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Check out this story from this week’s edition of Ministry Briefing!

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that Facebook will be partnering with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in order to fight extremism online. While Facebook has been used for activists to rally together, it has also been used as a tool for hate. Sandberg noted that we need to do more than delete offensive content.
Click here to read the full article. Why this matters to church leaders: Online hate speech and extremism can be personally devastating and potentially dangerous, but how far should companies go to regulate content from users?
  • Is this a good thing? Facebook has options where users can report abuse and hate speech, but how far should Facebook go toward defining what is hate speech and which accounts should be suspended?
  • What are the implications for Christians? If a group begins to label Christian beliefs as “hateful,” is there a chance that social media companies could begin to remove what Christians share?
  • Which interventions are most effective? Sheryl Sandberg notes that Facebook has a responsibility beyond deleting content. She plans to partner with groups who will work toward resolving the causes of hate speech.
Find this story interesting?  It’s just one of dozens of stories great leaders are reading about this week in Ministry Briefing! All readers of my blog can get the next four issues of Ministry Briefing for just $1!
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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
The Associated Press ran a story  once about how “Christian products”  and spoofing commercial brands and logos. You’ve seen them – the cheesy Christian t-shirts that someone, somewhere thought was creative or witty. The article shares some good (bad) examples:
  1. The Facebook spoof t-shirt: “Jesus Christ wants to be your friend”
  2. The Abercrombie & Fitch logo transformed into “Abreadcrumb & Fish”
  3. iPray, instead of iPod.
  4. A myriad of rip-offs of the “got milk” campaign
  5. The Obama “Hope” image was transformed from Obama to Jesus
I agree with my friend Brad Abare, who heads the Center for Church Communications when he calls all this stuff “Jesus Junk”.  Brad comments that he thinks this type of thing is just dumb: “It’s not a true reflection of creativitiy.” In fact, what would our churches look like in 2016 if we really tried to be creative, rather than ripping off other people’s ideas? What if we came up with our own unique sermon series titles rather than taking the low hanging fruit of a series based on the movie 50 Shades of Gray or the latest Star Wars movie? What if we came up with our own ideas to reach our community, rather than buying a curriculum or copying some program from a church 3,000 miles away with 15,000 move attendees than our church has? My guess is that the church would be actually much MORE creative and much MORE effective. As church leaders, we must, of course, glean the best ideas from other leaders all around the country.  We should constantly be on the lookout for trends and things we can use to reach our community. But our community is OUR community. There are ways to reach our own local community that Andy Stanley and Perry Noble haven’t thought of for one major reason:  they don’t live in our community. I firmly believe that the local church is one of the greatest incubators for innovation that exists. But in order for innovation to thrive in your church, you have to champion it. You have to empower people to be creative, take risks, and see what happens. If and when you do this in 2016, you’ll find that you have a large number of failures. But you’ll find one or two jewels that will work like a charm in your local setting. Let’s make 2016 a year of originality and innovation in our local churches. Are you in? Have a great week! todd

I don’t know Pastor Robert Earl Houston, but he has some interesting advice for “Angry Pastors” #1 – FIND SOMEONE TO TALK TO QUICKLY. Anger within a preacher can be a dangerous thing – especially when you don’t utilize wise counsel. I have found out that the mistakes I’ve made were due to the fact that I reacted without talking with someone who could have given me another way of looking at an issue. In San Diego, that person was Dr. Willie James Smith, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church, who is now in Glory. Willie (please forgive the informality) was great because he was a Mississippian with a heavy southern drawl and he had pastoral experience, a summa cum laude from Bishop College and had a doctoral degree in dealing with church conflicts. He would remind me “Houston, that ain’t worth a hill of beans” or “Houston, slow your roll,” or “Houston, stand your ground.” A pastor needs another pastor – not a person who would sign off on everything that comes to your mind – but someone who will be objective enough to say “NO” or, when needed, “HELL NO” without risking losing the relationship. Sometimes, that person has to be found from without your immediate ranks. But find someone to talk to before you say something you will regret for the rest of your ministry. keep reading

How much ‘confidential’ church information do you share with you spouse? You know… board meeting stuff… who says what… who you’re counseling and what the issues are. Do you share stuff like that with your wife or not? It seems that most of the time, there are two different types of people… those that share everything, and those that share nothing. I’m one of the ‘I share almost everything’ types of guys.  My wife is my confidant.  She encourages me, and she talks me off the cliff at times. But I couldn’t keep a sane head if I couldn’t confide in her. Others I know are the opposite, and tell their wives next to nothing. Megan Hill writes on this subject in a guest post at  She writes: In this post-HIPPA world, in a world where a tweak to Facebook’s privacy policy causes a cyber-stir, confidentiality is seen as a standardized procedure, an invisible but ever-present right. And that expectation gets imposed on the church. But pastors and their wives often don’t see it like that. The reality is, the church is something altogether different than a doctor’s office. And your relationship with your pastor is not your relationship with a therapist. The church is a body. An organic being in which each part is affected by the other. And this is why pastors and their wives share with one another. The problems and sins and needs that people bring to their pastor are not isolated letters to a remote advice columnist. (Nor are they unusual or inherently interesting, as some might suppose. We’ve all dealt with the same things. The root of murder is anger, says Jesus, and of adultery, lust.) Instead, the issues people have are part of their whole, eternal self. And their self is part of the body. And that body is the responsibility of the pastor, its under-shepherd. Pastoring is a long-term commitment to a comprehensive relationship. A pastor tells his wife because what happens to the church happens to him. And what happens to him, happens to her. (That’s the way marriage works.) Here’s the thing I wish people knew: when your pastor tells his wife something about you, it’s not really about you. This is what I heard from the pastors’ wives I interviewed: “If [my husband] is sad, I’ll notice. So he tells me.” “If I could give any advice to a pastor, I would say keep sharing your heart with your wife. She loves you and is there for you. She does not need all the details, but she needs your heart and your vulnerability.” “[My husband] is very open with his life. He tells me everything pertaining to his ministry. He tells me details of counseling sessions and personal information of those he ministers to and with. He processes through talking and he feels connected to me when he can share his life with me.” “I need to be a listening ear. We have had situations where [my husband] felt betrayed in the church. . . I am glad he shared those things with me. It was hard to hear, but I am called to bear his burdens as he is mine.” For pastors and their wives, it’s not about the secret information. It’s about the fact that having certain secrets can burden an individual and damage a marriage. // Read more here… What do you think?  How much do YOU share with your wife (spouse)?  Are there things that you don’t tell her… EVER? Do you think there are issues of confidentiality that are ever breached during a husband/wife discussion? Leave a comment…
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The simple act of posting a status update on Facebook can make you feel more connected, researchers have found — even if no one pays attention to your update. The study, conducted by the Universitat Berlin, focused on the Facebook posts of 100 student volunteers at the University of Arizona over the course of a week. The students were asked to do two things: fill out forms assessing their mental health and well-being throughout the week, and post to Facebook more than they normally would. A control group wrote exactly their regular amount of updates. // Read more here… Thoughts?
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I’m thinking we could settle this with an old-fashioned duel. Last man standing wins. Pat Robertson has been accused by evangelical Christian and creationism proponent Ken Ham of “destructive teaching,” after the televangelist stated that the existence of dinosaurs is evidence that Young Earth Creationists are wrong about the planet being 6,000 years old. Christian Broadcasting Network spokesman Chris Roslan told The Christian Post on Friday, however, that “Dr. Robertson stands by his comments.” The controversy arose earlier this week when Robertson, co-hosting his “The 700 Club” program on CBN, dismissed the theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old, which Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, took offense to. “Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson,” Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook. “Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don’t need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church,” Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook. Ham took offense to comments Robertson made earlier this week on his show, when responding to a viewer’s question about what to tell children about dinosaurs and the Bible. // Read more here: Ken Ham of Creation Museum Slams Robertson for Dismissing Young Earth Theory. Just what we need.  More Christians fighting. Over creationism. I wonder if God is chuckling or if he’s just not amused. What do you think? Todd

Facebook provides an interesting look for pastors into the lives of their congregation. Sometimes very interesting. But should information gleaned from Facebook or social media be used by pastors as spiritual tools, or even reason for church discipline? Father Gary LaMoine of Assumption Church in Barnesville, MN says a post from a 17-year-old parishioner Lennon Cihak on Facebook showing that he was helping defeat a marriage amendment in Minnesota that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Father LaMoine prevented Cihak from taking communion. So… what do YOU think? Chances are, you’ve already seen some things on some of your church attender’s Facebook and Twitter feeds that made you uncomfortable. What do you do when this happens? Do you confront? What if this person is one of your leaders? QUESTION:  Should social networking posts and profiles have any impact on what you do as a pastor or church leader? How do you approach this? // Read more here… Please leave a comment… Todd

Nearly half of Americans think so. According to Mashable: A poll conducted by the Associated Press and CNBC found that 46% of respondents think Facebook will fade away as new platforms come along in the future. However, about 43% believe the site will likely be successful for the long haul. So… what do YOU think? My guess is that it will fade just like most things do. So will Twitter. It will be like a cassette tape.  Or a CD (for that matter). We’ll still be connecting online, but with something newer and shinier than Facebook. Using facebook in 2015 may be like sending a fax today. As we’ve seen… things change quickly… very quickly. What do YOU think the future will look like?  Will Facebook be a huge part of it or not? And how are YOU using Facebook differently today than you did… say… a year ago? (For me… I use Facebook primarily with people that I actually know in real life.  I use Twitter to follow people around ideas and thoughts.) Would love to hear your input! Todd