a search high and low, I have found a good publisher. The company is a small business in San Diego. I appreciate the personal service and the willingness to work with your realities. My books are usually 100-210 pages and I have found that for 1,000 copies the price to be close to $1.40 a book sometimes lower based on quantity. His name is Ted and the email is ted@qualityinstantprinting.com.

Five years ago, Pacific Press asked me to write for them and I have been ever since. But that would have never happened if I hadn’t self published. Here is the cover:

You can order here: http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/everyone-welcome.html

What other tips are you familiar with?

Next topic: How to promote and sell your book.

The first time people from the Branch Davidians came to our church they seemed inoffensive enough. Dressed in their black suits and carrying several EGW books they arrived early and joined a Sabbath school class (and promptly took it over). I found out from another colleague how they had to discipline several members because of the work of these people. They don’t do evangelism. They prey on your people. We asked them not to return, to no avail so we had them removed by authorities. It caused a bit of a stir and even some push back. We lost no members.

According to what I hear literally every week we have three major groups (there are more) that present insidious content and bring trauma to the church.
1. 2520 Prophecy http://the2520.com/
2. Branch Dividians/Shepperds Rod
3. Jesus was created. (I know its not the right name, but you know what I mean)

1. Pastor bad. Church bad. Us good.
2. We are the only ones that have new light.
3. Usually have a leader that can’t be questioned.
4. Use Ellen White to prove their point.

What to do:
1. Past history. Look and ask where they came from. 90% of the time, they had issues there.
2. Get on it early. It will get awkward and messy. Your choice is awkward and messy now for a bit or later with more victims, pain, and loss. Start interceding early so God exposes the lies.
3. Stop being Jesus. Let me ask you a question. Have you heard all those testimonies of people in these groups that because of the pastor’s work changed course? Yeah, me either. Some have. Sure. However, I do not want to live my life making decisions as if I am always the exception to the rule. Usually they are good leaders so you wonder what could have been if they would just change. They will not. God hasn’t been able to, but you can? Ok.
4. Inform your leadership and church administration. Do this early and often. Stop trying to fix everything without letting your administration know. One thing administrations hate is surprises when the bomb has already detonated and they have to come in a clean the mess.
5. Invite guests. Use your conference officials, seminary professors and university teachers to teach the church on these things. You won’t save everyone, but you will save many undecided.
6. Preach solid, biblical, Adventist sermons. They will still criticize them but reasonable people will see the lies. (you should have been doing this anyway)
7. Ask them to leave, especially SR. Church is not a public space. The earlier you do this the better.

Let me know how I can pray for you!

When I was an associate pastor, I thought my senior was clueless. Then I became a senior pastor. When I was a senior pastor, I thought for sure some conference people did not know what they were doing. Then I became a conference official and my attention centered on the union…

You get the point. The further away you are from a situation the easier it seems. That also applies to the people you work for.
Once in a while you get a bad boss. We all have had one. The boss from Hades. The mention of his/her name provokes an eye roll accompanied by a desire to throw up a little in your mouth. If the person you report to has issues here is some principles that can make this situation better.
Types of bosses:
1. The absent boss. They do not care. They welcome you to the team but are not accessible. This creates both opportunities and challenges. This used to be me. I am not a detail person so I just let people run free. Here is a bad idea: Give responsibility without instruction. Will make you say “what is my job description again?”
2. The controlling boss. “Run it by me first” is the favorite phrase. Even little details have to be approved first. Will make you question your decision-making prowess.
3. The insecure boss. Tough going with this one. The leadership quandary is this: shine and they want you gone for outperforming the boss. Relax and they will want to gone for not doing your job. Will make you say “oh boy, what now?”
4. The “I talk in code” boss. More like a passive aggressive pioneer. This boss will talk to everyone while wanting to address only one. Makes you say “is it me Lord?”
5. The clueless boss. Will talk like they know, but they don’t. Prefer status quo’s and use power point slides, data and references from the 90’s (if you’re lucky). Will make you say “what even is this?”

What you can do:
1. The absent boss. Ask for the job description at the interview. Remember that the interview is the best you and them will get along. Ask for feedback process, accessibility, etc. Preferably in writing. Ask for and schedule well in advance meetings to inform and ask questions.
2. The controlling boss. Over inform. It will get on your nerves, but so will a grumpy boss. Ask lots of questions. Information will not save you, but it will minimize the drama. Put in writing. Let me say that again, put in writing. Controlling people have selective memories.
3. The insecure boss. Flattery is your friend. Look for public ways to let them know you appreciate their leadership. Give them credit. Get a new job.
4. The “I talk in code” boss. Ask them directly if they were referring to you. Suspense is great for movies, not so much for workplace.
5. The clueless boss. Don’t roll your eyes. Whenever you can send them a gift of a resource you have found helpful and sneak those references into the conversation.
What other ideas have you found helpful?

Every weekend around 6,500 Adventist churches in the NAD have services where a sermon is preached. Some of them are home runs. Some just make you want to go home early (and you are the one delivering it!). No one hits a home run every time, but there are ways you can raise your batting average. Here are four ways you can get better this week.

  1. Helpful truth. I am planning to write a book later this year about this concept. Sermons strike out when there is:

-Truth without application.

-Self-help without the gospel.

Instead of waiting until the end of the sermon to apply it, I use the following template in EVERY one of my points: (see connecting phrases in each point)

Teaching- what it teaches us

Illustration- its like

Application- in the same way

  1. The connection with service.

Helpful quote: Thirty years ago the most effective form of evangelism was widely believed to be a straight-out, in-your-face, confront-the-sinner declaration of salvation available through Christ. A decade or two ago, evangelism shifted to a focus on personal relationships, cultivated with eternity in mind. We believe we âre undergoing another shift today, wherein doing good in the world is a powerful apologetic to those who are seeking God.

(2014-09-19). Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them (Kindle Locations 2424-2427). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.

I mention in every sermon a service act, desire or initiative that the church is doing or should be doing. People assume the church only cares about your money and is insulated. Many churches have specific initiatives that are blessing the community and are completely bypassed from the pulpit.

  1. Bookends matter. One of my pet peeves is preachers that make two mistakes:

Take a while to take off because of greetings, long intros and otherwise super life changing items like ANNOUNCEMENTS right before they preach.

Take a while to land. Land the plane. Don’t be a liar. Don’t say “in conclusion” and then speak for another 20 minutes. Stop it. No one likes it, not even your spouse.

  1. Short. No one ever said: “That was 1.5 hours of preaching and I loved it!” Taking forever in the pulpit usually indicates you flaked in you preparation.

What are your pet-peeves? How are you improving? Share in the comment section.

How to spend 20 hours a week preparing your sermon without becoming a hermit

When I was a wide-eyed college student, the teacher taught me that for every minute in the pulpit, you must spend one hour of study. I embraced that concept enthusiastically.

Then I became a pastor.

According the latest study (http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2017/april/gallup-hottest-thing-at-church-not-pastor-worship.html) over 70% of parishioners come to church because of one thing: (pick one)

  1. Biblical preaching that connects to real life issues.
  2. A fifty something pastor in skinny jeans.
  3. Fog.
  4. Hymnals.

Since those early days, I have learned a couple of things about preaching I would like to share with you. I was even called a Ninja in the pulpit. Dont know what that means, but I’ll take it!

  1. Multitask: I am not a Podcast junkie like Javier, but I do listen to quite a different slate of them. The sermon you are planning to preach has already been preached. (See #2) So how did others handle the text? I exercise for one hour (sometimes 1.5) a day. I wake up earlier, spend less time on the tube and the Book of the Face and spend the time that Im working out listening to preaching about my topic matter.
  2. Plan for year: I dedicate one week every year to plan my sermonic calendar. It allows for changes but the best thing it helps me with is taking the uncertainty out of it. As I pick what sermons, books, podcasts and online content I will CHOOSE to ingest, I make them match with my selected month’s topic.
  3. Write it down immediately. An idea can happen anytime. They can come to you in random places. I have a notes app that I write my ideas in. Same with illustrations. Pen it in or it perishes.
  4. Ruthless. I am guilty of this as much as the next person is. One misconception people have is that in order to make progress you must sit down uninterrupted for long periods of time. That hardly ever happens. I take advantages of sitting in the waiting room and in the toilet room to read or write ideas. I quote Lee Strobel: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life”

Most people I know that say they have no time, are stressed out and have a ginormous to-do list I have found that it has less to do with lack of time, and more with lack of planning.

My schedule looks like this:

1.15 hour of reading/studying.  (Daily)

1.15 hour of podcast/online content. (Daily)

4 hours on Friday for writing and Power Point.  (Weekly)

Do this and you too can be called a Ninja.