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Location: Liverpool, NY

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Non-Profits: Don't Spend Thousands On Your Web Presence When Google Is Free

Official Google Blog: Non-profit gives itself a Google makeover

I have been saying for a number of years now, there really is no reasons to spend tens of thousands of dollars on web design and resources when Google has so much for free. Plenty of sites will give you their code for free or you could start from scratch -- either way using Google Sites to set up your page. Then add Gmail, Docs, Calendar, YouTube and Check-Out and you're golden. Web design these days isn't really that hard for high quality basic stuff. It begins to get more difficult if you want a database driven site using SQL and PHP or something similar. Get yourself a domain at GoDaddy.com or someplace else and get moving on your first page.

You really don't need to learn any code though I know enough to be dangerous. I've also used the OpenSource software package Nvu to design a page, then copy and pasted the code into Google Sites (and elsewhere). Very simple. If you want a web site and are willing to learn and try some new things, a free web site is within your grasp. Just remember you'll pay about $10 or $20 for a domain name.

Interestingly enough, I came a across a craigslist ad recently where a web designer who trains students was willing to design sites for free to diversify his portfolio. The only catch was you had to use the same host company that he uses. Not a bad deal either.

Of particular interest to me are churches, especially church plants and other non-profit ministries that want a web presence for low cost. This is an option for you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Muslim Turned Christian

Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Hamas leader, becomes a Christian - Telegraph:
"The son of one of the most revered leaders of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has renounced his religion to move to America and become an evangelical Christian."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twitter or Email?

Several weeks ago I blogged about Leadership By Email and Other Dumb Ideas, where I said "Email appears to be here to stay." One blogger says not: Is e-mail on the way out? | RedEye | iPhone, Therefore I Blog. He suggests that Twitter is taking the instant communication world by storm.

Just to reaffirm my basic point: You cannot be leader using email OR Twitter as your dominant mode of casting vision, training, equiping -- as your dominant mode of leading. Face time people is crucial.

The Seven Deadly Sins ... No Wait, It's Only Six Now

Is There a Laziness Gene? - TIME

Sloth is out friends. According to Time magazine:
"Based on some intriguing preliminary studies in animals, J. Timothy Lightfoot, a kinesiologist, and his team at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, suggest that genetics may indeed predispose some of us to sloth."
Phew. I'm not really lazy and even if I was it's not my fault. I'm genetically predisposed.

Grossly Exaggerated Headlines About Pastors Salaries

Churches Pay the Average Senior Pastor More Than $80,000 Per Year

OK. I'm real fired up about this. Tell me what other job, when we talk about what someone "makes" or what their salary is, do we use the total compensation figure? When we say a teacher makes $45,000 or a corporate VP makes $100,000 we are referring to their cash salary, and we all understand that employers also make contributions towards retirement, cafeteria plans, health care, continuing education, FICA, etc -- all of those are ON TOP OF the $45,000 or $100,000.

For some reason that doesn't apply to clergy? The headline screams "Churches Pay the Average Senior Pastor More Than $80,000 Per Year". Those filthy rich clergy! But read the first paragraph of the article:
CAROL STREAM, Ill., Aug. 19 /Christian Newswire/ -- A recent national survey of pastors and church staff shows the compensation and benefits paid to the average Senior Pastor has risen to $81,113 per year, with the highest 25% of Senior Pastors making more than $97,000 each year. This annual survey, conducted and compiled by the Your Church Media Group at Christianity Today International, is based on a staff member's total compensation package, including: salary, housing allowance/parsonage, retirement, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance and continuing education allowances.
Senior pastors aren't making $80,000 a year. More like $50,000 after you do the math. Not that that's a bad salary, but the headline was extremely misleading.

Joe Eszterhas' Story of Spiritual Conversion

toledoblade.com -- 'Basic Instinct' author writes book about faith

Noted author, Joe Eszterhas, has a new book to be released Sept. 2: Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, published by St. Martin's Press. After moving from Malibu back to his roots, Cleveland, he got cancer and it shattered his life. In a moment of absolute despair, he prayed for God's help and the Lord appeared to him. He was transformed. He now faithfully attends mass at a Roman Catholic Church where he is the crucifer. The linked toledoblade.com article gives a great testimony.

Who Are They?

I know I've blogged about this before but whenever I see the words "evangelical leaders" I'm always stunned with whatever names follow. Generally the media are referring to "leaders" like Pat Robertson, Jim Dobson or formerly, Jerry Falwell, none of whom I would have ever thought to represent me as an evangelical.

This article was even more amazing. Look at the list of "leaders" from the article Leading Evangelical Leaders Reacting to Saddleback Forum:
"Top evangelical leaders gave their reactions to the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency Saturday evening, on a nationwide press teleconference that followed the forum and which was hosted by NewsGuests.com. Evangelical commentators included: Tom Minnery, Senior Vice President of Focus on the Family; Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior pastor, Hope Christian Church and Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; Janet Folger, National radio host and President and Founder of Faith2Action; and Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring. Martha Zoller, National radio host and Fox news panelist was the moderator."
I have to admit that Harry Jackson is the only one I have ever heard of but I don't know any thing about any of them. I must live in my own made up personal evangelical world. Whenever I read or hear anything descriptive of evangelical and who it's supposed leaders are, it just never fits my experience, even though I would have thought traditionally I was an evangelical. I need a new category.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Outstanding Coffee in Phoenix, NY

Welcome to the State Street Cafe!

The esteemed Scott Emery and I had great coffee and outstanding fresh baked cinnamon roll this week at State Street Cafe in Phoenix, NY. SSC gets their coffee beans from Shambala in Baldwinsville, NY. Tammy Lynch is the owner and after chatting with her for a few minutes I felt like I had a new friend. She gave us a nice history lesson about Phoenix and has some cool photos of way back when Phoenix was the thriving metropolis of CNY. She's a Phoenix native and lives up the street from the cafe.

Not only was the coffee great the cafe has a comfortable feel and great view of the river. You can sit outside on either the river or street side of the store. Downtown Phoenix isn't much to look at YET but it will be ... trust me ... it will be. I'm predicting a comeback for that town in the next several years.

Scott and I had been meeting weekly at Starbucks on 57 to talk about ministry and church planting. After meeting at SSC, we now have a new meeting location. See you soon Tammy.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pursuing the American Dream. Living the American Nightmare.

I've gotten over my rancor about the constant barrage of ministry articles that speak of the huge ministry needs in urban areas and how everyone in the suburbs is just fat and happy. I grew up in the 'burbs and it was hell. Just today as I was reading Weblog | Emergent Village | Being the Church in Suburban America, I've seen the first glimmer of hope that some missiologists are becoming alive to the idea that the suburbs are desperate for Christ too.

When we moved into our neighborhood in 1979, it was your typical brand new suburban tract development with mostly middle class white families. It had maybe a dozen streets and several hundred similar looking homes. With new construction, newly planted lawns and trees, newly paved streets and driveways, many young families and first time proud homeowners, the neighborhood looked fresh and appeared as a signpost of growth and health in our community. People living the American dream. At least that's what it looked like on the outside.

Venture into the home life of the families there and the relational and spiritual needs were overwhelming.

Within 4 years of living there, by the time I was 16 I had one friend arrested for brutally murdering a baby he was babysitting, 2 friends in rehab (and more who needed it), friends who had abortions, friends who were physically beaten by their parents, a friend whose parent took their own life, friends who were arrested and though we didn't talk about it at the time, the signs of sexual abuse in my friends' lives can be seen in retrospect.

We had multiple drug dealers and many users in the neighborhood, including a boy directly across the street whose bedroom was in the downstairs of a raised ranch. With his bedroom window at ground level it became a walk up take out window for drugs.

I remember playing catch with my brother in the backyard one day. He threw the ball over my head and it went 2 backyards down into the weeds. I ran over to pick it up and as I bent down to pick it up I found it amidst several seed trays of marijuana. More than a single user would need. That guy was a dealer too.

Almost all my friends in the neighborhood used drugs. One hundred percent of them were teenage drunks, and most of them starting by 12 or 13. So many parents in the neighborhood worked at Anheuser-Busch or the then active Miller Brewing plant, and had literally pallets of beer in their garages. Many were also alcoholics and drank so much they didn't keep track of how much was really missing.

Sure we did normal teen stuff like play pick-up street hockey, baseball, football and other games, we went fishing, rollerskating, bowling and to the movies but most of our lives revolved around drinking, drugs and sex. Now as an adult and parent of my 12 y/o women-child daughter I'm honestly scared to death to let her out of my sight when I think about what girls like her were involved in. So many jr high and early teen girls in my neighborhood were sexually active with older boys and really weren't worried about protecting their technical virginity by only participating in os.

Beyond the aforementioned there was the arson, racism, constant bullying and fighting, vandalism, stealing, porn, playing with real guns and ammo, M-80's and other explosives and adults who facilitated so much of this stuff all woven into the fabric of our beautiful new neighborhood with new homes, nice lawns, paved streets and shiny people — all pursing the American dream but living the American nightmare.

This was just my neighborhood. I heard that one neighborhood over where my cousins lived was worse.

Don't ever believe the lie that the urban areas are so needy for the Gospel and ministry and the suburbs are somehow less so. The suburban desperation runs deep and is pervasive. No law, social policy or money thrown at the problems with solve them. Only when the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, shines in their lives will the darkness flee and hope be restored.

Thanks to Brad Boydston for the link to the Emergent Village article.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Does the American flag belong in church? - Yahoo! News

Does the American flag belong in church? - Yahoo! News

I struggle with this one. I am grateful for the freedoms I have to worship in my country and believe we should pray for and honor our country, especially those who have fought for it's freedoms. Yet I believe the freedoms our country offers are ultimately God given.

Maybe a flag does belong in church, but just not in the sanctuary. Perhaps that space should be entirely devoted to God.

The 8 Most Bizarre Patron Saints | Cracked.com

The 8 Most Bizarre Patron Saints | Cracked.com

I wonder about the authenticity of these supposed saints .... patrons of the internet, ugly people, fireworks, people with std's, druglords ... this all seems like a reach.

NOTE: as with all cracked.com articles, the language is definitely not pristine.