Dave Jacobs

Founder of Small Church Pastor a source of encouragement, resources, coaching and consulting for pastors of smaller churches...and bigger ones too.

Books I Read In 2020

In 2020 I decided to limit my reading to female authors, writers of color, and authors of people-groups other than my own. This was such a great experience even though I caught some heat from a few Christians who felt I should not even be reading certain books…I’ll leave it up to you to guess which books these were.

I’m certain I’ve missed a couple, but here they are and not in the order in which I read them. Let me know if you have read any of them or if you think I’m a heretic for having done so.

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Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations by Chua, Amy

Angela Davis: An Autobiography

Does the Bible Condemn Gay People?: A Close Look at What Scripture Says About Homosexuality by Grant Andrews

The Shift: Surviving and Thriving after Moving from Conservative to Progressive Christianity by Colby Martin

Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture by Angela Y. Davis

Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara L. Peacock

The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality by Justin R. Cannon

Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven by Amy-Jill Levine

The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation by Hugh Turley

Seeing Jesus in East Harlem: What Happens When Churches Show Up and Stay Put by José Humphreys

After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity by David P. Gushee

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rah

Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism by Deborah Jian Lee

“All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Myths Made in America) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker 

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez

Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin B. Curtice

Becoming by Michelle Obama

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Womanist Midrash: a reintroduction to the women of the Torah and the Throne. by Wilda C. Gagne

Does Jesus really love me? by Jeff Chu

Strength to love by Martin Luther King Jr.

And indigenous peoples history of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Do You Feel Like a Failure?

Failing is different than being a failure.

“John, you’re so good at trying.” – Moira Rose

To fail is the inevitable and reoccurring result of being human. There is an important difference between failing and being a failure. 

Thinking of oneself as a failure is the embracing of a false narrative that ignores or misses one’s true identity in God.

“I can’t do anything right.” = false narrative

“I’m so stupid.” = false narrative

“I screw up everything I set out to do.” = false narrative

“I’m a failure.” = false narrative

I have to push back against this false narrative in my life. I’ve failed in so many ways and so many times that it is easy for me to identify as a looser, poor excuse of a Christian, a failure. However, my friend Henri Nouwen, (Life of the Beloved) has helped me see my true identity as being “The Beloved of God.”

Do yourself a favor sometime. Get out a concordance, or find one online, and search for all the times the word “beloved” comes up. You will discover two things. First, Bible authors often referred to their readers as “beloved.” And, Bible authors often reminded their readers that they were the beloved of God.

You may have failed as a parent, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed as a wife or husband, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed in some area of addiction, but you are the beloved of God.

You may be a pastor and have failed to grow your church, despite having tried all the things the “experts” have told you, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed in developing a consistent devotional life, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed at imitating Jesus to the people around you, but you are the beloved of God.

Stop the false narrative. You are not a failure, you are the beloved of God. And even if you fail at stopping the false narrative, you are still the beloved of God.

A Poem of Hopeful Despair

TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE
by dave jacobs
 
 
There is too much violence.
There is too little peace.
 
There is too much argument.
There is too little communication.
 
There are too many strong opinions.
There is too little openness.
 
There is too much hate.
There is too little love.
 
There is too much talking.
There is too little listening.
 
There is too much pride.
There is too little humility.
 
There’s too much noise.
There is too little quiet.
 
There are too many sides.
There is too little unity.
 
There is too much black and white.
There is too little gray.
 
There is too much rejection.
There is too little acceptance.
 
There is too much Bible-quoting.
There is too little Bible-living.
 
There is too much bias.
There is too little objectivity.
 
There is too much fear.
There is too little faith.
 
There is too much suspicion.
There is too little proof.
 
There is too much judgment.
There is too little grace.
 
There is too much Bible-knowledge.
There is too little Jesus-imitating.
 
There is too much preying.
There is too little praying.
 
There is too much turbulence.
There is too little still water.

Jesus, Simon, and Garfunkel

Rather than Simon & Garfunkel…imagine Jesus singing this over you today.

When you’re weary, feeling small.
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough.
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street.
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes.
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend.
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Position Paper

I’ve written a brief position paper entitled: ‘A case for full inclusion of gay Christians in the life and ministry of the local church, written for normal people.’

If you’d like a copy email me at: scpcoaching@gmail.com

More information:

I didn’t write this for pastors or Bible scholars. If you are hoping for a lot of footnotes, quotes, and intellectual depth, you will be sorely disappointed.
I have written this for normal people. This is for parents who just had a son or daughter come out to them and they are trying to figure out a way forward. If you have been hiding your same-sex or both-sex attraction for years, fearing that your parents, Christian friends, or church will reject you, this is for you. If you grew up in a traditional, conservative church that told you the Bible clearly condemns the ‘gay lifestyle’, and aren’t sure where you stand on this important issue, this is for you. If you have been looking for someone safe to dialogue with about this subject, this is for you. If you have been told that no Bible-believing Christian can be supportive of same-sex marriage or full acceptance of gay Christians in the church, I wrote this simple paper to show you that Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians can indeed believe this, and how do I know? Because I am one, and I’m not the only one.

Quotes in Chaos, pt. 8

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me. 

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes. 

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. (CS Lewis)

If the horse is dead by all means dismount. (Unknown)

There grows in me and immense dissatisfaction with all that is merely passively excepted as truth, without struggle without examination. (Thomas Merton)

No man can afford to be passive and to restrict his thinking to a new rehearsal, in his own mind, of what is being repeated all around him. (Thomas Merton)

Christianity is full of specialists and authorities on what is wrong with different camps of Christians. Wouldn’t it be a little simpler and more honest to stop and look at what is right with different views of Christianity? We don’t have to broadcast indifferentism all over the place. We don’t have to compromise on anything. (Thomas Merton)

I know you want to see the road ahead rather than trusting God. If you continue this way, the road will get longer and your spiritual progress will slow down. (Francois Fenelon)

Quotes in Chaos, Pt. 7

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me. 

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes. 

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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Burn out is giving without receiving. (Henri Nouwen)

There is always a night shift and sooner or later we are put on it. (Evelyn Underhill)

Sometimes our position seems to be that of tools, taken up when wanted, used in ways we had not expected for an object on which our opinion is not asked, and then laid down. (Evelyn Underhill)

The more afraid we are, the harder waiting becomes. (Henri Nouwen)

I’ve come to realize the futility of criticism, even true and just. (Thomas Merton)

We must learn to express our ideas calmly and with detachment. (Thomas Merton)

It is hard for us to realize that much of what we pursue in life has little ultimate meaning. (Rob Moll)

You don’t fully understand something until you can explain it in a simple way. (AlbertEinstein)

Some books are to be tasted, others are to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested. (Francis Bacon)

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog it’s too dark to read. (Groucho Marx)

Quotes in Chaos, pt. 6

About 15 years ago I began to collect quotes from books I had been reading that were particularly meaningful to me. I now have two volumes of such quotes. I call them, “My black books of quotes.“ because they are handwritten in…well, black books. One day I hope to publish these quotes as a special gift that I give to people who are special to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by the quotes they pass on. And you will, no doubt, learn some things about where I am coming from and what is important to me based on my quotes.

My plan right now is to post 8 to 10 special quotes each week that seem pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are quotes for chaotic times. I suggest that you read them slowly and prayerfully and see which one speaks to you the most and listen for the voice of the Spirit asking you what next steps you might take in response.

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The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don’t talk much. (Germaine Glien)

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. (Steven Covey)

Life for too many leaders is a blur of activity and planning, with sparse occasions for reflection, replenishing, rejoicing, and responding to the relationship the Lord is inviting them to experience and enjoy with him. The urgent crowds out the essential. Doing ignores being. Developing skills becomes more important than shaping character. (Transformational Coaching)

I think the chief reason why we have so little joy is that we take ourselves too seriously. (Thomas Merton)

Speaking of the many distractions we face when attempting to pray, Henry Nouwen said, “Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys.“

We can gradually step beyond our need to judge others and our inclination to evaluate everybody and everything. (Henri Nouwen)

Imagine your having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine your having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine your being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone’s behavior. Imagine that you could say, “I am judging no one!“ Imagine…wouldn’t that be true inner freedom? (Henry Nouwen)

The desert fathers believed that simply not speaking is a very important practice. Too often our words are superfluous, inauthentic, and shallow. It is a good discipline to wonder in each new situation if people would be better served by our silence then by our words. (Henry Nouwen)

Don’t add pain to pain

The ‘Walk a Mile in His Moccasins’ quote is often contributed to various native American tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. Lathrap, was an American poet, preacher, suffragist, and temperance reformer. For 20 years, she was identified with the progressive women of Michigan. The original title was Judge Softly.  

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,  Or stumbles along the road.  Unless you have worn the moccasins, he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And its only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and me.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

15 Reasons People Are Leaving Your Church

In David P. Gushee’s ground breaking book: After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity (2020), the author’s research identified fifteen reasons why people are currently leaving the church. 

1. People leave churches to go to other churches.

2. Some leave because their faith in Christ has faded or lost salience. 

3. Some walk away because they are burned out from too many years of service. 

4. Some drift off to other weekend pursuits. 

5. Some leave because they got their feelings hurt. 

6. Some quit because they must work all the time or have complicated personal lives. 

7. Some abandon ship because they are tired of church conflict. 

8. Some leave for silly reasons. 

9. Others leave for reasons peculiar to the American evangelical experience. Those reasons begin with disillusionment over teachings that are viewed as harmful to the vulnerable. Some leave over the harm LGBTQ people and their families have experienced. 

10. Others leave over patriarchal teachings. 

11. Some leave over the damaging effects of purity culture. 

12. Others leave over white evangelical racism. 

13. Some say: all of the above. 

14. People are also leaving evangelical churches over reactionary attitudes toward science and liberal learning, over anti-intellectualism and theological rigidity, over the inability to deal with honest questions or anything other than all-happy-all-the-time faith, and over the identification of evangelical faith with conservative/Republican politics. 

15. The most embittered are leaving evangelicalism in a state of trauma, reporting their evangelical experience as one of abuse or violation. 

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David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and past President of both the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Christian Ethics. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Kingdom EthicsChanging Our Mind, and Still Christian.