Month: February 2010

Small Church Issues Covered At SmallChurchPROF.com

SmallChurchPROF.com links to the best news, ideas, insights, and information relevant to small church ministry.  The site features articles in eight categories of interest to small church leaders and members:

  1. Featured. These articles are the latest of the web’s ever-changing content that have application to small churches.  Links to events, people, and issues that are making news or creating conversations are featured here each day.   A recent feature, “What comes after contemporary worship?”, focused on a small church that was re-establishing traditional worship after 15 years.
  2. Small Church News. Small churches and their people make the news, too.  This section curates the best of small church newsmakers and recently featured an article about the CIA shooting down a missionary airplane 9 years ago, killing a young mother and her infant in the process.  “When Mission Trips Go Bad” focused on the plight of 10 Baptists who went to Haiti and were arrested trying to transport Haitian children across the border.
  3. Outreach. A recent article told the story of a Nashville, TN church that uses mixed martial arts to reach young men.  The story ran in the New York Times, so small churches can have a national influence in the mainstream media.  The Outreach section often showcases successful outreach ideas or concepts, such as the post, “How Can We Get Some Young Folks in Our Church” written by Jeremy Troxler of Duke Divinity School’s Thriving Rural Communities program.
  4. Discipleship. This section links to articles that either reflect issues of interest to those seeking to follow Christ as disciples, or specific instances of discipleship in action.  When the Archbishop of Canterbury challenged Wall Street’s greed and materialism, that’s of interest to those seeking to follow Christ’s teaching that you cannot serve God and money.
  5. Leadership. The Leadership category finds the most helpful and insightful web articles about leadership development, characteristics, and examples available.  Some articles come from the business world, others from the non-profit world, or a valuable leadership resource.  All of the links in the Leadership section provide insight into being an effective leader in the 21st century.    Seth Godin’s “Who Will Save Us?” was a recent post revealing the struggles of leaders to adapt to our changing times.
  6. Service. Service tells the stories of churches working to make this world a better place.  A recent link from the local Nashville, TN paper, The Tennessean, revealed that the traditionally isolated Churches of Christ in middle Tennessee were cooperating with other denominations on community ministry projects.
  7. Worship. Featuring creative worship ideas, sermons, and other links pertinent to small church worship, I recently linked to a story about “Dinner Church.” Dinner Church is the nickname a new church start, St. Lydia’s in New York, gives to its combination of dinner and worship, patterned after Jesus habit of breaking bread with the disciples.
  8. Technology. Finally, the most current technology developments, such as the rise of mobile smart phones, Twitter, Facebook, sound systems, video, and even Apple’s iPad, get recognized in this section.

You can bookmark the entire site, SmallChurchPROF.com, or subscribe to each category in a separate feed if your interest runs only to one or two areas.  Simply click on “More SCP Links from Publish2” at the end of each category for access to the RSS feed.

Or you can subscribe to all the articles I link to in both SmallChurchPROF.com and NewChurchReport.com by pasting this link into your feed reader:  http://www.publish2.com/journalists/chuck-warnock/links.rss

I hope you find both SmallChurchPROF.com and NewChurchReport.com helpful to you as a pastor or church leader. I edit both sites, and select all the articles that are featured.  I choose articles to link to that are relevant, interesting, helpful, and challenging, even if I don’t always agree with their point of view.  If you want to suggest an article for either site, please email me at chuckwarnock [at] gmail [dot] com with the link.  The system I use requires that the article be available on the web at a linkable URL.

You can also find me on Facebook, where all the articles I select are also posted.  Or on Twitter where the same thing happens.

Thanks for visiting SmallChurchPROF.com!

‘New Church Report’ Curates The Web for Church Leaders

In addition to this blog, I also edit/curate articles at two other sites, NewChurchReport.com and SmallChurchPROF.com.  Both of these sites consist of links to videos, articles, blog posts, and information applicable to churches.  Today I’m introducing you to NewChurchReport.com, with the following from the NCR About page:

NewChurchReport.com searches the internet for the best of church news, ideas, information, and inspiration.  Four categories comprise the homepage of  NewChurchReport.com:

  1. Spotlight: Videos, photographs, cartoons appear in the Spotlight box focusing on important issues and ideas each week.
  2. News: The left column of NCR compiles church-related news feeds from around the globe.  Sources include Christianity Today, The Christian Post, Christian Today (UK), Ethics Daily, Religion News Service, and others.
  3. Featured: The center column articles feature well-known church thinkers from outstanding blogs and websites. I select each article for its value to church leaders.  While I may  or may not agree with each writer, I find the articles useful or thought-provoking.
  4. Blogs: The right column posts I select from blogs of pastors, ministry leaders, and others whose voices may or may not be well-known, but who have something worthwhile to say.  Blogs range from opinion to practical help to issues of interest to church leaders.

Editorial philosophy: As the editor of NewChurchReport.com, I look for well-written pieces that have something new to say about churches or the issues churches face.  I represent a variety of viewpoints, even those with which I disagree.  I am looking for practical or provocative articles that make me think.  I include articles from secular media if I think those have application for churches.  I don’t post Bible studies, theological treatises, polemical pieces, or argumentative posts.  There are enough of those articles elsewhere.

Goal: NewChurchReport.com will be the go-to-source for  interesting, unusual, provocative, practical, and inspirational writing.  Readers will find church-related articles here that they won’t find on other church-related sites.  Let me know if we succeed in accomplishing that goal, and how we can improve NCR in the future.

Contributors: If you would like to contribute an article to NewChurchReport.com, please read the editorial philosophy above before submitting.  If you would like for me to consider an article for inclusion, please email me the link, not the whole article.  The editing system I use depends on links to the original post or article, so if an article is not on the web at a specific URL, I cannot link to it.  All titles link to the original articles, and all original sites are credited.  I write the “hook” that appears below each title, which may include a quote from the article, or my summary of the main point of the article.

Disclaimer: NewChurchReport.com is an independent Christian news and opinion publication.  NewChurchReport.com does not endorse or promote any particular doctrine, denomination, or point of view.  All articles appearing on NewChurchReport.com are chosen for their helpful application to some aspect of advancing the church of Jesus Christ in today’s world.

Scott Linklater started NewChurchReport.com and handed the job of editing the site over to me in January, 2009.  All content is selected by the editor, and does not necessarily represent the views of the editor, or any person, denomination, church, or other organization represented here.

Follow NCR on Twitter:  twitter.com/chuckwarnock

Friend Chuck Warnock on Facebook to follow NCR posts:  facebook.com/chuckwarnock

When Mission Trips Go Bad

Logan Abassi / The United Nations
Boy receiving treatment after Haiti earthquake. Logan Abassi / The United Nations

The arrest of 10 Southern Baptist church members on a self-styled rescue mission in Haiti provides churches with a sobering reminder — even if your motives are pure, you must know and follow the laws of the country you are in.

Members of the Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho are still being held in two small concrete rooms in the judicial police headquarters building. According to USA Today, their lawyer says they are being treated poorly, and have not been charged with a specific crime yet.

Identical messages on both church websites state —

A ten member church team traveled to Haiti to help rescue children from one or more orphanages that had been devastated in the earthquake on January 12. The children were being taken to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic where they could be cared for and have their medical and emotional needs attended to. Our team was falsely arrested today and we are doing everything we can from this end to clear up the misunderstanding that has occurred in Port au Prince.

I checked the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board website for an official denominational response, but could not find one.  Baptist Press does have an extensive article with details not reported in the secular media.  For example, the team and children were turned back at the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and informed that they needed “one more piece of paperwork” according to the BP article.  Upon their return to Port-au-Prince, they were detained as child-traffickers.

A statement on the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention, the state-level denominational organization, praises the team for their intentions, but then offers this cautionary note —

The Idaho Mission Team in Haiti went on a mission trip that was not a mission trip organized by the Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. As a state convention we encourage churches and mission teams to work through the state convention, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board and Global Baptist Response when dealing with a disaster in North America and other nations.

Although these churches had conducted mission trips before, the trip to Haiti was their first in disaster relief.

I have travelled internationally to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mexico and found much of the bureaucracy redundant, and at times infuriating.  But, in each instance I had to comply with the requirements of each government for visas, passports, and information regarding how long I intended to stay, where I was going to stay, why I was making the trip, and who my US employer was.  American know-how and ingenuity is not rewarded in many countries, especially if it appears that Americans are attempting to circumvent the laws of the host country.

The exciting possibility of international missions involvement and of making a real, hands-on difference cannot overshadow the need for careful adherence to all the laws and customs of the country visited.  Good intentions can be misconstrued, as is the case here.  And while stories of Bible smuggling and dramatic rescues make great books, the reality of violating local laws presents a lesson in international precaution.

What do you think?  Has your church ever skirted the law while trying to do good?  Or has your church ever been frustrated in its attempts to minister because of local laws, either in another country or your own?  While there are lessons to be learned from their experience, our immediate concern is for the safe release of these who meant to do good, but were caught up in the chaos and uncertainty of the situation in Haiti.