Saturday, June 30, 2007

Buzz Conference - Mark Batterson - Session 7

Before Mark continued with his Spy traits from the first session how talked about how powerful Craig Groeschel's session was. It is awesome to see how even the speakers and hosts are moved by the messages God delivers through other speakers.

5. Assume You are Under Surveillance:
-We must know who we are and be who we are not because people are watching.
1. Vulnerability is the key -
2. Reveal your weaknesses - The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.
3. Cry in Public -
4. Quit trying to be a pastor and start trying to be yourself.

6. Blend into the Crowd
- infiltrate with intention because you are one a mission
4 ways to Handle Culture
1. ignore it.
2. Imitate it.
3. Condemn it.
4. Redeem it.
- Criticize by creating.

7. Avoid Defensiveness at All Cost.
- Stay positive
- Stay on offense
- The enemy wants to use guilt and fear against us.
- Erwin McManus said "Don't let criticism penetrate your heart until is has passed through the filter of scripture.
- Don't let negativity infect a staff or church.
- Start all your meetings by sharing wins.
- Don't harass the competition
- Employ humor to put people at ease before addressing tough issues

8. Be Aware of Your Environment at All Times.
- Be a first class noticer - "Geeks and Geazers"
- This is crucial for leaders
- The history of Israel hinges on Joseph noticing a dejected look on the face of the Cup bearer in prison.
- Often if we can just impact the 1% we can really make a impact.
- Brain notices shapes first, then colors and then content.

9. Never Go Against Your Gut.
- Be gutsy - the biggest lack in the church is the lack of guts.
- We need more preaching guts.
- Craig Groeschel said "The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be may be the difficult decision you refuse to make."

10. Don't Look Back
- Do ministry out of imagination not memory.
- Cast vision all the time.
- Budget a leadership retreat for all leaders where you can cast the vision.
- do an annual ministry report.
- Most problems are not sin problems but vision problems.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Buzz Conference - Craig Groeschel - Session 6

Let me begin by saying, WOW! Craig Groeschel's message today was powerful. Mark asked him to speak a little about the book Confessions of a Pastor. If you are in ministry or plan to be this is a must read. I was reminded today of why I liked the book so much when I read it.

He started be saying the he hopes that we will all pray "Disturb Me." If God is already distubing us, pray "turn up the heat."

He said today that his making a new confession. "My name is Craig Groeschel and I am a practical Atheist." A practical atheist believes in God but lives as if he does not. He said that it affects both his personal life and his ministry.

Isaiah 29:13-14 They honor my with their lips but their hearts are far from me, but I once more will astound them . . ."

In the early days:
-A professor once told me to protect the pastoral mystique and never let people see that you have any problems; speak and act like a pastor should.
-The way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in me.
-God spoke to me and said you have become a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ.

Wrong Beliefs of a Practical Atheist:
1. Our effort is better than God's power -
-If I will just do a good enough job God will bless my ministry
-This leads us to think "I am not good enough or God did not come through."
-If you blame yourself for the decline you will take credit for the increase.
2. We start to believe that our private life will not affect our public ministry.
-One sin or point of vulnerability can take you out.
-You will never be able to sustain for the long haul unless you become authentic.
-We stand up and do it in his name but not his power.
3. We believe that we must please people more than must please God.
-I was raised in the people pleaser mindset
-We need to use culture as a hook but we must speak to culture.
-We often drift without noticing. Like you do playing in the surf on the beach, after a while, you look up and can't see the place where you started out. You lose your first love. I got to the point where I didn't like people.

Sir Francis Drake's Prayer "Disturb Me" Was one of those transformation points.

I used to get so nervous when I speak that I would throw up before I speak. Now I have a practice where I always take a step forward before I start. I have learned to symbolically step out of myself and into God before I speak.

Things I learned to step into:
1. Spiritual Disciplines - Scripture, prayer, fasting
2. Realm of Faith - You hear a vision from God so big that if God doesn't come though you will fail. Bet the Farm.
3. Authentic Confession - To God for forgiveness; to man for Healing
4. Intentional Accountability - a minister will ever outgrow his ability to be accountable - it is your ability to accept correction
5. The boldness of preaching God's Word

Craig is not living as a practical atheist now, but like a sober alcoholic I still have the temptations and could slip back at any time.

He does not prepare his sermons too far in advance because he always has to preach out of what God is doing in him.

We overestimate what God wants to do though us in the short run but we underestimate what God wants to do in us in the long run.


Buzz Conference Tony Morgan Session - 5

Tony Morgan Chief Strategic Officer at New Spring Church gave 10 Reasons You Should Stop Blogging. I was really surprised by the attendance for this session.

1 You haven’t determined your primary audience.

2 You don’t post regularly.

3 Your posts are too long. Few long-winded bloggers are worth the time.

4 You are trying to sell yourself – authenticity is essential but within your target audience.

5 You don’t use humor – you don’t have to be Comedy Central but the History Channel is really boring.

6 You are attacking other people or ministries – if you do this Tony will unsubscribe from your blog.

7 You have forgotten that blogging isn’t private.- Once you have posted it cannot be retrieved. Most people know how to do a Google search, so whatever you write about others, will be seen by them.

8 You are not a thought leader – mama bird posting – taking things from various places on the web and regurgitating it back on your blog. Just because you link to Tony doesn’t mean he will link to your blog.

9 You are listening to your critics. - It is just not worth it. When you respond you give credibility to your critics.

10 You are not revealing the real you. - He does most of his reading on blogs because it reveals real people and their real experience.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Buzz Conference - Craig Groeschel - Session 3

Craig Groeschel, pastor of talked about innovative leadership.
  • One definition of Innovation is the process of making improvement by doing something new.
  • We often say that we could be innovative if we had more resources but we have everything we need to reach the people God as called us to reach.
  • When you don't have others' resources, you innovate.
  • Limited resources + increasing passion = exponential innovation
  • If we had to raise $100,000 by Friday for some project most of us could not do it. If we needed $100,000 by Friday or one of our children would die, most of us could find the money. The problem is not a lack of resources but a lack of motivation.
  • Let Limited resources and increasing passion drive you to exponential innovation.
  • Innovation requires the eyes to see.

4 Qualities of Innovative Leadership:
1. Heal the sick - Not only physically. Matt 9 - it is not the healthy who need a doctor.
  • In order to reach those that no one else is reaching we have to do things that no one else is doing. When you have the attitude of the 4 Friends, you will find a way.
  • Dave Ferguson said that if we are going to reach the world we are going to have to sit in the smoking section.
  • We have to lead our ministries to love those who don't know Christ. They won't do if we are not.
  • We need to seek the lost to the point that "the lost" has a name.
  • Who is God calling you to reach that no one around you is reaching?
2. Break rules - Don't break away from the truth of scripture, but the rules that man makes.
  • He tells a story of leading a drunk guy to Christ by going to a bar and without using the 4 spiritual laws approach.
  • If life was a Nascar race, innovative leaders would turn right.
  • Bill Hybles turned right by combining the passion of the para-church and the power of the local church.
  • Today's contemporary is tomorrow's tradition.
  • broke rules by:
    • giving away their media stuff where others can use it to grow the kingdom.
    • Built an internet church campus
    • Built second life church campus
    • Built for people to have online confessions
    • They combined with other churches
    • They created a web2.0 version of the Bible.
    • Don't let someone saying "it can't be done" stop you from doing what God is calling you to do.
    • What is God calling you to do that hasn't been done?
3. Offend Pharisees -
  • When you do something new the Pharisees will come and attack you.
  • The things that are closest to the heart of God will offend pharisees.
  • Things that are accepted today were despised not that many years ago.
  • If you are not being called a cult every now and then, you are not doing something right.
  • Be worried if you are not being criticized by pharisees
  • Take criticism gracefully.
  • Some of the young leaders with the greatest potential need to get past their anger.
  • What new thing that is hated today and will be accepted tomorrow do you need to do?
4. Redefine success -
  • John the Baptist said He must increase but I must decrease.
  • Stop trying so hard trying to build attendance and start trying to build "The Church"
  • We are successful when we do the things that nobody else sees.
  • Do my children know Jesus?
  • Does my wife get my best?
  • Do I have time with God every morning and every night?
  • He told about an illustration from the movie the "Guardian" where revered instructor was asked what his number of saves was and he said he only counted those he lost.

Buzz Conference - Tim Stevens - Session 2

Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church just spoke on the elements of Buzz.
Six characteristics that generate buzz from the book Buzz Marketing.

-He talked about the incredible nationwide buzz that was generated from Granger's billboards.
-He talked about the Flywheel effect of momentum from Jim Collins book Good to Great.

The reasons that buzz is so important today from the Emanuel Rosen book Anatomy of Buzz:
- People can't hear you.
- People don't trust you.
- People are connected (as in the internet).

Elements of Buzz:
1. Impact - Buzz only happens when you are having an impact - Would our community be different if our church ceased to exist?
2. Buzz
3. Beliefs - Buzz doesn't matter if you don't believe in anything.
4. Language - Everyone interprets what they hear through their filter. The filter that the church has been using for years doesn't work. Most people see through the "pop culture" filter. 60% of people get their theology through movies music and books. The church has to learn to communicate through the pop culture filter to be understood by the unchurched.

Ways to deal with Culture:

Practical Applications:
-Use pop culture as a hook
-Us pop culture to lower defenses
-Find great art in the world.

He also showed this amazing video:

Or watch the original Granger version here. Thanks Tim for providing the link.

Buzz Conference - Mark Batterson - Session 1

Mark began a talk on the spiritual leadership applications of the Moscow Rules (cold war cia stuff).

His intro can be found on his blog and I've copied it here:
During the Cold War, the CIA developed some unwritten rules of engagement for their spies called The Moscow Rules. Moscow was the most dangerous and difficult destination for a spy so the spies had to have special training in clandestine operations. In his book, The Master of Disguise, agent Tony Mendez talks about the Moscow Rules.

Although no one had written them down, they were the precepts we all understood. By the time they got to Moscow, everyone knew these rules. They were dead simple and full of common sense.

What I want to do today and tomorrow is share a version of the Moscow rules. There is some variance because these rules were never written down. But I want to adapt ten of the rules. One of our themes this year is decoding culture and no one is better at decoding than the CIA. Seems like spiritual leaders could learn a thing or two from the espionage industry.

Some of these tactics are commonsensical. Others are counter-intuitive. I'll elaborate on them post conference.

#1 Know Your Mission
#2 Gather Intelligence
#3 Maintain a Natural Pace
#4 Vary Your Pattern
#5 Blend into the Crowd
#6 Be Aware of Your Environment At All Times
#7 Avoid defensiveness at all costs
#8 Assume You Are under Surveillance
#9 Never go against Your Gut
#10 Don't Look Back
My Notes:
1. Know your Mission:
-He opened with a baptism video and said that is the mission.
-The more you do in ministry the harder it gets.
-God often asks him - are you willing to embrace how hard this may be?
-The reward for good work is often more work.
-Find ways to remind yourself of the mission you are on. Mark went back to the cow pasture where he sensed God's calling and had a picture taken as a reminder.

2. Gather intelligence:
-We need to learn to exegete the culture, to ask the right questions
-We are failing incarnationaly, we fail to incarnate the message to the culture.
-Movies and music are alters to the unknown God; they do series each year on movies and music, it allows them to give a spiritual application to those things that shape culture, they take a movie or song and do a biblical character study.
- We need to quote non-biblical sources more, while not quoting the Bible less. When we quote the Bible we build credibility with Christians; when we quote non-biblical sources we build credibility with non-Christians.
-We should read strategically
-We should study culture
-We should recon at other churches

3. Maintain a Natural Pace:
-He said he is trying to study less and live more. We need sermons that are more experiential and less theoretical.
-There are 2 balancing acts we must deal with:
b/w family and ministry
b/w work and play
-Are you living a life that is sustainable over the long haul?

4. Vary your Pattern:
-No one was better at the element of surprise that Jesus.
-Core Value - Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it.
-Award winning adds all have the principle of unexpectedness
-One def. of Leadership - keeping what is sacred from becoming routine
Study shows after singing a song 30 times you no longer pay attention to the words.
-Equilibrium = death; inequilibrium = life
-Core Value - Everything is an experiment. - we should be afraid of not making mistakes, it may mean we are not trying hard enough.

I Arrived in DC at the Buzz Conference

Yesterday was a crazy day. I was trying to finish a brochure for Catalyst France and get a haircut before I left for the Buzz Conference in DC. We did finish a final draft of the brochure but I have not had a chance to print it yet. I finally got in for a haircut. It was their last cut of the night. Conversation led to spiritual things and I ended up spending 30-45 minutes talking about my faith with the 2 hairstylists.

I finally arrived in DC this morning about 2am. But with a grande Vanilla Latte (thanks Rob) and some slightly bloodshot eyes, I made it to the sessions and it has been awesome. I am really looking forward to the film festival this afternoon. The creativity in the room is off the charts. I will try to do some Buzz Blogs as I get internet access.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Buzz Conference

Well, I am headed to Washington, DC today for the Buzz Conference. I am looking forward to see old friends and connect with new ones. Also, looking forward to some awesome speakers.

But before I leave, I have lots to do. I have to finish our Catalyst France brochure, find a place to get it printed, and meet our treasurer at the bank to open an account. Oh, and I have still have to pack.

I'm looking forward to a great couple of days. I hope to be blogging from the conference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Catalyst France is Official

I just received the sealed Articles of Incorporation.

Catalyst France is now official!

I am so pumped. We were praying for the incorporation to be complete before July. In fact, I was praying yesterday that it would happen today so that I could use the official information on our brochure before I left for DC tomorrow morning. God is good!

FYI - We actually incorporated as Catalyst Europe for the bigger vision of church planting in Europe. I will talk more about that later. Catalyst France is a dba (doing business as) name that is filed under the pending Catalyst Europe group 501(c)3. For now we will operate under the name Catalyst France since our primary focus is on France right now. Contributions can now be sent directly to Catalyst France. We will provide the new address information hopefully by tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Church Planter vs Missionary

At the Exponential Conference in Orlando in April, I heard something repeated several times by different conference speakers. They said to the American church planters in the audience, "we need to think more like missionaries." I remember thinking "why, missionaries are facing the same problems as the American church planters."

With both American church planters and missionaries, my observation has been that anything done out of tradition is not likely to reach the unchurched. Tradition is something established so that people can continue a meaningful experience. That's not necessarily a bad thing. But we have to remember that the unchurched don't attach value to things that they didn't actually experience themselves. One of the problems in the missions world has been repeating the host country's ineffective church traditions or worse starting a new churches that look more like the church or group that was so meaningful in our own spiritual lives.

When they say that church planters should think like missionaries, I think that they want us to be missional, in our approach here at home. Unfortunately, many missionaries are no more missional than their American church planter counterparts. I believe when it comes to church planting that 'it' (being missional) is not taught, it is caught. That's why so many of the most effective churches hire from within rather than from the seminary placement office.

At Catalyst France part of our vision is to create a network of churches to train young French believers to plant churches all over the country. Get the most effective churches together to find people who already get it, give them on the job training, support them, send them out. Then these new churches repeat the process.

Would you join us in this process?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pine Ridge Church - First Preview Service

A friend of mine, Tadd Grandstaff is planting Pine Ridge Church in Burlington, NC. Yesterday I took the family to see the first of three preview services they are having this summer before their launch in September.

They kicked of the weekend with a free family night in the park where 2500 people filled out registration cards. Wow. That was an amazing way to build buzz in the community. This morning they had 168 people show up for their first service. Not bad for no advertising and 3 months away from a launch.

Tadd has a great staff team and they did a great job this morning. They are going to make a big impact in the triad for Christ and will likely motivate others churches and church planters as well.

Paul Potts Opera Final Britains Got Talent

Watch below for Paul Potts Final performance on Britain's Got Talent.

Or view it here.

You will have to watch this video of the awards ceremony to see who wins.

Or view it here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

France is Destination of Choice for Brits

I found this article on the This French Life blog.

A home in France appeals

In a Royal Bank of Scotland International survey France was the European destination of choice with 6 per cent of Brits wanting to move there.

It came in second behind Australia, which was voted for by one in ten people, but ahead of Spain.

But France was the most popular European choice in Northern Ireland (16%), West Midlands (10%), Wales (8%), South East (7%), South West (5%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (4%).

The Royal Bank of Scotland also found that 8 per cent of people in London currently own a home abroad, followed by 7 per cent in the South East and 5per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber.

This compares to a British average of 4 per cent.

200th Blog Post

Well happy 200th blog post to me. I started with one post in December 2005. I had another 55 posts in 2006 (about 1 per week.) In 2007 so far I have 144. That's not quite 1 a day.

If I had written a little each day on research papers in college like I do my blog I wound not have spent 3 straight days awake on Nodoze and coffee at the end of each semester.

Blogging has been an awesome experience for me. I would never have thought that I really enjoyed writing. The blog has given me a way to think out loud, but be forced to bring some order to my thoughts for public consumption (especially if my wife proofreads).

I want to thank Google for being very good to me. I get readers everyday from all over the world who do Google searches on random non-church stuff and end up at my blog. Very cool.

But, the thing I like most about blogging is reading other blogs. As a church planter I can be mentored by some of the best church leaders in America, for free. I have always believed that those who don't read have nothing of value to write about. Leaders are learners and leaders are readers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Catalyst France Website

I have been feverishly trying to get a new website out for Catalyst France. It is not the one we hope to have in a month with the help of some graphic designers. It is my feeble attempt, with the help of iWeb, to get a simple, clean, informative website for our new organization. I got it up late last night so check it out and give me your thoughts, especially on content. We want to clearly convey who we are, what we are trying to do, and how people can get involved.

Next project. I need a brochure by Monday.

I will also will be taking our application for incorporation to NC Secretary of State's office this afternoon. Pray that this will be a speedy process.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Long lunches and kisses affect the economy

Check out this post from the "This French Life" blog.

Ht to my bride runnermom4.

Working on the Dream

Times are busy but very exciting as Catalyst France comes together.

I wrote the check (ok, I gave my credit card #) yesterday to the legal filings company to officially get our incorporation started. They said that there is a good chance that we will get our non-profit incorporation certificate by July 1. That's awesome. We will be able to open our bank account, begin accepting tax-deductible contributions, and accept credit cards and automatic drafts. This will allow us to do so much more.

We are also talking to people on staff at some awesome churches who are interested in joining our team in France. These folks were not recruited, they were literally random (ok divine) connections. It is amazing how you can try really hard to get the right team together and when God is ready to move you he puts the team together for you. I will call it the Dream Team.

Today, I am trying really hard to get a new version of the Catalyst France website published that will provide more information. With everything coming together more quickly than expected people need a place to find out more information. I hope to have some designers help build a new site next month that will better identify us graphically, but for now I am working on the content with a very simple design.

I am also working on a brochure that we can pass out to people who want more information. We come across people all the time who want more information and I have not created a new brochure since we started Catalyst France. I will be at the Buzz Conference in Washington DC next week with lots of pastors so I need to get something produced before then. If you are a graphic designer and would like to sow some seeds in this ministry, give me a shout at

One more thing. Did I mention that we are incorporating as Catalyst Europe? We will continue to focus on France and even use the name Catalyst France but we believe that God may have some bigger plans in the future for other European countries. If you're gonna dream, why not dream God sized dreams.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Chazown" in French


A few days ago I read over at the Swerve blog that the books Chazown and Confessions of a Pastor are being published in some different languages.

Chazown is available in Spanish and Korean. They are preparing to print it in Finnish and French. Confessions of a Pastor will be published in Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese.

If you’d like to purchase them you can check out this online store.

Having Chazown in French will be awesome. If you have not read it in English you should (get it here). It's a great book that looks at developing vision in our lives. The book's title is actually the Hebrew word for vision in the passage that says, where there is no vision the people perish. Life was created to have hope, relationships and meaning and teaching people how to have these things in their life is crucial to leading young French people to a transformed life through Christ. Chazown in French will be very helpful in opening doors to new life in our vision to plant a life giving church in Paris.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

I got this really large Paris coffee cup and a Starbucks card for Father's Day. I like coffee. My kids know that.

But what is so special about the card was that my son Levi got it for me himself. In fact, he found a bag and some tissue paper and put in the bag and brought it to me himself. His mother knew nothing about it.

The truth is, there is really no credit on the card. He just picked it up off the counter at Starbucks in the mall, because he knew how much his daddy likes Starbucks. He's not quite old enough to know that you have to give them money so that they will put credit on the card. This is one time it really is the thought that counts. I love you Levi.

I just found out that my wife blogged about this here.

Paul Potts Semi-final Win on BGT

I've had tons of new readers since I posted the Paul Potts video last week. This guy is really amazing and inspirational. Well here he is again in the Britain's Got Talent semi-final performance.

Or watch it here on You Tube.

He won this semi-final performance, by the way, and will compete next Sunday night in the BGT Finals.

Friday, June 15, 2007

French Culture - Paris Bird Lady

Ok. I know that some readers might be offended by this picture. But in France and specifically Paris this is common stuff. In fact, if you know someone living in Europe, you can bet they probably see this kind of stuff all the time.

This is picture of me standing in front of a movie poster in a Paris Metro (subway) station last year. If you could go left in the picture you would see about 50 identical posters in a row. For a week they were everywhere. No one there is offended by it. Parents don't take their kids different routs to avoid the poster. They were in all the metro stations.

Most of us in the church today live in a holy huddle. Stuff like you see above is so offensive that we avoid being in places where you might encounter something like that. To many, the immoral decline in society signals that the end times are coming soon. But wait. Aren't these times more similar to the culture of the early church in Greece and Rome. It is an Acts 17 world. A world with sex gods, temple prostitutes, idol worship, human sacrifice and more. And yet, this culture experienced the greatest growth of Christianity in History.

I believe that God is calling us out of the Acts 2 culture to make a difference in the Acts 17 culture. These people are hungry for relationship, hope and purpose. Jesus offers that. But we must go into the culture and genuinely care for people very different from us if we want to impact them for Christ.

Ruth Bell Graham Dies at 87

The wife of the famous evangelist Billy Graham died yesterday at the age of 87. My wife and I watched a TV special about her life last night and learned a lot about her. Gina liked the fact that she was strong-willed and helped her husband write his sermons and speeches and had their house built her way against her husbands wishes while he was away. I liked the fact that she never complained when Billy was gone a lot. She almost single handedly raised 5 children who turned out pretty good and are all Christians today, in spite of a father who was never there and the added insanity of being in a famous family.

She also spent her entire life until college in China and wanted to return there as a missionary. She truly gave up the life she had planned to be the wife of Billy Graham. But I think that in the end she must have been pretty pleased with what she accomplished for God through her husband and children. Millions may attribute their faith to Billy Graham, but I'm betting that their are 5 children out their who attribute theirs to Ruth Graham.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Links: Bio-Goals, Paul Potts Opera, iPhone

Mark Batterson has a great post on Goals - you may need some biology training to understand it all but he explains it well.

If you haven't seen Paul Potts on the British Talent Show yet, you've got to see it. My wife has watched it 37 times and I have memorized the words even though I don't understand them: it's opera. But it is incredibly inspiring. It reminds us to see the best in others and help them discover their gifts.

Chris Elrod at talks about how many 20-somethings really want an Apple iPhone. ht. Todd

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Death by Admin

This is the week that we have planned to get our first Catalyst France newsletter out. It will tell a little about our decision to start Catalyst France and provide details about how to support this ministry.

The schedule on my white board says, Monday - final draft, Tuesday - printing, and Wednesday - dropped in the mail. As of about 5 minutes ago, after about 96 drafts, I believe that we have our final draft. If I can get them printed today, I will be making up some lost time. That is a big "if". I do it myself at home. Send up a prayer for me today.

I also have some good news to share. Yesterday, a wonderful Type "A" friend of ours accepted the position of secretary (think accounting, not reception) for the US operations of Catalyst France. Thank you Kimberly! You are awesome!

Finally, on a not so eventful blog day, I thought I would share a video I came across yesterday. It's inspiring and reminds us to see potential in people.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Valuing People - Walmart vs the Church

I am reprinting this from Todd Rhoades' Monday Morning Insight Email yesterday. He included some good questions at the end. Leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Maybe the Church Should Become a Little More Like Wal-Mart…

What is the price or value of a soul?


That’s the price that Wal-mart has put on each of their customers. A couple weeks ago, I happened upon a documentary on CNBC about the inner workings of Wal-mart. It was a very interesting program. One of the main things that stood out to me is that Wal-mart has done extensive research into their business.

If, for example, I go into my local Wal-mart store and get bad service; can’t find what I need; have to wait in the checkout line too long; or anything else that really makes me upset, Wal-mart knows that they have a lot to lose. In fact, they’ve calculated the value of what I’m worth to them. If I get mad at Wal-mart and never return, I have just cost the company (on average) $215,000. That’s how much sales they have figured they will lose from the average customer over their lifetime if they don’t come back...

Wal-mart puts a high value on me and every other person and family in my community.

Many churches, on the other hand, seemingly couldn’t care less about the people in their community. Sure, we give them lip service, but when it really comes down to reaching our target, many of us are too busy arguing about carpet color, worship styles, and how much to ‘give’ to missions in Africa, all the while missing the main point of reaching our own community for Christ.

Wal-mart provides diapers and socks and hemorrhoid cream for a profit.

The church offers eternal life and salvation for free.

Shouldn’t our communities know we value them at least as much as Wal-mart?

FOR DISCUSSION: Here’s today’s questions for you:

--Does your church value people more than Wal-mart?
--If so, what does that look like in your community?
--Who is better at reaching their audience in your community? Your church or Wal-mart?
--Does your church even have a specific target audience?
--Does your church have a specific plan to reach that audience?
--If your church shut down today, would your community notice?
--And if they noticed, would they care?
--What is your church offering your community that no one else can or does?

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Lesson in Failure

My son came to me about 7:30 yesterday morning and said that the neighbor boy from 2 houses down came into our driveway and took our Sunday morning paper. I looked out the window just in time to see him heading toward his house with our paper. To make matters worse, this family doesn't really like us.

So I did what a real man would do. I marched over to their house to see what the problem was. I asked if there was any reason that their son took our paper. They were very embarrassed and said that they were sorry. They thought the paper belonged to the neighbor in between us and they were going to look at her paper since she was not up yet and the courier missed their delivery that morning. I graciously accepted their apology and said, "That's why I asked, I figured something like that might have been the case." Not a bad response I thought, even if I must say so myself. So they gave me the paper and I headed home proudly. I felt like I had handled that situation well. I had a small victory that morning... confronting kindly the neighbors who hated us.

An hour and a half later as we were pulling out of the driveway with the paper in the floor of our car as we left for church, I sensed God saying "that wasn't a victory, Ken, I would have told them to keep the paper."

I hate learning that way. But, as I sit here this Monday morning looking at the unread Sunday paper in my office, I thought that I might share the story on my blog, in case someone else could learn from my failure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Investment, Risk and ROI

If you bought stock in Microsoft today, you could probably make some money. But if a young man named Bill came to you 20 years ago and asked you to invest in his new venture, you could have retired off of the proceeds of that investment.

Everyone probably wishes they could find that diamond in the rough or the upstart stock that goes global, but very few ever take the risk. Instead, most people choose safety over risk and invest in a sure thing. The only problem is that there is no sure thing. And investment in anything that is already proven offers very little return on investment.

At the Hillsong Europe Conference last year, I remember hearing Darlene Zschech say that many of the new songs that they are putting out are written by their youth. She said they are going to the leaders among their youth and asking them to write songs. One reason that they do this is to intentionally invest in raising up young leaders. The other reason is that these young leaders and the songs they write will better connect with their own generation. The investment in these young people helps them avoid skipping a generation in their church. It is a risk, but is has a high return on investment.

We see this in the Bible with people like Moses and David and Rahab and every Apostle chosen by Jesus. When God chose the less likely, he made it more likely that He would receive the Glory.

Invest in the next generation. Look for potential in unproven people. Be a catalyst to ignite a movement much larger than yourself.

Friday, June 08, 2007

All Press is Good Press

A week or 2 ago I posted that Gina got a "shout out" from a French living and travel site for visitors. This site is out of England and probably appeals to frequent travelers to France from other nearby countries. Gina got a lot of new traffic from that site.

What was interesting about this link was that it brought in a couple of negative comments about our plans to plant a church in France. Gina and I both have fairly high profile blogs in that we blog often and talk openly about our vision for France. I knew at some point that we would get some negative feedback from those who view our plans as "arrogant", thinking that we are trying to bring our "better American version of the church" to France. Or something like that.

The truth is I think this is a good thing. You have heard it said that "all press is good press." In an industry where we are trying to reach new people with a message, I would rather be criticized than ignored. It gives us an opportunity to respond and present who we really are.

I think these 2 comments are sharing that we don't think their church is good enough. My response is, we are not trying to reach those who go to church. Our goal is to reach those who think the church is not for them. We want to create a church that will better connect with the unchurched not try to steal the "churchgoing" Catholics.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Catalyst France - Wish List

In the process of the formation of Catalyst France we have lots of opportunities for service.

We are a brand new ministry organization dedicated to planting a church in Paris and establishing a church planting network in France that will begin a movement of church planting throughout the country. We want to reach the emerging generation of young French people who find church boring and irrelevant and will become the future leaders in their country.

If this sounds interesting, we need your gifts and talents because God didn't call us to do this alone.

I will begin a wish list here. I will probably add to it as time goes on.

  • Graphic Designer - Complete Catalyst France branding. Brochure, business cards, etc.
  • Web Designer
  • Video Producer
  • Creative Writer
  • We need a bookkeeper who will receive donor contributions, make bank deposits, and record all transactions for Catalyst France (probably 2-3 hours a week and a 1 year commitment).
  • Possibly an additional person to the bookkeeper to help with Donor receipting and financial correspondence.
  • Someone to oversee the production and mailing of our newsletter from the US.
In France - Long-term(2yr+) and Short-term(3-12mo) - Must have a passion to reach the unchurched for Christ, a deep love Jesus, and a sense of adventure (1 Sam 14). Theological education is not required.
  • Nannies
  • Musicians
  • Fine Artists
  • Dancers
  • Actors
  • "People" people (strengths finder "woo")
  • Project managers
  • Coffee Drinkers
  • Creatives
  • Writers
  • Children's leaders
If you are interested in using your talents to join our team and be part of something big that God is doing in France, please contact us at

It's a Wonder I Survived

If you are older than 30 you have to read and I'm sure identify with this blog posted by Perry Noble.

Catalyst France - Growth and Teamwork

When someone steps down from a ministry organization itis often difficult to transition to a new job. When some one starts a new ministry it typically is challenging getting it off the ground. Leaving a ministry organization and then immediately starting a new organization is "hard squared". But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. We are not doing this because it's easy but because we believe in the visionGod has given us, and we trust Him to take care of the details.

The exciting thing about this transition has been the support people have shown us. In a faith ministry completely funded by donors, any change can potentially scare away some of your existing donors... or so we thought. The amazing thing is that new people have been coming to us saying, now that we have taken this new step of faith, they want to support our ministry financially.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with a guy I meet with once or twice a month. He said that when we stepped down from our organization but were still committed to the same vision, and willing to continue on our own, he was convinced. He said that the organizational stuff clouded the vision, but now the vision is clear. I can't tell you how many similar conversations we have had like this . We have more people, more involved now than we have ever had. This is what it is all about.

It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Blogs I'm Reading

Scott Roger, Campus Pastor of Life Mesa has this on innovation.

Perry Noble, Pastor of New Spring Church has this on doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. I had to confront a friend 2 weeks ago. It was tough and I didn't want to do it. A couple of people even advised me to just let it go. But I knew it was right in the eyes of the Lord. The good Kings in the Bible didn't get that way by being good little boys. They got that way by doing the difficult, unpopular things. I want God to see me that way.

Steven Furtick, Pastor of Elevate, has this on criticizing celebrity pastors.

Seth Godin, Marketing Guru has this on the new UK 2012 Olympic Games logo

Monday, June 04, 2007

Aggie Baseball Advances to Super-Regionals

The Aggies beat the ULALafayette 5-3 in game 7 of the NCAA Regional Tournament at College Station. It was great to see Kyle Thebeau pitch a complete game with a personal best 13 strikeouts including the last 5 cajun batters. They face #2 Rice in the Supers this weekend.

Elsewhere the Longhorns lost their second against UC Irvine at home today keeping them out of the Super-Regionals. Poor T-sips.

Live a Legacy

Favorite quote of the last few weeks. From Pastor Matt Fry at C3 Church.

If you want to leave a legacy, you have to live a legacy.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Acts 17 Evangelism

In my last post I mentioned Jim White leading the first church planting conference I ever attended. It was at Mecklenberg Community Church in Charlotte back in 1998.

I want to mention something that impacted me at that conference that plays into the Acts 2 vs. Acts 17 discussion today.

Pastor White said that we have to change our methods of evangelism because the culture has changed. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is an absolute atheist and 10 is a Christ follower, most people in the 50's, 60's and even into the early 70's were already at a 7 or 8. They had a belief in basic tenants of the Christian faith. Many of them even spent time in church as a child. If someone shared a gospel presentation or a tract with them, it was not difficult for them to be able to put all the pieces together to make the jump from a 7 or 8 to a 10.

Today, we live in a different world. Most 20 and 30-somethings have no church background and don't have a basic understanding of and belief in the basics of the Christian faith. They are at a 2 or 3 maybe a 4 on the scale. We can't expect them to make a jump from 3 to 10 in 30 minute discussion with a stranger. I think that their are two reasons for this. First, they just don't accept an argument from a Bible they have no reason to believe. And second, they are more concerned with the practical perception they have of Christianity being about a bunch of rules quoted by hypocrites.

The 1950's through the early 1970's represented an Acts 2 culture. They had a belief and acceptance of God. They just needed to understand who Jesus was and how He related to their lives. Our culture today, is more like that of the Greeks and Romans. People are generally looking for anything that they believe will add value to their lives.

Paul talked about their unknown god and showed them how the one true God adds value to their lives. He only had a few immediate followers in comparison to the 3000 at Pentecost, but he started something that day that spread throughout the Greek and Roman world and into Europe and ultimately to many parts of the world. It did not happen overnight but it did change the course of human history.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Acts 2 vs. Acts 17

Here is an excerpt from Mark Batterson about a session at the Q Conference.

A few weeks ago I heard James Emery White, former President of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, speak at the Q Conference. And he made a great distinction between two approaches to culture. He said we can't afford to approach culture as if we're living in an Acts 2 age where we're surrounded by God-fearing Jews. We need to approach culture like we're living in an Acts 17 age where we're surrounded by idolatry like Paul in Athens. I've always felt like Acts 17 is "the model" when it comes to decoding culture. (more)

What a profound thought. We are certainly not living in a God-fearing culture. If we fail to engage the Acts 17 culture we will fail to reach our world for Christ.

It's interesting that the first church planting conference I ever attended was led by Jim White at Mecklenberg Community Church. And few are as adept reading culture as Mark Batterson. God is using men like these guys to raise up a new generation of Acts 17 leaders.

France is our Athens. That is why we created Catalyst France.