Church & Ministry

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Posted 10/22/14 at 6:14 PM | Mike Stickler

Your First Meeting with a Philanthropist: What He Wants to Know

Philanthropist Peter Strople

When a leading philanthropist meets with an organization seeking his support, what does he most want to know about them? Peter Strople has been called “One of the World's Great Rainmakers,” “The Most Connected Man in America,” and “One of the Most Connected People in the World.” He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Zero2 Ventures, and he advises investors and executives involved in start-ups to Fortune 25 global companies.

He's also my good friend.

I asked Peter to share the top things he would want to learn in the first 30 minutes of meeting with an organization that is seeking his support. FULL POST

Posted 10/22/14 at 10:34 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

20 Questions a Pastoral Candidate Should Ask a Search Committee

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

By Joe McKeever

After the committee has grilled the pastoral candidate and the tables are turned, what information should he want from them?

Pastors toss me this issue regularly. Somewhere in the archives of our website, I’m sure we’ve dealt with this subject. However, with over 2,000 articles and no index of these things, I suggest that they google “McKeever + (subject),” and see what comes up. Usually, if I’ve written on the subject, it’ll show up in the results.

That said, perhaps it’s time to say a few more things about this.

Here’s the situation. You, the pastoral candidate, are sitting in a room with a committee of anywhere from 6 to 20 people. They have spent the evening tossing questions, real and theoretical, at you. You are drained and everyone is ready for the evening to end.

But not yet. Finally, the chair says, “And pastor, is there anything you would like to ask us?” FULL POST

Posted 10/22/14 at 9:23 AM | Phil Cooke

It's Time to Point With the Sword of Truth Instead of Chopping

Photo: Flickr/I_Believe_ - Creative Commons

One of my favorite quotes is from writer Anne Lamott: “You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth, you can point with it too.” In the age of the internet, most of us do a lot of chopping and not enough pointing. In the best instances, we’re upset and trying to right a wrong, and in the worst instances, Internet anonymity has created vicious critics and quite a few crazy loons. Either way, I think Anne is right. As a result, I’m changing the tone of this blog. Whether I’ve been right or wrong, I’ve sometimes been too critical in the past, and honestly, there’s no point to criticism if it can’t be delivered in a way that makes people want to change. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:47 PM | Anna Diehl

Does God Enjoy Off-Key Worship?

Some of us were given beautiful singing voices at birth. Others of us, not so much. If you’re a member of the second group and you feel embarrassed about singing in church, this post is for you.

Since all talent comes from God, what should you make of the fact that He withheld musical ability from you? Just because you can’t hit the right key doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy singing. But when you see grimacing faces around you in corporate worship sessions, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed. If your voice is really that painful to listen to, perhaps you should just stay silent for the sake of your brothers.

NO, YOU SHOULDN’T. Forget about the brothers. You’re singing to God, not them, and if your heart is bursting with music, God most certainly wants to hear it. Your song is beautiful to Him. There’s nothing “off key” about sincere worship.

God views music very differently than we do. Your current definitions of good and bad music were taught to you by your culture. What sounds good to your ear is largely a matter of what you’ve been exposed to. Throughout history, musical trends have changed drastically. Roll back the clock far enough, and you’ll find everyone cheering and applauding a style of music that makes you want to rush out and buy a pair of earplugs. Even today, musical styles and preferences are extremely different around the world. To the American ear, some traditional Asian compositions sound like a bunch of random noise. It’s hard for us to hear the beauty in music we’re not used to, but that doesn’t mean the beauty isn’t there. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:45 PM | Anna Diehl

The Body Language of Worship

There is most definitely a right and a wrong way to worship God. But when it comes to defining right and wrong, we Christians often get confused. We start making things a lot more complicated than they really are.

Your worship of God must be sincere. If it’s insincere, it’s annoying garbage to Him. If it’s sincere, it’s a great delight to Him. Does this sound extreme? Read your Bible. God detests lip service. If your heart isn’t into it, then you’re much better off skipping the whole affair. If you can’t mean the words you are singing, then you’re just blabbing in His face. Do you enjoy it when someone blabs in your face? No, you find it annoying. Well, God finds it annoying when we fling His Name about while our minds are a million miles away. Worship is a very serious topic to God. Today, we often turn it into a carnal circus. Now you can’t control the souls around you, but you can certainly control the quality of your own offering. One of the awesome things about God is that He never loses track of your gift just because it is offered up at the same time as He receives a huge pile of junk. So if you’re sincerely worshiping God amid a crowd of people who are just chasing some surge of adrenaline, God will see how sincere your heart is and He will be very pleased with you. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:42 PM | Anna Diehl

Teaching Like Jesus

“What made Jesus such a powerful Teacher? How can we imitate His style?” These are common questions in the Church. By the time we’re done answering them, we’re usually up to our ears in carnality, peddling ridiculous theories about how we should dumb down the Gospel in order to avoid offending anyone. What makes us turn into such idiots when it comes to teaching people about God? Why do we turn such a simple concept into a complicated mystery? The problem starts by not understanding what Jesus was doing as He stood around talking on those grassy hillsides. Until we understand what was going on in His mind, we’ll never be able to properly imitate what was coming out of His mouth. Happily for us, Jesus told us what was going on in His mind.

“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49)

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10) FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:40 PM | Anna Diehl

Shepherd Burnout: Help for Pastors

This post is speaking to souls who know they have been called to shepherd God’s flock, but they are struggling with symptoms of burnout: depression, bitterness, exhaustion, and guilt.

God has a list of what He expects from the shepherds of His flock. Your sheep have a list as well, and theirs is a lot longer. Your sheep expect you to have all of the answers, to always be available, to rush to their side in every crisis, and to give them infallible advice.

Nice of them to be so reasonable, isn’t it?

See, you’re not allowed to have doubts and questions and fears yourself because, well, you’re the shepherd. Shepherds are supposed to have it altogether. Spiritual growth can be a lifelong process for everyone else, but the shepherds are supposed to have already “arrived”. Their discernment is supposed to be infallible, their protection of the flock unfaltering, and their insights inspiring. So when you forget to show up at the hospital on time or you don’t pick up your phone at 2:00 in the morning to talk your suicidal parishioner out of despair, well, you’re a jerk. And if you do pick up the phone and you can’t think of a single useful thing to say, then you’re a miserable failure at your job. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:37 PM | Anna Diehl

Crazy for God: Lessons Learned from the Old Testament Prophets

The prophet Isaiah was commanded by God to walk around stark naked and barefoot for three years (Isa. 20:1-6). I could get three sermons out of just that one sentence so pause a moment to let it really sink in. Three years, people. That’s three winters. That’s no protection against the cold breezes, gawking eyes, and nothing between your sensitive toes and sharp pokey things on the ground. Are you ready to strip down for God? I don’t think any of us are going to jump up and volunteer for that particular assignment. Isaiah had serious dedication.

So, what was the point of this little exercise? It wasn’t a sign to Israel at all, but a message to Egypt and Ethiopia that one day they’d be dragged off stark naked by the Assyrians. So I guess the idea was that everyone would hear about the naked weirdo and the prophetic word would be spread about by gossiping lips along with a bunch of snickering and derogatory cracks.

Let’s get back to the three years part. Was this really necessary? I could streak naked through a public park in thirty seconds and make the headlines today. Three years seems ridiculously long to make a point to a bunch of foreigners. How do you recover your pride and good name after three years of indecent exposure? I don’t think you do. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 3:36 PM | Anna Diehl

Being the Voice of God: Guidance for Prophets

This post is speaking to souls who have received the prophetic calling from God.

So, God has called you to be one of His prophets. How do you know? Real prophets don’t have to ask this question. To ask “Am I a prophet?” is like asking, “Am I in love?” If you have to ask, then the answer is no.

Now since a lot of non-prophets are going to be reading this post, let’s talk more about what a real prophet’s calling is like. When God singles you out to be His mouthpiece to people, your spirit receives a clear and unmistakable command from the Holy Spirit. Toss those spiritual gift surveys into the wastebasket: no one qualifies as a prophet because of how they scored on some manmade assessment test. You don’t step into this role without specific authorization from the Holy Spirit. And if the thought of misspeaking for God doesn’t terrify you, then you have not been called, which means you’d better keep your mouth shut. Prophesying isn’t a game. All these idiots you see running around the Church today who flash their prophet title and declare that they’ve received another “word” from above—you don’t want to be anything like them. God’s wrath is real, and there are serious consequences involved with misusing His Name and His Authority. If the thought of misrepresenting the God who created Hell doesn’t make your soul tremble, then you are reading the wrong post. We are talking to legitimate prophets here, not posers. Most of the people who claim to be prophets in the Church today are nothing more than pompous, blaspheming morons. Legitimate prophets are a rare breed in this world, but they do exist, and they are hard pressed to find any useful instruction because the rebellious Bride of Christ has made an absolute mockery out of the prophetic calling. But if you know that God has called you to speak for Him, then there are some important things you could use to understand right from the start. These are the things we will discuss in this post. We want to see you soar, not crash and burn. FULL POST

Posted 10/21/14 at 12:22 PM | Vince Hokkanen

SermonGate: The Bigotry of Tolerance in Houston

vince hokkanen

The Houston Mayor’s office may have been caught up in a First Amendment violation; seriously? Is it possible that the attorneys that represent the city of Houston simply overreacted in subpoenaing sermons from the 5 ministers? Perhaps the summoning of the sermons proclaims something more fundamentally problematic… incompetence.

The beckoning of the words on paper is just another step in the incremental process of silencing Christians. I find it fascinating that the people of Houston vote in a Mayor who is open about her GLBT lifestyle and then clamor about her perceived intolerance towards people of faith. The inquisition of sermons doesn’t surprise me at all; I expect it.

The so-called gay rights movement has been shouting for years that they collectively have been treated with intolerance by bigots. There have been charges of hate speech, which is now criminal in most places, made against Christians. Our forefathers would be spinning in their graves if they knew that speech has become illegal. We have all heard again and again the appeal for tolerance towards gays. It seems however that the goose is not good for the gander. FULL POST

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