Selfish Cynics in the Church

Cynics in the church?  Shut up?

But should you have cynical people on your leadership team?

Seth Godin writes:

Cynics are hard to disappoint. Because they imagine the worst in people and situations, reality rarely lets them down. Cynicism is a way to rehearse the let-downs the world has in store–before they arrive.

And the cynic chooses this attitude at the expense of the group. Because he can’t bear to be disappointed, he shares his rehearsed disappointment with the rest of us, slowing down projects, betting on lousy outcomes and dampening enthusiasm.

Do you have a cynic on your team?  How do you deal with them?


What Should Your Church Be Measuring?

Will Mancini offers this list of 20 things you could be measuring in your church:

Percent of new attenders in prior two years

Guest percentage

Profile of new attenders and guest including reason for attending

Age of the church vs. age of the community

Age of church vs. the age of new attenders in the prior two years

Spiritual growth satisfaction

Sense of connection to the church

Giving patterns

Adult conversion percentage

Influence of ministries

Group assimilation percentage

Serving assimilation percentage

Serving assimilation obstacles

Invitation activity

Invitation obstacles


Read more from Will here.  What do YOU measure in your church and WHY?


8 Ways You May Be Vulnerable to Spiritual Attack

Chuck Lawless offers up this list of ways that leaders often find themselves vulnerable to spiritual attack.  Here are the first four:

1. We focus on others, often to the neglect of ourselves. We are caregivers, rightly recognizing our responsibility to watch over the souls of others (Heb. 13:17). As pastors or lay leaders, we want to love people who re hurting, guide young believers, challenge older believers, and influence our community. Ministry, after all, is about others. When we neglect our own spiritual and physical well being in the process, though, we make ourselves susceptible to the enemy.

2. We replace spiritual disciplines with ministry activity. Church leaders can always find something else to do. There are always others to reach and many to train. Hospitalized church members beckon. Broken marriages need counseling. So many are the ministry hours we put in that we’re tempted to remind others of our sacrifice. Too little time is left for personal spiritual disciplines—and the enemy’s target is on our back.

3. We do ministry in our own power. Sometimes we go through the motions of ministry. We’ve been trained. We’ve read the books. Perhaps we have years of experience. We know how to do ministry, so we just do it with little praying and less dependence—and few people recognize we lack the power of God. In this case, we’re not only vulnerable to attack; we’re already losing the battle.

4. We think failure will never happen to us. I know few leaders who readily admit their susceptibility to falling. After all, leaders don’t become leaders by being weak. They are focused on the vision. They are committed. Their conviction inspires others. As leaders, we should indeed strive for these characteristics. When our confidence overshadows our recognition of the enemy’s schemes, though, we may be in trouble.

Great stuff.  Go here for the other 4.

What would you add to the list?  Please leave a comment below!


Fad theology and church crisis

I was reading an interesting article at MentalFloss today that talked about popular diet tips from 100 years ago.  Among them were:

Mere napping about for those who already have too much rest and luxury is suicidal to both mind and body. Oversleeping at any time makes one stupid and logy, yes — fat.

Do not drink much water. A little lemon juice added to it will make it less fattening.

First and most important, drink very little, as little as possible, and only red or white wine, preferably Burgundy, or tea or coffee slightly alcoholized.

Banish all thoughts of going back to bed. Instead begin your rolling. There is no mystery about rolling. It is simply what the name indicates. Down upon the floor you go and roll over and over swiftly, not slowly as a porpoise rolls. The porpoise, you will observe, is not a slender animal. Roll over as a puppy, tingling with the joy of life, rolls in the dust when at play. Roll quickly. Make at least 80 revolutions before stopping.

We look back at these today and think they were silly.

That got me thinking… what was the big scuttlebutt in the church 100 years ago.  Here are some things they were talking about:

The Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversy. The extensive spread of liberal theology draws strong reactions from theological conservatives. In 1909 a set of scholarly volumes, The Fundamentals, defend the doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity. In 1919 the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association is founded to combat modernist (liberal) teaching. Major controversies between modernists and fundamentalists within denominations prompt many people to separate and form new, conservative denominations and fellowships.

European Theology. After World War I a new theological movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, begins a revolt in Western Europe against liberal theology. Contrary to liberal theology, it stresses the sinfulness of man and the difference between God and the universe. But contrary to orthodoxy, it injects a destructive, critical view of the Bible and claims that God has not given revelation in the form of declared statements of truth. By the late 1940s Neo-Orthodoxy dominates most European and American theological schools. But after the 1960s European theology falls into such chaos that some scholars fear Protestantism may end in Europe.

The Ecumenical Movement. This movement promotes unity through these means: interdenominational cooperation, union of denominations, national federations of church groups, international councils and fellowships, dialogues between groups within Christendom and between Christendom and non-Christian religions, Catholic observers at World Council of Churches’ meetings, Protestant observers at Roman Catholic meetings, and joint participation in large public rallies. Most efforts negate the importance of doctrinal truth in favor of unity. Some support radical, left-wing groups.

Roman Catholicism. In 1950 Pope Pius XII proclaims the bodily assumption of Mary to heaven after her death. Vatican II Council (1962—1965) encourages Catholics to read the Bible, asserts spiritual priesthood for the laity, permits the Mass to be conducted in the language of each nation, and exhibits an ecumenical spirit toward Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The tendency grows to regard Mary as co-redemptrix with Christ.

Neo-Evangelicalism. By the late 1940s a new movement begins in conservative circles to enable orthodoxy to impact the world and be respected by it. The movement develops these characteristics: increased emphasis on scholarship, a willingness to re-examine and modify doctrinal beliefs to fit the modern mind, a tendency to interpret the Bible in light of science, a desire to share theological insights with liberal and neo-orthodox thinkers, ecumenical evangelism, a tendency to minimize the importance of doctrine and biblical eschatology, a strategy to infiltrate liberal denominations (rather than separate from them) to win them back to orthodoxy, and an attempt to develop a social philosophy.

Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement. Early in the 1900s the Pentecostal movement arises, emphasizing tongues and other apostolic-age sign and revelational gifts. Pentecostal denominations arise. In the 1960s this emphasis enters mainline Protestant churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and spawns the charismatic movement. Because it stresses experiences common to people of varying church backgrounds, it plays a key role in the spirit of ecumenicity.

I can think of many more minor schizms in the church over the past 25 years.

The question:  what are we doing today (or arguing about) that in the big scheme of things (say… 100 years) will make us look just plain foolish and petty?



HT: and MentalFloss

What happens when a pastor commits adultery

Joe McKeever shares ten things that happen when a pastor commits adultery…

1.  His ministry is gone.

2. His humiliation is severe.

3. Those who believed in him and supported him feel betrayed.

4.  People whom he was trying to reach for Christ now have a convenient excuse to fall away.

5.  His family is wounded, perhaps irreparably.

6.  Atheists and others hostile to the Christian faith have a field day.

7. His future ministry – once re-established – is more limited.

8. Other pastors are tainted by being in the same profession as he is.

9. The pastor’s victim has been wounded and her family has paid a price.

10. The guilt from this will hound him the rest of his life.

So true.

Maybe some of you who have experienced this would like to comment on how going through something like this has affected you, your family, and your ministry.  Please feel free to leave an anonymous comment below.

(Oh… here’s two semi-good things that can happen as well):

1.  The pastor is going to find out who his friends are.

2.  The church is going to find out what it really believes. And so, incidentally, is the pastor who has fallen.

Read all of Joe’s thoughts here.  They are worth your time today.


Jerry Jenkins, Gambling, Moody, and one of the last evangelical taboos.

You know Jerry Jenkins, the author and current chairman of Moody Bible Institute.

But do you know Jerry Jenkins, the professional gambler?

An article over the weekend at World Magazine focuses on Jenkins, who has admitted that he enjoys playing in professional poker tournaments.

Jenkins says he’s just a recreational player, but that he realizes that people have an issue with that.

(In August, Moody Bible Institute changed their policy to now allow staff members to use tobacco, consume alcohol and gamble while off duty… but the school says the change was not made because of anyone’s personal habits or lifestyle).

Jenkins says that he’s won a little over $8,000 at two casinos, but that he usually about breaks even.

He also says that he won’t gamble any more near Chicago (the home of MBI) because “It’s too close to Chicago.”

According to the interview and quotes, Jenkins doesn’t look at his poker playing as gambling:  ”I don’t play for what I would consider significant amounts of money. And I wouldn’t gamble, either. I mean, I don’t play slots,” he said. “I consider poker a skill game.”

Here’s an interesting paragraph:  Jenkins, 64, declined to state his income on the record, but said he is a “high-income person” and has enjoyed a few “pretty flush years with the Left Behind series. … You can do the math. I’ve sold 70 million books. So to break even making $8,000 playing poker, it’s kind of pocket change for me.” He gives most of his income away, he said.

And here’s another paragraph from the article that asks some good questions:

Some evangelicals see no problem in playing for small amounts of cash. Others have tended to avoid poker because of its association with gambling. From the Westminster Larger Catechism in the 1640s (which criticizes “wasteful gaming” in its question 142) to the present, many have seen gambling as a violation of the 8th commandment, “You shalt not steal”—but debates about what is wasteful, what is gambling, and what is stealing have also raged. Does a particular game create hardship to losers and their families? What is the motivation involved? What is moralism and what contributes to human flourishing or diminishing?

So… what do YOU think?

1.  Is gambling wrong?

2. Is poker ‘gambling’?

3.  Is the evangelical taboo of gambling now becoming a thing of the past?

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment below.



Mark Driscoll crashes John MacArthur’s Conference. Says books were confiscated.

So… you can’t make this stuff up.

John MacArthur holds a conference in California to try to set the record straight on the charismatic movement (turns out that most involved in the charismatic movement are not even believers according to MacArthur).

Mark Driscoll (who has described himself in the past as a charismatic calvinist) is speaking at a conference at the same time a few miles away on how to act like a man.

It was the perfect storm.

Here’s how it went down.

Driscoll (and his friend James MacDonald) decided to join the party and make an appearance during a break at the Strange Fire conference on MacArthur’s campus.

Driscoll brought a few boxes of books to give away (and evidently sign) to conference attendees.

But conference officials (Driscoll said security) asked him not to pass out books, because all resources given out at the conference needed to be approved.

Driscoll said… no problem… I just want this to be a gift to the conference.

So… they took the boxes of books (since they were a gift), and secured them in the conference offices.

Driscoll then tweeted that his books were confiscated.

It’s really a great story.  And a great thing to do to promote a book or get headlines.  (Hey, we’re talking about it here!)

But a couple of thoughts (then a couple of links if you want to drill down a little for some other perspectives).

1.  I’ve been around large Christian conferences.  Both Mark and John promote big conferences (Driscoll’s is coming up soon).  Neither would let anyone walk in off the street and start handing out stuff… for a couple reasons: you really do want to have some control over what is handed out at your event; and more importantly, you have sponsors that have paid a high price to the conference to have the luxury of handing that kind of stuff out.  I doubt that if John MacArthur shows up at the Resurgence event with his Strange Fire book, that it would be met with any more enthusiasm.

2.  This is a classic match up of two really big personalities… two guys that, while they have more in common than the disagree with, will make it a point to spar publically to prove their point.  Sometimes it’s better to be right and be quiet… but it’s not in either of these guy’s nature to do that.

I respect John MacArthur for all that he’s contributed to the Kingdom.  Same with Driscoll.  But let’s put aside the public theatrics.  Do the one-on-one reconciliation thing that men should do as brothers.

What do YOU think?


Here are a couple of other blog posts with some different perspective… Here and here.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Pastors, Scapegoating and Misplaced Blame

If only…

It was really because this person did that…

There’s enough blame in the world to go around.

And, working in the church over the years… the church is no exception.

CYA doesn’t just apply in the business world.  It’s prominent in the church as well.  Just ask anyone who works for someone in the church that has been the scapegoat for someone else’s bad decision or a program that wasn’t going well.

I’ve been there.  And you probably have to. At some point.

All of us suffer from Anthony Weiner syndrome at some point.  Here’s what I mean by that:

Over the weekend, the former congressman said this in an interview:

“I have no desire to walk into a bar and pick up a woman. I love my wife…And maybe if the Internet didn’t exist? Like, if I was running in 1955? I’d probably get elected mayor.”

In essence:  It was the internet’s fault.

No, Anthony.  You couldn’t keep your pants zipped.  Then you took inappropriate pictures.  Then you forwarded them on to other women.  Then you attempted to cover it up.

That’s why you’re not mayor of New York City.

The internet really had nothing to do with it.  It was your blunder.  Your mistake.  Your character flaw.

If the internet wasn’t in existence, you might just be another guy in a park in a trench coat.

The lesson:  don’t be so self-deceived that you always point the blame in someone else’s direction.

Sometimes, the problem is you.

Sometimes, the problem is me.

Actually, the problem is usually me.

And the moment I can learn to deal with that fact, the better leader I will be.

If you have staff under you and a board you report to… man up.  If you make a bad call, fess up.  Don’t throw your staff under the bus.

After all, it’s not always the worship or youth guy’s fault.

Sometimes, (usually as the leader) it’s yours.


Read more here.


New Series: Church Rescue

A new show offers to help church ‘reestablish themselves in the marketplace, not so they can turn themselves into profitable enterprises, but so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers.’

Yes… that’s a new show on the National Geographic channel.

Here’s the press release.  Question:  will you be watching?

Religious institutions are the foundation of many communities across America. The United States is home to more than 300,000 religious congregations, and nearly four out of five Americans identify themselves with some type of religious belief. In order to practice these beliefs, people from all walks of life descend upon urban, rural and city houses of worship that come in a wide array of shapes and sizes.

But running a church takes more than faith, and even the holiest of institutions can fall victim to harsh realities. In fact, in 2012, Reuters reported that banks were foreclosing on churches in record numbers leading to tough consequences for communities across the country. Thankfully, struggling congregations and the families who flock to them have a place to turn when times get tough.

Enter the “Church Hoppers” (@churchhoppers) three business-savvy ministers and best friends who travel the country helping faith-based organizations reestablish themselves in the marketplace, not so they can turn themselves into profitable enterprises, but so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers and helping those who are struggling in their faith to find a foothold. They use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions featured in the new series Church Rescue, premiering Monday, November 11, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at @NGC_PR.

Based in North Carolina, the Church Hoppers trio includes Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas (@churchhopperkev), the resident business guru with years of experience as an entrepreneur. Rev Kev helps pastors understand that the more success they have, the more lives they can touch through their ministry. Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart (@churchhoppergla), a sales and marketing specialist with 15 years of experience, is more interested in how the church conveys a sense of belonging to the congregation. And Jerry “Doc” Bentley (@churchhopperdoc) is a pastoral counselor who focuses on the human relations aspect of each organization.

The Church Hoppers have just seven days to assist the struggling faith-based institutions, and must identify strengths and weaknesses quickly so they can work hand-in-hand with the church leaders to improve their prospects for survival. Every job they take starts with a reconnaissance mission. They visit the churches and blend in as best they can at first, to get the real experience from the churchgoer’s unique perspective. In North Carolina, they visit a motorcycle biker church decked out in biker gear and sport cowboy hats when meeting with the congregation at a cowboy church. They travel to California, meeting with a pastor in Compton whose church is struggling after the economic collapse, and venture to a synagogue in Venice Beach to help a rabbi attract much-needed younger people to his congregation.

When it comes time to prescribe solutions, the Church Hoppers start with a healthy dose of Tough Love for the pastors and reverends, most of whom are resistant to change even though their ministries are on the verge of collapse. One minister refuses to spend any money to repair his sanctuary because he wants a brand new church instead. Another is unwilling to admit he needs training on how to give an engaging sermon, even though he puts many in his congregation to sleep every week. And a third preaches messages so devoid of the hope of his religion that anyone walking in off the street is bound to turn tail and leave immediately.

Once the church leaders put a little faith in the Church Hoppers and let them do what they do best, the guys make quick but effective changes to draw in more worshipers to help turn the churches around. Something as simple as a new sign out front that clearly lists the times worship services take place goes a long way. Instead of a three-hour marathon sermon, two sermons split into two services draw twice the crowd. Putting in a play area for children gives parents added incentive to attend a service. And installing a cross on the side of the building lets passersby know it’s a church they’re passing. By playing to the strengths of the church, the congregation will follow.

The Church Hoppers use common sense and the guidance of biblical Scriptures to make a miraculous amount of difference in a short time and help put these potentially doomed churches on a righteous path.

The way they see it, the souls of the faithful are ultimately at stake, so failure is not an option.

Read more about National Geographic Channel to Premiere New Series CHURCH RESCUE, 11/11 – BWWTVWorld by

Why you need to make room at the top

Larry Osborne writes:

I’ve made it a personal priority to make sure that our young eagles have a place at our leadership table. I see it as my role to enhance their influence within our church, making sure that they are supported, protected, and listened to.

But I have to admit, it’s not always appreciated, especially by middle-aged eagles who think that tenure should be the primary determiner of influence.

I understand their reluctance. Young eagles can make a mess in the cage. They’re impatient. They lack the wisdom that comes with experience. In short, they make the same dumb mistakes that the old eagles made when they first started out.


The real reason is that leadership is a zero sum game. One person’s emerging influence is always another person’s waning influence. And that makes making room for the young eagles a hard sell, especially to those who already have a place at the table.

Again, I understand. Like most leaders, I love the idea of servant leadership and putting others first – as long as no one actually cuts in front of me or starts treating me like I’m a servant.

But it has to be done or we’ll fall victim to the predictable twenty year death cycle when most churches stop growing, evangelizing, and making a mark.

When a church grows old, gray, and culturally out of touch – far more interested in protecting the past than creating the future – and starts to wonder, “What happened to all the young people and families that used to hang around here?” it’s a sign that the young eagles have been shut out for a long time.

Read more from Larry here at


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