Church Planting in Baltimore

We have some big news! This Fall we will be moving to Baltimore, Maryland with the goal of planting a church. This is something that God put in our hearts a few years ago as we considered church planting. It has been a growing desire for Melinda and I. While we are tremendously grateful for the opportunities that Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has given us, we can’t shake the desire to get out on the front lines of ministry to start a new work.

Baltimore City Earlier this year our family spent some time in Baltimore scouting it out. We stayed in the downtown harbor area and drove through a few of the neighborhoods. It was a beautiful time to see the city. We came away from this time with a clear vision for ministry in the city.

Our plan is to move to the city in late November or early December. I will be looking for work in the city and we will begin to connect with people who are interested in the new church. Our kids will go back to being homeschooled for the remainder of the school year.

If you would like to receive updates you can sign up at www.baltimorechurchplant.com. These updates won’t just be about our family, we will also share information about the city, our church planting process, and other random info. It should be fun.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Pastor Brian have been tremendously supportive of this vision. And the church will be sending us out. It is impossible to be around Pastor Brian and not catch a bug for church planting and missions. (See the video below.)

We have been very blessed by our home church. It has been six years since we returned to Orange County after three and half years of ministry in Kauai. It has been a great season of ministry under Pastor Brian Brodersen. He supported the redevelopment of Calvary Chapel Univeristy and allowed that school to be incubated within Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for a year and a half. He entrusted me with the development of CalvaryChapel.com in 2012 and again with the team in 2014. He allowed me to preach on Saturday nights. He invited me to become the regular host on the radio program Pastor’s Perspective. And more recently we launched the Things that Matters program. I am grateful for our season here at Costa Mesa, and appreciative of their support as we leave to plant this church.

Thanks for praying for our family and again, check out www.baltimorechurchplant.com to start receiving regular updates.

Top 5 Quotes from Darrin Patrick’s Church Planter

This past weekend I finished reading Darrin Patrick’s book Church Planter. It is an excellent summary of church in the 21st century. The book is broken into three main sections: The Man, The Message, The Mission. I particularly apreciated the first section as it deal with calling and character.

Here are my top five quotes from the book:

Regarding the pastorsal call…

In a heart-call, a deep inclination in the soul says, I must do this or I will die. The called man cannot imagine going into another vocation: he daydreams about ministry, he talks about ministry, and he cannot wait to be in ministry. There is an abiding, relentless desire for the work of ministry that the called man cannot shake off or ignore—even amidst hardship, persecution, and fear. This strong desire in the heart can sometimes result in anxiety and apprehension. Questions are forced to the surface, like Can I really do this? Can God really use me? What if I fail? Nothing provokes insecurity like signing up to follow God’s call and do God’s work. A man who is truly called may doubt and struggle with his calling at times, but ultimately he will not be able to walk away.

The Head Confirmation vs. The Heart Confirmation…

The man who is experiencing head confirmation is thoughtful about his own philosophy of ministry, his own ministry style, his own theological beliefs, his own unique gifts, abilities, and desires. In short, there is uniqueness to the way he wants to do ministry. Unlike many young men who know much about what they are against and little about what they are for, the man who is experiencing head confirmation thinks through very carefully and deliberately, What am I for with my life and ministry? What are my specific burdens for the church? How can I best serve the church in these areas?

The Mistake of Opperating Only in Personal Strengths

Pastors tend to stay in their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. “Theology guys” tend to spend a lot of time reading and discussing dead theologians. “Missional guys” tend to spend a lot of time analyzing culture and drinking lattes. “Shepherding guys” tend to spend a lot of time hanging out with people and counseling them. But rarely do we see pastors step out of their strengths into their areas of weakness. Why is this? Because it is uncomfortable. It is difficult. It is flesh-starving.

Realizing Ones Weakness Through Pastoral Shepherding

When you deal with the sin of others, you become more aware of your own sin. When you shepherd the stubborn, you see your own stubbornness. When you shepherd the selfish, you see your own selfishness. When you shepherd the broken, you inevitably see your own brokenness.

Good Rest vs. Bad Rest

Determined men take time seriously and are very intentional about how they use it. This does not mean that we never rest—far from it! But it does mean that we should be intentional about when and how we rest. For most of us, for example, redeeming the time probably does not mean spending hours each night watching television or surfing YouTube. Such activities may feel relaxing for the moment, but they are often a huge drain on our energy and ability to serve God and people well. For most of us, redeeming the time will mean that we work hard to eliminate unnecessary time suckers in our week, that we design a system for answering e-mails efficiently, that we think through our weekly schedules and priorities beforehand, and so on. You will be amazed at how much this kind of Edwardian discipline and intentionality will give you energy and refresh your ministry over the long stretch.

If you have read the book I would love to hear what gems you picked up.

The Ingredients for Higher Education Disruption

Higher Education has not yet experienced a major disruption like other cultural institutions, but that time is coming. As some of you know I have served as the president or director of three small higher education institutions over the past eight years. I have worked in higher education administration since 2001. This is a world I am familiar with. I have also been deeply immersed in arena of tech disruption. I have watched the music industry be disrupted by iTunes. I have watched the print news be disrupted by online journalism. We are watching the disruption of TV and Cable programing as YouTube and Netflix grow in popularity. Age old cultural institutions are capitulating— being disrupted — by the innovation of the internet.

But to date this has not happened to higher education.

One might disagree with this premise and point to the rise of online education. But that does not constitute a full blown disruption of the institution as we know it. The for-profit college concept made an attempt at disruption, but they were thwarted by government regulation.

The disruption I’m talking about will be evident when major colleges and universities begin to shut down because they cannot keep up with the new option (whatever that may be). That has not happened yet… but it will.

This does not mean that higher education will cease to exist. But college, as we know it, will radically change. I am convinced of this fact and these are the seven reasons why.

The Disruption Trend Shows No Sign of Stopping

The concept of the internet has been on a warpath against every industry and institution. There are very few areas where the internet has not made it’s reach known. Just looked at the track record of the internet should cause us to say that there is an inevitability about change.

There is a Growing Sense That Higher Education is Inadequate in its Current Form

Recently James Altucher — a successful investor and entrepreneur — stated that the University is a scam.  James also elaborated on his blog. He isn’t alone in his opinion. Jason Calacanis reiterated this same point when he appeared on the 20 Minute VC Podcast. PayPal founder and legendary VC Peter Thiel paid 24 young adults $100k to drop out of college. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of thought leaders within the culture that are critiquing higher education. Their complaints include: The learning process is analogue in a digital age. The delivery of information is not personalized for the student. The classroom is too theoretical and disconnected from real life.

Mounting Debt from Student Loans

College debt is a significant problem that is gaining a lot of attention. According to a recent Washington Post article student’s college debt is estimated be $1.3 trillion dollars. This site gives a run down on the numbers. Forbes wrote in 2014 on why student loans are a unique form of debt that are toxic for the US economy.

The Meaninglessness of a Degree and Proof that College Does not Equal Success

To say that a college degree is meaningless would idiotic. There are plenty of statistics that show a person with a bachelors degree earns more then a non-degreed adult. But as the Economist pointed out a few years ago, that return on investment is decreasing. The debt load combined with the economy has contributed to a decline in value for a college degree. If that trend continues there will be less and less incentive to pursue a degree.

The Rapidity of Change Within Particular Fields

Many fields, especially related to technology, are evolving so quickly that a four year education becomes outdated. The only way to keep up with the change is to always be learning. In these fields it doesn’t work to front load your education at the start of your career.

The Broad Access to Information That Was Once Only Available in College Classrooms and Libraries

Access to information is one of the biggest reasons for disruption… not just in higher education. The easy access of info is changing all of education. Once upon a time the information that you would learn at University was only available through direct access to the professor or through elite libraries. Now anyone with a computer (mobil phone all the way up to a desktop) can access this same information.

Evidence That Successful People Don’t Need a Degree

Stories about successful entrepreneurs that didn’t finish college are becoming more and more common. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs come to mind. Business Insider has created their own list of rich college drop-outs. As more and more people succeed without a college degree there will be an impact on the psyche of potential students. If their hero didn’t need college to succeed why should they?

These seven factors lead me to believe that higher education is ripe for disruption. The current product is poor to moderate. The delivery methods are antiquated. The competitive edge has greatly diminished. The costs have skyrocketed. And the results have diminished. Higher Education is extremely vulnerable to disruption.

One of the major factors that will delay the disruption time frame in higher education is government regulations. The government is fairly active in regulating the changes that take place in higher education because they are funneling grants and loans to students. This was seen most recently when the government cracked down on for-profit colleges. Until new government regulations were rolled out in 2010 for-profits colleges were steamrolling the industry. For-proffit college pioneer, Michael Clifford, spoke about this in an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal.

Government regulations have only stalled the inevitable. Higher education disruption is coming. It is only a matter of time.

The GOP Field Doesn’t Surprise Me

In the past five years I have only published one political article on my blog. It was published in 2013 as praise to Ted Cruz’ decision to filibuster Obamacare. I appreciated the boldness of such a move and I found it fascinating to watch how little support Cruz had among his fellow Republicans. Cruz’ decision was bold and different. He stood out as a man of principles.

I also wrote a political article early last Fall but did not publish it. That article was an affirmation of Donald Trump hours after he had suggested that John McCain was no hero. It was not an article that defended Trumps disrespect for McCain, but rather was an explaination on why it was a brilliant political move as the GOP nominee. In the article I noted the pent up frustrations that many Republicans felt towards McCain for his continual comprises with Democrats in Washington. And I suggested that Trump’s attacks on McCain were perfectly in tune with an inward anger felt by many conservatives. I didn’t publish that article because I feared looking like an idiot buttressing an egotistical outside candidate.

But here were are. The two remaining GOP candidates are Cruz and Trump.

When playing politics there is something to be said for strength, guts, and bold communication. The supposed political decorum has been turned on its head. This time around… Strong, bold personalities have won the day.

I actually don’t like either candidate. Neither man will do a good job of representing my political views. But I respect both men’s political acumen.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Release

I was delighted to see the news about the release of Saeed Abedidni this morning. It has been a long, heart-breaking, saga since Saeed’s imprisonment in 2012. His wife Naghmeh Abiding did an amazing job advocating on his behalf. She was perpetually available to the press and requests for interviews.

Here is Nagmeh’s tweet from this morning:

This past summer Naghmeh gave me an interview update on Saeed.

Christianity Today has started an article journalling the news of Saeed’s release. You can find that here.

On Sunday, January 18th, 2016 I spoke with Naghmeh about Saeed’s release:

I’ll update this article as more information becomes available.

Splitting 1 Timothy 2:12 In Half: Women Teaching and Leading In The Church

[This is a part of an email response I sent to a young lady who was asking about the Complementarian position and women teaching mixed audiences in the church. It does not delve deeply into an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, but it does give a basic lay of the land.]

Hi,

Thanks for contacting CalvaryChapel.com. You are asking an excellent question that is currently debated in Calvary Chapels. Since it is an ongoing debate I don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of anyone other then myself.

As you have discovered in your research, there are some Complementarians that distinguish between the teaching and exercising authority spoken of in 1 Tim. 2:12. I would be in that camp.

In support of women teaching mixed audiences I would point to the follow biblical examples:

  • Women wrote doctrinal worship songs and they are now scripture (Hannah, Miriam, Elizabeth, Marry)
  • A women birthed the Messiah (and every male leader that God called in OT and NT)
  • Women were the first to see the resurrected Christ and report their findings back to the apostles
  • Women were welcomed as students and learners of Jesus in Luke 10:38-42
  • Women were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way that men were
  • Women were gifted to prophesy
  • Women were permitted to pray in the church

When it comes to women not exercising authority I would point to the following biblical examples:

  • 1 Timothy 2 appears to teach that women should not take an authoritative role in the church
  • I look at the garden and who God made responsible for sin and how that theology is developed through the NT.
  • I look at the fact that 99% of the time God raised up men to be leaders in the OT. Additionally the priesthood was a male only role.
  • I look at the fact that Jesus chose 12 men to be disciples.
  • I look at the absence of female presbyters (elders) in the NT.
  • I look at the male leadership of the husband in marriage established in Ephesians 5.
  • The qualifications for an elder in Titus 1 are written for men and hinge on leadership in the home.

As is always the case, we want to let scripture interpret scripture. In my opinion it is difficult to look at all of scripture and say women cannot teach a mixed audience. At the same time, when I read through all of scripture I don’t see a strong case for women being the head leadership of the church.

Other then that short answer, I’ll try to point you toward some resources that might help you answer this question.

Here is an article that Pastor Kellen wrote on the subject:

I also really enjoyed Kathy Keller’s book: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles.

Hope that helps!

God bless,

Josh Turansky

The Potential Danger When Warning Against Christian Liberties

Today on Pastor’s Perspective we had a follow up call regarding pastors and alcohol. Yesterday Julie called to ask about an incident that occurred over Christmas. She was at a meal with her pastor and his wife and they were drinking wine. This shocked Julie and she called to ask if that was okay. Both Pastor Brian and I assured her that drinking alcohol was not a sin but that drunkeness was a sin. Later in the hour we got a call about gambling and we gave some warnings against gambling. You can view the show here.

Today we got a follow up question asking if we were being consistent in our response to Julie in the same way that we had talked about gambling. It was an excellent follow up in that allowed us to clarify both our comments on gambling and alcohol.

You can watch the dialog here… (starting around the 45 minute mark)

I wanted to explain briefly what I meant when I said that there can be a danger when a leader gives warnings about Christian liberties.

First, Christian liberties are discussed in 1 Corinthians 8-10, Romans 14-15, and Galatians 2. There are other related passages, but I would classify those three locations as “home base” when we discuss the theology of Christian liberty.

Second, Christian liberty is an arena where people can make ethical decisions that are not governed explicitly by scripture. It is essential that we understand that arena as a one which is purchased by the blood of Jesus and one where the Holy Spirit wants to help us decide how to live. A Christian’s liberty is directly tied to the work of Christ on the cross.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Gal. 5:1

When we get Christian liberties wrong we aren’t just being legalistic or licentious, we are impugning the finished work of the cross. Our freedom (liberty) is personally connected to Jesus. He paid for our liberty with his blood.

This is an important point because both the weak brother and the strong brother (Rom 14-15) could mistakenly strip the arena of liberty from it’s personal connection with Jesus. The legalist (weak brother) boasts in what liberties they don’t exercise at the expense of other’s spiritual wellbeing (Gal. 2:14-21). The strong brother might mistakenly flaunt their liberties at the expense of other’s conscience before God (1 Cor. 8:9-13). But both are violating the implications of the cross.

Third, all liberties can be abused to the point of sin or natural consequences…. including the two we discussed on the radio today: alcohol and gambling. That being the case it is appropriate for pastor’s and Christian leaders to warn against excess. Hebrews 13:17 says that Christian leaders keep watch for the souls of those they lead. And that passage implies spiritual leadership.

And that brings me to my point.

When a pastor warns believers regarding Christian liberties and encourages limits they must do so without condemning the stronger brother. If the stronger brother hears the warning of the Christian leader and falls under condemnation that Christian leader has plaid the role of Peter in Galatians 2. If the stronger brother feels less spiritual after hearing the leaders warning then the leader has begun to impact the work of grace in that persons life.

Excessive warning does not compliment the New Covenant message of grace because it can give a sense of spiritual superiority to the person who limits their freedom. We know that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ and not through us limiting our Christian liberty. By coming down hard on Christian liberties a leader can easily convey a moralistic gospel rather then the message of God’s grace. Therefore the christian leader must warn (1 Cor 4:14; Col 1:28; 1 Thess 5:14) without condemning the strong brother and without miscommunicating the gospel of grace.

The Bible gives three specific reasons why we limit our Christian liberty:

  1. We limit our freedom for the sake of the gospel message reaching non-believers. (1 Cor. 10:23-33)
  2. We limit our freedom for the sake of other Christian’s conscience. (1 Cor. 8)
  3. We limit our freedom so that our sinful nature is not indulged (1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 4:23)

The biggest emphasis for Paul as he discussed Christian liberties was the advancement of the gospel, second to that, Paul asked for a mutual love. The strong and weak were exhorted to love one-another and not judge each other.

A couple of years ago I shared at length on this given topic. You can watch my lecture here:

Pastor’s Perspective with Brian Brodersen and Ed Stetzer

On December 18th we were privileged to have Dr. Ed Stetzer on Pastor’s Perspective with Brian and I. Ed happened to be in town to help his daughter check out Biola University and was gracious enough to give us an hour in the studio. We talked about living a life on mission for God, the purpose of denominations, the Syrian Refugee crisis and the controversy surrounding the Wheaton College professor who was placed on administrative leave of absence.