Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make a Unique Contribution

I have had the opportunity this week to talk, have coffee and chat with three people that were all in 'job search' mode. These were all Christian men, each one with a strongly profound faith, who have found themselves in transition for a number of reasons.

None of the reasons for their job loss were apparently related to unsatisfactory work performance. Nevertheless, all of these men now have a unique opportunity to not only find a job that provides for their family, but also experience a momentary pause in their busy life

These men weren't planning on putting their lives on hold. They had plans for vacations, were looking forward to their "life as normal" and one had a baby on the way. Family finances always take a hit and they are concerned but are trying to not be worried. They know that even with Federal-State Unemployment Compensation and a little savings in the bank there are always financial and emotional challenges during times when people are between jobs.

The thing that was remarkable to me and very apparent as I was talking with them was how much all of them are just as interested in finding exactly the right place and position for them and walking with God in this process as they are in finding a job.

They all knew that God is most interested in the unique contribution that we can make during this very brief time we have on earth. Jobs can come and go but with each job comes an opportunity to serve, to grow and to become the person that God wants us to become. God is at work in our lives, particularly when we let Him.

Whether it is a ministry calling or an opportunity to serve a company that provides great products and services, we all need to pause from time to time and thank God for the opportunity to find and make a unique contribution.

King Solomon, the wisest of all the earthly kings once wrote, “Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your srength” (Ecc. 9:10)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

iPod, iPhone … iChurch?

I admit it; I’m hooked on some of the new instant message technology. I’m never more than a few thumb-clicks away from sending a message to all my friends on my ever-present Blackberry.

Technology has certainly been embraced by church-goers for ages. Just a generation or so ago, the advent of radio and television created opportunities to reach new people and create new pulpits for both the gifted preacher and the not-so-gifted.

Social networking, including instant-messaging, Facebook andTwitter(“texts, posts and tweets”), make it even easier to be in touch with not only our friends and the people in church but send a “shout out” to just about anyone that wants to listen. As with any new technology, there are new ethical challenges that accompany its embrace.

Our words are powerful

Our words are powerful forces and while we may be reminded that Scripture says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), all too often people that are tweeting and posting forget that their texts, posts and tweets will have similar consequences.

Recently, there was the first recorded occurrence of “text rage” actually leading to the severe beating of a 15-year old Florida student after a brief flurry of text messages earlier in the day with her attacker. We don’t have to look to police reports however to see the impact of inappropriate texts, posts and tweets within the church.

Social networking is an instant way to communicate with hundreds and even thousands of people but an inappropriate comment, word or accusation, once delivered cannot be retrieved. The harm is already done. I know of an unfortunate situation that involved a young pastor who posted just too much personal information on his MySpace profile. Anything posted on these social networking sites is never private and is really never restricted to the few friends that have been granted permission. Quite often, the most outrageous and damaging information, videos and messages are forwarded and reposted and can never be recovered.

Creating healthy boundaries

All of us really need to rethink the issue of privacy and formulate some healthy boundaries when it comes to our texts, messages and tweets. Individuals need to remember that comments that you may have had in private are not to be made public and all texts, messages and tweets have to be considered public. Christians should not be “flaming” or participating in rude spamming, trash-talking and arguing on the social networking sites.

Churches and other ministries should also be especially careful about the release of confidential information and the casual misuse of copyrighted material which seems to be all too common today. Churches should also consider whether unedited “comments” are allowed by anyone replying to posts or if some supervision is required.

Social media is a creative and inexpensive tool that can be used but is very easily abused.

By Ken Behr

reprint from ChurchExecutive.com April 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Multiplying is Not Necessarily Growth

Small Groups, LifeGroups, GrowthGroups, or whatever they may be called in your local church are "in".

More and more churches are finding that encouraging people to naturally connect outside of the church building during the week and "do life together" is good.

It's good because small groups are very Biblical, and are great ways for people to become more like Christ, to get to know people, to grow in your faith and exercise your gifts.

There is a time however in the life of every small group that the members dread. That's when it is suggested that perhaps it's time for the group to multiply. "Multiply" is a nice way of saying that the group needs to split into two groups.

Multiplying groups, while likely an objective of the Pastor, isn’t always an objective of a group.

Groups enjoy the fellowship of the small community and it is in community that they derive their strength and are nurtured and become interdependent. It’s not easy therefore for the group to be completely selfless and willing to divide and multiply. However, there are ways that churches have accomplished this and still encouraged strong fellowships to emerge.

One of the devices that can be helpful is to have regular “seasons” for small groups. For example, encouraging small group formation on an annual basis (for example, every September) leads to many new groups being formed and an easy process for previous groups to be reformulated.

Another process that has worked in the past is that when groups reach a size that it becomes too difficult to stay united and meet together (i.e. in excess of twenty or thirty people). It may be better to spin off two or three smaller groups but allow them to remain within the large “mother” group. Often these spin-off-groups continue to maintain an affinity and connection with each other, and even meet all together on an infrequent basis which can be healthy and encouraging for all of the spin-off-group members.

The Real Virus Is Fear

There is a virus that is attacking and ravaging this country but it is not Covid-19.   It is fear.  This fear is being spread by people ...