Saddleback Cancels

Saddleback Cancels

In a rare move, the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County is canceling all of its worship services during the second weekend in December in order to help facilitate a huge neighborhood volunteer opportunity.  Rick Warren is Saddleback attenders to take at least a half day on Saturday or Sunday (Dec. 10, 11) to go “serve in the community and love your neighbor as yourself.”

In its 31-year history, the megachurch has canceled weekend services less than a handful of times, according to Warren.

Church officials are hoping to mobilize Saddleback’s base of 5,000 Bible study groups, referred to as “small groups,” to perform their own chosen acts of kindness in their neighborhoods.

Pastor Erik Rees, designated as the pastor of Ministries and Life Worship at the church, is leading the team that is championing the event called, “Good Neighbor Weekend.”

“Saddleback has always been a loving and caring church that gives and gives, so this weekend will continue our commitment to love our neighbors,” Rees told The Christian Post. “The weekend will include a variety of ways to shower our neighbors with compassion, kindness and love. These opportunities include on-campus, in the community, and through our 5,000 small groups.”

SOURCE:  The Christian Post

Great idea or horrible one?

Would your church ever consider doing something like this?


Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

Barefoot Church:  Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

People are hungry to make a difference in their community, yet most don’t know where to start. In fact, ‘serving the least’ is often one of the most neglected biblical mandates in the church. Barefoot Church shows readers how today’s church can be a catalyst for individual, collective, and social renewal in any context. Whether pastors or laypeople, readers will discover practical ideas that end up being as much about the Gospel and personal transformation as they are about serving the poor. Here they will see how the organizational structure of the church can be created or redesigned for mission in any context. Drawing from his own journey, Brandon Hatmaker proves to readers that serving the least is not a trendy act of benevolence but a lifestyle of authentic community and spiritual transformation. As Hatmaker writes, ‘My hope is that God would open our eyes more and more to the needs of our community. And that we would see it as the church’s responsibility to lead the charge.’

About the author:  Brandon Hatmaker is pastor of Austin New Church (ANC), co-founder of Restore Austin, and a missional strategist with Missio ( After years of serving in the megachurch, Brandon and his wife, Jen, refocused their ministry on church planting and mobilizing the church to meet the needs of the poor and marginalized. Together, ANC and Restore Austin have developed a unique network of churches and non-profits that serve in a collective effort to impact their city and world.

Excerpt:  Read now!

What Your Peers are Saying about Barefoot Church

Cross Leadership says:

When I received my digital review copy of Barefoot Church, the first thing I noticed was the title. And the first thing I thought was, “Oh. Another book trying too hard to be edgy and cool. Like The Gospel According to Tony Soprano or something like that.” Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the content of this powerful book. Within minutes, I was in tears over the powerful truth that I encountered.

Barefoot Church:  Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture is a book about how churches do (or don’t do) mission, evangelism, discipleship, social justice, and outreach. Please don’t expect another book debating the pros and cons of social justice. Instead, expect to be taken on a journey that explores what the Bible says about the church’s mission, and how that should look in your city, in your own assembly, and in your local context… [more]

Logan Leadership Blog says:

I’ll tip my hand right from the beginning. Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It’s filled with great, inspiring stories that come from real life, hands-on ministry experience. If you’ve ever wondered whether this church thing ever works, you need to read this book. It provides much-needed hope and direction, as well as a shift in the way we think about what defines “success” in the church.

Hatmaker is careful to avoid common pitfalls. Without in any way letting the church off the hook for all its failings, Brandon still keeps the perspective positive: on what we can do. There’s no sense of giving up. He also addresses the tangling and untangling of evangelism and social action deftly and realistically: a solid theological work… [more]

Simply Missional says:

I wish Barefoot Churchwas written before I planted my first church.  It would have saved me a lot of pain and mistakes.  This is a book filled with practical action-steps that will help the church embrace the beauty of Sunday and prepare for living out the mission, to love God and love our neighbor; locally and globally.

I would encourage pastors to share this book with their board members, staff members and key church leaders. Take time to process what is at stake here.  You will get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of  what a living church can be like if we are willing to take risks, move away from the “known” and see how we can truly love our broken world.

Brandon has penned a missional guide…he leads us down a practical pathway that will help us discover some tangible ways that will cause our churches to be more effective… [more]

Pastor Dave Online says:

I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission… [more]

Michael Brower Online says:

In just over two hundred pages Brandon efficiently challenges me and the modern American church to examine it’s current methods, structure, and focus. Are we doing church in a way that allows Jesus to build his church effectively (Mt 16:17, p152)? When we look at how the church has been marginalized in much of society there is a simple conclusion, no.

Barefoot Church is challenging, encouraging, refreshing, instructional, raw at points, and overall I found a very good message inside. Pastor Hatmaker is genuine in his desire to follow Jesus’ instructions to serve the least in our world. His approach, along with the people of Austin New Church (ANC), is opening doors of opportunity to those many never consider…. [more]

Steps says:

Within these 175 pages is a book on being missional that goes beyond theory. The personal stories from Hatmaker and the practical ideas presented is what every leader and layperson could ask for.

Every pastor wants his church to be big on outreach. Often their congregation says the same thing yet wanting to keep things the way they’ve always been. Opting for the chance that they could convince the nonchurched to become more like the churched before they have to change… [more]

Author Video:  Barefoot Church Introduction:

Author video:  What is the idea behind the Barefoot Church?

Author video:  What prompted you to write the book?

Author video:  What is the most challenging concept in the book?

Author video:  What is your favorite quote from the book?

Author video:  How will Barefoot Church improve leaders’ lives?

Author video:  Barefoot Church:  Serving the least in a consumer culture


Get this book at

Paperback: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

Kindle Edition: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

Quitting too soon

Quitting too soon

Tim Peters has written a short piece dealing with ten reasons why pastors quit too soon.  I found it interesting (and true).  Take a look at the list… Do you ever feel like quitting?  It’s probably because of one of these reasons…

1. Discouragement

  • Many pastors and church leaders receive criticism, experience little or no growth, people leave, enemy attacks, etc.

2. Failure

  • Many pastors are successful.  But with unnecessary and self-afflicted pressure they feel like a failure.

3. Loneliness

  • It can be lonely at the top.

4. Moral Failure

  • Especially sexual sin/affair/pornography addiction.

5. Financial Pressure

  • Not enough money to support their family. Or lack of financial responsibility.
I wonder though… when you want to quit… which one of these is the biggest culprit?
Is there anything that you might add to the list?
When was the last time you were really serious about quitting?

Joel’s Reality TV

Joel’s Reality TV

Joel Osteen is getting ready to let the masses see how he walks out his faith in a new reality TV series that will inspire people to help people.

Osteen is joining forces with Survivor producer Mark Burnett on the prime-time network show that will begin airing in 2012. Burnett told TMZ the premise of the show is that ordinary people will give up several days or longer to go on a mission with Osteen. The missions aim to “start fixing things.”

“A big part of our ministry is we’re blessed to be a blessing to somebody else,” Osteen told FOX 26 in Houston. “The thought is people would give up their time and not necessarily know where they’re going that day, but show up, load up in planes and head out and make a difference in the world. We’re going to be ambassadors of goodwill, hope and faith, and have fun along the way.”

The Osteens are friends with Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, who are professing Christians.

The program doesn’t have a network or a name yet, but the episodes will reportedly focus on service projects like Generation Hope in Washington, D.C. Generation Hope is a movement of the next generation to awaken, unite and mobilize young adults to bring hope to the hurting and lost world by tangibly serving the community.

“We do these projects without the cameras rolling,” said Iloff. “But Jesus said, ‘Let your light shine. Don’t hide it under a bushel.’”


So… will you be watching, or would you pass?


A LONG weekend

A LONG weekend

It’s been a tough few days for Bishop Eddie Long.

Last Friday, Long’s wife filed for divorce:

“It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly,” she said in the statement. “I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter.”  SOURCE

That was Friday morning.  Friday afternoon, she had a change of heart and issued another statement:

“Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long. I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage.”  SOURCE

But… evidently that was not true.  As of this morning’s news reports, the divorce is back on.

In fact, Bishop Long says he is now taking some time off from church:

“I’m going to take a little time off to work with my family… I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I’ve had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa.  And I want you to rest assured that I love her and she loves me. … In all the things that I’ve ever had to deal with and being pastor, my rock has been to be able to come home to a virtuous woman who always had peace in my house… We’re going (to) work it out,” he said.”  SOURCE


Pretty sad.  I’m praying for Bishop Long and his wife.

Things like this are horrible when they are played out in private.  Horrendous when they are played out in public.

Obviously, the public statements portray a relationship that is in dire straights.  And a very confused couple.

My understanding is that Long’s church has already shrunk considerably since the sexual allegations against him in the past months.  This will not help.

How do you respond when you hear things like this?  Should you care?  Should you respond?

The Cult(ure) of Christmas

The Cult(ure) of Christmas

How do you feel about this song? I find the message to be off-putting. We are working to share the good news about Jesus with the whole world. Material like this only widens the gap between Christ and the world that he died to save. The mall does not define my relationship with Christ. Biblical liturgy is not associated with some advertising-advent. It is ironic that the mission of God could become hijacked by “Merry Christmas.”

You are free to shop wherever you wish; it is a matter of conscience for you and your family. If you dont say merry Christmas in your window I want to meet you. I want to have a relationship with you and welcome you to walk right through MY door. If fact, you can come to my church. Both you and Santa would be welcome to hang out any time of the week.

Brent Colby is a pastor at Evergreen Christian Community in Olympia Washington. You can track him down at

Mac N Cheese

Mac N Cheese


Is Mac and Cheese a black thing?


Found this clip on YouTube.  Not sure I Pat was talking about Mac and Cheese in the context of Thanksgiving dinner or in life in general?

Either way, I think I would have kept the ‘is that a black thing’ in my head.

Just a thought.

Oh my.

Top 11 Posts of 2011

Top 11 Posts of 2011

Can I be honest?  I get really tired really early of everyone’s ‘these are my top posts of the year’ posts.

So… I decided to beat everyone to the punch by posting my top posts of the year before anyone else!  That way you’ll read mine before you get tired of everyone else’s end of year post.  Early bird gets the worm, you know.

Anyway… here are the top 11 posts for 2011 here at

1.  Osteen:  Mormons ARE Christian

2.  When Pastors and Churches Just Don’t Get It

3.  Church Nude Calendar

4.  Francis Chan:  A Warning to Young Pastors

5.  Mahaney Leave

6.  Meltdown

7.   Average Pay for the Senior Pastor

8.  Exposing False Teachers

9.  Why Pastors Cheat

10.  Pastor Weiner

11.  Copyright Infringement and the Church

OK… well… there you have it!  Hope you enjoy!

Anti-Black Friday

Anti-Black Friday

From the “give me a break” file comes this:

While thousands of bargain hunters hit the stores for Black Friday deals, several churches are choosing to start the Christmas season with “Bless Friday” by giving back to the community.

And these churches are hoping to get their message across to Americans. “People get our message that when we focus too much on buying things, we lose sight of the real reason for Christmas – remembering and honoring Christ,” said Chuck Fox, founder of Bless Friday, in a statement. “We want to begin our Christmas celebration by serving others just as Jesus did.”

Fox launched Bless Friday in 2010 after hearing a sermon on how Americans are losing sight of the real reason for Christmas.

The message of Bless Friday in a nutshell: It’s a day for service not shopping.

“On the day after Thanksgiving, millions of people started their Christmas celebration at malls and other retail outlets,” the website for Bless Friday states. “This can’t be the way that God intends Christians to prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Savior of the World. And what begins poorly also ends poorly.”

via Churches Say No to Black Friday, Yes to Bless Friday, Christian News.

I think helping your neighbor and keeping the real meaning of Christmas is a good thing… don’t get me wrong.  But I think this movement has a couple things working against it:

1.  It’s another thing the church is now against:  Black Friday.  Just add it to the list of things that we, Christians, oppose.  Much better, I think, to pick any other day, and start something positive rather than start something positive as a default to something else you find negative.  Kind of like the fake proms I went to in high school (because real dancing leads to… well… you know) or the Harvest parties that many churches do as a Halloween alternative.  The people we’re trying to reach look at that and say… “how absurd”.  Most recent really bad idea was this year’s JesusWeen.

2.  We Christians are just as consumeristic and bargain conscience as our non-Christian counterparts.  You’re asking me to give up $500 off a huge HD TV to help you bless someone else?  Maybe Saturday, dude… but I gots plans for Friday, thanks.

And don’t even get me started on Cyber-Monday.

What do YOU think?

Decision Making

Decision Making

“A decision without tradeoffs isn’t a decision.  The art of good decision making is looking forward to and celebrating the tradeoffs, not pretending they don’t exist.

Seth Godin

Uh… chew on that for a little bit today.


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