Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Will You be Missed?

I read a great blog from Seth Godwin this morning.

He talks about how we really don't miss the lo-tech brick and mortar businesses that have been replaced by high tech ones that have made things simpler or faster. The old businesses didn't offer anything substantial enough for us to miss them.

In closing he says, "here's the question: When you're gone, will they miss what you do? It's not too late to change the answer..."

Wow, let that hound you for a day!

Monday, October 30, 2006

We found your Ellie (on Ebay)

Our daughter has a stuffed pink elephant named Ellie. She got her Ellie the day she was born and she doesn't go anyware without her Ellie. Unfortunately after 2 1/2 years of life our daughter appears to have lost her Ellie in a store (Wal-Mart we think). We called every store visited everyday for about a week to no avail. To make matters worse, Ellie (Squirt is her real name) was discontinued. What do you do?

EBAY to the rescue. We found an Ellie on ebay and won the bid for 99 cents (+$6 shipping). We told her that someone found her and was going to send her to us. I think that's ok. It's kind of like lying about what you got your wife for Christmas when she guesses right. I don't think it really counts. Unlike the comercial, however, we didn't take the replacement Ellie outside and rough her up. Big mistake. When our daughter first saw her she hesitated and has since asked if the man who found Ellie can send us the other one to match this one.

The lengths that parents go to to show their love for their kids.

**Notice the before and after pictures above.

Need a Penny, Take a Penny

I was getting some peanut butter crackers for the kids at a gas station last night, taking the 45 minute trek home from our connect group. I noticed the little ashtray like dish near the cash register where people throw their extra pennies. The sign above it read:

Need a penny, take a penny.
Need a nickle, get a job!

I just had to share that.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Insights from the Disney World Experience

I have never had the opportunity to go to DisneyWorld (comment if you would like to send me there), but I read some great insights from the Disney Expereince on Tony Morgan's blog this monring. Could someone say this about your church?

  • The experience begins in the parking lot.
  • We will invest a lot of money to make dreams come true.
  • It helps to have someone with you that’s been there before.
  • The value of excellence transcends socioeconomic and cultural barriers.
  • It’s hard to communicate with people wearing masks.
  • The journey is more fun when you’re on it with friends.
  • The world is small.
  • Lots of people fulfilling the same mission can achieve great results.
  • It’s possible to leave a legacy for future generations.
  • We remember the fireworks at the end.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Workshops in DC

I went up to National Community Church in Washington, DC on Wednesday for two workshops. The morning session was on Assimilation by Nelson Sercy, Pastor of Journy Church in New York City. The afternoon session was on Right-Brained preaching by Mark Batterson, pastor of NCC in DC.

Nelson helped to plant New Horizons church in Apex, NC before going on Rick Warren's staff as the Director of the Purpose Driven Community. He then started the Journey Church in New York City and in 4 years has seen it grow to over 1000 in attendance. So, he has some good stuff to say. Just a few things that stood out:
  • Everything speaks.
  • If you have been around the place for more than 7 weeks you will not notice many problems
  • Don't let volunteers be greeters; pick them yourself
    • Requirements
      • they have to smile
      • they have to have teeth
  • If you want to know the temerature of a church, stick the thermometer in the pastor's mouth - Rick Warren
  • A church is a family expecting guests
  • Put cool stuff in bathrooms like you might find in your bathroom at the Ritz.
  • The communication card is key
    • have everyone fill it out every week
    • don't begin with a blank for the date. many men won't fill it out if they can't fill in the first blank
    • don't use tear offs
  • They send a free gift (some kind of gift card) for first-time and second-time guests.
  • What is rewarded is repeated.
  • A regular attender says "this is the church that I go to"
  • A member says "This is my church"
  • Ownership is the path to membership
  • People often want to belong before they believe
  • People say no to what is unclear

Mark Batterson planted a church in Washington DC in 1996, that has grown to over 1000 in attendence. He is one of the most read bloggers on the internet and a frequent conference speaker. He also has a new book out called In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day. Mark is a ferocious reader and is brilliant in his ability to cross pollinate between faith and other diciplines.

Some things that stood out:
  • If you have something worth saying it is worth saying to as many people as possible.
  • Intentionally hire inexperience.
  • God's blessings always come with complications
  • 95% of what preachers say is forgotten in 3 days
  • The Holy Grail of preaching is say things that are unforgettable.
  • The most important truths should be communicated in the most unforgettable ways.
  • The best way to do this is to say old things in new ways.
  • The great commandment says to love your God with all of your mind but most seminaries focus only on the left brain.
  • Novelty stimulates the right briain. Familiarity stimulates the left brain.
  • After you sing a song 30 times you cease to think about the words.
  • Good art is a slight deviation from what we expect. Too far is bizarr and not enough is boring.
  • 4 keys to Right-Brian Preaching
    • Cross pollination
    • Cultural Exegisis
    • Creative Incarnation
    • Humor

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Wife is my Hero

My wife ran her first race (5k) after having 4 kids this past Saturday. She ran it in 18:55, which translates into a 6:06 pace. Not bad for a 39 year old mother of 4. She easily won her age group and placed 8th in the overall female group. The important thing to know here is that the 5k is not even her race. The time she ran Saturday is consistent with her 5k times in College when she was among the best in country in the 800 and made the All-American team in the 4X800.

How did she get back in this kind of shape?

When she decided she wanted to run again it wasn't easy to fit it into her schedule with four kids. It forced her to run around 3pm so that 2 kids would be napping (while I worked at home), and she had to push the other 2 in the double baby jogger. She did this 4 or 5 times a week through the entire North Carolina summer. She generally ran 7 to 10 miles. It was a spectacle to see. People like the postman would ask me "was that your wife running and pushing kids in this heat so far away from your house?"

You see Gina would never have wanted to push 2 kids in a baby jogger while training in the middle of the summer heat, but she never complained. She knew that if she wanted to train she was willing to do whatever was necessary to make it work for the family. She realized a couple of months ago that pushing 50 to 80 pounds in the baby jogger has done more for her training to bring her to this level than she could ever have done in that amount of time any other way. God used an inconvenience in Gina's life to take her farther than she could have gone on her own.

Carpet Evangelist on a Mission

I got a call this morning from the guy who will be installing new carpet in our upstairs addition (we're almost done). He had heard that we were going to be planting a church in Paris and wanted to share with me something that happened yesterday.

He was in a town near the courthouse and knew a lawyer that was struggling with something and he felt that God wanted him to talk to the man. So he drives 15 miles out to the guy's house only to find that he was not home. He thought "Lord why did you lead me to come to his house when he is not even home?" Then it occurred to him that the man was probably in the courthouse working. So he drives 15 miles back to the place he had just left. As he walks into the courthouse he sees a another man walking out that had visited his church last week and was having lots of problems in his family. He ended up sharing Christ with this guy.

He came to realize the God wanted him at the courthouse at that time to meet this particular man. But he had to wait about the time it takes to drive 15 miles away and then back in order to be in the right place at the right time to influence this man for Christ.

Some times God leads us on a mission that he knows we will never complete because he is preparing us for another mission. When you are going where you feel God is leading you, don't get discouraged if things don't make sense or seem impossible. Just keep following God's direction until he leads you otherwise, because he does have a purpose. In Romans 8:28, we read "that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose." It is not always for my good. It just says for those who love him and are called according to His purpose.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ramblings on a Sick Day

I have had a grueling schedule these last few weeks. We were in London and Paris on from Sept 27 through Oct 5. After arriving home, I have been working at a frantic pace to get our upstairs project done so that we can put out house on the market. Yesterday, I left at 5:30am to drive to Charlotte to check out Pastor Naeem Fazal at Mosaic Church in Charlotte. I got home close to midnight last night. So today God said it is time to rest. I have a full blown cold. Not that I scheduled it this way, but today was a good sick day. I have a friend coming tomorrow to help me finish the trim in my upstairs to get ready for carpet on wednesday. Then I leave for DC wednesday for a conference on thurday to get back late thursday night. Then I get up and take the family to the state fair on Friday and leave for South Carolina on Saturday afternoon to visit NewSpring Church in Anderson on Sunday and return late Sunday night.

So now you know why I haven't been blogging. There is also no such thing as free internet in hotels in London and Paris. When I say not free, I mean expensive. $17 for 2 hours and $34 for a day.

In the midst of all this crazyness Naeem preached on what we do with our life and whether we are leaving a legacy. He also did an interviw with Lloyd Reeb author of From Success to Significance. I met Lloyd a few years ago at a church planting conference so it was cool to talk to him about how that conference gave me a heart to plant churches and how we are now planning to plant a church in France. When I read Lloyds book a couple of years ago I remember thinking of his concept of halftime in our lives and thinking that it wasn't relevant to me becuase I am not there yet. Yesterday, I got to thinking and it hit me that with my dad's genes (blood disease stuff) most of my family only lives to be about 74. I am 38. That means haltime is over and the 3rd quarter has begun.

Gina and I have given up a lot to pursue God's call to plant churches in France. It has not been easy but we are pursuing a life of significance not success. But in the insanity that sometimes comes with pursuing God's plan for my life it is easy forget my bride and my four future world changers. I pray that God will give me wisdom and strength to not give my family what's left. I know that I will make time for what is important to me and that means helping my family to fulfill there dreams.

It is not about me. The greatest commandment says it is about God. The second greatest commandment says it is about others next. There is no third greatest commandment that says it is about me.

One other thought. I married an athelete who makes me eat better than I would on my own. So if I plan to live to 84, I'm still in the second quarter.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day

Book Review
In A Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day
by Mark Batterson

I love inspirtational books. I have read so many acedemic books an d have learned many wonderful things. Unfortunately those books rarely chnage my life. I am convinved that the problem with churhces today is that they are teaching something (the Bible) that is absolutely true but they fail to lead their hearers to life change.

In a Pit With a Lion does just that. It inspires real people to take truth and make life application. It inspires us not just to live but to live abundantly.

Taking from the description of Benaiah in the list of King David's mighty men in 2 Sam 23:20-21, Batterson shows how God uses unlikely cicumestances to prepare us for our future calling. He challenges us to chase those lions, rather than running. He points out that we don't always prevail (humanly speaking) in these unlikely circumstances but that but we will never realize God's greatest plans for our lives if we never chase the lions.

This is a great book and I strongly recommend it. My team will be reading it together to help prepare us to chase lions in Paris.