Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rules To Live By

- Always use soft words, even when you don’t feel well.
- Always display kind actions and joyful attitudes, even if you have been mistreated.
- Have the right response by quickly forgiving others in your heart even before they ask.
- Always be enthusiastic and look for opportunities to praise others' character.
- Always deflect praise and be grateful to God and others for the ways they have benefited your life.
- Always use manners and be respectful of others and their belongings.
- Always do what is right, even when others may not, or when no one is looking.
- Thank God for how He made you, for what He has given you and everything He allows you to go through. (Romans 8:2)
- Don’t mock or put others down.
- Develop compassion and pray for others.
- Never argue, complain, or blame.
- Quickly admit when you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness (even if you were only 10% at fault).
- Don't wait till you’re caught. Be sure your sins will find you out. He who covers his sin will not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes it shall find mercy.
- Have a tough accountability/prayer partner to daily share your heart with and to keep you in line (your parents, spouse). The power of sin is in secrecy.
- Be attentive and look for ways to serve others with sincere motives and no thought of self-gain.
- Think pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8, Romans 13:14).
- Always give a good report of others.
- Don't gossip!
- Never tale-bear unless physical harm will come to someone. (Use Matthew 18.)
- Never raise a hand to hit.
- Never raise a foot to kick.
- Never raise an object to throw.
- Never raise a voice to yell.
- Never raise an eye to scowl.
- Use one toy/activity at a time. Share!
- Do your best to keep your surroundings neat, clean and organized.
- Never let the sun go down on your wrath. (Don’t go to bed angry or guilty.)

Interview Questions

Military.com came up with these potential interview questions. I sincerely hope that NO one will ever subject me (or anyone else) to these types of questions ... but I should be ready to answer them, anyway. Here they are:

- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Who was your favorite manager and why?
- What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
- Why do you want this job?
- Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
- Tell me about your proudest achievement.
- If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?
- If I were to give you this salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?
- Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?
- How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
- There's no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
- How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
- Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
- What's your ideal company?
- What attracted you to this company?
- What are you most proud of?
- What are you looking for in terms of career development?
- What do you look for in terms of culture -- structured or entrepreneurial?
- What do you like to do?
- Give examples of ideas you've had or implemented.
- What are your lifelong dreams?
- What do you ultimately want to become?
- How would you describe your work style?
- What kind of car do you drive?
- Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
- What's the last book you read?
- What magazines do you subscribe to?
- What would be your ideal working situation?
- Why should we hire you?
- What did you like least about your last job?
- What do you think of your previous boss?
- How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
- Do you have any questions for me?
- When were you most satisfied in your job?
- What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
- What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
- What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
- If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
- What salary are you seeking?
- What's your salary history?
- Do you have plans to have children in the near future?
- What were the responsibilities of your last position?
- What do you know about this industry?
- What do you know about our company?
- How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?
- What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
- Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
- Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
- What is your personal mission statement?
- Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
- What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
- What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
- What is your greatest fear?
- Who has impacted you most in your career, and how?
- What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
- What's the most important thing you've learned in school?
- What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
- What will you miss about your present/last job?
- If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
- List five words that describe your character.
- What is your greatest achievement outside of work?
- Sell me this pencil.
- If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you do?
- Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
- What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- Why are you leaving your present job?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
- What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
- What is your favorite memory from childhood?
- Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
- Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want me to know.
- Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
- Why did your choose your major?
- What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
- What is your biggest regret, and why?
- What are three positive character traits you don't have?
- What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
- If you found out your company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
- How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?
- How would you weigh a plane without scales?
- What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?
- If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?
- If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
- What's the best movie you've seen in the last year?
- Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
- What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
- If you could get rid of any one of the US states, which one would you get rid of, and why?
- With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.
- If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
- If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?
- Who are your heroes?
- Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.

[From Phil Hoover]

Attachment Disorder

Pastor, if your people won't follow, it may be the result of past abandonment.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, several families I know have adopted children from Eastern Europe. As they grow, some of these children exhibit a set of extremely troubling symptoms: hostility, inability to form close relationships, and distrust of people, particularly authority figures. These children can become self-destructive, highly sensitive to rejection and anger, and blame everyone close to them for the problems in their lives.

Finish this article

Why the Best Leaders Are the Best Leaders

From 1996 to 2007, manager Joe Torre led the New York Yankees to the playoffs every year - winning an astounding 17 series in the post-season. Over those same 12 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not win a single playoff series. This past season, Torre departed New York to coach the Dodgers. The result? The Dodgers won their first post-season series in 20 years, while the Yankees missed the playoffs altogether.

Ask Yankees and Dodgers fans, and they will tell you that Joe Torre's leadership matters. However, they may not be able to tell you exactly why Joe Torre is an excellent leader. What's true of the fans in New York and Los Angeles is true for many of us. We experience the effects of leadership without understanding the cause.

In this article, I hope to make plain why the best leaders are the best leaders. In a nutshell, remarkable leaders give their best to their people, and get the best from their people. Let's look at how this happens.

The Best Leaders Give Their Best to Their People By...

1) GROWING

People naturally follow leaders they respect as being more advanced than they are. For this reason, personal growth is directly proportional to influence. If you desire to gain followers, then pay the price of getting better.

To give people your best, you have to elevate your leadership capacity. Consider the metaphor of walking up a narrow staircase - you can only go as fast as the person in front of you. When leaders stop growing, they quit climbing and impede the progress of everyone following them. However, when leaders grow, they ascend the stairs and create space for those behind them to climb higher.

Personal growth involves challenging yourself, and pushing beyond the realm of comfort. When is the last time you did something for the first time? How long has it been since you felt in over your head?

2) SERVING

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."~ Albert Einstein

Serving others is an attitude issue. Unfortunately, many leaders operate under a king-of-the-hill mentality. They attempt to pull down anyone above them in order to secure the top spot for themselves. In doing so, they clutch at power, grapple for control of company resources, and strive to dominate others. Seeing relationships as win-lose propositions, they ultimately burn bridges and isolate themselves.

The best leaders take an entirely different approach. Rather than dragging down anyone who threatens their position, they extend a hand to lift the performance of teammates and coworkers. They function with a mindset of abundance as opposed to an attitude of scarcity, and they wield their influence to prop others up rather than to elevate themselves. Over time, they are honored for the contributions they have made to the lives around them.

All leaders serve. Sadly, some serve only themselves. Serving is a motives issue, and the crux of the matter boils down to a simple question: "Who?" Does a politician serve the public or his pocketbook? Does a CEO serve to benefit her shareholders or to support her lifestyle? The best leaders set a tone by serving and prove they are deserving of being out in front.

3) MODELING

Growing leaders have something to share; serving leaders have something to give; modeling leaders have something to show. As V.J. Featherstone said, "Leaders tell, but never teach, until they practice what they preach." The best leaders embody their values. Their passion exudes from every pore and demands respect.

The Best Leaders Get the Best from Their People By...

1) LISTENING

The smartest leaders realize the limitations of their wisdom, and they listen to their people in order to capture invaluable insights. However, leaders don't just listen to gain knowledge, they also listen to give their people permission: permission to challenge the process, permission to test assumptions; and permission to take risks. Nothing turns off an up-and-coming leader like the deaf ear of a superior. The best leaders don't simply listen to incoming ideas; they proactively draw them out of their people. They listen actively, not passively.

2) RELATING

Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. To touch a heart, a leader has to be open to disclosing his or her identity by sharing personal stories and owning up to professional weaknesses. Mysterious or aloof leaders may be successful decision-makers, but they won't get the heartfelt loyalty that comes from authentic relationships.

As simple as it sounds, making a person feel known correlates powerfully to their job satisfaction. In fact, Patrick Lencioni lists anonymity as one of the top indicators of a miserable job. Leaders dignify their people by studying their interests, learning about their families, and finding out their hobbies. Conscious of the power of connection, the best leaders refuse to be barricaded inside of an office, and they take responsibility for relating with others on a regular basis.

3) TEACHING

Gifted teachers have a way of making students out of disinterested bystanders. The best leaders have an infectious thirst for knowledge, and they take pride in cultivating knowledge of their craft and awareness of their industry. A leader's teaching ability depends upon ongoing personal growth. As Howard Hendricks said, "If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow."

4) DEVELOPING

The best leaders understand the differences between training people for tasks and developing people to be better leaders.

Training -- Developing
Focus is on the job -- Focus is on the person
Adds value to specific things -- Adds value to everything
Helpful for a short time -- Helpful for a lifetime
Changes a performance -- Change the performer

The best leaders view their people as appreciable assets and prioritize investing in the talent on their teams.

5) MOTIVATING

After one of my presentations, an audience member approached me who was visibly indignant about my speech. "Why is motivation last on the list?" he demanded. "Well," I replied, "because if you listen, relate, teach, and develop your people, then they will be motivated!"

Sustained motivation comes by creating the right environment for your people and by doing the right things consistently to nurture them. Consider a flower. It cannot grow in the Arctic; it requires a climate conducive to growth. Yet, even in the right environment, the flower must be planted in hospitable soil, exposed to sunlight, watered, and freed of weeds.

REVIEW

The Best Leaders Give Their Best to Their People by ...
1. Growing 2. Serving 3. Modeling

The Best Leaders Get the Best From Their People by ...
1. Listening 2. Relating 3. Teaching 4. Developing 5. Motivating

[By Dr. John C. Maxwell]

Today's Quote

"Most of us plateau when we lose the tension between where we are and where we ought to be." ~ John Gardiner

Free Resources

For FREE Movie Clips and Study Guide on "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" CLICK HERE >>

http://www.ccli.com/TheBoyInTheStripedPajamas/

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don Brock Speaks in Fort Payne


Dr. Don Brock speaking at the middle school in Fort Payne, Alabama concerning emotional development.

Today's Quote

"The key to revival is not getting our churches filled with people, but getting the people who come to our churches filled with God." -- Duncan Campbell

Tomlinson Center Board of Trustees

(L to R: Elgarnet Rahming, Phil Pruitt, Tom Coalter, Chairman Tim Harper (seated), Dr. H. E. Cardin (Director), Don Brock, Jose Garcia, and Everton Campbell, 10/29/2008) (Click on image to enlarge it.)

The Tomlinson Center Board of Trustees concluded their Fall Board Meeting today in Cleveland with plans for further expansion.

www.TomlinsonCenter.com

The ABC's of Supporting Your Pastor

As Clergy Appreciation Month comes to a close, I must leave you with the ABC's of supporting your pastor:

A Accept him
B Befriend him
C Compliment him
D Defend him
E Encourage him
F Fellowship
G Give him time for his family
H Help him
I Include him in your plans
J Join him in leading others to Christ
K Kindness toward him
L Love him and Lift him up
M Minister with him
N Notify him when he is needed
O Open your homes and hearts to him
P Pray for him
Q Quote him correctly
R Recognize his role
S Strengthen him/Support him
T Thank him
U Undergird him
V Voice your feelings to him, not others
W Work with him
X X out every word of criticism and discouragement
Y Yield yourselves to God with him
Z Zeal for Christ and His church

Monday, October 27, 2008

COGOP Announces New State Bishop for South Carolina

Church of God of Prophecy North America Presbyter Sam Clements has announced the assignment of a new State Administrative Bishop for the state of South Carolina - Bishop Tim Coalter.

Bishop Coalter currently serves as Pastor of the Peerless Road Church in Cleveland, Tennessee. He will assume his new assignment effective January 1, 2009.

Educational Opportunities

Tomlinson Center is offering the following accredited online Bachelor level courses starting in January:

Spring 2009 - January 14, 2009

Bible
- Introduction to the New Testament - BIB 102 - Dr. H. E. Cardin
- The Gospel of John - BIB 204 - Dr. H. E. Cardin
- Methods of Bible Study - BIB 261 - Bishop Tim Harper
- Wisdom Literature - BIB 303 - Pastor Jack Anderson, Jr.

Pastoral
- Educational Ministry of the Church - CHED-241 - Pastor Phil Pruitt
- Introduction to Preaching 1 - PAS 261 - Dr. H. E. Cardin
- The Christian Family - PAS 264 - Pastor Andy Washburn
- The Pastoral Ministry 1 - PAS 461 - Dr. Sylvester Smith

For more information - http://www.tomlinsoncenter.com/.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Proper Respect

Since this is Clergy Appreciation Month, I just had to share this.

Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

An American and a Japanese company decided to have a boat race. The Japanese won by one mile. So the Americans hired specialists to find the problem. They discovered that the Japanese had one person managing, and seven rowing, while the Americans had seven managing and one person rowing. The Americans immediately restructured their team. They had one senior manager, six management consultants and one rower.

In the rematch, the Japanese won by two miles. So the American company fired the rower.

Sadly, one of the least safe places to be in a congregation is in leadership. When there are problems and conflicts, the anger is often directed at them. Instead of anything being "our" problem, it becomes "their" problem. And criticism, second-guessing, blaming and even character assassination can occur.

The Apostle Paul gives us clear instructions on how we can and should be treating the leaders in our churches. He calls us to respect them, to hold them in the highest regard - in love. Weak and fallible though they may be, they are doing their best for the church, and often sacrificing significant hours to do it.

How can we help and support them? The following instructions are pretty clear. We are to live in peace. Quarrels and divisions drain a lot of energy from everyone. We are to warn the idle. The idle are too frequently doing nothing within the ministries of the church, but seem to have time to criticize and second guess those who are at work.

We are to encourage the timid; to find those who may be able to share in ministry with us, but are afraid to try their gifts. We are to help the weak, to train and encourage new leaders. If we are patient, we will give new ideas, and the people who create them, time to work out. When nobody pays wrong for wrong in the church, memories of mistakes are not remembered or repaid with distrust. Instead, we are kind to each other.

Prayer: May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way, and keep your whole being, spirit, soul and body, free from all fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you will do it, because he is faithful.

[By Pastor Marla Bieber Abe, Eastwood Church of the Brethren, Akron, Ohio]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Understanding The Mission - Important Stuff

Most of us have a Constantinian model for church which, very simply, is summed up like this:

building + clergy + program = church.

A better equation is this:

body + mission + kingdom = church.

We need to be a body on mission for the Kingdom.

[By Ed Stetzer]

Friday, October 24, 2008

ORU Settles Lawsuit

Mart Green, Billy Wilson, and the Oral Roberts University Board reached a settlement Wednesday with two former professors who sued last year, claiming they were forced out after uncovering financial and ethical wrongdoing by the school's former president and family.

The confidential settlement with Tim and Paulita Brooker came at the end of a court-ordered mediation session and helps bring to a close the scandal that engulfed the evangelical school, founded in the 1960's by televangelist Oral Roberts, and led to the resignation of his son, Richard, as president.

The Brookers also had named the Robertses, former school regents and officials in the October 2007 wrongful termination lawsuit.

In January, the school settled out of court with professor John Swails, who brought the lawsuit along with the Brookers. That confidential agreement resulted in Swails' reinstatement at ORU.

In a statement read by his attorney, Richard Roberts said: "The university decided to settle the lawsuit with the Brookers, and I support the university. I cannot comment any further at this time."

Gary Richardson, an attorney for the Brookers, said, "I'm happy to see the Brookers be able to put this behind them so they can go on with their lives, and of course I'm happy to see it as well for the university."

The school's $50 million-plus debt has since been whittled to nearly $17.3 million, thanks to a $70 million donation from billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green who now serves as Chairman of the Board along with Billy Wilson.

Men's Ministry Resources

The Tomlinson Center is providing a resource for Men's Ministry. Call, listen and learn. "A Conversation About Men's Ministries" is a recorded conference call by a group of guys from different parts of the nation who are active in ministering to men. These men represent all levels of ministry and are passionate about serving the kingdom of God.

To find out how you can listen in, click here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

United Methodists Begin Effort to Plant 400 Churches

The United Methodist Church recently launched its initiative to plant 400 new churches in the next four years with an initial gift from a Christian businesswoman.

Mary Watson, the wife of a former pastor, pledged $400,000 to the 400 Fund campaign to develop new congregations outside of the United States, according to UMC’s Global Ministries, the international mission agency of the UMC.

The 400 Fund will be used to support clergy training, develop Christian education resources and provide worship facilities for new churches in Asia, West Africa, Eastern Europe and Central America.

"I am excited by the thought of 400 new churches and what God can do with 400 new churches," said Watson, who along with her husband, the Rev. Ralph Watson, have been involved in mission fields around the world, especially in Russia, Estonia and Brazil.

She said her earliest memory of Methodist worship was under a brush arbor where her grandmother was raising money to build a church in Hannatown, a community in Decatur County, Georgia, named after her paternal family.

Starting new churches “is part of what God wants us to do in the world … We are to be God’s hands,” said the pastor’s wife from Atlanta to the directors of the General Board of Global Ministries during their Oct. 13-17 meeting.

Watson was able to make the generous donation because of her successful career in the nursing home industry. Her husband, the Rev. Watson, works for the World Evangelism Institute.

Being a Christian helped her “to realize that everything we have is God’s, everything – our money, our talents – everything is entrusted to us for the sake of doing things for God,” Watson said.

But the successful Christian businesswoman doesn’t want the giving to end with her. Watson urged other United Methodists to also donate to the 400 Fund, calling on children to join in and donate even pennies.

One hundred percent of every gift will go toward starting new churches.

Global Ministries, in addition to its goal of 400 new overseas congregations, also aims to start 650 new congregations in the United States.

[By Jennifer Riley - Christian Post Reporter]

Joy Suckers

If you have seven or eight "joy suckers" in a small- to medium-size congregation, it can cause the fellowship to become dysfunctional as well. So, how do you deal with the "tough stuff" that can make the strongest pastor flinch?

a) You attempt to understand what is the cause of the negative spirit — why do they act the way they do?
b) You consider their family situation.
c) You gauge their level of spirituality.
d) You monitor their influence in your church (Is there a big family connection?).
e) Have you done all you can to talk through the concern with that person?
f) Do you pray for them?
g) Do they have a history of this kind of behavior?
h) What will it cost you to "confront" them?
i) Does leadership understand your challenge?
j) Is the contention severe enough that it renders your ministry ineffective?

[H. B. London]

The 1908 Cleveland Revival

[Click on image to enlarge it.]

On Tuesday, October 28, Dr. David Roebuck will be presenting “Fire in the Tent: The 1908 Cleveland Revival” as the Third Annual Azusa Lecture.

Following the lecture, the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center and the Center for Spiritual Renewal will present the Spirit of Azusa Award to Dr. T. L. Lowery for his many years as an evangelist.

The event will be at the North Cleveland Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) Bryant Fellowship Hall at 7:00 p.m. The pubkic is invited.

Fire in the Tent: 2008 Azusa Lecture

Why Vote?

Same Sex Marriage - Legal Impact

Free Cliffs Notes for Christian Books

It's like CliffsNotes for Christian books, 8-10 page summaries to help you to easily gain wisdom from some of the brightest Christian thinkers.

Another way to say it is Solomon Summaries is like having an executive assistant read the entire book then write you an 8-10 page summary of the book's key points and concepts -- it's like having your own personal assistant save you time and help you quickly glean the wisdom of top Christian thinkers, pastors and scholars.

There's no charge until Dec 1.

http://solomonsummaries.com/How-Does-It-Work.html

http://solomonsummaries.com/images/c/MereChristianity.pdf

[Tip from Dr. H. E. Cardin]

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Do Young Non-Christians Really Think About The Church?

Kent Shaffer over at ChurchRelevance recently reported some statistics from Gabe Lyons, author of unChristian. Non-Christians aged 16-29 years old were asked, “What is your current perception of Christianity?”

- 91% said antihomosexual
- 87% said judgmental
- 85% said hypocritical
- 78% said old-fashioned
- 75% said too involved in politics

Read some more of the statistics here. They are fascinating ...

- 72% said out of touch with reality
- 70% said insensitive to others
- 68% said boring
- 64% said not accepting of other faiths
- 61% said confusing

Read more of Kent’s great post here at ChurchRelevance.com

What do you think? And how do we change the “Christianity First Impressions” among these young people?

[by Todd Rhoades]

Pastors and Porn

According to a recent press release, almost 60% of Christian men and 37% of Pastors admit to struggling with pornography. 35% of women also struggle with porn.

Can this possibly be true?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cartoon


Inspiring a Movement

Without getting into the difference between a movement and a church or denomination, the most exciting times of my life in ministry were when the movement I was in caught on fire with passion, vision, and inspiration.

What does it take to inspire a movement?

During my years of pastoring, I tried to take the church leadership on a retreat each year to just hang out and think strategically about our vision, mission, goals, objectives, and review our direction. We always had a lot of fun; but during the fun we talked a lot about this question: "What will it take to inspire our movement?" Everyone had their opinions.

Now that I am working with local churches abroad, and some movements, I ponder the same question. How do we inspire a movement?

Out of my experience and work with various church leadership teams, emerged at least five components.

SHARED DREAM - God has a dream for all people to find their way back to Him. That should be our dream too! Jesus articulated that dream in Acts 1:8 when he said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." What if we began to dream and strategically think about impacting 1 billion people. 1 billion is 17% of the world’s population. 17% is an almost magical number because it is a tipping point for changing any size group. So, if we can reach 17% of the world, we believe God’s dream for this planet will be fulfilled! For this dream to be fulfilled it will take millions of new church planters; at least two hundred thousand network leaders and a couple thousand movement leaders. I know these seem like just big numbers, and somewhat overwhelming – but it always starts with a dream.

COMMON IDEOLOGY - Our dream comes from Jesus (Acts 1:8), and our ideology comes from the Apostle Paul. Paul is explaining to a young church planter, Timothy how to accomplish this big dream and he says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (II Timothy 2:2). He explains that the strategy to accomplish Jesus' big dream is to start small and continually reproduce. Paul lays out multiple generations of reproduction: 1st generation: Paul to Timothy. 2nd generation: Timothy to reliable men. 3rd generation: reliable men to others. So the common ideology we share is helping people find their way back to God by reproducing at all levels.

APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP - Like Paul, it will be apostolic leaders that will start new communities of Christ followers and pass along the values that bring about a movement of reproducing churches. There are three primary functions of an apostolic leader. The apostolic leader will create and empower others to create new communities of Christ followers. The apostolic leader will embed the ideology and values of the gospel into these new communities of Christ followers. The apostolic leader will guard the ideology and values of the gospel in these new communities of Christ followers.

GENUINE COMMUNITY - These communities of Christ followers will not be merely lifestyle enclaves that exist to further the betterment of the life of the community and their own lives. These communities will be “communitas” (community with a cause); a coming together of Christ followers who are willing to trade their life to accomplish the dream of God by following Jesus.

DECENTRALIZED REPRODUCTION - Jesus' dream was not about staying in Jerusalem; it was about going to “the ends of the earth." Paul’s ideology was not about keeping the gospel for yourself, but reproducing it over and over and over again in others. The dream and the ideology demand decentralized reproduction of genuine community led by apostolic leaders.

[Based on an article by Dave Ferguson]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Have you or your church been criticized?

Churches are targets for criticism. That seems like one of the grandest of ironies. The God-ordained institution that offers the love, grace and peace of Jesus Christ gets shot at on a regular basis. Maybe it's not so ironic, Jesus was criticized too.

The size of your church doesn't matter. Small churches get shot at just as much as mega-churches. The difference is that the criticism of mega-churches ends up in blogs, newspapers and even on TV. The government will critique the church's non-profit status. The secular community will question motives of churches. But the majority of criticism for the local church comes from within. It comes from Christians. Now that is ironic.

In most churches, lives are being changed, people are getting baptized and Jesus is lifted up! And of course, there is always some criticisms. A few of the complaints can be legitimate.

But the curious thing is that very few, if any, visitors who are not Christians have complaints of any kind. They attend and are thankful for a great experience. They are inspired by the music and teaching. They know something is different. Even if they don't know much about God, they have a sense of His presence.

They are blown away if you have a Starbucks for the connoisseurs and free coffee for those who just want something strong and hot. They get giddy when they learn they can take their drink into the service and there are cup-holders in the chairs! They are thrilled to learn that the CD's of the messages are free and that the church provides a world-class environments for their kids ... free!

The majority of criticisms come from Christians. I'll give you a few:
- No enough parking close enough to the door of the church.
- The music is too loud.
- They can't bring their pre-school aged child into the adult worship experience.
- They don't know the songs (because they never listen to Christian radio).
- The lights are too bright or too low.
- They don't like drums in church.
- The worship service is not designed like it was in the "good old days."

As a leader you know that criticism is often an indication that you are doing something right. But let's be honest, it can still wear on you. Don't let the complaints get to you. Hang in there. What you are doing is important. It matters. Your church is not perfect. No church is. And neither are the people who are attending. That's kind of the whole point. The following thoughts will help you navigate the weary world of critiques in the local church.

Absorb criticism with grace.

Each time someone criticizes something I do my best to absorb it with poise, sincerity and grace. It takes less energy to absorb it than it does to fight it. I do my best to give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume they have the church's best interest at heart, even when it's apparent that's not the case.

This can be difficult because criticism never ends, even in the best of churches. People with a strong personality can wear you out and get you on the defense. This is not so much because you are defensive, but its part of a natural human (protective) response system to something that threatens to continually drain you of energy (and sanity!). So as you listen with grace, remind yourself that you are not held hostage to respond to every complaint, nor make everyone happy.
Taking criticism comes with the territory of being a leader. Leaders make changes and do things that disturb or remove people's comfort zones. That will always get a response from people. It will not serve you well if you are thin-skinned about criticism. Don't take it personal. It may feel personal, but try to stay focused on the issue. If it turns personal, that's different, and the topic of another edition of the Pastor's Coach. But for now, just turn the other cheek.

Learn from criticism and take action when you can.

The good news is that as a leader you can learn from complaints. I genuinely give it my best to learn whatever I can from every complaint. First I listen for the obvious. Sometimes someone will see something that is clearly a problem and needs to be fixed - and I just didn't see it. So hey, that's great! I thank them, and set about discovering a solution. Second, I look for patterns. When I get complaints that are subtle and more subjective in nature I give it a little time and see if others bring up the same issue. If I hear the same thing several times I lift the urgency for a solution.

Sometimes a legitimate issue will come up that requires improvement or change. But you don't have the time or resources to get it done right then. Just be honest about that. Tell the person you agree and as soon as time and resources are available you will be on it. Sometimes the person will jump in and offer to help. Great! Sometimes we must all agree there is a problem but the solution must wait. Other times there is an urgency that demands a more immediate response. Your leadership will help people understand the best and wisest timing.

Ignore criticism when you need to.

It's important to discern if it's a productive criticism or if it's an expression from someone with a critical spirit. If it's a critical spirit, especially a chronically critical spirit, just ignore it. Listen to them the first few times, and then let them know that you just don't want to hear it. The most loving thing to do is confront the person for their critical spirit. Be honest. Let them know that they have a pattern of being unhappy, complaining and candidly behaving in a selfish manner. Do not let these people control your life. If you let them control you they will. If they get mad and leave, so be it. It's not that you want them to leave, but you can't allow them to drain the life out of you and thereby hurt your overall ministry efforts.

Teach those who criticize when you have the opportunity.

This can be the trickiest of all four points. But here's my heart behind the thought. If you consistently receive criticism with grace, and you are genuinely receptive to learning from criticism, then you have earned the right to teach, when appropriate, those who offer criticism. These are not often pairs that travel together in the same circumstance, but that is one of the many ways we all have the opportunity to remain humble.

It is not uncommon that a criticism comes from a lack of understanding. For example, we get asked why we don't have a salvation altar call every Sunday. Sometimes the question comes with passion and fervor! As we begin to add clarity and understanding to the issue the person not only eases up some but joins us in our enthusiasm for offering salvation invitations based on a strategic Sunday in each teaching series. When we further talk about how people come to faith in small groups or in one to one scenarios every week, they begin to see things in a different light. Then when they come to a baptism service and see so many people getting baptized the big picture starts to become clear. So turning a criticism to a teaching moment or process, though time consuming, it's worth your time.

The nature of criticism can be extremely draining, but if you receive it with grace, stay focused on the productive criticism, and ignore the rest, criticism can be a good thing and a blessing in disguise.

[Dan Reiland]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fundraising Tools

Please visit http://www.nonprofitconference08.info/ to download your complimentary "FUNDRAISER’s DESKTOOL".

While visiting make sure you order your complimentary BOARD RETREAT FUNDRAISING KIT when you register for the "2008 MAJOR GIFTS CONFERENCE" - Florida & South Carolina.
While global leaders struggle to come up with a viable solution to our current economic crisis, the National Development Institute is taking immediate action to help Nonprofit Executives raise much needed funds in today's climate of uncertainty and fear.
This is an ALTERNATIVE to the media hysteria about Wall Street’s credit crisis and to truly understand the impact on nonprofit fundraising.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Catalyst is Over

Catalyst is OVER and it was an AWESOME time.

Make sure to check out the Catalyst Live Blogging Site for recaps of all the speakers.
[Click on photo to enlarge it.]

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Blessing

May today be all you need it to be!

May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams tonight, and conquer all your fears.

May God manifest himself today in ways you have never experienced.

May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams be closer, and your prayers be answered.

I pray that faith enters a new height for you; I pray that your territory is enlarged. I pray for peace, healing, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, true and undying love for God.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You Are Voting For Him?

The general election in the U.S. is just around the corner and it's clear we'll continue to be inundated with campaign advertisements about the many candidates and ballot issues until Election Day -- but are you ready to cast your ballot?

Voting is both a right and a privilege -- the basic form of involvement in our democratic system of government, as well as our duty as Christians. When we vote, we help determine who will lead our nation, make our laws and protect our liberties, as well as directly decide on numerous ballot issues.

With this weighty responsibility, it is absolutely critical that we exercise our right to vote this election year -- as well as understand where our candidates stand on the issues that matter to values voters.

There are links on the right column of this Blog for the Democrate and Republician Platforms. Read both Platforms, then vote your Christian conscience. Cast an informed vote. Do your research. Don't just go by what you've heard.

Also, you may visit the CitizenLink® Election Central Web site, where you'll find information to help you choose the candidates who best line up with your beliefs, convictions and values. You may even want to print the information and take it with you to your polling place. This is perfectly legal and may save you time as you cast your ballot.

On November 4th, don't forget to vote your values!

P.S. Please forward this to your family and friends to remind them to vote on Election Day as well.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How will this economy affect local churches?

Times are tough. You need go no further than the front page of your favorite news site to see that.

So what's a church to do?

You might be thinking, "I'm not a church planter! We've been around for forever!" Well, money is tight, so maybe it's time to act like you just started with your church.

Here are a few ideas to keep your ship going straight as the financial waters stir:

1. Just because you do it now doesn't mean you have to keep doing it. Sure, you've been printing bulletins every single week since forever. And you've always bought coffee for 2,000 people (just to be safe) when your attendance is 500. But just because you offer an event, service or product doesn't mean you have to keep offering it. Re-evaluate where your money is going and your return on investment.

2. Go digital. If you can offer it online, do it. There are no printing costs and no materials costs. Obviously, you can't do everything online, but this might be the time to push your church a little harder to embrace technologies that are closer to free. And the things you've been giving away free, you might not be able to do anymore. Think fresh about your costs and price structure. Is it really essential you offer that resource for free instead of at minimal cost? Do you even need to offer it?

3. Think outside of the tithing box. Some Americans are giving up their house to keep tithing. But let's be honest, 5% of adults tithe, and a small percentage of those would give up their house before their tithe. So you're going to need to find new revenue streams. Selling resources and innovative fundraisers are just the tip of the iceberg.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. So many people think the church is all about money. Let people know the sacrifices your staff is making, and remind them that you aren't doing this to get rich. Make your financial information available and accessible, and be honest with everyone about funding your mission.

Church should be as cheap as possible without feeling cheap. The organizations who strike the perfect balance will be able to weather the current financial woes.

[from Church Marketing Sucks by Joshua Cody]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and candlelight vigils are being held throughout the month to remember victims of domestic abuse.

For the last two decades, October has marked a time when people in the nation come together in the fight to end a tragedy that spans every culture, profession (including clergy), race and ethnicity and is happening daily whether in the form of sexual, emotional or physical abuse.

It's time to talk about it from the pulpit and the pew.

Counseling can help. A therapist will educate men and women concerning actions and behaviour modification.

READ MORE

What People Mean

One of the things I’ve learned from the past 30 years of ministry is that sometimes what people say isn’t what they really mean. Things like:

What They Say: “I’m looking for a church that preaches the Word!”
What They Mean: “I’m looking for a church that preaches MY view of the Word. I think the BLANK translation should be used … I think BLANK should be talked about a lot while BLANK should be ignored. And if you ever stop preaching my view of the Word I will leave and tell others that you don’t preach the Word!”

What They Say: “Lot’s of people have been coming to me and saying they don’t like is …”
What They Mean: “I basically only have three friends…and all of them think exactly like me. The other night we were enjoying a time of self righteousness because, after all, we are right about everything … and were also slandering you (in the form of prayer requests) and thought it would be wise to approach you with our pet peeve. We’ve actually talked to no one else about this but said “lots” because we wanted to validate our dysfunction.”

What They Say: “I’m leaving the church.”
What They Mean: “Beg me to stay. If you will just ask me I will share with you several ways you can compromise God’s vision that He’s given you, thus becoming nothing more than a people pleasing pastor who is more interested in popularity than obedience. If you don’t bow to my demands I will remind you that I tithe and that the church needs my money, reducing you to a mere preaching whore … one who is paid for a service for the pleasure of another person.”

What They Say: “I want a church that is more focused on discipleship.”
What They Mean: “I want a church where everyone knows me and how important I am! I don’t want to reach people who are different from me, be it economic class or race or even musical preference. I already know WAY more than you do … but I somehow equate spirituality with knowledge rather than application and I rather enjoy feeling intellectually superior to those who don’t know as much as me.”

What They Say: “Don’t take this personally … but …”
What They Mean: “I am about to lower the BOOM on you … but you can’t get angry because I told you not to take it personally. Even though you have dedicated your life to this and pretty much invest every ounce of energy you have to this cause … and I think about it once or twice a week … you need to receive my attacks, even when they are personal … and you cannot retaliate because, remember, it’s not personal.”

[From Perry Nobles Blog via forwardleadership.org by Jason Isaacs]

Andy Stanley on Leadership

Andy launched Catalyst 2008 with a great talk on leadership. Quotable…

  • We want our leaders to have consistency between what they say and what they do.
  • At the end of the day, everyone is a volunteer. They can quit at any time.
  • Authenticity is a powerful leadership dynamic.
  • Nehemiah got mad and asked the leaders to stop over-charging the people. They immediately complied. Why? Because for 12 years, Nehemiah had been living an authentic life in front of them. He had moral authority.
  • As leaders, we must be the men and women who never carry into the future the hurt of the past.
  • Perhaps the boldest leadership move you could make is to get on your knees and let go of your hurts.
  • Men: If your wife feels like your church is your mistress, you are part of the problem you are trying to solve.
  • If your kids feel neglected because of your time at the church, you are part of the problem you are trying to solve.

[from LeadingSmart by Tim Stevens]

New KidPak CD Released

Shaun McKinley has anounced that Free Chapel (Pastor Jentezen Franklin) has released a new kids CD.

Shaun, Stephanie, and Reagan traveled to Gainesville, Georgia to celebrate the cd release of “Sun Shining Bright,” a worship CD by the children’s ministry at Free Chapel. Stephanie’s brother, Tony, is the leader of this amazing group.

Shaun writes:

"Last night I had what has to be among my top three experiences in Children’s Ministries. I was able to go to the release party for the KidPak worship CD “Sun Shining Bright” at Free Chapel in Gainesville. Tony, the band, and dance team of over a dozen kid, led those kids directly to God’s throne. The kids responded to the worship call, and stayed focused for the one-and-a-half hour worship concert. It was truly awesome!

"If you ever get the chance to visit this ministry, I highly recommend it. I was intrigued, the ministry operates a little unlike some of the larger churches I have visited. Seems to be a little less restricted, but works! I want to go back soon to experience an entire children’s worship service."

[http://www.twomckinleys.com/]
[http://www.freechapel.org/kidpak/band.aspx]

Gold Nuggets From Catalyst

Building A Great Church

Jim Collins is the author of Good to Great and Built to Last, and spoke to the Catalyst crowd of 12,400 leaders on Thursday morning. Here are a few golden nuggets:

· Not all time in life is equal.
· Good is the enemy of great.
· Greatness is not a function of your circumstances; or good luck; it is a function of a choice.
· Within every organization or company that is great…you will find a culture of discipline.
· Most overnight successes are really about twenty years in the making.
· It took 7 years for Sam Walton to open his 2nd store. It took Starbucks 13 years before they had 5 stores.
· How do the great typically fall? It’s not through complacency. It is typically over-reaching that derails great organizations. Going too far, too fast.
· A great organization is more likely to die of indigestion of too many opportunities rather than starvation of not enough opportunities.
· #1 sign of over-reaching and the start of decline: When you grow beyond your ability to have the right people in the right seats on the bus.
· It is the undisciplined pursuit of more that will kill an organization.
· We need to spend more time on who and less on what. If you have the right who, they will figure out the right what.
· The people who do well in difficult, unpredictable situations are never any better at predicting the future than anyone else.
· We are in turbulent times. The years 1945-2000 were an anomaly. The convergence of stability and prosperity. It is unlikely we’ll see this again in our lifetimes.
· The greatest CEO’s from the greatest companies in history had one distinctive characteristic that separate them from other leaders. The trait is humility.

[from LeadingSmart by Tim Stevens]

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Insight Into Today's Pastor

I moderated the listening process for a number of pastors from all faiths last night. The pastors responded pretty much the way the community at large responds: appreciation for the values of the community, commitment for education, role of the churches in community life, ethnic diversity. These were countered by concerns for limited educational funding, the disintegration of families, the rise in gangs and drug use, challenges associated with population growth, etc.

I concluded the discussion with a set of questions on what is unique about ministry, culminating in a discussion of personal needs as ministers. The central response might surprise many people, including pastors. These pastors said their greatest need was for a friend, someone to talk with.

A few years ago the Pew Foundation did a multi-denominational survey of pastors and found pastors within all faiths have a strong desire for friendship. They feel isolated from mutual human contact, relationships of shared concern and open and honest dialog. The Church of God Theological Seminary duplicated the extensive Pew pastor’s survey with the same results. Our pastors feel they need a friend, someone with whom they can be real and just talk.

My own suspicion is that American pastors are carrying the burden of the declining influence of Christianity on American society. Congregations are stressed to their limits to maintain buildings and programs and project an image of relevance and success. An unhealthy professionalism has infected ministers. Pastors have voluntarily been molded into the role of CEO’s and are finding it lonely at the top. The gulf between the clergy and the congregant is widening, and competition between churches further isolates the pastor.

How can we nurture healthy congregations if pastors feel isolated from church members and from each other? Jesus prayed “that they may be one.” Let us pray that our pastors and congregations find their way back into authentic Christian fellowship.

[Jackie Johns]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Ministry to Refugees in the Country of Georgia



Missionary John Doroshuk reports that Rusa has been in Cerovaniwhich, 20 kl from Tbilisi. They visited the place where new housing is being built for refugees from the Ckhinvali region.
The government is assisting for these people before winter sets in, to move them from tents to houses. However, the people do not have furnishings nor appliances. The ministry provided some small furniture -- tables, chairs, and beds.
Also, they visited a tent-town in Gori and distributed towels, sheets, pillows and other necessities. People are in mush distress. They are cold. They cannot send their children to school. And when the ministry brought them gifts, they took them quickly.
Additional needs were documented. Mostly they need cloth and hygiene supplied. All of them have physiological problems.
Thank you to everyone who has helped. If you feel impressed to help in some way, contact missionary John Doroshuk at mincoordinator@attglobal.net.

What Is The Best Method of Growing Your Church?

As far as I know, there isn't just one method that will make a church grow. Church growth is primarily a result of church health.

Another huge factor is your demographics. It is easier to grow churches in dense areas of population verses in areas with less people.

One of the best books ever written on church growth was The Purpose Driven Church by Pastor Rick Warren. It deals with all of the basic principles for growing a church. Here is a short summary of the book:

- First, you must turn your community into a crowd.
- Secondly, you must turn that crowd into a congregation. (Get them to visit a worship service.)
- Thirdly, turn the congregation into a committed group.
- And finally, turn the committed into a core group of volunteers and leaders.

On a different note, probably the two key departments in your church that effect growth is your music ministry and your children's ministry. Focus on both of these ministries for highest returns on your visitors.

Brian Cutshall has a seminar on DVD called "Structuring Your Church for Growth," that will give you more in depth details on this subject.

Here is the link in case you are interested: Structuring You Church for Growth

Cherokee Legend

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage?

His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!

Finally , after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Top 10 Ideas for Clergy Appreciation Month

Clueless! That’s how many churches feel as they contemplate how to express gratitude to their cherished leaders for Minister Appreciation Day each October.

To the rescue! Diana Davis, author of Fresh Ideas: 1,000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church, offers her top ten suggestions.

Fresh Ideas

10. Lots of letters - On Sunday before Pastor Appreciation Day, distribute stamped envelopes addressed to the pastor. An instruction note invites each church member to write and mail a personal note of encouragement and appreciation to the pastor this week.
9. Award T-Shirt - Special order a “Best Pastor in _______” t-shirt,cap, or plaque, and present it with flourish.
8. Original Art - Laminate bookmarks created by the children in your church, featuring their art and signatures. Allow kids to present the bookmarks to the pastor personally.
7. Church in a frame - Prepare a beautifully framed photo or painting of the church building. Even better: take a group photo of church members in front of the building. Use extra wide matting and ask every church member to sign the mat before adding glass.
6. Very merry commentary - Purchase a full set of Bible commentaries. Allow various groups, such as Bible classes, committees or church organizations, to present one book of the set, individually wrapped with their personal notes of appreciation on the inside pages. You may consider buying individual copies of the Holman Old Testament Commentary the 12-Volume boxed set of Holman New Testament Commentary.
5. PowerPoint Presentation - Create a PowerPoint presentation of slides of the pastor(s) in action as a minister during this past year. Choreograph it to music, such as “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.” Play it as a pre-service video.
4. Public Thanks - Take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper, featuring a photo of your pastor and a declaration of your church's love and appreciation. Even better: Add every member’s signature on the ad.
3. While You Were Out - Do a surprise office makeover, with the pastor's wife's input, of course. Hanover Baptist Church in Indiana surprised their pastor with a new home office while he was out of town, complete with paint, décor, furniture, and computer.
2. Million M&Ms - Think of one small thing your pastor enjoys--M&Ms, fishing lures, coffee, etc. Ask each member to bring that item on Sunday, i.e. one bag, any size, of M&Ms. Supply extras for guests or forgetful members.
1. Thirty days of Appreciation - Use an October calendar to schedule volunteers for a month-long schedule of surprise treats. Each day of the month, the pastor will receive a surprise token of appreciation from a church member, committee or group within the church. The tributes will vary widely—a balloon delivery, a shoe shine, an apple pie, a gift. After a whole month of pleasant surprises, won't your pastor feel appreciated? And won’t God be honored by your acts of love for his servant? Don’t forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister’s spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.

Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.

[By Diana Davis]

Clergy Appreciation Month is dedicated to uplifting and encouraging our nation's spiritual leaders

Pastors and their families face incredible pressures. They often feel overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations and demands and frequently battle burnout. So, while prayer support is important throughout the year, Clergy Appreciation Month is dedicated to uplifting and encouraging our nation's spiritual leaders.

The Rev. H.B. London, vice president of pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family — and cousin to Dr. James Dobson — was interviewed recently by CitizenLink about Clergy Appreciation Month and the importance of honoring your pastor.

Read More

The Largest and Fastest-Growing Churches in America

Outreach magazine has compiled its annual report of the largest and fastest growing churches in America and, for the first time, all 100 churches were listed with 7,000 or higher weekend attendees.

Topping the fifth annual list again this year was Lakewood Church in Houston with 43,500 attendees, followed by Second Baptist Church in the same city with 23,659 and then North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., with 22,557. Although some of the most well-known churches still rank the highest, some actually dropped in attendance:
- Lakewood, led by Pastor Joel Osteen, dipped from 47,000 in 2007;
- Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., dropped from 23,500 to 22,500; and
- Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., led by Pastor Rick Warren, went down from 22,000 weekend attendees to 19,414.

Among the top 100 fastest-growing churches in the country, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Ala., was ranked No. 1 with a growth of 72 percent — or 3,418 attendees — over the last year. The church was also the youngest church to qualify in the largest churches list, standing at No. 71 with 8,168 attendees.

Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., ranked second in the fastest-growing report, with Triumph Church in Detroit, Mich., following respectively.

Outreach magazine "celebrates" and studies the country's largest and fastest-growing churches once a year. But, it also recognizes that the average church in America is home to fewer than 100 people and stresses that "a passion for outreach is not defined by numbers alone."

Ed Stetzer, who conducted the study, said, "As raw data, numbers mean little. What brings meaning to the numbers are the stories behind them — the changed lives and transformed communities." He believes that pastors can still learn from larger churches, however. "Nothing can replace the work you do in your own church, your own community, among the lost in your own neighborhood," he said. "A pastor has to have a passion and a fire to reach, teach and disciple those near. But, we can also learn from others — many of whom were small churches themselves a few years ago."

Visit outreachmagazine.com for the complete list of "The Outreach 100." [christianpost.com]

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October is Clergy Appreciation Month

What is Clergy Appreciation Month?

Clergy Appreciation Month is a special time that congregations set aside each year to honor their pastors and pastoral families for the hard work, sacrificial dedication and multiple blessings provided by these special people. It is typically scheduled in October, but can be held at any time that is convenient for the church and the community. It is also important to remember that appreciation, affirmation and prayer support of our spiritual leaders is appropriate throughout the entire year.

Why is CAM necessary?

The nature of the service provided by pastors and their families is unique. God has entrusted to them one of the most precious of assignments — the spiritual well-being of His flock. When a pastor becomes ineffective, the very souls of his or her parishioners are endangered. When eternity is in the balance, we should all be concerned.

Pastors and their families live under incredible pressures. Their lives are played out in a fishbowl, with the entire congregation and community watching their every move. They are expected to have ideal families, to be perfect people, to always be available, to never be down and to have all the answers we need to keep our own lives stable and moving forward. Those are unrealistic expectations to place on anyone, yet most of us are disappointed when a pastor becomes overwhelmed, seems depressed, lets us down or completely burns out.

That's why God has instructed us to recognize His servants.

"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Timothy 5:17).

The good news is that we can make a difference! Clergy Appreciation Month is one way we can counter the negative erosion in the lives of our spiritual leaders with the positive affirmation they need.

What can we do?

There are two ways to help your pastors and their families feel appreciated:
1. Figure out what you can do personally to recognize and honor these leaders. A simple card, an invitation to lunch, a promise to pray for them or an offer to babysit, wash a car or mow a lawn make wonderful statements.
2. Share the concept of CAM with others in your congregation and challenge them to join you in some kind of formal planning. You might consider a special service of affirmation, a potluck event or planting a tree in their honor. The sky is the limit!

To help you in this process, Focus on the Family has developed the following resources:
- A Clergy Appreciation Month Planning Guide is available online with complete step by step instructions and pages of exciting celebration suggestions. It also includes long-term ideas for the proper care of your pastors and their families. This complimentary guide can be reviewed, downloaded or printed immediately.(Note: Adobe Reader is required to view this PDF file. Click on the image to the right to download the latest version for free. The CAM planning guide PDF file itself may take several minutes to load into your computer's memory with a modem, so please be patient.)
- There is also an online Spanish version of the planning guide for Spanish-speaking congregations and individuals. (También hay disponible una versión gratis de la guía de planificación para iglesias y personas de habla hispana.)
- CAM promotional artwork is available for use in fliers, bulletins and other promotional material.
- An audio greeting from H.B. London Jr. to your congregation and pastoral team can be reviewed, downloaded and copied to a CD that can be played during a time of celebration.

Don't your pastors and their families deserve this kind of recognition? Do something about it today!

Pastor Appreciation Day - October 12, 2008

Hebrews 13:7 (MSG) "Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness."

Thank You, Pastor!

You work vigorously, often neglecting personal needs to give us comfort and direction. You do so much, yet you receive so little in return. This National Clergy Appreciation Day, we take time out to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of your leadership.

Send an E-card! Show your pastors and leaders how much you care.

E-cards from ChristianityToday.com
E-cards from CTLibrary.com

Clergy Appreciation Day - October 12, 2008

Thank You, Pastor!