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Today’s Buzz: Mega-Church Merger; Stalking Priest; Your Church Doesn’t Need You; and Success…

Good day to you from Baltimore. I'm here for the East Coast version of the Externally Focused Church Conference. It is really great to see so many church leaders getting a vision for their communities and how a church full of outreach and love for people can really transform communities. So, as I write from my hotel room this morning, here are some things that I think you might want to know about today...

Say What?  Two Mega-Churches Merging?
Two prominent area churches — Word of Grace in Mesa and CitiChurch in Scottsdale, AZ — have merged in what’s being called “two streams coming together to form a rushing river that will transform the landscape of the Valley for good.” Pastor Gary Kinnaman, 58, who has shepherded Word of Grace for 25 of its 27 years and has seen it grow to about 5,000 members, has taken a “pastor-at-large” role and turned over the leadership to Pastor Terry Crist, 42, who founded CitiChurch in 1999 and who will be installed in January as senior pastor of both churches. The new official name for the “one church in two locations” will be announced at that time.  Kinnaman told his congregation last January that he was looking for a co-pastor who could succeed him at Word of Grace. Over coffee about a year ago, Kinnaman told Crist of his transition plans and asked him for names of potential candidates.  [Hey… hold on.  I thought this ‘mega-church thing’ was all about pride and ego.  Evidently not.] Read more on this amazing story here.

Tired of Multi-Tasking?  Try Single-Tasking...
Great video here of Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Work Week.  Help people stop manufacturing emergencies just to bother you (and so they can seem like they’re accomplishing something).  Interesting video.  Thanks, Jay at WiredParish for finding this one.  Here it is!

OK… Should We Measure Success or Not?
Earlier today, I published an article on leadership that was quite simple:  We need to:  1.  Define our Purpose; then 2. Define how we measure Success.  Compare that to this quote from Mark Dever, given recently at a roundtable at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

“Instead of being directed by success, we should be directed by faithfulness. We should say, ‘If the Lord doesn’t like our product, we will change the product.’ We shouldn’t take the idea that if we don’t have X number of conversions in our church, then we must be doing something wrong. I am glad Jeremiah didn’t think that. And I am glad that Jesus Christ didn’t think that. Let us remember that we are following the One who was crucified as a revolutionary.”

Don’t get me wrong… faithfulness is a great thing.  But shouldn’t we ALSO be tracking effectiveness in conversions (for example) in some way (just like everything else)?  And if we are seeing absolutely no conversions, doesn’t that at least deserve some introspection from the church’s leaders as to what might be not working as well as it should?  I appreciate the Jeremiah example.  But, in reality, with the majority of our churches rarely, if ever, seeing any conversions AT ALL, is it enough to say that we are following Christ (who was crucified as a revolutionary) when we are, in fact, being anti-revolutionary?  I’d love your comments?  (And here’s more on Mark’s presentation at SBTS)

International Mission Board Squashes One of Its Members
Trustees of a Southern Baptist Convention agency voted to censure Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson and banned him from active participation on the board for at least the next four trustee meetings, the Associated Baptist Press reports.  The ABP reports that the International Mission Board board said Burleson violated two recently adopted policies barring individual trustees from criticizing actions of the board or reporting on any private conversations between trustees about IMB business. More here...

Think Your Church Needs You?  Think Again!
Perry Noble writes, “I love NewSpring Church.  I love the fact that God is allowing me to serve here.  BUT I am under no false pretense that I, somehow, am necessary for God’s blessings and favor to be here.  We are God’s church–He is doing the building (Matthew 16:18) and our best day are ahead of us because we are dependent NOT upon a man–but rather THE MAN!” Read more of his outstanding thoughts here...

Schuller on Denominationalism
This is the son speaking, not the father… see if you agree:  “I think we’re in a new era in the church, and that era is denominationless. I think the church is actually going to reflect what Jesus Christ has envisioned the church being since day one—a body of believers, not necessarily congregated in a specific location, but those who have a sincere faith and a heart and love for Jesus Christ, who are committed to him, and worship God and worship the tri-nature of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ in unique ways that is yet to be determined.” Quote from the Christian Post.

Conan O’Brien Being Stalked by a Priest
As if the Catholic church didn’t have enough problems with it’s ‘priest perception’:  A priest from the Boston Archdiocese has been placed on leave after he was arrested for allegedly stalking late night talk show host Conan O’Brien.  Rev. David Ajemian was arrested in New York City last week. According to the Archdiocese, Ajemian was then relieved of his right to administer public ministry.  Ajemian, 46, remains in the custody of New York City police after he allegedly tried to contact O’Brien repeatedly over a 14 month period. Ajemian was told to stop the communications but did not, according to police, and a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.  Ajemian was arrested at 30 Rockefeller Plaza while trying to enter a taping of NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Ajemian was a priest at St. Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham from 2005 to May 2007. He has not been reassigned to another parish since May.  Ajemian is accused of sending O’Brien threatening notes on parish letterhead and contacting his parents.  SOURCE

That’s it for today… make it a great one!


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This post has been viewed 630 times and was added on November 12, 2007 by Todd Rhoades.
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  There are 21 Comments:
  • Posted by

    I pretty much agree with Mark.  His point is that we need to be faithful to Biblical principles, even if that means that we don’t put up as many numbers.  I think he’s saying that numbers is not as important as being true to God’s leadership.  Is a pastor in a small older congregation who is meeting the needs of the members not as faithful as one who is in a new, exciting modern church who is reaching larger numbers of people?  I believe that as long as both of these pastors are faithful they will hear “Well done” on judgement day.

  • Posted by

    I think that the tension between faithfulness and evaluation is not unlike the tension between faith and works.  James tells us that faith without works is dead; yet Paul reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works lest anyone should boast.

    In both of the stewardship parables told by Jesus, He commended the stewards for their faithfulness, yet rewarded them for the results.  In my mind, not tracking or evaluating is like burying our gift; which is neither faithful nor effective.

    So . . . I disagree with Mark’s comments.


  • Posted by

    I keep thinking of how the church we came to here was using faithfulness as their reason for the church not growing.

    Were they believers?  Did they study scripture and do all the churchey things? yup

    Did they ever reach anyone for Christ? Nope.

    And when we did start to they became very uncomfortable.

    Only one of those couples is left and the church is growing weekly and people are making decisons just about every week.
    And those “faithful” Christians are attending another church that has an inward focus.

    I get what he’s trying to say.  And it’s very frustrating to be in process, say turning a church around so that it can see fruit… dealing with conflict and the process of becoming healthy, and know that the lack of “results” will change.  And yes, we were very faithfully serving, when a lot of pastors would have left to find riper fields.

    But eventually, we should see fruit of that faithfulness.  And I believe it should be measureable.  By their fruit you will know them.

  • Posted by

    I think part of the problem is that we tend to judge the success by numbers.  As was mentioned in an earlier post today, Willow recently did a hard core evaluation and realized that the numbers they were getting were not translating into success as far as their vision was concerned (making fully devoted followers of Christ). 

    Their should be evaluation, but let’s not pretend that one-time conversion numbers or attendance are the only ones that matter.  Those numbers don’t necessarily reflect faithfulness.

  • Posted by

    You can’t measure success in terms of man’s standards.
    1. Having a congregation that exceeds the thousands in attendance every week doens’t mean success. Out of the 1,000’s there may be only 300 fathful believers. 

    2. Having a pastor that’s well recoginized by the world doesn’t mean your church is successful. (Friends with the world are enemies of God.)-Romans
    There are many false prophets in these last days.

    3. What are you compromising to gain the attention of the world. I hear many talking about evangelism; as important as evangelism is, first one must be an disciple of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit in order to evangelize. (Remember, Jesus disciples sat under His teachings for 3 years before they were sent out, Paul was taught by the Holy Spirit in the desert for 12 years before he evangelized.)

    4. The church focus should not be on man but on God. Truthfully speaking, it is the Holy Spirit that ministers unto man. No man can come unto God unless God first draws him.

    5. Center your focus upon living for Christ and not just speaking for Him. (Many are just sounding brass and tinkiling cymbals. Making a whole bunch of noise but their lives are contradicting their message.)

    I like the quote by A. W. Tozer, “A fire never has to advertise itself, the only thing it has to do is keep burining and it would attract.”
    A church doesn’ t need to advertise itself; the only thing we have to do is keep burning and others would attract.

    Seek to have a relationship with God…

  • Posted by

    Wendi, you have to remember that the context we are talking about is creating converts.  We cannot create converts, only the Holy Spirit can create converts.  God gets all the credit and Glory for saving people, so he doesn’t reward us for something we can’t produce.  The context of that parable (Matthew 25) is our talents and gifts, not creating converts.  The point of the parable wasn’t that the person with 10 talents got more results than the person with 5.  The point was that both were faithful with what they were given, and Jesus replied them same way to both of them.  Jesus was upset at the person with one talent who wasn’t faithful.

    Mark is working from a theological conviction that believes Christ will build his church.  God calls us to be faithful in preaching the Gospel correctly, and living a life that reflects that Gospel.  I think you are simplifying Mark’s comments too much.  If a Church is not producing any converts but is being faithful in every way then I believe Mark would approve of what that Church is doing.  But as we all know, most churches that aren’t producing converts are probably not faithful in every way.  Mark is just saying that we are called to reflect God’s holiness as a church, preach the Gospel, evangelize, strive to be faithful in all areas of our lives, and that Jesus will gather his sheep.  Since we can’t produce the results, and only the Holy Spirit can produce results through the proclamation of the Gospel, the church has to be judged by their faithfulness to the message, not the results.

  • Posted by Jared

    A church that isn’t interested in evangelism isn’t really being faithful anyway.

    Dever has a book forthcoming on evangelism, so I don’t think it’s safe to assume he believes one can be faithful apart from a desire to share the Gospel. I think he’s just saying our goal should be faithfulness to God, not getting X number of people to say a prayer.

  • Posted by Daniel

    Let’s say both/and! The problem is not ‘measuring’ or ‘keeping track’ of ‘success’ (which shouldn’t just be measured by conversions or the baptisms they necessarily entail by the way). The problem is allowing limited indications of success AS success.
    The insight here is that faithfulness IS success. It has implications for conversions (again, the better measure of belief is BAPTISM), for small group involvement, etc., but we just have to remember that these are only likely effects of a cause.
    For example, Americans are unhealthy. In fact, many guys who work out LOOK healthy, but because of their diet (or the way in which they work out) they aren’t healthy (clogged arteries and so forth). A fit physique CAN be a good indication of health, but it becomes a problem if we start seeking after the physique INSTEAD of the health which produces it. 
    In the same way, the Church needs to seek after faithfulness to the Kingdom of God, which we can expect to have empirically verifiable results--but we need to remember that the results are not the Kingdom.

    My two cents.

  • Posted by

    The best kind of evangelism one could do is, “living evangelism.”

    When you’re living for Christ, God would send people in your direction. The testimony of your life would draw others to you.

    Jesus said, “if HE be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Him.”

    Yes, evangelism is important. But holiness is more important. God said, “don’t let your good be spoken evil of.” (What good is it to send somebody out who hasn’t been transformed?)

    The disciples had to wait until they were filled with the Holy Spirit before they went out.  (Acts 2)

    Holiness + Evangelism....

  • Posted by Jared

    Kareem, I wonder what part of my comment led you to believe I don’t think the Gospel is to be lived. And I certainly don’t see where I even insinuated holiness wasn’t important.

    I agree with you, friend.

  • Posted by IndyChristian

    Scripture regularly teaches testing & self-examination.  And I might agree with Rick Warren who indicates that if your mission isn’t measurable, it’s just PR. 

    Now consider Barna’s 4% Biblical Worldview stat… Who would conclude that the American Church on the whole is really ‘doing’ the mission Christ gave us? [Go make replicating disciples who teach people to obey everything Jesus taught, including… Love the Lord with all your everything and Love your neighbor as your very self.]

    How about just measuring ‘Go’… starting in your Jerusalem?  Has your city seen 100% ‘coverage’ yet?  [ie, every man, woman & child optimally seen & heard the gospel by deed & Word?]

    Or what about measuring Paul’s mandate for the Church that there be ‘no divisions among you’?

    Or that the Church should be multicultural?  5% of Christian churches in the U.S. are.

    Who’s measuring faithfulness, even?  Seems that all these measures reflect the obvious… there’s NOT significant ‘faithfulness’ to biblical commands.

  • Posted by

    But I’ve seen the living out your faith and they will come to you, used as a cop-out.

    Obviously holiness is primary in being any kind of witness.  But too many Christians hunker down, live their holy life and never even connect with a non Christian, much less live a life that will reach them, because they aren’t with them.  They are in their Christian bubble. 

    If we truly are going to impact the world for Christ, we MUST reach out and connect with the unchurched.  For some that may mean long term evangelism, daily living out our life as salt and light (got some of those in my life now).  For others it may mean (gasp!) actually sharing my faith verbally!

    I agree with you Jared, that evangelism is part of faithfulness.

    But I agree with you IndyChristian.  Unless we go seek to change our world, we will be irrelevant in our impact.

    In our community, we are I think the only church with non believers coming to church. 

    I don’t see Christians actively pursuing those who don’t know Christ, other than to have a harvest festival once a year with the stated purpose of reaching them, but really only providing a place for the Christian kids to go.
    (They even had a bouncer at the door to turn away not nice costumes, boy that’s reachin’ em!)

    I think churches are sadly lacking in this area, for all our talk.

  • Posted by Camey

    Well… this one certainly caused a lot of buzz.

  • Posted by

    By no are we to sit in a Christian bubble and isolate ourselves from the world. You misunderstood what was said. What was said, “holiness then evangelism.”

    many get it twisted and evangelize withouth holiness. on the contrary, many live holy lives but consecrate themselves and don’t evangelize.

    The best evangelism that can be heard is our lives. (Before I was quickend by the Holy Spirit, I saw many who called themselves evangelizing. Yes they went door o door spreading the Good News. But those same folks lives contradicted what they were proclaiming.)

    living a holy life isn’t a cop-out. a cop-out is evangelizing and then living a hellish life and saying, “God knows my heart.”

    The difference between a true-Christian and one that’s pretending lies in the reality of his/her duty.You don’t have to tell a true Chrisian to show hospitality, to show charity, to strive for peace among man. A true Christian would do that because it’s apart of the new life.

    you have to be careful in this field of evangelizing because many have a distorted view on what evangelism is all about. (I highly recomend Dr. Barnhouse book entitled, “The Art of Effective Witnessing.”

    Jan there are many who you may think are believers but are un-believers in many churches. So don’t think your church is the only church where un-believers attend.

    A worldly person would be unconfortable under the teaching and preaching of the True Gospel. Because the true Gospel convicts and changes lives.

  • Posted by

    kareem how can you tell the unbelievers from the true believers if you do not see them in their daily life, every one acts the same in the building on sunday.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Kareem, there are MANY unbelievers in our churches. You’re right! What a great thing! They get to hear the message of Christ, they come on purpose (week after week sometimes), they get involved even… before they come to faith. I LOVE it. Especially when they then take the step of accepting Christ!

  • Posted by

    one way to tell the unbelievers from the true believers is by the fruit they bear. (I’m not saying judge one another, because the Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” But what I’m saying is do some fruit inspection. That same chapter says, “By their fruit will you know them.")-Matthew 7

    another way to determine if a person is a believer or non-believer is by their love. (John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciple.")

    God gives His children the spirit of discernment.

    you’re right about unbelievers coming Sunday after Sunday. (For many, church is just another after party.) I’ve heard many say, “I’m going to church to surprise momma for her birthday, or I’m going to church to see the latest fab, listen to the latest gossip and even get my groove on. And this is what the world thinks of the church, it has been reduced in man’s eyes to just a place of entertainment.

    How many really leave their house with the mindset of worship?

    When people had an encounter with Jesus they left changed.  Jesus didn’t have a 100 voice chior, praise dancers, world famous musicians or plasma screens. Jesus preached the Word…

    I praise God when the Word goes forth and sinners repent.

    reach the World with the Word…

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Kareem writes “How many really leave their house with the mindset of worship?” Don’t get me wrong here, but I don’t care. A better question is “How many people come into this building not knowing Christ and leave perhaps a step closer to embracing Him?”

    Anyway, a little off-topic…

    I think it’s great when two big churches can merge, become one in unity in the way that Jesus prayed we would. It’s almost like we can answer Jesus’ prayer… That’s an AWESOME thought…

  • Posted by

    I pray everybody that walk through our doors leave different from what they came.

  • Posted by Peter Hamm



    You nailed it. That’s the whole point, isn’t it! To worship God and be changed by Him.

  • Posted by Brian

    Every week I pray that God would help us to leave the service knowing Him better and loving Him more.

    Brian L

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