categories: church online, global church, global culture, technology
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March 18th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

India: Urban Youth

While many of us are accustomed to hearing about extreme poverty in India, there’s a growing demographic that you might not be as familiar with: the middle class urban youth. This is a group that’s globally connected. They’re not only being influenced by input from around the world, they are influencing and adding to that input as well.

These are the people it’s possible to reach right now using media and technology. In the past, you might have heard me say, “There are more people alive today than at any other point in human history, and they are more connected now than at any time in the past.” India is at the very center of that…both from a population standpoint, and in terms of being globally connected.

We have an incredible opportunity in front of us to reach this population, but we’ll need to move beyond conventional methods. That’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about India being the country with the largest attendance at Church Online. With just a few clicks, these globally connected youth can experience a message of hope and salvation from across the world.

Several churches have adopted experiences at Church Online as an online mission project. We’re in the process of adding more experiences, so if you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity check out this post from Church Online.

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categories: culture, global culture, technology, vision
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March 17th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

India: Technology in a Thatch Hut

During our recent travels, we spent some time in India learning more about the cultural landscape and the great work some ministries are doing there. techinthatchhutWhile we were visiting different areas, I took this picture. Located in a poor village, this thatch hut has no running water or sewer, yet it does have satellite TV.

The government has created some initiatives that help make televisions more widely available, but the contrast is still surprising. It makes me wonder how having access to information might change poverty over the course of generations.

It also got me thinking…someone living in these conditions could be exposed to the Gospel while watching their satellite television. From a thatch hut in India, the poorest of the poor could hear a message of hope from somewhere across the globe.

If that’s possible, then what could that mean for the future possibility of using technology to share Christ with the world? This experience only increases my resolve to use these tools to reach the world, whether it’s satellite TV in a thatch hut in India or a mobile phone in the middle of Africa.

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, church, communication, culture, global church, global culture, innovation, leadership
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September 14th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Values and Culture

When leading any ministry, values should remain fixed, but the culture must evolve.

From the beginning of Life Church, we’ve had consistent values. Among other things, we value evangelism, stewardship, generosity, passion, integrity, excellence, and relationships.

These values are constants. But if we don’t allow God to mold our culture, we’ll get stuck in time and our effectiveness will be limited.

I see three main ways our culture has evolved in recent history:

  1. In the past, we were so focused on what we were doing, we largely ignored God’s broader work in the world. We have intentionally reshaped our culture to be decidedly more kingdom minded.
  2. Our culture has also evolved into showing more honor to other Christian leaders. In the past, we typically didn’t excel at hospitality. Our culture has evolved into a much more hospitable place.
  3. For years, we worked hard at what God was doing inside the church but not outside. As a church, we decided to shift the culture to be much more missional. Our church responded well and now our campuses are very involved serving our communities.

While we stay true to our values, we should respond to what God is showing us and let our culture grow and evolve into a more mature expression of God’s church.

How is your culture evolving?

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categories: ChurchMetrics, LifeChurch.tv, church, community, global church, global culture, leadership, working together
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May 28th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Giving Out

As a pastor, I’ve always seen it as my role to teach people to give. My primary teaching has been to lead people to give to the local church. While I still believe the local church is the hope of the world (quoting Bill Hybels), I am not as focused on what our church can “bring in” financially, but what we can “give out.”

For years I said to myself, “One day, when we have ____________, we’ll be more generous.” The words in the blank changed over time.

  • One day when we have a real building…
  • One day when we have a bigger staff…
  • One day when we have the building paid off…
  • One day when we complete the new phase…
  • One day when we add these new campuses…

After years of half-hearted promises, I believed God said “Today is one day. It is time to put your money where your mouth is.”
We’ve worked to change our culture to a culture of generosity. (We’ve learned a lot from Dino Rizzo at Healing Place and Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands.)

Since success isn’t simply bringing money in, we see it as…

  • Providing as many free resources as possible to help other churches.
  • Making a significant impact on the people in our community.
  • Helping meet needs around the world in the name of Jesus.

When it comes to finances and resources, for us success is no longer just what we bring in, but what we send out.

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, church, communication, creativity, future, global church, global culture, leadership, preaching, spiritual development
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May 11th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Suggestions for Today’s “Relevant” Church

When we started Life Church in 1996, we intentionally desired to be a “relevant” church. For way too long, what happened in church on Sunday seemed way too disconnected to the other 6 days and 23 hours of the week. With sincere intentions, we (and many others) deliberately sought to present God’s eternal truths with daily applications.

A decade and a half later, it is rare to find a church that isn’t making an attempt at a “contemporary” service. While I believe the shift that occurred in the 80s and 90s was appropriate and in some ways necessary, in my opinion—at many churches—the pendulum has swung too far. Another correction is necessary for many.

  • What used to be edgy is becoming distasteful.
  • What used to be cool is becoming cheesy.
  • What used to be creative is becoming gimmicky.

While the intentions of most relevant pastors (including my own) are generally to reach those who don’t know Christ, we have to ask ourselves, “How effective are our ministries really?” Just because we are “growing” numerically doesn’t mean the people coming are growing spiritually.

This week, let’s respectfully discuss some possible corrections for the “relevant church.”

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, church, communication, global culture, leadership
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April 20th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Sacrifice

Someone defined sacrifice as “giving up something you love for something you love even more.”

This week we’ll talk about the honor of sacrificing for the glory of God in ministry.

  • Do you love reaching people far from God enough to allow some people to leave your church?
  • Do you believe in your vision enough to receive criticism from those in your own denomination?
  • Do you love reaching teens so much that many adults reject your style of ministry?
  • Do you love serving Jesus so much you’ll give up some of life’s comforts to do what God has called you to do?
  • Do you love Jesus so much you’re willing to be rejected by your friends because you’re very different from the rest of the world?

What do you love so much that you’re willing to sacrifice for it?

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categories: global church, global culture
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March 30th, 2009

by Bobby Gruenewald

De-baptism?

I just returned from a visit to the UK and saw this article about people paying for certificates of “de-baptism.”  Basically, people in the UK and other parts of the world are publicly denouncing their Christian baptisms.

So here are a couple of questions for you all:

  • Is this the result of humanistic cultural influences? Or is this the outcome of “religion”?
  • Is this happening in the US? If not, how long until it is?

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categories: LifeChurch.tv, church, church planting, encouragement, global culture, leadership
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March 24th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Working With God’s Seasons

Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you are too lazy to plow in the right season, you will have no food at the harvest.”

In ministry it is so important to work with God’s seasons. Instead of always wishing for the next season, we should embrace the season we’re in.

Here are a few examples of how to work with the seasons:

  • If you’re a church planter, you won’t be any more of a real church when you have a real building. Enjoy the ride in portable facilities. You’re in a special season.
  • If you’re 50 years old and not naturally a cool person, you’ll look silly trying to act and dress 28. Embrace your season and be a mentor instead of a buddy to the next generation.
  • If your church is debt free and strong, don’t pretend like everything you have is for you. During this season, your greatest calling might be to fund the next generation’s vision.
  • If you had a singles ministry that worked for 9 years, but is no longer effective, celebrate the 9 years of success. Close it down and do something different. Don’t keep something on life support once its season has passed.

Because I was 28 years old when I started Life Church, I always felt like I was the young guy with everything in front of me. I’m not the young guy any more. (It happened so fast.) Now rather than just building our church, I embrace this season of lifting the next generation to do more than I’m able to do.

How can you better embrace this season?

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