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Friday, April 28, 2006

Jesus Getting Groceries

RevfunThanks, Jeff for the link.  From ReverendFun.com.

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April 28, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Honest Church Parking Signs

BigtithersIf some churches were honest, this would make a great sign for the parking lot.  Check out this link for a whole church newsletter that is done annually at a church for April Fool's day! Good stuff.  Thanks, Camey for the link!

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April 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Song Leader Revolution 360 for XBox

SongleaderSomeone actually posted this link in the comments section last Friday, but I think it deserves a post of it's own... check it out... Grab your friends, plug in the mics, and get the song leading started.  You can even choose your song-leading location:  A large auditorium, a camp, an upper room, an in-home gathering, a small auditorium, and outdoor riverbank, or a prison.  Sounds like fun.

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April 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

TV Screens Cause Rift at Megachurch

Screens[from Horn+Swoggled] A fight over TV screens in the sanctuary has caused a congregational rift at Praise Him Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The trouble started when the congregation's board of directors voted to install three giant televisions in the main worship center. Members unanimously praised the concept, but many expressed disappointment with the implementation.

"My wife and I came to Praise Him because we wanted to be part of something exciting and special," said Jason Marler, 23. "But now we find out they're installing analog TVs. It's like the church is stuck in 2002."

Marler is a leader among a vocal group of attendees who have called for high-definition televisions in the sanctuary. "Our God is an awesome God," he said. "We do him a disservice when we pixelate our praise."

Church leaders have tried to quell the growing disenchantment by promising other improvements to their Gospel proclamation. "We're putting in an all-new DVD system that can play all kinds of different formats," said media minister John Mason. "We felt like the old system was really boxing in the Spirit by not being able to play DivX and .mp3 files."

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April 28, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Pastors: Simplify Your Life

Simplify_your_life_book This is from Scott Hodge's blog... he used this is a sermon he preached a couple of weeks ago.  Hey Scott, I think you're on to something... if you could just write the book to go along with the cover!  :)

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April 28, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mark Driscoll on Church 3.0

Confessions_2Here is a handout that was provided by Mark Driscoll at a recent Acts29 conference. (from the Gaslight Gospel).  Most of this stuff comes from Mark's new book "Confessions from a Reformissionary Rev".  I think this is great stuff.  Here's just a little bit... you can click on the link above for the pdf of the full handout.  Mark says:

Gospel = loving the Lord Jesus for His substitutionary death and resurrection

Culture = loving your lost neighbors

Church = loving your Christian brothers and sisters

Distinguishing Terms:
Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch

Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism

Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism

Gospel + Culture + Church = Missional Church

Mark then goes on to explain what he calls the Church 1.0; the Church 2.0; and the phase that many churches are moving to now:  the Church 3.0.  It's a great handout.

I'd love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave your comments below...


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April 27, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Why Men Hate Going To Church Reason #21: The Classroom Environment

UpsetmanMen and boys don’t need teaching as much as they need discipleship – the kind of intense, one-on-one leadership Jesus provided his disciples. Unfortunately, the modern church has discarded the discipleship model in favor of a classroom model.

Have you noticed how many church programs are built around a school paradigm? We offer adult classes, seminars, Sunday school, Bible Studies, etc. The centerpiece of our worship is a lecture (sermon) from an educated person with a seminary degree. Christianity has become an educational pursuit. The path to Christ now leads through a classroom.

Why is this academic approach to faith so discouraging to men? Simple. Men are less comfortable in a classroom. Figures from the U.S. Department of Education indicate that women are more likely than men to go to college and earn 57 percent of all the BA degrees and 58 percent of the master’s degrees. Boys drop out of high school at a rate 30 percent higher than that of girls. Girls outnumber boys 124 to 100 in advanced placement courses.

We cannot expect men to come to maturity in Christ in a classroom environment. Women will always outshine men when reading, study and verbal expression are the goal. Men (especially masculine men) feel incompetent in the house of God because they cannot hold their own against highly verbal, studious women.
Although reading, study, sermons, and classes can help, these academic exercises cannot penetrate to the hidden places in a man’s heart. But discipleship can, because it’s teaching by example. Christ didn’t hand out a study guide; He demonstrated a life pleasing to God. His example, even more than His words, produced eleven men who shook the world. That is why a man who has sat in church for thirty years without much life change will be suddenly transformed after going on a mission trip. Men are changed by what they experience, not necessarily by what they are told.

At the conclusion of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave His followers three responsibilities: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (28:19–20). Our orders are simple: (1) make disciples, (2) baptize them, and (3) teach them to obey Christ’s commands. Today’s church has reversed this process. We teach a lot of people, baptize some, but produce very few genuine disciples.

Let me be blunt: men don’t need Bible knowledge as much as they need an example.  They need to be close to a man who is following Christ with all his heart. It’s time for our churches to back away from the classroom model and reinstate the discipleship model as our primary means of bringing people to maturity. It worked in Jesus’ day. It will work today.

Some of you pastors may be shaking your heads. You probably got into the pastorate because you have the gift of teaching. You love to retreat to your study and lose yourself in a good book. Preaching and teaching may be the highlight of your life. You probably can’t imagine a church where study is not the central activity.

Pastor, let me challenge you to pour yourself into a small group of men, the way Jesus did. It’s risky. It’s unpredictable. It’s inefficient, but far more effective. Men want to follow God, but until they have a leader showing them the way they’ll never be able to do it. Wean your church from the classroom model and push toward the discipleship model. Your men will come alive!

...from the ChurchforMen.com April Email newsletter

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April 27, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

More on the Purpose-Driven Cafe

Yesterday, we mentioned "The Purpose-Driven Cafe".  I finally found the link.  You can check it out here.  They have an interesting article posted called "Jesus and Starbucks".  Some of you might enjoy that one.


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April 27, 2006 in Trends in Today's Church | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

It CAN be Done! Rural Church Thrives!

Ruralchurch GOODMAN, Mo. (BP)-- Splitlog Baptist Church sits in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri, near the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders, and the members there have managed to do what many churches struggle to accomplish. They’ve turned their focus to Kingdom growth, and God is bringing people to faith in Jesus through their efforts in a rural community.

Chadd Pendergraft, pastor of Splitlog, said the church began shifting its focus about a year and a half ago, and since January 2005 they’ve baptized more than 60 people.

“It was something that God burdened my heart with, that focusing upon church growth only is almost becoming an idolater because our churches can become a whole lot more about us than they are about God,” Pendergraft told Baptist Press. “I think often as pastors we get caught up in growing our own little kingdom rather than growing God’s Kingdom.”

Pendergraft said he was encouraged to attend the launch of the Southern Baptist Convention’s “‘Everyone Can!’ Kingdom Challenge” for evangelism in Nashville last June because it let him know that in Bobby Welch the convention has a president who is urging churches to get out of their comfort zones and do something.

“That’s been a breath of fresh air to me as a pastor,” he said of the initiative Welch has led for Southern Baptist churches to baptize 1 million people during the current church year.

Pendergraft said he has discovered that getting people to focus on the Kingdom rather than just their local church stretches them -- and stretches him.

“When people start doing tasks outside the walls of the church in a way that won’t necessarily benefit them -- doing ministry to where we don’t get money from it, we don’t get members from it, but just doing ministry because that’s what God’s called us to -- it’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever witnessed in my life,” he said.

Church members recently have caught on to the idea that God has made them for something other than to warm a pew each week, Pendergraft said, and “folks are stepping up to the plate and fulfilling their mission in life.”

Splitlog sits in the spot where four rural roads come together, the pastor said, and was established in 1933 by a small group of women who had a passion to see a Baptist church in their community where an evangelical witness was lacking.

In 2001, not long after he became pastor of Splitlog, Pendergraft went on a mission trip to the Ukraine, and he said it was the first time the congregation had ever sent anyone anywhere in the world for short-term missions.

“God began through that to birth a passion in me to lead our church to embrace the world as our mission field, and we went from there in 2001 to last year sending about 50 people on mission projects outside Missouri,” Pendergraft said, adding that the church averages between 220 and 250 in attendance now.

Locally, the church is involved in servant evangelism such as passing out free bottles of water at community events.

“Our church has become known as the water church in the summertime because we show up everywhere with bottles of water to give away free,” the pastor said.

Last summer, organizers of a particular event even called the church weeks before to ask them not to give away water, lest it diminish sales of vendors who looked to profit from folks’ thirst.

“To some degree that was an aggravating thing, but also it was a flattering thing,” Pendergraft said, noting that the organizers knew the church’s reputation and contacted them before the church even planned to pass out water at the event.

Another outreach is the “firewood ministry.” Church members canvass the community on Saturdays, looking for homes with chimneys, and then they stop and ask if the residents would like to receive free firewood.

“We basically say to them, ‘We want to show you the love of Christ in a practical way,’” Pendergraft said. “One of the things that has also been neat is there are some folks who have really nice homes and can afford to buy all the wood they need, but we’re giving it to them as well to show them that we’re not here with a hand out, saying, ‘Come give to us,’ but we want to add to their life as well.”

There’s no precise method for determining whether the church membership roll has benefited from the servant evangelism, the pastor said, but that’s not exactly the goal.

“I think absolutely God has blessed that and we’ve seen some growth from it, but that’s one of the things that has been an encouraging thing to me: Our people’s mindset is not that we’re doing something because we want people to come to our church and tithe,” he said. “We’re doing this because we really want to minister to people, whether they ever come to our church or not. That’s really an exciting thing to see happen.”

Seeing members of his church take on the challenge and become soul-winners themselves has become one of the most rewarding parts of his job, Pendergraft told BP.

“They understand that they’re equipped to do so much more than just bring their neighbors to see the pastor and hear about Jesus, but they can tell them about Christ,” he said. “I think that’s one of the keys to seeing the baptisms and the growth that’s going on at our church. Some of our folks are stepping up and sharing their faith.”

Considering all the churches in the world God has at His disposal to accomplish big things for His Kingdom, Pendergraft said, “I think it’s just like God to show up in an unknown place and use an unknown people and an unknown pastor ... and do a work like He’s doing here.

“When He does, He gets the glory for it. There’s no way anybody could show up here and blame what’s happening on me because I’m so far in over my head as a pastor that if God quits me now I’m a sunk ship,” he added. “I just couldn’t make it another day as a pastor without Him, and I’m just amazed that God is letting me in on what He’s doing here.”

A similar work is happening at another small, rural church where Pendergraft recently preached a revival in St. Joseph, Mo. The church is 13 miles out of town but saw more than 250 in attendance on just one night of the revival, he said. People were saved and lives were rededicated to Christ.

“I’m seeing God doing some things in some of these little old churches that nobody knows about, but He sure does,” Pendergraft said. “I’m humbled that the God of heaven would choose to allow me to be right smack dab in the middle of it, so I’m praying every day that I don’t mess up what He’s got going.”

FOR DISCUSSION:  This church makes an interesting case study?  Why is it growing (against all odds)?  Is it the leadership?  Is it the passion of the people?  Is it just a unique moving of God? What, if anything, can we learn from Splitlog Baptist?

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April 27, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

When the World Can Spread the Word Better Than Christians...

Battlecry[New York Times article by Julie Bosman]We anticipated that there might be some cons," said Skip Dampier, a partner and creative director at the agency. "And we knew that not everyone at the agency would want to work on this business."

But despite its reservations, Tocquigny, which is based in Austin, Tex., took on the account in February. Soon the agency had a dozen staff members working full time on Teen Mania, planning major teenage outreach events and redesigning the organization's Web site, battlecry.com.

As he had guessed, not everyone at Tocquigny came on board. "To be honest, there were a few instances that people did express that they did not want to work on the business, and that was fine," Mr. Dampier said.

The agency has also worked on accounts with Dell and Caterpillar, the heavy equipment maker.

As the partners at Tocquigny saw it, the agency is a beneficiary of a new attitude on the part of some religion-based organizations: as these groups grow bigger and more financially robust, they are taking their work to so-called secular agencies instead of firms specializing in Christian outreach.

According to a study by the market research publisher Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, domestic sales of religious products are likely to grow to $9.5 billion by 2010. Movies like "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" reached a mainstream Christian audience in the theater, and sales of books, DVD's and other merchandise followed.

The film market has been supplemented with music, computer software and newer products like Christian video games, a niche that opened up in the late 1990's and now includes about 100 active game developers, the study says. Books that appeal to a Christian audience, like the "Left Behind" series, have a commanding space in the market. (It may require a divine act to remove "The Purpose-Driven Life" from the New York Times best-seller list, where it has been for 170 weeks.)

Tocquigny's first major project on the Teen Mania account was to take the organization's message to a national platform with a new Web site aimed at attracting teenagers. Teen Mania gave the creative planners at Tocquigny instructions to use whatever technology was needed, from text messaging to podcasting, to engage the youthful and tech-savvy audience.

THE potential client was Teen Mania Ministries, a Christian youth organization devoted to steering teenagers away from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex. For the partners at Tocquigny, an ad agency not well versed in working with Christian groups, the potential drawbacks of taking on the account loomed large.

"I think one of the key things that we're seeing is really an increase in the sophistication and scope of these groups," Mr. Dampier said. "What we used to think of as a small nonprofit Christian organization has really turned into savvy marketers with an appetite for technology."

The problem for some organizations is that Christian ad agencies may not perform on a "world-class level," said Ron Luce, the president and founder of Teen Mania. His organization, founded in 1986, sponsors youth events across the country that attract tens of thousands of teenagers.

"I think people have gotten more and more open to dealing with secular firms when they see that there's no way to get the job done otherwise, at least in Christian circles," Mr. Luce said. "I know a lot of leaders in the faith-based community, and they don't have a problem going to a secular agency if they're reputable and have good character."

The agencies that specialize in Christian marketing maintain that they still have an edge over secular firms like Tocquigny. BuzzPlant, an agency based in Franklin, Tenn., that specializes in religion-based marketing, started out in 2000 by courting publishers of Christian music.

In recent years, BuzzPlant has taken on bigger business, working for 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Disney. It did promotional work for "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."

Companies have been willing to spend more money in recent years to reach the Christian market, said Bob Hutchins, the owner of BuzzPlant. And the success of movies like "The Chronicles of Narnia" has shown the public that the market is a sleeping giant, he said.

But some failures, like the canceled NBC television series "The Book of Daniel," the story of an Episcopal priest whose family includes a daughter who sells drugs and a son who is gay, have exposed an inability to reach Christians effectively, Mr. Hutchins said. (The American Family Association called the series anti-Christian.)

"Many people have tried and failed because they don't understand the mind-set and the demographic," Mr. Hutchins said. "People think they can throw something out there and just put the word 'God' on it, but that's not what it's about."

But the reality for some Christian teenage ministries is that they are competing for teenagers' attention with formidable rivals: cable networks and Hollywood studios with sophisticated marketing and enormous budgets.

"If MTV can give them the best, why can't us Christians give them the best?" said Mr. Luce of Teen Mania. "If MTV values them more than we do, then MTV is going to get their hearts."

(HT to Todd Foster for the link.  Thanks, Todd!)  Todd blogged on this topic and asks a great question that I'd like to pose to you:  Is there something to be said for keeping Chirstian business "in the family" so to speak, or is the urgency of our times such that we need to get the Word out as powerfully and effectively as we can with the "best" resources that money can buy?

What do you think?

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April 27, 2006 in Trends in Today's Church | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack