Thursday, July 27, 2006

CARE ~ Assessment Pack for Meeting Community Needs

Is Your Church Meeting the Needs of Your Community?







Download these convenient checklists from BuildingChurchLeaders.com to assess how your church is doing in serving the community, and form a plan for doing more.

===>Click headline to access website . . .


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

LC2C ~ Are You Connecting Well?

An important new book on collaboration by Phill Bulter

Well Connected is a:
  • Dictionary ... clearly explaining the definitions and differences of terms like network, partnership, strategic alliance
  • Encyclopedia ... of the who, what, where, when, why and how of successful partnerships
  • Guidebook ... for leaders who convene groups through questions that can be used for teaching or discussion
  • Reality Text ... with case histories from actual experiments and expressions of partnerships
Well Connected is for:
  • City Reachers who need greater precision in group dynamics
  • Evangelists who need to better understand the process of spiritual transformation
  • Mission Administrators who desire help with the difficulties and details of working with other agencies
  • Marketplace Leaders who are discovering the emerging role of Christians in the social, s and cultural sectors
  • Prayer Leaders who network throughout or across denominational lines
Well Connected can mentor you in:
  • How to plan and execute an effective meeting
  • How to identify the need and the qualifications of a facilitator
  • Hot to confront the financial realities of partnership
  • How to lead by serving; how to direct through process
Well Connected is a book you may read:
  • Chronologically ~ chapter-by-chapter - a complete course in the theory and practice of collaboration
  • Topically ~ idea-by-idea - a comprehensive survey of subjects vital to convening and facilitating diverse groups for a common purpose
  • Intermittently ~ resource-by-resource - a virtual catalogue of tools (stories, case histories, critical principles, forms...)
Bob Buford is right: "It's a must read"!

Phil Miglioratti


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Monday, July 24, 2006

CARE ~ Becoming the Blessing of Christ

Becoming the Blessing of Christ

Beginning June 5 and continuing for 90 days, Dallas-area churches will partner with corporations, educational institutions, government agencies, and faith-based organizations to bless the city of Dallas. These projects will involve a multitude of churches, and all opportunities will be multi-congregational. It is the prayer and hope of many that these seeds of blessing will produce a harvest of transformation. If you or your church are interested in serving, please refer to the project description pages below. Registration for "Build a Home" and "Prison Outreach" must be done through the link provided in each project description. All other registration can be facilitated by using the registration form.

Projects:

1) Habitat for Humanity Home Builds
2) DallasONE
3) Clean Sweep
4) Prison Outreach
5) Back-to-School Fair
6) Evangelistic Block Party

Register for the 90 Days of Blessing.


Corporate partnerships are continuing to grow in support of the 90 Days of Blessing. We are committed to the following acts of compassion:
• Building seven Habitat for Humanity homes
• Gathering for worship and service with Christian singles in the Dallas area
• Conducting wide-scale clean-up of a community in partnership with various organizations
• Participating in large-scale prison outreach to men, women and youth
• Hosting block parties in a South Dallas neighborhood

===>Click headline to access website . . .

•Become part of the Mission America Coalition ~ Visit: http://www.missionamerica.org

How Do You Define "Transformation?


Last month The Sentinel Group, publisher of the well-known Transformations videos, hosted a global consultation on the transformation of cities and nations. Dutch prayer leader Pieter Bos, author of 'The Nations Called', a leading book on the redemption of nations, participated in this consultation. He explains: "Transformation is about the restoration of all things. A whole village that turns to Jesus. The church being of one heart and mind. Crime rates going down to the point that prisons can be closed. The government of a nation covenanting with God. Harvests multiplying and the environment being restored."

People who have seen the Transformations I and II videos, might wonder how things are now in Cali, Colombia, one of the cases featured on the first video. According to Ruth Ruibal, widow of the pastor whose death catalyzed the unity movement in Cali, the spiritual breakthrough that took place in this city has deepened significantly. Unity among the churches is commonplace and strong. The crime rates have been going down for the past three years with 20 percent annually.

There are also encouraging reports from other nations. In Uganda an increasing number of AIDS-HIV patients are being healed, which is considered a medical impossibility. Bos reports that in Brazil over 100 cities have now covenanted with God. In Indonesia persecution, and
especially the burning down of church buildings, has brought unexpected unity among the believers. A church leader from Jakarta said that Islam knows that it cannot keep its grip on the nation, and that the church is a societal factor to be reckoned with. Whenever an emergency arises, the believers in Indonesia can quickly mobilize and inform an army of 500,000 intercessors. "These kind of transformational changes restore hope to a
nation," says Bos.

Source: Pieter Bos, StN
Transformations videos: www.sentinelgroup.org
Book: www.servingthenations.org/booktnc.htm

Joel News International is a leading e-zine on what God is doing worldwide in the area of prayer, church growth and revival. We offer a keen selection of encouraging news reports, challenging developments and quality resources from over 100 reliable sources in six continents. Joel News is a great help and time-saver for thousands of active Christians in over 120 nations.

Joel News is published weekly on the basis of an annual donation. For more information visit our donation page: http://www.joelnews.org
/donation.htm.

Joel News partners with a wide range of international networks and ministries in the area of prayer, saturation church planting, revival and world missions. News reports (no regular mailing lists) can be sent to our editorial team at info@joelnews.org.

•Become part of the Mission America Coalition ~ Visit: http://www.missionamerica.org

SHARE ~ Is Public Proclamation Outdated? Ineffective?

Lon Allison, author of Going Public with the Gospel

Going Public with the Gospel

IVP: Isn't gospel preaching outdated and ineffective, especially in the West?

Lon Allison: Preaching is probably not the best word to use in this day and age. Communication is a much better term for going public with the gospel. Communication requires that the speaker give the gospel in conversational tones, offering his or her view of truth, as over against pointing the finger and demanding people respond (so often associated with preaching). As for being ineffective and outdated, major evangelists like Billy Graham and Luis Palau are seeing larger attendance at meetings than any other time in their careers. People love a crowd. While we hear a lot of talk about the "privatization" of postmoderns, the truth is that attendance for sporting events, films, concerts and the like continues to grow in the West. And the Western civilizations are enamored with discourse and discussion of ideas. All Mark and I are saying is that the gospel is the "great idea or story" that deserves to be heard in the marketplace and Aereopagus's of the twenty-first century.

IVP: What hinders the church in the West from going public with the gospel?

Allison: (1) The church in the West keeps the good news to itself, hidden in its own buildings. Some of the world's great communicators and thinkers inhabit our pulpits, but no one outside the pews gets to hear! The world won't come to us. We must go public.

(2) The church has also lost some confidence in its own story. In a world of relativism and soundbite philosophy, we're not sure how to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Our view is to let the life and story of Jesus do its work. We need gospel storytellers more than classical preachers.

IVP: What can churches do?

Allison: Local churches should have at least one time a year when they go public with the gospel. Rent a city park or public building, and plan your very best presentation of the gospel. Then have every church member pray for at least a month for five people they want to invite. Invite them and speak God's story. Better yet, join with several Christian churches or agencies and do it together. Very seldom will the activity of one church gain the public eye. But several churches together attract the media both before and after the event.

IVP: When and why did evangelistic proclamation become less widely used and accepted?

Allison: We are addicted to new things. We are very trendy in the church, just as we are with clothing or home decoration. Evangelistic proclamation in the public square was the "trendy" activity of the 50s-70s. In fact, in America especially it has played a strong historical role since the Great Awakening in 1735. But in the 1980s the church growth movement brought appropriate attention to the local church as a saving agency. That spawned the church-planting and megachurch movements, which continue to be the "perceived" best way to reach people. But why must we throw out the one to embrace the other? We need to do it in every way imaginable. Another reason evangelistic proclamation has become less widely accepted is the widespread belief that public proclamation events could draw a crowd but fail miserably in the follow-up. This is an appropriate criticism, but the public proclaimers have improved their methods significantly. And local churches who support a public event are better at understanding that often they failed in being willing or even able to incorporate new believers or seekers.

IVP: Have we lost the gospel?

Allison: In a sense we have. First, we are too quick to offer its benefits but not its demands. In Going Public with the Gospel we ask proclaimers to do a better job talking about surrender and lordship. Essentially, coming to faith in Christ requires an abdication of control. We are asking someone to let go of his or her life to find it. Second, we in the West place too much emphasis on the gospel of personal conversion and too little on the gospel of the kingdom, which is the rule and reign of Christ over individuals as well as the call to transform societies. This is why Mark and I urge that every public proclaimer have a social arm where they work with the churches in a city to alleviate suffering, even as they through preaching seek to alleviate sin.

IVP: How can we stay or become more relevant in the proclamation of the gospel?

Allison: (1) Go to the marketplace instead of asking it to come to you

(2) Message--focus on the life and story of Jesus. And speak in the language of society. Be honest about sin, for example, but call it "brokenness."

(3) Means--utilize all the arts in presentation. Visual art, dance, drama and music are the primary languages of the West. As stated above, the speaker must not preach as much as communicate with a high level of authenticity. We are in the era of communication where it is much more important for the speaker to see him- or herself as an actor telling the true story than as an orator or teacher downloading truth. Finally, offer the gospel, don't sell it. It is the listener's choice to respond. Evangelists can't make anyone believe. It is God's business.

(4) Include prayer for the sick and sad. Let God touch people miraculously.

===>Click headline to access website . . .
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Monday, July 17, 2006

CARE ~ Servants get invited to places into which the mighty can't force their way

the Externally Focused Church
by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
Group Publishing Loveland, Colorado 2004



Externally
focused churches are internally strong, but they are oriented externally ... They build bridges to their communities instead of walls around themselves. They don't shout at the dirty stream; they get in the water and begin cleaning it up.

This stuff is not rocket science. Any church of any size can be a blessing.

Engaging the community with good news and good deeds is not just a tactic or even a foundational strategy of externally focused churches; it is at their very core; it is who they are. These churches have concluded that it's really not "church" if it's not engaged in the life of the community through ministry and service to others. Ministry and service are not programs reserved for a few extraordinarily dedicated individuals but are woven into every aspect of church life. This is certainly not the only thing these churches do, but to stop ministering to and serving in the community would be to end their very existence. An external focus is embedded in their DNA.

In joining in the life and rhythm of the city, externally focused churches seek to serve and bless the city, not to control it. After all, salt, light, and leaven are agents of influence, not of control. Thus these churches build bridges instead of walls. They bless their cities and pray for them.

They are one of the defined assets of their communities, not one of the liabilities.

In our evangelistic zeal, we often think people just need more or better information in order to believe. But what they really long for is authenticity. Fewer are asking, "What must I do to be saved?" Instead their question is "What can I do to make my life work?" When the people who talk about a loving God demonstrate love, the gap between doubt and faith is narrowed, and the people around them often find themselves wanting to believe.

Good deeds form a great bridge over which the good news can travel! The doors to salvation have opened through service.

Servants get invited to places into which the mighty can't force their way.

Mosaic pastor Erwin McManus writes, "there is something mystical about servanthood because God is a servant. When we serve others, we more fully reflect the image of God, and our hearts begin to resonate with the heart of God. We may never be more like God than when we're serving from a purely selfless motivation."

===>If you like what you are reading, click headline to access complete article . . .

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Coaching ~ Self or Servant?




The Two Parts of Leadership

Robert Greenleaf first coined the term "servant leadership" in 1970 and published widely on the concept for the next 20 years. Yet when people hear the phrase "servant leadership," they are
often confused. They immediately conjure up thoughts of the inmates running the prison, or trying to please everyone. Others think servant leadership is only for church leaders.

The problem is these people don't understand that leadership has two parts: vision and implementation. Because of this, they think you can't lead and serve at the same time. Nothing could be further from the truth.



Setting the Vision versus Implementing the Plan

The first part of leadership--setting the vision--is where a leader defines the direction and communicates what the organization stands for and wants to accomplish.

Once people are clear on where they are going, the leader's role shifts to a service mind-set for the task of implementation--the second aspect of leadership. How do you make the dream happen? This is where the servant aspect of servant leadership comes into play.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins contends that true leadership--the essence of what people long for and want desperately to follow--implies a certain humility that is appropriate and elicits the best response from people.

He found two characteristics that describe great leaders: will and humility. Will is the determination to follow through on a vision/mission/goal. Humility is the capacity to realize that leadership is not about the leader; it's about the people and what they need.

According to Collins, when things are going well for typical self-serving leaders, they look in the mirror, beat their chests, and tell themselves how good they are. When things go wrong, they look out the window and blame everyone else. On the other hand, when things go well for great leaders, they look out the window and give everybody else the credit. When things go wrong, these servant leaders look in the mirror and ask questions such as "What could I have done differently that would have allowed these people to be as great as they could be?"


Serving or Self-Serving?

When we talk about servant leadership and ask people whether they are a servant leader or a self-serving leader, no one will admit they're a self-serving leader. Yet we observe self-serving leadership all the time. What is the difference?

Too many people think that who they are is their position and the power it gives them. Yet that's not true. Where does your power come from? It's not from your position; it's from the people whose lives you touch. You finally become a true leader when you realize that life is about what you give rather than what you get. The shift from self-serving leadership to leadership that serves others is motivated by a change in heart.

Servant leaders realize that leadership is not about them. It's about what and who they are serving. Effective servant leaders recognize that their jobs are to create and maintain cultures that turn on employees so they can turn on customers.

Today's leaders need to be highly skilled in both setting overall corporate vision and serving in the role of coach and supporter for their people in helping them to get their jobs done. These leaders do that by looking down the traditional hierarchy and saying, "What can I do for you?" rather than having their people looking up the hierarchy and saying, "What can we do for you?" They constantly try to find out what their people need to be successful. Rather than wanting people to please their bosses, servant leaders want to make a difference in the lives of their people and, in the process, impact the organization.



Coaching ~ Teaching by Listening

LEARNING TO LISTEN: LEARNING TO TEACH

The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults
Jane Vella
Josey-Bass Publishers, 1994, 202 pp. ISBN 1-55542-630-1

Dr. Vella is president of Global Learning Partners in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has many years of practical experience in adult education. Vella illustrates 12 principles of dialogical education via powerful and entertaining stories of training lay educators from Nepal to the rural South. While the examples help me understand the concepts, I need more guided experience to apply them effectively.

“A significant problem in the education of adults is the perceived distance between teacher and student. All of the principles (in this book) are...means to close that gap and develop...dialogue. Learning to Listen constitutes a dialogue with readers about the power of dialogue in adult learning.” (Preface)

The basic assumption is that adult learning is best achieved in dialogue. Adults have enough life experience to be in dialogue with any teacher, about any subject, and will learn new knowledge or attitudes or skills best in relation to that life experience. (3)

The seven steps of planning to design a course:

1. Who? – Study the profile of the participants.
2. Why? – Study the situation
3. When? – Consider the time frame
4. Where? – The best location
5. What? – The content of the tra
ining
6. What for? – Set achievement-based objectives.
7. Then set tasks for the participants to do in order to learn the content. (89)

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See more book notes

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Coaching ~ Learning to Really Listen

Learning to Listen

“My wife keeps complaining I never listen to her...or something like that.”
—bumper sticker

It was Renè Descarte, the 16th century philosopher, who said, “I think, therefore I am.” Sarah, our granddaughter, says, “You are, therefore I talk.” Silence has never been golden to Sarah.

Some years ago I was sitting in our family room trying to read a Time magazine while, at the same time, Sarah was trying to carry on a conversation with me. To my shame I was paying little attention, responding to her comments with an occasional grunt.

Finally in exasperation she crawled into my lap and got in my face: “Papa,” she shouted, ”are you listening to me?” “Sarah,” I confessed, putting down my magazine, “I haven’t been listening well. Forgive me. I’ll listen to you now.”

That’s a commitment I want to keep on other occasions as well. As Frasier Crane would say, “I’m listening”—or, to be more honest, I’m trying to learn how to listen.

I want to listen well so that when I finish a conversation others will walk away knowing there’s at least one person in this care–less world who has some inkling of what they’re doing, thinking and feeling. I want to hear the hushed undertones of their hearts. I want them to know that I care.

Listening, however, doesn’t come easy for me. I’m paid to talk—a “word monger” to borrow Augustine’s apt description of a teacher. It comes as a revelation to me that I can do more with my ears than I can with my mouth.

In her book, Listening To Others, Joyce Huggett relates her experiences of listening to suffering people. She says they often talk about all she’s done for them. “On many occasions,” she writes, “I have not ‘done’ anything. I have ‘just listened.’ I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘just listening’ was indeed an effective way of helping others.”

This was the help Job’s wordy, would–be friends failed to give . They were “miserable comforters,” he complained (Job 16:2). “Oh, that I had someone to hear me!” (31:35). Job’s friends didn’t hear what he had to say; he wasn’t even sure God was listening.

Job is not alone in his longing. All human beings want to be heard, and listening is one of the best ways in the world to love them. Listening says, “You matter to me; I want to be a friend.”

Kenneth Grahame’s Badger had it down: “He sat in his arm-chair at the head of the table, and nodded gravely at intervals as the animals told their story; and he did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, and he never said, ‘I told you so,’ or, ‘Just what I always said,’ or remarked that they ought to have done so–and–so, or ought not to have done something else. The Mole began to feel very friendly towards him” (The Wind in the Willows).

Listening is a lost art these days. We don’t listen well and we aren’t used to being listened to. Most of our words simply fall to the ground. I have a friend who, when he goes to noisy parties and people ask how he’s doing, on occasion has replied quietly, “My business went belly–up this week, the bank foreclosed on my house, my wife left me, and I have terminal cancer.” “Wonderful!” one man murmured, as he pumped my friend’s hand and moved on. I keep wondering if I’ve done the same thing to others in other ways.

Here are some things I’m learning:

· When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking, I’m not listening.

· When I give unsolicited advice—I’m not listening. (Unsolicited advice always seems like criticism.)

· When I suggest they shouldn’t feel the way they do—I’m not listening.

· When I apply a quick fix to their problem—I’m not listening.

· When I fail to acknowledge their feelings—I’m not listening.

· When I fidget, glance at my watch and appear to be rushed—I’m not listening.

· When I fail to maintain eye contact—I’m not listening.

· When I don’t ask follow–up questions—I’m not listening.

· When I top their story with a bigger, better story of my own—I’m not listening.

· When they share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own—I’m not listening.


Really, all I have to do to be of help to others is to listen. I don’t have to talk or do, just listen.

Listening is hard work and most of us are unwilling to put in the time, and time is the operative word. Listening means setting aside our own timetable and tendency to hurry on to our next destination. It means settling into a relaxed, unhurried, leisurely pace. “Only in the ambiance of leisure,” Eugene Peterson writes, “do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance.”

In leisure we regard one another’s interests as more important than our own (Philippians 2:3). In leisure we say, “You are more significant than anything I have to do right now. You are the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forgo my other obligations, appointments and meetings. I have time for you.” In leisure, we listen long enough to hear the true heart so that if we do speak, we speak with some degree of wisdom.

A leisurely pace, a listening ear, a loving heart—qualities of a good conversationalist. Would that you and I, by God’s grace, will acquire them.

A wise old owl lived in a an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

David H. Roper

The "B" in LC2C: Brokenness

Whatever Happened to Brokenness?

We are dangerously close to forgetting what Christians in
past generations considered fundamental.

Earlier this month during a visit with my parents in Georgia, two of my daughters asked if they could listen to a tape recording my father made in 1962 when I was only 4 years old. So my dad rummaged through some drawers and found the old reel-to-reel tape, which was amazingly still intact. Then he went to the garage and found the old Realistic tape player that no one in the family had used since the Nixon administration.

To our surprise the scratchy tape actually played without breaking, and my girls laughed when they heard me—in a babyish Southern drawl—describing a Florida vacation and a fishing trip with my grandfather. After my “interview,” it switched to an older recording made in 1956. It included a conversation with my dad’s mother, who died before I was born.

“In so many churches today the cross is not mentioned.
The blood is avoided because we don’t want to offend visitors.”

It was eerie to hear her voice. I’d never heard it before yet it sounded hauntingly familiar. After that brief segment of the tape ended we listened to comments from my other three grandparents—all of whom died in the 1960s or 1970s. Their voices unearthed long-buried but fond memories.

These sounds from the past reminded me of some other distant voices I have been listening to recently. They are the voices of dead Christians—writers of classic books and songs that we are close to forgetting today.

Their names are probably somewhat familiar to you. Jonathan Edwards. John Wesley. Charles Finney. Catherine Booth. Andrew Murray. Owen Roberts. Charles Spurgeon. Fanny Crosby. Watchman Nee. A.W. Tozer. William Seymour. Corrie ten Boom. Leonard Ravenhill. Fuchsia Pickett.

All of them could be labeled revivalists. All challenged the Christians of their generation to embrace repentance and humility. They understood a realm of spiritual maturity and a depth of character that few of us today even aspire to obtain.

When I read their words I feel much the same way I did after hearing my grandparents’ voices on that old tape. I feel as if I am tapping into a realm of spirituality that is on the verge of extinction.

What was the secret of these great Christians who left their legacies buried in their books? They considered humility, selflessness and sacrifice the crowning virtues of the Christian journey. They called the church to die to selfishness, greed and ambition. They knew what it means to carry a “burden” for lost souls. They saw the glories of the kingdom and demanded total surrender. They challenged God’s people to pursue obedience—even if obedience hurts.

Even their hymns reflected a level of consecration that is foreign in worship today. They sang often of the cross and its wonder. Their worship focused on the blood and its power. They sang words of heart-piercing conviction: “My richest gain I count but loss / And pour contempt on all my pride / Forbid it Lord that I should boast / Save in the death of Christ, My God.”

In so many churches today the cross is not mentioned. The blood is avoided because we don’t want to offend visitors. And worship is often a canned performance that involves plenty of rhythm and orchestration but little or no substance. We can produce noise, but often there is no heart … and certainly no tears.

In the books Christians buy today you will find little mention of brokenness. We are not interested in a life that might require suffering, patience, purging or the discipline of the Lord. We want our blessings … and we want them now! So we look for the Christian brand of spiritualized self-help that is quick and painless.

We’re running on empty. We think we are sophisticated, but like the Laodiceans we are actually quite poor, blind and naked. We need to return to our first love but we don’t know where to begin the journey.

These voices from the past will help point the way. I’ve found myself drawn to reading books by Ravenhill, ten Boom, Murray and Tozer in recent days. I’ve even pulled out an old hymnal and rediscovered the richness of songs that I had thrown out years ago—because I thought anything old couldn’t possibly maintain a fresh anointing.

I realize now that I must dig for this buried treasure. We will never effectively reach our generation if we don’t reclaim the humility, the brokenness, the consecration and the travail that our spiritual forefathers considered normal Christianity.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma

===>Click headline to access website . . .

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why We Need A Culture Change in Our Congregations

Survey: Jesus Is Cool But His Church Is Not

By John McNeil of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand
Special to ASSIST News Service


DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND (ANS) -- Jesus is cool but his Church is not - in the minds of Dunedin people who don’t normally step foot in the door.

This was one of the findings of a research project carried out by Dunedin City Baptist, which conducted three focus groups to discover the perceptions and experiences of the general population.

Staff worker Mike Simpson says the project based the research on a similar survey carried out by the Bible Society of New South Wales, which was subsequently used as a basis for the “Jesus. All about Life” campaign, which is running across Australia.

The Australian focus groups found that the Church is associated with intolerance, hypocrisy and a lack of acceptance.

But Jesus "was to a large degree separated from all of these things ... many people indicated that they believed Jesus himself would reject the rule-bound, prescriptive, rigid and doctrinaire behaviors and attitudes that they themselves had rejected in their separation from involvement in formalized religion."

Mr Simpson said there were similar attitudes among the Dunedin groups. People had a negative image of the Church, which seemed to stem from negative reporting in the media and a feeling that they had come to church looking for something spiritual and had not found it.

One theme that emerged was the lack of authenticity experienced by a number of people in their contacts with the Church.

“While it was not everyone’s experience, some had not seen authentic Christianity being modeled within the Church. Others had not experienced the spiritual reality they were seeking and others had not been shown how Christianity relevantly answered the questions of life.”

While the Church institution scored consistently badly in the discussions, individual Christians who lived out their faith with integrity were not tarred with the same brush of hypocrisy.

Despite what they had heard or experienced of the Church, though, respondents still had a positive perception of Jesus. However, Mr Simpson felt that to a large extent they were remaking Jesus in their own image.

“Jesus was someone who is gracious, and fun to hang out with, which would come out partying – he wouldn’t be opposed to that sort of thing, not judgmental. He would be everyone’s best friend, a really cool guy. There wasn’t the whole gospel picture of Jesus.

“While people tended to interpret Jesus more in light of what they thought were positive traits, rather than based on a knowledge of the biblical accounts, we were still surprised how positively he was viewed.

“In the same way that people could distinguish Christians who were true to their faith from those who did not live it out – and often still saw the core of Christianity as positive despite the negative view they had of the institution – we were very pleased that, despite everything, Jesus is seen as an attractive figure.”

Another positive aspect which emerged from the focus groups was a general sense that the Church had a lot to offer as a place for community. “Community was the main advantage that group participants thought would come from being involved in Christianity.”

“A guide for decision-making and a sense of meaning and hope were advantages expressed. But the most consistently mentioned was the sense of belonging that a Christian community could provide.”

Mr. Simpson said the obvious conclusion was that if the Church was going to overcome some of the negative feelings and thoughts, a good way to do it would be to be socially active in the community.

“The research suggests that churches need to do better in terms of an authentic expression of Christianity and that we have a real opportunity to provide community in an increasingly fragmented world.

“It also suggests that Christians could be doing a better job of helping people to discover for themselves who Jesus is and exactly how and why he is such a positive figure.”


John McNeil, a veteran of 40 years of newspaper and radio journalism, is South Island editor for Challenge Weekly, New Zealand’s non-denominational, independent national Christian newspaper.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

CARE ~ Fort Wayne Model for Transforming Cities

Church intent on transforming its Fort Wayne neighborhood

By Karen L. Willoughby

Click to download Hi-Res Photo
Fort Wayne pastor Anthony Payne (far right) and his wife, Sandy, were joined by an array of featured guests for the June 2-4 dedication of a 76-acre residential and retail subdivision through which Come As You Are Church aims to reflect the Kingdom of God in the Indiana city�s �Southtown� community. Photo by Karen L. Willoughby
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (BP)--Over the next three years, Come As You Are Church plans to build 120 housing units -half of them single-family homes- on the 76 acres it owns in the south part of Fort Wayne, Ind.

It's a for-profit, $70 million, Kingdom-building enterprise for the church where about 600 people currently worship on Sunday mornings.

"We're here because the pastor [Anthony Payton] had a vision," said Alexander Hurt, a Boston-area pastor and one of the speakers at events held the first weekend in June to dedicate the property and project to God.

"The Residences at South Anthony Pointe is going to be a national model for transforming cities and towns," Hurt said
===>Click headline to access entire article . . .

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

CARE ~ Surprising Results About Social Justice


ChristianityToday.com

Related articles and links

Social Justice Surprise
Stephen Monsma proves that evangelicals are more active in welfare-to-work programs than any other religious group. Interview by Agnieszka Tennant

What fallacy does your study correct?
It's that mainline Protestants are more active in social service programs than evangelicals —and that evangelicals merely serve their own congregations and are more concerned with evangelism than with social welfare programs. I found the opposite to be true: Of the welfare-to-work programs in the four cities that I studied, there were more evangelical programs than mainline Protestant programs.

How many programs were faith-based, both mainline and evangelical?
Of the 500 programs we studied, 117 were faith-based. Of the 96 Protestant programs, 61 were evangelical and 35 were mainline.

When did you classify programs as evangelical?
I considered them evangelical if they identified themselves as interdenominational, evangelical, or Pentecostal, or as one of the denominations traditionally considered evangelical, such as Assemblies of God or Baptist or Salvation Army.

What are these programs like?
I made the distinction between evangelical and mainline programs on the basis of their theological orientation. This meant that a number of the programs that I classified as evangelical were predominantly African American in terms of their church sponsorship, though some [African American church programs] fell into the mainline denomination category as well.

Of the evangelical programs, 46 percent were predominantly African American—at least 80 percent of both their staff members and the recipients of their services were African American.

Many studies separate out African American from white evangelical programs. Why didn't your study?
Most of these studies examine individuals rather than social welfare programs. But I was interested in studying the impact of theological orientation upon social welfare activities, irrespective of ethnicity or race.

What did you find regarding evangelical programs?
Both from the surveys and the visits, it was clear that evangelical programs tend to integrate religious aspects into their services, whereas in mainline programs, Christianity tends to be more implicit.

For example, 48 percent of the evangelical programs reported that they encourage their clients to make personal religious commitments. And an impressive 77 percent reported that they would use religious values or motivations to encourage clients to change their attitudes or values===>Click headline to access complete interview . . .

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

SHARE ~ Praying for Neighbors (resoruce)

Praying the Lord's Prayer for Neighbors

A House of Prayer Devotional Guide

With the 28 devotional readings in this guide, you will learn how to deepen and enrich your relationships with God and with your neighbors through prayer. Click here to visit the Harvest Prayer Shop for more information . . .


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SHARE ~ Stair-Step Evangelism

Leader's Insight: Stair-Step Evangelism

It's slow, and to some people it may look like failure, but evangelism is all about steps.

by Stephen Craig Davis

When I met Tushan, he was a Hindu. Two years later, he's still a Hindu. Frank was a maintenance foreman and lapsed Catholic when I went to work for a major chemical company in 2003. When I left the company in 2005 a lot had changed. He'd been promoted to shift foreman.

Coming out of seminary, I'd have considered my relationship with these guys to be failures. Two years under my influence and neither had become a believer. But along the way, I've learned a few things about the nature of salvation …

| Finish this article |


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Thursday, July 06, 2006

What Stage Describes Your City Reaching Team?



Formation: Get to know each other and begin to discuss why each person is here and what they expect from the group.

Exploration: Build relationships and tell your story. Clarify the group purpose and objectives. Look for patterns that are productive or that cause the group to get stuck.

Transition: Groups can get stuck here and live in pseudo-community. Face the truth about the group. What can be improved? What is working? Be honest but humble. Re-affirm goals and vision. Commit to move ahead and get "unstuck."

Action: Work on spiritual growth practices like study, prayer and service. Reach out to others in need; invite some new folks to the group.

Birth/Termination: Leadership multiplication and development is the key. Launch out into new projects. Help a new group get started. Or, if the group has served its purpose, bring the group to a close and celebrate what God has done.

Each stage presents opportunities for growth – so take courage!

(A full description of these stages can be found in Leading Life-Changing Small Groups)


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CARE ~ A Guide for Congregational Care Ministry


Note from Phil:
My friend Phil Olsen has provided the table of contents to a very biblical and practical guide that leads congregations and ministries into holistic caring; taking care of body, soul and spirit. The previous post is a sample section from the book to which this guide relates.

Becoming a Church That Makes a Difference:
A Guide to the Holistic Journey

Preface: The Holistic Ministry Journey (3)

PART I. Introduction (7)

Stages of Ministry Development (8)

The Ministry Vision Team (14)

      Guiding principles (16)

PART II. Pursuing Spiritual Power for Mission (19)

      Ministry Prayer Partners (20)

      Personal Devotions (21)

      Holistic Ministry Celebration Service (23)

      Maintaining Unity: Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, & Conflict-Resolution (26)

PART III. Seven Questions to Navigate Your Journey: An Overview (29)

Scouting the Terrain

        1. How can we learn about the journey? (Bible study & readings) (30)

Mapping out the Journey

        2. Where are we in our missional journey? (Ministry assessment) (31)

        3. What is our unique potential for ministry? (Church self-study) (32)

        4. What is our ministry setting? (Community study) (33)

Embarking on the Vision

        5. Where is God calling us? (Vision discernment) (34)

        6. Who else is on the journey? (Explore & connect) (36)

        7. How do we get there from here? (Ministry planning) (37)

PART IV. Detailed Guides (39)

Suggested Holistic Ministry Reading List (40)

Bible study (41)

Ministry assessment (43)

Ministry program evaluation (55)

Church self-study (58)

Community study (67)

Mission / vision discernment (83)

Philosophy of ministry (88)

Retreat (89)

Explore & connect (921)

Ministry program planning (95)

Next steps planning (103)

PART V. Ministry Month (107)

PART VI. Tools for the Journey (113)

      Pursue spiritual power for mission

      Learn about holistic ministry

      Assess your church's ministry activities and attitudes

      Learn about your church's identity and capacity for ministry

      Learn about your community context for ministry

      Discern a direction for ministry

      Plan a ministry program

Price? $20 (includes shipping)

To order: email Phil Olson @ Philip.Olson@verizon.net


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CARE ~ Stages Toward Holistic MInistry

[From Part 1: The Road to Mission, from
Becoming a Make a Church That Makes a Difference:
A Guide to the Holistic Ministry Journey
by Unruh, with Sider & Olson]

Stages of Ministry Development


No church will travel the same path to becoming a holistic congregation. Each congregation starts in a different place, has a unique makeup and character, and ministers to a particular community context. While there are no simple 1-2-3 steps to holistic ministry, there are three distinct phases that most churches experience along the way. Some of the points under each phase may follow in sequence; others may develop simultaneously. Here we give an overview of the process.

Stage 1: Setting the Stage

    ! Prepare the leadership team (chap. 9): Develop a team of leaders (clergy and lay), who share spiritual passion, a holistic theology, and positive working relationships.

    ! Prepare the congregation (chaps. 6, 8): Strengthen the congregation’s spiritual vitality, relational health, and holistic theology.

    ! Nurture a commitment to outreach (chap. 7): Develop an “outreach-minded” focus, and build bridges of belonging and love to the community.

    ! Know your congregation (chap. 12): Assess your congregation’s identity, beliefs, organizational systems, and ministries in terms of strengths and weaknesses for building holistic ministry.

    ! Assess the community context (chap. 12): Define your community of ministry and become familiar with its demographics, culture, systems, assets, and needs.

Stage 2: Unleashing the Vision

    ! Seek God’s vision (chap. 12): Reflect on your congregation and community assessments, wait prayerfully on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and begin developing your holistic ministry vision.

    ! Share the vision with the congregation (chap. 13): Cultivate the congregation’s understanding and sense of ownership of the ministry vision.

    ! Rally the congregation around the vision (chap. 13): Equip and recruit members to connect to the outreach vision in practical ways, while keeping a healthy balance with worship, discipleship, and internal nurture.

    ! Organize for ministry (chap. 10): “Plan the work and work the plan” for strategic implementation of your ministry vision, adjusting the organizational systems as necessary to be consistent with your mission.

    ! Gather ministry resources and partners (chap. 10, 11): Generate the necessary assets of funds, space, personnel, and skills, and develop relationships with other groups who share common goals.

Stage 3: Sustaining the Vision

    ! Address fears and conflicts (chap. 14): Respond to clashes and concerns in positive ways, helping your congregation adjust to the changes associated with a change in mission focus.

    ! Develop new leaders (chap. 9): Identify and train potential leaders to meet expanding program needs and to invest in the next generation of ministry.

    ! Build in ongoing accountability: With feedback from the congregation, the community, and mentors (individuals and churches), evaluate whether ministries are holistic, effective, and faithful to your unique calling.

    ! Maintain a fresh vision: Continually adapt priorities and projects in light of the changing congregational and community context for ministry, while affirming your core holistic mission.

    ! Keep growing: Celebrate the work of God in and through your congregation, and seek God’s guidance for the next stage in ministry.

Each church must prayerfully consider where it is now in the process, where its strengths and weaknesses lie, and what its next steps should be. Some churches have a heart for holistic ministry, but their efforts falter for lack of stable leadership and internal unity. Their priority is strengthening the spiritual and organizational health of their congregation, setting the stage so that leaders and lay people can effectively fulfill the vision God has given them. Other churches have strong leaders and are wonderfully nurturing, but all of their ministry is focused inward; these churches need to work on teaching holistic theology and developing a love for the community. Some churches have most of the pieces in place but lack direction. What they need is a process for seeking God’s vision, supported by information about the congregation and the community.

Wherever your congregation is now, the key point is to commit yourself by faith to take the next step in reaching your community with good news and good works.

===>Click headline to read more about this book . . .

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SHARE ~ A "New" Wave of Evangelism

The Way to Sustain Evangelism
by Bill Hybels

More information about Just Walk Across the Room During the span of my adult life, I’ve witnessed dozens of evangelistic fads. Perhaps you can remember some of the eras I’ve seen rise and fall. Let’s see, there was the Tract Era. The Televangelist Era. The Bus Ministry Era. There were eras revolving around saving professionals, saving women, saving men, saving the rich, the poor, homemakers, movie stars, you name it.

And to the extent that any of these approaches brought people to Christ, I am genuinely grateful.

But each time a new approach surfaced, I secretly wondered how long the wave would last, how long the movement could possibly be sustained. Sure, even I hopped on a few of them, but I knew they all lacked longevity.

In the next few decades, I’m quite certain there will be even more “new and exciting” approaches to evangelism. And I’ll say it again: If people find faith as a result of them, who am I to criticize? But as far as I’m concerned, there is only one paradigm that will not wear thin with the passing of time. These days, I’m more convinced than ever that the absolute highest value in personal evangelism is staying attuned to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit.

You read it right. The only thing you need in order to sustain an effective approach to evangelism year after year after year is an ear fine-tuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

One Church, Many Congregations

===>Click headline to access article . . .

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Monday, July 03, 2006

U.S. News Commentary on Servant Leadership

U.S. News & World Report
June 19, 2006

BAD NEWS FOR BULLIES
by David Gergen

There is a distinctly different form of leadership that has arisen in recent years ... the "servant leader"

In the burgeoning literature about how best to lead, Robert K. Greenleaf famously coined that phrase in an essay titled "The Servant as Leader."

Greenleaf argues that too many leaders in the past have been driven by a need for power or authority. They have set up hierarchical systems and, for a long while, could achieve results. Today, however, people no longer grant automatic deference to a leader and seek instead less coercive, more creative relationships. "A new moral principle is emerging," writes Greenleaf, in which followers will "respond only to individuals who are chosen as leaders because they are proven and trusted as servants."

The idea has ancient roots. Current literature on servant leadership points out that Christ taught his disciples that in order to lead, they must "wash one another's feet," that they must learn to serve each other, and many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Greenleaf adds that in the early days of the republic, leaders like George Washington signed their letter, "Your most humble and obedient servant."

Even so, the idea is taking hold in high-performing organizations that the leader's role has changed. Increasingly, the best leaders are those who don't order but persuade; don't dictate but draw out; don't squeeze but grow the people around them. They push power out of the front office, down into the organization, and become a leader of leaders. Most important, as Peter Drucker insisted, they understand that the people in an organization are its No. 1 asset.

At a time when young professionals are looking for a different set of values in work - studies show they're less interested in power and prestige than in positive relations with colleagues and interesting challenges - the bully may finally see his end. That can hardly come soon enough.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

SHARE ~ When "Laws" & 'Steps" Don't Connect, Try A New Gospel Paradigm

Holy Conversation
Richard Peace

{Note from Phil} -- In the final segment of the book, Holy Conversation, the Lost Art of Witness, the author gives us a new paradigm of explaining the Gospel. This new way of getting to the truth of the Gospel is very timely, since less people seem to respond to steps or laws as in the past.
book cover


FROM IVP ~ Today people are fascinated by spirituality, and they have lots of questions. Who better to talk with them than Christians? Trouble is, many of us don't know how to talk about our faith or are uneasy about religious salesmanship and canned evangelistic formulas. We are afraid of button-holing others, being offensive or saying something wrong. We simply don't know how to express our faith naturally--in everyday language.

In Holy Conversation Richard Peace teaches us how to engage in easy and comfortable conversation about the good news of Jesus--the pressure is off. Using small, easy steps, he explains the gospel in common terms and encourages us in practical ways to share our faith with friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Written as a guide for small groups, Holy Conversation is designed to be completed in twelve weekly sessions (other options are provided). Not only do group members read about holy conversation, they actually engage one another in spiritual conversation. This is the ideal resource for helping laypeople to become competent and confident Christian conversationalists!

===>Click headline to access website . . .

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