Tom Gilson

Update on Pastor Equipping Ministry: ‘Heat to Light: Guiding Your People Through Cultural Conflict to Spiritual Transformation’

It’s coming together in ways I never expected, and that’s a good thing. If you’ve been following me here on the blog or the podcast, you may be wondering exactly what it’s going to look like, and when it begins for real. I’ve been calling it “Heat to Light: Guiding Your People Through Cultural Conflict to Spiritual Transformation,” and that really is the gist of it.

Here’s why you’ll want to tune in, and spread the word around your church leadership team, too:

  • It’s specifically for pastors, teachers, and other spiritual leaders. (Parents are spiritual leaders, too, so you’re more than welcome to join in.)
  • It’s about cultural conflicts, of which there are plenty these days. Your people have questions about what’s really going on. Some are probably facing hard ethical decisions, even crises of conscience over these tough new issues. No one wants to walk a path like that alone. It calls for a whole new level of spiritual equipping.
  • It’s about hope: hope of new life, of spiritual transformation, in the midst of these days so unlike any we’ve seen before. First Peter 4:12-13 is a watchword for us: The conflict is surprising, it looks like something strange is coming upon us, but in reality it’s reason for joy in the hope of the glory of God being revealed among us.
  • And it’s about practical ministry. We’re not meeting our objectives unless you say, “Wow! I can use that!”  — in your preaching, teaching, counseling, and coaching, that is.

What to Expect

Here’s what to expect when it gets rolling. (There are just a couple steps left to fill in first, which I’ll explain in a moment.)

Two-Week Topic Cycles

We’ll tackle topics one at a time, here and at The Stream, the highly respected national website offering daily Christian perspectives on current events. I’m a senior editor there. A few weeks ago our publisher, James Robison, said he was wishing we were doing more for pastors. I just about jumped, because that’s what I’ve been working toward here at Thinking Christian. We’ve agreed to a partnership now, bringing together strengths from both websites.

We’ll run in two-week cycles, covering a separate topic every fourteen days.

A Practical-Ministry, One-Page Explainer

The centerpiece will be hosted at The Stream. Pastors have told me over and over again they’re looking for something like this: A one-page explainer outlining the issue, providing quick background and basic biblical perspective, and practical answers you can give when someone asks you for help with it. (Full disclosure: You might have to print it out on both sides to get it to fit on just “one page.” It’ll still be brief, though.)

This one-pager will have links to everything you see below, so it could even serve as your table of contents for it all, if you want it to.

Background Material, for Further Understanding

But that’s hardly all. Before that one-pager comes out, I’ll have two to three background articles on it already prepped and published here at Thinking Christian. None of these will be longer than they need to be, either. I know you don’t have as much time to study as you wish you had, and I’ll respect that in all these articles.

  • The basics of the issue: What it’s about, where it fits in today’s culture, and so on.
  • The background, including some of its history, why some people are drawn to it, and what’s lifted it up to the level of a truly hot topic.
  • What’s right and what’s wrong with it, biblically, socially, and rationally.
  • A resource list in case you have time and reason to dig in deep.

Sample Sermons

With each topic I’ll also write out a sample sermon outline and record a shortened sample sermon, which you’ll be welcome and free to use in your own church setting (with appropriate attribution). This, too, will be ready to go before the one-pager is published at The Stream.

Room for Change

That’s the initial outline. It’s subject to change, and that’s a good thing. As far as I know, no one has ever done anything like this for pastors before. I know of nothing that gives this level of background, with this much flexibility for you to decide how much time you can spend on it, and with the same practical ministry/answers approach we’re making available. We’re doing a new thing here, as far as we know. We’ll invite your feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what you’d like added.

Two Final Steps Before Launch

I’ve been working on something like this for months. In fact, I thought I’d have it launched months ago, but God had other plans, and the reason finally came into view when The Stream opened up as a partner website for this project. We’ve got some design work to do there before we can launch on that site, there’s one other design project in the queue there ahead of this one, and that means it’ll likely be the end of July before we kick it off.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for final word on a proposed change in the “Heat to Light” name I’m using for it on the Thinking Christian side. I’ll have some design work to do here, too, when that’s all settled.

Image Credit(s): unsplash/Yaoqi.

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