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Communicating With A Secular Audience
By: Author Unknown
A crucial issue for today’s church is communication. At the heart of the Christian faith is the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Yet today this message is one of a multitude of messages people are bombarded with daily. Furthermore, the “audience” has changed drastically. Today, the church faces the increasingly difficult task of communicating sacred meaning to a secular audience.
Here’s a check list of things to consider when it comes to evaluating what you’re communicating today as the church amid the rising tide of secularism:
- Keep it simple. Simplify everything from the bulletin to the sermons. You will communicate better with secular people.
- Translate please. Secular people don’t understand the theological jargon we use. You can simplify Biblical terms without sacrificing their integrity.
- Timing is everything. Time is the new currency. Communication must be concise. If people lose focus because of time, they lose the message.
- Take nothing for granted. The average churchgoer often takes for granted the things new people may not understand. The answer? Define what terms mean.
- Define non- negotiables. Some language and practices simply can’t be changed. Define the non-negotiables and then clarify their meaning.
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Solipsism is the belief that nothing exists outside of your self. If you, while reading this article, believe that this article and everything around you are figments of your imagination, you are solipsistic.
Sounds strange? No, it is very real.
Engine Charlie Wilson, former CEO of GM, once said, “What is good for GM is good for America!” Engine Charlie was indulging in solipsistic thinking on behalf of GM.
Grades in school may be another example of solipsism. The purpose of school is learning. We create a surrogate indicator of learning: grades. Then we collude with each other to pretend that grades are an accurate indicator that learning has or has not taken place. We no longer even question the legitimacy of grades.
Another example is sweeps week. Twice a year there are weeklong surveys of TV viewership. The ratings during sweeps week are important because they determine what the networks charge for advertising. The solipsism is this: We pretend that the programs during the sweeps week are representative of the network’s regular fare and that the ratings during sweeps are indicative of something real.
Another example: The Discipline of Market Leaders, a book that made The New York Times list of best-selling books. This occurred because those behind the book were able to identify which stores around the country were used by The New York Times as their sample for calculating which books were best sellers. By buying up their book at these stores, they could artificially inflate the figures. The solipsism: pretending that The New York Times list accurately depicts the sales of books (and that the volume of sales of books is an accurate measure of what is worthwhile to read).[ read more...]
One of the keys to Effective Church Leadership is delegating work to others - no one can do everything for themselves. Learn to delegate aspects of your ministry properly, and you will have time to complete the most important needs of the church successfully.
The process of delegation consists of the decision to delegate, the briefing, and the followup. At each of these points, anticipate the potential problems.
The decision: Persuade yourself to delegate. You will not benefit if you lead the Church with the assumption that it takes longer to teach somebody else to do a job than to do it yourself. Delegation has its own rewards. Once somebody has learned a particular task, they will be able to do it in the future without repeated briefings. However, be sure to delegate each job to a person with the appropriate skills, experience and knowledge.
The briefing: Make sure that the person to whom you are delegating clearly understands the brief - what you want them to do and by when. Offer ongoing support and guidance.
The followup: During the course of the project, check the standard of work produced. Provide positive feedback, but beware of overdoing it - there is a narrow line between helpful supervision and debilitating interference.
Delegation does not mean handing over control of a project, but handing over responsibility for certain tasks. Encourage people to work using their own methods, providing they stick to the instructions you have given them. This allows you to utilize their specialized giftedness or to provide them with an opportunity to develop a new area of expertise. One of the common contentions arising out of delegation is conflict over responsibility, so it is vital to define exactly what the person is responsible for.
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Investing The Talents
The following is an article being shared with the Indiana Trumpet. You might want to place it in your weekly bulletin or in a place where your members can read it.
Mt 25 14-30
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey...
This often misunderstood passage of scripture is a key parable for real revival. Revival and growth can only come when we understand and implement the simple factors spoken of here.
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus Christ. His servants are the Pastors of churches and the talents are the saints of the churches. When Jesus placed a shepherd in the church, he was doing more than placing someone there who would watch over the souls of the church. He was also placing someone there who would lead that group of people into personal and numerical growth (Revival).
This parable was not written to the saints, it was written to the Pastors of the churches. As a saint, this is important for me to understand as it allows me to comprehend the burden and psyche of my Pastor.
Every Pastor is under a great burden for the souls of not only those who attend the local church, but also for the souls of those people in the community who do not attend. This burden does not leave a Pastor day or night, the entire time he Pastor’s a particular church. Those who do not understand this burden will usually misunderstand the actions and decisions of their Pastor.
Notice in the parable the Lord gave us, the servant/Pastor pays a great price if he does not invest his Lord’s talents/saints wisely. Saints will wonder why their Pastor is pushing so hard to begin a new program or simply encourage the church to get involved in evangelism. They will grumble and complain because he has asked them to consider a new ministry the church is capable of implementing. Yet, regardless of their lack of cooperation, the Pastor is still under the directive to cause every talent/saint in the church to become involved.
Notice what happened to the servant who buried his talent in the ground. His labor was to hide his talents. This Pastor simply preached to the “Us 4 and no more crowd”. He was satisfied with a lack of growth and had grown weary of trying to get the church to become involved in soul winning. So he stopped trying. He just kept the same old crowd. His burden for the community died and his church had no increase. With this mindset, this servant purchased a harsh judgment.[ read more...]
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you are not pleased with the results you are seeing in a given ministry or program, make a change.
Positive change requires vision. Vision is always needed to begin a new ministry or program, but it is also needed to continue it. We too often allow vision to guide us to begin something, but then leave vision out of the picture when growth or decrease begin to happen. It will take constant vision casting to cause a given ministry to continue to have growth.
Change it up! It is in our nature to try to find a norm or comfort zone. However, when people find these, they begin to relax. Once they relax, it is very hard if possible at all to re-motivate them. One pastor told me he will throw a hammer through a wall before he allows people to think that change is not happening in the church. Constant change is exciting!
Change only what needs changing. Don’t get in the way of progress. Allow those areas and people who are having success to continue without interference. There are always areas of the church that need help. Only make changes there. If modifications are to be made in an area of the church that is doing well, make sure they are small modifications that will not offend those who are causing progress.[ read more...]
What basic leadership skills make pastors effective in their ministries? Here are 9 essentials.
- Leaders do lead. Many people in positions of religious leadership simply don't lead. The fact is that true leaders do lead. They chart a course, garner the necessary support and resources, and work to succeed.
- Leaders lead from a spiritual center. Men and women engaged in ministry are careful to ask God to help them lead from a spiritual center. Today's spiritual leaders must also take the time they need to quietly seek guidance.
- Leaders compromise creatively. As soon as a vision is articulated and plans are established, obstacles and roadblocks will occur. They'll seek ways to compromise creatively so that the end goal will still be accomplished.
- Leaders deal constructively with conflict. Whenever someone provides leadership, conflicts will arise. Effective leaders learn how to deal constructively with conflicts and maneuver around them.
- Leaders are willing to listen. Strong leaders know that listening to others helps them in two ways. First, by hearing what others say, their own vision for the future can be clarified, modified, and intensified. Second, when leaders listen respectfully, even to criticisms, they not only gain additional insight, but often receive the support of the speaker. When leaders listen, people rally around.
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It began with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Acts chapter two, but was continued and maintained, in part at least, by the giving and sacrifice of the first century church!
The bible says that they gave their all and laid it at the Apostles feet. They sold houses and land, possessions and goods, and parted them to those who had need of them.
Were these new, born again, Christians giving of their all, simply out of faith, or was there some precedent that had been set by the words and actions of the Jesus and His disciples?
Obviously, these Christians did not yet have the New Testament writings to refer to...but they were there in person when Jesus taught, instructed, and acted as their example in all things.[ read more...]
The main purpose of interpreting a text is not UNIQUENESS but CLARITY! The first task of the preacher is EXEGESIS – careful, systematic study of the Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning; to find out the original intent of the words of the Bible; to hear the Word as the original recipients heard it. But we don’t just do exegesis when there is an obvious difference between THEN and NOW – it is the first step in studying EVERY text
- Go back to the original and the best sources for yourself first – don’t just begin by consulting somebody’s book! (i.e. Mark 10:23 – one “expert” said there was a gate in Jerusalem called the “Needle’s Eye” which camels could only go through on their knees, but that gate never existed!)
- We must always guard against EISEGESIS – reading our desired interpretation into the text instead of letting the text speak to us!
To provoke your thinking, one of the best things to do is use several Bible translations that you know in advance will differ in their interpretation.
There are three basic theories of translation:
- Literal: advantage – as close as possible to the original; disadvantage – doesn’t account for cultural differences in customs and expressions (i.e. King James Version)
- Free: advantage – eliminates historical and cultural “barriers” by expressing Scripture in modern terms; disadvantage – since it is more concerned with translating “ideas” it is not always accurate in exact wording (i.e. Phillips, Living Bible, The Message)
Why is it that so many Christians who are working are not doing well financially? Unfortunately too many Christians are not equipped with the scriptures and methods required to better manage their money. God has redeemed man from the curse of the law to give him liberty in all things. This includes money.
A person who calls himself a Christian must adhere to the scriptures in order to better prepare himself. Christians should not worry about money. They should not fret about their finances. But they should rely on the blessing of God to provide for them everything they need.
In the Chronicles, the young king Amaziah was entrusted with the army of Judah. He numbered them and prepared them for battle. However, with only three hundred thousand men ready for battle, the king felt that he needed more soldiers. So he contacted with Israel for one hundred thousand more men and paid one hundred talents of silver for their services.
The man of God came to King Amaziah and said that God did not want him to use the soldiers of Israel and if the king did so, God would not be with him. It was obvious what had to be done, however, the King questioned the man of God. “What then shall I do with the hundred talents of silver that has been paid for the service of Israel’s army.” The man of God replied, “God is able to give you much more than this!”
God is able…fully capable…ready and willing to give you much more if you will only learn to maintain his economic plan and manage what you have. You can have the blessings of God on you life by obedience.[ read more...]
"...happy is that people, whose God is the LORD." (Psalm 144:15)
Allen Funt, creator and original host of the landmark television series Candid Camera, perfected an art that has entertained people for over 60 years. From a humble start on radio in 1947, he used hidden microphones and cameras to catch unsuspecting people worldwide—all in the spirit of fun. The show's famous tag line—"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!"—is universally known.
Somebody is always watching you, so why not smile. All too often, we’ve all been in church services where the people who were on the platform, hardly ever smiled. In some of these instances, I personally knew these people and knew that they had a great sense of humor and personality, but watching them from the audience I realized that they hardly ever smiled while on the platform. I know that there are times of deep worship when there is crying and weeping before the Lord. I'm not talking about these instances. What I am referring to are all of the other times while on the platform. Most of the time our musicians and singers are on the platform for most, if not all, of the service. Pastors and other spiritual leaders usually sit on the platform for all of the service also. Spending all of this time in front of the congregation becomes second nature to us and we develop the bad habit of not smiling. Sometimes while leading worship service, preaching or even singing, we scrunch up our face and it looks like we are mad at something or that we are in a bad mood. All the while, we may be in the best mood ever but it comes across to the audience in a different way.
A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks. ~Charles Gordy
"If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it." In fact, all of the leadership of the church represents who the church is to the congregation and also to the guests. If you are the greeter who stands at the front of the church and welcomes everyone into the sanctuary, you definitely should be smiling. You are the first face that members and guests see and it should be a happy, welcoming face. If you are a Sunday School teacher, make a conscious effort to smile, whether you are teaching that Sunday or not. If you are a musician in the church who is normally on the platform but maybe you have the service off and are sitting in the congregation, make sure you are still smiling. You would be surprised who is watching you to see who you are whenever you aren't in front of everyone.[ read more...]