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Seth Godin says that most institutions have one. I’d dare to say that most churches do too. The ‘whiner’s room’:
When my friend Elly taught in a middle school, he never hung out in the teacher’s room. He told me he couldn’t bear the badmouthing of students, the whining and the blaming. Of course, not all teachers are like this. In fact, most of them aren’t. And of course, trolling isn’t reserved to the teacher’s room. Just about every organization, every online service, every product and every element of our culture now has chat rooms and forums devoted to a few people looking for something to complain about. Some of them even do it on television.
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David Murrow, the director of Church from Men, has some ideas: 1.  The midsize congregation will disappear. 2.  An explosion of satellite campuses and microchurches 3.  A small number of cutting-edge megachurches led by amazingly talented communicators. 4.  No denominations. 5.  America will have about 200 well-known preachers by 2062. 6.  More money spent on mission. 7.  We’ll need a lot fewer preachers. 8.  We’ll need a lot more campus pastors. 9.  Small group ministry will be more important in 60 years than it is today. 10.  Microchurches and megachurches will cooperate for programs like youth and children’s ministries across cities. You can read more here. Fascinating. What do YOU think the church will look like in 50 years?
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Dateline Santa Monica. No ‘permanant’ Nativity displays is the new law. So… churches decide that the law really doesn’t apply to non-permanent LIVE Nativity displays. Here’s our take: What do you think?  Is this a good thing, or are the churches kind of thumbing their nose at the city on this one? Leave a comment below… Todd

Do you agree or disagree with this statement by Kim Fabricius?
How should the church respond to congregational decline, financial deficits, and vocational shrinkage?  The answer is obvious: make ministerial selection more stringent, theological education more demanding, and spiritual formation more exacting. And burn anyone who proposes a managerial or entrepreneurial solution.
Me? I disagree. 1.  The answer is not that obvious.  (No answer usually is). 2.  While helping make the ministerial selection more stringent, it really doesn’t address another problem… who’s in charge of the selection process.  In many of the more formal denominations, it is the people that are actually a part of the system, and thus, a part of the problem.  The idea that they will somehow fix a problem they are a part of is kind of silly. 3.  Making theological education more demanding will not necessarily stop congregational decline.  Many are educated well beyond their need already. 4.  Many problems in churches are caused because there is no entrepreneurialship.  Not that the church needs to be run like a business, but there, in my opinion, needs to be a real leader at the helm… someone who will not only preach the Word without compromise, but one that will ultimately be responsible for leading life change and congregational health and unity. 5.  And let’s not forget the spiritual element.  God many times chooses to work through individuals.  Sometimes he even does that through someone with no formal education.  And many times he does that through extremely smart and capable entrepreneurial types who have yet to succumb to Kim’s prescribed burning. Shrinkage is never a good thing.  (Just ask George Costanza). The the answer to congregational shrinkage is much more complex than more education and better selection. What do YOU think? Todd

Eric Geiger has some great tips on interviewing for your next church staff member position.  Eric writes: If you are a leader, you know that having the right players on the team is absolutely essential in fulfilling the mission the Lord has given your ministry. Thus, the recruiting and interviewing process is very important. In looking back at all the interviews I have been a part of, here are five red flags that give me great caution in taking a next step with a potential team member. 1 – No questions If someone asks no questions, it gives me the impression that they are passive, that they are not the type to take initiative, and that they don’t possess a holy curiosity that is going to nudge them to learn, explore, and look for more effective ways to serve. It also gives the impression that they are a bit cold, unable to have a conversation, to engage, to lead people somewhere. 2 – Bad questions I like questions because I learn more about a candidate by the questions they ask. And bad questions are very revealing about a person’s work ethic, passions, goals, and priorities. For example: The question: How many hours do I need to work? What I think: This may be someone who wants to punch a clock. I want people driven by a calling, not by a clock. 3 – Excuses Excuses are a major red flag because it shows the person is unable to own his/her responsibilities fully. I would much rather a person say, “Here is where I blew it and the lessons I learned.” 4 – Negative comments about current leaders The person who bashes his/her current leaders or team members will be the same person who brings that toxic attitude into our culture. No thank you. 5 – Over-negotiation When someone over-negotiates salary, benefits, or some other aspect of the role, I quickly get turned off. I think either (a) the person is not overly excited about the role as it is presented or (b) the person has an inflated view of her/himself and this will never end. I may be oversensitive to over-negotiation, but I tend to be the one who walks away. Eric has some other great thoughts on interviewing and red flags.  Read them here via Five Red Flags When Interviewing. What was the WORST interview you’ve ever conducted for a church position? How did it go bad? Todd

From The Plano Star: “Where you start is not nearly as important as where you finish.” Those were the words of one of Plano’s most famous residents, Zig Ziglar, the world-renowned motivational speaker who died Wednesday at the age of 86 after a short bout with pneumonia. Ziglar was living proof that his advice about starting and finishing was true. While he died in Texas, Ziglar had a difficult childhood growing up in Alabama, where he was born in 1926. He suffered the loss of his father when he was only 5 years old and was forced to get his first job selling peanuts at the age of 6. This early work was tough, but taught him about people and life, he said. “I learned a lot about people who had so much less than I had,” Ziglar said in a 2010 interview. “And I resonated with them, and they resonated with me.” Ziglar began his motivational speaking career in the 1970s, with much of his advice based on his Christian faith. It was those beliefs that eventually led him to Prestonwood Baptist Church. “He was a man that influenced so many,” said Jack Graham, Prestonwood pastor. “Zig was a member of this church for over 20 years. I had the privilege of being his pastor and his friend. Zig was the real deal.” Of all the “zigisms” that Ziglar was known for, Graham said there was one that particularly stood out to him. That quote, “you can get everything you want in life as long as you are willing to help others get what they want in life,” perfectly summed up Ziglar’s message, Graham said. While he was known for being a motivational speaker with a great personality, Graham said what you saw from Ziglar on stage was not an act. The man that millions of people around the world saw was the same one that Ziglar’s friends and family saw, Graham said, adding that Ziglar was a dispenser of hope and love. “He was a minister of encouragement and gave a message in a way that connected with people,” Graham said. “He had the knack and ability to give truth in a practical way, as well as in a way so that people understood it. He helped so many people. He was in many ways like a pastor.” When he was not on the road, Ziglar taught the “Encouragement” Sunday school class at Prestonwood for 18 years. At one time the class was the largest class at the church because people wanted to hear what Ziglar had to say, Graham said. “No matter where he was in the world, he always made every effort to get back and teach that class on Sunday,” Graham said. “[After class] he would always say, ‘it is time to go to big church,’ and he would bring everyone in so I could preach to them. Zig and [his wife] Jean, who he affectionately called the ‘redhead,’ were always on the front row. Imagine that, being a preacher and preaching to Zig Ziglar — the ultimate communicator.” // Read more here…

Lovett H. Weems, Jr. writes: It turns out that five seconds or less is all we need to realize we may have said something we will regret. Unfortunately, when we speak those words, we do not have an “undo send” button. We live with the consequences, sometimes forever. Peter Bregman cites a neuroscientist to explain what is going on in our brains when we react in ways we later regret. When something unsettling happens to us, the emotional response center of the brain immediately evokes emotion. That is not bad, except that emotion is not the source of our best decisions. There is something of a battle going on in the brain between the emotional and more rational. The solution offered by the neuroscientist is, “Take a breath. If you take a breath and delay your action, you give the prefrontal cortex time to control the emotional response.” No more than one or two seconds normally is sufficient. So whether communicating by email, texting, telephone, or in person, leaders keep in mind that every word carries with it the potential to build up or tear down, to enhance credibility or damage it. Leaders do not depend on a Gmail tool. They cultivate an internal “undo send” button that they use generously. // Read more here… How do you manage your live ‘filter’? Todd

Paul Tripp writes: Let’s be honest, pastors. We are tempted to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. At times, we chafe against things that we think are beneath our pay grade. We are not always willing to do the dirty work of the ministry. I know I’m not always ready and willing. We are too oriented to reputation, position, and power. We desire to be recognized and to be prominent. We are not attracted to redemptive servitude. We want our ministries to be clean and comfortable.  We tend to think of ourselves as more movers and shakers than servants. This doesn’t happen because you’re getting your identity as an ambassador. No, if you and I think any kingdom work is beneath us, we have become identity amnesiacs. And there is a short step between forgetting your assigned position and inserting yourself into God’s position. The amazing example and commission of Christ should produce grief that leads to confession. We lose our way. We become more masters than servants. In our heart of hearts we know that we will never become what we have been called to become unless we’re rescued by the same grace we have been commissioned to proclaim and live before others. And we don’t have to fear that our silly, delusional, and unearned pride will cause the Father to turn his back on us. He knows who we are. He knows we don’t measure up. He knows we still fall short of his righteous requirement; that’s why he has given us the gift of his Son. We can run to him and admit to embarrassing self-glory and know he won’t embarrass us or slap us away, because our standing before him is not based on our performance but on the spotless performance of his Son. So, with me right here, right now make the confession that you need to make. Cry for the help that you need. Your Savior is near, and he is both willing and able. //Read more here…

OK… the Filter is not your average video podcast.  In fact, we’d say it’s ‘below average’. No special high profile guests.  No format, really.  Just a couple of guys (Matt Steen and myself) who love Jesus and love the church, talking about the ministry happenings of the week. We’d like to invite you along for the ride.  Pop it on while you’re eating lunch.  Watch it before you have a tough meeting (or after).  And The Filter is a great procrastination tool for not getting the stuff done that you know you should be doing. That said, it’s 55 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back… but 55 minutes that I hope you’ll enjoy. So… grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite adult beverage) and join a couple of friends as we talk about everything that happened this past week that we think you’ll find interesting… Rather just listen to the audio version?  (We admit… we DO have faces for radio)… click here… SHOW NOTES: Why Jesus Might Want to Punch You (and Me) in the Face (0:33) Pope Benedict to guide followers with personal Twitter account (3:57) Pastor/Worship Leader Open Brewing Company (6:45) Dustin Buff, Pastor Of Grace Church, Goes ‘Homeless’ As Experiment (10:56) North Point Raises $1.5 Million in ONE DAY! (13:41) Christ United Methodist Church inducted into the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame (14:49) Harlem churches attract European tourists to worship (17:20) Brian McLaren: What if God is Keeping People Away from Our Churches? (21:00) Pat Roberston on the Petraeus Situation: She’s Good Looking; He’s a man (26:08) Who Takes You to the Woodshed? (30:10) What YOU Need to Learn from General Petraeus’ Screwup (31:20) Guy Fieri and Criticism (35:33)

Has your church ever made a mistake that it seems you can’t recover from? Like this guy did a couple of weeks ago: A couple of weeks ago, Eric Hartsburg accepted a $15,000 payment to have the Romney “R” tattooed on the side of his head. Probably (maybe) seemed like a good decision at the time. Now, not so much. But the fact that he’ll have to explain himself to his grandchildren (who ask him ‘Mitt WHO?’ will haunt him for a long, long time. Have you ever made a decision in your ministry that seemed like a misplaced tattoo? I mean… everyone knew that it was wrong.  It was blatantly obvious. There was no hiding it.  No taking it back. Some mistakes are that bad.  Like a bad financial decision that pushes your church into bankruptcy… or hiring someone that you should have vetted more that turned out to be an abuser… or leaving the coffee pot on and burning the church to the ground. But the reality is… most mistakes and failures don’t have a big red and blue R all over them. Fact is… usually, 85% of the people in the church don’t even see most of your mistakes. But many of us allow the fear of mistakes and their ramifications control us. We never take risks. Stop that.  Take the risk.  Move the ball down the field.  Chances are, any mistakes along the way won’t burn down the church, or brand you for life. Risk.  Don’t be stupid, but risk.  Move forward.  Lead. What’s the biggest ministry mistake YOU ever made? Todd Read more here…

It’s the time you dread… when it’s time to leave your church job. Sometimes it’s because you feel God is moving you on, and you’re excited about the next chapter. Other times you leave out of despair, hurt… and sometimes for your own sanity. But how do you leave well?  With Honesty? And Grace?  No matter the situation? Josh Griffin has the following advice: Leave at the right time It isn’t always possible, but leaving at a natural break is best. The end of summer is ideal but not always possible. But even more than leaving at the right time in the calendar, pray through leaving at the right time in the church culture as well. Stay too long after you know you’re done and it’ll be painfully obvious, leave too soon and blindside people. Make the transition short I understand the need for a transition time to help prepare students or ensure a peaceful exchange of leadership – but there’s nothing worse than a “lame duck” who is out but still in. Pray through the timing of your announcement and the timing of your last day – typically I wouldn’t put these more than a month or two apart at the most. Protect the pastor Don’t cause division in the church – you will only hurt God’s body and leave students and volunteers hurt in the crossfire of departure. Know that God will use that church for His glory, even if you are no longer a part of the leadership. You can’t leave perfectly, but you can minimize damage by controlling your tongue (and ears for that matter). Leave better not bitter Take a long hard look at yourself. Don’t jump right into your next position. Take some time to get alone and debrief with your spouse or mentor and get alone with God. Leaving is tough on a church; know that it will leave some scars on you, too. Leaving better means choosing not to divide the church, to walk away … and to work on what God reveals to you in the process. Read more here… What would YOU add to Josh’s list? Todd