The Job Offer You DON’T Want to Get Today…


Let me count the ways…

… this video is so wrong.

It’s from our friend Steven Anderson from Faithful Word Baptist Church.

What causes this type of christianity?

From where does the anger flow?

Why the need to rip on others?

How does one end up this way? With this world view?

This doesn’t stray too far from the type of Christianity I left when I returned from college.

All the talk of ‘standards’. Mocking of the sinners. The anger. The hatred. All because you love Jesus.

It got old.

And I’m glad I survived.

Many of my friends didn’t.

I’m still sad about that.

And the scariest part for me is not necessarily what Steven says, but rather the number of people that are buying it with their ‘amens’.

This is the fringe of Christianity that many people see, unfortunately.

Thoughts?

Todd

Seriously. Stop Counting Attendance on the Weekends.

… as your primary indicator of church health.

For years, Many churches have used ‘butts and bucks’ as they’re leading spiritual indicators.

It’s just not true anymore. (And probably, these were the best indicators to begin…But they were measurable.)

David Odom has put into words what many of us have been thinking: measuring weekend attendance isn’t all that it used to be.

David says:

Average worship attendance was once such an important number. With it, I could predict the size of the church staff, the informal patterns of decision-making, most of the stresses on the pastor’s time, the leadership required for small groups, and more.

Back in the day, church consultant Lyle Schaller was quoted as saying that average worship attendance was a better indicator of congregational behavior than denomination, geography or neighborhood.

Today that number means much less because the definition of an active member has shifted.

At one time, “active” meant attending services three or four times a month. Today people feel active when they enter the church building once or twice a month. Some people engage worship more regularly online than from the pew. Others prioritize participation in a small group over worship attendance. Congregations have multiple services and, increasingly, multiple campuses.

It is more and more difficult to determine what “attending” means, much less judge someone as “active.”

I’m not sure that any of us would disagree. If nothing else, attendance patterns have shifted. In the past, regular church attendance meant people came at least three weekends a month. The new norm for regular attender? It’s probably more like one or two weekend a month.

David continues:

Church attendance was once a key indicator of a virtuous cycle. If the church could get a new person in the pew regularly, offerings would go up, involvement in small groups and missions would climb, and the church would be healthy. If attendance was declining then everything else would eventually decline.

The growing lack of dependability on attendance is a sign that the virtuous cycles that have sustained congregations since the end of World War II are collapsing. In order to sustain congregations over the long haul, new cycles need to be developed. Once that begins to happen, new measures can be identified.

One place to start is to map all the ways that a person engages a congregation — joining a small group, attending group meetings and social functions, contributing to special causes and to the church’s general budget, reading sermons or other resources on-line, volunteering in a missions project, teaching a class and more.

What patterns of engagement emerge? Which activities encourage participation in other activities? What practices are most likely to lead to spiritual growth? These are the building blocks of virtuous cycles.

This whole attendance conundrum is something that is baffling many church leaders. How can we change what we see is happening? Why is it happening? This is only happening to us or is it happening everywhere?

From my discussions with many church leaders, it’s a cultural transit seems to be happening everywhere. So at least you can take heart that it’s not just happening in your church.

But what David says is true.

The days of measuring attendance (butts) and offering (bucks) are over.

Your church needs to find new ways to measure peoples’ involvement.

And that has to do with engagement.

How are your people engaging these days outside of the weekly worship service?

How are you reaching new people?

And one of the most important questions we need to ask is: how are people coming to Christ in our context?

These are the things we should be measuring!

So… what are you measuring these days? Are you seeing evidence of what David is saying, where attendance can be down and offerings can be up? That there’s really no correlation between the two anymore?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below telling your thoughts on this.

Todd

Read more here…

What YOU can learn from Mark Driscoll

As many of you have heard, Mark Driscoll is stepping down from Mars Hill Church for at least the next six weeks to allow for an investigation of charges against him. Here’s the announcement:

This post is neither to blast Mark Driscoll or to defend him. I’ll let other pundits do that.

As someone who has followed this somewhat closely though, there are some things that I think ALL of us should learn from the position that Driscoll finds himself in.  Here are my thoughts:

OBSERVATION #1: ALL MINISTRY IS NOW NATIONAL

Your ministry is no longer local.  It’s national in nature, whether you like it or not.

Sure, we’ve not heard of most of the 300,000 local church pastors in America.  But you’re one slip-up or controversy away from making national headlines.

And you can thank the internet.

Did you know that Westboro Baptist Church has less than 100 members?

Or take the example of the little church in Ohio that regularly picketed a strip club in their community.  You didn’t hear about it until the ‘artists’ from the club decided to protest this small church, topless, a few weeks ago. Then it was national news.

While most ministry stays local, there is no guarantee.  And if you’re a pastor who likes or tries to draw attention to yourself or your ministry, you most likely can do it.

Lesson: Don’t think for a minute that how you lead will always stay local.  It might not. And at the very least, you’ll get a few nasty blog posts written about you, and a nice piece in the local newspaper and on the local newscast.

 

OBSERVATION: #2: THE MOUNTAINTOP ECHOS LOUDLY WHEN YOU’RE A LEADER

I like how The Message paraphrases Luke 12:3: “You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

Remember this: What is said in private rarely ever stays private.

What you say to others WILL be repeated.

The emails you write can be shared in a heartbeat.

Quick example: When 21 former elders and staff members made form charges against Driscoll last week, their document was leaked on the internet.  The first words of that document: “CONFIDENTIAL: We don’t intend to make this communication public, and we ask that you not make it public either.”

So much for confidentiality.

Lesson:  What you say, can and will be used against you.

 

OBSERVATION #3: VOLUNTARY CONTRITENESS IS BETTER THAN LATER FORCED CONTRITENESS

When you are wrong, it’s always best to admit it early and often.

Contrite: feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt.

In Driscoll’s case, he’s been forced to apologize quite a few times now… and with each contrite apology, more and more people question Mark’s sincerity.

Only God and Mark Driscoll know the heart in these matters.  But that doesn’t keep people from coming to their own conclusions. (And that’s where all the internet talk and pundits thrive… they love to rip people to shreds over stuff like this).

Lesson:  When needed, apologize early and often. Be humble.

 

OBSERVATION #4: TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY… DON’T BURN YOUR BRIDGES

Many of the consequences Mark Driscoll is dealing with now are because, apparently, he cut off many former trusted allies.

When you have over 20 former pastors and elders that need to make written charges against you… the chances are quite good that you are at least somewhat unapproachable.

It appears bridges were burned. Often.

I see this all the time.  ”If you’re not for me, then you’re against me.”

In other words… you’re off the team. It’s as if you never existed.

If you find yourself saying this about anybody in your church… be careful.

Lesson:  Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Words well said.

 

OBSERVATION #5: Don’t think you are invincible.

Lesson: You are not..

 

OBSERVATION #6: It’s not about you.

Ever.

Lesson: If/when your personality gets bigger than Jesus or you begin to view yourself as the ‘brand’ of your ministry, something is askew.

Lesson: As Rick Warren puts it, “It’s not about you.”

 

OBSERVATION #7:  Surround yourself with competent, independent thinkers and leaders.

One of the big charges against Driscoll is that all that are left on his staff are the Mark Driscoll loyalists. This may or may not be true… but the critics will see Mark stepping aside as being no real change.

Lesson: You need to have objective people around you that can disagree and hold you accountable without fear of losing their job or position.

 

OBSERVATION #8: Be sure your polity works before there is a crisis.  If it doesn’t work before the crisis, it won’t work during one.

Mars Hill has been under much scrutiny for changing it’s polity a few years back.  As Driscoll pointed out yesterday, authority of Mars Hill rests not with the elders, but with an external (outside the church) Board of Accountability. Time will tell if this was a good polity move years back or not.

Lesson: Be sure your polity is a good, balanced plan that will benefit the church as a whole, while readily keeping the leaders of the church accountable.

 

These are just a few thoughts this morning about what we all can learn from these events.  I’d love to hear your comments.

Todd

 

 

 

 

 

How to Shrink Your Church Attendance in One Easy Step

Here’s the premise media by Alexander Griswold:

Every major American church that is taking steps toward liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

Griswold writes:

By now, we’ve all heard the refrain that U.S. churches need liberalize their teachings on sexuality and homosexuality or rapidly decline. The logic behind the argument is simple: more and more Americans are embracing homosexuality and same-sex marriage, including growing numbers of religious Millennials. So long as churches remain the face of opposition to gay marriage, those churches will shrink into irrelevancy when gay marriage (inevitably, we are told) becomes a settled political issue.

These arguments often see church acceptance of homosexuality as a carrot as well as a stick. It isn’t so much that denouncing homosexuality will drive people away from church, but that embracing it will also lead people into church. LGBT individuals and their supporters, many of whom hold a dim view of religion after a decades-long culture war, will reconsider church if denominations remove their restrictions on gay marriage and ordination.

But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

What do you think? Does Griswold get it right? Or are there other reasons for these denominational downfalls in recent years?

And how important do you see the issue of sexuality and changing sexual norms at your church?

Will this be a big issue in the next decade? Will your church have to choose to lose some people because of your stand bisexual issues?

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below.

Todd

Mom. Mom. Mum. Mommy. Mom. Momma. Ma. Ma. Mom.

This is what email does to you every single day (if you leave your email client open or check email on your phone every time the notification goes off).

Why is it so annoying when our kids do this to us, but not when our email notification interrupts every important thing we do during the day?

New York Times researcher Daniel Levitin says that you should give your brain time to rest and reset by adjusting the way you approach all of your tasks, specifically social media and email:

If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

One great tool that I’ve found (I use gmail and chrome) is called “Inbox Pause”.  It’s free, and allows you to pause your email inbox (and all notifications on your desktop, tablet, and phone with the touch of a button.

It’s awesome.

Because if I don’t, I AM the guy who looks at the notification and cannot resist seeing who emailed me.

Try Inbox Pause, and let me know what you think?

How do you handle email?  Any tricks you can share to help us all?

Read more here…

Todd

Taking Your Church’s Pulse: Are you Thriving or Diving?

As church leaders, we all look at numbers.

But what numbers are you looking at?

Any churches just look at butts and bucks… How many people are sitting in the seats and how many dollars coming in the offering.

But we all know that the old butts and bucks measure only feels part of the story. In fact, it’s very possible to have more but some more bucks and a very unhealthy church.

So what should you measure? What indicators actually give you A good idea of how your churches doing? Executive Pastor Dan Reiland from 12 Stone Church suggests these 10 numbers that REALLY matter…

1. Serving the poor.

2. Visitors that don’t look like you.

3. Next generation called to ministry.

4.  Restored marriages.

5. New Christians/Baptisms.

6. Addictions broken and fear conquered.

7. First time tithers.

8. New leaders and volunteers.

9. Hours devoted to prayer.

10. Kids treated with respect.

You can read more of Dan’s thoughts on each of these items here.

The fact of the matter is, what gets measured, gets done.

Be honest. What are you measuring? If you’re only measuring butts and bucks, you’re missing out.

Each of the items in the above list can be tracked and measured. Pick one or two and start. My guess is that what you start measuring, I’m not only be more excited about seeing results but improving the results.

So… What are you measuring your church? I’d love to hear! Please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail to ToddRhoades@gmail.com.

Todd

Two Essential Questions to Ask About Your Leadership Team or Your Board

Would’ve the biggest frustrations many lead pastors and church leaders deal with on a day-to-day basis is dealing with their board or leadership team. In many churches, leadership meetings can take hours and yet seem to accomplish very little.

Communication, of course, is key. So is cultivating relationships of trust.

What what do you do when you’re stuck? What do you do when it just seems that you’re making no progress whatsoever?

Mike Bonem suggests that as a group you ask your leadership team these two simple questions:

1.: Are the issues we’re discussing important for our future? In other words, are these the issues that are main leadership team should even be dealing with? Be open and honest… Is this really something we should be talking about, or is this a decision that can best be made by someone else or another group?

2. Do we make and follow through on decisions made in our team meetings? The point here is: your decisions are not valuable if they’re not carried out. In some churches, it’s all talk and no decision. But in other churches decisions are made but are never carried out. Both are tragic.

Mike says, “Here’s my recommendation. First, answer the two questions on your own. How do you evaluate your team? Then makes these two questions the focus of your next leadership team meeting. Push hard for an honest conversation and if changes are needed, make a clear decision on what will be different in the future. It could be the most important thing that your team will do this week.

So… How are you doing in your leadership team meetings? Are they extremely valuable? Or are they sometimes what seems to be a huge waste of time?

For additional help, Mike also recommends the book “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni.

Let me know what you’re learning in yourLeague team meetings.Send me an e-mail with your thoughts to toddrhoades@gmail.com.

Why Video is So Stinkin’ Important In Your Church

As a church leader, you need to use every tool at your disposal to communicate your mission, vision, and values at your church.

Don’t discount video.

According to a post at Insivia.com, here are some very important things to remember about video and the power it has in your ministry:

  • Each day 100 million internet users watch an online video.
  • 90% of user say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision process.  (What ministry implications does this have when people visit your church’s website?)
  • According to ComScore, the average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. – The key word here is ‘ads’.  These are JUST the ads.
  • They say a picture is worth a million words.  Insivia says that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. (Not quite sure where they get that, but it IS interesting).
  • Comedy is the most popular form of online video content among all viewers at 39% according to Burst Media.  (Question:  How can you use comedy to help people remember your point?)
  • BUT… Keep it Short:  45% of viewers will stop watching a video after 1 minute and 60% by 2 minutes, according to Visible Measures.
  • It’s the future:  By 2016, 2/3rds of the worlds mobile data traffic will be video according to Cisco.  2/3 by 2016?  Sounds like we have some work to do.

How is YOUR church uniquely using video?

Do you think video will play an important role in the next 5-10 years of ministry?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Todd

How to Reorganize Your Church Without Freaking People Out

Dan McCarthy thinks that you can change an organization without freaking people out.

People freak out in churches all the time.

And change makes many people totally freak.

When congregants freak out, they leave.

Or they make waves (which, in turn, freaks out a whole new group of people).

And, I might add, I’ve seen a few pastors freak out in my day as well.

So… how do you make changes without everyone getting their underwear in a wad?

According to McCarthy, the first step in changing an organization takes a little bit of organization.  A plan. A well-thought-out-plan.

Many (many) leaders just try to change things without a plan.

That freaks people out.

To tell you the truth… that freaks me out when a leader does that.

Here are Dan’s steps for a ‘change plan’:

1. Start with a strategy. 
It’s critical to know where the organization or team is going – what’s important, what’s not, what are the goals, etc…. While this may sound obvious, it’s an often overlooked step. Don’t have a strategy? Then maybe it’s time to create one before you start messing with the organization chart. Structure should always follow strategy. A new organization chart is not a strategy!

2. Develop your criteria.
List the problems you are trying to solve and/or opportunities. Then weight (High, Medium, Low) each one. This becomes the criteria that you’ll use to evaluate design alternatives and to measure your success.

3. Develop and evaluate design alternatives.
I’ve seen a lot of teams fall in love with one idea and then spend all of their time trying to justify it or make it perfect. Instead, try to come up with multiple alternatives (3-4), and then rank those against your criteria. The reality is none of the options will ever be perfect – there will always be trade-offs and risks.

Take the best one, and then come up with action plans to mitigate the risks.

This is also a good time to discuss other alternatives that DON’T involve reorganizing. Sometimes, the best change is no change.

4. Test the final design with scenarios.
Spend time testing the design by discussing how various business processes would work within the new structure. These “what if” discussions help fine tune the structure and clarify roles.

Let’s be frank.

Freaking people out is not good leadership.

Sure… you’ll always have people that won’t go along with your plan, won’t like your plan, or (honestly) won’t like you.  But a plan will at least give these people your rationale for the changes you are trying to make.

So… don’t just make changes… make a plan to make the changes, over time, with as many people on board.

There’s no need to freak out here, people.  :)

Thoughts?

Read more here.

Todd

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