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You may not recognize the name Angus T. Jones, but he plays the 1/2 on Two and a Half Men. Recently, Angus started attending a Seventh Day Adventist Church; and yesterday posted his testimony, calling the show he is on: “filth”. Watch: Thoughts? The clip ALREADY has close to a million views on youtube and is causing quite the stir in Hollywood. Todd

Pastor Keith Anderson shoots straight. And he responds to pastors who complain that there are too many activities (particularly kids sporting events) being scheduled on Sunday mornings these days:
It’s a common complaint among clergy types, “Sunday morning sports is taking people away from worship!” This lament and the exasperation that accompanies it goes deeper than just whether a family shows up on a particular Sunday. It is the lament of the loss of the privileged place that the Churchand clergyonce enjoyed in our culture. And in our lament we risk alienating the very young families we seek to engage. The emergence of Sunday morning sports is just a symbol of a shift that’s happening in our society where the church is no longer accommodated or propped up by our culture. Clergy lament this. It makes our jobs harder. But, if we are honest, there is something deeper: it is the resentment of the loss a privileged place of not only religious institutions, but Christian institutions, and not just Christian institutions, but Christian people, and the leaders of those people, the professional clergy, us. We are mourning our own diminishing cultural position and privilege. That’s what I hear just under the surface when clergy complain to each other about Sunday morning sportsits the loss of our place, our privilege, our position…
And, frankly, its a not a bad thing for the Church to stand on its own, apart from cultural props. I don’t want the Church to be dependent on the world to say that Church is important. I want us to say that this is important because of Jesus, the persuasiveness of the Gospel, for its own sake, on its own terms, not because my local Recreation Department says so. // Read more of Keith’s thoughts here… Thoughts? Todd

Here’s an interesting update from John MacArthur, speaking on multisite churches:
The first thing that comes to mind with multi-site pastors preaching on flat screens to people in another city is that it’s completely artificial….It’s artificial, it’s not real, it’s not reality….The most important of all the shepherds to be known and loved and understood and watched by the flock, is the one who teaches them the Word of God. The very basic requirement for a pastor is that the congregation can affirm that he is a godly man: they know his life, they know his wife, they know his kids, they know he manages his household well, they know how he lives, how he spends his money, how he behaves. All of that exposure is necessary to the confidence of the people in the pastor….Intimacy, connection, friendship, vulnerability, exposure, that’s essential to being a pastor. Any other approach is purely artificial and it has a way of making somebody famous without making them a real shepherd.
Found here.  (You’ll enjoy this article!) So… the answer is… John is not going multisite in the foreseeable future. Word to all the artificial multi-site pastors and churches out there:  Keep up the good work. But word to the wise:  If you REALLY wanted to spread the gospel… TV is where it’s at.  The 60 in. plasma in my living room beats out your 10 foot screen every day of the week (even if it is purely supplemental). Todd

Brian Orme writes about some ‘old wives tales’ about church growth.  The first one he hits strikes a little nerve with me.  🙂 Read this and tell me what you think.  Do you agree with Brian? If growth and a bigger crowd is “always” the result of obedience then some of the OT prophets will have some serious explaining to do. Of course, if you’re not growing—or you’re declining—I think it is cause to evaluate what you’re doing, but it’s not a given that something is always “wrong.” God could be doing something different—more Jeremiah and less Peter. Also, while we’re at it, let’s stop using the Acts 2 passage as a normative prescription for every church today. It’s an amazing description of something special God was doing in history to launch his church, but it’s not a church growth manual. A casual reading of the NT will show churches of all different shapes and sizes, and never once is there a declarative statement that the church should be growing faster than it was—more obedience, yes; helping the poor, yes; staying true to the Gospel, yes; practicing the Lord’s Supper and baptism, yes. // Read more from Brian here… I guess the bottom line question here is:  Shouldn’t ALL healthy churches be growing (not just in discipleship, but also through new converts)? To be honest… there’s a huge part of me that says… if your church is not growing… something IS wrong.  It could be a ton of different things. (And please don’t bash me… I think there are a good number of GROWING churches that aren’t healthy; and growth should not, by any means, be the ‘be all end all’ criteria for determining health.) But… really… shouldn’t your church be growing? What do YOU think? Todd    

Great advice from Ryan Pelton, the pastor of New City Church in Kansas City, MO: 1. Influence by your character and not your position. The next generation does not care that you are a pastor. There was a time when being a pastor was noble, prestigious, and desirable. This generation does not even want to enter vocational ministry because of the abuse they have seen among pastors. Abuse done to pastors and abuse done by pastors. 2. Lead your church or organization from the middle. I use a phrase in our church by saying: “I lead this church from the middle”. This means that I try and lead our people as someone who needs the same things they need. I need the gospel and community just like all of them. I need grace, forgiveness, and hope just like them.  Leading from the middle means you will lead from the front and sometimes you will lead from the back- unnoticed. You have to live in the tension of being a disciple of Jesus first and a pastor or leader second. 3. Collaborate instead of isolate. This will be a hard one for most leaders. The next generation wants to be included. They want to be valued and seen as people that have a voice. This means we need to have many voices at the table. You need to identify emerging leaders and give them a voice from small tasks, assignments, and ministries- to leading in larger capacities. 4. Be intentional about leadership development. This might be the most important insight I am learning. You need a intentional plan to develop the next generation. We think that leaders will emerge, be developed, and lead the next generation organically. While that can happen at times- in reality, you need a plan in place.  If you are a pastor and/or leader of any kind leadership development has to be part of your work each week. You have to spend time with emerging and current leaders. At our church we do a church-based theological training center and internship program. // Read more here…

It was a pretty simply ploy according to prosecutors.  Set up a separate account called with “Ministry” in the name of it; forge your treasurer’s signature, and you’re off to the races. Not sure how he got the money into the account without being caught… … for TEN YEARS. // Read the story here… Lessons: 1.  If you’re a pastor… DON’T TOUCH THE MONEY 2.  If you’re a pastor… DON’T TOUCH THE MONEY… EVER. 3.  If you’re in a position of authority, make sure you don’t let the pastor touch the money… ever. 4.  Set up safeguards when counting and accounting for the money… every cent of it. QUESTION:  is there ever, EVER a way that this kind of thing could go on in a church for ten years and not be discovered by anyone? I think not… if the proper accountability methods would have been in place. What think you?

HT to Mark Howell for this one… It’s a quote from Andy Stanley on what would really happen if he, his staff, and all the buildings ceased to exist.
Let’s say that something happens to me, all the staff, and all the buildings simultaneously explode.  Let’s make it worst case scenario.  There’s no staff.  There’s no buildings.  And there’s no me.  Here’s what would happen.  On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of the following week, thousands and thousands of adults would gather in homes all over the city and pray together, and do Bible study together and take care of whatever family members are left over and the church is going to go on…. Because at the end of the day, circles are better than rows.  And from day one, we’ve been committed to creating a culture that’s all about circles and not rows.  We are famous for our rows.  But the strength of our churches is what happens in circles.
Great stuff… So… how would YOUR church do if you, your staff, and your buildings were instantly blown off the face of the earth? Would the church continue? Be honest?  What would happen? // Read more from Mark here… Todd

From the Orange County Register: The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who propelled the Crystal Cathedral into one of the most recognized churches in the world, lost the bulk of his multi-million dollar claims against his former ministry in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday. Judge Robert Kwan in Los Angeles ruled that Schuller, his wife, daughter and son-in-law did not provide evidence to back most of their claims. “It’s just a travesty after all that they’ve given and all that they’ve done,” said daughter Carol Schuller Milner. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, filed a number of claims, including a $5 million claim for breach of contract and another for an unspecified amount for copyright infringements. Judge Robert Kwan rejected most of the claims and instead awarded $615,625 to Schuller and nothing to his wife. “This was a complete victory for the creditors and the church,” said attorney Todd Ringstad, who represents the creditors. With the ruling, “we have a thousand plus checks to write” to creditors who have been awaiting payment since the cathedral filed for bankruptcy in 2010, said attorney Nanette Sanders. John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral, said in an e-mail: “A long and difficult period in the history of the Crystal Cathedral is over. “The ruling will enable the final creditors to be paid and give us the money we need to move on with our ministry, spreading a message of hope and love to the people of Orange County and, through the ‘Hour of Power,’ to the world,” Charles wrote. “The trial was painful for everyone involved, and our congregation is ready to move on. We love the Schullers and wish them well.” The elder Schullers, their daughter, Milner, and son-in-law Tim Milner will now be among the unsecured creditors vying for a piece of the approximate $17 million available for disbursement. The creditors are owed approximately $14 million, Sanders said. Kwan rejected most of the $272,000 in claims submitted by the Milners, and instead allowed $10,615 to Schuller’s daughter for a housing allowance and $67,000 for Tim Milner for two of his claims. After the creditors are paid, any remaining money will go to the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which sold its Garden Grove campus to the Catholic Diocese of Orange and is looking to move to another site next summer. // Read more here…