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SecretShopper_top1

A lot of people have heard or read that I’m regularly doing secret shopper or mystery worshiper visits to churches around the country. The question has been raised (and it’s a valid one): Do you need a secret shopper?

As someone who takes the mission to reach the lost and unfilled seriously, I think it’s a wise investment. It takes about a month for you to lose your new eyes, new ears and new nose. Things that you may have become used to or accepted, a secret shopper can spot on their initial visit.

I once had a great Secret Shopper visit with a local church plant in the DFW area. I then had great meeting afterwards where I shared constructive and encouraging feedback with their senior pastor. I was reminded of how even young church plants can quickly lose their new eyes and start to miss things that are obvious to a newcomer like me.

The pastor emailed me saying that they’ve worked on several of the items I listed and are excited about their future. Now, many years later, my secret shopper process has evolved. The last church I worked with was Menlo Church in California, pastored by John Ortberg. I evaluated all 5 of their campuses and went over a 22 page report with their senior leadership team. 

In one month, I’ll do another secret shopper visit at a mega-church in Dallas, TX. I’ve already begun my pre-assessment, as I take a thorough look at the church’s website and online presence.  This is a church that is seemingly doing well and has a large congregation in a metroplex, but they want to improve and tweak things and I applaud them for that.

I came across some good words on Mike Holmes’ blog that I’d like to share with you. He mentioned that a secret shopper or mystery worshipper can do a few things:

1.               Assess areas of strength and weakness.

2.               See what visitors see.

3.               Give objective appraisal.

He also shares the story of his experiment as a secret shopper, which is convicting and inspiring. He goes on to share signs you need a secret shopper or mystery worshipper:

1.               Visitors who don’t return

2.               Decreased attendance

3.               Lack of influence in the surrounding community

I would add an eye for excellence and an attempt to be better at hospitality. It’s always healthy to look at your Sunday morning experience through the eyes of a newcomer and especially the eyes of a lost person. You may get only one chance to make a positive impression on them.

We all know a guest makes up their mind whether or not they will return in the first 10 minutes.

Read that again!

When you bring a guest to church, you instantly become sensitive to your surroundings – the people, the seats, the ushers, the greeters, the kids check-in, the sermon, the music, etc. You want everything to be perfect for your visiting friend (especially if they are not a Believer). A mystery worshiper can spot these crucial areas out for you, before your lost friend does. It’s an investment, but I think a wise one.

Nelson Searcy (in his book “Fusion”) says that if a first-time guest turns into a second-time guest, they are 80% more likely to get plugged into your church and eventually commit their life to Christ. That’s huge and that’s what I do. I help churches remove unnecessary barriers and bad impressions and turn first-time guests into second-time guests. 

I once read an article in the Wall Street Journal on secret shoppers. As the article states: “Department stores hire mystery shoppers. Restaurant chains bring in undercover diners to rate their food and service.” Isn’t what we do on Sundays as church leaders more important than department stores and restaurants? Seriously, isn’t it???

If you’d like to pick my brain or ask what’s involved in a secret shopper visit, contact me. If you’d like to read through endorsements of my ministry, check out the Worship Impressions website. Keep pressing on and know that what you do matters!

book

One of the biggest challenges every leader faces is how to continue developing and growing as a leader while still getting things done and moving things forward.

With the ever-increasing demands on our time and energy, often the first thing that goes is investing in ourselves. We know that isn’t wise; it’s really very short-term thinking, but under the pressure of the moment we often make that choice.

One reason we do that is that we don’t see immediate consequences. The consequences of not investing in ourselves now often show up later—a year or more later, when the challenges are even bigger and we aren’t ready for them.

One way to address that is to change our reading habits. We have all heard that “readers are leaders” and that “growing churches are led by growing leaders.” But the average reader takes 4-6 hours to read one book. It can be a challenge to find that time on a regular basis! Most of us end up with a bunch of unfinished (or unstarted) books that we know we should read but just don’t have time to get to.

Maybe it’s time for you to check out Leaders Book Summaries. They summarize books for busy leaders. They condense books down to 12-15 pages, and then also provide a 2-page summary of the summary. An average reader can go through a whole summary in just 15-20 minutes. That’s a lot more efficient than 4-6 hours!

You’ll get summaries of the titles you should be reading. Leaders Book Summaries was started by pastors, for pastors. They are practitioners, not just theorists. They know what it’s like to be in the trenches, and they pick and summarize books that will help you make a difference.

They issue thirty (30) summaries of leadership books each year. The books are written by both secular and religious authors. Recent examples include…

  • Leading Congregational Change, by Herrington, Bonem, and Furr.
  • The Leadership Playbook, by Nathan Jamail
  • Amplified Leadership, by Dan Reiland
  • Be The Best Bad Presenter Ever, by Karen Hough
  • Supersurvivors, by David Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz.

In addition, titles by Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Henry Cloud, and other well-known leaders fill their library.

A subscription is normally about $7 a month, or $119/year if you want the archives (over 150 titles). Leaders Book Summaries is currently offering a special discount to our blog readers. Instead of paying the full rate, you can get the monthly rate for just $5.95/month, or the Premium subscription, giving you access to their whole library, for just $99/year. And that covers all the new summaries coming out in 2016 as well!

This is a win-win-win. You can save time, save money, and invest in your own leadership development. You can’t do much better than that!

Click here to get the discounted rate. (It isn’t being offered anywhere else!)

By the way, besides providing summaries to those who subscribe, the folks at Leaders Book Summaries go a step further to support God’s leaders. A tithe of the profits is given to church planting efforts in the U.S. and Mozambique. Additionally, they give free subscriptions to third world pastors, who often can’t afford to buy books. When you subscribe to their service, you are also investing in other leaders around the world.

Imagine book

I’m taking a break to write my next book this month. Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog www.ChurchCentral.com). He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H). Here’s his post:

How do people like Bob Dylan cultivate their creative genius? They do it in part through dry spells.

“The act of being stumped is an essential part of the creative process,” says Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works. “Before we can find the answer—before we probably even know the question—we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach.”

After ascending to the pinnacle of his music career, Dylan withdrew to a remote cabin to escape the pressures of writing and performing. An emotional block had descended into his brain, and he decided to quit altogether.

But sitting in that cabin, he found breakthrough.

“Before Bob Dylan could reinvent himself, writing the best music of his career, he needed to believe that he had nothing left to say.” While Lehrer’s conclusion certainly doesn’t inspire creativity in itself, there are much easier ways we can stimulate our own breakthroughs.

Relax to Awaken Insight

The rest of us non-rock stars can’t rely on hopelessness to produce our work. That’s why I love Lehrer’s advice on how to buzz our brains with positive, creative waves.

Researchers have discovered that alpha waves in the brain result from a relaxed state. (Maybe this better explains Dylan’s breakthrough.) When our minds are at ease, we’re more likely to direct our attention inward, connecting with the brain’s right hemisphere, which churns out new associations between unrelated ideas.

But when we focus on a problem by analyzing its details and force ourselves to reason our way to a solution in left-brain fashion, we actually prevent the right-brained alpha-powered connections that lead to insights.

Ever had a great idea in the shower? The relaxed feeling stimulates alpha waves, even when we’re tired. Many people feel creative in a coffee shop because the relaxed ambience makes waves in their right hemispheres.

Go Blue to Awaken Insight

Another way to alpha-charge the brain is with color.

According to researchers, people associate red with danger, which makes them more alert and aware. If you’ve got a red environment, you’ll be better at activities that require accuracy and attention to detail, because the brain will be more alert.

Blue, on the other hand, generates much more creative output. The color automatically triggers associations with the sky and ocean.  “We think about expansive horizons and diffuse light, sandy beaches and lazy summers days; alpha waves instantly increase,” says Lehrer.

So when you daydream, pay attention to your insights, and let your imagination roam. You just might be able to convince your boss you’re working while you’re staring out the window.

Go to the Kitchen to Awaken Insight

When Steve Jobs ran Pixar, he forced people to have random conversations.

He did this by locating the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the building, creating chance encounters in the hallway and around the coffee pot.

“Office conversations are so powerful that simply increasing their quantity can dramatically increase creative production,” says Lehrer. “People have more new ideas when they talk with more people.”

Pixar’s producers would mingle with its animators, and what started as small talk often blossomed into an exchange of ideas and breakthroughs that ultimately led Pixar to its award-winning Toy Story franchise.

Got a problem that needs a creative solution? Forget brainstorming with a group. Take in the sky, go to the kitchen, linger in the shower.

And let the waves flow over you.

 

Overview-Cover

Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

Here’s more on the project from Eric:

We have the capacity for unlimited influence!

According to Jesus, no matter where we come from or what we’ve done or what limitations we may think we have, we actually can become live a transformed life and transform the lives of others. He promises that we can have a level of spiritual influence far beyond what we might imagine. We can bear fruit 30, 60, and even 100 times more than what was sown.

In the parable of the soils, Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hear God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoid distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.

 

Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing.

I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series.

When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

I think this message is more important now than ever. As a society we’ve moved from hunting to farming to working in factories into what is now called the Information Age. Seth Godin refers to this period as the time for artists to emerge.

I would like to think of this as the Age of Influence. Technology has given us the opportunity to influence people from across the planet the instant we post something online. The world is smaller and our opportunities are larger.

For a free download of the overview, go to A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Be sure to go to the last chapter in the overview to discover how to sign up for a chance to win the entire series.

Check out this video with Eric sharing more on A Fruitful Life:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.

LOGO_RisingStar

Like over 5 million people, I watched and participated with the premier of ABC’s new reality singing competing “Rising Star” this past Sunday night. I waited to blog about it to see how the world reacted to the premier. Many called it a failure, citing lack of quality singers and glitches (like how the West Coast votes, etc.). I see it as a step in the right direction of television and a true innovation. Like the book says: The Road to Success is Paved with Failure.

As I was watching the show and participating on my iPhone with the show’s special app, I was thinking of how this technology and concept could be used with a variety of shows. Think of how many times you’ve watched a reality show and wanted to vote someone on or off in real time. I think ABC has started something new (innovation) that will evolve and adapt and change the way we watch and interact and engage with television for years to come.

What did you think?

*** For more on the subject of innovation, check out my new book Strange Leadership.

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I went to go see the movie ‘Son of God’ on Palm Sunday to prepare myself for the upcoming Easter week. It was a great way to get my heart and mind focused on the coming week. The movie is not perfect and like most Hollywood movies, they take some creative liberties and change the story a few times, but it also has its great moments.

Here are the moments that stood out to me and moved me to tears:

  • The birth of Jesus
  • The calling of Matthew the tax collector (this is one of the most powerful scenes in all of film I’ve ever scene)
  • Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah in the temple and seeing people’s reaction to what he says

These are the most powerful moments to me that stand out. Of course I was moved by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. What about you? Did you see the movie? Did you like it? What moved you? People from all over the world are sharing their experiences with the movie. Take a look:

For more about the movie and to share how it’s impacted you, go to sonofgodstories.com

Strange-Leadership-book-cover-high-res-677x1024I have a brand new book that releases worldwide on Tuesday, April 29th, but we are asking as many as will to pre-order it today. I’ve been traveling, teaching and researching the subject of innovation in a Biblical context for the past 6 years. The result of this work is this new book entitled  Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

Some friends came up with the idea to have a Strange Leadership Pre-Release Party for him today. Greg will be doing special promotional and pre-release stuff all day today, including an interview and live Google Hangout with CMM Featured Writer Jason Curlee at 11am CST and then Greg will be a guest on DJ Chuang’s Social Media Church Podcast at 4pm CST.

About the book:

Are you a leader in a Christian organization? Is your church, ministry, or business lacking innovation? Perhaps you’re experienced in trying new things and moving in new ways, but you haven’t ever tried anything strange. Truly innovative leaders are often considered strange. Don’t settle for everyday leadership; immerse yourself in Strange Leadership!

Greg gives 40 different ways the Bible teaches us to be strange leaders. Greg pulls from Scripture to illuminate these concepts and, from the words and writings of other leaders, to drive them home. Strange Leadership is practically an encyclopedia on the subject of innovation.

Here’s what some key leaders are saying about the book:

Innovation is imperative in today’s leadership culture. Strange Leadership reminds us all that innovation is about doing a whole new thing, that ultimately flows from God, the Chief Innovator. Thanks Greg for pointing us back to our true source for innovation and inspiration. – Brad Lomenick, President and Key Visionary of Catalyst and Author of The Catalyst Leader

Strange Leadership provides leadership help to teach you how innovation can come about in your life and organization by keeping God at the center and will equip you with practical thoughts to lead with integrity. – Pete Wilson, Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church and Author of Plan B and Let Hope In

To be effective, church leaders must be open to innovation. We have to be willing to allow something new to happen in our churches as we seek God’s leading; we have to stay on the cutting edge, so we can be relevant in the world we are trying to reach. One of the best ways to stay innovative is to listen to and learn from those who model biblical innovation every day, like my friend Greg Atkinson. – Nelson Searcy, Founder and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, Author and Founder of ChurchLeaderInsights.com

Because leadership in Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom is so different and distinct from the world, it is “strange leadership.” In his book, Greg offers practical and helpful thoughts on leading others as one under the rule of God. – Eric Geiger, Author and Vice President LifeWay Christian Resources

Strange Leadership is an engrossing and enchanting collection of probes into the emerging field of innovation studies. It is filled with firecrackers, and sometimes even fireworks.  Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Drew University, George Fox University), Chief Contributor to sermons.com

It’s not a coincidence that God chose to introduce himself in the first verse of the Bible as a “Creator.”  I believe God puts a far higher value on creativity and innovation than most people believe.  That’s why I’m thrilled with Greg Atkinson’s new book.  It’s a wake up call to the Church and a powerful reminder that change is here whether we’re ready or not, and whether we like it or not.  Leaders – dismiss this book at your peril.  – Phil Cooke, Ph.D. – Filmmaker, Media Consultant, and author of Unique:  Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media

What’s Should You Do?

To find out more about the book and/or to order your copy today, go HERE. Your support of my ministry and this new book project are a great encouragement to my ministry to church leaders around the world. There is a free downloadable team discussion guide on the book website. We encourage you to order multiple copies for your whole team and go through it with them. Innovation is possible and you might just find that you don’t mind being called a “Strange Leader.”

*** I want to encourage you to connect with me and the book online:

  • Follow @StrangeLeader on Twitter HERE.
  • Follow @GregAtkinson on Twitter HERE.
  • “Like”  the book and my author page on Facebook HERE and keep up with my writing, work and ministry to the Church.
  • Be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: http://armansheffey.com/iTunes 
  • Join our Thunderclap campaign to get the word out about the book’s official release date (April 29th). It will take you less than 5 minutes to help me out. Go HERE.

Thanks for your support!

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Michael Hyatt wrote The Virtual Assistant Solution. He uses my primary sponsor (eaHELP) as a solution to his demanding schedule and work. I interviewed eaHELP to ask them about it.
1) How did Michael Hyatt become such a big fan of eaHELP? Why did he write the eBook?
 
We’ve been fortunate to partner with Michael Hyatt since nearly the start of our business. He brought his assistant, Tricia, on board in early 2011 and has since added several of our eaHELP virtual assistants to his team. Michael, with his extensive background in corporate leadership, understands that good leaders absolutely must delegate some of their workload to others if they’re going to achieve their goals. And for a solo entrepreneur like Michael, a virtual executive assistant was a perfect fit. 
 
When he launched his own speaking and writing business, he reached out to eaHELP and we’ve both benefitted from that relationship ever since. 
 
(See post on “Behind the Scenes” with Michael’s first VEA Tricia to learn more about how he got started and what his assistants do for him –http://michaelhyatt.com/behind-the-scenes-with-my-virtual-assistant.html)
 
2) What are the things/tasks that most Pastors / Church Leaders don’t realize they can do … w/ a virtual assistant?
 
Probably the biggest things that most leaders, from any industry, don’t realize they can do is offload their email to a virtual executive assistant. So many leaders have the “in box zero” goal, but with the volume of communication they receive and the speed at which they receive it that’s nearly impossible. Having someone else look at your in box and help you triage those messages frees up so much valuable time, and that’s often where our clients have their assistants start. Working together, the client and VEA can develop standard responses to the most common email questions and clients can point their VEA to the resources they need to help find answers for other frequent requests. This frees leaders up to handle only those emails that require their unique input and expertise.
Another area where leaders can really benefit is in scheduling and calendar management. How many emails do you get a day that read something like, “Are you free for coffee on Thursday? Can you make the meeting on Sunday night?” Having a VEA screen those emails for you, and be able to manage your calendar to send the answers to those people, means you’ve got all that time back in your work day. Plus, your VEA can act as your scheduling gatekeeper and protect the blocks of time you need to accomplish your goals. If you know you’ll need three hours next week to finish a presentation, having your VEA handle your calendar means you’ll keep those three hours uninterrupted – and you don’t have to be the “bad guy” who said “no” to all those requests.
 
3) How’s business at eaHELP?
 
Things at eaHELP are really growing. We saw growth that definitely exceeded our projections in 2013, and we don’t see that slowing down in 2014. We’re really picking up traction in the industry, and leaders in all industries are seeing the value that can come from expanding their workforce virtually. We’re serving leaders from large corporations, and we’re serving entrepreneurs who are starting up their very first businesses. We’re serving pastors planting a new church, and we’re serving mega-church pastors and their staff members. And we’re doing it all successfully. We see only growth in this industry as more and more leaders look for affordable ways to add quality workers to their teams, and as qualified workers (like the EAs we hire) look for more flexible ways to move their careers forward.
 
4) What are the key things/reasons you have observed about leaders who are not good at delegating?
 
Many leaders we talk with tell us they don’t have time to delegate – and they’re right, they don’t. That’s because they waited too long to look for help with everything on their plates. Those leaders absolutely have to carve out time in their schedules to take a hard look at all the things they’re doing and figure out which ones are really adding value to their work. Anything else is fair game for delegating to a virtual assistant. Once the leaders have determined what tasks they can delegate, we can look for assistants that have the skills to match that list. When we bring our assistants to clients and explain their experiences and knowledge, we hear time and again, “She sounds perfect…” By working the client through the responsibilities they need to delegate, and then finding the EA who’s perfectly suited to take those over, we’ve built up the client’s confidence in the process and helped loosen their grip on all those tasks they were sure they didn’t have the time to delegate.
 
5) What are the biggest challenges when bringing on a virtual assistant for the first time?
 
The biggest challenge, and the one we spend the most time working through with our clients, is creating a “job description” of sorts for their assistants. Lots of leaders know they need help, and they know that something has to be moved off their plates if they want to move their businesses forward, but they have trouble really nailing down what that is and what it will look like. We work with leaders to outline what responsibilities they could transition to their EA, and we’re able to bring our experiences from serving hundreds of leaders to the table to help give those leaders ideas. That way, before the engagement with the EA even starts, the leader knows exactly what kind of help he or she needs, and we can find the EA who has the right mix of skills and experiences to hit the ground running and start making an immediate difference for that leader.
We also emphasize with leaders how important it is to keep the lines of communication open between them and their EA. When you work virtually, communication becomes more important – not less. At the beginning of the engagement, especially, leaders need to be regularly meeting with their EA either by phone or web conference. As the engagement progresses, the EA and client can find the ways that work best to communicate – email, text, phone, whatever – but always need keep the communication going.
 
6) What differentiates eaHELP from the competition?
 
We take the matching process between our clients and assistants really seriously. I don’t think you’re going to find another virtual assistant company that asks both clients and assistants to take personality tests to make sure they’re a good fit in terms of their working styles. Many other companies are all about outsourcing your tasks, and distributing them to a pool of assistants who may not know anything at all about your business or industry. We’re about providing you with an assistant who will become part of your team and your day-to-day interactions, and anticipate your needs before you even recognize them. You’ll get an assistant who’s uniquely suited to your business and what you need to get done, and who works and thinks like you do. And we do all the matching work for you, and provide you with an assistant who will start adding value to your business from day 1.

The following is from my friend Dale at WorshipHouse Media:

Christmas is probably the time more churches use media than any other time of the year. We decorate trees, why not use some great seasonal media to “decorate” your Christmas media presentation? Here is a roundup of 5 short videos that are being used at churches all over the world this Christmas.

 

1) True and Better  (new this year)

by Dan Stevers

Why it is great: Stunning animation, Longer script allows you to base your sermon off the video, Works beyond Christmas as a gospel video

How you would use it: We have heard many churches have loved it so much they are theming the Christmas season to “True and Better.” Perfect to show it before, during, or after a sermon.

 

2) Christ The Savior Is Born (new this year)

by Centerline New Media

Why it is great: Visuals, easy to read text, Scripture based, short in length

How you would use it: As a stand alone reflection piece, Prior to a Christmas Sermon, Prior to worship to set the tone of praise.

 

3) The Christmas Scale (2012 best seller)

by Igniter Media

Why it is great: Familiar Music, True Story

How you would use it: To blow peoples minds! No, seriously – it is an amazing story about something so familiar people will be surprised. Can be used in conjuction with another Christmas video as this one is unique and great as a stand alone video at the beginning of your service.

 

4) The Christmas Truce (new this year)

By Shift Worship

Why it is great: The animation is amazing, Based on a true story so history buffs will love it.

How you would use it: This would be perfect in the middle or near the end of your Christmas message to bring home depth and meaning to our own celebration of the birth of Christ.

 

5) Christmas Welcome to Our Church (new this year)

by Floodgate Productions

Why it is great: Seasonal way to welcome visitors, Visuals and Voice over easy to follow.

How you would use it: Either in place of a countdown at the very beginning, or just after a countdown to start your service.

 

We hope you enjoy these Christmas videos from some of the best producers of church media! It was really hard to pick just a few as we have so many awesome videos in the Christmas seasonal store this year. What is your favorite?

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grand theft auto

Let me say up front that I’m not a true “gamer.” I play video games with my kids, but I have friends that stay up until 2 or 3 am playing games and are true gamers – that’s not me. With that being said, I want to offer some pastoral counsel and advice to church leaders and parents: Be careful what games you let your kids buy and play.

I recently had a friend purchase “Grand Theft Auto V.” He got to the third scene and had to take it back to the store because it was so bad and vulgar. He described people having sex in a van, two going at in the street and one scene where the paparazzi pay you to take pictures of a teen star having sex. Of course in the game, you can still pick up a prostitute. Read this review of the game to truly know what goes on.

Some of you may be shocked. Some of you may be yawning and thinking what’s the big deal? The big deal is what our kids are seeing behind closed doors in their rooms when we think they’re playing a simple racecar game and they are acting out sex, crime (remember it’s called “Grand Theft Auto”), and violence (there are a lot of fights and car-jackings).

When parents don’t get involved in details like this in their kids’ lives, it leads to trouble down the road. Kids are growing up today with a taste and thirst for violence (think “Halo” and “Call of Duty”) and when you mix that with a negative view of women and thinking of them as sex objects, it makes you think what the next generation of leaders, pastors, teachers and businessmen and women will be like.

I don’t want to preach or come down too heavy. I just want to raise awareness of a problem and strongly encourage you to check into what your kids are playing. If a thirty-three year old friend of mine had to return the video game because it made him blush and feel dirty, what business does a teenager or child have playing it?

So, like the title says: Be careful little eyes what you see. My kids play games like Madden (football) and Indiana Jones and Star Wars. We are intentional not to buy them games with graphic content or violence. I encourage you as leaders in the church to be careful what you look at (on computers, tablets and gaming consoles) and be a present parent to your children. They look to you for guidance and today’s kids need all they can get. So as the Christmas season approaches, take a careful look at what games and movies you buy your kids. Okay – I’m stepping down off my soap box!