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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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At Mars Hill Church they have what they call a preacher’s “Qualifying Day”.  This year they have about 50 elders at Mars Hill, and about that many more in training. So they thought it would be fun to give them all a different text to preach a week ahead of time, then have a ‘preach off’ of sorts… They’ll show up to preach and be evaluated. Well… only 3 will preach in the first round (date) of competition. Mark Driscoll wrote on his blog: This will be fun…for some of us. For our Mars Hill version of American Idol for preachers, I’ll play the part of Simon Cowell, minus the deep v-neck and British accent. Joining me on the judging panel will be Dr. Justin Holcomb who runsResurgence, Pastor Scott Thomas who runs Acts 29, and Pastor Dave Bruskas, the executive elder who oversees all our churches. In anticipation of this event, I made a list of 16 things that I’m looking for in a preacher or teacher’s sermon: 1.    Tell me about Jesus. Connect it all to Jesus. If you don’t mention Jesus a lot, you need to do something other than preach. And tell me that Jesus is a person, not just an idea. Help me to not only know him but to also like him. 2.    Have one big idea. Hang all your other ideas on the one big idea. Otherwise, you will lose me or bore me. 3.    Get my attention in the first 30 seconds without being gimmicky. Get to work. Don’t “blah blah blah” around, chitchat, or do announcements. That will make me start checking my phone. Get my attention, and let’s get to work. 4.    Bring me along theologically and emotionally. Preaching is not a commentary. Commentaries are boring for even nerds to read. Your job is to do the nerd work and bring it to life. Raise your voice, grab my affections, and bring the living Word. 5.    Make me like you, trust you, and respect you so that I can’t dismiss you. If you want me to follow you, you have to get me to that point. 6.    Avoid Christian jargon and explain your terms. The average person has no idea what fellowship means, or even God for that matter. So, tell us what you’re talking about and don’t assume we have your vocabulary. 7.    Don’t have points as much as a direction and destination. Take me somewhere. Take me to a place of conviction, compassion, conversion, etc. 8.    Don’t show me how smart you are, because it makes me feel dumb. I assume you’re smart since you’re standing up talking and we’re all sitting down listening. If you quote words in some language I don’t know, or quote dead guys to show you’re a genius, that makes me feel dumb, which doesn’t serve me well. Don’t come off like that kid in school that the rest of us wanted to give a wedgie to every time they raised their hand. 9.    Invite lost people to salvation. Some people in the seats aren’t Christians. So, tell them how to become one. Talk about sin, Jesus, and repentance. At some point in every sermon just do that. If you do, people will bring lost friends. Don’t be a coward. 10.  Whether it feels like a wedding or a funeral, be emotionally engaging and compelling. Some sermons are a funeral—convicting, deep, hard hitting, and life shattering. Other sermons are a wedding—exciting, compelling, encouraging, and motivating. Pick an emotional path. Have an emotional trajectory to the sermon, not just a theological point. If you pass the audition and get to preach publicly, have the entire service flow emotionally. If we do wedding songs after a funeral sermon, I’m emotionally confused. Likewise, if we’re singing melancholy hymns after a big motivational sermon, I’m also emotionally confused. So, you and the guy in skinny jeans with the guitar have got to get this figured out together. You can find the last 6 here: 16 Things I look for in a Preacher | Pastor Mark. Thoughts?
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Interesting piece from Christian.co.uk: Self-described experts on church planting would have predicted great success for Randy. Him and his wife Kelsey had felt a strong call to plant. Their vision was a seeker-friendly and Holy Spirit led congregation. There was also financial backing as the team moved into a booming Cincinnati suburb. “It had every reason to succeed but it didn’t,” Randy says looking back. “We were shocked and stunned because we had poured everything we had into this thing for years. To see it die was sad and embarrassing. I didn’t want to talk about it. I felt like I had wasted people’s time and money. I felt like I had heard from the Lord to do it but something had obviously gone wrong and I figured that must have been me.” But the end wasn’t messy. There was no big blow up or falling out. “It didn’t explode. It coasted off to the side of the road and coughed,” Randy says. A Call to Quit The team had gathered around 70 people to their weekly meetings. While pastors of some UK churches would be delighted with such a number, (and celebrate that revival was on the way) Randy wasn’t as impressed. “Here in the US you almost ought to be able to gather 70 people with good donuts and decent music. This is not the hardest, darkest place in the world. “The church expression was not invalid, it was pleasing to the Lord but the things the Lord had put in our hearts for outreach, we were nowhere near accomplishing. I found myself using a lot of energy to maintain what we had built rather than to expand in the way the Lord had laid on my heart to do.” The quitting is never fun because it’s never fully understood. Was the calling to leave the fledgling church plant as strong as the earlier call to start it? “As strong but definitely not as fun! It’s always more exciting to be starting something than to quit something. The quitting is never fun because it’s never fully understood. Even when it’s the Lord there are people who pull slogans out like ‘God isn’t a quitter’. They are preaching at you with bumper stickers!” // Read more via ‘Jesus Killed My Church!’ | Christian.co.uk. Have you ever planted a church that failed? How did you know when to quit? Which was harder?  Starting the church, or pulling the plug? Todd
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[Start rant now] Really? A revival reunion? Remember the Brownsville Revival? Well… I was intrigued when I saw a headline that read “Holy Spirit Moves at Brownsville Revival Reunion”. Huh? You mean the same revival that put the host church into $11.5 million in debt? Yep… the same one, evidently. Don’t worry if you missed it though… you can purchase a DVD for just $12. Do I sound a tad bit cynical? Here’s more from an article earlier this year: A decade removed from the largest Pentecostal outpouring in U.S. history, the church is facing financial ruin. It incurred an $11.5 million debt after the out-of-town crowds and its former pastor moved on. “Every Monday I find out what the (Sunday) offering was and we decide what we can pay this week,” the Rev. Evon Horton, Brownsville’s current pastor, told AP. “The good news is last week we paid our mortgage. The bad news is it drained our bank accounts.” The church has been making cuts wherever it can. It has slashed millions off its debt by selling property and trimming expenses, and it’s in the midst of raising funds to pay off the remaining $6.5 million. The paid staff of 50 is now down to six, and the weekly newsletter is printed monthly instead. Between 800 to 1,000 worshippers total attend two Sunday services, leaving most of the 2,200 seats in the sanctuary empty. Another sanctuary, which seats 2,600 and was built just for the revival, is now used for a gym, community classes and storage. Horton told AP it’s a blessing from God that the church has survived this long. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in 30 years of ministry,” he said. // The cynical side of me asks why the Holy Spirit showed up at the revival revival and not for the last 10 years at the church that put it all on the line and got caught with the bill. [End of rant.  As you were.] Am I wrong? Todd
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Truth be told.  We’ve all been there. Conflict in church settings in inevitable. When should we stay and fight, and when should we leave? That’s a tough question. Joe McKeever makes an impassioned plea about the reputation of the Body of Chris when these conflicts happen. He asks the question (and I think it’s a good one):  Why can’t we just walk away and let ourselves be wronged? In some cases… it really is probably the best answer. Joe writes: Why not let yourself be wronged?  Why not just “take your lumps” and walk away? Do it… for God’s sake. His honor is at stake here. That should matter to you more than your rights. for sanity’s sake.Think of the sheer stupidity of what you are doing. for the sake of your witness. These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. for goodness sake. “All you are doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, and more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.” Only the strongest can walk away from a fight he could win but for which the cost would be too high. 1) Consider the collateral damage to a fight. In brawls on television, furniture gets broken, windows busted, and onlookers injured. In “real life,” churches get destroyed, outsiders get disgusted, young believers get neglected, missions get sidetracked, and the honor of Jesus Christ takes a major hit. The weak among us–the carnal and the cowardly posing as the courageous and the conquerors–will insist these things will resolve themselves, that all that matters is setting someone straight. Back away from such a one. He is your biggest enemy and needs to be quarantined. 2) Consider what Jesus would do. They said, “Lord, speak to my brother. Tell him to divide the inheritance with me.” The trial lawyer in us wants to take that case. “All right, what are the facts? What would be fair? Why is that brother being so heavy-handed and selfish? What does justice require?” Jesus walked away from it. “Sir, who made me your judge? You be careful of greed. Life is not about how much you can possess.” (Luke 12:13-15) This does not compute, does it? For those of us willing to take up every case, who insist on righting every wrong and punishing every wrong-doer, we are not satisfied with the Lord’s answer. Jesus loses no sleep over not satisfying our sense of fair play. He had, as the saying goes, bigger fish to fry. Something He kept calling “my hour” and “the Father’s will.” He was trying to change men’s hearts in order to change their lives in order to transform their destiny. The temptation to take every detour that opened up, even those offering attractive soul-satisfying vistas and feel-good revenge settlements, must be resisted. 3) Consider who we are in Christ. Again and again, the Apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know?” that we will judge the world and the angels? (vv.2,3) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom? (v.9-10) your bodies are members of Christ? (v.14) your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (v. 19) The ramifications of these principles are mind-boggling. Because of who we are in Christ, we can walk away from lesser things, wrong things, and even good things. It’s all because we choose the best things. When you take your brother to court to get your rights, you are defeated before you start. (6:7) So, why not rather be wronged? // Read more here:  Church Conflict: Why Not Rather be Wronged?  OUCH. So… what do YOU think? I’d love to hear your comments below.  Come on… you’ve made it this far… what do YOU think about when you should stay and fight, and when you should walk away, even if you feel like you were wronged? Leave your comment below… Thanks! Todd
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