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No Room For Ca$h!

The world is in trouble! Big, big, big, freakin’ huge trouble! The reason? No one takes ca$h!

In my seemingly endless curiosity and lust for the iPhone 3G, I stopped by my local Apple store today to check out the machine first hand. First, I was shocked that nearly a month after its introduction, there was still a sizable line to purchase the device. Second, going with my gut, I asked a Mac Specialist if someone had to purchase the iPhone with a credit card (for some reason, this is how the iPhone rolls). The answer was yes. You cannot buy an iPhone with cash or a check, only a credit card. Then the aforementioned Mac Specialist told me that you could purchase an Apple gift card with cash and then buy an iPhone with the gift card.

What?

You can buy the card  with cash but not the phone that you bought the card to buy.

What’s more, last week — while in Mississippi for my grandmother’s funeral — my mom went to the bank to buy a money order. At the window she was instructed that she could not purchase a money order with cash. Instead they asked her to deposit the money, they would then write her a counter check, and she could purchase the money order with the counter check.

Are you hearing this people?

They no longer take ca$h at the bank!

THE BANK!

My friend, Jesse Ward, had a simple statement as his “status” on Facebook a while back and I think it’s worth repeating.  It said, “Jesse Ward thinks society is losing control of itself.” Well, Jesse, I agree!

What Is The World Coming To?

World leaders discuss the world hunger crises over an 18-course meal. Check it out here. (Of course, I just spent $13 on an Asian salad for lunch, so what can I say?)

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A church in my hometown of Atlanta is offering “Drive-In Church.” See it here. (Of course, a “church” cannot be drive-in by definition, IMHO. Or a web campus, for that matter.)

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I’m hyped about the new iPhone 3G, though it may be a while before I get one, but can you believe that in NYC, the line for the July 11 release, has been forming for nearly a week.

Prayer

Forgive me, Lord. I covet.

Multi-Site 3

We continue our conversation about multi-site churches today. I always enjoy the comments and email. Through the conversation, my own thinking on the subject is becoming more clear. I wish we could hear from someone who attends or leads a multi-site church in order to get a sense of their perceptions. As a member of a church that does some things differently than most in my fellowship, I’ve come to learn that the benefits of some things are much deeper than the simple act itself. No one can articulate the fullness of an experience like those who have, well, experienced it. Anyway, here we go…

1. Multi-site churches seem to be built around a personality. A couple of years ago, I was driving in my car with Brian McLaren riding shotgun (yes, I’m dropping names), and we saw a billboard for a multi-site church here in Houston that had a huge picture of the Sr. Pastor on it. I shared with Brian my reservations about the kind of multi-siting they were doing and Brian said, “Well, they have a product, and he is it. He’s what they’re selling.” I’m sure Brian wouldn’t remember that conversation, but I do. Unfortunately, some church leaders seem to be saying, “Hey, come be a part of my empire.” Again, my training and impulse would lead to planting new churches rather than reproducing.

2. Multi-site churches seem to go to silly lengths to justify being multi-site churches. I recently read a paper justifying multi-site churches. The authors mention  that one kind of multi-site church occurs when a church host a service in nursing home. Come on! A service by church members in a retirement community is a little different than 500 folks in a movie theater watching a sermon on video. I remember when I worked as a telemarketer. The owners of the business said that when someone ordered a pizza for delivery then that was telemarketing. Really? The same thing? When you call people at home during dinner they don’t think it’s the same thing. Trust me! Similar actions aren’t always the same thing. Why go through the all the hoops to justify?

3. Multi-site churches do what they do well. Much that is done in many local churches is done poorly. This is the simple truth. Every multi-site church I know appears to function at a high level, with great accountability, and high competency. All churches need to learn from them. They do the gospel a service by giving it the attention and value it deserves. Any of us who have witnessed worship leaders selecting songs right before the church service begins (as I did as a kid) knows that too much of what happens is some churches is far too casual and poorly done.

4.  Multi-site churches are taking full advantage of the full arsenal of technologies that God has made available. Good church leaders know that to best communicate we have to speak to people on their own terms and in ways they know and understand. We live in a screen world — computers, TV’s, navigation devices, iPods, news, sports scores and internet on cell phones, etc… Multi-site church leaders now this and they are using it to the best of their ability.

What are your pros and cons?

Multi-Site 2

To continue our discussion via comments and email, here are some of my thoughts regarding multi-site churches. The good and the bad are intermixed. As with all things, there are both good and bad aspects and elements that can be used for the glory of God and elements that are simply about the glory of mankind or a particular man.

1. I question what multi-site says about what church is. I come from a free-church tradition that places a great deal of emphasis on the local church. Some of you reading this will know what I mean, and could sing along if I started out, “You can’t go to church as some people say, the common terminology we use everyday…” The multi-site church movement suggest, even at it’s best, that “church” is a place where certain things happen, not a people sent. Obviously, these two impulses aren’t mutually exclusive, but when you can “go” to church online, I have to ask whether that’s more about services than serving.

2. If you’ve got something good, why not extend what God has blessed. This is a strong point of multi-site to me. Trust me, I’ve been around long enough to know that they’re not a lot of great preachers out there. And some bad ones, who are good at many other things in ministry, spend 30+ hours a week working on sermons that don’t turn out well. I would rather see a good preacher on video and work alongside a great minister on my campus than have a preacher who is bad at preaching and spending so much time preparing sermons that they are bad at everything else too. It’s conceivable that campus pastors can inform and work alongside a lead pastor and the local church can accomplish more for their community and the kingdom.

3. I don’t like what multi-site says about church leadership. I fail to see how elders or pastors can effectively pastor people they don’t know. I understand that many multi-site churches function more from a corporate model of leadership than a pastoral one. I believe that as children are born, people die, and decisions are made about church life, the elders of the church, the folks charged with spiritual discernment for the body, should actually know the body. They need to be able to look into the eyes of the people they are charged to lead. What’s more, If I’m preaching a sermon about tithing, while I wouldn’t back off the importance of tithing, I might approach it differently if I lived in Michigan — who has been experiencing a one-state recession for years now — than I might in Houston where the economy has not been as deeply hurt by recent national developments in the economy. One size doesn’t fit all! And multi-site appears to work against contextualization. We would never try to evangelize S. Africa from Austin. And Austin may be just as different from S. Africa as it is a retirement community in S. Florida.

4. Going multi-site can be a good use of the Lord’s resources and meet changing needs across the American landscape. Houston is a big city and there are folks who feel blessed and called to work with a particular church. For one reason or another, the life of one particular body speaks to them. There’s one problem; they live 25 miles away and traffic is “heck!” Several years ago our congregation dismissed our Wednesday night gatherings because people spent more time in the car getting here than they spent here. Interestingly, many of these folks lived about 10 miles from one another. Had we been thinking we might have taken the opportunity to establish another gathering place and different modes of spiritual formation. I still kick myself for not being forward enough to think about multi-siting then. Now the opportunity has passed. We could have formed something, using very little resources, instead of throwing in the towel. In this way, multi-site is rolling with the punches of life in the big city.

More to come…

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