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The Sticks

October 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

I had the great opportunity to spend a few days at a church conference called The Sticks with a few of our leaders from Cornerstone. This conference is different in that it is geared towards churches in small towns. I’ve been to a lot of different conferences and seminars over the years, but this one had to be one of the best for us.

So much of what is taught at the big conferences are geared toward larger urban and suburban areas. Small towns and rural areas are forgotten and written off. But over the last few days, I was able to learn from and meet many other pastors who are facing similar challenges.Ministry in rural areas can be tough at times, and we face unique problems that only small town pastors understand. I want to give a big thanks to Cornerstone Community Church of Orangeburg, South Carolina for hosting this event. I’m definitely planning on attending again. I’ll try to share some of my thoughts about what I learned over the next few weeks.

Who are you reaching?

October 14, 2011 — Leave a comment

We like to think our churches are places where everyone is welcome. But if we are truly honest with ourselves, the choices we make in structuring our churches will tend to make some people feel more welcome than others. If you give extra attention to people who are well dressed and follow up with the “important” people, but you neglect those who are down and out, who do you think you will attract? If you blast the music so loud that everyone needs earplugs, what effect will that have on how older people feel welcomed and accepted? The truth is that every choice we make will either make people feel welcomed, or it will let them know that your church may not be the best fit.

Recently I was talking with someone at a church that is very focused on reaching their community. They serve their community in numerous ways, and they attract people from all walks of life. In talking with them, they made a statement that has really made me think. In their words, “most church people don’t last long here, because we expect too much.” They went on to say that many of their visitors are people from other churches who are dissatisfied and looking for another church. They come to this church because they hear of all the great things that are happening. But they easily get offended and leave when they realize they aren’t the center of attention. This church is successful because their people have learned to be servants. They know the purpose of church is not to cater to their every desire. Instead, they ask how we can share God’s love to the community in which we live.

Too many churches have structured themselves to make people happy. But once you go down that road, you will start attracting people who can never be pleased.  I’m afraid that in our desire to be welcoming to everyone, we have created a culture of church consumerism. People need Jesus, and when we teach them how to love God and love others, we are taking the focus away from self-centeredness and placing it on the Christ we serve.

My challenge for you:  Think and pray about the choices that you make as a leader of your church. What things lead to self-centeredness, and what things lead to a selfless devotion to Christ?

I needed to do a quick webinar last week for website training. I stumbled on join.me from the logmein team. It’s incredibly easy to setup a webinar and share your screen with others. If you ever need to share what you are working on with someone else, then check out this service. Here’s a video that shows how it works.

Okay, you might read that the wrong way, but this is a good thing. My wife and 13 year old daughter are planning on going on a mission trip to Nicaragua next month. I am super excited for them, because I have been on similar trips for the past two years with Because We Care Ministries. This picture is of a little girl I met at one of the villages. When we arrived to fix a hot meal for the people there, she lined up and waited for her food. So many people are hungry and hurting, and we have a chance to meet both their physical and spiritual needs.

Mission trips really open your eyes to the world around you. I’m excited for both my wife and daughter since neither have traveled outside of the country. I’m also glad they will be learning and serving together. They will be ministering in the northwest part of Nicaragua, reaching out to remote villages to share the love of Christ. Our church has formed a strong partnership with this ministry, and we have sent numerous people there to serve. But the reality is that it’s also expensive to go on a trip like this. We’ve been saving, but we aren’t quite there. Here’s how you can help me send my wife out of the country :-)

Pray: Prayer is powerful and I ask that you pray for their trip (and pray for me at home with two boys for a week)

Cakes, Cheesecakes, & Desserts: My wife is simply incredible in the kitchen. If you are interested in having her prepare a dessert for you, please email her or call her and she will give you a price. All proceeds will go towards the trip. Also, she is a Pampered Chef consultant, so let her know if you would like to do a show.

Websites: Many of you know that I design websites in my spare time. I’m trying to do a few extra websites this month to help raise the money. If you are interested in a site, please go to FEDesign.net to find our more info.

And finally, if you simply want to donate to help us, you can send money through paypal by clicking on the link below.

 

 

I appreciate your help. We’re trusting God to provide the necessary funds to make this trip a reality.

Tony Morgan understands churches, and he has been writing about the organizational details of church for quite some time. Lately, his focus has been on releasing shorter eBooks instead of traditionally published titles. You can download his latest eBook, Hanging Up the Leisure Suit: How to Get Unstuck, by going to http://tonymorganlive.com/hanging-up-the-leisure-suit/

This is the latest in a series of books about the cultural changes taking place in our culture and how these changes affect churches. The first book in the series tackles the reasons why your church is stuck, and now he turns his attention to the solution by discussing how you can turn things around and get unstuck. This is a leadership book about strategy and systems, and it is helpful for pastors and church leaders.

If your church is stuck in the past, maybe it’s time to consider making some changes. Here are some signs from the book that your church is stuck.

  • The church has stopped growing.
  • The congregation is aging.
  • Giving has declined.
  • Spiritual growth has stalled, and people are just “consuming” ministry.
  • People aren’t serving.
  • People have stopped reaching their neighbors.
  • The church isn’t developing leaders.
  • Communications are confusing and lack purpose.

This is a short book (really more of a long article) full of practical advise and wisdom. The page on characteristics of a healthy system is awesome and definitely worth your time to read. You don’t have anything to lose, so go ahead and download it. I really think this is the type of book that will help churches reclaim their mission and break free from the status quo.

Finally, I encourage you to check out all of Tony’s books on his website. While you at it, check out Tony’s blog. If you are not already reading it, you definitely need to add it to your blog reading list.

Nerds and Geeks

October 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

I saw this over on ChurchMag, and I couldn’t resist. I just had to share it with you.

 

So, which one do you think I am?

I’m a serious gadget geek, so I’ve been reading about the speculation about the new Amazon tablet for the last several months. It’s finally here, and it definitely looks interesting. Here are the quick specs for the Kindle Fire:

  • 7″ Display (smaller than the 9.7″ iPad screen, but much bigger than large 4″ cell phones)
  • 8 Gig of internal memory, but you can also utilize Amazon Cloud Storage
  • you can read books, magazines, newspapers, play games, browse the web  and more
  • wifi only, no 3g support
  • battery life: 8 hours of continuous reading
  • dual-core processor, so it’s fast enough to run games
  • it runs a special version of Android 2.3
  • fast web-browser in addition to multiple Android apps
  • all at a price of $199

So what do I think? I like the price and I like the device. The iPad still will have many more apps, so this is definitely not an iPad killer, but I do think they will sell a lot of these devices. It will become even more attractive once the hard-core enthusiasts figure out a way to root the device and install custom roms like they have on the Nook Color.

For ministry, this would be a great book reader, but I still think I would prefer a non-color Kindle because of the longer battery life.  I think the Fire is also too small to preach from with the 7″ screen. I really can’t think of a many cases where I would use something like this. Overall, I really like it, but I don’t have a reason to buy one. I already have a great android cell phone, and my wife’s iPad has everything I need and more.  If you are interested in the Kindle, be sure to check out the new cheaper $79 & $99 versions on their website.  Here’s a video for the new Kindle Fire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUtmOApIslE

click to download flyer

This Sunday, we are hosting a big youth event here in Galax. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew about the details. Cornerstone and First Baptist are teaming up with LOM youth ministry in order to reach out to the teens in our community. This event will be at First Baptist Church in Galax and will start at 4pm with all types of outdoor fun and games. We’ll have everything from organized soccer and volleyball to an outdoor rock-climbing wall. Then at 6:30, we’ll be moving inside for a great concert by Coffey Anderson (the concert is free and open to the public, adults included).

It should be a great day, help us invite others and spread the word. You can download a flyer by clicking on the image to the left. Thanks for your help.

To learn more about Coffey, visit his website at www.icoffey.com.

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