Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sticks & Chisels 2.4

I found a link to something called The Table Project that looks interesting. It seems to be an attempt to accomplish some of the community building that I've mentioned here before. In light of discussions in and out of class, I thought I'd share the video here as well.

Basically, The Table is a platform built for group interaction. I really like the potential for this to connect people - from basic introduction to praying and working and playing together. Being a part of the same crowd for a couple hours on Sunday morning is just not enough to be discipled, to be an integral part of the Body.

The Table Project - Introduction from The Table Project on Vimeo.
What do you think of this use of technology to deepen relationships?
What other ways are you seeing churches really engage with each other in the mission we're given?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let's Speculate!

It was pretty cool to see Trevor Bayne win the Daytona 500 Sunday. He seems like a great guy - and I love seeing young people succeed like he did. He's only 20 years old and he just won the biggest race in NASCAR.

I heard an interview after the race where Bayne was asked what he was going to do with the money (almost $1.5 million). His gut level, first response? "Give it all away, man." You can call that short sighted and naive if you want, but it's awesome to see someone whose first response to money is to use it to help someone else. He went on to mention some missionary friends in Mexico, and I've seen several comments from other NASCAR guys online about him helping 'orphans and poor people' and stuff. I love that.

It doesn't take a million dollars to be known for helping people. All it takes is a mentality that values people more than things. All it takes is for me to recognize a need that is deeper and more important than my desire for another cheeseburger/nicer car/bigger house... and a willingness to use what I have for the benefit of another.
courtesy: leonardini via
But it is fun to speculate. I can't say for certain, but here are a few things that I think I'd make priorities:
  • Pay off our house. - and pay someone to finish all the remodeling projects that keep stacking up.
  • Pay off someone else's house... anonymously. That would just be awesome! Can you imagine getting a letter from your mortgage company telling you that you had no more house payments because "Jesus just took care of it." No further explanation... no strings attached... just PAID IN FULL.
  • Help The Sparrow's Nest take flight. I love what this new ministry in St. Louis is doing. Maybe I could payoff their house, too!
  • Buy a car that doesn't require duct tape (see yesterday's post). Maybe even a purple mini-van for my crazy wife! (I'm not letting her pay someone to paint our house purple, though!)
  • Help resource a certain young church I know of in Laramie and a ministry in Arizona that are both breaking some exciting ground as they work to reveal the kingdom of hope.
  • Get some new boots - my cleats are shot and it's almost time to get outside and kick some balls around!
  • Buy the empty Wal-Mart building in town and turn it into a sweet youth center. Indoor soccer field, climbing wall, and all kinds of teenage awesomeness... I'm probably going to need your million dollar winnings, too for this one... let's get on that.
So - if you suddenly found yourself with a million dollars, what do you think you'd do?

Monday, February 21, 2011

8 Reasons My Car May Be Duct Taped

Have you ever been driving around, minding your own business, when you pull up behind a car that makes you want to apologize to the nearest tree? You feel like your carbon footprint went from that cute little baby birth certificate kind, to molds of Sasquatch proportions just because you got too close. Ok - I've never felt that way either... just checking.

I do own a couple vehicles, though that would cause at least a little embarrassment for the vehicularly squeamish. I qualify for the Elite Lemon Membership level in the Junky Car Club (Yes that is a real club, check the link). Over 330,000 miles between our two family vehicles (one of which is currently sitting in the driveway waiting for a new starter). Not so sadly, the time for upgrading is upon us. I'll miss the duct tape. Yes, I said duct tape. Here are some potential reasons I may have duct tape on my car:

  • I'm going for that NASCAR look. By the way, anyone else impressed with Trevor Bayne? Wow!
  • It keeps the tail lights in. They just don't make those plastic clips like they used to.
  • Better aero. It keeps the front end down in the corners. Seriously, the Caravan's rear end is so loose 3 rounds of wedge aren't enough to tighten up that backside.
  • I like to bump draft. Who doesn't?
  • It's cheaper than a new paint job at Maaco. Plus I have the flexibility of rearranging my stripes every once in a while - new tally mark for each squirrel I hit dodge. Dodge, I said dodge!
  • It keeps my "custom windows" from flapping in the wind. The sound of that plastic sheeting when it's too loose is just so annoying.
  • Some of my students thought it would be funny to "saran-wrap" my car with duct tape. They're just jealous 'cuz I can drive.
  • I like to spell out messages to other motorists. "Honk if you want to bump draft."

So, imagine you roll up on a car with duct tape... Why is it there?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Quick Question

I came across this post over at ChurchCrunch about creating a good church website. Our church website is facing a major overhaul, so I'm wondering...

Which of the 12 aspects of creating a good church website do you think is most important?
What are the 2 or 3 most important features of a church website for you? (What do you most want to see on a church website?)
What are the best examples of church websites that you've seen?
What would cause you to want visit a church's website often?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Yesterday, I commented on the awkward situation Saturday night. As I wrote about trying to communicate in the unexpected, I wrote this phrase,"I felt stuck between a group of church banqueters looking for some spark of inspiration or encouragement and a group of party-goers just wanting to relax and have a good time." As soon as I saw the words on my screen, I was hit with the thought that that statement is much larger than Saturday night.

It's a metaphor for my life in student ministry. I'm not saying I feel stuck in a job I don't like. If I didn't love doing student ministry, I would have found something else to do a long time ago. But I keep finding myself stuck between two (or more) sets of people, each with very different desires/values/goals/etc.

Here are some rocks & hard places I live between:
Seasoned Leaders with tempered expectations][Idealistic Teens who have huge dreams.
My family][My church.
Church Kids' Parents who want a safe environment][Kids who need Jesus to rescue them from the dangers they're living in.
Peers who see me as one of the kids][Kids who see my as a 'parental type'.
Loving Church matrons and patriarchs][Kids who love Jesus LOUDLY.

Usually, it's not that one or the other is right or wrong - it's just that these groups can approach life very differently. I get both points of view. I want to be encouraging to the 'church banqueters' - but we're also called to reveal God to people who don't even seem to be looking for Him. This space I was so tangibly reminded of Saturday night is the space between church people, striving together to know what it means to follow an Invisible God, and those who are living unaware of just how loved they are by their Maker. For me, I feel like doing what I need to do for one, sometimes inhibits what I need to do for the other.

How have you seen this tension in your life & ministry?
How are you leveraging your position between rocks and hard places to bring attention to the greatness of the God who put you there?

Monday, February 14, 2011


Love Is In Action!
Since today's the day of love... I just thought it was a good time to post a link to my friends Tory & Kara of 3:18 Ministries.

The Satters are a family that live out 1 John 3:18 as well as anyone I know. Just in case you're not familiar with that verse, it's the one where John told early Christians (and us) to not just keep saying we love each other, but to actually do something that shows it.

John didn't have pajama-grams and roses in mind (though, who doesn't like a good set of footy-PJs?). 3:18 Ministries is all about putting love into action in the San Carlos/Globe area of AZ. Check out the link to 3:18 and see what God's been doing. Pray for the Satters today as they bring hope where there is little of it. (And maybe send them a box of chocolates, too!)

A Banquet Surprise

I was looking forward to getting to speak at a Valentine banquet back in Casper this weekend. So Saturday night, we headed downtown to this little spot the church had booked and settled in for a good time. I noticed, as we sat there stacking conversation hearts, that a crowd was starting to gather just inside the front door. "Surely, the restaurant's not open for regular dining." I thought.

I was right... sort of. As more people filled the entry, and servers and hostesses began to look more and more flustered, it became obvious that something wasn't quite right. As it turns out, the venue had double booked. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but there was a whole group of people waiting to party while we waited for prime rib.

It made for what has to be the most awkward speaking engagement I've ever had. To be totally honest, it was almost surreal, and I'm not sure I made any sense at all. Any semblance of order to my message was overshadowed with so many other thoughts racing through my head. I've never been the 'bull-horn to the face' kind of guy - I missed the "Preaching to the Open Bar" class at Bible College, so the whole time I was speaking (about how our love is revealed by our action not mere words) I just kept thinking "The whole back room is waiting for you to shut up and leave."

Now, to be fair, the gathering crowd did nothing to make me feel that way. They quietly milled from the small back room into which they'd been stuffed to the bar to order drinks and back. A few sat and quietly chatted at the bar. But the noise level wasn't any worse than a typical Wed. night with my students. It was just the awkwardness of the situation that made things so weird. I felt stuck between a group of church banqueters looking for some spark of inspiration or encouragement and a group of party-goers just wanting to relax and have a good time.

As I think of it now, I should have just invited them all out and did 20 minutes of stand up or something... I'm not sure I could have pulled that off, and I know that's not really what I was invited for, but I wish I would have thought of that in the moment. I wonder if the message would've been communicated more effectively that way anyway...

The  more I think about this, the more I'm feeling like I really missed an opportunity to build some bridges and help make some connections. Excuse me, while I go kick myself...
Just for the record, I'm grateful for the invitation to come and speak to a great group of gracious friends. I pray the thoughts racing through my head didn't cloud the message too much. We are loved so much by our Creator, who adopts us into His own family. We are called to extend that love in every way we can think of, not just with words but with action. Caring for orphans, widows, neighbors... Check out my friends at 3:18 Ministries or Sparrow's Nest for some great examples of how it can be done - and find a way to put your love into action.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sticks & Chisels 2.3

A couple days ago, I mentioned on twitter that my flipbook app was not updating well. I couldn't figure out why and wondered if it was just me, or if others were having issues. The last thing I expected was a follow up from the CEO and co-founder of the company. But after a simple question,
 Mike Andrews 

Anyone else having issues with @ not updating?

that's exactly what I got:

Mike McCue
@ yes, you won't have to wait long for that feature request. :-)

This is one of the fruits of social media that is turning all kinds of systems upside down. 30 years ago, the end user of most products would never have access to the chief executing officer of the company that developed that product. How many Chrysler drivers called up Lee Iacocca in 1980 to ask about that whirring noise they heard under the engine? The thought is ridiculous.

But today, someone in a small town near nowhere can mention a problem, and with alerts and searches and other monitoring software, the CEO of a company can discuss the problem with me. Social media has given us a line into the boss's office - and it's given the boss an ear in the community that hasn't always been there.

Thanks, Mike McCue, for developing a great product. Thanks for putting processes into place that allow you to notice someone having an issue with the product and respond. And thanks for continuing to make it even better...
There are a lot of ramifications that are beyond the scope of this post, but I wonder how well we're using social media in the church in a similar way. Do the people we lead (and the people we hope to lead) feel like we're listening? Are leaders paying attention to the chatter about their ministries? How do we follow up effectively when concerns arise?

The best leaders will be those who listen and effectively tailor quick and meaningful responses to the issues that need addressed.

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