Sunday, October 30, 2005

Pastor Electrocuted Performing Baptism

Kyle Lake was the pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco. Unbelievably, during a baptism this morning, there was an accident with a microphone and Pastor Kyle was electrocuted. He was 33.

I did not know Kyle. But I know his church. He has written several books, and The David Crowder band are members/worship leaders in his church. Read the Houston Chronicle article here.

Today's news reminded me of another tragedy from years ago. Before I was born, the church I grew up in was pastored by a man named T.C. Pennel. At the time, the church was one of the largest churches in Louisiana. One Sunday, Pastor Pennel had a heart attack while preaching and died on the way to the hospital. The impact of this event as you would expect, was huge. I am sure it will be no less for this church in Waco.

There is no way to explain away such things. There just is no good way to explain it. And I'm not going to try. But I am praying for the family, the church and all who hear this news and are dealing with the loss and the circumstances surrounding it.

And I will continue to preach the life changing message of salvation through Jesus Christ with boldness and baptize new Christ Followers with joy.

And today I commit to it with even more seriousness and zeal. God is good, true, my Redeemer and my Great Hope - and I will follow Him "to whatever end." There is true life in no one else.

Thanks to David for the reference.

Images from Backstage Pass

Our turnout was smaller than expected, but we were still pretty jazzed about the tour of our new Sunday morning digs. This place is incredible and it still humbles me to think that its availability came about as a result of our faithfulness and serving in the community.

I haven't figured out a better way to do this in blogger, yet, but here they are anyway. The images are kind of small because they are vidcaps from my camcorder. In order, they are:
  1. View from outside the entryway.
  2. Just inside the building. The window everyone is looking through is to the workout equipment room (pre-equipment). There will be four plasma screen TV's in that room to enhance people's workout. Notice the ladder. The Rec center isn't open yet, but it's getting close.
  3. This is one side of a huge room that has two full size basketball courts. The gym has a dividing "curtain" that we will use to make best use of the space. This room is huge. That's both good and bad. It's good because it gives us lots of room to grow, but it's bad because it's going to be a challenge to keep us from getting swallowed up in it at first!
  4. Beside one of two raquetball courts, walking back to the entry area.
  5. Leona and Cassandra (with friend's baby) checking out the preschool area. Yes. It's actually designed to be a preschool area! I'm not sure why they can't agree on which direction to point...
  6. The Aerobics room where we will be doing older children's ministry.
  7. One of 4 classroom areas - this one has a full kitchen. You can kind of see it in the background.
  8. View of the Registration/check in area and of the stairs to the upper level.
  9. View of the lobby area from the top of the stairs.
  10. View of the lobby area from the other side.
  11. On the elevated walking/jogging track that encircles the basketball courts.
  12. Finally, there is grass! View of the freshly landscaped area by the parkinglot.
We've got a lot to do and a lot to prepare for. It's an incredible open door we've been given; we just need to be ready for the numbers of people who I know will be coming through our doors when we open them. Want to help us? We are still looking for a few more individuals, churches and organizations to partner with us financially to make this opportunity the best it can be.

All church planters say this. But it's true.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Into the weekend...

Blazing full steam into a wild weekend. Find inspiration here, or learn from my missteps:

Did a little "Creative Consulting" with a pastor friend of mine the other day and am having lunch with him today to wrap up. I'm helping him work through the process of taking a series of messages from Scripture, and creatively contextualizing them for his setting: Concepts, relevance, series and message titles, vibe and extras to make the series sparkle. I'm often more of a great "idea man" than a great "implementer man," so it's cool to be able to help another pastor communicate the powerful Word of God in a powerful and effective way. (I definitely have more about this that will show up in another post!)

Tonight we're helping with my neighborhood association's fall festival. Our team will be wearing "Compass Church" lanyards, and will be passing out information about our "Backstage Pass" event that's happening on Saturday. Mostly we'll be helping run the different booths and assisting with the set up and tear down. This is far better than running our own deal this year, because of the number of "unchurched" people in my neighborhood who are far more likely to show up. After we serve at this event, we'll be doing some set up at the Community Center for "Backstage Pass."

Saturday morning Leona and I will be picking up our "Angel Food" order from a church in the area. What is "Angel Food," you ask? Something we discovered recently that is an incredible blessing. Church planters in particular should definitely look into this. Tons of food, no application to fill out, available to anyone for $25. No catch, except you place the order and pay in cash, then pick it up a couple of weeks later. And it's good food, not leftover type of donation stuff. Check it out here to see November's menu and find a distribution church in your area.

Saturday night, "Backstage Pass" is on. So is the tour of the Rec Center. Woo hoo! That's a great drawing feature for the night, so I'm glad it worked out.

On Monday, to celebrate Halloween, Leona is actually going back to the surgical center again. Ok, we don't really "celebrate" Halloween, necessarily, but this should provide sufficient scare factor for the day. It seems the Doc has determined that there is one more attempt to make before resorting to surgery. They are going to do a similar process as before, but this time do the injection from another angle to actually deaden the nerve that is causing the numbness. From what other angle, you may ask?...The front of her neck! (insert horror music here - Ranh! Ranh! Ranh!) In all seriousness, although done routinely as a very safe procedure, this one sounds a little more freaky to me, so please pray that all goes well. - And that I didn't just freak out my wife with this post...

And speaking of horrors, yesterday I received a bill from the Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector and almost had a heart attack. Then I remembered a little thing called my escrow account. I'm breathing a sigh of relief, but I'm going to double check on Monday, anyway. If there's a problem, I'm dressing up as a Tax man, going door to door with a bag that night and selling the contributed contents on Tuesday.

Who can take a sun rise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two...the Pastor man. The Pastor man can.... All together now...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Stop On The Journey

Whoa. It's been a whole week since my last post.

Well, big whoopdeedoo. As many other bloggers have discovered, it's easy to get a little too caught up in the blog world sometimes and take it and myself too seriously.

So I'm over myself.

But in case you're wondering, here's some of what I've been up to...

Last week started with a couple of days at the Center for Church Planting conference at Center Point Church in North Richland Hills, Texas. Jay Bruner is the pastor of Center Point, the director of the new Church Planting Center, and a dude who is passionate about introducing people to Jesus. Jay's also been a great encouragement, supporter and friend to me over the past year. Good stuff at the conference, utilizing "Glocalnet's" Turbo training materials with a Center Point twist. I may have the opportunity to lead a session or two at the spring session...we'll see.

Update on Leona:
Fast forward to Yesterday. The surgeon decided that Leona needed one more cortizone steroid injection, so once again we were at the surgical center for the proceedure. The bummer is that it doesn't seem that the injections are really working their magic. We're beginning to think that surgery may have to happen, after all and of course, it couldn't come at less convienient time. (Like there's ever a convienient time for surgery!) More updates as we know more. It's just Tuesday; maybe the numbness in her arm will stop before the week's out...I love my wife. I hate it when she's hurting. Thanks again for the prayers!

Kim has been in the middle of a "day job" transition, and has also been "unblogged" for a few days. She's back online today with a great post on worship, however. I've said it before, but we are truly blessed to have Kim on our team. God's doing cool things in her life and leadership, right now.

By the way, if you want to hear a "snippet" of Kim's vocals, she opens the "Sunday Rewind " podcast of the "North Point Compass" message on the Compass site. Her opener and closer are original songs from a demo she recorded a while back - No big production, just guitar and vocals. She's only on the mp3's (part 1 and 2), though, not the wma file that's there. Check it out here.

Compass is official:
I'm happy to report that all of the little administrative details are complete in the transition from North Point Fellowship to Compass. We can now send and receive mail, write and receive checks and communicate to one and all as Compass Church.

Also, please note that our old website "" and my old email address "johnny[AT]" are history after November 1st. Please update your bookmarks to the new Compass Church site.

By the way, we joyfully allowed a church in California to have the North Point domain. Yeah, we just let them have it. It's good for churches to be generous. :)

Backstage Pass:
I'm very excited about this weekend. We are meeting at the Roanoke Community Center this Saturday night for "Backstage Pass," a night of "behind the scenes" info, testimony, music and vision casting for everyone with even the slightest interest in being a part of Compass Church as a member, supporter or attender.

The only bug is that we are waiting on final approval for what I hope is to be a cool bonus feature of the evening: A Tour of the New Rec Center, where we'll be creating weekly worship experiences in January. If it doesn't work out this week, I'm hoping it will happen in the next "Backstage Pass" that we'll do in November.

Sunday afternoon I watched this flick for the first time on Turner Classic Movies. I almost left it early on because it dragged a little at first and Audrey Hepburn was getting on my nerves. Glad I hung in there, though, because it became a fun little mystery by the time it wrapped up. Nice diversion from a busy week.

There's far more going on this week, I have a ton of work to do, and I may or may not blog about it all. Glad you're here, though. Who knows what may happen next?

And from my time alone with God this morning:
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1 - NLT) Let me just vouch for that... And one more: "Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the LORD." (Psalm 107:43 - NLT) ...So do you see the faithful love of the LORD in your history?

...Ok, I can't wait this long to post again. I'm over myself, but it just takes too long to catch up....

So, how are you?


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Spiritual Maturity "Sound byte"

"Spiritual Maturity does not exist apart from the mission." - Me.

This is one you either get or you don't.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pizza by the yard...

Supper from Sunday night...mmm... pizza....

This recipe is from an old "Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook" from the 1970's that my Mom let me have a few years ago.

I dig the "cokes on ice" in the picture and the retro family feel of the whole thing. Not exactly low fat fare, but man - the peppers and tomato make it scrumdeliyicious.... Add family, a flick, a board game and enjoy.

Friday, October 14, 2005

2 Quick Updates

2 Quick updates:

1. Anthony Coppedge has now blogged about our meeting the other day, and said some fun and nice things. Check it out here. If you'd like to join us at Lynn's Coffee House in a couple of weeks, drop me a line.

2. Leona's medical proceedure a week or so ago did not fully do the trick. The pain in her shoulder is gone, but the numbness in her arm remains. So today at 12:30 p.m. we go back for another injection and another day of anesthetic "loopiness" for Leona. Appreciate your prayers for all to go well today. If this one doesn't work, the next step is surgery...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Un-Wired-er Analog PDA Mind Map

Also called a spiral notebook.

Cup o Joe With Anthony Coppedge

Had a pleasant surprise, yesterday when I received an email from the all time great church media guru, Anthony Coppedge. He had stumbled upon the Compass Church website, and sent me a very nice hello.

Well, it turns out we were able to connect today at a new coffee shop in Watauga called "Lynn's Coffee House." (Cool Coffee shop, by the way. Couches, Big TV, about four computers with free high speed connections, and nice atmosphere. There was also free wi-fi, I believe. I'd provide a link, but believe it or not, they don't have a website, yet!)

Anthony arrived a few minutes before I did and so my first image of Anthony when I walked through the door was of him stepping away from the computers to greet me. How stereotypical but cool is that?

We had a great conversation and I discovered that Anthony is a great guy with a good sense of humor and a very good handle on technology! Yes, the rumors are true. Anthony knows his stuff. He's had an amazing journey in ministry, and I really enjoyed hearing his story and hanging out with him, today.

On a side note, it was slightly surreal to find that we had common connections in blogland. As we talked, we were bringing up different names of people that we had never actually met in person, but only in the wonderful land of blog. (Maybe there should be a new movie called, "The Wizard of Blog." Hmm...) It is kind of weird talking about people that you feel like you know but whom you don't "really" know, and realizing that they have become a part of your life and way of thinking. There has to be a term for that. Blogality? Natural Bloggression? Blogfluence? Psychosis? Ok, I'm blogging down here, but you know what I mean.

One more thing. Those of you who've read this blog for a while already know this, but I've had to par back and become McGyver with technology over this past year for a number of reasons. Some are financial and some are just because I'm radioactive or something. So today when Anthony was checking his Blackberry, I was fumbling around with my "old school" spiral notebook because my Pocket Pc bit the dust months ago. Pretty honkin' embarassing!

Planning to get together with Anthony again, in a couple of weeks. Maybe he'll agree to a quick audio post, a la Steve Dilla? Who knows? Just have to wait and see.

Check out Anthony's Cool Church Tech blog here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dr. Eldridge & Rockbridge (Part 2)

Just to follow up on the last post, I had a few questions about Rockbridge Seminary and Dr. Eldridge had the answers. It was really an email conversation, but it reads better as an interview. So with a nod to Josh at the Leadership blog, here's a quick interview with the president of Rockbridge :

Me: I have a few quick questions about Rockbridge. I love the concept and the purpose driven approach/integration of theology, history, etc. Do the online classes include multimedia (video via windows media, flash or other) or are they primarily a text based (email, chat, etc.) experience?

Dr. Eldridge: We use PowerPoint, audio clips, some streaming video, but most of the methods are asynchronous threaded discussion, email, and written material. We can do chat rooms, but with students from around the world in many different time zones, that feature is rarely used. We found as did University of Phoenix that you have to deal with the end user which doesn’t have the bandwidth and speed for streaming video and cutting edge technology (particularly students in third world countries).

Me: Will the seminary technology continue to grow in methodology as technology continues to evolve and grow? I think that a "president's blog" or weekly podcast could also be a cool possibility...just a thought!

Dr. Eldridge: As that technology changes, so will our methodologies. Our best features are the projects that students do in their church. These practical applications may be lesson plans, strategic plans, evangelism tracts, brochures, retreat plans, etc. This way the church they are serving benefits from the student’s schooling. I like your idea about blogs and Ipod casts. We are doing Ipod casts at our church beginning this next week. We will use some blogs with our classes, meaning the students will run the blogs as part of their learning activities.

Me: I'm also curious about the size of enrollment (understanding the startup nature of the seminary) and wonder if the lack of direct human interaction has presented any unforseen challenges?

Dr. Eldridge: We started in January of 2004. We have 211 enrolled, 109 registered for classes this eight week term. We anticipate doubling in 2006. All of our classes are limited to 30 students. Faculty usually only teach one course, so we’re pretty interactive with students. Some students say they get more interaction online than they did with traditional residential seminary classes. Our biggest surprise has been the depth of relationships that have developed among students.

Thanks, Dr. Eldridge, for allowing me to post the info from our email conversation, and for leading the way in cutting edge, "global seminary education!"

If you are considering seminary, and understand what "purpose driven" is all about, I encourage you to check out Rockbridge. I didn't "attend" there, but if I was heading to seminary today, Rockbridge Seminary would definitely be very high on my list of schools to pursue.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Dr. Eldridge & the Rockbridge (part 1)

I was decluttering my office, the other night and discovered an overlooked copy of the fall 2003 issue of a publication from the seminary I graduated from. As I browsed through the magazine I discovered for the first time that one of my favorite professors is no longer at the seminary.

Dr. Daryl Eldridge was a professor at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth when I was there, and became dean of the school of Religious Education not too long after. Dr. Eldridge was always scholarly and scripturally sound, and his classes were always challenging, but he also had his head very much in the reality of ministry in the local church and the technology of the day. He was also very accessible to students and gave me extra guidance a number of times along the way.

When I read the brief article about what he is now doing, I had a lot of questions. So I immediately started up the google machine and found the website with the answers. I spent a few minutes browsing the site and was greatly encouraged by what I saw there. Dr. Eldridge is now the President of Rockbridge Seminary, an interdenominational school that Rick Warren has called "the future of global seminary education."

I quickly discovered that Rockbridge is different in at least two ways:
  1. Rockbridge is a fully online Seminary.
  2. The Rockbridge curriculum is designed around the five purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism.
Reading about this sparked a memory.

Back in the wonder years of 1992, I was in a class with Dr. Eldridge where we were discussing what's going on in learning and what the future holds. Of the things you'd expect, use of computers, multimedia, etc., one of the items in my notes stood out to me now: "Fully electronic schools."

Reading about Dr. Eldridge's new adventure, I just thought, "Wow. He was talking about that as a possibility over a decade ago, and now he's in the forefront, leading the way in that very thing. Dr. Eldridge challenged and encouraged me during my days at Southwestern, and is still on the cutting edge of ministry and God's purposes all these years later.

I've since had a few great email "conversations" with Dr. Eldridge, and I'll be sharing more about that in another post. Pretty cool stuff - He has been starting a seminary from scratch, and we have been starting a church from scratch! If you haven't already, check out their website; it is an innovative and effective seminary in more ways than one.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Portable Church

Our church has been about as portable as you can get. We've hopped all over the place since we started. Some of that has been good and some of it has not been so good. Here are two of many things I've learned about buildings and being portable as a church plant during this time:
  1. It's important to stay planted in one place for as long as you can.(How many growing plants in the plant kingdom uproot and move around a lot?) That doesn't mean indefinitely, it just means for as long as you can. There's a certain excitement to making a move, but if it happens too often without accompanying growth, it causes a sense of instability. And I believe that the "accompanying growth" part is the key. You don't have to own it, but it helps if you're in it for a while.

  2. Being a portable church can be a great thing. For every challenge to being portable, there are a variety of advantages to being portable. For example, being portable means not having a big fat mortgage payment and monthly utilites to deal with that can sap money from other things. Being portable means t that we can plan to use financial resources to pay staff, purchase quality equipment and create compelling environments for worship and children's areas "instead" rather than "in addition to" those expenses. It isn't necessarily "if you build it, they will come," it's more "If you're meeting needs and creating welcoming environments they will come." Being portable also means in some ways it's easier to go to them... "Come and See" and "Go and Tell" are not mutually exclusive.
I know that there are probably some of my team members who are starting to get a twitch in their eye about right now, since they've been setting up and tearing down for so long... but a building can be an asset or a liability, depending on how it's viewed and used.

We may not be in a building of our own for a while, though, and I'm ok with that. It gives us an opportunity to discover and explore the best kind of building we'll need and that fits into the vision of our church when the time is right. When we do build, it will most likely be a multi-use building that benefits the community and gives us interaction with unchurched people during the week in the middle of "the marketplace." Still praying and thinking through that one, and it will have to wait for another post. (And what a post it will be!)

Much inspiration from Ben and Mark, on this.

Couple of Links
Here are a couple of web sites I'm mulling over as we're planning for the launch at the rec center:

Portable Church
Group Imaging

What do we need to create the environments we need to create in order to accomplish what we need to accomplish? What do we not need? For our area, the answers to those questions are starting to become clearer, but it's an ongoing challenge.

Portable Perspective
And finally, Church media guru Anthony Coppedge has a great post today about a "portable church" he visited in Arizona. (I like that he refers to Gary Lamb as "feisty" in this post!) Check it out here.