November 29, 2007
"These days, people can get good teaching, wonderful music, and excellent writing, whether through iPods, TV, or online. They learn to shop around and pick and choose. Then they expect the same high quality in their local church. A generation ago, the average person learned to accept his home pastor and was faithful to his local church. But now, people's appetites for excellence have been heightened."
-Bryan Wilkerson is the senior pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts. Taken from "5 Kinds of Christians" in the Fall 2007 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.
November 26, 2007
Popular pastor/author Rob Bell’s controversial message: God loves you.
Since late September blogs have been buzzing about Mark Driscoll's remark at the Convergent Conference labeling Rob Bell a heretic. Bell's broad popularity (due primarily to his books, NOOMA videos, and podcasts) make Driscoll's accusation all the more serious. Out of Ur has stayed out of the fray - until now. Rob Bell was in Raleigh, North Carolina last week as part of a 22-city tour.
Leadership correspondent Chad Hall was there to report on the event.
When the babysitter arrived the night before Thanksgiving, she asked of our plans for the evening. Last week it was a concert, and three weeks before that we were headed to dinner and a movie. Tonight, my wife and I were going to?. I stumbled for words to describe Rob Bell's latest tour. I could tell by her eyes that she stopped caring about thirty seconds before I stopped trying to describe the event.
Bell's "the gods aren't angry" tour packed about two thousand souls into Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium for what wound up being a 90 minute sermon.
Bell is a popular writer, speaker and pastor, and I found it easy to see why he's so popular. As a friend commented after the event, "The dude has some mad communication skills." Wearing an all black outfit (save a bright white belt) that could have placed him as a member of Green Day, Bell presented an insane amount of information in a style that held my attention and quickened my spirit.
Continue reading Heresy on Tour?...
November 15, 2007
Leadership's original sage on being an excellent communicator.
Fred Smith was featured in the very first issue of Leadership published in 1980. Since then the businessman, Bible teacher, and sage as written more than 37 articles, and his insights have guided thousands of pastors. Fred's definition of leadership was succinct: "A leader is not a person who can do the work better than his followers; he is the person who can get this followers to do the work better than he can." Fred Smith died in August, days before his 92nd birthday.
Fred's wisdom has been compiled into a recently released book, Breakfast with Fred (Regal, 2007). The book also contains thoughts from many other Christian leaders impacted by Fred. Below is an excerpt.
Good communication is more than presence, delivery or even content. A truly great communicator understands three important principles.
First, he or she understands that it is crucial to have the spirit of communication. The speaker should be motivated to express, not impress. My friend Dr. Jim Cain accepted an invitation to speak in front of 2,000 key executives about stress. He was preceded at the podium by a renowned cardiologist and a famous psychiatrist who got caught in the competition of impressing each other. When Dr. Cain spoke, he used a simple analogy to describe what the audience needed to know. This distinguished Mayo Clinic physician understood the spirit of communication. He expressed, not impressed.
Continue reading Preaching to Express, not Impress...
November 13, 2007
Why the big-name celebrity leaders are turning me off.
Angie Ward, Leadership contributing editor, calls for a boycott on worshiping ministry heros. It isn't the popular Christian leaders that she has a problem with, but the clouds of zealous followers that seem to follow them wherever they go. Below is an excerpt from her article. You can read the entire piece here.
We'd like to hear your thoughts about ministry heroes. Who do you celebrate, listen to, and admire? How do you choose your heroes, what do you find so attractive about them, and what are the dangers? We may reprint your comments in the upcoming Spring issue of Leadership.
A few years ago I attended a large ministry conference that included breakout sessions featuring a variety of speakers and "experts" on all things related to ministry and leadership. At one point during the conference, I was waiting in the lobby when one of the speakers (we'll call him Mr. Jensen) walked by, surrounded by at least 25 groupies who hung on this man's every word, nodding their agreement. I actually like this man's writing and philosophy, but was struck by the groupie mentality. A friend who was with me observed, "You know, I like what Jensen says, but God save us from the Jensenites."
Sadly, I've seen that "Jensenites" are becoming the rule rather than the exception. I've heard dozens of pastors speak breathlessly and reverently about their ministerial and spiritual heroes, reading their books and their blogs, listening to their podcasts, following them at conferences, hoping just to get a glimpse of them or to touch their robe so they can receive some magical leadership or teaching power that will result in overwhelming ministry success and their own fame...
Continue reading Hero Boycott...
November 9, 2007
The Senate investigates “possible misuse of donations” by television preachers.
I come from a diverse family where few are Christians and even fewer venture into the curious sub-culture of evangelicalism. For this reason a number of my relatives have an impression of Christianity based largely upon what they see while surfing the television - an impression that I do not fit and work hard to deconstruct. Televangelists are loud and energetic; I'm rarely the life of the party. Televangelists have big hair; I have no hair. Televangelists fly around in private jets; I ride a bike to work to save on gas.
My work to deconstruct the image of gold-gilded Christianity appears to be getting some help from the United States Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating possible financial shenanigans on the part of six widely known TV preachers. From Ted Olsen's article at ChristianityToday.com:
"Recent articles and news reports regarding possible misuse of donations made to religious organizations have caused some concern for the Finance Committee," Grassley wrote to the ministries in letters asking for detailed financial records.
None of the ministries targeted - those led by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Randy and Paula White - are required to file the financial disclosure Form 990 with the IRS because they are designated as churches.
Continue reading Lifestyles of the Rich and Religious...
November 6, 2007
A CEO says pastors would never make it in the business world, but is that bad?
The line between ministry and the business world has blurred. It is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between secular leadership and sacred leadership, and there are some influential voices arguing that any differentiation is artificial. As a result, many pastors have eagerly sought the wisdom of business leaders to help them manage their churches. But what if the tables were reversed? Could a pastor successfully lead in a business environment? Friend of Ur, Andy Rowell, is back with his thoughts on this question.
Jack Welch is the legendary former CEO of GE and one of the most respected leadership and management gurus in the business world. In the September 20th issue of BusinessWeek, Jack and Suzy Welch wrote an article called "Leaving The Nonprofit Nest." You can also watch the video or listen to the podcast.
Welch recounts the story of a woman who has tried to move from a nonprofit organization (think "church") into the business world. She gets nowhere. She can't even get an interview. The reason is simple - businesses have not had much success with people from the nonprofit world.
Welch says the fundamental problem is that nonprofit people just can't adjust to the competition.
Continue reading Are Pastors Competitive Enough?...
November 1, 2007
"I guarantee there isn't a homeless person in Portland who couldn't tell you the gospel verbatim. They've had to listen to it three times a day to get a sandwich. They've heard about Christ, but they haven't seen Christ. Who will sit next to them while they panhandle, who will enter their world? I've had friends doing that for 15 years. That is seeing the gospel."
-Rick McKinley serves as pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon. Taken from "Dei Laborers" in the Fall 2007 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.