In my time studying the Bible some of the things I have learned is the Bible has been “transferred” and copied from its originals documents thousands of years ago. I have sometimes heard people make the following statements about the Bible:

The Bible is nothing but fiction!

The Bible is full of errors!

There’s no way that what we have in the Bible matches the original.

In my studies over the last couple of years I have been grateful to read and learn more about the field of study called, “textual criticism.”

Textual Criticism is a discipline that focuses on discovering what the original writings said. When describing New Testament textual criticism Daniel Wallace writes, “textual criticism is the study of the copies of any written document whose autograph (the original) is unknown or nonexistent, for the primary purpose of determining the exact wording of the original” (Interpreting the New Testament Text, edited by Darrell Bock and Buist Fanning, p. 33).

With this statement and definition of textual criticism it is important to note that there are different manuscripts of the Bible that contain different readings. Meaning, there are different wordings, different arrangements, and differences among the different biblical manuscripts that have survived over the years. However, among these differences very very few are significant differences. For example, most differences in the New Testament are different spellings of words (for example, John can be spelled Ιωαννης  or  Ιωανης), contractions and abbreviations, the and word order changing (Greek does not depend on the word order in sentences like English does). For some commentary on Old Testament textual criticism go here

As an example of just one of the differences of the supposed “changes” in the New Testament is in Ephesians 2:8. Below I will examine the different pieces of evidence to determine which reading is authentic and what the significance might be for each.

Textual Criticism and its Significance to the New Testament

Ephesians 2:8 Textual Criticism Problem
δια πισεως (text) vs. δια της πισεως (variant)

I.    EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

Continue Reading…

I regularly hear from blog readers that my posts about Bible charts are very helpful for people attempting to study and understand the Bible.

On this blog I have shared charts and studies on the books of:

Even though some of my methods of creating Bible charts have slightly changed since I wrote those posts (the main change is that I try to keep everything on one page), I still find it helpful for me to create a chart of a Bible book when I study it.

In today’s post I share a chart for the book of Acts (below), but first I would like to point you to some great blog posts I found around the web about leadership and the book of Acts. Here’s a brief compilation: Continue Reading…

One of the big debates circulating right now in Christian theology is Paul and his application of God’s promises of the Old Testament. Specifically, much of this discussion is focused on how Paul applies the promises given to the Israelites in the Old Testament to the Gentiles in the New Testament. Within this discussion includes what is meant by “seed” originally promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12:2.

How Paul Applies the Promises Given to Israel to the Gentiles

Photo Credit: honorbound

Below I have attempted to outline this debate starting first with the position of Elliott Johnson, Th.D., professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Johnson is a “classical dispensationalist” which means that he sees a distinction between the promises originally given to the Israelites and the promises given to the Gentiles in the New Testament. The second presentation of this topic will be N.T. Wright’s work. N.T. Wright is research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College in Scotland. He is a strong advocate of the “New Perspective on Paul” movement which sees all of the promises of God being fulfilled in the New Testament church. Finally, in section III. you will find a brief exposition of this topic from myself primarily based on the third chapter of Galatians. 

I. Elliott Johnson’s Position on How Paul Applies the
Promises Given to Israel to the Gentiles

Continue Reading…

When leading volunteers in nonprofit organizations it is important that you provide evaluation and coaching to those volunteers. This is especially true if you have good volunteers that you want to keep for a long time.  

4 Essentials for Great Evaluation and Coaching of Volunteers

It’s critical that you provide regular and frequent feedback. Your volunteers need encouragement, thank you’s, and even a little constructive criticism at times.
MacKee, The New Breed, p. 94

In today’s post I show you how you can evaluate and coach your volunteers as a way to keep your volunteers long term. 

I. YOU PROVIDE

When conducting evaluations and coaching with volunteers there are several things you will need to provide in the meeting. Continue Reading…

This blog post is a book review of Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond edited by Stanley Gundry (series editor) and Darrell Bock (general editor), Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999. 330pp. In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond three writers present their views of the millennium. The premillennial view is presented by Craig Blaising, professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The postmillennial view is presented by Kenneth Gentry Jr., executive director of GoodBirth Ministries. 

Three Views on the Millennium

The amillennial view is presented by Robert Strimple, professor of systematic theology at Westminister Seminary California. Each of these writers summarizes his position on the doctrine of the millennium using a hemeneutical framework and specific biblical texts to support his view. 1

I. PREMILLENNIALISM

Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Throughout this article I will share that “the premillennial view believes” or “the amillennial position thinks” as a way to articulate the position of each viewpoint. However, I realize that within premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism there are various differences even within each view. Therefore, I will present each view as if that is “the” view for that entire system of thought while also acknowledging that there is a uniqueness within each of these views.

When working with volunteers it is easy to push them to get the work done, be productive, and complete tasks. However, sometimes volunteers can feel burnt out, tired, and be in need of a break.

How to Ensure Volunteers' Self-Care

Photo Credit: New York National Guard

If you lead volunteers and want to ensure that they volunteer with you long-term it is important to ensure the care of your volunteers. In today’s post I share with you three areas in which to care for your volunteers.

Many faithful servants get sidelined by a simple problem: too much serving. You heard it here, friends—too much serving. Many new, highly motivated believers doubt that too much service is possible.
Bill Hybels, The Volunteer Revolution, p. 129

I. PAID EXPENSES

Continue Reading…

One of the most serious issues that nonprofit organizations face is the high turnover rate of volunteers. Most nonprofits have a good group of volunteers at their organization, but over time those good volunteers leave. Providing ongoing training and professional development is one thing that increases the chances that your best volunteers stay at your nonprofit organization.

Keep Volunteers By Providing Ongoing Training and Development

Photo Credit: Cambodia4Kids

For the past couple of weeks I have written about what nonprofit organizations can do to increase the chances that their best volunteers stay. In today’s post I share how providing ongoing training and professional development helps to retain volunteers.

 

Participating in meaningful training activities inside and outside the organization (e.g., conferences) is an important source of continuing motivation and growth [for volunteers].
Schindler-Rainman and Lippitt, The Volunteer Community, p. 62

Appropriate support structures such as . . . meetings and training and development are important for a positive experience. . . . increasing training opportunities . . . make programs as volunteer friendly as possible is recommended.
Anne Wilson, “Supporting Family Volunteers,” p. 6

I. THE TRANSITION FROM ALTRUISM TO PERSONAL GROWTH

Continue Reading…

For the past couple of weeks I have been writing about how leaders within nonprofit organizations can keep their volunteers long-term. Today’s post focuses on how leaders of volunteers can keep volunteers at their organization by continually connecting the volunteers’ work with the cause and purpose of the nonprofit organization.

It is essential, in both theory and practices, that volunteers experience a feeling of engagement or an energetic and affective connect with their work. Rather than seeing it as stressful and demanding, they should view it as challenging, interesting, and enjoyable. If so, they will feel good about themselves and committed to their organizations. This is an ethical strategy for nonprofit organizations to use to retain volunteers over the long term and a possible way for volunteers to feel happier and for society to improve.
Vecina and Chacon, “Volunteer Engagement and Organizational Commitment,” p. 300

Continually Connect Volunteers Work with the Cause

Photo Credit: Adam Fletcher

I. VOLUNTEERS NEED TO MEET NEEDS

A. Volunteers Volunteer Because:

Continue Reading…

An essential part of ensuring volunteers stay at a nonprofit organization long-term is helping volunteers serve in areas that they are motivated and skilled.

My wife once went to work at a local Homeless Gospel Mission near where we lived. As someone with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and a master’s degree in Social Work she was excited to use some of her skills to help counsel, encourage, and support clients of the Gospel Mission. However, after my wife had clearly explained her professional experience and ideal area for volunteering to the volunteer coordinator, my wife was placed in the waiting room of the Gospel Mission where she was supposed to talk and just “hang out” with clients. Every time she showed up she was expected to randomly walk up to clients who were waiting to receive services and talk. No formal introduction was given from the Gospel Mission for my wife, no support from the staff about what my wife was supposed to do, and no understanding of the skills my wife had and what she could offer.

Do you think my wife continued volunteering for long? Of course not! She left only a week or two after she realized this Gospel Mission was not using her skills and experience in a way to help clients.

Most of the time people are willing to jump in and help a good cause even if the work is something that is uninteresting to them. However, if you want to have volunteers stay and serve for a long period of time you have to find ways to place your volunteers in areas they are motivated and skilled.

Energy flows from passion. A God-given passion—an area of intense interest—lies buried within each of us. One of the goals of volunteer experimentation is to discover that passion. Connecting our spiritual gift with an area of passion is the key to ultimate effectiveness and fulfillment in serving. It’s also one of the keys to maintaining energy when serving. When you are serving an area of passion, nobody has to fire you up to stay involved; you can’t help but show up. It feels like recess, when the bell rings and you get to do your favorite thing.
Bill Hybels, The Volunteer Revolution, pp. 81-82

In today’s post I show you some basic ways you can get your volunteers plugged into areas that they are passionate and skilled.

I. MOTIVATIONS: WHERE THEY ARE PASSIONATE TO SERVE. 

Volunteers need to be placed in areas that they are passionate to serve. You can find volunteers passion either by the area in which the volunteers serve or the task which the volunteers do. Continue Reading…

When leading volunteers and hoping to keep them you need to find ways to increase their commitment to your organization. There are lots of great nonprofit organizations in your community that volunteers can give their time to. The issue that comes up is whether or not the volunteers are going to give their time to your organization.

In this post I share some research I read about how to increase the commitment of volunteers to your organization and how you can use this idea to your advantage.

I. DEFINITION

Organizational Commitment is “identification and involvement with a specific organization, and assumes strong belief in, and acceptance of, its goals and values and the will to make considerable efforts as a member of the organization (Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979).” (Chaco, et. al., “Three-Stage Model of Volunteers’ Duration,” p. 629).

“Organizational commitment has been extensively studied within Organizational Psychology, as an essential variable related to employees’ satisfaction and organizational efficacy” (Ibid).


 

II. FOCUS ON AT LEAST TWO OF THE FIVE DRIVING FACTORS FOR WHY PEOPLE VOLUNTEER.

A. Contribute to the community/society
B. Contribute to the organization
C. Clear Instructions
D. Communication that Is Clear
E. Feeling Supported

III. REMEMBER THAT VOLUNTEER MOTIVES CHANGE OVER TIME.

How Motivations of Volunteers Change Over Time

 

IV. HOW TO CULTIVATE ORGANIZATIONAL COMMITMENT

If nonprofit organizations wish their volunteers to remain, then there must be a focus on developing a feeling of commitment to organizations.
Vecin and Chacon, “Volunteer Engagement and Organizational Commitment,” 299.

A. Create a Connection to Their Work.

Try to do things that help volunteers make a connection to the work being done. How does this work match the volunteers’ personality? Is this good work for an introverted volunteer to do (tasks done independently and silently). Or, is this good work for an extrovert to do (tasks done with others in a common area around people).

B. Connect them to the difference being made in the community.

Volunteers volunteer because they want to make a difference in the community and in a specific organization. Those are the two main reasons that anyone begins volunteering. Therefore, to increase the organizational committment of your volunteer long-term help volunteers see that the work they are doing makes a difference in the community.

C. Connect them to the difference the volunteer is making for your individual organization.

Try to actively tell stories, share experiences, and provide statistics for how your organization is making a difference in the community. And, tie that information into how the volunteer is helping the organization to make this difference in the community.

D. Make the experience fun.

All things being equal: volunteers chose and stick with the volunteer position that is fun.

E. Provide:

1. task variety
2. challenge
3. excitement
4. independence
5. insider status
6. the ability to use existing skills
7. opportunity to make career contacts
8. opportunity to make new friends (“More Than Motivation,” 401)
9. fun
10. food
11. unique training

Question: How do you think you can increase the organizational commitment among your volunteers?