Sunday, June 29, 2008

Don Brock at Cliff Haven

I have been in revival at the Cliff Haven Church in Sheffield, Alabama with Pastor Brian Sutton this last week. What a great church and what a mighty move of God. To God be the glory.

http://www.cliffhaven.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 23, 2008

Internet Applications For Pastors And Others

There are many Internet applications out there that are making life easier for pastors and others.

Here is a list of examples:

1. Gmail - I’ve been using Gmail for years for my all email. I was glad to have kissed Outlook goodbye and will never go back. I love the search-ability and use of labels. Also you can't beat the spam filter. and am now using it for all work email. Try Gmail Labs for fun beta options.
2. Google Calendar - I love the integration with Gmail and the ability to share my calendar with others.
3. Switchboard - Often times I need to find a phone number, and it's published, then I'll find it with ease with Switchboard.
4. Google Documents - Most documents are simple and therefore Google Docs is a great option. Also, it provides a great opportunity for sharing and colaboration. Plus with Google Docs, it is easier to find a document when I am looking for it.
5. Blogger - It’s how I share daily insights about ministry, leadership and life from my blog.
6. Twitter - This is a new app for me, but it has really begun to grow on me. It’s how I plan to share mini-insights throughout my day.
7. eBible - I love being able to read, search and study the Bible online.
8. Backpack - I am using Backpack mostly for the reminders. And with the Firefox extention, it has become an easy way to make important reminders throughout my day.
9. Jott - Jott converts voice into text. Jott is awesome. I can call a number and capture a thought while in the car, I can add an appointments to my Google Calendar, or update my Twitter. This has been an invaluable tool.
10. Xdrive - Provides free online storage when I’m looking to back up important files.
11. YouSendIt - It’s a great tool for sending big files to other people.
12. Scribd - This has been a helpful tool that allows me to post documents to my blog. It not only allows them to be "viewed" but downloaded as well.
13. Evernote - This program has come a long way over the past couple of years, and I love it. Evernote lets me capture and store stuff, mostly stuff from the web. With Evernote I can easily file sermon illustrations and important ministry ideas.
14. Mint.com - I’ve started using this application for tracking personal finances. Easy to use and it delivers great reports.
15. PageOnce - I call this my dashboard of life. It takes all of my information that I may track on websites, and pulls it all together for an "at-a-glance" online dashboard.
16. Google Analytics - I use it to track stats for my blog.
17. Woopra - This site is amazing. I use it to periodically monitor live traffic on my blog. Also it has a desktop client that allows me to access my information very easily.
18. Google Reader - Using a "reader" is the only way to read blogs. In my opinion, Google Reader is the best.
19. TimeBridge - This program, linked with my Google Calendar, lets me schedule appointments with one or many people without having to be burdened with the back and fourth of "email tag". This has been a BIG time saver for me.
20. Pandora - This is a site that you can use to create your own Internet radio station that plays your favorite genre of music.
21. LetterMeLater - Not yet ready to send an email. Then send it later. You can have your email timed to go out when you want them. Plus they are integrated with Gmail. I won't be surprised if Gmail eventually integrates this option in their program.
22. Pinger - Send a voice mail out to a group of people. I love the ease of use and when people get a voice mail, it often gets more noticed than an email. I have used this program to send out quick reminders and information to the church, all done with one simple call.
23. FeedBurner - This is the service I use to track subscribers to my blog.
24. Facebook - I love how easy it is now to keep up with old friends. It has also been an effective communication tool toward young people who now consider email as passe'.
25. Doodle - This simple little program has been a real time saver. You set up an online poll, send the link out, and the program does the rest. It has helped to coordinate membership interviews when we are trying to find people's best date and time in their schedule.

[From Ministry Best Practices by Bill Reichart]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Assemblies of God International Fellowship Supports Kenneth Copeland's Lack of Cooperation in Investigation

A group of Pentecostal ministers and churches have thrown their backing behind televangelist Kenneth Copeland and his refusal to cooperate with a Senate probe into his ministry's spending.

Assemblies of God International Fellowship released a statement in their latest newsletter saying the current investigation, led by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), into the financial records of six prominent ministries "seems to be crossing a legal boundary."

"Politicians enact laws to separate Church and State which many think to be unconstitutional and then try to intrude into Church affairs while denying the Church discussion of State (political) affairs. This sounds like a one way street in favor of the State," the group said.

Grassley launched an investigation last November, requesting financial records and answers to questions regarding organizational and personal finances from ministries led by Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Paula and Randy White, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Benny Hinn. Each has millions of followers and collects tens of millions of dollars in donations a year.

The senate probe was prompted by media reports and ministry watchdogs that alleged opulent spending and possible abuse of their nonprofit status.

Copeland submitted limited responses to the Grassley office and recently launched a Web site, http://www.believersstandunited.com/, questioning and protesting the senator's investigation.

The televangelist, who has said his ministry fully complies with all laws, believes the inquiry is a violation of religious freedom, an invasion of privacy and a threat to the separation of Church and State. He also raised suspicion over Grassley’s targeting of only Pentecostal churches that preach the “prosperity gospel” – a teaching that God wants his followers to be rich both spiritually and materially.

A Grassley spokeswoman told The Christian Post that it's unusual for a tax-exempt group to take such action against an investigation. She noted that Grassley has looked at tax-exempt policy issues involving a variety of entities, including the Red Cross, the Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian, non-profit hospitals and universities.

But some, including Assemblies of God International Fellowship, are backing Copeland and his questioning.

The fellowship believes that the IRS, created by the State, should be conducting an investigation, not the Senate.

"It seems that Rev. Copeland is right in ignoring the Senate’s investigation of Church affairs but pledging to fully cooperate with any investigation by the IRS," the group stated.

In response, the Grassley spokeswoman stated, "Senator Grassley points out that the legislative branch writes the laws, and the executive branch enforces the laws. His responsibility as a leader (chairman and now ranking member) of the Senate committee with exclusive jurisdiction over tax policy is to evaluate the effectiveness of that policy.

"He looks at whether the law is weak in certain areas and allows people to exploit, say, tax-exempt groups for personal gain," she continued. "He leaves the enforcement of existing tax law to the IRS, the executive branch agency with that responsibility."

As of Friday, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn are the only two ministries that have submitted full responses for the Senate probe. Randy and Paula White have submitted partial responses, Eddie Long and Copeland have submitted "very limited responses," according to the spokeswoman, and Creflo Dollar has submitted no requested information.

[By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter]

Fireworks Expected in Cleveland, Tennessee

"Let Freedom Ring" is the theme for the 11th annual Mount Olive Freedom Celebration on June 29 at the Tri-State Exhibition Center.

The celebration will feature a number of gospel acts including the Freedom Celebration Festival Choir, which is made up of area church choirs. Some 120 voices will be included.

There will be musical entertainment, shows, kiddy rides and of course -- fireworks.

The fireworks show, which will be synchronized to music, is being sponsored by Larry Hill Ford of Cleveland.

The fireworks show will be the only one in Cleveland this year, according to organizers.

Pioneer Credit Co. is sponsoring the stage area where Gina Bean, 4 by Him, Just Us and the 2x2 Quartet will perform. Also on the Pioneer stage, the Freedom Celebration Festival Choir will gather. The choir is made up of members from the Graysville Church of God, Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy, and Mount Olive Ministries Choir. Dr. Mark Bailey, minister of music at Mount Olive Ministries and Lee professor, will coordinate the choir.

Steve Hartline and Bridgett Baggett will emcee the event.

Santek Industries is sponsoring more than 16 air toys, including a 60-foot slide and splash for the kids. A petting zoo and pony rides will also be available for the family friendly event. Presentations by the Endunamo Strength Team and the Mount Olives Children's Ministries will held on the Santek stage.

There is no admission to the event which is open to the public. Fireworks are scheduled to begin around 9:30 p.m. on June 29.

[By Greg Kaylor, Cleveland Daily Banner Editorial Assistant]

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Young Baptist Preachers Chart Different Courses

[By Eric Gorski - AP Religion Writer]

J.D. Greear persuaded his church to drop the word "Baptist" from its name, sell its historic building in Durham, N.C., and move into a local high school. Greear preaches in an untucked collared shirt, sportcoat and jeans. He generally avoids politics but signed a statement urging action on global warming.

Eric Hankins preaches in a suit and tie at First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., where hymns like "Brethren, We Have Met to Worship" are the norm. Change for Hankins means adopting a new discipleship curriculum. He questions whether humans cause climate change.

Both men are Southern Baptist pastors in their 30's and lead growing congregations. Both are theologically conservative and engaged in their denomination.

Yet their different approaches are part of an ongoing debate about the future of the 16.2 million-member Southern Baptist Convention: Is there room for both the guy in the suit and the guy in the jeans? Should pastors shun politics or hand out voters' guides? Is saving the environment an issue to champion or a dangerous detour?

The nation's largest Protestant denomination is at a crossroads. After five decades of growth, membership fell last year and baptisms are dropping at an even faster clip. A growing number of Baptists see the apparent lack of relevancy, and they blame not secular America and liberals but themselves for the problem.

The Rev. Johnny Hunt of Woodstock, Ga., elected as the SBC's new president last week, already has pledged to bring younger leaders to the table. A member of the SBC's conservative establishment, the 55-year-old Hunt has been a mentor to the next generation through a pastors' school he founded in 1994.

"If we think the only ones leading are like us, then we're pretty narrow," Hunt said. "We've tried to push them into our mold instead of letting them use their own creativity."

Greear was 28 in 2002 when he became senior pastor of Homestead Heights Baptist Church, a sleepy congregation with a weekly attendance of 390 in Durham, N.C.

The building was too old, too small and in a bad location. So Greear persuaded the church to sell the building, relocate to a high school and reinvent itself as The Summit Church.

"We did not shed an ounce of Baptist identity," said Greear, whose weekly attendance is now 2,400. "The key is doing these things without compromising what you believe God's message is."

Greear rejects the dominant evangelical church form of the last 25 years: fill-in-the-blank sermon outlines and programs designed for spiritual seekers and baby boomers.

Summit Church members threw a wedding shower for a family that lost its home in a fire and volunteered to renovate a local elementary school.

"We like our community to say, 'We may not believe in everything the Summit Church believes, but thank God they're here because otherwise they'd have to raise our taxes,'" Greear said.
Greear describes his style as "humble orthodoxy." He wants to counter the image of the Southern Baptist preacher as the "angry guy with coifed hair and an out-of-style suit who likes to pick at things."

That doesn't mean watering down traditional beliefs. Greear preaches on sexual purity and believes every word in the Bible is true. But it also means going in some new directions.

Greear said he tries to avoid political stances. Earlier this year, however, he joined other Southern Baptists in signing a statement calling the denomination "too timid" on environmental issues. Global warming is a dire threat that demands action instead of more arguing about man's role causing it, it said.

Juanita Bynum's Divorce Is Final

Televangelist Juanita Bynum and husband Thomas W. Weeks ended their marriage in divorce court Friday, several months after an altercation in a hotel parking lot landed Weeks in jail on charges he choked and beat his wife.

The couple exchanged few words and barely glanced each other’s way during a hearing that ended their six-year marriage. Bynum signed a settlement agreement last week offered by Weeks, and the proceeding before a judge in suburban Atlanta lasted less than an hour.

Bynum filed for divorce in September, a month after the quarrel in the parking lot of an Atlanta hotel. Weeks ultimately pleaded guilty to assaulting her and is serving three years’ probation.

A 14-page document said neither party will receive alimony and Bynum will pay $40,000 of Weeks’ legal fees. The decision also restored Juanita Bynum’s maiden name as her legal one, though she never used Weeks’ last name while they were married.

Bynum left the courthouse smiling.

"I said from the beginning of this situation that this, too, shall pass, and it just did," she said.
Weeks also appeared in high spirits.

"It feels like a new day," he said outside court, adding he still has a "special love" for Bynum.

Bynum and Weeks married in a lavish ceremony in 2002. They have written books and lectured together on love and relationships.

Bynum leads a ministry that also includes a gospel record label and seminar tours. She has sold thousands of motivational books, CDs and DVDs related to empowerment and relationships.

Weeks, known to his followers as Bishop Weeks, co-wrote "Teach Me How to Love: The Beginnings" with Bynum.

[Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.]

How To Determine If a Leader Is Truly of God

Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney is one of the best books I have ever read. If you have not read it yet, you should.

Isaiah 66:2 provides Mahaney with a biblical foundation for writing this book. I offer a list of quotes that I hope get your attention enough so that you will read this book.
  • Humility gets God’s attention.
  • Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.
  • Pride seems to have a strange and sure way of ignoring logic altogether.
  • Pride is when sinful human beings aspire to the status and position of God and refuse to acknowledge their dependence upon Him.
  • You and I hate nothing to the degree God hates pride.
  • And in true humility, our own service to others is always both an effect of His unique sacrifice and the evidence of it.
  • The cross never flatters us.
  • Sin doesn’t wake up tired.
  • Too many Christians are more readily aware of the absence of God than they are of the presence of God, and they are more aware of sin than they are of grace.
  • It is possible to admire humility while remaining proud ourselves.

Two more things I love about this book. The first is the way CJ Mahaney includes some very challenging and inspiring statements from the likes of John Owens, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Stott, DA Carson, RC Sproul and others. Secondly, this book isn’t just theory and theology. It also includes very practical ways to begin and end each day so that we can walk toward true greatness which is only found in humility.

[From What Leadership Demands by Shane]

God Will Hold Us Together

Louie Giglio - Laminin

Wow!

Today's Quote

"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results" ~ Milton Friedman

Pastor and Politics

Every election year thousands of pastors receive threatening letters claiming their churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they engage in any political activity. Don’t believe the hype. Read the truth on what you can and can’t do from the pulpit.

READ MORE

Today's Prayer

Dear God, Today I come to You, bringing prayers for my neighbors before Your throne. I don't know what each and every one is going through right now, but I know that each has their own hurts, challenges, problems, needs. I know that some are grieving, whether over an errant child, a lost job, the death of a loved one or something else; some are lonely; some are lost and need the Savior; some are ill and need healing and comfort; the needs go on. Please help me to know what to do to be a good neighbor to them. Give me opportunities to reach out and share Your love. I pray that the Holy Spirit will minister to each one and meet their spiritual needs. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How To Recruit Volunteers - Free Book

[From Ministry Best Practices by Bill Reichart]

Do you want to recruit more volunteers for your church or ministry?

Agile ministry has just put out a new FREE eBook to address that issue. Here is some more information about the eBook from Agile:

No matter where you may be in your leadership, recruiting volunteers can be one of the most difficult tasks you will encounter. Even if you are able to teach a room full of kids, design a website, or manage hundreds of youth, recruiting may not come easy.

This FREE, easy-to-read electronic book (”eBook”) provides a simple approach to recruiting more volunteers for your church ministry. Whether you are a new leader or have been leading for years, there is something new and fresh to learn about recruiting volunteers. A simple process to volunteer recruiting.

This book is designed to open your eyes to new ways of thinking about recruiting. It will provide some ideas, inspiration, and a 5-step process that will help you to improve your ability to recruit new volunteers for your town.

Click here to get your FREE copy of this ebook now!


Volunteer Recruiting Step 1: Prepare

Before you can recruit new volunteers, you need to prepare the way through your actions, attitude, requirements, and prayer. Learn how to create job descriptions, put time limits into your team structure, and develop a contagious attitude that will help you recruit more effectively.

Volunteer Recruiting Step 2: Find

Finding new volunteers is often the largest source of frustration for team leaders. In this step, we’ll find fresh ways of thinking for more effective volunteer recruiting. You’ll learn how to recruit by focusing on passion and relationships, becoming others-focused, finding connectors within your church, and recruiting through structure and one-time service opportunities.

Volunteer Recruiting Step 3: Interview

Don’t skip the interview step! This step is essential to make sure both the candidate and the leader are comfortable to work together. You’ll discover how to conduct a simple, relaxing interview as well as when to include gift and personality tests.

Volunteer Recruiting Step 4: Integrate

The volunteer’s first impression is what will shape their view of your team for weeks and months to come. Your first priority is to get them trained and integrated into the team. Find out how to pick the right person to train your new volunteers, how to conduct a follow-up interview, and how to deal with volunteers that just aren’t a good fit.

Volunteer Recruiting Step 5: Retain

Recruiting doesn’t end with training. Recruiting is an ongoing process that requires you to learn how to retain your volunteers after you find them. Find ways to reward your volunteers and how to deal with letting go of volunteers when the time comes. Learn how to create example job descriptions, training materials, and more!

This free book also includes a 5-step action plan for applying this simple volunteer recruiting process. View examples of job descriptions, create simple training materials to help your new volunteers, and create a recruiting plan to guide you through your recruiting process.

Click here to get your FREE copy of this ebook now!

Church Volunteer Training

Does your church volunteer training really hit the mark?

Here is an excerpt from Group Volunteers - Tuesday's Tip to answer that question:

1. Make sure your volunteers know your ministry's overall mission. Never assume your leaders know your goals if you haven't told them (or told them recently) what they are. People who don't know how they fit into the big picture quickly lose their enthusiasm. Also, always tie your training in to a specific ministry goal.

2. Leave time at the end of each training session to make sure they understand what you taught. Encourage, prod, and beg them to ask questions about what they're learning. Never end a training time without asking them to repeat, somehow, what they've learned. Group activities can help reinforce spoken teaching.

3. Tell your volunteers where they can get more information on a training topic. Refer your leaders to printed and video resources that can give more in-depth information on a particular topic. Church Volunteer Central members can point their people to thousands of free resources on our site, including online training.

4. Don't assume your volunteers "got it" the first time. Don't be afraid to hit a crucial training topic more than once. For example, if you train your adult leaders on building relationships with teenagers, hit the same topic at your next meeting with a lab experience. Invite youth group members to the meeting and have your leaders use them as guinea pigs to try out their new skills.

5. Give volunteers a booklet of important training tips. It's important for your adult leaders to have an ongoing reminder of what they learn in training meetings.

[Adapted from Group magazine, the world's most-read youth ministry resource. See www.youthministry.com for more information. This post is from Group Volunteers: Tuesday's Tip. These tips can go directly into your inbox, and you can click here to go to their site to receive them.]

How Pastors Can Use Facebook

[By Leadership Network]

We found this free e-book that gives a bunch of great tips of how pastors and other ministry leaders can use Facebook to multiply ministry. You can download the e-book here (PDF). Topics covered in the e-book include:
  • How to make the most of your profile information
  • Tips for Networking with People in Facebook
  • All about groups, messages, poking, etc
  • Meet prospects for your church
  • Learn more about the members in your church
  • Testimonies from Pastors who use FaceBook

Chris Forbes of MinistryMarketingCoach.com put this easy-to-read e-book together, some of its content comes from his series of blog posts last September, several highlights I'll mention:

Ministry Shift

As we continue to move from the Gutenberg world to the Google world, Dr. Albert of the Anglican Church, India, points toward seven strategic shifts for pastors in particular and ministers in general to ponder:
  • Shift 1: A Power Shift from Self to God
  • Shift 2: A Priority Shift from inreach to outreach
  • Shift 3: A Program Shift from events to relationships
  • Shift 4: A People Shift from ministers to equippers
  • Shift 5: A Provision Shift from consumers to contributors
  • Shift 6: A Perspective Shift from a church mentality to a Kingdom mentality
  • Shift 7: A Process Shift from the older to the younger

When you and your organization are able to make these shifts in the years ahead we can be sure the baton will not drop on the ground of time. Let us capitalize on global and local opportunities before they are lost forever!

[http://www.billion.tv/]

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Can We Really Trust God?

"Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son" (Gen 22:10).

There are times in our lives when God brings a test to see if we are ready to put to death the very thing that God promised we would have. Such was the case in the life of Abraham with Isaac. Isaac was the promised son. Yet, God said to raise the knife to sacrifice him in obedience God.

When God brings such a test into our lives we usually have a choice. Neither choice is attractive. One choice will often salvage some aspect of the vision. The other choice will totally kill the vision from our perspective. However, that is the faith decision. That is the only decision from God's perspective.

If we choose the faith decision that kills the vision - we will witness the resurrection of the vision supernaturally by God. Our own faith will be launched into a whole new dimension. He will raise us up in order to speak through our lives in that experience. God often brings that person into a very public ministry.

However, if we choose the lesser decision, we will reside in a lesser walk with God. God will accept the decision but there will be consequences to our faith journey. He cannot trust us with a bigger vision because He sees our obedience is moveable based on our perceived consequences.

If we choose the lesser decision then God will often orchestrate other events in our lives that are designed to develop our faith to a level that will allow us to make the right decision the next time.

Do you have resurrection faith that will trust God to raise your situation from the dead?

[Os Hillman]

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

  1. The first dysfunction is an absence of trust among team members. Essentially, this stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust.
  2. This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
  3. A lack of healthy conflict is a problem because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they my feign agreement during meetings.
  4. Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability, the fourth dysfunction. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.
  5. Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive. Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team.

[Patrick Lencioni]

Happy Father's Day


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Neckties May Be On Their Way Out

Neckties may be an American institution that is shutting down. The Men's Dress Furnishings Association, which has represented American tie makers for more than 60 years, has shuttered its New York City headquarters and, later this month, plans to close down for good.

Some industry watchers don't think neckties themselves are on the way out, but, in a 2007 Gallup poll, 67 percent of men "never" wear ties to work — more today seem to appreciate ties for personal style reasons, reports http://www.abcnews.com/.

Clergy, especially on the U.S. west coast, are dressing more casual.

[Focus on the Family]

Southern Baptist Have a New President - Pastor Johnny Hunt

The Rev. Johnny Hunt, pastor of a megachurch in Woodstock, Ga., was elected Tuesday as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, reported the Washington Post. Hunt, 55, acknowledged in a speech to pastors Sunday, that the denomination is facing difficulties:
  • Baptisms, a key sign of spiritual health for Southern Baptists, have fallen to a 20-year low;
  • Membership dipped to 16.27 million last year from 16.3 million (except for a drop in membership in 1998, the last decrease was in 1926).

Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., said he nominated Hunt because of his "heart for the nations" and his "heart for the next generation."

[Focus on the Family]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today's Prayer

Lord, Please make me a blessing. I present myself to you, a living sacrifice, for ministry to the world. I pray that I would see others through your eyes of love and concern and that I would ask myself "What would Jesus do?" Please forgive me of the times I have been selfish or apathetic, for the times I have missed out on the opportunity to minister and be a blessing. I pray for all the people in my family and community who need a blessing right now. I pray for Christians around the world who need your hand of blessing right now. Lord, you know the need. You are good, all the time. I pray that in your mercy, you will will reach out in the way you know best and meet those needs, uplift those spirits, bless those souls, for your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.

5 Skills of Good Leaders

Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi recently told Training+Development magazine that she believes that each one of PepsiCo’s 18,000 employees is a leader.

She names five skills that she believes are the hallmarks of a good leaders:
  1. Competence. You must be an expert in your function or area of expertise. You will become known for that.
  2. Take a Stand. You must be known for your courage and confidence to act and say what you believe is right.
  3. Communication Skills. Communication skills are critical. You can never over-invest in them.
  4. Coaching. Surround yourself with good mentors. Listen. Learn. Your mentor is a major force.
  5. Your Moral Compass. Have the strength and courage to do what’s morally right, not what’s expedient. Your moral compass must be your true north.

On building leaders she says:

We are building talent with an enterprise mind set. We strategically build skills for key talent through carefully planned developmental assignments.

Succession planning is also critical. Our succession planning process is designed to identify the kinds of experiences our leaders need.

Once identified, we put people in assignments that enable them to build those skill sets.

Spiritual Formation and Leadership Formation

The New Testament speaks clearly that God's call upon our lives is to be transformed into the image of Christ.

So, how does this process of transformation connect with the concepts of leadership formation? Does leadership formation happen alone or in an organizational context?

In this session, Drs. Bekker and Gomez encourage leaders to delve deeper as they discuss the connection between leadership and Christian formation and how our innermost being affects how we lead, our organization and ultimately the world.

To listen, click http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/leadershiptalks/home.htm

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today's Prayer

Dear Lord, I pray today for the deacons and ministers of caring in the church today. I pray that they would support and uplift the pastor, like Aaron did Moses. I pray that they would help the pastor carry out the ministry of the church, looking after the needs of the congregation, going about in an attitude of prayer, and seeking Your will in all circumstances and obstacles that arise. I pray for their protection from harm and evil in any form. I pray that You will anoint, bless, and minister through them to reach people, to show them Your love, and to bring glory and honor to You. Help these ministers to see their role in Your work, and give them the boldness, wisdom, and encouragement to carry on. In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

David Baroni Releases New Book and New CD

David Baroni is a true minister of Word and song. His roots run deep in the church with a dedication to ministry.

His new book is titled, "The Jazz Preacher." It is his story and you will thoroughly enjoy it.

An excellent musician and songwriter, David Baroni's new CD is titled, "Finger Paintings: Dream."

Check it out at http://www.davidbaroni.com/.

Archaeologists Unearth "World's First Church"

Archaeologists unearthed in Jordan what they believe to be the world’s first church, according to a report Monday.

"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," said Abdul Qader al-Hussan, the head of Jordan's Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies, to The Jordan Times.

He added that the discovery was “amazing.”

The nearly 2,000-year-old church was discovered underneath Saint Georgeous Church in Rihab, Mafraq, in northern Jordan near the Syrian border. St. Georgeous dates back to 230 A.D., and is considered the oldest “proper” church in the world.

Hussan said his team has evidence to believe “this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ.” These 70 early Christians are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem, particularly to Rihab, and founded churches in northern Jordan. Historical sources, according to Hussan, suggest the 70 Christians lived and practiced their faith in the underground church and only left when Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers. “It was then when St. Georgeous was built,” said Hussan noted.

The underground church has been described as a cave with several stone seats believed to have been for the clergy and a circular shaped area, thought to be the apse – an area which usually contains the altar. “A wall with an entrance is the only partition separating the altar from the living area,” Hussan reported. There is also a deep tunnel in the cave thought to have led to a water source, he noted.

Bishop Deputy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Archimandrite Nektarious described the discovery as an “important milestone for Christians all around the world.”

"The only other cave in the world similar in shape and purpose is in Thessalonika, Greece," the bishop said, according to The Jordan Times.

Officials at the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism said they plan to use the discovery to promote tourism in the area in the near future.

Some 30 churches have been discovered in Rihab, according to Hussan, and Jesus and Mary are believed to have passed through the area.


[By Ethan Cole, Christian Post Reporter]

Man Sues His Church After He Hits His Head After Receiving the Holy Spirit

[Orginally published by Todd Rhoades]

According to The Smoking Gun, last June, Matthew Lincoln was attending an evening service at his nondenominational Tennessee church when he approached the altar where a visiting minister was offering individual prayers for parishioners. Assigned "catchers" were present on the altar in case congregants fainted, fell, or otherwise lost control.

When the minister, Robert Lavala, slightly touched his forehead, the Knoxville-area man "received the spirit and fell backwards." Except nobody was there to catch him, Lincoln charges in a $2.5 million lawsuit filed yesterday against Lakewind Church and its pastors. Lincoln, 58, claims that he fell backwards, striking his head against the "carpet-covered cement floor," according to the Circuit Court complaint, which was first reported by Courthouse News Service. A copy of Lincoln's lawsuit can be found below.

Since he already suffered from a "degenerative disc disease of his neck and back," Lincoln, a former church board member, contends the fall exacerbated the pre-existing condition and has caused him "severe and permanent" injuries.

You can see the actual lawsuit filed here (at The Smoking Gun)...

Any thoughts?

Church Guests/Visitor Followup

(A Sample Process)
  1. Collect guest cards and connection cards.
  2. Act on the cards immediately. After service, if possible. Go to the church office and process the informationand writing cards. A list could be built on Google Docs. Make a phone call on Monday. Mail a first time handwritten note signed by the pastor. The children's department could send out a stamped bag of unpopped popcorn. The youth department could send out a CD. Mail a second letter to adult guests asking people to serve. Service is a high value. The expectation is set at the outset. People rally to serve. Look at prayer requests on the cards. Pray over all cards in staff meetings and prayer groups.
  3. Close Open Loops. Collect data in a Google Docs spreadsheet, listing assignments with an “X.” As each assignment is completed, turn the X into a “C,” meaning closed. An item is closed when a first or second time guest is mailed a response. In the case of info request, a sign-up, or a prayer request, the loop is closed after a conversation has been had yielding a “yes,” no,” or a “not now.” The information received can be gathered and placed in the comment box in the spreadsheet.
  4. One month call back. Place a call four weeks after the initial guest visit to make sure the guests have received the information they’ve requested. This call will successfully help people make the next step into service, membership, and group attendance. This occasionally re-activates someone who visited once and didn’t come back after their first visit. This call also serves to ensure that the process is working and that there are no holes.

(http://www.travisjohnson.net/)

Many other steps could be added. This process can be adjusted to fit your church or community.

Have you discovered other steps that really work? Share them. Click "Comments" below.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Resisting Discouragement

"So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time." Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

There are many things that work to keep us from completing our life-missions. Over the years, I’ve debated whether the worst enemy is procrastination or discouragement. If Satan can’t get us to put off our life missions, then he’ll try to get us to quit altogether.

The apostle Paul teaches that we need to resist discouragement: “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up …” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).

Do you ever get tired of doing what’s right? I think we all do. Sometimes it seems easier to do the wrong thing than the right thing.

When we’re discouraged, we become ineffective. When we’re discouraged, we work against our own faith.

When I’m discouraged, I’m saying, “It can’t be done.” That’s the exact opposite of saying, “I know God can do it because he said ….”

Ask yourself these questions:
  • How do I handle failure?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I get grumpy?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I get frustrated?
  • When things don’t go my way, do I start complaining?
  • Do I finish what I start?
  • How would I rate on persistence?

If you’re discouraged, don’t give up without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy.

When an artist starts to create a sculpture, he has to keep chipping away. He doesn’t hit the chisel with the hammer once, and suddenly all the excess stone falls away revealing a beautiful masterpiece. He keeps hitting it and hitting it, chipping away at the stone.

And that’s true of life, too: Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in life. You keep hitting it and going after it, and little-by-little your life becomes a masterpiece of God’s grace.

The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people don’t know how to quit.

[Rick Warren]

Are You Experiencing a Storm?

A lot of ministers I know are becoming weary. The normal trials of life have been multiplied in the current season. We are in a storm.

So, what do we do?

1. Stay in the stronghold of God’s presence. Hebrews 4:16 says: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NASB). No matter how hard the winds blow outside, the throne room is a secure place. We must learn to abide in the only true stormproof shelter.

When David was fleeing Saul, he endured his trials by making the Lord’s presence his daily habitation. David wrote most of his psalms while battling fear, frustration and despair. Yet he maintained his authority (and eventually inherited the kingdom) because he maintained his praise, worship and intercession. So we must spend more time with the Lord when our circumstances tell us to work harder, worry more and pray less. Only in His presence do we see an accurate picture of how big God is compared to our problems.

2. Throw out your anchor and set your heart on Jesus. It’s interesting that no one really knows who wrote Hebrews. Some scholars have suggested Paul (even though it differs from his other writings), Barnabas, Apollos and even Priscilla.

I doubt we will solve this mystery until all of heaven’s secrets are revealed in eternity. But although we may not know the author, we know the Author. Jesus is described in Hebrews as “the author of [our] salvation” (2:10) and “the author and finisher of our faith” (12:2, NKJV). He must become our central focus if we intend to complete this journey.

Hebrews tell us that our hope in Jesus Christ is “an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (6:19, NASB). Are you anchored in Christ, or are you tossed here and there by people’s opinions, waves of doctrine or emotional highs?

Many Christians today run from one meeting to the next, or from conference to conference, to get a word from a prophet or to spend yet another 10 minutes on the floor getting another dose of the anointing. Yet when high winds come, will we stand? Hebrews says our ability to endure is directly tied to our grounding in Jesus alone.

3. Offer a lifeline of encouragement to others. In warning the early disciples about the perils of unbelief, the author of Hebrews says: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). In other words, when the storm is blowing we should not only find shelter ourselves but also work to protect our brothers and sisters.

This passage tells us that some people actually walk away from the faith because of discouragement. The storm can get so dark and the clouds so heavy that people faint. Temptation can become so intense that those in isolation become casualties. It is in our power to speak a word that will lift their spirits, overcome fear, vanquish the devil’s lies and inspire fresh faith. If you need encouragement, try giving some away. It will come back to you.

4. Weather the storm to the end. A lot of Christians I know are becoming weary. The normal trials of life have been multiplied in the current season. Right now I am praying with (1) a woman whose husband has chosen to live in adultery; (2) a father whose son was recently arrested for armed robbery; (3) a family that has been fractured because of mental illness; (4) a pastor whose daughter has turned away from God; and (5) a couple struggling to pay their bills because of the real estate crisis. Everywhere I look people are being battered by life’s hardships.

The book of Hebrews exhorts us: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1). Heaven cries out: Hang on no matter what!

I want to encourage you today: This storm will not last forever. You will emerge on the other side of this trial, and you will be stronger because the Lord stood by your side. Don’t give up. His promise is guaranteed. If you will praise Him in the midst of the raging tempest, and wait patiently for His intervention, He will send His grace, fight your battles, slay your giants, rebuke the devourer, grant your inheritance and reward your faithfulness.

[J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma]

China Funds Campaign to Eliminate House Churches

If it was not working, why would they be against it?

A new report released on Sunday, exactly two months ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games, details the current Chinese government’s crackdown on unregistered Christians, including funding a campaign to eradicate house churches throughout China.

The report, entitled “China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the Approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games,” by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide and U.S.-based China Aid Association, provides information on different tactics used by the government to restrict the religious freedom of Christians.
CAA said that in May, two independent sources informed it that the Chinese Central Government provided funding to the Ministry of Public Security to escalate its campaign of eradicating house churches in China.

China Aid also said it received reports of “planned intensified persecution,” with greater control and prevention of large Christian gatherings ahead of the Games.

“While Chinese house churches have long suffered persecution, this is believed to be the first time that the authorities have systematically cracked down on the ‘third wave churches,’” the report noted. “These are churches amongst the more educated and wealthy sections of society with greater awareness of their rights, which generally meet in urban areas and have been tolerated, even though operating under certain restrictions.”

Tactics used to crack down on unregistered Christians include: targeting well-established unregistered churches; sending landlords directives ordering them to not rent space to those engaging in religious activities; charging Christians in the Xinjiang region of separatism; expelling foreign Christians; targeting repression at the Chinese House Church Alliance; and carrying out the largest mass sentencing of house church leaders in 25 years.

The report also highlights the “disturbing news” that some house church Christians were arrested and fined for trying to help victims of the massive earthquake in Sichuan Province.
“As we mark the two month countdown to the Beijing Olympics today it is truly disturbing to report the deteriorating picture for China’s unregistered Christians,” said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW. “As China takes her place in the spotlight for the Olympic Games it is important to highlight that she must play by international rules, including her binding international obligations on human rights.”

In China, there are five government-sanctioned religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. A government-affiliated association monitors and supervises the activities of each of these faiths.

Protestant churches are required to register and operate under the government’s umbrella organization, the China Christian Council. But many protestant Christians refuse to work with the CCC, arguing that God is the head of the church and not the government.

China has an underground Christian population estimated to be as high as 100 million, although experts are quick to point out the difficulty in obtaining the real count.

Open Doors and many human rights groups have reported increased incidents of Christian persecution in China last year as it prepares for the Olympics. The watchdog group’s 2008 World Watch List ranks China as the tenth worst persecutor of Christians in the world.

Meanwhile, China Aid Association, in its annual update, reported persecution worsened in 2007 compared to 2006.

Open Doors has organized a prayer campaign for Christians in the West to pray at least one minute each day at 8 p.m. Beijing time (8 a.m. EDT). The “One Minute/One Year/One Country” campaign began Aug. 8, 2007 and will go to Aug. 8, 2008 – the day the Beijing Games begin.
On Wednesday, CAA president Bob Fu will be in London to speak about persecution of Chinese Christians. Also, activist Chun Ki Won, who was imprisoned by China for helping North Korean refugees, will also speak about China’s human rights violation.

Full Report: http://durrants.mediacoverage.co.uk/pr/33359934/aog8M9xU/

Have a Great Day

    How?
  1. Determine to have a good day. Make up your mind that you are going to make the best of this day, no matter what! A firm decision to live positively is half the battle.
  2. Start your day with a prayer. Before you get started, pause and thank God for your life and ask for guidance and wisdom.
  3. Don't sweat the small stuff. Isn't it funny how we can become so uptight about non-essentials? My friend, Eunice Walker, calls these petty frustrations "bugs on the windshield of life." Refuse to let minor annoyances get the best of you.
  4. Look for postcards from heaven. Every day God sends postcards that say, "I love you." He hides them in the most unexpected places - and you have to search in order to find them. Each day is packed full of blessings for you to enjoy. Look again!
  5. Release your resentment and regret. Some people are hostage to the past. Regret and resentment (the siamese twins of misery) bind us up so we cannot enjoy the present. Yesterday is history. You can't go back and change it - but you can do something about today. Make the most of your moments - and do not allow bandits from your past to rob your joy.
  6. Invest your life in service to others. One of the best ways to be happy and fulfilled in life is to be a blessing to others. Look for ways to help and encourage other people, and you will be rewarded with happiness. I've never yet met a generous grouch.
  7. Always tell the truth. Honesty brings freedom to the soul.
  8. Nurture your most important relationships. Be sure to cherish your faith, family and friends. Don't get so caught up in the hectic pace of making a living that you forget to make a life. The human heart is rich, indeed, when full of love.

In Pursuit of Excellence

Psychologist and executive coach Graham Jones believes that the real key to excellence is mental toughness. In the current Harvard Business Review he writes that the most successful keaders do five things to get better and stay that way.
  1. Learn to Love the Pressure. To do that you must dedicate yourself to constant self-improvement. That is made a lot easier if you learn to compete with yourself and block out the drama of those around you. It’s a choice. “Greg Searle, who won an Olympic gold medal in rowing, is often asked whether success was worth the price. He always gives the same reply: ‘I never made any sacrifices; I made choices.’”
  2. Fixate on the Long Term. Map out short-term goals in every area that affects your performance to make sure you meet your long-term goal. Long term success is paved with small achievements.
  3. Iron Sharpens Iron. Spend time with people who will push you the hardest. “Smart companies consciously create situations in which their elite performers push one another to levels they would never reach if they were working with less-accomplished colleagues.”
  4. Reinvent Yourself. Once you become the benchmark, you need to keep reinventing yourself. To do this you need to develop an insatiable appetite for feedback; you need to be “hungry for advice on how to develop and progress. One word of caution, however: While it’s good to feel challenged, you need to make sure that any feedback you get is constructive. If criticism doesn’t seem helpful at first, probe to see if you can get useful insights about what’s behind the negative feedback. Get more specifics. You should be able to see concrete improvements in your performance after getting detailed coaching advice.”
  5. Celebrate the Victories. Think of it as constructive celebration. Otherwise it can lead to complacency. “Celebration is more than an emotional release. Done effectively, it involves a deep level of analysis and enhanced awareness. The very best performers do not move on before they have scrutinized and understood thoroughly the factors underpinning their success.”

In the end, the keyword is resilience. Jones concludes, “Most of those participating in the Olympics this summer will walk away from the games without grabbing a single medal. Those with real mettle will get back into training again. That’s what truly separates elite performers from ordinary high achievers. It takes supreme, almost unimaginable grit and courage to get back into the ring and fight to the bitter end. That’s what the Olympic athlete does. If you want to be an elite performer in business, that’s what you need to do, too.”

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Church Growth Consequences

If your church is going to grow from:

70 to 120
180 to 250
400 to 700
1,200 to 1,800
2,500 to 6,000
7,000 to 20,000
25,000 to 100,000

You are going to have to change your mindset. Much of what you are doing now won’t work later. Some things that will be different:
  • Your relationship with staff and church members
  • Your meetings, organizational structure, policies, and financial management
  • Your schedule
  • Your inward comfort or discomfort
  • Your style of leadership
  • Your means of communication
  • Your family

If you are unwilling to change and grow, your organization will not likely follow.

Your assignment:

  • Find someone who is where you want to be and learn from them. Don’t just try to learn what they do, but learn how they think.
  • And pray like you’ve never prayed before that God will grow you as a leader.

[Craig Groeschel]

Bible Maps

What do you get when you cross an online Bible with Google Maps?

http://www.biblemap.org/

This is a very nice and helpful tool for geographical and historical context. There's something about seeing the places described in a story, even on a map, that helps get our minds into it.

Check it out!

Pray For Your Pastor

Pastors need prayer more than criticism. Pastors need prayer more than advice. Pastors need prayer more than finances.

If you are not praying for your pastor, consider stopping the talk to others, and talk to God about the following needs of your pastor:

#1 - Their Connection With God

Nothing is more important in a senior pastors life than his personal walk with God–nothing. This is where vision takes place–there is where God sets our hearts on fire like in Jeremiah 20:9. This is where PERSONAL conviction, correction and encouragement takes place…and the thing EVERYONE OF US NEED more than anything is to REMAIN IN HIM so that our ministry will be fruitful. (John 15:5).

#2 - Their Family

The pastor's family goes through things that most pastors will not talk about in front of their church. There is usually constant pressure on the children. People expect the pastor's companion to be perfect. AND … what the family goes through spiritually is INTENSE. One pastor confided that their companion has nightmares five or six nights a week. If you want to BLESS your pastor–COVER their family in prayer!

#3 - Their Relationship With The Staff

The elephant that exists in many churches is that the pastor and the staff don’t really like each other … or there are some serious jealousy issues in regards to the senior pastor and the church staff. “I do as much as Pastor does … so why do they get …” You get the picture.

Pray for the staff to be loyal to the vision. How marvelous it would be to have an environment where everyone loves each other. Pray for the staff to help lift up the pastor's arms so the enemy can be defeated. (Exodus 17:8-16). Pray that there never to be any unresolved conflict so that ministry does not turn into a war zone.

#4 - Their Spiritual Warfare

You would not believe what a pastor faces in regards to spiritual warfare.

Most pastors have serious bouts with depression (especially on Sunday night and Monday morning.) Every time a critic attacks, it takes a chunk out of his soul … whether they admit it or not. Pastors have SERIOUS struggles WHILE preaching messages … thoughts like, “Hey idiot, these people hate you. They aren't listening to you – they all wish you were dead.”

The pastor goes through INTENSE spiritual warfare … so pray he would walk in victory, resist temptation, hear the voice of Jesus … and so on!

#5 - Their Rest

Many pastors are borderline hypocrites. They teach their churches to follow God’s Word – but then they often violate one of the top ten commandments by not taking a day of rest. (See Exodus 20:8-11, I wonder why God took more time to explain this command than the rest … maybe because it is IMPORTANT!).

It’s tough for some pastors because, well, they serve a lazy bunch of people who expect him to do all the work while they sit on their pew and have meetings about how inefficient the pastor is. (This is why the average stay for a pastor in America today is less than two years – many churches KILL pastors!).

But, for others, where the church does not expect the pastor to do it all, the pastor still can never truly disengage from what God has called them to do. They are always thinking about what’s next. They can’t shake the upcoming sermon from their thought pattern. And, they always feel like they should be doing something.

Pray for your pastor to get rest – the last thing the world needs is ONE MORE burned out pastor. Pray that they will have at least one day a week where they completely disengage from the ministry. And, pray that they will have about four or five times a year where they can get away for at least three or four days to chill and relax.

(For the church member somewhere out there that just thought, “I don’t get that.” True … but you also don’t have to go to bed at night with the reality of Hebrews 13:17 hanging over you. So, just pray for your pastor. If your pastor will take more time off, their walk will be stronger, their marriage will be better, and God will fill them with greater vision.)

So there you have it. Please pray for your pastor. If you want to know how to pray for your pastor more specifically–ASK them. I'm sure they will let you know.

[Based on Perry Noble]

Church Re-Imagined

Is it realistic to think the church culture can change not only its image (which would be a great thing), but also fundamentally change the way it does church? I am concerned that if it doesn’t we are not only going to lose the numbers game but more importantly miss the whole point of the kingdom of God. The point as I understand it being to love God and love others. I want to live an open and honest life that is full of adventure and full of Jesus.

Some recent events and conversations have brought this once again to a heightened level of concern for me. Yesterday, having lunch with my oldest daughter who has (along with her husband) blessed us with two grandsons, she began sharing her views and feelings about church. She doesn’t like church; although she grew up in church she has little interest in its present form. She said that at church she got a picture of an angry God and a God who is distant from her, but growing up at home she had a very different view of God. Home gave her a sense of God’s love and acceptance, which of course made me feel good. By the way, her husband holds similar views. And her 22 year old brother feels the same way about church-life as experienced on most Sundays. They all love Jesus, but they are not overly drawn to the church scene.

If you read at all in today’s Christian environment you will know that this is not an uncommon point of view among the “twenty somethings” of the church world. Look around your local church next Sunday morning and see how many young adults in their twenty’s and early thirty’s are in the pews.

And then there was last nights cave meeting at my local church. (There’s a story behind the name “cave” for our meetings, but it would not interest most of you.) For the last few years (five or so) a group of guys anywhere from 5 to 15 of us meet together to share life in Christ. It is probably the closest thing to New Testament Christianity I experience on weekly basis. There are no sermons and no ties allowed. Just open sharing on how we’re doing and we discuss whatever we feel led by the Holy Spirit to discuss or we will make up something to talk about. It’s great and I try not to miss it. But last night one of the guys shared that we tend to dance around some of the more serious issues that we as guys face on a daily basis. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know what those “issues” are for most men, but here’s what struck me as interesting. In the cave we attempt to be transparent, honest, and open about our struggles and yet even this group experiences difficulty truly loving one another at a level that fosters disclosure and confession. We are all afraid … of something. We are still hiding from God and one another just like Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3.

This is not church as it is supposed to be. To borrow a phrase from Larry Crabb, church is to be a safe place. It should be a place for broken people to come and find grace, mercy, and love. It should be a place of openness, acceptance, and genuine authenticity. Not a place where sin is overlooked, but where the sinner/saint is embraced, forgiven, and challenged to live in their new identity.

The Scripture most often describes the people of God as family. I can’t help but wonder if the “twenty something” crowd experienced church as family and not a business, or a formal event, or whatever makes it irrelevant to them if they would not be drawn back to it. Jesus is not building an institution, He is growing His kingdom and it looks and feels like family. Church is all about relationships, not positions and programs not even sermons and lessons. What if Jesus was serious and we really are not to run our churches like businesses and corporations (Matthew 23:1-12, Mark 10:41-45)? What if the church were to become more and more organic and less and less organized? I believe I can build a solid biblical basis for such a view of church as contrasted with what is in place today.

It is said by change agents of our time that only 3% of the population can envision something different from the way we have always done things. That being true, it will take guts to challenge the status quo of present day church life but the potential results, at the very least, will be worth beginning the conversations. And hopefully, we can move toward an experience of church life that will release the priesthood of all believers, engage one another in kingdom love, and become attractive to a generation seeking acceptance and relational connections.

Marvin Eskew
International Director of Christian Education
Church of God of Prophecy

AG General Superintendent Releases Statement on Revivals

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, with concurrence of the Executive Presbytery of the General Council of the Assemblies of God, has released a statement in an effort to provide a response to questions concerning ministries and revivals held in both AG and non-AG churches.

In his statement, Wood begins by turning to scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, where the Apostle Paul admonishes, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."

Wood explains that the Bible provides the assessment tools needed for evaluating doctrine and experience, making it possible for both ministers and laypeople to discern the validity of a ministry or revival. "Our former general superintendent, Thomas F. Zimmerman, once compared the Holy Spirit to a mighty river, and the Scriptures to the banks of that river," Wood said in his release. "Brother Zimmerman said that great harm occurs when the river overruns the banks, but that the river does great good when it stays within the banks." To know whether or not a ministry or revival is of God, Wood says it must withstand the test of Scripture, including: Is Jesus Christ exalted? Is the Word of God proclaimed? Are persons repenting of sin, and being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit?

Wood explains that first, the focus for any lasting revival must be on Jesus. Then, the "truths" being taught must be found in Scripture, saying the content of the preaching must be the same as/line up with what Jesus and the apostles taught.

He also cautioned that "miraculous manifestations" are never the test of a true revival as the Bible warns that false prophets will do miracles in His name, but He does not know them (Matthew 7:15-23). "If the message and the messenger line up with God's Word, then the revival is on safe biblical ground and it should and must be embraced," Wood said. "If not, then even though miracles and manifestations occur, it should be avoided."

Wood's complete statement has been videoed and can be seen at http://ag.org/top/General_Superintendent/Statement_on_Revival.cfm. The statement is also available in print and a downloadable PDF version on this page as well.

Planners Deny Permit for Daycare at Campbell Community Church

[By Chris Vongsarath - Campbell Reporter]

The Campbell, California Planning Commission (near San Jose) denied a conditional-use permit for the operation of a daycare center and preschool at a church on Virginia Avenue in a split decision on May 27.

Neighbors had publicly criticized the proposal for bringing more traffic and noise into the neighborhood. The center was looking to operate on weekdays at the Campbell Community Church of God of Prophecy, which neighbors argued is already supporting enough operations at its facility in addition to its weekend services.

The May 27 meeting continued a discussion from April, in which the planning commission asked the applicant to provide more in-depth information and to hold a meeting with concerned neighbors.

The neighborhood meeting produced mixed results.

"Nothing has changed from my standpoint," neighbor David Meyer told commissioners.

But the applicant, Merat Ayalew, said traffic generated by the daycare center would be scattered throughout the day, with various pick-up and drop-off times for children. Proposed hours for the center were 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"The neighbors are assuming that there is going to be a pile of cars in the parking lot," Ayalew said. "I guarantee there won't be cars blocking traffic from going smoothly."

Ayalew, who holds a state license for an at-home daycare center, offered to reduce the maximum number of children allowed at the church's center from 30 to 22. The center would have served 1- to 5-year-olds.

Although the church is in a residential neighborhood, commissioners struggled with the decision because the proposal was consistent with the city's General Plan, and the area is zoned for public facilities.

Commissioner George Doorley noted that there are few properties in Campbell available for such facilities.

Neighbors responded by asking what would happen if the business failed, considering the conditional-use permit applies to the building itself and not the applicant. Therefore, neighbors argued, it would be feasible in the future for another, possibly bigger, business to operate in the facility.

They provided the commission with a petition signed by 61 residents opposed to the center.

Subsequently, some commissioners felt the proposal was still missing vital information.

"I am challenged to consider this application because it is so incomplete--it is so broadly brushed," Commissioner Liz Gibbons said.

Chairman Bob Roseberry added, "I'm not comfortable that the rules and requirements have been really thought through."

Commissioner Gary Gairaud disagreed.

"It's meeting the needs that it has to, and I could support this," he said.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to deny the permit. The decision is final unless Ayalew files an appeal.

Church Sex Abuse Cases Continue in Brooklyn

[By Ryan Thompson - Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

A 72-year-old pastor from the Original Church of God of Prophecy was convicted yesterday of sodomizing and sexually molesting a little girl on numerous occasions.

Dieuvais Surin was convicted on all 22 counts of sexual abuse that he faced. He began with taking the little girl into his van, where he fondled her in 1998. On subsequent occasions, he made her perform oral sex and various other perverted acts on him. These incidents occurred in the pastor’s van and apartment, and in the basement of the church.

Surin often waited outside the little girl’s middle school in Brooklyn, and on eight occasions, he then took her into his van and sodomized her.

The pedophile pastor faces up to 56 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 9 by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice.

The Original Church of God of Prophecy is not affiliated with the Church of God of Prophecy of Cleveland, Tennessee.

What Is Really Happening at Willow Creek?

Friday, June 6, 2008

CGP General Overser Howard Awarded "Alumnus of the Year" Award by Church of God Theological Seminary



My Alma Mata, the Church of God Theological Seminary, has announced a very deserving Alumnus of the Year Award for 2008, Bishop Randall Howard, General Overseer of the Church of God of Prophecy. Although I knew of this ahead of time, now that it has been released, I am delighted to add my congratulations.

The ceremony took place Saturday, May 31, 2008 during the seminary's annual commencement ceremony.
Dr. Steve Land, Seminary President, said, "Bishop Howard is a man who is an example of a person who has prayed his head down into his heart."
Bishop Howard gave personal honor to many of the instructors who contributed to his education at the Seminary. He went on to share, "when I think of the alumni of the Theological Seminary all around the world, I have met them in Europe, I have met them in Asia, Indonesia, Latin America - it is a prestigious body of men and women who are out on the field doing miraculous things for God and for the Gospel. And so to arrive at this podium today is humbling and I feel undeserving. I think of Jesus' words in the Gospel of John, 'Man can receive nothing except it be given him from Heaven.' Surely in someway I represent that great body of ministry leaders that are flowing out of this Seminary that are doing a glorious work for the kingdom of God and for the Body of Christ."
Bishop Howard continued to say, "I do declare in testimony today that it was the Holy Spirit in these faculties, in this institution, and in the cause of this institution, that has helped to bring transformation to my life. I commend and recommend this Seminary with highest regards. Your passion to lift and center the banner of Pentecost has know placed ... this institution on the cutting edge of Heaven's activity today. The Spirit is falling from Heaven on every corner of the earth."
Dr. Dennis McGuire, General Overseer of the Church of God, various faculty and board members of the Church of God Theological Seminary, ministry leaders and support personnel from the Church of God of Prophecy International Offices and members of the Howard family, were in attendance.