23 October 2008

Road Trip!

I am taking a team to this event today. I am so excited that there are SIX of us going - 2 staff and 4 church members!!

It should be a great day of learning and fun. We should be full of energy and ideas when we get back this evening.

Watch out University!

20 October 2008

Great Resources on the Cheap

I just found out that the book mentioned here is available for $.95 on iTunes - that's 95 cents! I am downloading it right now and I can't wait to listen to it. (Thanks Ben and Chris!)

Also, I just pre-ordered this book from Amazon - can't wait!

Sunday Reflections

Yesterday I preached my first stewardship sermon at University UMC. I was up late on Saturday night trying to get it just right because I wanted to make sure that I said the right things so that the people who heard it would be inspired to give.

When I went to bed that night I tossed and turned for quite a while - until I realized that I was not going to get any sleep until I prayed for God to show up in my preaching the following morning. Once I did that I was able to rest.

My morning routine led me to my office to make final preparations for worship where I ended up praying for the people of University UMC instead of myself that morning. I wanted them to hear God's call to be generous with their lives - their whole lives, including their finances.

You can hear what happened here.

Earlier today I was out running an errand for the church and I got back to the church just as a member was getting into her car to leave. I stopped her to ask about something completely unrelated to Sunday morning, but she mentioned that because of what was said on Sunday, she and her husband were going to double what they were planning to give to the church for 2009. Double!

Now I know better than to think that I had anything to do with their response to God's call, but I also know that if I had tried to "soft-sell" stewardship this year, they would not have stepped out in faith like that.

I am truly humbled every time God chooses to use a broken vessel like me to move the kingdom ball down the field just a little more.

God is good!

15 October 2008

That's a Leader of a Different Color!

Craig Groeschel has discovered that there are different kinds of leaders leading organizations. Each of them have skills that make them successful, but each of them have gifts that tend to fall into one of four categories (defined by Craig here).

The first category is relational leaders.
The second category is visionary leaders.
The third category is administrative leaders.
The fourth category is innovative leaders.

Each of these leaders have their strengths and weaknesses (detailed above) that they (and their organizations) must deal with.

What kind of leader is needed in the church?
What kind of leader does University have?
What strengths and weaknesses does that create?

14 October 2008

Check These Out

If you're looking for some surf-worthy blogs, check out these posts:

Ben Arment has the right attitude: I want to lead a church not fearing mistakes, but boldly pushing into the future with audacity!

Tim Stevens breaks down Seth Godin's Catalyst talk: I wonder if University is a tribe? I wonder if we are more like a crowd or a tribe?

Mark Batterson adds three more to the list of Bible translations: Which one do you use? How are you going to make that translation a reality?

What the Church Can Learn From Carpet

In this month’s issue of Fast Company, one of the articles looks at the increased attention that designers are placing on following patterns found in nature – the term for this design process is biomimicry. Biomimicry is “about taking the genius of the natural world and learning something from it,” says Janine Benyus, who coined the term in 1997.

The article (“Truly Intelligent Design” by Kate Rockwood) features a series of photographs of natural elements (flowers, woodpeckers, and butterflies) paired with the products that were designed after them (centrifugal pump, ice axe, and a bicycle helmet, respectively). One of the photographs and the caption accompanying it caught my attention for its genius in design and for its application for the church.

Entropy Carpet by Interface designed their floor coverings based on the natural variances found in a wheat field. The product’s designer, David Oakley, states, “It’s only in our synthetic world that we want perfection – one shade, no blemishes. If we can’t match a carpet’s color exactly we call it a defect. Nature doesn’t work that way.” Rockwood goes on to say, “Like fallen leaves, riverbed stones, or a field of wildflowers, each Entropy carpet tile is distinct and varied, yet when laid together, they blend into a cohesive pattern. Because Entropy can use multiple dye lots and be set in any direction, there’s less waste during the production and installation process.”

When I read that caption I immediately thought of the church, specifically our church. We are not perfect. We are not all exactly alike. But that does not mean that we are called “defective” or “worthless.” Indeed, “nature doesn’t work that way.” Much like fields of wheat or fall leaves or the stones surrounding a waterfall, each of us are unique in our giftedness and our abilities. Each of us has something to contribute to the whole of what makes up the people of University UMC. And without each of our individual contributions, the whole is somehow less than it could be (or should be).

Entropy carpet tiles were designed to fit together in multiple ways. They were designed to give freedom to the end user. They were also designed to reflect the beauty of their natural inspiration. The people in the church were designed to fit together in multiple ways. We were designed to produce freedom and creativity as we use God’s gifts. We were also designed to reflect the beauty of our Creator.

Therefore, I pray that we can all see how each one of us brings something special to the church and how each one of us reflects the graciousness of our Creator. As you continue to consider the question, “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?” I pray that you see how vital we all are to the continued work of Christ in this world. May you see how the variations and nuances of personality and giftedness create a beautiful tapestry that works together as God intended.(photograph by Jonathan Kantor)

04 October 2008

Catalyst Backstage

I sure wish I could go to Catalyst this year, but I am choosing to be a responsible dad and husband - so I will be here in WF for Caitlyn's 3rd birthday party that weekend.

Since I can't go, I will be following the happenings on Catalyst backstage (see widget in right-hand sidebar) and seeing how my new friend Anne Jackson is getting along during the highly anticipated 3 day event.

If you want to follow the Catalyst adventure, just click the link and join the fun!

01 October 2008

Asking the Wrong Question

Over the past few weeks I have really been struggling with being content at the rate of change happening around University. I have beat myself up over the fact that attendance is up, positive energy is up, attitudes are up, but giving is still lagging behind.

Over the course of these past weeks I have had several conversations where I bounced my frustration and/or confusion off of colleagues. Each time a helpful image rose up from that conversation. The first was the image of a crock pot. The second was the image of an aircraft carrier. Those images helped me to see that change - whether cooked food or turning several thousand tons of steel - takes a long time. I think I will reflect more on both of those images in some later posts.

Then today I was reading Brian McLaren's book, A New Kind of Christian, and he had this to say in the introduction:
When you're on a really long voyage, you have to get beyond asking, "Are we there yet?" and instead start asking, "Are we making progress?" ... The fact is, whatever a new kind of Christian will be, no one is one yet. At this point, we're more like caterpillars cocooning than butterflies in flight. But every transformation has to start somewhere. The sooner we start, the better. (xviii, emphasis mine)
Needless to say, I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I have been asking the wrong question of my congregation. I have been making them answer, "Are we there yet?" when I should have been helping them answer, "Are we making progress?" I literally sat stunned for a few moments before reading on.

When I came to I realized that in order for me to maintain my sanity in leading this church revitalization effort, I need to start asking the right questions - questions that will help the church move the ball down the field, questions that will keep the congregation motivated when things move slowly, questions that will help us mark the progress we are making instead of wallowing in the fact that we aren't "there" yet.

Are we making progress?