When sons and daughters come out of the closet…

I have four kids. None of which are gay.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought throughout the years what I would do if one of my children sat my wife and I down one day and gave us the news that they were gay.

How would I respond?

More and more pastors and church leaders are having children ‘come out of the closet’.  In fact, I’ve heard more and more stories of this happening in just the last few weeks.

Of  course the biggest story came right as the SBC got ready for their annual meeting. Pastor Danny Cortez leads a Southern Baptist Church in La Mirada, CA. The table was a little turned for Cortez.  He actually changed his views on homosexuality and told his church the he no longer believed in the ‘traditional teachings regarding homosexuality.” Shortly thereafter, his 15 year-old son declared that he is gay.

Other pastors have also had to deal with how to deal with a gay son or daughter, brother or sister, friend, family member, or even staff member.

John MacArthur has his advice for all of us if this should ever happen to us:

(Ironically, the “Grace to You” logo is over his shoulder while he gives his advice)

In another article hitting the interwebs the same day, Larry Tomczak encourages a little softer approach that doesn’t include disassociating yourself with them (although I’m not sure how this script he gives would go over… it may have the same effect):

“My son/daughter, we love you more than you can imagine, and God allowed us as a couple to unite in a procreative act that brought you into this world. Your thinking is totally unacceptable to God and us. It dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins. It is contradictory to His eternal plan for marriage, which has been upheld for over 5,000 years of human history. Therefore this ‘coming out’ needs to be a coming out of deception and, like the prodigal son, returning to the God and Father who created you, loves you and has a wonderful destiny for your life. Have we made ourselves perfectly clear?” (link here)

So… how would you deal with a son or daughter who comes out as gay?

Or… how did you respond when your child came out as gay?

Would you Matthew 18 them? Would it cause you to change your thinking about gays? Would it make you reconsider your theology?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day…

Two of my essential internet services have suffered outages this past week.

First, Google Drive went down for nearly an hour last week.  It was like a sign of the apocalypse if you read the tweets during the outage. Never mind that the service if totally free for most users, the fact that you could not access your documents was maddening even to the most mild-mannered interwebs users (that would be me).

Today, Feedly is down… supposedly due to a mass DDoS attack, and that the perpetrators are saying they won’t stop the attack unless Feedly pays them a ton of money (ransom, I think they call it). Feedly has said no, and the site is still down this morning (keeping me from all the great content I wanted to blog about… that’s why you’re reading this!)

But my thoughts have turned to this.

When parts of the ‘cloud’ go down, even for a few minutes, people start to panic.  They start biting their nails and jumping off buildings.

But what would happen if your church stopped existing?  And we’ll give you the luxury of closing down for a week.

Let’s be honest.  It’s Wednesday.  If your church closed up shop, how many people would even know about it before Sunday (unless you posted it on Facebook)?

What kind of uproar would there be in your town, city, region if you just closed up shop and called it a day?

Would people be sad? upset?  Would people even notice?

Is your church making enough of a difference in people’s lives that they would notice?

Here’s what I think would happen in many churches (though probably not yours) if they shut down today… Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

No one would notice.

And when people arrive at the building on Sunday morning (four days from now) and find a sign on the door that there would be no services this week, many people would lament that they could have slept in longer.

Question is… how is your church helping transform the lives of people TODAY?

Tell the truth… if your church went offline, if your cloud failed, who would notice today? Who would be sad?  Who would be outraged?

The moral of the story:  Make them notice.  Make a difference.

I’m so thankful for thousands of churches that do this each and every day. You are doing God’s work… and you are appreciated. You are making a difference.  You are winning the game.  Heaven is a bigger place because of you.

Don’t lose your focus today. Keep on, my friend.

Todd

The 6 Hour Staff Meeting That Turned into 12 Years

Yesterday, I wrote a post about overconfident church leaders.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.48.14 AMI cannot think of a better example (please excuse me for naming names) than Jack Schaap.

Schaap is the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, IN… a HUGE church grown over the years by his father-in-law (the also cocky) Jack Hyles.

Both of these leaders never had their ‘kabaragoya’ moment.

Jack can be a poster child for what happens when a church leader gets overconfident.  (I said yesterday, that over-confidence’s twin siblings are manipulation and intimidation.  Both are at play here as well).

Overconfidence leads to arrogance and sin.

Schaap was sentenced last year to twelve years in jail for transporting an underage girl across state lines to have sex with her.

Now, Schaap’s attorney’s are asking for the sentence to be lightened or thrown out.  Their reasoning: They think the sentence is harsh; and that, if the truth be told, the young girl did have ‘extensive sexual experience’ and was ‘sexually aggressive’ toward the pastor.  I mean… who could resist?

When sentenced, the judge gave Schaap more than the minimum sentence.  And here’s why:

Schaap called a staff meeting at the church after word leaked of his relationship with the girl.  The meeting lasted SIX HOURS. During the meeting, Schaap denied any wrongdoing and talked to his staff about loyalty. Schaap also fired a staff member who brought some of the initial information to light.

That six hour confidence, manipulation, and intimidation meeting turned into a 12 year sentence for Schaap.

What was going on in Schaap’s head in that meeting?  Firing someone he knew was telling the truth.  Manipulating his staff.  Lying overtly and categorically. And pointing the finger questioning loyalty, when he knew all along he was the one being disloyal to his family, church, and Lord.

This is very powerful lesson in the power of sin; and lack of accountability.

When was the last time someone disagreed with you?  Did you automatically question their loyalty?  Did you make them feel like they were not a part of the team because of the disagreement? Watch out.

Have you found yourself telling little fibs here and there to make yourself look better?

Do you engage or distance people that are in legitimate places to hold you accountable?

Be very careful.

Overconfidence is a killer. While your sentence may not be 12 years, it will be significant if you don’t take steps now to correct it.

Todd

Read more here…

Overconfident Church Leaders and Kabaragoya

Ahhhh… confidence.

It’s a great quality to have as a church leader. In fact, Hebrews 10:35 says that you should not “throw away your confidence, which has great reward.”

But I’ve seen more than a few ‘over-confident’ church leaders in my day.

Cocky.  Arrogent.  Egotistical. Confidence on steroids.

Have you ever fallen into this trap?

You think you know exactly how to do something as a leader.  In fact, it may be a cinch.  At least that’s what you think, until it slaps you in the face.

See this example, and see if you can sympathize:

You think… ‘this is an easy one… I could do this in my sleep’.

Later you wake up to find out to find out that just wasn’t true.  You botched it. Bigtime.

Many young leaders, after a couple of small victories, feel invincible.

Then, the ‘kabaragoya’ happens.

It’s like someone threw ice water in your face.

It’s humiliating.

And necessary.

Because if you don’t have a few kabaragoya moments in your leadership life, you will grow into a leader that is consistently over-confident.  And over-confidence often brings it’s twin siblings along: manipulation and intimidation. (both of which are deadly as a church leader).

So… what was your ‘kabaragoya moment’?

How do you maintain the proper level of confidence as a leader without falling into the trap of over-confidence?

Think about it.

Todd

Your Real Competition on Sunday Mornings

Ask most pastors what their competition is on Sunday mornings, and you’ll quite possibly hear a list of what other churches in town are doing.

Most church leaders aren’t real competitive with most all of the churches in their town or region.

But most have at least one or two churches in their area that they feel a little heat from.  It could be that the church is bigger.  It could be that they’re doing something unique.  Or it might be that they are just getting a lot of ‘buzz’ or are the cool church to be at.

But the competition you have on Sunday morning really isn’t other churches.  It’s largely a combination of the following things:

1.  Apathy – People aren’t going to bed on Saturday night or waking up on Sunday morning keenly aware and interested in their spiritual lives.

2. Busyness – When people don’t place a priority on attending church, other things take it’s place.  Sporting events, camping, sleeping in… just to name a few.  (A fun experiment for you sometime… visit your closest Walmart sometime in between a couple of your Sunday morning services.  It’s a great place to invite your casual worship attenders back to church).

Bottom line:  your church has not presented a good enough value proposition.

Now wait. I know that’s a business term. So please don’t jump all over me.

But if people enter your church on Sunday morning and don’t leave encouraged, challenged or changed in some way, there’s a good chance they won’t return the next weekend.

If they leave without being connected (or worse yet, without having a single conversation with ANYONE), they will probably not be long-term attenders.

That’s the back door that everyone talks about.  Your front door can be as wide as you like it, but people will find the back door when there is not a good value proposition.

You may be very leery of the ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality when it comes to church attendance.  I get that.  But be careful. That cuts both ways.

What if YOU don’t get YOUR way? What if the board doesn’t approve YOUR plan?  What if YOUR paycheck diminishes? What if YOU don’t feel appreciated or get as many pats on the back as YOU want? What happens when the pastor appreciation gifts don’t arrive with YOUR name on them?

Many church leaders are just as fickle as the people we point the finger at that leave through the back door.

So… let’s talk.

If you’re having problems with people not ‘sticking’, it could be because your message isn’t resonating or sticking with them.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be all things to all people. But it does mean that you need to find fresh and innovative ways for the gospel to STICK. For people to feel VALUED. And for Jesus to become a WAY OF LIFE for the people that enter through your doors.

That’s a tough thing to do.

(Especially when it’s easier to just talk negatively about the people that take that back door exit).

What is your church doing to make sure you give a good value proposition to those that attend?  Why (other than a sense of obligation) would most people attend your Sunday morning service rather than sleep that extra hour or run make a Walmart run for motor oil?

What will you do THIS Sunday to help make the message stick and connect people with each other and Jesus’ message?

Your real competition this Sunday is YOU.  And how you choose to (or not to) move people from the status quo of their lives.

Todd

 

Are you a ‘Frustrating Leader’?

Do you frustrate your team?

Perhaps your the pastor of a large church, or supervise a large team.  Do your team members find you frustrating?

Or maybe your the pastor of a smaller church.  How does your board find working with you?  Is the relationship frustrating to them?

My friend Brian Dodd recently posted a list of the 10 characteristics of leaders who frustrate the heck out of people.  See if you fit any of the characteristics:

  1. The Most Frustrating Leaders Are Not Available
  2. The Most Frustrating Leaders Do Not Put In The Proper Amount Of Effort
  3. The Most Frustrating Leaders Have A Lack Of Production In Critical Moments
  4. The Most Frustrating Leaders Constantly Make Poor Decisions
  5. The Most Frustrating Leaders Create Too Much Drama
  6. The Most Frustrating Leaders Lack Self-Awareness
  7. The Most Frustrating Leaders Are Selfish
  8. The Most Frustrating Leaders Lack Personal Discipline
  9. The Most Frustrating Leaders Are High Maintenance
  10. The Most Frustrating Leaders Constantly Make Excuses

So… how did you do?

To tell you the truth.  I wouldn’t expect you to be able to answer that question.  (We all have a little problem with #6).

So… if you have the courage… show this list to someone on your team today… someone you trust (and someone that you won’t retaliate on!) Ask them how you’re doing. Ask them, point blank, how frustrating it is to work with you.

If you’re a good leader, you’ll appreciate the input and transparency from your team.

If you’re not a good leader, you, in fact will find THIS exercise to be very frustrating. (How ironic)

I encourage you to read this.

Thoughts?

Todd

Post Easter Blues. And why you can’t stop now.

Whew!

Easter is over.

For many dynamic churches, this meant extra services and quite possibly the highest attendance of the year.

And now that it’s Monday morning, you’re probably exhausted.

But you can’t stop now.

You see, it’s pretty easy to get people to come to church on Sunday.  But I think your main goal is getting them to return the week after Easter.

Many of the crowd you saw yesterday won’t be back. Ever.  And some won’t be back until Christmas.

And most of us didn’t accept Christ the first time we heard the gospel.

Which makes the week AFTER Easter vitally important and a great opportunity.

If your visitors yesterday had a good experience, now is the time to invite them back and invite them to start a new journey.

Yet few churches capitalize on this opportunity.

Hopefully you gathered good information on your visitors yesterday.  Today you might want to:

1.  Plan your services with something in mind for your new folks that return.

2.  Send a nice letter (or better yet, a hand-written note) from the pastor to those who attended yesterday and encourage them to come back.

3. Offer something new for new people. (People always feel out of place when visiting a church… make them feel like they won’t be alone).

4. It’s kind of late to the game, but if you did marketing for Easter, follow up with some advertising for the week after Easter.

Here’s a good article from Rick Warren on post-Easter follow-up and strategy I think you’ll find helpful.

Today’s question:  How well have you planned for the week AFTER Easter? (Or is it just another Sunday?)

Todd

A Startling Wake Up Question for Every Church Leader: WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Michael Wolff is a designer and creative advisor for brands around the world.

Warning:  This is not a ‘Christian Video’.

But Michael asks a great question that every church leader should ask:  Why are you here? He contends that the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ aren’t nearly as important as the ‘why’.

This is worth 20 minutes of your time… not because you’re agree with all of it and say ‘amen’… but because it will challenge and shape you:

Thoughts?

Todd

Read more here…

 

Should the church be a country club or a hospital?

What do you think of this quote from Michael Trimmer?

If anything, it seems like the church has done a really great job of making itself look like an exclusive club for the morally and spiritually immaculate, rather than a spiritual hospital for the walking wounded in which broken people struggle against sin on a daily basis.

Should the church be more like a country club or more like a hospital?

Read more here…

What, if anything, is missing from this equation?

Todd

God has a bad credit score (and he’s ‘extremely frustrated’)

It’s true. God has a bad credit score.

God Gazarov is a Russian native who was named after his grandfather (who was probably named after… uh… God). God has a problem.  It seems that credit rating company Equifax is giving him a bad credit score because of his first name.  (Two other credit rating companies give him a very high score).

The end result: God was declined for a loan for a new Infiniti last year.

(Of course, God would want to buy an Infiniti… it only makes sense).

When he tried to get Equifax to change the glitch in their system, someone told him he might want to consider changing his first name.

So, God is suing Equifax.

According to God’s attorney, he was ‘forced’ to file a law suit because the company refused to accept his name as legitimate.

Imagine that… someone rejecting God as legitimate.

There’s a sermon illustration in there somewhere.

(You’re welcome).

Todd

Read more here…

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