Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Who's to Blame for the Tebow Trade?

Buckle up, this might be a little ugly - and it's about football, so some of you who usually read stuff here won't give a rip. Feel free to go read something else, skip this post, and know that you're not missing anything too earth shattering. Sorry, but I've gotta spit out some opinions out before I choke on them.

Keep in mind they're just the opinions of some guy with a keyboard and internet access. I'm not a football coach. I'm not a football player. I'm not a football talent scout. But I've been a fan of the Denver Broncos since I could sit still (sort of still) long enough to watch games in my grandma's living room. I get the Broncos making what could possibly be the biggest free agent acquisition ever. Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. I get it. Any other year since John Elway retired, I would have been ecstatic to see Peyton Manning in a Broncos uniform.

But something changed last year for this team. This was only from the outside looking in, but it looked like the team had something they'd been missing since about 1998. It looked like they had heart. And it showed up the day Tim Tebow stepped into the game. They still had boneheaded breakdowns and suspect holes in certain areas - but the team was different. The Broncos were exciting to watch again. Most of the games had an excitement level to them that hadn't been around since Helicopter #7 flew over the Packers.

It is undeniable that Tim Tebow was a huge factor in bringing that excitement. I suppose, technically, some idiot could deny it, but hey... we were all watching and it was obvious. This smaller market team was the talk of the football nation again. Jerseys were selling, seats were full, and fans were screaming. But I think that's where the wheels fell off.

I think the Broncos have made a mistake trading away Tim Tebow. I know, for his sake, he's probably better off with a chance to compete for the starting job. I know, he would not have that opportunity with Peyton Manning in town. But I also think he's a strong enough person to override his own ego and wait. I think John Fox is a creative enough coach to get them both on the field. (Could you imagine a backfield with Manning and Tebow both a few yards behind center? No defense could game plan for that!) I think it could have worked.

But again, I'm just some guy with a keyboard, what do I know?

I know Denver gave up a great player for a 4th round draft pick. Can you name me a 4th round draft pick that's had a bigger impact in Denver in the last decade than Tim Tebow had last season? (Dumervil from 2006 is the only 1 I can come up with.) If that's all they were going to get, they should have just kept him. He's a big boy and would've handled not being the starter for a while, just like he did at Florida as a freshman. So... quick recap:

  • 1-4 record
  • Replace Orton with Tebow
  • 7-4 in the remaining 11 games
  • Win a playoff game for the first time in WAY too long
  • National media
  • Tickets selling
  • Jerseys selling
So why get rid of the guy who was the catalyst for so much of that?

There are a lot of people mad a John Elway, saying he just wanted to get rid of Tebow out of some kind of QB jealousy he just couldn't manage. That's just stupid. If that was the case, they would have just kept Orton or some other undeniably sub-Elway player. They would definitely not have gone out and pulled out $96 million to get one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever put on a helmet (which is exactly what Manning is)!

They didn't get rid of him for cost reasons either. Lots of teams will pay their backup QB's much more than what Tebow would have been paid.

I think it boils down to the crazy level of insanity brought on by a small core of incredibly stupid and vocal Tebow fans. Don't get me wrong, I am a Tebow fan. I hope he enjoys NY wherever he ends up and rolls over that part of the NFL. I love watching him play and will continue to follow his career. But there is a section of - lets not call them fans anymore, lets call them worshipers because that's what they really are (and also the last thing Tebow would ever want) - who have thrown out every scrap of logic and football sense who would make life miserable for any team that would leave Tebow on a bench for a while. He's an awesome man of great faith, who is inspiring to watch. I can only imagine that playing as a teammate would be even more inspiring. But that doesn't make him a better quarterback than Peyton Manning.

I wonder if the fans who are most outraged at the Broncos need to look a little closer to home... No front office or coaching staff with any sense of sanity wants to deal with the crazy level of mania brought around by those who think Tebow is football Jesus. You got him traded. Jerks. Judas-es. After a revolving door that started turning behind center the day Elway retired, we could have had one of the best quarterbacks of the last 15 years AND one of the best of the next 15 years. Sorry... I'm  a little cranky.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Preach Better Sermons

I'm watching a live conference put together by the people at Preaching Rocket. It's all about Preaching Better Sermons. As a youth minister, when I talk about preaching, sometimes people look at me strangely, not realizing I am not only called to be great a dodgeball and ordering pizza, but also at communicating the Word of God. If you lead a student ministry, you need to get better at communicating God's Word - even if you're already pretty good at it. If you are a preacher, you need to get better at communicating God's Word - even if you're already pretty good at it.

If you missed the webcast, here are some highlights (not complete notes or many quotes) from some of my favorite preachers (who are also still learning).

Perry Noble:
  • Plan Ahead.
  • "Communicating for A Change" - Andy Stanley (great book for communicators)
  • 40 messages per year. How do you decide what to say?
    • Read to hear from God, not to find sermons.
    • Preach out of the overflow of your heart.
    • Keep track of thought 'kernels' (evernote)
    • Find great visuals
  • Plan with a team of people with various points of view.
  • Don't put too much stock what fans and foes say - listen to friends.
  • Let the Bible drive the message.

Jud Wilhite:
  • Be personal - share your life through stories to remove barriers.
    • Don't just share someone else's amazing story - build common ground by sharing your story.
    • Where does your experience overlap your listeners' life experience?
    • Share honestly - don't just make stuff up.
    • Communicate to the broken.
      • Think about how different people will hear what you're saying
      • How will the hear what God wants them to hear?
    • Communicate the Word.
      • Preaching is not about me - not about the listener - it's about Jesus.
      • Be sure to use language that everyone will understand.
        • Don't water stuff down - but explain what you mean!
    • Communicate for Next Steps
      • Can people see the connection with real life?
      • Be crystal clear about what you want people to do as a result of your message.
  • Don't cop out & be lazy in preparation - this stuff is important!
  • Park in one passage, don't just jump all over the place and lose people.

Andy Stanley:
  • It's a story you're telling, not a bunch of points you're trying to make.
  • Me, We, God, You, We mile markers
    • Here's my issue/thought/idea.
    • Don't we all experience that?
    • What does God say about it?
    • What should you do about what God says about it?
    • What if we all did that together?
  • Stay in the text and let it speak.
  • Help people understand what they need to do AND what's really at stake.
  • Distill everything and give the message in a single phrase.
    • What's this all about?
    • What's the one thing I want them to take away?
  • Create tension in the first few minutes.
    • Instigates a desire to know more
    • Creates interest - "We need to solve the mystery."
  • Mature believers AND engage those who don't believe.
  • Watch yourself preach.
  • Listen to other teachers/preachers.
  • Learn from comedians & others who engage audiences.
  • Ask yourself, "Who is this really about?"
    • Evaluate yourself by what people do with what you said, not by how you did.

Jeff Foxworthy:
  • Humor keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.
  • Trim down to the bare essentials - stories don't need to include every detail.
  • Capture random thoughts (notecards, etc.) to flesh out & try out later.
  • Always be writing.
  • Be simple. Simple connects.
  • Don't be a sissy. But be vulnerable and admit you don't have it all figured out.

Vanable Moody:
  • Effective preaching starts with the end in mind.
    • Behavioral preaching
    • What do you want people to do?
  • Are you trying to make an impression or make an impact?
    • Impression doesn't last
    • Impact leaves lives changed
  • Identify the behavioral purpose of the Scripture.
    • Study to find out what God says He wants people to do.
    • Everything else flows with that behavioral point.
    • Preach with a sword, not a broom - one point.
    • Doesn't matter if we have a bunch of great information & research & message writing if we miss the assignment!
  • Let people see the message in your life.
  • Don't just make points for the head, but also paint pictures for the heart.
    • Behavior starts at the heart level.
  • Provide a vehicle for them to do what you're preaching about.

Dan Cathy: My stream broke during this session, so all I got is a craving for chikin'! (Also thanks to some timely text photos from some mean children currently eating Chick-fil-A)

Dr. Charles Stanley:
  • Be disciplined. You can't just 'sort of' preach.
    • Build the relationship with God from which the message will flow - Prayer.
    • Study - don't just give a sermon to fill the time.
  • You can't preach any better than you pray.
  • Unless you have a burden for a message, you're not ready to preach. 
    • Is there a message that you must preach?
    • Impact is made by the Holy Spirit
  • What is the need?
  • What Scripture addresses the need?
  • What does that text say?
  • What material will help me communicate that and what do I want people to take away?
  • No matter how well equipped & well prepared we may be, God can shut it down in a breath.
    • Great story answering why he never asks for money on air.
      • Short answer - God told him not to.
  • Obey God & leave the consequences to Him.

Louie Giglio:
  • Calling of God, Self-discovery, Affirmation by God's People
  • You may have no idea what God's about to do.
    • Start wherever there is an open door.
  • Preaching is about the Power and the Presence of the Word of God.
    • Don't just try to sound eloquent and persuasive.
  • Find out how God wants to impact His people.
  • Gather & craft the information that will help you be a part of that.
    • Preaching should be like putting your life through a funnel, not a megaphone.
  • Sometimes we need to reach for creative/artistic language to use in our message (not just a good illustration).

I can't yet vouch for all the coaching that will happen through Preaching Rocket, but if it's anything like today's webcast, a lot of people will be hearing a lot better preaching in the near future.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Imminent Crash Update

Just a quick update to explain the trickle of new content here:

I've started another site called Imminent Crash. It's all about youth ministry and leadership in the church ~ if you care about the church or young people, I'd love it if you'd do me a favor; check it out and let me know what you think. Subscribe if you like it, leave some comments if you want to talk back. I've been doing a lot of work to the inner workings of the site, which is all brand new and totally unfamiliar territory for me, which has had some ripple effects:

- I haven't posted much here. I'm not going to be doubling the amount of time I spend posting my thoughts and experiences online, so I'm trying to find a good balance point between the two places. This may become more of a general blog, while the other site will be honed in on youth ministry.

- I haven't posted much there, either. Because it's new, I want to lay the groundwork well. Every time I start to write something, it ends up seeming to be 'not foundational enough' so I file it away for later. Additionally, right now is not the most opportune moment for me to be starting on a learning adventure like this. Lots of other irons are playing in my fire right now! I don't know squat about actually building and maintaining a blog, so it's been time consuming to learn about hosting and dig into cPanel & install wordpress there and installing the theme I chose to use (Standard Theme) and figuring out just what a theme even is... not to mention widgets and plugins and figuring out how to adjust the style aspects...

I'm excited to see where the new blog will go and what kind of community can be formed there. I hope that youth leaders, students, parents, and church leaders will all be able to come together there to learn how to make the most of what God's knitting together in His church... that we'll learn to help youth to recognize and unleash their potential for Kingdom service... that the unstoppable church Jesus heads up will gain momentum as we seek to tear down the gates of Hell that keep people separate from our Father.

I hope you'll be praying for the new venture and join us there as we move forward wherever He leads... theoquest