28 September 2011

Open letter to "The Nines"

by Frank Turk

Dear “theNines” –

First of all, thanks for having me this year, again. I realize that I am one of a handful of odd men out in your stream of videos each year, and I credit Todd Rhoades for setting the trend line there two years in a row by taking a risk on a second-tier blogger who, let’s face it, probably has too much influence already. Props for the opportunity to shine or stink on my own merits – starting with the typos all of us missed in my Bio. Yikes!

This year’s topic was, in my opinion, a trick question. Let me put it another way: if it wasn’t intended to be a trick question, it turned out to be a providential opportunity for the people involved either to demonstrate or to disprove something that the critics of your conferences have been saying for years: the conferences sponsored by leadnet.org are not good spiritual food because they are about how to make much of “me”.

Now, I say this in spite of, for example, the interesting advice given by Rick Warren in the final video of the conference. (I’ll avoid the purgatory that is discussing Rick Warren on-line, thanks) What was unbelievable to me was the rampant discussion of how much people actually do rely on themselves to do ministry – and the open confessions of how much their churches and organizations depended on them. I had hoped my video would be one in a crowd of videos sort of deconstructing the topic “How I do it.” Instead, it winds up being an open letter by itself to the rest of the conference.

Have a look:

Of course, this is why I was pleased to come back this year: because this is how I do it; this is how we do it here at TeamPyro. I offer it as advice for the sake of Christ’s people and Christ’s ministers, and I offer it in good faith and the love of Christ.

See you next year, God willing.


Tom Chantry said...

See, if yours was the only video to say something like this, you're only confirming my disinterest in the nines. Sad, though.

Stephen said...

I don't know Frank, yours was pretty good but I liked the dude that talked about how the oil of Aaron running down his beard represented how we cast vision down to our leaders and then to the people. Deep stuff.

Robert said...

Excellent, Frank. Interesting how this follows your video to a "pastor" who could really use this message. Sadly, I can probably name as many pastors who don't share this line of thinking as those who do.

Stefan Ewing said...

Quoting from the transcript:

"You must be a servant even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

That and your points on Jesus' "means & methods" is a good lesson for all of us, in all of our interactions with others, inside and outside the church, at home, school, and work:

* Saying the things God has said rather than the things the world says

* Confessing our sins not just in general, but specifically when we blow it

* Loving our wives the way christ loves the church

* Suffering for those who cannot pay us back

* Giving up glory the way christ gave up glory to show people real love rather than just good manners

A good reminder that it's not just "those other guys over there who are doing it wrong," but that we too are never beyond needing course correction in the way that we bear witness to Christ in our daily lives.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Well after watching that video, Frank, all I can say is that you obviously haven't attended enough Jesus CEO or other leadership seminars.

Yes, that was a compliment.

Doug Hibbard said...

I watched off and on through the day. There was some good stuff, some useless, and some good.

Naturally, real work interfered during your video. Thanks for posting it here. Good stuff and a good point.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

(Heavy sigh.) Frank, thank you. One little phrase you said at the 4:00 mark cut to my heart, as I've been struggling with serving my octogenarian and nonagenarian neighbors recently (doing things that others wouldn't do even for money--enough said). Neither one knows the Lord as their Savior, to my knowledge, and sometimes it seems that my little sacrifices are unappreciated. I keep praying for openness and opportunities to share the gospel with them, and at the same time struggle with being repulsed by the task at hand and my own souring attitude. Thank you for the reminder that I do what I do because I love the Lord, and I want others to know His great love as well.

Stefan Ewing said...

God bless you, Merrilee.

FX Turk said...

"Some of whom who are not yet saved" is the ultimate phrase of this video. There are a lot of points I make here, but the perspective-maker is what James White would say is this:

What we win them with, we win them to.

That statement has its limits like any approximation -- but let's be clear about something: if what you win them with is you non-copied, unique, self-invented vision for some organization which may or may not have crosses decorating the meeting space, you didn't win them to Jesus. You won them to you.

It's hard to see this year's TheNines as anything but a collection of people talking about how one wins people to themselves and not Christ -- with a handful of exceptions.

Rachael Starke said...


Those glasses made you look suspiciously hip. You were the Clark Kent of the Nines. I hope it bears fruit, and those who have ears to hear in the professional-pastor community are warned and moved.

And I'm glad it was really focussed on them, and not on anyone serving in a professional capacity who gets suddenly called on to help with a crisis, and finds her heart beginning to go in an ungodly, Wonder Woman-like direction.

Tim said...

Frank, I really appreciate this video. I'm also in a secular workplace and get called on to teach and lead God's people. Your insights on that aspect of serving God made the whole video so worthwhile to me. The rest was icing on the cake.

I found one part somewhat mystifying though: Does your model of leadership ... look like you’re getting all the right people on the bus so that you can get into the fly wheel effect and out of the doom loop? I can't figure out what that means. Sorry for my denseness. (Or as Marty MacFly's dad said, my density.)


David A. Carlson said...

That video was the best five minutes i spent today, and perhaps all week.


Merrilee Stevenson said...

@ Rachael, I resemble that remark.

donsands said...

Superb words. Apprciate your taking the time to share. Thank you brother.

Living by grace in the Spirit for Christ by faith is pure and simple, but it comes up against so many counterfeits from Satan's minions. People like Gandhi give this servant look that Christians admire, and so are deceived. But it seems no matter which route the devils in this world take us, it comes down to a works thing equals your entrance into heaven.

If we stay focused on Christ, and are genuinely humbled by our filthy sins and His extraordinary forgiveness and kindness, then this good news, or Gospel, is nothing like anything in the universe.

JC Ryle said what the church needs, (back in the late 1800's), was to feel and know how utterly wicked sin is.

We need that in our day as well.

Thanks again Cent for speaking the truth with love for your Savior.

Nash Equilibrium said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nash Equilibrium said...

"It's hard to see this year's TheNines as anything but a collection of people talking about how one wins people to themselves and not Christ -- with a handful of exceptions."

What an insightful observation! Seriously.

FX Turk said...


it was a statement even more contextualized than the Batman statement. You have to know your audience.

If you read the book Good to Great, as most of the listeners to theNines will have already done, that line will make plenty of Pyro-enculturated sense.

FX Turk said...

Rachel -

If you could see the Harley Davidson logo (including skull) on the frames, you would be even more suspicious. Or something.

The Damer said...

I've got a friend that works for the Leadership Network. I want to like them and I wanted to like the Nines.

The sad truth is that it really blew chunks. I could have gotten the same advice by watching a months worth of Oprah episodes.

FX Turk said...

I like those people, Damer. You have to be a top-shelf jerk not to like gregarious, busy people.

I cannot fathom for the life of me how they find what they are spouting in the message of Christ.

Mike Westfall said...

Awesome. If this were Facebook, I'd "Like" it.

ANiMaL (richard) said...

My fam has been dancing to last weeks open letter all week. Who'd have thought a 4 and 6 year old would love your open letters!

This week, was good. I've listened to 2 "The Nines" messages so far, 1 from last year and this one. Both good. Why doesn't everyone like "The Nines"?

Anonymous said...


I've played your clip several times over for one reason.

You've blessed me with what you said. It is a great reminder to me of who I am and what I ought to be.

Most do it wrong. Most live as they shouldn't. Most don't love Jesus as they ought.

And I am among the most.


Coram Deo said...


I just want to know if you're wearing make-up in that video. It seems that when you lift your hand near your face the former is ghostly white whereas the latter is clown orange.

Maybe it's just the lighting. Also is that a wedding band on your left hand ring finger?

Usher's Annals in the background was an interesting touch...

In Him,

Jim Pemberton said...

"You have to be a top-shelf jerk not to like gregarious, busy people."

I guess that makes me a top-shelf jerk. I can't carry on a decent conversation with most people, much less particularly gregarious ones. All I can say are things like, "Uh-huh," "Hmmm," "Well, you know...," "Something like that happened...," "I've often thought..." Anything but completing even a short sentence. Why would I like gregarious people? And other people respect them for being particularly great leaders. Whatever. I just find some timid person marginalized in the corner and try to make them feel welcome by joining them.

FX Turk said...

No makeup. Yes, wedding ring.

That's the timeline of the history of the world in our homeschool room. Doesn't everyone have one?