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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

Posts Tagged ‘asking questions’

Struggling to Be Our Authentic Selves: An Interview With David Hampton

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community

Authenticity has become a buzzword in Christianity over the past decade. It gets used over and over and yet, few have any practical grid for what it actually means, never mind how it applies to your life.

David Hampton believes most of us shy away from any version of being authentic because it’s too messy and leaves too many questions unanswered. That’s why he’s written Our Authentic Selves: Reflections on What We Believe & What We Wish We Believed.

Recently I had the privilege of sitting down with David, where we talked about a lot of stuff from the Church, Christianity, Recovery, and the recent passing of his wife from a very long hard-fought battle with MS.

David will be leading and speaking at the Lifeway Men’s Conference in Nashville, Tn this weekend and has generously agreed to give away a copy of his book to one of you guys. But in order to qualify, you need to leave a comment and share this post on Twitter or Facebook.

David Hampton Our Authentic Selves

Our Authentic Selves

J: Where did you get the idea behind the book?

D: The writing of the book came from my journals and my blogs. I wanted to write something that wasn’t a devotional because I hate the word and I hate devotions. So I figured the best way to get people not to read my book was to call it a devotional. That left me wondering what would I call it and I came to the conclusion that what I talk about most is being our authentic selves and the difference between what we believe and what we wish we believed.

I think a lot of us live our Christian lives out of what we wish we believed instead of what we actually believe, but we don’t ask ourselves the questions or allow ourselves to sit in the spaces that bring about the true belief. Questions like do I really believe God loves me, do I really believe God’s trust worthy, do I really believe He cares? Well I don’t know. Some days I don’t. Some days I don’t think He gives a rip at all and here’s why. In the book I get into that. I wanted people to explore that more than I wanted them to sit down and have a warm fuzzy to start the day off.

J: What were your biggest challenges while writing the book?

D: There were logistical challenges along the way. I mean that always happens with publishing a book – explaining to editors why you’re saying something a certain way. And it’s not that maybe their way is better, but when something would get past them, and I would have to explain, they would say something like, ‘oh that’s what you mean,’ which tells me as a writer that I wasn’t clear.

But it also tells me that sometimes editors aren’t reading it through the same lens that a reader’s going to read it from. Cause I’m really writing to the reader, and the editors helping me clean it up. So that was challenging for especially since I had two editors working on it –one for grammar and one for content.

J: How has the writing process changed you as a person?

D: Well I’m not independently wealthy or anything like that, if that’s what you mean. But I think what’s changed for me is the sense of having processed some thoughts, beliefs and perspectives that I’ve had for a long time, finally being able to string them together into something cohesive that maybe other people could engage.

In addition to that, the biggest thing that has changed is that my wife died as I entered the home stretch finishing the book. That’s been pretty tough.

J: I love the title. I think far too many of us Christians aren’t interested in entering conversations about what we actually believe. It’s much easier to hide and go along with the evangelical crowd than to sit for a moment and ask our-selves, do I really believe that? What do you hope your book will inspire for the reader?

D: I hope it inspires questions. I hope it doesn’t confound anybody. I don’t want it to leave people in a heave, in a mess. I don’t think it will, but then again I don’t have the power to do that anyway. I just put it out there and what happens is between you and God. But I do hope that it really inspires questions and authentic conversations.

Nothing would make me happier to know that home fellowship groups are doing this together or Sunday School classes are doing this together because the discussion and opening up of where we are and what we are really holding on to reveal a lot about our superstitions. As evangelicals it reveals a lot about our expectations and I think those things come out better in groups, so I would love to see that.

Being a Professional Christian

J: In being our Authentic Selves, you talk about being a “Professional Christian” and hiding your hurt and pain. How do you see that showing up in the church today?

D: Well I think that we are creating churches where people have two choices. They can both deny their reality and create personas where they mascaraed as themselves, or they can address their reality and begin to share that reality, whatever it is, usually at the risk of some alienation.

The church doesn’t know what do with addiction, sexuality, brokenness and a lot of other relational places – not to mention things like mental illness, or compulsive behavior.

People deal with this stuff in their families everyday and they get prayed for but the prayers are that God will happen (to) them and this will all just go away, instead of the peace, courage, wisdom, etc. that it’s going to take to live with it, cause it may never go away. Your child may always struggle with autism and you may always have this issue. You may always have the broken place that you have that doesn’t go away.

The better question is how are you going to live with that and walk within community, trusted community, a small group of people usually or are you just going to put up a persona?

I think part of that de-churching that we’re seeing in this culture now, is not because people have had it with God, I think they just don’t know where they fit into the body of Christ. They just don’t have any other options in their minds but to just withdraw and create their own reality somewhere.

“I think we should be afraid of the worthy people, worthy people are dangerous…” (tweetable)

Recovery and The Church

J: One of the things you and I have in common is our story of recovery. I personally believe everyone needs to be in recovery, because the truth is we are all living stories of recovery, whether we recognize it or not. We’re all recovering from who we once were to who we are yet to become. How do you think adopting recovery principles in how they love people could impact the church’s relevance?

D: The first thing for me, the distinction that I realized early on in my recovery, was that in recovery everyone’s desperate to be there and in the church they’re not. We’re in church for a bunch of different reasons.

I’m at church to get my wife off my back, I’m in church because I think it’s good for my kids or because I really need some spiritual connection and I don’t know how to get it. Then obviously there are the mainstream reasons people go to church, but in recovery people are desperate to be there.

People have to exhibit rigorous honesty to become healthy and they have to acknowledge some truths about themselves. They have to own some things about their own behavior, then they have to make some amends for that behavior and they have to address it to the people they’ve hurt.

In the church, we just give each other passes like left and right. We don’t sit in any of that. As Protestants, we don’t even do confession because we can go to Jesus ourselves, except we don’t. There’s no doubt the church could be impacted greatly by adopting recovery principles because recovery principles are just biblical principles that the church has kind of forgotten about.

J: What would you say to the cynic or the skeptic who is reading this book, sitting on the outside looking in?

D: That’s a great question because I really did keep this kind of caricature of an unbeliever in my head – this image of a certain person and when they read this, what does it trigger in their mind, what do they hear when they read this phrase. I tried really hard not to use “Christian-ese” language and if I did, I tried to unpack it because what I really want people to embrace in the book is their own sense of where ever they are.

I know people who say, ‘I don’t know if I’m a Christian yet or not.’ They say, ‘I mean I believe this but I haven’t done it like that and I haven’t said the magic sinners’ prayer like that from the brochure but I have had this moment when I realized God was God and I wasn’t, that someone bigger than me better take over running this show and I found some kind of grace in that.’ I think we’ve reduced Christianity to whether you’ve got your passport stamped or not, and if you’re in the gray area then there’s something in your belief system that we don’t know what to do with yet.

I’m hoping that there are people in the gray area, wherever they are, that read this book and go, if I could accept that Christ was the all in all and still maintain the authenticity of my life, I might be able to get on that boat, instead of the deny your reality come to Jesus.

You can find out more about David and his genius on his website and you should definitely follow him on Twitter. His book, Our Authentic Selves: Reflections on What We Believe & What We Wish We Believed is available on Amazon.

What struggles do you have with being your authentic self?

What would it mean to you to be a part of a church that didn’t just accept your authentic self, but rather invited it?

Posted on: July 26, 2013

What Do You Need?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Community, Leadership

Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: milos milosevic via Compfight cc

It’s probably one of the most important questions you can ever be asked.

And your answer, honestly, communicates more about your state of being, than anything else.

The unfortunate reality is most of us don’t have the slightest clue as to the answer.

Most of the time, simply being asked this question throws us in to some kind of a unexpected tail spin, where we’re scrambling to get out of having to answer at all.

I mean it’s awkward, if you think about it, having someone intently look in your eyes and sincerely ask you what you need. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen much.

The other day I was told a Production Manager was needed to come help rescue an event that had suddenly ballooned into a much larger, more exquisite experience. Naturally I was overjoyed, because I love creating awesome experiences!

And that’s what Creating the Awesome is all about.

Asking you what you need, and helping you get it. And if you don’t happen to know the answer, then even better, I’d love to help you get there.

So as I sit here in beautiful Marrakech, Morocco, I’m asking you that same question.

What do you need?

Yeah, that, what was that? That thing that just popped in your head?

Jot it down, email it to me, write it in the comments below.

Nothing is too silly, or too outrageous an answer.

Besides, what do you have to lose?

Nothing gives me more joy than knowing your stories, and knowing how I can help!

The really cool thing, I mean the coolest thing ever, is I actually respond! Not some virtual executive assistant, or some back door automated response.



So give it a shot, let me know what you need. I bet you’ll be surprised at just how much I can help!


Posted on: May 27, 2013

How Should We Respond To Awesome’s Ending?

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Experience

Photo Credit: Silence à gogo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Silence à gogo via Compfight cc

“All good things got to come to an end

The thrills have to fade

Before they come ’round again

The bills will be paid

And the pleasure will mend

All good things got to come to an end”

At least that’s how Jackson Browne puts it. Quite beautifully, I might add.

And he’s right too. Life is short. One moment we’re here, the next moment we’re not. One moment we’re holding babies in our arms, in my case, the palms of my hands practically, the next we are sending them off to school and on and on. We say things like remember when, and collect and stare at old photos, wishing we could go back in time.

Regardless of the many differences we have, the one thing we all have in common, the one thing that unites us all is, we will, with certainty, all have to account for the brevity of life.

I feel as though I should apologize for the heaviness of this post, but unfortunately worlds seem to be colliding for me as of late. You see one of my dear friends has recently lost his wife after a very long battle with MS, and within a few days another dear friend suffered the passing of a father. As if that were not enough, the frailty of my own father has been once again brutally brought to the surface. His time of creating awesome experiences and impacting the world around him is coming to an end.

I’ve known it for a while. My whole family has actually. It’s no secret. Whether it’s the Dementia, Parkinson’s, Shingles, Arthritis, or any of the many broken and crushed bones having never fully healed through out his life, they all are contributing to the inevitable.

To say this is difficult would be the grossest of understatements.

Words just don’t do justice sometimes.

This is one of those times.

But it’s forcing me to ask yet another hard question of myself. How am I going to respond to Awesome’s Ending?

Have you ever thought of it that way?

That awesome does in fact have an ending. It’s both bitterly painful and abundantly joyful. All at the same time.

I’m reminded of Amy Grant’s words about the passing of her mother, and her father’s battle with dementia. She describes it as the last great lesson we’ll ever learn from our parents.


Those words bring me to tears, just writing them.

And those of you like Cliff and Norm of Cheers, who are regulars to Creating the Awesome, have heard me say this often, but to those who are not, one thing you’ll find is that I never claim to know all the answers. To do so would simply be arrogant and wrong. There are roughly 164 million other blogs out there, all proudly proclaiming that they single-handedly have the answers you seek and need. That their products and their services are the best because they are the best.

Well, sorry, but this isn’t one of those.

And while there are many things I can speak to as an expert, some which, undoubtedly, would help meet a need or solve a problem, I’ve found that I’d much rather participate in the journey with you.

I believe that’s where true beauty is found, where authentic healing is received and where awesome is really created.

Did you catch the power of that word, with?

So this is where you come in.

We’ve all dealt with loss somehow, whether that’s a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, pet, or any other version of a loved one.

And with what I know to be certain of the future, I’d very much love to hear your stories of how you responded to awesome’s ending.

Were there things that you wish you would or could have done? Said?

What are the things you are grateful for that you were able to do and say?

I quote Frederick Buechner a lot, probably too much to be honest, but in this case, once again, he gives us a beautiful glimpse of glory. He writes in Telling Secrets, “My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.”

That is why I ask the questions above.

Would you bless us all by sharing below?

Posted on: May 16, 2013

Worship Wednesday: Asking The Right Questions

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Worship Wednesday

From Josh: Today’s Worship Wednesday post comes from Dave Wonders, yes that’s his real name. Isn’t it awesome! Dave runs a great multi-voiced community tackling various facets of manhood called More Than A Beard. Dave’s incredible heart for worship is why I’m honored for him to lend his voice to Worship Wednesday. You can follow Dave on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re passionate about extravagant worship and would like to contribute, I’d love to hear from you! You can email me directly at josh [at] thejoshcollins [dot] com.
Photo Credit: John Althouse Cohen via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: John Althouse Cohen via Compfight cc

Over the last six years I have sung and played bass for three dynamically different worship teams. Despite having radically different styles and sounds, on all three teams we spent a great deal of time rehearsing music together every week. During these pre-service jams, a number of questions always rise to the surface:

How do we transition from the epic praise anthem to the intimate, reflective worship song?

How many times is too many times to repeat the chorus?

When is Dave going to learn how to play bass?

Working out all of the technical kinks ahead of time is an important aspect of the worship service, however (yes, I know I am preaching to the choir, but it still begs repeating) having a technically flawless worship service is not the most important task of the worship team.

So what are the right questions we should be asking?

I’m not anywhere close to being a worship expert (the jab about my bass skills wasn’t a joke), but recently I have begun asking 3 questions to help focus my heart and mind when I am called to lead worship.

1. Why am I here? Rather than feeling the gravity of the responsibility that the Father has given me to help lead his people, leading worship sometimes sadly becomes a responsibility that I have to the head worship leader who expects me to show up or in a broader sense to the congregation who is expecting to hear a full set of instrumentation. If I most concerned with them, I have missed the mark, and it will throw everything else off course. Get your priorities straight! If your heart commitment is to the Father first and foremost, everything else will work itself out.

2. Am I prepared? I’m not talking about musical preparedness(though that is incredibly important), but spiritual. This is not just a single question, but a series of spiritual self-assessment questions. Before I pick up my bass I must ask myself: Am I confessed? Forgiven? Reconciled with others? In right standing with the Father? Obedient to what He has commanded me to do?

3. What does God have for me? Oftentimes I get so caught up in creating an atmosphere of worship for the sake of blessing others that I forget that the Lord has things he wants to show me and bless me with! When you are in the middle of a worship set, don’t forget to take a step back every once in a while and just soak up what the Father wants to give you.

What are some questions or “checks” that you go through before you lead worship?

Posted on: May 15, 2013

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