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Current Events, Current Events, Ministry Briefing, Start Here
Check out this week’s edition of Ministry Briefing NOW! Stay in the loop for the next 4 weeks for just $1! This week’s Ministry Briefing offers a series of stories that will challenge church leaders to plan ahead so that they can navigate potentially divisive or costly divisions. Knowing your church’s and denomination’s by-laws and hosting frank conversations with your staff will help you prepare for some of the many challenges that are likely to come up. This week controversial pastor Mark Driscoll announced that he will launch a new church in Phoenix, AZ. While Driscoll’s fans applaud this move and his critics ask whether he has fully reconciled with the leaders of his former church who shared reports of widespread bullying in a toxic church culture. We can all agree that we want Driscoll to have a healthy, productive ministry, so the question is whether he has healed and reconciled to the point that he can accomplish that. What structures and relationships does your church have in place in order to ensure that leaders can serve from a healthy, encouraging place? Aside from individual concerns of division, several denominations and congregations are facing division over theological concerns. Some have chosen to split as amicably as possible, while others are seeking a potential third way to keep diverse perspectives united around a common cause. Where are your denomination’s or congregation’s boundaries for biblical faithfulness? What will you do if your denomination’s or congregation’s leadership deviates from these boundaries? Getting on the same page as your leadership team, reviewing your by-laws, and reviewing potential options for moving forward are all ways that church leaders can proactively prepare for the challenges that are certain to come. 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
When John Piper was asked what he learned in ministry the hard way, this was his response:
Don’t assume that all fat people are gluttons. And don’t use the word fat. There is a principle here. Learn from logic and experience not to associate things—especially in preaching—that don’t necessarily go together. Another way to say it is: be hyper-vigilant to avoid and explode stereotypes. Not all single women want to be married. Not all boys like football. Not all homemakers like to cook. Not all messy people are lazy. And not all the obese are gluttons. There are glands and diabetes and a dozen conditions you never heard of that may account for things. Put your sermon through the counter-stereotype sieve.
via On stereotypes, risks, and Jesus: Driscoll interviews Piper | The Resurgence (link no longer available) What is the ONE thing that YOU would say you had to learn the HARD way in ministry? Please DO share! Todd

Because there are non-Christians present in corporate worship meetings, people leading those meetings need to be hospitable to non-Christians. This would include the preacher presenting the gospel to the non-Christians, someone explaining why the church meetings have certain elements such as communion or singing, and explaining Christian terms in a way that allows the non-Christian to understand what the Bible says. This does not mean that the entire service is to be seeker-sensitive and designed mainly as an evangelistic rally, but a sincere effort is made to help non-Christians understand and experience the gospel. via 6 Biblical Principles for Corporate Worship | The Resurgence. This seems pretty reasonable to me… what do you think?  Is this the way YOUR church approaches your worship services?

One school district in California is mandating Yoga classes for their 5,000 students as a kind of “21st Century P. E.”. This has a handful of Christian parents upset. Is Yoga something, as Christians and church leaders, to take a stand on? Mark Driscoll has said that he thinks Yoga is ‘demonic’? Watch and listen as Matt Steen and I tackle this subject, and start the conversation… christian yoga

CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH Yoga Classes in School & Christian Outrage

(Length:  5 min 58 sec) Subscribe to MinistryBriefing on YouTube What do YOU think?  Leave a text or video comment here…
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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?

Recently, Mark Driscoll sat down with John Piper and asked him what advice he would have given himself when he started in the ministry: John Piper: I would quote to him V. Raymond Edman: “Don’t question in the dark what God showed you in the light.” Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company. You are in the pit with King David. He waited. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction” (Ps. 40:1–2). God will do that for you. You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope. To that, I’d add: Outrun your people and your colleagues in thinking. That is, stay ahead of them in thinking through biblical implications of what is being said or proposed. Make a practice of thinking before a meeting. Think of as many implications of a proposal as you can. Think of as many objections to the proposal as you can. Think of good biblical answers to all those objections. Think of how much it will cost and how it will be paid for. Think of who might implement it. Think of the ways that it will bring joy—or temporary sorrow. Think about its relation to a dozen other things that people like or don’t like. Sit with your pencil in your hand (or your fingers on the keyboard) and doodle until you’ve exhausted the possibilities, or the time you have. Go to the meeting having thought more than any one else, and more deeply than anyone else. This is what good leaders do. Read more via On stereotypes, risks, and Jesus: Driscoll interviews Piper What would YOU have told yourself if you had the chance? Todd

It’s kind of a big issue in Washington, where Mark Driscoll pastors.  In fact, Washington state recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana. That has prompted Mark Driscoll to write a short e-book on a question he is now getting much more often:  Is it OK for Christians to smoke pot? Here’s how the book starts out: You can download a copy of the e-book here for free. OK… if someone grabbed you on the street, or called your office this morning and asked you the question, “If Pot became legal in our state, would it be ok, as a Christian, to smoke it?, what would YOU say?  What would be your initial response? Leave a short comment below… Todd

There is a move on the internet to ban an upcoming visit to Liberty University by Mark Driscoll. Driscoll is supposed to speak at an April 20th chapel service and hold a marriage conference on campus. But this isn’t sitting well with some, and they’ve started an online petition to stop Driscoll from speaking on campus. Add an outspoken blogger to the mix, and you have a mini-firestorm that caused the Liberty board to fire back an official response, claiming big misrepresentations from the blogger. As it stands at this writing, Driscoll is still scheduled to speak on April 20. Here’s the wording of the petition.  Would it convince YOU to sign it? How would your founder Jerry Falwell respond to a preacher who taught this in his writing and speaking? “In conjunction with the rhythm method of birth control, it is possible to use anal sex as an option.”[1] “Jesus Christ commands you to [perform oral sex on your husband]….What I would say to you as well, ladies, I probably shouldn’t, that most of your husbands wake up in the morning with an erection, and so rather than setting the alarm, if this was the way that you helped to awaken them, they would have a great day. Amen? I’m actually saying these things. Some of you are sitting here going, “Is this happening? Is this really happening?” Yes it is. [Laughter from audience.]…And he says that, “Your vagina is a garden.” It has wonderful smells and it has wonderful tastes. It’s a garden. . . . He talks about how much he loves her vagina. Many women feel awkward about this. The husband needs to tell the wife, “It’s beautiful. It tastes well. It smells well. You keep yourself well. I enjoy it. It’s a garden to me.”[2]  Here’s what one of Jerry Falwell’s peers, well known Pastor John MacArthur had to say about Mark Driscoll’s teaching.  “It is spiritually tantamount to an act of rape” and “Mark Driscoll has boldly led the parade down this carnal path.”[3]  What would the parents of your students say if they saw this?  What would the pastors who refer students to Liberty say?  What would your donors say if they had to read this?  If you say you aren’t worried about that, then for integrity’s sake immediately post these statements on your website. Your students and those who care about their spiritual welfare deserve fair warning about Driscoll’s penchant to sexualize whatever he can, wherever he can.  Click here to sign the petition asking Liberty University to cancel Mark Driscoll’s upcoming speaking event.  Failure to Drop Driscoll may result in a public protest on the Liberty University campus. Here are my thoughts… 1.  It’s always a bad argument when you start by asking what a dead founder would say/do.  Truth is… no one knows.  He’s dead. 2.  You go from the deceased founder to an anal sex quote.  I’m pretty sure Jerry Falwell wouldn’t like that.  (There… see how easy that was to invoke the name of the founder). 3.  Cite one paragraph from a few hundred page book. 4.  Bring John MacArthur into the mix (and again mention the dead founder). 5.  Throw in a ‘what would the parents think’ type statement. 6.  Throw in a ‘remember… pastors recruit for you and recommend Liberty University… but they won’t if you let this ‘anal’ guy speak on campus. 7.  Don’t forget the ‘your donors will all dry up’ if you let this happen schpeel. 8.  If all else fails, cite their ‘lack of integrity’ and lack of spiritual discernment. 9.  Make everything about sex.  Like Driscoll’s ‘penchant to sexualize whatever he can, wherever he can.” 10.  Finally… and don’t ever forget this… threaten a public protest on campus. If I remember right, Jerry Falwell liked a good organized public protest every now and then.  (There I go again… sorry, Jerry.) You know… I went to Cedarville University in the 1980s, and I remember a very similar situation that created a lot of scuttlebutt and trouble for University officials in 1985.  It was all about a speaker we were having in chapel. His name? Jerry Falwell. People were outraged that we would have such a social activist.  The more conservative among us were outraged that Cedarville would bring such a ecumenical leader to campus. (And I still remember the ‘three wise men and a virgin’ joke he told at chapel.) It’s been 25 years since then.  But we still have people that get all honked off. What’s the fear? That Mark Driscoll will get all the ‘Christian College Kids” all fired up about anal sex? Oh my. Anyway. Those are my top ten reasons.  Perhaps you have more?

Current Events, Leadership
In a very large announcement, Mark Driscoll writes today at the Acts 29 Blog: Together, we decided, in light of all the complexity we’re facing, that the best thing for Acts 29 going forward would be for Matt Chandler to assume the presidency, move the network offices to Dallas, and select his Acts 29 staff. In light of this, I want to sincerely thank the people of Mars Hill for investing millions of dollars over the years in Acts 29 and the people of The Village for being willing to house the Acts 29 headquarters. As for myself, I want to humbly serve Jesus and his men in Acts 29 by doing whatever is best for them. Going forward, I will gladly remain on the Acts 29 Board supporting Matt, along with Darrin and whomever else Matt believes best fits the Board. Mars Hill gladly stays in Acts 29 as well. I’ll be spending much of my time going forward serving all of Acts 29, pastoring at Mars Hill, helping the Resurgence, writing books, organizing preaching campaigns, and doing media interviews.  You can read more here… Thoughts? Did anyone see this coming? Todd