Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Church is still a cornerstone for the faithful but it appears that for increasing numbers of Pakeha New Zealanders it's a relic from the past with regular church-going having fallen by half since the 1960s.
Massey University's Associate Professor Peter Lineham studies the trends and he says a large proportion of Pakeha New Zealanders are opting out of church.
However migrant Christians from the Pacific Islands, Asia and South Africa are filling many of the gaps in the country's churches.
"Sometime in the future the Presbyterian and the Methodist churches in New Zealand could be predominatly non-European or non-Pakeha," says Reverend Kevin Ward of Knox College.
Another contributing factor in the decline is the ageing of the mainstream churches' flock, with nearly 60% of their members over 60-years-old.
At the last census, Anglicans totalled around 555,000, that's down 5%. Catholics totalled 508,000, up nearly 5%. Presbyterians numbers are just over 400,000, down 7%.
"It's very clear who's faring best. The Catholics of the mainstream denominations are faring best," says Lineham.
However the Catholic Church is struggling to find new priests, and for all the churches upkeep is increasingly difficult.
Relative newcomers, the born again Pentecostal Christians are the fastest growing Christian group, although that growth is also slowing.
"I think it's very true to say that there is a real hunger for spiritual things in New Zealand today," says Phillip Godsiffe of Elim Cathedral of Hope.
Source: ONE News
Nov 24, 2008 7:54 PM
Monday, November 17, 2008
The building had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809.
It was intact in July but some time in early October thieves made off with it brick by brick, they said.
Local prosecutors had been informed and an investigation was under way, a spokesman for the local Russian Orthodox Church said.
The disappearance of the Church of the Resurrection, some 300 km (186 miles) north-east of Moscow, was not immediately noticed.
That last line made me wonder, how long would it take before someone noticed that our church was missing?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A self-proclaimed gay anarchist group stormed into Mount Hope Church in Lansing,MI. The Eaton County Sheriff’s office was called in and is investigating.
Mount Hope Church was contacted for a response, but they could not comment due to the ongoing police investigation. It did issue the following response:
Monday, November 10, 2008
Career isn't the only factor in determining someone's overall happiness, but it's certainly a major contributor. So, what kind of jobs do the happiest people in the U.S. have? And, what about these jobs contributes to overall happiness in life? A University of Chicago study, "Job Satisfaction in the United States," offers some insight.
The study says the occupations where people report being happy overall, not just in terms of job satisfaction, involve helping others, technical and scientific expertise, or creativity.
Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center at UC, elaborates: "Happiness is determined by how much satisfaction you get from all domains of life, and work is an important domain, so it's one of the major components of overall happiness."
According to the study, the top occupations in general happiness are:
Job Description: Conduct religious worship and perform spiritual functions associated with beliefs and practices of religious faith or denomination.
Very happy: 67.2%
Median salary*: $44,102
Job Description: Control and extinguish fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.
Very happy: 57.2%
Median salary: $45,553
Monday, October 27, 2008
“Perhaps some may ask, "Ought we not then to
inquire what is the will of God in all things? And ought not His will to be the rule of our practice?" Unquestionably it ought. But how is a sober Christian to make this inquiry? To know what is the will of God? Not by waiting for supernatural dreams; not by expecting God to reveal it in visions; not by looking for any particular impressions or sudden impulses on his mind: no; but by consulting the oracles of God. "To the law and to the testimony!" This is the general method of knowing what is "the holy and acceptable will of God."
23. "But how shall I know what is the will of God, in such and such a particular case? The thing proposed is, in itself, of an indifferent nature, and so left undetermined in Scripture." I answer, the Scripture itself gives you a general rule. applicable to all particular cases: "The will of God is our sanctification." It is His will that we should be inwardly and outwardly holy; that we should be good, and do good, in every kind and in the highest degree whereof we are capable. Thus far we tread upon firm ground. This is as clear as the shining of the sun. In order, therefore, to know what is the will of God in a particular case, we have only to apply this general rule.
24. Suppose, for instance, it were proposed to a reasonable man to marry, or to enter into a new business: in order to know whether this is the will of God, being assured, "It is the will of God concerning me, that I should be as holy and do as much good as I can," he has only to enquire, "In which of these states can I be most holy, and do the most good?" And this is to be determined, partly by reason, and partly by experience. Experience tells him what advantages he has in his present state, either for being or doing good; and reason is to show, what he certainly or probably will have in the state proposed. By comparing these, he is to judge which of the two may most conduce to his being and doing good; and as far as he knows this, so far he is certain what is the will of God.
25. Meantime, the assistance of His Spirit is supposed, during the whole process of the inquiry. Indeed it is not easy to say, in how many ways that assistance is conveyed. He may bring many circumstances to our remembrance; may place others in a stronger and clearer light; may insensibly open our mind to receive conviction, and fix that conviction upon our heart. And to a concurrence of many circumstances of this kind, in favour of what is acceptable in His sight, He may superadd such an unutterable peace of mind, and so uncommon a measure of His love, as will leave us no possibility of doubting, that this, even this, is His will concerning us.
26. This is the plain, scriptural, rational way to know what is the will of God in a particular case. But considering how seldom this way is taken, and what a flood of enthusiasm must needs break in on those who endeavour to know the will of God by unscriptural, irrational ways; it were to be wished that the expression itself were far more sparingly used. The using it, as some do, on the most trivial occasions, is a plain breach of the third commandment. It is a gross way of taking the name of God in vain, and betrays great irreverence toward Him. Would it not be far better, then, to use other expressions, which are not liable to such objections? For example: instead of saying, on any particular occasion, "I want to know what is the will of God;" would it not be better to say, "I want to know what will be most for my improvement; and what will make me most useful?" This way of speaking is clear and unexceptionable: it is putting the matter on a plain, scriptural issue, and that without any danger of enthusiasm.”
from Wesley's Sermon #37 – The Nature of Enthusiasm.
(text from the 1872 edition - Thomas Jackson, editor)
Monday, October 20, 2008
“I am very concerned” says Piper. “Senator Obama’s statements that appear on his campaign’s web page, as well as, those spoken at the Saddleback Civil Forum and his July 1 speech in Ohio, should cause all universities that are Christian in faith and practice to be concerned for their very existence.”
Piper goes further: “By definition an Evangelical college has always had the right to expect its teachers to be Evangelical, a Jewish college could hire only those who are Jewish, a Catholic school could require its faculty to be Catholic and so on. This has been common sense and common practice. The logical privilege and legal right of a school to refuse employment to those who hold views antithetical to the institution – to its ideological, theological, and historical moorings – to its very mission statement and reason for existence – has been a given. It would be absurd to force a Jewish school, for example, to hire an advocate of Al Qaeda ideology. Students and parents choosing such a school would assume that, by definition, they would not have someone teaching such a worldview.”
Piper says his concerns stem directly from Obama’s own words. “In Obama’s July 1, 2008 speech in Ohio the Senator contends that if an organization benefits from federal grants it can''''t make any staffing or hiring decisions ‘on the basis of religion.’ Furthermore, on his official campaign web page Barack Obama clarifies that under his presidency ‘religious organizations that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate with respect to hiring for government-funded social service programs; and [faith-based organizations] can only use taxpayer’s dollars on secular programs and initiatives.’ Finally, in the Saddleback Civil Forum with Rick Warren, Obama commented specifically on Christian colleges and said ‘When it comes to the programs that are federally funded, then we do have to be careful to make sure that we are not creating a situation where people are being discriminated against [in hiring practices].’”
Piper says the problem in Obama’s statements is this: “Almost every college in the nation – religious or secular – has students who qualify for and receive federal funds in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships. Students have always been able to use these dollars to go to the college of their choice. But Obama’s position clearly indicates that this freedom could be in jeopardy and that students may only be able to use such grants and loans to attend schools that are secular in their worldview and behavioral codes.”
Piper goes further: “My question is this (and Senator Obama does not provide an answer): Will students be prohibited by law from using their financial aid to attend any school that hires faculty in a manner that is consistent with its Christian faith, values and theological distinctions? Will the funding that flows from the student to the institution – funding that has been available since the GI Bill of the 1940s – be averted? Will students lose their ability to attend a Christian college and will the colleges by default lose a primary source of revenue?” “If so” says Piper “hundreds of colleges and universities across the land would be forced into immediate financial exigency and imminent closure.”
Piper summarizes by saying “As far as I can tell, this conversation at this level is unprecedented. At no time in our history has the religious and intellectual freedom of the academy been held up to such ambiguity. Does it really make any sense to require Christian organizations to hire those who explicitly deny Christian orthodoxy and explicitly violate Christian orthopraxy?”
Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a Christian liberal arts university recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Forbes.com for its excellence. Its mission statement calls for the integration of faith, learning, and living in all disciplines with the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom as the University’s distinct foundation. For more information on Oklahoma Wesleyan or Dr. Piper go to www.okwu.edu or call 918.335.6234.
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
2201 Silver Lake Road
Bartlesville, OK 74006
President’s Office: 918.335.6234
President’s email: email@example.com
University web site: www.okwu.edu
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Marriage: Wedge Issue or Prelude to Disaster?
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.The last few weeks have been filled with political drama. The economic bailout, discussions about Sarah Palin, and the vice presidential debate have kept millions of Americans occupied with their own debates about America’s future.
Due to the lack of media coverage, many people are unaware of how much is at stake in this battle. Same sex marriage could become the law of the land in three years or less. The only speed bump that could slow this process down (or derail it) is passing a constitutional amendment in these three states.
The problem with redefining marriage is that it is more than a civil rights issue concerning how gay people are treated. It has the potentially unintended effect of hastening the decline of traditional heterosexual marriage. It also may blur the lines of morality and sexual behavior for centuries to come. Studies have shown that in the nations that have legalized same sex marriage or other forms of “faux” marriage, the change has devalued the institution of marriage as a whole. This devaluation has resulted in heterosexuals waiting longer to marry, increases in single parent households, and an overall alienation of many children from their birth fathers.
As appalling as it is to me that an 8-year-old is exposed to this process, it actually begins earlier. The dangers of primary school “re-education” of children are illustrated by the true story of David Parker who was outraged when he opened up the book Who's in a Family? This book was given to his 5-year-old son in 2005 at the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Mass. Parker deemed that both the message and the method of the book were highly inappropriate. The book depicted different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.
These negatives of same sex marriage are not the only alarming trends. As an African-American preacher, I am convinced that traditional marriage in the black community is on the verge of becoming extinct.
Let’s take a look at a snapshot of the condition of black families. Over 50%+ of black marriages currently end in divorce. In addition, over 70% of black babies are born out of wedlock today. Moreover, as high as 40% of young black woman will never get married, if current trends continue. With marriage left in this kind of freefall, we could quickly reach a time when most black adults will grow up without the stabilizing influence of a father in the home.
It is no secret that fatherless homes contribute to increased poverty, educational underachievement, juvenile delinquency, and a host of other social problems. National legalization of same sex marriage will undoubtedly accelerate the decline of black families. Therefore, many leading pastors are speaking out about the need to protect the definition and legal status of marriage.
In conclusion, black and white Christians alike must recognize the slippery slope upon which we stand. Where the black community is today, the white community will be in just a few years. Let’s remember that our battle to reclaim biblical marriage has to consist of more than preventing the redefinition of marriage. It has to include American churches doing a better job of equipping our members to develop and maintain strong marriages.
The truth is…the battle begins with you and me. If we do not safeguard our own marriages and teach our children to do the same, we will not be able to argue against gay marriage with any authority. Let’s get help or counseling when we need it for our own marriages, let’s be advocates for family support within our communities and churches, and let’s draw a line in the sand and let our representatives know that we will not allow our families to erode from the inside out or the outside in. This battle is worth the fight!
Friday, September 19, 2008
This is from a friend (David Scott) of my friend (Damian Williams) and I'm glad to pass it along to more friends:February 20, 2008 by innovatechurch
I collect words. New words are hard to come by—especially ones that carry significant new ideas. Even rarer are words that already have history. One of my favorite discoveries is the word “instauration.”
def.: Instauration (in-ˌstȯ-ˈrā-shən), n. [L. instauratio] renewal or restoration from within.
If to “restore” means to renew something, to “instaur”—taken from Latin—means to renew from within. If a “restaurant” is a place of gastronomic replenishment, then an “instaurant” (notice the same root spelling) is an agent of change from the inside out.
The word orginally comes from the history of the church, specifically from the Second Reformation. The “instauration” or renewal of the church has always been the key to the church being the “instaurant” or renewer of culture, God’s calling for it to be as salt and light in society.
In fact the word “instauration” was at one time used as a byword or catch phrase of the church’s mission. The “Great Instauration” was a largely-forgotten Great Commission movement of spiritual renewal and societal transformation in the early 1600s. The phrase “Great Instauration” was taken from the title of Francis Bacon’s Instauratio Magna and looked toward the Daniel 12:4 end-time spiritual and cultural renewal of society. The “Great Instauration” was a international lay movement of the Second Reformation that developed among early seventeenth century Christians pushing for “further reform” of the church and society. Banding together their resources they helped start the modern missions movement, mobilized money and people committed to the Godly planting of churches and colonies in America, and the founding of higher education to teach the life view of a God-saturated life. Their vision was to grow God’s reign in North America by renewing his church. The reformulation of the church was seen as the key to better helping people reformulate their lives.
Now America is again a spiritual wildernesss—a de-Christianized continent overgrown with a post-Christian culture. Again it needs renewal from within. Just like 300 years ago the answer is the same. The key to instauring America is instauring the church. Re-forming culture requires a re-formed church.* And one of the keys for renewing the church is it recapturing the heritage of its mission to instaur culture. Thus, the imperative behind this blog: Innovate church!
*While many use the word “reformed” with a cpaital “R” to mean their lipthmus test of Calvinist orthodoxy, I use it here to refer to the New Testament imperative of the church to missionally innovate (1 Cor. 9:22, Eph. 4:12, 5:26).
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Accepting the church planting award for the Florida convention were Emanuel Roque, director of the Language Church Planting Department; Rick Lawrence, director of the Church Planting Department; and Maxie Miller, director of the African American Ministries Division.
“The Florida Baptist Convention is fortunate to have some of the nation’s leading church planting practitioners and an executive director-treasurer, Dr. John Sullivan, who values church planting,” said Cecil Seagle, director of the Convention’s Mission Division, which oversees the state’s church planting strategy. Recognition by the North American Mission Board is recognition of the outstanding work of Frank Moreno, Emanuel Roque, Maxie Miller, Rick Lawrence and their church planting teams.…
…(Geoff) Hammond (president of the North American Mission Board) stated he wants each of the 48,000 SBC churches in North America engaged in starting new churches to reach all people groups by 2020. In addition, he hopes to see every Southern Baptist crossing cultural and spiritual barriers to serve in some sort of short- or long-term mission endeavor by 2020.
During the four-day conference, NAMB also presented annual awards for outstanding achievements in evangelism and church planting to state conventions and individuals.
Steve Fowler, state director of missions for the Montana Southern Baptist Convention in Billings, Mont., was presented the “Dennis Hampton Rural Church Planting Award,” while Stanley K. Smith, state director of missions for the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania-South Jersey, was given NAMB’s “People’s Choice Award” for “excellence in mentoring and coaching peers across North America in church planting.”
The Wyoming Southern Baptist Convention was recognized for its 200 percent increase in the number of churches planted in 2007 over 2006.
In addition to Florida, NAMB’s evangelization group recognized three other state conventions for their increase in the actual number of baptisms between 2006 and 2007. These included the Georgia Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Four other state conventions were honored for “expanding the kingdom of God by the increase in percentage of baptisms between 2006 and 2007.” These were the Illinois Baptist State Association, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, and the Convention of Southern Baptists of Puerto Rico.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Rev. David LeRoy's most recent update from his ministry as Atlantic District Superintendent included this though-provoking quote:
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped, to deal with a world that no longer exists.” – Eric HofferPerhaps you've read about the "Technology Life Cycle" or TLC which Wikipedia describes as being comprised of four phases:
(a) the research and development (R&D) phase (sometimes called the "bleeding edge") when incomes from inputs are negative and where the prospects of failure are high
(b) the ascent phase when out-of-pocket costs have been recovered and the technology begins to gather strength by going beyond some Point A on the TLC (sometimes called the "leading edge")
(c) the maturity phase when gain is high and stable, the region , going into saturation, marked by M, and
(d) the decline (or decay phase), after a Point D, of reducing fortunes and utility of the technology.
(pictured in the diagram below)
What is the most dangerous point in the cycle? When you think you've arrived! When you think you've learned all there is to know! When you believe you have it all figured out, packaged neatly, wrapped up tight and money in the bank!
While you're trumpeting the phonograph as your "final achievement," someone else is thinking up the iPod. Personally, I appreciate Edison's light bulb a lot more than his phonograph!
Craig Groeschel said it again at last week's Leadership Summit, "Failure is not an option. Failure is essential." In his new book "It," Craig quotes Irish writer Samuel Beckett: "Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better."
What are you doing right now in your church that fits the profile of the R&D stage where "the prospects of failure are high?" If you're not failing, it's likely that you're not learning much.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Bottom line, don't get complacent if you want to stay on the leading edge! The authors of the Freaknomics blog (@ NYTimes online) present evidence from the marketplace that is a warning flag for church leaders too...
July 28, 2008, 1:37 pm
I almost never read business books anymore. I got my fill of them years ago when I was a management consultant before I went back and got a Ph.D.
Last week, however, I picked up Good to Great by Jim Collins. This book is an absolute phenomenon in the publishing world. Since it came out in 2001, it has sold millions of copies. It still sells over 300,000 copies a year. It has been so successful that seven years later the book is still in hardcover. I’ve been hearing about it for years and never looked at it. People are always asking me about it. I figured it was about time I took a look.
The book focuses on eleven companies that were just okay, and then transformed themselves into greatness — where greatness is defined as a sustained period over which the stock dramatically outperformed the market and its competitors. Not only did these companies make the transition from good to great, but they also had the sorts of characteristics which made them “built to last” (which is the title of Collins’s earlier book).
Ironically, I began reading the book on the very same day that one of the eleven “good to great” companies, Fannie Mae, made the headlines of the business pages. It looks like Fannie Mae is going to need to be bailed out by the federal government. If you had bought Fannie Mae stock around the time Good to Great was published, you would have lost over 80 percent of your initial investment.
Another one of the “good to great” companies is Circuit City. You would have lost your shirt investing in Circuit City as well, which is also down 80 percent or more. Best Buy has cleaned Circuit City’s clock for the last seven or eight years.
Nine of the eleven companies remain more or less intact. Of these, Nucor is the only one that has dramatically outperformed the stock market since the book came out. Abbott Labs and Wells Fargo have done okay. Overall, a portfolio of the “good to great” companies looks like it would have underperformed the S&P 500.
I seem to remember that someone did an analysis of the companies highlighted in Peters and Waterman’s 1980’s classic book In Search of Excellence and found the same thing.
What does this all mean? In one sense, not much.
These business books are mostly backward-looking: what have companies done that has made them successful? The future is always hard to predict, and understanding the past is valuable; on the other hand, the implicit message of these business books is that the principles that these companies use not only have made them good in the past, but position them for continued success.
To the extent that this doesn’t actually turn out to be true, it calls into question the basic premise of these books, doesn’t it?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"Life is action and passion."- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
"If everything's under control, you're going too slow." - Mario Andretti
"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act." -G. K. Chesterton
"Do not wait; the time will never be "just right." Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." -Napoleon Hill
"If you have a great ambition, take as big a step as possible in the direction of fulfilling it. The step may only be a tiny one, but trust that it may be the largest one possible for now." - Mildred McAfee
"Do or do not. There is no try."-Yoda
"Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction." - Carl Weick
"If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens."-Fay Weldon
Friday, July 18, 2008
"You are looking at/bidding on a very contemporary out of the box Pastor. As you can tell by the pictures He preaches and teaches in a very unorthodox manner. He does it without compromising the true written word of God. He and his family has chosen to go this route of putting themselves on the market in hopes to find a church that is untraditional and is ready to reach their community. He and his family will consider relocating in the contentinental United States. For any questions or more information feel free to email Pastor Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his my space at
Monday, July 14, 2008
Dr. Keith Drury, IWU's leadership guru, made the same point years ago in Strategetics training for youth leaders. Leaders aren't about selling programs, we are about helping our organizations find solutions!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Wisdom of the Sands)
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
All of us need people in our lives like that. People who believe that we can be better, fly higher, accomplish more, than even we might dare to believe. Their willingness to express confidence in us, to "lend us" their faith, to encourage and even to challenge us, is invaluable.
I'm grateful for those people in my life, people like Mark Wilson (pastor of Hayward Wesleyan Church). Mark and I first connected at a church leadership conference in California, over a dozen years ago. We stay in touch via e-mail, intermittent phone calls and occasional denominational gatherings. Every time I walk away from a conversation with Mark, I realize how blessed I am to have a friend, that I believe in, who also believes in me.
I hope God has placed some of those people in your life. If you can't find those who will encourage you, at least minimize the amount of time you have to spend with those who discourage you!
Mark regularly posts to his blog and I'm confident that you'll find his insights to be a source of encouragement!
Monday, June 23, 2008
ORLANDO, Florida -- Dr. Jo Anne Lyon wrote a new chapter in the history of The Wesleyan Church on Monday, June 9, 2008, when she was elected by the denomination as its first-ever woman General Superintendent.
Dr. Lyon, the Founder and CEO of World Hope International (WHI), was elected on the second ballot at the 11th General Conference of the denomination. World Hope is the compassionate ministries partner of The Wesleyan Church and has been affiliated with the Church since WHI’s founding 12 years ago.
“What a wonderful statement you have made as The Wesleyan Church,” said outgoing General Superintendent Dr. Earle L. Wilson. “We have been trying to say to the Christian world that we believe in women in the ministry.”
Dr. Lyon said her father, who now is in heaven, trained her to serve the Church. “My father used to tell people, ‘I trained that girl to be a good churchman.’ He didn’t know about gender-specific language.”
In accepting her new assignment, Dr. Lyon challenged the church to go places it never has gone before. “I believe the Lord is positioning The Wesleyan Church to have a voice in the 21st century like never before,” she said.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
“We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe ... and we are more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope.” - Dr. Tim Keller, church planter, Redeemer Church, New York City
Monday, June 2, 2008
I’ve heard some of the reasons NOT to elect JoAnne Lyon to the highest elected office in The Wesleyan Church at our General Conference this June. Here are the three biggest ones and how I see the rationale. ;-)
1. She thinks globally. JoAnne Lyon is always thinking about the whole world. If she takes the highest job in our church, she might make us all think more about the entire world.
2. She’s a woman. If our daughters and granddaughters see an ordained woman in the highest office in the denomination, they might entertain the thought that they too might be called into ministry.
3. World Hope might collapse. Maybe the succession plan World Hope has agreed on for this summer won’t work, because over the last 12 years she founded such a weak organization that it will collapse whenever she retires, leaves to become GS, or dies.
4. She’s successful where she is. We shouldn’t elect people to be GS who are doing a great job where they are now. Instead, we should look for someone easily replaceable in their present job.
On second thought, Why not elect JoAnne Lyon a GS?
That’s what I think….
So, what do you think?"
Keith Drury, 4/26.08
Friday, May 2, 2008
Yesterday I turned 40 years old. This week, I’ll share 40 things I wish someone would have told me when I was 20. (They probably did, but I wasn’t paying attention.)
- Life is short. Make every day count for God’s glory.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Jesus cares more about the church than you do.
- You can’t please everyone…so why try?
- People will criticize you. Quit whining. Get used to it.
- Three months from now, you won’t even remember most of the things that are bothering you today.
- You can’t do it all. Stop trying.
- God called you because He is good, not because you are.
- If you blame yourself for the bad results in ministry, you’ll likely also take credit for the good results.
- Become close friends with other pastors in your town (as many as you can).
- Your kids will be grown before you know it. Don’t sacrifice them on the altar of ministry.
- Your ministry isn’t your god. God is your God.
- You know how to give and how to minister to others. If you don’t learn how to receive, you’ll burn out and/or die.
- Studying for sermons doesn’t replace your personal time with God and in His Word.
- Err on the side of generosity.
- Believe in people that others overlook.
- If you’re going to reach people that others aren’t, you’ll have to do things that others won’t.
- Your integrity matters more than you can imagine.
- Hire staff members that you like.
- When you have a tough decision to make, but you know it’s right, make it immediately. (Like pulling off a Band-Aid: do it fast, and all at once.)
- Hire slowly. Fire quickly.
- You can’t change people. Only God can.
- Don’t criticize others’ ministries. Yours isn’t nearly as perfect as you think it is.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right. Rest. Exercise. Take time off. No one else can do that for you.
- If you don’t take much time off, it’s because you’re proud, and you think you’re more necessary than you really are.
- Don’t just delegate responsibility. Delegate authority.
- Laugh frequently.
- People will leave your church. People you love and trust will leave your church. Don’t take it personally.
- When you suffer and hurt because of ministry, worship Jesus all the more.
- Talk about Jesus every time you preach.
- Be careful what you say. You’re being watched (and recorded).
- Don’t return emails when you’re angry.
- Check to make sure your microphone is turned off before you use the bathroom. Double-check.
- Check to make sure your zipper is zipped every time before you preach. Double-check.
- Love your wife more than you love the church. The church is Jesus’ bride, not yours.
- Always be caught speaking well of others.
- Compliment, encourage, and build up your staff and volunteers.
- Hand write thank you notes.
- Smile and look people in the eyes when you talk to them.
-Outreach magazine, "Web Exclusives," January/February 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By Dan Coughlin
In the midst of the media frenzy over our current economic condition, it recently dawned on me that those who are experts will no doubt survive any recession. People who become experts in their fields have harnessed the power of precision. And this is available to everyone, including executives, employees, and entrepreneurs alike. Achieving precision is the most effective way for any individual to succeed, especially during tough economic times.
The Noble Calling to Be a Precisionist
In Webster’s School & Office Dictionary, the word precision is defined as “the quality of demanding exactness.” A precisionist is a person who has mastered the art of demanding exactness. The precisionist operates among the very best performers in the world within a given area of focus and constantly works to improve his or her performance.
When customers and employers are hit hard in the wallet they become extraordinarily discerning about where they place their dollars. They become highly selective both in terms of what area they invest in and who they invest in. They develop a laser focus about only going after the type of people they absolutely need. This results in recruiters seeking out only the best of the best within that target.
If you want to fall into the extremely small slice of professionals that others will always seek out, then I challenge you to become a precisionist.
The Challenge We All Face
Finding examples of precisionists is not very hard to do. So why does becoming a precisionist remain such a great challenge? Well, we get a little busy with our lives and before we know it today is over with and we’re on to tomorrow. Needless to say, we haven’t exactly made very much progress in becoming more precise in what we’re doing. In other words, our high–paced agendas take over our best intentions.
I think it’s time, especially in such a tough economic period, for us to step off the train of constant activity and make real progress toward becoming true precisionists within one area of focus.
The Process of Becoming a Precisionist
There are four steps to mastering the craft of precision:
Step One: Select an Umbrella
Your umbrella is the area of focus you’ve decided to achieve precision within. This is the area you’re committing to operate in over the long term.
Walt Disney was not a great golfer and Tiger Woods never made great family films. They each operated within their own umbrella: Disney in family entertainment and Woods in golf. However, within each umbrella there was plenty of room to maneuver and create.
Walt Disney made family films and television shows, he created theme parks, he licensed products, and he started amazingly popular communities like The Mickey Mouse Club. Tiger Woods plays in professional golf tournaments, he designs golf courses, he promotes golfing products, he hosts his own professional golf tournament, and he created a foundation that has introduced golf to millions of kids who otherwise may never have played the game. Having one area of focus isn’t a limiting factor; it’s actually a freeing factor. It allows you to operate with extraordinary freedom within a given umbrella and that enhances the synergy between everything you do.
What is your umbrella? What is the area of focus that you are going to consistently work within to become a true precisionist? Answer these questions carefully.
Step Two: Maintain a High Degree of Focus for at Least 15 Years
Tiger Woods played competitive golf at age seven and won his first Masters golf tournament at age 21.
Walt Disney started making animated shorts at age 19 and made his first full–length animated film at age 35.
Steve Martin did his first stand–up comedy routine at age 18 and began selling out major venues at age 33.
Harrison Ford set out at the age of 22 to become a great character actor. He received his first major part in 1977 at the age of 34 as Hans Solo in Star Wars. He became Indiana Jones in 1981 and now at the age of 65 he is starring in the fourth Indiana Jones movie. He’s a precisionist.
If you want to be a precisionist in any field, remain committed to constantly improving within your umbrella for at least 15 years. It doesn’t matter whether your focus is to be a great entrepreneur, singer, executive, leader, writer, or manager.
You might be wondering how pursuing precision can help you slice through a recession if it takes at least 15 years to become a precisionist. Here’s how it works. The moment you commit yourself to a specific umbrella, a specific area of focus, you begin to attract people and opportunities that help you hone your craft within that arena. In doing so, you become more attractive to people outside the field. They know what you are focused on and they admire you for pursuing excellence in that field. They may not say that to you, but that’s what happens. You probably won’t make a million dollars, at least not right away, and that’s ok. You are on your way to becoming a precisionist in a field that you have passion for and that sense of adventure is worth a great deal.
Step Three: Leverage Technology
I used to think that technology meant computers, software, and electronics. I wasn’t even close. In Webster’s School and Office Dictionary the definition of technology is “science used in a practical way.” The definition of science is “systemized knowledge obtained by study, observation, and experiment.” Consequently, technology means “systemized knowledge obtained by study, observation, and experiment that is used in a practical way.” I LOVE that definition. That’s exactly what precisionists do.
Tiger Woods is a student of golf: the history of golf, the great players from the past, and the different holes on the different courses. He experiments with different types of shots until he’s able to use them in a practical way during a professional golf tournament.
Walt Disney constantly observed people and experimented with different ways to tell entertaining stories in practical ways. He was one of the first to use color in films, he embraced television when others ran away from it, and he created the first ever theme park.
We all have the ability to leverage technology in order to increase the exactness with which we perform. The key is to constantly study, observe, and experiment within our selected umbrella, and then use what we have learned in practical ways that add value to other people.
Step Four: Embrace Simplicity
Over the past 11 years, I’ve noticed that highly paid, intelligent, and hard–working individuals often times subconsciously make their work infinitely more complicated than it needs to be. In order to justify their salary and prove their commitment to the organization, they put themselves through the ringer. They work 80 hours a week on ridiculously complicated processes that generate small increments of improvement.
If that statement applies to you, I have one piece of advice: stop doing that.
Instead, I encourage you to embrace simplicity. Hone your processes until they contain three to seven steps that you can execute within a reasonable number of hours a week. (And 40 hours a week is a good place to max out at.) And then be ok with achieving great results with simple processes. Don’t fall into the trap that says, “If this simple process generated great results, then a really complicated process would generate even better results.” It doesn’t work that way.
Last year I bought an $1,800 computer that required five steps to assemble. I also bought an $18 toy for my daughter that required assembling hundreds of pieces with dozens of steps. Which company do you think provided me with the most value?
Select your umbrella, maintain focus at learning and experimenting and observing and improving for at least 15 years, leverage your body of knowledge in practical ways, and embrace simple ways to deliver value to other people. With this method, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert – a true precisionist.
Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of “Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum”, which made it to #4 on the Barnes & Noble Business Bestseller List. He has been quoted in USA Today, the New York Times, and Investor's Business Daily. Dan's clients include Coca-Cola, Toyota, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald's, AT&T, American Bar Association, the St. Louis Cardinals, and more than 100 other organizations in over thirty industries. He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales, and innovation.
Friday, April 25, 2008
View “FACTs on Growth” online as a pdf document
HARTFORD, CT (December 11, 2006) – Contemporary worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.
The survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth: “Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were much more likely to grow than congregations that had not.”
The survey findings are available in “FACTs on Growth.” The data was taken from the Faith Communities Today 2005 (FACT2005) survey of 884 randomly sampled congregations of all faith traditions in the
David A. Roozen, Director of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership and Professor of Religion and Society at Hartford Seminary, said that, “If you are at all interested in research on ‘church’ growth, this brief report is must reading. It tests the continuing salience of long ‘taken for granted’ principles of growth (e.g., location, conservative theology) as well as the more recently proposed (e.g., contemporary worship, spiritual practices and purposefulness).”
“Perhaps most importantly, it suggests several newly emergent dynamics to consider (e.g., the potential for growth in downtown areas and within multi racial/ethnic congregations)...,” Roozen said.
Among the findings in the FACTs on Growth report:
- Congregations that change worship format and style are more likely to grow. More than half the congregations that use contemporary styles of worship have experienced substantial growth since 2000. Frequency is important as well: The more worship services a congregation holds, the more likely it is to have grown.
- Congregations located in new suburbs are more likely to experience growth. But surprisingly the second best area for growth is the downtown of metropolitan areas.
- Congregations that have experienced major conflict are quite likely to have declined in attendance. The strongest correlate of growth is the absence of serious conflict.
- Congregations that have started or maintained a website in the past year are most likely to grow. The effort to have a website indicates that the congregation is outward looking and willing to change by non-traditional means.
- While most congregations in
are composed of a single racial/ethnic group, those that are multi-racial are most likely to have experienced strong growth in worship attendance. America
- More important than theological orientation is the religious character of the congregation and clarity of mission and purpose. Growing churches are clear about why they exist and about what they are to be doing – “purpose-driven growth.”
- Congregations that involve children in worship are more likely to experience significant growth. Also, important to growth is the ability of congregations to attract young adults and families with children.
- Almost all congregations say they want to grow, but it takes intentionality and action for growth to occur. Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were more likely to grow than congregations that had not. Particularly helpful in achieving growth are sponsorship of a program or event to attract non-members or the existence of support groups.
The report was written by C. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center in
View “FACTs on Growth” online as a pdf document
David Roozen, Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary, email@example.com
C. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at Episcopal Church Center, New York, firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 922-5331.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"Timing is very significant in spiritual leadership. Indeed, timing played a major role in shaping Jesus' ministry and death. Not only would Jesus not go to the cross for the wrong reasons. He didn't go until it was the right time ("Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father" [John 13:1; NIV]).
"Great leaders understand the importance of timing, specifically when it comes to making decisions. There are right times to consider issues and right times to make moves. Conversely, even the right issue tackled at the wrong time faces certain defeat.
"There is no formula for great timing. It is part instinct, part intuition, part paying attention to surroundings, part prayer life, and all of the above. But it is not guesswork. Leaders who have a good sense of timing seem very wired into their situations while, at the same time, wired into God for a perspective that transcends just what the leader and his or her advisers can see.
"Leaders adept at timing know how to read audiences and situations. They have practiced this over the years, testing out their hunches and intuitions. They have learned how to monitor their own internal sensors and when to pay attention to the voices around them and the voice within. Leaders with great timing know how to test the water, sniff the wind, and commit just enough to gauge reaction before committing it all. They risk, but they do not gamble.
"The pastor of a large urban church defied conventional wisdom: he consolidated the number of worship services to just one when the congregation moved into freshly renovated space. After a year of being dislocated from their worship center, he felt the church's sense of community would be well served by being together. The spirit of the services went sky high. The atmosphere for the next months was electric. Four months later he announced a move back to multiple services. He wanted to do it before people's new routines became set. Both calls were made by a savvy leader who is a pro at understanding timing in leadership.
"Sometimes the leader is ready to make a decision, but other people need time to catch up.
"Leigh knew that her ministry role was coming to an end in the organization she had joined six years earlier. She was not distressed with her current assignment; she simply felt called to another city to become a part of a ministry there. Yet she knew that timing was going to be important. For two years she prayed about when to leave. Every time she felt the urge to announce her departure, she resisted it. She discerned that though she was ready to move on, some facets of her world were not yet completed, either in the organization she was leaving or in something God was preparing for her. Leigh's decision to hold off was confirmed when an unforeseen crisis emerged that she was uniquely qualified to handle. After the crisis, Leigh sensed that the timing was now right for her to resign and move. When she did, she almost immediately discovered a group of people who had only recently begun to pray for God to send someone with Leigh's technical skills to launch their new ministry. The timing was perfect—God's and Leigh's.
"How have you observed the importance of timing in your leadership? How do you know when the time is right to implement a big decision?"
Excerpted from, Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2006).
Reggie McNeal is the missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network of Dallas, Texas.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
George O. Wood, who now heads one of the nation’s largest Pentecostal groups (1.6 million members in the US and 57 million adherents worldwide), is a by-product of church planting.
Generations of Wood's family are believers largely because a 24-year-old minister felt a burden to a plant a church in Jeanette, Pa., nearly 100 years ago.
Back then, however, there weren't any resources or financial backing from churches or denominations like there are today for ministers freshly starting church plants. But when a young minister, Ben Mahan, still took the risk and began holding worship meetings on the streets of Jeanette and later established a church, Wood's grandmother and father accepted Christ.
"This is what church planting does," said Wood in a chapel service at the Assemblies of God national headquarters in Springfield, Mo. "Not only was my dad saved but his family now. All of us children [are] serving the Lord and most all of our grandchildren and great grandchildren."
Moreover, there's a strong church today in northwest China with 15,000 believers – a church that Wood's parents helped establish.
"It all happened because somebody had a burden to go plant a church," said Wood.
"All across America there are people that are like my dad that if we can reach them, we'll not only reach them but everyone coming after them."
Wood was elected in August 2007 as general superintendent, succeeding Thomas E. Trask. Now as head of 12,311 Assemblies of God churches, he preaches a critical core value to the Pentecostals – "vigorously plant new churches."
"We know that planting new churches probably in our culture is the single most effective means of evangelizing a community," said Wood.
The Assemblies of God launched this year an aggressive church planting initiative called MX9 that aims to establish 1,000 new churches by 2009.
As the denomination tries to double their current church planting rate in the coming years, Wood doesn't want to see church planting done the way his parents or other ministers decades ago had to do it, where there was no support or sometimes jealousy by neighboring ministers.
"We need to be a fellowship that is a giving fellowship, that is a supporting fellowship, that is an encouraging fellowship," he said. "We are meant to strengthen and encourage one another and be fellow workers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Monday, April 14, 2008
Tithing in 2007
Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money. In 2007, the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.
Not surprisingly, some population groups were more likely than others to have given away at least ten percent of their income. Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom tithed); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%).
Several groups also stood out as highly unlikely to tithe: people under the age of 25, atheists and agnostics, single adults who have never been married, liberals, and downscale adults. One percent or less of the people in each of those segments tithed in 2007.
Among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. The study also showed that Protestants were four times as likely to tithe as were Catholics (8% versus 2%, respectively).
Tithing Since 2000
The percentage of adults who tithe has stayed constant since the turn of the decade, falling in the 5% to 7% range. The Barna tracking reported that the proportion of adults who tithed was 7% in 2006 and 2005; 5% in 2004 and 2003; 6% in 2002; and 5% in 2001.
Giving to Places of Worship and Other Non-Profits
In 2007, 84% of all adults donated some money to churches or non-profit organizations. That figure has also remained consistent in recent years.
The median amount of money donated during 2007 was $400; the mean amount was $1308. Those averages are higher than was revealed earlier in this decade, but represent a decline from the previous year. (The mean sum of donations per person in 2006 was $1348.)
The Barna study pointed out that one-third of all adults (34%) gave away $1000 or more during 2007. Nearly one-fifth (18%) had donated $100 or less.
Evangelicals Christians distinguished themselves in their generosity. More than four out of five (83%) gave at least $1000 to churches and non-profit entities during 2007, far surpassing the levels reached by any other population segment studied.
Almost two-thirds of the public (64%) donated some money to a church, synagogue or other place of worship. The median amount donated to those religious centers was $101; the mean amount was $883. Those figures were up slightly from the previous year.
In all, one-quarter of the people who gave any money to religious centers (25%) donated at least $1000. A whopping 96% of evangelicals gave money to a church in 2007; 81% of them donated at least $1000.
Christians Give the Most
Christians tend to be the most generous group of donors. An examination of the three dominant subgroups within the Christian community showed that evangelicals, the 7% of the population who are most committed to the Christian faith, donated a mean of $4260 to all non-profit entities in 2007. Non-evangelical born again Christians, who represent another 37% of the public, donated a mean of $1581. The other 42% of the Christian population, who are aligned with a Christian church but are not born again, donated a mean of $865. Overall, the three segments of the Christian community averaged donations of $1426.
The Christian giving was divided between Protestants (mean of $1705) and Catholics ($984).
In contrast, Americans associated with non-Christian faiths gave away a mean of $905 during 2007. Atheists and agnostics provided an average of $467 to all non-profit organizations.