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Thoughts for Interpretive Leaders

Change Your Mind is published exclusively for Christians who want to grow in their understanding and practice of leading like Jesus Christ. New Change Your Mind articles are published monthly. Each article is dedicated to addressing ideas, questions and concepts for spiritual character formation, redemptive community and biblical leadership.

Change Your Mind offers "thoughts for interpretive leaders" designed to examine how biblical principles speak to real-life issues of character and leadership -- exploring how the church is called to be a place where God's people come together under His Word and Spirit for insight and discernment. Articles are ideal for generating conversation in leadership teams and dialog in small groups.

Articles are listed below in order of newest (most recent) to oldest.  If you want to search for articles by category, simply click on the category list in the upper right.

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A Brief Reflection About Wild Fires

by Jim Van Yperen

No doubt you are watching with alarm, as I am, the daily images of wild fires in the American West. I heard one commentator wonder at how much devastation resulted from "just one small spark!"  She was not the first to say-so.

“The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  (James 3:5)

A wild fire is nearly impossible to control, but the affects the fire leaves behind are easy to see--in burned out homes, and scorched earth stripped of all life. James tells us that words, too, are hard to control. While their marks may be less visible, their result is no less damaging—to others and ourselves. For James, the source of evil speaking is sin, and a heart darkened by disordered desire and pride. We want something so we lie and cheat. We boast to lift ourselves up, while putting others down. We want to be right and prove the other wrong. We blame others to excuse ourselves. Jesus said that a person speaks, "out of the overflow of his heart."

As I pray for rain and relief to quench wild fires out West, I think about the fires my words have set, and ask God to change my heart.

The Father's "No!"

Holy Week is a time for embodying our Story; for remembering our Lord’s death by becoming cruciformed ourselves—by taking up the cross, as Jesus did, in submission and obedience to the Father.  We do this “in remembrance” of One who died, rehearsing no victorious life or triumphal king, but a suffering servant who died, shamed upon a cross. . .

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Leading Without Power

Most churches fall into one of two leadership structures: top-down or bottom-up. Each structure points back to a historical concern and a specific way of interpreting Scripture that informs how people think about leadership and authority. In this article we will summarize a few strengths and weaknesses of each structure, and then suggest a third alternative--the kind of structure Jesus led by, at least how we would diagram it today . . . 

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The Third Chair

Imagine two chairs in the center of a room. Each chair represents a core “seat” of your life. The chair on the left represents your identity—who you are, what you believe and how you claim otherness in an overcrowded world. The chair on the right represents your activity, what you do. A brief look at both chairs will help us understand the need and purpose for a third. 

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Do you Agree?

Two church leaders, Success and Lucky,  are in conflict. 

We don’t know what their disagreement is about.  In fact, we know very little about either person except this: Lucky and Success are followers of Jesus, they are ministering together in the same church, but something has ruptured their relationship and  hindered the ministry of the gospel. We don’t know what or how.  All we have is their names, and that is unusual. Paul rarely names names...

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Hurt & Hostility

Think about a time in your life when you were hurt; when someone said something insulting or accused you falsely; when someone sued you, threatened your livelihood, or stole your honor and reputation; when someone in authority over you forced you to do something against your will; or when someone used you and took advantage of your generosity.

What did you do with your hurt?

If you are like most people you responded in one of two ways; both hostile, each trying to make the hurt go away.  . .

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Reflections on being a Christian

I am a Christian.  That is, I follow the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, whom Scripture names Lord. 

I do not say now, as I once did, that, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”  I have come to hear that statement through different ears, for the unintended but ever-present individualism and hubris the words imply.  (Any statement of faith that begins with “I” ought to be suspect, as if what is stated after needed my approval in order to be true.)  I did not decide to follow Jesus.  Rather, Jesus found and claimed me.  The difference is everything.

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How to lead communal discernment and decision-making in your church

What can the early church teach us about discernment and decision-making?

The year is A.D. 50.   The Gospel has spread into Asia Minor, principally through the missionary efforts of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas.  As the church blossoms, a dispute erupts about membership in the church and fellowship between Hebrew and Gentile believers.  Should new Gentile believers be required to keep Torah law, especially regarding circumcision? the early church 

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Quarreling Crows

I am a marked man, or so I’ve read. 

Newly published research shows that crows remember the faces of humans who have threatened or harmed them, and these memories can last for five years or longer.  The research found that screaming crows are actually scolding people they feel are dangerous, warning naive crows who learn to associate danger with the individual's face.  My face is on the Most Wanted list at every Crow Post Office in New Hampshire.

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Lion or Lamb?

Sometimes, to get conversation going at a party or seminar, I will ask a question.  “If you were to choose an animal that best represents who you are, what animal would you choose?”  The answers are often humorous and revealing.  What animal would you choose?  A follow-up question might be, “What animal would you like to be?”  If people were completely honest, and rarely are people completely honest in exercises like this, I think most people would choose an animal of some prestige or power, like a lion.  I’ve never heard anyone say, ”I’d like to be a lamb.”

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