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Current Events
Another day, another church marketing campaign.  This one, by a church in Mansfield, includes a sign that simply says JesusDoesntCare.com.  It seems that even if Jesus doesn’t care… some people in the community do; and they’re not taking too kindly to the churches newest sign campaign. According to the pastor:  “We created something quite compelling, didn’t we?” Here’s the video from the local NBC affiliate: I’m thinking of starting a new business… ordering domain names that would be great for this kind of marketing campaigns, then selling them to churches.  Whatdaya think? Any suggestions for domain names I should snatch up? Maybe something like: JesusThinksYoureUgly.com BoycottHell.com IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowItComeToChurch.com Todd SOURCE:  NBCActionNews.com
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Leadership
What do you think of this billboard?  Christ Covenant Church in Beaumont, TX is starting a series with this very public premise:  “We know we’ve failed”.

In fact, here’s how the church’s website explains it:

The church has failed. That’s right; we’ve messed up, big time. The church was SUPPOSED to be a reflection of the God it claimed to serve. The church was SUPPOSED to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. But, for the most part, the church has failed.

Our failure has left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Our mistakes have led to a lack of credibility. Our messes have caused people to seek answers for this life elsewhere. And really, who could blame people for giving up on the church? Gandhi had a very good point when he said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” What a bunch of jerks. Prideful, hypocritical, selfish, judgmental jerks. Essentially, the church is saying that the church (whether theirs personally, or the church in general) has failed in many ways. I would agree. But I wonder if this will be effective at the people who think all Christians are jerks. Here’s my case:  if people think we’re jerks… just because we admit we’re jerks doesn’t make them want to come to our party. That’s kinda like saying, ‘sure I’m a drunk… let’s have a beer”. Don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes I think the per capita of jerks is much higher inside the church than outside.  But I don’t know that openly sharing our jerkiness endears anyone to our cause.  Instead, they just shake their head and say, “Yep… thought so”. I’m afraid now, those same people will think we’re both jerks AND idiots. That said… the billboard does catch your eye.  I’m not sure the message relayed is exactly what Christ Covenant was looking for. You can read more here at Beliefnet.com. What do YOU think? 1.  Is there value in the church apologizing for the bad taste we have left in people’s mouths? 2.  How will this translate into reaching more people? 3.  Would your church run such a billboard. I’d love to hear your answers. Todd PS — NorthRidge Church in Detroit is doing a similar type campaign, but it is more nuanced.  One of their billboards reads “NorthRidge Church is for Hypocrites”.  This seems to me to be a better approach… telling people that they shouldn’t stay away from church because they’re a hypocrite.  (That’s one of the main reasons people say they don’t go to church).  I think it’s different to say you’re welcome here if you’re a hypocrite and saying join all of us other hypocrites this Sunday.  What do you think?
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Leadership
The headline reads:  Woman Stabs Classmate in Anger-Management Class.  It happened not long ago near Seattle.  A seemingly peaceful anger management class goes horribly wrong when two of the women students begin to argue.  One grabs a knife and stabs the other person in the arm… Of course, the newspaper HAD to report that story.  The irony was just too great. In fact, the media loves a great story like this.  Irony and hypocrisy make for a great personal interest story. A woman getting stabbed in the arm outside a mall doesn’t make the evening news.  But a woman getting stabbed in the arm at an anger management class makes headlines nationwide. A drug deal going down rarely makes the news anymore.  But a police officer involved in a drug deal is a major story. A woman having sex with a teenager may still raise some eyebrows in most communities, but probably wouldn’t make the news; unless, of course, the woman is a teacher.  Then, it’s a national story. The media love this kind of thing. Enter you. You, every week, work at a place that upholds family values, is supposed to love people, and do good for the community.  Your church is supposed to be representing the Word of God, ten commandments, and the best in everything.  What happens when things don’t match up? Let’s say you, as a pastor do something wrong.  Let’s say you steal something; you have an affair; you get caught in some kind of financial inconsistency.  There is probably a reporter in your city right now that would love a call with that lead. You, as a church worker, are held to a much higher standard only because any mis-step you make will be considered hypocracy.  It will make for a good story. The ramifications of a screw-up are much higher for you as well. Chances are, you’ll lose your job over it. Chances are, your church will suffer unnecessarily. And there’s a good chance you’ll lose your family.  (In the case of an affair, those are hard enough for most couples to work through… add in the public disclosure and embarrassment, and many marriages just can’t take it.) I admit.  I’m fascinated with scandals (both church, political, etc.) for a couple reasons.  First, they make me examine my own life to be sure that I’m not near a crash.  And secondly, they cause me to investigate how these things happen.  Maybe I’m just a curious person.  Maybe it’s hit too close to home for me, as I’ve had a good friend hit by scandal.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many people fall to silly stuff they never thought they’d do. As you go about your day… be constantly reminded:  people are watching you.  Some would love to take you down.  Some would love to tarnish the reputation of your church and ministry.  Don’t give them the fuel to do it. If you’re about ready to crash and burn; or if you’ve already fallen and people don’t know about it; take today and take the steps you need to take to get help and save yourself and your ministry and town the embarrassment of another scandal. If you need someone to confide in, drop me a line.  I’d be glad to help however I can. Todd
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Uncategorized
Pastor Steven Furtick has come up with an innovative idea for the launch of his new book, Sun Stand Still… he’s attempting to preach for 24 hours beginning at noon EST on September 21st.  As Steven puts it:  24 hours of preaching and celebrating the fact that we serve a God who shatters our conceptions of what is possible. Here’s a little more of what Steven writes at his blog:

And we’re inviting the world to participate. We will live stream the entire event on sunstandstill.org. You can tune in while you’re at work. Watch as a family from your home. Even if you wake up at 3 am and can’t sleep, I’ll still be there.

Some people might think it’s a stupid idea. After all, I’m preaching half a year’s worth of sermons in a day. And they’re probably right. Then again Joshua praying for the sun to stand still probably seemed pretty stupid at the time too. But God honored his audacious faith. Some people have asked me, “What exactly do you mean by preaching 24 hours straight?” Obviously I won’t be preaching every single minute of every single hour. We will have interviews and videos interspersed throughout the day. Our staff will make appearances for special giveaways throughout the event as we hope to drive book sales the day of the release and supplement leaders with additional free resources. But for part of every single hour, I will be straight up preaching. And I’m going to give my best whether it’s 12 noon, or 12 midnight. So whatever your schedule looks like next Tuesday and Wednesday, choose one of the 24 hours in the day and tune in. It’s the closest we can come to making the sun still stand still. Let’s see what happens when we dare to ask God for the impossible. Read more here… What do you think?  Will you watch? Todd
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Trends
That was the pledge at City Church in California recently.  According to the Orange County Register, about 100 people typically attend, and Pastor Kyle Steven Bonenberger challenged his flock to attract 200 for Sunday’s festivities, promising he would be first to go under the needle if they succeeded. Halfway through the service, they still weren’t there, but Bonenberger kept faith, revving up the crowd with allusions. God “has tattooed your name on his heart,” Bonenberger told guests. Eventually, a 200th person did arrive, right when a band started jamming and just before a climactic burst of confetti and a shout of “Happy Birthday!” Afterward, as attendees enjoyed a picnic of pulled pork and coleslaw, Bonenberger extended his arm, alternating between smiles and grimaces as an artist stained his skin with red ink. Several onlookers, including Irvine resident Scot Parker, were prepared to follow suit. “I’m strongly behind the vision of the church,” Parker said, explaining that he was “getting my tattoo to display my commitment to that.” You can read more here…
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Outreach
Pastor Bil Cornelius and Bay Area Fellowship are planning the ‘ultimate giveaway’ on Easter Sunday.  This year, the church is giving away over one million dollars in prizes to get people to come to church.  According to THE CALLER, the prizes are meant as a metaphor for Cornelius’ Easter message. Just as the prizes are free for the winners, so is heaven. But someone first had to pay for all the cars and furniture and TVs, as Jesus paid for peoples’ sins… More from THE CALLER: “The ultimate giveaway is that Jesus gave his life for us,” Cornelius said. “When we think about the spirit of giving, we always think about Christmas. But really the ultimate spirit of giving is Easter.” Cornelius, a laid-back pastor with spiky hair and bluejeans, has weathered criticism of his megachurch before. Some say its rock ’n’ roll band, flashy lights and large size stray too far from Jesus’ true message. So he knows there’s bound to be criticism of the giveaway plan. “We know it’s unconventional,” he said. “We know some people of faith aren’t going to agree with it.” Cornelius asked church members to donate during services two weeks ago. The response since has been overwhelming. The plan was promoted as a $1 million giveaway, but the actual value is going to be much higher. The 15,000 gift bags alone are worth $4.5 million if all the goods and services are cashed in. The coupons have no cash value. “Our people have been incredibly generous,” Cornelius said. “We have people writing checks for cars for people they don’t even know.” You can read more here…
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Outreach
A Chicago area church is doing something unique.  Rev. Dan Willis pulls a number from a bag and a lucky worshipper wins up to $500. Here’s part of a Chicago Tribune article describing what’s happening at Lighthouse Church:

At Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, the congregation can get more than just prayer at the Sunday worship services.

If a lucky — or “blessed and highly favored” — churchgoer is in the right seat, they can also receive a cash prize. At each of the three Sunday services, the Rev. Dan Willis pulls a number of one seat from a bag and the worshiper in that seat wins a cash prize. Two of the churchgoers win $250 and the third gets $500. The church gives away $1,000 each Sunday, Willis said. The cash prize is part of Willis’ recent focus on helping his congregation pay bills and begin a debt-free life, he said. “We’ve had soooo many of our people displaced from jobs, facing foreclosure,” he said. “When people’s faith was high, their debt was down. When their faith was down, their debt was high. I realized the two are connected.” Willis concedes the cash prize is a gimmick to fill the pews. But he’s unapologetic about the plan, because it’s working. On a typical Sunday, his church draws about 1,600 people to its three Sunday services. But since the money giveaway started, about five weeks ago, the congregation has grown to about 2,500 each week, he said. The money for the giveaway comes from the church offering. Lighthouse is a non-denominational church. “If I can get someone in here and teach them and give them money, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. Read more here. OK… this is pretty unconventional.  Good idea or terrible one?  What do YOU think? Todd
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