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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sneak Peak at New MMI!

I just took a screen shot to show you some of what I've been working on for the new MMI.  You can click on this image for a bigger shot...


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May 31, 2006 in Personal Items | Permalink | Comments (10)

Update from Todd

PullinghairoutI promised I'd keep you updated on the switchover process to the new website.  It's going slow but sure.  I started updating all the oldest entries (staritng in September of 2004).  So far, I'm up to July of 2005.  The good news is I only have a year's worth of entries to go; the bad news is there are more entries during this period than during the earlier days!  I'm hoping to have enough done to open the new site for beta users (our MMI Inner Circle members; who, by the way, gave TONS of input to this design) by late next week.

I do have a couple of requests during this time of transition that you all might be able to help me with.

1.  I'm spending most all of my time on the transition; so I have little time to research new articles and resources.  If you come across anything that you find interesting and you think I should know about to include on MMI, please drop me an email with the link.  (you can email me at trhoades@mondaymorninginsight.com).

2.  I'm finding that I have a couple areas that I could really use some help and additional resources in.  If you know of any great resources (or would like to help write some) about the following subjects, please let me know:

Facilities Management
Church Planting
Finances & Stewardship
Vision Values & Mission
Family Balance for Pastors
Volunteer Recruitment
Small Churches
Youth & Children's Ministry
Multi-Cultural Ministry
Discipleship / Spiritual Growth

We've always covered these subjects at MMI to some extent; but now, each category will have it's own page; and I'd love to 'beef up' the content in each of these sections.  If you can help; please let me know.

3.  I'm also bringing back an old category called "Ask MMI"; so if you have any questions on any ministry topics, please feel free to email them to me; and I'll try my best to find an answer for you.

4.  Finally, the new website will have a larger section for book reviews.  If any of you have written book reviews that you would allow us to publish; or would be interesting in writing a few short book reviews for the new site; please let me know asap!

I think that's it for now... I'll try to continue to keep you up to date on how things are going.  Thanks for your prayers during this stage.  I love the developement and vision and dreaming process.  I get a little discouraged during the monotanous work that needs to go in to it to make it a success.  :)

Thanks!  Have a great day!


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May 31, 2006 in Personal Items | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tipping Points for the Church

Tippingpoint_1 Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point:  How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is a great book... now, Brian Orme has put together a list of "Tipping Points for the Church".  Take a look at this list, and see how you think some of these small things, done very well in your local church, could cause you to read 'the tipping point'

  • The ability to renew a grassroots leadership model/strategy (Eph 4) may be a factor in tipping.
  • Cultivating a strength-based ministry. 
  • Creating a simpler more modest approach to church--no bloated marketing campaigns. People in our culture don't respond to mass media advertising because of the information overload.  That's not to say we shouldn't have some great info out there.
  • Doing a few things well--create a movement through word-of-mouth.
  • Building connections in culture with an eye that sees how people are thinking about church and God and meeting them on their ground.
  • Focusing on slow and steady growth--making small changes every week and allowing God to produce the tipping point, which may not come in numbers and statistics, but more of an organic movement with stories and relationships.
  • Always evalute and adjust in the small detials of ministry.  Shows like Sesame Street and Blues Clues evaluate every episode and use test groups and study their results--this may not be a bad idea for churches to adopt.  At least in the fact that some evaluation should occur on a regular basis.
  • Use repitition to create memory markers.  Jesus may have preached the same sermons numerous times--for a reason.
  • Focusing on the movement over stats.  Looking for unique ways to disperse the gospel should be more important than trying to fill every seat in the church.  This may seem subtle but people can see this a mile away--having integrity in our motives is crucial.
  • Study and look at the history of your church in your community and make an evaluation of the underlying philosophy both from inside the church and out.  Don't be afraid to ask someone in the community what they think about your church--and take it seriously.
  • Redevelop a philosophy that is centered on the non-negotiables and not on the negotiables.
  • Make every effort to care for people over programs; there's perhaps no better way to create an epidemic than the simple art of caring.
  • Understand that the movement may be underground--below the radar--but that's how epidemics really begin, with a select and passionate few that influence others that influence others that influence others.
  • Of course, focus on following Christ in the small and big details of living and being the church.

What do you think?

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May 31, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Top Ten Most Powerful People in Your Church

Broom_1 Steve Case shares "The Ten Most Powerful People in Your Church" in an article he wrote over at Youth Specialties.  See if any of this holds true in your church...

1. The Church Secretary
Easily the most powerful person in the building. Meetings can disappear. Set-ups can get lost. As in war, the one who controls the information controls the public opinion.

2. The Senior Pastor
The perception is more important than the reality. If there's a problem with anything in the church (other than the senior pastor) the senior pastor is where people go to complain. The SP is perceived (and often justly so) as the one who can do something about the problem.

3. The Custodian
(Knowledge is power.) People talk about church business and church politics in front of the custodian as if he or she was a piece of the furniture. The custodian is there when the place opens and when the place closes. The custodian gets to empty all of the wastebaskets. While there's no perception of power, the custodian usually knows more about what's going on than the rest of the staff combined.

4. The Associate Pastor
Second billing has its privileges. All the respect and only about half the responsibility. The AP gets the complaints about the senior pastor. Also the one most trusted by the Senior Pastor. The AP can be on both sides of the battle lines. Properly played, this position can yield great results while keeping your head inside the foxhole.

5. The Kitchen Lady
There's one woman in every church (and yes; unfortunately, it's almost always a woman) who has made it her mission to take care of the kitchen. The church is her second home—and we're all very particular about who we let in our homes. The Kitchen Lady has ultimate authority over a very small but very valuable piece of territory. Cross her, and your stuff in the refrigerator will mysteriously vanish.

6. Choir Master/Education Director
This one is a tie depending on the church. Education directors are given power by those who have kids but not by many others. Choirmasters are given power by those who attend worship but aren't involved elsewhere. Often a toss-up as to which has priority; but either way, they both have schedules that take priority over yours.

7. The Highest Giving Donor
We may pay lip service to the idea that "all giving is kept confidential," but you only need to read whose last name is on the majority of memorial plaques around the church. If that last name still exists in the congregation, this is the person you need to suck up to.

8. The Previous Youth Minister
No matter how bad the previous people in our jobs were, the longer they're gone the better they've become. If you have twenty kids at a meeting, the previous person had forty. As long as you're there, the person before you will still have more clout.

9. The Guy Who Got Lost and Stopped in to Ask Directions
People will fall all over themselves trying to display the love of Jesus for a lost soul and potential member. Meanwhile, try to get a volunteer to help unload the volleyball net from your car.

10. You
That whole "First shall be last and last shall be first" thing? When it came to the youth minister, I'm sure Jesus was kidding. In fact, since there was a tie in this list, technically you didn't even make the top ten.

Hmmm... can anybody relate?!  Is there someone you would add or delete from this list?  What's your experience?

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May 31, 2006 in Church Conflict, Leadership Issues, Top Ten Lists | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Andy Stanley on The Cost of Indecision

Andy_stanley_1 Ever been in a position as a church leader when it was time to stop talking and make a decision?

Sometimes I think we talk TOO much instead of making decisions in the church.  After all, we think it would be great if we had everyone on our side before the decision was made.  We're afraid of making people mad; we're afraid of conflict; and yes, we're afraid people who don't get their way will (can I say it?), leave.

Andy Stanley has a great example of leadership that he shares in Leadership Journal.  Listen to his example....

When we started North Point Community Church, our leadership team suggested that our adult education be built around a network of small groups that met in homes.

This was in contrast to the adult Sunday school model we had all grown up with. We expected some pushback on this issue. Most of the folks helping to plant the new church had grown up going to Sunday school. It was all they knew. But we felt that a campus-based adult Sunday school program was not the best way to accomplish our mission.

Every time our leadership gathered, the issue of our small group strategy would come up. Some key leaders were not convinced that this was the best route. Others assumed we were adopting this strategy only until we had our own facility. People were quick to point out that other churches had tried home-based groups with only limited success.

For a year we listened. It's important to have "unfiltered discussion," to hear everyone's perspective. We did our best to answer questions and build consensus. We studied what other churches were doing. We piloted about a dozen groups to work out the kinks in the system.

But after a while I realized no new insights were being brought up. We were repeating the same arguments to each other. It was time to bring the discussion to a close.

The moment of truth came on a Wednesday evening in a rented facility next door to our property. All of our key adult leadership was present to discuss our plan to move into our soon-to-be completed facility. Toward the end of the meeting a woman raised her hand and shared her concern about our small group strategy. She was genuine, but her question was one I had answered a dozen times before.

In the past I had not taken a firm stand on this issue. I was only about 80 percent certain that our small group strategy would work, but I knew we had to give it 100 percent of our effort if it was going to succeed.

This time I put diplomacy aside and was very direct. Understand, these people are my friends. These folks had supported me through the most difficult transition of my life. They were volunteers. These men and women had sacrificed their time and financial resources to ensure a good start. But in spite of the uncertainties, it was time to be clear.

When the woman finished, I smiled and quickly reviewed the discussions we had been having for the previous year. Then I said, "After tonight we are not going to discuss 'if' anymore. We are moving forward. From now on I need you to focus your energies on 'how.' There are many unanswered questions. None of us has ever been part of a church that was organized around home groups. We have a lot to learn. Feel free to question our implementation, but not our direction. As of tonight, we go forward."

That was seven years ago. Currently, over five thousand adults are involved in small groups. The men and women who were in attendance that evening became the champions of our small-group ministry. Once it became clear which play was called, everybody got on board.

Were we certain of the outcome? No.

Were we clear about our direction? Absolutely.

Were we certain that this decision was the right one? No. If we had waited for absolute certainty we would still be talking. But a decision had to be made. A clear decision. And that decision, made in the intangible realm of ideas and projections, was eventually judged in the real world of attendance.

FOR DISCUSSION:  How do you know when it's time to stop talking, make a decision and move forward?  Are there areas now that you need to make a call and move on?  What are your thoughts?

You can read all of Andy's article at Leadership Journal right here.

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May 30, 2006 in Leadership Issues | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Why Do Pastors Leave the Ministry?

WaveScott Williams is a pastor who is no longer pastoring.  Recently on his blog, he wrote an essay on leaving the ministry… below is a sampling of what he wrote…

“many people have asked me why i am stepping out of pastoring, at least for a while. there has been a great deal of conjecture on my behalf. some think it has a subversive twist to it. others imagine that i am absolutely distraught with life and cannot cope anymore. neither extreme really addresses the central issues i have faced. here are a few of the reasons why some of us tend to fade away:

we are tired of pretending that we cannot be hurt. people assume ministers are available for their criticism 24/7. people say things to clergy they would not say to their worst enemies. for some reason they feel at liberty to delve into every aspect of clergy life. they have an opinion about everything we do. they believe it is their god-given right to critique your personal life, your professional life, your emotional state, the way you dress, your use of colloquialisms, your kids, your personality, how much you spend on a car, your friendships, how you drive, how much you fart, the list goes on and on. pastors live their life in the limelight. they, therefore, constantly disappoint people. it is hard to disappoint people all the time. as a pastor, and maybe it is just me, i seem to let people down all the time. recently i was at a small group where several complained that i was not their close friend. besides the obvious fact that i do not have enough hours in the day nor the emotional energy to be friends with everyone, let alone friendly, how can you assume i would would want to be your close friend? ministers spend their entire life pretending to like a portion of the population that they really cannot stand…

pastors tend to build up that insecurity the longer they work. they feel the pressure to put numbers on the role, they also realize that people leave the church because of them. that is a heady responsibility to bear. they understand that people don't like them but it still hurts when they have people they have invested in leave the church because of them. this life can be an exercise in guilty and humility. everything that happens which is good is "to god be the glory" ...they know who is to blame if things go bad. add to this that for some reason many churches rise and fall on the health and exuberance of their pastor. after a while pastors tend to jump from one quick fix solution to another in a desperate bid to patch holes that are systemic and often metaphysical. they attend conferences and clinics designed to point out their flaws and obvious solutions. they quickly conclude that they are the problem, the issue, and the solution. they develop a messiah complex. they develop an insecurity complex…

ministers are normal people who struggle with laziness and workaholism at the same time. no one knows what they do during the week so they tend to strive too hard to be noticed or duck out when they can get away with it. they realize that some volunteers do more than they do and it drives them crazy. they vassalate between the drive to do everything and the need to let others do the work of the church. they are control freaks, often out of necessity. sometimes out of ego need.

oh ya, and we love to be compared. compared to huge churches with massive budgets and incredible bands. compared to tv evangelists who spend more on dog food than we will see in a year. compared to amazing speakers, incredible entrepeneurs, and holy monkish nerds who can pray more than we can. that kind of stuff makes us very content.

ya this is a whine but it's my blog and you don't have to read it. perhaps, though, there may be a grain of truth in what you have read. take a look at your pastor if you have one. listen to his or her brokenness strewn in amongst the exterior confidence. let them know you don't need anything from them. shut up about them when others encourage you to spill. tell someone else to shut up occasionally. don't phone them on mondays. don't critique the way they dress when they go to the bank on their day off. don't act amazed when they stumble. we all stumble.

but for God's sake, don't feel sorry for them. they chose this life and it has incredible rewards. just pay them more.

and oh ya, they won't believe you when you praise them but they will obsess when you criticize them. sounds like quite a great life huh? makes you want to join right up i bet...

as for me, i'm just taking a break to get out of the fishbowl for a while. it's a calling - a blessing and a curse. of course now i have to get a real job where people have to get up every morning and put in 8 hours and pretend to care about stuff i never imagined caring about before.”

What are your thoughts?

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May 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (114) | TrackBack

Tuesday Ramblings from Todd

Good day, everyone!

I trust that everyone had a great holiday weekend; and enjoyed your extra time off!

We had a weekend full of baseball (as is normal for this time of the year around the Rhoades household.)  We have three boys who play (and a girl who doesn't!).  All three boys are on different teams that play at different times at different places (for example, tonight we have three different games at three different fields; and one's an hour away!... we don't quite have this one figured out yet!)

Anyway, yesterday... we had three games on Memorial Day in the 95+ degree heat.  It was fun, but exhausting.

Last week, I received back from the designer, the completed template and design of the new MMI website. I know I've been talking about the new design for some time now; but this has been a MAJOR undertaking!  I've probably not ever put as much work or effort into a website re-design as this one; so I hope you will all like it when it's completed!  This week, I'm going to try to get as much accomplished on the new site as I can.  Essentially, I have to go through each of 1,000+ posts; re-assign graphics and category descriptions for each post; and re-check the formatting from the import on each post.  Obviously, that is proving to be a very time-consuming and pretty monotonous task; (and not my favorite job in the world).  I would ask for your prayers that I'll be able to accomplish this in quick order and get the new website up and running for you soon. 

As a result, you'll find some of the 'best of MMI' posted here as new articles this week.  Don't worry, it's not like summer re-runs on TV... unless you've been reading MMI everyday for the past year and a half, I'll almost bet that most of the posts will be brand new to you; (and if not, I hope you'll enjoy re-reading them).  You'll notice that there are already a good number of comments posted on these posts... tha'ts ok... start a new comment or thought anyway!

I'll try to keep you updated as well throughout the week as to how the process is progressing.

Thanks for all your nice words and support!  I really appreciate it!

Have a great week!


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May 30, 2006 in Personal Items | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Promo for Old Testament Challenge

This is funny... but how many people think church is really like this?  Actually, how many churches ARE really like this?  I laughed, but this reminds me of so many services I've seen before...

There's nothing like making the Old Testament interesting and relevant.

Here's the link...

Have a great weekend!


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May 26, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

You'd Better Sit Down for This One Kermit

from Light Along the Journey...


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May 26, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Karate Pastor

Does your pastor know karate?  This one does!  (And he's not afraid to use it)

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May 26, 2006 in Humor | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack