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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day: Jesus Sheet Metal

Sheetmetal Come on... the face of Jesus on a piece of sheet metal.  You could own it today!  It's on auction at eBay... the bid right now is just $2,025.00.

Who are the people who bid on things like this?  (There have been 42 bids).  I just don't understand.

Here's more from the posting on eBay:

Image Of Jesus on Sheet Metal, unpacked right from the crate.  Had to do a double take! Totally amazed  several people. You can actually see an image of him with arms in the air or a frontal and a side image of him. Felt Chills When I Held It!!!!

****This item IS the One and Only Original Piece.****

This Piece has been seen on several TV Stations, Newspaper articles, Internet Sites and Radio Stations.

This is no hoax, to see it is to believe it!

That makes this today's most ridiculous item of the day.  I'm off to go look for Jesus on things in my garage.

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February 28, 2006 in For What It's Worth | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

When a Pastor's Wife's Past Causes Havoc...

Abby Interesting topic recently in (of all places) Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: Being a pastor of a church, I had to respond to the letter from "Hates Hypocrites in Washington." She's the woman who discovered that the new associate pastor's wife, "Millie," is the same woman who broke up her marriage, in addition to having had a "history," so to speak.

The senior pastor is probably aware of at least some of what she wrote about -- that Millie has had two previous marriages, countless affairs and did time in prison for drugs. However, on the off chance that he doesn't, "Hates Hypocrites" should say something.

As you suggested, she needs to introduce herself to the woman in question: Millie's reaction will give her a pretty good idea of whether she has had a change of heart in recent years. If Millie hasn't, then the writer needs to go quietly to the pastor, approaching it from the standpoint of, "I hope Millie has turned over a new leaf since all of this, but you need to know that ..."

I have seen firsthand what can happen when not enough questions are asked when a staff person comes into a church. While I hope and pray that Millie has learned from her mistakes, that may not be the case. -- REV. CHET THOMAS, DAWSON, GA.

DEAR REV. THOMAS: Although I am reluctant to see anyone "carry tales" that could ruin a career -- specifically the associate pastor's -- I bow to your expertise. You are not the only clergyperson who weighed in on this one.

You can read more on this here...

What would you do in a situation like this?!

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February 28, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

What's the Secret to Your Success?

Success Let's face it... we all want to be successful in our lives, our families and our careers.  But what are the ingredients of success... how do you measure it... and what do you need to do to be successful?

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers; and he addresses this question in a recent post at his blog, Working Smart.  I think it has some good advice for everyone who works in business OR ministry...  Michael writes:

This past weekend, I received an email from one of my readers. He started, “I have an MBA, but I must have missed the course on Fast-Tracking My Career. If you had to boil it down to one thing, Mr. Hyatt, what would you recommend to a young, aspiring person such as myself?”

I'm not sure I could boil it down to one thing. Life isn’t usually that simple. But if I really, really had to boil it down to one thing, I would say this: responsiveness.

So many people I meet are unresponsive. They don’t return their phone calls promptly. They don’t answer their emails quickly. They don’t complete their assignments on time. They promise to do something and never follow through. They have to be reminded, prodded, and nagged. This behavior creates work for everyone else and eats into their own productivity. Sadly, they seem oblivious to it.

When I was a kid, we used to play “Tag.” The objective was simple: keep from becoming “It.” If someone tagged you (touched you), you became “it” until you tagged someone else. Whoever was “it” when the game ended, lost.

Business is very similar. People “tag” us in countless ways every day. They place calls. They send emails. They mention something to us in a meeting. Suddenly, we are “it.” And, just like the game, if you stay “it” too long, you lose. The only winning strategy is to respond quickly and make someone else “it.”

Reality is that we live in an “instant world.” People want instant results. They don’t want to wait. And if they have to wait on you, their frustration and resentment grows. They begin to see you as an obstacle to getting their work done. If that happens, it will begin to impact your reputation. Pretty soon people start saying, “I can never get a timely response from him,” or “When I send her an email, I feel like it goes into a black hole,” or worse, your colleagues just roll their eyes and sigh at the mention of your name.

Yet, these are the very people who will push you up or pull you down. You cannot succeed without the support of your peers and subordinates. (Go back and re-read that sentence again.)

As I was making my way to the top, my former boss, Sam Moore, used to ask everyone I worked with, “What’s it like to work with Mike?” “How’s he really doing?” “Do you think he could take on more responsibility?” In responding to him, all they had was their experience with me. If I hadn’t been responsive to them, how do you think they would have responded to his questions? “More responsibility? Are you kidding me? He can’t handle what he has now!” It wouldn’t take too many candid responses like that to tank my career.

And yet this happens to people all the time. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have sat in where people are complaining about someone else’s work habits. “He always waits until the last minute.” “She never plans ahead.” “I can never get him to respond to my emails.” You may think that the people who are making these comments are too far down the food chain to matter. I can assure you they aren’t. They have a way of bubbling to the top where the decisions about your career are made.

The truth is, you are building your reputation—your brand—one response at a time. People are shaping their view of you by how you respond to them. If you are slow, they assume you are incompetent and over your head. If you respond quickly, they assume you are competent and on top of your work. Their perception, whether you realize it or not, will determine how fast your career advances and how high you go. You can’t afford to be unresponsive. It is a career-killer.

My basic rule is this: respond immediately unless there is a good reason to wait. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, especially since I spend so much time in meetings. Nevertheless, I rarely let messages sit longer than a day. Twenty-four hours is the outside edge. If you can’t respond now, then at least acknowledge that you have received the message: “I received your message. I don’t have time to give it the attention it deserves right now, but you can expect to hear from me before the end of the day tomorrow.”

The great thing about being responsive is that it will quickly differentiate you from your peers. People love doing business with responsive people. Nothing will advance your career faster than this.

Your thoughts?

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February 28, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Thou Shalt Not Wash Your Hands

Wash_hands Mark Batterson of National Community Church and Evotional.com had a great post on how we many times major on minors.  See what you think...

The Pharisees despised Jesus because he didn't conform to their religious tradition. They got all bent out of shape because his disciples forgot to wash their hands before a meal.

Come on folks. Let's not major in minors! Don't we have more important issues to wrangle over than hand washing!

Maybe it's time to break the mold. Maybe it's time to take risks to reach people. Maybe it's time to offend the religious if that is what it takes to reach the irreligious!

It's so easy to do ministry from memory. We learn how and forget why. We keep on doing what we've always done. And we believe that our way of doing church is the only way of doing church. We think that our church tradition is somehow superior.

Word to my brother: No it's not.

I don't know many pastors who haven't had to repent of ecclesiastical pride at some point in their ministry. I've been humbled more than once :)

We need lots of different kinds of churches because there are lots of different kinds of people. It's not about ranking churches as better or worse, larger or smaller, right or wrong. We simply need some biblical latitude that allows churches to be a unique expression of the kingdom even if it doesn't fit with everyone else's church tradition. The key phrase is Biblical latitude!

We've got to be orthodox in belief. But it's ok to be unorthodox in practice! No one was more unconvential than Jesus! The message is sacred. The method isn't.

I grew up in a church tradition where movie theaters were taboo. The great irony is that I put my faith in Christ after watching a movie. In a church, of course! Now I pastor theaterchurch.com with a vision to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the DC area.

Movie theaters make great sanctuaries! You've got comfortable seats; the scent of popcorn; and a movie screen that doubles as postmodern stained glass.

In order to reach emerging generations we may need to follow in Jesus footsteps and break some religious traditions. Maybe we should worry less about washing our hands and worry more about getting our hands dirty washing feet.

One footnote.

I'm not against hand washing :)

I highly recommend that pastors wash the fellowship off their hands following services. And definitely wash your hands after using the restroom. Or at least do the sink fake :) Come on, we've all done it.

[1] Matthew 15:1-20

What do you think?

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February 28, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (65) | TrackBack

Monday, February 27, 2006

Are You Entering the Mr. Hetero Competition?

An idea from a pastor/radio show host... why not celebrate heterosexuality and God's design for man with a "Mr. Hetero" contest?

This is for real.

A real competition that will bring fun and laughter as we celebrate God's design. Come be a part of the fun either as a contestant or an audience member.

Info And Events...

Strength - how many oprah magazines can you tear?

Talent - your choice

Intellectual - answering random questions such as your favorite heterosexual role model

Competition - name that food

They even have a DVD available; and mugs that show a picture of a man and woman with the phrase "100% Hetero".

My question... does this do anything positive for Christians or for the Kingdom?

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February 27, 2006 in For What It's Worth | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pat Robertson Magic Eight Ball

Thought this was kind of funny... Click here for the full size version:


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February 27, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Performance-Based Pastor Salaries

Money This type of thing is always interesting to talk about... this comes from One:  thought, word, action.  What do you think?

Recently, a group of Wesleyan pastors and students at Asbury Seminary were discussing the issue of some Wesleyan churches who are considering moving towards a pastor performance based salary. There were a variety of comments made with some seeing the positives in it, while others being disgusted with the whole concept. For instance:

-If a church is in decline, should that be enough to validate a reduction of salary purely because of quantitative numbers?

-Can the pastor lose the prophetic voice because total attendance could decrease if the truth were boldly proclaimed?

-As one rewards countable numbers like baptisms or new members, how would we measure discipleship and assess spiritual growth?

-Would these bonuses also apply to staff pastors (youth, worship, and so forth)?

-Is this way of analyzing and rewarding a pastor biblical, or have we gone to far in allowing the corporate and capitalistic philosophies to enter into our churches?

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February 27, 2006 in Personnel Issues | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Random Thoughts for a Monday

ClintonI don't usually do this, but it seems that I have a lot of random thoughts going through my head this morning... here's a few things that are rattling around my head this morning...

1.  Bill Clinton is looking to hire 25 new interns.  Why is this unsettling to me?

2.  How gross would this be?  Man dates woman on internet for six months -- and it turns out it's his mother.

3.  There's a new website that helps women screen men before they date them.  At DontDateHimGirl.com you can browse their search engine of cheating men right now!  This got me to thinking... what if we put together a website of abusive churches and posted it on the internet?  How would your church fare?

4.  This weekend was Granger's first week of their PureSex series.  According to Tony Morgan; Granger hit 6,000 in non-holiday attendance for the first time.  Actually, they hit 7,000 in non-holiday attendance for the first time!  Sounds like they really hit a need on this one!

5.  Having no voice is the pits.  I had absolutely 100% larygitis for 7 full days last week... my voice started coming back on Saturday... I'm probably at around 30% right now.  (You don't know how hard it is not to yell at your kids for a week!)  Thanks for all your prayers!

6.  There's a lot going on at a church in Albuquerque.  I hope to be able to blog about it later today.  It looks like another story of leadership not working correctly at the highest (and most well-known names) level.  I'll give you my take later.

7.  In January, an Anglican church vicar in Cambridge, England, commenced twice-monthly services for goths (with black garments and rock music) at his St. Edward King and Martyr church. Vicar Martin Ramshaw, 34, said he is a goth himself and reports that his dozen or so worshippers go straight from services to a goth nightclub. (He will soon issue goth T-shirts with Jesus speaking, "If the world hates you, remember, it hated me first.")

OK... I told you what's on my mind... what's on yours this morning!?

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February 27, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Turning Times of Complacency Into Times of Consistent Improvement

Yawn As a church leader, do you ever have to deal with personal complacency?  You get busy... you get tired... you taste some success in a certain area; and then, bam!, before you know it, you lose your motivation and slide into a time of complacency.  I think this is a problem many church leaders face from time to time in their ministry...

John Maxwell shares some helpful information on how to replace complacency with consistent improvement in a recent edition of his Leadership Wired Newsletter.  John writes...

One of the biggest temptations leaders of successful organizations face is to stop thinking big. After a taste of success, even the best and brightest leaders suddenly start to think complacently. When a company gets on a roll, some leaders tighten up and start playing it safe. They stop playing to win and begin playing not to lose. Where they once thought big and new, now they think incrementally.

This temptation is a reality with a lot of sports teams. How many times have we seen teams lose their momentum and then lose the game because instead of playing to win, they began to play not to lose? They get ahead, but then they pull back and stop playing with the intensity that earned them the lead.

The same temptation traps company executives. With the organization exceeding expectations and making record profits, the leadership gets excited. The organization appears to be cruising toward its best year ever, when all of a sudden the focus shifts from gaining momentum to sustaining momentum. The moment leadership changes focus, momentum vanishes.

I like to think of momentum as the great exaggerator. When you have it, people think you're better than you are. You're on a roll and everybody is amazed by your success. When you lose momentum, people think you're worse than you are. Momentum magnifies your performance, and positive momentum can be a potent force to push you forward.

When things are on a roll, don't sit on the ball—run up the score! In other words, when you've got momentum going for you, put the pedal to the metal. Take off. Ignite momentum. As I wrote in "Thinking for a Change", "We are today where our thoughts brought us, and we will be tomorrow where our thoughts take us." When we stop thinking big as leaders and dwell upon protecting past successes, we start to think conservatively. The big thoughts that gave us a big year are replaced by conservative thoughts which will give us a mediocre year.

Let me give you four strategies that will keep your momentum moving in the right direction.

1. When you're doing well, go shopping.
When you're doing well, instead of patting yourself on the back, go shopping. Look around for somebody that's bigger, better, faster, and smarter than you are. Study their successes and benchmark your results against theirs. I did this as a young leader, because very quickly in my field I had successes. Instead of being content as the number one leader in my organization, I started going to other organizations where I wouldn't be in the top 100. It was an exercise in humility; but I immediately realized the way to refocus wasn't to compare myself against everyone I was beating, but to compare myself with somebody better than I was.

2. Stir up inspirational dissatisfaction.
Inspirational dissatisfaction does not mean you are never pleased or satisfied. Nor is it a license to beat yourself up or come down hard on your people. Instead, it's a creative awareness that you can do better. You can do more to improve personally and to invest exhaustively in the growth of your team. This state of mind unlocks your comfort zone and prompts you to keep on stretching.

3. Develop a daily dose of paranoia.
There's a difference between a daily dose and an overdose of paranoia. An overdose makes you and everyone around you miserable. A daily dose is an inner rustling—a pebble in the shoe—that creates just enough discomfort to keep you continually alert and engaged. In fact, the best leaders act as though someone is out to get them, like they're on the verge of losing every customer every day.

4. Continue to set goals that stretch your team.
If you can reach your goals with a "business as usual" approach, then your goals are too small. A goal is only effective when it forces changes, big decisions, and bold action.

The thinking of a leader is contagious to the team. As a leader, you broadcast your way of thinking to your people, and they are going to pick up on your signals immediately. Unsuccessful leaders focus their thinking on survival—"If I can just make it through the year." Average leaders focus their thinking on maintenance—"If I can just hold on to what I have." Successful leaders focus their thinking on continual progress.

FOR DISCUSSION:  Do you ever deal with complacency?  What helps you through?

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February 26, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Friday, February 24, 2006

Capturing the Attention of Your City this Easter

Sjogren_1 By Steve Sjogren from Pastors.com:

A number of years ago I hit a wall when launching my new church in Cincinnati. Just four weeks after arriving, nationwide survey results were announced that our fair city was the fourth most unfriendly city in all of America! Wow, what a challenge. That's not the kind of information you can find in a demographic study!

I had planted several fairly successful churches before coming here, but in this city on the river, I tried everything I knew to connect with people and absolutely nothing worked. Finally, one day I got an "inspired idea" – as I like to call it when the Lord impresses something on my heart. "Give up on planting this boring little church and just begin to serve people and see what happens." So my wife, Janie, and I did just that. After two years and more than 2,000 vision casting conversations we had gathered only 37 people. We announced our new direction. Immediately, 12 people left. They were angry. "That's a stupid idea," they told me. But we persevered. We did a car wash. We washed windshields. Before long we were doing five or six projects each Saturday.

We gave out "connection cards" so people could follow up on a church connection if they wanted to – but for the first six months we put other church's names on the cards – we were embarrassed at our own church's quality! But amazingly our church grew greatly. Our people got excited about our outward focus.

Fast forward a few years. I led the church for 15 years until a major medical accident. The church had grown to more than 7,000 on weekends, and we had spun off about 20 other churches – all of them doing the same sorts of things.

Easter is a fantastic "excuse" to serve people into relationship with Christ. Pretty much everyone is thinking about God during Holy Week. We go out everyday that week in groups and do all sorts of things to show God's love in practical ways. Here are some practical, simple ideas to consider:

Fill parking meters if it's not illegal in your city. Put together a card that says, "Your parking meter looked hungry so we fed it!" You can see derivations of what that card looks like on my Web site, under "Cards." If you do this put the card by the driver's side window, not the windshield. 

Give away flowers. Carnations are inexpensive. Order them a bit ahead of time. We have found that when we tell the bulk florists that we are going to give them away, that they usually give us an even better deal!

People go crazy over a single flower – it is amazing.

Hand out Hershey Kisses in a small Ziploc bag. Put three or four of the kisses (be generous!) along with a "connection card" into the bag. You would be surprised at how many of these you can give out in a short space of time. We have given out as many as 2,000 to 3,000 in 90 minutes at a good location with a lot of traffic.

Give out gift bags. Fill that area assembled in the front of your church by the platform on either Palm Sunday (ideally) or even on Easter with colorful gift bags that have paper stuffing coming out the top. Encourage your people to give these out to people they run into – cashiers, waiters (after they have given them a big tip – 30 percent in any case – that's a normal rate for Christ-followers in my mind). These bags can contain candy, lip balm, mints, pocket tissues – get some of your more creative people to work on the contents that would seem appropriate for your area of the United States. Again, show the generosity of Christ! Of course, put in a connection card.

M & Ms packs. Everyone likes M & Ms. You would have to be a Communist to not like M & Ms! Get the plain ones, not the peanut – many are allergic to peanuts. I have found that you can get these at a gigantic discount when you buy them in bulk at either a Sam's store or a Costco. They are as little as 20 cents per pack.

Doing these outreaches now and then such as something on Easter is a good start. The goal though is to begin to do these things all of the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In my new church plant in Tampa our motto is, "See a need and meet it; feel a hurt and heal it." Our goal is that 80 percent of our people will each week spontaneously touch between five and 10 people with radical acts of generosity and love and then give those people a connection card. When you gather a few thousand people, it begins to add up to a lot of touches. As one friend of mine puts it, "That's a whole lot of God's love!"

You can read more here.

FOR DISCUSSION:  What are you doing to capture your community this Easter?  Will any of these ideas help you?

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February 24, 2006 in Outreach and Evangelism | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack