What do we Value?

I subscribe to an excellent service called Leader’s Book Summaries []. I highly recommend it. In a summary of David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church” I learned that only one third of church attendees are men—and most of them are over 60. It’s almost impossible to find adults of either gender under age 40 in church.

How come?

Consider these two lists of values.

The first list: Love, communication, beauty, relationships,

support, help, nurture, feelings, sharing, harmony, community, and


And, the second list: Competence, power, efficiency, achievement, skills, results, accomplishment, technology, goals, success, and competition.

Which list of values do you think is most consistent with the culture that predominates the North American Church today?

The first list or the second list?

Both lists come from John Gray’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and they distinguish culturally “masculine” and “feminine” values.

What do you see?



-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage


When Annie and I attended Rockharbor, Mike Erre was one of my favorite preachers. An amazing Bible expositor and communicator. Biblically-sound. Funny. Profound. Engaging. Illuminating. Winsome.

Then, a few years ago, a medical crisis befell someone very dear to Mike and Justina. A predicament from which there’s no recovery, apart from a miracle. Afterwards, I noticed that Mike’s preaching gained gravitas. Like Jesus, when the scholars marveled at his understanding [Luke 2:47] and demons quaked in his presence [Mark 5:7]. You could sense it when you were around Mike. This was a man who knew what it is to follow Jesus no matter what.

When you live in harmony with the Biblical message, you have gravitas. Weight. Substance. Authenticity.

So does your preaching.

And when you don’t live your message, your sermons are hollow. That hollowness drives folks away. The first to go are the true believers. The uncompromising. The bold. The spirited. The gutsy. The ones who read their Bibles and believe it says what it says and it means what it means.

These are the people who long for authenticity. Not theory. They want to associate with a faith community that will live this stuff – Jesus’ stuff – like it’s real.

Because it is. It is.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

Churchill or Chamberlain?

Pastor, those who write books, like those who traverse the Christian speaking circuit, don’t provide the regular proximity and access that you, as shepherd of a local congregation, do—unless you hide in your study and only emerge when it’s time to preach or take charge of a meeting.

Think about those words: proximity and access.

If the lyrics and music of your preaching and your life don’t align, those words will strike fear in you.

If, however, you’ve raised your way-of-living to match your preaching or aligned your preaching to that which you actually live, those words will resonate with your heart.

When your life is “Chamberlainian,” the dissonance between your life and the biblical message undercuts your effectiveness as a leader of God’s women and men.

When your living is “Churchillian” the bravery to which you call your congregation will remind them of the courage they see you routinely summon to bring God’s reign to the chaos and disorder that has besieged your community.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

Who You Are…

Pastor, who you are, is more important than anything you say.

In fact, who you are is more important than everything you say!

These posts are a call to the courageous, risky life that leaders lived in the Church of the New Testament. It stands in glaring contrast to the lifestyle of the professional clergy that, more often than not, resembles tenured professors at our nation’s universities, without the taxpayer-funded salary and benefits.

This is primarily troubling, pastor, because you are not primarily an educator… you are a role model.

Just like Timothy, Deborah, Paul, Priscilla & Aquila, Barnabas, Esther, John, and Stephen. Yes, just like them.

If not you, then who?

Who else is to model the vibrant, sold-out Christian life than you and your elders?


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #LeadershipCourage #discipleship


As a leader, who you are is more important than anything you say. In fact, who you are is more important than everything you say.

Some ministers are master pulpiteers. Skilled rhetoricians. Gifted orators. Big talkers.

Talk that’s not backed by a consistent life has a hollow ring, and that hollowness drives people away—away from church and away from the Church.

When Winston Churchill addressed the Harrow School in late October 1941 his speech included these most famous words: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty— never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

His words, then and now, ring true. You know why?

Because Churchill didn’t give in.

Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister prior to Churchill, was known as the “great appeaser” who capitulated to Adolf Hitler.

Chamberlain could never have made that speech. If he had, it would not have been remembered.

The words didn’t match his life.

Do yours?


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

No Room for Moderation

In the scriptures, moderation in living for Christ is never esteemed.

Who are the heroes of moderation? Peter in Caiaphas’ courtyard. Thomas, in disbelief. Judas Iscariot.

Jesus is unambiguous: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. [Luke 9:23]

Clear as a bell.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other. [Luke 16:13]

-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

Scandals and Reasonableness

As a new Christian, I had the unfortunate experience of being discipled in a church that regularly twisted scripture and abused pastoral power. Over time, many people were scarred emotionally and spiritually. Hundreds never recovered.

A decade later, Annie and I invested ourselves—without reservation— in a church plant that imploded after two leaders had an extra-marital affair. In hindsight, all the indications were there. Annie and I hadn’t seen the affair taking shape, but we could have. The ripple effects were devastating—particularly for those new to Christ.


If you’ve been around the Church for any time, scandals are nothing new. How the perpetrators can sleep at night is incomprehensible to me. What is not mysterious is the pressure these setbacks have exerted on my enthusiasm to live “all-in” for Christ. It’s as if powerful spiritual forces conspire to soften my commitment to live boldly for Christ.

A “voice of reason” resonates in my head coaxing me to be moderate. One prevailing paradigm suggests that we hold our faith as we would a country club membership or allegiance to an alma mater: one of many commitments. Important maybe, but not essential and certainly nothing to lose your head over.

I disagree.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage


It seems that the Church in North America is reasonable if it is anything, and that reasonableness has got us stuck.


“Syncretism” is what scholars call it. The term refers to the unnatural amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought. The result is the loss of what made each distinctive (and valuable).


I call it a blight that is foundational to the culture of cowardice that’s become commonplace in the Church today. One way to regain our verve is to take an axe to the roots of the commitment to be reasonable.


Trouble is, there’s comfort in reasonableness. You can find a degree of security there, too. The moderation it provokes can masquerade as wisdom after you’ve had any number of flameouts when taking bold steps of faith.



-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

The Unreasonableness of Faith

To be reasonable in your commitment to Christ is the most unreasonable thing you could ever do. And to be unreasonable in your commitment to Jesus and His Church is the most reasonable thing you could ever do.

No reasonable person can declare “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21] Right?

Maybe you rationalize: “That was Paul. The Apostle Paul. Heck, he

wrote half the New Testament. Paul’s was a highly unusual commitment to Christ and Christianity.”

Yet, Paul was either crazy or he fully expected the Christians in Philippi to do the same thing with their lives that he did.

Didn’t he?

Paul, like Jesus, was no reasonable person.

Gripped at his core, from his core, to his core with the unreasonableness of faith, everything Paul wrote and modeled indicated a radical, all-in embrace of faith.


Are you?


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

#leadership #courage #pastor #Jesus #courageousleadership #LeadershipCourage

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