Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Church Planting Strategy (the really short list)

Make sure your "grilled cheese" plan includes cheese.

Colossians 1:28

28 So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect [or mature] in their relationship to Christ. (NLT)

Mix with the short list.

Stir briskly and serve.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Dugout 2

Had a great time at "Dugout," yesterday! Grilling, kickball, hotdogs and a short service was the perfect formula for our holiday weekend at Compass. We had folks out of town, but we also had returning visitors, so I felt great about the day.

We've done many, many outdoor services along the way, but now they are a great reminder that we have a "permanent" home at the Rec Center. It makes events like "Dugout" more fresh and fun because they are a change of pace rather than the norm. After being "homeless" for so long as a church launch team, I am extremely thankful that God has blessed us with a great place to grow as a church!

Unlike the last "Dugout" back in September, there were no cool "Dugout Awards" bestowed because Ricky apparently didn't feel like pulling any muscles or "wiping out" on the kickball field this time around...

But I spilled ketchup and pickle relish down my shirt and carried the aroma of BBQ grill smoke around with me the rest of the day. Does that count?

Either way, we've kicked up some dust and Compass Summer has officially begun!

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Won A "Free Prize Inside"

Cool! I've signed in almost weekly to the free business book site, "Inbubblewrap.com" for the past four or five months....

Today I was notified that I am a winner.

Before long I should be receiving the marketing book by Seth Godin, encased in "bubble wrap," as it were. The book, not Seth.

But it's not just the book. It's the original version that comes in a cereal box. And for the winners of this offer, there's also a real free prize inside the "Free Prize Inside." What could it be? I'm hoping it's a "Mr. Of Vinci Magic Decoder Ring!"

Maybe I won because there were 250 winners today instead of their usual 25 or so. Maybe it's because it's been so long since I've been signed up but still haven't won anything. Maybe it's because I'm special.

Who cares? I'm a church planter.

I'll take whatever free wins I can get...


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Church Planting Strategy (the short list)

Not one or the other:
Colossians 1:28-29
28 So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all the wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect [or mature] in their relationship to Christ.

29 I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ's mighty power that works within me. (NLT)
"Work very hard..."
"Depend on Christ's mighty power..."

Both. At the same time.

If you only do one without the other, you'll never get anything done.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ready or Not

So I'm sitting by the coffee pot at the orthodontist's office, totally engrossed in the "want ads" of the paper while looking for that second job to help make ends meet, fighting back a headache, juggling thoughts related to Compass Church's strategy for the summer, Leona's return from camp on Friday, the relatives I have to pick up from the airport tonight, when in the world I can meet with our Team this week, while trying to discover a way to write shorter opening sentences for blog posts, when my intense and focused world in a bubble is interrupted by the lady who is usually behind the desk but who is now making a fresh pot of coffee.


If that was a bit much to chew, listen to it here:

this is an audio post - click to play

"How are you doing, today, Sir?" she asks, while going about her task.

Slightly dazed, it takes me a few seconds to realize that she's talking to me.

I slightly shift the "want ads" in my lap and respond with what sounds like the first words out of my mouth this morning. "I'm doing ok, how are you doing?"

"I'm fine," she responds.

I look back at the "want ads" and at the last lead I had written down: "Seeking key person to help grow our business," when she speaks again.

"So, do you have a lot of activities planned for this summer?" she asks, still working on the coffee.

"Activities? Summer?" I'm thinking. It takes another second or two for it to register that she is talking to me again.

"Always a lot of activities goin' on," I manage to mumble, immediately becoming consious of the fact that I need to clear my throat. My headache feels like it's allergy related.

I look back at the "want ads." "Seeking key person to help grow our business?" I read again and think, "Dude, I could have placed that ad!"

"Now, you're a minister, aren't you?" she asks.

Busted. I begin frantically trying to shift gears, becoming more and more self concious of how "dressed down" I am today, the gravel in my voice and the "want ads" in my lap.

She asks me the name of our church and where it is and I tell her the vital statistics, also mentioning that we are a "church plant." She doesn't know what that is, of course, because most people don't. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have even used that term.

"Brain not work. Me not think right. Must shift gears...1 Peter 3:15...Try to smile..."

I finally clear my throat and explain that it's a "start up" and she seems to understand. She then asks me what church that we, for lack of a better term, "spun off from."

"Oh, we're still spinning," I say with an awkward chuckle.

"I'm not selling this very well," I'm thinking. I place the "want ads" on the seat next to me and briefly explain how we are meeting at the Rec Center, serving in the community, building relationships, etc.

She responds with something like, "Well hang in there. These kinds of things really grow over time."

That's when I remember the business-card-sized "invite cards" that I have with me. I had encouraged everyone in our church to have some with them at all times for just such an occasion. Cool! Sermon illustration for later!

I turn to pull one out of my "Un-Wired-er Analog PDA Mind Map" (which doesn't work well as an acrostic, by the way) and turn back with card in hand when I discover that she has returned to the front desk...

The scene from the movie, "Groundhog Day" flashes across my frazzeled brain:

Phil: Did you really want to talk about the weather, or were you just making "chit chat?"
Mrs. McAllister: Just...chit chat.

"Ok, this is bloggable," I think, and reach for my pen and start writing.

Way too many lessons to learn before 9 a.m....

This post scribbled in the "Un-Wired-er Analog PDA Mind Map" and later "digitally" transferred to this blog. Pun unapologetically intended. :-D

Mr. "of Vinci" and His Magic Decoder Ring

First, let me just say that his last name isn't "Da Vinci" any more than the Apostle Paul's last name is "of Tarsus."

He's Leonardo, "of" or "from" Vinci. It's a place.

Just to be clear, we're talking about this guy:
(Leonardo of Vinci)

Not this guy:
(Leonardo of DiCaprio)

or this guy:
(Leonardo of Ninja Turtle)

I believe that the best way to help those who have read the book and/or who will see the movie, to understand the sheer goofiness of the author's challenges to the Bible and authentic Christianity is simply to point them to secular sources like the History Channel, PBS, and the Discovery Channel. Those guys have done a pretty good job of ripping the story as being pretty much a work of total, not partial, fiction. Pretty fun, fast paced, thriller fiction, but fiction nonetheless.

But I know that there have been some who have responded to the "Of Vinci Code" with a statement like:
"Of course it's a work of fiction, but it does raise some interesting questions..."
So for these and for those who would have conversations with these, I offer the following links as a public service announcement. It's just for starters, because there are now officially one gazillion responses and to Mr. Brown's novel and upcoming movie....
  • And if you're still really into it and can't get enough, but don't want to buy a book, Midwestern Seminary has MP3's, PDF's and other letters and numbers that you can download here.
But please, if you are a Christ follower, don't freak out, boycott, or anything like that. Just see it as a great opportunity to grow more deeply in your faith and for helping other people understand the Truth.

As for the decoder ring?* I can't help but think of a cartoon I saw the other day that said, "These conspiracy theories are a smoke screen to hide the incredible truth!"

* There is no decoder ring in the "Da Vinci Code." You'll need to check your box of breakfast cereal for that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

It's inevitable.

We all imitate people we like and aspire to be like. It's not a bad thing.

But we're not talking about cheap imitations, here. Often it's just a style or way of saying or doing something more than it's just a direct copy.

Sometimes it is a conscious, intentional thing and sometimes we have no idea we are even doing it.

Singers/vocalists do it all the time (see American Idol).

And preachers do it also.

Every now and then I catch myself using a phrase or "accent" that sounds like one of the preachers I've been listening to lately. Maybe it's just the way I pronounce a word or punctuate a point, but to me it's obvious and a little embarassing. It usually cracks me up when I listen to the recording and realize why I said something in a way that I said it.

But hey, I like to think of it as having a multitude of top of the line preaching mentors. I'm learning from the masters! :)

And I'm not alone. I've heard "whispers" of famous preachers in the preaching styles of a lot of "not-so-famous" preachers, lately. Podcasting just has a way of messing us up like that! But again, it's generally in a good way.

Imitation of style is not really anything new. It used to be that preachers tried to sound like Billy Graham and his contemporaries. Now it's Ed Young, Erwin McManus, Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio and many other great communicators that we are emulating. And again, that's not a bad thing. It helps us to get into a groove and style that becomes uniquely our own over time. (
Sometimes it is weird, though, like when a preacher starts adding an "UH!" to the end of every phrase because they think that's what preachers are supposed to do in their setting.)

And it's a good reminder that creating a "derivative work" is better than just being a copycat.

But we are all influenced by someone.

And we all influence someone else, for better or worse. It's true with preaching, it's true with singing, and it's true with just about everything else in life. It doesn't matter who you are. Preachers, homemakers, computer systems analysts, teachers, administrators, fathers, mothers, friends, or...you get the idea.

The trick is to imitate the right people and be worthy of imitation.

It's sincere. It's flattering. And done in the right way, it's actually biblical. Really.

So, who are you imitating and who is imitating you? Are you living a life worthy of imitation?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Podcasting All Over The Place

Well, our "no brainer" podcast is now available. Although I must admit, it was a bit more of a "brainer" than I thought it would be to get it onto itunes! And of course, I used my brain delivering the message on Sunday. I suppose that could be open for debate, but I digress.

Such as it is, you can now hear Sunday's message from Compass Church in 4 ways. Download it from our website, download it from the new "Sunday Rewind Podcast" blog, subscribe to it via the "rss" feed there or subscribe to it through itunes.

Sunday Rewind Podcast on itunes

It took a little effort up front, but now it will be very easy to update every week. We're not even a twinkle in a mega church's eye but now we do have a podcast that's available on itunes. I believe that's important for a lot of reasons, but I'll save those for another post.

And what about the second podcast I talked about in an earlier post? Still working on the name of that one, but it's on its way. I'm really leaning toward calling it the "Double Shot Podcast" of Compass Church. Podcast2 seems a little generic. :)

And yes, before long, the Poor Pastor's Pod Blip will be making an appearance on itunes as well. There are some great comedic possibilities there, and each post is only about a minute long. How could you not subscribe to that? :-D

Geek alert:
The following info may cause your eyes to glaze over. If so, please keep moving, there's nothing more to see here...

I'm pretty sure there are simpler ways to create podcasts and get them into itunes but here are the steps I took and the free programs I used ...
  1. Create the Podcast from the audio recording of Sunday's message and save or export it as an "mp3" file. I used Audacity to do a quick edit.
  2. Create a graphic to use with the podcast. (This isn't really necessary, but cool, nonetheless)
  3. Publish the file to a host site; in our case, it's on our website.
  4. Create a "subscribable" page to update with links to the "mp3" file. I created a free blog with blogger.
  5. Create an "rss2.0" feed so that itunes can read it. (Blogger is apparently only making "atom" feeds, now.) I did this fairly simply by using feedburner. In the signup process, there is an option for podcasts that makes it really easy to sign up with itunes.
  6. Submit the new "rss2.0" feed to itunes.
  7. About a day later, the podcast is available in itunes.
Of course, you could just go to Odeo or a number of other free sites and upload a file you created using a microphone and a laptop....