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Friday, December 30, 2005

Bigger Than Willow Creek!

Willowsign Ahhhh.... a couple of funny posts over the past couple of days in the blogosphere.   Many of you know about all the press and controversy over some large churches opting to not have services on Christmas morning (and instead do multiple Christmas Eve Services). 

Well, Pastor Mark O. Wilson has a post declaring that his church is bigger than Willow Creek (at least last Sunday)!

Meanwhile, one of the top dogs over at fide-o actually did attend Willow Creek last Sunday.  Here's the top things he learned about Willow...

- You can get a really good parking space.

- The church campus is very quiet.

- Don’t expect a huge welcome from the greeters

- If you pull hard enough on the doors they will come open, but an alarm will sound.

- You can pick any seat you like.

- The police station is apparently less than 3 minutes away.

- Running through the parking lot like a kid playing freeze tag screaming “What did I do, what did I do.” while the police chase you is not a good idea.

- Police officers do not like to run

- In case you were wondering the new Taser X26 really does work.

- The police are very understanding when calmly given an explanation.

-It takes a couple of days for the effects of a tazor to completely wear off.

- Willow Creek did not have services on Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25, 2005.

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December 30, 2005 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Top Ten Pastoral New Year Resolutions

Calendar_1 Today's post comes from Pastor Todd Foster of Church on the Rock in New Haven, CT.  Thanks Todd for sharing with us... see what you think...

1. I resolve to keep smiling and to be appreciative of that off key, off beat solo rendition of a song that I never liked to begin with.

2. I resolve not to make this week’s people problem the subject of Sunday’s message (and if I do, I won’t look their way or point).

3. I resolve to stay awake during those entirely TMI (too much information) counseling sessions (e.g., “and then I woke up, and then I got dressed, and then I ate breakfast, mwah, mwah, mwah”...shades of Charlie Brown!)

4. I resolve to simply be myself, another of God’s originals rather than just another copy.

5. I resolve not to believe that my sermons are quite as good as reported.

6. I resolve not to believe that my sermons are quite as bad as reported.

7. I resolve, in my quest for culturally relevant preaching material, to spend more time in prayer than at the movies or watching TV.

8. I resolve to never cross that point of technological diminishing return where the “wows” start to exceed the “hallelujahs!”

9. I resolve not to quit this year.

10. I resolve never to cuss, never, never, never, not even in rush hour traffic.

Have some of your own? Feel free to add or comment.....

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December 29, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Auctioning the Best Seats in Church to the Highest Bidder

Auction No... it's not the latest idea from Ed Young.  And Rick Warren has not started a purpose-driven seat campaign.  This has great potential for all the growing churches with very limited seating!  :)

This is from the Star Tribune...

Using Christmas Eve mass for fundraising purposes by selling front pews to the highest bidders is unorthodox, but it serves the "greater good" of sustaining a parish that is wonderfully close to God, the pastor at St. Paul's Nativity of Our Lord Church wrote in his congregation's Sunday bulletin.

"I have to admit that when I first came to Nativity six years ago, I thought the practice a bit odd," the Rev. Peter Christensen wrote. "But, upon learning that this item alone generated more than $6,000 for the school, I soon changed my mind."

The priest's letter to parishioners this Christmas was in response to a Star Tribune story one week ago about Nativity's approximately 10-year-old tradition of auctioning front pews to 4 p.m. mass on Christmas Eve. The story spread to other media outlets, including CNN.

This year's auction to reserve pews, held as part of an annual fall fundraiser for Nativity's 800-student elementary school, featured winning bids of about $1,000 per pew. Some religious scholars have commented that the auction for reserved seating to holy services on Christmas Eve is an improper mix of God and money.

In his first public remarks on the subject, Christensen wrote to his parishioners that those who bid for the pews "aren't offering hundreds of dollars to hear me preach." Nor are they expecting to "purchase Jesus' undivided attention," he said.

"Rather, these donors generously came forward to support our parish mission of providing a strong, affordable Catholic education for our youngest members and, ultimately, to help ensure a bright future for our parish and the larger community," the pastor wrote.

He noted that the pew auction is exclusive to the 4 p.m. Christmas Eve mass. There are six other Christmas liturgies at Nativity and 834 regularly scheduled services in a year, he said.

He also said in his letter that Nativity isn't a "well-heeled" parish. The "vast majority" of parishioners make financial sacrifices to support the church and its school, he wrote.

The pastor said that the tangible peace and closeness to God that people experience inside the walls of Nativity church make it "all the more difficult to understand the unfortunate and unexpected media coverage."

Any thoughts?

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December 28, 2005 in Trends in Today's Church | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

10 Action Steps to Turn Your 2006 Goals Into Reality

Goals This comes to us from ChurchBusiness.com... 

ThinkTQ.com -- a leading publisher of virtual training products for personal and professional excellence -- recently announced the results of its 2005 Goals Study. The data -- while more hopeful than last year -- shows a big disconnect between people's hopes and dreams, and their power to realize their aspirations.

Given the numbers below, Americans, once again, get an "F" in this critical area of their performance. Simply put, they fail to consistently take the 10 actions necessary to move their dreams and visions out of their hearts and heads and into their lives.

1.  Make all your dreams real by first identifying and then focusing on specific, tangible targets for what you want.  You'll never make a dream real until you have something specific to aim at. There is no way you can plan for -- to say nothing of work toward -- a "better life." You can, however, stipulate a list of conditions that would define a better life. Each of those items can then be made into a precise target you can aim for, and immediately begin to work towards. So, dream your dreams, and then identify specific examples in the real world that best represent the desired qualities of your dream.

2005 Results: Only 26 percent of those tested say they do this frequently. Is it any wonder that, without a clear vision for what they want, people fail to find the success and happiness they desire?

2.  Maintain at least one clearly defined goal for every major interest and role in your life.  Creating an ideal life -- in which all your roles are completely fulfilled -- starts with setting clear goals. If you never define what you expect, you'll only get what life gives you, and that might be a whole lot less than what you want.

Why leave things to chance? Every major interest and role in your life deserves its own series of clearly defined goals, providing a rewarding direction -- and an ever-present purpose -- for each area of your life.

2005 Results: Only 12 percent of those tested do this consistently. Thus, 88 percent lack balance in their lives.

3.  Set your goals so they are directly aligned with your life's mission, purpose and passion. Your most powerful and inspiring goals are those that are directly aligned with what you value most. Goals that are aligned with your life's mission are those that bring an ideal personal vision closer to reality. Mission-based goals will deliver the greatest sense of pride and satisfaction once accomplished. As you establish your goals, put them to the test: How connected are they to what you value most? If they're not, change them.

2005 Results: Only 19 percent of those tested do this consistently. This leaves 81 percent of the population that can't connect the dots between their life's' passion and purpose, and specific goals that would provide direction and meaning in their lives.

4.  Create goals high enough to ignite your spirit and inspire you to take action. The higher the goal, the more it will excite and motivate you. Life's greatest satisfaction comes from attaining goals that you once believed were beyond reach. If most of your goals are forgotten before they're achieved, you need to create more exciting, stimulating, intoxicating, adventurous, ambitious and heartfelt goals.

2005 Results: Only 26 percent of those asked take this action frequently, leaving 74 percent to be monotonously consumed by living their lives on a treadmill rather than daring to live what's most important to them.

5.  Write down all your goals in specific, measurable detail. Include declared target dates. Writing down exactly what you want by when is the first step to success. If you won't commit to writing them down, you'll never do what it takes to reach your goals. Writing your goals in exquisite detail helps define them in your mind and provides the exact specifications for what you want to accomplish. The more desirable qualities you add to the goal, the greater will be your satisfaction when you attain it.

2005 Results: Less than 15 percent of those surveyed write down their goals. Consequently, 85 percent of the population have goals that are out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

6.  Absolutely, unconditionally commit to hitting each of your targets.  The best predictor of success, both personally and professionally, is your degree of commitment. Whenever you set a goal, write out why you're committed to accomplishing it. The "why" is far more important than the "how." Commitment -- sheer passion and willpower -- can help overcome any deficiency in time, money or education. Make sure each of your goals is worthy of the time and effort necessary to achieve it. Then, make sure each of your goals is getting the absolute, unconditional commitment it deserves.

2005 Results: Only 33 percent of those surveyed say they're fully committed to their goals. No wonder surveys show that 78 percent of people who set New Year's goals in January dump those goals by April.

7.  Share your goals with others for mutual accomplishment.  Nothing is more powerful than a team of people all focused on the same goal. Dare to share your dreams with others. A shared goal is an extremely powerful force. When your goal benefits a host of other people, motivation and commitment to the goal increases proportionately. When you align your goals with those of others, you dramatically improve the probability of each person's success.

2005 Results: Only 22 percent of those tested say they frequently share their goals with others. Without developing powerful leverage and strong interpersonal synergy that comes from teambuilding, even modest goals become difficult to achieve. Message: Fail to share your goals, and you can kiss them goodbye.

8.  Set a whole series of related daily, weekly and long-term goals, complete with starting times and completion dates. A series of goals that build upon each other is far more productive than the same number of random goals. Start by setting a highly compelling destination. Then, set all the intermediary goals that will lead you to this desired location. By setting a series of concrete objectives, you gain a long-term perspective and a higher purpose for each daily goal. Once set, your enthusiasm, self-esteem and satisfaction will increase every time you achieve a milestone towards the final long-term goal.

2005 Results: Less than 12 percent of those tested say they do this consistently. This means some 88 percent have fuzzy goals, with no concrete procedure for seeing them to fruition.

9.  Take 10 minutes every day to imagine how terrific it will feel when your goals are actually realized.  It's impossible to keep striving for something for which you no longer have any feelings. The more you stay in touch with the rewarding experience and positive feelings that each goal delivers, the more motivated and committed you'll be to continue the pursuit.

Each time you get in touch with the emotional benefits your goals produce, you'll feel energized and enthused to continue regardless of the distance to the goal. Celebrate your goals every day. Anticipation is half the fun, and most of the motivation for getting there.

2005 Results: Only 11 percent of those tested do this consistently. This, of course, is what leads to the huge disconnect between setting and acheiving goals over time.

10.  Take an action step toward the attainment of at least one goal every day.  A goal is something beyond where you are. If you want to get from here to your goal, you must take the steps required to get there. Goals don't just "happen."

Obvious? You bet. But if this is obvious, why do so many people set goals then never achieve them? If you want the goal, you have to do the work. This means taking the steps necessary to get there, day by day.

2005 Results: Only 7 percent of those tested do this daily. With little daily progress made towards their goals, people become discouraged, disheartened and depressed, which leads people to resist setting goals in the future for fear they're doomed to failure. No question, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of turning gloom into doom.

In Summary

With an average Set Goals TQ Score of just 49 out of 100 points, is it any wonder the vast majority of people have difficulty setting clear, tangible goals for themselves or their organizations? With tens of millions of data points at www.ThinkTQ.com, it's obvious that people need to invest significantly more time in setting their goals for the years ahead.

Success -- both personally and professionally -- depends on your ability to turn dreams and visions into tangible milestones and objectives. You have the power to be both a dreamer and a doer. Your success depends on both.

These results are based on a sample size of 32,896 ThinkTQ.com registered users in the United States. Results indicate a 95-percent confidence level and a Margin of Error of +/-1.5 percent. (Theoretically, with a sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of +/-1.5 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. For "statistic gurus", this translates into two standard deviations. Also, this study is not a probability sample, but rather, the result of actual TQ Tests taken through 11/15/2005.)

About ThinkTQ, Inc.

www.ThinkTQ.com is a pioneer in internet publishing and is the world's leading publisher of virtual training products for personal and professional excellence.

E. R. Haas and Kent Madson are performance experts and authors of Full Spectrum Career Power: How The Color of your Performance Affects the Color of your Parachute. For complete information, see www.ThinkTQ.com/CareerPower.

FOR DISCUSSION:  Do you set ministry goals on an annual basis?  How do you measure them?  Want to share some of your goals here to help in your accountability?

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December 27, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

A Very Merry Christmas To All of You...from my family!

Todd, Dawn, Taylor, Tristan, Danielle, & Trevin Rhoades

Rhoades_family

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December 25, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 22, 2005

8 Things Pastors Need To Know About E-Ministry

Internet_1 This comes from a great article over at Pastors.com.  My thanks to Effective Web Ministry Notes for the synopsis:

  1. Your target audience for church growth is Internet-savvy.
  2. Your Web site will be your “first impression” for many people.
  3. If you’re not on the Web, you don’t exist to many people.
  4. Seekers will visit your Web site before attending your services.
  5. A whole generation exists that will seek “religion” online.
  6. The Web site is too critical to be run by a volunteer.
  7. You can’t afford a cheap site.
  8. People are viewing your current Web site right now.

I thought this was a pretty good list.  Any thoughts?

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December 22, 2005 in Technology in the Church | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

What if Megachurches Trained Church Plant Techs?

Sound_board_1 Today's guest blogger is Anthony Coppedge. Anthony is a church media consultant, author, speaker and self-confessed technology geek.He writes...

I had been thinking out loud about the possibility of large churches with a lot of resources (staff, equipment and money) creating a partnership with church plants in sponsoring part-time techs for work and training.

As I explained this concept to my wife, she reminded me that Harvest Church in Watauga used to hire Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary grad students to work on staff with the full understanding that they'd only be there for 12-18 months and then would leave to go start their own churches. Whereas the hiring of Seminary students was more-or-less full time at Harvest, the idea was a catalyst for a modification of that practice for equipping Tech Arts people.

It could look something like this:

A Small Church Plant wants to add a Technical Arts ministry, but doesn't have the money to hire a full-time Tech Arts staff position. Large Church wants to add more projects and provide more help to their current Tech Arts staff, but only needs part-time help.

The Large Church would create an inter-church staffing resource and offer positions to help fulfill the needs of their Tech Arts ministry. The Small Church Plant would then submit their candidate for an interview process to see if there was a potential fit. The tech person would be hired part-time by the Large Church to work on projects for the Large Church (and be trained by experienced ministry staff) and hired part-time by the Small Church Plant to work on their projects. After a 12-18 month stint learning and working at the Large Church, the tech person would be much better equipped to help the church plant and, hopefully, the Small Church Plant would have the resources to bring this person on full-time.

In this way, large churches could hire additional part-time help on contractual basis (no benefits package) from someone they know will be reproducing themselves for the kingdom while helping out with their own projects. The Small Church Plant would benefit from being able to afford a part-time tech person and from the excellent training that person receives from the Large Church.

In the end, I see this as an excellent way of church leaders living out Luke 12:48 "...From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Where some see churches as being in competition with each other, I see the better way as being in cooperation with each other.

So what do you have to say about this? What do you large church pastors think of this suggestion? For you small church plant pastors, what do you think of this arrangement?

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December 22, 2005 in Technology in the Church | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Five Ways To Encourage Your Youth Pastor This Christmas

Smile If there's one thing that's lacking in many church leadership structures, it's probably encouragement.  Here are five quick ways that you can encourage your youth pastor this Christmas (from Joshua Griffin at pastors.com)...

Double their pay and triple their budget. OK, so this isn't exactly a realistic option, but so many youth workers wrote in and asked us to give it a shot that I couldn't say no. So there you go – do with it what you will.

Surprise them with movie tickets. Take the afternoon off as a staff or give your youth worker an excuse to take his or her spouse out one evening. Provide childcare if the couple has kids. (If you're really ambitious, you make the offer to babysit.)

Ask positive questions. Take the time to know more than what is happening in the youth ministry. Challenge yourself to become more aware of your youth pastor's personal life and interests. Communicate both in word and action that you take them seriously – they want nothing more than to be believed in.

Say thanks and be specific. Take the time to say thanks for being part of the church team! Recall specific instances you identified as defining moments and reinforce positive decisions they have made. Direct someone else to praise them. Words from a volunteer or graduating student are priceless.

Speak highly of them when they're gone. This Christmas presents a great opportunity for you to encourage your church family. Praise the youth ministry while the lead workers are away for the upcoming holiday. Don't be afraid to brag on them and recognize the contribution they bring to your church!

Any thoughts?

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December 22, 2005 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You're Probably NOT a Seeker-Sensitive Church if...

Pastoral_collar 1. You can get a place to park within a mile of your church.
2. You've never heard of Rick Warren.
3. You've managed to catch up significantly on lost sleep during a church service.
4. There is stonework visible in your church building.
5. You wish there was an alternative to rich tea biscuits after the service.
6. Your pastor is very poor.
7. Your small group has listened to someone preaching 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God'
8. You've never heard a talk with references to modern culture before.
9. You bring a cushion to church.
10. You are sick with your pastor going on about predestination.
11. You know everyone in your church directory.
12. Your pastor wears any of the following: a suit, a tie, a dog collar, cassocks.
13. Your church is named after a saint, or the place where it is located.
14. You don't know what an 'Alpha' course is.
15. If any of the following words make it into your church service: sin, judgement, anger, wrath, hell
16. Your pastor rides a bicycle.
17. You can give technical definitions of justification, sanctification
18. You are attending a church service on Christmas day
19. You're not quite sure what your purpose is.
20. You enjoyed this post.

Kudos to The Rock Badger for this list.

PS -- This list was meant to be humorous... please take it as such.  :)

Todd

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December 21, 2005 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Why Pastors Leave the Ministry (UPDATE)

Thanks to ThinkChristian for this update:

What leads people to step away from ministry? The Christian Century reviews Pastors in Transition, a new book that researches the question. It’s not all bad news—many pastors leave to pursue different types of ministry, presumably in response to God’s leading. But many others cite church conflict as the reason they stepped down from the pulpit.

According to the review, one of the major findings of the book is that when church leaders are driven away by conflict, the culprit usually isn’t “high-level” theological controversies, but much more mundane problems:

The top five conflict issues cited by pastors who left ministry were pastoral leadership style, church finances, changes in worship style, staff relationships and building projects. Organizational and interpersonal issues, rather than doctrinal differences or hot-button issues such as homosexuality, were the most likely to motivate pastors to move on. “Most notable about the main conflicts experienced by ministers who left parish ministry is their ‘everyday,’ prosaic nature.”

Other findings indicate that feelings of loneliness, isolation, and lack of support—things that should be avoidable—are often major factors in the decision to leave church ministry.

What does your church do to prevent your leaders from feeling burned out and isolated? Are your leaders (or you, if you’re a leader) well supported by the church community, or is it a daily struggle for them to navigate church bureaucracy and strained staff relationships?

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December 21, 2005 in Personnel Issues | Permalink | Comments (44) | TrackBack