Category Archives: links

how to disagree about theological stuff

Chandler, Horton, Keller on How to Disagree from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

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6 tips for being more positive with email

Earlier this year I attended a presentation with Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence and godfather of the field of Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman, there’s a negativity bias to email – at the neural level. In other words, if an email’s content is neutral, we assume the tone is negative. In face-to-face conversation, the subject matter and its emotional content is enhanced by tone of voice, facial expressions, and nonverbal cues. Not so with digital communication.
Technology creates a vacuum that we humans fill with negative emotions by default, and digital emotions can escalate quickly (see: flame wars). The barrage of email can certainly fan the flames. In an effort to be productive and succinct, our communication may be perceived as clipped, sarcastic, or rude. Imagine the repercussions for creative collaboration.

Tools are already emerging to address this phenomenon. See ToneCheck, a “tone spellcheck” app that scans emails for negativity and then helpfully suggests tweaks to make your communication more positive (featured in The New York Times Magazine’s annual Year in Ideas issue).

I’ve been experimenting with simple ways to encourage positive digital communication. Here are a few best practices I’ve found useful:

1. Heed the negativity bias. In this case, awareness and attention goes a long way. Consider how your communication may be perceived. Can you be more explanatory? Is your language positive as opposed to neutral?

2. Pay attention to your grammar. Since monitoring my emotional reaction to incoming and outgoing emails, I’ve noticed that in our haste, meaning is often obscured by simple grammatical confusion. “That’s not what I meant” is emblematic of digital miscommunication, and can escalate a problem quickly. Re-read your emails before sending, and make sure your intended message is being conveyed clearly.

3. Consider emoticons. Until keyboards can actually perceive the emotional content of our digital messages (not so far off!), emoticons may be the simplest method of clarifying tone. I’ve had to let go of my own perception that emoticons are silly. They may currently be our best tool for elevating the emotional clarity of digital messages.

4. Use phrasing that suggests optionality. When gentle prodding is necessary, try using phrasing that empowers (rather than accuses) the receiver. Questions in particular tend to be better received than declaratives. To encourage follow-up on a specific task, for example, you might say something like, “I think you mentioned that you would be revisiting/updating the copy on our Facebook page. I know we had an email exchange, but not sure where we ended up?”

5. Start things off on the right foot. When the news is mixed, consider leading off your message with an expression of appreciation. Then follow with the meat of your response. It could be something as simple as, “We’re off to a great start, I just have a few small tweaks I want to suggest.” Such gestures may seem like fluff, but they set the tone. Effectively saying “I appreciate the work you’ve already done…” prior to bringing the feedback that means “back to the drawing board!”

6. Jettison email… maybe. Ask yourself, “Is email the best carrier of this message?” Often a more social communication tool such as an internal project management space or messaging tool (Yammer, Action Method, or Mavenlink) can be more appropriate and serve as an emotional buffer. Reactive communication tends to be more measured in a public digital space. Plus an added bonus: knowledge sharing.


Because of the lack of emotional tone in emails, we often have to go the extra mile to convey a solicitous attitude – whether it’s rewriting a sentence, adding an emoticon, or offsetting bad news with a positive remark. Even if it seems a chore, it’s time well spent.

In the immortal words of a recent 99% commenter: Don’t treat others like a “DO IT” button, treat them like human beings.

from 99%

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do your daily devotions online, free

I have just found this great, free website that lets you do your daily bible reading and SOAP journalling online.

The website is: (see the link at the right of the page)

(I’ve just added it to the links on this website)

Very very simple to use.

Daily SOAP readings come up automoatically. Click on the verse/s you want to journal on, and it imports them into a SOAP template for you to fill in. Add your heading, and when you are finished, your journalling is archived and searchable!

What’s more, at the end, you have the option of sharing your journalling via email, Facebook or Twitter.

And its all free!

Good stuff. Get on to it, people!

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2 Timothy series link

The new St Paul’s website is slowly expanding its sermon library. The plan is to upload all of our back catalogue, searchable by date, preacher and text (awesome! Tim Hawkins classics!)

In the meantime, the recent 2 Timothy series from 7pm is now all up online here.

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ministry insights – recently on the blog

The Countdown to Discovery Camp

From the Frontline (story from our minstry to the unemployed)

Special Needs (a place to belong)

K’Splat Term 4

Calling future leaders – come and do small group with me (re: a new way of training small group leaders)

The Prodigal Parishioner
(a story of practical kindness)

The realtionship between evangelism and social action (part 1)

Luther on faith and works

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st pauls in the media

St Paul’s Castle Hill Album Sets CITY ALIGHT

CITY ALIGHT, a new CD celebrating the talents of budding and experienced songwriters from St Paul’s Anglican Church Castle Hill, will be launched on Sunday September 27 at two bumper celebration services.

St Paul’s music director, Bren McLean says the album has been a natural step forward after a boost in songwriting activity in recent years.

The CD contains 10 Christian pop/rock songs written, performed and produced by members of the St Paul’s music team.

“Not everyone has the gift of songwriting, but if you do have that gift, you should develop and use it – this album is an opportunity for our people to put into practice their God-given talents,” Mr McLean says.

“We’ve also created something that can be a blessing to our church by encouraging and assisting people in their personal worship of God.”

Read the rest of the feature article on the Christian Today Australia website

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depression links

Thanks to Eric, here are some links to sites dealing with depression in one way or another:

– numerous resources, in cluding a fantastic online DipEd programme.

– helpful resources, including video clips

– a Christian website from Richard Beeston. He recently published a book on depression through Blue Bottle Books – the journey of a married couple.

– the website to go along with 2 illustrated books by Matthew Johnstone, which talk about living with depression, and living with someone else who has depression

[The pic above is from that site – what not to do to someone with ‘the black dog’ of depression – be an ‘Armchair General’]

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so its not a waste of time then

I knew there was something in it – check this out in the SMH today!

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preaching link added

I’ve just added a link to the sermons page for All Souls, Langham Place.

It has an awesome library of sermons, searchable by text and speaker, to name a few.

It goes back many years, so you can find just about anyone in the who’s who of evangelical preachers from the last 20 years, including Stott, Carson, and even our own Chappo and Paul Barnett.

Highly recommended.

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Tim Keller resources

Just posted a link to a blog page that lists a whole stack of links to Tim Keller resources. The link is here:

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