top3 for November 1, 2019

Here are a few things I’ve been reading of thinking about this past week. They have had an impact on me and I wanted to share in hopes that maybe they can be a gift to you as they were to m


Any guesses as to the third most attended Sunday each year? I bet you guessed Easter…that’s an easy one. Some of you may have thought Mother’s Day…and you’d be correct. But what about the third? No, it’s not the Sunday before my birthday but that is a good guess! It is the first Sunday in November which is better known as All-Saints Day. This is the Sunday we honor those who finished their course of faith on earth and joined the church triumphant. It is an important Sunday in the congregation as we take time to celebrate our family and friends who passed in the previous twelve months.

By me from our Weekly E-mail newsletter

Honoring and celebrating a life well lived is one of the most important parts of living in community. One of the things being a pastor has taught me is this. It has been a hard lesson filled with many tears but one whose worth is beyond measuring.


“Midway through the week, I am never as certain of my destination with the sermon as I was when I planned the preaching schedule. I stay with the same text. I work with outlines and try to keep focused on the point. I’ve even tried taping the main idea of the sermon to the top of my computer screen. But it always ends up as a different message than I had intended to write. Often it feels like the sermon has taken a distracting detour, and I struggle to get it back on track. Eventually I discover it changed course to head to a new place. One of the most courageous things preachers have to do is relinquish control over the destination and pray that the altered course is a holy intervention.”

M. Craig Barnes from The Pastor as Minor Poet

I keep coming back to this book as a guide to my pastoral duties. It is filled with insights that challenge my perspective. The above quote is no different.

My sermon prep process can only be described as ADD. I am all over the place and stay that way until Sunday around 12:01pm…yes, that is when it is over! I have been humbled more than I care to admit when my sermon changes and takes a form that I didn’t see coming or prepared for. It is a work of faith every week to not “tie it down” early and refuse to change it. But I let the sermon continue to breath and adapt right up until the moment of delivery in hopes that it will be more Holy Spirit breathed than Todd inspired…for what I inspire is a poor substitute. Believe me.


Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I can’t remember who said or wrote this!

Reminded this week that knowing your context is not a biblical study principle but a real life one as well. The time we take to get to know the people around us and how they think, act and are motivated is beyond important. Relationships are messy and unbelievably inefficient. But they are the very oxygen needed for leadership and I dare say life itself.

For the past two months I have been tracking how many hours I spend with people. Hey..don’t judge me! I just wanted to know. As an introvert, my tendency is to go into a room, lock the door, and be extremely content. But…that behavior, as much I like it and even need it at times, does not develop relationships and I want to make sure I am being intentionally with others. Not to manipulate mind you but to share life. Not to be a better leader but to be a better person.