Creps, Reverse Mentoring

This leadership network book probably sat on my shelf for an entire year before I actually sat down and read it. I have read books by Creps before and he’s a really helpful author with sound theology and practices. Last I hear, he had left his post as a seminary professor and began to plant a church, I think in Berkley. So, he’s not just an academic writing about theories; this book helps established leaders to maintain contact with emerging thought in an authentic way. It’s all about a practice he has named Reverse Mentoring, in which an established leader learns from emerging leaders, in order to better serve the gospel.

Written for older (church) leaders who may feel like they have the responsibility to pass on the baton to the next generation, the book asks the most difficult questions and develops solutions that are effective, even if difficult. It takes a certain amount of pride swallowing to be mentored in a reverse way, but it is a great position to be in because some young leaders have the capacity to transform the church and we need to let them. I don’t think young leaders, or supporting pastors, should go out and buy this book for their boss (it will look as passive aggressive as it is!), but I do believe these are the conversations that many denomination groups need to be having – including my own.

I will say that I really did not like section one, which was all about how older leaders deal with a fleeting sense of cool. It was honestly maddening. I don’t know if it was just because I still see myself as young, or as a pastor I am comparatively young – but this pursuit of cool is straight whack for the church (and yes, that word choice is an ironic play).  I don’t know why being cool is so important for Christians when I have never met a pagan person who was wanting to become a Christian, but just couldn’t find a church or a pastor that was cool enough for them.

Here’s some really quality lines from this book:

p.xvi, “The concept of mentoring takes its name from The Odyssey, the Greek epic in which ‘Mentor’ appears as the person responsible for guiding Odysseus’ son as the father goes off to war.”

p.41, “In private conversations, I have heard more than one leader admit an almost paralyzing level of obsolescence anxiety, feeling their ‘day in the sun’ passed so long ago that their potential in a complicated new world now approached zero. In the words of on parachurch leader, this feeling can begin as a rhythmic whisper that sounds like, ‘I used to know. I used to know. I used to know.’ Later it reaches a crescendo that drowns out the voice of hope in some leaders while driving others into defensiveness.”

p.51, “By simple virtue of holding a leadership role, then, we become susceptible to the same forces that isolated the Pharisees from reality, what organizational theorists refer to as ‘skilled incompetence,’ the trait of high-functioning people who find clever ways to evade learnings that might challenge their role or function too drastically.”

p.81, “How does the iGeneration, then, find a seat at the leadership table – and would they want one? Many of them find the way we do business tragically out of sync with the world to which they are native, and we often return the favor by framing them as so out of sync with how things run int he ‘real world’ that the thought of their taking over…makes mutual respect harder to come by than it should be.”

p.113, “Many focus groups, for example, have reported that being ‘interesting’ is the primary trait of a great sermon or teaching. One student defined this characteristic by citing the example of a favorite speaker…and conversely noting that a poor presentation usually included the kind of material she could have just read at home.”

Franklin, Fasting

Every now and then, it’s nice to read a book with a terribly prosperity style theology. It’s like candy; good sometimes, but if you took a steady diet of this stuff you’d be fat. Funny to think about – having a fat theology because of too much health, wealth and prosperity theology.

My treat of choice this time around was Jentezen Franklin’s little book, Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. I picked it up because I was about to preach on fasting from Matthew’s gospel and I noticed that my practice of fasting totally sucked. I rarely fasted and when I did, I was a cranky mess. I wasn’t suffering nearly as much as the people who had to put up with me!

Theological bent aside, Franklin’s book is quality and it is comprehensive. It’s super practical and has a thorough treatment of fasting with lots of scripture and helpful medical science to aid people in their practice of fasting. It was helpful to me individually, and helpful as I was teaching on Jesus’ practices of fasting. It’s not exactly a literary masterpiece; you probably won’t be pulling out some quotes for your next tattoo, but it gets the job done

The only thing I still am working through about fasting is the motivation issues. I don’t feel like we should fast just to get what we want or to put more pressure on God to act in a way that we ask him too. It’s the same kind of thinking I am doing about prayer. At a baseline though, Jesus commands prayer and fasting – so the reasons are moot, the practice is entirely Christian.

Here’s some fun sentences from this book:

p.3, “When God has placed a dream inside you that only He can make possible, you need to fast and pray.”

p.9, “Stated simply, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Fasting has always been a normal part of a relationship with God.”

p.36, “There may be days when heaven opens and your heart is prompted to deep times of prayer. But there may be other days when your energy is sapped and you just cannot seem to focus in prayer at all. Don’t condemn yourself. God sees your sacrifice.”

p.72, “There are dimensions of our glorious King that will never be revealed to the casual, disinterested worshiper. There are walls of intercession that will never be scaled by dispassionate religious service. but when you take steps to break out of the ordinary and worship Him as He deserves, you will begin to see facets of His being you never knew existed. He will begin to share secrets with you about Himself, his plans, His desires for you. When you worship God as He deserves, He is magnified.”

p.81, “Hungry people are desperate people, and they are hungry for more of God than they have ever had.”

p.83, “In this day, God is saying, ‘I’m looking for somebody who wants something. I’m looking for somebody who will do more than show up, but they will hunger for that which I want to place in them!'”

p.125, “Fasting helps you separate what you want from what you need.”

p.182, “I want you to understand that you are not ‘twisting God’s arm’ when you go on a fast. You are not going to make God do anything He does not want to do. What you are actually doing is positioning yourself and preparing your heart for what is to come. If you are willing to seek Him, He will be willing to give.”