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Two Bearded Preachers

Listen as Justin Larkin and Martin Bender talk about everything without researching anything! We discuss life, ministry, and family from a uniquely Christian perspective without getting all preachy. Like the Two Bearded Preachers facebook page and follow us on Instagram @twobeardedpreachers.
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Welcome to the Two Bearded Preachers home. Here you'll find our podcast and blogs as well as a few extras you won't see anywhere else.

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Mar 31, 2017

This week we're going back in time to hear how the Two Bearded Preachers accurately predicted the results of the 2016 presidential election using an elaborate rating system and immense insight into all things political. Justin wears a tutu and Martin fails to make his congregation laugh in this throw back episode from 2015. In the future, the fellers promise to schedule a little better and not forget their recording equipment at the office. If you haven't heard this one before you will definitely see how far the Two Bearded Preachers have come in terms of production and how far they have fallen in terms of planning episodes.

 

Enjoy!

Would you like to join the conversation? Call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 and you may just be chosen to be on an episode. You can tell us how we are slackers for not bringing the new content on Facebook and complain about how we have been saying the same old jokes to each other for our entire friendship on Twitter.

Mar 24, 2017

That's right folks, it's the GOATs of Podcasting bringing that podcast gold you all love so much. The Two Bearded Preachers talk about taking up martial arts with their kids and how judo and jiu jitsu can cause a lot of problems for middle aged men. Justin gives Martin a hard time about the dog he ran over from the previous episode and explains why it was such an issue for him. Martin claims shenanigans when Justin is unable to repeat certain details of his story and is irritated that Justin doesn't know all the lyrics of Five Iron Frenzy's "Blue Comb". Find out why it's all in the hips in our newest podcast ever.

Would you like to join the conversation? Call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 and you may just be chosen to be on an episode. You can talk to us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, but to be honest, neither of us spend much time checking either feed.

Mar 16, 2017

In this week's episode of the Two Bearded Preachers podcast, Martin and Justin talk about the terrors of living in the southeast during an unusually cold March. Neither of them understands the more specific words for blankets used by their wives, bringing to mind Tyler Durden's discussion of the duvet and why men have this knowledge when it is entirely unnecessary to their being in the hunter/gatherer sense of masculinity. Martin discusses how interruptions can make for more interesting lessons and sermons, even though it can be difficult to transition back to the planned subject matter. Justin shares a little bit on how multitasking is for the young and middle-aged men are only able to one thing at a time. Toward the finish, Martin tells of how he hit a dog with his rental car and receives some sharp criticism from his friend.

Would you like to join the conversation? Call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 and you may just be chosen to be on an episode. You can talk to us on Facebook or stop by Martin's house in Glennville, the jewel of southeast Georgia.

Mar 9, 2017

Does Justin have a hero fantasy? Is Martin too old to start learning Judo? Who should be responsible for the care and maintenance of one's beard? The Two Bearded Preachers spend their time discussing these and other questions in this episode. Listen as Martin creates a Zen-like atmosphere in his home. Justin talks about his past as an Anglican. The Real Man American calls in to call Martin out about giving the sex talk to his elementary age kids. Both of the preachers talk about Ash Wednesday and Lent, communicating their respective skepticism about the practice. Can you smell the popery? You'll also get some tips on how to best maintain your firearms for minimal government interference. Talk about a wide-ranging conversation.

Would you like to join the conversation? Call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 and you may just be chosen to be on an episode. You can talk to us on Facebook or stop by Justin's house late in the evening for a friendly visit. 

Mar 3, 2017

This just in... middle aged men aren't good at online video games. In this episode of Two Bearded Preachers, Martin admits he isn't very good at promoting the podcast or playing online video games. Justin overshares about marital issues and plays too many video games. Both offer their advice to an expectant father about the horrors he is about to experience in raising his very own baby. Justin goes on and on about how he is likely to die in his mid-fifties and Martin goes through the whole circle of emotions as he relives his 37th birthday. It's a conversation for the ages so be sure to check it out.

Want to join the conversation? You can call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 and be on an upcoming episode. Join the Two Bearded Preachers facebook page and try to tweet at us @twobearded.

Mar 3, 2017

You asked for it and we delivered! Dad Fail Friday, where you can feel better about yourself when you hear how awful Justin and Martin are at parenting. In this episode, Martin admits that there is no reason he hasn't signed his son up for Judo lessons, even though he's been meaning to for over a year. Justin fails by keeping his kids out late to watch NXT wrestling on a school night while shouting mean things at the Drifter. None of this behavior is appropriate and you should feel ashamed for laughing.

 

Want to join the conversation? You can call the Two Bearded Preachers at 951-472-3273 or join the Facebook group. We are @twobearded on Twitter, but we never check the feed.

Feb 24, 2017

The Two Bearded Preachers are trying their hardest to make those church gains, but what is the best way to measure success in ministry? Is it about leading people to grow the organization, or is there something more to it than that? In this episode, Justin and Martin talk about their criteria for successful ministry and point out that pastoring a church is fundamentally different than leading in the marketplace. Martin shares some demotivational techniques and Justin pretty much preaches his entire sermon for Sunday. This episode is outrageous!

Feb 17, 2017

The Two Bearded Preachers spend the episode discussing the meaning of life and whether or not the decisions we make matter. They comment on the fact that the listener doesn't get to hear the entire conversation since recording began well after they started talking. Justin gets his pump on and brags about his biceps. Martin is unimpressed and points out where his partner is wrong. Will listening to this episode matter in your life? One of us says yes, the other thinks it might not. Rest assured, it will make you happier than you were either way.

Feb 10, 2017

Justin and Martin talk about the golden era of television we are currently enjoying. The conversation begins with the rumors of a new Firefly series Fox seems willing to work on if only Joss Whedon will get on board. Then they discuss the joys of Burn Notice and Smallville before moving on to film. Neither of the Two Bearded Preachers are super excited about movies coming out this year with the exception of Lego Batman, Spiderman Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy, and pretty much any other MCU or DC movie. Maybe they are more interested in the 2017 movie scene than they say... Martin talks about the joy of Rogue One in Imax 3D and Justin spoils Split, the latest M. Night Shyamalan movie, for himself (don't worry, there aren't any spoilers in the episode). After all that they still find time to talk about how Martin's daughter broke her arm doing a back hand spring. What a glorious episode for your listening pleasure!

Feb 3, 2017

It's the newest episode of the Two Bearded Preachers! Justin and Martin discuss the role of emotions in the worship service and ask if they do themselves a disservice by minimizing emotional responses in the church. Martin talks about his experience at the Glennville Community Revival where Dr. Ron Archer pushed him out of his comfort zone. Justin shares how his son, Jonas, handled a bully at school with style and grace. Both share about how playing Diablo 3 is a spiritual exercise. Don't misbehave with that garlic bread, treat yourself with podcast gold instead. This episode is carbohydrate free.

Feb 2, 2017

Martin W. Bender

Fusion is an explanation of the assimilation program Nelson Searcy utilizes in his local church. It has many practical suggestions on how a congregation can be more effective at interacting with guests and engaging them outside the walls of the church facility. The book is all about function and encouraging the reader to be intentional about moving the first-time guest into fully engaged member of the church.

Fusion is not a book on ecclesiology. In fact, the greatest frustration I had with the book was the lack of clarity concerning what the responsibilities and privileges of church membership are for the individual. He does make the point very clear that membership is for believers, but it saddens me that such a point must be made in a book discussing how to appropriately assimilate people into the church. When a congregation lacks a clear understanding of the nature of the church any assimilation program will resort to pragmatism. How pragmatic were the first Christians in the establishment and building of the church?

In my congregation, we need to do a better job of listening to our membership. The systems that have been effective in the past are no longer working due to societal shifts. With this in mind, we will begin using some of the ideas presented in the book, but at the same time, we are developing and teaching a thorough ecclesiology in order to ensure our methodology is consistent with scripture.

 

Searcy, Nelson with Jennifer Dykes Henson. Fusion: Turning first-time guests into fully-engaged members of your church.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007.

Jan 28, 2017

The Two Bearded Preachers once again take on the controversial topic of facial profiling when Martin shares how his fanboy interaction with JD Hall left him feeling marginalized due to his fabulous face mane (apparently, he looks like he's in the Reformed Pub). Justin, enraged at the lack of common courtesy, threatens to begin a trolling campaign on his behalf. The conversation mellows as the two friends turn toward the upcoming Ligonier National Conference where Justin hopes to find some Abolish Human Abortion protestors to troll if only he can get a ticket. In the end, Martin has a positive view of Facebook because Scott Bradley of Post Modern Jukebox played his "Desperado" request during a Facebook Live interaction. It seems all is made right with the world by the end of this incredible, two-part extravaganza of hilarity.

Jan 27, 2017

Have Justin and Martin become crotchety in their old age? You'll probably say yes after listening to this episode where neither can keep their cool in social media interactions. Both feed the trolls in spite of knowing better and end up more upset than any reasonable person should become. They also talk about how the upcoming Royal Rumble will undoubtedly be the best until the next one rolls around and talk a little Christian anthropology. All that and a bonus episode to follow since they kept talking long into the night. Here's the first half, with Two Bearded Preachers episode 66B to follow in just a little bit.

Jan 20, 2017

Facial profiling is not a victimless crime. Justin and Martin share about the times they were facially profiled in their second outing in the podcasting world. Listen as strange echoes, mysterious buzzing, and voice fade out plagues the bearded brothers. This episode is obviously one of their first as it sounds even worse than normal. Do you remember when they called the show "Partially Informed"? You will after listening to this throwback show! #endfacialprofiling

Jan 12, 2017

What is the best way to annoy your wife and all the people at the Starbucks? Use a Fidget Cube. Justin shares his experience with the world's most useless start-up and his concerns about the fire that recently took place at the Sausage Castle (surprisingly, it's not a breakfast place). Martin tries to figure out how evangelism, discipleship, and knowledge are related and shares how optimistic he is about the new year. Both of the fellers remember the rules at FCC and sort of understand them, but not really. What a fantastic conversation!

Jan 11, 2017

Martin W. Bender

Within the first few pages of Ignite, I knew where the book was going to go. Searcy references Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Church by sharing the all too familiar target analogy. The idea is simple: move people from the community into the core of the congregation. This book focuses on how to bring people from the community into the crowd of folks attending so they can later move closer and closer to the center of the target: the core.

The genius of the book is that it has sequels built in. The outline is already set, all one must do is write out a methodology for moving from one group to the next, add some fictitious examples, and blammo! Book deal.

Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t terrible. In fact, it has some good ideas in it, but it seems like a rehashing of Warren’s uber popular church growth book and I had already read that one. Anywho… let’s get on with the good stuff.

The basic gist of Searcy’s method is to have a big event that is built up for several weeks, supported through marketing channels, executed with a high degree of professionalism, and actively followed up upon. Most ministers know the days where they will have higher than average attendance. Emphasize these days, plan well for them in the preaching plan, encourage the congregation to invite folks, challenge the whole congregation to something greater on those days, and follow up with guests. That’s the whole book.

The best idea to take from Ignite is the idea of consistency in communication. Searcy seems to argue that the best boot to ground measure to take in developing an evangelistic spirit with the congregation is to continuously communicate the need of the people to evangelize. He recommends peppering all the functions of the church evangelism as a value so that people are more likely to engage in the activity. When the people internalize this oft-repeated message they will naturally begin bringing others into the crowd gathering for worship.

The worst part of the book is Searcy’s rather flippant understanding of evangelism. He tends to use the word as if it means inviting people to church. That isn’t evangelism. Evangelism is the communication of the Gospel to the nonbeliever. In the system described, the work of the church member isn’t evangelism, but an invitation to be evangelized by another. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s a mistake to call something evangelism that’s really promotion. Maybe I’m just being a snob here, but it seems like a problem to me.

Ignite reads quick and has some good methods for making the most out of big days in the life of the congregation. It heavily relies upon Rick Warren and the Saddleback methodology for church growth. It has been proven effective in numerous locations around the US and may just work in your area as well. There’s nothing ground breaking in the book making it required reading, but it isn’t a waste of time either. If you hate Rick Warren, and I know some of you do, don’t bother with this one.

Searcy, Nelson with Jennifer Dykes Henson. Ignite: How to spark immediate growth in your church.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009.

Jan 5, 2017

Is Troll Hunter viable entertainment? What about Troll Hunters? Justin and Martin discuss this in the first episode of 2017. Over the course of the conversation, you'll find out why Justin has a new found respect for government, how Martin is going to score a new diploma, and the reason neither plan on moving to Canada any time soon. At the same time, the wonders of Netflix are navigated for you as the bearded brothers share their very favorite recommendations and hear a few pet peeves about television along the way. You'll also find out why Gen X people have trouble getting along with Millennials, the joys of Steaksgiving, and an update on Justin's curse. This episode certain covers a lot of ground, but not very well. Enjoy!

P.S. Why doesn't Justin know what Juggalos are?

Jan 4, 2017

Martin W. Bender

Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, but it seems like Thom Rainer only writes one book. As I read through Who Moved My Pulpit I couldn’t help but be reminded of I am a Church Member and The Unexpected Journey. It might be because all these books share similar content (they all deal with church leadership, something Rainer certainly knows a lot about) or maybe there is a higher level of repetition in his writing than I’m used to, but it will probably be a while before I crack open another of his works. With that little caveat in mind, let’s talk about why you should always lift with your legs when moving a pulpit.

Who Moved My Pulpit is a book about how to lead change in a congregation. It may surprise some to hear that good leaders are always interested in change, but it’s the truth. Leadership is moving others toward a preferable future – notice all the change language in that statement. There is movement, that movement is directive, the destination is superior to the current location, and it is forward in time. Those are four change terms used in defining leadership. I bring all this up because the readers of this article are most likely members of the congregation I pastor and might be interested to know how I define successful leadership.

Rainer doesn’t make any incredible observations in this book. It is primarily a reminder that making changes in a congregation should be done slowly. He emphasizes prayer as the starting point and continues to repeat the need for prayer throughout the book. He also leaves the nature of the changes that need to be made up to the reader. This is very positive considering all the advice flying around the internet about church growth methodologies. Rainer assumes the reader understands the nature of the changes that ought to be made and outlines the ideal way to make it happen.

My favorite line is one he lifted from an earlier book: you make changes in a congregation the same way you eat an elephant – one bite at a time (it’s a paraphrase). At Glennville First Christian Church there are so many changes I’d like to make the task seems overwhelming. I make the joke that we are going to change everything twice before I’m done, but the reality is that I’d like to develop a love for change in the congregation so that it is one of our core values.

I may use Who Moved My Pulpit again, but it will likely be for the illustrations or to point congregants to an easily accessible book on leading through change.

 

Rainer, Thom S. Who Moved My Pulpit: Leading change in the church. (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2016).

Dec 23, 2016

It isn't a party until Sweet Caroline is sung. You know that's the truth. Well, Justin and Martin start this party off with a little Neil Diamond and then wander into the holiday majesty of Sea World before ending up talking about the true meaning of Christmas. That's right folks, it's a Christmas episode you don't want to miss. Are otters the primadonnas of the pinnipeds? Does Santa's beard power the sleigh? Will all the Christmas programs be finished in time? All this and more will be answered in this very special Christmas episode of Two Bearded Preachers.

Dec 16, 2016

Does the Two Bearded Preachers podcast break the rules for acceptable behavior for pastoral people? Probably not. In this week's episode, Justin and Martin discuss the many benefits they receive from the podcast. There's a little bit of history told and the original plan of the show described, but it wasn't a good idea so the Bearded Brothers just started recording their regular conversations and the show got a lot better. Later in the episode, they talk about how they give advice to their congregations and the burden of eggnog.

Dec 8, 2016

Can a podcast be overly produced? The Two Bearded Preachers certainly don't think so, but it might be possible to overly produce a worship service. In this episode, Martin and Justin talk about sincerity in worship as they consider the implications of using decidedly secular music in the formal worship of the church. They also recount stories from their time in youth ministry and recognize that they are far more suited to the pulpit. Another area of discussion is men's health. Justin and Martin talk about the social awkwardness of the hernia test and tie it into their mutual love of podcasts. Oh, and Imagine Dragons rocks.

Dec 6, 2016

Trigger Warning: I will always assume your gender.

 

 

The American expression of Christianity is predominantly feminine. At least that’s the premise David Murrow bases his argument on in his church growth book Why Men Hate Going to Church. As I type this in the pastor’s study at my church, a study decorated by the ladies of the church, I can see his point. The furniture is decidedly girly with weird window treatments and Thomas Kincaid looking prints on the walls… I’m picking up what he’s putting down. The décor is symptomatic of a larger cultural phenomenon taking place where I minister, the ladies run the show.

 

This picture used to hang in my office. I replaced it with A New Hope poster Leia got me for Christmas a few years ago. You can see Ms. Anne's reflection in the bottom left corner.

 

At the risk of being called a He-man-woman-hater yet again by Leia (don’t worry, she’s joking, I think), it’s high time the church exhibit an equivalent amount of masculinity as femininity. Murrow draws attention to the fact that in America, the church has become increasingly influenced by women over the years. In an ever-feminizing environment, men feel increasingly out of place resulting in poor attendance, low interest, and lagging participation on the part of men. His assessment is that the decline in participation by men has inevitably led to a decline in overall attendance at church pointing specifically to mainline denominations to prove his point.

Now, it’s important to point out that correlation is not the same as causation. Yes, the mainline denominations are more feminized than evangelical congregations. Yes, the mainline is losing membership faster than their evangelical counterparts. That does not necessarily mean the one has caused the other. I would argue that theology, particularly whether a group holds to a high view of scripture, is more likely to be the cause of decline, but as neither Murrow nor I have studied that relationship we are left to disagree. Where I do agree with the author is in the need for churches to be more intentional about engaging men with the Gospel.

The heart of the book is pointing out the areas where men are marginalized in America’s churches and suggesting ways to shift toward gender neutral appeal. This is perhaps the most surprising part of the book. Murrow never says to hang up a deer head (although I don’t see the harm in it), but to take down the doilies, cross stitched last suppers (I took one of these down in my church), and images of Jesus depicting him as soft. He recommends removing the things that are overtly feminine and begin to offer ministry opportunities where men can shine.

 

I took this down from the fellowship hall. I know someone put a ton of time into making it, but come on, people! This thing is just weird.

 

Men like a challenge, competition, and accomplishment. Too much of church language fails to communicate the challenge inherent in the gospel message. The Great Commission says to make disciples, but there is precious little discipline in today’s church. The standards have been relaxed to make sure people’s feelings aren’t hurt, completely neglecting the fact that some people deserve to have their feelings hurt. The wishy-washy results are congregations with no standards, goals, or momentum. No wonder men have lost interest, too many churches just aren’t trying to do anything. Maybe a swift kick in the pants is in order?

To reference a slightly less practical book (Fight Club), Murrow took what was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and gave it a name. Most of what he writes resonates strongly with me as my church is very much the feminized group he describes. It’s almost as if he was walking through sanctuary here in Glennville. I’ve already begun shifting to a more male friendly approach and have seen the beginning of positive results. My concern is to make this transition without alienating the ladies who have worked very hard in their ministries but have unintentionally made the church less accessible to men.

Dec 1, 2016

If you'd like to know the secret to a perfect Thanksgiving turkey the Two Bearded Preachers can clue you in... it's butter. Either that or Boston Market, it's a bit of a toss up. In this week's conversation, the fellers talk about their new electronics (an iPhone 7 and an Xbox One S), discuss what to do when a prepubescent joins your party, and talk about the importance of maxing and relaxing. Will Justin be able to survive the tamest attraction in Kissimmee? Will Martin be able to make it through the show without running to the bathroom? These and other mysteries are solved in the 60th episode of the greatest episodic history of the Two Bearded Preachers' friendship. This episode is #1. Don't doubt it for a minute.

Nov 25, 2016

It's Thanksgiving and the Two Bearded Preachers are taking a well deserved week off. We didn't want to leave you high and dry, so here is a re-release of our very first episode. It is too long, has terrible editing, and sounds like absolute garbage. We think you'll love it. It will also help you to see how far we've come in putting these things together. So check it out, but we won't be hurt if you decide to keep this one to yourselves. Enjoy.

Nov 17, 2016

How many VCRs should you take when looting an electronics store? Does hand holding lead to baby making? How many days in a row can a man eat steak before it isn't delicious? These and other questions are answered in the latest episode of Two Bearded Preachers! Listen to how Martin and Justin would respond in a protest/riot scenario and hear their traditional Molotov Cocktail recipes. This one is a real barn burner, but kindly remember not to literally burn down any barns. We wouldn't want anyone to be charged with a hate crime against the livestock.

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