FACING SACRED COWS

This is a great post by Todd Rhoades with some questions worth asking. = Steve

Poking the Sacred Cow in your church… what should you be asking?
Posted by Todd Rhoades in Leadership on Nov 26th, 2012 | 4 comments

I read an interesting article over at FastCompany this morning about an Australian hotel company that is changing the 11AM checkout rule.You can check out their unbelievably annoying promo for what they are calling the “Overstay Checkout” here:

According to the article, the hotel company started first by looking at their guests biggest gripes: having to check out early (by 11AM).

The truth is… when the hotel was asked why someone HAD to absolutely check out at 11AM if no one else had booked the room the next night, the hotel did not have a good answer.

It appeared to be a sacred cow — something you do but don’t know why.

That got me thinking.

What ‘sacred cow’ questions are we afraid to ask in the church.

Let’s take Sunday’s for example:

1. Why do we HAVE meet on Sundays?

2. Why do we HAVE to meet on Sunday MORNINGS?

3. Why are our services 60 minutes long?

4. Why do we do 30 minutes of music/announcements and 30 minutes of preaching?

5. Why do we use an offering PLATE?

6. Why do we do everything the way we do it?

What is YOUR church’s sacred cow question?

What should you think about changing that would really shake things up?

What groaning/griping to you hear the most from your people? Is this tied in any way, shape, or form to some type of sacred cow question you should be re-asking and re-answering?

Something to think about…

// Read more here…

10 BAD CHURCH WORK HABITS

From the archives of Sam Rainer’s excellent blog CHURCH FORWARD.

10 Bad Church Work Habits

Published June 10, 2009

CNN.com recently posted on 10 of the worst work habits. After reading the article, I could not help but to view these bad habits through the lens of church life. So I’ve reworked the top ten list as it pertains to the daily tasks of ministry. You can read the original article here.

1. Procrastination. It’s harmful at any level, but the effects of this bad habit are compounded at higher leadership levels. If a ministry leader or senior pastor consistently procrastinates, then everyone is forced into a last minute fiasco. If top leaders don’t plan ahead, then by default no one plans ahead.

2. Sloppy communication. My second biggest pet peeve is poor grammar and careless writing. Write in complete sentences. Proof the worship guide. Check press releases for time and location errors. Stop splitting infinitives. Fill in the email subject line. And don’t chew gum or crunch ice in a meeting, which is my biggest pet peeve.

3. Confusing informal with disrespectful. I doubt most pastors would prefer to be called “The Most Holy Reverend Doctor.” In my experience, most church staff are on a first name basis. In church work, a direct superior may also be a best friend, but authority and submission must remain intact.

4. Taking advantage of leeway. For me, one of the most refreshing parts of being called into ministry from the corporate world was flexible hours. I work longer, more intense hours at the church, but I don’t have to be at my desk for specific times anymore. I’ve seen many workaholic pastors and many lazy pastors, with very few in between. Neither extreme is admirable, but lazy pastors are especially harmful to Kingdom work.

5. Refusing to mingle. It’s a sad truth, but you can work at a church and never be among the people.

6. Consistently running late or going over. A person who does not honor time parameters erodes trust. Occasional offenses are forgivable. A pattern of time abuse shows disrespect for others.

7. Staying in a silo. Most midsize to large churches have departments, programs, and separate ministries. Clear distinctions of job responsibilities accompany these silos. The mission killer is usually not the silo. The mission killer is the “it’s not my job” attitude.

8. Acting as the resident contrarian. “Yes” men and women are annoying. People who always believe their ideas are better are doubly annoying.

9. Electronically badmouthing the church. A blog is tantamount to speaking on a street corner with a megaphone. Not too many people would air dirty laundry that way. An even more cowardly action is blog-bashing a church.

10. Politicking. Church work requires smoothing edges and rubbing shoulders with the right people. Consistent politicking, however, makes people question a person’s motivation.

The list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add any long-term bad behaviors that you believe are detrimental to the church.

WHY TEENS, YOUNG ADULTS ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH

BY SHERYL YOUNG from Yahoo News Service

ANALYSIS | For the last decade, churches in America have felt the pinch of young people exiting faster than you can say “Welcome to Sunday Morning Service.” Why do our young people want out?

At a glance, it’s no puzzlement to the man on the street. As discussed in my recent article, “New Organization, Book Explores Reversing the Church’s Bad Reputation,” numerous controversial issues have been handled ungracefully while trying to tell the rest of the world about Jesus and His love.

But for Christians who wish to return America to a more Bible-friendly atmosphere, there are even deeper conflicts and symptoms to be recognized.

Starting from kids on up, a great variety of reasons for the exodus exists. The following are gathered and generalized from well-informed sources: “Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith …and How to Bring Them Back,” (Drew Dyck, Moody Publishing, Oct 2010), “Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it” (Ken Ham & Britt Beemer, Todd Hillard, New Leaf, Aug 2009); “The Last Christian Generation” (McDowell, Green Key, 2006); and Lifeway Christian Resource Surveys from 2007 and 2010.

* Churched kids and teens spend six of seven days each week hearing other people say how judgmental Christianity is, and that the Bible should be taboo.

* Churches use outdated methods of Sunday School, rotating the same Bible stories year-in and year-out without relating the morals to daily living. When kids want to know why someone like Gabrielle Giffords was shot, they don’t need another lesson on Noah’s Ark.

* Teens can only eat so much pizza at church social events before they see through this thinly veiled attempt at keeping them occupied and out of trouble.

* Those surveyed say there aren’t enough good reasons given for holding Bible beliefs other than “the preacher says so…” or “your parents say so.”

* Sometimes kids are routinely kept out of “grown-up church.” From infancy to four years old, they’re in nursery. Then they get “children’s church” with a short Bible lesson, crafts and refreshments. For teens, a separate youth service geared to “their” music. By eighteen, they’ve never been expected to sit through a whole Sunday service. It’s culture shock.

* Young people can see that the Church in general hasn’t yet been able to conquer racial reconciliation, domestic abuse and the rampant church divorce rate…sometimes in their own families.

* Older generations won’t blend a moderate amount of contemporary music with traditional hymns, to show young people that newer ideas are respected.

* Or, the Church feels pressured to impress their younger members with new technological avenues. So they discard all the old hymns that were written out of peoples’ struggles with life, pride and suffering. Thus, the newer generations don’t hear about how God can help them through hard times.

* Parents are expecting the church to teach what may fall within their own responsibility.

* But then, young parents raised in the last twenty years have themselves grown up under the new pop psychology of never receiving or deserving any discipline or criticism. They’ve seen church become irrelevant. Now, as parents, they’re hesitant to make (or even ask) their kids to go to church or develop a backbone in faith.

* Lastly, everyone’s too busy for church. There are too many other attractions in life.

Many church leaders may pick up these books and surveys only to find the suggested answers to the problems are things their church already tried. Others may not have the means or congregational support to implement changes.

And still more will find it such a daunting task that they just throw up their hands. Maybe it’s time to do just that — throw hands up and pray, rather than create more programs — and leave the rest up to God.

Sheryl Young has been freelance writing for newspapers, magazines, organizations and websites since 1997. Her specialty is American politics, education and society as they intersect with religion. Credits include Community Columnist for the Tampa Tribune Newspaper, Interview Columnist with Light & Life Magazine, and a National First Place “Roaring Lambs” Writing Award from the Amy Foundation.

THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Advent has begun. It is season of the church year that is often lost in the rush to Christmas. The season when the church focuses on the expectation of the Messiah.  When in the midst of a people living in deep darkness, a voice begins crying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

A lot of churches use this season to draw attention to themselves, to their presence in the community.  Christmas carolers and acts of kindness in the malls. Food drives for the poor and the needy.  Festive decorations adorning their facilities and musical extravaganzas in their sanctuaries and auditoriums.  Christmas mailers to everyone in their zip code and block parties for the children of the neighborhood.

All very good things.

But here’s an important question.  What are you planning to do as a church that will continue to bless and transform your neighborhood after the Advent and Christmas season have passed into memory?  You may add to the festive spirit of the season.  You may even pontificate that Jesus is the reason for the season so people won’t let that truth get lost. But what is your plan for ministering amidst the hopes and fears of the New Year?

Because you’re going to be around after Christmas, aren’t you? Will your neighbors? Will they be blessed by it?

21 QUESTIONS I’VE BEEN ASKING MYSELF LATELY

This appeared on Timmy Brister’s blog Provocations and Pantings in February 2010.

Several of you will find these questions familiar, but their familiarity does not minimize the piercing factor for this pastor.  I wanted to put them out there in case others might find them helpful.

1.  If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?

2.  If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?

3.  If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)

4.  What are the subcultures within the church?  Do they attract or detract from the centrality of the gospel and mission of the church?

5.  Is our church known more for what we are not/against than what we are/for?

6.  What are we allowing to be our measuring stick of church health? (attendance vs. discipleship; seating capacity vs. sending capacity; gospel growth, training on mission, etc.)

7.  Are the priorities of our church in line with the priorities of Christ’s kingdom?

8.  If our members had 60 seconds to explain to an unbeliever what our church is like, what would you want them to say?  How many do you think are saying that?

9.  If the invisible kingdom of God became visible in our city, what would that look like?

10.  In what ways have we acted or planned in unbelief instead of faith?

11.  As a pastor, is my time spent more in fixing people’s problems or helping people progress in faith through training/equipping them for ministry?

12.  Are the people we are reaching more religious or pagan?

13.  What can we learn about our evangelism practices by the kind of people are being reached with the gospel?

14.  What will it take to reach those in our city who are far from God and have no access to the gospel?

15.  What percentage of our growth is conversion growth (vs. transfer growth)?

16.  How many people know and are discharging their spiritual gifts in active service and building up of the body of Christ?

17.  How many people do I know (and more importantly know me) on a first name basis in my community and city who do not attend our church?

18.  Am I using people to get ministry done, or am I using ministry to get people “done”?

19.  Is the vision we are casting forth honoring both God’s heart for the lost (builder) and God’s passion for a pure church (perfecter)?

20. If money and space were not an issue, what is one thing we ought to dream for God to do in our midst where it is impossible for anyone to get the credit except for the omnipotent hand of God?

21.  If being a church planting church is comprised of disciple-making disciples, then how are we doing?

10 MOST COMMON MISTAKES IN DECISION-MAKING

  1. PLUNGING IN | Gather information before thinking about the root of the issue…
  2. FRAME BLINDNESS | Set out to solve the wrong problem by losing sight of most important objectives…
  3. FRAME CREEP| Define the problem from one perspective or unduly define it by too many…
  4. OVERCONFIDENCE | Fail to collect factual information because you are too sure of your own assumptions…
  5. SHORTSIGHTED SHORTCUTS | Rely on most convenient information without questioning if it fits the situation…
  6. SHOOTING FROM THE HIP | “Wing it” with final choice rather than follow systematic process…
  7. GROUP FAILURE | Assume smart choices automatically follow smart people and allow group to self-manage…
  8. FOOL YOURSELF | Fail to interpret outcomes of past decisions for what they really say or rewrite history to protect your ego…
  9. DON’T KEEP SCORE | Assume experience is obvious and there is no need to track results or look for lessons…
  10. LACK OF AUDIT | Pay attention only to the pieces without evaluating how the parts

Based on the book DECISION TRAPS

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