• Fred's Blog

    Long Time Coming

    My family and friends give me grief for watching public television because they think I’m just watching book reviews and documentaries. In fact I’m also downloading blues classics like Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan together on “In Session” or B.B. King and Eric Clapton on “Riding With The King.” Of course the list of white artists whose music and careers has been built on the work of black musicians like Muddy Waters Buddy Guy Bessie Smith Koko Taylor Willie Dixon Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker is long. Most of those men and women played the Southern “chitlin circuit” for years with little or no recognition by the mainstream.…

  • Bible Studies

    Deuteronomy 31-34

    1.  The final chapters in the book and the final chapter in the life of Moses. What are some of the major points of the book? The importance of remembering: What are we to remember? Remember is not simply reminiscing about the past and how good it was. That is living in a world that probably never existed. Remembering is not melancholy or living in regrets. Remembering is not an anchor that keeps us from moving ahead but a keel that keeps us balanced and steady. It is something Moses calls the people together to do before they move ahead into the future. The right kind of remembering prepares us…

  • Fred's Blog

    Half-Time For Church Staff – Part Two

    Years ago I was part of an organization – Leadership Network – that convened senior pastors and staff of large churches.  While they were used to hearing from their peers they told us they wanted to hear from non-pastors about issues of management and leadership because the seminaries and conferences they attended did not address those issues for large churches.  We began to seed our conferences with management speakers business professionals secular authors and other “non-church” resources.  While the emphasis was still on church professionals learning from other church professionals about the “business” of the church the introduction of outside resources was welcomed with enthusiasm.  A couple of weeks ago…

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  • Fred's Blog

    The Beginning And The End

    I have worked with a number of entrepreneurs over the years and there are some common themes and characteristics in their lives. One of them is an extreme focus and a personal identification with projects. They start things, grow them, and then look for exit strategies. In fact, the exit strategy is built into the plan from the beginning. In non-profit work there are very few exit strategies – especially for founders. A familiar and common characteristic of entrepreneurs founding ministries is sooner or later they start looking for other partners. First, they lose their original enthusiasm for it but want to see it go on. The Swedish sociologist Max Weber…

  • Fred's Blog

    Obedience to the Unenforceable

    Ross Douthat’s article this week in the New York Times titled “Can The Working Class Be Saved?” starts with a reference to Charles Murray’s latest book “Coming Apart.” “What’s brilliant is Murray’s portrait rich in data and anecdote of the steady breakdown of what he calls America’s “founding virtues” — thrift and industriousness fidelity and parental responsibility piety and civic engagement — within America’s working class and the personal and communal wreckage that’s ensued.” There may be one more founding virtue as well. It’s what Lord Moulton in a 1924 essay in “The Atlantic Monthly” called “obedience to the unenforceable.” What’s that? “There are three great domains of Human Action.…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Half-Time For Church Staff

    One of the most pronounced trends in the non-profit world in the last ten years has been the number of men and women in business careers making a transition to the non-profit world. While most assumed there would be some differences in the way those two worlds operated I think many discovered they had no preparation for how different they are! Making a lateral move from business leadership to non-profit leadership was more of a shock than they knew it would be and it has taken them years to make the adjustment. Many have not made the adjustment and chosen to go back into business or join boards. The two…

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  • Bible Studies

    Deuteronomy 16-26

    1.  What is greatness? Several times in the Gospels the disciples ask Jesus who will be great in the Kingdom.  It’s not a bad question.  In fact, it’s a question I encourage younger people to ask themselves.  How you define greatness makes a difference…and you cannot know unless you ask.  It’s the question we should be asking when we are young and should keep asking all our lives.  Yet, one time in particular the disciples ask Jesus what it means to be considered great or more literally to have the appearance of greatness.  It’s a totally different question, isn’t it?  It’s one thing to have a genuine interest in the…

  • Fred's Blog

    Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You – Part II

    In our last blog we looked at how Paul encouraged Timothy to take seriously his role as an example to the other believers. We continue by seeing Paul telling Timothy where he needs to focus and at the same time tells his elders how they can learn from him if they are wise. They can learn from his speech. In the same way we can learn from their straightforward and enthusiastic speech of our younger members. What has too often become a professionalized process with specialized language for us is still a thrill for them that is often hard to articulate. It comes out not as “That looks very effective…

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  • Fred's Blog

    Don’t Let Anyone Look Down On You – Part I

    If you’ve ever been to a football game at the University of Oklahoma you’ve experienced the “Boomer/Sooner” yell. One side of the stadium shouts out “Boomer!” and the other side responds “Sooner!” This goes on for quite some time. Quite a long time actually. I only bring it up because it reminds me that there are many of us boomers who have become elders much sooner than we expected. This has not gone unnoticed at The Gathering. In fact I’ve had a couple of friends ask why there seem to be so many young ministry leaders showing up on the programs at the conferences. It’s intentional…and it’s intentional because our…

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  • Fred's Blog

    The GOP Primary As Reality Television

    I’ve been wondering if our political leadership (both parties) is now perceived as being so far removed from our actual lives and instead seen as entertainment that the actual effects of an election are incidental. The impact of who wins is about as significant in the minds of voters as who wins on “American Idol.” Why did the Italians continue to elect Silvio Berlusconi? Because he was entertaining and seeing him on television turned him into someone with “fans” and not a constituency.This is not a screed. Just a thought. Years ago I did a study on the uses of television. Marshall McLuhan was right in saying “the medium is…

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