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The average pay of a senior pastor serving a Southern Baptist church in America for 2012 was $60,774.  That’s for pastors that live in church housing.  For those who don’t, the average is more like $72,840.  That doesn’t include cash payments that most pastors get as reimbursements (like for mileage, conference reimbursements, books, etc. That’s the synopsis from SBC Voices. LifeWay and GuideStone collaborate on the compensation survey. The  latest is available here. Thoughts? Does this strike you as high, low, or just right?
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube
   
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Have you thought much about what you will be concentrating on in your church in 2013? Joe Buchanan gives some practical advice on how to plan our your preaching calendar for the year.  See if this is helpful: 1. Spend time fasting, praying and preparing yourself spiritually to hear from God The amount of time and the way you do this will depend on the individual.  There is no substitute, however, for getting yourself spiritually prepared to hear from God. 2.  Identify the key issues and needs facing your congregation I like to take an afternoon to simply pray through our church directory, asking God to call to mind the needs of individual needs of my congregation.  As the Lord calls various issues to my mind, I make a list of issues and needs.  Once I have prayed through every name in the directory, I then go back and categorize the needs and identify the most pressing issues facing our church.   3. Outline your preaching strategy One of the key factors for effective preaching is to have variety in your styles and approaches… You will have to adjust the plan to meet your needs but I try to include the following in my yearly plan:
  • Preach through two books of the Bible
  • An expository topical series on the family
  • A theological expository series on a major doctrine of the Bible
  • Individual holiday sermons or short series
  • Standalone messages dealing with specific issues in the community
What do YOU have planned for 2013? How far do you normally plan ahead? And what are you MOST excited about for the new year? Read more here…
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube
   
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Seth Godin is the author of twelve books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change, and work. He is also the master of saying a great deal using relatively few words on his blog. Recently he shared that while people are in a hurry to do many things, generosity isn’t usually on that list.  Godin then asked a powerful question: What happens when we adopt the posture of being in a hurry to be generous? // Read more here:  Hurry Up & Be Generous. It’s a great concept.  How could your church hurry to be generous as we enter these days right before Christmas? How ARE you doing that in your own church? I’d love to hear your comments! Todd
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Mike Leake thinks maybe we need to stop complaining about the state of the church: I have lost track of how many books begin by telling me how jacked up the church is.  Usually after lambasting the church and pointing out her many failures there is some obligatory statement on how Jesus still loves her and how she is the only hope of this generation.  But at present she is unattractive, whorish, and a little on the ugly side.  What usually follows is the author’s solution for making the church not quite such an ugly old hag. I’ll be the first to confess that I’ve spoken numerous times on how the church can be a pretty messed-up place.  When Jesus draws sinners into such an intimate fellowship things can get ugly.  So, I get why people say that the church isn’t quite how she ought to be. Yet if I overheard some dude talking about my wife the way that we often talk about Jesus’ bride I’d start turning green like the Incredible Hulk and probably smash him in the nose.  “Jesus, your wife is an ugly old hag that often plays the harlot, and she is unattractive to even her best friends.  But have no fear I’ve written a book that will shape her up to make her respectable.”  See how ignorant that sounds? I wonder if Jesus ever wants to thump us in the nose for the way we talk about His precious Bride that He is washing in the water of the Word? // read more here… I’ve often said… you can say what you want to about me, but don’t say anything bad about my wife.  Should we feel uncomfortable when we talk negatively about the bride of Christ? What do YOU think? Todd
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OK… cut me some slack… it’s really difficult to create a headline with the words ‘vagina’ and ‘LifeWay’ in such close proximity. It’s the best I could do. But have you been following the controversy involving Rachel Held Evan’s new book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” and Lifeway? There have been a ton of internet stories about LifeWay’s decision NOT to carry the book in their retail stores.  (This, for a Christian author, is a MAJOR blow… since LifeWay is the largest Christian retail outlet in the country.) Anyway… it all started with a blog post a long while back from Rachel about how her publisher (Thomas Nelson) wanted her to take the word ‘vagina’ out of her book so it would have a better chance to be sold in stores such as LifeWay. Evans refused. And LifeWay is not carrying the book. But LifeWay says it’s not because of the word ‘vagina’.  In fact, I’m not sure that LifeWay has given a reason as to why they are not carrying the book. So… bloggers being who they are, have categorized this as ‘vagina-gate’. In fact, some fact-checking by our good friends at Christianity Today has broken the news that LifeWay currently sells books that have multiple references to the word. To prove their point, here’s part of their findings: A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy by Douglas E. Rosenau 86 (plus images) The Gift of Sex: A Guide to Sexual Fulfillment by Clifford & Joyce Penner 73 (plus images) The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love by Tim and Beverley LaHaye 62 How to Talk Confidently with Your Child about Sex by Lenore Buth 42 The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) by Sheila Wray Gregoire 19 The Body Book by Nancy Rue 6 (at least in the 2000 edition; LifeWay’s is the 2012 edition and was not available for review) Straight Talk with Your Kids About Sex by Josh and Dottie McDowell 6 And there are at least 14 more! My questions: 1.  Whose job was it to scour the list above and count the number of times vaginas are being referenced? 2.  How much does that job pay? 3.  How does LifeWay make their decisions on what to and what not to sell? 4.  I wonder… how much scuttlebutt will there be in SBC circles now that this list has been published to have ALL of these books banned from LifeWay stores. 5.  It’s been nearly 13 years since Tim & Beverly LaHaye’s erotic thriller “The Act of Marriage” came out.  It referenced ‘vagina’ 62 times in ways that still make Mark Driscoll blush.  I haven’t read Rachel’s book, but can’t imagine that it is quite as graphic as a couple of passages I remember reading in the LaHaye’s book years ago.  Why the seeming double standard? In the end… I really don’t care.  And in fact, I think it’s rather silly. I feel bad for Rachel that her book is missing some shelf space.  And I feel bad for LifeWay that they’re getting bad press (but they knew it had to be coming when they refused to carry the book and give their reasoning.) I’m sure this quote from Rachel didn’t help matters any: “I don’t know if they were more offended by my vagina or my brain,” she says with a laugh. “The only thing I know is that my editor said, if you leave this word in, there’s a good chance LifeWay won’t carry it.” — Slate Quick.  Someone call A. Larry Ross.  Your services are needed. Your thoughts? More here. Todd
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Robert Schuller took the stand on Wednesday in his trial against Crystal Cathedral Ministries.  Schulller and his wife say the ministry owes them at least $5 million dollars.  Here are some details of the proceedings from the Orange County Register: Throughout his nearly two hours of testimony, Schuller was firm on one idea: he had always allowed the Crystal Cathedral to use his books and other works without receiving royalties but the work was his nonetheless – and not property of the ministry. “We never had anything in writing. We just had an understanding,” Schuller said – “a gentleman’s understanding.” As long as the ministry did not sell his materials to competitors, they could use them for the profit of the Crystal Cathedral. One of the most common uses was the church’s give-away of books to donors of the Hour of Power television program. Schuller did not receive royalties for the books, sharing all the profits with the church, he said. “I allowed the ministry to use it,” Schuller testified. “I did not give ownership to any one.” Questioned by his own attorney, Carl Grumer, Schuller said the church could use his materials –”always with my approval.” He repeatedly stated, in response to opposing counsel’s questions, that he did not expect compensation to himself or to his corporation, Robert H. Inc., for the use of his materials. Schuller also said that his wife, Arvella, who testified on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, was in charge of the finances. At times, Schuller appeared to contradict previous sworn statements filed in court documents. For example, a declaration he signed stated the Crystal Cathedral Ministries exploited his intellectual property on the Internet. But when asked about it on Wednesday, Schuller said he did not know. When asked again by his own attorney if the Crystal Cathedral had permission to sell his material on the Internet, Schuller said: “I need to discuss that with the Lord.” Schuller had trouble remembering answers to other questions, including statements he had made in a court declaration and a sworn deposition. For example: does the ministry owe him $55,226 for a housing allowance? asked attorney Todd Ringstad, who represents the creditors owed money following the 2010 bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral. “I didn’t even know they owe me that. I don’t try to remember what people owe me,” Schuller responded. More here…
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He’s a Latin Grammy nominated Christian music singer, and Brazil’s most popular Catholic priest. The church seats 20,000 people and has been under construction for 6 years. Here’s more: One of Brazil’s most famous priests has inaugurated a massive new Roman Catholic church that will hold about 20,000 worshippers when complete. A mass was celebrated Friday in Sao Paulo to inaugurate the Mother of God sanctuary. It’s been in construction for more than six years, and it will take several more to finish. Father Marcelo Rossi is the driving force behind the project. He’s a Latin Grammy-nominated Christian music singer and author of best-selling books in Brazil. He tells the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper the church isn’t meant as an answer to the rapid spread of evangelical churches in Brazil. Instead, the diocese served by the church badly needed a bigger structure. Read more here.
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Current Events
Mark and Grace Driscoll’s new book, Real Marriage, reached the top spot on the list of bestselling books for both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for a while on Monday despite not being available in stores until Tuesday. You can order a copy of “Real Marriage” from Amazon.com right here if you’re so inclined. My question to you is… are YOU planning on reading the book? Respond back with one of the following: 1.  Already read it.  Loved it. 2.  Already read it.  It was ok. 3.  Already read it.  Complete heresy. 4.  Gonna read it… can’t wait. 5.  I’ll probably read it, but won’t like it. 6.  I like books like this because it gives me something to complain/gripe about, so I’ll probably read it. 7.  Not gonna bring that smut into my house. There… I’ve given you some pretty good choices.  Let me know your thoughts.  You can even give a brief explanation if you like!
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Leadership
Fear of commitment plagues our churches. When we refuse to root ourselves in a church, we deprive ourselves, our churches and the world from God’s best. Alternatively, perhaps you are having trouble finding a new church. If this is you, Why Church Matters gives you an easy 10 item list to help you wisely choose a church based upon God’s word. We were never meant to live our faith in isolation. The church is the place God uses to grow us, encourage us, and use our gifts for His glory. In this honest, personal, and practical book, Joshua Harris shows you why it’s time to say yes to church and how to find the right one for you–the place where you can fall in love with the family of God. Includes: What you miss when you miss church Ten questions to ask before you join How to get more out of the best day of the week

Read an Excerpt…

Why Church Matters – Chapter 1:  Can This Relationship Be Saved?  

About the Author…

JOSHUA HARRIS is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is the best-selling author of Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last, among other books. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children. Find out more at www.joshharris.com  

Videos…

Joshua Harris:  Don’t Waste Your Church http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPjuX02U-1I  

Buzz…

Chuck Colson says:
“Christians belong in churches–the only places where we can thrive and grow spiritually. In Why Church Matters, Joshua Harris makes this case with wisdom, clarity, and graciousness.”
John MacArthur says:
“Evangelical Christians have a good and appropriate emphasis on personal salvation. But that emphasis has not been balanced by the inherently corporate nature of the Christian life. Christians belong in churches—the only places where we can thrive and grow spiritually. In this book, Joshua Harris makes this case with wisdom, clarity, and graciousness.”
Derek Webb says:
“In Why Church Matters Joshua Harris passionately communicates the urgency of God’s people becoming the counterculture we’re called to be and gives us tools to get started. I appreciate that Josh has written this book with more than instruction; he writes it as one who also struggles with us to discover our own place in the body of Christ.”
Trutheran says:
The basic idea of the book is that Christians have lost the meaning and importance of being connected with and involved in their local church. The Apostle Paul compared the union of marriage with Christ’s love for His bride – the church. So if the church matters so much to Jesus, why are so many people just dating her? The rest of the book is about how and why Christians should go about increasing their commitment to their local church… [more]
 

Get this book at Amazon.com…

PAPERBACK: Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God KINDLE EDITION: Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God    
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