Friday, September 30, 2005

Drive Conference Videos Now Online

One of the conferences that I most wanted to attend but couldn't this year was the Drive Conference hosted at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner led the main sessions, and I discovered from several of the blogs that I subscribe to that they've made the videos of the conference available on line for free. So far I've only seen the first session led by Reggie, and it's definitely worth the time to watch. Very good stuff, and very much where my heart is right now.

I'm hoping to take my whole team to this conference, next year. Watch the videos of the sessions here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

An old cartoon

My friend John posted about his frustration with churches doing "Hell Houses" at Halloween, and it reminded me of a cartoon I scribbled many, many moons ago. The drawing is pretty weak in this one, but I liked the idea. Maybe I'll redo it. It falls under the creative commons license, so feel free to pass it along!

This caused me to dust off an old file of mine that is filled with cartoons and drawings I've scribbled over the years. I'll have to show you some of them as we go along...

Update on Leona: Procedure went well. She was pretty groggy from the anesthesia for most of the day yesterday but went back to work today. We'll know if it made any difference by next week. Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rec Center, Free Mp3s and a Prayer Request

Roanoke Recreation Center:
I had the opportunity yesterday to do a "walk through" tour of the Roanoke Recreation Center with Ronnie Angel, the Director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Roanoke. As we went through the building, stepping around construction workers and materials, I couldn't help but get excited about what a great place for Compass Church it's going to be. More about this later, but let me just say that this area has no idea how cool this building is really going to be...but they will soon. You can follow the progress through the autocam here.

Free Music Mp3s:
My brother, Bill, has some free music Mp3's available for download. "Holy Lord" is my favorite of the three. He has a new project he is working on, but these are pretty cool, also.

Looking at this picture of him, here, I'm still trying to figure out how it is that he's older than me and yet still has all of his hair, while I....Well, I guess God will have His little joke. :-D

Download the free songs here.

Prayer Request:
This has been a tough week for my family. Leona has been really sick for the past day or so with a case of strep and tomorrow she is scheduled for the first in a series of major injections into her back (unrelated) to deal with some issues with her back and neck. Leona had back surgery a few years ago, and is now beginning to have some of the same problems again. Her arm keeps going numb, for example. This procedure is a step to try to avoid another surgery. Please pray for her (and me) as we head to the hospital at 7 a.m. tomorrow. Thanks.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Happy Blog Day To Me

Well, I really can't believe this, but I've been blogging now for one whole year. - As of tomorrow, September 25th, that is. I thought I'd go ahead and mention it here on my "one year blogging eve," since I may not have an opportunity to post tomorrow.

I don't want to be tedious, here, but it really has been amazing. I've met, interacted with and learned from so many people since that first post as a result of this blog and the blogs that I've discovered in the process. Several of those I'll be linking to on my sidebar before long.

Here is a link to that first, simple post: The Next Step - No book yet, but who knows what year two holds...

In what seems to be a blogging tradition of sorts, here are some of my favorite posts from this past year:
  1. Tall Tales
  2. Un-Wired-er
  3. One Who Has Been Rescued
  4. Live From The Retro Family Picnic (Audio)
  5. Cup o' Joe With Bob (Audio)
  6. One Mad Christmas
  7. Are You Being Fed?
  8. Phone Follies
  9. The Church That Fumbled (Part Two)
  10. Sermons That Are Too Long
  11. Thoughts On Restarts
  12. Honk If You Love Whatever
Well, that's one post for each month of the first year, so happy blog day to me! Thanks for reading, looking, listening and commenting. It's really been encouraging to me through one of the most challenging and exciting years of my life.

Ok, enough of all that. Grab a compass and let's move on to the next step and the next post...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Creative Podcasting

There is an element to podcasting that feels a little like the dude on the old "Mr. Microphone" commercials in the early 80's. "Wow, I'm on the radio! Hey good lookin', I'll be back to pick you up later!"

Just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should. My recent Pod blip comes to mind, for example. But with podcasting, it's hard to think of too many reasons why churches shouldn't be leading the way.

So I've been thinking about podcasting recently as it relates to Compass Church and have decided that we probably need TWO Podcasts. I'm still working this through, but here's what I'm working on:

The first podcast is a no-brainer. An mp3 audio file with a feed you can subscribe to of Sunday's sermon/message/talk. Not too hard to put together, really: a simple opener with music, maybe a closing comment, and the talk in between. Kind of a traditional church "tape" ministry online, downloadable and free. Maybe we'll call the first podcast "The Live Wire" or "Sunday Rewind."

But the second podcast is more of a brainer. The whole podcast thing is a new communication tool in many ways, and I believe that we're just beginning to see its potential for ministry - beyond the Sunday message. Maybe we'll call the second podcast "Compass lagniappe." Ok, maybe not lagniappe, but something that communicates something more, something with extra stuff added! ...Ok, definitely not lagniappe.

But this podcast would be caffeinated. It would have extra stuff. It would include more than one person talking. It would have conversations and include more variety. So here are some creative ideas that I'm working on for that 2nd podcast. Feel free to use them in your church, add to them, and let me know how things go!

Some creative podcasting ideas:
  • Record the 2nd podcast on Monday morning with staff or team members. Expand on Sunday's message toghether, talk about wins from the weekend, stories, etc.
  • Include interviews. Interview people who made decisions on Sunday, people who know a lot about the topic, or just people who couldn't be available on Sunday morning. Maybe a celebrity or pastor from another church? Skype could come in handy, here.
  • Include stories related to your series in an NPR documentary/commentary style. Follow someone's journey as they deal with the issue in real life.
  • Create special, themed shows about your current series or with stuff to help your members reach out to unchurched friends (like a discussion about "The DaVinci Code" or God & hurricanes, or something). Holidays could make for great themed podcasts.
  • Include ads/teasers for next Sunday or the next series. This could be cool, well produced audio ads or simply you talking about why you're excited about what's ahead.
  • Include "inside" behind the scenes stuff about what's cooking with your church.
  • Feature a staff member and/or have a different staff member host the podcast each week.
  • Do a podcast series that deals with each of your church's values.
  • Unveil a new song or big announcement on this podcast. Promote it that way: "Listen to this week's (whatever) podcast for a big annoucement!" Let it be where you announce/unveil first.
  • For those who need the weekly jumpstart, or encouragement read a chapter of Scripture each week, between "commercials" or segments.
  • Include a segment that helps people memorize a verse of Scripture. Work it through with your team out loud, each week. Award the team members who can quote it the fastest with a candy bar or apple or something. Have them compete on one week to see who can get the most people to quote the verse from memory, and have them bring their list. Read the names of the people from the lists. Ok, there is all kinds of fun potential here...
  • Give people a "peek" at a creative brainstorming session of your team. Record and edit, of course...
  • Add a quick, "What's Happening This Week" segment, like an audio bulletin board.
  • Create a "Vision Casting" podcast.
  • Do a podcast in a public place. Interview people on the street or in the coffee shop. Ask questions related to your current series. Use audioblogger for that live, "on the street" feel.
  • Add a third, "5 minute" weekly podcast with a separate feed that counts down to an event or emphasis with the latest news, motivators and people stories.
  • At the end of a sermon series, do a "best of" podcast that includes some of the best moments or lines from the series.
  • Allow people to hear you interact with your staff and other people on the podcast. Create an atmosphere that provides opportunities for laughter. Inside jokes become community jokes.
  • Don't do the same thing every week. Hey, if it applies to the weekend worship service, why not your podcast?
Both podcasts should become a part of your church's communication strategy quintet: podcast, blog, email, website & print. Make it part of your culture. Make it something that people don't want to miss, that they look forward to, and tell people about. Before long, it could even become another hook in the water for reaching new people for Christ and your church.

Ok, that's all I've got right now. When the Compass Podcasts launch, I'll be sure to let you know. In fact, we're toying around with doing a countdown type of podcast counting down to the launch.

I know there are more possibilities for the second podcast. Any other ideas, out there?

* By the way, if you don't see the picture in this post, jump out of bloglines or your newsreader and check it out. It took about 6 minutes to make and made me laugh out loud at the finished product!

For more:
One More Podcasting Idea (or so...)

"Creative Podcasting" Addendum

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Birthday, Leona!

Personal family (but worldwide) shout out to my lovely wife, Leona:

Happy birthday, Leona!

I love you!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gee, I'm a winner...

So I'm checking out Sarge's latest post over at The Leadership blog, and lo and behold, I discover that I am a winner!

In his Friday Funny Caption Contest, my caption submission for the following photo, floated to the top:

"All in favor?" Pastor Doofus asked himself. "I," he replied.


"With all barriers now fully in place, Pastor Doofus could finally stop worrying about visitors dropping in at the First Church of Me & Mine."

Thanks, Sarge! Do I get a lovely parting gift?

Creativity and Innovation

Steve Dilla has a great post today describing a creative meeting he had recently to prepare for an upcoming conference at Fellowship Church in Grapevine. He identifies several factors that made the creative planning productive that I think are right on target. I added a comment about one of my little creative strategies. Check it out here.

And speaking of creativity and innovation, something I've been working through over the past several months is this concept:

"Innovation must be driven by discipline, and creativity must be channeled through order. Otherwise you just end up with a great big, cool and pretty mess of inneffective stuff."

Sometimes I find that my right brain creeps over to my left and picks a fight, and a ballroom blitz ensues. Then paint, ideas and scribbles are left all over the place in in a right brain victory while undone to-do lists, missed deadlines and a messy desk are scattered around in the wake of a left brain loss.

And poor Mr. Left Brain really only wanted to help Mr. Right Brain be successful. Boy, my right brain can really be a punk, sometimes...

This is not a good thing.

It's been said that a pond or lake may be able to sprawl out widely but a river channeled through the right river banks can become a powerful force. (or something like that)

Maybe I should make the whole "disciplined innovation" or "channeled creativity" concept a regular feature here. But first my left brain needs to build a little bit of muscle and street smarts to handle his own with my right...

How about you?

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Cutting Edge

Something to chew on:

To thrive on the cutting edge of ministry, you really need to have a firm grip on the handle of the knife.

And if you do it right, you can use a fork and spoon again until a new slice is needed...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Worship & Church Planting Missteps

Mark Batterson made a great "quotable quote" on his blog, today:

"I feel like one of Satan's tricks is getting us to focus on what's wrong with us instead of worshipping what's right about God. It's one of my worship mantras, ... don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God."

Read the full article here. This is a great quote about worship...and to a certain extent, church planting.

Sometimes church planters spend so much time doing autopsies on their latest failure that they forget to learn from it, get up, dust off and keep following the God who never fails.

Faith without risk is safe - but usually pretty lifeless. Cuts and scars prove you've at least been in the game.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Today we gathered at the Roanoke Community Park for a brief worship service followed by hotdogs and recreation. The softball idea gave way to kickball to allow for everyone, kids and all, to play together.

The ball field was beautiful, groomed and fresh. I wish I had a picture of it to show you. Green grass, white lines, nicely maintained infield. It's a new park, and the Roanoke Parks & Rec Department has done a great job keeping it looking that way.

But we had a light rain last night, so today the dirt on the infield had been transformed into a very slick mud. And this of course made for hilarious gameplay. There was wacky footwork happening all over the place.

The game ended when Ricky made the play of plays and the wipe out of wipe outs. In a dramatic display you would have to have seen to believe, Ricky amazed us all. He was tearing across the infield to make the play when he hit a ridiculously slick spot, went into a slide, then into a spin, and in the process covered himself in mud literally from head to toe! Unfortunately, he really hurt his knee and ankle in the process, and is nursing the swelling this afternoon!

But because of that "superman sports moment in time" that I wish to high heaven I had video taped, Ricky gets the **Dugout Award** for the day!

Kickball with adults. What a blast. Who knew?

(Especially if you know secret ninja moves from the government, Napoleon...)

What a great day. I have ketchup, mustard, and relish mixed with sweat, charcoal ashes and a bit of mud on my shirt as I'm typing this. As Calvin would say, "Consider this day seized!"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Boring Church Services...

Tony Morgan has a great post today, called:

"10 easy ways to make your church services more boring."

I added a "#11" in the comments section....

It's certainly a constant challenge for every church, but also a great reminder to us all. And you don't have to be shallow or showy or dumbed down to keep from being boring. If your church service has become boring, it's usually because you've gotten lazy, not because your congregation's not spiritual enough.

How could we ever allow ourselves to communicate the greatest news in the world in the dullest possible way? When you're just turning the crank week in and week out, you'll become one yourself before long...

It seems that Kim was talking about this very thing, yesterday...

"I Was A Stranger..." - Jesus (Mt. 25:35)

Deann hit another home run today with a challenging and close up look at an amazing story from the ongoing drama that is unfolding in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

Check it out here: I Was A Stranger: Ministry in the Astrodome and Beyond

A standout quote from a couple interviewed in her article:
"We were obedient. That's all he required of us," Shelly said. "God will put the puzzle together. We were the link because God works through people. He wants willing vessels."
Man, does this world ever have a need for more, intentional, Christ following, "links."

Deann gave me a sneak preview of one more article that will be posted on Christianity Today's website on Friday. It's far more personal, and describes how the crisis has hit far closer to home for her. I'll post a link tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"North Point Fellowship" is no more. Really. We gave it a good go...

Not the church, but the name!

We are now Compass Church, and that means our website domain has changed. And my email. See my profile for the new address. The North Point Domain is soon to slide away, also, so please update your bookmarks and favorites to to see what's cooking with us!

And speaking of what's cooking with us, it is hard to express the buzz that is happening with our team right now as we are getting ready to launch at the Rec Center. We spent the weekend in Corsicana at a team member couple's house on the lake (Thanks, Gary & Brenda!) and came away with renewed vision, stronger relationships and a cool plan.

Here are a few highlights of things to come that are on the Compass burner at the moment:
  • Divide and Conquer Prayer and Outreach Strategy (This is very cool and part of a broad strategy throughout the fall. More about this later)
  • We're providing lunch for the Roanoke Rec Department staff next week.
  • Compass Backstage Pass - Upcoming Special Worship Service(s) near our new worship space including music, video, testimonies and vision casting for all of our current and potential supporters.
  • Volunteering and presence/info at the "Celebrate Roanoke" city event
  • Preview Services in November and December
  • Press releases throughout the fall related to our name change, use of the Rec Center and a number of fun surprises ahead...
  • Volunteering presence at key Neighborhood association organized events in October and December
  • A potentially show stopping float in the Roanoke Christmas Parade leading into our Narnia Series.
  • Parent's night out/Christmas gift wrapping night in the works
  • 2 Part Narnia Series in the December preview services
  • 3 simultaneous Community Christmas Eve Services/events in 3 different outdoor locations involving candlelight, carols, the Christmas Story and fun for kids. (There are several logistical and people challenges here, but could actually be the coolest thing we're doing. More details later)
Oh, man, could I go on and on, here. I haven't even mentioned the new band Kim is forming. I'll save it all for future posts.

Want to join our team? Zip me an email, and let's talk.

Interested in partnering with us? We're also looking for additional churches and organizations to become prayer and financial partners with us as we creatively and passionately reach out to our community with the incredibly good news of new life in Christ!

Compass rocks.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Deann, Katrina and Church Compassion

I've known Deann Alford since I was in Kindergarten, and even earlier. She is someone who could probably tell you stories about me growing up that I would prefer she just keep to herself. That's why I'm glad that these days she tells stories that matter.

She's currently covering responses by churches to the Hurricane Katrina crisis for Christianity Today and other publications. She's just written a great piece covering 2nd Baptist Church of Houston's "Operation Compassion" that includes a great quote from Ed Young, Sr.

Check it out here: Houston's Religious Communities Scramble to Help Evacuees

Friday, September 02, 2005

Disaster, Chaos, Tragedy & Hope

Things are getting pretty tense in Louisiana, Compass Church's neighbor to the east and the state I grew up in. The way it is playing out is unbelievable, with the best and absolute worst in people coming out. And the stories pouring in are pretty heart wrenching.

I read an article in the Shreveport Times today, that compared Hurricane Katrina to last year's hurricane Charley (estimated $15 billion in U.S. damages, 10 lives lost), which was followed 2 weeks later by hurricane Frances (estimated $8.9 billion in U.S. damages, 7 lives lost), which was followed by hurricane Ivan (estimated 14.2 billion in damages, 25 lives lost). The total loss of life from those 3 hurricanes combined was 42. The numbers have not yet been validated for Katrina, but the estimate has been set in the thousands of lives lost. I'm hoping that number is incorrect, but it certainly has to be in the hundreds.

This AP article describes the situation as of today. It seems as if there is disaster upon disaster happening in the wake of Katrina, and darkness of every kind has made its way into New Orleans. (side note: The Police Chief's name is "Eddie Compass.") I'm not meaning to neglect the other areas affected, like Mississippi, but New Orleans seems to have some unique situations happening at the moment.

Where is God at times like this?

Without meaning to oversimplify things, let me just say that He is right here with us. Stirring and moving in the hearts of His people. Wanting people who do not know Him to turn to Him. He is wanting people who are hurting and in despair to find peace and strength in Him. He is calling His church to be His hands and feet to meet real needs and demonstrate help and hope in the middle of disaster.

One day there will be no more pain or suffering or tragedy. On that day God will wipe away all tears and heartache. Jesus made such a day possible 2000 years ago on a cross, and it is a day that I long for with all of my heart. But until that day comes, there is much to be done and many more people who need to be a part of that great day. There is a hurting world who needs a friend, a blanket, shelter, food and a Savior. During, after and even before a Hurricane or other disaster.

I'm encouraged to see what Churches are doing to respond to this need, even as the church responded when the Tsunami hit the shore. And there are many good things happening and that are going to happen throughout this thing.

Here are a few stories that demonstrate that:
And there are many more churches, organizations, individuals and denominations doing some good stuff, right now. And that should be encouraging to all of us who are followers of Christ.

To make a donation to help meet the incredible need, click here for a range of options. And pray for the peace of New Orleans.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"Audio Blog Day" Post 11: All Blogged Out; Turn Out the Lights

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 2 min. 26 sec.]

  • Who won the game
  • We wish you a merry audio blog day
  • Blog nog
  • Prayer time
  • A new tradition
  • Final announcement

"Audio Blog Day" Post 10: 3rd Quarter

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 45 sec.]

  • Uphill battle
  • Matt "Leekie"

"Audio Blog Day" Post 9: 1st Quarter

this is an audio post - click to play [run time: 40 sec.]

  • Bad post timing
  • Hopes set high

"Audio Blog Day" Post 8: Pit Stop

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 8 sec.]

  • Pre-game show
  • What's for supper?
  • Sizzlin' - mmm...

"Audio Blog Day" Post 7: Michael On Board

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 2 min. 25 sec.]
  • Results from Art Class
  • Workouts and Scripture
  • Uh's and Um's
  • Hebrews 12:11
  • Innovation & Discipline

"Audio Blog Day" Post 6: Back to Matthew

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 3 sec.]
  • Hot van
  • Gas prices
  • New Orleans
  • Hey from Matthew

"Audio Blog Day" Post 5: Back to Melissa

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 35 sec.]
  • Headache
  • Hey from Meliss
  • Audio Blog Day shopping

"Audio Blog Day" Post 4: From the Ortho

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 8 sec.]
  • To the school
  • The result from the Orthodontist
  • A surprise encounter and shout out
  • Finally to work

"Audio Blog Day" Post 3: To the Ortho

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 40 sec.]
  • Michael thoughts on the orthodontist
  • Audio blogging on the road
  • Art and buhbye

"Audio Blog Day" Post 2: At the Curb

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 28 sec.]
  • To the school with Matthew
  • Football schedule confusion
  • Something in the road
  • The drop off

Audio Blog Day

this is an audio post - click to play [run time - 1 min. 20 sec.]

I have a crazy day today where the schedule is more imposed on me than I have control over. I thought I'd take you along and give you audio snapshots of how the day goes. If this gets ridiculously dull, I'll probably delete the whole thing. If not, you'll get a goofy "look" into my day...

All posts will be about a minute or two in length.

Talk to you soon.

This post:
  • Groggy start
  • Melissa to sectional rehearsal
  • Train fun