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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tinkering With Your Church

John Alan Turner had an interesting post on his blog "In His Big Grip"... Have you ever fallen into this trap?

So many leaders have bought into the myth that if they tinker enough with their churches they will eventually create wholesale change. But it doesn't work like that. At some point in time, if a church is going to survive for the next generation, you are going to have to introduce radical changes.

Tinkering is for people who don't really have the courage to make the changes they know need to be made. Tinkering allows a leader to trick people into thinking things won't really go too far. Tinkering frustrates everyone. Tinkering says we're not really serious about this whole project. Tinkering is a way of maintaining status quo while still managing to be irritating at the same time.

For a generation I heard people say that there are two speeds at which you can change a church: slow and slower. That's dumb. That's foolish. That's irresponsible.

God doesn't seem to be interested in tinkering. He calls men and women in the Bible to introduce radical change. Abraham. Moses. Joshua. Samuel. Josiah. Jonah. Peter. Paul.

Come to think of it, the church calls people to radical change in the most fundamental way. We do not call people to tinker with their way of life; we call them to repentance -- to radical change. Why in the world would we ask people to do something we aren't willing to do ourselves?

Ever fall into the trap of 'tinkering'?  Is John correct?  Do you tinker sometimes because you don't have the courage to make the tough decisions that you know need to be made?

Something to think about...

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August 25, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Benefits of a Reproducing Church

Dave Ferguson is the lead pastor at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL.  Dave has a new article just posted at BuildingChurchLeaders.com, in which he identifies some of the benefits of a multi-site, reproducing church format.  Dave writes...

When a church becomes a reproducing church, it discovers several benefits:

  1. Increased Outreach. At Community Christian, we want to reach people because we believe that each person matters to God. And as we have coached hundreds of churches, we have seen that when churches begin multiple locations, they dramatically increase their outreach. When Leadership Network surveyed one thousand multi-site churches, the number one reason churches added new sites was "for evangelistic purposes".


  2. Involved Followers. When you reproduce sites, you involve more people in ministry. Last year, one of our sites sent 150 of its best people to start a new site. Before they left, 54 percent of the people at the sending site were both in a small group and involved in serving. So when those 150 key people left, we worried about the effect it would have on the sponsoring site. Now, one year later, we have seen the total outreach increase from 800 people weekly to over 1,100 people weekly—with 74 percent of the people at both locations connected in a small group and involved in serving others.


  3. Improved Quality. Each time we launch a site, we rethink how we do children's ministry, creative arts, small groups, etc., which improves their quality. Plus, since certain overhead and personnel expenses are shared, costs drop.

You can read the whole article here...

Any thoughts?

Still vacationing,  :)

Todd

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August 24, 2005 in Multi-Site Churches | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ice Cream Truck Outreach

Ice_cream_truck If you haven't already seen it, here's a great idea that I read about this morning over at ChurchMarketingSucks.com:

Thanks to the USA Today tip, we heard about New Life Christian Church in Centreville, Va. and their ice cream truck. They spent $10,000 on an ice cream truck and have been driving around their community handing out free ice cream all summer long. Now there's a way to get attention.

They have a blog chronicling the experience, though it hasn't been updated in a while. But the blog does give an idea of the response:

Of course, most people were shocked that the ice cream was free. One lady was so blown away by free ice cream her only response was, "I gotta start coming to a church that gives out free ice cream."

In addition to the ice cream, they're giving out fliers advertising an upcoming movie night, which is a nice, non-churchy way for people to experience the church. It also sounds like they're filming part of the experience (though the best lesson from that story is that the person answering the phone at church knew what was going on).

On other topics... vacation is good... too good actually, so that I haven't wanted to take time away to blog much.  Oh well, maybe later today.  :)

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August 22, 2005 in Outreach and Evangelism | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 20, 2005

On Leaving DC

We've spent the last three days or so in Washington, D.C. and before we leave... a few comments and observations:

1.  It's expensive.  Someone should open up a 'family friendly' restaurant in DC; they'd make a million.  With four kids, it was hard to find much in the 'under $20 a plate' category.  In my book, $80 for pizza and salad for a family of four is a bit steep.

2.  The National Cathedral... beautiful structure; long tour.

3.  The Metro:  the only way to travel.  We left our van at the hotel and traveled by Metro.  The kids thought it was great; but for an outsider, it was pretty easy to maneuver.

4.  Take the Duck Tour:   the kids loved it; half-land; half-water tour.  Really cool.

5.  Bring a good pair of walking shoes.  I've walked more here in three days than I walk in a month at home.

We're off to the beach tonight.  Hopefully the flight will be smooth.  And hopefully next week, I'll have a little more time to post here and there.

Till then,

Todd

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August 20, 2005 in Personal Items | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Celebrating Celebrities at Church

Faithhill Perry Noble has a great illustration from his weekend services that he has posted at his blog.  I remember hearing Ed Young use the same type of illustration a few years back; but it HAD to be powerful...

I have seriously pondered hiring the police to escort me around town for the next several days. But before you get ready to call the office with a bomb threat you need to remember two things, #1 - You have got to admit--it was funny! #2 - You will never forget what worship is!

For those who might not have been there--let me explain what happened. (You have got to go to our website and download the message--even if you can only listen to the first five minutes I promise it will be worth your time.)

Yesterday I began telling this story about how Lucretia and I went to a really nice place to eat supper and had the privilege to meet Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I went on to say over the course of time I spoke with him and told him all about our church...and to make a long story short (once again, listen to the message) he asked could he and Faith attend a service. I told them absolutely and then announced to the crowd that he was there and asked if they would help me welcome him to the stage.

I will have to admit I have never seen anything quite like what took place...in short, people went bonkers. At the 6:00 service last night people even were trying to get their camera phones out to take pictures--it was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.

I walked off stage for a second and then came back out and asked, "you bought that?" I have since realized that at that very moment my life was in danger--people were ready to pull me off the stage and beat the poo poo out of me. They had their hopes up that Tim was there...and I had lied to them (God has forgiven me).

But I used the entire illustration to make a point--which I will expound upon here, why is it that we can get so excited about Tim McGraw, a person who has really never done anything for any of us--but when it comes to worship we sort of go through the motions. The fact is that Tim McGraw was not in the house yesterday--but Jesus Christ was...and I asked, "What would happen to the church that was just as excited about Jesus as we just were about Tim?" I believe a church like that could transform an entire community...even region of the country.

What we are passionate for will show. Many people are passionate about politics. I believe it is the responsibility of every American citizen to vote; however, my hope does not lie in the Republican or the Democratic party. If I truly thought politics could change the world I would resign as pastor and run for office.

Others are passionate about sporting events. People will spend tons of money and time every weekend in the fall when it comes to football. We go into the stadiums and scream until we can't talk. We get sunburned in the early part of the season and some even suffer frostbite during the latter part. Now I am a huge football fan--but what difference has a football team ever made when it comes to eternity.

Passion consumes us--every person you meet is passionate about something...and there is no exception. My point yesterday was why can't we be passionate about something that matters, the church--or someone that matters--Jesus Christ?

I would have to say that yesterday was one of the top 10 moments in New Spring's short history. I pray we never forget the lesson we learned yesterday--that every time we get together that Jesus Christ is in the house...and that we will be pumped about it and continue to invite others to see & hear what is going on.

(Props to Fellowship Church and Ed Young. This was not an original idea--I first learned of this about four years ago when I heard a tape of Ed doing this same illustration to his church. I have wanted to do this at New Spring ever since...but the time was not right until this past weekend. You guys at Fellowship keep cranking out the creativity!!!)

What would happen if you pulled this at your church?  I think Perry makes a great point...Why do we put such status on 'celebrity'?  Hmmm....

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August 17, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Prozac Christians: Why Isn't the Church Doing More?

Prozac Jessica Dorian has a an interesting piece posted over at CBN.com on the subject of why so many Christians are on anti-depressant drugs... and she asks the question... why?!

It’s become common knowledge that the 60 percent divorce rate inside the church -- a place that upholds the sanctity of marriage -- is higher than in secular society.

But failed marriages and broken homes are not the only tragedies that Christians share with the rest of the world. Depression, a recent epidemic in the church, is spreading throughout the Christian community.

During a recent visit to my hometown in North Carolina, I spent the afternoon with a friend’s mother. We talked about the issues many women face at the large Southern Baptist church where I grew up. She spoke of the different women she knows who take anti-depressants.

“I wouldn’t be surprise to find out that half the women in the church are on anti-depressants,” she said.

I was shocked. She told me story after story about women she knew who have strong faith and selflessly serve in the congregation but are also prescribed Prozac and other common depression medication. I realized that I also knew several women, my friends and my mother’s friends, who use anti-depressants.

But for Christians, the issue goes beyond the safety of the medication. The question that needs to be asked is why. Christians claim the truth from the hymn “Power in the Blood” and the Apostle John’s concept of “abundant life". But why are they caught up in an emotional existence of mere survival? The church is supposed to be the place to find the answer, the cure, Jesus. Instead, it has become a social gathering of sedated spiritualists lining the pews. They dress neatly, implying a sense of togetherness, and they sing songs that describe surrender to their God that they didn’t naturally wake up experiencing.

This is not an attack on individuals who struggle with chronic depression, for which some medication is useful for a period of time. But, there is something seriously wrong with church teaching and discipleship when half of a 4,000 plus population church takes anti-depressants. I would think someone -- pastors, elders, and church leaders -- would connect the dots and say “look, something doesn’t add up.”

This disease choking the church may be embedded in the phenomenon that a friend described to me as “sin management.” Some churches are being unrealistic about addressing shortcomings, failures, disappointments and sin in the lives of Christians. Depression and anxiety have become private struggles that women and men mask with medication and mention only in confidence to one another. But these strongholds are not being addressed from the pulpit. If Jesus really is “the way, the truth and the life,” then why isn’t that message applied to the issue of depression?

It is not Christ’s design that Christians be dependent on anything but him for physical, emotional and spiritual stability. We teach that Jesus is enough; we say that he has changed our lives that the old has gone away and that we have been born into new life. But if this is the case, then why is the church full of people suppressing secret struggles with depression?

You can read the whole article here...

What do you think?  What's the real deal here?

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August 16, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (57) | TrackBack

On Vacation: Day 1

Harrisburg We're now in Harrisburg, PA; visiting some good friends on the first leg of our three-part summer, vacation.  After just recovering from the Leadership Summit last week, it is nice to take a break and enjoy some time away with the family.

For those of you who are regular readers of the blog here at MMI; you'll notice that the blog will probably reflect my vacation 'state of mind' in that there will be much fewer postings; and hopefully that's fine  for the next couple weeks.  Hopefully everyone will come back when I get everything together again and back to normal around the first of September.

Vacations are great... and we've looked forward to this one for quite a while.  After Harrisburg, it's a short drive over to D.C. to see all the sites.  Since we home school, this will be a somewhat educational trip for our four kids (ages 7-13).  Then we're off to sunny (hopefully) California for some time on the beach.  It should be a fun trip.

One of the nice things about blogging and my main business, ChurchStaffing.com, is that you can pretty much take everything on the road (although it makes things a little more difficult).  One of the bad things about blogging and my main business, ChurchStaffing.com, is that you can pretty much take everything on the road.  Hopefully I'll find the right balance between keeping things going and overdoing it on vacation.  That's always a challenge for me since I tend to be a workaholic at times.  :)

So... hang in there with me.  I'll try to make some short posts and observations here and there; but it might be pretty skimpy for the next couple of weeks.  :)

Todd

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August 16, 2005 in Personal Items | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ken Blanchard & John Maxwell at Leadership Summit

Yesterday at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek, the day started out with a session with Ken Blanchard (author of the One Minute Manager) and John Maxwell (former pastor and author of about 700 books on leadership).

I went in kind of skeptical on Ken Blanchard, only because I've read some very negative things on the internet about him; and his philosphy/theology.  From what I could tell, Ken is a Christ-follower who loves Jesus.  Ken's background of course is in the area of business and self improvement; so he talked about Jesus as the ultimate leader.  He also talked about how he came to Christ.  It was a pretty amazing testimony.  In short, Ken shared his view of leadership.  As a leader you need to:

1.  Be clear on your goals
2.  Give praise when praise is due
3.  When mistakes happen, redirect the learner or reprimand and reaffirm the person who knows better.

Pretty simple, but many times we forget about steps one and two.

John Maxwell shared his testimony as well... how God called him away from pastoring to speak mainly with business professionals about leadership.  He talked about all the criticism that he had encountered since that decision.  (You could tell that it criticism still really hurts him since he choked up a couple times).  The bottom line of his testimony is that God is using him to share Christ in the secular business community; and this year, more people have accepted Christ through his life than during any five year period when he was a pastor.  Now that is some great stuff:  God calling a person; the person listening; and God blessing the obedience of that person and using them.

John said one thing that stood out to me:  "You might not always know where you're going, but that's ok as long as you're following Jesus."

A couple of other quotes on leadership that stood out to me:

"People will not go along with you if they cannot get along with you."

"Leaders should always be out of their comfort zone; but never out of their gift zone."

"Leadership is influence.  Nothing more.  Nothing less."

I must admit, I was more impressed with John Maxwell that I thought I would be.  I'd never heard him before.  I've read some of his leadership stuff (which is good); but when someone puts out as many leadership titles as he does, I wondered now good all of it could be.  I think we were able to see a little into his heart; which, at least during the session; was a blessing.

OK... well... there were sessions in the afternoon with Colleen Barrett, the CEO of Southwest Airlines.  She was delightful.  I especially found the interview with her interesting because my wife and I watch the show "Airline" regularly (which is a show on A&E about Southwest Airlines and it's customer's experiences.  I don't have time to blog right now on what all she had to say; but it was refreshing how she leads a company of 32,000 employees with honest, integrity, and keeps things very family oriented.

Interesting sidenote:  After the session; my friend made the comment to me that it sounded like Southwest Airlines would be a nicer place to work than most of our churches.  Sadly, that may very well be true.

Then we heard from Jack Groppel and Henry Cloud.  They were really good too, but I just don't have time to tell you much about them right now!  :(

Well, it's time for the Saturday sessions... so I must be off.  When I have time, I'll share if there is anything that really stands out to me.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Todd

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August 13, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

More Quotes from Hybels on Leadership

Wc The Christian Post ran an article yesterday with more quotes from Hybels than I could include in my previous post...

Thursday's session began with Bill Hybels talking about the prerequisites to getting a vision.

"What happens in a leader is that they have this thing called Holy Spirit discontent. There's something in their spirit that they're unsettled about, something that really bothers them," explained Hybels.

The discontent forces the leader to act, Hybels said, as he gave the example of King David's courage to stand up against Goliath.

"Goliath would come into town every day and curse the name of God. No one would do anything about it except David," who was angered enough to challenge the giant with just a slingshot. Scriptures has it that he won.

Hybels elaborated with a message from his own life. He said that while he was growing up, he used to attend a church that never ministered to unsaved people, the music was always bad, and the sermons were long and boring. One day, Hybels realized he couldn't "take it any more," and that's how the Willow Creek Church was born in the 1970s.

Following Hybels' message on the visions and route to leadership, Warren took the stage with a message on life after becoming a leader.

He referred to Moses who met God at a burning bush. God asked him to throw down the staff, which was all that Moses had.

"When he threw it down, it became a living snake. When he picked it up again, it became an inanimate object again."

Warren explained that the staff represented three things for Moses: his identity as a shepherd, his income, and his influence. With that staff, he could reel in his sheep, but God was asking him to throw it all down.

Warren shared the success he personally encountered because of the all-time best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, which Publishers Weekly noted as “the bestselling hardback in American history.”

Leading by example, he donated 90 percent of the royalties from his book.

"It was a masterful speech," said Paul Braoudakis, spokesperson for Willow Creek. "They were very very well received."

Christians and non-Christians alike were in attendance, but according to Braoudakis, the principles transcend the Church to the home and the board room.

"Leadership is leadership, whether you're practicing it in the church, the board room, or the home. It's just a matter of where the foundation comes from. For the Christian that foundation is in the Bible."

Oh yeah... I was kinda bummed yesterday... Bill mentioned that the night before he hosted a party at his house.  I wasn't invited.  :(  Maybe next year.  :)

Todd

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August 13, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Friday, August 12, 2005

More on the Leadership Summit

I found a list of other blogs that are dealing with the Leadership Summit, if any of you are interested...

St. Paul's
The Pilgrimage Continues
Charlie Dean
RadBlog
Kem Meyer

I thought it was funny, Kem had the same problem I did with Mosa Sono:

This last session was a little rough after lunch. Mosa Sono is passionate and told and interesting story. However, I was fading. It was hard to take notes...  Boy, this guy can roll his r’s.  And, that's where I fell off.

I enjoyed Mosa Sono... but had a really hard time taking notes or... keeping my eyes open.  :)  I think it was the whole 'after lunch' thing.  (Wouldn't that be a terrible place to be on the schedule?... the speaker right after lunch, after Bill Hybels and Rick Warren?)

One side note... there was a lot of discussion of AIDS and the pandemic that is going on; and what the church should be doing about it.  In Mosa Sono's congregation in South Africa, he holds 10-20 funerals a week from people from his church dying from AIDS.  Now that's something to ponder...

Well... it's time to take off for today's sessions.  I was slightly disappointed (ok... majorly disappointed) that I couldn't get a good wi-fi signal in Willow Creek's new auditorium.  I was hoping to blog more real-time; but we'll go with what we can.

Still would be interested in hearing more from any of you where are either here in South Barrington or watching the summit across the world... feel free to add your thoughts!

Todd

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August 12, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack