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Leadership
Jennifer LeClaire shares ten stupid things pastors should never do.  Here are the first five: 1. Abuse the sheep. Always remember that church staff—and church volunteers—are serving God, not you. Spiritual abuse is a dirty little secret in the charismatic church that is seldom exposed because it would topple small and large man-made empires alike. If you aren’t willing to be the servant of all—if you think the sheep are there to serve you—please hang up your ministry aspirations before you hurt someone. We don’t need more spiritual abusers in the pulpit. 2. Water down the gospel. If you aren’t going to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help you God!—please don’t preach. Although there are many effective preaching styles, if you aren’t bold enough to preach the whole gospel—even the parts people don’t want to hear—then pray for boldness until you are. keep reading
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Leadership
We’ve previously advocated the importance of focus. But have you ever noticed how some hours you’re absolutely cranking out work, whereas during other parts of the day you have to summon all your will just to focus for five measly minutes? Bestselling author Tony Schwartz suggests making use of our ultradian rhythms, natural cycles in our days. He works in 90-minute intervals, and then takes 20-minute breaks. Schwartz explains why in a Harvard Business Review article… keep reading
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Well, it’s probably your first day back in the office for 2013. But what if you’re ALREADY in a bad mood? How do you snap out of it? Tim Sanders offers some suggestions: 1.  Admit it.  You’re in a bad mood.  Tell someone.  Your assistant.  Your spouse.  A co-worker.  A fair warning serves two purposes: it gives a heads-up to people, and serves to give you a reminder that you need to get it under control before it ruins your day. 2.  Try to figure out WHY you’re in a bad mood.  Something set you off.  Bad sleep?  A fight with your spouse/kids?  A problem at work that you need to deal with?  An upcoming meeting or confrontation?  Identifying why you’re upset will help you put things in perspective. 3.  Take a few minutes to connect with someone close to you.  Take some time out and talk with someone who can usually put you in a better mood.  It will help you re-set 4.  Eat something.  Healthy.  Some tea or a healthy snack can help, believe it or not. 5.  Focus.  On Mission.  Try to put out of your mind what has you all whacked out of shape, and get back to your mission and purpose.  Grab your church mission statement and read it.  Pray through it.  Then start working on a task (even if it wasn’t on your agenda) that will move that purpose forward. Those are some of Tim’s suggestions.  What are yours? How do you get yourself out of a bad mood?
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Jim Daly, the head of Focus on the Family, has some interesting quotes in a LA Times article yesterday:
“If the Christian message has been too wrapped around the axle of the Republican Party, then a) that’s our fault, and b) we’ve got to rethink that.”
and
“I think what we’ve got to do in the Christian community is be far more humble … and not call it a war, a culture war.”
 More from the article:
He also said it would behoove conservatives to forge a working relationship with the Obama administration, which he said he tried to do in the president’s first term, most prominently by taking part in the president’s efforts to combat fatherlessness, and encourage more two-parent families. Daly said that he and Obama share the experience of growing up without a father, and he hoped to continue working on the issue during Obama’s second term. “Frankly, after the election, I felt sorry for President Obama in one respect: He’s got a tough job,” Daly said. “We need to pray for him, as the Christian community. I mean … I think President Obama needs divine guidance.” He stressed that he did not mean that in a condescending or sarcastic way. “I’d say the same thing about Mitt Romney,” he said. About Obama, he added: “We have these differences and they’re deep, but in reality, he’s simply a human being. … If a Christian holds that back and he or she isn’t willing to pray in that way, they’re not living a Christian life in that regard. If hatred or anger has built up to that level, then they’re missing the Gospel of Christ.” Read the article here… Thoughts? Todd
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Outreach
Thom Rainer had a great post today about ten signs of an inwardly obsessed church.  Here are some thoughts: 1.  Worship Wars.  Man, I remember trying to transition a traditional church to a contemporary one (at least worship style).  It really WAS a war.  And it’s still that way in many churches.  When you make changes in worship, you can expect casualties.  But if your church is STILL in the midst of a war over worship, it’s time to stop.  Chances are at this point, you’re fighting a war with your own people.  End that battle soon, or you’ll never reach out to who you’re really trying to reach. 2.  Prolonged minutia meetings.  Meetings are vision killers.  If you’re in a church that has endless meetings about everything, I can almost guarantee you’re in a church that gets nothing accomplished. 3.  Facility Focus.  I was a part of a church (that was like many, I’m sure) that focused on the property committee and the finance committee.  They ran the church.  Everything was based on facility and finance.  And little on outreach.  (Although we said we were using our finances to better our facility so we could reach people.  The truth is… that never happened). 4.  Program driven.  If your church is program driven, it’s a bloated mess.  Programs are great, but they also breed inward-focus in most cases.  Do yourself a favor and kill a program this week. 5.  Inwardly focused budget.  Look at your budget and divide it into two areas:  inreach and outreach. How much is allotted to keeping your people happy and content? 6.  Inordinate demands for pastoral care.  The key word there is demand.  Demanding things from your pastor or staff almost always connotes an inward focus.  And when all you do is meet demands, there is no time to reach out. 7.  Attitudes of Entitlement.  When people start feeling entitled to things your church offers, you can kiss outreach goodbye.  You’ll never be able to keep everyone happy. 8.  Great concern about change than the gospel.  If people are always griping about change, it takes your eye off the ball.  When you’re putting out ‘change’ fires, it will distract you from outreach. 9.  Anger and hostility.  When 1-8 are happening in your church, people are harsh, judgmental, angry and hostile.  That’s real inviting to the lost.  (Actually, it’s not). 10.  Evangelistic Apathy.  When we’re consumed so much with ourselves, our needs, our comfort, and our need to control, evangelism is the last thing we’re thinking about. So… how many of these ten things are problems in your church?  And if you’ve solved any one of these… how did you do it? Todd
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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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