Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Out of Town For A Few Days...

Forgot to mention that I'm heading out of town for most of this week with my family for a mini-vacation. We'll be camping for a couple of days - no laptop - no wi-fi. If I'm at a hotel that has a computer and internet connection, I may post something. Otherwise, I may just do an audio post or two along the way.

This morning we're in Ardmore, Oklahoma of all places, and stayed at the La Quinta Inn. Quick quote from this morning at breakfast:

"No, no, no...There'll be no coffee today...no, no, no. The machine is broken; he's coming to fix it..."

Surely there's a Starbucks around here, somewhere...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Active Ingredients

Medicine is everywhere. Prescriptions and OTC's (OTC = Over the counter. Why aren't they called OTS's? Off The Shelf?) from a variety of sources and for a variety of problems. Brand names and generics.

When you have a need for medicine, you often have a number of choices. But it's a glance at the label that is most important. The reason that generics generally work as well as brand name medicines is because of the active ingredient. Even with OTC's, the differences between products is not so much differences with the active ingredient as it is with the inactive ingredients. One goes down smoother, has a delicious flavor, or is a pill rather than a syrup, and the other one isn't. But the active ingredient is what really matters.

It's the active ingredient that gets to the root of the problem. It's the active ingredient that brings healing. It's the active ingredient that is really accomplishing anything. Without the active ingredient, some medicines would just be lame candy.

I think sometimes in our churches we get distracted by the inactive ingredients. Lots of activity, programs, events (or even services), and the active ingredient becomes just another ingredient. Ironically, some of our activities can become inactivities. As a result, our efforts become just lame candy.

Yesterday, we had a baptism celebration at North Point. It reminded me of why we've hung in there through many obstacles. It reminded me that our active ingredient is all about changed lives through new life in Jesus Christ. It reminded me that some of the things we have tried along the way do not support the active ingredient.

It reminded me that all of the "brand name" elements should intentionally enhance, make more accessable and remove barriers to the real medicine, not replace it. Certain brand name medicines are popular for a reason. It's because they do those things well, not because they have forgotten about the active ingredient in favor of the flavor.

Does this make sense? If it doesn't, take two aspirin and call me in the morning...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

New Banner & Subtitle

Took a fun break this afternoon, and played around with a little html. Too bad I really don't know what I'm doing....I might could come up with something really cool.

I'm planning to rotate images on the right of the banner. But what about this one? Not enough color? Maybe the name should change to "the next cup?"

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Phone Follies

Phone Follies Posted by Hello

Yesterday morning I was called by a telemarketer. I was pretty sure it was a telemarketer by the way it was listed on the caller ID, and so I didn't answer it the first 4 times they called. Finally, I just gave in and answered.

As the lady on the line began her canned presentation, I was courteous and patient through the first bit. Part of the presentation informed me that the conversation may be recorded for quality control. At the first pause in the sales pitch I told her that I really wasn't interested, "but thanks anyway," and began to hang up. But she just kept talking. I interrupted, but she just kept talking. Finally I said something like, "Ma'am, please, if you would just listen to what I'm saying - I mean especially if this is being recorded..." So finally she got the message and was mildly courteous as she wrapped up the call.

Kind of annoying, but no big deal. Typical Telemarketing call.

About an hour later, they called again. I didn't answer this time.

Fast forward to this morning. I had to take my son, Matthew to a strength and conditioning camp by 7:00 a.m. [D'oh! - As I'm typing this, they just called again!] As I was groggily making my way to the door at about 6:40 a.m., the phone started ringing.

"Man!" I thought. "These guys have no shame! A telemarketing call at 6:40 a.m.?" When I got to the phone I glanced at the caller ID and realized that the number that was calling our home was my cell phone.

"Oh, no," I thought, "I must have left my phone somewhere, and someone's calling to let me know." That's when I noticed that my cell phone was in my pocket and the "keyguard" was not on.

So it wasn't a telemarketer calling me at an annoying time of the morning.

It was my pants.

I'm guessing they were calling to encourage me not to run by the seat of them today like I did yesterday...

This Weekend :: 6.26.05

This Weekend, 6/26 @ the Roanoke Outdoor Pavillion and Community Center Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

Bumbling Along...

Well, I've certainly gotten a bit of feedback about "The Church That Bumbled." In the process I realized that I bumbled in the telling. Even though I didn't name names, it's still a pretty public place to talk about another church. I guess it's called, "The World Wide Web" for a reason.

So first, let me offer a quick apology. I really should have spoken to the Pastor of the "Church That Bumbled" before blogging about it. I'm sorry I didn't do that, because if I had made that step first, it might have changed how the post came across. I'm afraid I may have left the impression with some of the readers of my blog that I'm angry or bitter about the situation, which really isn't the case, at all. In fact, before that particular weekend, I had not been thinking about it much at all. ...Really!

I have spoken with the pastor of that church since, and he was very quick to want to deal with the situation. There was no "conspiracy," and after re-reading the post, I see that it looks like that was what I was saying. Good grief.

I know I would want to know if our members were going down that path, and I really should have extended that courtesy to him before now. I also know that there have been times when people have done things "in my name" that I had never commissioned or would never have approved.

I love this church planter and the church they are planting. I want them to do well.

I hope this post helps, and no, you still can't know who it is. Let's dust off, now and get back on the trail. No bumbles.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Armed Robber Gets Extreme Makeover in Shreveport...

Don't Mess With Shreveport Beauty Shop Ladies... Posted by Hello

I'm from Shreveport, and this story just cracked me up. Read it here.
("H-E-double hockey sticks" word alert)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Kim's Blog

Kim Wells has been with us since the earliest days of our church plant, and is an incredibly gifted worship leader. Incidently, her husband, Ricky, has also become an excellent lead guitarist. I am very grateful and honored to have them both on the team!

I thought it would be great to introduce you to Kim by directing you to her new blog.

Kim is one of the few people in the world who can follow up a quote from Oswald Chambers with, "Dude!" and then go on to really share some great insight! I've enjoyed reading her blog. I think you will too.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Church That Fumbled (Part Two)

I'm sure you've been curious about part two of "the church that fumbled." What was the other fumble? Well, before I reveal that, let me once again say that all churches fumble at one time or another. We've definitely fumbled. Sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that cause us to stumble and sometimes there are things that could have been completely avoided with a little planning, communication and/or forthought. I still love the church that fumbled. I'm still for them.

Ok, disclaimers aside, what was the fumble?

Here's how it unfolded. If you read part one of this post, you know that we entered the church at the "wrong" entrance. As we came into the building we were greeted with cheery "good mornings" but no one seemed to realize that we had never been there before. We had to tell them, and they seemed surprised. (That's kind of weird, isn't it?)

We had our 3 kids with us, and our friends had their 4 year old daughter with them. It was about time for the service to begin, so our friends wanted to take their daughter with them.

This church has a basic policy that encourages parents to not bring children under the age of 5 into the service with them. They have a great kids' ministry and they would like to make the service "interruption free" for the adults that are there. The worship guide strongly encourages children under 5 to be in the children's area, (after all, they'd be much happier there) but says that if parents still feel the need to bring their children with them, that a friendly usher will assist them with seating.

So far so good. I basically agree with this policy. Maybe have times when the family all worships together, but generally help make the experience better for everyone on most weekends. Alright. Now here's where it got strange.

  • First "encouragement" to take the kiddo to the kid's area - When we talked with the greeter.
  • Second "encouragement" to take the kiddo to the kid's area - As we entered the auditorium.
  • Usher wasn't as "friendly" as the worship guide led us to believe...
  • Our friends were "ushered" behind a roped off area.
  • While they were sitting there, they could hear the ushers talking about how to get them out of there.
  • Another usher then approached them and asked them again about sending their kiddo to the kid's area.
  • Our friends were really starting to feel conspicous, alienated and a bit embarrassed at this point.
  • They finally gave in and followed the usher to the kid's area. (Ok, ok, we get it already...)
  • When they got to the kid's area, their kiddo began crying and really didn't want to go in.
  • Our friends asked if they could accompany her in and help her get adjusted to the environment, and were told that they could not enter the children's area. (disclaimer number two - I fully understand the policy of this. I also know that it is much easier most of the time for parents with crying children to just leave them with the workers. The kids usually adjust quickly and are fine)
  • The kid's worker then made this comment, "If you want my opinon, I would..."
  • No explanation was given to my friends about why they couldn't enter the kid's area. They reluctantly decided to leave their kiddo crying and then they headed back to the auditorium.
  • On the way there, several people noticed the mom upset, and said things to them like, "Oh, she'll be fine. Don't worry. She'll adjust quickly." This, of course, singled them out even more and made them feel like the center of attention again.
  • They then had to re-enter the auditorium late, and missed part of the service. The mom had a difficult time focusing on the sermon because of the hassle with the kid's area nazis.
  • Following the service, they picked up their kiddo (who was fine), and were told, "See, we told you she'd be fine..."
  • Then they were followed and stopped by one of the original usher dudes, with more of the "see, that wasn't so bad, wasn't it? She did fine, didn't she?" comments.
  • At this point, my friends just wanted to grab their kid and get the fat out of there.
  • The final comment to my friends was, "I hope you'll be back." (My thought: Oh yeah, we forgot. It's all about you.)
  • The pastor's message was about how the church should be attractive and inviting to everyone.
  • Insert joke here.

So there it is. We didn't really have a problem with the policy. Even my friends, who are fellow church planters, didn't really have a problem with the policy. It was all in the implentation of the policy and the missing of the heart of the policy.

A little explanation would have helped the way my friends felt. Letting them have a glimpse of the kid's area accompanied by a children's leader, explaining the importance of them leaving quickly would have been nice. Even without letting them in, they could have explained a little more so that we wouldn't think that cult rituals were taking place behind the wall or something. Ok, we didn't think that, but we do have other friends that would have thought that.

And if you print that a "friendy" usher will help you with seating, be sure that your usher is really friendly and sympathetic to the concerns of parents with small kids. Make sure they know that it is one thing to "encourage and help understand" and another thing to "make sure the policy is enforced." It would also help if the ushers didn't talk about their "guests" within earshot and that the children's ministry volunteers didn't come across in a condescending way.

I know how hard it is to keep from fumbling in our churches, so I hate to be too critical. (That's why I haven't told you the name of the church). But here's the stand out comment from my friends:

"If we weren't already Christians, we would not have even stayed for the service."

Fumble number two. The ball is now going in the opposite direction...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

This Weekend (06.12.05)

This Weekend @ North Point Posted by Hello

(Part two of "the church that fumbled" is coming...)

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Church That Fumbled (Part One)

Because of our church's summer schedule, we had the opportunity to visit another church yesterday. This is a church that is fairly large, is very creative, and generally does a great job with just about everything they do. But on this Sunday, they fumbled. Twice.

The first fumble happened before we ever entered the building. As we were driving up on the main road there was a big and clear sign with the name of the church and an arrow pointing the way. "Big and Clear," I thought. Then I noticed another sign with the name of a different church with an arrow at the same turnoff. This church meets just on the other side of the parking lot. "Hmm, not too clear," I thought.

Then we came to the parking attendant. He was smiling and friendly, and directed us to turn right. "What if I was going to the other church?" I thought. Anyway, as we followed the parking attendant's direction, we encountered another parking attendant, also smiling, who directed us to a parking space. When we got out of our cars, (we were two families), the smiling parking attendant proceeded to tell us that this was the parking lot for families with small children and that next time we should park on the other side of the building. His smile didn't keep me from thinking, "Then why did you direct us to park here? It's not like we were given a choice...."

Maybe the sign on the main road should have said, "Parking for Families With Small Children." Then I would have thought, "That's a pretty good idea," instead of "Dude, you need to get your act together."

Not the end of the world, but a fumble, nonetheless.

I'll tell you about the second fumble in part two...

Church Fumbles and Bumbles

How's that for a title?

Sometimes well meaning churches still goof up. They fumble; they drop the ball. The general heart of their organization loses a link or two somewhere in the chain of volunteers, someone misses the point, and the ball gets dropped. Other churches seemingly bumble along doing things that are way off track, and it almost seems as if they are intentionally doing things that are off course. I guess it's more of a "dumble" than a "bumble," but it's definitely a "stumble." Please don't grumble at my ryhming rumble....

Ok, speaking of getting off course...

Interestingly enough, I had the opportunity to see examples of both this weekend. One church fumbled and the other bumbled. I'll not mention names, because no church is perfect (I certainly know that we've missed the mark a few times) and I don't want to slam anyone, here. If you send me an email to ask what churches I'm talking about, I most likely won't tell you. What good would that do, really? These just serve as a reminder to me about things that our church plant needs to not falter on. So watch this space. I'll talk about each one in two separate posts...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

One Mad Christmas Blog

I've added a new blog about our Christmas Musical, "One Mad Christmas." If your church is looking for something different this year for your dinner theatre or dramatic Christmas musical production, feel free to check it out.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Movie Night Box Scores

Ok, I just want to post this, then head to bed.

Preshow: Kim singing with her guitar for the crowd*

*(Update (6/6/05) - LOL - Nothing like an awkwardly worded sentence when you're tired - That must have been some duet!)

Movie: The Incredibles (fully licensed for public viewing)
Number of Glow Necklaces given away: 225 (one per kid)
Amount of Popcorn made and given away: 2 boxes worth (whatever that is-the popcorn started popping at 8:10 p.m. and popped nonstop till things shut down at about 11:00 p.m.)
Number of water bottles given away: Not sure, but they were all gone by the end of the night
Number of people present: really safe guess at 350
Number of posters given away: 2
Number of my extended family members present: 5 (Mother & Father In Law, 3 Nieces)
Excellent & Extraordinary Team Members Serving Tonight: 5
Extraordinarily exhausted Church Planting Pastors: 1

Amount of evaluating, follow up, thinking and praying to do: Far too much to record here...

Movie Night is On!

No Rain! Sunshine! Wind to dry everything up!

Movie Night is On!


Lost Creek Movie Night Rain Updates...

Well, it looks like it may very well rain on us, tonight. Our movie night is scheduled to begin at Sundown in Lost Spurs Park, so it's still a little early to make a call on a reschedule.

Beginning around 5:00 p.m., I will make audio post updates to this blog with the lastest information. Is it still on? Is it cancelled? I'll try to update about every 30 minutes or so.

North Point and weather... boy, there's a post for another time...