Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Churches Are More Informal Than a Decade Ago

American churches became more informal and ethnically diverse over the past 10 years, the National Congregations Study shows. Most of the informal service changes occur in Protestant and Catholic churches that are using visual projection equipment and drums. However, black churches had the largest increase in jumping, shouting and dancing during services.

Immigration played a role in congregations' social composition. The study observed that predominantly white and non-Hispanic congregations are more ethnically diverse than a decade ago. Leaders of congregations are older and the median age of the head clergy has increased from 49 in 1998 to 53 in 2006.

Other features — such as sermons, singing, greeting time, silent prayer or meditation, reading Scripture and speaking in tongues during the service — have remained about the same.

Mark Chaves, lead researcher and sociology professor at Duke University School of Divinity, said that these changes are noteworthy because "religious traditions and organizations are widely considered to be remarkably resistant to change."

[www.christianpost.com]

Church Security Continues to Be a Serious Issue

Police were called to Good Shepard Catholic Church at 13550 Chaney Thompson Road in Huntsville, Alabama just after 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

Officers spotted a suspect inside the church.

Additional officers were called and surrounded the building.

Just after 9 p.m. the suspect fled and was apprehended after a short foot pursuit.

The suspect was identified as Lawrence Ball.

Ball was booked into the metro jail on burglary charges.

Become a Reformer

Eighteenth-century statesman Edmund Burke is credited with saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It is time for “good men” -- the church -- to arise and let their voices be heard. The spirit of reformation must arise in God’s people and turn this nation back to righteousness and to God.

The media often portrays our nation as one devoid of Judeo-Christian values. A news commentator recently stated that culturally, America has reached an all-time low. Members of the body of Christ, particularly a number of prominent Christian leaders, have contributed to the nation’s decline through moral failures and carnal living. It is time for the church to embrace the lifestyle and values of God’s kingdom culture rather than those of the culture of the world.

One of the ways the enemy uses to change culture is to remove every trace of Christianity from public buildings. In recent years we have seen “Christmas” replaced with “Holiday Season” in ads, on signs and in shop windows. The Ten Commandments and nativity scenes have been removed from public areas. We have no plumb line to use as a measuring rod for right and wrong. We are living in a time when every man does what is right in his own eyes (see Judg. 21:25).

A clear definition of right and wrong must be in place for a disciplined society to protect its citizens. In the Old Testament, God made a promise to the Jews. As long as they obeyed Him, He would bless them as a nation. “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deut. 7:9, NKJV).

God’s view of a corporate covenant with a nation has never changed. The first settlers to America believed they were a corporate people called to continue the Israelite’s covenant relationship with God and with one another. Today, in view of the moral and spiritual decay of our nation, we must rediscover our spiritual moorings. We must align ourselves with the corporate covenant this nation has with God.

READ ENTIRE MESSAGE

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Importance of Prayer

In the 6th chapter of Ephesians in the 18th verse we read words which put the tremendous importance of prayer with startling and overwhelming force:

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

When we stop to weigh the meaning of these words, then note the connection in which they are found, the intelligent child of God is driven to say,"I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray."

The Revised Version is, if possible, stronger than the Authorized:

"With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

Note the ALLS: "with ALL prayer," "at ALL seasons," "in ALL perseverance," "for ALL the saints." Note the piling up of strong words, "prayer," "supplication," "perseverance." Note once more the strong expression, "watching thereunto," more literally, "being sleepless thereunto." Paul realized the natural slothfulness of man, and especially his natural slothfulness in prayer. How seldom we pray things through! How often the church and the individual get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer and just then let go, get drowsy, quit. I wish that these words "being sleepless unto prayer" might burn into our hearts. I wish the whole verse might burn into our hearts.

But why is this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer so needful?

1. First of all, BECAUSE THERE IS A DEVIL. He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, he is ever plotting the downfall of the child of God; and if the child of God relaxes in prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring him.

This is the thought of the context. The 12th verse reads: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (R.V.) Then comes the 13th verse: "Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." (R.V.) Next follows a description of the different parts of the Christian's armor, which we are to put on if we are to stand against the devil and his mighty wiles. Then Paul brings all to a climax in the 18th verse, telling us that to all else we must add prayer -- constant, persistent, untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, or all else will go for nothing.

(more to follow)

[from Another day... Another opportunity... by Chris Jordan]

3 Million Africans to Receive Native Language Bible for 1st Time

Three million people in the highlands of the east African country of Tanzania will receive Scriptures in their own language for the first time by fall next year, a Bible translation ministry recently announced.

Wycliffe Associates is funding a program that is simultaneously translating ten languages for the people that live in the rugged western part of the country called Mbeya. Previously, the millions that live in the area were forced to understand the Scripture in Swahili or, even more difficult for them, in English. Although about 78 percent of the population in Mbeya is literate, they can only read Swahili at a functional level to survive in society.

The Mbeya Cluster project is an ambitious effort that combines ten language translation projects into one that will expand literacy in the languages of Bena, Bungu, Kinga, Malila, Ndali, Nyakyusa, Nyiha, Safwa, Sangu, and Wanji.

One local man who lived in a remote area 1.5 miles up in the mountains and 74.5 miles from Mbeya simply said, “This is so good,” when he heard the Scripture for the first time in his own speaking language.

For years, he and his people struggled to understand the Word of God in Swahili or English.
In Mbeya, as in other parts of Tanzania, the various distinct languages have enough characteristics in common that it’s possible to translate multiple languages at the same time.
In addition to allowing Mbeya people groups to read the Bible in their own languages, Bible translators also hope to help preserve these minority languages and ensure their survival amid the dominant language of Swahili.

“This has a huge and positive impact on a culture, both spiritually and intellectually,” said Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.

“When a larger and nationalized language like Swahili is bearing down on a people group with a different language and identity, that group tends to have its importance in society diminished; and subsequently, their spiritual journey stunted,” he explained.

The Mbeya project will be carried out by translation teams made up of missionaries and nationals. National translators, working together with a translation advisers, are able to translate the Scripture faster because they have heard the various languages since childhood and can easily work out the nuances of the languages.

Already the project is underway in Tanzania with some 30 full-time workers and another 50 part-timers all working on the multiple translations.

Wycliffe Associate partners will fund the entire project with the goal to finish by September 2009.

The ministry Wycliffe Associates has sent some 1,693 volunteers to serve in 35 countries as part of the worldwide Bible translation team in 2008 alone. The volunteers help build and renovate facilities, construct roads and airstrips, teach Vacation Bible School, help with language development and office work, oversee projects, use their computer skills in various ways, and serve in other ways.

[from The Christian Post RSS Feed by Ethan Cole]

Top 10 Books in 2008

1) Ablaze for God (Wesley Duewel)
2) It (Craig Groeschl)
3) Wild Goose Chase (Mark Batterson)
4) The Ultimate Blessing (Jo Anne Lyon)
5) Return of the Prodigal (Henri Nouwen)
6) Lumberjack Sky Pilot (Frank Reed)
7) The Way Forward (Matthew Leroy and Jeremy Summers)
8) On the Side of the Angels (D'Souza and Rogers)
9) God Size Your Church (John Jackson)
10) Wilderness Visionaries (Jim Dale Vickery)

What would you add? (Click "comments" below.)

[from Revitalize Your Church by Mark O. Wilson]

Consider At Least One New Year's Resolution

With the economy in a state of recession and major corporations needing bailouts, the financial condition of our country will trickle down to the average Joe. Yet the shopping malls are bursting with people purchasing forty-two inch plasma screen TVs with surround sound, iPods, cell phones with limitless access to the Internet and laptop computers.

What's going on? We are convinced that we are entitled. We deserve to have everything our parents have , or everything you view on TV or in a magazine. Our only problem is that we're not sure how we're going to pay for it.

We only need one New Year's Resolution: I am not entitled to everything I want. In his book 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School, Charles J. Sykes labels today's generation: a modern day wealth-without-responsibility aristocracy.

We have more access to food, clothing, gadgets, cars, jewelry, clothing, shopping malls and credit cards to pruchase it all than any previous generation. Are we entitled to have all of it just because we have the money or the credit limit to cover our purchases?

Today entitlement has taken on a whole new meaning. There's a major collision between our entitlement mentality and the ignorance of how money works. For example, Sykes estimates that teen spending will top $190 billion this year or next. This figure eclipses the gross domestic products of many countries where people have to go to work to earn money.

Hand-in-hand with the entitlement mentality is the lack of any motivation to go out and get a job. Most of the money spent by teenagers comes from their parents. Fifty-eight percent of teens say they get their money from Mommy and Daddy. Twenty-one percent report having part-time jobs.

What are we teaching our children with this entitlement attitude?

- Kids can have whatever they want without ever having to pay for it. Once these kids grow up and start thinking about marriage, they're in for the shock of their lives. Regardless. many parents continue to give their sons and daughters hefty sums of money and keep their children dependent on them. This is highly unhealthy since young men and women are growing up without a sense of financial responsibility.

- Kids are unable to delay their gratification. In repsonse to a lack of delayed gratification, the rising debt for college graduates is on its way upward. Young men and women expect to live the way they were raised and they refuse to wait. They want it now - the house, the cars, the lavish vacations and everything else. However, what kids today forget is that parents worked for years to get to their level of income. A college degree does not automatically hand in a standard of living that matches that of the parents. There're still many years of hard work ahead.

- Kids are enabled to be financially illiterate. Young men especially are being raised without a sense of finances - what it means to save money, invest money and not get into serious credit card debt. A lot of young men are not ready to become the financial head of their household. They're not sure how to handle a checking account, to manage credit card debt, to invest in money for a pension and to purchase a car or a home loan.

One New Year's Resolution can change a lot. Work hard to achieve success and do not expect advancement out of entitlement.

[from The John Tesh Blog by John Tesh]

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Death Announcement - Mildred Clements

Mildred L. Clements, 85, Cleveland, Tenn., died Friday, Dec. 26, 2008, at her residence.

Mildred Clements was the mother of Annette Taylor, Director of Harvest Partners Ministries, a division of the Global Outreach Department of the Church of God of Prophecy, in Cleveland, Tennessee.

The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Sykes Funeral Home in Clarksville, Tennessee with Bishop Ray C. Wynn and Minister David W. Taylor officiating.

Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. today and from noon until hour of service Monday at Sykes Funeral Home.

Mrs. Clements was born in Houston County, Tenn., on May 5, 1923, to the late Irvin and Mattie VonSchmitto Coleman. She was married to the late Pastor William Stokes Clements for 54 years, serving as a faithful pastor's wife, mother and friend to all who knew her.

She graduated from Central School in Montgomery County on April 29, 1938, and was a member of the Church of God of Prophecy for 69 years.

She was also preceded in death by three brothers, Willie, Boyd and Ryan Coleman; one son, William James Clements; and one grandson, Gary Clements.

She is survived by sons, Billy of Scurry, Texas, Donald of Pottsboro, Texas, Darrell of Clarksville, Ricky of Cleveland, Tenn.; daughter, Annette (David) Taylor of Cleveland, Tenn.; brother, J.D. (Vivian) Coleman of Clarksville; grandchildren, Robert, Kenny and Steven Clements, Lisa Schwichtenberg, Tracey Christian, Alan Clements, Sloane, Blair and Bud (Darrell Jr.) Clements, Lee and Michael Taylor; stepgrandchildren, Pat, Sheila and Connie; as well as numerous great- and great-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Family and friends will serve as pallbearers.

Please keep the family in your prayers.

[http://www.sykesfuneralhome.com/]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top 10 News Stories of 2008

As people worldwide look back at this past year, The Christian Post presents the following list of the top ten articles that drew the most viewers in 2008.

1. Ted Haggard Speaks on Scandal for First Time
Two years after Ted Haggard stepped down from the top post at the National Association of Evangelicals amid a sex and drug scandal, the former evangelical leader spoke of his past struggles openly for the first time at a small church in Morrison, Ill. There, he revealed that a man sexually abused him as a child and that his dark past came back to haunt him in his adult life.

2. Thousands Pay Tribute to Christopher Laurie/Son of Evangelist Greg Laurie Dies in Accident
When Christopher Laurie, 33, died in a car accident on his way to Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., it came as a shock to his family and to the public. Laurie had become an active member at Harvest just several years ago and designed the stage, banners, bumper stickers and logo for father Greg Laurie's Harvest Crusade in 2008. Following Christopher’s death, Harvest Christian Fellowship broadcast his memorial service to thousands. While mourning the sudden death of his son, Greg Laurie said he took comfort knowing Christopher was in heaven and affirmed his commitment to continuing his evangelistic ministry.

3. Palin-God Cartoon 'Despicable,' Says Pentecostal Leader
Just weeks after little-known Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was thrust into the limelight as the vice presidential nominee on the Republican ticket, a cartoon in The Washington Post mocked Palin's Pentecostal faith and political party. George O. Wood, head of the Pentecostal denomination Assemblies of God, denounced the cartoon for illustrating the cartoonist's lack of understanding in Pentecostal beliefs.

4. Top Hamas Leader’s Son Converts to Christianity
An Israeli newspaper reported that Masab Yousef, son of a top Hamas leader raised on the tenets of extremist Islam, converted to Christianity. At the risk of endangering his own life, he told the Haaretz that he found no answers in Islam, called it "a big lie" and said those who kill in the name of Islam would go to hell. He said he believes Jesus is the only way to heaven.

5. Christian Music Artist's Confession Shocks Believers
Christian Contemporary Music veteran Ray Boltz shocked fans when he revealed that he had given up his private struggle with homosexuality and came to terms with his same-sex desires. The award-winning singer/songwriter's announcement drew up a firestorm in the Christian blogosphere as many believers expressed disappointment in Boltz's decision to live "a normal gay life."

6. Myths Exposed on Charismatic Christianity in America
With the growth of charismatic Christianity in the United States, a Barna Group study set out to dispel myths about the movement that is typically associated with gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues. One of the major myths the study identified was charismatic churches strictly belonging to its own group of denominations when in reality, charismatic churches cross denominational boundaries.

7. Wicca Experts Encourage Christians to Engage America's 'Fastest-Growing' Religion
Marla Alupoaicei, one of the authors behind the book Generation Hex, warned Christians about Wicca, claiming it to be the fastest-growing religion in America. With most eyes monitoring Islam, Wicca is growing "under the radar," the author said. Alupoaicei hopes to educate Christians on the movement that is little-known and encourage believers to reach out to Wiccans, rather than avoid them.

8. Joel Osteen Maintains Homosexuality as Sin
While many Christians question the theology of Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in the country, he affirmed that he and the leaders at Lakewood Church believe homosexuality is sin. Osteen had met with Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who made a failed attempt to convince Osteen, among other prominent pastors, to change his view on gays and lesbians.

9. Obama Suggests Jesus Christ Not the Only Way to Heaven
As then Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's faith was under much scrutiny, a report by The Associated Press revealed that Obama does not believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. The now president-elect said he believes non-Christians who live moral lives are also "children of God" and that his late mother, who was not a believer, is in heaven.

10. Outreach 100: Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America
For the first time since Outreach magazine started compiling its annual report of the largest churches in America, all 100 churches listed among the largest had 7,000 weekend attendants or higher. With seven churches reporting attendance averages of exactly 7,000, "The Outreach 100" this year included 103 churches, whose combined attendance was 1,128,451 – an increase of 111,527 people from 2007. Topping the fifth annual list again this year was Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston with 43,500 attendants.

How do you know if you should plant a church?

Here are a few thoughts on how to know if you should plant a church:

Passion: You really want to and it sounds like fun. Don't dismiss your desire to plant a church as something only you want. This passion may very well be there because God put it there within you. I know that for me that I get a little buzz just thinking about starting something new, particularly a church or a new site.

Giftedness: You have leadership gifts and a history of starting things from scratch that enroll other leaders and are successful. Before we started COMMUNITY I had started a couple different ventures that saw some success.

Confirmation: Other people whom you trust tell you, "you should definitely start a church and if you do, I would be a part of it." One of the greatest indicators of your ability to start a new church is others willingness to join you on this mission. We have seen this over and over again in our NewThing churches.

Assessment: Lastly, I would suggest that you go to the NewThing website and take the ELI assessment. There is a small fee, but it is worth it and it will give you some good feedback regarding your potential as a church planter.

[from daveferguson.org by Dave Ferguson]

Friday, December 26, 2008

How To Ride Out The Recession - 10 Investment Ideas for 2009

Investors can be forgiven for losing faith in the financial markets. Only a year ago there was reason to believe there was light at the end of the tunnel. In truth, it was an oncoming train.

Now we face the worst economic times since the Great Depression. The coming year will bring more job losses, bankruptcies, foreclosures, cutbacks. Consumers and companies will spend less, dig out of debt, save what they can. The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama will try to do its part -- keeping interest rates low, funding job-creating projects and printing money to stimulate the contracting economy.

Recovery will take not months, but probably years. The age of austerity has replaced the age of avarice, and we will have to adjust purse strings and investment portfolios accordingly.

A sea change in the global markets was evident more than a year ago. Recession was on the horizon, and a defensive stance was in order.

Yet few experts spotted the economic tidal wave that has destroyed so much wealth. Most of the investment strategies last year were taken to the woodshed with just about everything else.

After such a devastating year for stock investors, the idea of putting money into anything other than cash must seem like advice out of left field. But there are investments that can stand up to whatever 2009 deals and allow you to ride out the recession intact, if not in the money. Most of these themes are designed to generate yield -- reliable income that acts as a rudder in choppy markets.

READ MORE

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting - Bishop R. E. Howard

The Intangibles of Leadership

Why do some leaders consistently seem to be a step ahead of others? More specific than that, why do some leaders of similar intelligence and dedication to God appear land leadership better than others? Have you noticed that working hard, sound strategy and even great vision doesn't always work? What is in play that makes the difference?

It is something I call "leadership intangibles." They don't normally find their way into a book, seminar or mentoring session but make up the critical difference in leadership. The reason I call them "intangibles" is because they are difficult to describe, they change according to situation and are complicated to evaluate. They are more art than science. But they are all doable. It's like choosing the right color, name, or birthday card, it's often difficult, but definitely doable.

I love connecting with great leaders and I've been taking notes. What is it that makes them stand out that is not on the typical list of "what a leader does?" What a leader does and how she does it is important, but these intangibles seem to create the tipping point. Now, here's my wild idea. I believe that if these things don't come to you naturally, you can learn them. You may never become a rock star, but you can lift your own leadership lid enough to make a big difference in your life and in the lives of those you lead.

Five intangibles to strengthen your leadership:

Energy

I'm writing this on a Sunday afternoon. Shannon Whaples (Next Gen Pastor at 12Stone) and I drove from Atlanta to Anderson, South Carolina to connect with some colleagues and friends on the staff of New Spring Church. Perry Noble is the pastor at New Spring but wasn't delivering the message. The guest speaker was Perry's friend, Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor of Elevation Church. (North Carolina) Both New Spring and Elevation are fast-growing mega-churches. Both churches have leaders that love Jesus and teach an uncompromised gospel message.

I've known Perry for awhile now, and I greatly appreciate his leadership, but just had the opportunity to meet Steven today. The first thing that jumped out about both of them this morning was their energy. These guys bring energy into the room. I'm not talking about only on the platform, but where ever they are they bring energy to the mix. Energy draws people, stirs people, and enlivens people. Its no accident that Perry's church is full of leaders with energy. Jason Wilson is a key leader on Perry's staff, one of the best leaders with people I've ever met. Jason brings people energy where ever he is. People like Jason and want to follow him.

Leading with energy doesn't mean you walk into a room and try to act large and in charge. It means you show up 100% engaged and in the game. You translate the leadership passion in your heart to the people in the room for the sake of the mission, regardless of the size of the room or how many people are in it. This is more about intensity as a leader rather than being an intense leader. No one likes an intense person, but everyone loves intensity for the mission.

Intuition

I've got good news for all you scientists, this is not as mystical as it sounds. And I've good news for you touchy-feelys, this is more concrete than you think. First let me say that I distinguish between discernment and intuition. My intuition is high but my discernment is often low. It's a fine line, but hang with me. When I meet someone for the first time I can't tell you if they were an axe-murderer or some other evil thing earlier in life. In the more classic sense, I probably can't tell you about their spiritual standing either. But I will "intuit" the room very accurately. I will get the feel, connection, vibe and be able to interpret the person(s) in context with others in the room and what is happening in the moment. (Or supposed to be happening.) That's the difference for me. The discerner's primary focus is on one person at a time. The intuitive leader senses what's going on "in the room" in the larger context of mission and people.

Intuition is internal and can't be put on a diagram. It's like trying to put the relative value of poem on a chart. You can't do it, or more accurately, you shouldn't try. But intuition is also about things you can lean into. Leaders who are high in intuition pay attention. They are observant and understand how to connect the dots. They are good students of human nature and can read the vibe of a room. They are the opposite of clueless. They know what is going on and rarely miss much. Intuitive leaders can interpret behavior (which is not that difficult if you watch behavior for years and begin to understand the patterns of people). Intuition isn't magic. Intuition is in everyone. It's up to you to cultivate it.

Presence

I will admit that this one is complicated. When you say "He is larger than life", you know that person when you see them, but try to explain that to someone. If you really want to have fun, try to explain that to someone from another country who doesn't speak English. Yes, I tried that while teaching a leadership lesson in Ukraine. Now that was fun!

Leadership presence isn't entirely about stature and God-given gifts. We can't deny those realities, but there's more to it than persona.

First, there is confidence. There are many highly gifted people who have a negative presence. They take energy and life out of a room when they walk in. They are emotionally needy or simply narcissistic and require everyone's attention. You can be an average to above average leader with great confidence and your presence will rise dramatically. Confidence comes from a number of things, but primarily from listening to God and putting to practice what He tells you. I like to call that divine experience! It's all about doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time for the right reason. Do that over and over again and your confidence will soar.

Second, you can tap into relational charisma. I talk about this a lot. Here it is again. When you walk into a room and you intentionally endeavor to cause everyone in the room to feel better about who they are; rather than try to make them feel better about who you are -- you just gave a major boost to your relational charisma. And that is a primary factor in personal presence.

Third, there is something about just showing up and preparation. These are two important components. Showing up is the first. I never thought I would see the day when leaders gained favor merely because they showed up. But time compression is real and leaders can't be everywhere at once. What you choose to show up to matters. Your presence counts. It may be a funeral, a party, an optional meeting or just Starbucks with a friend - don't underestimate your presence. Second, being prepared is huge. Sometimes there is no preparation required, just showing up with your heart engaged. Other times you need to do your homework. I've seen some average leaders show up very well prepared and their presence was noticed in a big way!!

Thought

Leaders think differently than non-leaders and their life reflects it. The average person doesn't come to the end of a year and spend time reflecting on lessons learned and how to make the greatest impact in the following year. If you take the time to write out your thoughts, what you learned, the mistakes you made, and what you want to achieve in the year ahead, you have just separated yourself from the pack.

What you think about matters. What makes you wonder? What captures your imagination? What do you dream about? What makes you angry? What do you want to change? These are the kinds of things leaders think about. To miss these practices is to be a doer. There is nothing wrong with being a good doer, the world needs them, but they don't lead.

Don't spend your time fussing about little things that don't matter. That makes you a picky and petty person. People don't want to follow a picky and petty leader. People don't want to follow negative people. They follow positive people with ideas of how to make life better.

Think in terms of ideas and how to make them happen. You may not believe you are a creative person. but most people are more creative than they think. Keep in mind that if you have just a few well-timed and good ideas a year, you are way ahead of the game.

Belief is a leadership intangible that could be listed on its own, but can also be combined under thought, so I'll place it here. What do you believe about leadership, God, and people? What you believe about these things matters. What you believe, in many ways, is the result of thoughts you have landed. Belief is a product of your thinking. Belief is also about faith. Faith and thought are highly interrelated.

Belief shapes your values, convictions and how you know the mind of God. As Christian leaders we don't like to say that God is intangible, but He is. That doesn't make Him less real or powerful, it's more about our finite human limitations on fully knowing the mind of God. The beauty of the mystery is that we have full access. It's up to us to pursue God's invitation to His presence and power.

Desire

Here's the last one on my list of leadership intangibles. Let me put it in the form of a question. What do you want? Too many leaders don't know what they want. You need to know. They often know what they are supposed to want, but it comes out sounding like the beauty pageant answer of "world peace."

You will never lead well if you don't know what you want. Yup, I said never. You can't. If you don't know what you want, you don't know where you are going and you therefore lack the passion to get there. (Let alone a plan.)

Don't let this point make you uncomfortable. Lean into the freedom it gives you. Don't let this become loaded with the pressure of another thing on your to do list. "Monday morning ... figure out what I want." This is oxygen to a leader. You know what you want, you just need to give your self permission to say it out loud and find the courage to actually do it.

It's never too late. What do you want? How is God calling you to make a difference? What do you see that needs to be changed? How would you like to do that? Don't worry about all the strategic plans just yet. There is time for that. And definitely don't focus on all the reasons why it won't work. Others will do that for you. Know what you want and set out on your path to get there.

As you think about these five leadership intangibles, where are you strong? What do you need to improve? Tackle one at a time, becoming a better leader is a lifetime process.

[by Dan Reiland]

Perseverance

Perseverance is not an issue of talent. It is not an issue of time. It is about finishing. Talent provides hope for accomplishment, but perseverance guarantees it.

As a small child, Vonetta (Jeffrey) Flowers dreamed about being in the Olympics. She ran everywhere she went, and gained a reputation among her school friends for being quick. At age nine, Vonetta learned she had special talent. While trying out for an inner-city track club in her hometown of Birmingham, she shocked coaches by posting the best sprint time for Jonesboro Elementary School - running faster than boys two years older than she was!

Vonetta's immense talent carried her to the University of Alabama-Birmingham on a track-and-field scholarship. While at the university, she continued to pursue her goal of gaining a spot on the Olympic team. She practiced meticulously to perfect her stride, spent hours in the weight room adding strength, and ran grueling intervals to shave seconds off her sprint times. Thanks to her combination of talent and discipline, Vonetta ended her college career as a 7-time All-American, competing in the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints, long jump, triple jump, heptathlon, and relays.

With her college career finished, Vonetta set her sights on the 1996 Olympics. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for the team, running slightly behind the leaders. The failure stung, but Vonetta was determined not to give up. She found a job as an assistant coach and continued her regimen of training.

Read the full article...

[by Dr. John Maxwell]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gay Rights Activities


What are we going to do?

Homosexual activist groups across the country are angry with the president-elect for choosing evangelical pastor Rick Warren to pray at the inauguration on January 20. Warren publicly voiced support for Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that banned same-sex "marriage" in the state.

Obama has also asked Pastor Joseph Lowery, a liberal civil rights activist who supports same-sex marriage, to deliver an invocation at the swearing-in ceremony.

A Washington-based homosexual activist group "Human Rights Campaign" is demanding that Obama commit to a "five-step legislative blueprint for change" to make up for his selection of Pastor Rick Warren to pray the invocation at the inauguration. That "legislative blueprint" includes, among other things, signing "hate crimes" legislation into law within six months, supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (often referred to as "ENDA"), repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and issuing an executive order providing special protections for federal workers based on their sexual behavior and gender identity.

Gay rights groups and activists have also condemned passages in Pope Benedict XVI's end-of-year address in which the pontiff spoke about gender and the important distinction between men and women.

Although Catholic doctrine is that homosexuality is not a sin, the church does condemn homosexual acts and the former Joseph Ratzinger stated in 1986 before he became pope that homosexuality "is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

The pope's main target appeared to be same-sex marriages. He claimed that lifelong wedlock between a man and a woman was like "the sacrament of creation."

Homosexual activists recently attacked a Michigan church during its worship service. The attack occurred at Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan, by a group of self-described homosexual anarchists called "Bash Back!"

Outside they chanted "Jesus was a homo" on a megaphone. They were beating on buckets, presumably to drown out what the pastor was saying inside the church, and carrying an upside-down pink cross. They set off the fire alarm.

Prayer had just finished when men and women stood up in pockets across the congregation, on the main floor and in the balcony. They shouted profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss.

In California, an incident is documented on video of pro-homosexual protesters challenging a 69-year-old woman to a fight because she was affirming the biblical perspective of homosexuality.

"This screaming and shouting, name-calling and pushing by homosexual activists is not unlike a small child throwing a fit because he doesn’t get his way,” said Randy Thomasson, chief of the Campaign for Children and Families, a leading California-based pro-family group. “The public is getting a clue that homosexual activists don’t like democracy and are willing to trample anyone and anything that gets in their way.”

What is going on? It seems that gay rights activists have been embolden by the recent presidential election. They cannot even wait until he takes office to push their agenda.

I think it says a lot about the homosexual community. What's being revealed is that the intolerance of the radical left is coming out. They want to be received and tolerated, but when someone takes one little overture like praying a prayer at a major event, they can't take it.

I find their intimidation tactics unacceptable. But I do wonder how many pastors in America will be intimidated and avoid the issue entirely in spite of what the Scripture says.

Churches beware. There is a present threat of disruption to your members’ freedom to worship in peace and safety. But, this is not the first time in history Christians have faced persecution or threats of reprisal for standing for their faith and values.

I believe that people of strong faith are not cowards and will not be bullied by emotional adolescents in spite of their disrespect of private property, the rule of law, and those who dare hold opinions diverse from their own.

I believe in loving all sinners and praying for them and offering help to those who have gender identity and same-sex attraction disorders. But I must reject their attempts to overturn the Scripture and the will of the people to impose their disorders on our children and society at large. The Scripture is clear. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Sin is sin. Not everyone is going to Heaven. There will be a judgement. There is a place called Hell where the wicked will be punished for eternity. Not my rules - God's. Check out what He said.

I believe the illegal activities of the gay rights movements should be investigated and prosecuted. What would happen if I entered the offices of the gay rights movement private property, disrupted their activity, and shouted them down with a bull horn?

And, where is the outrage in the media concerning the illegal activities of homosexual activists groups?

Pastor, where do you stand? Where does your church stand? What are you doing about church security?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bank Execs Got Bailed Out

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

How do you feel about that?

Read More

The Benefits of Downtime

Looking forward to some precious downtime during the holidays? Don't spend it catching up on all the things you haven't had time to do or simply vegging out.

"Knowing how to relax is an art," says the Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland) article "Make It a Happy New You: The Strain Game, and How to Relax" which recommends taking a seven-day break for "three days of taking it easy, followed by four days of restocking your inner larder." The week begins with such relaxing activities as a leisurely bath enhanced by aromatherapy and peaceful music, walking in the woods or a park for 30 minutes, and using massage, contemplation and other calming techniques. The four-day regeneration plan focuses on increasing your exercise pace, reading and other activities. Not sure how stressed you really are? Take their self-assessment to learn your stress level and determine areas that need help.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your time off must include an ambitious family getaway. Instead, enjoy — and safeguard — simple family time. Public Management's "Finding Leisure Time in a Hectic Lifestyle" notes,"Unfortunately, many people overschedule themselves and their families by trying to do too many things. Families need unstructured time. Spending time just taking it easy provides the opportunity to be spontaneous and creative."

"Relaxation does not mean lying on the sofa watching television, tempting as this can be," says the Daily Post (Liverpool, England). In their article "Learning to Relax Doesn't Have to Be Hard Work," life coach Fiona Martin says she helps clients "find ways of switching off completely. This often involves learning how to do nothing except enjoying the 'now' moment and letting go of any thoughts that may intrude."

Short on ideas for spending your free time? Check out Fine Living's "45 Great Ways to Do Nothing" where you'll find enough suggestions — such as buying yourself a treat from the grocery store toy aisle, reading a poem aloud, and spending the entire day in your pajamas — to fill your holiday break.

Today's Quote

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” - Bill Vaughn

Should you plant a church or launch a campus?

Is God calling you to move into new territory?

There’s been an explosion over the last five years of both new church plants and multi-site campuses, and the lines between the two are becoming more and more blurred.

Need help making a decision of whether to plant a church or launch a campus?

[more]

Special Offer

For every gift of $20 or more to Synergy Ministries, we will send you a hardbound copy of the book, Billy Graham, Living in God's Love. This book includes the final three sermons of Billy Graham presented at the New York crusade. It also includes many pictures of the Billy Graham family.

To donate online, click the "Donate" button in the right column of this Blog. Your book will be shipped to you promptly. Thank you for your support of Synergy Ministries.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today's Prayer

(Today, the fourth Sunday of Advent.)

O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

[From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today's Quote

“Success is always temporary. When all is said and done, the only thing you’ll have left is your character” – Vince Gill

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pastor Rick Warren Answers

"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.

"Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.

"The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hang Out With Other Church Leaders

Come hang out at ChurchStaffBreakRoom.com. You'll need a webcam if you want to show your smiley face. A headset and microphone work best for audio. Come for your break, to cyber-work, or just hangout and meet some cool new peeps. The plan is to leave the room open 24 hours a day. Oh yeah ... you can text chat too if you like ...

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Rest: A Leadership Imperative

Rest, one of the most vital elements of leadership success, is too often the most overlooked. In fact, the average number of daily work hours for Americans has increased by 14.5% over the past eight years. Add an additional 22% increase for America’s leaders and it is easy to see how there is little time available for needed rest. Emphasizing the importance of rest as a vital component of optimum functioning and success for organizational leaders, the author offers strategic actions leaders can implement to achieve rest and renewal.

More…

Obama's Pick for Invocation Under Fire

In a move that's infuriated some rights activists and other supporters, President-elect Barack Obama has chosen an evangelical minister opposed to same-sex marriage to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

The controversy over the selection of Pastor Rick Warren, reported by Politico.com, threatens to put something of a damper on the inauguration festivities. Warren is the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, and he supported a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Joe Solomonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, described the selection of Warren as a "genuine blow" to gays and their supporters. At a news conference Thursday, Obama defended his choice of Warren, saying he wanted America to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues.

Warren's selection may also anger conservatives who object to Warren's more liberal views on what the government needs to do to fight poverty. Political Machine reports that some "traditional conservatives" see Warren as an opportunist.

What say you? (Click "comments" below.)

Other details about the Jan. 20 inauguration are starting to emerge. The Associated Press reports that the day will feature performances by singer Aretha Franklin, as well as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Security will be tight with more than 11,000 U.S. troops on hand for the ceremonies.

Get the full story on the Warren flap at Politico.com.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Today's Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for your beautiful words of life, your Holy Bible full of wisdom, examples, guidance, instruction, promises, enlightenment, and life-giving knowledge. Thank you that your Word is such an encouragement at times, and a chastisement at other times. It helps me find answers to life questions that arise and gives me peace when I am confused. It teaches me about your power and love and reinforces the importance of following Jesus, my Savior, and of being a living testimony in this world.

Please forgive me for not spending as much time in your Word as I should. Give me a thirst for more of it. Instill in me that desire for studying and learning and appreciating your Word. And please, ingrain your Word in my heart and mind that the Holy Spirit might bring passages to my remembrance whenever they are needed.

Thank you, so much, for caring enough to provide your Word in print.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Presbyterians to Address Risks of Churches Leaving, Property Disputes

The departure of congregations from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) poses major risks, including the threat to both church unity and independence from the state, says one leader in the denomination.

Kears Pollock, moderator of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, has invited fellow Presbyterians to join an "informative" convocation, titled "Our Freedom of Religion at Risk – A Presbyterian Crisis," next year amid an exodus of a growing minority of congregations from the PC (USA).

"The unity of the church is at risk from within and from without," Pollock states in his invitation to the Feb. 19, 2009, event. "The current activities of some congregations and ministers encouraging division within the church can lead to subordination of the church to the state particularly when congregational sessions/trustees file civil suits against Presbyteries."

Pollock was addressing the court battles between congregations that left the denomination and their presbyteries – regional bodies of the PC (USA) – over church property ownership.
According to a June report by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, 40 presbyteries face, or have faced, legal battles or similar challenges.

Pollock believes involving the courts threatens the religious practices of the denomination. "Court orders to prevent presbyteries from dealing with division, disorder, disobedience, dismissal and determination of the true church threaten the beliefs and practices of our denomination," according to a promotional flier for the convocation.

"The evolving civil law in many jurisdictions appears intent on adopting a default condition of requiring all non-hierarchical denominations to be treated as congregational in character ignoring the Biblical and historical nature of Presbyterian ecclesiology," Pollock stated.
"It weakens the constitutional barrier against government interference in religion."

Conservative Presbyterians who have left the PC (USA) have argued that the denomination has abandoned its Reformed roots and biblical foundation. Controversy was stirred in 2001 when the General Assembly – the denomination's highest governing body – did not affirm the "singular" saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. Conservatives became even more discontent when the 2006 General Assembly adopted a resolution that some believe allowed leeway for homosexual ordination.

Furthermore, this past summer the high governing body voted to remove from the denomination's constitution the requirement that clergy live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness." The proposal has been relegated to the presbyteries for approval.

The Pittsburgh moderator suggested that Presbyterians in property disputes are practicing "me centered" religion.

"We have not emphasized fully that Christ’s church is not the building where one worships. Nor is the church the congregation of one’s membership. Rather, we are one church united by the shared covenant through Christ and ultimately, through ecumenism, connected with the whole church, catholic," Pollock stated.

The Feb. 19 convocation will be webcast on the Pittsburgh Presbytery website.

[from The Christian Post RSS Feed by Lillian Kwon]

Tips for a More Productive Day

Those of you familiar with Stephen Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, will recognize the term Quadrant II manager. This ideal manager recognizes that time spent on the important but non-urgent aspects of her business are the most vital for success. The Quadrant II manager spends time during the work day on long-term planning, developing relationships and training staff to take on delegated tasks. Note that she spends virtually no time answering email, plowing through an inbox or attending meetings.

Many leaders operate solo; they're the cook, maitre d', busboy and bottle washer. Many have families to attend to and are desperately trying to keep all the plates on the tray without dropping any. I believe that's why so many fail. There's no way to manage that kind of chaos the way most of us try to manage.

If you find yourself working night and day and still feel you're accomplishing nothing, stop, take stock and try a new approach.

Measure Productivity

I'm going to assume that you have a long-term (five years) and shorter-term (six months to one year) vision. Your daily activities and actions are guided by this vision, so it's critical to start with a solid blueprint.

This big vision will be accomplished in small steps, taking action consistently over time. Once you acknowledge that you can't possibly do everything you think you should do, have to do or want to do, ask the question "What is the best use of my time and energy today?"

Beth and James Hood, co-founders of "Where's the Map" a site that helps high school and college students make their transition into the working world, have one- and five-year plans for their income, products and impact.

They break down that vision into smaller pieces that I call spokes, and these are what determine their daily actions. For example, they have a long-term goal of being sought-after speakers on college campuses. The spoke they are working on is "Build a national platform for speaking." Activities that might flow from that spoke include: Create a speaker and press kit, schedule 10 radio interviews a month, add 1,000 people per month to the Web site, and refine presentation skills.

Each day they make a list of the six most important things they can do to move forward on their spoke. The actions are simple, small and measurable. They put no more than six on the list at a time. Then they schedule a two-hour chunk of time during the day when they can turn off their phone and focus on taking those six steps. If they don't finish, they roll the items over to the next day, making sure to finish the carry-over items first.

They also have spokes that relate to the deeper values in their lives: their marriage, their home and physical environment, service to the community, spiritual practice, etc. Each of these has action items as well.

In this way, the Hoods accomplish six steps toward their long-term goal in a short period of time each day. At the end of the day, they can measure their productivity in small, consistent actions. The list becomes a sort of diary of accomplishments, and they can refer to it for motivation.

Juggling Your Projects

Take an inventory of everything you do in your day. If you're like most leaders, you didn't consciously choose those projects. Take 10 minutes right now, and make the following lists:

- The projects I'm currently working on.
- The roles I'm handling (parent, spouse, manager, thought leader, accountant, mail clerk, etc.) Be honest and list them all.
- All the things that are on your mind that you aren't getting to (unfinished business, creative pursuits, new project ideas, etc.).

Now, looking through the filter of your long-term goals, which of these roles and projects emerge as priorities? Which are the ones that if you paid full and consistent attention to would make the biggest difference in your feelings of vitality, your relationships and your success?

If you take these top priorities and apply the method outlined in the section above, you'll see an immediate increase in energy and productivity.

Doing "enough" is a decision, not a thing. If you're clear on your VISION, have balanced your priorities to include health, relationships and inner work, and you are taking small, consistent actions each day, you are doing the best you can. Act as if you've done enough, acknowledge yourself, rest and rejuvenate, and watch your results expand.

[Based on TheStreet.com by twocents@thestreet.com (Entrepreneur.com)]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Free Church Resources

I have discovered a website for churches worldwide to download and use an entire library of creative materials - absolutely free.

You heard me right. Cost = 0.

Materials include sermon audio, countdowns, promotional design graphics and opening videos from a wide variety of message series and churches.

Login or create a free account to begin downloading files. Merry Christmas.

[from The Digital Sanctuary by Cynthia]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Church Management Software Comparison Chart


To see the chart, CLICK HERE.

Churches have to track a lot of people information to better facilitate ministry. And of course, as the church gets larger, there's going to be more data. This implies that sometimes a church would outgrow one ChMS for another over time.

There've been a handful of softwares that have been around for years in the category called "church management software" (ChMS). These track not only addresses and financial donations in some kind of a database (or databases), but some track ministry involvement, correspondence log, and more.

According to this comparison chart compiled by Christian Computing Magazine, there are 27 church management softwares. (implying at least 27 exist.) The chart is very handy in that you can get a side-by-side comparison between various ChMS features.

[from Digital @ Leadership Network by Leadership Network]

Pastor Steps Down From Powder Springs Church

The congregation of the 7,000-member Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs learned Sunday that founding pastor Jim Bolin had stepped down from his position because of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

Justin Harley, Trinity Chapel’s elder of counseling, later revised the church’s statement to officially include the phrase “inappropriate consensual sexual conduct with an adult woman” to explain Bolin’s departure.

(PDF: Read the statement from Trinity Chapel)

During the emotional 90-minute service, church officials said Bolin would go through a two-year “restoration process,” which includes counseling, through the Church of God. Bolin did not attend the service.

Bolin, 56, will be inactive in the ministry during that period, said Justin Harley, Trinity Chapel’s director of counseling.

Bolin’s 32-year-old son, Jason Bolin, raised in the church his parents started in an Austell Road storefront 25 years ago with five families, will take over as head pastor, assisted by his wife Sarah Bolin. He had been on the church staff the last 10 years, most recently as executive pastor.

The announcement was made from the pulpit by Donald M. Walker, the state administrative bishop for the Church of God. Walker called the day “rueful and sobering” and often choked up and dabbed his eyes. He began by reading a letter to the congregation from Jim Bolin.

Bolin opened the letter by saying “I have sinned against God” and that takes “full responsibility and blame” for the circumstances that have rocked the church during the last week. He provided no other details.

“Today you see what a wrong choice has caused,” Bolin wrote. “Please learn from this.”
Bolin also said that “the road to restitution is long,” adding, “I’m not finished yet.”

The more than 2,000 people in attendance for the first of two morning services often gave standing ovations to Walker and Jason Bolin when they asked forgiveness for their founding pastor, and called on the church to unite and move forward.

“I think the church will be stronger than ever,” said Teri Burns of Powder Springs, a member for six years. “Jim Bolin was my hero. But he is also human and I forgive him. It’s been a tough week, but it’s over. There’s a new week ahead.”

[By DREW JUBERA - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Costco Turns Around on Christmas

Costco is now recognizing Christmas in a big, new way!

Two weeks ago, their website and store was practically absent of any references to “Christmas.” Today, you’ll find Christmas prominently featured on their website and email promotions. And, if you call their corporate offices, you’ll be greeted with “Merry Christmas from Costco!”

One unnamed store manager said, “The company has received so many e-mails and complaints that they are changing all their holiday cakes to say Merry Christmas and will be saying it in the stores.”

We have thanked Costco on your behalf. If you'd like to thank them personally, they may be contacted through their website at www.costco.com.

Companies FOR "Christmas" This Year

(Updated 12-15-08)

Bass Pro Shops

Bed Bath & Beyond

Belk

Best Buy

Big Lots

Costco

Dollar Tree

Family Dollar

Dollar General

Home Depot

Kmart

Kohl's

Lowe's

Macy's

Menard's

Petsmart

Rite Aid

Sears

Super D Drug Stores

Target

Walgreens

Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

[Research by http://www.afa.net/christmaslist.asp]

Companies AGAINST "Christmas" This Year

(As of 12-15-08)

- Barnes & Noble 1-800-843-2665 - Offers "Holiday Gift Guide." Christmas not found on website. Online feedback form (bottom of page)

- Braum's Ice Cream 1-877-274-4197 Sells "holiday" items only. Online feedback form

- CVS Pharmacy 1-800-746-7287 - CVS offers a "Holiday Center" on its website. The Nov. paper insert avoids using the term "Christmas." Phone: 1-888-607-4287 or email customercare@cvs.com

- Gap Stores (Gap, Old Navy) 1-800-427-7895 - Gap stores avoid using Christmas at every opportunity, being a very secular company. custserv@gap.com

- Kroger 1-866-221-4141 -Website uses "holiday" extensively. Weekly ad uses "holiday." email Kroger

- Office Depot 1-800-463-3768 - Newspaper inserts reference "holiday" only. Website void of Christmas references. Online form

- Olive Garden 1-800-331-2729 -

- Radio Shack 1-800-843-7422 - Website search for "Christmas" results in "holiday" page. No mention of Christmas anywhere. Online feedback form

- Staples 508-253-0879 - Staples' press release referred to "holiday" 13 times without a single mention of Christmas. Last year, Staples emailed a customer to say it refused to post "Christmas" signs in their store. Live chat with Staples online or email Staples.

- SUPERVALU 952-828-4000 -Owns Albertsons and Jewel-Osco. Refers to Christmas decorations as "holiday" on website and weekly ads. email SUPERVALUE

[Research by http://www.afa.net/christmaslist.asp]

How to Recruit and Keep Volunteers

Ask for them – how will they know you need help if you don’t communicate the need? Research shows that most senior citizen say they would volunteer more if asked, and other studies show that teen volunteerism has risen consistently over the past several decades. Look at the outpouring of support following 9/11 and Katrina! Most people want to help worthy causes, but don’t because no one asks. Go ask them to help!

Define what you want – tell them what they’re needed for. It might be as simple as being a crowd behind the politician for the cameras. Or it might need a special skill. Friends of mine who are doctors and dentists volunteer their time regularly. I have asked for volunteers to do unusual jobs like unload carpet from a truck, write press releases, and grill an evening meal at a shelter. In each case, I was able to find people who really wanted to do that thing, and were energized by it.

Make it meaningful –It helps to give someone a job that matters to them. Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek church, says that if leaders are not given leadership-style jobs to do, they often will sit on their hands and do nothing. Christian Schwartz discovered the same thing, saying that people are energized when they are given jobs that match their giftedness and skill. This may take some creativity. Ed is a lawyer, but when he went with a dental mission team, he was the one giving encouragement and instruction on how to brush – he was the star of the trip, and longs to go again.

Give guidance about what results you expect, and how well the volunteer is doing toward meeting those expectations. Treat them similar to how you would treat every other employee. And in reality, they are your corporate workforce, doing tasks you would otherwise have to pay for. At times, you will need to give additional job training and redirect their efforts, even change their job to something more appropriate to their abilities.

Listen for input – about how to do it better, or how else they might want to serve. Too often, paid leaders start to believe that they are the experts and that no one else has any good ideas. Instead, you might have someone who really wants to do a certain thing, and if she can’t find a group to do it for, she’ll create a competing charity. Why not find a middle ground, a way for that person to do something similar to what they want to do within the boundaries of your organizational objectives? It might open a whole new facet of organizational service, and expose you to a new group of donors!

Provide off-ramps for volunteers to take time off. Just as you need vacation breaks away from your paid employment, volunteers will often need time away from long-term volunteering commitments. Others will need permission to step away and stop doing what they have been doing. I’ve been in situations where we couldn’t do any leadership development – or even new volunteer recruitment – until a key volunteer was given permission to leave a key duty they had been doing for years. They “retired” from that area of service to be able to do something else that needed their skills, so that we could grow the charity in different directions.

Acknowledge and reward their contribution. Far too many organizations treat their volunteers as a throw-away commodity, instead of a capital asset. Terry Axlll’s classic book Raising More Money says to involve the person in the volunteering, and cautions not to treat donors as “ATM machines” that you only run to when you need a quick infusion. Instead, it is important to ...

Thank them immediately after a big event. The phrase “thank before you bank” works with volunteer service as well. Do not wait to give them praise. Express verbal thanks during the event and send a note of appreciation to arrive within a week afterward. Each intervening day lessens the impact.

Thank them sincerely. A form letter (or worse, an email) will not work for this kind of recognition!) Give personalized thanks for how the job they did contributed to the event’s results. If you defined the jobs clearly, this should be easy.

Thank them appropriately. If the big donors received a lavish prize and the workers who made it all happen didn’t even get fed, your thanks will ring hollow. Provide sufficient snacks & drinks during the event, and make provisions for a gathering afterward that is tailored to them. If you have been listening, you will know what motivates them, and that they prefer a weekend volunteer lunch of soup and sandwich and conversation at the Director’s waterfront house to an expensive dinner on a school night.

I’m sure the list is not complete, but it’s a pretty good start. Give it a try and tell me how it worked.

[from http://involvingmore.wordpress.com/]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today's Prayer

Dear God,

Today I pray for pastors everywhere. They face so many decisions and burdens. They have such great responsibilities and weighty decisions. They have personal family to care for as well as church family to shepherd.

I pray that as they come to you today ... and every day ... that you will refresh their spirit, enlighten their mind, and strengthen their body. I pray that you will grant them wisdom, anointing, and openness to receive the message you want to deliver through them and to deliver that message when and to whom you want it delivered.

I pray for protection and blessing for every pastor's entire family and all the leaders of the church. Please keep them safe from all harm and evil ... and lead them on to accomplish your plan for their lives, the church's future, and the Great Commission.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Today's Word

(Proverbs 22:11) "God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship."

Stinking Thinking

- We want OUR WAY.
- We believe OUR WAY is superior to all other ways.
- We believe this is OUR CHURCH and we should be able to do as we please regardless of others.
- We believe some wrongs are unforgettable and should color are future issues.
- We believe there is no value in releasing our hurts or pain because it may be helpful to us later.
- We believe God is on OUR SIDE, after all we do love Him.
- We believe winning a church spat is spiritual.
- We believe controlling the church to our way of thinking is more important than the many unsaved people in our community.
- We believe we are doing God a favor by making a stink about silly things.

This kind of thinking is destructive to any church.

Have you ever bumped into people with any of these sentiments?

[from forwardleadership.org by billisaacs]

Cool Resources

- ChurchMetrics - A free web-based application that helps you keep tabs on attendance, giving, salvations and baptisms at your church.
- Donor Tools - Simple, inexpensive online donor management software for non-profits.
- Jarbyco - Create one of a kind mobile applications, custom-tailored for you and your audience. Text messaging application that allows you to quiz, poll and survey the congregation, message people, create audience interaction and more!
- Unifyer - Web-based application that unites online communication, online networking and dynamic media content for your church community. In other words, it is like having a custom social network for your church.
- AspireOne Media Player - The Media Player showcases all of your media organized in one place. Offered and supported by AspireOneMedia a partner of Granger Community Church and Wired Churches.

[from Planting Space by Patrick]