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From the Editor:

Beyond Megachurches

Articles:
Preaching to the Bull’s-Eye
Churches Still Planning Campaigns

Illustrations:
Faith
Passion
Miracles, Persistence

Link of the Week

Preacher’s Bookshelf

Humor

And Finally…
 

“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
(Ogden Nash)

 
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    Vol. 7, No. 37 October 14, 2008    
Michael Duduit

In his well-read blog, Ed Stetzer talks about the origin of the word “megachurch,” which refers to a congregation with more than 2,000 members. He goes on to cite the relatively new term “gigachurch,” which is used for congregations with more than 10,000 members. (Read the posting here.)

It all makes me wonder where the terminology is going, even as churches grow ever larger:

•Whomperchurch – a church of 25,000 or more

•Bazillionchurch – a church of 50,000 or more

•Googlechurch – a church of 100,000 or more

•AverageKoreanChurch – a church of 250,000 or more

Just remember when these terms enter the pop-liturgical vocabulary, you heard ’em here first.

Michael Duduit, Editor
michael@preaching.com
www.michaelduduit.com

Check this week’s featured podcast at preaching.com — an interview with author Lee Strobel about how to make the case for faith in today’s culture. Listen to this and dozens of other podcasts at www.preaching.com.


PREACHING TO THE BULL’S-EYE

In a preaching lecture a few years ago, Thomas Long observed, “I am fully committed to inductive preaching, to imagination, to story, to image, but I now want to harness those images toward re-equipping the communion of the saints and the competent community of the church. Imagine that you stand in the pulpit on Sunday morning and there is a target superimposed on your congregation. In the bulls-eye are the saints, those who know the vocabulary, who know the story, who carry on the mission of the church. The next ring represents the seekers, those who are, as it were, ‘in and out.’ The third ring represents the people who are there because their kid sings in the junior choir; they are largely marginal to the purposes of the church.

“To whom do you preach? Some say you preach to the outer ring in order to bring them in. You dumb down the vocabulary of the faith in order to attract people who do not care about the vocabulary of the faith. I would like to say, to the contrary, ‘Preach to the bulls-eye.’ But preach to the bulls-eye in such a way that those in the other rings can overhear and also acquire the vocabulary of the faith.” (From The Folly of Preaching — Eerdmans)

CHURCHES STILL PLANNING CAMPAIGNS

Leadership Network’s biannual survey on church salaries reveals that many larger churches are still considering major fund drives in the coming year. The survey covered 105 churches from 30 states that ranged from 1,400 attendants to 10,000, according to the study’s authors, Warren Bird and Dave Travis.

Thirty percent of the responding churches said they are planning for a capital funds drive for new property or building for 2009. The statistic is down from 2006 when 44 percent were considering a drive for new facilities, but among churches in the 5,000 to 6,999 attendance range, 44 percent of them are planning on one.

Also, 25 percent of all responding churches said they will do a fund drive for the poor or needy in their community, and 23 percent plan to plant multiple new congregations.

Despite the economic downturn, the majority of churches (74 percent) expect their income to increase next year, while 12 percent expect a smaller income. The total current budget of surveyed churches averages $6.1 million.

Regarding expenses for 2009, churches anticipate moderate and significant increases in spending on facilities (26 percent), followed by missions giving (20 percent), information technology (16 percent), staff salaries (14 percent), communication (13 percent), program (10 percent) and staff continuing education (4 percent).

As churches continue to grow, 52 percent anticipate adding one to four staff members; 22 percent project adding more than four staff members; 15 percent report planning no changes; and 11 percent are planning staff reductions. (Christian Post, 10-1-08)

   
 

Plan now to join us for the 20th Annual National Conference on Preaching, April 20-22, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. The conference theme is “Preaching to Change Lives.” Your ministry will be strengthened through the addresses, powerful sermons and practical workshops at NCP 2009. You’ll enjoy a great line-up of speakers, including:

John Ortberg
Stuart Briscoe
Jack Graham
Robert Smith
Dave Stone
Ed Stetzer
Steve Brown
Ralph Douglas West
Tommy Green
Steve Sjogren
Timothy Warren

and many more. Register now to take advantage of the early-bird discount registration rate. To learn more or to register today, click here.

 


FAITH

There is a story about a pre-civil rights African-American community in Florida. The story says that during times of political elections, this community would rent a voting machine and go through the voting process. They knew their votes would not be counted, but they voted anyway. When asked by members of the white community why they did this every year, they replied, “Oh, just practicing. Just practicing.”

Believing in what is not yet seen means we practice or behave as if it is already exists. This is what leaders and visionaries do. They believe in something bigger than themselves, and they begin to act as if it is so. (Wyvetta Bullock, “Must We See to Believe?” eSermons.com newsletter)

PASSION

“What distinguishes the empire builders in the end is their passion. They devote their lives to an idea that in time becomes an ideal. More important, they inspire others to buy into their dream. All are out, in one way or another, to change the world,” wrote Michael Meyer in his book, The Alexander Complex. G.W.F. Hegel in Philosophy of History was right when he said, “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
 
Passionate people never work for money. This is not to say they do not earn a great deal of money. But the likes of William Shakespeare, Thomas Edison, Estee Lauder, Walt Disney, Sam Walton, and Bill Gates, who all became wealthy, were inspired not by money but by a drive to fulfill an inner longing that would make a difference in this world. Passionate people don’t just get a job. A job is something one does for money. Passion is something one does because they are inspired to do it. And passionate people would do it even if they were paid nothing beyond food and the basics. They would do it because it is their life.
 
Passion is not something we work up, but something planted within our being. Passion is the God-given ability to feel so strongly about something that it causes us to move toward the object of desire. Call it what you want — urge, burden, compulsion, force — passion originates from God. Passion is the birthplace of a dream, the trailhead of a new path God calls us to follow.
 
Significant passion originates with God and takes root in receptive and obedient hearts.  Passionate people have their heart engaged in their work. Their work moves them like a lover ignites their soul. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, had as his life’s motto: May my heart break for the things that break the heart of God. Here was a man passionate about the things that moved God. He was excited and incited about caring for the hurt and wounded people of this world. He was engaged. Despite the magnitude of helping a starving world with physical and personal struggles, Bob Pierce gave his heart and soul to stamping out world hunger.
 
Passion comes from the heart of God to embrace our hearts, and it compels us to act. Passionate people translate their devotion into action. They discover, as we must, that a passion unchanneled soon dissipates. They know that passion without action is just a dream. Action without passion is drudgery. But passion with action is sheer delight. (Rick Ezell, “One Minute Uplift” newsletter, www.rickezell.net)


From the Novemeber-December issue of Preaching …

In an interview with preaching scholar Sidney Greidanus, he notes, “When I was trained in preaching 40 years ago, we were taught to look for the theme of the passage, but we were not taught to look for the goal of the passage. I think it’s extremely important to catch the relevance of the passage when you look for the author’s goal in that historical situation.

“Once you have the goal, you have the relevance of the text. Every biblical text is relevant when you read it historically. We don’t have to make it relevant. We just have to look for its relevance and then pass that on to the congregation in terms of where they are today.”
_______

Every issue of Preaching contains insightful articles on preaching, plus great model sermons and practical resources. If you’re not a current subscriber to Preaching magazine, click here (or call, toll free, 1-800-527-5226) to go begin your subscription!

Also in the November-December issue of Preaching: Interviews with Adam Hamilton and Sidney Greidanus, our annual survey of the year’s best Bibles and Bible resources for preaching, articles on “Writing for the Ear” and “Must Every Sermon Focus on Christ?” plus a sermon by Max Lucado and much more. Order your subscription today!

Need a laugh today? Then check out the special Clergy section at the Museum of Humor Web site. Click here to read humorous illustrations, plus a collection of sermons dealing with laughter, joy, etc.

“Today, there are three kinds of people: the haves, the have-nots, and the have-not-paid-for-what-they-haves.” (Earl Wilson)

Preachers who use the Revised Common Lectionary to guide their selection of texts will be interested in Feasting on the Word (Westminster John Knox), a new resource edited by David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. The first volume deals with Year B, Advent through Transfiguration, and offers four essays on each of the four assigned texts per Sunday, dealing with exegetical, theological, pastoral and homiletical issues in each passage.

Pastors will find much to value in the new book Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Crossway) by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. The book is composed primarily of letters by Driscoll that speak to real-life concerns of people in his own church. In addition to Driscolll’s theologically-driven letters, he and seminary professor Breshears offer additional essays and resources that help the reader understand the purpose and power of the cross.

Seven Words of Worship (B&H Books) by Mike Harland and Stan Moser provides a 40-day experience designed to guide the reader to a deeper appreciation of worship. Each day’s entry takes on a different topic and offers biblical insights, reflections that apply those insights, and a brief prayer. Preachers will find the book useful as a devotional guide and in offering helpful resources for preaching and teaching on worship.

(Click on the title to learn more or order a copy from Amazon.)


MIRACLES, PERSISTENCE

An old fellow came into the hospital truly at death’s door due to an infected gallbladder. The surgeon who removed the gallbladder was adamant that his patients be up and walking in the hall the day after surgery to help prevent blood clots forming in the leg veins. The nurses walked the patient in the hall as ordered, and after the third day the nurse told how he complained bitterly each time they did. The surgeon told them to keep walking him.

After a week, the patient was ready to go. His family came to pick him up and thanked the surgeon profusely for what he had done for their father. The surgeon was pleased and appreciated the thanks, but told them that it was really a simple operation and we had been lucky to get him in time.

But doctor, you don’t understand,” they said, “Dad hasn’t walked in over a year!”  (Pastor Tim’s CleanLaugh List)

 

RESUME MISTAKES

The way the economy is going, some folks may soon be looking for new jobs. Here are some real-life examples of things to avoid in writing your resume:

~ “Education: Curses in liberal arts, curses in computer science, curses in accounting.”

~ “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store.”

~ “Personal: Married, 1992 Chevrolet.”

~ “I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”

~ “I am a rabid typist.”

~ “Created a new market for pigs by processing, advertising and selling a gourmet pig mail order service on the side.”

~ “Exposure to German for two years, but many words are not appropriate for business.”

~ “Proven ability to track down and correct erors.”

~ “Personal interests: Donating blood. 15 gallons so far.”

~ “I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely nothing and absolutely no one.”

~ “References: None, I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”

~ “Don’t take the comments of my former employer too seriously; they were unappreciative beggars and slave drivers.”

~ “My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”

~ “I procrastinate — especially when the task is unpleasant.”

~ “Qualifications: No education or experience.”

~ “Disposed of $2.5 billion in assets.”

~ “Accomplishments: Oversight of entire department.”

~ “Extensive background in accounting. I can also stand on my head!”

~ Cover letter: “Thank you for your consideration. Hope to hear from you shorty!”

(from Mikey’s Funnies)


One elections office isn’t quite sure who is running for president this year.

In an upstate New York county, hundreds of voters have been sent absentee ballots in which they could vote for “Barack Osama.”

According to an Oct. 10 AP story, the absentee ballots sent to voters in Rensselaer County identified the two presidential candidates as “Barack Osama” and “John McCain.”

When they discovered the mistake, officials shredded the remaining “Osama” ballots and mailed correct versions to the roughly 300 people who had already received them. An elections official said the “Osama” mistake was made in only one of the 13 ballot versions mailed throughout the county.

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