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Tony Myles writes:  I once worked in a job where I feared for my job… everyday. And I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t because of the economy, and it wasn’t because we were all bad employees. It was because our boss was insecure and came across like a lion to everyone. He was someone who only cared about the idea of success than in creating the environment for it. I’ve been in the exact opposite situation, though. I’ve served in church staff teams where we were so inspired by the character and direction of our main leader that we climbed over ourselves to be a part of what he was up to. It’s the difference between transactional relationships versus transformational relationships:
  • Transactional relationships:
    • You focus on what needs to happen.
    • You’re concerned with the appearance of non-failure.
    • You spend your time one-upping each other.
  • Transformational relationships:
    • You focus on who each person is becoming.
    • You’re concerned with the health of people.
    • You spend your time sacrificing for each other.
Every relationship, organization, classroom and work environment tends to run with one of these two models dominating. You can influence that, whether you’re at the top or bottom of the totem pole.
  • T: Take the initiative in your own life first – become the person you want others to be.
  • R: Raise your eyes – set your focus on things above versus things of the earth (Col 3:1-4)
  • A: Ask others questions – find out who they are and what they’re most concerned about in life.
  • N: Nurture conversation – set up regular lunch times where everyone gets together to chat.
  • S: Say the mission – don’t just nod your head at what’s on the wall, but use it in conversation.
  • F: Face people – don’t multitask during conversations (close the laptop and turn off your phone).
  • O: Own mistakes – if you know you did something wrong, apologize right away.
  • R: Raise standards – stop using the phrase “That was good enough.”
  • M: Mind your mind – introduce people to new thoughts and ideas that can lead to change.
In the end, you will influence others either out of your:
  • Title: Parent, spouse, employer, employee, customer, teacher, student, pastor, tither, guest, regular, etc
  • Influence: Your integrity, your passion, your relationship with God, etc
So… what is your next step to create healthy people instead of yet another power play?
The most important [commandment], answered Jesus, is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
By: Tony Myles

Should Hollywood and the Christian world ever collaborate and work together on faith-based films?  Such an effort is being made with the feature film Les Miserables.  Matt Steen and Todd Rhoades discuss whether or not this a good thing. According to CNN: The story in “Les Miserables” is heavy with Christian themes of grace, mercy and redemption. The line everyone seems to remember is “to love another person is to see the face of God.” NBC Universal looked to capitalize on those components and promoted the film to pastors, Christian radio hosts and influence-makers in the Christian community. The latest film adaptation of the musical is raking in the cash. As of Wednesday, NBC Universal reported, it had pulled in $80.57 million in 2,814 theaters. After winning Christmas Day, the film finished third in the box office totals over the weekend, according to, narrowly losing out to “The Hobbit” and “Django Unchained” despite being on significantly fewer screens. “If you’re a Christian and you’re seeing this film, you can’t help but see these themes,” said Jonathan Bock, founder and president of Grace Hill Media, the firm hired for the targeted marketing campaign. les miserables

CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH Christians and Les Miserables

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The church has enjoyed ‘tax-exempt’ status in America for many years… but that doesn’t mean this will continue forever. In fact, this article claims that the US Government could make $71 Billion a year just by stopping this practice.  (Actually, I bet it’s much more). I think the day is coming that, at some point, the door will at least be opened to closing some of the tax benefits churches receive. My guess is that the first to go will be the clergy housing allowance. Anyway… read this from Derek Beres and let me know what you think… Derek writes: While the desire to tax churches is not new, it seems as far from reality as possible at this moment. As has been commented, no atheist could possibly hope to win an election in today’s political climate—a freethinking man like Robert Ingersoll would have no influence with the majority of our electorate. Our cultural dependency on the necessity of faith is affecting our society: According to a University of Tampa study, not taxing churches is taking an estimated $71 billion from our economy every year, and this fact remains largely unquestioned. The general argument over why churches do not pay taxes goes like this: If there is a separation of church and state, then the state (or fed) has no right to collect money from the church. In exchange, churches cannot use their clout to influence politics. While this would seem to make for cozy bedfellows, it’s impossible to believe that none of the 335,000 congregations in the United States are using their resources for political purposes, especially when just last week the Kansas governor called for a ‘Day of Salvation’ in his state. Churches not paying property and federal income taxes (along with a host of others, including reduced rates on for-profit properties and parsonage subsidies) is filed into that part of our brain marked ‘always been.’ Never mind the conundrum that the most religious are often the most patriotic—what could be less patriotic than not paying your fair share for the good of the country, especially when church structures and those who work for them use the same public utilities as the rest of us? As noted in the Tampa study, churches fall into the category of ‘charitable’ entities. This is often a stretch. The researchers calculated the Mormon church, for example, spends roughly .7% of its annual income on charity. Their study of 271 congregations found an average of 71% of revenues going to ‘operating expenses,’ while help to the poor is somewhere within the remaining 29%. Compare this to the American Red Cross, which uses 92.1% of revenues for physical assistance and just 7.9% on operating expenses. The authors also note that Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years. // Read more via How To Make $71 Billion A Year: Tax the Churches | 21st Century Spirituality | Big Think. Do you think any of the tax advantages the church has enjoyed will go away any time soon? Do you think the housing allowance will continue to be a benefit for pastors, or will that go away soon? What impact would taxing the church have in YOUR congregation? Todd

More and more churches are going multisite… which means more and more churches are looking for campus pastors these days. Josh Street shares four questions to ask yourself if you think God might be calling you to a campus pastor role in the near future: 1. Can you identify whole-heartedly with the church “DNA”? Most multi-site churches are locked in on their identity and “who” they feel like God has called them to reach. The primary position of a campus pastor is not to seek to change the church, but to duplicate the church and its ministry within their local community. This should be one area where you shouldn’t have to “stretch” to fit in. At Northstar, we require our campus pastors to be outreach-oriented. Although our mission is “to help the whole word to find and follow Jesus“, we will always be more “find” than “follow“. (Read Luke 15 to understand) 2. Are you comfortable with multiple layers of leadership? Campus pastors have the opportunity to build their own volunteer teams and staff, but their staff often report to different people all over the organization. We define those at Northstar by solid and dotted lines. Everyone has a single solid line on campus staffs and those report directly to the campus pastor, but the dotted lines have a tremendous amount of influence on exporting central culture and objectives. If your are black and white personality, you may not thrive in this type of environment. 3. Are you an over-achiever? Most multi-site churches place a high demand on their campus pastors’ job performance. Northstar is no different. Distance and resource limitations can increase this pressure. To stay ahead of the curve requires a self-driven leadership style to constantly improve and grow both personally and corporately. Utilize the development and training that your organization provides, but use that as your base not your bar for yourself and your campus.  (Read Luke 19:11-27 for a great example of this) 4. Can you make something out of nothing? Maximize resources. A church start always feels under-resourced no matter how well-resourced they truly are. You will be expected to leverage both your talent and tools to their fullest. An ability to be creative and diligent with your time, staff, volunteers, and financial resources is a non-negotiable. A quick look at your personal budget and time will tell you if this is describes you. // read more here…

Sherry Surratt writes: Imagine getting a phone call like this: Mrs. Smith, we’d like to offer you an  exciting new position that will entail    heartache, disappointment and make you want to bang your head against the wall. It will be isolating, lonely, and the load of responsibility might make you run from the room screaming. We can promise you that someone  will criticize you, work against you and try to discourage even your best ideas and there will be days when you’ll question your own abilities. Are you interested?   Who in the world is going to answer, ‘you betcha, sign me up!’  But actually we do everyday. What I described is leadership. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It gives you a headache. But any true leader will tell you it’s the most worthwhile way you can invest your influence. And when a great opportunity comes along, they have a hard time saying no. Why? Here’s what I think: leadership isn’t a position or job, it’s a calling. I believe everyone is called to influence and has a God-ordained circle they’ve been given, but I don’t believe everyone is called to lead. I think leaders are called to make life better in unique ways and God has gifted leaders with unique abilities to do this. This is the part though that I don’t think we talk about: sometimes leadership hurts. If you’re the boss or lead a team, it can be lonely. There are days you alone have to make the final call and then stand by it, sometimes to the sound of crickets. Sometimes you get treated differently. You don’t get included in the conversation, because you are the topic of conversation. Your team can look to you for a decision and you get that shaky feeling, wondering  if you have the stuff to make it. It keeps you up at night, causes angst and depletes your reserves. Maybe if we talked about it more, it wouldn’t take us so by surprise when we experience it. The truth is, leadership even in it’s best form, can hurt down deep, in your heart, in your thoughts and in your emotions. Here’s the deeper part I don’t think we talk about: when leadership hurts, we think we’re doing it wrong. Truth is… you’re not!  Read more from Sherry here…

Like many of you, I was up late last night (actually, early this morning) watching the election returns. There is no doubt that the country is split, politically, right down the middle.  Literally. And many this morning reading this blog are very disappointed with the results. So… now what? Here is some great advice from Phil Cooke:
If you’re an artist, filmmaker, pastor, writer, teacher, business person, leader – whatever, keep moving forward. Create. Spark visions. Inspire people. Speak the truth. The influence of culture is far more significant and life-changing than whoever sits in the White House.
I think that’s great advice. (You can read more of Phil’s thoughts here). My advice to you today… don’t skip a beat.  If anything, work harder. Despite what many of the pundits are saying… nothing is a surprise to God.  Keep pastoring.  Keep leading.  Keep moving forward. Today is the day that the Lord has made… let’s all rejoice and be glad in it… whatever your elation or disappointment in last night’s results. Carry on. Todd

“You walk in entitlement, you will simply empower entitlement underneath you. You want to talk trickle-down effect? You got an entitled pastor, you’ll have an entitled staff. That then leads to an entitled laity, that leads to the death of a church.”
During a recent webcast, Chandler shared a story of a friend who came to pray with him before he delivered a sermon several years ago. The friend, Josh, put dirt in Chandler’s hands, poured water on the dirt and told him to rub his hands together. “Kingdom hands are dirty hands,” he told Chandler. “You want to serve the Lord, you’re always going to have dirty hands,” said Chandler. “You don’t get to a place, you don’t get to a size where your hands are clean, your heart is free from the heartbreak, loss, the celebration, the need for prayer, the desperation that comes from leading and walking with God’s people.” The direct influence of The Village Church will probably “vanish” in the next 100 years, he said, so the church’s focus should be on making a wider impact for the kingdom of God instead of building up itself. The Village does this, he said, by supporting missionaries and church plants. “I think the more clingy you are about what’s yours the more you reveal you have an unhealthy culture, and you’re a bit insecure, and when all is said and done, you trying to build the church is actually you trying to feel better about you,” said Chandler. He challenged those listening to become less self-focused by asking: How eagerly do you celebrate the successes of other local ministries? How easy is it for you to critique growing ministries and point out their flaws? Are men and women in your church maturing? Is your church making an impact for the kingdom beyond itself, and are you helping missionaries and other churches? Chandler also exhorted pastors to find their worth in God, not in their church’s attendance. // Good stuff. Todd Read more at

Read these two paragraphs by Scott Lively: In many elementary and secondary schools across America, October will be designated as LGBT History Month. It is certain to feature prominently in California where promotion of homosexuality to all school children is now mandated by law. And it is likely to be observed in all of the classrooms controlled by the nationwide Gay Lesbian Straight Teachers Network (GLSEN), whose founder, Kevin Jennings, was appointed “safe schools” czar by President Obama. This week WND linked to a news story about a Broward County, Fla., school that will teach “gay” history to kindergartners, but most GLSEN teachers will conduct these indoctrination sessions with no meaningful outside scrutiny. LGBT History Month is not yet universally adopted by public schools. Nevertheless, throughout October tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent school children will be subjected to the most despicable brainwashing ever conducted in American classrooms. They will be taught, through carefully constructed lesson plans, to view homosexuals as a superior class of human beings whose influence on society has been wholly benign, but whose contributions to society have been limited due to irrational prejudice and bigotry. They will learn the importance of protecting homosexuals from societal “homophobia,” perhaps even emanating from their own parents, and that homosexuality is a perfectly normal and healthy (and unchangeable) form of sexual identity. In other words, they will be indoctrinated in provably false and thoroughly biased pro-”gay” propaganda. 1.  I’ve never heard of LGBT History Month, nor of it in ANY school.  Is this a real threat? 2.  What do you think of the tone of this article?  Good, bad? “innocent school children” “despicable brainwashing” “superior class of human beings” “irrational prejudice and bigotry” “societal homophobia” “indoctrinated” “thoroughly biased pro-gay agenda’ Could Lively put any more charged language in one paragraph? Regardless of your view on homosexuality, do pieces like this help or hurt? What do YOU think? Todd

Current Events
C.J. Mahaney, one of the leaders of the resurgence in Calvinism among some conservative evangelicals, is taking a leave of absence from his ministry due to unspecific but serious charges, he and his board have announced. Mahaney has been president of the Maryland-based Sovereign Grace Ministries, a church-planting network that says it has 97 churches here and abroad. They are mainly clustered on the East Coast — none in Kentucky or Indiana — with others scattered throughout the country and abroad. But his influence extends beyond that church, as he is a popular author and speaker. He was one of the main speakers at a Together for the Gospel convention that drew thousands of attendees last year to the Kentucky International Convention Center. He appeared on a program that included Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Minnesota pastor John Piper and other A-list speakers from the New Calvinist movement, which promotes beliefs in such things as in male authority in churches and homes, the divine direction of events rather than human free will, and church discipline of its members. via ‘Serious’ charges vs. popular pastor, author Mahaney | Faith & Works.