website and blog of Dr. Kevin D Glenn

Time well spent?

February 27, 2016

I was recently the example used by a blogger/consultant friend of mine on the topic of sermon length. He talked about me in the same paragraphs as great communicators like Anne Graham Lotz and Bill Hybels. He even referred to all of us as “sermonic artists.” It was absolutely humbling and encouraging. Read his post here, then come back! 

Another friend published his own post on preaching myths that need to be busted. Sermon length was on the list, as well as the idea that boring=deep and that clear=shallow. Read that one as well, but come back!

One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor is the need to prepare a message that you pray is meaningful, helpful, thoughtful, and honoring to God. One of the most exciting parts of being a pastor is the need to prepare a message that you pray is meaningful, helpful, thoughtful, and honoring to God.

I love to share messages from the Scriptures. I find joy in the “aha” moments when the lights come on in someone’s eyes when a point has finally helped them connect the dots. It’s thrilling for me when someone has had their paradigms stretched, their previous ideas challenged, and their heart challenged. I always say that if someone walks away from a sermon I’ve preached and have not been pushed to prayerfully think, then I have wasted my time and theirs. I take preaching that seriously.

Maybe that’s why my sermons can be lengthy … between 40-45 minutes on a given Sunday. The Scriptures give us so much to consider. However, I never want my messages to feel 40-45 minutes. So I use images, videos, interaction with the crowd, humor, and stories to bring out the rich truth of the Scriptures. This was taught to me and caught by me in my mentor, Leonard Sweet, who charged all of us preach E.P.I.C. sermons (Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, Connective). Succeeding in such an approach takes some time. I just pray and believe it is time well spent.

I’m not saying, however, that my rhythm is the right one. It will not be right in some contexts, and for some people. I don’t think my preaching is better because of the time I take, nor do I believe a sermon is better just because it is shorter. I think God gifts preachers in differents ways, and that churches have different personalities.

All this is simply to say; Preachers, by God’s Spirit, for God’s glory, and for people’s good; Do your best. Swing for the fences. Give it all you have. Leave it all on the platform. Whether your messages are 10, 30, 45, or 60+ minutes, make sure that in your study, preparation, EPIC delivery, and for the folks listening, that it’s time well spent.



The wisdom of winning at losing

February 9, 2016

Sunday night was a blast for me. For the first time in five years, I was able to relax, have some guacamole, and just enjoy the game at home. Where I live, there are Bronco fans everywhere, including members of my wife’s family. I like the Broncos, and really like Peyton Manning, so I was happy they were in the game.

I’m from Florida, so my favorite team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – an NFC South team, Carolina’s division. Being loyal to the division, and really liking Cam Newton as well, I was glad to see them in the game.

So I cheered for the blue team …

It was a great game, if you like defensive chess-matches, which I do. It was such a good defensive game that neither QB played that well, and these were arguably the two best QB’s in the league.

But in the winning and losing, something was very different. Manning was gracious and humble in victory, only because he had previously learned how to lose. Newton, who could have learned this lesson the easy way from Manning, is now learning it the hard way.

In the post-game press conference, a hooded Cam Newton slouched in his chair like a pouting teenager, and proceeded to answer questions in barely audible grunts … kind of like, well, a teenager. He then walked out.

To be fair, Newton was in earshot of another press conference where Bronco’s defensive back, Chris Harris was talking about how they were able to stop Newton. But this happens, and would have been flipped had the Panthers won – Bronco players would have been within earshot of a victorious Can Newton. It’s the nature of the post-game media gauntlet.

This is also not the first time a defeated Super Bowl QB acted less like a Superman and more like an Incredible Sulk, to use Eric Adelson’s depiction. Peyton Manning pitched his own hissy fit back in 2010 when his Colts lost to the Saints 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV. Peyton left the field without congratulating Drew Brees, or any other Saints player.  While some commentators made excuses for his behavior, Peyton’s place as Captain, role model, and professional were questioned and criticized. It hurt him, but he learned from it and became a more humble winner and more gracious loser for it.

Like Manning, Cam Newton is an amazingly talented athlete. He is loved by his community, and has the potential to represent the best in what it means to be a compassionate competitor; one who is as focused on helping their community as they are on inspiring their team to win. In my opinion, I think Newton may exceed Manning in many areas of play, but certainly exceeds Manning in the magnetism of his personality. He is electric, exciting, inspiring, and he loves his Mom. I think Cam Newton can lead the way to an exceedingly bright future for the NFL.

That’s what made it hurt. The brightness of Newton’s star, and the attention grabbed by his confident swagger made Sunday night painfully disappointing. I see how many kids look up to Cam. How many of them saw an attitude Sunday night that they’ll internalize and imitate on the playground this week?

I believe Cam Newton is better than his Sunday night self. With the help of coaches and some honest mentors (not the entourage of yes-people that can often surround such celebrities), I think he can reflect on his behavior Sunday night and realize something essential: That as good as he is, and as much as he wants to win, to be truly great requires learning to win at losing.

Such a lesson will communicate maturity and humility to kids, and stability in leadership to fellow players.

With the Sherriff likely riding into the sunset, we’re looking for Superman. Cam, we need you.

Seasick …

February 3, 2016

shipThere’s an image making the rounds on social media and it’s generating some interesting conversations. I am choosing to assume the the folks posting this picture love the Lord, love His church, and sincerely desire to see the church be faithful in its mission. The previous statement, however, contains within it the assumption that people question the extent to which churches are being faithful to their mission. Why?

It’s no secret that the Western church (Western Europe and the United States) has experienced decline in attendance, involvement, cultural significance, and perceived spiritual vitality.

To be clear, the church is experiencing exciting, and even exponential growth in the Global South (South America), Africa, and the East (China, Korea, etc…). Some of these countries are sending missionaries to the West!

In response to the decline of the Western Church, people point to contributing factors in an effort to confront, challenge, and change the downward trend. Again, this is to be commended and even encouraged. I believe, as do many other church members and leaders that Jesus Christ established the church as the hope of the world.

Unfortunately, passion can easily overshadow precision, good intentions can express concern in ways that are overly simplistic, and constructive criticism can devolve into a critical spirit. When this happens, the very people concerned about the church’s troubles can become part of the problem – creating an environment that divides fellow believers from each other, and repels the very people of the world we as the church are called to reach. This helps neither the church, nor the world.

The image is an example of this tension.

Interestingly enough, the image has been shared with me as a form of criticism by one believer (thinking their church should be a battleship), as a form of concern by pastor friend of mine (wondering why their church was considered a cruise ship), in the form of a question from one of my own parishioners (Pastor Kevin, which one are we?), and as a form of confirmation by unchurched friends (this is why we don’t attend church – too much infighting). It’s enough to make me seasick!

So, here’s my take on the image. It’s a false dichotomy; an unproductive and unnecessary either/or reaction to a problem demanding a both/and approach.

The image and the question it poses assumes that faithfulness is tied to isolation, aggression, and defensiveness. Unfaithfulness is tied to laziness, naiveté and fun. One is based in fear and legalism, the other in folly and license. Both, however, are caricatures of the interdependent realities of truth and grace.

Since our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and since Christ has already accomplished victory, the “weapons of our warfare” are not based on fear of man, nor in aggression toward him. On the other hand, our strength is found in the joy of being found in Christ. This creates the space for awe, wonder, laughter, and play, as we cruise the turbulent waters without fear.rescue

My granny used to sing about the “good old gospel ship.” That’s the image I believe captures the heart of our captain, and the porpoise (sorry, I couldn’t resist) I mean, the purpose of our voyage. Without Christ, we were adrift, drowning in a sea of chaos and sin. We were rescued, saved, and brought aboard by the grace of the Captain. Now we’re part of the ship and part of the crew, laughing at the squall because we sail with the Master of wind and wave. Joyfully, we throw out lifelines, or take lifeboats to others caught in the very sea from which we came. Ours is a “Good News Cutter.”

The seriousness of our mission makes this no cushy cruise – ours is an adventure with souls at stake. However, the victory of our Captain makes this no battleship – He’s already fought and won. Besides, we need no guns on board when grace has brought us aboard.

Neither image captures the reality of what the church is to be. Let’s sink the dichotomy and catch the wind of reality. Let’s sail the Good News Cutter!

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