Ministry Briefing for April 27: Westboro Founder Dies, Cohabitation, Driscoll, and 47 other stories you need to know!

The new edition of Ministry Briefing is just out, and you can get this weeks (and next week’s) editions absolutely free.

Each week, Matt Steen and I search high and low for the top things that (we think) every church leader should be reading.  Then we write a short ‘just the facts’ paragraph; include a link to the full resource, and package it in a beautiful PDF (or MOBI or ePUB for your Kindle, iPad, or Tablet).

Right now, you can try the next two issues (including this week’s) free.  And if you don’t like it, you can always cancel your subscription at any time.

This week, we have some fascinating stories.

For example… did you know that the length of a relationship before cohabitation is linked as a key factor in divorce?

Or that 20 former pastors from Mars Hill are asking for formal mediation with Pastor Mark Driscoll?

And how about the large megachurch whose staff said they would work for free if they needed to.  (And why would they do that?)

And if you’re looking for new ideas:  one church is doing a new sermon series on the gospels centered around a ‘detective’ theme.

Another church is expanding to 10 locations.  And one denomination is now offering ‘gluten-free’ communion options.

We think you’ll find all of it interesting.

But even more, we think you’ll find something each week that will encourage you, train you, spur on a great idea.  Plus there will usually be at least one story to make you angry; one to make you cry; and one to make you laugh out loud.

Just ’cause that’s how we roll.

Here’s what you’ll read THIS WEEK in Ministry Briefing.

Subscribe and get your free copy download in less than two minutes!

 

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How to Strategically Hype Without Embarrassing Yourself

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“The best thing about comedy is that no matter how bad your show is, it’s only 30 minutes, and never exists again. The worst thing is no matter how good your show is, it’s only 30 minutes, and never exists again.” ­ -Mick Napier

Comedians have the luxury of coasting because people love to laugh and will seek out comedy. Churches cannot coast because people are looking for a reason to mentally check out and never return. If you blow it on Sunday with a person far from God, they will quickly become far from your church.

In today’s world, it is still culturally­ assumed that if you have questions about faith, your best bet is to walk into a church on a Sunday morning. The culture assumes Sunday is going to meet their needs. If you want to reach lost people, your church needs to reduce the clutter of mid­week programming and echo the Monster Truck commercials: “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!”

How do we best grab people’s attention?

Hype that lives up to the hype is GREAT. Delivering on big promises can build a reputation and momentum. However, when you promise something great yet deliver a subpar product, you stain your credibility and empty seats.

And let’s be honest, this happens a LOT in church world.

If you’re going to jump on Twitter on Saturday night and promise that this coming Sunday will be the best Sunday ever, you’d better deliver big time. And there is a time and a place for those tweets. Just remember, leaders shape expectations.

A key principle used by comedians is to reverse­hype. Comedians thrive when they underpromise and overdeliver:

Overpromise + Underdeliver = Reputation Stainer + Momentum Killer (church world)

Underpromise + Overdeliver = Spontaneous Buzz + Authentic Growth (comedy world)

Surprise + Delight

Comedy teacher Martin de Maat once gave a great exercise in one of my comedy courses. He gave each person in our class a secret before we started improvising our scene. We weren’t supposed to talk about it; each person’s secret was to be their motivation.

The exercise was incredible as great comedy erupted in those improvised scenes. At the end, we found out the big reveal: Martin had told each of us the same thing, “It’s your partner’s birthday.”

Because we didn’t know it was our birthday in the scene, we were given an underpromise; we assumed it would be a normal day. The scene’s comedy was heightened because each person was acting like it was the other’s birthday… without actually saying, “Hey, Happy Birthday!” This made every word and action an overdelivery of pure joy.

When you choose to underpromise and overdeliver, it will lead to spontaneous buzz and authentic growth. In leadership, you have a hand in shaping the future. If you keep expectations low and raise the bar for execution high, you shape a future of surprise and delight. When looking at your next big event or message series, underpromise what is to come and then work your tail off to overdeliver the results!

As comedy director Del Close once observed, “A scene is almost never about what the players think it’s going to be about!” When you underpromise as a leader, you actually free yourself to enjoy the journey. If the expectations are low, the freedom is available to explore and fly higher!

Jonathan Herron studied comedy under Tina Fey (SNL, 30 Rock) before entering ministry. An experienced church start​up strategist, Jonathan is now the founding pastor of Life Church Michigan and this excerpt is from his just ​­released book, Comedy​­Driven Leadership.

This is a sponsored post of ToddRhoades.com

The urgency of your day. What happens after death?

You have the most urgent job in the world today.  In fact, we all do.

Watch this short video shot in Columbia, MO, asking people what happens after they die…

Thoughts?

Todd

Sam Chand on ‘skinny jeans and spiked hair’ & why your church’s culture needs to change

For the last twenty to thirty years church leaders have heard about the importance of vision.

We have gone to conferences about vision, lectured on vision, and encouraged our congregations to buy into vision for years. While many times all a church needs is a clearer understanding of their vision, many times vision just isn’t enough. There is something missing: a healthy church culture.

Let’s be brutally honest: an unhealthy church culture will eat your church’s vision for lunch.

Enter Sam Chand.

Sam’s book Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code goes after that piece that eludes us: church culture. Sam sat down with Todd and Matt yesterday to talk a little bit about the book, why culture is so important for churches, and how to start developing a healthy church culture:

You can track Sam down at his website and on twitter, and you can find Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code on Amazon.

What are you, nuts?

If you’re using the same communication methods, technology, music, delivery style, and format that you did five years ago… you’re nuts.

In fact, if you’re not constantly changing the way you communicate the gospel to people in your community, you’re in big, big trouble.

Here’s a case in point.  In 1984, kids were asked to explain computers on Sesame Street.  (Mind you… in 1984 I was a sophomore in college).  Here’s what they said:

Fast forward 30 years.  Now watch this from 2014:

In just 30 years, we’ve watched a generation totally evolve in the way they communicate.

People ten years younger than I am were using computers to make pictures (pretty bad ones).

Today’s kids don’t know what a dial tone or a busy signal is.

Bottom line:  If you’re stuck in 1984, chances are you’re finished.  Your effectiveness will be with the 50+ crowd spending your remaining years looking at carpet samples and fighting off the few of the younger folks you have left.  Your church and ministry will die a slow and agonizing death only as your people literally start dying.

Many churches in my town are stuck in 1984.

Some are stuck in 1994.

Others in 2004.

But just as bad (though not as easy to identify) are the churches stuck in 2010 or 2011.

I’m not saying that the church needs to take on every new technology or cultural advance (many can be very detrimental to the church).  But if your church is debating whether or not you should have a tweeter account, you’re probably out of touch.

With culture so enamored with technology and celebrity, it’s kind of important that you know what a wrecking ball is or who the heck Pharrell is (and why Arby’s paid $44,000 for his hat).

Never compromised on the message.  Always change the method and delivery.

If you don’t make those adjustments consistently, you’re nuts.

So there’s that.

Todd

 

HT: Mental Floss here and here.

 

How to make yourself work when you just don’t want to

According to the Harvard Business Review (and they HAVE to be right because they’re WAY smarter than I’ll ever be) there are three main reasons why we procrastinate:

1.  We put things off because we’re afraid we’ll screw them up

2.  We put things off because we simply don’t feel like doing them

3.  We put things off because it’s hard, boring, or otherwise unpleasant.

OK… that sounds about right.  But how to we break through our own procrastinational (is that a word?) tendencies?

(I need this today… I have a to-do list with WAY too many items on… many I moved over from last week because of one of the three reasons above!)

Here’s what Harvard says (well, more specifically, Heidi Grant Halvorson):

1.  If you’re not doing something because you’re afraid you’ll screw it up, you just need to take on a ‘prevention focus’. This is thinking about how you can end up better off rather than hanging on to what you’ve already got.  In other words, you want to avoid loss.  For many of us, successfully completing a project is a way to keep your boss happy.  For this type of task, it’s better to complete the task than to leave it undone (just ask your boss!) The moral:  The consequences of doing nothing are greater than just buckling down and doing the task.  Not fun, but just do it (essentially).

2.  If you just simply don’t want to do something, Heidi says to ignore your feelings. Again this one is not fun.  Essentially, you just have to start. The moral:  ”If you are sitting there, putting something off because you don’t feel like it… remember that you don’t actually need to feel like it.  There is nothing stopping you.”  Personally, I find that the first 15 minutes of a task is the hardest part.  I just simply need to get started.

3.  If you’re putting something off today because it’s hard, boring or unpleasant, Halvorson suggest you use the ‘if-then planning’ method. Here’s what she says:

Do yourself a favor, and embrace the fact that your willpower is limited, and that it may not always be up to the challenge of getting you to do things you find difficult, tedious, or otherwise awful.  Instead, use if-then planning to get the job done.

Making an if-then plan is more than just deciding what specific steps you need to take to complete a project – it’s also deciding where and when you will take them.

If it is 2pm, then I will stop what I’m doing and start work on the report Bob asked for.

If my boss doesn’t mention my request for a raise at our meeting, then I will bring it up again before the meeting ends.

By deciding in advance exactly what you’re going to do, and when and where you’re going to do it, there’s no deliberating when the time comes.   No do I really have to do this now?, or can this wait till later? or maybe I should do something else instead.   It’s when we deliberate that willpower becomes necessary to make the tough choice.  But if-then plans dramatically reduce the demands placed on your willpower, by ensuring that you’ve made the right decision way ahead of the critical moment. In fact,  if-then planning has been shown in over 200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200%-300% on average.

Bottom line:  procrastination is a beast. At least it is for me.

Halvorson knows that they advice she’s giving (to think about the consequences of failure, to ignore your feelings, and putting emphasis on detailed planning) aren’t easy answers to procrastination… but she says that they are the EFFECTIVE ways to deal with procrastination.

I think I may put these in to practice… tomorrow.

Just kidding… later today sometime, probably.

Read the whole article here RIGHT NOW.

Todd

How well are you leading?

Leaders are a funny bunch.

They come in all shapes and sizes. And temperaments.

And according to that temperament, many leaders don’t have a good view of how they are leading.

Some tend to overestimate how they’re leading… that things are going great, when, in reality, they’re not.

Others tend to underestimate how they’re leading… that things are going horribly, when, in fact, they’re actually going pretty good.

Carey Nieuwhof suggests that if you think you’re doing better than you are, you’ll be the last person to realize you need to improve.  And if you think things are not going well (and they are), you’re probably not tapping into your full potential.

So… Carey suggests three questions to ask yourself today to get a good self-assessment as to how you’re doing as a leader.

Are you ready?  Here we go.

1. Is anyone following you? Look over your shoulder.  If no ones there (or very few), then you’re not leading very well. In other words:  I leader without followers is not a leader.

2.  Who’s following you? Ask yourself:  What KIND of person is following me.  The caliber of people around you points to the caliber of leadership you are providing.

3. Who are you following? Who is your mentor?  Who are you learning from?  Who is building into you personally?

Carey quotes Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

Who are those five people?

So… what is your gut telling you?  How well have you led in the past month?  What can you do to be a better leader THIS WEEK?

Read more of Carey’s thoughts (and read his great blog) here…

Todd

Sticking up for the Soup Nazi

Those of you who read my blog here regularly know that sometimes I like to poke a little fun at Pat Robertson… not because I don’t like Pat Robertson… but because he says some goofy things sometimes (or at least presents some things very differently than I would).

Sometimes I agree with him.  Sometimes I don’t.

(And for the record, I’d love to sit down and have coffee with Pat some morning… even though I don’t like coffee. Pat has done some incredible things in his life, and I’ve to pick his brain a little.  So, Pat… have your people call my people and we’ll set something up).

But here, Pat is discussing the question that is coming up more and more in culture. It’s the area of inclusivism and discrimination.

The question:  should a baker be forced to bake a cake and sell it to a gay couple for their wedding if the baker doesn’t agree with gay marriage or thinks that homosexuality is a sin?

One side of the argument is if the baker does not bake the cake, he/she is discriminating.

The other side of the argument is that if the baker does sell the cake that he/she is compromising their beliefs/principles.

Pat feels that the baker should be able to say no to anyone he/she wants to.

And who does he bring out as the example that we can all relate to?

That’s right… the soup nazi.

I only have a couple of problems with this analogy.

1. The soup nazi is an example from 1995. It would be nice if we had a little more current example, at least from the show Friends or Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

2.  I’m not sure if you’re endearing people to your point of view by invoking the soup nazi.  After all, half of his name is nazi, which doesn’t have a good connotation the last time I checked.

But in reality, in today’s culture, Christian bakers who refuse to bake a cake for a lesbian couple are actually seen exactly this way… as a ‘no cake for you’ unloving, ‘I don’t need you’ personality.

So, maybe the analogy was the perfect one, Pat.

Whether you think the baker should or should not bake the cake, the bigger problem is how Christians are viewed in society.

The ship has sailed, culture-wise, on the gay marriage issue. More and more Americans are agreeing that marriage equality should be a right. How we as Christians respond to that says much about us.  It also says much about how we are perceived in the culture from this point on.

I’m not saying this is not a difficult issue for everyone to work through. It is. But let’s be sure that we don’t lose all of our voice in speaking into people’s lives because of a cake.

Thoughts?

Todd

Get more accomplished at your next church staff meeting…

This invention from Coca Cola could really help the productivity of your next staff meeting.

Heck… maybe you could get everyone to just leave them on for the day.  Just think of the type of ministry that could get done!

Have fun…


Are you a Jimmy Fallon or Jay Leno Type of Church Leader?

You would think that Jay Leno had it made.

He was the King of late night television.  He was (on most nights) crushing the competition.  Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel would have LOVED to have the ratings that Jay Leno enjoyed… right up until his departure last week.

But Leno was, by most accounts, forced out early by NBC.  A new article/commentary at Mashable tells why:  Jay Leno, while he was doing great in the traditional measures (nationwide TV audience in a given demographic) could not make the switch to the future (which included youtube, vine, twitter, facebook, and all the viral directions that TV and late night was going).

Enter Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon can post a self-contained short-form video to youtube and garner a couple of million views in a short period of time. Fallon regularly plays to the younger audience via social media… crowdsourcing many of his gags from the internet itself.

Leno would never turn the corner with that audience.

And… NBC needed him to in order to insure the future success of the Tonight Show franchise.

So… how does this apply to the church; and to you as a leader?

Because you might be a Jay Leno.  You might be very conventional in the way you’re approaching ministry.  And things may be going great guns now.  But that doesn’t mean they will in the future. Particularly if you don’t change.

I’m not saying that you need to take your ministry ‘viral’, specifically with any kind of technology, short video type of things.

But I am saying that the people and culture you are ministering to are changing.  And you need to as well.

Here’s the problem.  99% of churches won’t be pre-emptive in their strike to insure their own future (as NBC did in this case).  Most of the time, they’ll wait until the leader is totally out of sync with the community and culture, attendance is down, and most key leaders have left, before they suggest such a change.

If you’re a Leno… that’s not all bad.  You’re effective right now. And that’s because you’re good… you’re seasoned… and God is with you.  Just be sure that don’t keep your head in the sand in the future.  You need to grow as a leader.  You need to change with your community (not doctrinally, but culturally).

If you don’t… quite honestly, you probably won’t find yourself like Jay Leno (going out at the top of your game).  You’ll probably find yourself hosting the tonight show for another ten years and leaving (or being asked to leave) when a Jimmy Fallon kicks your butt on another channel. And you’ll leave behind a church that is much less active, much less productive, and much less able to reach their community for Christ than if you would have considered some relatively easy, slow changes years earlier.

What can you learn from Jay Leno? From NBC? From Jimmy Fallon?  How does this apply to your leadership.

(You don’t have to agree with me… the purpose of this post was to make you THINK).  :)

Todd

Read more here…

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