Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why People Leave the Church

(Click on image to enlarge it.)

Pat Robertson to Retire as Regent University President

Charismatic televangelist Pat Robertson plans to retire as president of the university he founded, according to an announcement Tuesday.

Robertson informed Regent University’s Board of Trustees that he plans to retire effective July 1, 2010, but that he will continue to serve as the university’s chancellor and member of the board.

"Serving as Regent University's president has been an honor and a joy," said Robertson, who also had a hand in the founding of several other organizations , including the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and the Christian Coalition.

"The accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni are truly remarkable and I am so delighted by the achievements of our rapidly growing school,” he added. “As chancellor and a trustee, I will now focus on helping guide the university toward the next level of strategic growth and the implementation of our master plan."

Robertson’s announcement comes as more leaders from his generation are stepping down or stepping aside and making room for the next generation to step in and step up.

In February, conservative evangelical leader James Dobson resigned as chairman of Focus on the Family, and just this month, the historic megachurch of the late D. James Kennedy installed the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian as its second minister in five decades.

Robertson, furthermore, had already announced in 2007 that he was passing on his duties as chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network to his son, Gordon.

"It was important to pass down the line especially to somebody a little bit more adept at figuring out the new technologies coming at such a bewildering speed to all of us," Robertson had said. According to the announcement Tuesday, Regent’s Board of Trustees has appointed a search committee that will name a new president, who is expected to join the university no later than fall 2010.

Amid the search, Robertson will oversee a new campus master plan that he developed for Regent, with specific attention to the continued growth of the university's undergraduate and graduate online and on-campus programs, and the university's overall global impact.

"Our mission remains steadfast: to train Christian leaders who serve with excellence in every area of their lives. I have seen that excellence firsthand and I know that we have only just begun to see the fruits of our labor," he said.

Robertson founded Regent in 1978 and became its sixth president in 2000. In 2008, the Chronicle of Higher Education's survey of Great Colleges to Work For ranked Regent among the top five small colleges to work for in several categories.

[By Aaron J. Leichman - Christian Post Reporter]

Today's Quote

“When you create something great you will create conflict.” – G Kawasaki

Church of God of Prophecy

As some of you have figured out by now, I serve on the Church of God of Prophecy Corporate Board of Directors (Administrative Committee). As a pastor consultant, I attempt to represent pastors. I am always open to input from pastors everywhere.

Some of the business conducted is confidential out of necessity. But, for some time now we have been discussing the launch of a web page at to announce news and actions of the Board. I have been waiting for the launch of that page to talk about the business being conducted, but I do feel at liberty to share the following information which is already public knowledge.

1. White Wing Christian Bookstore. Not long ago, the decision was made to revert the bookstore to the business model of a regular Christian Bookstore instead of a "Resource" Center. This has been a good move and sales continue to increase, and there is rarely a time you can go into the bookstore without seeing shoppers there. A part of this increase has been caused by the closing of a competitor in Cleveland, but as the White Wing Christian Bookstore continues to evolve, we anticipate a future of "the customer comes first" attitude by the staff.

2. The Leadership Development Institute was a great success, with people from all over the United States and many of the nations of the world in attendance. Although Tennessee had the largest registered attendance, I am certain we can have a better representation for future events like this one.

3. International Assembly Committees have been in town (Finance and Stewardship, Bible Doctrine and Polity Committee, Administrative Committee) for meetings, as have the General Presbyters from around the world.

4. Work is still underway on our project at Fields of the Wood to upgrade the pavilion, and we are anticipating completion/and a dedication service of the newly upgraded site, and will invite all of you to join us for a dedication of the pavilion.

5. The new fiscal year is just around the corner (June 1, 2009) and everyone is looking forward to anticipated projections as our church continues to grow, now at over 1.4 million members.

Finally, I want to remind you that you are a part of something much greater than the local area where you serve. You are a part of a great team of ministers and laity dedicated to prayer, leadership development and the harvest, and I am humbled to be a part of such a great leadership team! God bless you!
[Some verbage by Bishop E.C. McKinley]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Historical Society Meeting Upcoming

The 8th Annual Meeting of the Historical Society of Church of God Movements is scheduled for 9:30 AM Thursday, May 28, 2009. It will be held at the Lupton Library on the campus of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We hope you will be able to join us.

Membership is open.

This year's theme focuses on a discussion of serpent handling in the southern Appalachia region, and Dr. Ralph Hood from UTC will be our guest speaker. Dr. Hood has co-authored a book on the subject with Dr. Paul Williamson.

Current officers are:
Adrian Varlack Sr., President
Dr. Jerald Daffe, First Vice President
Dr. Louis F. Morgan, Second Vice President
Marie Spurling Crook, Executive Secretary and Treasurer

For more information:

Good News - Bad News

Good News: The new pastor is given a great compensation package.

Bad News: When the congregation found out, they sued.


The Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton (a Southern Baptist minister and former Rhodes scholar) has been selected by Riverside Church in Manhattan (NY) to serve as the new Senior Pastor with a nice compensation package. The church, a Gothic cathedral built in 1930 by John D. Rockefeller at 120th Street and Riverside Drive in Manhattan, stood for many decades at the most heavily trafficked juncture of religious faith and social activism in the United States.

The compensation package granted by the church committee included an annual base salary of $250,000; a monthly housing allowance of $11,500; pension and life insurance benefits; entertainment, travel and “professional development” expenses; an equity allowance for the future purchase of a home; money for a full-time maid; and private school tuition for his 3-year-old daughter. (Not bad.)

Dr. Billy E. Jones, chairman of the Riverside Church Council, the executive board of congregants, said in a statement that the new pastor’s compensation was “in line with other religious leaders in Manhattan who minister to congregations of a similar size and scope.” Dr. Jones said the board had disclosed details of the pay package to the full congregation, but the dissidents dispute that. Dr. Jones also said that Dr. Braxton was not given money for a full-time maid, and that the “private school tuition” amounted to the pastor’s daughter attending the church’s day school tuition free.

Experts on American churches said in interviews that Dr. Braxton’s compensation was well above average among pastors nationwide, but was within the range of packages for senior pastors of megachurches and what are known as mainline “tall steeple” churches in major cities.


This week a group of dissatisfied congregants went to court to stop the installation of the new senior pastor whose compensation package, they say, exceeds $600,000 a year.

In a motion filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the group said that the new pastor, the Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton, and the church board that selected him last September after a yearlong search, had dismissed their calls for transparency in financial matters. They also complained that Dr. Braxton was moving Riverside away from its tradition of interracial progressivism and toward a conservative style of religious practice.

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court judge, Lewis Bart Stone, effectively denied the motion by adjourning the case to the end of May, a month after Dr. Braxton’s installation, which is scheduled for Sunday. The judge urged both sides to reach an accommodation in the case, which was reported on Wednesday by The Daily News.

Here’s the whole article...

Sounds to me like there is more involved than money. What do you think? (Click "comments" below.)

Books To Consider Reading Next

1. The Shape of Things to Come, Hirsch, Frost
2. The Missional Church, by Guder and friends
3. Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness, Lois Barrett
4. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, Resurrection and the Mission of the Church, Tom Wright
5. The Open Secret: An Introduction to the Theology of Mission, Lesslie Newbigen
6. The Mission of God, Christopher Wright
7. Announcing the Kingdom: The Story of God’s Mission in the Bible, by Glasser, Van Engen, Gilliland
8. Emerging Churches Gibbs, Bolger
9. The Prophetic Imagination, Bruggemann
10. The Politics of Jesus, Yoder
11. Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf
12. They Like Jesus but Not the Church, Dan Kimball
13. Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne
14. Breaking the Missional Code, Stetzer and Putman
15. Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, Thom Rainer
16. The Forgotten Ways, Hirsh
17. The Prodigal God, Keller
18. The Missional Leader, Roxburgh
19. God's Missionary People, Van Engen20. Generous Orthodoxy, McClaren

Evangelism In The 21st Century (Harvest)

1. Evangelism by compassion -- others will be attracted to Christianity if we are actually helping them with their worldly needs.
2. Evangelism by life change -- if I'm no different from anyone else except that I'm forgiven, then Christianity is useless. If Christianity is true, then others should find me someone they want to be like, someone they want to be around, someone they can count on.
3. Evangelism by the miraculous -- read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5a and 2 Corinthians and Galatians - power accompanied the coming of the gospel in the early church. The fastest growing segment of Christianity is in the southern hemisphere in the 2/3rds world and it is charismatic. I know that not everything is genuine, no doubt. But, there should be manifestations of God's power in signs and miracles all around us, if this thing we call Christianity is true.

[by Ken Schenck]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Barry (Gilman) Johnson Funeral Arrangements

[Click on image to enlarge it.]

The funeral will be Monday, April 27, 2009, at 11:00 AM, at W.T. Wilson Funeral Home near Rainsville, Alabama.

W. T. Wilson Funeral Home
2226 Main Street
Rainsville, AL 35986

A. J. Tomlinson

CLICK HERE for a free Google book preview of A. J. Tomlinson: Plainfolk Modernist by R. G. Robbins.

A Church Planting Story

It's hard to explain, the call to a place, the tug that clearly tells the faithful their work should be done in a certain city at a certain time.

For many reasons, the timing seemed off for pastor Lee Claypoole to come to Lexington, Ky., last year. He and his wife had coped with cancer. His wider family suffered from poor health. All the stressors in life seemed to have piled up. Yet he and his family added another one by moving away from the church they called home in South Carolina to start a church from scratch.

"There is no doubt in my mind that God has placed us here," said Claypoole. Claypoole, who launched The Bridge in Lexington this spring, is among a growing trend of "church planters," people who not only want to serve a church, but create one.

All the chatter about the bad economy might actually be good for new churches, said Billy Hornsby, president of the Association of Related Churches, a nonprofit based in Birmingham, Ala., that helps train pastors to plant churches. The group has helped start 30 new churches since January and hopes to have 100 planted by the end of the year.

"When there are bad economics or wars or anything, churches thrive," said Hornsby. "Some 90 percent of our churches have more income this year than last year."

But, as Claypoole said, "church planting is not for the fainthearted." When Claypoole moved to Kentucky last year, he not only relocated his wife and two daughters, he brought with him several dozen believers from the Praise Cathedral in Greer, where he had been a youth minister.

The Kentucky native, who is known in Christian circles for having his dramatic weight loss featured on "The 700 Club," has felt the pressure of encouraging the group to travel north.
But Claypoole, whose church meets at Edythe J. Hayes Middle School, said he is optimistic his church will continue to grow.

"I don't know a year from now what The Bridge will look like," he said. "We dream big."

Ashley Wilson, pastor of LifeGate Church, has benefited from the advice offered through Associated Related Churches. Wilson had never lived in Lexington, although he has family in Owensboro, Ky. He can't fully explain why he chose Lexington to start his church.

"Lexington, Ky., kept coming to my heart and mind over and over again," he said.

He said his research showed there might be a place for his church. It is a place known for drawing young professionals. He thought there was a need for "a really significant charismatic or Pentecostal ministry."

"You have a lot of unchurched and partially churched people here in town," said Wilson, who moved here in 2007 after graduating from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. LifeGate Church meets on the campus of Lexington Christian Academy and its numbers are regularly in the dozens. Wilson is encouraged.

"It's an awesome, awesome opportunity right now to reach people," he said. "There are a lot of people right now who are struggling financially or struggling in other ways. A lot of people are looking for hope."

Wilson said the stock market decline made the already challenging task of starting a new church more difficult. But, he said, "that just means we have no place to go but up."

One advantage to being part of a new congregation, said Claypoole and Wilson, is that it can be easy to find a way to be of service. The needs are so great at a start-up that it's easy to feel like you can make a real contribution.

Wilson said it's easier to create something new than to try to turn around an already established institution.

"When you are a new church there are 100 things that need to be done right now," Wilson said. "There is always space for you to plug in and use your gifts."

Hornsby said he thinks that's part of the attraction of church planting. His group has helped launch some of the fastest growing churches in the United States.

For example, Church of the Highlands, in Birmingham, Ala., started with 34 people in 2001. Now, about 8,000 attend weekly. Hornsby said the average church has about 85 adults in attendance. The average church planted by his group, which not only offers step-by-step planning information but also offers some financial assistance to start-up churches, has 833 adults, according to the association's research.

But, he said, the key is creating "home churches," small groups that get together weekly for Bible study or prayer, sometimes in individual homes. That direct connection helps create a feeling of belonging even when a church grows rapidly.

Both Claypoole and Wilson, while eager to tend the spiritual needs of all comers, are hoping to attract young people to their church. Both are more likely to be found preaching in jeans or slacks than a suit and tie and hope the casual atmosphere will attract people who haven't yet found a place in more formal settings.

And, in an era when even grandmas are on Facebook, they are planting their spiritual seeds in the virtual world.

Claypoole has a YouTube video for The Bridge and a MySpace page to collect friends.

Wilson has a Web site with a video explaining his mission.

"This is a viral generation," said Hornsby, who started life as a Louisiana State Trooper before entering the ministry three decades ago. He has 2,000 people following him on Twitter, a popular social media network. But all the high-tech gadgets and high level planning hinge on something as old as religion itself: Faith.

For Claypoole, it's the faith he's made the right move.

[By MARY MEEHAN - McClatchy Newspapers]

Core Values

Our core beliefs determine our behavior. It is vital as leaders that we bathe ourselves in prayer and the Word of God daily.

In 2006, I was fortunate to interview the former Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani at the Billion Soul Pastors Conference in Orlando, Florida. I asked,“How does a leader know what to do in a horrific situation?” I often wondered how such leaders determine what to do when information was slow or nonexistent. His answer was, “When there is not enough time to make knowledgeable decisions, we must make decisions based upon God’s Word.”

Years after the “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid, Mr. Brooks stated, “I’ve often been asked what was the best moment for me? Well, it was ... the sight of 20 young men of such differing backgrounds now standing as one. Young men willing to sacrifice so much of themselves all for an unknown ... But on one weekend, as America and the world watched, a group of remarkable young men gave the nation what it needed most — a chance, for one night, not only to dream, but a chance, once again, to believe.”

In every leader’s life there comes a time when we do more than choose from right and wrong, but have to choose right from right. Rather than copying what others have done, in these hard decisions of right versus right we must pursue the God-given dream that He breathed into us and trust His Word to guide us.

[by James O. Davis]

Promise Keepers Invite Women

The evangelical men's organization Promise Keepers is urging men to bring "the women in their lives" to a July 31-Aug 1 conference marking the group's anniversary.

For 20 years, the events were men-only. Over the years, Promise Keepers had many critics, such as the National Organization for Women, who accused PK of undermining women's rights and promoting male superiority by calling for wives to submit to their husbands.

[The Associated Press]

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pastor to Pastor Online

The newest edition of Pastor to Pastor® is now available in online audio format for you to listen to or download to your computer, CD or mobile device.

"Boundaries for the Pastor's Wife" features informal, intimate conversations between H.B. London and his expert guests — all pastors' wives. You will enjoy hearing author and speaker Lisa Young, well-known author and life-coach Becky Tirabassi, and author Marilynn Blackaby.

To review this newest edition, listen to it or download it to your computer, visit The Parsonage®, at

You will enjoy these interviews. They will encourage and inspire you.

God bless you, your family and your congregation.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Death Announcement - Barry Johnson

Barry (Gilman) Johnson fell dead today with an apparent heart attack. Pastor Johnson was the son of long-time Church of God of Prophecy pastor-parents (deceased). He pastored several churches in the Church of God of Prophecy. He was currently pastoring a Baptist church near Rainsville, Alabama.

He leaves behind a wife, two children, and several grandchildren.

Arrangements will be announced as soon as they are known. The W.T. Wilson Funeral Home in Rainsville, Alabama will be in charge of the services.

National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2009

The theme for this year's National Day of Prayer on May 7 is Prayer ... America's Hope! It's based on Psalm 33:22, which says, "May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You."

This is an extremely critical time in America's history. From economic pressures, to the ongoing threat of terrorism, to the unraveling of our culture's moral fabric, many people are dealing with a deep sense of uncertainty and apprehension.

However, we can be confident that when we come to God in humble prayer, He hears us and stands ready to respond to our cries for help. Our forefathers sought the Almighty for guidance and safekeeping; and we, too, can depend on His divine intervention if we will turn to Him in repentance and prayer. That will be our purpose as we gather with other people of faith across the nation on May 7th.

There are many ways you can get involved:

• Join a LIVE online prayer room every Thursday at Noon CST
• Find local events
• Connect with volunteers in your area
• Request free devotionals
• Download prayer resources
• Join the Online Prayer Rally
• Sign-up for weekly prayer tips via email
• Support Regan Smith, driver of the NDP and Furniture Row race car at NASCAR's Talladega event on April 26th
• View GOD TV's LIVE webcast and television coverage of the National Observance from Washington D.C. from 9-noon EST on May 7th.

Visit to learn more.

Again, I hope you will join with millions of other Americans on Thursday, May 7th, to observe the 58th annual National Day of Prayer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Leading Your Family

It is easy to think that if you provide your family with food, clothing, and shelter, we are leading our family successfully. The problem with this is that God already promises this to each of us in His Word. So, if God takes care of this, what is left?

Leading our family requires that we:

  • Help each family member discover and become more like Christ
  • Love (verb) them by serving them (action)
  • Help each family member lead themselves and others
  • Correct foolish behavior
  • Pick up your family when they are feeling down
Sound like a lot? You bet! The beautiful thing is that God brings the husband and wife, two separate people, into one-ness with Him. Each spouse has a God-given role within the marriage, just as each person of the Trinity has a role within the Godhead. Each spouse has a role in the raising of children. And, each spouse has a role in caring for each other’s parents as they grow older.

Family requires leadership. It requires time. It requires being God-focused. It requires love in action.

[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]

Influence: Connecting with People

As a train's source of energy and direction, the locomotive plays a vital role. However, unless a locomotive connects to other cars on the track, it is relatively useless. A train's value comes from its ability to transport massive amounts of cargo, and doing so requires the locomotive to link up with dozens of freight cars.

Traveling by itself, a locomotive would arrive at its destination empty-handed. In that case, its journey would be nothing more than a waste of fuel.

Leaders are like locomotives in that they're blessed with drive, energy, and vision. However, until leaders learn the art of connection, their influence remains minimal. In isolation, their talents accomplish little, and their efforts are squandered.

Let's look at 8 practical ways whereby leaders can make meaningful connections with others ...

Read the full article...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leading Yourself

Our leadership of others depends fully on how we lead ourselves.
Leading ourselves requires:

  • Being led by Christ, not by our own desires
  • Understanding God’s direction for our lives
  • Being willing to change when God redirects us
  • Valuing others above ourselves
  • Accepting stewardship and accountability for those that we lead

These five points are a simple summary of what the Bible tells us. We are given skills and spiritual gifts that God wants us to use to be stewards over others while making a difference in the world. If we are not willing to lead ourselves by following our Lord and Savior, how are we to lead others?

[from "Agile Ministry" by James Higginbotham]

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today's Quote

"Each time you raise the standards for leadership, you bring everyone else in the church along a little bit. As the phrase goes, ‘A rising tide raises all the boats in the harbor.’" - Rick Warren

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beware of Burnout

Burnout often goes unnoticed. Often people are afraid of talking about the stress in their life and feeling burned out because it makes them appear weak and not a team player.

Burnout effects all areas of health. Burnout will effect us relationally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Burnout is contagious. Often times you will not just see one case of burnout. There are cultures that create burnout and you will see it in multiples.

Burnout leads to death. Burnout can lead to the death of relationships; the death of faith or the death of a dream.

Insights About Burnout ...

"Burnout is the accumulation of stress over time" - Archibald Hart

Type-A personalities burn out from over engagement.

Type-B personalities burn out from having people walk all over them.

[by Anne Jackson, from her new book Mad Church Disease]

The 2009 Pastoral Ministries Survey

Are you a full-time or bi-vocational pastor?
- Full-time - 77.6%
- Bi-vocational - 22.4%

Which of the following best describes the average number of hours you work as a pastor?
- Part-time (less than 20 hours per week) - 3.6%
- Part-time (20-29 hours per week) - 12.1%
- Part-time (30-39 hours per week) - 7.6%

- Full-time (40-49 hours per week) - 28.5%
- Full-time (50-59 hours per week) - 32.7%
- Full-time (60+ hours per week) - 15.5%

What is your gross annual salary from your church (not including benefits)?
- None - 9.9%
- $19K or under - 16.4%
- $20K-$39K - 30.8%
- $40K-$59K - 27.8%
- $60K-$79K - 11.3 %
- $80K+ - 3.9%

What benefits does your church provide?
- Auto - 20.7%
- Housing - 51.3%
- Medical - 55.5%
- Dental - 21.8%
- Life Insurance - 18.4%
- Retirement - 45.4%
- Paid Vacation - 69.1%
- None - 16.4%

How many days do you actually take off each week?
- 0 - 17.4%
- 1 - 58.6%
- 2 - 19.5%
- More than 2 - 4.5%

[from Focus on the Family]

Five Road Signs of Abusive Leadership

The rise of abusive leadership in Christian circles has not only led to more examples of failed leadership, but also overall shame on the body of Christ. Though identifying abuses of power within the church seems easy to do, stopping the injustice of abusing others isn't as simple. Yet for church leaders willing to deal with abuses of power — even their own — this could be the most important task they ever tackle.

My personal experience and theoretical inferences have revealed five indicators of those who abuse power. Think of it in terms of road warning signs. The more often we ignore the warning, the closer danger approaches. Here are five relational road signs to keep you on track.

  1. Blind Curve Ahead — Lack of accountability: When church leaders compromise and ignore accountability, they tend to withdraw from partners, making solo decisions without counsel. Surrounding yourself with supporters unwilling to confront or challenge you is a great setup for failure. If not brought back on track, you'll continue to engage in compromising behavior that eventually leads to isolation and disaster.
  2. Danger Zone — The rules no longer apply to you: Leaders who repeatedly compromise have decided their own rules of accountability no longer apply to them. They hold a higher standard for others than for themselves. And when others fail, they rarely show compassion and want those failing to "pay the price." In contrast, if the leader's actions are questioned, those questioning may be portrayed as disloyal or accusatory.
  3. One Way — My way or the highway: The next step on the downward spiral is a pious mentality and overpowering leadership. When leaders and followers are in disagreement, the failing leader is tempted to embrace a "bully" mentality, placing intense pressure on the follower to conform or walk the plank. In some cases, the abusing leader sets a tone of "my way or the highway," severing the relationship with followers and colleagues.
  4. Road Closed — Compulsive control of information: Information is power, and those controlling the process and distribution of information control the environment. It is common for abusive leaders to hold information as bargaining chips to manipulate or oppress followers. In some cases, they will dangle baited conversations to test others' loyalty, intending to sabotage them.
  5. Dead End — Paranoia: This is a crippling syndrome, often robbing leaders of potential and opportunity. With a constant fear of the resurrection of dead bodies known as unconfessed failures, paranoid leaders spend good energy looking over their shoulders hoping not to be caught in their sins. The results of covered sin include loss of sensitivity, poor judgment and hypocritical living, as seen in David's failure with Bathsheba.

Christian leaders often display the psalmist David as a poster child of good leadership, highlighting his freedom in worship, valor in battle, influence in leadership and notoriety as "a man after God's own heart." Yet we know of his failures and often recite his prayers of confession and repentance. Those hoping to espouse David's repentant heart and overcome their failures, should apply these five truths: (1) submit to godly counsel; (2) abide by godly rules; (3) deny your flesh for godly desire; (4) share godly insight within community; and (5) allow God's grace to restore your brokenness.

Although victorious, shame also marked David's life. Which will mark yours?

[by WILLIAM LAMB, Lee University]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist

The latest Barna report is based on interviews conducted with a representative national sample of 1,871 adults who described themselves as Christians. The study examined people’s beliefs about spiritual beings, the influence of faith on their life, views of the Bible, and reactions to faiths other than their own.

The findings reveal that Christians have a diverse set of beliefs – but many of those beliefs are contradictory or, at least, inconsistent with other beliefs they possess or with the Bible’s teachings. To find out what people in the American Church believe, read the entire report.

click here

Clergy at Risk

A Texas congressman who is a former judge warns that the "hate crimes" legislation reintroduced in the U.S. House could potentially lead to the arrest of Christian pastors who speak out against sexual immorality.

Representatives John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) are sponsoring the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913), also known as the "Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act." The bill would add sexual orientation to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law. When Democrats passed the bill in 2007, they were divided over whether to add "gender identity and expression" to the list.


What can/should denominations do?

As we watch the shift from denominational affiliation to congregational governance in some churches, the question seems to be coming up more and more … what do denominations do? What should they do?

When the Church of God was smaller there was a desire to do more things together, to centralize efforts to evangelize our communities and the world, to care for orphans and provide for ministerial compensation. In fact, at one time within the church, all the tithe and offering receipts were sent to Cleveland and the General Overseer, then A.J. Tomlinson sent back to each pastor his salary and expenses for the church. It was a flawed system that ultimately created a fiasco within the church. That is not practiced any more, but many areas of corporate ministry are still shared through financial giving and participation.

At the present time, the Church of God is undergoing a significant realignment of resources in the denomination and as proposed, local churches will send 33% less funds to state and international offices than previously. This coming adjustment has generated a closer look at how ministry dollars are entrusted to leadership at both office levels. The evaluation is good and will help in being more effective in ministry productivity. The local church will retain more funds, assume more responsibilities and depend less on centralized funding for ministry ventures.

So, the question is – what should people want a denomination to do? How should ministry be funded on a denominational level and what areas are fundamental to the mission?


What do you think?

[from by Bill Isaacs]

Putting Your Heart Into Leadership

Here are three tips for developing your leadership heart:

  • Let Others - it takes a team, not an individual, to get things done in God’s Kingdom
  • Give Credit - make sure your team gets the credit, not just you, when things go right or wrong
  • Keep Focus - it is easy to think you are the reason the team succeeds. Don’t build a golden calf for yourself. Keep everyone focused on God not you.

Developing your leadership heart takes effort. It means spending time in God’s Word. It means spending time listening to God. It means spending time doing what God wants us to do (not what we want). It also means spending time helping others develop the same focus.

[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Death Announcement - Anita Ruth Bailey Stubbs

Anita Ruth Bailey Stubbs, 84, a resident of Augusta, GA and formerly of Cleveland, Tenn., went to meet her Heavenly Father Saturday, April 4, 2009.

Mrs. Stubbs was the daughter of the late Zella Swanson Bailey and Clay Bailey. Her husband, the Rev. John A. Stubbs; and her brother, Henry C. Bailey also preceded her in death.

Mrs. Stubbs was a native of Rossville, GA and she lived most of her life in Cleveland, TN. She traveled with her husband as he served the Church of God of Prophecy as state overseer for California, Texas, Mississippi, Oregon and Alaska. She was a retired secretary and bookkeeper at the Church of God of Prophecy headquarters in Cleveland, serving for nearly 30 years.

Mrs. Stubbs stayed active after her retirement, serving as a Red Cross volunteer at Bradley Memorial Hospital in Cleveland, TN. She also stayed active in the Professional Secretaries Association where in the past she served as its president and she served on its board for a number of years. Mrs. Stubbs enjoyed traveling to see her family and traveling with her senior group. She enjoyed crocheting and she loved her dog, Sassy. Mrs. Stubbs enjoyed the friendships she made over the years and stayed in contact with her friends. She enjoyed being a grandmother and great-grandmother and was affectionately called “Grams” by her grandchildren. Mrs. Stubbs was a member of Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy, and while she resided in the Augusta area for the last five years, she attended New Hope Worship Center.

Survivors include her daughters, Carole A. Stubbs of Atlanta, Sandy Dean and her husband Mike of Chatsworth and Kathy Dyer and her husband Steve of Grovetown; her grandchildren, Kim Moreland, Kelli Kendrick, Amber Flynn, Andy Dyer and Stephanie Mixon; her great-grandsons, Thomas Kendrick, John Alan Kendrick, Seth Moreland, Noah Strickland and Joshua Moreland.

The Remembrance of Life service was today (Wednesday) at 2 p.m. at Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy with the Rev. Samuel Clements and the Rev. Rich Bowen officiating.

Burial followed in the Sunset Memorial Gardens with Andrew “Andy” Dyer, Justin Flynn, Alan Kendrick, John Moreland, Kevin Mixon and Terry Bailey serving as pallbearers. A dove release concluded the service.

The family received friends at the funeral home Tuesday.Jim Rush Funeral Homes, North Ocoee Chapel, Cleveland, Tenn., was in charge of arrangements.

The Stubbs family are life-long friends. As a teenager, Bishop Stubbs allowed me to mow his lawn on a regular basis. Later in Life, my wife Yvonne worked as his private secretary while he served as C.P.M.A. Director in the Visual Aid Department of the Church if God of Prophecy at Bible Place in Cleveland, Tennessee. Sister Stubbs was a precious lady. We will never forget her.

Pastor Found Dead at Church - Way To Go

A 46-year-old pastor has been found dead inside his Somerville, Alabama church, with his brother saying the death apparently was caused by a heart attack.

Pastor Eddie Rodney Bowling was found dead at Grace Point Baptist Church around 7 a.m. yesterday when a sheriff's deputy was summoned to check on him.

Investigators ruled out foul play. Bowling's brother, former Priceville High School Principal Guy Bowling, said Morgan County Coroner Russ Beard told the family he had a heart attack.

The coroner did not immediately return a phone message today.

[from the Associated Press]

Today's Word

"We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." - ROMANS 5:6-8 (MSG)

Pray! and Discipleship Discontinued

The publishing arm of The Navigators will discontinue publication of its two magazines, Discipleship Journal and Pray!, and shift efforts toward enhancing their web presence.

The announcement Monday by NavPress was made on the same day that periodicals database revealed the state of the magazine industry in the first quarter of 2009. According to the online database of U.S. and Canadian publications, 95 magazines folded in the first quarter of 2009 while 16 magazines ceased their print editions and now publish online-only magazines. In 2008, 525 magazines ceased their publication, including Christian magazines Ignite Your Faith and CCM Magazine, which had been printing for nearly 30 years.

"It is no secret that we are all in the midst of some very challenging times in our economy and the publishing industry," announced Michael D. Miller, president of NavPress and senior vice president of The Navigators, on Monday.

"Magazine publishing has been hit hard,” he added. “The Internet has been dealing a blow to print media for years. Then the economic downturn – it was like a one-two punch."

Notably, however, 335 new magazines were launched in 2008, and in the first quarter of this year, 110 new magazines have been launched, including the Purpose Driven Connection, the joint venture of megachurch pastor Rick Warren and the Reader’s Digest Association Inc. "We are encouraged to see 110 new magazine launches this year, showing the continued value of magazines,” commented Trish Hagood, president of Oxbridge Communications, which owns MediaFinder. “This figure compares favorably with new magazines launched in 2008.”

Still, for NavPress, the move to cease the printing operations for their magazines and enhance their web presence was decidedly the best one, though a difficult one. "This new structure positions us for a long and fruitful ministry through publishing," said Miller in his announcement. "But it means saying goodbye to some outstanding people. That's always the hardest part."

According to NavPress, Navigators staff members were informed of the new developments on Friday, and the publishing division is now communicating details with its authors.

“I believe we are uniquely positioned and staffed to help our authors connect with their audience," Miller added.

Since its founding in 1975, NavPress has sought to advance The Navigators’ calling by publishing “life-transforming” materials.

NavPress launched Discipleship Journal in 1981 and boasted a readership of more than 100,000 believers at one point in time. Its second magazine, Pray!, was reportedly reaching 44,000.

[By Eric Young, The Christian Post]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Obama Adds 9 Members to Council of Faith-Based, Community Advisors

President Obama announced on Monday nine more members of his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, bringing the total number up to 25.

The new members include, among others, Bishop Charles E. Blake, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churches USA; and Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.

Notably absent from the list, meanwhile, is former NFL coach Tony Dungy, whose invitation drew considerable protest last week.

In a statement, Dungy said he “respectively declined” the invitation because of the time commitment needed but looks forward to working with the president in “furthering responsible fatherhood and other issues we both hold dear.”

“In looking at the dates of the Council meetings I would not be able to participate to the degree I would want,” the former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts explained.

The 25 members of the council, each appointed to a one-year term, will be responsible for advising the revamped White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on how to direct government funds to religious and neighborhood groups engaged in social service work.

In February, Obama said the new office would work with nonprofit organizations "both secular and faith-based" and would help them determine how to make a bigger impact in their cities, learn their obligations under the law and cut through government red tape.

The president also said the top priority of the office will be "making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete."

Last week, when news of the White House’s invitation to Dungy leaked, groups and individuals familiar with the former NFL coach’s opposition to same-sex marriage cried out in protest.
“Dungy ... has well-known ties with intolerant Religious Right groups,” stated Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“It is extremely important for the advisory council to uphold civil rights and civil liberties, and I am concerned that Coach Dungy is far from the best person to do that,” added the organization’s executive director, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn.

Social conservatives, in response, rallied behind Dungy, hailing him as a man of character who has used his celebrity platform to promote adoption, prison ministry, family values, and outreach to the poor.

“Sounds like the perfect person to be part of an advisory panel on faith-based and neighborhood partnerships,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, noted Thursday.

“Would [Lynn] have a different opinion if Dungy supported same-sex marriage?” he asked.
Though Dungy ultimately declined the president’s invitation, the White House still managed to complete the list of 25 members that it initially said it would recruit for the diverse council of religious and secular advisors.

The council’s 25 members are:
  1. Diane Baillargeon, President & CEO, Seedco, New York , NY
  2. * Anju Bhargava, Founder, Asian Indian Women of America. New Jersey
  3. * Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop, Church of God in Christ, Los Angeles, CA
  4. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, IL
  5. * The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, President-Elect, National Council of Churches USA, Minneapolis, MN
  6. Dr. Arturo Chavez, President & CEO, Mexican American Catholic College, San Antonio, TX
  7. Fred Davie, Senior Adviser, Public/Private Ventures, New York, NY
  8. * Nathan Diament, Director of Public Policy, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Washington, DC
  9. Pastor Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed, Longwood, FL
  10. * Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign, Washington, DC
  11. Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Knoxville, TN
  12. * Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Washington, DC
  13. Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, Cleveland, OH
  14. Dr. Frank S. Page, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention, Taylors, SC
  15. Eboo S. Patel, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core, Chicago, IL
  16. * Anthony Picarello, General Counsel , United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC
  17. * Nancy Ratzan, National President, National Council of Jewish Women, Miami, FL
  18. Melissa Rogers, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs, Winston-Salem , NC
  19. Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington , DC
  20. Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA, Philadelphia , PA
  21. Father Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria , VA
  22. Richard Stearns, President, World Vision, Bellevue , WA
  23. Judith N. Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, Philadelphia , PA
  24. Rev. Jim Wallis, President & Executive Director, Sojourners, Washington , DC
  25. * Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis, IN

(NOTE: Members marked with an asterisk were announced Monday.)

[By Eric Young, The Christian Post]

How To Develop Optimism

  1. Look for the benefit in every situation, especially when you experience setbacks.
  2. Seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty – remember there are no mistakes, only lessons.
  3. Focus on the task to be accomplished rather than your negative emotions, such as disappointment or fear, and see the possibilities within the task.
  4. View success and happiness as your normal state and see negative events as temporary glitches on the path to your inevitable success.
  5. Don’t take setbacks personally; take responsibility but recognize the influence of external factors on the situation.
  6. Choose to put a positive spin on it, whatever it is.
  7. View every experience as a positive opportunity for growth and self-mastery.
  8. Decatastrophise and ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen, and can I live with it?” Then focus on doing everything you can to minimize the fallout.
  9. Depersonalize and redefine situations in terms of their external causes.
  10. Dispute negative pervasive thoughts by identifying your irrational thinking and replace it with more reasonable or rational thinking.
[from “Emotional Capitalists; The New Leaders”. by Dr. Martyn Newman]

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Disgraced Baptist Leader Vies to Head Denomination Again

Ten years after he was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in state prison for racketeering and grand theft, the former president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., is vying to lead the denomination once again and insists that he’s a changed man.

“My quest for re-election is spiritual and far beyond personal ambition,” claims Dr. Henry J. Lyons, who admits having been “at the lowest point, where ambition was absent.”

“We all, at one time in our lives, have fallen short of the Glory of God,” he adds in a statement to supporters. “My re-election to the Presidency will witness to the world just what a mighty and loving God we serve. It will be the foundation of understanding true forgiveness from Christ Jesus who is faithful to forgive all of our sins.”

More than a decade ago, Lyons was accused of spending church money on expensive jewelry, a Mercedes-Benz and a $700,000 home bought with a woman who is not his wife.

The charismatic preacher was also accused of diverting money intended for the restoration of Southern churches damaged by arson to other church expenses and swindling more than $4 million from companies that wanted to market life insurance, credit cards and cemetery plots to his convention members.

Despite the allegations and even after he was convicted of racketeering and grand theft, Lyons continued to serve as the head of the National Baptist Convention and did not resign until March of 1999 – the month he was handed his 5 1/2-year prison sentence.

The highly publicized scandal dealt a devastating blow to the denomination – one of the largest religious organizations among African Americans and the second largest Baptist denomination in the world, after the Southern Baptist Convention.

It also cost Lyons his marriage, his reputation and almost all he had.

"It cost me my life," he told the Tennessean in a recent interview. "The shame of it — I don't believe it will ever go away. There's nothing I can do about it."

But Lyons claims it was when he hit rock bottom that God saved him.

"I have suffered God's rod of correction," Lyons told First Baptist Institutional Church in Lakeland, Fla., after he was released on probation in November 2003. "I stand here today to tell you I truly, truly repented of my sins."

Since he walked out of the minimum-security state prison in Florida’s Polk County, Lyons has focused on rebuilding his life. He remarried and began preaching at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa – a church that had only about 20 members when he arrived and is today a congregation of around 500. He’s also working to repay the $5.2 million he had stolen.

Lyon’s latest effort comes as the current president of the National Baptist Convention, the Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, draws near the end of his second five-year term and is unable to seek a third under convention rules. Lyons is hoping to take the helm again to help the denomination seize “the opportunity to operate in a great way by witnessing to the world through its actions.”

“The road ahead will not be easy,” Lyons expressed to supporters in an open letter on his church’s website. “The critics and the naysayers are ready to attack; but the blood of Jesus has washed my spirit and I am ready for the spiritual cross I may have to bear; knowing this is all for a more noble and glorious purpose.”

Lyons is running against one other candidate, the Rev. Julius R. Scruggs, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, in Huntsville, Ala., who also serves as vice president at large for the convention.

The election takes place in September.

[By Eric Young - Christian Post Reporter]

Palm Sunday - Holy Week Begins

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Church Planting Story

[by Fred Barnes]

In 2007, my wife Barbara and I left The Falls Church, which we had happily attended from the time we became Christians a quarter-century ago. It's a 277-year-old church in northern Virginia well-known for its popular preacher, the Rev. John Yates, its adherence to traditional biblical teachings and its withdrawal in 2005 from the national Episcopal church. Our three grown daughters and their families stayed behind at The Falls Church.

We didn't leave in anger. We didn't have political or theological anxieties. Rather, we left for a new church because our old church wanted us to. The Falls Church has become entrepreneurial as well as evangelical. It's in the church-planting business. And we were encouraged by Mr. Yates to join Christ the King, the church "planted" near our home in Alexandria. We were a bit ambivalent about the move, but when Christ the King opened its doors in September 2007, we were there.

Well, not quite its doors. The church began with a monthly service in a 600-seat school auditorium. About 30 people showed up, mostly members of the seed group dispatched from The Falls Church. Soon Christ the King, which was launched with a grant of $100,000 from The Falls Church, rented an assembly hall, seating about 100, in a private school and started regular worship every Sunday. Now, with 130 adults and 40 kids, we meet Sunday mornings in another church, whose own service is held in the evening.

But we don't just meet one day a week. One of the problems for a new church is that most of the parishioners don't know one another. They're not yet a community. Barbara and I knew fewer than a dozen of the original members of Christ the King. So David Glade, the 35-year-old pastor, organized everyone into dinner groups that gather monthly. Indeed, they had better gather: When our group skipped a month, Mr. Glade wanted to know why.

Three men's Bible studies have popped up along with a women's group. There is a prayer ministry, a vestry, and a choir led by a volunteer music director. A church retreat is set for August. Newcomers tend to be singles or young couples, and six baptisms are scheduled for the Sunday after next. Barbara and I are the old folks.

"It's a pretty amazing start," Mr. Yates told me. But it's not unusual. Church planting is a burgeoning movement among evangelicals who are conservative in doctrine (but not fundamentalist) and inclusive in their outreach to nonbelievers and lapsed Christians. It's a growing missionary field.

There's a theory behind church planting. It rejects the idea of trying to fill up existing churches before building new ones. Old churches are often "closed clubs" that don't attract new residents or young people or "the lost," says the Rev. Johnny Kurcina, an assistant pastor of The Falls Church. Besides, population increase far exceeds church growth in America. This is especially true in cities.

As an Episcopal Church rector, Mr. Yates began thinking about planting churches 20 years ago. But the bishop of Virginia "wouldn't allow us to discuss it," he says, fearing that new Episcopal churches would lure people from older ones. In 2001, he was allowed to plant a church, but only a county away in a distant exurb.

Mr. Yates was strongly influenced by the Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan. Mr. Keller has led in creating new churches -- Redeemer has planted more than 100 churches in New York and other cities around the world. Innovative new churches, he has written, are "the research and development department" for Christianity, attract "venturesome people" as fresh leaders, and have the spillover effect of challenging existing churches to revitalize their ministry.

Leaving the Episcopal denomination (while remaining in the Anglican Communion) has given Mr. Yates the freedom to plant churches in urban areas amid many Episcopal churches. (One is next door to Christ the King.) His goal is to plant 20 churches in northern Virginia before retiring. Christ the King was the third, and a fourth was recently planted in Arlington. Mr. Kurcina, 33, who is my son-in-law, is preparing to plant a fifth in Fairfax County.

For a growing number of young preachers like Christ the King's Mr. Glade, planting and then leading a new church is an ideal option. As orthodox Anglicans, they didn't feel welcome in the Episcopal church. And they felt a strong calling to lead their own parish. Mr. Glade grew up as an Episcopalian in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduation from Florida State, he came to The Falls Church as an intern and spent four years as a youth leader before attending Trinity Seminary outside Pittsburgh. He returned to The Falls Church eager to lead a theologically conservative Anglican congregation. "In order to do that, you had to go out and do it yourself," he told me.

"Every new church has an awkward phase, figuring out who they are and getting to know each other," Mr. Glade says. That phase is over. Christ the King has also become financially self-sufficient. It aims to be a "healthy church," like its parent. "A healthy church reproduces itself," Mr. Glade says. Christ the King may soon do just that. Its assistant rector wants to plant his own church.

[The Wall Street Journal, written by Fred Barnes]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Leadership Development - Better Pastors

One day Moses’ father-in-law and mentor, Jethro, came for a visit to see how the exodus was going. He saw that Moses was overwhelmed, the people weren't being cared for, and the newly formed nation was coming apart at the seams. He gave Moses some excellent advice:

"Select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." (Exodus 18:21)

Moses saw the wisdom in his father-in-law’s advice. He broke the nation of Israel into small groups and community-size groups, and he commissioned leaders over them. He continued to be the primary vision-caster and the one ultimately responsible for the direction of the children of Israel, but he entrusted the day-to-day care and feeding of the people to trusted leaders. You might say that Moses created the first example of plurality of leadership or small groups.

The key to success for Moses’ effort is the same for any church today: leadership development.

Finding, training, and deploying effective leaders are essential to successfully building a church. It seems simple, but people often underestimate the importance of leadership.

While different churches handle staffing with a great variety of approaches, one role common to almost all successful models is that of pastor – the term most commonly used today to describe the leader who will convey the DNA of the church, recruit the core team, develop the new leaders, and carry on the ministry.

Here are some key DNA ingredients:
  1. practical life-giving messages
  2. a sense of God’s power in worship
  3. a relaxed nonthreatening atmosphere
  4. excellent children’s ministry, and
  5. relational small groups

Many people feel the success of the church rises and falls on the leadership of the pastor. The importance of the effective execution of this role cannot be overstated. Following are four tips for selecting and developing better pastors:

  1. Know what qualities you are looking for in a pastor. Churches with experience in developing pastors tell me they look for these qualities:
    a. A leader who completely buys into the church’s vision and is loyal to its senior leadership
    b. A team player with strong relational skills
    c. A team builder who can reproduce vision in others
    d. A pastor, someone with a desire and heart to shepherd groups and individuals
    e. A flexible entrepreneur
  2. Develop an intentional and accessible process. It helps to develop a leadership pipeline that carries people from attender to member to small group leader – with continuing development to pastor. The process must thoroughly integrated use of an online strategy for greater access to the associated tools and tracking mechanisms. God has presented us the best technology today that man has ever known to accomplish this today.
  3. Remember that leadership development is more relational than anything else. One error that we often make when looking at leadership development is to mistake a program or class with building leaders. When Jesus developed the 12 men to whom He would entrust the most important mission of history, he didn't send them to a class or put them through a program. Jesus developed his leaders by hanging out with them, eating with them, and experiencing life with them. The most effective means of leadership development is sitting around a dinner table, sharing the ups and downs of life. One of the reasons that development must be relational is that one of the variables in growth is timing. “Mentoring is not dumping all you know onto the protégé,” says church management consultant Bob Biehl. “It’s finding the teachable moment to ask, 'What are your plans?' and 'How can I help?'" Most leaders grow on a need-to-know or need-to-grow basis. Unless you have a pastor who understands leadership and group dynamics, the growth stops. If a ministry doesn't have strong leaders, it falters. In short, churches face a leadership-making challenge because ministries cannot grow or stay healthy without leaders. Teachable reflection is one of the factors that leads to the formation of great leaders.
  4. Take advantage of the various communication tools available. Many of them are free via the Internet. Use videoconferencing and teleconferences to connect pastors and trainers located in different parts of the country. This saves travel costs and allows you to meet as often as needed, focus on upcoming concerns, and enhance the sense of community.

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

[Based on an article by Greg Ligon]

5 Ships Needed to Take Your Church into the Future

One of the most common mistakes made by leaders is changing courses too fast. A church is a lot like a ship. If you turn too fast, you will turn the boat over.

The sea of life if full of sunken ships that would have survived if the leaders would have transitioned instead of forcing abrupt and immediate change. Change is not accepted merely because it is needed. Many people know things need to change, but would rather settle for mediocrity than venture into the unknown seas of an uncertain future. People will only accept change if their leader has enough influence, track record and integrity to ensure a safe trip into uncharted waters.

Changing a church requires at least 5 ships: Leadership, Worship, Discipleship, Stewardship and Fellowship.

  1. Leadership - Unless the leaders are on board, change will be resisted and confusion is imminent. All of the questions have to be answered among the leaders, before the visions is cast to the rest of the congregation. Corporate vision casting should never catch your leaders off guard.
  2. Worship - The key to a successful worship service is flow. A worship service that doesn’t have constant interruption points gives you a seamless experience with God. A service with flow gets you into His presence, and there your mind can be changed. Change must be perceived as spiritual growth. Nothing says that like a seamless flow in a worship experience.
  3. Discipleship - Solve your problems in the smallest possible component. The quickest avenue of change is through small groups. Your discipleship program not only gives you the best results for personal growth, but also provided the perfect vehicle for corportate growth. Vision trinkles down from the top. As the leaders cast the vision, the small groups leaders can have unprecedented influence in creating positive momentum.
  4. Stewardship - The first question concerning change is, “can we afford it.” Churches have got to start thinking outside the offering plate. Growing churches need to create income streams that fuel their ministry budgets. A stewardship plan up front makes a huge impact on how people perceive ideas for change.
  5. Fellowship - The larger a church becomes, the better it has to do small. Connectivity is the key to cohesiveness. Never underestimate the power of a night of eating, laughing and enjoying each other. The church is in the relationship business. We create an environment where individuals can have a personal relationship with God and the family of God. Friends can change the hearts of another friend much quicker that the best ran campaign.
    All Aboard!

[Bryan Cutshall]

Today's Quote

"Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can't be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people." -- Lee Iacocca, Auto Executive

Is the Glory of God Central To Your Church Plant?

I just spent an amazing week walking and worshiping God in the hill country of central Texas (which is prettier than this boy thought it would be … please forgive me, Texas!).

(Every pastor and/or church planter needs time away to recharge.) When you get away from the city, leave the laptop and cell phone at home, and run after God it’s amazing how fast He catches you!

One afternoon, while I was basking in His glory in a meadow, it struck me that I can’t honestly remember the last time I remember a Church Planter telling me, “I want to plant a church for the glory of God.”

I think we sometimes assume too much when we assume all churches are being started for God’s glory … and not our own.

Who’s getting the glory in your church plant?

[Guest Blogger: Bobby Vaughn, Church Planting Director - NorthWood Church]

Celebrate Easter at a Bible Theme Park

Fields of the Wood

Murphy, North Carolina

Celebrate Easter at Fields of the Wood!

Saturday, April 11th

All Day Singing

Easter Pageant beginning at Sunset (Activities will begin at around 11:00 AM)

Sunday, April 12th

Sunrise Service at 7:00 AM with breakfast following at the Fields of the Wood Worship Chapel


Gift Shop - Burger Mountain Café - Picnic Areas - Nature Trails - Baptismal Pool – And More!

10000 Hwy 294 – Murphy NC 28906
828-484-7855 or 423-559-5100


Six Stages of Attitude Change

  1. Identify problem feelings
  2. Identify problem behaviors–what actions result in negative feelings?
  3. Identify problem thinking
  4. Identify right thinking–what is the thinking that is right and what you desire?
  5. Make a public commitment to right thinking–public commitment becomes powerful commitment
  6. Develop a plan for right thinking (written definition of right thinking)
    a way to measure progress
    a daily measuring of progress
    a person to whom you are accountable
    a daily diet of self-help materials
    associating with right-thinking people

[John Maxwell]

National Day of Prayer - May 7

Greetings from the National Day of Prayer Task Force!

As Chairman, I want to encourage you to mark Thursday, May 7th on your calendar and take time to pray for our country on that day. Our theme for this year's National Day of Prayer is "Prayer … America's Hope!" It's based on Psalm 33:22, which says, "May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You."

This is an extremely critical time in America's history. From economic pressures, to the ongoing threat of terrorism, to the unraveling of our culture's moral fabric, many people are dealing with a deep sense of uncertainty and apprehension.

Visit, to find local events, connect with other volunteers in your area, download prayer resources and participate in our online video contest, where the winner and a guest will join Honorary Chairman, Beth Moore, and me in Washington D.C., for our national NDP observance. In addition, the winning inspirational video will be aired on GOD TV, which is available in more than 200 countries around the world!

The video contest begins on Monday, April 6, and concludes on Friday, April 24, 2009. Michael W. Smith will kick off the contest with a special announcement which you can watch on

There are many other ways you can get involved:
- Join our LIVE online prayer room every Thursday at Noon CST
- Request free devotionals
- Sign-up for weekly prayer tips via email
- Support Regan Smith, driver of the NDP and Furniture Row race car at NASCAR's Talladega event on April 26th
- View GodTV's LIVE webcast and television coverage of the National Observance from Washington D.C. from 9-noon EST on May 7th.

Again, I hope you will join with our Task Force and millions of other Americans on Thursday, May 7th, to observe the 58th annual National Day of Prayer.

Thank you, and may GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Shirley Dobson, Chairman
National Day of Prayer Task Force

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bishop Earl Sutton - Arrangements

The services of Pastor Earl Sutton will be handled by:

Ridouts Brown Service Funeral Home
711 Memorial Drive SW
Decatur, Alabama

The family will be receiving friends Saturday, April 4, 1009 from 6:00 PM to 8 :00 PM (CDST).

The funeral service will be Sunday, April 5, 2009, at 2:00 PM.

Please continue prayer for the family.

Good Stewardship

In these times of economic challenges, every Christian must decide the prudent steps to take in order to be a good steward of whatever resources one has.

It is not the time to stop tithing and giving. We need God's blessings now more than ever. It is not the time for the windows of Heaven to be closed.

Among prudent cutbacks, there are also other areas Christians should not cut. The folks at Money Talks News advise that cutting some things may save you now but cost you later. Examples?

  1. Your oil change. Skipping oil changes might save you 30 bucks today, but a seized engine could cost you $5,000 down the road. Something you might cut back on? Tune-ups. If your car is running well, it’s probably ok.
  2. When it comes to car insurance, don’t cut your liability. But if your car is only worth a few hundred dollars, you might consider dropping collision. Weigh the cost/benefit.
  3. Your health: many people are tempted to skip or cut doses in half to prolong prescriptions. Bad idea … even if you’re feeling fine. Good idea? Ask your doctor about generic substitutes or free samples.
  4. And finally your home. Even if the value of your home is falling, the cost to rebuild it isn't: don’t lower your coverage. Do however, look into raising your deductible. Going from $250 to $1,000 can save 15% or more.

Bishop Earl Sutton Passes

Bishop Earl Sutton, life-long pastor in Alabama, passed away before Noon today. Arrangements will be announced as soon as they are made. Please be in prayer for the family.

Beautifully Singing Preachers

Recently, I read an advertisement for a person to travel to various restaurants and report on the quality of the food. Hmmmm ... thought about applying, but changed my mind! Weight control, you know.

In these tough times it would have a double-whammy effect if you took the position — give you a job and, in addition, get you a free meal every day. Not bad!

Reflecting on this task, I thought about Ezekiel. The crowds came to hear him preach. But it’s said of Ezekiel’s preaching (33:33), "Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they don’t obey them."

Of course there’s nothing like that going on in the church today!

No one today would shop around for the best preacher in the community because they enjoyed his style. Of course not. They’re interested in what he has to say only because they want to learn to become more faithful Christians. Having discovered such an eloquent preacher, no one today would listen to and enjoy his sermons and then fail to go home and practice what he preached. Of course not! They all are anxious to leave the service so they can get at it!

I wonder how much of this sort of thing is actually involved in the church attendance of many today. We don’t have divine revelation on the issue as Ezekiel had, so we can’t read hearts (on this mattert see previous blogs about reading the heart).

Even if such pulpit entertainment isn’t your prime concern in attending church, even if you aren’t a sermon taster travelling about from church to church (or from Bible conference to Bible conference ) in search of beautiful singing and skillful playing from the pulpit, isn’t there at least a touch of this attitude in you? Shouldn’t we all become aware of the fact when it exists and root it out of our lives? You know we should.

[from Institute for Nouthetic Studies Blog by Jay Adams]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Global Day of Prayer Video

Global Day of Prayer - May 31

187 Nations are lined up to participate in the Global Day of Prayer.

"To pray is to unite ourselves with Jesus and lift up the whole world through him to God in a cry for forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and mercy ... Prayer is leading every sorrow to the source of all healing ... But most of all, prayer is the way to become and remain a part of Jesus' mission to draw all people to the intimacy of God's love." - Henri Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life

The phenomenon of city-gatherings all over the globe, simultaneously crying out to God for revival, is unprecedented. God is moving in tremendous power in these days and He is calling us to be part of His journey. This journey is beyond the church, it is more than what God is doing for and in His church. It is about what He is doing and getting ready to do for a world so desperate for His love and glory.

He is calling us, his servants, to humble ourselves, to pray, and to seek His face (2 Chronicles 7:14) so that He will fill our communities, cities, nations and all the earth, with His glory (Habakkuk 2:14).

The date is May 31, 2009. Only 33 nations have not responded to the invitation to participate in GDOP. Pray that every nation will be represented in this global prayer meeting. The sole focus on that day is to saturate the earth with prayer.

Find out if there is a Global Day of Prayer event scheduled for your city. If there is - join it. If there isn't - sponsor one. Call the believers of the city together. Pray for a Global Spiritual Awakening, for a fresh Pentecost.

And pray for these nations in Africa - Niger and Reunion; in Asia - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Iran, Nepal, Oman, Syria and Yemen; in Europe - Andorra, Belarus, Iceland, Lithuania, and San Marino; in Latin- and Central America (Caribbean) - Anguilla, Aruba, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands of the USA; in the Pacific - Nauru; and in North America - Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon. If you are in one of these nations, the Global Day of Prayer leadership team is looking for you - to assist in leading this effort.

For information, go to the GDOP website.

[from Blog Entries by]

National Day of Prayer - May 7

Last year, throughout the nation, millions joined together on the First Thursday in May for the National Day of Prayer. Some believe the numbers were greater than ever before.

The National Day of Prayer leaders say the number of the public-invited events doubled from the previous year, 2007. In addition, there was more favor from local and state governments; more politicians who participated, more access to government buildings, and even more governors. All 50 governors signed National Day of Prayer proclamations. Many mayors participated.

There was a wider scope in the type of events as well: planes, motorcycles, children prayer walks, buses, train, IRS, NASA and police departments.

PrayerFlight - a group of Ohio based private pilots - organized "50 Capitols." These private pilots did 'prayer-flights' over all 50 state capitols, while praying for those states. Military pilots serving overseas and airline pilots and flight attendants were also organized to pray while airborne as well.

Prayer events occurred at past sites of recent tragedies such as: Minneapolis 35W Bridge Collapse, the New Life Church shooting site and the Virginia Tech shooting site. YMCAs and the Salvation Army held events around the nation. In Colorado Springs pastors from 27 denominations filled the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and prayed for the local community and our nation on the 75 minute trip up and back the 14,000 ft peak. In Alaska, a 300 mile prayer train traveled from Anchorage to Fairbanks. In Bakersfield, CA, 30 churches lengthened the National Day of Prayer to three days, highlighted by the formation of a human cross with red shirts.

Prayer events were held in 110 Federal Prisons, national monuments such as Mount Rushmore and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, military bases, stadiums, nursing homes, schools, town halls and in the Senate and Congressional chambers of many state capitols as well as the west lawn of our nation's capitol in Washington, DC. In rain, snow, sunshine or indoors tens of thousands of prayer events took place with every denomination and race present in all 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

There were prayer breakfasts, prayer walks, Bible reading marathons, motorcycle cavalcades, prayer at countless businesses, and even prayer balloon releases marked some of the creativity of our massive national network.

Governors in Minnesota, Texas, Louisiana, and the First Lady of Nevada spoke at their events and were prayed over by participants. Attorney Generals and Judges participated in many states. Michael Reagan, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, and Focus on the Family promoted the event. At least 2500 stations nationally carried promotional spots. The event showed up on Facebook, My Space, YouTube, and GodTube. 18,340 military devotions were sent to encourage deployed soldiers.

Millions united in prayer from coast to coast and transformation is taking place in communites throughout America.

The 2009 National Day of Prayer is scheduled for May 7. Go to the National Day of Prayer website to register your event or download promotional materials.

Listen to this audio message.

[from Blog Entries by]