Is excellence killing the church?

Why we need more good churches and fewer excellent ones.

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If you regularly attend church conferences you will no doubt hear the rallying cry for excellence in the church. In some ways this is a good thing. I am all for pastors working hard and doing all they can do to reach people with the greatest message ever told. Where excellence starts to kill the church is when we make our church a polished flawless exhibition that we invite people to be impressed by.

When the church takes its cue from the business world and perfects its processes so that it can extend its reach and solidify its brand we have lost our way.

When excellence drives us to be efficient with people so we can be innovative with problems we are no longer the church we are simple a 501c3.

How to Use Memes in Youth Ministry

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Today’s post is written by Jeffrey Kranz and is sponsored by Disciplr: an interactive curriculum platform for youth ministry leaders. Check out our free interactive high school curriculum!

A few months ago a youth minister asked me, “How would you use digital tools to engage the middle-school boys in our youth group?” It’s a tough question, and we ended up talking about it for a good while. Tween boys may be the toughest group of kids to connect with in youth ministry.

One of the ideas we came up with? Memes.
If you’re trying to hold the attention of the guys in your youth group, or if you’d just like some ideas for sprinkling more humor into your youth ministry, this is for you! I’ll give you some ideas on how (and when) to use memes in your large groups and during the week, as well as a quick tutorial on how to make memes yourself. You’ll get a few fun ideas to add to any Sunday school lesson (no matter which curriculum you use.)

But just so we’re all on the same page: let’s start by defining a meme.

What is a meme?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” However, when someone says “meme,” they’re likely referring to the “image macros”: basic images with funny text on top of them.

You’ve seen them. They look like this:

meme-example

They’re everywhere, they’re easy to make, and they can be a great way to engage your youth group.
So we know what memes are—but what are they for?

Memes make stuff memorable by making it funny first

The memes that catch on are the funny ones. That means you’ll want to use these in your large groups when you come to certain parts of the message that have a lot of humorous potential.

Some good times to throw a meme into your presentation:

Got questions about family ministry?

Join us for a twitter conversation August 13th

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So I had this random idea a couple of days ago to help push the family ministry conversation forward. I thought. What if we held a live twitter conversation with some of the sharpest minds in family ministry out there? And what if you in the Youth Pastor, Kids Pastor, Family ministry joined in with your thoughts and questions? So here is what we are going to do Tomorrow August 13th at 3pm EST we are going to hold a #asknextgen conversation on twitter.

Here is where you come in. We need you to engage and ask questions. You can chime in with your own questions, you can ask follow-up questions to questions asked by others. This is your opportunity to ask some of the brightest minds in family ministry a question you have always wanted. All you need to do is search out the hashtag #asknextgen and you will find the conversation. When you ask your question make sure you include the hashtag #asknextgen or you question or comment might be missed.

Looking for a way to make sure you don’t miss any of the action on Thursday? Use Tweetchat.com all you do is enter #asknextgen when prompted followed by your user name and password for twitter and you will be able to monitor the conversation, tweet, or respond to tweets all from one browser window.

So who will be on the #asknextgen panel?

A Family Ministry Manifesto.

Why ministry to families matters now more than ever

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In two weeks my position at my church will change. I will move from the campus pastor role and will be the Pastor of Families for all our campuses. A few people have wondered if I view this as a demotion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have enjoyed and learned much from 4 years as a campus pastor, much of which I will use in my new role. Having been a children’s pastor for 14 years and now being able to broaden my influence to families is a privilege indeed. I believe family ministry matters more than anything else the church can do and here is why.

1. A society is as strong as the families that comprise it. Aristotle wrote that the family is nature’s established association for the supply of mankind’s everyday wants. John Paul II further develops this idea.

John Paul II said the following of the link between family and society.

“The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: it is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself”

Aristotle saw the value of family without being able to see the purpose of family. The purpose of families is to show a watching world the covenant keeping love of Christ through the sacrificial love of husbands and wives for one another. It also through families that the world sees our need for a perfect father through imperfect ones.

3 ways pastors should engage the abortion issue

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With a string of videos coming out of the past few weeks showing Planned Parenthood for what it is. These things are unavoidable for us and the kids we minister to. We have to understand how to logically understand these events so we engage rather shut down. My friend Scott Klusendorf writes the following argument in his book The Case for Life

The SLED Defense of Life

Philosophically, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today. As Stephen Schwarz points out using the acronym SLED, differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant in the way that abortion advocates need them to be.

Size: Yes, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more valuable than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than you and I. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one valuable. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-valuable tissue mass to valuable human being? If the unborn are not already human and valuable, merely changing their location can’t make them so.

Degree of Dependency: If viability bestows human value, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal (and valuable) because they share a common human nature. Humans have value simply because of the kind of thing they are, not because of some acquired property they may gain or lose during their lifetimes.

Armed with that understanding what must we do with what we know to be true? What must we do?