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Mars Hill Announces Staff Layoffs

From Mars Hill’s “The Weekly”:

Last week we had to make the very tough decision to transition a number of people off of staff from our ministry support departments, as well as some staff at a few of our local churches. These are all faithful people who served and worked hard for the church, and we regret that we had to make these changes. If you know any of them, please reach out to offer your prayers and support during this transition, and please continue to pray for the church as we navigate through a tough season.

At this week’s Staff Chapel, we had the opportunity to invite these friends back so that we could honor them and pray over them. It was a meaningful time of worship and reflection as a church family. We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to show these staff members how deeply we care about them and appreciate the contribution they have made toward Jesus’ mission at Mars Hill. While they may no longer be on staff, we love them and they are still a part of our church family.

According to a report in the Seattle PI, nine staff members were let go in the transition.

This is kind of interesting… only because I received FOUR separate emails from Mars Hill in the past few weeks asking for donations and saying that they need my help to close out their fiscal year (that ended June 30).

In fact, I’m not sure how I initially got on the Mars Hill email list, but it looks like I’ve been on it since August of 2012.  Past emails have included an announcement about Mars Hill’s music label, Christmas plans, and other generic press release type emails.

But the financial emails didn’t start until June.  In fact, the first email arrived on June fifth with the simple subject line: “Thank you!” It was a short email from MH XP Sutton Turner thanking me (as part of the Mars Hill Family) for my support and show me some of the things that are happening because of my giving. (Note:  I’ve never given to MH).

Then on June 18, I received another email entitled “Fiscal Year End Approaching”: “Please consider making a gift”.

It seemed to get more serious as time when on: On June 26: “But I need to hear from you by midnight on Monday night.”

And finally on June 30: “Mars Hill’s fiscal year ends today at midnight. Will you please make a special gift to Mars Hill so that we can end the year in a strong financial position?… But I need to hear from you by midnight tonight.”

Obviously, there is a real financial need right now at MH. And let’s face it, it’s been a tough year.

It is interesting to me that the layoffs came a week BEFORE the fiscal year ended.  That’s not a good sign.

I’m a friend of Mars Hill; and have met Mark a couple times at events that we’ve been a part of together. I wish them no ill.

QUESTION: Has your church ever had to lay-off multiple employees?  Have you ever tried to lead through a major financial crisis? What did you learn? And how to you turn things around so that the bad situation doesn’t snowball out of control?

Thoughts?

Todd

I’m not sure I get it…

This just in in ‘entertainment’ news:

Would you go see this movie? It’s called “Believe Me”:

In BELIEVE ME, Sam Atwell (Russell) stands on the stage as thousands of fans go wild.  Smart, charismatic, handsome, he moves them with his message, and when he calls for donations to his charity, the money pours in. And by the way, Sam doesn’t believe a word he’s saying. Just months earlier he was a typical college senior focused on keg stands, hookups and graduating. But a surprise tuition bill threatens his dream of law school and leaves him thousands of dollars in the hole. Convincing his three roommates they can make a killing exploiting the gullible church crowd, they start a sham charity and begin campaigning across the country, raising funds for a cause as fake as their message. But Sam’s got girl problems. He cares about Callie, the tour manager, who actually believes what he’s saying. When Callie discovers where the money is going, it’s Sam’s moment of truth.On the final night of the tour, before a packed auditorium but alone in the spotlight, it’s time for Sam Atwell to figure out what he really believes.

Here’s the short movie trailer:

Head Scratcher:  This film features Lecrea.

It’s clearly satire.  But I’m not sure from which camp the satire comes.  Actually, I’d be pretty sure… until I saw it featured Lecrea.

What do you think?

1.  Will this film be funny?

2.  Is satiring what many non-believers really think of the church a good thing for the church in any way?

3. Would you go watch this film?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Todd

 

Church’s Bankruptcy is Such a Blessing

As you may know… I am somewhat a connoisseur of Christian press releases.

Some Christian press releases are just chock-full of CS (that’s the politically Christian term for BS, by the way). And this press release I saw yesterday is a great example of how you can spin anything.

The title of the press release is called ‘Without Walls’ Church Bankruptcy Creates Blessings.

(You may remember Without Walls as the Randy and Paula White one-time megachurch in Lakeland, FL… Formerly Carpenter’s Home Church). The place has a pretty storied history (so much so that there’s not enough room in this blog post to hold it all).

But the title interested me… could a church bankruptcy actually be a blessing?

Well… yes, I guess.  At least for the Licensed Real Estate Broker that his handling the auction of the property (and the writing of this press release).  Here’s how they start:

“The Without Walls International Church bankruptcy provides an opportunity for blessing for the church and commercial real estate buyers. The bankruptcy will jettison debt for the church, allowing them to focus on their core mission of serving their members and the community. Additionally, the bankruptcy auction, conducted by Tranzon Driggers, will provide a blessing to buyers seeking to purchase two of the church’s prime commercial properties in Lakeland and Tampa.”

So, the real blessing here… real estate buyers in Lakeland.  And the real estate company.  And the church.

Wait… the church?

Who knew that bankruptcy could be such a blessing?

For some pastors in the Lakeland community, seeing Without Walls lose it’s influence (or at least the brand type of Christianity they marketed) is not an entirely bad thing for the community.  Yet it’s another black-eye in that local community of Christianity gone bad.

But to say that a church bankruptcy is a blessing seems a bit weird to me.

Do you think a church bankruptcy could ever be a blessing?

Here’s the full press release.

Todd

PS – In an ironic ministry, Without Walls International Church prominently features their Business Concepts Networking group.  Here’s the description:  Do you own or operate your own business? Would you like to? Do you have a business idea? Then join our Business Concepts Networking group and let us help to develop and maintain the building blocks needed to encourage the growth of your company. See what others are doing and how your expertise may help.

Pray for Community Bible Church

Bad news from the weekend in High Point, NC.  42-year-old Pastor Robert McKeehan took his own life last Friday.  The church he served, Community Bible Church, and it’s multiple locations, are reeling in pain.

There were no public tell-tale signs of Robert’s inner struggles.  In fact, the church’s website still have a link to Robert’s last sermon, preached just five days before his suicide.  I watched a little of it, and there he hides it well. But something changed between Sunday and Friday.

My heart and prayers go out to the congregation and leadership at Community Bible.  Would you take a moment to pray for them as well today.  (And for Robert’s wife and two kids).

A lot happens in the life of leaders that go on behind the scenes.  Let’s pray for the hundreds and thousands of Robert’s out there that are on the edge and not sure what to do.  And if you have no where to turn, please feel free to contact me, and we’ll see if we can’t find someone that might be able to help.

John Hagee: Something ‘world-shaking’ is about to happen.

John Hagee says that something big is about to happen.

And it’s not good.

Not good at all.

Sometime between Now (April 15, 2014) and October of next year, we will experience a world-shaking event.

That is because the world is about to see four ‘blood moons’.

A ‘blood moon’ is actually a total lunar eclipse that turns the moon a coppery-red color.

And we’re set to see four of them.

Hagee cites Acts 2:19-20: “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

Hagee says all of these ‘blood moons’ happen on spiritually significant days:

The April 15 event happens during Passover. On Oct. 8, the blood moon will occur during the Feast of Tabernacles. Another blood moon will occur during Passover on April 4, 2015. The last will happen on Sept. 28, 2015, another Feast ot the Tabernacles.

And that these ‘tetrads’ in the past have coincided with important events in the life of the Jewish people:

In 1493, a tetrad occurred while the Jews were being expelled from Spain. Another tetrad occurred in 1949, soon after the state of Israel was founded. The last tetrad happened in 1967, during the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis.

I know you might find this hard to believe, but John also has a book coming out.

And yes, it’s all about blood moons. Here’s the premise:

“Just as in biblical times, God is controlling the sun, the moon, and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen. The question is: Are we watching and listening to His message?” 

So… are YOU ready for the blood moons?

What do you do when you read things like this? Laugh? Cry? or take them semi-seriously?

Todd

Read more here…

The 20 Most Influential Evangelicals in America

Recently, LifeWay President Thom Rainer compiled a list of 20 of what he thinks are the most influential evangelicals in America.  The list, he says, is subjective (he just asked about 30 friends for input).

Here were the criteria:

–They had to be American

–They had to be living

–They had to be ‘evangelical’ (whatever that means)

–The nominees had to be influential (not necessarily those whom the person agreed with).

Here are the results… see what you think.  (These are in alphabetical order):

  1. Matt Chandler
  2. Wilfredo De Jesus (Pastor Choco)
  3. Ross Douthat
  4. Tony Evans
  5. Louie Giglio
  6. Franklin Graham
  7. Craig Groeschel
  8. Bill Hybels
  9. T. D. Jakes
  10. Tim Keller
  11. Lecrae
  12. Albert Mohler
  13. Beth Moore
  14. Joyce Meyer
  15. Joel Osteen
  16. John Piper
  17. Dave Ramsey
  18. Priscilla Shirer
  19. Any Stanley
  20. Rick Warren

The only one I was not familiar with was Ross Douthat, who is an author and New York Times columnist.

Interesting that Lecrae made the list.

3 women. That will get some fired up.

1 hispanic. 4 African Americans.

Not on the list:  Mark Driscoll (although I wonder if his current woes kept him off this list for a time).

Also not on the list:  James Dobson, Pat Robertson.

No John MacArthur or John Piper either.  (Oops… correction… Piper IS on the list).

And no nod to younger pastors like Perry Noble or Steven Furtick (who also may have been knocked off by controversy).

More notably… no Francis Chan.

A couple of charismatic/pentecostals on the list, but not many.

What do YOU think?  Who else SHOULD have been on the list?

And who should have NOT been on the list?

Are lists like these helpful, hurtful, or just interesting (I fall into the ‘just interesting’ camp myself).

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Todd

Read Thom Rainer’s original post here…

Jesus was the first ever Twitter user

From the Telegraph.UK:

Christ “used tweets before everyone else, with elementary phrases made up of fewer than 45 characters like ‘Love one another’”, said Monsignor Ravasi, the Vatican’s equivalent of a culture minister.

“A bit like in television today, he delivered a message through a story or a symbol,” the cardinal said at a conference with Italy’s leading newspaper editors.

The cardinal emphasised the importance of clergy making full use of modern-day computer technology.

“If a cleric, a pastor is not interested in communication, they are defying their duty,” he said.

The Vatican has stepped up its presence on the Internet in recent years, initially under Benedict XVI and now under Pope Francis, who has more than three million followers on Twitter in English alone. He tweets on an almost daily basis and also maintains accounts in eight other languages including Spanish, Arabic and Latin.

Thoughts?

WWJD with social media today?

How would he use it?

Todd

Oprah finds Jesus. (OK not really… she finds Rob Bell)

Oprah’s new “Super Soulful” book of the month?

Rob Bell’s new suspense thriller “What We Talk About When We Talk About God”.

Oprah says:

Pastor Rob Bell is shaking up the way we think about God and religion. I love his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne). When I first started reading it, I was highlighting my favorite passages, but then I realized—what’s the point? I’ve marked every page! It just wowed me. In the book, Bell explains that God is and always has been with us, for us, and ahead of us—and then explores how we can really absorb this knowledge into our everyday lives to become more connected to spirit.

What do you think about this?

I agree with Derek Rishmawy.  He says that we should actually READ THE BOOK and be ready to respond.

Many people will read the book because of Oprah’s recommendation.

Can we trust God that He will be a part of this?  (Especially before we criticize too much?!)

Derek writes:

This is why Christians ought to know something about the book. People read Oprah recommendations. They think about them and talk about them. That means a lot of people are going to be reading and thinking about Bell’s work, so we should should be ready to talk with them about it. As I wrote before:

…hopefully those who read the book and come away saying, “We will hear you again about this,” (Acts 17:32) manage to find churches who engage them just as well as Bell does, while pushing them towards even deeper, richer, more complex ways of talking about God.

So—and this goes especially for more conservative readers—before you jump all over your friend who’s excitedly reading Bell’s book because Oprah said great things about it, slow down. Wait a minute. Ask questions. Trust that Jesus can be at work here, even if you would have preferred that he use a different book. As Paul said, “Cling to what is good, hate what is evil” (Rom. 12:9). We might paraphrase him here: “Build on what is good, gently expose what isn’t so great.”

In other words, if you talk to your friend in a sane, open, and wise way about Bell, that person might later be ready for you to hand them something like Keller. Who knows what can happen?

Can I get an amen?

Lost and Found: Henry Blackaby in surgery today

Perhaps you’ve heard about the strange week for Henry Blackaby (you know… one of the writers of the popular Experiencing God from a few years back?

Henry came up missing for about 29 hours over the weekend.

Evidently, Blackaby suffered a heart attack while driving in Atlanta, became confused, and traveled around for hours and hours before police found him about 150 miles from his home.

So… today, Blackaby is facing a quadruple bypass.  Let’s pray for him and his family today.

Todd

PS — I’m afraid if I showed up missing for 29 hours, no one might miss me.  :)

More here…

The Pull Conference is ONLINE TODAY!

I’m always on the look out for quality events where I can grow and train my staff at the same time. I want to put this event on your radar: My friend Bob Franquiz is hosting The Pull Conference on TODAY September 18th at 1PM EST.

Bob’s new book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic is released on September 15th and to celebrate the book’s release, Bob is hosting a free conference to help churches grow this Fall.

Check out who is speaking at the event…

This event is focusing on what you need to do to see explosive growth in your church this Fall.

Here are the topics they’ll be drilling down on at the conference:

#1 – Mobilizing your Congregation

#2 – Preaching with the Unchurched in Mind

#3 – Creating an Evangelistic Culture in your Church

#4 – Launching your Fall series like you’re Re-launching your church

#5 – Using Strategic Outreach to Reach Unchurched People

Plus, Bob is leading a Live pre-conference call where I’m going to be sharing our Fall launch strategy step-by-step.

The Pull Conference is happening on Wednesday, September 18th at 1PM EST.

The pre-conference event is happening on September 12th at 3PM EST.

Here’s the link to register: http://thepullconference.com

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