Thursday, September 30, 2010


This video is from Buckhead Church in Atlanta. - Andy Stanley, Lead Pastor

I am a chair from buckheadchurch on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Gary Rohrmayer has a helpful blog Your Journey  Gary works in cooperation with Chris Walker, who operates EVANGELISM COACH

Gary writes about "Creating a Culture of Generosity in the Church":

If you are going to grow a church significantly one of the skill you are going to need is to learn how to create and shape the culture of your organization.  When we speak about culture, we are referring to an organization's "values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups." (HT)  Building and shaping an organizations culture is not something that happens over night, it takes time, relentless focus, consistent practices and inspirational leadership.
So how does build a culture of generosity?
1. Pray for It!
Generosity is a spiritual issue.  It is natural to hold on to things!  It is supernatural to give away things. Generosity is a matter of the heart.  Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).  Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church cites the true motivation for the overwhelming generosity of the believers in Macedonia, "And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will" (II Corinthians 8:5).  When the Lord truly has our hearts, then he has our possessions.  Asking our generous God to reign in the hearts of our people is the first act a leader needs to take in building a culture of generosity.
2. Model It!
Leaders set the pace of an organization. One of the nine prayers of a missional leader is "Father pour out a generous spirit in my life."  Generosity is a fruit of the spirit.  Paul lists kindness as one of the by-products of being in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Like the word love (agape), kindness (chrestotes) is closely related to hesed in the Old Testament, which stands for God’s covenant love. Commenting on hesed, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, “loving-kindness — is not far from the fullness of the meaning of the word." (HT)  So loving-kindness is the practical out workings of love in our lives. Thus we have the biblical definition of generosity.  As a leader am I generous with my time, my words and my resources and how is my family, leaders and church witnessing that in my life?  Generous living leads to generous giving.
3. Teach It!
Teaching generosity principles is critical to the spiritual formation of an individual and for a church, yet we shy away from teaching these financial principles. Brian Kluth writes, "We need to teach people to be faithful givers, not because the budget says so, but because the Bible says so. Our focus needs to be to teach people to be faithful givers to God, not to the church budget. Our goal is that our people please God, not the church finance committee. Church budgets are spending plans, not the giving goal. It is the Scriptures (all 2,350 verses on finances, generosity, and material possessions) that will help people become faithful stewards and givers." (HT)  I would add to this that we help them to be better lovers of God and followers of Jesus.  Over 20 years ago, I did my first series on giving. I was afraid, timid and concerned that everyone was going to leave my church because I said that dreaded word in church: MONEY!  The surprising thing was that many people began to experience the liberating joy of knowing Jesus.  When I go back to my first church, many people comment on that sermon series and the impact it had on their lives.
4. Reinforce It!
Learning to say thank-you well is one of the ways for reinforcing position behavior. Expressing thanks is not optional for believers. Paul’s letters are filled with gratitude on many levels, even for financial support (Philippians 4:14-18). Your people deserve to have their generosity acknowledged for several reasons:
  • To know that you received their gift, especially for first time givers.
  • To know how their gift is being used, this is a vision casting opportunity.
  • To reinforce your relationship with them.
  • And finally, to reinforce the work of God in their lives. Generosity is a by-product of the work of God in people's hearts.
5. Celebrate It!
Vince Lombardi once said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.”  Celebrations have a great way of keeping churches and organizations mentally alert. In Encouraging the Heart, James Kouzes & Barry Posner write, “Celebrations—public statements by their very nature—give expression to and reinforce commitment to key values. They visibly demonstrate that the organization is serious about adhering to its principles. So it is important to be clear about the statements you’re making.  What are you reinforcing? What are you saying is significant about this moment? Parties are fine, but celebrations are more than parties. They’re ceremonies and rituals that create meaning.  When planning a celebration, every leader should ask, ‘What meaning am I trying to create?’ Public ceremonies crystallize personal commitments, binding people together and letting them know they’re not alone.”
Someone once said, "You are what you celebrate!"
Reflective Questions:
  • How often do you pray for a spirit of generosity to fall upon the hearts of your people?
  • How are you and your leaders becoming models of generosity?
  • How is generosity being taught throughout the church?  In public worship services, affinity gatherings, small groups and one-on-one mentoring?
  • How are you specifically reinforcing vision, generosity principles and the generous acts of individuals with in your church?
  • How strategic are you in planning and creating the celebration of generosity with in your church?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Sharon Hodde Miller
I came across this blog through Ed Stetzer. It is called SHE WORSHIPS and is by a friend of his, Sharon Hodde Miller. She has some important thoughts on women and the church that I believe are worth examining. An outward-focused church thinks outside the current box in theologically sound ways and I believe Sharon has framed this discussion very well. I've added her to my personal blog list.  Here is an excerpt of her thoughts. Above is a link to it. - Steve

Sharon writes:

  • 46.8% of the total U.S. Labor Force is composed of women. That equates to 59.2% of all women age 16 and over in the U.S., and the number is growing. (The U.S. Dept. of Labor)
  • Women-owned firms employ more people than all the Fortune 500 companies combined. (The National Association of Women Business Owners)
  • 70% of American families include a working mom. (
  • Since 1980 there has been a 40% increase in the number of women getting bachelor’s degrees, masters, and doctorates. (“The Changing Role of Women in the Workplace,” Sneha Kalyan, 2009)
  • In 2006-2007, the number of women attaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees was greater than that of men, and the number of women attaining doctorates was equal to that of men. It is projected that in 2018, women will continue to outnumber men in the achievement of advanced degrees, including doctorates. (National Center for Education Statistics)
These statistics provide us with a glimpse of the future church and the future of women’s ministries, especially in educational and economic centers. The question is, how will the church reach these women? How will the church welcome these women? How will the church use the education and skills that these women have gained in the secular workforce to build up the Body of Christ? How will women’s ministries meet their needs?

As the majority of women move in a completely new direction, churches will have to think creatively about utilizing their gifts and offering a high quality of teaching for women. While respecting every church’s view of women in leadership, we must also work toward a robust understanding of the Body of Christ in which all gifts are not only valued but implemented for the edification of the church. Depending on your church context that will play out in any number of ways. Perhaps women’s ministries will need to offer more theologically engaging teaching, thereby creating even more opportunities for women with the gifts of teaching and leading; if you’re a woman like Jenni with business and managerial skills, you might consider offering your experience to the church.

The changing face of the American woman has some short-comings, to be sure, but we can’t miss out on the fact that women are being equipped to serve the church in ways that they never were before. Let’s not miss that opportunity. And let us not underestimate the grave and long-term consequences of failing to evangelize these women strategically. As women, we need to have a missional mindset towards this growing generation of professional and highly educated women. Otherwise, we might end up with an equal yet opposite dilemma to the last decade–instead of missing men in the pews, we might be missing women.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Too many churches fail at becoming outward focused because they remain centered on a single pastor. George Escevedo gives us some valuable insight on why we must change this.


Sharon Hodde Miller shared these insights today on Ed Stezter's blog. Well worth your reflection.
Christians, Social Media and the Loss of Privacy

Before I really get started I want to be clear about two things. First, I willingly admit that I am a proponent of social media. I use Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends, and I'm an avid blogger. I am not here to promote social media asceticism.
Second, this post is not about Ed Stetzer. ;) Yes, Ed is the first person I ever met who "tweeted." And yes, he tweets in a manner that can only be described as "prolific." But my primary purpose is to consider how we use social media, not whether or not we should.

Bearing those two points in mind, I want to examine a particular "abuse" of tweeting/posting status updates. It is the practice of posting at (what I would consider to be) inappropriate times. No, I'm not trying to be the Emily Post of social media etiquette here to lecture you on the rudeness of tweeting during a meeting or meal. The kind of "inappropriate" I'm referring to is one that not only impacts the quality of Christian discipleship but the authenticity of our church leaders.

I began to notice this misuse of social networking when friends updated their statuses while on dates with their spouses, or even on their wedding nights. Such an anti-social by-product of social media is ironic, to say the least. Yet out of those habits emerged a more troubling one: Tweeting about deeply personal, intimate moments. Although I understand the desire to share one's life with community, Twitter has gradually become a window into private moments and experiences that, in the past, would have been reserved for God and family.

The consequences of this trend are two-fold. First is the increase of superficial engagements with flesh-and-blood people. When the world audience is always at your fingertips, you're never going to be totally with people. But the main consequence I want to focus on here, the one that has far-reaching ripple effects but is rarely discussed, is the loss of privacy and spiritual solitude.

This may seem like a strange critique given the rising emphasis on community over individualism, but we cannot forget the value of withdrawing from the public eye. In Scripture we learn that solitude can be a subversive act against the cultural and social pressures that come from constantly subjecting oneself to the opinions and judgments of others. Jesus and numerous prophets exemplify this for us. When they sought to have quiet, uninterrupted fellowship with God, they withdrew from the masses, even dwelling in the wilderness for extended periods of time.

From their example we are reminded that isolation and privacy are an important form of resistance against a culture that bombards us with ungodly ideals. Without a conscious break from the onslaught of worldly pressures--including the sinful enticements of serving an imperfect Christian community--there is no space to step back and question what is influencing us and how are we being shaped.

So while Twitter and Facebook are great communicative tools, we are naïve to ignore the temptations they present. Social media provides us with the option to live life on constant display, which has potential for both good and bad. While we do have the opportunity to be a kind of "city on a hill" in a new and different way, we must also be cognizant of the temptations that such visibility brings.

We need to consider the wisdom of tweeting private conversations or intimate moments with loved ones. While the motivation is often pure--namely to praise God or to honor the person we're with--this practice can result in a long-term lack of authenticity. There will develop in the back of your mind a constant audience, resulting in a constant need to perform, to always be "on." Church leaders, who are already visible and already struggle with this temptation, are in greatest risk of this temptation. When you are driven first and foremost by the audience awaiting your updates, you can lose touch with the God you're always tweeting about.

Is this a blanket statement against all forms of social media? Certainly not! Technology is a gift from God that can surely be used to edify believers. The question is whether we are controlling our use of social media, or is social media controlling us? Are we allowing Man-oriented expectations to invade our private moments, the moments when we used to be most ourselves? Are we placing ourselves in the public eye so often that we no longer discern the difference between genuine discipleship and performing for a watching world? If we are to maintain our spiritual authenticity, our intimacy with God, and a clear vision for leadership, these are questions to which we must give sober consideration.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This video came by way of the web site The Evangelism Coach

Sunday, September 19, 2010


From Will Mancini THE CLARITY EVANGELIST   see the blogroll

#1 Programs don’t attract people; people attract people (Aubrey Malphurs)
#2 Think steps not programs; strategy makes the next step simple, easy and obvious. (Andy Stanley)
#3 Strategy is a missional map, therefore communicate it visually (Church Unique)
#4 As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. (Thom Ranier) 
#5 Growing people grow people; consuming people consume programs. (Church Unique)
#6 Strategy as assimilation should not be confused with spiritual formation; one is about getting individuals into the body of Christ, the other is about getting the life of Christ into the individual.
#7 Strategy connects programs and events vertically with the mission and horizontally with one another. (adapted from Bill Donahue)
#8 The fewer specials you have the more you sell. (An executive chef  said this in an Auxano Vision Pathway, talking about church strategy.) 
#9 Churches need strategy because mission and values alone are not enough to remove competing pictures of the church’s future. (Church Unique)
#10 The two biggest reasons people don’t get more involved are 1) they don’t know how and 2) nobody invited them. (Auxano survey work)


Friday, September 10, 2010


Digital Evangelism Issues is a helpful website for talking about the media, especially the internet, impacts ministry. In a recent post they shared this video from RSA Associates that speaks to the importance of the visual in our communications.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Ragamuffin Soul is a thoughtful and sometimes provocative blog published by worship pastor, Carlos Whittaker. I got turned onto it by Brett Sarver, our missionary/church planter in Thailand.  Carlos published an interesting question this past week:

If Jesus walked into your church this Sunday morning…
I know, you think He is already there, we all do…
What would Jesus tell you He DID NOT LOVE about what was happening?
What would Jesus tell you He LOVED about what was happening?

As I publish this, he has had 38 comments. My favorite is:    

“I love what you have done with the place but if you need me I will be out in Ely Square.”
read “Ely Square” as the hungry, needy, lost, and homeless. 

Read more at:  COMMENTS

For the readers of THE OUTWARD FOCUSED CHURCH, I'd like to hear your thoughts on that question. - Steve