I Accidentally Published a Book Today

So, apparently I accidently published a book today.

It wasn’t an accident that it was getting published. We had been working on it for a while. I just didn’t realize it would actually happen…and that it would happen today.

4 years ago, I was tired of the way that I was seeing Christians engage in politics and decided that I wanted to help initiate a different kind of conversation that I wasn’t seeing many people have. I preached a 2 week series called “In God We Trust?” It stirred up more conversations than just about anything else I had preached before.

As this election began to move closer, I began to see some of the same disturbing trends and at times even worse. So, decided to try and take what we talked about 4 years ago and see if we could turn it into a short book. Short enough that people would actually read it, but still with enough substance to invoke conversation.

My hope is not to give final solutions and answers as to how Christians are to engage (or not engage) in the political process, but instead, my hope is to raise some new conversations that not many are having. Sometimes we need a bit of a jolt to the system so we can step back to try and see the forest in the midst of the trees.

If you’re tired of the rhetoric around politics and have this sense that evangelicals are being used as political pawns…then this book is for you.

If you have an uncle who you hate to be around during this political season because of how obsessed he is with politics…this would make a great “Happy Super Tuesday” election present.

If you’ve read the stats of how the younger generation is being driven away from the church because of how politically involved the church is and you want to figure out a way forward…this book is a great starting point.

If you don’t want easy answers and want to struggle through things on your own and have the space to come to your own conclusions while being challenged by others…this book will mess with you a bit without giving a bunch of easy answers.

So, I’d love it if you’d consider buying this book. But here’s the deal, my biggest hope is to in some small way begin to change some of the conversation that at least some followers of Jesus are having when it comes to politics. So, buy one for someone else too.

If you’re a part of Parkcrest, we will have copies available on a Sunday, sometime in the future. I’m not exactly sure when, but it won’t be for at least another 3 weeks. Because, like I said…I accidentally published a book today.

If you’re a church leader and want to utilize this for groups in your church or use it as a way to have a larger conversation about faith and politics as the election season continues to heat up. Let me know and if you’re buying more than 25 copies, we can offer them at a discounted rate.

If you have an event at your church or organization and need a panelist or speaker regarding faith and politics, I’d love to be a part.

I (obviously, since I didn’t even realize it was being published today) don’t have a marketing plan. So, I would love it if you would help me out and help get the word out. We’ve got to start having a better conversation about faith and politics. Lets get that ball rolling.

For my friends who already tweeted, instagramed, facebooked, sent me pictures of their receipts from purchasing it. Thank you! I had no idea you would do that and I’m so grateful!

And thanks to my friends Ashley Miller who helped me edit it and actually make it readable and Brent Otey who did a killer cover design.

Here’s to having a better conversation about faith and politics

Lets Have Better Conversations

A few weeks ago, for the third year I attended the Q Conference in Boston. This has turned into one of the year’s highlights for me and I was glad Allison got to attend with me for the first time this year. Much has already been written about some of the significant conversations that happened there.

What I left realizing, however, is that one of the things I most appreciate about Q, is the space to have thoughtful conversations, where there’s space to dialogue, hear multiple perspectives and be challenged. Not only from the stage, but also in conversations around lunches and coffees, in the hallways in-betwen and during sessions. I told someone recently that I love going to it because Q has become in a lot of ways, my tribe. Not because we all believe the same things, or because everyone is a pastor in a church like Parkcrest, but because it’s a space for the kind of dialogue that I find myself often longing for and it’s a group of people who are looking for that same thing.

This year, unfortunately, one of the things that happened was because of the sensitivity of LGBT conversations regarding the church that seemed to become one of the predominant themes, there were quite a few people who felt the need was not for dialogue and discussion. People who weren’t looking for safe, thoughtful conversations, but for the conference to take a stronger stand – either more conservative or more progressive, depending on which viewpoint you came into the conference with. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking simply mimics the incredibly divisive and polarized climate in our culture at large – one where you need to show strongly which side you’re on. Rather than approaching these kinds of dialogues in humility, we approach them with the arrogance of being right and needing the conference that we attend (not the one we put on…but attend) to affirm what we already believe.

Researchers have written a bit about what is now being called “The Backfire Effect”, which essentially says that when we’re presented with facts that objectively counter what we already believe, we won’t change our beliefs, but will actuall dig our heels in more to what we already believe to be true. Being presented with actual facts that push against what we already believe backfires by causing us to become more entrenched against those actual facts. We suffer from Confirmation Bias, where we search out information that affirms what we already think, rather than allow ourselves to be challenged by something that may force us to change what we think, or even the way in which we think it.

We don’t know how to be challenged in what we think anymore. We don’t know how to have engaging, thoughtful and respectful dialogue with someone who believes differently than we do, especially with subjects that have become incredibly divisive. When we talk about people and subjects such as our LGBT friends, the role they play in the church and how we understand sexual ethics to be at work today, we haven’t figured out how to not dig our heels in and openly dialogue with those who end up opposing the viewpoint we hold.

As one scholar recently said to me, “This is the most challenging issue I’ve seen in my life for pastors.” There has to be a space for those of us in influential roles to be able to have open, honest dialogue, without feeling like you need to pander to one audience or another. Q has been that space for me for a few years now, and I hope it will continue to be, rather than being coopted by either conservatives or progressives making sure that their agenda is being pushed to their appropriate level of satisfaction.

What we need are more conversations. Conversations like the one that Dan Cathy and Shane Windmeyer had a few years ago. We like to spend a lot of time arguing about what is sin and what is not, while Jesus spent a lot of time with people. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to have those hard conversations, but it does mean that at the core of Christianity is incarnation – beliefs that are not divorced from humanity. The Word becomes flesh, not the other way around.

What I left Q with, was a deep appreciation for how hard it is to create a safe space for hard conversations. It’s more than putting differing viewpoints on stage. It’s more than giving out a book with multiple viewpoints to read. It’s an ethos of a people who are willing to respectfully dialogue with others. One of my hopes and prayers is to see more of this kind of ethos spring up in Christian communities across the country.

12 Years Ago

12 years ago as a wide-eyed, naive, optimistic kid, I stood next to Allison Otey and said, “I do”

12 years ago, I had no idea of the gravity of what we were committing to…

…the pain we would walk through together and the incredible experiences we would share

…the children we hadn’t even began imagining yet and the way they would forever alter our lives

…the adventures that we would share

…the hard decisions we would make

…the times we would laugh, and even cry

…the way we would come to know the other so well

…what was going to change about each of us and what would be the same

…how pursing Jesus together would look in each of the seasons of our lives

I had no idea

I was just this kid, who pursued this girl, and had no idea what was in store for us, but knew it was supposed to be with her. Marriage is the biggest risk that you will take, but it has the potential for the greatest rewards. 12 years ago, I had no idea what all I was stepping into, but I knew who I wanted to step into it with. 

Mike and Allison Goldsworthy Wedding from Mike Goldsworthy on Vimeo.

17 Days Alone…Almost Over!

This afternoon, Allison is coming home from 17 days with a team from Parkcrest in Africa. I’ve had the kids alone during that time. Before this, the longest I’d ever had them alone that was 2 nights. Here’s a few things I learned from those extra 15 days with the kids alone…

  1. Single parents are incredible. Seriously…I already had a huge amount of respect for single parents, but it went way up
  2. There is a special bond that happens with your kids when it’s just you and them for this long together. I didn’t realize what a gift these two weeks would be for us
  3. Something smells like feet in the fridge and I can’t figure out what it is…hurry home Allison! Speaks for itself
  4. I’m really grateful for some friends who were able to take the kids when I had to preach, come over to hang out with me for a bit after they went to bed, and take them for a few hours so I could do other things. I’m not good at having to rely on other people…this was a good reminder of the significance of community for me
  5. I’m so proud of Allison for going on this trip for several reasons, but one of them was that it was hard for her to leave our kids for that long. In retrospect, the two weeks she was gone won’t feel like very long for our kids, but it will be an important example to them of obedience and sacrifice on her part.

I’m so proud of the almost 100 people from Parkcrest who went (and are still going) on mission trips this summer…but really excited to see one in particular later today

What Do You Focus On?

With baseball season now in full swing, I’ve been following the Dodgers who incredibly have the best record in baseball with 9 wins and only 1 loss. I was wondering today how many of the players are thinking about that 1 loss and wondering what they could have done differently…what it would be like to be 10-0 with an undefeated record right now.

They probably don’t, because they’re professionals…but that’s what I would do. In fact, it’s what I do far too often.

A couple of years ago at Parkcrest we had an incredible year of people coming to faith – so much so that we actually baptized in a day more people than we ever had in an entire year, and at the end of the year we saw a huge number of baptisms. But it was actually just 1 shy of being a really nice round number that would have sounded so much better. It was hard for me not to focus on what we could have done to see one more person get baptized.

A week ago, we had record attendance for Easter weekend – the biggest weekend Parkcrest has ever had numerically. But we were 11 short of what would have been a really nice round number that would sound really good to say. It’s hard for me not to think, “seriously, in the 17 different services that we had that weekend, there weren’t at least 11 random people in the foyer or something that got missed and didn’t get counted”

It’s interesting, because the big number is what God did, and yet I tend to focus on the small number of how I perceived us coming up short. When I focus on the 11, I miss thanking God for what we got to be a part of. When I focus on the 11, it’s about what I didn’t do as opposed to what God did.

Far too often, I find myself focusing on the perception that I have of what hasn’t been realized, and I miss the incredible things right in front of me.This week, I’m going to commit to focusing on God’s provision rather than my perceived shortcoming so that I can recognize and celebrate what He has done rather than what I didn’t do.

Learning to Receive

Last week was one of those weeks where we saw the generosity of God show up in our lives several times in really tangible ways. It started with getting a large check that was totally unexpected from our mortgage company explaining that they had miscalculated something over 1 year ago and they needed to give us a refund. Then, someone in the church anonymously gave us money to get tires on our car replaced. And then a friend found out about a kind of bike I wanted to get, happened to have one laying around and brought it over and gave it to me.

All this was crazy, and honestly a bit overwhelming, but I had a hard time with it. When I think about generosity, I tend to like to be the one who’s generous. I like to be the one who anonymously gives a gift, or who gives up something that I have to help someone. I like to be the one who gives, but it’s hard for me to be the one who receives. When I get something, I want to have done something for it…I want to earn it, or deserve it. To simply receive something makes me feel a bit off kilter.

But really, a part of generosity is learning to receive. There can be no generosity without a recipient.

I’m learning that generosity isn’t always about what you give, but it’s about living with a certain posture. A posture that says everything belongs to the Lord. That sort of posture should make it easy to give, but really, that sort of posture should also make it easy to receive. Because just as I am generous with what I have because I believe that it really belongs to the Lord anyways, I should be able to receive it well also because it wasn’t theirs either…it was the Lords.

So, maybe in a culture where we are conditioned to feel good about ourselves by what we do for others and where we see generosity as an action that we do for someone else, maybe we need to learn instead to see generosity as a fundamental posture of how we live. A posture that lives with open hands that says everything is the Lords, and so all that I have is the Lords and all that I receive is the Lords.

Maybe for some of us, a part of learning to live generously will happen as we learn to receive well.

Jump Farther

I was reminded last night of a story I shared with Parkcrest a few months ago.

One of the ways I bond with my daughter Kate is by jumping. Don’t judge me…it’s hard for me to figure out ways to connect with a 4 year old girl. We like to see how high we can jump, and what she thinks that I can jump on top of. But she also gets really excited to jump to me.

Last night, she got on the couch, asked me to back up and jumped to me. She kept having me go further and further back until she wasn’t able to make it to me.

After she tried to jump that far, Isaac, being the taller and older brother realized that he could jump that distance and further, so he then asked to jump to me. Isaac though, kept sending me further and further back. He knew that because he’s older, taller and more mature that he could jump farther.

I had this simple realization when this same scenario happened several months ago – the more mature you are, the farther you can jump.

The thing is though that most of us don’t live our lives this way. As we grow older and more mature, the more comfortable we become and the less risks we take. People who consider themselves mature in their relationship with Christ can also sometimes be some of the most cautious and risk adverse people. But that’s not how it should be.

God is calling you to risk…to step out of what’s comfortable and into the unknown. The more mature you are, the farther you should jump.

What’s God calling you to? Where do you need to jump farther?