Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Feeding the 5,000

Fish.  Loaves.Ok, so most people have heard the miracle Jesus performed by feeding 5,000 with just 5 loaves of bread and two fish (John 6).  I've always found this amazing, especially since, in the end they still had leftovers after each person had eaten their fill.

Today I was reading something which talked about how, for $6 you can get 21 loaves of bread from the day-old store.  Finally it hit me!  I know how we can reproduce Jesus' miracle.

We'll take 5 fresh loaves of bread and bring them to some bakery.  We'll turn them in for day-old bread.  I figure one loaf of bread should be worth about 50 loaves of day-old, right?  Then there's the fish.  No one really needs fresh fish.  I bet you can trade in two excellent fresh fish for boxes and boxes of frozen fish sticks (or even fish just past the expiration date).  With all of that we can feed 5,000 people, no problem.  So I ask you...  Was it really a miracle?  I bet Jesus just sent James and John off to the day-old fish and bread store.

Seriously though, this did get me to thinking.  Jesus made very clear that we would perform all the miracles he has done and more.  We do that by working together to really help others.

As I thought about this ridiculous joke above, I did think about the Atlanta Bread Company and Panera.  Both companies give away day-old bread.  My friend Linda from church goes each Sunday and fills her car with bags and bags of bread which she brings to the local soup kitchen.  Here you have a company working with individuals to make a serious impact on hunger in our local community.  All for the cost of gas to drive the bread (probably cheaper than 5 loaves and 2 fish would cost).

If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.


Friday, October 27, 2006


forgive meI've been walking through the gospel of John (Message Remix version) in my journal.  something jumped out at me and I decided to post an abridged version.

When Jesus came back to visit the disciples in John 20.22-23 one of the first things he said was

If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive someone’s sins, what are you going to do with them?

If you took just the first sentence, it sounds like by being a disciple you can forgive someone’s sin just as God does. I think that second sentence really makes the difference. If we aren’t willing to forgive someone’s sin, what are we going to do with them?

We need to forgive the sings of everyone, no matter how hard it may be. While this gives me hope for some of the stuff I’ve messed up in life, it also makes me nervous. Do I really forgive someone whose maliciously hurt me or someone I care about? Thankfully, at the moment I can’t really think of many people this may apply to. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever apply.

Really though, what do we do with people we don’t forgive. What’s the alternative to forgiveness? Stay estranged from the person?  Be cordial to them while inside I can only think about how much the wrong they did to me bothers me? Why do I want to live like that? I don’t think Jesus would approve.

Anyway, I thought this was pretty interesting. While it is Jesus and Gods gifts to forgive everyone, it’s also our job to do the same. That’s pretty hard sometimes.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Church You Know

The Church You KnowI love those NBC "The More You Know" ads where they have famous people get on the TV and say things to help the family. 

Reading to your child lets them dive into another world with you.  So, read to your child

Ok, I don't know if that's really one of them.  But I've been thinking about reading since we read to Rachel all the time and since I read Michael's blog entry on warfare.

The ChurchMarketingSucks Web site had a post about The Church You Know.  They have these short spots just like the NBC ads, but about church, and crazy funny.  The two I'd definitely recommend seeing is the Attendance video and the Tithing video.

I don't know if they'd ever be appropriate to show in church, but man they are great.  I'm definitely thinking of getting the Christ is the head... I am the Rectum shirt for someone.

Boiling this all down brings me to one big thought for the day.  Being Christian and talking about faith should never be boring.  These guys have made it interesting and fun.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More Brochures?

Pamphlet ArchSeth Godin remarked recently about marketing cliches done wrong. This one particularly stuck out as the one which impacts our organization and our church the most.

We need a bigger marketing department. Probably, you need everyone in the organization to do the marketing... from scratch. More brochures aren't the answer.

At church we've been talking a lot about marketing, what to put together that we can give people when they walk in the door. Whether we should advertise in the paper, in new home guides or somewhere else. Should we advertise each sermon series? How would the ads be designed.

I still think all of these are important and need to have some focus.

At the same time Seth's comment has reminded me again that spreading the word about your product is about the stories people are saying.

pamphletA co-worker of mine almost went to Wegmans the other day because she was in the area. I guarantee you that two weeks ago she never would have considered it. One day though we had a team meeting of about 10 people to do introductions. After I mentioned Wegmans the entire room became animated and shared their experiences with the store. Those stories (plus my constant talk about it) has at lease one person thinking about the place and stopping in.

Stores market to people. The story is told by someone that the listener trusts.

What is it about your life that's worth telling? What are your stories? What do you support so much that they don't need to make a brochure or place an ad to get people to come?


Smoked Salmon

Bearly escape!In case I wasn't sure about it, I definitely am now.  My wife is pregnant.

The switch just clicked in my head.

No, it wasn't from hearing the baby's heartbeat yesterday at the doctor's office (though that was pretty incredible and affected me more yesterday than it did with Rachel for some reason).

No, it wasn't that we've moved Rachel's crib into the new baby's room.

What did it?  I've just realized I have a craving for some smoked salmon (no thanks to Melissa sending some to Rob so we've talked about it).

While my wife goes through a pregnancy with little or no cravings, mine kick into gear almost immediately.  So far it's looking like a couple months of smoothies and salmon.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

BattlestarI've just gotten through the 3rd episode of Battlestar Galactica Season 3.  When the new Battlestar began I watched, but it was just so different from the original I wasn't sure I'd click with it.  It just seems that for some reason Sci-Fi has a whole lot of dark stuff, and this was no different.  On top of that a female Starbuck was just weird.

Over time I've figured out that I am really connecting with the characters.  I really care about them and their plight.  This season really made this click in my mind, as I watched a really, really moving interpretation of the Holocaust. 

I spent almost 6 hours in the Holocaust Museum in DC, and it really got me to think hard about what happened.  That coupled with a History Channel documentary I saw a few years ago and an exhibit at American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore has made it stick in my mind.  I can't look at snow quite the same way again.

Somehow all of that information moved me intellectually but I could never connect or completely understand what individuals went through.  No two hour movie or factual documentary really got me to care deep down about the individuals and what it meant for the family.

Battlestar has made that connection.

Seeing the individuals that I've followed for three years go through the atrocities people have suffered has really got me thinking about what's happened in our past, what's happened in Rwanda, and what will happen to individuals under the oppressive rule of an extreme leader.

Say what you will about TV or even Science Fiction.  It's those books and shows that have given me a connection with an individual deeper than a movie or short book ever can.  I love having my heart changed.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Would I Miss It If I Lost It?

When it comes to parenting, I am the one who apparently gets to enjoy the firsts with Rachel.  I was the first one to let her fall on her head (she slipped right off the bed and plopped right on her head).  Poor Erin missed out on that fun.

Well, today I got to have yet another first with Rachel.  Once again, Erin wasn't around to see the glorious moment.

Rachel knocked over some chili on the ground in a parking lot.  I picked it up, having her help out so she'd stay close.  As I put the remaining chili in the car (a process that took at most 1/2 of a second) I turn and she's disappeared.  I immediately get crazy nervous.  I run to the back of the car...  Guess what?  No Rachel.  At this point my heart is racing, I look around frantically, and tears begin to form.  I hop 1 step to my left and I see her walking to her door to the van, ready to get in.

You always hear about the parent who loses their kid when they looked away from just one second.  I can't believe it was me, and that I lost her in a parking lot.  Thankfully my kid is a genius and knew exactly what she was doing the whole time.  I'm also glad God has graced me with a short memory and healing heart so I won't be paranoid every time Rachel is out of my sight for one second.

On the way home I was thinking about what a great story this actually is.  If you lost something, how much would it matter to you?

If I lost my keys, No biggie, get them replaced, I'm out at most $100 (car keys are expensive to replace). 

If I lost my wallet, just cancel the cards, I'm out the gift cards.

If I lost my job, I'd be pretty upset.  In the end though, there are other jobs.

If I lost my house, being homeless you suck.  It would be hard, probably the hardest thing I've ever done.  When it comes down to the wire though, the things I lost can be replaced.  5 years later I wouldn't really miss that old stuff.  All of it.

What if I'd really lost Rachel?

It's moments like these that really make me recognize what love means.  We always talk about love as something you can't quite quantify or describe in detail.  Here's what I can tell you. 

You will know you love something the moment you think you have lost it.  You'll know that it can't ever be replaced, you'll wonder if you can live without it and you'll ask what to do with you life now.  You'll also realize that you would give up the keys, the wallet, the job and the house just to get that thing back.

God gave me a huge scare and an even greater gift tonight. I'm glad it ended quickly and happily.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Paper Perfection

Ok, it wasn't perfect.  I even found a big dividing line in the middle of my third page (thankfully the teacher said not to worry about it).  If some of you were wondering though, I did get my paper done and in on time.  I failed to mention that in the 5 hours I had to finish it there was a 1 1/2 hour meeting (which actually lasted 2 1/2 hours) plus the drive home (thankfully I could work on the paper during that).

Anyway, it got done and isn't half bad.  Erin proofed it and had very, very few changes.  Thank goodness for her and Ann giving me a paper to use for formatting (I couldn't have cheated off it; I didn't even read her title or content.  I barely understood her citations) and her advice on going to the Perdue Web site.

In any case, it's together and out.  I think it came out relatively well.  We'll know more next week when I present it to the class.  That will be so much easier, I love talking.

Thank you all for your prayers.  It's been a crazy week, but everything is catching up nicely.

Oh yeah, and why the heck did she choose Dr. Shepherd over the vet guy.  Insanity I tell you, I'd marry the vet guy if I could.  :)


A Good Shepherd

Lares Trek - Shepherd boy - about 4yrs oldI've been working through the book of John in the Message bible as a personal journey and journal.  There have been a bunch of things I've found interesting but it's been late and I haven't quite decided how to write a public blog on it (yep, believe it or not I don't wear my entire world on my sleeve).

Tonight I came across John 10.11-13.

The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.  A hired man is not a real shepherd.

The good Shepherd is willing to die for his sheep and puts the sheep before himself. A hired person can’t be that Good Shepherd.

I’m not exactly sure, but somehow this teases my mind about hiring people to do jobs in the church before finding a volunteer who is qualified or willing to be trained to do it. The volunteer does the job because their heart is in it. While that may very often be true of the employee, there will always be a financial piece which makes it easier to think of as a “job” instead of a relationship.

Say the parish decides to cut your salary, or drop the position all together because of financial issues beyond your control.  Do you leave?  Volunteers do the job because they care for the people they are impacting and the God they are serving.  Sometimes I think that gets muddied when money comes in the middle of it.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Paper Nightmare

Have you ever had this nightmare?  You get ready for class and realize that you have a paper due that day which you didn't know about?  You didn't read the resources and the library is closed.  You didn't think about the thing at all and you don't even remember how to write a research paper, forgetting what a topic question and conclusion is or even how to write a bibliography?

Yeah, that's my life right now.  The paper I thought was due next week is actually due today.  I realized it late last night.  Yes, even the "don't remember how to write a research paper" is true.  I had to ask a friend who's in school to send me a paper so I could see if you still indent paragraphs and what a bibliography (er, works cited now I understand) looks like.

So, yeah, I'm kind of freaking out.  But it's been fun.  I've found the library, figured out how to get money on my card to make copies and begun writing.  Thank all the gods that there may be (ok, really I know there's just one, and He IS watching over me) that this paper is only two pages double spaced and the teacher gave us the works to cite.

In case you didn't know what to pray for, this thing is due in 5 hours and I only have one sentence done.  Thankfully they are the hardest.  Time to get back and stop letting my mind free-flow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gift Mixes

I have met some incredible people in my life.  Some of what I've done in this blog is to talk about them.  That's not to say anything like "nyah, nyah, my friends are better than your friends".  It's not even to say that there's hope for the world in us human beings, though there is.

The reason I share these stories is to remind myself and get others thinking about real practical ways that we can make a lasting difference in this world.  Ways we can be remembered by others for the incredible ways (both big and small) we change the world.

This story is about Christine.  I was over at her place working on their computer.  I had to bring Rachel, who was about six months old at the time, since Erin was off someplace else.

While I'm playing with the computer (thank goodness they've since gotten rid of it) Christine was holding on to Rachel and settling her down from a bit of crying.  How did she do it?  She began to hum/sing to her.  For the Merola's though, not just any song would do.  Rachel was regaled with the theme from the Mario brothers (the original Nintendo version).  Needless to say, while I couldn't settle Rachel, Christine's rendition of the Mario Brothers worked immediately.

Soon we were both singing along.  Doot-doot-doot-du-doot deet-da-deet (see, it's not humming, but it's not singing either, really Christine was beeping in key to Rachel).

Why, after almost two years, do I bring this up?  Well, Rachel likes to sing songs to herself when she's going off to sleep.  I am almost positive I heard her singing a little bit of the Mario Brothers song.  Two years later Rachel still has that buried deep in her mind.

What little gift that you have inside of you every day can you use to make an impact that lasts for years on another person?  God has done some amazing things through Christine's gaming experience and her singing voice.  He just amazes me sometimes with how it all comes together.


Catalyst: Day 2 Highlights

You can do some huge things by simply stepping out into the community and tapping those resources. 

In the morning there were 5 absolutely incredible break dancers (I mean, these guys and girl were absolutely amazing and defy gravity and some speed records).  Then there was the percussion section from a local high school band.  Later there were English flags, horses (yes, 5 horses in all) and some amazing humor, even if none of it applied to the conference except to make things unclear.  Later on Lanny came out with a monkey on his back, again, he sure got that from someone in the community.  To top it all off (I'm glossing over the horn guy, the be-bop guy and the woman who spoke words backwards) Lanny brought in his friend form the community....  Jeff Foxworthy.

This makes me think that we're not tapping into the community nearly enough.  Maybe we can never tap them enough.

The low of the conference was probably being told "You are blocking the aisle and have to move.  You certainly can't plug in [your laptop] here." and getting kicked out of the auditorium.

I was later told by another organizer when I came back, "I know this stinks, but I'm going to have to ask you to move.  They need to keep the aisles clear."  What a difference, I was happy to listen and follow him.

Another low (albeit minor) is that the concert they were plugging tonight actually cost even more money to go to.  Needless to say I enjoyed dinner with the rest of the group and tried to find a ColdStone (which was closed) instead.

While the conference has been interesting so far, I'm looking forward to getting back home and having a lot less sensory overload.  Though I do have to say, Catalyst puts on one amazing and unforgettable show.

Thought for the day?  What's the difference between story and show?  If done right are they interchangeable?  (Thank's to Rob for that question).


Catalyst: Jeff Foxworthy

There was a surprise guest this afternoon at Catalyst.  Ok, the title of the post probably gave it away.  Jeff Foxworthy came out and was just hilarious.  Mark Batterson was actually able to catch some of his redneck jokes (he got about half of them, I counted 15...  Yes, I am a nerd counting jokes).

What surprised me more than anything about Jeff's talk was that it really was a talk.  there was some deep insight to go along with some incredible humor.  Here's what I took away:

Jeff defines a redneck as someone with a glorious absence of sophistication and education.  He knows them well because he's unsophisticated and uneducated.  Everyone in the room is the same way, or has someone in their family who is.

His main point came down to this though.  Every one we want to reach as leaders is going to be a redneck.  These are the people we need to build up as leaders.  They are the people who will be the arms of God, to bringing the good news of Jesus to the world.

These people aren't going to be the scholars of the world.  We won't be sitting behind a desk reading about how to save people.  We'll be out doing the work with the gifts God's given us to use.

These people aren't going to be sophisticated.  We aren't going to be at all of the posh parties.  We may have a "flyswatter in the passenger seat of the minivan so that we can reach the kids while we're driving". 

When you're looking for people to build the kingdom of god, it's not going to be the experts, it's going to be through growing the rednecks of the world into followers.

Catalyst: Gary Haugen

Gary Haugen is the leader of the International Justice Mission which works to free children from prostitution in Rwanda.

Stuck at the visitors center.  We're traveling with jess but we're staying safe and missing the adventure.

We can see a life of joy, and enjoy the glory of God.  We just won't go, the visitors center looks so much more safe and appealing.

How do we, as leaders, help get our people out of the visitors center?

We must prepare our minds for action.

We need clarity about where Jesus is headed.  Jesus is not headed to the visitors center.

Clarity about the nature of the world in which Jesus is heading.  It's a world of rock and ice, a world of short breaths because it's a struggle with a world of hurt and human need in the world.

What's God's plan for making things good in his ways?

It turns out that we're the plan.  And he doesn't have another backup plan.

Injustice is about the abuse of power to take from people those things god has intended for them.

Catalyst: Marcus Buckingham

In all great teams they all have a great manager running them.

Companies will say that their culture make them strong.  That's untrue, organizations don't have one culture.  They have as many different cultures as they have managers in relation to the day to day activity of the company.

How long you stay with a company and how long you're there results massively with the person you report too.

If you lined up all managers against the wall you'll see that they all have the same approach to getting the best out of people.

The job of  manager of people is to turn one person's talent into performance. Your job is to reach people and speed up the talent of the person and the goals of the team.

Good manager's aren't soft on you.  They are often harder on you than you are on yourself.  They show you what excellence is.  They should be coaching you, balancing you, figuring out how to get your talent into performance, even if it works the person out of the position they are in.

Good manager's don't do it for the success of the company.  The best managers in the world have a natural ability to see very small increments of growth and get a kick out of it.  They naturally want to see their people grow.

You need to see people not as a means to a performance end (what can you get done) but instead look at people as an end unto themselves.

Great managers find out what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.  Average managers generalize.  "Oh, I know accountants, they're all shy".

You need to have the perception to find out what's unique about each person.  Then spend 80% of your time working with the person and getting them to push and work to their strengths.  Put them in positions that work their strengths.

We need to become strength focused and not focus on weaknesses.  We focus on weakness and take strengths for granted.  We focus on divorce instead of marriage.  If you study bad and invert it you get not bad instead of good.

We think building strengths will be less successful than fixing weaknesses.  Most of us bet our success, satisfaction and career on fixing what we aren't.

Ask yourself, what percentage of your typical workday do you spend working to your strengths?  In the U.S. 14%, U.K. 9% work to their strengths for most of the day.

Myths we've been indoctrinated to believe are true.

Myth 1: As you grow your personality changes.

As we grow our values, circumstances and achievements change. 

Truth 1: As you grow you don't change your personality into someone else's, as you grow you become more and more the person you are.

If I gave you a personality test every year until you die, it may change by .6% or .7% but will stay the same.

Myth 2: You'll grow the most in your weakest areas (that's why we call them areas of development). 

When a child comes home with an A in English and an F in Algebra, which area needs the most focus?  Parents say it's Algebra, but you should invest most time in the A.  You need to recognize the F but should spend most time on the A.

Truth 2: The areas where we will grow the most are in our areas of greatest strength.

Myth 3: The myth that what the team needs for you to do is chip in and fix the need.

Truth 3: What the team needs is for you to identify your strength and offer them most of the time.

The best teams aren't made up of the same people doing everything equally well. 

A team becomes well rounded precisely because everyone in it isn't.

I hate confrontation in life.  For me to be confrontational is not the best way to spend my time.  the best way is to find someone who is good at handling confrontation and having them deal with it.

It's not going to be easy to stay on your strength path for the rest of your life.  People will try to stray you off it, by offering you more promotions etc outside your area. 

There will be times when you'll get an opportunity which plays to your strength but you think your strengths could never fill the opportunity.  you need to seize those opportunities.

Catalyst: Andy Stanley

One of the unavoidable consequences of leadership is that you get attention.  Once you say "follow me" you get an inordinate amount of attention.  The harder you try to come off the pedestal the more you're on it because people love to follow leaders who don't want to be on a pedestal.

At the end of the day, regardless of how we got there, it is the most high god that is sovereign over the kingdom of men, and he gives them to whoever he wishes.

It's real easy for a little bit of attention to take us off center. 

We're all set-up and prone for failure when we forget that the sovereign god is ruler of men, and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men (Daniel 4:17)

All leadership is a stewardship.  It is given to people and it is taken away.  It is temporary and all leaders are accountable.

Do you believe that all of God's ways are just?  It's hard because I want to view god through my own lens of temporal understanding.


If it's true that god has placed you where you are and gifted you with leadership, then you have to get up every morning and lead with all the diligence you can find.

The sovereign god of leadership has put you where you are, and you just need to relax.

When you begin thinking "If I don't it won't" or "If I do it will" then it begins to become all about me.


If this is true, who do you need to be afraid of?  If god has gifted you and given you this place, then who should you fear?

The church leadership are not the people who put you in your position as a pastor.  I'm not working for men, I'm accountable to men, I'm going to be responsible to men, but God has placed me here.


Of all the leaders in the world, those of us who are Christians should have the hallmark of humility.  Why aren't pastors, Christian leaders known as the most humble people others have met?

Leadership is a stewardship.  There is not one speck of room for arrogance in leadership of the church.

Every day, within the context of your time with God, you pray "you are the sovereign of men and you give it to whoever you want to.  Today I want to lead with all my heart and not fear any man.  At the end of the day I want to be the most humble man I can be."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Catalyst: Day 1 Thoughts

I have two requirements for a conference. Perhaps this comes from mainly attending technology based events for working at a technological firm. There are the two things that really help me enjoy a conference.

  • Wi-Fi access (Free broadband)
  • Power outlets (I’m relegated to the back row so I can find a plug for every other session to make sure my laptop doesn’t die in the middle of a talk)

Yeah, these may be minor, but they struck me as a serious lack of the facilities.

Of course, this doesn’t actually reflect directly on the Catalyst conference itself. In general it has been good, though not necessarily great. While the materials are really visual and interesting, they are not functional at all. We’ve been flipping back and forth between pages have just had a hard time really identifying the information we need (what room a speaker is in and what the person is talking about).

I have also discovered another pet peeve of mine. When a worship service is going on the slides for the words should not change font from song to song, the background should not interfere with reading the words and, most important (probably because Rob has drilled it in my head) the words the congregation should sing should be up on the wall before we have to sing them, not after we’ve already started the verse.

The last two speakers really were great and have gotten me to look at how I’ve been a part of youth ministry and where I can grow as I move through any leadership position. It’s time for me to begin creating a community centered around building leaders.

In the end, I don’t go to a conference for the organization or really even for the speakers. You can hear them on CD or DVD afterward for far cheaper.

You go to a conference to get away from life for a while and really connect with those around you. So far, that has been great. We’ve bonded around a plane flight where we couldn’t see outside the plane (unless you could the 2 inches between the window and the engine). We’ve discussed the great artists (Bon Jovi & Genesis of course). Then there was a new college grad we met on the plane (stinks I never got her name) who’s heading back to Texas to begin looking for a job as an elementary school teacher. I just know God is going to work some amazing acts through this woman.

I’m really excited to see God work through the conference and the community we’ll be finding in each of us. It’ll be fun.



Catalyst: The Church Experiment

Rick McKinley and Chris Shey presented the evening session on The Church Experiment.  Together they opened with some great humor and kept the entire group lively, not a small feat for a session that begins at 7:30pm.  The key points I grabbed from them was:

What does it look like for the church to move from a place that tries to be relevant to culture to being and institution/organization that is influencing, creating and changing culture?

Rather than looking at culture and trying to be relevant, what does it take to redeem and shape culture?

If you take the incarnation out of Christianity, it's just a set of religious dogma.

As a pastor you want to be liked.  We want to be thought well of and want to have said that he has a nice church.  That doesn't change culture...  It's like being the most popular kid in the chess club.

In order to be incarnational, need to ask how I can lead a change in our culture.

Restoring Eden - Group that travels to Christian colleges and tries to talk about using our natural resources as part of our covenant with Noah and part of the beauty of creation.

How do we commute to church, how do we do coffee, how do we recognize the cosmos? 

The hope for the church in the West is in the East, it's when we humble ourselves and listen to the people of the East.

How do we deal with tribalism as a church and how do we make disciples in Rwanda after the genocide?  Do I act as a tribesman or a Christian?  You can't talk about repentance or forgiveness to your own tribes, because then you become a traitor, need to talk about revenge and get justice.  You can't talk about justice without forgiveness.

This isn't church, it's the doorway.  If you're not here to begin serving then you don't understand what it means to be a part of the church.

How do you move from a ministry mindset and culture that's attractional and begin to see an incarnational way of ministry?

Chris: It's really hard.  Many churches were started by asking "what do people want?" but the primary threat to Christianity is consumerism, and people are attracted to the church but not the gospel.  People got what they wanted but now they want something else.  We end up killing ourselves but not getting people to this place.

I say simply that "I do not give a damn about your felt needs."  I do care about your real needs.  Your real needs are to love your god and to love your neighbor.

Need to say, what if we forego spending $150, 000 on a youth blowout and instead divert our resources to Rwanda.  People intuitively say yes, that's right, but then struggle when they don't have the event.

Rick: The question supposes something that we don't really want, which is the unattractive church.  The answer isn't to go "Let's make this a really lame service and see if anybody comes" instead what do you do when people show up?  Do you spend your resources meeting felt needs, or do you get people to begin leading a missional life or asking them to leave.

It's to move people and make them disciples.

What are the most vital aspects about starting a church in today's culture?  Starting with incarnation churches, how do you do that effectively?

Chris: When you get people there it's what you do with the people.  Just having my family in the living room with another family, there needs to be a sense of us coming together.  But what are we coming together for?

Do we believe the Gospel says things about celestine planning?  If so we need to live that.

Rick: you want to go through gifts assessments.  There's a 60% - 80% failure rate for church plants.  You need to be assessed and committed to that sort of thing.  Then ask "do I live this way, do the people around me live this way"?  It's a value shift, it's not about a mission statement on paper, it's about a person going around saying I know the mission and vision of the church because I've felt it.

I've realized that I can't change the heart of the people in the church and I can't change my own heart.  It becomes a season of repentance asking God to change our own hearts.

What's the biggest thin you guys want to say to the evangelical church?

Chris: The reason Christianity is broken is that we're working on the facts of Christianity, instead of what it means to be Christian. Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts book by Sam Weinberg.  Talks about the uselessness of learning the facts. Our minds are made for narrative, and without narrative there's nothing to make them stick.

We should tell the biblical narrative and our narrative.  Find our voice in that way.

Rick: Why are we so arrogant to the world and our culture?  Why don't we hold our orthodoxy saying we don't have it all figured out?

What are some practical things that the church can do to be sensitive to the world and our environment while we have a dependency to fossil fuels.

Peter: This begins by recognizing that we have an addiction and a problem.  It's not going to be solved by drilling in every place that's sacred.  We're willing to trade the sacred for the propane.

I was just in Pikesvile, MN and the ton was dead but the hotel was filled because a windmill company was hiring people.

People are beginning to get it.  WalMart, Exxon, BP are looking at ways to find energy independence.  Set aside for god instead.

Ty Robinson book - Saving God's Green Earth.

How does Sunday morning come into being missional?  What's the most important part of Sunday morning.

Chris: I don't think its Sunday morning.  It's about gathering together.  There's a kind of worship, beauty and majesty gathering together. 

Whatever the metronome is set at, slow it down a few notches.  Give people more time for silence and prayer.

Rick: We try to make our identity about focusing on the world and not ourselves.  We expose people to ministry and tell the stories, but we gather to worship to meet with god and gather together and do the sacraments.

Chris: I don't know how you don't do the sacraments every week.  As often as we can we invite people to the table.

How can the church shape culture when we're in the minority status?

Rick: Why are we the minority status?  When we become part of the culture then our status doesn't matter.

Chris: We're only the minority in the West.

Rick: I think we want to be Jesus.  We want to pay attention to him.  I wouldn't call Jesus to save Western civilization.  If America goes away then I've still got some culture to go to.  I'm trying to redeem culture.

Erick Celeste article - Save the Ten, Lost the Eleven.  He's saying Christianity is a bunch of bonk, but really he doesn't get Christianity.

A lost of people we believe to be Christian and part of the Christian culture really don't get Christianity.

What's the difference between shepherding a flock and CEO of a company?

Chris: I don't want to do this necessarily.  Gods puts you in a place and says love these people.  God has put these people under your care, so you herd with them, suffer with them when they suffer and celebrate with them when they celebrate.  A system or organization of Christianity doesn't seem to work.  But a family seems to work intuitively.

Rick: I would love to be a CEO of a company if I hadn't gotten saved.  I've got the old man who wants to run the church.  But I have God's voice that makes me recognize that the crazy lady in the church matters.

Brokenness.  You have to know pain, because everyone else's life is going not hell and is hurt and broken.  When we pretend that's not true we create a false gospel and they'll wake up and walk away.  We need to let them know that we understand life sucks sometimes.

After tragedy couples come to our church.  Which is odd because why would you not stay at your old church?  People don't want to hear that God knows and has a plan, the want people why just says "that sucks"

What is your approach to the apologetics?

Chris: The kind of apologetics I'd like to do on a campus is to bring mangos on the campus and have them taste mango.  Then ask them how they can't believe in Jesus.  The logos is the core of Christian religion.  Chase after wisdom and others will chase after you.  The beauty of that wisdom is the logos.

Rick: It's a continued posture.  The question about the gospel is "does life work", "can life work".  You're always talking through an apologetic lens, but you're not fighting the value about evolution or whether it was six days.  People have no trouble holding opposing propositions in place, but at the end of the day it's about what works.


Rick: culture is the air your breathe, you don't get to get out of culture.

Does scripture tell me to steward the earth?  Yeah.

Does it tell me to worship the earth? No

Does it tell me the tree has the same value as me as a human?  No

There's God, the others then the earth.  But to advocate them we stand side by side with environmentalists for different reasons.

Peter: Also a disconnect that nature is something outside of humanity?  We're a part of nature, we're mammals.

Let's assume I'm a youth pastor of a traditional church and I love these new ideas.  What the hell do I do now?

Chris: We need to come to a point where we stop preaching Andy Stanley's sermons and talk about the real you.  Find your voice and begin articulating your story.

We need pastors and youth ministers to find their voice and tell the truth with their own stories.  Get around people who will tell you "I don't believe you" and learn from that feedback.  We'll become a country of stories

Rick: Don't do it because you're angry.  Do it because you're living it, and take kids along with you to go live it.

There may come a time that you realize going down this road will harm the church, but then it's probably time to leave.

At what point do you go from welcoming new people to asking them to make the next step?

Rick: We hold the truth side really strongly.  We have homosexuals at our church that know we don't believe it's ok, but while they know that truth side they also know the compassion side that walks with them.

This all happens in a culture that says "let's see how this looks like to walk it out".  I don't know your problems or you life, but let's see what the scripture says and try to grow out of that broken place.

We're creating a context where true transformation can take place.  Where's it safe to be honest.  People can come in and if they're looking from the outside they think we're whacked out for hanging all these messed up types of people.

Chris: In journeying into community we've found that when we start a small group every person in the group gets to share their life story.  They share a meal and everyone shares their story.  Without exception, people get to a part of their story that is really hard, ad when they get to that part of the story the people in that room gets closer.  Says they are there for the person, but also thanks them because they are broken the same way that I'm broken.  I hope our churches can catch that.

Rick: We have this premarital class and people shares their stories.  One couple said they met over drug deals and they had to get married so see each other once one went to jail.  We're not Christians but we need to be married to see each-other.  So what do you say if you're sitting at that table?

Catalyst: Nurturing A Leadership Culture

The second lab I made it to today was Tim Elmore speaking about creating a culture of leadership. There was actually a middle lab but I had serious contact problems since my flight and spent that session over at the optometrist and Kroger’s to get some relief. I was so looking forward to hearing Craig Groeschel since I’ve come to love his book Chazown (and I’m still only halfway through it).

In any case, here are the key points I got from Tim. His notes are at growingleaders.com in case mine aren’t good enough.

  • How do you build an environment that naturally causes leadership to grow?
  • Most employees aren’t even aware that there’s a culture in their organization. They can join up and say they do or don’t like this place, but can’t say why. It’s because of culture.
  • Programmatic changes
    • Most churches make programmatic changes from the outside in. We want to modify behavior so we add a new program. Not necessarily modifying the heart, and may be artificial.
    • Finding enough leaders to fill spots
    • Programs come and go.
  • Organic changes
    • Authentic changes in the relationship and fiber of your environment. Hard changes from within that actually change the way people think and act from the inside out.
    • Build an environment where all people are leaders in different areas. Where all plants in the garden are leaders.
    • Not an overnight change
  • Are you really a leadership cult or a leadership culture?
    • A cult is a rudimentary group of followers devoted to a person whose organization and authority seem to fade when that person that created it departs.
    • A culture is an environment where people chare a common language, values, qualities and behaviors and set them apart from others and which grows of itself.
      • Kenyans don’t need to be told how to act like a Kenyan. Kenyans naturally grow Kenyans.
  • Ingredients of a Culture
    • Common Values - Not just posted on a wall but they live them out.
    • Common Language
    • Common Qualities
    • Common Customs and Behaviors
  • A leadership culture emerges when someone champions the cause of leadership and works a plan to create that environment.
  • Programs usually start very big and shrink to something small.  Movements start small (like 12 disciples) and grow very, very large.
  • Movements that lasted more than one generation had the following ingredients.
    1. Central Man or Woman (God brings up one individual, not a committee or large group) in the beginning catches a vision
    2. Compelling Mission - Central statement that says what we're about
    3. Creative Model - See a tangible example of how it's been done and how it should be done
    4. Catalytic Meeting - Leader brings people together from one area
    5. Critical Mass - Not everyone buys in, but a percentage does.  Becomes the body of people that say they want to do something about this (often doesn't take very many, just a few with reckless abandon)
    6. Community Materials - Original leader or others commits the words of this mission, vision and leadership to print.  Leader realizes they'll be gone someday and want to keep the ideas going forward after the original leader is gone
    7. Contagious Movement
  • People need events and process in their life
  • Event
    1. Encourages decisions
      • At a one day conference or event people make decisions
    2. Motivates people
    3. Calendar issue
    4. Usually about a big group
    5. Challenges people
    6. Becomes a catalyst for change
    7. Easy
  • Process
    1. Encourages development
      • Cannot develop the event without process
    2. Matures people
      • Mature in the weeks and months following the event if you apply the lessons learned from the event
    3. Consistency issue
    4. Usually about a small group
    5. Changes people
    6. Becomes a culture
      • Building leadership culture means I do process really well.
    7. Difficult
  • Life change happens in small groups. "There is no life change without life exchange."
  • An event will spike growth.  after the event the interest will drop, but with process it won't drop back to the level where you began
  • Youth camps are an event.  Two days devoted to the change and the last four devoted to living the process once you get home
  • Never again plan an event for the church until a process has been developed to go with it
  • In New York in the early 90's fixing all the windows changed the culture of the city.  A tiny change can make a huge change in the culture
  • We had a Sunday School of 60 students.  I knew I could preach some of them in, but instead began changing the culture.  We began building leaders and grew from 60 to 600.  I don't think I preached any better, but at least one out of every 10 of our people were in a position of leadership and giving responsibility of a leader.
  • When you first get started there's no momentum.  Once you get going, you're not as good a leader as people think you are.
  • A Leadership culture is an environment of shared values and behaviors that contagiously affect people to think and act like authentic leaders.  It's an environment that gets people to think like people.
  • Plan to implement a leadership culture
    1. Criteria
      • Sit with a key group of influencers and ask what criteria God wants us to go after
      • What's the criteria of the qualities of people you're going to look for of the people to get in the movement.  (Jesus didn't ask anyone he ants to come come to be disciples.  He had a definite criteria)
      • Example: GIFTS - Gifted people (in front of groups, organizing, planning, strategizing, connecting with people, something makes them influential), Influential (have influence in a circle), Fruitful (want to see them already bearing fruit, even if having a team to sweep floor), Trustworthy (can't train for integrity), Serving (already serving in some capacity, even if it's a minor thing, don't want someone who's just "praying for a mentor to come along")
    2. Catalyst
      • come up with some catalytic event
      • Example: Had two catalytic events every year where we'd talk about and wrestle with the idea that god wants us to raise up leader.
      • Not everyone is a leader as someone who has a position.  But the following definition, "Leadership is simply using my influence for a god given cause"; everyone has this.
      • We have the capacity as human beings to lead a group.
    3. Communities
      • Had event now have critical mass.  Step up and say "Now many of you really identified with principles this weekend.  If you really want to continue on this journey sign-up and we'll match you in a group to continue to build on this journey
      • Clusters of people that are going to do the process
    4. Challenge
      • Every community should be given a real problem to solve in he church or in the community.  Over the next 6 months have them work together to solve that problem.
      • Leaders solve problems
    5. Coaches
      • Ideally every one of the communities aught to be led or facilitated by a coach.
      • The coach does not need to be an expert, just needs to be a facilitator to make sure the group does not get of topic.  Keeps them moving forward even if they're only one step ahead of the group
    6. Consultants
      • On the way the problem may seem large even the coach doesn't have answers.  Bring in a consultant from the community outside the church one time to get some expertise on that area.
    7. Curriculum
      • Found that it was helpful to give the groups some sort of guide to go through finding leadership principles that helped them keep on track.
      • Becomes a discussion point in addition to the problem
    8. Champion
      • Someone will have to be the champion for the process.
  • Habitudes - How to change culture
    1. the Joshua Problem
      • The problem is that Joshua never found someone to pour into and never trained another Joshua.  This lead to the worst period of history for Israel
      • Can't neglect the idea of apprenticing
      • Must have apprentices for every leader you have in church
    2. Critical Mass
      • Who are you going to implode on in a small group before you're going to explode on the whole congregation
      • Get some key influencers, get the small community so that the buzz begins in them and explodes in the community.  then make an announcement so it sticks
    3. Hollywood Effect
      • Assume the character.  Act on the character you want to be like
      • When an organization wants to change and you post the cultures on the wall it takes at least 10 years for the change to happen
      • If the key influencers simply act on the key values (even if it feels like they're acting) the effects can be seen within three years
    4. Family Virus
      • to build culture need to have people work in teams (close proximity) and have them fit the culture (Similarity)
  • Charles Simeon's Leadership Culture
    • Mentor said if you want to change the culture of an organization you need to stay within the organization.
    • Circles
      1. Chapel - outer circle
        1. Said after talk, now some of you resonated what I had to say, if so meet me Tuesday for conversation
      2. Conversation Groups
        1. Take it deeper and hand pick the ones who he saw as potential leaders.  Invited to supper club Sunday nights to go deeper
      3. Supper clubs
        1. amounted to about 15.  Challenged about leading and making a difference.
        2. Made a group of 3 or 4 that were seniors and he called his inner circle.  Worked as vision casters and as a movement maker within the church.
    • Became a fundraiser to get the money to get the 3 or 4 leaders he wanted to be leaders within the church instead of letting the rich of the church decide
    • Not a great speaker and had a kind of crusty personality.  But changed the culture of the Anglican church

Catalyst: Innovation

Margaret Feinberg discussed keeping the church relevant and innovative to spread God's message.

  • “When I try something a little bit innovative often it doesn’t turn out like I expected”
  • “As followers of Jesus we’re called to step out of our ruts and be innovators”
  • We flavor and illuminate as followers of Jesus
  • Passion + Calling = Innovation
  • Passion
    • Passion keeps your light in orbit around something
    • Passion is more a notion or an equaling. It’s something you find yourself doing over and over again. For others it’s less clear and you may have no idea what you want to do with your life. For those people listen to your friends. When you talk about your passion you light up, those around you can help identify those things.
  • Calling
    • We should have a calling that is heavenward but secondarily is to the people around us
  • Innovation
    • Innovation is not the same as being inventive
    • Innovation is a place of prayer
  • Our passion and our calling brings us to a point where we really don’t know what to do with it and we must turn to Jesus
  • Innovation is a place of relationship
  • If you’re going to be innovative you can’t do it alone
  • Who are we seeking as mentors of the previous generation so that we’re not learning the same thing over and over again?
  • Who are we seeking of the next generation to pass the baton to
  • Innovation is a place of personal and spiritual growth
  • Jay, a church planter, asks new people one question, “What do you love about Jesus?
  • Innovation is something that can’t be measured. You never know how it’s going to be spread.
  • How do you live the innovative life?
  • You must embrace it
  • Don’t just look at the new stuff and say “I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work”
  • It’s the nature of people to be inventive. Everyone feels like they have something inside that they want to invest. The world moves forward because we are innovators… – Don Kelly - Former patent office chairman
  • Demonstrate
    • Need to actually live your passions for others to see it
    • Dust off your passions Put them into practice
    • Even if following your passion doesn’t work out the way you expect, living your passion encourages those watching you to innovate and try new things as well
  • Mentor
    • Diving into your passion and living the innovative life, mentor others. Encourage them that nothing is more important than loving god and loving others.
    • Even things that are innovative and you’re passionate about should be held back and put on the back burner to allow you to spend time on those things that are important, like God, family and loving others.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I Smell Like Sour Milk

You know it's a good party when you can walk away and say "I small like sour milk".  Ok, not everyone says that, but in this case, it's very true.

I just went to my final youth group meeting of 2006.  This was an incredibly fun and immensely moving night for me. 

The fun came in the form of some incredible games (all of which people threw things at my face) or the Jell-O pie eating contest with whipped cream (which I won, woo hoo) though I now have a face with old whipped cream which makes me smell like sour milk. 

Then there were the gifts.  I got a big poster with pictures and notes from everyone.  Tegan and Taylor went way beyond what I expected and I'm still trying to get my mind around a gift that took so much time and love.  The stories brought me to tears, I can't believe the number of lives God has allowed me to touch.  Then there is my new Peter Pan hat from Christine, Amy and Kim and my old shirt with signatures all over it.  Also the sheer amount that Peter, Mary and Martha (along with help from many teens including the Hansbergers and some I don't even know about) put into the evening just awes me.

Last were the stories.  Stories of how I've touched lives and how those people have changed me.  There were so many stories, serious, long hugs and sheer love that it's moved me more that I can ever put into words.

I keep wondering what God has in store for me.  Right now He's given me some really great people to lean on and the realization that I need to really rely on the support of those around me.  I've got to think that youth will always be a part of my life; these guys have moved me so much.

Now that this evening has finished and I'm really off of youth group for the next few months, it's time for me to reflect on them and on God's call for me.  I'll go into those details another day.

Tonight I am going to enjoy heading off to bed with the vivid memories of the night as I smell my face covered in sour milk.


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