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Friday, March 31, 2006

Excuse Me... Do You Speak English?

This is the way I feel sometimes here at MMI.  Ever feel this way in your church?  Are we speaking the same language?

Here's the link for this quick video...
(careful, some of the ads on this site are not approved; but the video is!)

Have a great weekend!


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March 31, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Ever Feel Like A Loser?!

JabezYou can actually order this shirt here.

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March 31, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Zondervan Expands Purpose Driven Marketing Campaign

PdlThis just in from Publisher's Weekly:

Zondervan Expands Purpose-Driven Marketing Campaign to Distant Planets
By Jana Riess

Based on the runaway popularity of Rick Warren's bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life, which has sold more than 24 million copies just in the English language, Zondervan is turning its sights to the final frontier: space. Special editions of the book will release on Mars, Venus, and Mercury next year, the Michigan-based Christian publishing house reported this week, with more distant planets to follow later if initial sales efforts prove successful.

"Really, space is the great untapped market," said James T. Kirkstra, Zondervan's new manager for extraterrestrial sales. "We think that this book is the perfect product to help aliens understand the reason for their existence. And this market is completely fresh. I mean, Jupiter is simply huge, and no other Christian publishers have set up shop there yet. We are proud to be pioneers in this exciting venture."

As part of the promotional efforts, each planetary edition will have a slightly different subtitle that will mark it as unique for that particular world. For example, whereas the current edition bears the subtitle, "What on Earth Am I Here For?", future volumes will be "What on Mars Am I Here For?" and "What on Venus Am I Here For?" Other revisions and value-added content may also occur on a planet-by-planet basis, Kirkstra said.

This is not the first time that Zondervan has attempted an aggressive outreach into previously untapped markets. However, earlier efforts to get a copy of The Purpose-Driven Pet into the paws of every animal on Earth did not meet with unqualified success, since distribution proved to be a nightmare. "Let's face it, animals just weren't coming in from the wild to shop in CBA stores," said a company insider, who preferred to remain anonymous. "The best we could really hope for was that middle-aged women, our core consumers, were bringing the book home for their cats to read." Animal outreach efforts are on hiatus at the moment as the company pursues the intergalactic trade.

Kirkstra does not expect distribution to be such a barrier with the Martian publishing world, which will be the first to receive shipments of PDL. Zondervan has struck a deal with cash-strapped NASA, using capital from the lucrative Christian publishing business to fund further space exploration if NASA will subcontract for the routing and shipping of product. Financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed, but are rumored to be in the nine-figure range.

"The real challenge will be getting the books to the unchurched alien, since there won't be churches on these planets to do a '40 Days of Purpose' campaign," said Kirkstra. "But that is a small hiccup. Really, there's no reason for us not to reach for the stars."

[This is part of Publisher's Weekly's April Fools Day Coverage]

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March 31, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Help With an Article I'm Writing...

HelpmeHey all... I'm writing an article for a magazine next week and wonder if you could help me with some of your feedback...  If you're a senior pastor or have some hiring/firing power at your church (ooohh... the POWER!), I have a few short questions about staff hiring and the interview process that I'd like your feedback on... if you can help me out, please drop me a quick email and let me know you can be a part.  It would take probably about 10-15 minutes of your time; and you'd be on my list of 'really cool people' if you could find a way to help me out!  :)

So... whatdaya say?  Anyone wanna help out a bro. in need?

(I'm not afraid to beg or cry here)  :)



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March 30, 2006 in Personnel Issues | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Finding Your True North in Ministry

Truenorthby John Koessler from Pastors.com:

During my second year of pastoral ministry, I attended a pastors' conference. Of the many speakers, I now recall only one, and all I remember is his conclusion. At the time he was the pastor of one of the largest churches in the nation, a successful author, and renowned speaker. His message reflected on his lifetime of experiences as he approached the end of his very long ministry.

He listed some of the benefits he had enjoyed as a pastor. He described the free suits one of the members of his church had purchased for him and the free car provided for his use. He mentioned the beautiful house in which he lived at the church's expense and the generous salary.

The list was long and impressive enough to make me, a pastor of a small and struggling church, both envious and cynical.

I grew increasingly uncomfortable as he continued, because I knew where all this was heading. "What if I had not been given all these benefits?" he was going to ask. "Would I still serve my Lord?"

I knew what the answer would be. He would say, "I have searched my heart, and by God's grace, I would."

It was a muggy summer evening, and my clothes were limp from the heat. The auditorium was crowded with more than a thousand pastors, and I was feeling out of place, overwhelmed by the parade of celebrity speakers. I was wishing I hadn't come.

Things weren't going well in my church, and I had come to the conference harboring a secret hope that I'd make some connections that would open the door to a different place of ministry. The last thing I wanted to hear about was his large salary, free suits, free car, and beautiful house.

Sure enough, the question came. "What if I had never been given all these things?" the speaker boomed. "Would I still serve my Lord?" I slumped lower in my seat.

There was a long, long pause.

"I don't know. God help me," he said. Then he left the platform.

I was shocked.

I was devastated.

I was convicted.

I avoided the ice cream social afterward and went to my room. There I fell on my knees and begged God for help, because I knew he had spoken the truth about me, too. I wondered how I would ever make it to the end of my own course of ministry. I had just begun, and already I felt like I was faltering. What hope was there for me later on? How could I find my way?

That was nearly two decades ago. My ministry context has changed. But I still find that I must revisit these questions in those moments we all have when we wonder if we have lost our sense of direction. Over the years, I have found four compass points that help me to reorient myself.

First and foremost is my sense of calling. I feel most confused when I am not sure that I am doing the right thing. Am I making the right choices? Am I investing myself in the most strategic areas of ministry? I am surrounded by people with diverse expectations, but what would God have me do? I need a sense of duty.

Eugene Peterson has noted that the place of the pastor is before God's people, as one who proclaims God's Word, and beside God's people, as one who lives it out with them. This does not simply mean focusing on the right things. It also includes a sense of being "in place." It has a military dimension: We are "on duty" until we have been given liberty to leave. During my years as a pastor, I had other opportunities to change churches. Most of them seemed like "better" opportunities – larger congregations, more staff, nicer locale. Some were opportunities I had solicited.

In most cases, the thing that kept me from accepting a call, even when I wanted to say "yes," was the lack of a personal sense of release. Yes, this is subjective. But I did not feel that I could go until I sensed that the Holy Spirit had said, "You are dismissed."

Read more of this resource here at Pastors.com...

Any thoughts?

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March 30, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Getting Men to Come to Church

Bathrobe from Knight-Ridder Newspapers; by Helen T. Gray

Question: How do you get men to church?

Answer: In handcuffs!

It's not quite that bad, but in his book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church," author David Murrow says the one place you won't find the majority of Christian men on Sunday morning is church.

"Women comprise more than 60 percent of the typical adult congregation on any given Sunday," he says. "At least one-fifth of married women regularly attend worship without their husbands."

The problem is even more acute in black churches. The Rev. R.L. Baynham, president of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas, said the average attendance in the typical black congregation is 25 percent men.

Among Murrow's conclusions:

Many men see the church as "a ladies club."

Sermons, volunteer opportunities and ministries are geared more toward women. Many churches operate on a feminine model, such as nurturing, verbal expression and gentleness, which is a lot harder for most men to achieve

Churches are not challenging men to live out their faith .

Churches need to recover the masculinity of Jesus, who was bold and aggressive, "but we have turned him into a wimp, and men don't follow wimps. They follow leaders."

Even in area churches with active men's ministries, male attendance at Sunday services is only 40 percent to 45 percent. An even smaller percentage is involved in other church activities.

But some area men's leaders believe their churches have found solutions that address the problem.

They say that presented with the right opportunities, men don't see the church as an emasculating ladies club following a wimpy Jesus. They agree, however, that understanding the male psyche is important.

For example, the Men in Ministry group at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission offers both spiritual and action-oriented pursuits. Spiritually the men gather in a retreat each year at Conception Abbey, where they get to know one other, hear a speaker and then talk about their spiritual journeys.

Men don't share very well, so it's important to ask the right questions that focus on putting into action the things they have heard, said Deacon Monte Giddings, head of St. Michael's men's ministry. Then there are activities like a river trip that includes camping, being out in nature, a male-oriented way to create a band of brothers. Men also volunteer to take food and clothing to the homeless .

"Some churches are not challenging men to live out their faith boldly," Giddings said. "Men need that call to action; that appeals to men. Most of us are not called to be contemplatives."

If men believe Christianity is too submissive, he said, that's because no one has explained it to them .

"Men may hear, `Turn the other cheek,'" he said. "But we also have to be able to stand up to the things that happen in our lives."

Chuck Wolfe spent 10 years trying to find a church that fit. Three years ago, he and his wife, Paula, accepted Jesus Christ and joined Sheffield Family Life Center. Today he coordinates the Watchmen on the Wall ministry. This involves security, crowd control, assisting the elderly and mothers with their children, helping people unload items from their vehicles at church, and providing information to church goers.

Wolfe, who owns a martial arts studio and is a law-enforcement training instructor, said this type of ministry appeals to men.

Some men may have a misconception of what a Christian man is supposed to be, he said. "They think, `If I come to church on a regular basis, I'm more apt to be more passive and less aggressive in what I do. I'm going to sit in church and behave and be a good boy.'"

The idea of surrender, a requirement in Christianity, is a problem for some men, he said. "We are taught not to be submissive as men, but we need to be submissive to the Lord."

Willie Murillo, associate pastor at Sheffield who oversees men's and women's ministries, agrees with Murrow that churches need a balance in allowing some of the masculine traits in ministry.

"But I don't feel that I need to compete with my brother or be aggressive," he said. "Those traits bring a sense of trying to rule over, and that will not sit well with people in general.

"At Sheffield we are bringing men together consistently, monthly and weekly, to deal with men's issues, struggles, battles, their goals. We're trying to mentor men and give them insights if they haven't been brought up with other role models on how valuable they are to the church, the community, their families and the generations to come."

One such study and discussion series covered the topic "Power, Money and Sex" and attracted from 100 to 150 men. Another dealt with sexual integrity. Murillo said men also want to be empowered to do something, such as teaching, working in the multi media ministry, going on mission trips, evangelizing and working in the prison ministry and the street ministry.

"A lot of it boils down to what is required of you and recognizing what the Lord requires of you and whether men find church a priority in their personal lives," he said.

For two years Rob Johns, a dentist, resisted the Men's Fraternity group at Olathe Bible Church. But through his wife's prompting, he finally took the plunge.

The Men's Fraternity is a national program that equips men to live lives of authentic manhood as modeled by Jesus Christ. It encourages men not to be passive but to take an active role in their families and their churches, Johns said.

"Guys respond well to disciplined approaches," he said. "Guys tend to be goal-oriented. It had a time frame that appeared manageable and that was appealing to me. You don't get overloaded with everything like in a weekend retreat."

An annual golf tournament is one approach the church takes to reach men, Johns said.

"This is an outreach," he said. "Last year 35 to 40 percent of the men were not members of the church. Lots of men love to play golf. It's a great non threatening way to spend time. You build up the friendship and fellowship part first, then go into the need for Christ and the church."

In Catholic churches, attendance often is about equal men to women, said Stuart Holland, director of Christian formation at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, Kan.

"Part of this may be the nature of the Catholic Church," he said. "It is still considered a serious sin to intentionally miss Mass. The obligation is equal for men and women. In some places this is taught stronger than in other places.

"But although attendance may be equal among men and women, the more participating sex is the women. In the Catholic Mass all are supposed to participate, be engaged in the service. The women are more engaged in the service while many more men are just warming the pews."

Male and female participation are roughly equal in Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, Murrow writes.

"In the Islamic world men are publicly and unashamedly religious - often more so than women," he says. "Of the world's great religions, only Christianity has a consistent, nagging shortage of male practitioners."

In Islam, both men and women have the obligation for prayer, said Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City.

"Men are encouraged to do prayer in congregation, which would mean going to the mosque for Friday prayer; women have the option to go or not to go," he said.

In Muslim countries, Friday prayer is overwhelmingly attended by men, he said. But in the U.S. attendance at those services is almost equally divided between men and women. The women in the United States feel more of a need to be in contact with other Muslim women that they would see at the mosque, he said.

In Orthodox Judaism more men attend prayer services "because in our understanding of Jewish law, only men have the obligation for public prayer and are counted in the minyan (quorum) for prayer," said Rabbi David Fine of Congregation Beth Israel Abraham & Voliner in Overland Park, Kan.

As an important step in solving the problem of missing men in Christian congregations, Murrow urges churches to recognize and welcome the masculine spirit in their congregations.

"I believe millions of men are ready to walk with their maker," he said, "if only we'll put aside our doubts and welcome the masculine spirit back to our churches.

"What have we got to lose?"

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March 30, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (44) | TrackBack

Perry Noble's Toe Hurts

BigtoeOne of my favorite bloggers is Perry Noble.  Perry is the pastor of the wildly-growing NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.  I've often shared some of his comments here at MMI because they are so 'dead on'.  It seems that there are some in the blogosphere who take aim at Perry for the way NewSpring does ministry (you know, the whole seeker-sensitive; numbers; people matter to God thing).  Well, now, it seems, Perry has given his critics one more thing to find fault with him on.  In a recent post at his blog, Perry gave a riviting, pastoral confession:  his toe really hurts.

I'm really surprised that Perry's critics haven't jumped on this one.  I thought I'd help them out.  You see, the scripture has much to say about toes; and to be honest, I think Perry just doesn't get it.  For instance:

The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (Lev. 14:14).  [Isn't this the toe that Perry said looked like the 'toenail of death'?  Hmm... interesting.]

Then Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them." They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.  (Judges 1:7)  [Interesting scenario, huh, Perry?!]

We won't even bring up the giant Philistine in II Samuel with six toes on each foot.

Perhaps you should trade in your cool pastor Nike's for a pair of more sensible shoes... say Converse or Adidas.  You should know that it is not the size of the shoes that is the problem; but rather way in which you wear them.

"Oh be careful little feet where you go" could teach you a lot, dude.


PS -- On a serious note... there are other bloggers on the internet who visit Perry's blog (and MMI for that matter) for one reason and one reason only:  to find something they can disagree with and blog about.  I could give you numerous examples of this; and Perry has been taken out of context and misquoted more than most.  Let's keep him and others in prayer as they are constantly attacked; mostly from within the body of Christ.

BTW; at MMI, we try, whenever possible, to report about the great things God is doing rather than harp on everyone we disagree with.  I'm so much more inspired by seeing how God is working rather than condemning those who don't do things 'my way'.

Oh... and... good luck with the toe, Perry.

[DISCLAIMER:  Toe pictured not necessarily the actual toe of said Perry Noble]


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March 30, 2006 in For What It's Worth | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Evidently True Love Doesn't Always Wait

Couple_1Although signing a formal purity pledge seems to prolong abstinence outside of marriage, the findings of a recent survey of Baptist newlyweds reveal that true love doesn't always wait -- even among Christians.

Byron Weathersbee, interim chaplain at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, conducted a study on the effects of sexual-purity pledges and sex education on abstinence before marriage in a Christian context. Baylor is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

As part of his research, Weathersbee surveyed young married couples of less than five years in Texas Baptist churches to determine the impact churches made on their sexual behavior. The majority of the couples surveyed admitted to having sexual intercourse prior to marriage. However, the study was consistent with previous findings in its suggestion that Baptist couples were more likely to save sex for their wedding night if they took a formal abstinence pledge.

Specifically, of the young Christians surveyed, six out of ten who made purity commitments did not have sexual intercourse until marriage, while only three of ten who did not pledge purity remained abstinent. Additional findings were:

  • 100 percent professed faith in Christ
  • 99 percent attended church
  • 84 percent grew up in church
  • 87 percent grew up in a two-parent home
  • 62 percent of males had premarital sex
  • 65 percent of females had premarital sex

"To a large degree, we're missing it," Weathersbee says. "The young people are receiving the data, but they're not translating it into values that result in a lifestyle of purity and holiness." Supporting the chaplain's assertion is another finding from his research: only 27 percent of the young people surveyed entered marriage "chaste," having refrained not only from intercourse but also from other sexual practices such as oral sex.

from Agape Press.

Your thoughts?

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March 30, 2006 in Trends in Today's Church | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What Happens When You're Serious About Your Vision

Vision3 What happens when you take your vision seriously?  You'll find that you'll do whatever it takes (even if it means rockin' the boat) to accomplish that mission.  Here's a great example:

"We exist for people we have yet to reach," he said. If driving distances are a barrier in these burgeoning communities, the church is coming to them."

I love the part about existing for the people that we have yet to reach... that's what Prestonwood Baptist is doing:  changing the way (and location of where) they do church with one goal in mind:  their vision of serving those who aren't yet reached (the lost).

I wish more churches could somehow catch the vision of what they already call 'their vision'.

Something to think about.


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March 30, 2006 in Leadership Issues, Multi-Site Churches | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Can You Imagine Doing This?!

Arrow_1from the Columbian News...

Living Hope isn't just running forward, it's charging full tilt.

Starting on Easter Sunday, Living Hope will turn to technology for help in delivering its message beyond Brush Prairie to four movie theaters and a second church building it purchased in Orchards. Each location will host two Sunday services including a digital video of Bishop's message for adults and a live puppet show for children in which the characters will lip-sync a pre-recorded script.

Can you imagine?  Adding TEN services all at once; and going from 1 location to 5 locations in just one week?  Oh my...

The five-fold expansion is just the latest effort in an outreach program that's considered to be among the most ambitious of its kind.

Bishop's pop-culture-infused sermons already are available on the Internet through podcasts and streaming video. On weekends, he draws about 3,400 regulars to six services. The taped sermons delivered to five new locations starting on Easter Sunday will expand the church's physical reach from Hazel Dell to east Vancouver.

"I've been to 260 megachurches this year," said John Vaughan, who runs a Missouri-based church research and consulting business. "I don't know of any other church that would try anything this bold."

I think I'm with John on this one... 'bold' is a kind word.  :)

I guess when you're a church of 3,400 and your auditorium seats 600, you have to take drastic measures!

What do you think?  I know some still don't like the multi-site approach; but what would you do if you were the pastor of this local church?  You certainly wouldn't turn people away?  Wouldn't your first response be to allow as many people to get in on what God is doing at your church?  Extreme?  Yes! Absolutely!  (and Exciting!)


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March 29, 2006 in Multi-Site Churches | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack