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10,000+ comments. John Piper. Why homosexuality is wrong. Watch the video. What did you think? Now read the comments. Does it change your feelings at all? How do you respond to someone who says that this is just more ‘conservative christian bullshit rhetoric’? Before you quickly respond… look at the sheer number of people represented by these comments. Many of them look at Piper’s words as hateful, or at best, ill-advised. So… how do you respond to these souls? (My first thought here is that many times we make issues like homosexuality the first point people hear.  It’s far more important that they hear about the gospel than about our view on homosexuality). I’m not down on Piper at all for answering the question.  It’s an important question, with an equally important answer. I’m just wondering how we can answer the question without alienating so many people with our response… because our answer to the homosexuality question is not the most important question that should be asked. How do YOU answer the question when you’re asked? Todd HT:

… even with condoms. Well… take a look here, and you’ll see. The idea for a condom that can be opened with one hand wasn’t an innovation to make condoms more accessible to the masses, but rather to help people with people afflicted with Hemiplegia, a condition that leaves one side of the body paralyzed. You see… most people what have control of both sides of their body never thought about having a condom that would open with one hand (although it’s a much better design for the product for reasons we won’t go into). So… I begin to wonder… What things are we not innovating in the church because we’ve always done it this way, or because we’ve not looked at it through a fresh set of eyes different from our own? What bit of genius is out there that we’ve just not thought of yet? And what will it take for this innovation to happen? Thoughts? Todd

Mars Hill Church is on track to open its 15th church in Tacoma next year. The church currently has a contract to purchase the building of the First Congregational Church at 918 Division Ave, adjacent to Wright Park, on the north end of the downtown area. The 104-year-old building had been up for sale and was in danger of demolition this spring, KING 5 News reported in May. Mars Hill’s bid was accepted this summer; the church plans to spend about $1.5 million in improvements before starting services in the fall of 2013. The Tacoma church will be led by Bubba Jennings, who served as a pastor for almost a decade at the original Ballard church before moving to the South Sound region to get the Tacoma church plant going. On Thursday, September 27, the nascent church will hold a public Vision & Prayer Night to dedicate the church building. “God’s heart for Tacoma is displayed at the cross where, in mercy, Jesus sacrificed himself to redeem, heal, and bless Tacoma,” says Jennings. “As Christians, we testify that God saves sinners like us and his grace is amazing. Our heart is for all the people of Tacoma.” Local pastor Dean Curry of Life Center church gave a warm welcome to Mars Hill Tacoma. “[Bubba and I] are brothers in the faith and [I] will enthusiastically speak with and for their success,” wrote Curry, who leads the multi-site church that sees about 6,000 Sunday attenders. “We will invite every friend of Life Center to pray and consider joining Mars Hill’s launch.” On the north end of Puget Sound, Mars Hill Everett will move into a new home this fall: the Everett Armory, located at 2730 Oakes Ave, in the middle of the city’s historic district. The church, led by Pastor Scott Mitchell, launched in September 2011 and has met in rented space at Everett Community College’s fitness center for the past year. For 90 years, two Washington National Guard units were stationed at the Armory until last fall when the units moved, leaving the Armory up for sale. The 40,000-square foot Armory will be a boon to the young church, which hosts 500 attenders at two Sunday morning services and has outgrown its children’s space. Mars Hill Everett is also hosting a public Vision & Prayer Night, Thursday September 13. The populations of Tacoma and Everett are about 200,000 and 104,000, respectively, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The news comes on the heels of the August 10 announcement that Mars Hill Downtown Seattle will move into the Daniels Recital Hall in the heart of the city.

Warren Bird writes: Leadership Network’s latest church salary report, just released, is the largest-scale project that anyone has compiled to date on North America’s largest churches. It reports on 209 large churches, including 44 churches with weekend worship attendances of 5,000 and higher. Here are what I believe to be the most important findings for churches with attendances of 2,000 and higher. They are among the many points highlighted in the executive summary.
  • Senior pastor salaries in very large churches increased 2% per year for the last two years, and 0% per year for the two years before that.
  • Church size – represented by budget and attendance – is the most influential factor in salary differences for congregations of all sizes, including very large churches.
  • Geography and location (suburb, downtown, etc.) affect salary differences, but only mildly.
  • Founding pastors tend to receive higher pay than successor pastors.
  • Senior pastor pay in single site churches is higher than in multisite churches until attendance reaches about 6,000; then multisite churches begin to pay higher.
  • The second-highest paid staff member typically receives 66% of the salary of the senior pastor in very large churches.
To download the 10-page, illustrated executive summary 2012 Large Church Salary Report: Research Trends from Leadership Network, click here.

In a nutshell:  Never assume that something you write in an email will stay confidential. Assume it will get out there, and write accordingly. As a pastor and church leader, you’re entrusted with lots and lots of information.  Much of it is sensitive in nature. You have to be careful, particularly in written communication these days.  What you write in private may at some point be made public.  In fact, at some point, a sensitive email you write probably will be forwarded and used against you. To be honest, we’ve probably all had it happen.  Either we send a sensitive email to someone and they (either knowingly or unknowingly) forward or reply to a person that your email wasn’t intended for. Or, like me, maybe once or twice in your life, you’ve sent a somewhat sensitive email to the wrong person. Ouch. Anyway… here are some thoughts that will hopefully eliminate some of these problems.  These ideas are offered up by
  • Should what I am communicating be better said in a conversation and/or face to face? (sometimes emails aren’t the right medium to communicate difficult issues)
  • Have I thought through, prayed and re-read this email before I hit the send button? (never be quick to write and send a sensitive or difficult email)
  • What emotional state am I in upon writing this email? Am I angry, tired or frustrated? (if so wait before writing – make sure your thoughts are clear and lucid)
  • Would what I have to say in an email be the same thing that I would feel comfortable saying publicly?(in other words you wouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed if your email was made public)
I do this all the time, quite honestly.  Sometimes it will take me twice as long to read my email before I send it.  I read it over for tone.  I read it over trying to put myself in the recipient’s shoes.  And I try to read it in mind of other people or situations that it would impact if the email ever became public.
Please, please remember these suggestions before you hit ‘send’.  It could save you a ton of embarrassment, outrage, and egg on your face.
Have you experienced having one of your email communications forwarded or sent to the wrong person?  Have you ever received a sensitive email that should have been sent to someone else?
Care to share your story? (I’d love to hear it!)

There is a great post over at this morning on how to run your meetings like Apple or Google (and our Catalyst friends get a nice shout-out as well).  Here are three things that will make your meetings go much better (along with some comments from yours truly): 1.  Each meeting must have a stated purpose or agenda.   Don’t schedule a meeting without one.  In other words, don’t have a monthly meeting just to have a monthly meeting.  Spell out the agenda beforehand.  If you haven’t taken the time to do that, your meeting has the potential to be a real disaster. 2.  Everyone at the meeting should walk away with some concrete next steps or action items.   This is probably the number one thing I  look for in a meeting… what happens as a result from the meeting?  I’ve sat in way too many meetings that don’t accomplish anything.  Either there are no action steps, or the action steps are fuzzy and not written down.  Write them down!  And hold people accountable.  Otherwise your meetings will NOT accomplish what they were designed to. 3.  The meeting should end on time.   That means that you decide on an end time before you start.  “Constraints breed creativity”.  When everyone knows the agenda and what needs to be accomplished by the end of the meeting, it discourages ramblings and off-topic discussions. There are tons of other meeting advice in the article here. The three points above will help anyone run a successful meeting though.  If the people attending your meeting feel like things are actually being accomplished, then it will be worth their time, and they’ll attend the next meeting with anticipation, not drudgery.  If not, you’re in for a long haul with disillusioned leaders that sooner or later will find something else to do rather than attend your boring, insignificant meeting. What can you do to make your next meeting a success? Todd

Here’s a new feature at the blog… I proudly (well, not so proudly) present my stupid church idea of the week. DISCLAIMER:  As you’ll see by the comments… some took this idea a little TOO seriously.  It was not meant to be… actually, that’s why it’s named the STUPID church idea of the week.  For those that thought I was mocking… please don’t misinterpret my light-hearted and sometimes self-admitted snarkiness as ridicule.  Seriously folks.  And also, don’t take this as a theological fight.  Wasn’t meant as such.  (You’re on the wrong blog, btw).  The point I was TRYING to make (and doing so in an obviously lousy fashion) is that new technologies cause us to re-think everything.  THAT is a discussion that is worthy to be having this days.  OK… my rant of a disclaimer is done.  🙂 This idea is REALLY stupid… but on a serious side, causes me to think about what kinds of ministry are possible or are out of bounds using technology.  We’ve already had discussions the past couple of years about using the internet for different types of things that we normally do in person at the church… things like discipleship, communion and baptism.  I wonder if anyone is already doing my stupid idea of the week, and I just don’t know about it.  🙂 Anyway… for what it’s worth… he it is.  I’d love to hear your comments (if you’re brave enough to respond!) Todd

Here’s the conundrum: You need more leaders. But you are so busy you have no idea how you’d ever have time to train and raise up new leaders. Well, according to Mac Lake, you’re in a PERFECT position to start to develop new leaders!  Here’s why, according to Mac:
  • The busier you are, the more opportunity there is for a potential leader to follow you and watch what you do.  Leadership is more caught than taught, so invite a potential leader to follow you around and observe your activities.  You would be amazed at what they can learn not only sitting in meetings with you, but those little moments before or after meetings can be great opportunities to share leadership nuggets.
  • The busier you are, the more you have to give away.  Make a list of what you’re doing and ask yourself who you can give this to and how can it be used as a developmental opportunity.  Not only will this help the potential leader but it will help you off load some of your busyness.
  • Your busyness is an opportunity to show the potential leader how you establish priorities, produce results, work though people and manage my time.  One day they will be a “busy leader” too so watching you may help them learn to establish priorities and be busy with the right things.
What excuses will you use this week for not developing that guy or gal that you really need in the long-term? Don’t let your busyness get in the way! Todd (You can read MUCH more wisdom from Mac Lake at his blog right here!)