Larry Osborne: Why I’m pumped about the future of the church

Larry Osborne writes:

IT’S FASHIONABLE TO DECRY THE CURRENT STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA.

But frankly, I don’t buy it.

Some of the most popular conference speakers on the circuit today excel at drive-by-guiltings. They paint a picture of a church that lacks guts, cowers from dying to self, and lives out a self-satisfied, what’s-in-it-for-me Christianity.

In most cases, I like these speakers. They are good guys. I respect them. But I just don’t agree on this issue.

I’ve noticed that their audience is usually a room full of charge-the-hill-type young leaders who eat it up and then return home to look with disdain upon other churches, pastors, leaders, and often their own congregation (oblivious to how much they have in common with the self-congratulatory zealot in Luke 11: 9-14).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll agree that we have lots of carnality and self-centered living in our churches today. But come on, that’s nothing new. It’s been like that from the beginning. It’s simply not accurate to paint a heroic picture of the early church without also pointing out its many failures. In reality, the early church was pretty messed up, about as messed up as the American Church.

Continue reading to see just how messed up the early church was.  In many ways, it makes the American church look pretty good!

Thoughts?

Todd

One Pastor on why his church is severing ties with the Boy Scouts…

Bryant Wright is pastor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and a former President of the SBC.  Here’s his response to the Boy Scouts:

What do you think?  A good and reasoned approach?

What’s your take?  How will your church/has your church responded?  And do you feel that it is important that you DO respond as a church, or is it unnecessary?

FOUND HERE:  Denny Burk

Todd

Your IMPOSSIBLE situation

I love this quote from Chuck Swindoll:

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
My guess is that you have AT LEAST one impossible situation going on right now in your church.
I know we do. (As is usual).
It’s SO easy only to see the problem.  It’s much, much hard to see the ultimate solution to that problem as an equally greater opportunity?
What problem do you have at church today that is your greatest opportunity?  What do you need to do to change your perspective and make it happen?
Todd

Should you quit your church job?

Man, leaving a church job is difficult.

What will people think?  What reason will you give (other than the ‘I feel God is moving me)?

People expect people to change jobs.  But not in the church… many people expect that you’ll be in your position until the day they (or you) die.  And when you decide to move on… some will take it personally.

So… when do you know it’s time to move on?

Let’s look at a purely secular, non-churchy view… from Harvard Business Review.

They say to watch for these signals:

Start by figuring out whether you lack excitement about the bigger picture or the day-to-day activities. “When people ask me how things are going, my standard response is that I love what I’m doing, which doesn’t mean that I like it on any given day,” says Schlesinger. Here are some signs that something larger is going on:

    • You keep promising yourself you’ll quit but never do. Gulati says that these false starts are often indicative of an underlying problem.

    • You don’t want your boss’s job. If you can’t stand the idea of having your manager’s job, you need to think hard about what’s next. Chances are that “your hungrier peers will soon pass you, creating more job dissatisfaction,” says Gulati.
    • You’re consistently underperforming. If you keep trying to get better but you’re not seeing results, it may be time to consider whether you have what it takes, or if your boss and colleagues value what you have to offer. Schlesinger warns that sometimes you’re up against an impossible task — the job is too big, the politics are too tricky, there aren’t enough resources, or you don’t have the required skills and experience.

If you notice one or more of these signs, pay attention and ask yourself whether the costs of staying in the job are reasonable and acceptable to you. It may be that the “price of admission” — opportunity loss, emotional toll — aren’t worth it.

Read more here…

What do you think?

Have you been thinking about leaving your current church job for some time now?

Why haven’t you?  Is it because you’re not sure?  Because you don’t want to take the risk?  Other reasons?

If you were to ‘test the waters’ this morning, what would you find?

Todd

How much of the gospel do worship songs need to share?

“My Song in the Night” recently featured these two paragraphs from the book Doxology and Theology by Ken Boer:

“… some leaders (myself included) have believed that to be gospel-centered, every song we sing has to explicitly state the gospel, or more narrowly, substitutionary atonement. But we shouldn’t be more gospel-centered than the Bible is. The Bible includes all kinds of topics, and our services and songs should address the full range of human experience.

“If the history of the universe is a movie, Christ’s death and resurrection is the turning point of the movie. Don’t let people grow dull by only ever playing the highlight reel. Let them see the whole movie! At the same time, don’t be ashamed of going to the highlights again and again, because without them the rest of the movie doesn’t make sense.”

Have you ever thought about this?

How much of the complete gospel message do you require in all of the songs you sing in your worship service?

Is it possible you’re being a bit legalistic in your approach?

Are you showing too much of the ‘highlight reel’ all the time?

More here…

Thoughts?

Todd

How Donald Miller manages tasks

Here’s an interesting post from writer Donald Miller.

I think we can all feel his pain.

But in ministry, I’m not sure you have the option to ‘not respond’.

Miller writes:

“On a given day I’m asked to coffee twice, asked to review and endorse at least one manuscript, receive more than one-hundred emails and about twenty text messages. That’s per day. Per week, add in a few invitations to speak, a few friends coming to town, requests to talk on the phone and so on. I’d say I get between 500 to 1000 requests per week that claim to need a response.

I see each of these requests as a baseball coming at me from the pitchers mound.

And I decide NOT TO HIT THEM.

That’s right. I do the incredibly rude and offensive thing. I let them pass by.

Right now I have thousands of unreturned emails and hundreds of unopened text messages. It’s rude. It’s insanely rude. It’s not nice. In a culture that takes pride in people who get their inboxes to zero, I’m a complete loser.

And yet, year after year I get an enormous amount of work done.

The thing is, I see all those baseballs coming at me from the pitchers mound and instead of trying to hit them all, I choose one and I swing for a home run. Of the dozens of pitches thrown at me on a given day, I focus on one and I hit it. When I’m done, I pull the bat back and hit another.

After I hit a few pitches a day (a daily quota) I try to respond to some of the others, but I don’t worry about it if I can’t get to them all.

Here are the steps in my “two step process” to getting things done, broken down:

1. Pick your pitch: This means knowing, as opportunities are coming at you, which one you should hit. I hit the ones that have to do with furthering my calling as a writer. That means I write the blog, work on the new book, interview that guy who’s been elusive and so on. That’s the ball I want to hit consistently. The others are extra. If I have time, I have time, if not, it doesn’t matter cause that’s not my pitch.

2. Let the others go by: This is incredibly hard for some people to do. They feel like they are morally obligated to respond to everything. And maybe we are. Maybe in heaven Jesus will be mad because we didn’t return our emails. But I doubt it. I have nearly 200 unreturned text messages and several thousand unreturned emails. I take no pride in getting to zero because I’m not on the planet to get my inbox to zero. I’m on the planet for other reasons. I explain to people I can’t respond to all the requests and I go back to step one. I pick my pitch and try to hit it out of the park.

What do you think?

As a church leader, is it important to answer EVERY ONE of your emails? return EVERY ONE of your calls?  go out for coffee with EVERY ONE who wants your ear?

How do you say no?

When do you say no?

How do you guard your time and space?

Read more here…

Leave a comment…

Todd

When are people MOST receptive to Christ?

Charles Arn writes:

“How do we identify the receptive people in our community?”

One proven way is through life events.  Or, more specifically, transitional life events.  Here is the principle: The more disruptive a life event is to a person’s psychological equilibrium, the more it will cause him/her to be spiritually receptive.

The “Social Readjustment Scale” below was originally developed by two cardiology researchers at the University of Washington Medical Center.  The events were identified as precipitators of a heart attack.  (The numbers to the right are the relative severity of the event, from 1-100.)  I, and other researchers, have found that these same events are also excellent indicators of a person’s openness (receptivity) to Christian conversion.  Put simply, people who rate high on this Scale will be more receptive to repentance and conversion than those who rate lower.  And, when multiple events occur, in relative proximity, receptivity increases even more.

screenshot_74

As you think and pray about responding to Christ’s command to “…go and make disciples,” use this “Stress Scale” as one way to begin identifying the people in your community whom the Holy Spirit may be preparing to invite into the Kingdom—through you and your church.  Creative, caring, genuine, need-meeting Christian love—at these times when people are most receptive—will bring great fruit.  Watch… listen…be sensitive to these windows of opportunity… and then be ready to “give witness to the hope that is within you” 
(I Pe. 3:15).

A great challenge.

Read more from Charles here…

A look behind the scenes at Joel Osteen’s Social Media Strategy

This is a really cool behind the scenes look at how Joel Osteen Ministries is using social media.  It’s a major piece written over at the Huffington Post.

See if you can find a quote from yours truly somewhere in the article.  :)

Read the article here…

Please do leave your comments below.  What did you think of the article?

Todd

What counts as plagiarism in a sermon?

J. D. Greear offers some personal rules that he follows:

1.     If I ever preach the gist of another person’s sermon, meaning that I used the lion’s share of their message’s organization, points, or applications, I give credit.

2.    If I glean an interpretation of a passage from someone, but the organization of the points, application and presentation are my own, I generally do not feel the need to cite.

3.     When I take a direct point or a line or the creative wording of a truth from someone, I feel like I should cite. 

4.     When I give a list that someone else has come up with or offer some piece of cultural analysis, I feel like I should cite.

5.     If I hear a story told by someone else that reminds me of a story of your own, and I tell that story from my own life, I don’t think I need always to identify where I got the idea for that story from originally.

What do you think?

Good advice?

Too loose?  Too tight?

Read much more on the subject from J. D. right here…

QUESTION:  Have you ever felt guilty after giving a sermon, feeling that you may have crossed the line?  Why or why not?

Todd

Financial Facts of your church: It’s time to face the music

Margaret Marcuson thinks it’s time for you to face the financial facts in your church.  Do you know the following basic information about how people give in your church?

  • What are the trends in giving and expenses?
  • What is the giving pyramid – how many givers do you have at successive giving levels?
  • What is the pace of income through the year – what percentage comes in during December each year?
  • What percentage of income goes to ministries outside your congregation?

She offers seven tips to dealing and working with these facts:

  1. Be as open as possible.
  2. Even difficult facts, calmly presented by leadership with the message, “We can handle this,” help calm people down.
  3. Be patient – in some churches it may take several years to get good reports.
  4. Present financial information in visual and/or story form. Most people fade out when pages of numbers are presented.
  5. Don’t try to convince people things are better than they think (the cheerleader approach). Simply state your own view.
  6. Don’t try to convince people things are worse than they think (the Chicken Little approach).
  7. Overcommunicate. Remember that anxiety is like static – it makes it hard for people to receive information. This may be especially true of financial information.

You can read more here…

Thoughts?

Agree?  Disagree?

Anything you’d add?

Did you/do you know all the financial facts about your church, or do you need to do some digging to find the answers?

Todd

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