Is too much Knowledge Hindering your Evangelism?

A simple game devised by a Ph.D. at Stanford in 1990 has bearing on how effective we communicate the Gospel.

I just finished the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. I highly recommend it.

They refer to a study where assigned people were given one of two rolls: a ‘tapper’ or a ‘listener.’ Tappers received a list of 25 well-known songs (like Happy Birthday). They were asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to the listener, who was not made privy to the list. After the ‘tapper’ tapped out the song, the listener guessed the song’s name.

After 120 songs were tapped, listeners guessed only 3. The tappers predicted they would guess 60.

Chip and Dan call this the Curse of Knowledge. It happens when we know so much about a subject, it becomes impossible for us imagine what it was like to not know. As a result, we find it hard to imagine that others don’t know as well. Thus, as Chip and Dan write, “it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create the state of mind of our listeners.”

As I read this story, it reminded me that in our biblically illiterate word, we can too easily assume that those to whom we share and teach know more than they really do.

The implication: in our teaching and our evangelizing, we must guard against over-assuming.

Making the Most of the Next 10 years: A Simple Self-Evaluation

H. B. London, VP of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family sends out a weekly email to pastoral leadership. It’s quite good.

He gave me permission to post an article from the Jan. 8 edition. Call them ‘new year’s resolutions’ if you like, but what he said made me think as I enter into the new year.


With the New Year now a week old, how are you doing? Now, let me ask, what are you doing?

As I begin 2010, I have been asking myself, “What can I do better this year than I did last year?” Allow me to give you a little self-examination exercise:

1. Have you determined to get more physical activity this year than last? Just 20 minutes a day, four days a week, will do wonders for you.

2. Will you do anything about your eating habits? You really do not need to “crash diet” — but simply stay away from overeating sweets, starches, bread and red meat. Just “push away.”

3. Have you thought of ways you might be able to adjust your schedule for greater productivity? Pastors have told me lately that making the most of the mornings gives them the greatest advantage. From wake-up through lunch can be your most effective hours.

4. How well do you communicate? I really need to work on this one. “Say what you mean and mean what you say” is a very good credo. Try very hard not to leave people guessing.

5. Put some excitement in your life. Are you in a rut? Do you have variety in your day-to-day routine? There should be.Every day, if possible, you need to experience something new.

6. Quality time: I could really make all of us feel guilty on this one, but are you giving your family the attention they need? If not, schedule them in. Are you spending precious moments with your Lord? Same time, same place, on a regular basis is the very best practice. Give quality time to these two areas and you will reap great dividends.

Well, I just shared with you some gentle suggestions as we come to the close of the first week of the new decade. How are you doing so far? What can you do better? “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

You can get it for free here at

The 10 Most Important Questions You’ll ever Ask Yourself

Donald Whitney, a pastor and seminary professor, gave me permission to re-print this article. It is outstanding.

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Related posts: Making the Most of the Next 10 Years: a simple self-evaluation.

Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney.

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the Center for Biblical Spirituality website is copyrighted by Donald S. Whitney. Permission granted to copy this material in its complete text only for not-for-profit use (sharing with a friend, church, school, Bible study, etc.) and including all copyright information. No portion of this website may be sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from Donald S. Whitney.

How I do Staff Evaluations

I use this form when I perform an annual staff evaluation. I have every staff person complete the form on themselves and attach their goals for the previous and upcoming year.  These documents provide the talking points for the eval. Afterwards, I compile a one page written evaluation I give to them.

Staff Self-Evaluation/Annual Review

Ginger Creek Community Church

Employee name: _________________________ date:______   review period: ____________


  • Do you know what is expected from you in your role?
  • Do you know what is most important in your role?
  • Do you have the materials and resources you need to do your work right?
  • Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best almost every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor or someone at work seem to care for you as a person?
  • At work do you feel like your opinions seem to count?
  • Does Ginger Creek’s mission make you feel like your job is important?
  • Are your fellow staff members committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year have you had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?


  • How would you evaluate yourself in the following staff value areas (10 being the highest)?
  1. Integrity                                       1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  2. Attitude (positive, coachable, servant-like)      1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  3. Volunteer appreciation/development            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  4. Holistic health (body, soul, spirit)                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  5. Simplicity                              1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  6. Authenticity                              1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  7. Teamwork (loyal, resolves conflicts)            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  8. Continual growth/learning                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  9. Health work ethic (excellence, hard worker, fun)      1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  10. Risk taking (bold steps of faith)                  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  • Other areas
  1. Budget (wisely manages budget)                        1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  2. Evangelism (invests in and shares w/seekers)            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  3. Creativity                                                             1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10
  4. Leadership                                                            1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10

Comments about staff values:

Describe your overall job performance?


Areas in which you’d like to improve:

I believe that my spiritual gifts of____________________________________________are being: __Maximized       __Moderated       __Minimized       __Unused


GOALS (please attach a current copy of your goals with progress notes included)

For______ ______ through _______ ______

(month)  (year     (month)     (year)


1. Do you feel your area of ministry has been well identified and/or communicated to the:

Staff?             __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

Church body?             __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

Within your area?            __Yes     __Somewhat     __No

As a staff:

2. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

As a church:

3. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

In your area of ministry:

4. Where and how would you like to see communication improve or increase?

Staff Relationships

1. With how many people have you experienced significant frustration this past year?

__Some           __One or Two            __None

2. What attempts have you made to improve these relationships? Are the issues still outstanding?

3. Any thoughts or ideas on how we can improve staff relationships?

4. Any thoughts on how to improve relationships with church leadership?

5. Are all your relationships consistent with biblical standards of sexual and moral purity?

Comment(s) on any of the above:

Energizers and Stressors

1. In what area of ministry are you most productive, energized, or fulfilled?

2. On what do you spend most of your work time?

3. Are there areas of work or ministry in which you spend too much time?

4. In what area of ministry do you experience the greatest amount of stress and frustration?

5. What area of ministry do you find difficult to resolve?

Team Development

1. How would you describe the current status of the ministry teams you lead?

2. Who are the names of new leaders/volunteers you have brought into ministry during this last year?

Personal and Professional Development

1. In what area would you like additional development or skill training?

2. How can your supervisor help you in these areas?

3. What do you believe you can do to develop in these areas?

4. Does someone hold you spiritually accountable?  __Yes     __No

How would you describe the effectiveness of that accountability?

Other areas

Anything else you’d like to discuss with your supervisor:

Any suggestions on how to improve this review process?

How to be a Secure Leader

This is a great post from Jeff Iorg, the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He gave me permission to re-post.

July 27, 2009 – Finding Security for Leadership

An important character quality for any leader who wants to make a significant impact and leave a positive legacy is security. Yet, security is seldom listed in job profiles as a desired quality. Secure leaders know who they are and what God has made them to do. They understand their strengths and weaknesses and are comfortable with both. Secure leaders fell less pressure to perform, less pressure to please people, and less pressure to prove their worth by their accomplishments than insecure leaders do. Secure leaders have an ease about them that engenders confidence among their followers. And, secure leaders attract strong leaders to work with them because they are not afraid to share the work and the rewards.

Many leaders are high achievers or over achievers. Often overachievement is a mask for deep insecurity. Insecurity, for many of us, is rooted in the psychological and emotional scars incurred during childhood. Many Christian leaders, including many high performance leaders, come from broken or dysfunctional families. Much could be written about the causes of insecurity, including these and others. But for our purposes, analyzing the causes is not essential. Let’s agree with the obvious! Insecurity affects most of us. Leaders, not matter how gifted, are not exempt.

The search for security is a primal human urge. That truth is self-evident. People, including leaders, want to and need to feel secure. We often go to great lengths in our search for security. The problem is we frequently pursue wrong sources for security. We look for security in accomplishment and relationships, often with catastrophic results.

A good example of this was the woman Jesus met at the well (John 4). She asked Jesus a question about religious achievement, “Where should we worship?” Jesus replied with a question about the whereabouts of her husband. This prompted her admission of multiple marriages and adultery. Her pattern of searching for security in relationships was unveiled.

Jesus did not answer her question about religious accomplishment (proper worship) or confront her misplaced search for security in relationships (serial marriages). Instead, he addressed her deepest needs. He promised he would come into her life and quench her deepest thirsts. He portrayed himself as a “spring of living water.” He challenged her to stop drawing from wrong wells and come to the true source of inner satisfaction.

Most people, including many leaders, look for security in accomplishments or relationships. Christian leaders make this more palatable by searching for security in religious accomplishments or religious relationships. Neither ultimately satisfies. A better source for security is available to every Christian leader.

First, however, it is important to diagnose the problem by revealing the symptoms of insecurity as they express themselves in leaders. Starting with a negative analysis may be discouraging. But before you can solve the problem, you must diagnose it. Many leaders have unhealthy behavior they would like to stop. They have patterns or habits that undermine their success. Yet, some inner drive repeatedly motivates the same destructive actions. That powerful inner drive is your search for security expressing itself in unhealthy ways. Over the next two weeks, we will look at four ways insecurity expresses itself through leaders in leadership situations.

If you have any of these symptoms, you will feel some dis-ease as you read! But that unsettledness can motivate significant change as you become more secure. Leading out of security, rather than insecurity, is essential to leaving a positive leadership legacy.

Questions or comments? Please email those to