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Current Events
My friend, Matt Steen has two tickets to the Velocity Church Planting Conference coming up later this month in Atlanta. Here’s a look at this year’s conference…

Velocity is the rate of speed.  What speed are we moving at?

OUR CULTURE PUTS A LOT OF EMPHASIS ON SPEED. Speed is daring and exciting. Often as the church we fall into the trap of needing to run faster and faster. We believe the faster we accelerate the more impact we will have. Often we have a different kind of impact as we hit the wall head-on. WE CAN ALSO MOVE TOO SLOW. This can happen when our leadership lacks a clear vision and are paralyzed by the complexity of decisions before them. We don’t hit the wall. We simply never get to the wall. VELOCITY IS ABOUT A DIFFERENT KIND OF SPEED. It is about keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Jesus invites us into a new world. This world is His Kingdom. There are times when we must speed up. There are times that we must slow down. This is the velocity that we embrace.

We’re about Catalyzing Movements

We are committed to coaching church planters for greater missional impact.  It is our desire to catalyze movements of churches committed to…
  •     Going missional by being the church in their community (Jerusalem).
  •     Making the Gospel accessible throughout their region (Judea).
  •     Launching church planting movement makers throughout North America (Samaria).
  •     Developing strategic partnerships for global impact around the world (ends of the earth).
As Churchplanters.com we want to multiplying God’s vision by equipping young leaders for being the Church in North America and extending His impact around the world. In order for your chance to win the tickets, just leave a comment between now and Friday morning over at Matt’s blog.  You even get a free lunch with Matt if you win!
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Controversy
So… you’ve heard about the Elephant Room, right?  Last year, James MacDonald gathered a group of his friends together to talk about the big issues facing the church.  Topics included dicey things like cultural engagement; the landmines of compassion ministry; and what was in Perry Noble’s head when his church worship team started a service with the song “Highway to Hell”. The idea was to get some top leaders together in one room and have conversations about what the scriptures actually teach.  In fact, the purpose statement of The Elephant Room says that “to advance Christ’s call to unity we must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each other’s beliefs and methods.” So, the elephant room was born. And the people complained.  How could this person AND that person share the same stage?  Why would these two people be having these discussions in the first place?  And if there was no declared ‘winner’ in a discussion or argument about ministry matters, then truth is somehow compromised. The rumblings were at first subdued, and primarily came from those from the more conservative theological bent. But the real controversy came with the announcement of the speakers for this year’s Elephant Room.  When T. D. Jakes was announced as one of the speakers, some people went ballistic.  One other speaker who was invited and had accepted the invitation, decided not to support the event after all because he didn’t want to share the stage with someone as different as Jakes. To be honest, the criticism of James MacDonald and The Elephant room has been the most brutal from the more conservative folk.  Brutal AND personal. Let me go on record as saying… I just don’t get it. First of all, the Elephant Room is not a pulpit.  No one is speaking in somebody else’s church… in front of someone else’s congregation.  There are no endorsements, no kissy-kissy ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’ talk.  In fact, the event is exactly the opposite.  Each person involved, whether it’s James MacDonald, Steven Furtick, T. D. Jakes, Mark Driscoll or any of the other speakers, has signed on to make this a lively, spirited discussion on the implementation of ministry ideas.  No wavering.  No sidestepping.  No excuses. You’re not going to see Steven Furtick and Mark Driscoll agree on a lot of things. T. D. Jakes and James MacDonald will disagree pretty strongly at times. And that drives some people absolutely crazy. Not me. Events like this sharpen me.  They give me greater perspective.  And they allow me to search scripture to see areas that I may need to take a second look. That scares some people. Why would I want to listen to someone who doesn’t agree with me? Seriously?  I actually WANT to listen to people who don’t agree with me.  It allows me to sharpen my own beliefs and thought processes. But it’s much easier for many, rather than joining in and giving a fair shake with those they disagree with, to tear them down before they even have a chance to speak. But some people say T. D. Jakes is a modalist.  Mark Driscoll has a potty mouth.  And don’t even get them started on Steven Furtick’s hair. The premise of the Elephant Room is that there is a lot we can learn from the conversation.  But the truth is… some people aren’t interested in having the conversation.  It makes them too uncomfortable. In my work with Leadership Network, we’ve also faced criticism for some of the speakers we’ve chosen for events. We warn people at the beginning of each online event that we do that they will hear a lot of great speakers, and agree with a lot of things said.  They’ll also hear from some folks that they won’t care for, or will actually disagree with.  That’s fine.  Learn what you can.  Take away what will benefit you in your ministry. Simply disregard the rest. I grew up in a very conservative church.  And we would have nothing to do with anything like the Elephant Room.  In fact, we wouldn’t have anything to do with most people.  So, believe me when I say that I understand the whole ‘separation’ issue.  But what it did to many around me was make for a group of very distrusting, angry, confrontive people that eventually shut out everyone that wasn’t just like them.  What a shame. This paragraph of The Elephant Room purpose statement really resonated with me.  I absolutely agree with it: What if we created a new ‘tribe?’ A tribe based on being humble enough to listen and reconsider what the Scriptures actually say. A tribe that holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity and is open handed with everything else. Maybe, together, we can create a new center?  A place where we are for everything the bible demands and demand nothing that scriptures are silent about.  Look for guests from all places and belief systems.  Don’t be surprised if you hear a conversation with someone that offends you or denies the faith as you see it.  Don’t be shocked if you hear conversations with world religion leaders, or criminals or sinners of every variety, “such were some of us.”  If the conversation can be helpful, clarifying, insistent or illuminating, or if we hope it will be . . . you will find it in the Elephant Room. Wouldn’t that be great? I hope you’ll join me for the Elephant Room… it all happens again next Wednesday, January 25 in about 65 locations across the country.  During this week, I’ll be sharing some of the highlights from last year’s event.  I think it’s something that you would really enjoy attending… and there’s bound to be one reasonably close to where you’re at right now! In fact… check out a little more to see if this gets your interest:
QUESTION:  Do YOU think the concept of the Elephant Room is controversial at all?  If so… why?  Are you planning on attending?  Which location?


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Controversy
The president of the 2011 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference defended a program he’s put together for June 12-13 in Phoenix, Ariz., saying critics who find it outside the convention’s mainstream hold too narrow a worldview. “The Kingdom of God is bigger than Southern Baptists,” said Vance Pitman, 2011 Pastors’ Conference president and pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, a church plant in partnership with First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., and the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The main intent of our conference is to communicate the big picture of the Kingdom of God,” Pitman said in a telephone interview March 18. “God is alive and at work all over the world. We as the Southern Baptist Convention are one very small part of that.” The Pastors’ Conference has long been a barometer for Southern Baptist theological weather patterns and a launching pad to the SBC presidency for its leaders. Consequently, although it is not an official organization of the SBC, its direction is closely monitored. Negative reaction has included placement on the worship team of Jamar Jones, executive director of music and fine arts at the Potter’s House Church of Dallas. That is because he is on the ministerial staff of T.D. Jakes, who critics claim holds to the heresy of “modalism.” Modalism, a non-Trinitarian view that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different aspects, or modes, of one God rather than three distinct, co-equal and co-eternal persons, was first condemned as heresy in the fourth century but is held by some Pentecostal and Apostolic churches today. // Yeah, they’re also upset about the Calvinists speaking; namely Darrin Patrick and John Piper. I think the real rub is with the statement:  “The Kingdom of God is bigger than Southern Baptists.” Can that be? via Associated Baptist Press – SBC Pastors’ Conference slate raises ire.
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Current Events
It’s often the Turning Points in our lives that define us and set us on course for a new direction. For great leaders, these are often the very moments that refine our determination, discernment and decision making for years to come. We’ve gathered a brilliant group of women who’ve agreed to share not only their stories of success, but also their moments of failure. What they’ve learned can be applied to your life as you lead through change in your own ministry! Join us for our next Leadership Network Online Experience: Turning Points: Leading through Change Wednesday, March 2, 2010 starting at 11:00 a.m. EST. Register right now for FREE right here…

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Current Events
One of the more original ideas for a pastor’s conference that I’ve seen. And not a bad one at that… According to their website, the idea for this conference came from two sources: A blog post from J.R. Briggs, a pastor at Renew Community in Lansdale, Pa and the wildly popular site www.epicfail.com. A few dangerous questions were asked: -What if we offered a space that is gutsy, hopeful, courageously vulnerable for pastors to let go of the burden to be a Super Pastor? -What if we could hold an event that was free from the thrills and frills of other pastors conferences? -What if we came together as epic failures and sought not successful models or how-do’s but instead celebrated faithfulness in ministry because of the reality of Jesus? -What if we were reminded that we’re not responsible for being ‘successful’ in ministry, but we are responsible for being faithful to the calling that God has laid out for us – regardless of the outcome? -What if we had a conference that was not led not by famous pastors who are household names, but by scandalously ordinary ministers and leaders who are faithfully attempting to join with God – even in the midst of glaring obscurity and anonymity? That post attracted more hits than any other post that J.R. had written in seven years. People from all over the world began contacting J.R. through the blog, email, phone and text messages saying, ‘I’m in! Where do I sign up?” We knew we had struck a nerve. We were on to something significant. This excited us and freaked us out. The result:  The Epic Fail Pastor’s Conference.  Check it out! via Epic Fail Pastors Conference :: April 14-16, 2011.

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