Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top Ten Criticisms From A Church And A Response

(I'm stealing this from the Church Growth Blog.)

We, the deacons of your church, have listed the top ten
criticisms we have received and have decided upon the following
solutions for these complaints:

1. “I want more depth in the
sermons”: For all sermons we will read the Hebrew and Greek
manuscripts, therefore everyone in the congregation will be required to
take Hebrew and Greek classes. Since these languages require constant
study and usage, each member will be required to take these classes
until they die.

2. “Nobody noticed when I was gone for three
weeks”: From now on, each member of the congregation will be required
to have placed on their ankle a tracking device so that we will know
where they are at all times, including when they are at the lake, at
the golf course, hunting, etc. Also, each member will be required to
bring a doctor’s note stating that the member was actually sick and had
an excuse for being out of church. The church will also start to use
the phone tree system to give everyone a wake-up call on Sunday
mornings so that they can get to church on time.

3. “Nobody
cares about how I feel”: From now on, we will have a
psychiatrist/psychologist/Christian counselor (the member will choose)
available on Sunday mornings to help each member understand more about
their feeling that no one cares about them. In addition, each member
will be required to start caring for others in the congregation.

“I don’t know everybody anymore”: From now on each member of the
congregation will be required to memorize the names and faces of each
member of the congregation, including each new member that joins
hereafter. Also, each member will be required wear a photo i.d. for
identification purposes.

5. “The choir doesn’t sing my kind
of music”: From now on, there will be no more choir or congregational
singing but each seat in the sanctuary will be equipped with an IPOD
and headphones to listen to your favorite type of Christian music
during the worship service.

6. “We shouldn’t let those kinds
of people into the church”: Beginning next week, each member will be
required to have an “extreme makeover” so that everyone will look the
same. Said makeover cost will be the responsibility of each member.

“All the church talks about is for me to give more money”: Beginning
immediately, there will be no more offerings taken up during the
worship services and each member will be required to tithe ten percent
of their income by enrolling in a payroll deduction plan from their
place of employment or enrolling in an automatic draft of their tithe
from their bank. This way we will not have to ask for money again.

“The preacher talks too much about sacrifice”: Beginning next week,
each member of the congregation will be required to play on a church
softball team and advance at least one runner per game to another base
by sacrifice bunt or a sacrifice fly so that each person can say they
sacrificed something during the week.

9. “The worship
services are boring”: Beginning next Sunday, the baptismal pool will
have a wave machine installed to make the baptisms more fun. Also,
Barnum and Bailey Circus will provide us with clowns to perform during
the welcome time and the Harlem Globetrotters will provide us with a
demonstration of their basketball skills during the invitation.

“The church is not going in the right direction”: Beginning next
Sunday, we will no longer have a pastor to preach and lead the church
but instead each member of the congregation will be required to go
before the church and “share” their feelings about which direction the
church ought to going. This should work out extremely well because so
many in the congregation seem to know which direction we ought to be
going because they have suddenly become experts in the field of church
growth and church vision.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sermon: They Fell Down Before Him

Tomorrow I will be filling in preaching for a good friend, Bert Foster. I will be preaching at Calvary Covenant Church in Stockholm, WI. Stockholm is a small town on Lake Pepin, across from Lake City, MN, and not too far down the road from Red Wing, MN. Below is my message manuscript. If you know me, you know I vary some from the manuscript, but that I will hit most of what is written as time allows. May Christ be glorified!

They Fell Down Before Him

On a normal day, I don’t sit on the ground. My guess is that is the case for most of you as well. We just don’t. When I’m camping or hiking, sure, but even then I try to find a log or something rather than just plopping down on the dusty trail. In our culture, we’re just not on the ground all that frequently. I grew up working on cars and motor cycles, and I quickly found one of the least desirable places to be was on the ground working. When you get down there, you get dirty, dust gets in your eyes, it’s hard to keep your clothes clean. Today we are going to look at some people who fell down to the ground on purpose. This isn’t just any piece of earth that they were falling on though, it was at the feet of Jesus. Let’s look at some examples where people hit the dirt before Jesus.

MT 9:18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live."

MK 7:25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.

LK 5:12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

JN 11:32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

JN 18:6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

MT 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

LK 17:16 He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan.

LK 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"

MK 3:11 Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."

MK 5:6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.

MK 5:33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

Now if only one or two people had fallen at Jesus’ feet, we might be able to dismiss those actions, but clearly that is not the case. People from a variety of backgrounds, found in each of the Gospel Letters, are found kneeling at Jesus’ feet. So we can only conclude that this falling at Jesus’ feet teaches us something important, and is therefore worth a closer look.

Some people who fell down before Jesus.
Let’s dig deeper into a couple of these people who fell down before Jesus. If you have your Bible with you, open to Mark chapter 5, verses 1-17. Mark is about 70% of the way into your Bible, after Matthew and before Luke and John. I’m going to paraphrase some for times sake, but I recommend you read this section of scripture in full later today when you have some time.
Let me give you a bit of background first. The day starts out quiet enough. Jesus is teaching by the sea, and as the crowd grew, He moved into a boat to continue His teaching. As you may know, at the end of the day Jesus and the disciples head across the Sea of Galilee, when a great storm hits. The disciples, men who were very experienced fishermen, but yet they were terrified by this storm, all while Jesus sleeps. In their fear, they wake Jesus, and he calms the storm. Even though we aren’t at the kneeling part yet, this is an amazing passage – it’s almost as if nature was kneeling at Jesus’ feet.
We now pick up with Mark 5 where they land on the other side of the lake. Immediately an enraged, demon-possessed, half-naked man comes at Jesus at a full run. This man is all cuts and bruises, probably quite muscular and covered in dirt. The townsfolk had tried to chain him, but every bond and chain they had were broken by him. These were people who knew how to make strong rope, and metal chains. They used them daily in their work in the fields and on their boats. The man was crazed we are told, living in the tombs, howling like a wolf, hitting himself with stones. The people of this town steered clear of him, and undoubtedly prayed for their children to stay away from him as well.

And so this dangerous and crazy man comes running at Jesus at full steam, just as Jesus is stepping off the boat. Imagine the adrenaline rush this is for the disciples. Here they just recovered from a near death experience out on the lake, and this madman is heading straight for their leader. What do I do? Do I try to stop him? Do I pull Jesus back into the boat? Will Christ stop him as He stopped the wind? A lot had to be racing through their minds, but their adrenaline was all for nothing. The demon-possessed, crazed man falls on his knees before Jesus. And he begs.
He bows face down to the ground, shaking, pleading before Jesus. And at a word, the demons in him give up their prized possession. The man is instantly sane and whole and committed to Jesus, ready to get in the boat and follow him anywhere. But at another word from Jesus, he denies his strong desire to go with his healer, and heads back into town to proclaim the power and authority of Jesus there. Can you imagine the testimony he had when he got back into town?
Let’s look at another example of hitting the dirt before Jesus’ feet. When Jesus and His disciples crossed back over the Sea of Galilee, a leader of the synagogue runs up to Jesus, and falls at his feet. And begs. He begs for Jesus to heal his daughter. This man who is begging isn’t just your average man though, he is a man of position and power, and in broad daylight he comes and falls before the feet of a radical itinerant rabbi. Jesus goes with this ruler, but on the way He is stopped by a woman who touched his cloak. She too falls before him, face down to the ground. Are you starting to see a theme here? This was the life of Jesus. His authority and rightful lordship emanated from him, and people from the demon-possessed to the powerful, found themselves at his feet. Many of these people had not previously met Jesus. Something within them just gave way, and they could do nothing but fall before him. He never once asked for it, and I doubt there was anything in His poor dress, ragged appearance or the people He hung out with that would suggest that someone should kneel before him.
When you think about it, kneeling before someone is embarrassing and humbling. It acknowledges your relative position. It is literally to put yourself in your place. To kneel is to make yourself vulnerable. You cannot protect yourself in this position, and that is the point of kneeling. You are placing yourself at the will of another.
The kneeling speaks not only of the lowering of the one who kneels, but also is about the recognition of the position of Jesus. It speaks about the authority that resided within Jesus. These kneeling verses clarify for us that Jesus’ place is on the throne. He has authority and lord ship. He is a Lord. The Lord. He may be merciful and gracious, but make no mistake: He is Lord. Our place is at His feet, humble, silent, and paying attention to his commands.

Have I been falling before Jesus' feet?
So the big question today is Have I been falling before Jesus’ feet? If not, why not? Here we are, a room where I suspect almost everyone is Christian, and yet we are failing at this, aren’t we. We profess Jesus as our Lord, our King, our Savior, but we all struggle to carry that out into our lives. So I want to close today with some practical steps, steps to help you fall at Jesus’ feet.

1. First we must Fear Him.
What do you do with a King? You fear him. We are so accustomed to democracies and committees and consensus decision making that we’ve lost our innate, natural sense of what to do when confronted with authority. Real authority. A King. A Lord. We need to relearn silent submission and reverence. We need to learn how to kneel. Fear of God was something familiar to the Jews at the time of Christ. They had such great fear and reverence, that they would not write out the whole name of God. They would leave letters out, which is how we get the word Yahweh. So if we want to get better at falling at Jesus’ feet, we need to learn to fear Him. And just as a hint, this isn’t going to happen unless you are spending time in the Word.

2. Second, we need to Practice Humility.
In our culture, humility is such a rare thing. It’s not something many people get much practice at, and even fewer pursue it intentionally. Being humble, practicing humility does not mean we are worthless though. We have incredible worth, because God values us.
Humility is elusive. Many people have wondered if you can ever really know you’re humble. “I’m so humble!” seems to be an impossible statement to declare. Just saying it seems like it should disqualify you. Humility is about as un-American a virtue as I can imagine. Can you think of something further from what our culture lifts up and encourages?
So what is humility? Well, it has something to do with acknowledging true places. We need to come to terms with just how poor and broken our own spirits are. If I just counted the number of times I’ve sinned in traffic in just the last week I would be appalled. It might seem a bit humorous to us today to think of it in those terms, but God isn’t laughing. God takes sin seriously. True humility understands that I am low but that there is something truly high and worthy, and we find that in Jesus. God is infinitely perfect, and we are ruined, stained, destroyed by our sin. It is only through Jesus on the Cross that we are able to reconcile this difference.
So as we I close, I want you think this over. Let it weigh on your heart. Have you been falling at Jesus’ feet? Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on each and every one of our parts. Go to His feet. Humble yourselves. Fear Him.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

African Evangelisitic Outreach and Leadership Conferences

Below is a message from my dear friend Sammy Wanyonyi. Sammy and I went to Bethel Seminary together the past 4+ years. Sammy is the man who took over from me as the President of Bethel Seminary's Student Senate. I've told Sammy this before, but I would pay money to hear this man pray. This is a man of God, impacting the world in ways most of us can just dream of. If nothing else, add Sammy and his team to your prayer list!

Sammy Wanyonyi Int'l Ministries (SWIM), 10410 Normandale Blvd, Bloomington, MN, 55437; Tel: 612-220-7999; Website: www.swimmin.org.
Dear Ministry Friend,
In a week's time, our ministry team heads to the countries of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Kenya for evangelistic outreach and leadership conferences. The Gospel of Christ is our core motivation for these efforts to bring the message of hope to the world. By God's grace, we anticipate to minister directly to nearly 150,000 people through the Arise And Shine DR Congo, Festival of Hope in Bukavu, DRC, the ministry to prisoners in Rwanda, and through the Great Lakes Region Conference on Leadership and Governance in Kigali, Rwanda. We will also be conducting a Pastor's conference in Malawi and ministry to congregations in Kenya.
At the Arise And Shine DRC Festival of Hope in Bukavu, SWIM is working with over 400 churches around the city and in the South Kivu Province to bring the message of hope, forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation through Christ. After eight years of devastating war, a new era is emerging as the churches encourage reconciliation and reconstruction.
The Leadership and Governance Conference in Kigali is of particular significance, bringing together political, religious and business leaders from eight African nations in the region to interact with the message of Christ. Whereas we will explore different models of leadership and business effectiveness pertinent to the region, the Conference's central motif is that the Gospel is incomplete if it does not affect and influence how people live, relate, and govern. It is not enough to confront personal sin. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we must work together with and alongside governmental and business leaders to establish peace, explore ethical approaches to business, and advocate for equity and moral integrity in day to day activities.
Following last year's conference, Rwanda's Minister for Local Government and Good Governance Hon. Protais Musoni while applauding the conference remarked on the necessity of such collaboration: "There is nothing of greater value in our society today than forging unity between the Church and the State if we are to correct past mistakes, develop competent societies, and achieve sustainable development." We thank God that this year, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is able to be present with us to officially open the conference. Besides me, our SWIM team of speakers for this year include President of Cargill's ArgHorizons a multi national corporation based in Minnesota Daniel Dye, Minneapolis/St. Paul Int'l Airport Director Steve Wareham, and Senior Pastor of Life Church, Maple Groves, MN and former advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, Rev. Ron Roberts. Presenters from the region include Rwanda's First Lady Janet Kagame and Burundi's First Lady Denise Ngurunziza among others. Visit my blog for detailed profiles of our team members and to follow our mission.
Our ministry team traveling to the Africa Great Lakes Region for the Leadership And Governance Conference and Arise And Shine DR Congo, Festival of Hope. From left front row: Dan Dye, North American President of Cargill ArgHorizon and MBA professor at Bethel Univeristy, Sammy Wanyonyi, Evangelist and President of SWIM, Ebony Hatch, Master of Divinity Student at Bethel University, Mike Galbraith, Undergraduate Student, Business Major at Bethel University. Back row from left: Steve Wareham, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Director, Rev. Ron Roberts, Senior Pastor of Life Church, Maple Groves, Robert Stadler, Senior Principal Scientist for Medtronic, and Randy Galbraith, Businessman from Marshall, MN. Not included in picture is Grace Fragoso, Missionary from Brazil with Orphanos Foundation, Cordova, TN.
The leadership conference in Kigali, Rwanda will minister to political, religious, and business leaders from eight countries in the Africa Great Lakes region. Hon. Solange, a Rwandan member of parliament and deputy minister was among those who participated in last years' conference. "I am thankful that God has raised SWIM to minister to us. As I work with women and other leaders in our community, my vision is to equip the next generation to foster change that enables peace and stability."
1000 pastors in the Africa Great Lakes region will be equipped and encouraged through the pastors and evangelists conference in Bukavu, DRC and in Malawi.
Arise and Shine DR Congo Festival of Hope in Bukavu, DRC will directly minister to 100,000 people while many others will hear the message of hope through radio, television and local newspapers.
During our time in Rwanda, our team will hold an evangelistic service and share the message of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation with 12000 prisoners at a prison facility near Kigali.
More than 400 churches in Bukavu and the surrounding communities, DRC are working with SWIM and praying for healing and restoration following eight years of devastating war and conflict. Will you join with us and with these churches to pray that thousands of people come to faith in Jesus Christ through the Festival of Hope?
I invite you to partner with us during this season of ministry in the Africa Great Lakes Region. We are already experiencing great breakthroughs as our team prepares. However, we request you to commit to pray daily with us. You can follow the happenings through the SWIM Website and get current updates from my blog. In the next few days preceding the Conference and Festival of Hope, I am posting profiles and leadership insights from our ministry team on my blog. I encourage you to visit, read and leave us comments.
Thank you for your continued partnership as we make Jesus Christ famous and reach out to the world together. For your inspiration, listen to this message I shared with Westwood Community Church Congregation this Sunday: How Then Do We Live In the Anxious Middle?
Sammy Wanyonyi
SWIM President And Evangelist

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Friday, July 20, 2007

The ongoing process called life...

Our vacation last month went very well, we were able to spend a week in Colorado and Utah. We spent a couple of days with my brother-in-law and his wife and hiked in Golden Gate State Park in Colorado the day I arrived. Needless to say, this out of shape and overweight flatlander was huffing and puffing. I was actually surprised at how well I was able to breath considering I had gained something like 8400 feet of elevation in just 4 hours! I could keep pace hiking, but was completely unable to both hike and talk. It was one or the other. Probably a blessing in disguise for everyone else.

We also spent an afternoon at Elitch Garden Water Park in downtown Denver. This was the first time I have visited Elich's since they moved locations. Much nicer location, and a great view of downtown, especially from the top of some of the water park rides. I tried out the ride called "The Edge" and got my money's worth! The Edge is a 4+ story drop while you sit in an inner tube. It's effectively a gigantic water park half-pipe. I was pretty certain I was going to rocket off the far side and launch myself into the Pepsi Center parking lot, but thankfully gravity still works and I only came close to the top bumper. Absolutely thrilling! My wife chose to not take in this ride (wisely for her, she would NOT have liked it) and instead did some extra rounds on Castaway Creek. It was a lot of fun, and we'd certainly do it again. We're planning on hitting the Valleyfair water park later this summer.

After a couple of days in Denver we set out heading West for Utah. We got slowed down just before Silverthorne by an accident that closed down West bound I-70. So rather than making progress, we sat in traffic for 2 hours in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we made it to Moab, Utah. We originally were scheduled for camping at Wagner Lake, but the Moab Welcome Center advised us that A) even though by map it's a short distance it is still a 1.5+ hour drive (supposedly 18 miles away) and B) it is still cold enough at that altitude over night that the water hadn't yet been turned on. So we scrapped that plan (forfeiting the $29 reservation for the site) and stayed on the Northern outskirts of Moab in a private campground. This worked out well because we had hot showers, and the campground was 4 miles from Arches National Park, and 2 miles from Downtown Moab.

We spent an entire day in Arches National Park. That's a lot of rock! We hiked for roughly 14 hours. We got up early and arrived at the Ranger Station just as they opened with the hopes of getting reservations to go into an area called Fiery Furnace. They were completely filled, so we moved on to Plan B and drove into the trail head for Delicate Arch. Hiking to Delicate Arch is something I would advise to do early in the day this time of year. It was blazing hot and no shade for miles. Bring lots of water too. A long segment of the hike consists of walking across a huge portion of slickrock from cairn to cairn. Also not a place to be caught in a thunder storm! We spent a few hours at Delicate Arch, relaxing, enjoying the view, and eating lunch. We saw most of the sights in Arches in one day. Honestly you could spend two days and see more, but after about the 4th arch they begin to loose some of their impressiveness. And the oppressive heat in June doesn't help. I can only imagine what August must be like there. My wife was suffering through a cold the whole trip, so it was even worse for her.

Moab is a neat little town with lots to do. We would love to return there and take in some 4-wheeling, mountain biking and kayaking on the Colorado River. Everyone we met (locals) were very nice and friendly, which I suppose is to be expected in a town that lives off of tourism.

We spent the rest of our vacation in Fort Collins and Loveland Colorado with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Most of one day we spent at a place called Supper Made Simple which is owned and operated by my aunt. I had heard good things about these type of places, but became sold on it after spending a few hours making meals. The food was outstanding, healthy, well balanced, nicely portioned, and most important convenient.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cool Links

Some really cool links:

Etsy - Guys, Etsy is the kind of place that has exactly what (most) women want as gifts. They are hand made items, and much of it is really cool, hip and interesting. If you are looking for a creative gift with a special touch, this is a great place to start looking.

- This is the place for all you Amazon.com addicts. They list all of the daily deals available on Amazon, which means products with discounts as high as 70%!

RetailMeNot.com - This is your place for coupons to tons of stores! Discounts for places like Old Navy, Papa John's, car rentals and many other things.

I got these from Guy Kawasaki.

Competent Leadership

Competence alone can’t make a leader, but it can undo one.
While inaction is a prime problem facing many organizations (and individuals for that matter), there’s the very real possibility that one is doing the wrong thing. An incompetent leader has almost unlimited opportunities to be ineffective. Knowing what to do—professional competence—is vital.
From Leading Blog

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What is your blog rated?

Free Online Dating

I suspect there are periods where this could move up or down depending on what articles are displayed on the front page. I write for adults, but the site is safe for kids. (HT: Steve McCoy)

Who are you reading?

A post by Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost got me thinking today. Joe posts about the 100 Christian blogs that are most influential on him.

Joe writes:

This is not a list of the "best Christian blogs" (whatever that might mean) but rather the top 100 blogs that I have found to be the most convicting, enlightening, frustrating, illuminating, maddening, stimulating, right-on and/or wrongheaded by Christians expressing a Christian worldview.

The selection process is, by necessity, intensely personal and unapologetically subjective. There are a number of Christian blogs that are written by brilliant thinkers and stylists yet, for one reason or another, have not captured my imagination in the way that the following blogs have done. The list is also reflective of my rather narrow field of interests and associations. By and large, the bloggers that are included are from the conservative wing of evangelicalism and Catholicism. There is also a peculiar range of focus. Philosophical blogs are overrepresented, for example, while "This is where I’m at right now"-style introspectionists are all but excluded.

Below are Joe's top 20:
1. Between Two Worlds
2. JollyBlogger
3. The Scriptorium
4. Challies.com
5. WORLD mag blog
6. SmartChristian
7. Prosthesis
8. Parableman
9. (Tie) Boars Head Tavern | Pyromaniacs
10. Acton Institute PowerBlog
11. Hugh Hewitt
12. Al Mohler's Blog
13. Blogotional
14. Mark D. Roberts
15. Pseudo-Polymath
16. Mere Orthodoxy
17. New Covenant
18. In the Agora
19. ChristianThinker.net
20. Mirror of Justice
I have read a number of these blogs, and a few I still browse from time to time. Joe definitely swims in a different circle than I do, but there are some really good blogs there.

My top 20 are basically those found in my right sidebar:
1. Mark Driscoll's Blog
2. Vox Pop - Mars Hill Blog
3. Between Two Worlds
4. Challies.com
5. Perry Noble
6. Mark Batterson
7. Dave Ferguson
8. Steven Furtick
9. Ben Arment Leading Blog
10. Tim Stevens
11. LifeChurch Blog
12. Monday Morning Insight
13. Together for the Gospel Blog
14. Pyromanics
15. A-Team Blog
16. The Evangelical Outpost
17. Provocations and Pantings
18. Pulpit Live!
19. Reformissionary
20. Pure Church - Thabiti Anyabwile

Who are you reading?

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Monday, July 16, 2007

30/50 Most Influential Churches in America of 2007

(from Churchrelevance.com)

The Church Report just published a list of the 50 Most Influential Churches in America of 2007. The research was conducted by Dr. John Vaughan of Church Growth Today. I recommend reading The Church Report’s short but informative article to learn how the data was collected, some history about the churches, as well as how they differ by denomination and geography.

If you enjoy learning the principles and techniques behind the successes of other churches, lists such as this one can be quite helpful and worth your time to study. I also find it helpful to know what other “lists” the churches have made and to have the opportunity to visit the churches’ websites.

So here is a list of the top 30 churches from 2007’s 50 Most Influential Churches in America with the church names hyperlinked to their websites and with recognition of which of the other eight below lists they have made:

List Reference

Top 30/50 Most Influential Churches in America of 2007

  1. Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL) :: Bill Hybels
    >> 07 AMIC (#20)
    >> 06 FGC (#8) :: 05 FGC (#30)
    >> 06 LC (#5)
    >> 06 MIC (#1) :: 05 MIC (#2)
  2. Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA) :: Rick Warren
    >> 07 AMIC (#18)
    >> 06 FGC (#39) :: 05 FGC (#5) :: 04 FGC (#15)
    >> 06 LC (#6)
    >> 06 MIC (#2) :: 05 MIC (#1)
  3. Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX) :: Ed Young Jr.
    >> 07 AMIC (#4)
    >> 06 FGC (#37) :: 05 FGC (#20) :: 04 FGC (#5)
    >> 06 LC (#9)
    >> 06 MIC (#4) :: 05 MIC (#4)
  4. North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) :: Andy Stanley
    >> 07 AMIC (#3)
    >> 04 FGC (#4)
    >> 06 LC (#12)
    >> 06 MIC (#3) :: 05 MIC (#3)
  5. LifeChurch.tv (Edmond, OK) :: Craig Groeschel
    >> 07 AMIC (#1)
    >> 06 FGC (#11) :: 05 FGC (#4) :: 04 FGC (#8)
    >> 06 LC (#13)
    >> 06 MIC (#7) :: 05 MIC (#16)
  6. Granger Community Church (Granger, IN) :: Mark Beeson
    >> 07 AMIC (#2)
    >> 05 FGC (#62) :: 04 FGC (#27)
    >> 06 MIC (#14)
  7. Lakewood Church (Houston, TX) :: Joel Osteen
    >> 06 FGC (#1) :: 05 FGC (#3) :: 04 FGC (#1)
    >> 06 LC (#1)
    >> 06 MIC (#5) :: 05 MIC (#5)
  8. Mars Hill Church (Seattle, WA) :: Mark Driscoll
    >> 07 AMIC (#9)
    >> 06 FGC (#15) :: 05 FGC (#54)
    >> 06 MIC (#22) :: 05 MIC (#23)
    >> 07 TMC (#2)
  9. The Potter’s House (Dallas, TX) :: T.D. Jakes
    >> 07 AMIC (#12)
    >> 06 FGC (#25) :: 04 FGC (#3)
    >> 06 LC (#20)
    >> 06 MIC (#8) :: 05 MIC (#8)
  10. Seacoast Church (Mt. Pleasant, SC) :: Greg Surratt
    >> 07 AMIC (#6)
    >> 06 FGC (#54) :: 05 FGC (#28)
    >> 06 LC (#86)
    >> 06 MIC (#15) :: 05 MIC (#27)
  11. Mosaic Church (City of Industry, CA) :: Erwin McManus
    >> 07 AMIC (#5)
    >> 06 MIC (#12) :: 05 MIC (#41)
  12. Mars Hill Bible Church (Grandville, MI) :: Rob Bell
    >> 07 AMIC (#11)
    >> 04 FGC (#6)
    >> 06 LC (#35)
    >> 06 MIC (#17) :: 05 MIC (#20)
  13. North Coast Church (Vista, CA) :: Larry Osborn
    >> 07 AMIC (#19)
    >> 04 FGC (#43)
    >> 06 MIC (#10) :: 05 MIC (#11)
  14. First Assembly of God (Phoenix, AZ) :: Tommy Barnett
    >> 04 FGC (#17)
    >> 06 LC (#11)
    >> 06 MIC (#29) :: 05 MIC (#13)
  15. The Church of the Resurrection (Leawood, KS) :: Adam Hamilton
    >> 06 FGC (#98):: 04 FGC (#10)
    >> 06 LC (#48)
    >> 06 MIC (#11) :: 05 MIC (#8)
  16. Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY) :: Dave Stone
    >> 05 FGC (#58) :: 04 FGC (#21)
    >> 06 LC (#7)
    >> 06 MIC (#6) :: 05 MIC (#50)
  17. The Brooklyn Tabernacle (Brooklyn, NY) :: Jim Cymbala
    >> 06 LC (#33)
    >> 06 MIC (#9) :: 05 MIC (#6)
  18. Calvary Chapel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) :: Bob Coy
    >> 05 FGC (#39) :: 04 FGC (#13)
    >> 06 LC (#8)
    >> 06 MIC (#40) :: 05 MIC (#40)
  19. Community Christian Church (Naperville, IL) :: Dave Ferguson
    >> 07 AMIC (#7)
    >> 04 FGC (#48)
    >> 06 MIC (#13)
    >> 07 TMC (#7)
  20. New Hope Christian Fellowship (Oahu, HI) :: Wayne Cordero
    >> 07 AMIC (#10)
    >> 06 FGC (#46) :: 05 FGC (#12) :: 04 FGC (#23)
    >> 06 LC (#31)
    >> 06 MIC (#23) :: 05 MIC (#25)
  21. NewSpring Community Church (Anderson, SC) :: Perry Noble
    >> 06 FGC (#80) :: 05 FGC (#81)
  22. Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, TX) :: Jack Graham
    >> 06 FGC (#97) :: 05 FGC (#9) :: 04 FGC (#19)
    >> 06 LC (#17)
  23. Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York, NY) :: Timothy Keller
    >> 07 AMIC (#15)
    >> 06 MIC (#16) :: 05 MIC (#26)
    >> 07 TMC (#1)
  24. Second Baptist Church (Houston, TX) :: Ed Young Sr.
    >> 06 FGC (#40) :: 05 FGC (#7) :: 04 FGC (#7)
    >> 06 LC (#3)
    >> 0705 MIC (#33)
  25. Mariners Church (Irvine, CA) :: Kenton Beshore
    >> 06 LC (#45)
  26. Bayside Covenant Church (Granite Bay, CA) :: Ray Johnston
    >> 06 MIC (#20)
  27. Calvary Chapel (Santa Ana, CA) :: Chuck Smith
    >> 06 LC (#57)
  28. Christ Fellowship (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) :: Tom Mullins
    >> 06 FGC (#30) :: 05 FGC (#26) :: 04 FGC (#26)
    >> 06 LC (#32)
  29. First Baptist Church (Jacksonville, FL) :: Mac Brunson
    >> 06 LC (#52)
    >> 06 MIC (#19)
  30. First Baptist Church (Woodstock, GA) :: Johnny Hunt
    >> 06 LC (#100)

See the full list at The Church Report or visit Church Relevance’s churches to watch list, which includes churches from nine different lists. It is interesting to note that all 50 churches have previously made one of the eight other lists that Church Relevance has highlighted.

Lastly, before studying these churches, I highly recommend that you read Bobby Gruenewald’s 5 tips for studying lists.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Personal DNA - Respectful Leader

I am a Respectful Leader:

This was an interesting and quick little test. Tony Morgan pointed it out from Terry Storch and I thought I would check it out. Feel free to post your own results in the comments.

I score high on masculine and low on feminine. That does not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me!

From the site:

You are a Leader

Your solid grounding in the practicalities of life, along with your self-assuredness and your willingness to appreciate new things make you a LEADER.
You're in touch with what is going on around you and adept at remaining down-to-earth and logical.
Although you're detail-oriented, this doesn't mean that you lose the big picture.
You tend to find beauty in form and efficiency, as opposed to finding it in broad-based, abstract concepts.
Never one to pass on an adventure, you're consistently seeking and finding new things, even in your immediate surroundings.
Because of this eagerness to pursue new experiences, you've learned a lot; your attention to detail means that you gain a great deal from your adventures.
The intellectual curiosity that drives you leads you to seek out causes of and reasons behind things.
Your confidence gives you the potential to take your general awareness and channel it into leadership.
You're not set on one way of doing things, and you often have the skills and persistence to find innovative ways of facing challenges.
You are well-attuned to your talents, and can deal with most problems that you face.
Your independent streak allows you to make decisions efficiently and to trust your instincts
You prefer to have time to plan for things, feeling better with a schedule than with keeping plans up in the air until the last minute.
Generally, you believe that you control your life, and that external forces only play a limited role in determining what happens to you.

You are Respectful

Your reserved nature, understanding of the world, and faith in others make you RESPECTFUL.
You trust those around you to do the right thing, so you tend not to get involved in other people's affairs.
You have fewer friendships than some, but the relationships you do have are very meaningful and important to you.
Your careful and practical observation of your environment has led you to understand that others' situations can be very complex.
Because of this, you are slow to pass judgments on others, even if sometimes you can't see what it is about certain things that upsets them.
You tend to enjoy the world through ideas and reflection, which allows you to get a lot out of the time you spend alone.
Your friends would describe you as laid-back and easy-going.
As someone who is calm and centered, you aren't likely to rush into things—this patience allows you to see many different perspectives and options.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A great past week...

Wow, life has kept me busy the past few weeks. Last week was a ton of fun, especially the 4th and 5th of July.

For the 4th, my wife and some friends and I hopped into our car and headed North. We spent the afternoon hiking around Gooseberry Falls and the surrounding park. Very nice falls, and only a 3 minute walk from the welcome center! The draw back to having them this accessible is that they were very crowded. I suspect any normal Wednesday afternoon and you'd have the place mostly to yourself, but on the 4th of July it was packed. Cool nonetheless, and I got some neat pictures. that I've added to my Flickr account.

We stopped and had dinner at the Black Woods Restaurant in Two Harbors, MN. We had eaten previously at this Black Woods and were impressed with their food. This time did not disappoint either! I had an excellent BBQ'ed Prime Rib with a delightful sweet potato. If you are passing through town, this is a place well worth stopping, and it is conveniently located right on the main road through town.

We made our way back down to Duluth via the scenic section of Hwy 61. It's not really that scenic (if you as me) but my wife wanted to take that route since our two passengers had never been in that area before.

Duluth was the real reason we headed North for the day. We linked up with a company called Midnight Sun Adventure Company for a kayaking adventure. We squeezed into some wet suits and drug some two person sea kayaks down to the beach. After a brief period of instruction we got into the boats and made our way out into the harbor to position ourselves for the fireworks. We actually ended up watching the fireworks from two different places. We started on the Northwest side of the shipping channel (the Fitger's side), but as we watched the fireworks behind the lift bridge (spectacular view!) we kept drifting toward the mouth of the shipping channel. Rather than continuing to fight the drift, we paddled across the large expanse of the channel and watched the rest of the fireworks there where we didn't have to worry about drifting into the large boat area. We unfortunately chose to not take a camera with us in the kayaks, so no photos from that great time. The view of the fireworks was as good as it gets without being in a powered boat in the harbor where they were shooting the fireworks. We didn't want to go over there, as sea kayaks are no match for hundreds of bigger power boats powered by people who drank who knows how much. After the fireworks we paddled back toward the beach and then up to the Fitger's area to use up the rest of our water time. We did also take some sparklers with us, and we stopped by the "Ice House" located just off the beach to lite them while in our kayaks. Our guides said we were the first to ever attempt such a thing in their boats.

On Thursday July 5th we attended Disney's High School Musical at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis (Star Tribune Review). This is one of my wife's all time favorite anythings! She has now seen it 3 times in two different stages at the Theatre, and she also watched the DVD a good half dozen times when it came out. There is a good reason for this, as it is a great story. Beyond that though, the production of it at the Children's Theatre Company is absolutely FANTASTIC! If you live in the Twin Cities region and you don't do whatever it takes to get a ticket to this, you will be missing out on one of the greatest shows of your life. Incredible energy, spot-on costuming, fantastic singing, outstanding dance and choreography. One of the two best shows I have ever seen at CTC. The play was originally in their smaller theater, but it proved to be so popular that CTC made the unprecedented move to bring the show back, and put it on the main stage.

Following the show we grabbed a bite to eat with my great friend Ryan in Uptown at Chiang Mai Thai in Calhoun Square. While they claim to be the best Thai food in town, I would strongly disagree. Pad Thai Grand Cafe on Grand Ave. in St. Paul is far better in my opinion. Worse, our service was completely substandard. Our waitress was indifferent and inattentive. Maybe that is the Uptown way, but it's not the way I like to be served. Good ambiance though, and a neat location, so it wasn't all bad.

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