Life Sat, 28 Nov 2015 00:48:43 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 25 Silly Things Church Members Argue Over

It began as an innocuous Twitter survey. But then it blew up.

A lot of church members and leaders were eager to share about fights, schisms and conflicts in their congregations. They were likewise eager to point out the absurdity of these issues. There were the ones we've heard often: temperature in the worship center, color of carpet, order of worship and color of walls.

The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual. Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my "favorites." They are listed in no particular order. The parenthetical commentary is my own.

1. Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor's beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor's beard.)

2. Fight over whether or not to build a children's playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I'm dying to know the resolution of this one.)

3. A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.)

4. A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women's restroom (I'm calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.)

5. A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.)

6. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.)

7. A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.)

8. A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.)

9. A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts and pants.)

10. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off 10 cents—Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue. (I have to admit this issue is 10 times more important than the church missing a penny.)

11. A dispute in the church because the Lord's Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It's right there in Hezekiah 4:11.)

12. Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.)

13. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.)

14. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.)

15. Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crock-pot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.)

16. An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it's balanced with angel food cake for dessert.)

17. An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.)

18. A disagreement over using the term "potluck" instead of "pot blessing" (I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it.)

19. A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don't you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.)

20. An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.)

21. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split. (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.)

22. An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluttony was a sin.)

23. A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black T-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he's not red? That's what I've heard.)

24. A fight over whether or not to sing "Happy Birthday" each week (I've got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.)

25. An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.)

Yes. These issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.

Let me hear your stories!

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom S. Rainer ) Relationships Wed, 25 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Don Rutland Exemplified the 'Greatest Traits of the Greatest Generation'

The celebration of the life of Don Rutland, the father of Dr. Mark Rutland, was held Monday at Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Florida. Family and friends came to remember a man whose life spanned 93 years, two world wars and a career that included being part of the team that developed the Polaris missile.

Dr. Mark Rutland and his son, Travis, who is pastor of Restoration Church in Bethlehem, Georgia, took turns telling stories about their father and grandfather, whom they said exemplified the greatest traits of the greatest generation. They told how he was stable, hardworking and the patriarch of their large family. They said he was never assuming, yet was involved in ministry after he had an encounter with Christ and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Not only did Don Rutland live 93 years, but he also was married to his wife, Rosemary, for almost 76 years, about which their son wrote a tribute in February. Rutland wrote that the couple, who lived in Texas, eloped across the Red River into Oklahoma.

"Despite the odds, three quarters of a century and two world wars later, in February 2015, that young couple celebrated their 75th anniversary," Rutland wrote. "At 92, Don Rutland is a combat veteran of two wars. He served as a lieutenant in The 11th Airborne (Paratroops) in the Philippines in World War II and as a Captain in Armored Cavalry (tanks) in the Korean War. His Wife, Rosemary, now 90, is as much a veteran as he.

"My siblings and I are forever grateful that Captain Rutland survived those two wars and that the marriage has survived and thrived for 75 years. We saw their faithfulness, steadfast commitment to each other and their service to America. We witnessed their unflagging perseverance in the face of hardship. They modeled an indefatigable work ethic and that rugged brand of patriotism so characteristic of their generation."

Last February, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered from Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Kansas and Florida to celebrate the 75th wedding anniversary—a milestone that few couples ever see mainly because most don't live that long. On Monday, they gathered again at Calvary Assembly—a church that Mark Rutland pastored for five years in the 1990s—to celebrate the life of a man who lived a long and fruitful life.

]]> (Steve Strang ) Legacy Mon, 16 Nov 2015 21:00:00 -0500
Using the Power of the Mute Button

Our world is filled with noise. It's hard to find a place of quiet reflection anymore. Whether it's some kid's overdriven bass-thumping music from his car, the laughter or racket of children, or jets overhead—we are frequently bombarded with sound—some good, some not so good.

Due to my bad back, bad knees and bulbous belly, I haven't backpacked in years. One of the things I miss about those great outdoor outings into the back country of the Cascades or Glacier National Park is the serenity. Except for the occasional call of a bull elk or the melodic chatter of birds, the silence was golden. Those quiet times refueled my soul.

Believe it or not, I'm an introvert. I love people. I can engage in a crowd with smiles and conversation, but I am refreshed in moments of solitude. There's nothing I love more than a good book in one hand and a great cup of java in the other. Reading. Alone. I find solace in solitude.

Interestingly, many people are uncomfortable with silence. I know people who must have a radio, CD or TV playing in the background all the time. Perhaps quiet intimidates some or makes them feel alone. Maybe the hum of a TV in the background silences an inner voice they'd rather not hear. I'm not sure why, but too many humans fill their environment with white noise of some sort, and they avoid silence as if it were the cause of Ebola.

Some might argue, "I like to be informed." Or they may say, "Music matters to me." I understand. But I wonder if we've filled our heads with so much information, news and opinions of others that we've forgotten how to reflect, meditate and think on our own. Is it possible that we've so filled our heads with the music of others that we've lost the ability to create music in our hearts?

I read—a lot. My book budget is ridiculous. I could be a professional reader if somebody would just pay me to do so! I subscribe to no fewer than 20 blogs. I appreciate the insights and wisdom of others. However, if I don't take the time to sit and think on a regular basis, then the swirl of data I'm jamming into my mind is of no value.

Reflection leads to realization. Meditation results in movement. Silence produces substance.

So here's what I propose: Hit the mute button—often. Find a place and time to quiet your heart, mind and soul every day. If you're like the old woman who lived in a shoe, get up early to invest at least the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee or tea alone before the craziness begins.

When we had children at home, my wife would have them take an hour a day to be quiet. Even after they were way past taking naps, they were told to find a spot to read. No playing. No talking. Quiet time for all, including Momma! By the way, all of my grown children are avid readers to this day because of that daily family ritual.

You can do this by:

  • Turning off the electronics for at least 30 minutes a day (Yes, that means your smartphone)
  • Taking a walk someplace other than Main Street or the mall
  • Clearing some space in your closet if you must, crawling in there and closing the door for 20 minutes
  • Turning off the music on the way home from work and thinking, "What did I learn today? What am I thankful for?"
  • At the very least, turning off your car radio once in a while and savoring the relative silence

I am grateful for modern technology. I use it. I like it. But I will not let it rob me of what I need most—moments alone—quiet time to ponder, contemplate and ruminate.

How about you? Introvert or not, you too need daily downtime to maintain your sanity. Don't wait for it to happen; make it happen.
Who knows what great idea or dream is waiting to sprout out of the soil of solitude and personal reflection? 

Kurt Bubna serves as senior pastor of Eastpoint Church, a nondenominational congregation in Spokane Valley, Washington. He is also a blogger, speaker, radio and television personality and author of the Tyndale House book Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot. This column originally appeared at

]]> (Kurt Bubna) Ministry Life Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
The Power of a Praying Pastor

In Mark 9:14-29, Christ's disciples encounter a boy who has been plagued with demons. As a result, the boy was blind and mute.

He frequently was thrown to the ground in violent fits. He would foam and the mouth and grind his teeth down. The demons would even cause him to fall into water and fire in an attempt to kill him.

The boy's father brought him to the disciples for healing. Yet, the disciples could not help. The demons remained and the boy's afflictions continued.

Jesus heard the commotion and asked what was happening. The boy's father explained the situation to Jesus. After a short conversation, Christ healed the boy and removed the evil spirits.

Later, when they were alone, the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to heal the boy. I imagine, as pastors, we can relate to the disciples' question.

We all have evil within our churches. Believers continue to deal with the effects of indwelling sin and the desires of the flesh. Meanwhile, Satan's rule over the present world works to woo believers into temptation.

Although every pastor experiences some "ministerial victories" from time to time, it is disconcerting to watch the couple which he has invested so many hours continue with divorce proceedings. It is painful to see a young boy go to prison while recalling all of the hours that have been invested in discipling him and keeping him off of the streets.

"What went wrong," the pastor asks himself.

When the disciples asked the same question, Jesus remarked, "This kind can only be healed by prayer."

Prayer submits to the source of all power: Christ alone. That's why we typically end our prayers with the words, "In Jesus' name."

However, just because we say the words, does not mean we have submitted to Christ's authority. I think that was what Jesus was communicating to the disciples.

Effective, life-transforming ministry never comes through the power of man, but through the power of God. Man is simply a conduit through which God works.

Prayer—robust prayer—is a tool by which we keep the conduit free of obstruction and full of faith.

E.M. Bounds once wrote, "Prayer puts God's work in His hands—and keeps it there."

Now, here is the interesting part of the conversation between Jesus and the boy's father. When the man says to Jesus, "If you can heal my son ..." Jesus questions the man's faith.

"If?" Jesus asks. "Where is your faith?" He probes.

The man says, "I believe, help my unbelief."

This is where every believer in every church lives his or her life. They believe, but need the power of Christ to help their unbelief. Only the praying pastor can be of help to such a soul.

Truly, you have no ministry if your ministry has no prayer. {eoa}

After serving in campus ministry at the University of Central Arkansas and coordinating student conferences for the Department of Church Ministries from 2000-2005, Scott Attebery pastored Wyatt Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas. After seven years of pastoring, Scott was selected as the Executive Director of DiscipleGuide Church Reources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. You can read his blog at

For the original article, visit

]]> (Scott Attebery) Prayer Tue, 10 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
11 Ways to Strengthen Your Church's Children's Ministry

More than one person has said, "Our students and children are the future of the church."

That statement is true, but it's also insufficient. Children and students are part of the church now, and we'll lose them if we don't minister well to them today. Here are 11 ways to strengthen your children's ministry:

1. Enlist your best workers for this ministry. Don't allow just anyone to work with children; find your absolute best, even if it means pulling them out of adult classes.

2. Train the workers well. Willingness to serve does not automatically equal ability to serve. Enlist your best, and then continually train them. Help them know how to lead children in 2015. The strategies aren't the same as in the 1980s. ... 

3. Establish clear security protocols. The bottom line: nobody who hasn't passed a background check should be working with minors, and wandering through your church's children's ministry area without clearance should be almost impossible. Take all steps necessary to protect your children.

4. Upgrade your facilities for children. Provide sufficient space for them. Make sure every door has a window for security purposes. Purchase furniture that's appropriate for children. Paint the walls bright colors. Get rid of the clutter. Make your children's areas a place to which children want to come.

5. Don't lower the bar when teaching children. Find the best material, and teach it well. Assume your children want to learn about God. They're probably more open to it than many of your adults are.

6. Capitalize on media resources. Our children have grown up with video, computers, and the Internet. To not use strong Christian media-based resources is to miss an opportunity to teach our children well.

7. Develop a church membership and beginning discipleship class for children. When children choose to follow Christ, the biblical demands on their lives aren't different than adults. Help them get started well as new believers.

8. Hang out with the children. If you're a church staff member, your church's children need to see you and know you apart from "big church" and the pulpit. Walk through their areas every Sunday. Talk to them. Get to know their names. Listen to their stories. Love them.

9. Kneel when talking to children. Respect and love them enough to lower yourself to their eye level when speaking to them. Something's just different when they see us face-to-face.

10. If you're a preacher, remember the children in the audience. Use illustrations that appeal to children. Call them to attention occasionally by saying something like, "Boys and girls, let me tell you a story" or "Kids, let me explain this word to you." If your children are listening, it's more likely your adults will be, too.

11. Establish prayer partners with children. Imagine what might happen if assigned people in your church prayed weekly for every child in your ministry. Connect the generations by establishing an intentional plan to do so.

Chuck Lawless serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless' daily blog posts at 

For the original article, visit

]]> (Chuck Lawless ) Children Mon, 09 Nov 2015 13:00:00 -0500
For Me, Passing on Godly Life Principles Is a Cherished Gift

One of the things I enjoy is pouring into the lives of others. Call it mentoring, coaching or serving, it gives me a lot of pleasure. Plus, it gives me a feeling of giving back when so many helped me along the way.

Six months ago, I started a class for 14 men who live in my area. I titled it, "Moving to the Next Level." We met once a month for 6 months, and Tuesday was the final gathering. I shared with them materials that have helped me and spoke from my own experience. Some told me they learned a lot from the classes. So I decided to share a few concepts here, hoping it will add value to your life.

My actual goal wasn't for them to learn "a lot." My goal was to share how incremental changes can become huge if done the right way at the right time. I know from personal experience and observing life for more than six decades that most people find themselves in ruts and make very few positive life changes until it's almost too late. It's like the old joke where the old man says, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of my body."

My newsletter often deals with weighty issues. Other times I share what's going on in my life. Reading this will hopefully help you and give you a glimpse into my perspective on life.

Here is the "Cliff Notes" version of our six sessions:  

  • Setting goals. I told the men the single biggest thing they can do to move forward is to learn to set goals. I encouraged them to set three goals for the next six months that they would not have set themselves had I not encouraged them to do so. Most of the men achieved the goals and, for the ones who didn't, it was a good wake-up call to realize they need to work harder to make it happen. One man said he set a goal only to have it lead into something more substantial. I told them their goals should be specific and measurable.
  • Managing time. Interestingly, I got more positive feedback on my advice to "Focus on Five" things they must do every day. I picked this concept up from a mentor of mine! I follow this advice myself. Try it. Do I do it perfectly? Of course not. When I don't accomplish one of the five, it shows me that I'm procrastinating. I also told them to plan out their entire week on Sunday, including what they do before work, after work and on weekends. Some of the men found this very helpful. One professional in the class told me he planned his workday but never thought about planning how to spend his personal time. By following a plan, he discovered he had more time at home to do the things that meant a lot to him.
  • Improving finances. I told the group that most of us have a "governor" on our ability to earn, much like a governor on a school bus that will let it go only so fast. Our governor is that it's difficult to make more than 10 percent more than your father did, factoring in inflation. That realization alone is an eye-opener. I also said don't just budget for expenses; budget for income. For example, if you aspire to live at a certain level, budget what you NEED to be making over the next five years so you can work to earn that much! This may not work for everyone, but most can change jobs, come up with creative ideas to earn, or just learn to be more valuable where they work, which results in increased income. I also discussed principles of giving to the Lord and how I've learned as a businessman to build an organization, even though I wasn't educated in business.
  • A better marriage. When I mentioned to my wife of 43 years I was teaching on marriage, she joked, "I hope you don't tell them we have a perfect marriage!" I said I wouldn't, but I will tell them I have a perfect wife! I've learned the adage, "happy wife, happy life." Besides sharing a few common-sense suggestions, we focused on principles in Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Peter 3 that demonstrate biblical qualities in marriage. I encouraged the men to talk it over with their wives and to see how they can develop the character taught in the Scriptures.
  • Better health. In most classes, I trimmed the lesson to one concept that could help to improve their lives. For health and fitness, that concept is to drink enough water and get enough sleep. Without enough water or sleep, no amount of exercise or vitamins will compensate. I also encouraged them to begin taking care of themselves physically before their first heart attack or developing diabetes. To show them an old guy can stay in shape, I challenged them to beat me in pullups and pushups! (Because I'd been practicing, I won.)
  • More faith. I shared concepts about faith that I had written about where you do everything by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The truly handicapped man is not someone who cannot use his limbs, but someone who doesn't know how to use faith to move mountains. I also talked about how I've developed the discipline of a daily quiet time to study the Bible and journal. As we wrapped up our final class, I reminded the men that it profits them nothing to gain the whole world and lose their own soul (see Matthew 16:26). I played the video of TobyMac that reminds us of this more than any song I know. Interestingly, some of the men said they were familiar with the song and enjoyed the music, but had never let the lyrics sink in. Here is the link for you to enjoy.

These points remind me of a plaque on the wall of my childhood home that read, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last!"

Others have taught better mentoring sessions than me. But this was my attempt to encourage this group of men to focus on making incremental improvements in the important things in life. Did you learn anything? Do you agree with my list? If so, leave comments below and share this with others.

Steve Strang is the founder of Charisma and CEO of Charisma Media. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

]]> (Steve Strang) Counseling Fri, 06 Nov 2015 19:00:00 -0500
Why We Must Capture Children's Attention If We Want to Reach Them

If you want to reach kids, you must capture their attention.

Studies show that what we pay attention to and focus on actually wires our neurons.

What captures kids' attention shapes their worldview. What captures kids' attention lays the foundation for their life. What captures kids' attention controls their life. What captures kids' attention shapes their future.

Your ministry is one of many entities competing for kids' attention ... vying for an inroad to wire their neurons.  One disadvantage ... your window of time is limited. One hour a week ... if their parents bring them consistently. Stats show that for most kids it's more like one hour every 3-4 weeks.

Bottom line ... we've got to capture kids' attention. Every hour ... every minute ... every second counts. We can't afford to present boring lessons. We can't afford to come unprepared. We can't afford to use methods that no longer work. We can't afford to operate in monotone. We can't afford not to be creative. We can't afford not to be relevant.

If we can get kids to pay attention to what God's Word says, we can see them develop "the same mindset as Christ" (Philippians 2:5). {eoa}

Dale Hudson has been in Children's Ministry for over 25 years. He is the director of children's ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. Christ Fellowship has nine campuses and ministers to over 22,000 people on weekends. Dale leads a Children's Ministry staff team of over 50 and a volunteer team of over 2,600.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Dale Hudson ) Children Wed, 04 Nov 2015 19:00:00 -0500
12 Questions to Help You Lower Financial Tensions in Your Church

Financial matters often bring more tension and pressure than nearly any other single topic. Board meetings can heat up fast when cash is low and unpaid bills are forcing very difficult decisions.

Tough decisions like:

  • Stopping a building project midstream
  • Letting staff go
  • Cutting back on ministries

A shortage of cash is difficult for any church to deal with and the complexity is often compounded when the leaders are not in alignment as a team with how they think about money. If you disagree in your philosophical and theological approach to money, it's almost impossible to align in how you should spend money.

It's a great idea for your senior leadership to have a discussion about both theology and practice regarding money, independent of specific and live budget matters. There is often too much emotion to think clearly under the pressure of the moment.

Here is a set of 12 practical questions to assist you in a productive dialogue that may relieve some tension from the boardroom. These conversations won't necessarily be easy, but when you take this proactive approach you can increase your effectiveness as leaders, improve morale and teamwork, and improve your overall stewardship.

12 Helpful Questions

1. What role does prayer play in your finances?

2. In what specific way is faith connected to your financial decision-making?

3. Who is primarily responsible for the income of the church?

4. What is the last budget area you would cut in an emergency?

5. Are you doing everything possible to increase the income of the church?

6. Do you believe you are too frugal or not frugal enough?

7. What debt level are you comfortable with?

8. If you have excess income above the budget needs, how will you allocate these funds?

9. Who has primary decision-making authority for major financial decisions?

10. Would your community or city see you as a generous church?

11. Do you have competent and a sufficient number of financial advisors?

12. Who is coaching the staff in how to manage their budgets?

These questions will not remove all the financial complexities from your ministry, but they will help you solve them in a more team oriented, productive and morale building way.

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Dan Reiland) Money Mon, 02 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Praying for Success Takes Daring Faith

You can learn a lot about a person by the kind of prayer he prays. For instance, a selfish prayer indicates a selfish spirit. Have you ever heard a prayer that sounds like a Christmas list — I want this, and I want that. Some people try to impress you with their prayers, yet they come off as arrogant and prideful.

For leaders, there's a model prayer in the book of Nehemiah. Remember Nehemiah? When he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, he prayed for four months. 

This was not just a casual prayer. Instead, it gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray, study the book of Nehemiah — particularly this prayer.

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:

1. Base your request on God's character. Pray like you know God will answer you: "I'm expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!" 

Nehemiah approaches God and says, "God, I want you to do something back in Jerusalem."

"O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands." (Nehemiah 1:5, NIV)

Nehemiah said three things about God:

  • You're great – That's God's position.
  • You're awesome – That shows God's power.
  • You keep your promises – That's God's covenant.

The first thing Nehemiah does is acknowledge who God is; that's what praise is. Acknowledge who God is and His greatness. Nehemiah starts off by getting the right perspective. As you pray, say, "God, I want you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You've given us all of these things, these promises. You are a faithful God, a loving God, a merciful God." You base your request on God's character.

2. Confess the sin in your life. After Nehemiah based his prayer on God's character, he confessed his sins. He says, "We've sinned." Look at how many times he uses the word "I" and "we." He says, "I confess ... myself ... my father's house ... we have acted wickedly ... we have not obeyed." It wasn't Nehemiah's fault that the Israelites went into captivity; that was 70 years earlier, before Nehemiah had even been born. In fact, he was most likely born in captivity. Yet, he includes himself in the national sins. He says, "I've been a part of the problem."

When was the last time you confessed the sins of the nation? Or the sins of your family? Or your church? Or your friends? We don't think that way. We're very individualistic. Our society has taught us we're only responsible for ourselves. And that's just not true! You are your brother's keeper. We are all in this together.

Leaders accept the blame, but losers pass the buck. If you want to be a leader, you accept the blame and share the credit. Losers are always accusers and excusers. They're always making excuses why things didn't or couldn't happen; it's always somebody else's fault. Leaders accept the blame.

3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prays to the Lord and says, "I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses." Can you imagine saying REMEMBER to God?  He's reminding God what he'd said in the past. All through the Bible you'll find God's people reminding God about what he said he wants to do. David did it. Abraham did it. Moses did it. All the prophets did it: "God, I want to remind you of one of your promises. ..."

Does God have to be reminded? No. 

Does he forget what He's promised? No. 

Then why do we do this? 

Because it helps us remember what God has promised. Nothing pleases God more that when you remind God of one of His promises. 

Do kids ever forget a promise?  Never. 

So you have to be very careful about making them. The Bible says we're imperfect fathers, and if we imperfect fathers know that we need to fulfill our promises to our kids, how much more does a perfect Father, a Heavenly Father, intend to keep the promises He's made in His Word? 

4. Be very specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, you need to make specific requests. If your prayers are general, how will you know if they're answered? 

Nehemiah is not hesitant to pray for success. He's very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, "Lord, make me successful!" If you haven't, why haven't you? What is the alternative? A failure? There is nothing wrong with praying for success if what you're doing is ultimately for the glory of God. 

Pray boldly. Pray that God will make you successful in life for the glory of God. That's what Nehemiah did. This is a valid prayer: Give me success.

If I can't ask God to bless what I'm doing, then I'd better start doing something else. If you can't ask God to make you a success at what you're doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn't want you to waste your life. {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Rick Warren) Prayer Thu, 29 Oct 2015 21:00:00 -0400
Is Your Church Effectively Engaging the Outside World Through Social Media?

According to Ron Hutchcraft, a lot of churches have websites, yet the websites aren't drawing people in from outside the church.

"Unfortunately a lot of churches have used their website mostly to promote themselves: to tell people about their church, to introduce their staff—and there's a place for that. But it's really limited in terms of who really outside your church is going to care about that," says Hutchcraft.

"What we should lead with on our church websites is felt-need-help. ... Let's start about something they care about instead of something they don't care about. They need to care about Jesus, but they may only get to Him through something they already care about," explains Hutchcraft.

Felt-need helps are life struggles people need guidance or boosts in, like marriages, fixing relationships, parenting, even dealing with stress. These are all things the church is capable of addressing but isn't advertising it can.

Still, how can the church stay relevant enough to know what people are dealing with?

Well, Hutchcraft thinks local churches should take advantage of their resources: the people. "Let's talk to them [the congregation] and begin to get advice from people who are in touch with that and understand the dynamics of that kind of platform," says Hutchcraft.

"You may have some young people in your church who are kind of on the margins and not very involved ... if you can ask them to help you as church leadership to develop the kinds of tools for the platforms they understand better, you might just wake them up spiritually," explains Hutchcraft. For the church, this is a double win. It's a chance to engage the younger generation in their talents and unite all ages of the church in a single task.

So really, maybe it's time churches viewed social media not as a promotion stand, but as a way to engage the outside world. Or as Hutchcraft says, "[use it] as a ramp for people to ramp into the good news about Jesus, through you addressing things they care about in their life."

With all the benefits, why not start up a website or some other social media platform. It would be a tool helping accomplish the church being the hands and feet of Jesus online. In the mass world of social media, a little light is helpful.

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]]> (Beth Stolicker/Mission News Network) Social Media Tue, 27 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400