Can I get some love from Africa?
I put this little tool at the bottom right of my sidebar.
It's been tracking for about 12 days or so. It basically marks off where my guests are coming from. The more guests from one city, the bigger the 'cluster'. Looks like I'm loved in Texas and much of the East Coast. I got some love in Cali on up to Seattle. I even have tons of love from the Mid-West (Shouts out to my peeps in the 'Lou!) :) Europe seems to like what I have to say
Anyway... I like setting goals. I'd like to see some dots pop up from Africa.
Heck, It looks like someone from China smuggled an internet connection to the U.S.A. and checks out the page (Yo Hu Jintao, Holla at ya boy)
So that's my goal. to get some props from my peeps in Africa. I'm lookin to see someone from Nairobi pop on. I'll keep my eye out.
We'll grow this church one way or another :)
I'm excited for our friends, Lyle and Annie. They just had their son Joshua this morning at 3:01a.m. Kristy and I went to visit them today.
Everything is great and all are well. When Lyle called this morning at around 5am he said "Tally, I don't think I'll be at church tomorrow" I said "I'll slap you upside the head and send you home if I see you tomorrow!" They are a great couple and we're glad to call them friends.
I didn't have a horse in this year's Superbowl but this video kinda made me a little more open to cheering for the Steelers... Check it out.
Forget C.S. Lewis or any wardrobe... my son just demonstrated church planting to me in a nutshell.
He's on the floor doing 'tummy time'. He hasn't learned how to use his knees and legs just yet to get around the blanket. He's learned that he can turn and roll pretty well to move around but that only gets him horizontally unless he twists and changes direction.
Anyway Caleb is trying to get to his little lawn mower toy. It has things that spin and smile at him.
I sat him in front of it where he had it in reach (Vision of what could be for the church planter). He then rolled on his own (starting the church). As he tried to get back to the toy (the vision) he encountered problems. He realized that he couldn't do exactly what he WANTED to do (lack of funds, talent, etc.). Caleb however continued to strive. He worked with what he had.
I could have jumped in and moved him. I didn't. I watched him struggle. (God does the same for us sometimes) It's called acting out our Faith. Anyway... As he got close to the toy I saw in his face the sense of accomplishment... but he was only touching the toy... he couldn't completely play with it (We have to take victories that get us close... not just when it's 'all good'.)
Anyway... Caleb will one day be able to use his knees, then his legs... then he'll be pushing the lawn mower b/c it grows with him. One day he'll even be able to help daddy with the mower... then when he's old enough and mature enough, I'll have him push mow... one day he'll get the key to a riding mower. Then from there he'll learn about driving until he gets his license....
The point for me is that Caleb reminded me that just like a baby... church plants won't usually be able to do all they want to do. In fact, the effort to get to a 'baseline' level is going to be much harder than an established church. The thing about my son that excited me was his determination. For whatever reason Caleb doesn't cry much. If he cries I know something is really wrong. He doesn't just cry for the heck of it. He's either hungry, tired or needs a change. (change of scenery or change of diaper).
Caleb reminded me of all of us who plant churches. We have to know how to act on our faith, struggle hard until we get our legs... cry out only when we really need help and celebrate the smaller accomplishments. We do all of this because our eyes of faith see that one day this will be a humorous past and we'll be struggling with other obstacles to overcome.
I was at a Pastors invite deal in Richmond a few months ago with Ed Young Jr. About 50 pastors sat with him over lunch. It was basically to talk a little about Fellowship Connection but what I loved was they never pushed it at all. We all knew... yet no one said anything. It was like "Hi, I'm Ed... lets talk" Anyway... Ed said something during that meeting that stuck. He said "I used to struggle with a couple thousand dollar purchase.... and it felt the same as right now when our church is looking at buying a new building downtown Dallas for several million." He continued "Guys... the feelings don't change... just the zeros on the end do."
That was a GREAT reminder. I've heard it before but to hear it from him made it stick for whatever reason. He's been there. He's done that. He's not sugar coating anything. And you know what? That's a transferable principle. If I as a leader can't learn how to deal with the thousand dollar struggles... how can I deal with the pressure of million dollar problems in the future?
So to those of you in ministry who feel like you can't move your legs yet... it's okay. You'll get there. Don't give up... keep moving forward. One more thing... One thing that Caleb did was pull on the blanket itself. He changed his environment b/c the environment didn't work in his favor. The change gave him an advantage. Caleb used what he had and he thought outside of the box to move forward. I think that's a lesson most planters don't learn and therefore they fail. They think like their professors (usually failed pastors) taught them. They hang around traditional established Pastors who've never planted... they 'do the right thing' in the way of methods and when they hit the brick walls they figure "I'm not cut out for this" and quit.
Okay, I'm done... just some thoughts I had watching my son :) Have a great weekend!
Funny but true...
Todd Rhodes over at MMI has an interesting post on a "scent-free" Worship service at Bethleham Baptist Church- home of Dr. John Piper.... hahaa....
sorry...this just tickles my funny bone for some reason...
I enjoy reading Dr. Piper... but I don't know about this one.
I read Mark Batterson's blog's account of the C3 Conference at Fellowship Church in Dallas.
Session 1 is such a huge encouragement to me. This speaks volumes to all that I went through just a few months ago. You should check it out.... Mark is doing a great job of giving the highlights. I've been to C3 a few times and I'm sure it's all good... but Mark is doing a good job reporting what God is sharing through these men.
Today I also spent the day at our state convention's Church Planter Meeting. It was very refreshing from my point to be able to report how genuinely excited I am about where Focal Point is today. I haven't seen most of these guys since September or October so there has been a ton happen. As I caught up with several guys it was good to be able to report all that God has brought me through and taught me.... not to mention how pumped I am about the church right now.
ONE BIG CHALLENGE from today was EVANGELISM. Today they did a great job by inviting some recent college grads from a church called Aletheia... The church is several hundred and is based on the campus of James Madison University. The Pastor is named Dave Proffit. He first gave a VERY GOOD but all to quick overview of the use of apologetics in evangelism. He then brought up two young women who are on the team at Aletheia. They walked through a sample situation of evangelism. What shattered my heart and then mended it all in one was when I heard the young lady who was leading the conversation say "Yeah... I accepted Christ as my Savior 2.5 years ago and I thought that God was all about good works and stuff..."
I was hammered because:
1. Here she was giving a GREAT presentation of the gospel
2. She was speaking in the front of a room of maybe 100 or more Pastors (brave)
3. She has totally been equipped to share Jesus in her context and language....
This is a testament to the church and to her as a saved child of God. The evangelism and discipleship at Aletheia must be fantastic. I was so pumped that I went and invited their group to come to Focal Point. They have a great band so I'm going to book them to come and lead us in worship and present some of this evangelism stuff with our people.
Dave (the pastor) is moving to Richmond this week to begin another campus of their church. It's mainly a college-aged church but they are doing and AMAZING work. I'm looking forward to getting to know them more. What's cool is that Dave's son Aaron will be staying behind at JMU to lead the original campus. Talk about reproduction! Amazing!
That entire church started when Aaron came to JMU to take classes... so the family moved out to start the church on his campus... such a great story.
Anyway-- I'm encouraged. I'm looking forward to all that God will do. I'm pumped about C3's message today as it confirms so much that's been on my heart and now I look forward to all God will do in us and through us!
Okay, so I admit it... my desktop has about 35 different icons on it. I have a folder labeled "ORGANIZE"... guess what one folder within that "organize" folder is.... Yeah... it's called "Newest to clean up".
Needless to say, I (from time to time-about once a month) have to go through and clean out my desktop as if it were my wallet (I tend to store receipts in my wallet for about a month)... or like my bedroom in middle school (I'm happy to say that I've grown out of the messy house habit)
So anyway, I came across a great tool via the IT guy at Granger Community Church, Jason Powell. The tool is a desktop note-taker called EverNote. Here is the link: Link
I'm not smart enough to give you the explanation it deserves but here is a teaser. It stores a running list of notes. Notes from sites you like, notes like a to-do list, it will even take parts of a document and store the part and a link back to the document (no matter where you save it).
This brings me back to why my desktop looks like WWIII took place on my screen. I tend to keep files open if I think "I'll need to come back to that soon." Although I have layers of folders and I have a home network... I still don't' want to 'forget' about some things. I'm now hoping that this little FREE tool will be able to calm me in my moments of weakness.
I'll be okay, I promise.
Toss one up for us
If you have a moment, I'd love for you to toss up a prayer for a guy named Calvin in our church.
Calvin has been my right hand for the last 6 months. Last January he and his family started leading the church in worship. They've been a God-send for us thus far. Ultimately I see Calvin as a church Administrator for us. His background is in Computer IT. He's ridiculously qualified but in July he was laid off from his job. His entire family has had terrific life-change and spiritual growth at Focal Point and it looked as though they'd be forced to relocate. Well I felt a prompting to challenge Calvin and 'Go for the Ask'. So one afternoon over lunch I challenged Calvin. I said "Calvin... All your life you've gone after success.... Why don't you consider giving the rest of your life to the pursuit of significance."
I didn't know if he'd laugh at me or punch me but he did neither. He listened and I continued "Calvin, I want you to consider being a missionary with our church for at least a year." He continued to listen as I shared with him the fact that I felt like we were gaining ground and I want to leverage our relationship to continue to improve him as a leader and his family... I also wanted him to experience the joy that comes from successful sacrifice.
We parted with Calvin agreeing to pray about it. He came back a few weeks later and said "Okay, I'm in." His family has been here ever since. That's the great part. The down side has been that at his level in his profession there really aren't many opportunities available to him in our area. He could EASILY go to D.C., Atlanta, Maryland or Charlotte but he's turned down these offers in order to stay here and work with the church.
---The Prayer Request---
Calvin has two opportunities on the table right now. Both are opportunities he'd enjoy.
Please pray that one of these opportunities would come through for him. He's been so faithful and he's completely trusting God... I ask your prayer because this would not only impact him but the health and continued growth of the church. He's someone I'd like to groom into the ministry one day... so I personally want him to be able to say. God's will be done... but I'm going to ask him anyway :)
Also, please pray for closing on his home. Neither of the job opportunities pay what he was making as a VP of Technology for his old firm so he'll downsize to make this happen. He's not hurting (don' worry)... it's just that he wants to better position himself to make this happen at least for this year.
Thanks a ton for your prayers. I appreciate all of you who read and dialogue with me on my journey. I've appreciated blogging for all of the relationships I've formed through this experience. Thanks again for adding value to my life in a very real way.
Recently I've been looking to add a selection of books for our people to purchase at low cost to help in the discipling process. One way we can all help our members is to provide resourses that touch on topics of the faith. Through iPods, dvds or books we can help our people grow in their faith.
I wanted to pass along to you a link I received today. It's from Multnomah Publishers (Andy Stanley's primary publisher). They have a program called "Feeding the Fold" that allows for relatively small ($100-$250) bulk orders. They have great deals on some pretty good material. Whether it's for small groups or leadership or even a book you want the whole church to read, this may be a solution for your ministry.
I'm not getting paid to endorse their product [nor for telling you to attend the Buzz Conference] but I do think this is a solution for the small to medium sized church to get good deals on books without having a full-blown bookstore to maintain.
We're also setting up an account at our local LifeWay Christian Store so we can offer varoius books each weekend. Between these two methods we should be able to offer some good material at reasonable prices for our people.
There was a song out in the days of my youth called "Mr. Personality". The lyrics went "They call you Mr. Personality... You're so ugly!"
I have no real reason for sharing that except that when I thought of the topic for this thread the idea of personality came to mind... then with it the song...
Okay... confession over...
These last few days I've observed my son (now 6 months) glow with personality. He is honestly one of the cutest babies I've ever seen (prejudiced or not) and he has the most captivating smile. Lately he's added to that smile a bit of charm. He's laughing and acting goofy to draw attention. At times he lays and looks upwards as he blows hard with his tongue out making a 'farting' sound as saliva flies all over the place. Once he has your attention he just laughs. Another favorite lately is staring intently at his frog "Baby Tad" and then leaping forward with his mouth wide open as he attempts to bite Tad's eye/ear/hand, etc.
As I've observed him today I couldn't help but to think of the One I've called 'daddy' all of my life. You see, my earthly father bailed on me when I was born. I never had a great relationship with my step-father so I've never had that earthly dad I aim to be for my son. All my life I've read the scripture and truly saw God as my 'dad'. Anyway, I couldn't help but to consider how my heavenly father views me. You see, I thought to myself "Caleb wasn't even around 6 months ago. Now he's doing things that are on his own that bring me joy and smiles. I would not have had these particular smiles without him in my life. His being has affected my being in an amazing way.
I want to live my being to please my father's being. I want my 'Daddy' to smile when he sees me. I'm positive that God has a terrific sense of humor. I know he gets a kick out of me and my goofy behavior. I'm even certain that at the times when I try to bite things I shouldn't eat he laughs and says "Ohh son... you're so funny!"
I wish the world saw that side of my Jesus. I want to show Him to them.
Insights into my mind ahead:
Since our move to the theater we've been improving in various areas.
Most of our people either had not been in church or remember being in small churches. With me being the only person who's worked in anything large, lets just say it's been a long journey to get to quality. For instance: In most of our previous buildings I was questioned "Why do we need parking lot attendants?" After all we didn't have very many cars and the walk from the parking lot to our auditorium wasn't very far. Now in our mall facility it makes complete sense to have this team of people. These types of things have been getting better.
Our First Impressions area has come along way along with our sound and lighting. Preschool is also doing well. Each of these areas has taken time to grow. As we get settled in to our new space, my attention turns toward the next few months and trying to get people through the doors. I'm going to begin working on various advertising forms this week and move our planning along for some upcoming events. We'll have a pretty sweet Easter Egg Hunt that is shaping up to be a great outreach for us in addition to some other things.
Each time we make improvements I sit back and think "But this is where I wanted us to be when we started." And it usually is. Most of our improvements have been slow and over time. Again... we started in a relatively 'churched' area and after the church baby boom. Offering up jeans and coffee wasn't good enough to get people. We've grown much much slower than I'd ever have wanted but we're still here and more focused than ever. I've grown so much these last 2 years. We are definitely in a great position... but 'O how I wish it were faster.
Instead of getting bogged down into what I WANTED to happen... I have to be grateful for the many positives we have as we move forward.
One of the things that has come a long way is our sound.
This week we added in-ear monitors to the mix which (for us) is huge! Not only do we not have to transport the floor monitors any longer but we can also send signals to other parts of the building. We will be sending a feed to the nursery so they can tell how we're doing as well as to the foyer for the same reason.
We've always been short on technical people. Focal Point as yet to have a set of people who 'know' any one of several areas (sound, lighting, computer, etc.) Early on I found myself going from station to station tweaking everything. Recently we've added a guy named Jon who has handled our sound. He answered an ad for musicians (he's a drummer). He's come the last 3 weeks and jumped right in. Jon is taking our sound to another level. He's been huge for us. He's a go-getter who knows what to do. I've truly enjoyed getting to know him and his fiance' Grace. It also doesn't hurt that he's a 24 fan.
Next up: Children.
We've never had a good Children's ministry. We had a good rotation for a while... but never any sustained consistency or program. We currently use 252Basics for our curriculum but this area is one of our weakest areas. Being that we're a church plant, this is terrible! This is definitely an area we must improve as of a year ago!
Anyone have success turning a children's program around? Wanna share your secret? If you say 'terrific volunteers' I'll scream. Just kidding. We have good people but no one who believes Children's ministry is 'their thing'. If you resurrected a children's program... let me know.
Okay... after my post last week about shows I enjoy... many of you may understand if I'm feeling a bit like I lost a good friend. Yesterday I discovered that West Wing was cancelled!
Buzz Update: Mad Babbler!
Yes, the rumors are true... the Mad Babbler himself will be attending the Buzz Conference in D.C. The author of the world famous 'Simply Strategic Church Planting' book will be in the house as the Buzz Conference kicks off.
I heard today from another blog friend named Larry Rising from Shenandoah Valley Community Church... looking forward to seeing ya Larry.
My man Ben is going and so is fellow LU'r Tadd Grandstaff.
With Tadd's recent success of begging, I mean inviting Gary... I've been inspired to put out there the other people I'd like to see at the Buzz.... If you know these people... tap them on the shoulder and invite them to get buzzed with the rest of us... "c'mon... everyone's doing it..."
My top 3 guys to get Buzzed!
My list is in good fun but I am seriously looking forward to the conference and I'm looking forward to all that the team at NCC will bring... It should be good.
This GUY is great.
Guy Kawasaki's Blog. He's great. You'll Like. You're Welcome.
I just jumped off the ledge. I'm officially signed up to attend NCC's Theater Forum that takes place just before the Buzz Conference in Washington, D.C.
I'm really looking forward to attending for many reasons...
- I grew up in Baltimore so the trip will likely give me a reason to visit my fam.
- Mark Batterson inspires me. If you haven't read the history of their church... you should. There were a few times I've wanted to quit planting but I read his story of 19 people and came to my senses. He had it rough... but look at all God's done with and through him because he remained faithful.
- NCC's team do a great job with all they have... NCC doesn't appear to do a ton of high-dollar stuff that makes you freak out... but they have creative things that keeps the juices flowing for the Pastor of average size churches. He's kickin' tail with what he has and is a great steward of all God's given.
- I get to see Ebeneezers
- Ed Young will be there
- I will hopefully see a few friends: This one for sure... and This one for sure
- We just moved into a theater... so I hope to get some inspiration
Mark isn't paying me... but I do encourage you to consider going. This conference will give you much more face time and interaction than some others you'll go to. The cost is unbeatable... and I'll be there...
Hope to catch a buzz with ya.
They will know you by your love
I've been working with a local company this week. I've been building bridges with the owner. He's done the 'Christian' stuff but I don't feel that he's a follower of Christ. So we've been building this relationship... mostly talking about business and entrepreneurship and stuff...
Well, the last couple of times I've been in there he's shared with me his frustration with 'the church' and more specifically some dealings he's having with a local church. Based on his frustration I mentioned to him that he had more patience than I do and he may want to consider sending them to another vendor... the stress and time is not worth this account.
He said "Well, yeah many have been telling me exactly that lately..." He said "When I expressed my concern with this guy the other day he said "Well, at my church I've learned a lot about areas I need to improve and being more aggressive is one of them so that's why I'm being this way."
I about hit the floor!
First off, I personally know the guy and type-A isn't a problem. (no I didn't dog pile on... I just smiled and listened)
Secondly... what a testimony! Having NO CLUE of a guy's relationship with Christ (and to my knowledge making no effort to care)... and then on top of it blaming your attitude and disrespect on a class you took at church without apology? WOW!
Please, I beg you... I beg myself...
REMEMBER... Just because the Gospel MAY offend, this does not give us permission to be offensive!
I get so frustrated when I hear stories like this! You can be firm in a business deal without crossing the line into ignorance! Okay, I'm done.
I'm coaching now. Tonight was the first practice for my team, the Heat! The Heat consist of 12 2nd and 3rd graders. We have 10 guys and 2 gals. They're a good group of kids.
Previously I've coached Middle School baseball and 4-6th grade basketball. This group of 2nd and 3rd graders is a whole different monster :)
I spent most of my college years running an after school program for students 1-5 at what is now called Liberty Christian Academy. I also served as a substitute teacher, camp counselor and one summer was the director for their Summer Care Program. I've had a lot of experience with little ones. Being that for the last 6 years I've worked mostly with teens and adults, it was cool to get back in there with these little bottles of energy.
Some basics I remembered quickly:
1. The age/minute rule: A quick guide to attention span is to use the person's age. Therefore I broke practice up into 7 minute increments (give or take a minute or so) to keep the kids engaged. One parent commented about that afterwards. He noticed the difference it made.
2. Distractions are killer: Try talking to a dozen 7 & 8 year olds for any length of time. First of all it's next to impossible in a gym. Secondly if there is any distraction... you can guarantee that they will NOT hear you.
3. The name is the sweetest sound a person can hear. Being the first day I was stumbling over a few of the kids names. I got about half right away but not everyone. Toss in the mix the fact that I have a pair of twins... yeah.... moving on...
4. The quiet kids need attention too! In groups of kids you're tempted to just try to pay attention to the ones making mistakes or bouncing the ball when they are to listen... or getting the ball out when they are on the sideline... or smacking a friend in the head during a team huddle (all of which happened more than once today). But you have to be sure the quiet kid gets face time too.
5. All of us need encouragement. I'm a very competitive person (surprise I'm a planter)... But over the years I've toned it down a lot! As a teen I would curse myself out if I didn't play up to my ability. I'm serious... I wouldn't fight TOO MUCH with others... Most of the time I was saying my own name followed by an explicative. I found people in my life to encourage me along the way and it helped me to be less tough on myself. I find this ugly trait creeping up in my church life now and then... Although I don't curse anymore... I do get on myself sometimes too much. I'm fortunate to have encouragers in my life to love me back into gear. Kids are the same way. They know if they missed a shot... they know if they lost the ball. But the team can be a great enouragement instead of a negative enforcer. I'm already having our kids clap and cheer for each other. It's vital to them!
6. No one can do it alone. Sure you can do it but it will suck. (Yes I'm a Pastor and I say suck, get over yourself) Anyway, I had the help of a father named Gene (he's not Catholic... he's a dad to a kid on the team, although maybe he is Catholic... I dunno). Gene was a big help. Parking at our Y is terrible (it's the hottest ticket in town in January at 7pm mid-week). I was a minute or two behind. Gene had already gotten the team in a quick drill and all through the practice he did a great job. He's knowledgeable and took charge when I asked him to and he let me lead the practice with no questions... he is a huge asset. Compare this with the coach on the other half of the gym who was by himself. He was forced to run the team like a military camp b/c how else do you control everyone? He was yelling and blowing whistles and all... kinda crazy. I'm glad I had gene.
Hopefully you've already seen the application for churches (especially church planting!)
1. Age/minute rule: I can count on one hand the speakers I want to hear for more than 30/45 minutes at a time.
2. Distractions are Killer: How are our environments. God's word is amazing but if you have an air conditioner blowing constantly, it's a distraction that prevents a person from hearing it. If your projector is on the fritz... forget it... turn it off, don't try to fix it and cause a bigger distraction, etc.
3. The name is the sweetest sound a person can hear. Learn names and smile. Want a trick? If you forgot someone's name but you know that you should know it... have a friend introduce themselves. Your friend will say "Hi, I'm Bob" and the person will say "Ohh, Hi Bob, I'm Greg"... Then you as the super-pastor can follow with "Yeah Bob, Greg is a pretty cool guy... we enjoy seeing him hear." Now you're a stud. So many people don't know how to handle something like that so they ignore Greg for fear of failure. Have no fear... you read Tally's blog!
4. The quiet kids need attention too! I'm a big proponent of this one. I hate squeaky wheels. They say "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." But I say "The squeaky wheel gets replaced." I love people but after one or two conversations I have to focus on the rest of those I'm entrusted to lead. I've always tried to become a big defender for the quiet ones. They get shafted too much.
5. All of us need Encouragement: I'm bad at this if left to myself. For those close to me I think I do a good job but for the acquaintance out there I have to remind myself to do this. The other day I scheduled it as a to-do and followed through on cards and calls. Either Ed or Andy touch on this (I think it's Ed)... Anyway... they say something like "Celebrate the ones who put the ball through the hoop and score the touchdowns"
6. No one can do it alone: Ben and Gary have kicked my tail on this recently. I was great at this when we launched but I've leveled off on asking more people to join me in this church. I've only recently pushed our people on involvement... we're doing well for the core we have... but I always have to keep reminding myself to involve more and more people. You must not do this thing alone! Get assistant coaches. And get people who can outshine you in different areas... Drop your ego and get something done.
So, there you have it. Some observations from a basketball practice.
By the way, at the end of the night tonight one of my kids comes up to me and says
"So, I hear you're a Preacher!"
I smiled big and said "You hear that huh?"
He said "Yeah!"
I said "I don't really call myself a 'Preacher' but yeah I guess that works...."
He said "So what are you?"
I said "I'd say I'm a Pastor."
Without missing a beat he says as if he was 20 years older "Yeah... It's a big difference."
I said "Sure..."
The kid is like 8 years old!
It was so funny!
(I gave the parents a quick bio last week in a parent's meeting. In it I said something like "My wife won't bring Lawsuits [she's a legal secretary] to the games so I don't plan to bring my Pastoral hat either... I just want to encourage your family in any way possible this season and give your kids a great year.")
American Church Singer
Sadly this show seems a lot like open mic night at most churches.
We've been blessed to have Calvin and the band at Focal Point. It's always tough to do what Simon, Paula and Randy do when you're on staff at a church. Some churches would do well to record this show and simply play it back before choir try-outs.
I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!
Okay readers... I notice I've been talking a lot about television shows this week... I promise I'm still a Pastor and have something worthwhile to say. Don't delete me from your bloglines account during premiere week! I'll try to make this my last post about T.V. this week :)
24 is the bomb!
Okay, if you're not watching 24 I feel very sorry for you.
This show is like a never ending action movie. Jack Bauer is the man!
The President is a moron. Edgar is a snitch. Chloe is just Chloe. I feel badly for her at times.
Next week the new chic in Jacks life meets up with the old chic (one of them) and that should be fun.
Look, if you didn't check out the first two nights... I'm sure somewhere out there you can download it... or at least go to the fox site and read the highlights from the first 4 shows to catch up. It's a great show and all of humanity deserves the opportunity to partake of it's brilliance!
- Ice all over the place today (Feels like Indianna)
- Service went well... I'm loving the theater
- Lunch was good
- Tried to nap... didn't work
- Pittsburg won, so did Carolina (I don't care, the Ravens and 49'rs are home)
- For the 24 showing we had some friends over... it was great! I love that show... I felt like a reunion for the first 5 minutes until they blew up all of my old friends. O'well... such is hollywood. I'll have to make new friends. Imagine the cash they cut from the budget (as pointed out by Jon).
- The last few mins of 24 were annoying. The sound jumped in and out like a kid jumping on a trampoline with you laying under it... not pleasant... fortunately it was just about 10 mins and the explosions gave away the action sequence.
- Thanks to the power of a DVR (formerly known as "Tivo") I say formerly b/c I don't use Tivo... I now use a DVR from my cable company. Back to topic... Thanks to the power of that box... I was able to go back and watch the West Wing.... Much drama and deal making... I love it. If I weren't a Pastor, I'd be a politician...
Okay, that was my quick rewind. Toss up a prayer for me... I need wisdom. I want to take a huge risk but I don't want to be stupid either. I seriously need God's guidance (as if I don't ever need Him)
Anyway... I'm honestly going to slow my roll and pray over this one big time. There is a fine line between great faith and great stupidity. One relies totally on God... One uses God as a scapegoat when you want to do something so bad you can taste it. I'd prefer not to taste anything from within myself. I'd like the taste of sweet success b/c I followed God's plan. Thanks for the prayers!
Okay, I don't do drugs but the show 24 comes close!
24 may just be my crack. I love the show.
I was a rookie last season but I became a cult follower (exaggeration) very quickly! The show is a high drama, high energy, relatively violent drug for millions of viewers. Every show ties in to the last so you're always left wanting more. The multi-layered plots keep your mind active (and have something for everyone). My crack returns tomorrow night at 8pm. It's supposed to be a 2 day event so you know where I'll be... If I have any conflicts of interest, no fear... I'll use the DVR.
The other show that provides some stimulation for me is "The West Wing". I'm curious to find out who the new president will be.
Just for the heck of it... some other shows I watch from time to time:
Commander in Chief
American Idol (with my wife)
Some close runners up:
Bones, House, Boston Legal
SO... What is YOUR Crack? Aside from the 'church answers'... what should I check out... what shows will enhance my life and give me my television fix?
The above line is what I'm using to describe my "DiverseCity Project" at Focal Point for 2006.
I'm convinced that God is calling us to be an intentionally multi-cultural church.
Our denomination has traditionally done a terrible job at reaching a diverse audience. Truth be known, how our denomination started was actually over some issues of race that I'd never be proud of.
I've observed that this problem isn't completely unique to us. I have however seen that many Pentecostal churches tend to do a great job at reach across cultural and racial lines. I was asked today by a denominational leader why this was so. He said "Do you think it's primarily theological?" I said "No. I believe it has to do with the expressive nature of many cultures and the typical quiet nature of our churches. We have a history of being cold and silent. People in most cultures couldn't dare keep silent while reflecting on all that God has done for them."
I hope to see our church continue to become more and more diverse. We're already pretty diverse but I'm convinced that this is part of my spiritual genetic make-up and it completely fits the context to which I am called.
So, tell me. THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE IN MULTI-CULTURAL ENVIRONMENTS.... What is your take on why some places 'got it' and some places don't. Do you believe I'm close or way off base. Again, I really only want replies from people who are smokin' what they're sellin'. If you go to a church where 95% of the people look like you, please write your opinion on a napkin and wipe your nose :) Just Kidding.
I'm seriously trying to learn more so if you have friends in the ministry who would be able to help me, please have them contact me or stop by the blog. Thanks!
1 is the Loneliest Number
Okay, so I'm coaching a 2nd-3rd grade basketball team. Today was the parent's meeting. It was cool. During the meeting we gave out jerseys. Because it was in a gym and wasn't as formal, I chose to let the kids pick their own numbers.
After all of the uniforms were taken I knew I had one jersey left because I had not seen one of my kids. To my surprise I looked down and picked up the shirt... guess which number was on the shirt... 1! Yes. O-N-E.
I thought "I guess kids haven't developed an arrogant streak by the age of 8." I know all through middle and high school the most arrogant (and usually the best) player picked the number 1. It's basically a big target on your back. "I'm confident enough in myself that I want to be 1st."
When I was in 9th grade a little saying was going around. After a good play guys would smack their own chest and say "look at me now" as they ran up the court.
I thought about Christ and why many in the world have a problem with him. He is the only one who can be arrogant. Actually it's not arrogance for Him to say "Look at me now". He is the supreme. He is the top. In fact he even wore the number 1. "I am THE way, THE truth and THE life" John 14:6
Most other religions are pluralistic in nature and the world wants Christ to wear a 4 or 5 on his back but he chooses the 1. I'm glad I worship the God who is glad to pick up that jersey.
Christians and Selfians
Warning: Long post ahead
Last night I went to a local traditional church. I withhold the name to protect the innocent.
Honestly I went in with my mind wide open because I was riding such a wave from the morning that I wanted to continue it by worshipping Christ in the evening at another church with people I don't know and who don't know me. For the most part, this did happen. I wanted to share however, some of my other thoughts that apply to all of us... not simply this environment in which I found myself last night.
I walked into their sanctuary which seats about 1,000. I was the only person in there under 55 and by me coming in we had a total of about (I didn't count) 20 people. Then we turned in our hymnals to the number at hand and started to sing.
(not the church I visited)
Can I just tell you... I haven't had to read a hymnal in so long that I honestly got lost and confused. I grew up in a church that did nothing but hymnals. I remember admiring the men in the church who could project their voice and climb the scales... I remember saying "Lord, please give me a voice like that so I can praise you that way." But here I was now a veteran church leader and I couldn't put two lines together. I kept trying to read the song like a book. Each time I just sounded stupid. So I stopped.
About 3 songs in a young woman in her early 30's came in. She was dressed trendy and seemed like she'd easily fit among our crowd. It was strange but for me my observation of the church changed. I started to wonder "If this woman just got in an argument with her family and came to the nearest church to try and clear her mind and hear from God... I wonder what this service will say to her?" Now I don't know anything about her and I didn't ask... but what I observed was hymnals that were hard to read and all of the songs were played in the lowest key on the organ.... They were the most dry songs on the planet supposedly about "joy". One song said: "God put a song of joy in my heart"... I thought "Maybe, but not this one!"
I stopped myself and kept trying to get back on the highway of 'church' when I kept getting cut off by the vibe of the experience. The Pastor then got up to preach and because I know the scripture I was able to understand where he was trying to go but he went around his tail to get to his face.
Think about this:
You stop at a gas station in your neighborhood. As you wait in line you overhear the cashier give directions to a place you know well. As you hear the directions you're thinking "no way... that place is like 3 blocks east and you just gave them directions that will send them on a 25 minute drive!" That to me is what we do in ministry when we confuse people with 58 points along the way. Yes it's likely true but was it necessary? Many times our messages would be over in 20 minutes if we studied the text. There were likely no less than 10-12 points that had no apprent connection... all to get to a point he could have made in 2 sentences. There were a bunch of stories about himself and honestly on several points I thought "How did you pull THAT from what we just read?"
Anyway... then the end of the service came and we were asked for prayer requests. This made me sad. Lots of well meaning folks asked for short prayers and everything was included together as one big "Here you go God!" type of prayer before dismissal. The service was billed as "Prayer and Praise". There was no praise for what I could see and absolutely next to nothing for prayer. These two events were buffered by a 40 minute sermon on 'joy'.
I learned a lot and my intentions are not to ride this particular church at all. Everything I've described can and probably does happen in our context. Difficulty following the music, long messages with rambling (none of you do that I'm sure) and a disconnect with the audience... these are things that happen with stained glass, projectors or even cool post-everything churches. We can all be guilty of these things no matter our environments.
In fact, regardless of what you may or may not see in my entry for today, I WILL be going back on other Sunday nights. For Worship. The cool thing about my spirtual life is that I can worship anywhere with anyone. For all of the things I observed, I still communicated with God tonight and enjoyed seeing a different taste of heaven.
Someone asked me the other day: "Do you plan to get a building of your own one day?"
I said "I don't know but I really don't know that I want one." Sure, there are a lot of things that would be "easier" on a Sunday but think about this. Each week when Christians and Selfians collide... someone WILL BE uncomfortable. Why is it that the Christians want to make the Selfians uncomfortable? Why can't the Christians say "If someone has to be uncomfortable in this transaction, let it be us. I'm okay with letting my saved family do church in a theater with beer ads all around." The way those beer ads hit many church goers is the same way a stained glass window, a tie, or hymnals hits the Selfians. If I KNOW there will be SOMEONE uncomfortable... I want it to be our church members and attendees. Let it be me! If it will allow my selfian friend to see Christ in his own context... so be it.
Church is spelled D-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y
My life's "one thing" in Christ is diversity.
Today we discussed Romans 10:12-15
12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
We all know that Paul's charge that Jews and Gentiles are equal before God was a shock to the system but many times we ignore this concept in our own context. Every church has a target (intentional or unintentional) Every church has a vibe (again, intentional or not)... Our focus will be diversity. A church that focuses (hence our name) on the red dot in the center of the dart-board and not much else outside of that dot. Differences outside of Christ being our Lord and Savior will be embraced in love. People (and their differences) are not be 'tolerated' at Focal Point they are loved.
I grew up in the inner-city of Baltimore, MD. I'm the first to graduate High School, College and now graduate school. I've stood in government cheese lines and I've been in line for black-tie dinners. I know drug dealers and VP's of major companies. I've always felt that God pulled me from the depths of the city for a reason... I believe I'm coming to understand this in a more personal way. Over 2006 I'm sure to reveal what this means for me and our church. You'll be the 100th to know :)
So I want to give you a quote from today's message. The major road near our new location is called "Military Highway" and it's the dividing line between the haves and have-nots... betweeen the caucasion and the african-american... between our version of Jews and Gentiles.
Those who do worship each week worship with people nearly identical to themselves. But after church they will then hang out [in our globalized world] with their friends of all races, socio-economic status' and professions. If we do what God has called us to do, Focal Point will become a church known for diversity.
As Pastors we have to be who we are and reach who we can reach. To me this concept isn't some idealistic dream... It's a product of my own life. My entire life is a salad bowl of experience and passion for people. I like Paul don't care to see a "Jew" and "Gentile" worship center... I also don't want to see a "White" and "Black" body of Christ. Talk about demographic... we will intentionally be diverse. The funny thing is that we already are diverse. We've just never focused on it before. It's an overflow of who I am. Imagine if I actually embrace it and run with it... We have all shapes, sizes and colors. Our band black, white and interracial and many in our church are from various backgrounds... We have some over 60, some white, black, asian, etc. This is who we are...this is our distinctive in our city... God's just recently smacked me on the head so I could see it. What a year this will be!
Okay, the quote of the day:
"As we move forward, this church will look more like heaven and less like your mirror."
This morning was great!
We busted tail last week to get everything moved in and set up for service in the theater today and it was all worth it. As I said, the venue change was an outward expression of what I feel is a change in the spiritual climate of Focal Point. We arrived at 8 a.m. and there were already several families waiting at the Theater to come in and help set up. You have to realize that for us this is huge. Setup has always been an issue and that's even when we've started setup at 9 a.m. in our old spaces! For people to be there at 8 made our day start off with a bang.
The new space is just what the Doctor ordered! The acoustics are terrific, the environment is exactly what we want (it's a cafe' theater). We added our own sound and lighting and the quality of our church just went up 3 notches. It also pulled more out of our people. It was as if the change made some of our people step up even higher in their passion to serve. I loved it.
The band did a great job today and we also interviewed a woman who visited our church in May who came partially because we were doing a "Desperate Households" series and that day's topic was 'Divorce'. She was looking for me (the Pastor) to give her biblical grounds. She told today how I shared about 95% of my message about the joy of marriage, the value of covenant and that the marriage bond is a vow we make to God as well as our mate. She said "Then he spoke for like 5 minutes on the grounds for divorce and even then he said just because you can doesn't mean you always should." Anyway, it was a powerful testimony because she left that day and God started working her over. She came the next two weeks and I talked about Trust and Communication. God gave her the peace and power to restore her marriage (they were living 4 hours apart- He in D.C. and She here). Well, today's topic was "Pay it Forward". My main point was : The Gospel has the power to change lives. AND You'll never fully experience that power until you GIVE IT AWAY to someone else. The cool thing about her testimony is that after they reconciled, they moved back in and restored their family unit. Well, about a month ago their son (observing what Jesus did in their family life) came into the room crying and he said "Mom, Dad... I want Jesus as my Savior too!" What a start to the new space! It was awesome!
Back to the space:
Out in the foyer they have two pool tables. We had a guy named Lyle (thanks) cut two sheets of 4x8 plywood to cover them. We laid down some industrial blankets (for moving vans) over the tables, then the wood, then some plastic and table decorations. We then had a small table also covered in the same fabric put between the two to create a horse shoe look for our welcome center. I loved it. Totally made use of the space and practically provided a 'focal point' for the foyer area.
I'm riding a high right now... I just told my wife "It sucks that church services are another week away!" She said "Wow, I don't know if I've heard you say THAT before."
Here is a picture someone took from the sound board. I'll get some higher quality shots up in the weeks to come.
Guys... if things are going good... I rejoice with you. If things are down, please let our transformation be an encouragement to you today. Church planting is difficult and it won't always be fun. In fact most days it will stink but if you hang tight and persevere... the joy comes in the mornin' :) I think that's written somewhere.
Today I spent the entire day preparing for our move to the theater. Let me rewind and tell you why we're moving so soon.
Last Sunday I arrived to our location and found that the custodial staff (one guy) decided not to come in on New Year's Day. I think he may have had a little too much to drink. Anyway, we ultimately were not able to get in and I called several key families to get a phone tree going. It was likely to be a low day for us anyway but it certainly wasn't what I expected.
I ended up visiting a friend's church about 25 minutes from here. They're also a church plant so it was good to touch base with him and see how they are doing. Not to mention my wife and I actually enjoyed a worship service together. It was great. I love the band and my friend Jason did a great job with the message.
OKAY, now to what I've been doing all week.
I went and broke down... I bought a Mac. Well, it's a MacMini. I'm wanting to step into the Mac world but I've been afraid. I must say the little guy has been nice to me but it's a big change none-the-less. Anyway, I've been wanting to move to a cleaner computer that can handle video files with ease. All the rage I've ever heard has been that Mac is the way to go. So I wanted to put my toes in the water to test it out.
I got some great pointers from Bob and Carey Franquiz. They are fabulous people who've been huge for me recently. I've been able to pick their brains on theater stuff, theology stuff, book stuff and now MAC stuff! Bob's wife Carey does their videos and she's terrific. She's also very encouraging and a big help to a newbie like myself. One day Bob we've got to go to the same conference. How about Buzz?
Thanks to my new friend "Dr. Bob" we are the proud new owners of a new light board (part of the reason we abandoned our lighting). So... if you're keeping track: Computer for video- Check ... Lights on stands and new lighting console--Check.
Today was the day we moved our stuff into the theater. Let me tell you, this staff has been absolutely fabulous! I'm serious. From the General Manager for the chain to the mangers on site I don't believe I've heard "no" once. They have been bending over backwards on our behalf. I can't say for certain... but I've honestly taken up the habit of praying for God's favor in various situations and this is one time when I've gone to God over and over saying "Wow God, you rock." (not really those words, but with that excitement and thanksgiving.
So on Monday I called the theater and talked to the GM. I asked if we could come in this month instead of next. He said "Sure, when would you like to do it?" I said "This week if possible." Sure enough he was fine with it. They are providing us all sorts of storage and access. This is HUGE for us. The last 3 churches I've been apart of have been portable. I've never been in a portable church that had on-site storage. The difference in setup will be amazing. Finally I feel that we'll be able to get moving forward with many areas I've felt we've been lacking due to storage, manpower and transportation issues.
The storage was arranged for us right in the theaters themselves which allows us to have equipment literally staged 10 feet from where it will be used. I'm so excited for this.
Our load-in went well and the manager even sent us two guys to help with moving some things that were in our way. (I told you they've been great!)
So now our stage, sound, lighting, children's equipment... Everything... it's in there ready for us to use.
I'm even pumped about their willingness to let us put up some advertising that can stay in the theater's lobby at all times. We're going to take them up on that. It will cost us some cash up front because I want to buy a professionally made advertising stand used for contests in the malls. We're considering doing ipod giveaways on a 6-8 week rotation to gather contact info and give people a reason to check out our display.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll do another post on potential advertising partnerships I'm going to propose with them. For now, I praise God for his favor and grace in the midst of this process. I believe God will be bringing the increase to this local church in 2006.
This location will be a big help but to me these material changes are simply a visual change that's happening at Focal Point. The true change is within myself as the Pastor and our leadership team. We're pumped and looking forward to all God will do in and through us this year.
If you think about it, toss one up for us. I believe we're in for an awesome year.
Ohh yeah? Prove it!
Judge orders Priest to PROVE Jesus existed outside of the Gospels.
This should be interesting to see unfold...
I don't get militant atheists. If you don't believe in ANYTHING, why would you be so angry at anyone who believes in something? Even without Christ I cannot see myself ever having grown up, gotten an education and then go around trying to PROVE "nothing".
Creating Passionate Attendees
I read a variety of blogs (read is stretching it... I scan a variety and read a handfull)
Today on Creating Passionate Users, I found one of the most insightful and helpful posts I've ever seen on any blog as it relates to a Pastor and communication.
The entire blog is good for this stuff... but this one is seriously a college course outline on how to make the message stick. If you communicate to ANYONE... spend time reading it or print it off and use it with your staff to evaluate your services. It's worth your time.
God at the Movies
Taking a page out of Mark Batterson's playbook, we're doing a series called "God at the Movies" this month. The series is centered around the concept of 'Vision'. We're going to share the vision for 2006 and where we're going as a church.
Jan. 8th - Pay It Forward: Benefiting Others
Jan.15th- Rock: Overcoming Obsticals
Jan. 22nd - Braveheart: Focused on the Cause
Jan. 29th - Remember the Titans: Standing United
Feb. 5th - Rudy: Celebrating Accomplishment
I regret not mentioning sooner but the other day I had a good conversation with fellow blogger and church planter, Bill Streger a.k.a. Kaleobill.
He's a bright guy with a passion for reaching people. He has a similar story as myself in regards to stepping out completely on his own and being fortunate enough to see God put wind in his sails. His church is Kaleo church and he's got a cool blog... check him out.
I got bored and typed in "church" on Ebay tonight. I came across some bizarre things including this $469 knit sweater vest with a picture of a church on the front! Are you serious? I've never been one who could claim that I know 'style' but c'mon....
Maybe I'm out to lunch on this one... here is the link
According to the article on Ebay it says that this was a big hit on the runway in Milan... yeah Milan, Italy.
From the site: "This pull-over will look perfect worn over a plain white shirt and will definetely turn heards everywhere." ---- hahaa... You're tellin' me?
I'm sorry, I'd have to pass on this one. Jesus may be my homeboy but this is going too far :)
Then again... I wonder how Tony Morgan or Ed Young would look in this one? Maybe this will become the pink shirt of 2006.... Hmmm...
Hurry... you could own this clip art sweater vest but you must bid within the next 2 days!