Thursday, January 31, 2008

Howard Dayton on Christians and Credit Cards

I posted an article by Keith Hamilton in the pastors area of lifeway.com about Church Credit Card Use. It was very popular with my readers.

One response from a reader was interesting, though. She said, "Aren't Christians supposed to avoid credit cards altogether?" My simple answer is, some Christians should avoid credit cards.

Howard Dayton of Crown Financial Ministries is a respected voice in this area and posted an article in Baptist Press that is helpful called Should Christians use credit cards?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Churches' Greatest Critics May be Their Own Followers (Christianpost.com)

Interesting article at Christianpost.com

Criticism from people outside of Christianity toward the Church doesn't surprise many. But when negative viewpoints are being expressed by believers, it raises a red flag for churches across the country.

In the latest research report by Sam S. Rainer III, who heads Rainer Research, only 39 percent of people who dropped out of the church perceived their church as "caring." Meanwhile, 51 percent of them called their church "judgmental."

Among other unfavorable views from those who quit their church, 41 percent of them said their church was "insincere." Only 20 percent felt their church was "inspirational;" 30 percent said their church was "authentic;" and 36 percent said their church was "welcoming."

The survey was conducted on 18- to 22-year-olds and is featured in Rainer's upcoming book, Essential Church?.

Read the whole article at Churches' Greatest Critics May be Their Own Followers

Or, read Sam's thoughts about it on his blog...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life After People, What about Life After Christians


"What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our industrialized world would survive? What would crumble fastest? From the ruins of ancient civilizations to present day cities devastated by natural disasters, history gives us clues to these questions and many more in the visually stunning and thought-provoking new special Life After People." (quoted from their website)

This television show premiered this week on The History Channel.

What I thought about, after seeing this show, was how this same theme could apply spiritually. What would happen if you removed all Christians from the face of the earth.

I preached this past Sunday on the Jesus' statement about Christians being the "salt of the earth." For me the main interpretation of His statement is that we are to be a preserving force on a dying and decaying world without Christ. We focused on "the earth" as "your little piece of geography, or sphere of influence."

What about your "sphere of influence?" What if you vanished from it? Would there be an difference.

Monday, January 21, 2008

7 Mega Trends in Church Health


In the December 2007, Dr. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, spoke to the State executive directors and their church-health representatives and shared "Seven Mega Trends in Church Health" that LifeWay research has identified.

Here are the points mentioned in Dr. Rainer’s presentation at the Summit:

1. The disappearance of 18-24 year olds in church.
Rainer said LifeWay Research has well documented the dropout trends of this age group, and while the church has always seen a drop as young people transition from school to the workforce, "there are solutions emerging."
2. The growth in the multi-venue and multi-campus church.
This trend is accelerating, Rainer noted.

3. The desire for deeper biblical doctrinal studies.
"Those in our churches are asking for preaching with biblical depth in addition to life application," Rainer said. In an attempt to grow their numbers, "churches are trying to get by with shallow teaching," resulting in "shallow churches with shallow members.�"

4. The slowdown in the growth rate of mega churches.
"Not a decrease in the number of mega churches," Rainer clarified, "but a slowing in the rate of growth."

5. The shortage of pastors.
Some seminary graduates "don't see themselves in rural, white collar, or traditional churches," Rainer noted. "Some states are already seeing a crisis" among traditional churches.

6. The increasing demand for processes.
"Churches are asking for help to put resources together," Rainer noted. "Churches are saying: 'Don't just give us products, show how I disciple this young believer.'"

7. The resurgence of the "open group" in church.
"Traditionally we’ve called it Sunday school," Rainer said, but it may not always be called Sunday school today. Regardless of what you call it, there is a resurgence of the open group in church

Friday, January 18, 2008

E-zekiel.tv Offers Video Hosting for Churches

Quote from BPNews.com: Axletree's E-zekiel, a website builder and host used by churches and other nonprofits around the world, has come out with a video counterpart to its popular service -- E-zekiel.tv, which launched in early November.

"E-zekiel.tv is the answer to the question many churches have been asking," said Nix, a member of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. "Many of our churches whose websites are on E-zekiel have been wanting to share videos online, but the option of going to YouTube wasn't an option."

With YouTube, a public video-sharing website, a possibility always exists that users could encounter questionable content, Nix said.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mark Driscoll on 9 Misconceptions

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle is a third way through a series of sermons responding to questions sent in by text message from his church family. The series is called, "Religion Saves + 9 Other Misconceptions."

Over several weeks, people sent text messages with questions and the leadership posted the questions at askanything.marshillchurch.org. Then they allowed people to vote on the ones they wanted address. They had 893 questions submitted and more than 343,000 votes.

You can watch the ones he's preached so far online here...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fascinating Article on Conflict and Consensus

I saw this referred to in John Maxwell's leadership e-newsletter. The article is actually chapter 1 from Michael A. Roberto's book "Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer: The Leadership Challenge." It's a fascinating article on conflict and consensus. I think it would be helpful to look at it from the pastor's perspective as a leader.

Be sure to read all three sections of the article, The Leadership Challenge, Decision-Making Myths, and Dissent. The article is available here

Remember, this is written from a secular rather than a biblical mindset or word-view so it's up to you to filter it through your biblical world-view.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

LifeWay Research says Unchurched Turned Off by Church but Open to Christians

In a new study released today, LifeWay research is reporting that, "A majority of unchurched Americans are turned off by the institutional church and don’t have a biblical understanding about God and Jesus, yet they believe Jesus makes a positive difference in a person’s life and would enjoy an honest discussion with a friend about spiritual matters."

This study, including 1,402 adults who had not attended a religious service at a church, synagogue or mosque in the previous six months, was conducted in partnership with the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research.

Read a summary of their findings in this article...

Listen to an audio interview with Scott McConnell and Ed Stetzer

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sermon Series Idea - The Jesus Sermon

My pastor, Bruce Grubbs, and I were brainstorming a sermon series based on Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 5-7. I thought you might like to see what we were working on. All I have are sermon titles and the dates. You might consider getting together with a couple of pastors are develop content together.

Jan 13 - The Jesus Sermon: The Foundation for Life (Introductory)
Jan 20 - Jesus on Blessing: The Foundation for Happiness 5:1-12
Jan 27 - Jesus on Influence: the Foundation of Doing Good 5:13-16
Feb 03 - Jesus on Sin: The Foundation of Righteousness 5:17-48
Feb 10 - Jesus on Hypocrites: The Foundation of Integrity 6:1-18
Feb 17 - Jesus on Anxiety: The Foundation of Security in Christ 6:19-34
Feb 24 - Jesus on Relationships: The Foundation of Serving Others 7:1-12
Mar 02 - Jesus on Eternity: The Foundation of Good Choices 7:13-27

Note: We are considering following these with a sermon series to coincide with Max Lucado's "3:16 Church Experience" beginning on March 16 (03/16). I've been using the member book for my quiet time and have found it to be very meaningful.