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  • Imagination Stage– This is the fun stage where you get to think outside the box and dream about possibilities.  Typically you’re focused on solving a problem that is close to your heart and praying through ways God wants to use you to make a difference.
  • Preparation Stage – This is the hard work of putting together the timelines, budget, priorities and goals of the vision.  Vision is seeing tomorrows possibilities today, but it’s not enough just to see it, you have to  design a blueprint in order to minimize frustrations along the way.
  • Execution Stage – This is where the vision train gets to leave the station.  Teams are deployed and people move into action to make things happen.  Day by day you get to see the framework of the vision being put together.
There are three more stages of a vision.  But you’ll need to head over to Mac’s blog to read the last three.  Isn’t that frustrating?  (Actually, the FRUSTRATION stage is next!  Click here to read on…) /// What part of the vision process do YOU have the most problems with?  Which come easiest to you?

It’s time for this week’s installment of The Filter with Matt Steen and myself. What are we trying to prove?  Nothing, really… it’s just two normal guys talking about ‘churchy’ stuff… the things that interest us in the church and ministry leadership world. We hope that you will be challenged. We think you’ll probably disagree with us (at least once each week). But if love  Jesus, and the church, we think you just might like The Filter. Just sayin’.  Here’s this week’s episode for your viewing pleasure: SHOW NOTES: Why we need to let our online memories go (0:01) Schullers lose in big-time in court… still get $615,625 (4:05) Pat Robertson admits he missed God’s voice on the election… (6:10) Is John MacArthur going multisite? (12:25) When America’s Pastor Goes Gangham Style (15:19) Rick Warren on gay marriage (19:19) The Cheering Stops for Fireman Ed (24:50) The Annual Christmas vs Holiday Tree Debate (29:55) My Take: #GivingTuesday creates better Christmas narrative than Black Friday (33:20) True or False: If you’re not growing, something’s wrong (36:55) What would happen if North Point Church exploded (literally)? (42:50)

Newsweek just did a story on Rick Warren.  Not the most unbiased article I’ve seen, but interesting… at least from the way the reporter views Rick and his work. Here’s the opening line… I think it shows some bias… and the ‘coterie of aides’ is a little bit of an overstatement, I believe.  🙂

He was once the hottest evangelical in America. Now, 10 years after the book that made him a star, the pastor wants the spotlight again. This time, it may not be so easy.

More from the article: Without waiting for an answer or even an introduction, Rick Warren, megachurch minister and bestselling author, crosses his Manhattan hotel suite and swallows me up in a teddy-bearish embrace. A coterie of aides and handlers look on in amusement but not surprise. Warren is all about the agape, and he is a fierce and frequent hugger. This seems only fitting. Since exploding onto the global stage in 2002 with his phenomenally successful book The Purpose Driven Life, Warren has been the warm and friendly face of ­evangelicalism—a welcoming, avuncular alternative to hellfire-and-brimstone finger waggers such as Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. With his goatee and dressed-down aesthetic (for our meeting he’s sporting jeans, a bright blue and ­robin’s-egg plaid oxford, and black slip-ons), 58-year-old “Pastor Rick” cultivates the casual, cool-dad aura of the boomer generation to which he belongs. (He has the Korean rap phenomenon “Gangnam Style” as his ringtone and, in classic ­SoCal fashion, shuns socks unless visiting wintery climes such as New York in late November). Warren’s ministry, similarly, presents Christianity in a relatable, user-friendly package, much in keeping with his book’s uplifting promise that every one of our lives has meaning. These days, however, the aggressively upbeat Warren is increasingly disheartened by what he sees as a “malaise” afoot in the land. “I feel America is in the emotional doldrums,” he says sadly. The economy is sluggish, the political system is a disaster, and citizens are at each other’s throats. He observes, “I think America is more divided today—and it’s sad—than at any time since the Civil War.” Warren voices special concern for younger generations. “There’s a lot of people in their 20s and even early 30s still waiting for their lives to start,” he observes. They can’t find jobs. They’re moving back in with their parents. “They’re like, where’s the American Dream for me?” Bottom line, says Warren: “This nation is in desperate need of some direction and purpose and meaning. Somebody’s got to speak up now. And I thought, OK. If nobody else volunteers, I’ll step up.” Which is precisely how the good reverend plans to spend the coming year. This holiday season, a 10th-anniversary edition of The Purpose Driven Life hits stores, updated with two new chapters and scads of links to video and audio 
extras designed for the age of social media. Next month Warren will launch a nationwide church “campaign” (as he did with the first edition) that enables ministers to order DIY teaching kits to help spread the purpose-driven message within their own congregations. With this reboot, Warren aims to introduce a new generation to the Good News—perhaps even spark a “Great Awakening” among the grassroots, he notes hopefully. It is a tall order—and one that s ome in the evangelical community doubt Warren still has the juice to pull off. In the past couple of years, Warren’s star has unquestionably dimmed a bit. His profile outside evangelical circles has dropped—most notably in the political realm, where he cast a long shadow in the 2008 campaign but was largely invisible this time around. Even within the evangelical community, Warren is no longer a central focus of the movement’s energy, as fresher, feistier players have risen up in his wake. Read more here… Here’s a video interview Rick did with the Daily Beast: Thoughts? Todd

Wake up call this morning, presented by Sheldon ClowdusSo, you want to grow your church pastor? Put down the latest church growth book.  Cancel your trip to that church growth conference.  Stop trying to emulate the megachurch down the road or across the state. Open your bible and reacquaint yourself with the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ.  Know it inside and out.  Preach it boldly and plainly. It worked for Paul.

I came across an interesting statement this morning from Northland: A Church Distributed in Orlando.  See what you think:
Congregants take leadership of nearly every ministry effort inside the church, out in the community and around the world. Elders, pastors and paid staff don’t try to control the initiatives of congregants or the connections they make, and they don’t watch over their shoulders unnecessarily. Dr. Joel Hunter encourages Northlanders: “Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got.”
I really like that last line: Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got. Does your church empower your people that much? Does the statement that ‘Elders, pastors, and paid staff don’t try to control the initiatives of congregants or the connections they make, and they don’t watch over their shoulders unnecessarily” bother you? It seems to me that that flies in the face of what most churches (and church leaders) attempt to do on a daily and weekly basis? What do YOU think? // Read more here… Todd

Imagine going into your church this morning and finding that someone had set fire to the bathrooms. And the same people had carved profanity into your piano in the sanctuary. They set your hymnals on fire. And threw condems all over the floor of the sanctuary.  They also slung around whipped cream and peanuts… you know… just for good measure. How would you respond?  Privately?  Publicly?  To your church?  To the media? Pastor Eric Atcheson lived this in the past couple of weeks.  His response? Forgiveness. Pastor Eric gets the quote of the week:
“I don’t know if we were protected or are just blessed, but look around, all of this is still standing,”
And church member Justin Wheeler gets runner up:
“We welcome the ones who have done this to us with open arms, hopefully they will visit and learn what we’re about.”
How would YOU have responded? // Read more here… Todd

Right during the middle of the service yesterday, 52 year old Gregory Eldred  shot and killed his ex-wife, Darlene Stitler, the church organist and choir director, as she was sitting in her pew. This all happened at First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, PA. From Witnesses told police they saw Eldred pacing outside the 180-year-old church before the service and that other members of the congregation grabbed Eldred after the shooting around 11:20 a.m., and held him until police arrived. Nobody else was injured. The defense attorney listed in online court records did not immediately return a call for comment Monday. Trooper Michael Knight told the Bradford Era newspaper on Sunday that Eldred allegedly walked down the church’s middle aisle and fired two shots at Sitler. Trooper Knight told the newspaper there were no children in the church when the shooting happened, but that police bused all those who witnessed the shooting to a building which houses Potter County offices so they could be interviewed by police. Potter County Commissioner Susan Kefover told the newspaper the shooting was “devastatingly tragic for the community.” Does your church have a plan for tragedy? You really need one. Here are a couple of great videos that will help get you engaged and encouraged to be ready for when tragedy strikes: and this one: More here… Does YOUR church have a plan for when tragedy may strike your church or community? Todd