mike elgan from twit

What a Tech Podcaster Can Teach Pastors about Leadership

Mike Elgan, the news director for Twit.tv wrote an article about the lessons he’s learned about leadership while serving as the anchor of This Week In Tech’s daily tech news podcast. I read the article and decided that his lessons apply to pastors too. Here’s what a tech podcaster can teach pastors about leadership in the local church.

mike elgan from twit
Mike Elgan’s on the left.

I recommend that you read Mike’s article over at Baseline, a business site that focuses on technology and its use in business. He shares his six lessons about leadership. Let me start by quoting them below and then we’ll talk about how his lessons as the news director at Twit can apply to leadership in the local church.

  1. Embrace rejection.
  2. Let people own their own ideas and information.
  3. Never stop evolving.
  4. Embrace checklists.
  5. Start with the best partner you can.
  6. Serve the customers you want, not just the ones you’ve got.

That’s an interesting list and already most pastors can probably already see how they apply to our role as leaders in the church.

Embrace Rejection in Leadership

rejection
image credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis on Flickr

Pastors face a lot of rejection. Lots of people will reject a pastor including…

  • People we talk to about the Gospel – they’ll reject Jesus’ gift of grace.
  • Disciples reject taking the next step in their growth – change is hard and changing my sinful habits is the hardest kind of change imaginable. Some of the best church members don’t want to grow in their discipleship because it means they need to stop sinning in one way or it means they need to start taking risks to follow Jesus and our leadership.
  • Churches will reject potential pastors – you’re not educated enough, smart enough, old, young, skinny, or attractive enough. You’re not married to the right kind of spouse. The experience you have doesn’t match what they want. You get the idea.
  • Visitors reject us – someone visits one Sunday or many Sundays, but then they leave. You preach too long or your music’s not right. The seats are too firm or the temperature’s too cold/hot.
  • Members reject us – I won’t do that job or I won’t come back because of what you or someone else said/did.

It’s easy to become gun-shy and avoid rejection by avoiding the risk. We close in and quit trying as hard. You can never avoid all rejection risk, but you can reduce it. As a result, we stop growing and so do the people in our churches.

Let People Own Their Stuff

give credit where credit is due
image credit: Nisha A on Flickr

Another way to say this is, “Give credit where credit is due.” However, it’s more than that. I can take credit for things and often deserve it. However, as my Church Grown prof said in Seminary, “You get what you praise!” Sometimes I should give away the praise because giving it to another person means they will feel encouraged and keep giving. Others will see the praise they got and subconsciously or consciously want it and follow their good example.

In other circumstances, we owe other people credit. I remember hearing about a pastor who preached a series of sermons. The congregation loved it and it was a hit. However, one person felt like they’d heard or read it somewhere. After a Google search, the person found that most of the content wasn’t original. The ideas, the stories and even the themes came from someone else. The pastor didn’t get fired over it, but he lost some respect.

Give credit. Most people don’t mind a pastor borrowing ideas to present a good message, but they do mind dishonesty. A simple statement like, “I read a book and it inspired me. I want to share what James MacDonald said in this book, so the next four weeks we’re going to look at how he handled marriage in that book.”

Don’t do this every week, but it’s okay to borrow occasionally. If you’re doing it more than once out of every six or seven sermons or Bible studies, then you’re probably being lazy.

Never Stop Evolving

Early in my ministry I read a lot more than I do today. Let me correct that. I read more books than I do now. Today, I find more helpful stuff online in short stints. However, I still read a lot … every day!

Don’t quit growing and changing. We’re not talking about changing ethical standards or moral beliefs. Keep the fundamentals fundamental. But evolve in how you present, lead, relate and reach out. Grow more knowledgable, stronger, more humble and more confident.

The best way I know of to do this is with other people. I try to surround myself with smart, talented, creative people. This includes people in ministry and outside. I can learn from a tech journalist and a ministry mentor.

Speaking of mentors, do you have one? Good ones are hard to find. Find one. They’re worth so much, if they will love and invest in your life.

Partner with Great People

This one’s out-of-order compared to the list from Mike Elgan. It continues the previous lesson in leadership. People help you grow and putting talented, godly, creative, humble and energetic people around you will help you grow. If you praise them, they will join you in your efforts.

A great book about working with people comes from John Maxwell, leadership guru and former pastor. Be a People Person talks about how to work with, get the most out of and inspire people. Grab a copy and read it, mark it up, find someone to talk with about it, and learn what he’s saying. It’s a great book on partnering with great people.

Embrace Checklists

checklists
image credit: Mufidah Kassalias on Flickr

I’m not good at his and need to learn this lesson myself. My checklists usually stay in my email inbox, the Reminders app on my iPhone, iPad or Mac, or just in my mind. I’ve not done a good job of organizing them into one daily checklist. I need to.

Mike Elgan says he learned this lesson when he took lessons on how to fly. Pilots live by checklists. They do a preflight checklist that they have to methodically follow or someone could die.

So, here’s a few areas I need to start making such lists.

  • Sermon prep – there’s a list of tasks a good preacher should do for every message and I often forget them, like praying before I start or testing my message for faith-building language instead making people feel guilty until they obey.
  • Ministry planning – too many times I’ve showed up at a meeting about a particular project with only a mental checklist. Recently I made a checklist for such a meeting and it was one of the most productive I’ve led in a months.
  • Family time – bring the checklist home and set goals for spending the right time with family doing the right things.

Serve the Customers You Want, Not Just the Ones You Have

We don’t serve customers, but we do serve people. The concept’s the same even if the terms don’t match.

How do we “serve the customers” that we want in ministry? If you do all of your teaching at a surface, overly simple level, then your people will remain simplistic and never grow. Instead dig deep and take them along for the ride. Show people the meaning of the text and why you believe it means that. Then show them how they can find that same meaning without you. Empower people to do hermeneutics even if they don’t know what that is.

Expect things of people. Don’t assume the worst of church people. Assume they will give you the best, and then expect it of them. People will surprise us.

You get the idea. Imagine the kind of church members you wish you had, and then start treating the ones you have like they are those kinds of people. They will surprise you and become stronger, more committed, more knowledgeable and more faithful. And you might find some that already were, but never could prove it because no one expected it of them.

biblestudytools interlinear online bible study site

6 Best Online Bible Study Sites – Part One

Bible study’s going online, not entirely, but increasingly so. So here’s the first three of my six best online Bible study websites that you can use on your new $200-$300 Chromebook that won’t run locally installed Bible software. They will also work great on the many of the new Windows notebooks or tablets that only come with 32GB of 64GB SSDs, like the HP Stream 13 I recently reviewed. With limited storage these computers can’t handle huge libraries from the complex Bible study programs like Logos, WORDsearch, Accordance or PC Study Bible to name some of the most popular.

online bible study sites
You can get a Bible app or stick with your computer and use one of these online Bible study sites.

A couple of the more popular programs that run locally also come in online versions. So check out this list and maybe you can leave your complex and bloated Bible study software off that new Windows tablet or super-cheap notebook with only 32GB of storage. And you could do some study on a Chromebook, which doesn’t let users install advanced Bible study programs.

We list these sites in no particular order.

BibleStudyTools.com

biblestudytools

The first of our online Bible study websites is BibleStudyTools.com. What makes this a viable option for intermediate level Bible study software? Users can search the Bible, read it, track daily Bible reading plans and share scripture via copy/paste or links to post to popular social media outlets. Almost every online Bible can do those things. Here’s what this site offers in addition to the basics.

Bible Study Tools adds some public domain tools like …

  • Commentaries
  • Dictionaries
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  • Old and New Testament Greek Lexicons
  • Classic sermons from past scholars and preachers

The first of our list of online Bible study sites includes a number of modern and public domain Bible translations. There’s also some limited original language study.

The site will collect user notes and highlights for those who sign up for a free account. The Bible student can mark up their Bibles and save their study findings for future reference.

biblestudytools interlinear online bible study site
The Interlinear Bible in Bible Study Tools online Bible study site uses KJV and NASB as the English translation.

While the site doesn’t offer as many modern reference tools, a user with simple needs can get a lot done. Read a text, highlight it and write observations in a note attached to a verse. Then open the interlinear Bibles based on the KJV and NASB to do some original language study. Search the text for some cross references related to the topics in the passage. This gives any Bible student a good start in understanding their passage.

The Interlinear Hebrew text comes from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia from United Bible Societies. The Greek text comes from Center For Computer Analysis of Texts, University of Pennsylvania based on Nestle Aland 26.

After these early steps, open some commentaries, dictionaries or the ISBE and learn more about the passage and what others said years ago. Record those findings in the notes. Then find the passage’s Big Idea and come up with an outline using an online word processor like Google Docs or Office 365’s version of Word online.

If I had to compare the site to a piece of Bible software, I’d say it can do almost as much as e-Sword with a few modern translations added to it.

Bible Hub

biblehub

The next of these six best online Bible study websites comes from Online Parallel Bible Project in the form of BibleHub.com. The interface looks a little cluttered, but it’s still a useful site with plenty of resources.

Enter a Bible reference in the top search box and the site opens the verse in all the translations and commentaries available in the left column. Along the right column we find some helpful tools like the context of the passage, cross references and Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.

Across the top of the site there’s a toolbar that helps people navigate to specific passages in any of the supported translations. The site includes a large collection of modern and public domain translations. The toolbar also includes some public domain commentaries. Access them through drop down lists.

The toolbar buttons put many of the tools a click away. We get a parallel Bible button, cross references and a context button that shows the single verse within the pericope. In addition there’s links to a few specific commentaries and more.

Like the other sites, Bible Hub lets me share to Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It includes some nice pictures, maps and outlines.

Biblia

biblia

Logos Bible Software users will want to go first to Biblia.com. They also offer a pair of sister sites – library.logos.com and Faithlife Bible online. So why three sites? Library runs better on mobile browsers, like an Android smart phone or iPhone. Faithlife adds the company’s online study Bible focused social network and using the Faithlife Study Bible. The more pure online Bible site is Biblia.

None of the three Faithlife sites do as much as our first two in this list, but they make a Logos Bible Software user’s library available online and as a group they offer a great selection of tools and features. The makers promise some more advanced tools “coming soon.” I’d be happy if they just integrated all of the features into one site.

When a user signs into the Logos account, they can get access to their reading plans from the left-hand column. That column includes four tabs with the following features:

  • Reading Plans
  • Library list used to open books
  • Search tool that the user can use to search one book or other books in their library
  • Notes tab shows notes on a particular verse or book passage from the Faithflife.com community, but not a Logos Bile Software user’s notes added inside the computer or mobile apps

The main part of the Biblia screen includes two window pane. The user can open books in either side. For example, open a Bible in the center column and a commentary on the right. The two will sync up to the same verse when a user turns the feature on using instructions explained below.

Use a mouse wheel or swipe on a laptop trackpad to scroll through the Bible from Genesis 1:1 all the way to the end of Revelations 22.

biblia book settings box
Click the book cover in the upper left corner of the book’s window to show the settings.

Click on the book’s cover in the upper left corner of the window pane to show settings. The user can do the following:

  • Change the font size
  • Sync the two panes
  • Open the book’s table of contents
  • Change the reading view from column, stretched across both pans or full-screen reading view
  • Toggle the community notes from other Faithlife users (but not personal notes from the computer or mobile apps_

The sharing tool will let you post to Twitter or Facebook, get a link to the verse on Biblia.com to post online or email, and an embed code to post to a website.

library.logos.com

The library.logos.com presents the same basic tools as Biblia, with a few minor changes, in a mobile browser view. Surprisingly, this site, though optimized for mobile browsers, actually does a little more than Biblia.

Click on the three dots at the right end of the top toolbar. This give the user access to some of the great tools that makes Logos Bible Software great on a computer. Those include:

  • Access to favorites
  • Text comparison tool which shows a passage in multiple translations
  • Passage Guide, which finds the verse in all the books in your library
  • Bible Word Study tool, which lets a user enter a word and find that topic or idea on all the books in the library

library.logos.com tools

The Faithlife Study Bible online site presents the Faithlife Study Bible in online for and looks a little like the Faithlife Study Bible app on Android or iOS. We don’t get the Passage Guide, Text Comparison or the Bible Word Study tools from library.logos.com. See it below.

faithlife study bible online

I wish Faithlife would take all of these sites and streamline them into one great online Bible study site. It would make it the best of the six online Bible study sites in our roundup.

Check back for part two of this roundup of the 6 best online Bible study sites.