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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

'Til The Storm Passes By

Monday's Traditional Hymn "Till the Storm Passes By."

My church choir in Willoughby Hills, OH used to sing this hymn with great passion. I miss hearing them sing it.

'Til The Storm Passes By

'Til the Storm Passes By (piano, mp3)

Words and Music by Mosie Lister. Copyright 1958.

Mark 4:39 "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea,
Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me, and there's no hiding place.
'Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

    Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
    Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
    Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
    Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispered, "There is no need to try,
For there's no end of sorrow, there's no hope by and by"
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I'll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.

    Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
    Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
    Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
    Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

When the long night has ended and the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence on the bright peaceful shore;
In that land where the tempest, never comes, Lord, may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

    Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more,
    Till the clouds roll forever from the sky;
    Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand,
    Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

Unreached People Groups

Joshua Project - Download Free Unreached Data, PowerPoints, Maps, Mission and Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese Materials

Check out the Joshua Project for data on unreached people groups.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pray For Africa

'Disaster' Looms Over 15 Million in Africa's Horn, WFP Warns| Christianpost.com
"A humanitarian disaster affecting 15 million people in the Horn of Africa is imminent unless funds are provided for supplies, an aid agency alerted Tuesday.

The World Food Program said $403 million is urgently needed to feed the hungry people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda until the end of the year, according to Agence France-Presse."

Clover For the Coffee Snob

The Coffee Fix: Can the $11,000 Clover Machine Save Starbucks?

The new cutting edge of coffee is .... the Clover.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RUMOR: ABC to Resign?

A strategic source has informed me that rumors are swirling regarding the potential resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) Rowan Williams. Not sure of the reason that he will give but I'm sure it is over the failure of his leadership.

He was unable to convince The Episcopal Church (TEC) to not ordain a controversial bishop which has led to open schism in TEC and the Anglican Communion.

Two of the four Instruments of Unity within the Anglican Communion, namely, the role of the ABC and the decennial Lambeth conference (happening this week) are now broken. Rumor also has it that this week's Lambeth Conference is in a financial mess.

He now faces mutiny within the Church of England with Anglo-Catholics threatening to leave en masse over the recent vote in favor of female Bishops.

Rowan Williams appears to have lost the favor of both liberals and conservatives. He frequently uses a lot of words to say very, very little. Church history textbooks will not be kind to him.

Missional Values

Drew Goodmanson lists 10 Shared Values of Missional Church Communities that are a summary of the values of the church planting movement he is a part of. I've pasted the overall values below, but I encourage you to read his post where he succinctly fleshes out each of these. I really resonate with these thoughts and a couple of them are heavy on my heart for upstate New York.

A couple were a real challenge for me: "Home as the primary location for church." When I first read it I was thinking that this was just an advocacy for home churches and I haven't really drunk that kool-aid yet. But then I got thinking about a recent conversation with Jason Condon from ArtisanChurch.com where he challenged my thinking about youth and children ministry.

Artisan has grown a church with next to no children's ministry because they haven't discovered the right model for them (and because a huge focus of their ministry is to college students). But their value is that parents be the primary influence on their kids life -- not the church's ministry or youth pastor. I agree and want to adopt that as a church planting value: we want to be a church that trains and empowers parents to be the primary spiritual directors in a child's life -- our church's ministry will supplement their role not replace or usurp. It's not that we don't want the church to have a children's ministry or a youth pastor, but we don't want them to usurp the rightful leadership role of the parents.

Back to the value of: "Home as the primary location for church." It's not that there is no role for large congregations and buildings, but they should supplement, enrich, enliven, encourage, be strength and life giving toward church life lived out in the home instead becoming the focus. That might not be what Drew meant but it's got me thinking.

I also was challenged with the value of "prayer as missionary activity". In the evangelism seminars I lead I frequenlty quote the sourceless statistics that it involves the ministry of 15-20 Christians to lead one person to Christ and that person has likely heard the Gospel on average, 7 times before they make it their own. Those 15-20 Christians are helping that person move closer to the Gospel through prayer, through demonstrating God's love and values in tangible, servantesque ways, and through sharing testimonies and the Gospel message itself. All are equally important.

Still, we look at missionaries as ones who are out there in a community across the globe strategizing and working toward the evangelization of some city, region or country. Yet the group praying for that missionary or group of believers in that community praying for it's salvation are really no less missionaries. The scripture says, "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." Pray-ers can be missionaries too.

Here's Drew's list but go read his post here: Shared Values of Missional Church Communities.

1. the priority of the gospel

2. mission through community

3. home as the primary location of church

4. sharing our lives as extended family

5. inclusive communities

6. working for city renewal

7. growing by starting churches and church planting networks

8. prayer as a missionary activity

9. everyone exercising gospel ministry

10. shaped by the Bible story

Pope Text Messaging + Teens + Mobile Phones + Future Ministry

For teens, the future is mobile | News - Digital Media - CNET News.com
"SAN FRANCISCO--Marketers convened here this week to figure out how best to reach teens on the Internet. The answer: It's all about the mobile phone."
This reminded me of what I had been reading recenlty regarding Pope Benedict texting young people at the Roman Catholic World Youth Day that recently happened in Australia.

Here's a couple of articles the cover the Pope's messages and use of technology, and below are his messages to the young people attending World Youth Day:

ZENIT - Papal Text Messages Encourage and Catechize

Pope sends text messages to pilgrims | Herald Sun

"The spirit impels us 4ward 2wards others; the fire of his love makes us missionaries of God's charity. See u tomorrow nite - BXVI,"

"The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of salvation history: let him write your life-history 2 - BXVI."

"The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles & gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI."

"Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."
Does your church utilize text messaging? Mine does but mostly for reminders or data giving. But I see it's potential for so much more. Church's need to step up and make sure texting is covered in their staff's and maybe even leadership's cell phone plan.

I don't text much but I like to try to text Greg Gates, pastor of Life Church of the Nazarene in Watertown during his sermon. Of course that occasionally leads to a text from him in the middle of the night or some other inappropriate time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

McCain & Obama to Appear @ Saddleback

Presumed Presidential Nominees McCain and Obama to Make First Joint Campaign Appearance on August 16 at Saddleback Church - Yahoo! News

That candidates will appear on Saturday, August 16 at the Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion. Pastor Rick Warren says,
"While I know both men as friends and they recognize I will be frank, but fair, they also know I will be raising questions in these four areas beyond what political reporters typically ask. This includes pressing issues that are bridging divides in our nation, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate and human rights."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Central New York Starbucks Closings

Starbucks Gossip: Starbucks releases the full list of store closures

The Starbucks Gossip site has a PDF listing of the Starbucks stores that are going to close. Locally, here in the Syracuse, NY area there are three listed:

Store#, Store Name, Address, City, State

Then again, who cares? Locally the best coffee is still at Cafe Kubal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Church History Tree (.jpg)

Have you ever seen this church history graphic? It is a graphic pictorial of church history in the form of a tree. It's from an old Covenant Church history book that I think was by Phil Anderson. Anybody know the author of this graphic?

A Pastoral Conversion

VirtueOnline: Surprised By Grace: How The Risen Christ Can Change A Mainline Pastor. This article is a beautiful, humble story about a mainline, PCUSA pastor that went from being a "well-trained historical-critical, Neoliberal pastor" to becoming an evangelical.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apologetics Making Comback. Skeptics Asking Different Questions.

A New Day for Apologetics | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Apparently there is a renewed interest in apologetics but don't go searching for your copy of Evidence that Demands a Verdict just yet. It seems that new skeptics are asking new questions.
"Despite all the recent attacks on faith -- or, perhaps, because of them -- these are definitely the best of times for Christian apologists such as Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Ben Witherington III, Darrell Bock, and J. P. Moreland. They are making documentaries, writing books, giving media interviews, attending debates and conferences, and presenting the public with what they say is a growing mountain of scientific and archaeological evidence documenting the truth of Christianity."

UPDATE: Another apologetics article. Here is how several contemporary scholars are arguing for the existence of God.
God Is Not Dead Yet by William Lane Craig | Christianity Today

Monday, July 14, 2008

Church Security Needed Right Here in Syracuse

Masked gunman steals church's Sunday collection- Syracuse.com

Right here in Syracuse, a youth with what looked like a BB gun robbed a parishioner holding the collection plate at Holy Family Church.

Desperate times indeed.

John Lennon Sounds Like A Worship Leader

'Bigger than Jesus? The Beatles were a Christian band' - Telegraph

John Lennon once made the claim that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. In an interview now published, he claims he was misunderstood. And he sounds like a lot of Christian musicians these days when he said,
""It's just an expression meaning the Beatles seem to me to have more influence over youth than Christ," he says. "Now I wasn't saying that was a good idea, 'cos I'm one of Christ's biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ's message, then that's what we're here to do.""

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Book: Stories With Intent by Dr. Klyne Snodgrass, North Park Theological Seminary

Snodgrass: ‘Parables of Jesus’ – Moving Beyond Misconception - Evangelical Covenant Church

Dr. Klyne Snodgrass of North Park Theological Seminary has published a new massive tome on the parables, which some scholars are calling the definitive work on the subject. 846 pages! List price is $55.29, but amazon.com is selling it for $34.83.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Questions ....

My beloved friend Luke posted some questions on my blog recently that I want to re-post as a blog entry.
"I had a friend in a small group ask me a highly related question - noting how we now feel about such things as Christians supporting slavery and joining the KKK, as well as a lot of other mistakes, going back to the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc.

His question was, "What are future Christians going to look back at us and not be able to understand how we could believe or support?"

What do you think we do or accept or believe, that future generations of Christians will really scratch their heads over?"
That's a tough one.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Global Evangelism Resource: Lausanne World Pulse

Lausanne World Pulse - IN THIS ISSUE...The Effect of Migration and the Growing Diaspora on Evangelism Efforts...and Other Issues of Global Interest

Interested in global evangelism? Lausanne World Pulse. You will want to bookmark their extensive Resource Page. One of the co-publishers is my old friend Dr. Lon Allison, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. He also serves as director for the Institute for Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College.

Family Movie Reviews -- Entertainment Guide for Parents

Family Movie Reviews -- Entertainment Guide for Parents

Normally I use Screenit.com to review movies before I let my kids watch them. Sometimes they want to watch older movies and Screenit lacks reviews for them, i.e. Indiana Jones movies. Family Movie Reviews covers a lot of older flicks. A good resource for parents.

Thanks Dan Miller @ 48Days.com

48 Days - Your Source for Career Building!

Dan Miller over at 48Days.com posted a note I sent him about how I love to work at home. Thanks Dan. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Dan's podcasts. He looks and sounds like Bob Newhart -- if you are old enough to remember him.

A special note to pastors: the last stat I heard was that several hundred pastors a month become unemployed via termination or resignation, and nearly 50% leave pastoral ministry within 5 years of being ordained. For many pastors you're training doesn't leave you with a lot of employment options ... or does it? That's where Dan Miller comes in. I think he can help a lot of pastors find their new calling, even if it isn't in pastoral ministry.

Willowcreek Still Focuesd on Reaching Unbelievers

VirtueOnline: Megachurch Sets Record Straight on Recalibrating

Yes Willowcreek Community Church is recalibrating their ministry. Yes they want to help more mature believers become more Christ centered. No they are not taking their eyes off reaching the unchurched and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them -- despite what some reports have indicated.

Willowcreek came out with a statement correcting some media reports that said they were now shifting their focus toward more mature believers. Not true.

I love Willow and Bill Hybels is one of my personal heros.

From Nancy Beach ....
""Let me be very, very clear," she said during WCA's annual Arts Conference. "We are never ever going to abandon reaching nonchurched people. This has been a part of our DNA since we started this church. It was built on the foundation of saying 'we want to reach our friends.'"

"And if you cut us, we bleed evangelism," she added in an emotional response to misinformation. "This is a place that wants more people, as many as possible to come into heaven with us.""

Praying for Gas Prices?

Group Asks for Divine Intervention to Ease Oil Prices -- CNSNEWS.COM 07/03/2008

I suppose any prayer is good prayer.

Great Story About a Growing Covenant Church

Nontraditional pastor takes his congregation into the 21st century - TwinCities.com

I love stories of church growth, especially when they are from my own tribe, the Evangelical Covenant Church. The linked story above is about Crossroads Church of Cottage Grove, which grew from 90 to 1700 in about 15 years. They're building a new facility.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Social Networking + Ministry

Jesus in MySpace: Churches use social-networking sites

Just a short article about how various ministries and ministers are using social networking, or web 2.0 apps in their ministry. It showed up in a Google news search I did for "Evangelical Covenant Church" as the article quotes Youth Pastor Tim Schmoyer from MN.

I've been doing a lot of this lately for the ministry I work for ... building a GodTube, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace pages. Working toward a Wikipedia entry, Amazon presence, web site blog, utilizing Twitter, possibly Flickr and a few others. I'm using these as "connection portals" for our ministry, attempting to network with as many people as possible who might be interested in festival evangelism.

But now I've learned of a few other resources I had not thought of and a couple I had not heard of. Yahoo! and Google groups are possibilities that I had not thought of. Evite, Friendster and MyChurch.org are some that I didn't know about.

Quote from article about MyChurch ...
"But one Christian site that is catching on through word of mouth is MyChurch.org -- a social-networking site built around congregations. It currently has about 21,000 churches on it from across the United States and Canada, and about 150,000 individual members. The congregations range from Baptist to non-denominational to Salvation Army.

“It is kind of a MySpace for churches,” said Jon Suh, one of the founders. The site was created about a year and half ago to fill a need that Suh’s congregation, The River Church in San Jose, Calif., felt."

Leadership By Email and Other Dumb Ideas

Email appears to be here to stay. I remember when I was ahead of the curve and only a few of my friends had email. Now only a few of my friends don't. It's a pervasive form of communication, though not always the best. Most of us have had issues with communicating via email.

I've experienced people who have misunderstood the intention of my email as they attempted to deduce the tone. They thought I was mad, angry, critical, etc. when I really wasn't at all.

I've also experienced sending numerous emails to people thinking that I'm keeping them up-to-date on a project, event, etc. only to some how have ended up in their junk folder, sifted out by their spam filter. Me spam? Oh the nerve of some computers.

A new issue that I am seeing repeatedly right now is leaders trying to lead an organization using email. Recently I've seen leaders of small organizations (less than 15 people) that send out emails regarding a change in significant company policies & procedures, or the termination/promotion/resigning of an employee, and even, ... egads ... a change in company vision.

People, listen to me. You cannot lead with email. You cannot effectively cast vision with email.

I work with a lot of pastors. Recently had a conversation with a pastor about one of his leaders making some crucial errors in judgment and miss some opportunities that one would have that obvious. We talked and I asked, "Tell me about how you trained him for this position? Did he have a job description? How did you cast the church's vision to him?" He responded, "Well I sent him a couple of emails that clearly outlined what they were supposed to do." I said, "Yeah, but when you sat down with them to go over the details of their leadership position -- tell me about that meeting." [minor stammering] "Well, uh, we've mostly communicated via email."

When you have leaders in your church you cannot expect them to know what to do because you've sent them email. To effectively lead a leader you have to spend time with them: casting vision, talking about the potential and your hopes for the ministry, discussing the pitfalls, what-if's, problems, victories, solutions, gold mines of the church. Email can't do that. You cannot keep your finger on the pulse of a team or leader via email.

Part of my work is leading teams of leaders, empowering the leaders to lead. One constant mantra I make is that, "You can't expect a postal mailing to get people to attend your meeting/event/prayer gathering/etc." Mailings alone just don't work it anymore with the possible exception of handwritten greeting cards. When I was pastoring the deluge of postal mail was staggering and I just didn't read it all. I threw out a lot of important stuff along the way that I probably wished I didn't.

My new mantra is becoming, "You can't expect an email to get people to your meeting/etc." and "You can't do leadership with email." People now have multiple accounts (I have a dozen) and get staggering amounts of email. If you are leading a team, email and postal mail are great to get details out, but if you really, really want people to show up email and postal mail can only be enhancements to your phone call.

Don't lead with email. Let email aid your leadership.

Maybe next time we'll talk about leaders with blogs who only post every couple of months and think all their followers know what their talking about or up to. They've never heard of Google Analytics.

Tyndale House, Barna and Viola Being Embarrassed

Brad Boydston has been posting links to comments by scholar Ben Witherington on his blog, who has been reviewing a new book by George Barna and Frank Viola (not the former Twins pitcher): Pagan Christianity. It seems that Barna and Viola want suggest that the current expression of church worship is heavily pagan and doesn't have it's basis in NT Christianity -- at least that is what I am getting from Witherington's reviews, as I have not read the book.

Witherington is a NT scholar at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, KY (blogwebsiteWikipedia), and he is shredding Barna's & Viola's poor scholarship and outright failure to get facts right. Brad rightly asked, "At what point do the editors at Tyndale House Publishers need to be accountable for letting so much historical inaccuracy slip through in Pagan Christianity? without a fact check?" Indeed. They and the authors should be outright embarrassed by now.