website and blog of Dr. Kevin D Glenn

The Blessing of the Old Folks at Home

December 12, 2017

I am a native Floridian. That’s a title belonging to a smaller number of people than you might think. But I’m part of an even smaller group. I’m a native Floridian born and raised in the IPC. That’s Imperial Polk County. It’s not the Florida featured in tourist publications or other media designed to attract you to the Sunshine State. It’s not necessarily highlighted on TV shows, except maybe for Bizarre Foods America – you know, because we eat squirrel chili and swamp cabbage.

I grew up here in Auburndale, Florida. We have far more Live Oaks and Palmetto bushes than we do Palm trees. Our idea of a day on the water is on a lake, on the Peace River, or at a mud-hole with a 4×4. When I was in 5th grade, my music teacher, Mrs. Jones (there’s a road named after her husband, Fred, who was a long-time member of the Florida House of Representatives) taught us the state song, Old Folks at Home, aka, Suwannee River. I was part of the Caldwell Elementary Baritone Ukulele Band, so we also learned the chords.The song is racially insensitive, to say the least. Mrs. Jones would likely get on big trouble for teaching it to kids today, but the message image of old folks at home stuck with me all these years. Back then, I had no idea what the song meant, other than it being a river we would cross on our way to my family’s hunting camp, and that it was about old folks. In 5th grade, everyone older than 16 was an old folk.

But in my hometown, these old folks were involved and invested in my life. Bud Harper cut my hair. Bud cut a lot of hair on a lot of heads. He would talk to us when he cut our hair. I remember him telling me how important it is to look another person in the eye when you talk to them. He made me practice when he was cutting the front of my hair. When he took the clippers to the back of my neck, he said: “bow your head and say a prayer, son.” Bud told me to approach a girl I had a crush on and confidently, say, “Stephanie, I think you’re pretty, do you think I’m pretty?” When it didn’t work, he said, “It’ll work on the right girl, Kevin. Don’t you worry.” It worked on Serena. Thanks, Bud.

Mrs. Webb taught Geography at my middle school. She taught my dad, too. She said I was just like him. I asked if that was okay and she said, “We’ll see.”

Don Ratterree led the Children’s Church when I was a kid. He made me lead the singing when he heard that I could sing. “Get up here, Kevin. The Lord gave you a gift and you better use it.” I did. I still am. Thanks, Don.

Mrs. Kilpatrick was my best friend’s mom. His name was also Kevin. She said she went to a school called Slippery Rock University. I always thought she was joking. Then they took me on vacation with them and we went to the campus. Mrs. K never let Kevin and I miss church when we stayed up all night fishing on Saturday (they lived on a lake). Her husband, Burl helped me learn how to sing the bass line when my voice changed. Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. K.

When I entered 6th grade, Harry Vann heard from Don Ratterree that I had memorized a lot of Bible verses. Harry told me to get a Bible lesson ready to bring to the youth. My first Bible study was to a group of High School juniors and seniors. I was scared to death, so he made me do it again. And again. So, when you ask me how I got comfortable teaching people older than me. That’s how. Thanks, Harry.

Any of you who’ve known me know the impact of my Granny. Someone said I should write a book on all Granny taught me and title it, Granny said … I think I need to do that. Thanks, Granny.

My Dad was a firefighter and mechanic. He could (and did) fix anything. He also was the coolest and calmest person I’ve ever seen under pressure. The more intense the emergency, the more calm Dad became. This was contagious. It made you calm. The current Fire Chief in Auburndale started out under my Dad. Chief Hall said today, “We would ask your Dad in a tough situation, ‘What are we going to do, Louie (slang for Lieutenant)?’ He’d say, ‘We’re going to go to work.’” He never broke his stride. He led by example because that’s the example Dad had set for him by his Father, my Paw-Paw. Dad was as tender toward his loved ones as he was tough. He had the kind of rock-steady faith that was caught in his actions rather than taught in his words. My old man and I are so close. While these other folks mentioned above have made a profound impact on me in many ways, it’s my Dad who was and is my hero. Thanks, Dad

Dad passed away last week.

I got the news just before take-off as I was flying home to Auburndale. He’d taken a turn in his fight with cancer and I was hoping to get home before he passed. I got to talk to him the day before, though. I told him how much I loved him, and how proud to be his son that I am. I told him that I knew he was hurting and that if he was ready to go home that he shouldn’t wait for me. I knew where he would be and that I’d see him in a little while. I ended by saying, “I love you, Old Man.”

The Old Man is home now. Home with Granny, Mr. K, Paw-Paw, NaNa, Don, Harry, and so many other old folks.

This week, I’ve been able to catch up with some of the old folks whose home is still here in Auburndale. I went to church where many of them still faithfully worship. They had no idea how much they ministered to me. Amid all the congratulations, pats on the back, and words of how proud they are of me “being a preacher,” or how “you made a doctor,” was a lost, frightened, and hurting kid.

I needed the old folks.

And there they were – at home.

Dad’s passing had me feeling lost and disoriented, but these folks have taken me back to my roots and helped me find my footing again.

I’ve been guilty at times of being impatient with older folks and forgetful of the importance of our elders in the life of individuals, families, communities, and society. It can be easy to do. But in a world that’s running non-stop, and is defined by a general loss of depth and direction, I wonder what kind of footing we would regain if we slowed down to listen and learn from the old folks?

They are easy to find. Just go home.







A Lament for Those Hurting

June 19, 2017

A Lament for people:
All people.
I grieve for both Christians and Muslims killed by radicalized Islamic terrorists.
I grieve for Barron Trump when “comedians” publish photos of his Father’s decapitated head.
I grieved for Sasha and Malia Obama when Christians compared their Dad to the Anti-Christ.
I grieve when whites kill blacks and when blacks kill whites, and for how both sides at different times have justified the violence toward the other.
I grieve when people; gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgendered, or questioning, are dehumanized by others in the name of God, whose Son gave His life for their redemption.
I grieve when Christians are bombed in Egypt while worshipping, and I grieve when Muslims are run down by a vehicle in London while leaving their place of worship.
I grieved when I learned that Google searches for “ni**er” jokes spiked after the election and re-election of Barak Obama, particularly in the “Bible Belt.”
I grieve when Shakespeare in the Park’s “Julius Caesar” assassination scene uses a look-a-like of President Trump; to the applause of the audience.
But we must do more than passively grieve.
If you are human, you bear a responsibility to be part of the solution to the dehumanizing incivility in our culture. You do not have to agree politically or religiously, but you MUST step in, speak up, and turn this tide.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus and you defend any of the injustices above, and if you are not willing to take on your calling to embody your love for God by manifesting love for your neighbor, then your confession of Christ is little more than an act of taking his name in vain.
Join me in prayer:
God, help us …
Help us defend each other.
Help us call out each other.
Help us better argue with each other.
Help us better agree with each other.
Help us learn that we need each other.
Help us learn from each other.
Help us learn to forgive each other.
Help us live for each other.
Help us learn to love each other.
God, help us to help each other.
God, help us …

Team Building

May 5, 2017

This latest post is from my good friend and consultant, Carter Campbell. Carter is an active member of the church I serve. His organization, C2ROI  Facilitated Solutions, has helped thousands of leaders and their organizations. To contact Carter about his services, check out his website



Team building, the term automatically conjures up ropes courses, people falling backward into the arms of their colleagues, blindfolds and the like. These techniques don’t actually create teamwork; they point out the importance of trust in teams. Techniques practiced in seminar-land are useless unless the participants begin to act on the lessons learned. But, as with many programs, managers are looking for a quick fix day to correct the greater underlying monster of mistrust that is driven by the behaviors that remain in the workplace.

“Making promises generates hope, keeping promises generates trust.” – Blaine Lee

Trust is the foundation of building any team. Trust is built in many ways, but at its most basic, it simply means keeping the promises we make to each other. It means you will follow through on items that support the work your team members are trying to get done. Use honest straightforward communication. Very rarely when I work with groups on trust and teamwork is the leader’s character questioned. When it is, and I dig deeper, the issue usually is described by statements that start like this: “She never…” “I asked and he didn’t…” You get the picture. Lack of follow through. Leaders can’t meet every need, and if you can’t, you need to approach your team with honesty, saying “I can’t do that because…” This is one time when bad news is better than no news.

Sometimes you have to kick someone off the team.
Team mistrust isn’t always the fault of the team leader. Team members with hidden agendas or misguided expectations can also be a factor. People get cranky at work for more reasons than we can consider in this brief article. Suffice it to say, it happens and should be confronted in a coaching manner. Sometimes people don’t even realize that their behavior has become disruptive. It can sometimes be a symptom of an unmet need, but if you grease a squeaky wheel and it continues to be a problem, you should replace it.

Some “watch outs” for team building
Don’t sacrifice the organization to make yourself look good in front of your crew. Remember that the “they” you are talking about is YOU if you are in management.
Be careful that you are not focusing so much on a team member’s individual needs that you don’t get the work of your unit done.

True teamwork comes from accountability. Some people mistake the absence of discipline as a means of building a team when in fact it’s the lack of accountability that destroys the team.

Team Building “Dos”
Where you can, Involve your team in decision making regarding department process and procedure, activities. Solicit participation and celebrate contribution often.
Follow through on the requests that you take on, even if it means simply reporting back “no” to a request.

Be “loyal to the absent,” a term from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Don’t talk about other team members who are not present with the team members who are. If you do, they’ll wonder what you say about them when they aren’t around.
Pitch in. Never be too big or too busy to every once in a while step into the day-to-day work of your unit and work with your team.

Set people up for success. If you empower your staff or give someone a project, monitor the progress and be a barrier buster for things that may be getting in their way. Make sure they are set up to be successful and celebrate their achievement as a team.
Praise in public, coach in private.

These are just a few tips for team building. As you can see, it’s not about an exercise or a retreat. Those may be helpful in getting things started, but the real key to team building is your actions. They speak so much louder than your words.

How is your follow through?
What will you do today to actively build trust?
Is there behavior on your team that you should confront?
List the action steps you will take this week to improve teamwork

Why you shouldn’t do anything special for Easter.

March 29, 2017

Most churches by now have their services, schedules, and any special elements already planned out for Easter Sunday. In many cases, there will be something different on Easter than usual. Maybe there’s more music, or a musical program offered. Perhaps the worship times have been adjusted for the special day. Maybe your church is meeting in a different location entirely in order to accentuate the special nature of Resurrection Sunday. Having been part of churches that have done all the above, I must admit it can make for a very exciting day.

In most cases, the day is a success, with increased numbers of people coming to participate compared to an average Sunday. In a 2013 report from LifeWay Research, 58% of Protestants, 57% of Catholics and 45% of nondenominational Christians indicated they planned to go to church on Easter. In a previous LifeWay Research survey on church attendance, 32 percent of Protestant pastors said Easter typically has the highest attendance for worship services with 93 percent saying it is in their top three in attendance. The hope in every church, well, at least I hope it’s the hope of every church, is that some of these people will come back.

But do they? Not really.

An article in the Daily Press, indicates a common frustration among pastors, “In the weeks following the major holidays, attendance drops back down.”

Why? I mean, all that work, all that effort, all the money spent on a different venue, all the planning and communication involved in a “special” schedule, all the extra rehearsals and hours spent perfecting the special music… In the Daily Press piece, a Pastor actually dressed up like Indiana Jones! Can you imagine the effort? Do you know how hard it is to get that costume just right?

Maybe we’re making Easter too “special.”

When Christians meet to worship they are worshipping a risen Lord. Every gathering is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Every week of worship is “special” and deserving of our best efforts in preparing to serve God and our neighbors with humility and excellence. While Easter is a particular time to focus on the hope of the Resurrection, maybe our normally “special” efforts are better than making the day so differently “special” from the rest of the year.

Think about it, you invite a guest, or a guest shows up to your Easter service at a different time than usual, in a different place than usual, with more greeters than usual, different music than usual, a different preaching approach than usual, resulting in a completely different experience than usual for your church. So, the following week, when you return to your regularly scheduled programming; where they come back at the usual time, location, and hear the usual music and preaching, what have they just experienced?

The “special” service created expectations that we have no intention or capacity on which to deliver. I mean, where’s the bullwhip and Fedora this week, pastor?  Who was it they experienced on Easter in comparison to who it is they are experiencing now: Which experience was your “real” church?

It’s a bait-and-switch (unless the pastor is going to dress like Indy every week; that might actually be kind of neat … sorry, I was distracted by the shiny gold thing that “BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!!!) …

After 24 years of ministry in churches ranging from 100 to 10,000, where I’ve seen all kinds of efforts to reach people,  I absolutely believe we should strive for excellence in every aspect of ministry every week. I also believe “special” should be our “normal,” and will, therefore, represent our true identity.

So, if you have the opportunity this Easter, keep your regularly special schedule, in your regularly special location, with your regularly special greeters, teachers, musicians, and preachers. When guests come out on Easter, welcome them in your regularly special way, so that when they come back next week and the week after, they realize they’ve experienced the true identity of a community committed to the good news of the Resurrection in a consistently special way.

By the way, if you want to check out the regularly strange and special church I get to pastor, we would LOVE to meet you! On Easter, Calvary Baptist Church of Las Cruces, NM will meet at our regular location and at our regular times (8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 am), with our LiveStream/online service at 9:45 MST. To learn more, visit

Why we need pastoral prophets instead of partisan pawns.

December 21, 2016

Civility Clarification: This post is pointed, aggressive, and personal. It is intended to be a redemptive rebuke. As such, some may question how I can call for civility while writing in such a manner. It’s simple; civility is NOT the absence of conflict and conviction, nor does it demand one’s rhetorical tone to be constantly perky. Civility deals in honesty, which at times requires some hard truth to be spoken. For more, refer to this post of mine from June 2015, Do Unity and Civility Sacrifice Conviction?  

Okay, on we go!

Two articles came across my Facebook feed this morning, each reflecting facets of our divided political context. One expressed worry over pastors of politically divided churches but revealed in the end, a one-sided concern; the plight of pastors dealing with fear from potential victims of Trump, but nothing about the fear and concern from folks over the appointments, policies, and other results from a Clinton presidency. That piece from Christian Century is here

The other was an article on the pushback against Russell Moore, of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Moore was not only an outspoken critic of Clinton during the campaign but also voiced concern and criticism over the efforts of many Evangelicals and Southern Baptist leaders for their rationalization of Trump’s words and behavior. Pastors like Robert Jeffries, of First Baptist Church of Dallas, openly endorsed the Republican candidate and encouraged other Southern Baptists to do the same. Moore pointed out the inconsistency and faulty logic of those who, like Jeffries, sought to make a vote for Trump a matter of spiritual fidelity, while explaining away rhetoric and actions by Trump that blatantly defied principles of Christian faith.

With the election over, Russell Moore is now being challenged by Jeffries, as well as Jack Graham, of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX. Veiled insinuations of de-funding the ERLC or of having Moore resign are now the stuff of Social Media outlets and church hallway discussions. That piece from The Christian Post is here.

I am worried about the role and responsibility of pastors in this context, but my worry is about the extent to which pastors are not seeing and seizing their role as a prophetic voice in these times. The voice of pastoral prophet is easily silenced when seduced by the promise of political power. My post will address the specific groups with whom I’ve served over the past couple decades, The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

After serving in exclusively SBC churches, exclusively CBF churches, and churches with more than one alignment, I’ve seen that much of the issue is the pastor’s posture toward politics (totally unintentional alliteration there!).

In order for pastors to be a prophetic voice to all sides of the divide, they must follow Christ’s posture toward political power. He resisted a simplistic posture, refusing to “come down on a side” when confronted by the unholy alliances of Pharisees/Herodians and Pharisees/Sadducees seeking to trap him with false dichotomies. Jesus also refused to allow complacency by demonstrating knowledge of and engagement with the political systems of his day. This is important since some problems are issues of justice for which we must advocate in hopes of legislative action. Finally, Jesus did not allow for a view that sees political power as the primary way to affect change, since many of our issues cannot be solved through political legislation, but through redemptive cultural engagement. In this way, politics is indeed downstream from culture.

So, what must the pastor do? In an admittedly generalized statement, but one I will stand by after 20+ years and five elections of alphabet-soup (SBC/CBF) observation and involvement; It is time for SBC pastors and leaders to get out of bed with the Republican party. It is also time for CBF pastors and leaders to get out of bed with the Democratic party.

While these two Baptist groups continue their 20+ year feud, I see them doing little more than mirroring each other’s errors in a way that continues to ignore the potential for unity in Jesus Christ and continues to damage our external witness toward a world needing community, compassion, care, and conversion.

So, what to do? For God’s sake, pastors, preach Christ!!!

When did preaching Christ become politically insufficient? When the grace of Jesus confronts human brokenness, such grace will be a redemptive rebuke to the deficiencies in the platforms and policies of the Left and Right, as well as serving to strengthen what honors God and people in the platforms and policies of both Left and Right. I believe it will take pastors modeling this approach for church folks to learn how to do it themselves. Such pastors will take heat for it from all sides since the present and previous elections have demonstrated that Christians display a greater devotion and trust in political systems than they do in the real-world, real-time redemptive power of the Gospel.

Princeton Theological Seminary President, M. Craig Barnes, author of the Christian Century piece makes my point in his second to last paragraph when he speaks with prophetic intensity about Trump’s sins while being oddly silent about Clinton’s. I agree with everything he wrote about Trump’s behavior and am sickened by the pass so many Evangelicals gave him. No doubt, the witness of the church has been damaged from this election. So yes, speak truth to Trump. However, the author’s prophetic credibility diminishes when he fails to deliver on the very thing he spent the article calling pastors to do. He does not speak about or to Clinton’s sins; especially since her policies, practices, and pronouncements were the reasons many Christ-followers chose not to vote for her. This element is as important for ministry as binding up the wounds and listening to those in fear over Trump’s election. But now, the author’s hand is tipped, his bias is revealed, and his message falls flat; precisely what happens when one attempts to speak with moral authority toward politics from the bed of their partisan mistress.

The Christian Post piece demonstrates the extent to which the old-guard Christian Right is unwilling to de-tangle their politics from the Gospel. I agree with the observation of a young pastor named James Forbis (@jforbis), when he says,”they’re (Jeffries, Graham and the like) worried about losing control within the SBC and Southern Baptists losing cultural relevancy,” he continued. “By all means as a young, informed, and engaged pastor within the SBC I’m fine with losing cultural relevancy,” he concluded, adding that he would rather the SBC be counter-cultural.

If you want to know what a prophetic pastoral voice sounds like, you’ve just heard it from James Forbis. In contrast, Jeffries, Graham, Falwell Jr., and others who think like them will find no prophetic voice until they leave the altar of their Golden Elephants.

So, I am worried. I am worried about the unwillingness of my pastoral colleagues to admit, avoid, and call out partisan idolatry. I pray and hope for a change, but I’m encouraged by the folks at my church and by next-gen voices like James Forbis who inspire us to BE the change.

Who’s with me?

Civility Project: Philoxenia vs. Xenophobia

November 29, 2016

Each year, releases its word of the year. The choice comes from data collected based on the words people look up through the website. According to a report on Time Magazine’s website, “In 2016, one word that spiked time and again reflected a recurring theme in the year’s news, their editors say: ‘fear of the other.’ And that’s why the outlet’s word of the year is xenophobia.”

The two primary definitions of the word, according to are:

1. fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers.

2. fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself.

There will be differences of opinion on the extent to which xenophobia has been directed by mainstream media and culture and the extent to which media and culture are reflections of xenophobia. Either way, the perception is that xenophobia is alive and well. Unfortunately, the Evangelical community is perceived to have passively, if not actively embraced xenophobia in its support for Donald Trump in the recent presidential election. Again, opinions will differ over the extent to which this perception is fair, yet it is indeed a very real perception.

Christianity simply does not allow for such thoughts, beliefs, or behavior to be part of its people’s faith and practice.

Whether it’s the perception of xenophobia or if it’s realized xenophobia, in light of the attention given to the term and its connection to Evangelicals, followers of Jesus have work to do. There is a word that captures what such work requires: Hospitality.

In a chapter that discusses love for each other, St. Paul reminds his audience of the necessity to be hospitable to outsiders.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. – Romans 12:10-13

When teaching on this passage, the common response from folks is to quickly point out to me how friendly they are. Friendliness isn’t the point. Hospitality is. There is a big difference between being friendly, and being hospitable. Friendliness is easy … friendliness is even lazy. Why?

Because friendliness implies familiarity; we’re friendly with people we have decided are  already like us. They are predictable, so we are comfortable. Hospitality, however, is different. It’s unknown and unpredictable because it’s extended to strangers, to those on the periphery, to those who are new.

In the passage above, Paul is not calling for friendliness, but for something far more risky, difficult, and powerful; making family out of strangers. And it’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.

Christine D. Pohl expounds on this in her book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition when she writes,

“Hospitality is not optional for Christians, nor is it limited to those who are especially gifted for it. It is, instead, a necessary practice in the community of faith. One of the key Greek words for hospitality, philoxenia, combines the general word for love or affection for people who are connected by kinship or faith (phileo), and the word for stranger (xenos). Thus, in the New Testament, hospitality is closely connected to love. Because philoxenia includes the word for strangers, hospitality’s orientation toward strangers is also more apparent in Greek than in English.”

Pohl’s book suggests that in order for healthy community to be created and sustained, we must re-define and re-envision how we see others, and practice hospitality based on that renewed vision. What does that mean in a practical sense? It means that hospitality is more about how you receive those you didn’t invite than those you did.

It is about the choice to actively and intentionally display love.

Walter Hooper,  who would become C.S. Lewis’ personal secretary, recalled his first meeting with the author. He was so excited about the meeting that he arrived very early. Lewis saw him and rather than making him wait, insisted that he come in for tea. Hooper writes of the experience,

“We were drinking so much tea that eventually (I’d only just arrived in England and I didn’t know that in England the bathroom and the lavatory were separate rooms) I asked like almost all Americans, ‘Do you mind if I use your bathroom?’ And he said ‘Certainly not!’ And he took me to his bathroom, which had nothing in it except a bathtub. And he got out several tablets of soap and several towels, a real exaggeration, and said of all of that stuff, ‘Now do you have enough for your bath?’ Anyway, he left me in the bathroom, and I was wondering what on earth I was going to do. I was really uncomfortable. Anyway, I went back in and I said, ‘Actually it wasn’t a bath I wanted.’ Well of course he knew that, he was laughing, and said, ‘That will cure you of those American euphemisms. Now let’s start over again. Where do you want to go?’ Well, it made me love him, you know? It broke the ice and I felt at ease with him and that was a very important thing for him to do. It might have backfired with somebody, but it didn’t with me. I liked him all the more.”

It was this sort of good-natured, open-hearted hospitality that informed Lewis’ understanding of the practical and volitional nature of love in his collection of essays known as Mere Christianity, “The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

This is the kind of intentional presence of love that can overcome both the perceptions and practice of xenophobia. It’s when we see the other not as one to be feared, exploited, or avoided, but as one to be valued, engaged, and invited into a relationship of love. This embodies Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as you love yourself, “yourself” being your own person as well as referring to your own people; your family. Don’t forget that Jesus ties this love for neighbor directly to one’s love for God.

Hospitality then is an essential expression and demonstration of divine love. It is through philoxenia that the agape love of God overcomes xenophobia.

Let’s get to work, then!

Election Day Prayer – Unity

November 8, 2016

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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