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Many churches in Chicago do not show their support to the LGBT community… especially churches that believe that homosexual behavior is sinful.  But one church… a 40-person congregation called C3 is making a difference in the lives of the LGBT community, without compromising their theology: lgbt chicago churches  

WATCH LGBT Chicago Churches Show Concern for LGBT Community

Excerpt: East Lakeview might be the last place you’d look for a Baptist missionary church, but on Aldine Street, just a few blocks west of Halsted, there’s a 40-person congregation called C3. The Chicagoland Community Church, as it’s known, is part of the Southern Baptist, or Great Commission, network of churches. Pastor Jon Pennington is a loquacious man who moved to Chicago 12 years ago to start the church. C3 is “not a church that is open and affirming,” he says. But “we are a church that is open.” He means that while his church views homosexuality as a sin, every Sunday after its 4 pm service, the congregation offers a hot meal to anyone who wants to join. The dinner is part of the church’s “Safe Haven” program, which caters primarily to young LGBT people. “Hate the sin. Love the sinner,” Pennington says. “We mean it and try to live it.” And so, on Sunday afternoons when the bars and restaurants on North Halsted are packed, a group of young people often waits outside the modest-looking church for worship services to wrap. “We honestly and completely and totally love people who are in the LGBT community,” Pennington says. “And we say that without flinching. I loathe the fact that some Christians try to use this book [the Bible] as a justification to scream hate and to come by with horrible signs that the scriptures don’t even say. That absolutely nauseates me. Though there’s a problem with the other extreme. When people just put a rainbow on the church, they’re ignoring a good portion of the scriptures. And once you start bringing your scissors to the text, that’s never gonna stop.” Neighbors have chided Pennington for attracting “that element,” meaning young people, to their part of the neighborhood. But he insists on not only hosting the weekly meal, but also making sure young people feel at home there. Guests at C3 are welcome to sleep if they’re tired—something that’s often banned at other service centers. And the church opens its closets too, giving away jeans, hooded sweatshirts, socks and underwear. Dee Heldenbrand cooks Sunday meals. She prepares for 50 people but says the church usually only gets 25-30. Some weeks she’ll make chicken and rice. Others it’s macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs. “They eat until they’re full,” she says. Church member Colby Mowery, 21, runs the “Safe Haven” program. He says it’s a time when young people can get off the street, grab a bite to eat, share in some conversation or sit alone if that’s what they need. The church has instruments that it lets young people use. (The opening video in this series includes an original piano composition played by a young person during one of the weekly dinners.) “We are not anti-gay. We are pro-Jesus,” Mowery says. “Our purpose is not that we are against anyone.”
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One school district in California is mandating Yoga classes for their 5,000 students as a kind of “21st Century P. E.”. This has a handful of Christian parents upset. Is Yoga something, as Christians and church leaders, to take a stand on? Mark Driscoll has said that he thinks Yoga is ‘demonic’? Watch and listen as Matt Steen and I tackle this subject, and start the conversation… christian yoga

CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH Yoga Classes in School & Christian Outrage

(Length:  5 min 58 sec) Subscribe to MinistryBriefing on YouTube What do YOU think?  Leave a text or video comment here…
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube
   
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The church is the hope of the world. As church leaders we have the responsibility of communicating the greatest message known to mankind; the only message capable of changing a person’s entire eternity. The weight of that responsibility is both profound and incredible. It moves us to action and demands that we communicate it well. Yet oftentimes, churches have a difficult time communicating this message because they don’t understand the basics of church marketing and communications. Think about it … Is your church clear on who they are and where they are going? Does your church use social media to nurture and grow relationships? Has your church spent unhurried time developing a brand that resonates with people in your church and community? Does your website accurately communicate the uniqueness of your church? Have you evaluated and observed what guests experience on a Sunday morning? Does your community even know you exist? These things may not seem significant, but they are critical. In fact, they are essential. The folks at Sayge have spent years researching and identifying the 12 Essentials to Church Communications and have developed a resource that equips Church Communications leaders to master them. The 12 Essentials Church Marketing and Communications are: Vision Identification Vision Identification is clarifying who you are, what you do, why you do it and where you are going. Guest Experience Your first-time guest experience is critical to guests returning to your church, and possibly to any church. The great part is you can improve any experience and we will give you the ultimate experience evaluation checklist to make improvements. Social Media Learning to use social media to reach the lost and to extend the influence of the church isn’t just a good idea; it’s a must. The key to social media is interacting with your audience through great content and conversations. Brand Standards Brand Standards are the compilation of documents where you articulate your key communication messages, establish a visual identity and explore ways to protect your brand. Communication Strategy Your communication strategy helps you determine what, when and how you will communicate. The development of a communication strategy is critical. Project Systems Andy Stanley says, “The systems down the hall trump the vision on the wall.” If you don’t have systems in place, standards and strategy mean absolutely nothing. Web Essentials Today’s church visitors will most certainly check out your church on the Internet before they attend for the first time. Your website should be a web experience, not just a website. Audience Connection Ever been disconnected on the phone but not realize it until you have finished speaking? Then you understand the importance of making sure you are connected to your audience. Volunteer Mobilization You have an army of creatively gifted people who attend your church every week. Learning to recruit, train and mobilize them will catapult your communications ministry to levels you never dreamed possible. Creative Leadership Creative people are not easy to lead and motivate. Understanding how to lead creative people, and those in authority over you who lack creativity is critical. External Marketing Most churches make the same marketing mistakes: the message is not unique; the content is not inviting; and there’s no long-term strategy in place. If that description fits your church’s marketing, it’s time to make some changes. Sayge is offering a new resource to help you. Each month you will receive a coaching video, comprehensive eBook, and hands-on application tools to help you master the 12 Essentials of Church Communications; and all at a price that won’t break or even stretch your budget. Check out Sayge here…
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Carey Nieuwhof is a Canadian pastor that is putting out some GREAT leadership stuff.  You should really check out his blog (link to follow).  Here are five mistakes that Carey said he made in the area of leadership.  He tells you these mistakes so you’re not wasting your time learning the hard way: Carey writes: Here are five leadership mistakes I’ve made: 1. Pointing out what’s wrong – not what’s right. Many leaders share a trait: they immediately notice what’s right and wrong, and gravitate toward fixing what’s wrong. I’m king of this. And ironically, it motivates me to get better. But it can end up being de-motivating to the people around you. I’ve had to learn to celebrate the wins (there are a ton of them when you look), point out what’s right and high five the team. Only then should you move to what’s wrong. Otherwise you knock the wind out of people. Honestly, this is still a daily discipline with me. 2. Thinking a leader needs to have all the answers. As a young leader, I was afraid people would notice that I was young and didn’t know as much as I should. I took me a few years to become comfortable with saying “I don’t know”. Wish I’d learned that right off the bat. Ironically, people already know that you don’t know. And when you say you don’t know, it actually creates empathy and a better sense of team.  Now more than ever, I fully realize how much I have left to learn. 3. Trying to be too original. This characterized my first 7 or 8 years of leadership. I didn’t know you could take what others have done and simply implement it (I’m not talking about plagiarizing sermons or stealing proprietary ideas here – but about ministry models and strategies that you’re free to use). I’d go to a conference and feel I’d need to change something enough to put ‘my spin’ or ‘our spin’ on it. Well, sometimes your spin makes it worse. If you really have an original idea that’s going to change things – use it. But there are smarter people who are further along than you who you can borrow from. And sometimes you just need to give yourself permission to borrow. 4.  Using people to accomplish tasks. I’m a task guy. Early on, sometimes I saw people as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. It’s a goal of mine to do what great managers do – not use people to get tasks done, but to get ‘people done’ through tasks. 5. Depending too much on my own strength. Being an A-type personality has strengths and weaknesses. Looking back, I wish I had developed a better sense of team earlier and I wished I had sought out mentors earlier. I’m still also trying to figure out the balance between Jesus’ teaching that human effort accomplishes nothing and that we need to serve and lead with all diligence. I’ll get back to you on that one. Maybe in heaven. Read more of Carey’s thoughts here…
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I really like the post that Michael Lukaszewski posted yesterday.  He talks about how pastors always think that the people in their churches are just like them. The reality is… they’re not. Here are some of Michael’s examples: They don’t know who John Piper or Steven Furtick are.  They are confused when you quote them without context. They aren’t familiar with their Bibles.  When you say, “You know…like it says in First Timothy,” they absolutely don’t know. They don’t work in a Christian environment.  They aren’t surrounded by Christians who love worship music and some have bosses who are jerks. They don’t go to conferences.  It’s a way of life for many church leaders, but the most people don’t do it. They don’t go to church every week.  This might be the biggest of all.  You’re there every week; they are not. Here are some more differences… Here some additional ones that I’d add: 1.  They don’t have a clue what you do all week, and they probably think you make too much money. 2.  They expect totally different things from you than the way you are spending your day today. 3.  For 90% of your attenders, the next time they think about you or your church is the next Sunday morning or Saturday night… and the thought is “Am I going to get up and go to church?” 4.  They think you’ve got a pretty easy job.  You think you have the hardest job in the world. What would YOU add to the list?
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ELCA (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is in trouble… in fact, trends show number of churches is down significantly over the past ten years, and the number of people attending services is down significantly as well.  From the Orlando Sentinel: The Lutheran magazine’s January cover story is about the decline in membership and churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

ELCA Trends: Nearly 30 percent of ELCA churches average less than 50 people for Sunday services. Average worship attendance dropped 26 percent between 2003 and 2011. More than 1,000 ELCA churches have closed during the past 10 years, some merging with other congregations and some just shutting down.

The plight of the Lutherans is not unfamiliar to Protestant denominations. In 2012, less than half of Americans identified themselves as Protestants, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Nearly every U.S. Christian denomination has seen membership declines in the past two years, including Southern Baptists, who seemed invincible in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s,” Radziszewski writes. The Lutherans have tried to reverse the trend with Congregational Renewal Partnership grants, which provided 163 congregations with $2.5 million in 2011. The grants are for three years, but renewal often takes five to seven years, said Neil Harrison, director for Renewed Evangelizing Congregations. // Read more here… What do you think will happen to the ELCA.  Can they turn it around?
Todd elca trends
   
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The following is an excellent list of pastor interview questions.  Although this is written from a very conservative baptist perspective, there are a lot of great questions here… feel free to modify to your situation and particular interview.

Pastor Interview Questions (sample list):

  1. There  are many who profess to know Christ who are mistaken.  What evidences do you have that you have been given life by God?
  2. What  does it mean for a person to love God? In what ways do you see true biblical  love toward God demonstrated in your life? Do you see true biblical love toward  God in the lives of your wife and each of your children?
  3. How  does your wife feel about your commitment to pastoring?
  4. Why  do you believe God wants you in the pastorate?
  5. Closely  examine each of the Bible’s qualifications for pastors and deacons (1  Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). Which are you strongest  qualities? With which requirements do you have the most trouble? Why do you  believe these areas of difficulty do not presently disqualify you from  ministering? (Note the phrase “must be” in 1 Tim. 3:2.)
  6. A  pastor is charged by God to preach to the church and to shepherd the people in  a more individual way. Which aspect of the ministry appeals to you the most?  What are some specific ways you could be helped to develop your skills in  either of these areas?
  7. What  are your methods for involving yourself in the lives of your people as their  shepherd and overseer of their souls?
  8. What  activities characterize your evangelistic interest? What is your approach to  personal evangelism? corporate evangelism?
  9. What  is your approach to counseling? How do you handle your counseling load?
  10. What are your specific and regular  practices regarding the spiritual disciplines (e.g., personal prayer, Bible  study, meditation, stewardship, learning, etc.)?
Read the other pastor interview questions here:  55 Questions for a Prospective Pastor.
Todd pastor interview questions
   
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Mars Hill Church DowntownMars Hill Church Downtown Seattle has relocated to the former home of the first church congregation in Seattle, which was opened in 1910 and was the church of Seattle’s founding families, the Dennys, Bells, and Borens.  Mars Hill welcomed over 1600 people at its grand opening this past Sunday, January 13, on a day when church attendance was expected to be low due to the Seattle Seahawks playoff game.

News anchor Angela Russell reported last week on Mars Hill Downtown’s, “There’s a new chapter in Seattle’s history tonight with the salvation of a downtown Seattle building that is over 100 years old. The new tenant, a church, is preserving the building and restoring its original use.” The church is leasing the historic building on Fifth Avenue and Marion Street known as Daniels Recital Hall, after selling its Belltown location to a company called PTI Western 2012, LLC. One of Mars Hill’s 14 locations, the downtown church was planted in 2008 in the former building of the notorious Tabella Nightclub. Four years later, the church has outgrown that space on Western Avenue, currently holding five weekend services (the most per week of any Mars Hill church). The new space more than doubles the seating capacity per service, which will allow the church to reach and serve more people in the community. “This is an incredible opportunity to be a ministry hub for downtown Seattle as it will allow us to better serve the business men and women in our city, as well as the homeless and marginalized, as we’re closer to one of our ministry partner, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission,” says Tim Gaydos, lead pastor of the Downtown Seattle church. “Also, being closer to Capitol Hill is a blessing as we are serving and ministering to those who are infected with AIDS on the hill.” CrossCut News recently reported on some of the church’s community reach efforts. “We are looking forward to having a building that allows the Downtown Seattle church body so much room to grow. We hope to fill it with people who love Jesus and love Seattle,” says Mark Driscoll, preaching and vision pastor at Mars Hill Church The church held a Christmas Eve service as part of their soft launch. 2300 people packed the church that night for a great celebration with a choir, worship music, and live preaching from Pastor Mark Driscoll. They also collected canned goods, blankets, tube socks and food for the Union Gospel Mission.
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Johnnie Moore is the author of Dirty God (#DirtyGod). He is a professor of religion and vice president at Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM . Johnnie thinks that Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture. He thinks that despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God. Matt Steen and I discuss the book and the concept in this short video. dirty dirty god

Watch Jesus was a Dirty, Dirty God now…

From the CNN article: Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture. You know the image. It’s the one where Jesus is walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God. But despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God. He was the “earthly” son of a carpenter, and life in the first-century was both more lurid and unfinished than our collective religious memory seems to recall. To that end, I suggested recently to several astounded colleagues of mine that Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, perhaps even on the side of the road between Capernaum and Jerusalem. What tipped them over the edge was when I insinuated that Jesus, like almost every other human being living in the rural world in that time, might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two. Someone said, “You mean that Jesus might have had severe diarrhea?” “Yep,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I mean.” It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head. But, actually, the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think. I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that’s one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly. They could relate to him.  
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