I love telling stories of churches that get it right.
This is one such story.
This story made the from page of the New York Post.
What you’ll hear is… as Paul Harvey would say… the REST of the story…
You HAVE to watch this story of unexpected redemption and acceptance; and an example of how a church and pastor get it right.
What would you do if your church were broken into?
Pastor Mike Jankowski of Lamb’s Chapel in Center Moriches, New York asked his congregation to bring the culprit back to their church:
When that happened six weeks ago, the next Sunday, I got up in front of the congregation in both of our services and I just said, ‘listen, whoever did this obviously is in a bad place. Let’s pray that God would bring this person back in some way, so we can help them and minister to them and maybe they would come to know the Lord. And so our whole congregation prayed and that was it.
That’s when things began to get exciting.
Six weeks later, while in the middle of a fast, Jankowski walked into the church, and found Brian Cook tearing through the church office. What happened next became front page news as Mike wrestled Brian to the ground and held him until the police arrived. This morning we get to steal a page out of Paul Harvey’s playbook by telling you the rest of the story, and sharing an interview that we did with Pastor Mike Jankowski. Over the course of fifteen minutes, Mike tells us about the morning he met Brian Cook, his wife’s reaction to his adventure, and what has happened in Brian’s life since the break-in.
This is a pretty cool story of God using a rough situation for the good of one of His children.
Interested in hearing more stories like this? Check out Ministry Briefing Digest for April 2013.
Ed Stetzer writes:
This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren’s son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son’s illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, “The Purpose Driven Life.” This weekend, Matthew took his own life – putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.
Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.
Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.
Matthew’s life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.
So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?
1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.
So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the “normal” people. But it’s real, and it isn’t going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Indexshowed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week – ministers, too – struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.
2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.
We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don’t know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don’t want to be inconvenienced.
A study from Baylor University indicates “that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness.” This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.
3. We should not be afraid of medicine.
I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care – as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.
We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.
4. We need to end the shame.
I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish “revolution” was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.
Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.
Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.
Just received the horrible news that Rick and Kay Warren have lost their youngest son, Matthew, to suicide.
Please pray for the entire Warren family and the Saddleback family as they deal with this loss.
This will, no doubt, give Rick and Kay a brand new forum to share the love of Jesus.
Here’s Saddleback’s statement:
“Despite the best healthcare available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life…We ask everyone to join us in praying for the entire Warren family and that God’s comfort and peace will be with them as they deal with this difficult situation.”
Have you lost your flippin’ mind, Todd?
Well, I don’t know… possibly.
But I’ve recently started a new project that I think has great potential to help you as a leader and your church’s staff and leadership.
I couldn’t be more excited. So, I’m writing this to you… hoping you’ll take a few minutes to read all of this post…
Many of you have read my blog for years. Many have followed me on Twitter and Facebook as well. (In fact, yesterday was my 7th Twitter birthday, so I’m told!)
Many of you have been supportive over the years of my numerous ventures, including ChurchStaffing.com (and now Churchjobs.tv), Monday Morning Insight. Some of you have even watched some painfully transparent videos of my friend Matt and I as we talk about sensitive ministry issues.
And I’ve made many friends with my current work with Leadership Network, including many of you that have attended the NINES and other online training events that I’ve been a part of.
And if you’re a current regular of this blog (or get my daily email newsletter), you know that I post regularly… sometimes a lot.
Most everything I’ve done online is free (or at least ‘freemium’ as we call it).
So… why in the world would you EVER pay ME for content?
Let me try to answer that for you. Hang on…
A couple of months ago I started a brand new project with my friend Matt Steen called Ministry Briefing.
The premise is really pretty simple. We take all the current church and ministry news stories of the month and condense them; each down to one concise paragraph. Then we provide the source and a link so that you can read ALL the details IF you want to.
Why are we doing this?
We really have a strong conviction that great leaders need to know about their field and what’s going on in their area of expertise. For those of us in ministry, there are a million places to get this type of information.
That’s the problem. Too many places, and too much information.
I’m an information junkie and I love to read. But for issues on church and ministry, there’s not ONE place I can go to get everything I’m interested in. So Matt and I created it with Ministry Briefing. Everything we have found that I think church leaders should know is included in this short (you can read it in an hour) digest.
It will save you hours and hours of searching blogs, websites, magazines, etc.
And you’ll not feel like you’re living in a vacuum. You’ll keep up on all the things you need to.
And you will get a synopsis of everything that’s important to you (and everything you should be in the know about as a church staff person), all in one place.
OK… but why would I PAY you for something like this?
I’m getting to that.
First… this is what Ministry Briefing is NOT:
1. It’s not a re-packaging of what’s on this blog. Very few of the stories I write or link to on this blog actually make it into our monthly Ministry Briefing. My blog is to create conversation. Ministry Briefing’s purpose is to inform and educate.
2. It’s not a compilation of stories that you’ll find anywhere else.
3. It’s not the same content that we use in our ‘Ministry Briefing’ videos on YouTube.
Second… this is what Ministry Briefing IS:
1. A compilation of stories that we curate after reading (literally) thousands of headlines and articles each month.
2. We pick the top stories that we think you as a church staff member should know about.
3. We read the entire story, and write a one paragraph synopsis that contains JUST THE FACTS.
4. We provide a link to the full story and source article in case you want to read more.
The end result is about 150-175 top stories, trends, and cultural themes that we think you need to be aware of each month.
OK… cool… so why don’t you just offer this for free?
We’d love to. But we can’t. It takes us hours in research, writing, production, hosting, development, promotion, etc. to produce Ministry Briefing every month.
What we can do is offer you what we think is a great resource for a really low (we think) price. For as low as $8, you can read Ministry Briefing each month.
This month’s release (April) is a great case in point. Here’s a listing of the resources we highlight for you this month. Each title has a custom written synopsis for you, along with a full resource link:
Have I lost my mind?
Am I crazy to ask you to consider purchasing Ministry Briefing each month for you and your church staff/leadership?
Do I think there is great value in having your church purchase a subscription to Ministry Briefing for as little a $8 a month?
And for those of you know know me personally, you know that I abhor self promotion. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’… you know that one that’s always trying to pitch you the newest and greatest.
But I really believe in this project. And I want you to as well.
Consider purchasing Ministry Briefing this month for you and your staff (you can share it with your staff freely… in fact, I WANT you to!)
And thanks for your friendship and your support!
From a story covered in April’s Ministry Briefing Digest:
CJ Mahaney seems to have become a bit of a lightning rod of late. The founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries has been through the wringer of late, as SGM is embroiled in turmoil with churches leaving, and an ongoing child sexual abuse lawsuit.
Piling on top of all this is SGM co-founder Brent Detwiler calling on the Southern Baptist Convention leadership to distance themselves from Mahaney until the sexual abuse lawsuit is over. Detwiler says:
Some of the greatest preachers in America have enabled C.J. in his sin when they should have been confronting his sin and taking action. These men continuously promote one another’s books, conferences, ministries and celebrity status. It looks like a mutual admiration society, and it often leads to a double standard of living.
Today we discuss the story, and how leaders should interact with others who are in the midst of controversies like this one.
How do YOU publicly interact with leaders in these situations?
OK… this is not that outlandish a question.
What would you do if you found out one of your church members was gay?
That’s what happened to Nicholas Coppola. An anonymous letter outing him was sent to the bishop of his catholic church on Long Island. The Bishop expelled him from the church.
Church discipline is not an attractive topic during this season of time, but I wonder if you or your church would do the same as this catholic bishop?
What WOULD you do if you found out one of your members was gay?
Ben Reed offers some great ways to totally wreck your ministry. Some are obvious. Others are not quite so obvious (and may kick your butt if you’re not careful):
Ben has a great blog called Life and Theology. You should check out this post there (and many others that I think you’ll enjoy).
According to Dan Rockwell, the Leadership Freak (I love that name)…
Here is the #1 problem with meetings:
The Bosses run them.
But that can’t be a problem in the church, right?
Oh, but contrare.
Dan says: “Bosses need to run meetings because they need to exercise authority and control. That attitude hinders free, honest involvement by participants. Worse yet, controlling-bosses obstruct ownership. Others won’t own what you own.”
Ouch. I’ve heard horror stories of this happening in churches all over.
Maybe been in a meeting or two like that myself a time or two.
Here’s Dan’s advice on hod to solve the problem
“Sit at the foot of the table, not the head.”
Roger Schwarz writes: Leaders seeking to move away from a unilateral control mindset and instead to embrace the Mutual Learning mindset, will first need to live the five core values that are designed to produce results that include high performance, better relationships, and individual satisfaction.
The five core values consist of the following:
Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA is looking for a new Director of High School Ministry.
Two Rivers Church in Cooper City, FL is looking for a new Worship Pastor.
Are you looking for a new staff member? Let me help by adding your church’s job opening here (for free)! I’ll post it here on the blog, it’ll appear at my new staffing website, and I’ll pop it on social media for you as well.
Let me know how I can help you!
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