22 March 2006

FutureGen 06 - Day 3

Phoenix is a great city and I will miss it when I am back in Dallas. I hope to bring Debbie and Caitlyn out here sometime in the future - maybe when it's warmer...maybe not. I need to send out a few thank you's before I jump into today's update: to Jon, for being a great traveling companion and an even more awesome conversation partner; to Dave R. (Jon's dad) for hooking us up with a sweet place to stay and a free ride on Southwest; to Molly (Jon's girlfriend) for living in Phoenix before she moved to Dallas so that we could meet her friends and know the local hangouts for evening activities; to Kerry, for letting us borrow her car for the time we were in town - most excellent ride; and to Debbie for allowing me to shower her with gifts while I was several hundred miles away.

On to the day's festivities...

Workshop Five began promptly at 9am this morning (no rest for the weary). The session was entitled, "Preaching, Teaching, or Talking for Life Change in Young Adults" and was presented by the very funny Randy Jumper. He talked about "the 7-11 rule" for transformation in young adults: 7 ways to lead young adults thru transition and 11 needs of young adult communicators. Very helpful stuff! Kudos to you, Mr. Jumper!

Next we went to worship - led again by Nobility Obliged - and featuring Mike Kelsey (from D.C.). Mike talked about vision and the essentials of leading young adults in any part of the country and in any size ministry. Good stuff!

Jon and I then headed to Fajita's to partake of their namesake for lunch. The conversation was better than the meal, but the atmosphere was great. Thanks again Jon for good convo and insights.

Workshop Six awaited us when we returned from lunch and this time Jon and I actually attended the same session, "Dating with Pure Passion" by Rob Eagar. I picked this session because I know that I will need to lead a series of talks on dating/relationships in the future and I wanted to get some groundwork laid for those talks...especially since I am no longer in the dating scene (thank you Jesus!). Rob had plenty of good insights - all of which led to his book (titled the same as the seminar and available for purchase outside at one of the tables...coincidence, I think not).

Our last workshop, Workshop Seven, called, "Maximum Impact: Making Your Gathering Significant" was led by the Two Chads of CCV. The Chads gave us many good tips and suggestions on making your gatherings a time that people remember: closing with a question, giving them a "takeaway", involving movement/visuals/atmosphere, etc. We ended the session with a brainstorming time where we made up an event that our church was going to have. We ended up with a battle-of-the-bands block party, hoping to attract 150 people with food, games, giveaways, music and fun. I don't know if it would work, but it was fun visioning the event.

Closing worship featured Todd Phillips and he talked about social justice issues that the evangelical branch of the Church has long ignored in favor of orthodoxy and biblical knowledge. I almost got up and walked out about 10 minutes into Todd's talk because he was close to saying some fairly inflammatory statement about mainline Christianity and the churches that existed within that realm. However, he brought it back around and made good on his point. I absolutely agree with the need for the Church to be more involved in the lives of people who are hurting, oppressed, downtrodden, or outcast in favor of having tons of people in Bible study each week. I believe this mostly because those who are not Christian generally do not see us when we are locked away in ivory towers of knowledge. They see us when we cut them off in traffic, when we ignore people begging for food, when we verbally assault them for having different beliefs than we do, etc. I want those who are outside the Church to see Christians who care about other people, who lift up those who are down, and reach out to those who need a helping hand.

And so endeth the conference...but not out time in Phoenix!

Tonight we headed for Oregano's for some famous pizza with another couple of Molly's friends: Meg and Michelle. The food was amazing (go ahead and splurge for the cookie dessert - it's worth it!)! We had good conversation with two relatively unchurched people and I think that Jon and I did a good job of representing the Christians who live out their faith in tangible ways, not just say things and then never act on them.

Earlier in the week I told you that we might have a chance to play some Texas Hold'em and tonight was the night. But, when we got to the bar, the games had started an hour earlier and they were only playing one round. So Jon and I headed back to the hotel and here we are now preparing to leave Phoenix tomorrow morning.

Another long one...sorry...lots of stuff happening...see you back in Big-D (if that's where I see you)!


21 March 2006

FutureGen 06 - Day 2

Hello again from Phoenix! My first thought of this post is to inquire as to why it is not warmer in the desert? I mean, come on...there's sand, cacti, and lots of adobe around here...why isn't it warm outside. If I wanted mid-50s and gusty winds I could have stayed in Dallas. Oh well que sera sera.

On to the day's activities...

We started with our first workshop at 9am. I went to "Reaching the Unchurched Male: Programming and Planning with Guys in Mind" led by the Two Chads (as only I refer to them...and then only in my head and here on this blog). I was interested in this workshop because for some reason I personally have a harder time connecting with guys that with girls on a relational/pastoral level. Maybe its just my personality. Maybe its that I feel threatened. Maybe I'm just a moron at talking about "guy things." This session helped me to learn that I need to be intentional about offering programming opportunities that appeal and attract men - tailgate parties, meetings at Buffalo Wild Wings/Fox & Hound, and hunting trips. The only problem with that is that I do not currently do any of those things. I don't hunt, fish, go to many football games, or hang out at sports bars. Should I? Not sure about this one, but I am willing to do what it takes to make guys feel welcome and comfortable.

The next scheduled activity was worship...which Jon and I proceeded to blow off in favor of Starbucks and conversation (very emerging if I do say so myself). We talked about our churches and our visions/dreams for their future and what we would do differently if we could start over with our current ministry situations. It was time well spent. Thanks Jon!

We then went to lunch outside on the patio of the resort where the conference is being held (did I mention that it was cold and windy?). We sat at "regional tables" which for us meant that we sat with a bunch of other people from Texas....it is a big state after all. Enjoyed the conversation, but the food was just OK, nothing spectacular. We soon retreated to the inside in order to prepare for our next workshop, but also to defrost (did I mention that it's a little chilly here?).

Workshop two was by far the best one of the day. The session, entitled "The Attraction Factor: How Leadership Really Happens" by Aaron Stern, gave me hope that I can manage the growth of my ministry and be prepared to lead people in new directions. Aaron gave us five "ideas" which he used to mold and shape his leadership team into the mighty force that it is today. Each of the "ideas" is not really anything new to me, but in combination and if used strategically, the possibilities are almost limitless. I look forward to visioning the future of the young adult ministry at Trietsch with those ideas and that leadership structure in mind.

Workshop three took me on a quick trip thru the world of the Alpha course. I chose this session because Trietsch already offers an Alpha course and I was thinking about encouraging a core group of my "constituents" to attend this fall and then look for people outside our church to invite to the next session (in the spring of 07). I still think that idea can work, but it needs some tweaking and refining. Please pray for me to continue to seek God's direction with that particular piece of my ministry.

My fourth workshop of the day was "Spiritual Formation thru Community" with Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis, MN. His approach to spiritual formation (holistic) and his understanding of what the body of Christ should be about were not technically new to me, but they were just enough foreign from what I know and understand for the session not to resonate as fully with me as it could have. I truly enjoy what Doug has to say about preaching, but I guess I need some more time to process his ecclesiology.

Our evening culminated in a trip to Christ's Church of the Valley and dinner and worship. This church hosts over 12k people each weekend and they have gone to great lengths to intentionally program for 25-45 year old males (the Two Chads work there) and it shows in their worship space, their Cafe, and their campus in general. (Check out their website too!) Dinner was excellent. Worship was powerful and authentic. The speaker, Ken Baugh challenged us to be leaders and to overcome the doubt that so easily plagues our ministries/lives/relationships. He used the example of Gideon from Judges 6-7 to illustrate the doubt we have and the way God can use us inspite of what we think we can or cannot do.

Ok, if you have read this far, I applaud you. Thanks for your time. More tomorrow!


20 March 2006

FutureGen 06 - Day 1

Well, Jon and I arrived in Phoenix without too much delay (altho there was that unexpected hour delay in Houston due to a mechanical problem with the airplane). Both flights were bumpy, but bearable. The peanuts and Coke were refreshing and hunger-satisfying.

Opening worship was great! The band played loud and with passion. They played the way I would want the band that will lead worship at Trietsch's new worship service. Any musicians out there interested? They sang from their hearts and they poured out an offering of music to our Creator - fantastic! EDIT: the band's name is Nobility Obliged - very cool!

The first speaker was Trevor Bron - who has an amazing testimony to God's faithfulness and grace in the face of major human SCREW UPS. He lost his pastorate (he never directly told us why) five years ago and told us stories of how God has used his time on the bottom for self-revelation and self-realization. He challenged us to strive to be REAL in every part of our lives so that our efforts to be RELEVANT will come as a natural outflow of our lives.

God, I pray that my ministry and my calling are always avenues to be real with people who are living real lives with real pain and real needs. May I never lose sight of that because of my office or work schedule. Amen.

Tomorrow will include four sessions (no, I have not yet chosen my workshops!) and more opportunities for worship and prayer. Also, it looks like Jon and I will have a chance to try our luck in a Texas Hold'em tournament on Wednesday evening after we are finished with the conference.

More tomorrow - and I'll see if I can take some pictures with my phone and get them uploaded here. In the meantime, if you have never been to Phoenix before, be prepared for the many shades of tan...trust me!


19 March 2006

Gone All Week

I will be out of town for a conference this week, so I am not sure if I will have a chance to check email or update my blog. However, if the hotel has a business center that I can use, I will update from Phoenix to let you all know how things are going. I may even snap some pictures and upload those (we'll see).

Leave me some love. See you next Monday for sure!

Countdown to April 6 - 18 days!


16 March 2006

Leading Change

Have you ever wondered what it takes to lead change within an organization? It seems that no matter what size organization or change, there will be opposition, agreement, and indifference/ambivalence.

I have two major change efforts that I would like to lead my sphere of influence thru over the next year:

1) restructuring/reorganizing the hospitality ministries
2) revamping the Thursday night young adult gathering

I am in the beginning stages of these efforts, but I have already felt pressure to "leave things alone" from within and without. Please pray for me as I follow God's lead on these action items. Pray that God will clear out the internal distractions by giving me the confidence to know when to move forward and when to hold back. Pray that those who will be affected by these changes will catch the vision God has given me and will be willing to forge ahead in new directions.


13 March 2006

What a weekend!

This weekend started with a bang and ended with a fizzle...

On Friday, Debbie, Caitlyn, and I went to Landon and Erin's wedding rehearsal, but because Caitlyn wasn't feeling well, we did not get a chance to go to the rehearsal dinner. It's OK, because now she is feeling much better and I knew what I needed to do for Saturday.

On Saturday, Landon and Erin's wedding took place without a hitch (both showed up and both said "yes"). The reception afterwards out at Circle R Ranch was very cool - excellent food choice! I want to echo Nat's sentiments of congratulations.

On Sunday, I was liturgist at all 3 morning services so I arrived early and did not have a chance to eat before leaving the house. Mistakenly, I ate something that was on the workroom table (probably from Friday) without even thinking about it. As my morning wound down and I drove home to prepare for dinner with some friends, my stomach started churning. I'll spare you the details, but needless to say, I did not make it to dinner (that had been planned for 6 weeks) and had to stay home with my good friends Tylenol and Pepto.

Still a little woosy this morning, but getting better with each passing hour. Hope my readers out there had a good weekend. Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be home for Spring Break this week. Stop by the office anytime - I'd love to catch up and hear how your semester is going.


08 March 2006

The Gift of Newness*

*This devotional comes from The Upper Room Disciplines 2006 for Sunday, March 5, 2006 by Dr. Wendy M. Wright, Professor of Theology and holder of the John C. Kenefick Chair in the Humanities, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mark 1:9-15 (NIV, Msg, NLT)

From childhood, the desert has held a lure for me. To the superficial gaze, the desert landscape is barren; but when you spend time there, its rich variety becomes evident. As the sun goes down, it comes alive with many kinds of creatures. The desert is a wonderful, complex ecosystem that yields its mysteries slowly over time.

Since the fourth century the church has observed forty days of preparation before the great feast of Easter. And on the first Sunday of those forty days, the church proclaims the story of Jesus' temptation in the desert. Set in high relief, with its spare, stark language, Mark's temptation scene strikes us with its austerity. Washed in the waters, Jesus hears himself addressed as beloved son; then, he is immediately driven out into the wilderness.

So it is with us. To be a Christian is to be incorporated into the body of Christ. We enter that mystery through baptism. As in the Gospel narrative, we are called to the fullness of our baptismal promise through a kenotic process: temptations, struggles, reevaluations, new and often painful learning and unlearning. To be a Christian is to be driven out into the desert. Yet the desert is not barren but full of life, a rich and complex environment that reveals itself as beautiful, healing, life-giving, and restorative. So too our Lent. We are called to sacrifice, to self-denial, to radical reorientation. But we are called thus because we are beloved sons and daughters, because we are infinitely loved and called to more than we can presently imagine.

Suggestion for Meditation:
Consider the struggles or temptations you bring into this Lenten season. Know that you are not only present to these struggles with the beasts but with the angels as well, as was Jesus. Into the barren loneliness of your desert, bring the knowledge that you are deeply loved because you are a child of God. Allow yourself to explore this desert place in its unexpected richness, its potential to bring you to insight, healing, and new life.


02 March 2006

This is what I have been called by God to do on a daily basis. I pray that our journey together brings about changes that impact creation, humanity, and the future of God's kingdom.

01 March 2006

Has the "religious right" really come this far??