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He’s a Latin Grammy nominated Christian music singer, and Brazil’s most popular Catholic priest. The church seats 20,000 people and has been under construction for 6 years. Here’s more: One of Brazil’s most famous priests has inaugurated a massive new Roman Catholic church that will hold about 20,000 worshippers when complete. A mass was celebrated Friday in Sao Paulo to inaugurate the Mother of God sanctuary. It’s been in construction for more than six years, and it will take several more to finish. Father Marcelo Rossi is the driving force behind the project. He’s a Latin Grammy-nominated Christian music singer and author of best-selling books in Brazil. He tells the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper the church isn’t meant as an answer to the rapid spread of evangelical churches in Brazil. Instead, the diocese served by the church badly needed a bigger structure. Read more here.
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On a quiet corner in northeast Dallas, the elderly members of Gaston Oaks Baptist Church make their way inside and find seats in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning, clutching programs handed out by a 99-year-old usher. Mostly white, with an average age of 83, these church members can only hope to fill about a third of the room — which holds around 300 people — on a good Sunday. Their congregation was once that size, but time and death have taken their toll. Alone, they would watch their numbers continue to dwindle and, eventually, see Gaston Oaks close its doors. For years, the congregation has been sharing its space with fledging congregations, nonprofits and even businesses as a way of bringing in income. But recently, something bigger has begun to unfold. Church leaders are re-imagining Gaston Oaks as a different kind of ministry, one that will use this 22,000-square-foot space for something different — and more lasting — than its original congregation. Eventually, they hope, they will leave a legacy by transforming their church into a kind of incubator for immigrant congregations as well as a home for nonprofit ministries, including a major low-income health center. They intend to create the Gaston Christian Center, with a board that includes all the partners housed in it, and to deed the building to this new entity to ensure that the space continues to be used for Christ’s work in this neighborhood. One of the first big steps in that direction takes place this spring, when an established Dallas health clinic will move into a wing of the building. “The day may come when the original congregation will decide they are no longer able to be a viable congregation. What we’re hoping to do is to have a plan in place that will preserve the use of the building for Christian purposes in perpetuity,” said the Rev. Dr. Gary Cook, who came to Gaston Oaks in 2008 and helped envision a future for it. // Interesting story… read more here. Should this, could this, would this not be a great plan for a healthy church with a nice facility as well? Thoughts? Todd
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“You walk in entitlement, you will simply empower entitlement underneath you. You want to talk trickle-down effect? You got an entitled pastor, you’ll have an entitled staff. That then leads to an entitled laity, that leads to the death of a church.”
During a recent webcast, Chandler shared a story of a friend who came to pray with him before he delivered a sermon several years ago. The friend, Josh, put dirt in Chandler’s hands, poured water on the dirt and told him to rub his hands together. “Kingdom hands are dirty hands,” he told Chandler. “You want to serve the Lord, you’re always going to have dirty hands,” said Chandler. “You don’t get to a place, you don’t get to a size where your hands are clean, your heart is free from the heartbreak, loss, the celebration, the need for prayer, the desperation that comes from leading and walking with God’s people.” The direct influence of The Village Church will probably “vanish” in the next 100 years, he said, so the church’s focus should be on making a wider impact for the kingdom of God instead of building up itself. The Village does this, he said, by supporting missionaries and church plants. “I think the more clingy you are about what’s yours the more you reveal you have an unhealthy culture, and you’re a bit insecure, and when all is said and done, you trying to build the church is actually you trying to feel better about you,” said Chandler. He challenged those listening to become less self-focused by asking: How eagerly do you celebrate the successes of other local ministries? How easy is it for you to critique growing ministries and point out their flaws? Are men and women in your church maturing? Is your church making an impact for the kingdom beyond itself, and are you helping missionaries and other churches? Chandler also exhorted pastors to find their worth in God, not in their church’s attendance. // Good stuff. Todd Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/matt-chandler-to-pastors-entitlement-kills-churches-83826/#e7BU7bGuHZ7JmTPo.99
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I know many churches… most churches, actually… say they require their staff to tithe.  But as I was reading the other day over at ExecutivePastorOnline.com:
I have an old saying, “never make a ‘rule’ you’re not prepared to enforce.” I don’t know how you can tell your staff that they are expected to tithe, and not check to make sure they’re actually doing it.
So… my questions are… 1.  Do you require your church staff to tithe? 2. Do you actually check to see if they tithe or not? 3.  If they’re not… what do you do about it? I’d love to hear your answers. Todd
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Baylor University is hosting a “Preaching Festival”. It’s for “people who don’t want to wait until Sunday for a sermon”. And it’s free. I think they have the bases covered. Here’s more from the press release that is trying to entice us all to attend: Many aspiring pastors have only a limited number of opportunities to preach as they prepare for their ministries, said Kessa Payne, administrative associate with The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Truett. “This gives them a chance to do so,” she said. “Some of these students have never preached a sermon in their lives.” Sermons will last about 15 minutes each, she said. The Truett students will preach in front of professors and local pastors as well as others who wish to attend. // Sounds like fun. OK, not. But it might be interesting, after all… and some great experience for the ‘preachers of tomorrow’. If anyone decides to go, let me know how it was.  🙂 Todd More here.
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You can’t make this stuff up, folks: After Delia Jimenez was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, her husband, David, often prayed before a large stone crucifix outside  St. Patrick’s Church in Newburgh, N.Y.  Devout  Catholics, the couple credited Delia Jimenez’s recovery in 2010  to her husband’s fervent praying. They were so grateful that his wife asked the parish priest, Blady Socualaya,  if her husband could clean the cross to show his gratitude.  He said yes. On Memorial Day of the year of his wife’s recovery, Jimenez  began to scrub the 600-pound marble crucifix when it became unhinged, toppled on him and crushed his right leg, his lawyer, Kevin Kitson, told ABC News. He was rushed to Westchester Medical Center, where his leg had been so badly mangled it had to be amputated. Jimenez, a Mexican immigrant, spent more than a month in the hospital, ratcheting up hundreds of thousands in medical bills. Kitson told ABC News that Jimenez had no health insurance and that the bills were paid by charitable trusts. According to Kitson, the statue had been inadequately anchored to the base. ”Somebody should have said, ‘Don’t go climbing up there, because we don’t know if it’s safe.’” Since losing his leg, Jimenez,  a 45-year-old father of three who worked at a bakery and pizzeria, has been unable to work. Although the parishioners collected $7,700 worth of donations for his family, the Archdiocese of New York’s  insurance company, Catholic Mutual Group, declined to offer Jimenez any kind of settlement, Kitson said. More here.
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Step it up. If you’re stressed in your job as a pastor, it could very well be that you’re trying to be perfect. Guess what. You’re not. Another danger:  trying to not be criticized. Guess what. People will criticize you no matter what you do. Check this out from Dr. Fredric Neuman: Very often… people know very well they are in no danger of being fired, yet feel stress on the job anyway, often on a daily basis. It turns out that for most of them there are two underlying fears not immediately apparent that make them susceptible to stress under ordinary circumstances and that would affect them no matter what kind of work they would do: 1. The fear of making a mistake. 2. The fear of being criticized, or yelled at. They start off feeling some sense of inadequacy, usually for reasons having to do with the way they were treated growing up. Truth is… most of you reading this were hired for one reason:  to lead. So do it… lead! If you need to grow a pair to do so, please do. But don’t sit around worrying that someone might criticize you, fire you, or yell at you over your quest for perfection. Stop worrying about being fired.  And get on with the work God has called you to. It’s pretty stinkin’ important work. [kick in the seat of the pants rant over] Todd More here…
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