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I talked about Facebook and Twitter on Sunday during my message. Here is a creative video by Igniter Media telling the story of Jesus using Twitter. Enjoy!

I’m really excited about the new book from Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson titled Move. It is the latest book from the Reveal research project about Spiritual Growth. Activities and events don’t automatically make people grow in their faith, and this book takes a hard look at how we can truly help people mature in Christ. I have read the previous two books in the series and I just picked this one up on Kindle today. As a pastor, I don’t want our church to go through the motions. I truly want to see hearts and lives transformed. Read the quote below and watch the video about the book to find out more.

 

Are people in our churches really growing closer to Christ? Based on surveys from over 280,000 people in more than 1,200 diverse churches, Move presents the startling results of the latest REVEAL research. The book draws on compelling stories from people of varying spiritual maturity, as well as pastors who are equally candid as they talk about the spiritual health of the American church.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0CAOmniD6A

Back to School

August 24, 2011 — 2 Comments

I’m officially a student again! I started taking classes this week through Liberty University Online. About 8 years ago I started taking classes for my Master’s degree through Liberty’s online seminary. At the time I was working a full-time engineering job, doing part-time youth ministry, and raising a young family. I took a few classes, but I found I had too much to do and not enough time to get it done. So I put my plans aside and waited for the right time to jump back in.

It took me a while to get to the place where I was ready to think about classes again, but I finally started the process. A few things have definitely changed. They don’t mail out VCR tapes now :-) and the internet has really changed how you communicate with professors and other students. Liberty does a great job providing opportunities for people everywhere to take classes. I was able to find a scholarship and work out the financing, and I signed back up. I’m currently working on a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership Studies. I believe that all leaders should be learners, and this is an exciting time for me as I stretch my leadership by learning more about how to lead like Christ.

It’s still going to be a challenge to find the time to fit in studying and writing papers, but I’m confident that I can get through this with God’s help. This semester I’m taking Biblical Foundations of Christian Leadership, Church Growth, and Systematic Theology. I appreciate your prayers. As a wise man once told me, “I need the prayers, and you need the practice”

Over the last few months, we have had several of our elders at Cornerstone share messages on Sunday morning. I think it’s great and I wanted to share we feel it is important to expose the congregation to teaching from different people. For many churches and congregations, there is a unwritten and unspoken expectation that the pastor should be preaching every week unless he is near death. The expectation is that they should be preaching because that is what they are paid to do. However, if you want your church to be healthy, there will be times the pastor needs to step away from the pulpit and let others preach. Here’s why.

Rest

I know what many people think, pastors don’t work hard enough to need rest! I’ve heard it and experienced the perception that pastors don’t really do much during the week. Nothing can be further from the truth. I think I can uniquely respond to this since I’ve worked both in the business/manufacturing world and in the ministry. The two fields are very different.

Preparing for a sermon each week is a responsibility that you cannot take lightly. Just imagine having to write and prepare a 5000 to 8000 word essay each week, and then present it in front of a group of people who expect it to be life-changing and incredible each week. It is the preacher’s responsibility to read the text, research the meaning behind the text, and then present it in such a way to help people see the need of the Gospel in their lives. But in addition to preaching they have many other roles: counseling people in crisis, coaching leaders, meeting and encouraging people in the church, hospital visitation, and just leading the church.  The biggest difference between the corporate world and the ministry is that you simply cannot leave everything at work. You have to always be ready, and most pastors work far more than 40 hours per week. I don’t share this to complain, because I fully believe this is the life that God has called me to, but I do share it so that you know that pastors are under incredible stress. The statistics on how many pastors leave the ministry are mind-boggling, click here to see what I mean.

Pastors simply need time to pull back and spend time with their families. Most people don’t realize how busy pastors are on the weekends, so by letting others preach you are giving them a chance to spend a normal weekend with the family on occasion.

Planning and Preparing

Pastors need time to plan and prepare. Time where they can slow down and simply listen to God’s voice and direction for the church. It is great to have weeks where the pastor can focus on prayer and study, without the added responsibility of putting together a message. There are events that need to be planned, upcoming sermon series to map out, calls that need to be made, administrative details that need following up, and people that need to be discipled. In a healthy church, the pastor needs time to lead, and stepping away from the pulpit on a regular basis helps the pastor and it helps the church.

Leadership Development

Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that our job is to equip the saints. As a church, we will have a far greater impact if we continue to develop and train gifted teachers. This doesn’t mean just anyone can stand up and preach on Sunday mornings, but for those who excel in teaching in our LifeGroup system, this is a great next step. 1 Timothy 3:2 lists one of the requirements for elders is the ability to teach. Although this can take other forms such as writing or one-on-one teaching, several of our elders have the gift of public teaching. For me, it helps to know we have guys who are solid in their theology and can stand up and preach boldly. I can guarantee that most gifted pastors weren’t great public speakers when they first started preaching. It takes time and it takes practice to become comfortable preaching in front of a crowd.

We also need to realize that people respond differently to preaching styles. While one person may love my style, another may very well be reached more effectively by someone else. I pray that we don’t turn church into an “Idol” style competition where preachers are judged on style rather than substance. Unfortunately, that is what happens far too often in the church world. People pick and choose what church to attend based on the personality of the pastor, and then they complain whenever anyone else shares from the pulpit. It shouldn’t be that way!

Here’s what you need to ask each time

  • Is the Word of God preached?
  • Is Jesus lifted up?
  • Are believers built up?
  • Is the Gospel clearly proclaimed?
If those things are happening, then you can celebrate, even if the person preaching may have a style that you don’t prefer.

My Take on Final Cut Pro X

August 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

I had my first chance to test drive Final Cut Pro X yesterday at the Apple Store in Greensboro. It replaces Apple’s video editing software Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Express. I’ve read several reviews and they have been pretty harsh about the newest update. I’ve been using Final Cut Express, iMovie, and Adobe Premiere Elements for a while now, so I was definitely interested in seeing how the new software functions. Here is a quick recap of my first impressions.

  • It is different. It is a huge change from older versions of Final Cut. It does feel like a high end version of iMovie.
  • In about 15 minutes of usage, I was able to open the demo project shown above and add titles, rearrange clips, add video filters and transitions, adjust audio settings, and explore through the available options. Watch the demo videos on Apple’s website for more info.
  • Most of the complaints come from high end users of the software who are missing features that they are accustomed to. I think Apple maybe rushed this out a little quickly. They have promised updates to add back missing features, but they have received a lot of negative publicity during the release of this version. But for the majority of prosumer users that don’t need high end features, this release is perfect. This goes far beyond the capabilities of iMovie, and it is much easier to use than Final Cut Express. People generally are resistant to change, even if it’s good.
  • For users generating content for online viewing, I think this is a great release.  It’s fast, it’s easy to use, and the results are amazing. I love the number of filters and transitions that are included, and I had no stability issues just playing around with the software. Apple will also continue to release updates for the software, so it will only get better.
  • I think they launched at a good price point. $299 for professional software is a good bargain, especially considering the older Final Cut was over double the price. I also like that they offer $49 upgrades for Motion and Compressor. These tools really expand the functionality and power of the default package, but they are priced at a reasonable level.
  • My opinion is that this is an ideal package for most churches. If you are primarily creating content to be shown on screens and online, this is a great product to invest in. It is geared toward tapeless digital tapeless camcorders, so if you capture a lot, this may not be the right package for you, but for us, it’s a perfect fit. I would love to purchase this to use for our church.
What are your experiences? Would you recommend this to others?

Since our church is smaller and without full time graphic designers, I’m always looking for high-quality free resources that we can adapt and use. Here is a new one that I haven’t shared before.

NLC Creative – The creative department of New Life Church has an awesome collection of motion backgrounds. Seriously, you want to check these out. They also offer sermon graphics that include layered photoshop files and video files. You can even download all of the motion backgrounds as one huge torrent file.  I love churches that have a kingdom mindset in sharing resources.

Check it out at newlifechurch.tv/creative

If you are interested in finding more resources, here are a few other places to checkout.

Do you know of other free resources. Leave a comment and let us know!

We just got back from a trip to the Seacoast DreamCenter at North Charleston. We took our older teens and a few of our college students and spent four days helping and volunteering. It was an incredible experience, and I’ll try to share about a few of our experiences over the next week here on the blog. Our goal was to simply be servants, to help in any way possible and to see what we could learn from them about reaching our community. We spent the week doing a wide variety of work. Here’s a video about what the DreamCenter is doing.

Here are a few of our experiences from the week.

  • We did painting and cleaning work around the DreamCenter
  • We helped pack and organize backpacks for their back-to-school bash
  • We toured Water Missions International and learned about their ministry
  • We did landscaping work and built a new walkway (in 100 degree heat :-))
  • We helped with their food pantry, clothes closet, and free medical clinic
  • Some of our group helped lead worship for their celebrate recovery ministry
  • And we were able to visit an assisted living facility and minister to the people there
  • And of course we had a little down time at the beach
It was a busy week, but it was also powerful. I wish everyone in our church could hear our youth share each night about what they were learning and how God was working in their lives. I’m so proud of our group and I love seeing God really transform their hearts. I’m seeing a passion develop in them for service and for reaching others. It’s amazing to visit a ministry and church where so many people are passionate and serving and volunteering. We met so many people and they were a huge blessing to us. They truly are making a difference in their community. My prayer is that we can have the same type of Kingdom impact here in the Twin Counties.

 

An Unusual Prayer

July 27, 2011 — 5 Comments

Have you seen the prayer from the Nascar Race last Saturday night in Nashville? It’s created quite a buzz and I’ve had some good conversations about it. Check it out below and then I’ll share a few thoughts.

For what it is worth, here’s what I think

  • It cracked me up the first time I heard it. I actually had a pretty good laugh watching it.
  • This pastor obviously knows the crowd he is speaking to. He speaks their language and obviously has watched Talladega Nights.
  • The people who are most offended seem to be the people who are most religious.
  • I guarantee that his church will have a much bigger crowd this Sunday. I’m praying that he will take his responsibility seriously.
It does create a good conversation. Does the ends justify the means? Is it sinful to pray with humor? Is this appropriate? If you want to read more of his thoughts, you can check out this article. For me personally I would never do something like this. I think I’ll stick to the model that Jesus gives us, but I do think Christians need to loosen up a little bit. I don’t know this pastor personally, but I can tell he has a heart for the people he is trying to reach.
What are your thoughts?

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