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November 2010
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January 2011

Reflections on the Year 2010

Today is the last day of 2010 and soon another year will be history and another year (and decade, depending on how you count) will have begun. Each year we all become a little older and life moves forward. I turned 49 this year, so next year is the big 50. Our oldest son got married this year and our youngest finished Year 12. My, how time flies! Various journalists and newspapers have taken time to reflect on 2010, noting some of the big news stories, including the Chilean incredible mine rescue, the tragic coal mine accident in New Zealand,... Read more →

Inside the Christmas Story

There are lots of things to like about Christmas - the time with family, the holidays, the gifts, the carols, the lights, and the good food. What I like most is the Christmas story itself. Unfortunately, because most of us have heard the story so many times, it can lose it's impact and meaning, simply due to familiarity. It's like driving to work the same route every day - it is easy to miss things we have never really seen before. In the same way, the Christmas story has been somewhat sanitised and romaticised over the centuries, losing some of... Read more →

Christmas Day 2010

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and millions of people around the world will be celebrating the arrival of Jesus Christ into our world over 2000 years ago. Jesus changed the course of history and demonstrated the unfathomable love of God for broken humanity. Christmas is about God's amazing love for us - undeserved and unearned.We love Him because He first loved us. I pray that each one of us knows and believes His love for us in a new dimension at this important time of the year. I hope that you have an enjoyable Christmas and holiday season. May God continue... Read more →

Wendell Smith (1950-2010) - a Hero of Faith

Wendell Smith, the founding pastor of the influential City Church in Seattle, Washington, passed away this week after a 6-year battle with cancer. Wendell was a pastor, a preacher, an author and a leader of leaders. Wendell is survived by his wife Gini, his son and daughter-in-law, Judah and Chelsea Smith, who are now the Lead Pastors of The City Church, and his daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and Benny Perez, pastors of a thriving church in Las Vegas. Wendell and Gini were my youth pastors when I lived in Portland, Oregon back in the 1970s at what was then known... Read more →

Scrivener: Great Software for Writers, Speakers and Composers

For anyone who writes or speaks, the task of preparation is part science and part art ... with lots of prayer and perspiration mixed in. Some people think more intuitively. I know one speaker who prepares all of their messages in their head - never writing anything down. Others write out their ideas, sometimes word for word - on paper or by typing into a word processor. I have always used a note pad to scribble down ideas for messages, often creating a bit of a pathway or 'story board' to outline my flow of thoughts and the direction of... Read more →

Six Mega Themes for the Church in 2010 (Barna Update)

A recent report by the Barna Group highlights six mega-themes in the church that have emerged in 2010. Click here to read the full report. Here they are: 1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate. 2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented. 3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life. 4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating. 5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church. 6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is... Read more →

FOCUS: What People Need from their Pastor

What People Want from their Senior Pastor REVEAL also included research about what people expect from the Senior Pastor (or Senior Minister – SM). People view the Senior Pastor’s responsibilities as: 1. Serving Advocacy. The SM is expected to be the chief promoter and champion of serving opportunities. They identify and encourage the use of people’s gifts and talents. They attract, develop and motivate ministry teams. They promote and create enthusiasm for serving activities. They create a welcoming and friendly environment for this to occur. 2. Spiritual Challenge. The SM is expected to provide sound doctrine that is biblically accurate,... Read more →

FOCUS: What People Need from their Church

What people want and what they need may be the same thing or they may be different. Sorting out wants and needs is an important task for any church leader. Understanding what people really want from their church is an important starting place. We need to understand why motivated people show up every week. What do they want from their church experience? Knowing this helps you determine whether there is an “expectation gap” or not. The following insights were gleaned from surveying 80,000 people in 376 churches who took the REVEAL spiritual life surveys between October 2008 and March 2009.... Read more →

FOLLOW ME: What's Next For You?

There is nothing more difficult to gauge or measure than spiritual growth. However, we must do our best to try. After conducting the REVEAL survey with over 6000 of their own church members and another 300 people who had left their church within the previous year, Willow Creek started involving other churches in the research. Specifically, they surveyed 80,000 people in 200 congregations. The focus this time was extended to include research into what people really want from their church, the barriers they face, and what draws them closer to Christ. Many insights emerged including one of the top answers... Read more →

REVEAL Survey (Part 3)

Twelve bonus discoveries were made from the survey: Growing up in a church is the leading reason people begin to explore Christianity. Other reasons relate to personal feelings of emptiness or struggle. People begin attending their church primarily because of a personal relationship or recommendation. Expressions of gratitude toward God and dependence on God rise dramatically across the spiritual continuum. People’s feelings/attitudes about the importance of spiritual practices in their daily lives advance significantly along the spiritual continuum. People openly acknowledge that significant barriers, like addictions or emotional issues, impede their spiritual growth. As they advance along the spiritual continuum,... Read more →

REVEAL Survey (Part 2)

Willow Creek were shocked with the findings from this survey and spent more than two years assimilating the research. The results have led to a total rethink as to how Willow Creek is coaching Christ-followers. Specifically, they have made three strategic changes: 1. They Changed Their Message to the Congregation. They realized that they had been wrong in thinking that their job was to meet all of the spiritual growth needs of their congregation. They have endeavored to shift people from dependence on the church to a growing interdependent relationship with the church. They now let people know early on... Read more →

REVEAL Survey (Part 1)

Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, led by Bill Hybels, has conducted surveys every three years to assess the quality and impact of their ministry. After moving into a new 7,200-seat auditorium in 2003, they conducted one of their most extensive surveys ever. Their focus in the survey was less on “how many?” but more on “where are you?” – are people moving towards deeper love for God and people? They endeavored to measure spiritual growth, defined as “an increasing love for God and other people.” The survey results revealed six insights: 1. Involvement in church activities does not predict... Read more →

Some Advice for Lebron James

Lebron James is possibly the greatest basketball player on the planet today. I like him. He is a gifted athlete and has a rare set of skills that are a joy and inspiration to watch ... when he is playing well. About five months ago, Lebron's contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers ended and he decided to sign a new contract with the Miami Heat. Nothing wrong with that. Players do that. It was his choice to make ... just like Gary Ablett Jnr decided to sign with Gold Coast after playing for Geelong for so many years. However, the way... Read more →