Should Church Leaders Watch “Game of Thrones”?

OK… how would YOU answer this question?

John Piper says the following:

Piper gives 12 reasons why you shouldn’t.

One of those reasons is that when if watch Game of Thrones, you are essentially, recrucifying Christ.

Christ died to purify his people. It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it.

He has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.

What do you think of Piper’s answer?

Do you agree?

An overstatement, or spot on?

Who’s Your Newman?

Every church leader has their Newman…

And you know exactly who he/she is.  :)

You know… the person you find annoying.

The person who’s always foiling your plans.

The person you just don’t care for.

Thing is… you have to work with ‘Newmans’ every week.  Maybe they’re on your staff.  Maybe they’re on your board.

Hopefully you’re not married to your ‘Newman’.

Who’s YOUR ‘Newman’?

And more importantly… how do you deal with ‘Newmans’ in a ministry context?

OK… go… tell your story.

Todd

 

How to “Hit a Home Run” in Your Next Sermon Series…

Today’s post is by Dr. Charles Arn.  Charles is a Visiting Professor of Christian Ministry & Outreach at Wesley Seminary.  I think you’ll like his practical tips for your next series…

Here’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic.

First, some background…

A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring andirrelevant.

“Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon.

In his book, What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, veteran pastor James Emery White talks about how to make preaching relevant: “The most important thing has to do with your sermon topics. They should address people’s life issues and questions about the faith… That means you try to bring as much of the counsel of God as you can to them through the door of their interests.”

How do you learn the interests, concerns, and needs of your congregation so that you can connect God’s Word with their world in a relevant way?  Rather than guess, why not ask them?

HERE’S HOW… 

Insert a 3×5 card in each church bulletin or program for the next several weeks, and point it out during the service.  Explain that one of your goals, as pastor, is to help the Word of God to be understood and applied in people’s daily lives so that it is relevant to both those in the church, and those in the community.  Describe the purpose of the card—to list key life issues they are facing at the moment.

Give listeners time to think about their responses to three questions, and then write them down on the card. At the end of the service attendees should drop their completed “answer cards” in one of several marked boxes on their way out. The cards should, of course, be anonymous.

THE QUESTIONS ?

  1. What do you wonder about?  What do you just not understand—or wish you did understand—about how life works?  Is it “Why bad things happen to good people?”  Or, maybe “Does prayer really work?”  Perhaps you wonder about “What happens when you die?” or “Why do innocent children suffer?”  If more than one thing comes to mind, write them all down.
  2. What do you worry about?  What keeps you up at night; causes your heart to beat faster, your anxiety to rise?  Perhaps it’s a financial issue.  Maybe a relationship gone bad.  Is there realistic hope in your worse case scenario?
  3. What do you wish for?  If money were no obstacle, time or other commitments could not stop you, what is your dream?  What would you love to see, or do?  Maybe travel somewhere. Have lots of money.  A particular job, or a special relationship?  Dreams are powerful motivators.  What’s yours?

After the service, collect the cards.  Repeat the process for the next two weeks so that people can add additional items, and those who did not attend the previous week can contribute.

On your computer create three different documents (one for each question) and transcribe the responses.  (Asking a secretary or volunteer to help may be a better use of your time.)

Then, review the responses to each question and look for common themes.  Identify general response categories for each question and make tic marks (IIII) for similar answers.  Finally, identify the most frequent responses to each question.  Once you have identified what people wonder about…worry about…wish for… you have tapped into relevance.

Your congregation will be interested in the results.  On the Sunday after your last survey, share the list and frequency of the responses.  A visual illustration or printed document will add interest.

Explain that you will be taking these responses seriously, doing research, and sharing messages in the coming months that speak to these issues.  If you are organized enough, print a list of upcoming dates in which the service will address these topics.  Encourage members to bring a friend or relative on the day(s) which may be relevant to them.

AND THEN…

Ask a group of creative people to help you plan the services.  Use the entire service to focus on the issue.  Consider drama, a panel discussion, personal testimonies, video clips.  You have an hour to address the issue.  Remember that the sermon is not the message…the service is the message.  Make it a comprehensive and engaging growth experience.

Use the series as an opportunity to invite past visitors, parents of VBS kids, inactive members, and other groups with whom you have a connection.  And in this context, communicate to all who come that Christ’s “…grace is sufficient for all your needs”  (2nd Cor. 12:9).  That’s another name for relevance!

Read some more great thoughts from Charles here…

Could this be the tipping point for some in the United Methodist Church?

There is no doubt that the subject of homosexuality and same-sex marriage is a hot topic in the church these days, and it have hit fever pitch for some in the United Methodist Church.

Yesterday, suspended UMC pastor Frank Schaefer was reinstated as a pastor.  The Pennsylvania minister was suspended about six months ago after officiating his son’s same-sex marriage.

The move had some cheering; and others mad as, well, you know.

First, he was just suspended by a jury of Methodist pastors… for just 30 days.

But when he refused to promise that he would not ever perform another same-sex marriage, he was defrocked.

This is personal for Schaefer.  Three of his four children are gay.

Now, according to the LA Times, a nine-person panel of clergy and lay members has determined that that ‘defrocking’ was unlawful.  Here’s why: Revoking his credentials “cannot be squared with the well-established principle that our clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future” according to the panel.

Schaefer will be moved from PA to the California-Pacific conference where he will work in Student Ministry.

You can tell the amount of acrimony in sectors of the UMC just by reading the Bishop of the California-Pacific Conference’s release on Schaefer’s reinstatement and move to her conference:

I am aware of the fact that these steps on our journey to wholeness may be troubling to some among us.  This burdens my heart, but we must be the church of Jesus that excludes no one.  I will continue to hold up for all of us the need to be servants of Christ of the highest moral character whether we are straight or gay.  At the same time, we must not judge each other on the basis of our gender identity, for we are all created by God and loved by God with the very gender identity God has graciously bestowed upon us.

Rev. Schaefer has much to teach us about what it means to love the children God gives us who happen to be gay.  I pray that we will make space for him and his family in our lives and in our hearts as he comes to labor among us.

For those on the other side of this issue, I doubt they feel that Schaefer has anything to teach them.  She doesn’t seem to understand that there are a good share of her tribe that feel that it is not possible to live under the highest moral character if you are a practicing homosexual.

We have a lot of United Methodists that read this blog… many on both sides of the issue.

My question… will the Schaefer case turn into some kind of a tipping point ultimately for or against gay marriage in the UMC?

Your thoughts?

Todd

New Church Job Openings for the Week

Here is a list of fresh job openings just in at ChurchJobs.tv. And you can view over 650 fresh church jobs here!

You can add your church’s job opening for free right here!

AR – Mountain Home
Young Families Pastor
First Baptist Church, Mountain Home, Arkansas is accepting resumes for a Young Families Pastor. This position is primarily responsible for all adults ages 22-40, and children 6th grade and under. Any married adults or adults under the age of 22 with children are also included. The focus of this position is on reaching and discipling young families. More info…

FL – Celebration
Director of Connections Ministry
Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, FL is seeking a full-time Director of Connections Ministry.  This Director will facilitate the assimilation and integration of church members and visitors into church activities. Responsibilities: Recruit, equip and mobilize volunteers, develop leadership teams and build structures for maximum participation and engagement in the church family; Help develop life group vision incorporating curriculum and a missional component; and Collaborate with existing church leadership to plan, coordinate and grow existing and new programs. More info…

FL – Clearwater
Director of Contemporary Worship
First United Methodist Church of Clearwater, Florida is seeking applicants for the position of Director of Contemporary Worship (DCW).  Applicants must have a deep love for Christ and a desire to express his or her faith leading worship in a contemporary format.  Experience in leading a praise band and leading worship is required.  Two job descriptions are attached in that this position can be either full time or part time depending on the gifts and circumstances of the applicant.  If full time the applicant must be able to pair this ministry with leadership of another needed ministry within the church (e.g. Evangelism, Childrens Ministries, etc.). More info…

IL – Wheaton
Director of Worship
First Baptist Wheaton (located in a suburb of Chicago) is seeking a full-timeDirector of Worship to engage and lead by challenging, motivating, and guiding the congregation in their fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism journey through creative means of worship. The Director of Worship is responsible for leading worship, developing worship teams, planning long-term worship objectives and coordinating worship services with the Senior Pastor and the Director of Communications & Technology. They will perform vocally and/or instrumentally as a worship leader in our two Sunday morning worship services. Candidate must have two years of experience and be comfortable with both traditional and contemporary worship, managing a budget, and administering a large roster of volunteers. Salary and benefits commensurate with experience. More info…

MD – Leonardtown, MD
Worship Pastor
SouthPoint Church is a growing (avg attendance ~1000), non-denominational church in Leonardtown, MD.  Located about an hour south of DC, this Chesapeake Bay community offers the best of suburban life with a small-town feel. The music ministry is an integral part of the Sunday morning experience and is valued as more than simply the warm-up act for the message. The purpose of the worship team is to “engage a diverse church to engage God through musical worship.” SouthPoint embraces variety in worship and sets freely move between Hillsong, Israel Houghton, Jesus Culture, William McDowell, and revised hymns. More info…

MI – TROY
High School Director
We’re looking for a high school director who will pour into the lives of students. Create genuine biblical community that transforms students into fully-devoted followers of Jesus. Must have proven experience in leadership, building teams, vision casting and excellent communication skills. Undergraduate degree in related field preferred.  Two or more years of a proven track record leading high school students in a church of 2,000 + is preferred. Experience in executing a weekly creative environment is required.  Training in leadership and management helpful. Must be able to develop, implement and oversee biblically-based, relevant, engaging and attractional programming for high school students. Build relationships with students throughout the week and establish ongoing presence at major high school campuses. Organize & plan camps, retreats, local & overseas missions experience with current partnerships. Aggressively pursuing personal, spiritual & professional growth. Must have affinity with Kensington Leadership and affirm mission, vision & values of Kensington Church.  More info…

MN – Little Canada
Men’s Discipleship & Leadership Facilitator
Discipling and developing men into leaders of undeniable conviction. To advance the mission of RESOLUTE. This position has full facilitator responsibilities as it relates to Cohorts and the administration of the full mission of RESOLUTE. More info…

NJ – Pompton Plains, NJ
Worship Leader
Cornerstone Church in Pompton Plains NJ is in search of an intern to fill a part time position as a director for their music team.  This is a great opportunity to join the leadership of a growing church replant and provide creative and artistic vision through the further development of our contemporary/progressive musical expression.  We are seeking someone who is passionate, responsible, and teachable.  He/she must be someone who loves Jesus, loves his church and has a desire to see churches planted through making disciples whose lives are transformed by the Gospel. More info…

NV – Henderson
Worship Pastor
We are a growing church in Henderson, Nevada. We are connected with a Christian school and so this position could potentially be closer to full time if the applicant was willing to work in the school as well. More info…

NV – Las Vegas
Spanish Ministries Pastor
Freedom Life Grace Church is a new church launching on September 20th in Las Vegas, NV. Our mission is to create engaging environments where people who may feel far from God can learn, trust and follow Jesus. We are looking for passionate people that want to be a part of what God is doing in Las Vegas. If you are interested in making a difference and finding your life’s calling, you may want to consider joining our launch team. We believe that being a part of what God is doing is a calling, it’s a privilege. And above all, it’s a chance to be empowered.  More info…

OR – DALLAS
Youth Pastor
We are looking for a full-time youth pastor with experience leading middle school, high school, and college age students. An energetic and passionate person/couple who love God, love people, and desire to impact a church and community for Christ. We are located in Dallas, Oregon approximately 12 miles outside the capital city of Salem and 45-minutes from the Oregon Coast. Dallas is the seat for Polk county. The population of our city is approximately 15,000 (including surrounding areas over 35,000). We are a church with an average Sunday morning attendance of 225. More info…

PA – Beaver Falls
Pastor/Director of Family Life and Worship
Seminary or equivalent degree preferred. 3-5 years lay or professional ministry experience preferred. Gifts of Leadership, Administration, Teaching, and Evangelism. Excellent relational and interpersonal communication skills. Excellent verbal and written skills.  Agrees with the theology and polity of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and CAC bylaws. Willing to enter the Licensing and Ordination process with the Christian & Missionary Alliance. More info…

PA – Pittsburg
Pastor
Bible Baptist Church of Pittsburgh is seeking a Pastor. Our current pastor is retiring after over 20 years of ministry in our church. We are an independent, fundamental Baptist church of about 40 members in the Pittsburgh suburb of Scott Township. We are a strong bible-believing church which worships God in a traditional worship service with sacred music. We seek a pastor with at least a bachelor’s degree from a Bible College and three years of pastoral experience who will provide strong leadership and a bold vision. More info…

TX – Corpus Christi
Pastor of Worship
Trinity Church of the Nazarene is a church in Corpus Christi, TX located minutes from the various beaches around the city. We are located in a great area of Corpus and have a great opportunity for growth. We currently run around 45 for Sunday worship. We are looking for someone who can successfully lead our congregation into a place in which they experience and encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit. This would be a volunteer position. More info…

TX – Frisco
Children’s Pastor
Hope Fellowship is a multi-site Church with campuses in Frisco and McKinney Tx.  Hope is looking for someone to lead the Adventure Kidz ministry on our Frisco East Campus. This position will lead all areas of Children’s Ministry from birth to fifth grade on the campus; overseeing the Early Childhood staff as well as coordinating and ministering to the elementary kids during weekend services. If you are passionate about training the next generation, have experience as a Children’s Pastor, are a high capacity, self motivated leader who can rally a team of staff and volunteers to make a difference in the lives of over 900 children each weekend, we want to talk to you. More info…

TX – Justin
Associate Student Minister
To serve as an associate minister, alongside Senior Student Pastor, to teenagers in 7th through 12th grades. POSITION HOURS: Salaried. Part-time, including Sundays, Wednesday nights, a few days a week in office, as well as other times as required by ministry schedule (occasional weekends, etc.). Summer availability a necessity. Average week would be approximately 25 hours a week. More info…

VA – Fairfax
Youth Director
Full-time Youth Director—Fairfax United Methodist Church in Fairfax, Virginia a suburb of Washington D.C., is seeking a faith-filled individual to foster the spiritual growth of the youth of our congregation and community. This is a growing and multi-faceted ministry that includes mission trips, drama, fellowship, music, and spiritual growth thru study. We desire an experienced candidate who exhibits spiritual leadership, maturity and poses good communication as well as organizational skills.  Candidate should have an understanding of United Methodist faith and practice. Salary and benefits are commensurate with experience and qualifications. More info…

VA – Virginia Beach
Youth Director
Courthouse Community United Methodist Church (CCUMC) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is seeking a person to direct a large, active and mission focused team of youth and adult volunteers who desire to grow deeper in relationship with Christ and the world. This ministry actively supports the vision and goals of CCUMC to “transform the world” and impact the community with the love of Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through large group and small group experiences at the church as well as regular outreach to the most vulnerable in the region and across the country. More info…

WA – Kennewick
Children’s Pastor/Director
The Living Room Community Church was planted in January of 2007. The church is a non-denominational Christian church. We have grown to a weekly atendance of 700 – 1000. We are driven by the passion that we have, to share the great news of Jesus with as many people as possible using culturally, creative and contextual ways. We love what we do and are seeking staff members that are passionate, self-starters and are hungry to help us discover the depth of God’s calling for loving and serving the families and children of our community. More info…

WI – Racine
Associate/Worship Pastor
Harbor Rock Tabernacle is looking for an Associate Pastor to help prayerfully lead and spiritually guide our congregation to love and praise the Lord.  He will do this by having a humble, Godly character, and will provide primary pastoral oversight of all aspects of the Worship and Tech Ministry, by giving leadership in the worship services, by training and developing people, and by expanding the growth of Worship Ministry. He will also have primary responsibility for church administration.  In cooperation with the Senior Pastor and Elders he will set up administrative systems necessary to advance the church’s mission as well as specific ministry priorities set by the Senior Pastor and Elders. As is necessary in a small growing church, he will also be called upon to use his gifts in other areas of ministry as needed. More info…

Add your church’s job opening now for free! Or view over 650 fresh job openings in our database now!

Stupid Things Leaders Say When They’re Trying to Initiate Change in Churches

I love this.

It’s from Carey Nieuwhof (who write some great things, by the way… follow him).

These are seven stupid things that leaders say when their trying to lead change.  These hurt your cause, not help it.

I’ll list them here… head over to Carey’s site for some additional commentary and insight.

Here we go:

1.  These changes are great. I can’t understand why you don’t like them.

2.  God told me this is what we should do.

3.  We’ve got this all figured out.  Just trust me.

4.  What happened in the past is completely irrelevant… focus on the future.

5.  Everyone just needs to get on board right now.

6.  I know people are leaving… who cares?

7.  This is a bullet-proof plan.

I’ve heard all of these at one time or another.  Sometimes they are not public, but are rather batted around at the staff/leadership level.

But word gets out.

And your attitude shines much louder than what you are or are not saying publicly.

Have YOU said any of these stupid things before when leading change?

How’d that work out for you?

:)

Would love to hear your comments!

Todd

Monday Mornings are prime-time for wimpy pastors

Do you love Mondays?

If you’re like most leaders, you either love them or loathe them. Either you can’t wait to get in the office, or you wish you could stay in bed for a few more hours.

As a pastor, it’s easy to base your Monday morning on what happened yesterday.  Did you have a good Sunday? Did God show up at your services?  Did you get an anonymous note that pummeled you into a bad mood?

Well, it’s Monday… time to get going. I hope you’re excited.

My friend Brad Lomenick gives some great advice for getting started on a Monday morning, or any time really.  He says these are ways that you can stop being a wimpy leader.  I would add that these are great ways to kick-start your motivation level as you start the week.

You see… Monday is an easy day for wimpy pastors.  In fact, a wimpy Monday morning leader will accomplish little, and probably go home at the end of the day no better off than when they unlocked their office door.

Don’t be a wimpy leader today.

Let’s get going:

1.  Set some scary standards. Brad suggests you set a goal that is nearly unattainable.  It should scare you just a little.  Maybe it’s a few phone calls you need to make that you’ve been putting off.  You know what it is (primarily BECAUSE it scares you).  Set that goal.  Accomplish that thing today or this week. Grab it by the (insert whatever you want here) and take it down.

2.  Allow for failure.  Sometimes you will fail… even on Monday mornings.  That’s ok.  In fact, allow for it.  Failure is sometimes the only road to success.  Sometimes you have to find out what doesn’t work before you can find out what does.

3.  Make some decisions. Today. Get off the fence and make some kind of decision today. Start small if you need to.  But wimpy leaders don’t make decisions.  Especially this morning.

4. Reward innovation.  This comes out of #2 to be honest.  Much innovation comes out of persistent failure.  When you or someone on your staff pushes through and innovations, have a little party.

5.  Pursue the right opportunities.  Right now.  Should you read another blog (after this one) or make a lunch appointment with a key leader?  Should you do something comfortable and fun, or write a thank you note?  Do something today that will make a difference tomorrow.

6. Learn to delegate.  You can’t do it all.  You have to trust others to help carry on the vision.  If you don’t, you’re the ultimate wimpy leader… you’ll be stuck where you are for a long while, spinning your wheels, wondering why you’re not going anywhere.

So… will you be a BOLD or WIMPY leader today?

How are you doing so far?

Todd

PS – Read more from Brad here

I’m not sure I get it…

This just in in ‘entertainment’ news:

Would you go see this movie? It’s called “Believe Me”:

In BELIEVE ME, Sam Atwell (Russell) stands on the stage as thousands of fans go wild.  Smart, charismatic, handsome, he moves them with his message, and when he calls for donations to his charity, the money pours in. And by the way, Sam doesn’t believe a word he’s saying. Just months earlier he was a typical college senior focused on keg stands, hookups and graduating. But a surprise tuition bill threatens his dream of law school and leaves him thousands of dollars in the hole. Convincing his three roommates they can make a killing exploiting the gullible church crowd, they start a sham charity and begin campaigning across the country, raising funds for a cause as fake as their message. But Sam’s got girl problems. He cares about Callie, the tour manager, who actually believes what he’s saying. When Callie discovers where the money is going, it’s Sam’s moment of truth.On the final night of the tour, before a packed auditorium but alone in the spotlight, it’s time for Sam Atwell to figure out what he really believes.

Here’s the short movie trailer:

Head Scratcher:  This film features Lecrea.

It’s clearly satire.  But I’m not sure from which camp the satire comes.  Actually, I’d be pretty sure… until I saw it featured Lecrea.

What do you think?

1.  Will this film be funny?

2.  Is satiring what many non-believers really think of the church a good thing for the church in any way?

3. Would you go watch this film?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Todd

 

100% Money Back Tithe Guarantee

Ed Young is breaking new ground again.

No… it’s not another sexperiment. (Thankfully.  That last one was out of sight!)

(I do want to take a break here and thank Ed for allowing me the ability to write the best headline of my life)

And it’s not the Kingdom Kit. (aka ‘murse’). Again, thankfully.

This time, Ed is introducing the 90 day challenge on tithing. While he’s not the first to do so, he’s getting a lot of attention because he’s Ed Young.

Here’s the promise:  ”If you tithe for 90 days and God doesn’t hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100% of your tithe.”

I’ve not heard how this has gone at a couple of other big churches that have tried it.  Did they return anyone’s money?

What do you think?  Good idea?  Bad idea?

My initial thoughts… much better than the Kingdom Kit; not as sexy as the sexperiment.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Todd

Church’s Bankruptcy is Such a Blessing

As you may know… I am somewhat a connoisseur of Christian press releases.

Some Christian press releases are just chock-full of CS (that’s the politically Christian term for BS, by the way). And this press release I saw yesterday is a great example of how you can spin anything.

The title of the press release is called ‘Without Walls’ Church Bankruptcy Creates Blessings.

(You may remember Without Walls as the Randy and Paula White one-time megachurch in Lakeland, FL… Formerly Carpenter’s Home Church). The place has a pretty storied history (so much so that there’s not enough room in this blog post to hold it all).

But the title interested me… could a church bankruptcy actually be a blessing?

Well… yes, I guess.  At least for the Licensed Real Estate Broker that his handling the auction of the property (and the writing of this press release).  Here’s how they start:

“The Without Walls International Church bankruptcy provides an opportunity for blessing for the church and commercial real estate buyers. The bankruptcy will jettison debt for the church, allowing them to focus on their core mission of serving their members and the community. Additionally, the bankruptcy auction, conducted by Tranzon Driggers, will provide a blessing to buyers seeking to purchase two of the church’s prime commercial properties in Lakeland and Tampa.”

So, the real blessing here… real estate buyers in Lakeland.  And the real estate company.  And the church.

Wait… the church?

Who knew that bankruptcy could be such a blessing?

For some pastors in the Lakeland community, seeing Without Walls lose it’s influence (or at least the brand type of Christianity they marketed) is not an entirely bad thing for the community.  Yet it’s another black-eye in that local community of Christianity gone bad.

But to say that a church bankruptcy is a blessing seems a bit weird to me.

Do you think a church bankruptcy could ever be a blessing?

Here’s the full press release.

Todd

PS – In an ironic ministry, Without Walls International Church prominently features their Business Concepts Networking group.  Here’s the description:  Do you own or operate your own business? Would you like to? Do you have a business idea? Then join our Business Concepts Networking group and let us help to develop and maintain the building blocks needed to encourage the growth of your company. See what others are doing and how your expertise may help.

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