Now that my friend Brian Houston's new book "Live Love Lead" is out and being read by plenty of leaders, I thought it was time to ask him some questions. As founding pastor of Hillsong Church, with locations in at least 15 major cities around the world, his leadership principles have impacted thousands of pastors and ministry leaders. Plus, "Hillsong Music" is the most popular worship label worldwide, and the feature length motion picture "Let Hope Rise" – about their band "Hillsong United" – is in the works. So we had a lot to talk about.
But today, trying to get major media (and other) ministries and/or churches to cooperate for a great cause is nearly impossible. To change that situation, here's a list of reasons why it's difficult, and a list of recommendations that will make that type of cooperation more likely to happen:
A lot of people ask me why I'm not cynical when it comes to the Church and Christian media. After all, I've seen a lot of wacky stuff out there. Over the years, Christian leaders have committed adultery, embezzled money, misused donors, and lived like kings. Christian media professionals have created really ridiculous TV programs and movies. And yet, here I am, still committed to engaging the culture and sharing the gospel through media.
After a series of bestselling books, the subsequent release and record-setting box office of the motion picture "Fifty Shades of Grey" seems to indicate that Americans are embracing what previous generations would have considered sexual deviancy. But after spending two years producing a hard hitting documentary film about the connections between pornography and human sex trafficking, Producer Guy Noland and Executive Producer Jim Knaggs have seen the damage up close.
There's no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it's also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It's created a culture of attack.
It started when Fox News broke the explosive story: "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, or gender identity. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court."
This past Spring, when founding pastor Bob Coy stepped down from Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale because of a moral failure, the congregation was stunned. He had been loved and respected, so the announcement was a shock to say the least. But because of a strong leadership team, a committed congregation, and much prayer, the church is emerging stronger than ever.
Over the years, reaching men with the Gospel has been an important but challenging effort. From the early days when Edwin Louis Cole launched the Christian Men's Network, to Coach Bill McCartney's Promise Keepers, hundreds of thousands of men have been transformed, and yet momentum has been difficult at best.
Every time comedian and talk show host Bill Maher blasts Christianity, calls Christians idiots, or describes God as a "psychopathic mass murderer" the web lights up. Religious news sites, or the Christian section of secular media, carry the story with headlines expressing "shock," and their readers dutifully respond with hysterical blog posts by the thousands. His abrasive comments become the big subject on Christian radio and TV programs, and callers express outrage. All of which is exactly what Maher wants.
David McGee founded "Cross the Bridge" Ministries and "The Bridge" Church in central North Carolina. With more than 2,000 church members, as well as a vast audience on more than 500 TV and radio media outlets, you might think David McGee is very motivational. But his teaching style is distinctly different from many of today's pastors and Christian media personalities.
An established executive in branding and marketing in the retail world, Sam Smith realized the need for compassionate, yet professional business acumen within ministry leadership and coined the term "Optimizing Ministry." Sam used that focus to achieve record results in fundraising and volunteer support as the CEO at Mercy Ships. He was then approached by Medical Ministry International and is now able to make an even larger impact on the poor as CEO of that global organization.
While Barry Corey, president of Biola University, has a career focused on education, his passion is how the Christian community engages today's culture. He's committed to raising up a generation of students who can make a difference in today's secular world.