Last week a Wisconsin Federal District Court judge ruled that the pastoral housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. This news can be quite upsetting for church leaders across the country as they try to figure out how to fairly compensate their pastors, and for pastors who need to rethink their monthly budgets now that a major tax benefit has been ruled unconstitutional.
Yesterday morning, Matt Steen and I had a conversation with Mike Batts, managing partner of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee. Mike and his team work exclusively with churches and pastors, and have served as trusted advisors to members of congress on policy issues related to church finances. We asked Mike about the ruling and what church leaders need to know about it. In a nutshell, here is what you need to realize now:
Click below to watch the entire conversation in order to gain a better understanding of what this means for your church:
Southland Christian Church in Lexington did a great thing this past weekend… hosting over 1000 physically and mentally disabled (I hope that’s the right politically correct terminology) to what they called a ‘Jesus Prom’.
How great is this?
From an article at the Christian Post:
Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., held an event for the mentally and physically disabled community dubbed “Jesus Prom” over the past weekend that featured a night of celebration and compassion dedicated to those in attendance.
The annual free event drew 1,100 people decked in prom attire for the dinner, dance and night of fellowship. Pastor Brewster McLeod initiated the idea years ago when he served as the youth pastor with the purpose to reach those outside the walls of the church building and “value people on the margins of society.”
According to Justin Meeker, communications director at Southland Christian Church, McLeod’s vision for Jesus Prom is based on Luke 14:12-14, a verse about inviting “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to a banquet.
“Here’s a guy that truly believes everyone is as good as everyone else,” said Steve Flairty, a columnist writer who attended the event, according to the Kentucky Kernel. “Brewster wants people with developmental disabilities to experience the same kind of activities that everyone else can.”
Each year, the event is organized by 1,500 to 1,800 volunteers who escort the attendees throughout activities that include photography and games, while police and medical attention is on hand in case a special needs individual needs assistance. Typically, the megachurch transforms into a different theme venue, with this year being “Happy Days,” which was reflected through poodle-skirt dresses worn by some attendees.
Hats off to Southland! Great job in being the hands and feet of Jesus to your community.
Jesus is smiling.
In a laboratory experiment to test people’s willingness to lie to a partner in a game, 14% of peoplealways chose to be truthful, even if lying would have benefited them, and 14% chose to lie whenever they stood to gain, according to a team led by Uri Gneezy of the University of California, San Diego. The rest reacted in variable ways to incentives, sometimes lying and sometimes not, except for one participant who always lied, regardless of circumstances.
From the Harvard Business Review
OK… ministry is not a game.
But I’ve met a few ministry leaders that ‘play’ with the truth.
Why is it so hard to be truthful in ministry things?
Are you ever tempted to ‘white lie’ in ministry?
The important thing is… how do you respond?
QUESTIONS: Do you always give honest answers? Do you withhold partial information when giving your answers? Do you skew your answer to a question to make you look favorable? Do you ever throw someone else under the bus when the blame is partially yours?
Great questions to ask.
And if you’re honest… we all face these types of dilemmas every day in ministry.
The important thing is how we answer the questions.
What do YOU think?
Have you ever thought about ideas being ‘dangerous’?
Or that innovation could come out of asking some really ‘dangerous’ questions?
PJ Chan has a really interesting post over at Forbes today entitled “Leadership Lesson: ’Dangerous’ Ideas are the key to Innovation
It’s worth the read.
Apparently there is an annual festival of “Dangerous Ideas.” Without repeating all three paragraphs, I’ll summarize – they do mean dangerous! One of the talks will cover, “A Killer Can Be A Good Neighbor.” The goal of the event is to discuss ideas outside the mainstream, getting people out of their comfort zones and challenged with new ways of thinking. You may respond with “Wow, how cool!” or you could react with a “That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard in my life!” Your reaction reveals where your thinking lies on the spectrum of open-ness to new ideas.
Later, she summarizes:
In all reality, it is more about the implied danger and less about the actual danger of the idea. Just ask yourself what kind of reaction the word “dangerous” elicited in you. Ideas really have no inherent danger or safety in and of themselves. The only tangible impact comes from what we do with the ideas. Perhaps removing such loaded labels is one way to court innovation and promote idea exchange.
On the contrary, what amazing, wondrous ideas could come if we were to begin an idea session with the most extreme idea – the business equivalent of “A killer can be a good neighbor.” Consider a simple idea like “What if we moved all retail sales to the Internet?” You can see how an idea like this could inspire fear, anger, and frustration in a company with hundreds of stores and thousands of salespeople. But failure to explore or even consider ideas like this has taken a big toll on many businesses – consider JCPenney, Best Buy, and OfficeMax/Office Depot.
As leaders who want to foster innovation in your organizations ask yourself one question: What will I do today to encourage the sharing of “dangerous” ideas, “unspeakable” ideas … or any ideas at all?
What are some ‘unspeakable’ ideas for you or your church?
What ideas are dangerous? (And by dangerous, I don’t just mean that you could lose your job)
Here are a few just off the top of my head:
1. Stop the weekend gathering once a month in favor of families reaching out to other families individually.
2. Stop taking an offering every week, and move all your giving online.
3. Start measuring community involvement/change over class attendance.
4. Cut one major ministry that is attended and loved by many, but isn’t contributing to your mission.
What’s ‘dangerous’ idea should YOU put on the table… not to actually do it, but to start the conversation that will get you to what you really SHOULD be doing?
(Therein lies the innovation!)
We had a great couple of days at the NINES! It is such a privilege to serve with so many great leaders across the country and around the world.
Our theme this year was “What’s Working (and what’s not)” in our churches. It was a great time together; and some great ideas were shared. I am so encouraged at how God is working through his church. Sure, there is a lot of doom and gloom out there; but we had the opportunity to hear first-hand from some great leaders about exactly how God is blessing and where he’s working. How cool is that?
Here are just 3 of my favorites… though there were so many. Perhaps I’ll share more in the future.
If you missed the conference, you can watch all the videos individually if you want to subscribe to the 24/7 video access package.
I do want to sincerely thank all who watched and helped make this a great event!
QUESTION: Who inspired you the most when they spoke at the NINES?
Oh, pastor… what a great sermon.
The church grows year after year.
Ever met a haughty pastor?
Or an entitled one?
We all have.
But how do you make sure you don’t become entitled or haughty?
Carlos Whitaker has five suggestions:
1. Don’t have a reserved parking space until you are old enough that you can’t walk.
2. Stay out of your little green room/private dressing room as much as possible.
3. Have coffee/breakfast/lunch once a week with a pastor of a church WAY smaller than yours.
4. If you receive double honor, make sure you give out quadruple honor.
5. Treat applause like a shot of whiskey. After you take a shot… don’t tweet, text anyone, or believe you are as attractive as the shot makes you feel.
In other words… don’t let it go to your head.
Andy Stanley talked brilliantly about this at Catalyst this year.
Think about it. What perks do you have because of your position?
What would you do if that perk was taken away or changed significantly?
How do you keep things in balance so you don’t get too full of yourself?
Face-to-face communication does things that digital communications (texting, email, etc.) cannot.
Think about the total sum of information that gets transferred if you’re texting with your friend about where to get lunch versus speaking over the phone: on the phone you hear the tone of their voice, if they’re pausing for emphasis, and if they say “like” way too much. Over text you get the words themselves, but fewer of these less-linguistic signals, which can get misleading (or offensive).
Let’s review the logic:
So what is interruptibility? The uncommon ability to unglue yourself from your focus to talk with your people. As Allen says:
But there is an important prerequisite to this form of (face-to-face) communication: be interruptible. If you are too busy to listen to your team, don’t expect them to make the time to listen to each other. Yes, you might occasionally lose the deep focus you had when you were interrupted. But an in-person conversation alleviates one of the greatest drains on company resources–a lack of clarity–so it generally is a worthy trade-off.
The next question, then, is to figure out how we can still find deep focus while allowing for productive interruptions. The answer might be to start your day in a cave doing the most complex work, then become interruptible once you’re working on simpler tasks.
Are you interruptible?
How to you manage to get important things done AND allow time for face-to-face interruptions?
Over the last few months it seems as though I have had more conversations about creating an environment that welcomes the spiritually unresolved than anything else. Between you and me, I love helping churches think through how to create a more welcoming culture. This is why I am so excited about today’s Ministry Briefing Conversation.
I don’t know of a church on the face of the planet that doesn’t want to be a place where the unchurched feel welcome. We go to conferences where they talk about it, we buy tons of books addressing the subject, and we have countless conversations with our teams about it. But, if you are like many churches, at the end of the day everything is still theoretical… and you just don’t know where to start, or how to make it happen. So you are left having to hire someone to help you implement a culture shift (like me, hint hint), or you give up and move on to something else.
Bob Franquiz (one of our NINES speakers this year!) knows that feeling. As a church planter, he began building momentum and then realized that his church wasn’t reaching the unbelievers in his community. While his numbers were good, they were missing out on what they were called to do: reach the lost. Over the next few years Bob began to reshape the culture of his church, creating a culture that not only welcomes the unchurched, but sees them surrendering their lives to Christ on a regular basis. Today, Matt and I get to spend a few minutes with Bob as he shares his story with us, how he started to reshape the culture of his church, and why he wrote Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic.
Click below to check out the conversation, and let us know what you think!
Carey Nieuwhof (one of our NINES speakers this year) has a very simple idea as to why many churches never grow to be over 200 people.
Carey starts off by saying there is nothing wrong with being a church of 200. Nothing at all.
But most leaders of churches under 200 actually WANT their church to grow.
(I don’t know of any pastor I’ve ever met that would say they didn’t).
In fact, most small churches (and their leaders) have the desire, love, facility, and prayer to grow.
Yet they don’t.
Carey suggests a simple answer:
They organize, behave, lead and manage like a small organization.
Here are 8 ways this is true:
1. The pastor is the primary caregiver
2. The leaders lack a strategy
3. True leaders aren’t leading
4. Volunteers are unempowered
5. The governance team micromanages
6. Too many meetings
7. Too many events and programs that lead nowhere
8. The pastor suffers from a desire to please everybody.
OK… we have a ton of small church pastors that are reading this. What do YOU think?
If you’re pastoring a church of under 200 people, please leave a comment answering these quick questions: (leave a comment below)
1. Do you desire for your church to grow?
2. What do you think of Carey’s eight suggestions? Are they true in your small church?
3. What have you done to help spur growth?
Some quotes today from Bill Easum:
“Christ-centered pastors don’t make disciples, much less take care of people.”
“Pastors of growing, effective churches would rather equip ten people to make disciples than to make disciples themselves.”
“Disciple-making and caring for people are too important, the task too great, and the personal rewards too bountiful for either to be reserved primarily for just one person in a congregation.”
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