Being (Not) Afraid

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

[This talk was delivered this morning at Align, our monthly staff worship.] Yesterday I got a text from Frank that said, “Been a strange couple o’ weeks.”  Partly because one of the biggest decisions in our recent history is going down while he’s on vacation up in Illinois.  But also because last week his step brother, Bob’s son, committed suicide, and Frank spoke at the funeral.  His brother was a troubled man, which only added to the strangeness…and sadness. This is a very interesting season we are in.  In a period of two weeks I learned that Michelle’s year-long wrestlings were likely coming to an end at Cameron, in the very position one of our former employees, James Ziegel, was leaving.  That’s strange.  Within the week, the Board and I decided to put SevenLakes on hold for a season, disappointing a number of people but definitely making the right decision.  That knocked the ol’ ego down a notch.  And then, if those two things weren’t enough, I discovered that some supposed brothers and sisters in Christ were looking to make a grab for Matt.  (That last part is not totally accurate, but it is how I felt.) It’s been a strange couple o’ weeks. There have been two times in my life I was truly afraid.  Afraid of surviving.  One was in high school.  I was coming home from the lake late one night.  There was a car in front of me on the highway, moving slowly and using a searchlight into the fields.  I decided he must be poaching or something illicit and because I was a stupid high school student, I decided to follow him.  Just him and me on this road outside of Austin.  Eventually I left him and went on, only to discover he was now following me.  At one point we pulled up to a light and he pulled out a gun.  I went flying through the light and was preparing to run the next one when thankfully God changed the light, stopping the cars I would have plowed into.  I was that afraid. The other time was a few summers ago when I allowed myself to be convinced that I could swim across a cove without a life jacket.  I was between two of my kids, Rose and Samuel, who are incredible swimmers.  But those who know me know I swim like a rock, literally.  I do a modified dog paddle, this “head above water” crawl.  And at one point I started to panic.  It wasn’t that my head was under water.  It was that in my head, my head was under water.  Abigail could see the panic in my eyes and quickly talked me off the drowning cliff, and we crawled until I could touch.  That was the first time—and hopefully the last— I truly appreciated just how panicking could quickly lead you to drowning, in whatever endeavor you’re in. One of the famous stories in Jesus’ life dealt with two women, two sisters actually.  Most of us probably recollect the story.  It goes like this:  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening...

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Are the Unchurched Hard to Reach?

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Friends, I ran across this post a week ago and wanted to share.  Note the credit info at the bottom of the page.  I found this a stimulating conversation.  Enjoy! ———- We claim the Unchurched in America are hard to reach. Yet coffee bars and cafes, those places that at least own the brand of conversational community, flourish. Social media also is exploding… another indication that people crave human contact more than ever. Yet most of the week, in our churches, in the one place they should find the warmth of human contact, no one is home. A phone call typically gets a long voice-mail recording of the weekend service times. Even with many program options, meaningful conversation is often missing. We all believe that “faith is the substance of things hoped (dreamed) for…” yet nine out of ten pastors cannot tell you a single, God-given dream of one of their parishioners. Something is wrong with this picture.  We Americans have become so accustomed to being frustrated in our attempts at real talk that we’ve developed our best skills around small talk… “Hey, how’s it going?” “Great, how about you?” “Kids doing well, work going OK?” “Great, and you?”  Churches spend much effort rolling out the Sunday invitation then reward the visitor with hurried small talk, a comfortable seat, and what can appear as a musical stage production followed by a monologue. Less than 1 in 8 return for a second try and far fewer bother to tell a friend about their wonderful experience. This may sound harsh, but if we’re really serious about reaching people have we ever stopped to think about how Sunday morning can feel to the average visitor? And we wonder about the diminishing trust-brand of the Church in America. And stop and think for a minute what would happen, if in today’s connected world we regained the lost art of being fully present with people in life-changing conversation, the kind that makes passionate, dream-fired disciples. Let’s consider some changes. Obviously its not a simple, quick process to find real solutions … or is it? Because there is so much human desire for the depth of real community, I believe we can get dramatic results from even small changes. Over the next few Mindstorm letters, I’d like to discuss some creative and strategic options, but here are what I see as the broad steps: 1. Know what God wants. 2. Know what you want.  3. Ask what people want. 4. Measure what you want. 5. Foster empowerment. 6. Communicate the culture you wish to form. 7. Employ today’s technology to serve your goals. Meaningful conversation and community flow out of those very meaningful things God is already speaking to each of us in the depth of our own soul. The heart of the Called community is the Call itself… the voice of God speaking through dreams, visions, and desires, calling us to the reason we are here. That is both the object and thread of discipleship. And whether “unchurched” at present or churched our entire life, we all respond to the fanning of that internal ember. As we develop tools and media supports for the Dreamfire initiative, I welcome your dialog. Tell me about YOUR dreams. What big dream has God used to ignite your vision? I would...

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#todayisfivetwo Contest Winners

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Congratulations to the following #todayisfivetwo winners.  Well done, twitter nation. Bill Streger– won David Kinnaman book of choice Nathan Kuhlman– David Kinnaman book of choice Jeremy Pekari– Jonathan Reitz book, due out in July Danny Anderson– Jonathan Reitz book, due out in July Karen Weichman– Alan Hirsch book of choice Danny Anderson– Kip Fox CD Rick VanBriggle– Kip Fox CD Andy Pronsati– Kip Fox CD Gregory Devore– Kip Fox CD David Brinkman– one on one time with yours truly and cigar if coming to Wiki; if not, one of Alan Hirsch’s books Shawn Roller– one on one time with yours truly and cigar if coming to Wiki; if not, one of Alan Hirsch’s books And the grand prize winner…Eric Kolonich won a free ticket to WikiConference.  (All participants were entered and chosen at random...

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Energizing Frustration

Posted by on Apr 30, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Frustration can debilitate.  Many people shut down when faced with walls or discontent.   I’m seeing the opposite, however, in the guys I work with.  These are the young pastors, not long out of seminary, desiring to turn the world upside down for the sake of Christ. Their frustration?  ”I’m pastoring a church that doesn’t even reach me.”  The ‘me’ is ‘people my age, who see the world through my screen, with values that resonate with my heart.’ Imagine entering a profession that builds on the core value of religious faith—a tenet fundamental to one’s makeup—only to discover that the system is not set up to reach people like you.  Rather than encouraging risk-taking and re-forming, it squashes and stifles.  So you find yourself leading a charge in a setting that doesn’t speak your language nor value your passions…and seemingly doesn’t care. In the last few years I’m seeing their frustration lead to creativity, however.  I’m discovering young leader after young leader who is turning that frustration into wall-climbing energy.  Their discontent is leading them to mix more apostolic into the pastoral.  And rather than assuming things are just as good as they’ll get, they’re not stopping until the questions get answered, until the Church reaches people like...

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

I live in Houston.  Population of the greater area lurches around 5MM, growing by over 1,000 a day.  That’s a lot of people. If you think about all of the people in the US who do not believe Jesus is whom the Scriptures claim, however, 5MM is hardly a drop in an ocean.   With over 311MM calling the United States home, best guess says about 2/3 of those ,or 200MM, embrace anything but Jesus.   Moving all of God’s lost people into US cities would necessitate filling the 1000 largest US cities from Cottonwood Heights, UT to New York, New York, and you would still need a couple New Yorks for the leftovers.  200MM people is  a lot of lost people. What is your church doing to reduce that...

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The Authority of Google

Posted by on Apr 13, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Have you noticed how much authority we give Google?   I recently needed directions to a destination I was somewhat unsure of.  So like any mistake-fearing man, I Googled it.  The O’ Mighty Search Engine gave me three options, each one adding a minute or so.  I chose the road less lengthy.  According to Google.  Even though my gut, which had traveled all three options before, said Google was wrong. Who knows if Google was right or not.  All I know that is that it’s become my King.  Whether it’s a product, an insight, or an address, I trust Google more than my own insight, my own friends, or my own wife.   Technology.  The enhancer of self-doubt.  The bringer of mis-trust. There’s got to be some spiritual application here.  I know…I’ll Google...

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Posted by on Apr 5, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

#fromnowon ashes to ashes & dust to dust get trumped by empty tomb. #easter #fromnowon washing hands can show your yellow streak. #easter #fromnowon children don’t get named ‘Judas.’ #easter #fromnowon roosters are not nice people. #easter #fromnowon you’re my brother not my enemy. #easter #fromnowon wine does eternal things. #easter #fromnowon washing feet is a great job. #easter #fromnowon eggs, bunnies & empty tombs are inseparable. #easter #fromnowon friendships don’t die. #easter #fromnowon entropy doesn’t matter. #easter #fromnowon satan is a loser....

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Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. New York Times lead on trend for more out-of-wedlock than in-wedlock births for women under 30.

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The Church is sacramental not simply because it was founded by Jesus but because it is his graceful presence in the lives of human beings. FiveTwo

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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

A community never forms by accident but like gravity. People get pulled in and become attracted to those with common identity and common mission. FiveTwo

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