Viewpoints are as varied as the people who hold them. Sometimes, we
tend to stereotype viewpoints, just like we do people. Breaking those
stereotypes with whit, humor and the occasional rant is what Dan Burrell
enjoys doing. A theological conservative, Dan is also an independent
thinker who can rile folks on both the right and the left of the
philosophical spectrum with his views on faith, family, philosophy and life
in general. Dan Burrell is an educator, author, father, husband and a regular
columnist with Evangelical Press News. You won’t always agree
with Dan’s “Whirled Views”, but hopefully, he’ll
make you think about things from a more Biblical perspective.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that changes my life. Not very often, but every once in a while. “Dangerous Calling” by Paul David Tripp is just such a book. If you are a pastor or in full-time ministry work, buy it….TODAY and then make it the next book you read. I have put this in my personal list of the Top 5 most influential books I’ve read. It’s that good. In fact, it is this important a book for pastors. If you are a pastor and simply cannot afford to buy this $12 book, I will buy you a copy and send it to you. Just send me your snail mail address. (Limit 10 — I’m not rich, ya’ know. :-)) Seriously, if you can‘t afford it, I WANT you to have it — you just have to promise me you’ll read it.
It will save you a lot of stress, disillusionment, pain and wheel-spinning in future ministry, if you’ll read and heed it. I wish it had been around 20 years ago.
Monday’s are sometimes tough days of recovery for those in ministry, so I thought I’d give you something to smile at. This has been going around the blogosphere recently (Sharper Iron, Out of Ur, Leadership, etc…), so I’m not sure where it actually originated but here we have it — “The Beards of the Brethren”. Enjoy!
The only one missing is “The Legalist” which is clean-shaven with a couple of small pieces of bloody-toilet paper applied to the upper neck. This is worn by those who equate any form of facial hair with those nasty, counter-revolutionary hippies of 40 years ago and who must be exposed at every level. And woe to you should you be wearing wire-rim glasses while rockin’ a beard. Didn’t you know that Jesus wore his hair in white-walled style military haircut and shaved every morning with his Gabriel Super 2000 electric razor?
So what’s your favorite? What are you sporting currently? Have any others been missed?
A week ago today, I listed two open positions we have at our church for which I am recruiting. Over the last week, I’ve received several hundred resumes from folks looking for employment in the ministry. As a professor for Liberty University in their graduate program, I‘ve learned that during this time of difficult economy, there are many who are engaging in advanced degree programs wanting to change the over-all qualifications they possess with an eye toward going into ministry and this has produced a large number of “older” students who are trying to “break-in” to ministry work.. Add to that the number of churches which are declining in attendance or experiencing financial difficulties and are cutting back which results in dismissals and layoffs, there is just an unusually large number of people looking for ministry openings and also a smaller than normal pool of opportunities.
I’m in a position where I can only afford to give each resume and cover letter maybe 2-3 minutes of review if I have any hope of staying ahead of the tsunami of applicants. I’ve learned, from personal experience, that it is very frustrating to be on the applicant end and to send someone your carefully-worded cover letter and meticulously-dcveloped resume only to have it disappeared into some cyberspace abyss with nary any indication that it was received, considered or anything else. Therefore, I send a very brief acknowledgement when I receive a resume that gives our timeline for making a decision and a second email whenever they are no longer in consideration. I have found that folks are very appreciative of any communication at all and I think it’s just courteous to do something so that they don’t feel locked in limbo.
Quite a few will then write me back upon learning they are no longer under consideration and ask for advice on how they can get further in a process with their next effort. I think this is a legitimate question and as a result, I’ve developed a template reply for those requests as well as I think it is important to help those who are sincerely asking.
Here’s some of what I’ve been telling them and I share it here in hopes that it might help others:
Here are some pointers and tips that are important for me, if not others…
Use email and a file attachment. Paper resumes are SO yesterday. I hate shuffling the paperwork. When I print one out, that’s a good sign — that means someone has made the first-round cut.
I expect very few, if any, typographical errors. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
I enjoy a professional and warm cover letter without being overly familiar or casual. I don’t need hip vernacular, easy complements about our amazing website, a real long history, etc… At this stage of the process, I just focus on facts. Concise, bullet-pointed, facts. Gushy add-ons about having the most beautiful spouse in the world and the smartest children in the world, etc… seem rather out of place.
Photographs invariably catch my attention and I ALWAYS look at them, but they should be careful. I look for discernment in the photos. Give me a picture of your wife or your older daughters in plunging necklines or short-shorts and I’m concerned about what I might have to deal with as you become a ministry leader of serious grown-ups and believers. It’s not about legalism, it’s about propriety, modesty, dignity and wisdom.
This may sound superficial and even discriminatory, but I’m going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. If you are sending me a picture, remember that appearance DOES count. If you are 27 years old and pushing the scales at 300 pounds, I’ve gotta’ tell you that I’m thinking about diabetes, heart disease, insurance rates and a whole lot of other negative things. If you dress like you’re still in high school and you are 40 or if you dress like a mortician and you’re 22, that doesn’t just slide by unnoticed. I don’t want to see pictures of you at a birthday party. I do like seeing pictures of you in the midst of ministry as long as they don’t look staged or cheesy. And yep, if you have cute kids, a dalmation and a lovely wife, those pictures leave good impressions as well. However, if your kids are into goth, your wife dress like she’s Amish and you own a pet boa constrictor — I’d leave those lovely photos for some other time.
Concise – Anything more than 2 – rarely 3 – pages doesn’t get fully read. I don’t care where you went to High School or that someone once worked at Taco Bell. Edit, condense, repeat.
Professional Achievements – Anything published, awards, recognitions, unusual opportunities give me a reason to remember you.
Anything Extraordinary – Did you start something from scratch, have you done ‘extreme’ ministry somewhere, have you worked in multi-cultural settings, are you related to D. L. Moody, do you speak multiple languages, have you had the Virgin Mary appear on a honeybun at breakfast, etc…?
Transparency – I love that. Brutal honesty always catches my attention. If you have a wonderful testimony of God’s redemptive grace in your life — I want to know that. If you’ve had a couple of really horrific ministry experiences and are hurting — you’ll find a sympathetic ear from me if it isn’t presented in a way that is manipulative or indicates you are still carrying tons of baggage. But no one is perfect. I already know that. So help me not to go have to search for the issues.
Something I just learned – I’d put my “Letter of Introduction/Cover Letter” in the text of the email to which you attach your resume. I found it laborious to open more than one file attachment per applicant.
I liked when applicants gave me a click-through link to their blog or a vimeo link to a sermon or lesson. It’s not part of the first-level screening, but definitely will be later on.
I’m generally suspicious if there is NO internet footprint at all when I google a name of someone. It either says that they’ve scrubbed their available information from the internet or that they are really young/bland or maybe both.
Please don’t nag me. It’s OK to ask once for an update if you haven’t heard anything, but PLEASE don’t call me, don’t email me every day and DO NOT SHOW UP at my office or church saying you were “just in the area.” That’s almost always an automatic, “no thanks” from me.
None of those are “deal-breakers” – but let’s be honest, when you receive hundreds of applications, the “little things” can be the difference between moving ahead and staying behind. Obviously, ultimately this is a spiritual exercise rife with human judgments. We all clearly want the Lord’s will, but at the end of the process – there are some very subjective criteria involved as well. My wife and I once had a birth mother select us to adopt her child over another couple because we had a picture of our toy poodle with us in our introduction packet. Go figure.
So I leave those thoughts and observations with you in an effort to sharpen you and encourage you. As one who works with tons of young people breaking into the ministry and as one who has hired literally hundreds and hundreds of Christian school teachers, pastors, support staff, etc… over the years – I hope these observations will be helpful to you.
The title for this entry is meant to be playful, but there is a serious bent to it as well.
This time of year, we often start getting wonderful Christmas cards by thoughtful people. Several years ago, I noticed that many of these cards cost $5 or more bucks apiece. Postage is another .45 cents. Every year since then, I’ve tried to respectfully suggest that if you intend on doing this, I’d be most appreciative if you would send me an email saying “Merry Christmas” and let me know how you are doing and then taking that $5 or more dollars and donating it to the Cuban ministry I support.
I’ve literally been privileged to funnel tens of thousands of dollars — probably more than $100K to the important work that is going on with national pastors in Cuba. Right now, we are supporting over 30 national pastors in their work. $5 takes care of a family for about 4 full days. None of it is taken for administrative work — we pay our own travel and expenses. 100% goes to Cuban ministry. So if you’d not send us a card, but would take that money and assign it to my Cuban Missionary fund, I’d be most grateful blessed and you’ll then have a part in this amazing work that the Lord has been blessing for over a decade now. Many thanks! The link to give online is HERE.
Just mark it to go to the “Cuba Fund” and it will get to the account I have set up there and it is fully tax deductible.
Also….this is just a warning, but I’m getting ready to start raising some funds for a REALLY FUN project we’re doing in Cuba, so set aside some fun mon for that in the near future.
(I don’t mind raising funds for things that do not benefit me. None of this does. If it offends you, it is not my intention. Just say “no” and keep on moving. It doesn’t offend me if you don’t want to help out. It’s just that the Lord has used this blog to bless some really fantastic national pastors around the world over the years and I love being a small part of that.)
About a year ago, Laurette Theriault visiting Life Fellowship in metro-Charlotte, NC (Davidson/Cornelius/Huntersville/Lake Norman area) and God began a miraculous change in her life. Shortly after her first time attending, she trusted Christ as her Savior and she has found her purpose in life. Her’s is a story of a life filled with pain, challenges, offenses and even desperation — until she found the grace that only God can give. I would challenge you to watch her brief testimony which was recently shown at the conclusion of our morning worship services. Regularly, we like to share the stories of people in the LIFE family who have seen their life challenged and change because of TRUTH. Ours is not a church of professional “Christians”, religious ritualism or convenience and comfort. It is, however, a body that is committed to substance over style, depth over breadth, transparency over illusion and authenticity over role-playing.
LIFE means four things for us who call this their church home:
LIVING in community INVESTING in growth FINDING our purpose EMBRACING our mission
Our mission is to “Pursue at all costs, the passionate, God-centered LIFE!”
I’d urge you to come pay us a visit sometime. We meet in the Community School of Davidson on Griffith Avenue in Davidson next to the Harris Teeter. We have four morning worship services available and a fully-graded teaching ministry that covers infants through adults.
One of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies has written a great blog article on the subject of “Entitlement” as it relates to our current generation. You’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with many things he says or uncovers and if you are like me, you’ll also have your breath knocked out of you a bit as you realize the depth and scope of this misguided belief. As Challies notes….there is one thing and one thing only to which every person is entitled. Hell. Sinners in need of redemption we all are. Take a minute and read his article HERE. (There’s also a podcast attached if you have the time to listen to it.)
I’ve been a long-time reader of “World Magazine” and am good friends with it’s co-publisher, Warren Smith, who is a respected journalist and author. They are offering an incredible opportunity to get a FREE 3-month subscription to the magazine right now. The incredible thing is that usually, you have to give them your credit card number, social security number, IQ of your first four children, your weight and your cholesterol count to get the free issues and then they “automatically” bill you to death if you don’t cancel with them on time (and sometimes if you do.) There’s none of that in this deal. Just sign up with your address and you are good to go. (BTW, the code is “VIDEO” on the front page to get the deal.)
If you want a quality news magazine with a Biblical worldview, this magazine is for YOU. I bet you’ll want to subscribe after your free 6 issues!
I am honored to be a friend of Gwen Smith, one of the founders of “Girlfriends in God” — a ladies ministry of encouragement that has been a blessing to my own wife and many across the country. She is joined in this ministry with Mary Southerland (wife of Pastor Dan Southerland who wrote the book “Transitioning” and was the founding pastor of Flamingo Road Church in South Florida) and Sharon Jaynes. Gwen’s husband, Brad, is one of the elders at our church, Life Fellowship, in the Lake Norman area of metropolitan Charlotte, NC.
“Girlfriends in God” has just released their newest book, “Trusting God“. As they decribe it, “Just trust me” are the words we often hear in movies just before something bad happens. And yet, we are told to trust God. In a culture where we tend to take control of our own lives, trusting God has become a religious platitude rather than a life-changing attitude. We say it, but do we really mean it? And what does trusting God really look like? Each of these ladies has gone through life experiences when they simply had to hang on and trust God as life took wild turns and nerve-wracking bends. The books has 12 Bible-study lessons and a place to journal as well.
Of the three “Girlfriends”, I know Gwen best because we attend the same church and Brad and I work together in leadership at our church. Gwen is one of those effervescent personalities that makes one want to charge hades with a water pistol when you hear about her passion for the Gospel and growing in grace. At the same time, she’s known her share of tough times and personal challenges. She’s a wife, mother of some super-great kids, worship leader for many conferences and helps with our teams at the church and still takes the time to nurture her own walk with the Lord and helps other ladies do the same. That’s why I’m recommending her book. She’s the real deal and I know enough about her partners in ministry to know that they are as well. Gwen is also the author of “Broken into Beautiful.”
It’s Christmas time and this book would make a great present for your wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend or colleague. You can pick up a paperback copy or a Kindle edition HERE.
Congratulations to our Free Give-Away Winners: Jason Pyles and Terry Pettigrew. Your books are in the mail!
I’m always hesitant to write much about missions as I have SO many dear friends who are missionaries and it’s almost impossible for me to write anything substantive about missions anymore without it appearing that I’m taking a swipe at the idea of missions, missionaries in general or missions agencies. Some day when I’m temporarily insane, exceptional bored or just feeling like laying it all out there, I’ll share my thoughts perhaps. Until then, I just happened on this blogger’s article and I’d recommend you read it. Feel free to discuss below.
Wow…I’ve really been blessed by those who have responded to my request for help with a Christmas project to give a Kindle loaded with Christian and theology books for my pastor friends who are planting churches in central Cuba! They have started arriving at my office and I can’t wait to start loading them up with books for the Cuban pastors. (I still need about 12 more if you are thinking about helping out. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click HERE.)
Now is the time for me to start getting the books to load them. I’ve made a “wish list” on my Amazon.com page that has links to various books I’ve located that I’d like to put on the Kindles and I’m in the process of contacting my Spanish-speaking friends in order to get more recommendations. Some of the books are as cheap as $.99 and most are around $9.99 with a couple that are $14.99. Still cheaper than individual books and I can load them onto multiple Kindles as well. I hope to put as many as 100 books on each Kindle to start their Libraries. I hope within a few years they will be permitted access to the Internet and they can continue with their Libraries — though a $14.99 book represents at least 2 weeks pay for them.
If you would like to purchase a book for the pastors, you can go to THIS LINK. It will allow you to purchase the book and it will be sent to me. I don’t read Spanish, but that won’t matter — they do!
Thanks again for your participation and feel free to send THIS LINK and THIS LINK to others to see if they’ll get involved or you can post it on your Facebook wall or Tweet it as well.