Seth Godin wrote a great post this week about the “About” tag on websites, called “Five rules  for your About page.”

It’s 5 simple rules, but they speak volumes:

1.  Don’t use marketing jargon.  Tell us who you are and what you stand for.  In plain language your grandmother could understand.

2.  Don’t use a stock photo of someone not at your church.  Use real pictures of real people (with their permission).  Not just leaders.  Ordinary people.  Helps visitors connect when they see the web face sitting next to them in the pew.

3.  Make it easy to contact you. Don’t hide the address or phone number.  Don’t use an email address that doesn’t work anymore.

4. is like 1.  He says to “Be human. Write like you talk and put your name on it. Tell a story, a true one, one that resonates.”

5.  Use true testimonials to build credibility.  Helps if it’s not someone on staff.

Good words.  Read and heed.  (excuse me while I edit mine!)

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The manifesto of the PunkJews movement is  “ to re-brand God and Judaism to future generations of Jews… a countercultural, non-mainstream movement showing people you can have a strong cultural identity, religious observance level and still be as crazy with your friends as you want to be at the parties on Thursday night.”

Yitz Jordan, a popular African-American Orthodox Jewish rapper known as “Y-Love,” is the prototypical PunkJew.    Even though a convert to Judaism, he’s become fluent in Yiddish, fluent in Scripture.  Part of that are the friends he hangs around with.  They come from an evangelical version of  “all in black”  Orthodox Jews, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.  And even though their music is hardcore punk,  they preach Torah during the concerts.

I found the story interesting because they were able to combine a life on the edge of society with a deep and abiding faith.  They don’t compromise who they are and they don’t apologize for their faith.

I’m not saying you need to adopt punk rock in your worship service, but someone needs to minister to them.  In whatever circumstance you find yourself in, whatever you enjoy, find a way to redeem it for the Gospel and be passionate about your message in the middle of the activity.

If Orthodox Jews can convert Catholics to their faith by consistent discussion and lifestyle, why should we do any less?

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source: The Jewish Week.com

In many parts of Asia, where churches are outlawed, it is a mark of respect how long the pastor has spent in prison for preaching.  Not that they try to get arrested, but if they’re not presenting the Gospel often enough to be noticed by the authorities, how can they be considered a faithful leader?

We’ve had a certain amount of protection in this country.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion.  Not since the civil rights marches have pastors been arrested and kept in jail for speaking Truth publicly.  Until now.

In England, a 42-year-old Baptist preacher was arrested April 20 for saying in a public park “the Bible says.”  It wasn’t hate speech.  It wasn’t a personal attack.  What got Dale McAlpine arrested is that he dared to speak the truth openly.

McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” by using “abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.”

While handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments a woman initiated a conversation about his faith.  In the course of the discussion, he noted that 1 Corinthians calls  homosexuality,  blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness “sins.”

The woman then walked away to speak to a a homosexual “police community support officer” (PCSO), who then confronted pastor McAlpine about his words. After confirming he had called those activities sin, he then turned to address the rest of the gathered crowd with a sermon.  Shortly, a police van arrived and McAlpine was arrested and thrown in jail for 7 hours.

According to the news article, “police took fingerprints, a palm print, a retina scan and a DNA swab.”  He’s out on bail, awaiting trial.  The Christian Institute is providing legal support.

source:  UK Telegraph newspaper

I follow the tweets and posts of Dr Alvin Reid, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Seminary and tireless advocate of youth evangelism.  It was he who taught (in a guest sermon and  then in the book I bought) that we who expect our students to be geniuses in school and supermen on the athletic field, ought to hold similar expectations of them as thoroughly-equipped mature believers before they leave high school.  (Set the standard high and watch them surpass it!)

So when I heard he had a new e-book out called advance, I went there immediately and began reading.  It’s only 48 pages and easy to read.

on pages 14 and 15, Dr Reid quotes Steve Addison in describing a christian movement.  Addison says each one has 5 essential characteristics:

1. White-hot faith: “Missionary movements begin with men and women who encounter the living God and surrender in loving obedience to His call.”
2. Commitment to a cause: A commitment to the cause of Christ and His gospel leads people to become “fearless and uncompromising agents of transformation in this world.”
3. Contagious relationships: A missionary movement will be “at home in the existing culture and yet radically distinct from it.” Movements spread quickly “through preexisting networks of relationships.”
4.  Rapid mobilization: Missionary movements that spread rapidly are not “centrally planned, funded, or controlled.” I would add this is why young people have been so instrumental in the spread of gospel movements. They do not need tremendous structure; they need a cause and a direction and then to be released.
5. Adaptive methods: From Patrick of Ireland to today, methods change even though the gospel never changes. “The forms changed to fit the context and to serve the needs of an expanding movement while the unchanging gospel remained at the center of the movement.”

Reid reminds us that our participation does not require a seminary degree or even an appointed position in the church.  Instead it is all about putting yourself in the middle of God’s will and adopting the posture of a missionary wherever  you find yourself living.

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Download your own copy of Dr Reid’s book here.

Steve Addison’s book is titled  Movements That Change the World.  (Smyrna, DE:Missionary Press, 2009)

On a facebook post today, pastor/teacher/student leader Alvin Reid quoted Jim Elliff’s call to worship leaders to “Raise the believers’ understanding of the beauty & power of God, & let emotions follow, not lead.”

In reply John Guetterman wrote:

Amen! singers singing the beauty and power of God from the place of divine revelation. This is the glory of corporate worship when we see Him as He is and we are invited into the realm if the spirit through the open door. We need singers who sing from encounter! We need preachers who preach from encounter! This is our hope for our nation to change… Read More… That God would raise up burning and shining lamps leading many to Jesus in this hour! People who have stood in the council of the Lord who speak from the place of knowledge that transcends understanding… We need the Spirit of Revelation. We need the Spirit of Prayer… We NEED GOD!!!

I remember attending a church that led our denomination in baptisms, a supposed indication of the power of their preacher as an evangelist.  However, when I got to know some of the members, I learned there was little followup, little understanding of what the Christian life was all about.  They were led by the emotion of the moment, and a number of those were rebaptisms (“The first 3 times weren’t real, but this time I know I’m saved!”)

You can’t sustain a church on emotion.  People wear out and quit if they live on the evangelism sugar high.  Teaching the congregation the truth of God, leading them to full understanding of their salvation, helping them see the beauty & power of God is what will set them afire and send them out as witnesses.  Their worship will remain beyond the benediction, their testimony will resonate at the restaurant, and their service will be sustainable, because it is all for the glory of God.

Thom Rainer, currently President of Lifeway, the Baptist resource publishing house, took time this week to reflect on how to be a better pastor.  He’s pastored 4 churches, and is a student of what makes a healthy church.

In the post titled If I Were a Pastor Again, Rainer lists five thing he would do differently:

  1. Pray more
  2. More time reading the Bible
  3. More time loving the critics than worrrying about what they said
  4. More time “hanging out” with church members
  5. More time getting to know the unchurched

These look like no-brainers, but we need to remind ourselves of the basics our the job from time to time.  We forget that “prayer is the work” instead of a prelude to the job.  We get so pressured to prepare the sermons and do the rest of the job that we forget to take time to read the Bible for our own benefit.

The other 3 points deal with our relationships with others.  We are to be shepherd of the church, not just the hired help to speak and administrate.  We are to have our ears open to the hurt behind the accusations (think of the kids who “act out” jsut to get attention).  And we need to know people to witness to, and lead our people by example.

This is not an all-inclusive list, of course, but it’s a good start.  As I’ve said before, you start where you are and move forward, no matter where that starting place happens to be.

(See the article here.)

Jon Cook, who leads an organization of industrial chaplains, quotes Joe McKinney, a former pastor and now in the marketplace, “I am convinced that if we aren’t going into the workplace and building relationships with business people because of a lack of time then we are doing things that God doesn’t intend for us to do.”

Jon says

” In our culture today, evangelism is building relationships with unbelievers. It is loving, caring, and serving. It is investing time. It is patience while waiting on the Holy Spirit to woo an unbeliever, through a relationship with a believer, to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is proactive. And it happens in the workplace.”

The world thinks it knows what a church is for, and what Christians are like.  Let a person of faith act different from what the culture thinks we ought to do and see how they protest.  “Christians shouldn’t do that.”  They don’t come to church because they think all churches are franchise operations, the way every McDonald’s worldwide has exactly the same menu.

What the effective pastor – or lay person – needs to do is get to know and be known by those outside the church.  When they look past the denominational exterior and begin to see us as people of compassion, that’s when we can begin to make the case for our Savior.

Jon’s post got me thinking. I commend it to you.  Read it at joncook.wordpress.com