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Leadership
QUESTION:  If your church could reach more people for Christ by focusing on one “people group” in your community, would you do so? Charles Arn writes:  Certain people around your church are more receptive to the Gospel than others.  I suggest that good stewardship of your church’s human and fiscal resources calls you to find and focus on these receptive people.  They are the “fertile soil” (see Mt. 13:1-23) who are “ripe unto harvest” (Jn. 4:35).  And your successful evangelistic results will be praised by the Master with the same words heard by those who returned more talents than they had been given: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (see Mt. 25:14-30). keep reading
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Controversy
Stop arguing theology and lead people to Jesus. That’s Dan Reiland’s opening line of a great post about whether we should argue theology, or shut up and get to work leading people to Christ.  Dan writes: Is this dangerous theological minimalism or wise practical leadership? It’s easy to say that it’s possibly or probably both. But that doesn’t get at the real tension. I think the tension resides in why we argue and whether or not we lead people to Jesus. You can read Dan’s thoughts on both here: Arguing Theology | Dan Reiland. The question of the day is:  What do you think?  Do we argue theology too much?  I like a good throwdown as much as the next guy, but does it distract from our leading? (Personally, I think many times it does.  And other times it just produces in-fighting and a list of people we don’t want to fellowship with.  We need to disagree more graciously as church leaders… sticking to the essentials, and allowing the other things to take care of themselves.  At least that’s my take… what’s yours?) Todd  
23

Controversy
Joe Boyd writes: I am a pastor. But I am also a movie producer, actor and comedian. It is the latter that opens the door for spiritual conversations much more than the former. I have many friends who are not the sort of people one might expect a pastor to associate with – militant atheists, genuine agnostics, outspoken anti-Christian homosexuals, etc. I don’t just call them those things. They like to assign those labels to themselves. All of them became my friends through our mutual respect for filmmaking, comedy or theater. Generally speaking, they remain my friends in spite of my involvement with the church. None of them are my friends because I am a pastor. Many of my friends genuinely hate the church. Most of them have good reasons. Since 1998 I have kept a working document on my notebook called, “An Open Apology.” I update it from time to time. Sometimes I forward it onto my friends who have been hurt by Christianity. Sometimes I just share part of it with them. If you are someone who has been wounded, mistreated or scorned by the Church, I submit the following to you as an apology. In the final analysis, it is all I really have to give you. I ask your forgiveness for the ongoing corruption of the church at large since the early days of the church, for I believe that it is a sin to use the church for personal or political gain. I ask your forgiveness for every boring church event, church service, or sermon since the creation of the world, for I believe that it is a sin to bore people with really good news. I ask your forgiveness for the silence of a significant percentage of the European church during the Jewish holocaust and of the American church during the years of slavery, for I believe that it is a sin for the church of God to stand by while innocent people die. I ask your forgiveness for the unimaginable violence done in and through and with the blessing of the church throughout history, for I believe Jesus died once for all of us to put an end to violence. I ask your forgiveness for the weight of rules and legalism that has shackled the church, making it oppressively fear-based and guilt-centered, for I believe that it is a sin to deny people their freedom in Christ. I ask your forgiveness for every power-crazed political zealot who has ever advocated hatred against people in the name of Christ, for I believe that it is a sin to judge in the place of God. I ask your forgiveness for every sidewalk and soap-box preacher who has so much as cracked upon a Bible with anger or pride in his heart, for I believe that it is a sin to misrepresent the character of a loving God. I ask your forgiveness for every cult leader and extremist group leader who has ever led people astray in the name of Jesus, for I believe that it is a sin to desire the position of Jesus as the head of the church. I ask your forgiveness for every pastor or priest who has ever served the church to get money, fame or sex because I believe the church is Jesus’ Bride, not some random guy’s mistress. I ask your forgiveness for the millions of men in the church who have somehow stretched the Bible to validate their own sexist views, for I believe that it is a sin to dishonor a woman. I ask your forgiveness for the thousands of church splits and denominational factions that have ripped the body of Christ in every direction except heavenward, for I believe that Christians loving and forgiving each other is the best way to show people who God is. I ask your forgiveness for the thousands of churches who are set up as extravagant social clubs, for I believe that it is a sin to ignore the poor among you. I ask your forgiveness for every misspent dime that was ever placed in an offering plate, for I believe that it is a sin to waste an old lady’s tithe. I ask your forgiveness for the prostituting of the American church and the American church leader to the American dream, for I believe that it is a sin for the church or her leaders to love money more than God. I ask your forgiveness for every self-centered, self-proclaimed “miracle worker” who has sold people counterfeit hope and light and fluffy theology for $19.95 plus shipping and handling, for I believe that it is a sin to spit in the face of God. I ask your forgiveness for every sin of every priest, pastor, minister, reverend, teacher, elder, deacon, pope, nun, monk, missionary, Sunday school teacher, worship leader, and for every Christian who has ever come into your life for any other reason than to love you. If any of us came to you and hurt you, we are the ones at fault. On our behalf, let me say that I am very sorry. It’s not who we are supposed to be. And lastly for me. I am no better than the rest. I am no role model. I’m misguided. I get confused a lot and I have hurt people in my misguided attempts to be “Christian.” I have not always loved God or the people around me. I am ashamed of me much of the time. I am ashamed of my people who have hurt you.But I am not ashamed of the gospel. I am not ashamed of the good news that God has come near to you and is right now available to you through Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is power from a loving God who can save you. He can save us. All of us. Even us Christians. Sincerely, Joe Boyd Teaching Pastor, Vineyard Community Church (Cincinnati, OH) President, Rebel Pilgrim Productions (Las Vegas, NV)   Joe Boyd Bio:   Joe Boyd is the Teaching Pastor at the 6,000-member Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Joe has produced five movies through his production company, Rebel Pilgrim Productions including the multi-award winning comedy, Hitting the Nuts. As a performer, Joe has appeared in multiple stage productions, movies and network TV shows including a recurring role on ABC’s General Hospital and a 500-show run in the Las Vegas/Broadway Company of Tony n Tina’s Wedding.   Joe is also the author of the allegorical fantasy novel, Between Two Kingdoms (Standard Publishing). He lives in Cincinnati with wife and two sons. Read his blog at http://rebelpilgrim.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBoyd.  
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Controversy
OK… now that I have your attention. An interesting piece over at the Resurgence website this morning where Tim Keller talks about “Evangelistic Worship”. Overall, it’s a really well-written piece. But this is the ‘callout’ on the post. A quote by Tim Keller:
The only way to have non-Christians in attendance is through personal invitation by Christians.
While I know the point that Tim is making (especially about making worship ‘comprehensible to unbelievers’). His point about people not inviting non-christians to church UNLESS the worship is ‘comprehensible’ is the main takeaway of this piece for me. The importance of Christians actually inviting people to a church service that they can understand cannot be underscored. But if Tim is saying that invitation is the ONLY way that unbelievers end up in church, that MAY be overstated. We have people nearly every week that kind of wander in.  They’re new in the community.  They’re experiencing a life-crisis.  They see our sign and are curious.  They see and advertisement.  The come across our website.  Could be any number of things. So… if I have to disagree on anything with Tim Keller, I guess I’ll choose this.  He is so freakingly brilliant on everything. And… even if I’m taking Keller totally out of context, I’ll stand by my statement… Tim Keller is wrong. [waiting for lighting strike]
[facebook]
via Evangelistic Worship | The Resurgence.
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Outreach
Steven Furtick says he is asked quite often how Elevation Church has been able to see so many people come to Christ in just five years.  Here’s his answer: Outside of the favor of God, I could give you a lot of specifics. Tell you a lot of things that we’ve done. But none of it will help you until you make a decision we made in the early days of our church. And that was the decision to be more focused on the people we’re trying to reach than on the people we’re trying to keep. To be fishers of men, not justkeepers of the aquarium. We’re not going to cater to the personal preferences of the few in our pursuit of the salvation of the many. And that includes if the few is ten people when we’re pursuing one hundred. Or 5,000 when we’re pursuing 10,000. Or 10,000 when we’re pursuing 20,000. Most people and churches aren’t willing to do that. They’re keepers of the aquarium. They say they want to reach people, but in reality they’re more focused on preservation than expansion. On keeping people rather than reaching them. They let saved people dictate style. Saved people dictate focus. Saved people dictate vision. What kind of church is yours? Do the SAVED dictate your style, focus and vision? If so… why?  Is it on purpose or just the way your church’s culture is? Read more of Steven’s thoughts here… Todd
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Outreach
Baby boomers—arguably the largest segment of the population—are entering their retirement years at an unprecedented rate. With more discretionary time and increased longevity, this group is searching for a way to make a meaningful impact with their lives. One of Leadership Network’s newest book is titled Baby Boomers and Beyond, and it explores the opportunities and challenges that the older adult population presents for the Christian community. Author Amy Hanson dares church leaders to let go of stereotypes about aging and embrace a new paradigm, that older adults are for the most part active, healthy, and capable of making significant contributions for the Kingdom of God. Hanson offers a realistic view of the boomers and reveals what matters most to this age group: staying young, juggling multiple relationships, and redefining retirement. By tapping into their needs, pastors can engage this burgeoning group and unleash the power of the boomer generation to enhance and strengthen the mission of the church. The book digs into the questions that arise when working with this growing population. How do we let go of “one-size-fits-all” ministry? What spiritual growth can we encourage? How do we meld multiple generations? And, most important, how do we harness the potential of this new generation? These are important considerations for those who want to be serious about ministering with aging boomers. Baby Boomers and Beyond contains numerous illustrative examples from churches and baby boomers across the country and offers church leaders best practices to put in motion. Learn more about the author at her website www.amyhanson.org
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Outreach
According to Greg Laurie, “If there’s one thing that Christians and non-Christians have in common, it’s this: we’re both uptight about evangelism.” Here are some quotes from Laurie from a recent article at The Christian Post: “Far too often we don’t know how to cross over [to our culture]. Far too many Christians today are unnecessarily offensive, hopelessly lame, and generally inept at communicating… We’re just no good at evangelism.” “We have something even more significant than a cure for cancer. We have the cure to sin, and guilt and the cure for hell and the hope for heaven…How much more urgently do we need to get this message out? “How can I be passive about sharing my faith? How can I say I’m too busy to do that?” “It’s fine to try to be cool, it’s fine to try to relate … but the ultimate thing we need to tell them is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loved them so much that He died on a cross for their sins and rose again from the dead and if they will turn from their sins and put their faith in Him, they can be forgiven. This is called the Gospel.” Do you agree?  Are we just ‘no good at evangelism”?  If so, why is that? You can read more here… Todd
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Outreach
Rob Ross contemplates on this question:  What would happen if the Church’s singular focus was to make disciples?  His answer:  We would see a movement of God like we have not seen in generations. So… what is holding us back?  Rob sees four walls that are keeping the church from really being serious about disciple-making.  Here they are: The Wall of Comfort I would define comfort as a state of being in which we feel secure. It is a feeling that everything is okay at least where I live. If we become too comfortable we no longer sense the urgency. In scripture Jesus warned his disciples that the time was near. He took down their wall of comfort so they could see what was coming and helped them prepare. What questions should we be asking Jesus? How do we move outside our comfort zone? Matthew 24:32-35 The Wall of Distractions North American society provides an abundance of distractions. Add to our busy lives the need to adapt to a rapidly changing world and we see our attention becoming extremely divided. We are inundated with many forms of entertainment. We have numerous opportunities to listen to the radio, watch television or surf the Internet. Technology continues to take ever larger amounts of our time. Beyond this we still need to earn a living, pay our bills, raise our families and keep our relationships healthy. In order to sort out all these distractions it becomes imperative to ask some more questions. What are my priorities? How do I redeem my time? Ephesians 5:15-17 The Wall of Individualism When I refer to individualism I mean the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests. This seems to be a common theme in Western society. It appears we are losing sight of what it means to be community. Our focus is diverted by the idea of personal success rather than corporate well being. The wall of individualism blinds us from the needs of all God’s people and from fully accomplishing God’s purpose. I continually ask myself, “What was Jesus’ original purpose for His people?”  How do we live as Jesus intended? Acts 2:42-47 The Wall of Disobedience Disobedience is any choice that is contrary to what God has instructed. It is saying no to God. This is not as obvious as it might seem. I often find believers questioning the relevance of scripture for today’s world. There is a sense that it was meant for those who lived two thousand years ago but it isn’t relevant today. It seems they want to make God’s word fit into their lifestyle. They do not see this as disobedience. What does it take to obey God? Titus 3: 1-9 Read more of Rob’s thoughts here at THE WELL. How is YOUR church doing at disciple-making? Our church is doing horrribly in this area.  And we know it.  That’s why we’re taking some pretty drastic measures to make sure that we start getting it right.  And much of it includes the first two walls initially… getting out of our comfortable chair; and removing all the distractions (including the ‘good’ things) that we’re doing that are keeping us from the ‘great’ things. It’s a painful process.  It involves change.  It involves sacrifice.  And it will make many people uncomfortable.  But it will be worth it. Todd How is YOUR church best making disciples these days?
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