Friday, October 21, 2005

Custom Made Jesus

It's amazing to me that business continues to find new ways to attract consumers to their products. Take for instance the latest iPod craze, and soon to be Video iPod. Wherever you turn their are iPod's. Podcasting has taken off as one of the quickest and most effective ways to get audio to people. You can sign up for "podcasts" and download them at will for almost anything that is broadcast. Churches are beginning to do this as well. Why don't churches use these strategies more often?

The business world has figured out that to reach their "target audience" that they must customize their product to meet the needs of the consumer. I heard a great session by Leonard Sweet that describes this in detail. He deconstructed a simple Starbucks Coffee Cup and talked about branding and the church. As he described, business is simply taking age old biblical principles and applying them in a practical way. Something, he stresses, that the church has forgotten about but needs to revisit. Why let business dominate a strategy that Christ used centuries ago??

I had some fun recently with product "customization." You can visit my new "shoe" design here. You can now personalize everything from shoes, other clothing items, your car, your name it and you can personalize it. This seems so ironic to me. The very thing that business uses is the same concept that the "church" (BIG "C") has put in a box for so long. God is seen as a "rigid" force that you shouldn't mess with. Do as your told and follow the rules. We are one. How fresh would it be to talk about Jesus as someone who you can "personalize?" Someone who can relate to you no matter where you are or where you have been. This is the Jesus that I know. This does not diminish the "Truth," but paints it in a new way that anyone can relate to on their own level. In essence this is what Jesus was all about - meeting people (customization) wherever they needed to be met.

So my question is this - are you looking for a mass-produced, run-of-the-mill Jesus, or are you looking for a fresh, customized Jesus that will meet you wherever you are?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An "old" friend

Mill Stream Gardens
The "Twisted" Tree

Two Parks in Two Days

I had the opportunity to visit two state parks that I had never been to before. My family and I along with my mother in law, visited Mill Stream Gardens on Sunday afternoon. It was a very small park, but very beautiful as well. There is a small area called the "shut ins" and a large tree that was "turned" by a man over many, many years. An enjoyable afternoon with the family on a gorgeous day.

On Monday (my new day off!!) I spent the day with an old friend at Sam A. Baker state park. Again, a state park that I had not set foot in before. This park was much bigger than I anticipated. It was very beautiful with two campgrounds, a park/picnic area, cabins, visitor's center, and a small restaurant that opens during the weekend. I loved the area, and certainly had an itch to go to the nearest camper dealer to see what I could find. But alas, the dollars say not at this time. Soon however!! I had a great day talking, hanging out, eating a great grilled hamburger, and thinking about days gone by. Thanks for a great day John!!

Now it is back to work this week, with much on the horizon. We had our first full time Saturday gathering this past weekend, and the vibe was very good. Over 550 in attendance this weekend, the second highest ever for a non-holiday. This could be the catalyst that sparks the next wave of growth. I'm excited to see where things are headed from here. Only time (and God!!) will tell.

Monday, October 10, 2005


The Catalyst Conference 2005 is now officially over. I had the opportunity to hear some great speakers, but mostly it was the same stuff I had heard before from them or from their books. It was nice to hear Donald Miller for a longer period of time. He is definitely a challenging speaker, with a great sense of dry wit and humor. Bill Hybels was also a highlight for the day.

By far the greatest highlight was the band. This band can ROCK!! Most of the vocalists and musicians are from North Point Church in Atlanta. The drummer was phenom as well as many of their vocalists. A great improvement from last year.

I enjoyed the conference again this year, but I enjoyed hanging out with the Emerging Leader group much more than the conference. It was great to watch them as they experienced this environment for the first time - it is always rewarding to watch others and share in their thoughts. We had some great conversations, and who can forget that wonderful van ride (thanks to Craig Mills here!).

Now I am back at work for the week, busily preparing for the permanent addition of our Saturday gathering starting this weekend. It is a busy week ahead!!

I am off for home and to see Kayla one last time before she heads back to school tomorrow. It seems like her visit home went too quickly, or maybe I am just getting much older. Probably a combination of both.

So for now, I bid you farewell.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Atlanta, Day One

Well, it's our first day in Atlanta. We rolled in about 3:30am today (losing an hour to the Eastern time zone) and with little sleep managed to climb out of bed at about 9:30am. Then it was off to the Catalyst Labs. There were a total of three sessions, each with a different speaker. I must say that all three sessions were decent, but by far the best speaker of the day was Len Sweet. He was very articulate - VERY intellectual, and very challenging. He analyzed the marketing (image) strategy of Starbuck's Coffee and made a great comparison that business is using strategies and ideas that are straight from the Bible. As a church, however, we are failing to use the very things that make companies like Starbucks extremely successful. It was very interesting.

I took two things away from his conversation. Number one, even though this is a leadership conference, Christ called us to "follow Him" and not lead. In order to be great leaders we first have to be great followers. Or in Sweet's words, it's not about discipleship, but followership. Secondly, we must open our eyes and look for "God" moments, or the study of semiotics (spellling?). This is basically looking for the "signs" that God is present. And not just looking for them but then knowing what to do once you find them. That, Sweet states, is the same concept that Starbucks has used successfully for years. Knowing the signs of their business, identifying them, and then knowing what to do with them. A great discussion for the short hour period.

There were two other speakers, but none that were as captivating as Sweet. I will add however, that the evening session featured one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) who was as witty as his writings. If you haven't checked out his books, I encourage you to do so. You won't be disappointed.

Tomorrow begins the main sessions in the big arena. Many, many talented authors and speakers to appear tomorrow, so I am off to bed to recoup from my day. More updates later!!