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Miracle on 34th Street - Baltimore Style

One of the reasons I love my city is that it has so many neighborhoods with their own unique personality. In general, people in Baltimore are not pretentious. They tell you what they think and they don't care what others think about them. By and large this city celebrates life and overcomes life's hard knocks on a daily basis. Life circumstances that rock people from other parts of the country just kind of roll off the shoulders of Baltimoreans. We're quirky and we don't care.

One of the unique things that happens each year in Baltimore happens over in Hampden on 34th street. "The Miracle on 34th Street" is an all-out community light display that covers a block (34th St.) in the city. It's a funky and friendly eclectic mix of lights and Christmas creations. It's Griswald times 50. What I like about 34th street is that this isn't a light display of off white lights and manicured lawns. It's a mix and match display of everything under the sun and very little is 'new'. It's good old fashioned lights and winter creations by people who care about keeping tradition and putting smiles on the faces of perfect strangers. We had a great time checking out the display this year.

Check out the display from a week ago. Photo credit: Ben Ritter

(How Parking Spots are saved in Baltimore Snow)

(Captivate's own Mikael & Ashley Ritter)

(Hilarious display of what appears to be a Geppetto as Santa letting Pinocchio know he was on the naughty list)

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, December 31, 2009

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Merry Christmas from Captivate

As we approach our Christmas Eve service I just wanted to thank you for following our journey this year and for all of your encouragement along the way. Merry Christmas!

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Thursday, December 24, 2009

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Blizzard of '09 Pictures

Photo Credit for Set: Ben Ritter

Photo Credit: Ben Ritter

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

I was honored to receive an advanced copy of "Primal" by Pastor Mark Batterson. Pastor Mark is the founding and senior Pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. If you're not familiar with his story I encourage you to read up about him and see what God is doing in both his life and the life of his church. Additionally you can check out some of his sermons here.

A little disclosure. I'm a fan of Pastor Mark Batterson. A few years ago when I was leading a church plant in Virginia Beach I was honored to sit in on a staff meeting with the team of NCC. During that time I observed a high-caliber team who have a deep respect and love for their Pastor. I also noticed a Pastor who leads with humility and wisdom.

A few years ago I went to a conference NCC hosted called "Buzz" (day 1, day 2). From there I have kept an eye on NCC and read two other books by Pastor Batterson, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" and "Wild Goose Chase". Both of these books provide inspiration and insight worthy of your time. I also happen to own Pastor Mark's "ID: The True You" so I'm familiar with his work.

Primal is essentially a book written to awaken within the believer a passion to get back to the very essence of our faith. Through fascinating storytelling the reader gets to engage in a lifetime of adventures all the while uncovering deep spiritual truths. From joining Pastor Mark as he explores ancient ruins to hiking the rim of the Grand Canyon, this book is full of amazing tales of personal achievement and adventure.

The premise is that in Christianity there is a deep and primary truth to which we must return. That truth, a truth we often forget, is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

If you are a follower of Jesus there is no doubt that you have explored this verse but like many you may have come to an uncertain conclusion on how "exactly" I can love God with my heart, soul, mind and strength. Primal should be your primary read!

One of the attributes God has given to Pastor Batterson is an ability to stretch our mind by pointing to God's creation in scientific terms while simultaneously pulling in compelling stories. For me, his writing style is a one-two punch on my left and right brains to keep me engaged throughout the reading of this work.

Finally, as a Pastor I've decided to take principles and concepts from this book and use it in our first series of 2010 at Captivate Church. We will re-brand the series but we are going to point people to pick up a copy of Pastor Mark Batterson's compelling work, Primal. I want to encourage you to get yourself a copy this weekend and read it sometime in January before your calendar begins to complicate your new year. Thanks Pastor Batterson for putting out great work for us to chew on in the new year.

Let's all get back to the core of our faith in 2010
and show the world this God to whom we give our entire being.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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East Baltimore Christmas Party

The vision of Captivate is to build a church for the entire city of Baltimore. We want to create a prototype of what a church could look like in various locations around a very diverse city. Our suburban campus is filled with people who want to do more with their faith than drop an offering in a basket each week.

We are a church filled with idealistic people who really believe Jesus transforms lives. In partnership with some other churches we hosted at our East Baltimore location a Christmas party for kids from Liberty Learning Center (our after school program partner) and Prison Fellowship Ministries Angel Tree kids.

Check out some pics and a recap video from last week.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Blizzard of '09

The Blizzard of '09 has arrived. Caleb is loving it! It's been a day of Wii, Hot Chocolate, Connect 4, Christmas movies and wrestling in the den. Take a look at a few minutes of footage when Cman ventured out. We've been letting him go out in bursts of of 5 minutes at a time. This will show you how deep it was getting. This video was from around 2pm. The news is reporting this as one of our top-5 snow showers in Baltimore history!

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Saturday, December 19, 2009

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Early Adopters

In the business world the term "Early Adopter" refers to those people who purchase a product or try a service before the rest of the world. They can be extremely valuable to the success of a company because they provide traction for everything that comes later. Early Adopters are a group of people willing to risk being on the front of a trend, movement or company. They don't mind stepping out of comfort zones and giving something new a shot. They know they are taking a risk but the potential reward is so much more exciting than living with status quo.

In the church planting world you have various types of 'early adopters'. While the church is certainly not a business there are some crossover lessons when you think about those early stages. Early adopters in the business world become a group of 'fans' if you will. When real bands (Not the over-produced garbage- think "O-town") put out music most of the time they aren't setting out to target a 12-15yr old age group unless they are 12-15 years old themselves. Many times what happens is a band of 18-25 yr olds appeals to that group of younger listeners. The band has an option. They can fight their fan-base and say "We're a real band, we've got to figure out how to get ____ age group." Or they can say "Cool, maybe we are appealing to a different crowd but we are appealing to someone. Let's figure out how to appeal more strongly to that crowd."

At Captivate we're finding that in our first few months the early adopters are the coveted 18-34 year old age group. In fact I'd say it's the under 30 crowd. While I certainly don't believe we'll remain under 30 after we're going a year or so, this is the crowd God is using us to reach. This is a generation that most churches are not reaching and yet for some reason God is blessing us to see many people far from God come to know Him because of our church.

We've seen many salvations and baptisms among this age-range so we're having internal conversations as to how to move forward in light of this 'early adopter' base. We could fight it like that band and do our best to be something else OR we can adjust and lean in towards reaching this age-group like no body else. We can fight it or embrace it.

In the days and weeks to come I'll share how we're going to respond to our early successes with our early adopters. I want us to be faithful not in trying to be something we think we should be but rather be the hands and feet of Jesus to whomever wherever we can do that.

Pastor Steven Furtick noted on Twitter last week wisdom:
"Etch your vision in stone-but sketch your strategy in pencil."

To be successful in business, making a band or church planting you must heed this advice. We are a life-giving church. We bring life by giving people the message of Jesus Christ. That will NOT change. Ever. If anyone wants us to be about anything else, the'll get frustrated pretty quick. However, HOW we do that will change over time so long as we believe there are more effective ways to achieve the vision God has given us.

How about you? Do you have some early adopter trends in your organization? What did you learn, how did you handle it? What advice would you give others in the beginning stages of building an organization/ministry?

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Sunday, December 06, 2009

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