Posts Tagged ‘programs’

Mommy, can we go to Sunday School?

January 27, 2009

Usher: Deak, in reference to an earlier post   Blind Faith     take a look at these:

A 44-year-old married father of six who teaches Sunday school at a Corona church is facing criminal charges for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old girl in 2003.

Prosecutors say John Calvin Savage taught the girl in Sunday school at Grace Baptist Church, and touched her inappropriately when she visited his Ontario home to perform chores.  read more…

Sunday school teacher accused of molesting children pleads guilty

August 21st, 2008, 7:58 pm · 3 Comments · posted by Eddi Trevizo

A Sunday school teacher who sexually molested two young girls at a Chandler church, pled guilty to several charges against him Thursday.  read more…

Terrell teacher accused of abusing additional students

 12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, June 19, 2008

 By STEVE THOMPSON / The Dallas Morning News
sthompson@dallasnews.com

 TERRELL – A popular third-grade teacher at J.W. Long Elementary School has been accused of sexually assaulting three of his students, and police say they have reason to believe he has assaulted others.

Salvador Mata, 51, was arrested Sunday on one count of sexual assault of a child and held in the Kaufman County Jail. Officials announced two more counts Wednesday, setting his bail at $750,000.

“We have information that leads us to believe there are additional victims, possibly from other years,” said Terrell police Chief Todd A. Miller, asking parents with any suspicions to step forward. “This investigation is by no means over.”

Mr. Mata was teaching English as a second language at the school and has worked at the district since 2000, school officials say. He has also taught Sunday school at First Baptist Church of Terrell.  read more…

Deacon: Why is it so widespread?  Do people really not get it? What are pastors thinking?

Usher: Pastors are often lack in these areas.  After all, priority is not Sunday School.  Sunday School is a program to attract new members, and babysit kids while they collect the tithe from the naive.

Deacon: Don’t these people know that the Sunday School is one of the most powerful tools in that nearly 66% of all choose Christ before they’re teenagers?  See statistics here…

Usher: You’d think they’d have figured that out by now…But then again, pastors are more concerned with appeasing the adults in exchange for their livelihood than they are in winning souls….if this isn’t proof, then I don’t know what is!

Organic or Steroids – What does your church sell?

December 12, 2008

Usher: Hey Deak, brilliant post here – couldn’t help but tout it! Since we had such a good conversation because of it:

http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/disciples-or-converts/

and Mark’s post shows it affected him with a slight twist (of lemon) hehe

http://mark-bymaswell.blogspot.com/2008/12/would-you-like-some-cracked-pepper-sir.html

Conversation that ensued after reading these:

Usher: Hey Deak, I’m not sure I take issue or not regarding the comment on “birds and imprinting”, but no bother.  I just wanted to bring out the point of how foreign “organic” mindsets are in today’s human western culture.  Is it any wonder that the church is so much a reflection of the supermarket?

 

Deacon: Go on, I’m listening.

 

Usher: There’s no place for “ugly carrots” in the produce section of today’s markets.  God forbid an ugly apple, pear, banana, mango, off color head of broccoli or anything else for that matter.  The first inclination to choose is that which is pretty and uniform and without blemish.  Taste, longevity and danger are all secondary.

 

Deacon: What brought all this on?

 

Usher: Most likely TV and the press I guess.  Ugly people don’t make it onto TV so the world strives to be thin and pretty and perfect, just like the stars and their air-brushed magazine covers.

 

Deacon: Your point?

 

Usher:  Churches have followed suit.  They’re full of “gifted” orators, professional musicians, accomplished businessmen on the committees and so on.  Entertainment and accommodation are the criteria the humans migrate to.  In the meantime, the “leaders” have to have ways to measure.  They migrate to numbers.  Numbers can be substantiated and boasted about.  The laypeople want pretty programs, shows and great music along with gifted sermonettes.  The pastors want accolades, money to add staff to share in the work and build job security as well as grow their careers.

 

Deacon: So where is discipleship in all that?

 

Usher: My  point exactly! 

 

Deacon: Can discipleship function in today’s church in the midst of all the other stuff?

 

Usher: Not if leaders are bent on measuring their success.  This is where the problem starts.  If you take away the programs (you lose the crowds).  Take away the great orators (you lose the crowds).  Take away the money (you lose the crowds and the buildings).  Take away the professional musicians (you lose the crowds).  Take away the money (you lose the career-oriented staff) and voila!  Now you haven’t the distractions, nor the expectations, nor the crowds. 

 

Deacon: So you’re saying that crowds = success?

 

Usher That’s kind of what it all boils down to.  Ask the televangelists.  Crowds equal numbers, numbers equals money, money equals success and thus, God must be in it.

 

Deacon: So if there are no crowds, then there is no money, how does the church grow?

 

Usher: Christ had only 12 disciples.  He didn’t say things to the crowds to attract them or their money, in fact the largest crowds he attracted, he fed.  And then he said tough things to the crowds and the crowds left and he went about his discipling.  Scriptures say he wasn’t a “special” or “beautiful” person.  Maybe this was because he knew if he came to earth a beautiful being, then we would all feel insecure because we are all imperfect when we compare ourselves to “beautiful” people.  (Even beautiful people have proven this is true.) He discipled imperfect people and the church survived all these years without “perfect” people.

 

Deacon: So this is why the church seems to be portraying itself to be the “perfect” or “blessed” one?

 

Usher: A discipler works with the ground that he’s on, with the people God gives him.  He sees everyone a precious gift from God.  He is challenged to bring out God in these people no matter their lot in life.  Every member has a place in God’s kingdom, but not in man’s.  Today’s church seems to “market to the people who want to be like us” creating sects and divisions and exclusivity.  Thus the 35,000 denominations.  In an environment like this, everyone strives to become like the leader, the perfect carrot if you will.  Except they don’t know he is just like them if you take away the steroids, the pesticides, the pretty packaging and the artificial coloring.  In essence, the church normalizes and cripples the body and discipleship empowers the body.  If pastors didn’t care about credit and measurement and they truly wanted the kingdom to prevail, they’d do all within their ability to empower the kingdom.  This would eliminate the focus of one pastor to many and bring on the every man a minister.  The church would then become the all-powerful organic vehicle it was in the first century.  A true discipler as mentioned in comments above operates under the radar.  They seek no glory.  They thrive on seeing the kingdom multiply itself.  They rarely take titles, they urge their disciples to follow in their footsteps and become disciplers. They are often unrecognizable in a crowd.

“It’s Just Church”

November 20, 2008

Usher: Hey Deak, I think I’ve got the perfect out for pastors!

Deack: Why do pastors need an out?

Usher: Because they all use different biblical excuses to back their choices, cover up their real motives and snow the church goers.  They need to be just like the CEOs of our great capitalistic country and tell everyone the same thing in response to any decision that the congregation might disagree with.

Deacon: And what’s that?

Usher: See below…

Layperson: Pastor, how come you built a bigger building and more classrooms instead of giving more money to the mission field?

Pastor:  You have to understand that this is what the people demand of us.  They wanted more programs and better facilities for their privileged children, after all “It’s just church”

Layperson: Pastor, I understand you’re stopping the homeless ministry in light of increasing the choir budget and adding a new addition onto the chapel. 

Pastor: We really don’t have the resources to help the homeless.  There are much more qualified services that are offered by the state.  It’s really not our calling.  We are not the answer to today’s social demise, after all, “we’re only a church”.

Layperson: Pastor, can we sponsor the orphanage infrastructure project so they can have clean drinking water and a working septic system?  If we forego the mission trip ($1500/kid x 30 kids) and simply give the money directly to the orphanage, they can hire local companies to do the work that has been needed for 5 years.

Pastor: We’ve already committed to the mission trip.  I’m afraid this type of change would be too disruptive to the plans everyone has made for the trip.  Maybe next year.  After all, we can’t fix the world, “we’re only one church”.

Ultimate Job Security

November 4, 2008

Usher: Deak, I need a job that has a great future

Deacon: So, go to school and get a degree, a pedigree if you will and you’ll have that…

Usher: Yeah, but what kind of pedigree has the greatest amount of security, benefits, longevity and you know – kind of perfect for the long haul

Deacon: It’s not that easy to predict because usually once the industry takes off and proves itself, it’s old hat in the market but new in academia.  If you’re not on the cutting edge, you’re the tail wagging the dog.

Usher: Kind of like IT in the 80s, Internet & Telecom in the 90’s and investment banking today?

Deacon: You got it.  Nothing is secure.  Everything is fluid and all vocations seem to have a very short shelf life.  And in this society, it’s getting shorter and shorter what with the boomers retiring and all.  I’m beginning to think that geriatrics will be the next up and coming hot vocation!

Usher: I beg your pardon – I think I know the perfect vocation that has none of what you describe.

Deacon: What on earth are you talking about?

Usher: Well, you don’t need funding or a business plan.  You do need an education, but it doesn’t have to be from a Harvard or a Yale or an MIT. 

Deacon: Go on, I’m intrigued..

Usher: You get your own staff and budgets typically grow every year. 

Deacon: Sounds fairly interesting…

Usher: Best of all, you determine your own work schedule, your free time, when you vacation and for the most part, you work a 40 hour week.  Benefits are included and if they’re not sufficient, you simply apply for better.  You have full authority with autonomy!

Deacon: With a job like that, there must a high barrier to entry major job requirements?

Usher: Not really.  You see you can write your own bylaws and if they don’t work, you simply change them from time to time. “Everything in context” they say.

Deacon: What about accountability?

Usher: You’re almost always in a satellite capacity if you’re part of a larger organization, but if it’s your own, then you’re pretty much your own boss.  Not a lot of accountability as your customers are usually distracted with other issues like paying mortgages, borrowing for tuition and planning their vacations.

Deacon: Tell me more about the customers?

Usher: Well it’s a great vocation as most customers are repeat customers and there are multiple revenue streams.  If things get tight, one simply raises more funds from the same customer base!  They’re always willing to bring more because they’re afraid if they don’t, they might suffer. 

Deacon: What’s the product or service?

Usher: A bunch of intangibles is how I’d describe it.  Kind of like insurance, but not really.  A little like education, but not really.  A lot like politics in that the onus is really on the customer, except at election time when all the promises are made.  After election, the customer assumes all of the risk and let’s you off the hook.  They never had a choice!  All one must do is get elected.

Deacon: So let me get this straight.  There is little or no accountability, a ton of security, no tangible products or services and little to no risk?  You technically only have to be elected once and you’re in for the duration.  With all those benefits, there must be limited openings with fierce competition?

Usher: Not really.  In fact, it’s one of the easiest vocations to acquire.  I have yet to meet a single person who flunked out of university pursuing this type of career.  Some choose another major but never have I heard of someone seeking out this vocation and failing.  It’s subjective in nature and not really black and white.  Kind of like a politically correct soccer league where everyone plays and everyone gets a trophy at year’s end.

Deacon: OK, I’m baffled.  What on earth could be so grand?

Usher: Why, pastoring a church of course!  Where is your head Deak?  It’s the perfect vocation.  You never have to be right, you can always find a scriptural reference to your point of view that cannot be challenged and you can throw anyone out who doesn’t agree.  There are tons of churches begging for a pastor to lead them and they pay you, listen to you every Sunday (only for an hour tops though) and whatever you tell them, they believe.  As long as you fill it full of rhetoric, idealisms, nothing absolute, they will rationalize it into their own set of circumstances and even if they question you, the Bible isn’t black and white and thus, there are no definitives.  All you have to give them is programs for their kids (and they do all the work) and they come back week after week after week.  You can always send them on their merry way if they disagree by either isolating them, ignoring them, disfellowshipping them, or best of all, condemn them for being disgruntled and dis’sing God’s church and people.  Accuse them of “sowing discord” or attack their character by telling them to study the Bible and repent from their dissenting ways.  That usually works quite well.  If none of those work, you simply have breakfast with them and suggest they find another place to hang their hat.  After all, no pastor deserves to be questioned or held accountable by a layperson, ‘eh Deak?

Megachurch Finances – How Much Money?

August 31, 2008

Usher: OK Deak, here’s the first in a series of megachurch economics (I know, I’m a day late).  We’ll touch on lots of things, but here’s a little food for thought for those who attend, give and endorse (and those who don’t) these types of institutions referred to as “megachurches“.

Facts from our last post on tithing:  5% of today’s churchgoers actually tithe, the average church is 50-301 people & the average salary for a pastor of a church of this size is $72K.  At a median income of 48K (US Census 2007), All a pastor has to do is grow the congregation to 300, have 5% faithful tithers (15 salaries) and he’s making 150% more than his faithful tithers!

Let’s move to Megachurches (churches with the top 10 numbers in attendance weekly in the US).  Here are the top 10

1. Lakewood Church, Houston Texas – Joel Osteen (47,000)
2. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Ill. – Bill Hybels (23,500)
3. Second Baptist Church, Houston – Ed Young Sr. (23,198)
4. Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif. – Rick Warren (22,000)
5. LifeChurch.tv, Edmond, Okla. – Craig Groeschel (19,907)
6. Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Ky. – Dave Stone (18,013)
7. North Point Church, Alpharetta, Ga. – Andy Stanley (17,700)
8. Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va. – Jonathan Falwell (17.445)
9. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Bob Coy (17,000)
10. The Potter’s House, Dallas – T.D. Jakes (17,000)

Let’s just take weekly and yearly income and do the numbers based on the data we used in the last study:

Top 10 Megachurches and their weekly attendance figures Attendance 5% tithe  $   48,200.00 weekly net yearly net
1. Lakewood 
47000 2350  $   48,200.00  $    2,178,269.23  $ 113,270,000.00
2. Willow Creek  23500 1175  $   48,200.00  $    1,089,134.62  $    56,635,000.00
3. Second Baptist  23198 1160  $   48,200.00  $    1,075,138.08  $    55,907,180.00
4. Saddleback  22999 1150  $   48,200.00  $    1,065,915.19  $    55,427,590.00
5. LifeChurch.tv 19907 995  $   48,200.00  $         922,612.88  $    47,975,870.00
6. Southeast  18013 901  $   48,200.00  $         834,833.27  $    43,411,330.00
7. North Point 17700 885  $   48,200.00  $         820,326.92  $    42,657,000.00
8. Thomas Road  17445 872  $   48,200.00  $         808,508.65  $    42,042,450.00
9. Calvary Chapel  17000 850  $   48,200.00  $         787,884.62  $    40,970,000.00
10. Potter’s House

17000 850  $   48,200.00  $         787,884.62  $    40,970,000.00
 $ 10,370,508.08  $ 539,266,420.00

Usher: This does not include offerings, special offerings, building fund drives, missionary giving or special giving when it comes to programs or events. Numbers on these things are nearly impossible to obtain as there are no constant criteria with which to measure.  So Deak, could you manage a church on say, 787,884.62 per week?  Other questions:

1. If you had a congregation of this size, why would you not continue to ask for money any time it is needed?

2. If you didn’t have to publish your finances, why would you? (Mr. Grassley has the same question)

3. Even independent surveys are confidential and sold to those who want them with all of the names scrubbed.  If men of God aren’t doing anything wrong, then why won’t they come out with the real numbers? (another Senator Grassley question)

4. Just how much money should a great orator pastor put in his pocket as fruits of his labor? (Kenny, Creflo, Richard, Joyce and Benny all seem to think there’s no limit to that number.)

5. Here’s a megachurch that did post its numbers and the blogger gives them kudos for posting it but that’s about all: Neo-Baptist

Deacon & Usher T-Shirts Cont’d

July 29, 2008

Usher: Hey Deak, you have fun answerin’ all the emails about the shirts?

Deacon: Not really Usher, you’re not making any friends

Usher: Friends?  Show me a buzzard with more than one friend and I’ll show you a hungry buzzard!

The Three Perpetual States to Church Growth

The Three Perpetual States to Church Growth

 

Who Should Pay Whom?

Who Should Pay Whom?

New Church Checklist (How people really judge churches)

July 17, 2008

Deacon: Usher, what do you think people really look for when they’re choosing a new church?

Usher: The real list or the lip-service list?

Deacon: The real one, of course.

Usher: From what I can gather, here’s the list:

1. Kid’s programs (Sunday School, VBS, youth groups, mission trips)

2. Worship quality and preference (contemporary or traditional / AV quality and crew)

3. Daycare

4. Facilities (gym, meeting space, location)

5. Parking

6. Distance from home – driving time?

7. Preaching quality (Is he funny, smart, punctual and non-condemning?)

8. Coffee and fellowship food quality

9. Are the people friendly?

10: Age of people – are they “our generation”?

New Denomination: ProChurch

June 9, 2008

Usher: Deak, You hear about the new denomination – ProChurch?

Deacon: What’s that all about?

Usher: This new church in town has done a comprehensive studay & survey and they came up with an amazing conclusion

Deacon: What’s that?

Usher: They discovered that the original reason for all of the denominations (the divine interpretation of the word) is no longer relevant

Deacon: Yeah, and…….

Usher: They found people care more about the programs, in fact, programs were the top priority of the thousands surveyed.  Interpretation of the word was way down on the list, along with missions and discipleship

Deacon: So they’re starting a new denomination based solely on programs?

Usher: Yep, they’re calling it “ProChurch”. Last I heard they had 1000 people sign up for early membership.  They’re giving out free health club memberships for all of the early signers……