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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
Sorry. But there is really no nicer way to say it. Your excuses are stupid. Especially when it comes to your relationship with Christ. Yes, you may have a had a rough childhood. Yes, you may have a busy schedule. Yes, you may think you’re giving up too many opportunities and experiences. Same goes for us leaders.  Our excuses are stupid. Stop being scared. Stop worrying about your security. Don’t misplace your priorities when it comes to leading the church. Do what needs to be done. Because your excuses are stupid. The work is TOO important. todd

I really like the post that Michael Lukaszewski posted yesterday.  He talks about how pastors always think that the people in their churches are just like them. The reality is… they’re not. Here are some of Michael’s examples: They don’t know who John Piper or Steven Furtick are.  They are confused when you quote them without context. They aren’t familiar with their Bibles.  When you say, “You know…like it says in First Timothy,” they absolutely don’t know. They don’t work in a Christian environment.  They aren’t surrounded by Christians who love worship music and some have bosses who are jerks. They don’t go to conferences.  It’s a way of life for many church leaders, but the most people don’t do it. They don’t go to church every week.  This might be the biggest of all.  You’re there every week; they are not. Here are some more differences… Here some additional ones that I’d add: 1.  They don’t have a clue what you do all week, and they probably think you make too much money. 2.  They expect totally different things from you than the way you are spending your day today. 3.  For 90% of your attenders, the next time they think about you or your church is the next Sunday morning or Saturday night… and the thought is “Am I going to get up and go to church?” 4.  They think you’ve got a pretty easy job.  You think you have the hardest job in the world. What would YOU add to the list?

Wow… Steven Furtick is getting some bad blog press from some of the watchdog blogs about publishing a resource kit for churches on how to host a ‘spontaneous baptism’. You see, Elevation Church baptized 2,158 over two weekends recently, giving people the opportunity to get baptized on the spot. And they’ve published a guide and learning piece showing what they needed to do behind the scenes to make this happen. Logistics, you might say. But one blogger finds the document proves that the goal was ‘clearly numbers, and an opportunity to create excitement, get people in the community talking, hence new people keep coming through the doors.’ Hogwash. It’s called being prepared for what God might do. Whether you agree with the whole ‘spontaneous’ baptism thing that many churches are doing (which I think is probably more biblical than announcing it a few weeks beforehand and asking people to mill it over as we do in most churches), the document is interesting… and it shows the amount of planning and leadership that it takes to be prepared. In our churches… there are few things that just happen.  Most everything takes a good measure of planning and leadership… even spontaneous baptisms. What’s YOUR take? Todd

Current Events
From the “think the worst about your brother” file… A popular blogger is accusing Elevation Church of ‘censorship’. Huh? Well, Chris Rosebrough, the blogger in this story, says that when Matt Chandler spoke at Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival this week, all was fine… but when the time came for the sermon to be re-webcast at Elevation’s normal time at 10:12 pm and 3:12 am; Chandler’s sermon was cut. The church’s response:
“We decided to do prayer time live during the first rebroadcast time. We were getting so many requests for prayer.”
The church’s Motion Graphic Designer explained:
“the team decided to focus the rebroadcast on Jesus – so we reformatted the content a bit – We are trying to stay in the flow of what the Spirit is leading us to do.”
And Pastor Steven Furtick tweeted the next morning:
“I apologize for the inconvenience of last night’s #CodeOrangeRevival programming change-Matt Chandler’s msg will reair today@10:12am&12:12pm.”
The church also has said that the sermon will be available for podcast after the revival along with all other revival messages. Rosebrough’s response, according to the Christian Post:
“Fact is, Furtick’s ‘explanation’ is a flimsy effort at spin/damage control and an admission that a deliberate decision was made to remove Chandler’s sermon from the first two rebroadcasts.”
He told the Post that he broke the censorship story on Saturday morning and then, shortly thereafter, Elevation “reversed their decision” and re-broadcast Chandler’s message. A quote from the Post:
In Rosebrough’s view, the talk was a “boxing match theologically; if you watched Furtick’s body language he was pissed. He wasn’t clapping, he was shaking his head.”
So… which was it? Seems to me… pure speculation on anyone’s part. The charge of ‘censorship’ seems a bit over the top.  If, in fact, Chandler shared something that went against the church or Furtick’s teaching, I would think they have full rights to not show it again… at least without being accused of censorship. When someone gives an explanation, I normally try to accept it. In this case, the follow-through from Elevation was actually showing Chandler’s sermon twice (and they’ll release it as a podcast).  Doesn’t sound like censorship to me. Was there something more to the story?  Could be.  But I think Rosebrough may be totally speculating that all this went down exactly as he describes it.  And I think that’s a huge speculation. Thoughts?  Read more here.    

Current Events
According to the Christian Post, Elevation Church is kicking off a 12-day “Holy Ghost, old-school revival” on Wednesday in hopes of seeing God move in a big way this new year. Craig Groeshel, Pastor T. D. Jakes, and Christine Caine are the speakers – for what it is calling the “Code Orange” Revival. Code Orange is meant to imply a heightened sense of urgency. The website states: “Probably the most fitting example that relates to our revival is the description for the Code Orange stage of a volcano: Exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain.” The hope for the revival is for it to be “an eruption of [God’s] power and movement among us in 2012,” according to Elevation. “The purpose of this revival isn’t to develop a bunch of lazy Christians where we can all get fat and happy off the Word of God but so that we can become what Ezekiel (Old Testament prophet) calls a ‘vast army’ or what the disciples experienced in Acts 2 when on the day of Pentecost 3,000 people were saved that day,” said Elevation Pastor Steven Furtick on Sunday. He noted that “even in a religious city like Charlotte there’s a lot of dead, dry religion” and what he wants God to do is “revive us, bring us to life in a brand new way.” More here from the Christian Post.

Are you stuck?  In ministry?  In your personal life? “Stuckness” happens really often for pastors and church leaders.  Many times on Monday mornings! Steven Furtick has some thoughts on being stuck… and shares 3 things that can lead you to getting stuck.  If you’re feeling stuck this morning, I’m wondering if one of these things is the culprit. 1. Complacency Change is hard. Positive change is just as hard as negative change. Sometimes it’s easier to stay stuck than to move forward. Often it’s more comfortable to stick with something that’s tolerable and familiar than to embrace something that’s preferable and unknown. 2. Regret I really don’t know how to explain this, except to say that my regrets often overpower my ambitions, causing me to remain in a state of paralysis. But I’m learning that there’s nothing productive about what I wish I would have done then, unless I use it to inform what I’m doing now. 3. Distraction It’s hard to tell how many major adjustments I’ve avoided making because I was busy tending to insignificant side items. It’s tempting to divert attention from the big thing that God wants me to change by obsessing over something that ultimately doesn’t matter at all. So… how to get unstuck? Steven offers a simple prayer:  God, help me move forward at the speed of your direction and intention, no matter how painful the transition may be. via Pastor Steven Furtick – If You’re Feeling Stuck…. Is this a prayer that YOU need to pray today? Where are YOU stuck this morning?

Steven Furtick writes:  Many people have a warped view of God’s reaction to our sin. They think that if God is disciplining them, He’s out to get them. They’ve walked away from God, so now He’s paying them back. Getting even. Settling the score. This misses the whole point of God’s discipline. God doesn’t discipline us to pay us back but to bring us back. To our senses. To the life we were saved for. To Him. One of the most unloving things God could do would be to allow you to live in sin and operate under the illusion that you’re still close to Him. Conversely, one of the most loving things God can do is to bust you in your sin. To make you realize just how far away you are from him. To get you to see just how far you’ve drifted, and how desperately you need to come back. And so sometimes God will discipline us. He will accept your momentary pain for your eternal pleasure. He doesn’t have a vendetta. He’s not trying to settle scores. He’s not trying to pay us back. via Pastor Steven Furtick – God Isn’t Trying to Pay You Back. Thoughts? Todd

At the recent Elephant Room conference, I was really impressed with the speakers and how they discussed their disagreements.  I wish the Body of Christ as a whole were mature enough to relate as well as these folks did. When we disagree in the church, our first tendency is to tear down or degrade the other person or ministry. There are tons of blogs that make their claim to fame on just that. But it takes maturity, and quite frankly, much more time and effort to reasonably discuss your disagreements with another brother. Take a look at these two great exchanges… the first between Matt Chandler and Steven Furtick; the second between Perry Noble and Mark Driscoll. And, I must say, James MacDonald does a masterful job at setting the tone. Don’t you wish this was more representative of the body of Christ as a whole? Please take a moment to leave a comment… Thanks, Todd

Uh… yeah, that pretty much sums up my feelings of a certain segment of Christianity. Although they wouldn’t like being called ‘haters’. They would prefer apologists or discerners.  Constantly contending for the faith. I have a whole category of rss feeds labeled for these folks.  I checked it every day to see who/what’s got them peeved.  Usually it’s Rick Warren or Rob Bell.  Sometimes Mark Driscoll.  But more recently they’ve set their scopes on one that they have long admired:  John Piper. My thought many times is:  what a miserable way to look at life… always looking for the bad.  Always trying to expose the heretic.  Always disgruntled and annoyed.  Always picking apart. Some may say, I do that here.  I hope not.  I have not been kind in my assessment of Ted Haggard here as one example.  But I hope that any assessment or discussion started here has a little more to it than whether or not someone believes in new earth creationism. I want to take a moment to thank everyone who is reading this.  We tackle some pretty heady and controversial topics here (like the transgender christianity post from yesterday).  And you all do a masterful job (most all of the time) discussing very difficult topics with grace and without hate. Thanks for not being ‘haters’.