Saturday, March 31, 2007
It will be great to have the Howser's home at some point in the near future - safe travels until then! Check out his blog for lots of pictures and many tales of adventures. Happy Birthday old friend!
Friday, March 30, 2007
Melissa and I along with our four year old, Emilee, took a few hours out last night to take a "Sunday afternoon drive" on a Thursday. I haven't taken time out to smell the aroma of the world for quite some time. I used to love to head out in the car, sometimes no destination in mind, and see what the world had to offer.
Last night our destination was unknown as well. We started down the highway, wind blowing through the windows and sunroof, hair blazing back like a crazy mane. Life was good. We stopped by an area known as Silvermines, took a walk down by the river and up the trails, and then hopped back in the car for a trip down a road less traveled - a gravel road. Not knowing where we might end up, this gravel road eventually landed us in a small community about 20 miles from here. We slowly meandered back to good ole' Fredericktown at mostly, might I add, the speed limit or under. Yes, you caught that right...I actually drove the speed limit! I haven't driven that slow in...I can't even remember when!
There are really three things that keep us from enjoying the journey of life:
(1) We're too busy. Life is always a race and we're determined to finish first. Tunnel vision ensues and life passes all too quickly.It's a huge challenge to break out of the race of life. Sometimes it's important to take a small detour, even if only for a moment, and expand your lungs with the freshness of what God has to offer. He always provides, if we'll only break free from our own thoughts and desires to enjoy His sweetness.
(2) Distractions. We might start the journey, but for some reason we get distracted. Other passengers on the journey aren't going fast enough, we get frustrated, and ultimately we're distracted onto another more traveled path.
(3) It's not important. We have become intent and CONTENT on living life at a fast pace. Everyone expects us to accomplish certain things, to live a certain life, and to pass through as society deems appropriate. Simply put, it's not that important for us to live life like no one else dreamed possible. We're satisfied in an unhealthy way.
May you choose the road less traveled.
|I shall be telling this with a sigh|
|Somewhere ages and ages hence:|
|Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—|
|I took the one less traveled by,|
|And that has made all the difference.|
~Robert Frost (1874–1963)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
After lunch (a HORRENDOUS veggie burger from Ruby Tuesday's - NOT recommended!), we headed back for two breakout sessions. Session One - Worship and Media. I was really looking forward to this breakout, but unfortunately the staff member from Fellowship gave a more global philosophy of why we should worship God. I was hoping to hear some specifics on HOW Fellowship organizes their worship and media ministry, best practices, etc. We did get a few samples clips of several media projects, but only at the very end of the session when most people were leaving.
The second breakout was on assimilation, or more specifically on volunteers. Again, a good global session, but nothing really new. The best takeaway was the "volunteer tour" where a tour is given of every ministry - in action! I thought this was a great idea, and certainly a fantastic way to give people a glimpse of the different ministries available. By following up with "next steps," this is certain to increase the number of volunteers.
Overall, a great day to get away with the staff, but without a lot of new information. We're entering the stage of our organization where we have a specific vision, a focused mission, and the need to contact SME's (subject matter experts) to help us move to the next level. One thing is for sure - there is MUCH work still to be done!
Saturday, March 24, 2007
I'm also getting a chance to relax and spend some time with my beautiful wife. The kids are at grandma's and we're taking advantage! I'm also catching some NCAA hoops action. My Jayhawks pulled out a close one against SIU, and tonight they will battle the tough UCLA squad. Rock Chalk Jayhawks baby!
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Church is a tag-team sport.Who are the 68 people in your sphere of influence? Can you imagine if the 650-700 people that will be at Meadow Heights Church this weekend became intentional about reaching their sphere of influence? We can absolutely rock the Parkland!! TAG, YOU'RE IT!!
When you walk in, you tag me and say "go for it." And with the help of our creative team, I try to preach what God has put in my heart with as much creativity and authenticity as I can.
When you walk out, I tag you and say "go for it." And every NCCer is responsible for sharing their faith with everyone in their unique circle of influence. By the way, I read somewhere that the average person has 68 people in their circle of influence--family, friends, colleagues, roomates, etc. Not sure who came up with that number or how! But when I think about our potential impact as a church I don't think in terms of the people who actually attend. I think of our collective circles of influence!
Average Attendance x Circle of Influence = Potential Impact
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
To adopt and implement a multi-site strategy as a means of realizing our vision to “impact our world by leading changed lives into an increasing number of biblical communities.”
To launch a second campus.
To position our present campus for continued growth.
To acquire the necessary resources to fully implement the strategic plan.
There is much work still to be done before any of our strategic initiatives can be fully realized, but we are steadily moving forward. Our multi-site vision will become a reality! Here are some interesting statistics from the book Multi-Site Revolution:
- In 1990 there were only 10 multi-site churches in the U.S. Today 33% of all churches are currently considering the multi-site option.
- In 2000 only 5% of all mega churches in the U.S. had multiple locations. Today 25% of all mega churches have more than one site and experts are predicting that by 2010 that 50% of all mega churches will be multi-site.
- Currently 7 of the 10 fastest growing churches in the U.S. are multi-site churches.
- Currently 9 of the 10 largest churches in the U.S. are multi-site churches.
What Blockbuster realized was that small town America is not that different from the larger metropolitan areas. People are still people. And last time I checked, God still cares about people. If Meadow Heights can fill this void in some manner and allow God to use us to reach smaller communities, then we are ready and willing to say "God. Yes. Amen." Some might call us crazy, some might call us a "niche," some have even said it can't be done.
We just want to be obedient. We'll do what only we can do, and we'll let God do what only He can do.
Not having coffee in my system really stinks. Worse than that, but I can't really say what on this blog. I have had a headache for two days...it's finally subsiding, but now my joints and bones are aching a bit.
Enough of the whining...
If you haven't checked out the Larger Than Life Blog - why wait? When we first created this blog for the challenge, we wondered how many folks would actually use it. Well I am pleased to report that after two days we've had 278 unique visits and 1452 page views!!
Only 18 days to go...
I forgot to mention how awesome the Reading Plan has been - the NLT version of the Book of John is amazing! The prayer guide has been phenomenal as well!
Sunday, March 18, 2007
On a brighter note, the Kansas Jayhawks looked great today. The alley oops were off the hook! I've been a KU fan for as long as I can remember. You may have wondered where the term "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" came from. Here's what I found:
KU's world famous Rock Chalk Chant evolved from a cheer that a chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey, created for the KU science club in 1886. Bailey's version was "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" repeated three times. The rahs were later replaced by "Rock Chalk," a transposition of chalk rock, the name for the limestone outcropping found on Mount Oread, site of the Lawrence campus.
The cheer became known worldwide. Teddy Roosevelt pronounced it the greatest college chant he'd ever heard. Legend has it that troops used the chant when fighting in the Philippines in 1899, in the Boxer Rebellion in China, and in World War II. At the Olympic games in 1920, the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell. The assembled athletes agreed on KU's Rock Chalk and rendered it for His Majesty.
(1) 21 Days of Fasting (Daniel Fast)There was definitely an air of excitement and anticipation as we rolled out this new challenge. Most people were totally on board and pumped to see what God will be doing during the next three weeks leading up to Easter. This is gonna be good!!(2) 21 Days of Prayer (with corresponding prayer guide)
(3) 21 Days of Scripture (read through the Gospel of John)
Check out our resources and make sure to comment on our "Larger Than Life Blog!"
Saturday, March 17, 2007
On a side note, it looks like my reign as the NCAA Bracket Champion (two-peat actually) is already coming to a halt. I am dead last this year!! From first to worst in two short days - yikes!! But on a positive note, my Jayhawks rolled today and are looking schweet. Too bad the game wasn't on CBS - someone seems to think that we are all Illinois fans around here!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Some people simply have questions, and simply want to discuss. Wonderful. But some people are miserable, and they use religion as a crutch to avoid dealing with their misery and their pain. And what gets masqueraded as Christian faith is not. And we need to be careful spending all sorts of energy engaging with people who don’t have any interest in coming along on the journey with us.For a VERY GOOD listing of Rob Bell resources on the web, check out this link.
“I started preaching this life-change—this radical turn to God and everything it meant in everyday life—right there in Damascus, went on to Jerusalem and the surrounding countryside, and from there to the whole world.” Acts 26:20 (MsgB)
I was challenged by a blog I read the other day that talked about churches that were normal.
Our volunteers aren’t normal. They show up way too early and stay way too late. They work hard and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish God’s mission for our church. And all of that with a humble heart and a fulfilled spirit. Our giving patterns aren’t normal. We’re not broke. We’re blessed. We give – sacrificially and joyfully. We have folks that give not because they have to, but because they get to. We give because God has blessed us and is showing us a vision that can literally change thousands of lives forever.
I challenge you to be here this weekend as we engage in a new series called “Larger Than Life.” We’ll spend the next 21 days getting ready for Easter and preparing ourselves for the miracles that lie ahead. I truly believe that God is preparing us in advance for what he has planned for our church and for each and every one of us. Things are getting ready to heat up around here!
That’s not normal. But then again, neither was Jesus.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
This guy has some really great things to say. I encourage you to check out his blog, but be warned...religious people just might be offended at what he has to say!
If you’ve been attending Elevation for a while, and are a Christian who is already going to heaven, and are treating our church like American Idol, waiting to decide whether you will vote us in for another week based on whether you like the show this Sunday, please find somewhere else to take up space.
We need your seat.Otherwise, roll up your sleeves, invite your unchurched friends, plug in as a volunteer, give financially, pray for God’s continued favor, and let’s rock this city.
We've had a "friendly" tourney bracket competition the past few years, and I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but I've been the champion for the past two years running. This year I'm looking for the three peat baby! Will my Rock Chawk Jayhawks pull out a championship? Will the Gators dominate again this year? Stay tuned as I'll update the standings over the next few weeks!
Friday, March 09, 2007
- What do you think God wants to do through our church that I’m not seeing?
- What are we doing that stopped working two years ago?
- What should we be doing to reach people that we’re not?
- Where have I lost effectiveness but those closest to me are afraid to tell me?
- What vision do you have about ministry that no one will listen to?
He also took time to honor those folks who had invested in to his life. You can read more about the questions he likes to ask those who have come before him here.
As I reflected on his post, I began to think about those people who have had a major impact on my life. Of course none of this would be possible without God. I am a different person today because of my relationship with Him. But it doesn't stop there. God created us to live in community with one another, or as we fondly call it at Meadow Heights - sharing life together. There have been lots of folks who have made a difference in my life, but I'm talking about those who have made a MAJOR impact:
What can I say? John made an impact in my life the moment I met him. He taught me to love music and to love life, and for that I will always be thankful. We have always considered ourselves "soul mates" and we still love to share our thoughts on life (and a cup of coffee!). Life is good...and I hope to you as well!
While we only had the chance to spend about five years together, this other "John" taught me a lot about teaching others. His passion for students stemmed from his work in education and administration, and he took time out to share his knowledge with me. He's retired now, but I know the kids (and other faculty) still miss him.
Nope, not another John. I have no doubt in my mind that God totally arranged for Bryan and I to meet. There is also no doubt that I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for Bryan. He spent countless hours answering my endless questions and helped lead me down an incredible path. Today I stand as a follower of Jesus because of those conversations, and I am so thankful to share in this new journey of ministry together.
Besides God, THE most important part of my life. I am so incredibly blessed to share life with my family!! I could write for days on the many experiences, joys, heartaches, worries, laughs, adventures and many, many more. To Melissa, Kayla, Seth and Emilee - thank you for loving me when I act like Jesus and more importantly, thank you for loving me when I don't. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!
What list would be complete without your mom? But seriously, my mother is awesome!! She has always been an advocate for me, no matter what. She was strong in troubled times, shared a smile just when I needed it, and showed unconditional love. My life is a direct result of what she instilled in me, and I'm proud to call her my mom.
I know that this list is far from complete. There are so many I would like to give props to, but just like a good awards show, my time is limited and the music is playing. It's time to get off this stage. If you haven't put thought to those who have made a lasting impact in your life, why not? It's never to late to let someone know what they meant in your life, and you might be surprised at how much your thoughts will leave a mark on their life as well.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
SatanHatesLife.com - a simple but effective website from LifeChurch.tv to support their new series. They have utilized websites similar to this in the past. By the way...their billboards are awesome!!
My Life Story - an incredible site from Granger Community Church! They asked folks to submit their life stories via postcard and they have posted them on this site. Very effective and VERY cool! Check it out!
I love how these churches are leveraging technology to reach people. Who isn't connected nowadays? What a great way to target an audience in an effective and creative way!
Here are the four main points he makes:
#1 - In a cult everyone is expected to talk, look, act and believe the same thing
#2 - In a cult people strive to keep things the way they are
#3 - A cult’s main concern are those who are insiders
#4 - A cult is passionate about man-made rules
What's interesting are the very "religious" claims that a cult makes about itself. These are the antithesis of what it means to follow Jesus. If you take even a glimpse at the life of Jesus and what He is asking the "big C" church to do, it looks totally opposite of the values of a cult. That sounds a lot like the "religious" leaders of the Bible- more focus on them than on God.
Is there anything in your own life that you focus on more than God?
Monday, March 05, 2007
- The "to-do" list
- The grocery list
- The Christmas list
- Forbes richest list
- David Letterman's Top 10 List
- Time's Most Important List
- Mr. Blackwell's "best and worst" dressed list
Churchrelevance is getting in on the action as well. They recently published the "Top 22 Churches In America." This list is based on 7 other lists (HEY! Another list! Kind of ironic isn't it?):
- 07 AMIC = Outreach magazine’s 2007 America’s 25 Most Innovative Churches
- 06 FGC = Outreach magazine’s 2006 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
- 06 LC = Outreach magazine’s 2006 100 Largest U.S. Churches
- 06 MIC = The Church Report’s 2006 50 Most Influential Churches
- 05 FGC = Outreach magazine’s 2005 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
- 05 MIC = The Church Report’s 2005 50 Most Influential Churches
- 04 FGC = Outreach magazine’s 2004 100 Fastest-Growing U.S. Churches
For the record, there are many folks out there who don't enjoy lists. You can check out two from LifeChurch.tv - this post by Bobby Gruenewald, and this post by Craig Groeschel.
Can I get a list anyone?
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I had the opportunity to teach at our five gatherings this weekend (not to mention our CLASS night!), and as always, God works in incredible ways. It usually feels like God has taken me on an incredible journey, and while He might be impacting others, I come away feeling like He's given me so much more than I've given Him or anyone else. It's really hard to explain unless you've gone through that experience. It is both an awesome and humbling experience all at the same time. I learned so much today about the importance of miracles - it's been a recurring theme of our series - not the importance of the miracle itself, but having faith that God can do the miracle if He chooses. The REAL miracle, regardless of the outcome, is how our lives are changed as a result of our faith.
So as I prepare to drag myself into bed, I am thankful that God has given us the promise that despite our difficult circumstances, or the crisis in our life, or our unmet expectations, He is always working and that His best is yet to come.
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. So if you find life difficult because you're doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust him. He knows what he's doing, and he'll keep on doing it.1 Peter 4:12-13, 19 (MsgB)
Friday, March 02, 2007
My wife is setting beside me as I type, and I'm sure when she reads this that she'll get a good chuckle over the statement above. I mean, think of it this way. If God created us and anything is considered art then by definition, humans are all considered art (remember the old math adage a=b=c?). If that's the case then I'm sure God is the only one who appreciates this work of art (meaning me). At least I hope He does.
So what's the point of this discussion? Eric recently posted about the subjectivity of art. Eric is the Creative Arts Director at Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL (think Chicago!). Eric had me rolling with this description:
At CCC, we pretty much have a "free reign" policy on such matters. Everyone here pretty much says whatever the heck the feel like regarding someone's art. We often mock the concept of an "umbrella of mercy." We say things like "there are no bad ideas, only bad people." and one time, we shattered an umbrella, hung it in the corner, and treated it like an umbrella of mercy "shame corner" for when a bad idea was uttered. As I recall, by the end of the brainstorming session, creative types were sending themselves into the corner when bringing up an idea that falls flat.During the creative arts meetings at Meadow Heights Church, we'll often unleash the "umbrella of mercy" before throwing out an idea. Eric's peeps take it to another level! But I love it! Make sure you read the rest of his post however, as he talks about how there are times a leader must make a decision. I love that about our church - we aren't afraid to talk about the concepts or ideas, but in the end, the leader makes the decision, and we all walk away with three things:
(1) Everyone knows the decision has been made
(2) Everyone accepts the decision and backs the leader 100%
(3) After all is said and done, we still love each other
You won't find too many environments where you can have healthy conflict, arrive at a solution that everyone agrees is the best decision at the time, and you walk away loving and respecting everyone in the process. Simply amazing.