Sunday, May 31, 2009
After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer in an upper room. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, a violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were given the power of communication which Peter used to begin the ministry for which Jesus had prepared him. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples did not stay in the room basking in God’s glory but burst out to tell the world.
Today, in many Christian churches, Pentecost Sunday is celebrated to recognize the gift of the Holy Spirit, realizing that God’s very life, breath and energy lives in believers. During this service, John 20:19-23 may be the core of the message about our risen Savior supernaturally appearing to the fear-laden disciples. Their fear gave way to joy when the Lord showed them His hands and side. He assured them peace and repeated the command given in Matthew 28:19-20 saying; “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23).
The celebration of Pentecost Sunday reminds us of the reality that we are all have the unifying Spirit that was poured out upon the first century church in Acts 2:1-4. It is a reminder that we are co-heirs with Christ, to suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him; that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7); that we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13); and that the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives inside believers (Romans 8:9-11). This gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised and given to all believers on the first Pentecost is promised for you and your children and for all who are far off whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:39).
Many Christians believe that the Gift of Pentecost is available to believers today. Today's Pentecostal movement traces its community's growth to a prayer meeting at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas on January 1, 1901. Here, many came to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was the biblical sign of the Holy Spirit's baptism. Charles Parham, the founder of this school, would later move to Houston, Texas. In spite of segregation in Houston, William J. Seymour, a (literally) one-eyed African-American preacher, was allowed to attend Parham's Bible classes there. Seymour traveled to Los Angeles, where his preaching sparked the Azusa Street Revival in 1906. Despite the work of various Wesleyan groups such as Parham's and D. L. Moody's revivals, the beginning of the widespread Pentecostal movement in the United States is generally considered to have begun with Seymour's Azusa Street Revival.
The Azuza revival was the first Pentecostal revival to receive significant attention, and many people from around the world became drawn to it. The Los Angeles Press gave close attention to Seymour's revival, which helped fuel its growth. A number of new, smaller, groups started up, inspired by the events of this revival. International visitors and Pentecostal missionaries would eventually bring these teachings to other nations, so that practically all classic Pentecostal denominations today trace their historical roots to the Azusa Street Revival.
Early Pentecostals were fueled by their understanding that all of God’s people would prophesy in the last days before Christ’s second coming. They looked to the biblical passages concerning Pentecost in the second chapter of Acts, in which Peter cited the prophecy contained in Joel 2, "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."(NIV) Thus, as the experience of speaking in tongues spread among the men and women of Azusa Street, a sense of immediacy took hold, as they began to look toward the Second Coming of Christ. Early Pentecostals saw themselves as outsiders from mainstream society, dedicated solely to preparing the way for Christ’s return.
Today we celebrate all that Pentecost was and is.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The need for measurements within any organization may seem obvious to many. However, more often than not, it's overlooked as being unnecessary by many leaders of churches.
Measurements of success, such as counting numbers and defining outcomes can be seen by some as being unspiritual ... but I would argue that it is not!
Defining clear measurements and success criteria is being wise and actually will allow you to use the people, money and facilities God has given the church more effectively.
Let's look at the top 7 reasons why any organization needs to measure its results:
- Measurement clarifies expectations.
- Measurement increases objectivity.
- Measurement focuses attention and allocation of resources.
- Measurement promotes consistency.
- Measurement facilitates feedback.
- Measurement improves decision-making.
- Measurement provides an opportunity to promote change.
What say you?
[Based on Ministry Best Practices by Bill Reichart]
Friday, May 29, 2009
Individuals from 220 nations will gather in local churches, stadiums and other venues for the fifth annual event that crosses denominational lines and cultural barriers.
While participants are encouraged to pray for their own nation, event organizers also request prayers for issues such as the unreached people of the world, children who are at risk for various reasons, and the persecuted church, among other topics.
Last year an estimated 500 million Christians participated in GDOP.
The massive global prayer event began as a local prayer event in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001. The event quickly expanded throughout Africa in subsequent years, and in 2005 Christians from 156 of the 220 nations of the world united in prayer.
Last year, 210 countries participated in the day of prayer, and this year all 220 countries are registered to hold some kind of prayer event.
In addition to having Christians in every country participate in GDOP, this year will also be the first time a live webcast of the Pentecost Prayer Service from Jerusalem will be streamed online.
www.IPrayTv.com hopes to connect Christians worldwide to the Holy Land on Pentecost with this effort. Viewers can watch the feed online at the group’s web site for free.
[By Ethan Cole, Christian Post Reporter]
Thursday, May 28, 2009
A year ago, 50 percent said they were pro-choice and 44 percent said they were pro-life. Additionally, a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center reported an eight percentage-point decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, from 54 percent to 46 percent. Those saying abortion should be legal in only a few or no cases increased from 41 percent to 44 percent.
Does your church have firm legal footing to deny a "legally" married gay couple church membership, to say no to performing a gay marriage, to say no to performing a funeral service celebrating an openly gay lifestyle, or to terminate the employment of a church employee who begins living an openly homosexual or otherwise biblically immoral lifestyle?
Besides facing costly litigation, churches holding a traditional view of marriage can and have been confronted with hostile treatment in local and national media related to actions taken for religious convictions. The potential problems for churches are multiplied where church leadership is caught unprepared in bylaws, employment initiation paperwork, job descriptions, policies, and other fundamental documents. Churches holding a traditional view of marriage are increasingly under attack, and "gay marriage" advocates are not resting.
Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger appearing on "The Tonight Show" on Tuesday commented about the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold California's constitutional amendment protecting marriage: "This is not over, this decision, because I think . . . in a year or two they will be back again with another initiative trying to get it . . . Eventually it's going to be overturned, I'm sure of that."
Gay marriage advocates now publicize that gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Maine, Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, and soon in New Hampshire and New York. New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon have civil unions or domestic partnership laws on the books. And the District of Columbia, for example, recognizes marriages legally performed in other states. Churches that hold firm to the traditional view of marriage must be prepared in case a couple legally married elsewhere visits with the wrong motives-to change the church rather than to be changed by the Gospel.
If you and/or your congregation come under fire legally and in the media for taking an action based upon biblical convictions, it will be crucial to have your legal ducks in a row. Updating your legal protections does not help after a problem has already come to light. But having the right legal language in place in your bylaws, employment policies, policies and procedure related to permissible use of church facilities, contracts, and other important documents will help your church properly steward its resources, present an accurate witness to the public about its beliefs, and help protect against legal assaults.
One law group assisting churches in defending themselves is the Church Law Group. To ensure your bylaws, handbooks, and employment agreements are clear so that your organization can be armed to properly address this pressing issue, contact:
Anthony and Middlebrook, P.C.
4501 Merlot Avenue, Grapevine, TX 76051
It is of utmost importance for pastors to build friendships with other pastors who understand what you're going through.
One way to start is by;
- check out the new http://www.pastors.com/ – a place to hang out with ministry leaders,
- start your own blog,
- see other people's postings, and
- join groups.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Glenn Burris Jr., Foursquare general supervisor and vice president of national church operations, will serve as interim president, effective Sept. 1. The denomination’s board of directors will nominate at least two presidential candidates during the church’s 2010 convention in Atlanta. Licensed and ordained ministers, as well as church delegates, will vote on the candidates.
CONTINUE READING ARTICLE
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The study, "Faith in Flux," which was conducted by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, is a follow-up to the "U.S. Religious Landscape Survey" that was based on research in 2007 and then released in 2008. Between Oct. 3 and Nov. 7 of last year, 2,800 people, who were among the 35,000 who were originally surveyed in 2007, were re-contacted.
The results also reveal that:
- Most people who change their childhood faith do so before age 24.
- Fifteen percent of Americans who were raised Protestant are now affiliated with a different Protestant denomination.
- Nine percent of Americans who were raised Catholic are no longer affiliated with the Catholic faith. Five percent are now Protestant and four percent are not affiliated with any church.
- Seven percent of Americans who were raised Protestant are no longer affiliated with any religion.
- Sixteen percent of Americans say they are now unaffiliated with any religion.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Yet two paradoxes immediately raise concern. First, one of the few realities that link the world’s leaders across the millennia is that they never studied leadership. Many of the truly profound people we now saddle with that label wouldn’t have recognized themselves as such — they were simply doing what they understood God, family, nation, or simply decency, demanded of them. The flip side of this paradox (that leaders don’t study leadership) is that the people who teach leadership are generally not, themselves, leaders.
The second and greater paradox is that leadership involves complex ethical dilemmas at every turn. Despite the ethical perils, we need good leadership and we crave great leaders. There is far too much abuse today by the hands of leaders who only know the tactics of fear and intimidation. If you question them, they equate your actions as questioning God (them). They leave behind a landscape of wounded laborers who will die with their hurts. As is so often the case in life, the best safeguards we have to preventing abuse is robust conversation — frequent, thoughtful, passionate, open, and inclusive.
About what do we need to converse?
- About the need for and the danger of leadership based on inspiration and charisma
- About the need for a compelling vision, and for forcing ourselves to notice our vision’s blind spots
- About the tension between affective leadership versus transformational leadership
- About the temptation to reduce leadership to management, or to consider leadership above management and ignore the details and the methods of implementing leadership vision
Finally, we need to think long and hard about the issue of character and compassion as a cornerstone qualification for true leadership. It is not so much running with the wolves, but intuiting and protecting the sheep that defines the ideal greatness of leadership.
What say you?
[Based on comments by Bradley Shavit Artson]
- You can't put fire in your work unless there is fire in your heart.
- Two things cannot be imitated; God's sunset and man's sincerity.
- It is better to establish a solid precident than to follow a poor one.
- It is better to lose a good fight than to win a bad one. And --
- Always be content with what you have, but never with what you are.
[Dr. William Barrett Millard]
Currently, 219 nations have declared their intent to participate in the annual Global Day of Prayer. Isaiah 56:7 is the theme: "These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
Around the world, believers will be gathered, irrespective of race, ... READ MORE.
Also click HERE.
Check your motives. When I consider the big picture of ministry evaluation, as a supervisor, I ultimately have to return to the motive of my heart. It is everything. Like a ballast to a sailboat, if your sincere desire is for the development of your direct report, then you will find the balance that will maximize this important opportunity.
Think STEWARDSHIP. Often before I sit down with a person for a time of ministry evaluation, I will reflect on the responsibility of stewardship for which it calls. I go to a quiet place in my heart and consider how blessed I am to speak into the life and leadership of another person. I envision the time like a box of fine china marked “handle with care.”
Write it down. A ministry evaluation is a very deliberate and intentional process and, as such, requires the precision that comes from writing it down. The impact of an evaluation is markedly enhanced in a carefully-worded document. As a written document, it not only has “weight” in the moment, but even more so as the person reflects on it in the ensuing days.
Emphasize affirmation. Of the 5-6 categories in the ministry evaluation document that I have developed through the years, the first (and longest) one is AFFIRMATION. This section is a bulleted list of several areas of praise that I want to call out. For example, “Steve is a man who passionately pursues his walk with God” or “Judy is a pastor who is highly effective in developing leaders.”
Be honest. It is better NOT to do an evaluation than to do one that is less than honest. As a supervisor, and more importantly, as a leader, you owe it to your direct report to speak the truth in love. A ministry evaluation is the perfect opportunity to do so because it comes with a built-in expectation of candid feedback. Don’t miss the moment. Be ready. Teeing up a tough conversation in a ministry evaluation takes concerted effort, but is well w0rth the investment. When it comes to addressing a difficult topic, thinking through and, at times, scripting your words can make a huge difference. For example, “Jim, I’d like to talk about a topic that I believe is essential to your ongoing development as a leader. I trust you will hear my heart and my commitment to you as we discuss it together.”
Invite input. In chasing down a difficult topic, often it is helpful to launch the discussion by putting a question on the table. For example, “Susan, as I read through the comments submitted by some of your ‘third party’ evaluators, there is a consistent theme about your reluctance to accept the input of other people. What’s going on here? Why do you think they would share that comment?”
Prioritize SELF-evaluation. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned in my years of doing ministry evaluation is the strategic place of self-evaluation. Every ministry evaluation process begins with the person assessing their own life and leadership using a set of reflective questions. At minimum, two things will happen. First, you will discover with new intensity both the joys and frustrations being faced by this person. And second, you will find that the vast majority of the challenging topics that need to be vetted are initiated by the person himself.
Establish benchmarks. One of the many values of a ministry evaluation is the “paper trail” that it creates — a formal and written track record of one’s performance. This historical record is particularly helpful (not to mention critical when it comes to meeting HR standards) when the need arises to substantiate that there is an ongoing pattern of sub-par performance and it is time to consider some remedial steps or a change in employment status.
Keep a tight focus. Every ministry evaluation process needs to have a clear statement of what the person needs to do to continue the (lifelong) process of development. Through the years, I have found that this should be limited to 1-2 items. At least one item, because EVERYONE is a ‘work in progress’ and needs to know what their next step is. And no more than two items so that there is the ability to bring strategic attention to the area most in need of development.
Stay current. When all is said and done, a ministry evaluation should contain no “surprises.” Surprises ultimately reveal that the supervisor has not sustained an ongoing dialogue about the direct report’s effectiveness. A ministry evaluation is the time to reintroduce important themes and to mutually establish the game plan for addressing them. Look for patterns. In evaluating people, a wise supervisor will probe for patterns, not the “one-offs.” It is important to identify the actions and attitudes that are CONSISTENTLY reflected in a person’s life and ministry.
Those are the ones worthy of deliberation.
I trust these thoughts are helpful to you. While ministry evaluations take a lot of time and attention, the ROI is inarguable. And most of all, when done right, it is a gift to those God has entrusted to your care.
If you would like a copy of the ministry evaluation forms that Chuck uses in his ministry, please contact him at Chuck@LeadWithYourLife.com
[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]
2. Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, and the romance in a relationship and find out that you still care for that person.
3. When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one that has been opened for us.
4. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with while never saying a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.
5. It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives.
6. There are things you'd love to hear that you would never hear from the person who you would like to hear them from, but don't be so deaf as not to hear it from the one who says it from their heart.
Are these true? What do you think?
[from Howtoencourage by Kay the Encourager]
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
We try to package relevance and that never works. For example, I wear jeans and un-tuck my shirt. But trust me, that does not make me relevant. (My 16 year old granddaughter reminds me of that fact on a consistent basis.) You can't buy an iPhone and become a relevant leader.
Relevance is not a product. It's not about production. It's not about a certain way to design your Sunday morning service. If you start using a table for your notes instead of a podium while you teach, you are not instantly relevant. I know Billy Crystal said "Its better to look good (marvelous) than to feel good," (Saturday Night Live, Circa 1985). But remember Crystal is a comedian. Yeah, he's funny, that's his job. Some leaders would rather look good that to be good. And that's not funny.
Relevance isn't about program or systems. I stopped calling first time guests not because "no one does that anymore" but because of the size and scope of the church. We stopped because of new ways to contact people online that are more effective with people who are drawn to a large church. In smaller church environments, calling first time guests can be highly relevant. In the case of program and systems, quality is relevant. Doing what you do extremely well at the right time with the right people is relevant.
Irrelevant leadership means what you do doesn't matter. Irrelevance is when you work hard and just spin your wheels. Nothing changes. That's irrelevant. Church leader, please get this, if you are leading people to Jesus and their lives are being changed, you are relevant!
At its core relevance is about connection. There are some things that help you connect and therefore increase your relevance as a leader. There is so much that could be said here, but let me just get things started. You can increase the list of ideas on your own.
My mom died at age 86. That was in 2007. While going through some of my files recently, I found a note she has sent me before she died asking if she bought a computer, would I come by and teach her how to use it. When she first sharted her ministry in the 1940's, all she needed was a car, a guitar, and a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. But somehow, even in her final years, she knew that to make a difference she had to become computer literate. It's not about the computer however, its what you do with it.
It's not about the iPhone. It's what you do with it. Leonard Sweet would say I'm an immigrant when it comes to technology. My kids are natives. I've learned how to use the tools, it's a way of life for my kids. You don't need an iPhone to Twitter. As an immigrant, I didn't jump on Twitter immediately, but when I saw how it helps me connect, I was in. (Follow me on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DGBrock). I had to experience it to understand it. My grandkids were impressed. Although my daughter says, "Dad, you have to quit stalking me on Twitter!" Now that's funny, I don't care who you are!
Jump on Facebook and Twitter because it helps you connect with people. It helps you communicate. It helps you stay in touch. And you can do so at the speed of light with huge numbers of people. That's relevant.
Listen to Young Leaders
If you are a twenty-something, this goes for you too. You need to listen to your friends and peers.
I lead a small Bible-study group near my home. This is a sharp group of young people. We were there a few weeks ago, huddled in their living room after eating egg salad and tuna fish salad sandwiches. I taught on the topic of Spiritual Gifts at their request. We had a great time. All that was wonderful, but the highlight of my evening was talking and mostly listening before we started. Listening, learning. Getting and staying connected. That is relevant.
I recently wrote about listening to young leaders, especially those on your staff. Just because they are young doesn't make them relevant. In fact, young leaders can be very irrelevant. But young people are the closest natural link to relevance because they are the closest connection to the future. That is relevant.
Be Really Good at What You Do
I'm often asked if church choirs are relevant. Choir or no choir is not the issue. Whether or not the choir is good or bad is the issue. If the choir is bad, its irrelevant! It's irrelevant because it doesn't matter. It doesn't accomplish anything. No one's life is different. In fact, a bad choir can be worse than irrelevant, it can kill a worship service. If people cringe in your worship experience, praying for a power failure so the microphones quit working, that's irrelevant. On the other hand, I listen to hot choirs that truly inspire people and lives are transformed. People connect with that. That is relevant.
You can't do everything, so do what you do really well. Less is more. It's better to extend your global mission efforts to one country and make a difference than fifteen countries and barely make a dent. That's relevant. It's better to lead a children's ministry that the kids love and can't wait to be there than to have cool videos and have the kids be bored. Cool videos may be part of genuine connection and relevance for you, the point I'm making is that relevance isn't in the video, it is doing what you do well so that you connect.
Figure Out Who You Really Are
It's important for you personally, and for your church corporately to be self-aware, but let's just talk about you. Know yourself. Be yourself. Get comfortable with that. When people sense a genuine spirit about you they can connect with you. That is relevant. You may not be the best leader, but if people like you that's a start. Not everyone will like you, but people will like you best when you are yourself.
I'm not suggesting that you don't have to grow, change and improve. We all do. I'm suggesting that it's very difficult to grow, change and improve if you have not given yourself permission to be you. You only have so much energy. Don't burn it all up trying to please everyone and replicate "stuff" you think is relevant.
I'm not suggesting that everything you currently do is relevant. I am saying that one of the first key steps is to get freed-up so you don't lose sleep worrying about what people think. Just be yourself and do your best. If you do the things that matter, and people's lives are changed by the power of Jesus Christ in your ministry, you are relevant.
[Based on an article by Dan Reiland]
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
“There are many circumstances in life that hold no choices for us, but one of the choices we can make is to be personally accountable. We can take responsibility for our own actions. We accept responsibility for our own lifetime learning program, and we choose not to deprive others of a level of accountability that for most of us is natural.” -- Max DePree from Leadership Is An Art
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
For your free copy of the NT Expanded Bible in PDF, click on the link above.
For more information, CLICK HERE.
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought withhis own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be onyour guard!" (Acts 20:28-31)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
"We are disappointed in the lack of participation by the Obama administration," said Shirley Dobson, chairman of the NDP Task Force. "At this time in our country's history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer."
The White House did eventually release a generic proclamation late in the day Thursday recognizing the National Day of Prayer.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Get into Worship Therapy by incorporating your Spirit, Soul, and Body as you listen to uplifting worship music and get your body into shape. Buy the entire DVD. It includes warm-up, cool down, leg and stomach work, weights, and special exercise for sciatica issues. All ages, males and females. This is what you have been waiting for. Take care of your devotion, workout and renew your mind with the assistance of a professional trainer and many other porfessionals.
[Worship Therapy Workout Warmup with Dr. Janis Smith]