20 October 2007

Reflections of the SGC

I must admit that I was not really looking forward to coming to the Smart Growth Conference down here in The Woodlands this weekend, but the team at TWUMC impressed me with their professionalism, hospitality, and servanthood.

The opening session for Mike Slaughter was challenging, thought-provoking, and set up the rest of the weekend for success. He talked about "unlearning church" (which I think he wrote a book about) and how the church needs to reclaim a "Jesus hermeneutic" in order to remain relevant for the 21st century. He argued that we must return to Jesus' understanding that God wants to be in relationship with us, not hold a contract or legal obligation over our heads. We need to focus on God's covenant (unfailing love - hesed) with us, not the commandments (rules/laws) that so often plague our Christian thinking. Slaughter challenged us to recommit to three life practices: simplicity, strategic discipleship, and sacrificial mission.

The second plenary session brought Len Sweet to the stage and he blew just about everybody out of the water with his talk. He practically called all the Chairs of BOMs throughout Methodism "idiots" for weeding out the people with imaginations from the ministry. [Side note: the chair of the NTC BOM was sitting about 3 feet away from me during Sweet's talk...she cringed alot during this section. Just thought you should know.] Len talked about the characteristics of an E.P.I.C. church and the difference between an A.P.C. operating system and an M.R.I. operating system. All great information and all great challenges to the mainline church in America because if we don't "de-frag and reboot" then we will crash and burn and no one will attempt to pick up the pieces.

The plenary session this morning featured TWUMC Senior Pastor Ed Robb talking about what he doesn't know about growing a church. Each of his "ignorances" highlighted the unique position the Christian Church is in regarding the "business of God". He told us that he didn't know how to grow a church without:
1) God's help
2) passion
3) hard work
4) casting a vision
5) building a team
6) incurring pain
7) developing effective outreach programs
8) taking risks
9) perseverance

Each one of those "ignorances" hit home with my own fears, pride, and immaturities about what it takes to grow and sustain a new ministry/church for the long haul. He closed by challenging us to serve, pray, and love the people where you are now like you are going to serve them for the rest of your ministry career - sink deep roots and take ownership of all that you have been called by God to do where he has you right now.

Overall, the conference exceeded my expectations and I am glad that I came. I look forward to connecting more with Andy Nixon over at The Loft as Alan and I push forward on the new worship service, because The Loft is reaching the people we are trying to reach - with tremendous success.


Fun Times with the Staff

Can I just say that I love spending time with our staff in non-church settings?! We just finished about three hours of Taboo and Catch Phrase downstairs in the hotel lobby. We were laughing, talking loudly, and enjoying each other's company tremendously. I am not sure if it was the wine/wine coolers that made the conversations flow so well, but it seemed like that our tongues got looser and freer as the evening wore on. No one got hammered, but we were laughing at some crazy things that came out of ALL of our mouths as we tried to get our teams to guess the word on the card. It was hilarious!

I think that if non-Christians could see us having fun, making jokes, and laughing with one another on a regular basis, maybe they wouldn't think that Christians are uptight and boring - because tonight was anything but boring or uptight. It seems to me that as long as Christians continue to be known for what they are against (and not what they are for), we will lose ground to other alternatives on Sunday morning (warm bed, football game pre-show, breakfast at Denny's, whatever). As long as outsiders continue to think we are irrelevant and disconnected from the realities and struggles of daily living, they will not darken our doorsteps to hear the message of Jesus - because they don't want to be fuddy-duddies who don't know how to have a good time and laugh at the ridiculous things that people say under the pressure of trying to make 6 of your friends say a word printed on the card in front of you.

I am glad that I work with a team that knows how to laugh at life, laugh at themselves, and laugh at me. I wouldn't have it any other way!


05 October 2007

More Short Reflections on a Long Day

What a phenomenal day! Catalyst has been a great time away from the office to experience passionate worship, encouraging teaching, and powerful equipping.

This morning opened up with a powerful talk from Craig Groeschel on practical atheism (and how to overcome that tendency). The second session included a brief talk from John Maxwell (aka "JMax") on how to add value to people and a powerful talk on the dangerousness of money from Dave Ramsey. Erwin McManus told us to create the future rather than try to change the past. The closing talk from Andy Stanley moved me to want to create an entirely new system of operation so that we can attract leaders by ensuring an environment that allows leaders to lead.

Alan and I have already grabbed 5 tickets for next year...interested in joining us?


04 October 2007

Short Reflections on a Long Day

Catalyst has been a great experience so far and I can't wait to see what Day 2 has in store for us. Today we were challenged to understand the implications of being the most powerful person in the room, to help those we lead to find fulfillment in their work, [skipped Session 3, but heard them at the Evening Lab Session last night], to say whatever it is God has laid on our hearts (in love), and expend ourselves on those whom the world has long ignored.

What a day!


Blogging on the Road

This will be quick...I am blogging from the Connection Cafe (sponsored by Apple) at the Catalyst Conference. Pretty cool!


02 October 2007

In Town for Catalyst

Alan and I arrived in Atlanta this afternoon for the Catalyst Conference at the Gwinnett Center on Wednesday-Friday. We are looking forward to connecting with Abe (from Christ UMC), and Elizabeth and Dave (from Highland Park UMC and Cornerstone) tomorrow as the Lab Sessions kick off tomorrow and the Conference as a whole gets underway on Thursday.

Personally, I am looking forward to hearing from Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel and John Maxwell this weekend during Catalyst.

I'll post more about the different sessions as they unfold.


Car Update

Well, my car spent a few hours at the dealership yesterday, but it is still broken. It turns out that the fix can be done quickly, but it does require that the part is in stock. Therefore, my car will not be fully functional until next Monday - when I get back from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. Ugh!


01 October 2007

Smoking Pot

I just found a great article on smoking pot...take a hit and how enlightened you become.


Couple Things...

This morning I am working wirelessly at McDavid Plano Lincoln Mercury...the dealership who is trying to figure out what is wrong with my car. We (Deb and I) are hoping that it is a quick, inexpensive fix and that we will no longer have to get up in the middle of the night to turn off my stupid car alarm! I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my head bowed in prayer.

In other news, Deb and I are going to put in an application for a house that she found yesterday. Deb saw it yesterday morning after church and called me immediately and told me I needed to take a look. We scheduled another showing for 5:30 and I was also very impressed with the layout, the feel, and the neighborhood. It will be a long drive for me to get to work, but I am willing to do that for my girls to stay where they are. I think we will move for me when I get a new appointment...whenever that may be...