The E-I-E-I-O’s of Public Speaking

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Whether you are teaching a class of wiggly 3-year olds or speaking to an audience of thousands, communicating important content to the listeners is a responsibility that the speaker needs to embrace and fulfill.  If we are to be at maximum influence, we will need to plan in advance for the delivery from start to finish.  Here are five key objectives that you should strive to accomplish by the conclusion of your presentation and they are easy to remember thanks to “Old MacDonald”.

1. Educate

It is important that you have a clear awareness of your mission when you take your place in front of those who have gathered to hear what you have to say.  You are there to change the status quo.  You are to add value to the listener’s life by educating them with new material, practical application, challenges and ideals.  If your audience leaves the room with no new knowledge, skill or aspiration, then you have failed as a communicator.

2. Inform

What will your listeners take home after your have addressed them?  This is sometimes called the objective and the best way to identify that objective is to complete this question, “As a result of this lesson, my students/audience will know/be able to ________________.”  If you do not know what it is you are wanting to accomplish in your presentation, don’t count on the students to be able to pick it out on their own.  I like to use a simple three-step plan for helping my students identify my key point(s):

  • Tell them what you are going to tell them (Introduction)
  • Tell then (Lesson)
  • Tell them what you told them (Review)

Emphasizing that main point those three times will help ensure that your students get your point.

3.  Entertain

There are few crimes greater in my book, than to bore people with Truth.  There simply is no excuse for a dry presentation.  The distance between dry information and exciting application is about 18 inches — the distance between the head and the heart.  If you only focus on transferring information without ever acknowledging the human impact of that information, you will have an audience that will have checked out to varying degrees.  Jesus, the Master Teacher, used everything from stories to recitations to sarcasm to object lessons to soaring prose to mystery to keep the attention of His audience throughout the Gospels.  We should learn from His example.  Laughter, dramatic tension and emotion are all tools that will help move Truth from the head and into the heart.

4. Inspire

If you entertain and educate, but fail to inspire, you did not complete your task.  Inspiration is what moves people to ACT on what they have learned.  It moves people to APPLY what they have heard.  It challenges them to ASPIRE to something greater than what they have been doing.  It is lazy to transfer raw information and then fail to challenge the listener to use that information in use what they have learned for the good of others and the glory of God.

5. Organize

Rare is the individual who can successful “wing” an effective presentation.  There needs to be a plan to what you are saying and how you plan on saying it.  Don’t even think about simply reading your presentation, but having an outline is essential.  And like writing a paragraph, a paper or a book, having an outline is important.  Capture their attention and imagination in the introduction.  Deliver the content in the body.  Review and challenge the audience to greatness in the conclusion.  Once you know the outline, then you can fill in the “extras” — the illustrations, the applications, the inspirational moments, the calls to action.

E-I-E-I-O — it’s simply and its effective.  Take a few extra minutes and make sure you round out your next presentation with all five goals.

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Using Your Voice in Teaching

A woman try to whisper or screamingPublic speakers in general and teachers specifically would do well to identify their voice as their own, personal musical instrument — complete with amplifier!  Like anyone who plays an instrument, practice makes perfect and the better you learn how to use that instrument — the more beauty and inspiration will flow from it.  Today, I’d like for you to consider how you can use your voice to be a wonderful communicative instrument which can literally be used to transform thinking and inspire action.  Here are today’s “Five Tips“…

1. Speed Matters

Our minds can process information far faster than we can speak or hear it.  If you’ve ever sat in a lecture where the speaker takes forever to spit out a coherent sentence (and boy, have I ever heard some vocal sloths in my day), then you might have found yourself writing a grocery list, looking for your iPhone to check your messages, counting the burned out light bulbs and the number of ceiling tiles or any other mental exercise that might keep you from jumping to your feet and screaming, “Just say it already, will ya!”  Some studies have indicated that even an average speaker will offer a vocal pace of somewhere between 125-150 words per minute but you can think/hear at between 600-700.  So many of us have time to hear what is being said, apply it, debate it, take the car down for an oil change and return all in our mind by the time that most people get finished with a paragraph.  By contrast, some of us are rapid speakers.  I often joke that I cruise at about 450 wpm with sudden gusts up to 600 wpm so if you wear a hair piece, it’s generally a good idea to set near the back when I’m speaking, lest something get blown off.  If you have to choose between slow or fast, always choose fast.  It keeps the listener “working” to stay up and thus you keep their attention.  It helps prevent having the listeners fight with a wandering mind.  It actually impacts the listeners physiologically and studies have shown that respiration rates and even heart rates increase when the speaker delivers his/her content more rapidly.  So rev it up, my friends!  Put the pedal to the metal and let it roar!

2. Tone Matters

When your momma’ told you the story of “The Three Bears”, did all three of the bears sound exactly the same?  Of course not (unless you had the worst mom EVER!).  Daddy bear had a big gruff voice, momma bear had a sweet, kind voice and baby bear had a high, squeaky voice — and it made the story FAR more interesting than if they had each sounded like Ben Stein.  Changing and shifting your tone by pushing various amounts of air across your vocal chords can be used to add gravitas, indicate differences in “voice” during dialogues, create dramatic tension, lull people into somnambulance (Look it up) or provide humorous variation.  Practice this at home.  It works.

3. Pitch Matters

You can make your voice go up or you can make your voice go down.  Have you ever known anyone who ends each sentence with the last word going up?  It sounds like every sentence is turned into a question.  When you drive your pitch down, every sentence becomes a command.  Like the flautist who can run her flute up to trills or down to single note punctuations, we can use our voice up and down to create variety, implications and even unasked questions.

4. Volume Matters

Even you speak at a volume that would drown out the roar of a space ship taking off, you are going to exhaust your audience.  If you speak at the volume of a church mouse at a funeral, you will also exhaust your audience.  That’s why varying the level of your volume is important.  I’m old and cranky — I do NOT like to be shouted at.  I’m old and cranky — I don’t want to have to work at hearing you and it’s embarrassing to keep having to shout “HUH?” or “WHAT?” at someone who is giving a public lecture.  But a little emphatic vocal punctuation or a dropping of the volume which requires me to lean forward a bit and to put a little more effort forward to hear what is being said provides a variety that keeps me engaged.  When telling a story, making a point, creating drama — volume is one of your most effective tools to draw the listener in so that they will be engaged with your content.

5. Intensity Matters

Combining all of the previous four matters to reflect intensity in your presentation.  If you are in front of a group speaking, there really should be a purpose.  If not, sit down and let someone else get up that has something to say.  Having a sense of urgency when speaking sends a signal to your listeners that you are worthy of their listening time.  Use your voice to communicate intensity.  Passion is a good thing.  It can make the difference in a Presidential Election (Bush vs. Kerry) and (Obama vs. McCain).  Ask yourself if you feel what you are saying is important.  If not, either shut up or change what you are saying until it IS important.  If it is important — then make it seem that way.  Create a vocal intensity that says to your listeners, “Come over here and lean in.  I’ve got something to tell you that will make your life better.  It is a great thought.  You can use this as an effective tool.  It is an important principle.  It will help you succeed.  Some might think of it as mundane – but I’m here to tell you it will CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE!”  Do you not think if you create that level of intensity in your audience and portray that level of urgency in your presentation you will have a room of eager listeners who will be wanting to hang on your EVERY word.  You bet.  Take it to the bank.  And when you are finished, they will be begging for more.

Dan BenchDan Burrell holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and is a former classroom teacher, current college professor and past-president of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.  He has co-authored two books for teachers and has extensive experience in training classroom teachers, story tellers and communicators around the world.

Five Ways to Improve Behavior While Teaching

It is interesting how quickly one misbehaving kid can simultaneously terrorize a timid teacher and destroy whatever good things have been planned or are going on in a classroom.  It really doesn’t take that long.  A huge belch, leaning back in a chair until you crash backwards, launching a sneeze that registers on the Richter Scale, a flicked pencil that sticks precariously in another students hair — it really doesn’t take a lot of time for any of that to happen and it can take many minutes to regain control.  Today’s teaching tips are ways to improve the behavior of your students while you are teaching.

1. If you find it boring, your students will find it boring, so here’s a clue — “Don’t tolerate boring stuff.” 

Every topic under the sun can have the life drained from it or can be polished and presented in a way to make kids go “Ah” and “Oooo”.  The difference is in who is presenting the material and how they are presenting it.  There is no topic that cannot be turned into something fun, interesting, challenging or creative with a little bit of instructor imagination and effort.  The rule of thumb is that if you find what you are teaching to be dull, dry and dusty, your students will find it to be the same.  Sell the sizzle and they’ll buy the steak!

2. Isolate problem students by keeping them out of the sight-line of others.

Most misbehaving students are performers.  Take away their audience and they’ll lose interest in entertaining.  Many teachers foolishly think that if they put them “right up front where they can keep an eye on them” that it is going to solve the problem.  Well, then don’t you dare turn around to put something on the whiteboard or go over to another student’s desk to see who they are doing.  As soon as you are “out of range” — the party will commence again.  I once saw a teacher who had a particularly problematic student bring a dressing screen which she set up to the side of the classroom and put a desk in the isolation area it created where she could see the student, but no one else could.  If a parent objects to their child being singled out, then ask the parent if they would be willing to come in and sit with their child.  They’ll reconsider their objection.

3. Break your teaching time into rational increments which allows for intellectual and physical breaks.

Only the most interesting teacher can lecture for 45 minutes without a break and keep the attention of all their students — and I’ve yet to meet that teacher.  Most of us can’t sit for that long, what makes us think that a hormonal 13-year old can?  (Remember the rule of thumb on attention spans: 1 minute per year of age.)  Break your lesson into bite-sized increments.  Five minutes of review, 10 minutes of introducing the objective, illustrate using visuals or a demonstration for 10 minutes, discuss for 10 minutes, practice for 10 minutes, review for five minutes.  And if you’ll allow me a moment to rant –

Don’t treat your boys like they are girls.

Boys don’t learn like girls.  Girls don’t behave like boys.  Tell all the progressive social engineers to get over it.  Boys wiggle and squirm and act impulsively and show off in front of girls and break things and blurt out inappropriately.  They are not being “discipline problems” just because they don’t sit with their hands folded neatly in their laps with their ankles touching each other while nodding approvingly at the wisdom that cascades from your highly-educated lips.  And what do we do in America today when a little boy acts like little boys for 6,000 years have acted?  We run for the adderall  and ritalin.  Yes….rather than try to channel that energy, passion and zeal — let’s just drug them into submission.  How about let’s get creative, provide outlets, vary our teaching methods and quit being so dang politically correct and meet this little guys right where they are and train them instead of dope them?  [End Rant]  (Note: I realize that there are rare cases where medications are necessary to help some children, but those are extremely RARE.  If my rant offended you, let’s both just assume that it is YOUR kid that really needs the pills so I can save you having to write a comment or email.)

4. Have more material than you have time.

Idle time and all that….it really is true.  If you don’t have enough to keep the hour full, why not?  Have a bag full of tricks that you can always pull out if you end up having extra time.  Illustrations, demonstrations, games, drills, reviews, visuals, songs, Q and A’s, video clips, etc….  Keep a drawer full of them available.  One thing’s for sure, if you don’t have something planned for the entire class hour, the students will find a way to fill those minutes quite nicely…..but you aren’t going to like the outcome.

5. When punishing, make sure that the pain of the consequence outweighs the pleasure of the conduct.

Gone are the days when if you got in trouble at school, you got in trouble all over again at home such as it was when I was a young’un.  Now, you are as likely as not to get an angry phone call or a letter from a lawyer if you dare discipline a student.  I get that.  But don’t be intimidated by threats.  Stand your ground.  If they cheat…give them a zero.  If they talk…let them miss a break or enjoy a silent lunch.  If they curse….a nice essay might be in order.  But make sure that those little angels don’t have an easy decision when they weigh the potential consequences of their devious actions with the thrill of the execution of said actions.  I didn’t have to get spanked a whole lot when I was growing up.  The reason for that was because when I did get spanked, it was an ordeal and not one that I wanted repeated anytime in the near future.  Whatever your punishment (or if you are politically correct — “consequence”) of choice is, make sure that it exacts a sufficient reaction that will call into question the wisdom of trying that little trick ever again.

I’m forcing myself to stop at five each day so I don’t overwhelm anyone.  There’s a hundred more that could be shared.  Keep an eye out on this blog however.  There’s more to come.  If you haven’t been keeping up, go backwards.  Also, feel free to forward these to your friends, post them on your facebook/twitter/instagram feed and link me to your blog.  Thanks for the good feedback I’ve already received!

 

Five Things to AVOID When Teaching Children

badteacherThere are certain things that will kill a lesson for young people faster than you can say “Snack Time”.  Knowing what those landmines are will help you avoid them and will keep your lesson on track.

1. Poor Attention Getters

When you are ready to start your lesson, often you will have to gain everyone’s attention.  This can be quite a challenge if you have several dozen or even several hundred young people who are enjoying the company of their peers prior to your arrival.  Some of the least effective ways to get the attention of your charges are as follows:

  • SSSSShhhhhhing — Never “Shush” your children.  They will ignore you, it is more irritating than the chattering and it makes you sound like you’ve sprung a leak.  Don’t do it.  Period.
  • Tapping the Microphone and asking “Is this on?” — If you aren’t 100% sure your microphone is on, don’t use it.  Make sure the sound technician knows you are ready to go, march right up to it, rip it out of the stand and bellow out your opening statement.
  • Ask a question –This is a sure-fire way to create bedlam.  Saunter to the front and say, “Who is glad to be here today?”  You’ll get 10 bazillion different responses and it will take you 10 minutes to get everyone refocused.  More on this later.
  • Take too long to set something/someone up — If you are introducing someone, grab the attention with one, authoritative sentence: “Boys and Girls, give a great big welcome to Mr. Bob!” and then hand off the mike.  (If Mr. Bob knows what he is doing, he’ll know what to do next to keep their attention.)
  • Threaten — Making empty threats in order to gain or keep sentence only makes you look weak.  If you are prepared, excited and in charge, you won’t need to beg for attention and you won’t need to make threats.

So, how do I get the attention of the students?  Well, come back later and I’ll do a whole article on ways to gain attention in a group of young people.

2. Speak in a Monotone

Ben Stein turned the parody of a monotone teacher into an icon of relate-ability in the classic movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Indeed, it was his boring teaching that drove Ferris into planning a day of playing hooky.  Don’t be Ben Stein.  Vary your voice like you would a musical instrument — use volume, speed and intensity — to create drama, excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm.

3. Project your Boredom

If you think your lesson is boring, your likely to project that onto your students.  If you think your lesson is exciting and potentially life-changing, then act like it.  Do you know that learning your times tables can be great fun?  Turn them into a song, make it a game, turn them into a rap, have a contest.  But whatever you do, don’t make them boring.  There are few things more tragic than a Bible story teacher who drains the life out Scripture because they won’t be creative and enthused about what they are teaching.  Any topic in the world can be made exciting and challenging by a teacher who truly thinks that what they are teaching is important.  if you don’t think it is important — then let someone else teach in your place!

4. Be Poorly Prepared

If you don’t come very prepared for your class, you can count on it that one of your children is fully prepared to entertain their friends during any lulls you so generously provide.  Always have extra material you can grab at a minutes notice if you have extra time to spare.  It can be a story, a game, a review, a contest, a song.  One of the great tricks of teaching is to “leave them wanting more”.  So pack your story to the end and then leave them “dangling” by saying, “Wow, I had so much more we were going to do/cover/hear/look at.  Oh well, I guess we’ll have to pick it up tomorrow!”

5. Ask open-ended questions in a general way

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen a teacher blow a lesson by coming up and awkwardly opening up with some poorly-considered question.  What do you think will happen when you say “So, what is your favorite kind of ice cream?”  Instantly, some kids will let out a huge “Yummmmm!”  Others will throw their shoulders out of socket with the speed with which they shoot their hands skyward so you’ll call on them.  Most will just blurt out their very favorite kind and it then small debates will break out between people who think the choice of the person next to them has a disgusting favorite flavor.  In 15 second flat, you have complete chaos.  Now imagine the same teacher saying, “If you like icecream, don’t say a word, but raise your hand!”  Now you have their attention, but no bedlam with which you must deal for the next 3 minutes as you real their enthusiasm back in.  Ask questions that have a specific answer, instruct them before asking how you want them to respond and don’t set your kids up for a scolding by not thinking of the consequences your question might cause before you ask it.

Those are just some “tricks of the trade” to avoid.  Stay tuned for some positive ideas next.

 

Five Things to Remember When Teaching Children

Whether you are a classroom teacher, a Sunday school teacher or even a homeschool mom, teaching children is a skill that can be honMan Teaching Students in Classroomed like any other talent or ability.  Great teachers usually a have “Knack” (ie…gift) for teaching, but even someone who looks at the opportunity of teaching kids as akin to visiting their friendly oral surgeon can pick up a few tricks for their tool bag that might just make the experience more enjoyable.

Here are five:

1. Pay Attention to Attention Span

For children, a good attention span rule of thumb is about 1 minute per year of age.  After that, you are on borrowed time and the potential for a poor behavior episode increases with each tick of the clock.  So be aware that if you are teaching kindergartners, you have about 5 minutes of attention time before you’re going to need to give them some sort of break in the action.

2. Move, Baby, Move!

If you stand in one spot (worse yet, stay glued to a lectern), your kids will start looking for something more interesting upon which to gaze.  So walk about, walk around, walk through, walk behind, but get moving.  This will keep your student’s eyes from wandering and will help you keep their attention.

3. Use Props

Whether you are using a hand-puppet made out of an old sock with button eyes or have an amazing powerpoint presentation complete with an embedded video, props will add interest, break up monotony and create interest.  Don’t freak out and spend a bunch of money and time to develop props.  It can be something as simple as an interesting magazine picture mounted on a piece of construction paper, a curio you picked up on a vacation trip that was a curiosity from a far-away place and might give a change of pace to the presentation or it could be a wonderfully simple everyday item like a piece of bread, an apple, a rock or a leaf.  Depending on the lesson, you can come up with SOMETHING that will divert attention and recapture focus.

4. Deal with discipline issues

Your classroom will be run by the person with the most interesting personality in it.  That needs to be you.  Make it happen.  And when little Johnny or Janie decide to take a run at the “Most Interesting” title you so proudly wear, shut them down.  Whatever you do, don’t ignore it, don’t encourage it and don’t make it worse.  I’ll share some crowd control techniques in a later article.

5. Tell Stories

EVERYBODY loves a story.  So weave stories in and out of your content constantly.  They don’t have to be 20 minute vignettes with marionettes providing thespian-like entertainment — it can simply be a tidbit of trivia (Did you know that if you help a butterfly emerge from its cocoon, it will likely never fly?  Part of the struggle of escaping the pupae prepares it for the ability to fly.) or a personal anecdote (Last week when I was at the store, I found that I needed to learn how to use my multiplication tables to figure out how many bananas I could buy.) or even a story out of the headlines (An Iranian-American Pastor is being held in captivity in Iran because he refuses to renounce his faith.)  Stories connect us with truths.  Use them liberally.

Watch this blog for more articles with teaching tips in the future.

Dan Bench(Dan Burrell holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and is a former classroom teacher, current college professor and past-president of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.  He has co-authored two books for teachers and has extensive experience in training classroom teachers, story tellers and communicators around the world.)

The Christian Religion and the Ideals of Nations

To those who would bash the notion that the ideals of the Christian religion has an important force in civilization. Consider the worth of discipline, character, work ethic, morality, purpose and destiny in a people — All of which are byproducts of Christian virtues.

Jeremy Egerer: “[I]ntelligence amongst the good brings forth Madisons and Lockes — amongst the bad, maybe a Marx or a Rousseau. Men skilled in rhetoric can be Churchills or Hitlers, those with charisma either George Washington or Jim Jones. Considerable skill in engineering may eliminate dependence on oil, or it may build nuclear weapons for Syrian terrorists. Whatever the skill, whatever the gift, its benefit to mankind depends not upon talent itself, but upon the character of those who wield it. Therefore, all sensible men must be in agreement that the talents of mankind are not in themselves good, but are wholly and universally dependent upon the judgment, fortitude, and charity of their possessors. Talent for the sake of civilization must be developed, but it is better to be in the company of the righteous layman and farmer than surrounded by impressively treacherous and barbarous men. … Without valiant soldiers, honest judges, vigilant citizens, and ethical working men of all kinds, Edisons and Einsteins may occasionally succeed, but true liberty in divine Law permits genius to flourish.”

One of the Most Convicting Quotes I’ve Ever Read

I collected epigrams and quotations like others collect baseball cards. Rarely have I found one so utterly devastating in its accuracy as this one:

“I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality…asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology…’ But excusing says ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ …And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.” — C.S. Lewis

~ “On Forgiveness,” The Weight of Glory

Not Every Person Belongs in Your Church

My dear friend and mentor, Charles Wood, hit on a topic in his recent musings from “The Woodchuck’s Den” (I highly recommend that you get this near-daily counseling/coaching and information journal. You can do so by emailing him at lorchuck@aol.com. Tell him I recommend him to you.) It deals with folks who want to join your church, but come with an agenda or a pet issue. The temptation for many is to desire growth and fresh blood so deeply that they’ll welcome any one. The problem with that is that too often, we can sow the seeds of future conflict and even disaster. It’s like marrying the wrong person — it can impact the entire family.

Whether their “issue” is tongues or music styles or Bible versions or eschatology or politics or homeschooling or birth control or prophecy or Israel or any one of a thousand other pet topics to which people cling, when the personal preference becomes an agenda item for an individual who is insisting that others must join their cause or that having their priorities makes them somehow spiritually superior, in the end — division, dissension and controversy are just around the corner.

In his missive, Dr. Wood quotes a well-known pastor and researcher who offers some helpful thoughts on the topic.

Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research, and a seasoned and experienced pastor wrote an article on the topic of “Issue Members” in Christianity Today recently that Dr. Wood sent out that I thought was just excellent. Here’s an excerpt:

“Yesterday, I had an encounter in the line where I shake hands after the Grace Church worship service. A well-dressed man came up to me after church, shook my hand, and immediately started a conversation about prophecy. I listened initially, but within a couple of minutes he had quoted one passage he feels is related to the founding of Israel in 1948 and another about Israel occupying Jerusalem in 1967. ‘Why don’t churches talk more about prophecy?’ he asked. At that point, I could have redirected our conversation and tried to persuade him that we believe in biblical prophecy and will teach on it another time (both of which are true). Or, since he approvingly referenced both Jack Van Impe and John Hagee, I could have found some ways of positively connecting with each of these men.

“In most cases, however, I’ve decided that ‘this is not the church for you’ is actually the right response for ‘issue Christians’ who are visiting the church. Honestly, if this person were unchurched and told me they thought highly of Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer, I would have sought a point of contact and encouraged further discussion. I probably would have tried to get together– if they were open– to see what the Bible says about the kinds of things that Wayne Dyer talks about. I would have used the bridge to talk about Jesus. However, in this case, I simply said something like, ‘We are not one of those churches that you would think talks about prophecy enough– this would not be the right church for you, but I do hope your search for a church home goes well.’

“You see, I don’t spend a lot of time with ‘issue Christians.’

“It’s not just the issue of prophecy either. I’ve had similar conversations with ‘issue Calvinists,’ ‘issue political Christians,’ ‘issue charismatics,’ ‘issue homeschoolers,’ and many others. These are often good people, and those are important issues, but when these are the primary defining issues in the first (and every other) conversation, the correct response is help them move on and do so quickly.

“Here are four reasons why I have no difficulty helping ‘issue Christians’ to move on:

1. Some ‘issue Christians’ get so stuck on specific ideas–you don’t have time to persuade them.
It is simply not a good use of your time and energy to debate with ‘issue Christians.’ Instead, reach your community, pastor your people, and get on mission. Focus on reaching the unreached, not debating church members about eschatology or pneumatology. If they know Christ, but are stuck on an issue, they will be just fine without you. Generally, you can’t ‘fix them anyway and they will (eventually) come out of it on their own.

2. Some ‘issue Christians’ have divisive views–you don’t need them to fit in at your church’s expense.
You can disagree in our church (to a reasonable degree) and still be a part–I’ve pastored cessationists, charismatics, Calvinists, and Arminians all in the same church. The issues are not the issue, it is that this person wants to make them an issue. Simply, ‘issue Christians’ generally do not fit in well in a mission-focused congregation. They don’t want to.

3. Some ‘issue Christians’ drift from church to church looking for willing ears–you do not need to let that in your church.
‘Issue Christians’ love to debate and display their knowledge. It is not good stewardship of your time to have these debates and you are not being a good steward of your church to let them loose inside.

4. Some ‘issue Christians’ will talk forever if you do not cut them off–you will probably offended them less than you think.
For many, listening for hours is the Christian thing to do. Many pastors listen, set up appointments, then seek to reason and redirect the confused. That’s not a good plan if it is obvious that this person has dwelt in and studied on an issue. My experience is that people like this get ‘cut off’ all the time. So, I say, ‘Thanks Joe, but that’s not what we are passionate about here–I do encourage you to find a church that is passionate about what your issues.’ Surprisingly, that does not generally offend–people like that have been cut off many times before this time.

“So, let me encourage you to thank ‘issue Christians’ for their passion and time, and encourage them to find a church home that fits their values. Of course, I should say, this is different if someone comes to me confused on an issue. In that case, we can counsel and provide more information.

“In conclusion, we should always provide guidance, but we should not always provide a platform. ‘Issue Christians’ want a platform with you and your church because they are passionate about an issue–don’t let that distract you or your church from being and doing all that God has in store. Move on… and move them on.”

What the Abortion Industry Does Not Want You to See

I read an interesting blog article today HERE.  Sadly, many people who are “pro-choice/abortion” really do not know the barbarism that is a legal medical abortion.  I challenge you to read how one person responded when faced with the facts.

More importantly, let me show you some images below.

The first is a diagram of what occurs during an abortion.  It is quite horrifying.  But it just a drawing, correct?  I mean, it’s not REALLY a baby and it really is THAT violent, right?  For that reason, there is a second photo.  A photo of a child post-abortion.  Tell me this is not a child.  Tell me that this little person should have no rights.  Tell me that this infanticidal procedure should be constitutionally protected.  Tell me that this is morally acceptable.  If you are intellectually honest and morally just, you can’t.  You. Simply. Can. Not.

 deabortion.jpg

Keep in mind when viewing this next photo that this baby is not yet 23 weeks old as show in the procedure above.  Yet, it is still clearly a baby.

abortion.jpg

Now here’s one final photograph.  You might argue, that what you saw above is not really a human because it’s not viable.  Not viable, you say?  Look below at the little one who was delivered just prior to 23 weeks of gestation.

23weeks.jpg

If these photos offended you, good.  They should.  This is reality.  The truth is ugly.  These photos are important to see just like the photos of bodies stacked at Auschwitz were important.  It is a snapshot of our humanity — or lack of it.  If you were pro-abortion and they offend you, then perhaps there is hope that you might compassionately change your mind.

If not, go back and look at these pictures again and then go take a long look at yourself in the mirror.  Surely, you can see this for yourself.  This is a child.  He or she deserves a chance.

Then promise yourself that if you should ever be in the position that you have an unplanned pregnancy, that you would do the compassionate and loving thing — like the birthmothers of our four children did — let the baby come to term and deliver him or her.  Then let a young couple, who longs to raise a child as their own, take on that responsibility for you.  Should you do that, they will forever be grateful to you.  I know that.  Personally.  For sure.

Choose Life.  You will NEVER regret it.

In the words of the kindly children’s author, Dr. Suess — A person’s a person….no matter how small.

John MacArthur Answers his Charismatic Critics

Michael Brown, one of the proponents of many of the excesses in the charismatic movement, recently unloaded on Dr. John MacArthur in a couple of articles that were absolutely rife with ridiculous errors and suppositions.  I’m glad to see that John has decided to publicly refute Brown.  Brown became a celebrity during the so-called “Brownsville Revival” which took place in Florida where I lived at the time.  I literally saw pictures of people on all fours barking like dogs claiming that this was a “work of the Holy Spirit.” Balderdash.  This was the work of some amazing hypnotists and they belonged in a cheap off-the-strip Las Vegas show, not in a church.  While I have friends and students who attend charismatic churches and we sincerely disagree on which gifts are active today, Brown is on the far fringes of charismaticism and I’m glad John has called him out and is responding to him.  His response is well worth the time necessary to read it.

You’ll find it HERE.