28 March 2007

Radical Transparency

A challenging blog from Mark Batterson on being transparent and authentic. No doubt about it, church today has a problem with being authentic. It's hard to understand... a place of grace and freedom should be synonymous with authenticity and transparency. My recent experience has been one of secrets, deceit, and distention; all things that block authenticity.

It's scary when the world is applying biblical principles more than the church is!

The article and Mark's comments are worth the read... here are a few excerpts.
Just read the cover article in this month's issue of Wired magazine. It's titled Get Naked: Why Exposing Yourself is the Future of Business.

...radical transparency is sweeping boardrooms across the nation.

"Transparency is a judo move."

Ever notice that people stop making fun of people who laugh at themselves? Ever notice that people stop criticizing people who admit their failures? It's judo.

Chief Reputation Strategist for PR firm Weber Shandwick, Leslie Gaine Ross, says, "Online is where reputations are made now." She says that a single Google search determines more about how you are perceived than a multi-million-dollar ad campaign. "Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable."

Honestly, I think part of the magnetism of Jesus was his authenticity. He was touchable and approachable. He was holy, but he wasn't holier-than-thou.

We could definitely use a dose of radical transparency in our churches. The enemy loves it when we keep secrets! The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove!

27 March 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is Glenda's birthday. I am so thankful for her. She is the BEST! She has been a source of inspiration and encouragement. This past week has been fun. We have been talking a lot about where we've been and where we are headed. I love her. She and I have been through so much life together. We have so much to be thankful for... I am thankful for her, for our kids, for our wonderful family. Glenda is an amazing woman. A few people have gotten to really know her and understand what I am talking about. Those that have not had the chance to really get to know her are truly missing out.

Babe, happy birthday! You are the best. I love you!

Thoughts on prayer

" The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." Samuel Chadwick

This makes me wonder about the prayer life of a Christian... we seem to complain to God and call it a prayer, we inform God of what "really" needs to happen and call it prayer, we give God our bullet list of what we think should happen and call it prayer. What if we had genuine conversation with God? I think things would be a whole lot different around here.

A verse that was used this past Sunday shows Jesus calling Peter to live in His divine knowledge and not depend on human logic.

Luke 5:4-7
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down[a] the nets for a catch."

5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

23 March 2007


Mark Batterson wrote an article for a leadership magazine.

One of our central leadership tasks is cultivating a culture of creativity. And it is more than a leadership technique--it is a stewardship issue.

Think of the two hemispheres of the brain as parallel processors. They certainly overlap in function. And this is a gross simplification of something that is divinely complex. But the left-brain is the logical half of the brain, and the right-brain is the creative half of the brain. Now juxtapose brain topography with Matthew 22:37: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind."

Loving God with half your mind doesn’t cut it. Half-minded is no better than half-hearted. But many leaders are trying to lead with half their brain tied behind their back. And it’s about as effective as running on one leg, clapping with one hand, or twiddling one thumb!

When will the lame-brains get their act together and start living in the fullness of what God has for us?

A Gut Check for Growing Churches

Mark Batterson shares ten reminders for growing churches... They are personal reflections from his journey @ NCC.

The more we grow...

1) ...the greater the PRIVILEGE

I never want myself or anyone on our staff to have a sense of entitlement. We're only servants--I Cor. 3:5.

2) ...the more COMPLICATED things get

Sin complicates your life in negative ways. Growth complicates your life in positive ways. Learn to thank God for complications!

3) ...the harder it is to maintain UNITY

Vision is the key to unity! The larger you get the more frequently you need to cast vision. Unity doesn't happen by default--Eph 4:3.

4) ...the better STEWARDS we need to be

Growth raises the stakes. With greater responsibility comes greater accountability.

5) ...the more ABOVE REPROACH we need to be

I Corinthians 10:23 says, "Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial." As our leadership expands, there can be an unhealthy and unholy tendency toward the permissible end of the spectrum! Guard against it. As our influence expands, leaders need to move toward the beneficial end of that spectrum!

6) ...the easier it is to exist for those who ALREADY BELONG

As a church grows it is very easy to give in to centripetal force--we become inward-focused and ingrown. The Great Commission is centrifugal--go into all the world.

7) ...the easier it is to do ministry out of MEMORY instead of ministry out of IMAGINATION

The beginning of the end for every entrepreneurial organization is the moment they stop doing what got them to where they are! You need to keep making mistakes. You need to keeping experimenting. Don't repeat the past. Create the future!

8) ...the more we have to remind ourselves of WHY we're doing what we're doing and WHO we're doing it for

There is a fine line between building Thy Kingdom and My Kingdom. As your circle of influence grows, you need to stay Christ-centered.

9) ...the more you have to guard your heart

As you grow, so does the target on your back. Leaders need to keep a pure heart in the midst of criticism and temptation. The blessings of God backfire when they produce pride. Stay humble.

10) ...the bigger our DREAMS need to get

The size of our dreams is one of the best barometers of spiritual maturity. People with a big God have big dreams!

22 March 2007

Final day of classes

What a great day. 1 early morning + 2 classes of teaching on small groups + 2 classes of teaching on staff relationships + 1 chapel service with the lady from Jesus Camp + 1 authentic lunch at La Hacienda with Moses + 1 meeting with Dr. Anderson = 1 great big day.

A couple of pictures from the staff relationships class. One of the coolest things this week was getting the opportunity to reconnect with so many NCU students that I have known. I got to see a few kids from our first ministry in WI. There was a student that I knew from the church we were at in ND. Then there was another student that I knew from IL youth conventions. The best part about it was seeing how many students are preparing for ministry.

Here are some of the notes from today:

Small groups... are all about relationships.

Small groups are all about growth... deeper relationships, closer to God, larger small groups.

A key to small groups is… To go one step deeper than a surface level relationship.

Some qualities of a relationship that will make the relationships last… authenticity • openness • honesty • love • compassion • caring…

Small groups aren’t just a program; they should teach how to interact in healthy, God-honoring, respectful relationships.
Small groups should be a safe place.

Proverbs 27:17 as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another
If we can sharpen someone, then can the opposite be true also?

Small groups done right have the potential to build healthy relationships.
Small groups done wrong have the potential to severely damage relationships.

Staff Relationships
• Your relationship with all of the staff is going to be different.
• Make the first step to initiate relationship; don’t wait for someone else to reach out to you.
• Interview the members of a potential staff.
•Define the expectations of the different staff relationships.
What do you expect from them and what do they expect from you?

Define how a staff operates in the areas of:
- Accountability
- Loyalty
- Trust

Tips for being your best in a staff position…
- Honor God in everything you do.
- Respond never react.
- Deal with others with integrity.
- Choose to find a common ground in the missional cause of Christ.
- Choose to find the value in each team member.
- You are a part of the team.
- Set relational goals.

• A church and staff will fight over the dumbest things.
• Force yourself to have fun together. It will never be convenient.
• Do things with the staff outside of ministry elements.

It is such an honor to be able to speak into the lives of future ministers. Never underestimate the person you are speaking with, they will be doing great things someday.

21 March 2007

Mentoring and memories

Today was the first day of teaching classes. What a great time. I taught three sociology of American youth classes. The topic of the day was mentoring, which I loved the fact that I was able to share about mentoring. Some of the main points:

Mentoring is a new experience for most. Mentoring is not something that has been modeled by older generations. This is an area of ministry that current generations have been lacking. There have been no healthy examples of mentoring. Ministry seems to be especially "self" focused. It is not an excuse to not mentor others if you have not been mentored yourself. Mentoring has to be a value, even if it hasn't been valued by others before you.

Society is mentoring: the Donald, P. Diddy, Eminem... if we don't they will.

Mentoring is reproducing your life in someone else. The good and bad are reproduced. You cannot reproduce what you don't have.

Mentoring WILL hurt. On the flip side, mentoring WILL be the most rewarding thing you've ever done.

Push through the pain to the point of growth. Be willing to deal with the tough stuff. Care enough to give "real-time" feedback.

You won't have all the answers. Mentoring is not about being some "Plato" philosopher, it is about being willing to go through life together.

I had the opportunity to visit with the senior pastor of the church that I did my internship at. It was great to get to visit with him and see how well they are doing. It is amazing that it was almost 10 years ago that I was doing my internship and getting ready to get married. I remember, as interns, Alan and I making a "paintball" video dipping tennis balls in cans of paint and throw them at each other... walking out of the cableguy and getting our money back... hangin out at the Mall of America. It has been fun to remember all of the good times associated with Minneapolis and NCU. I remember our first apartment and the crazy landlord (early morning phone calls). I remember the good life in Minnetonka. It was so much fun starting married life here. Glenda, you are the BEST! It has also been great to have God remind me of some dreams of ministry. It is fun to see the pure dream of ministry again. It is so easy to get jaded and hurt as you enter the "church-world". College is such a little world of it's own, a safe place to dream and believe that ministry will be great. I believe that it can be great again. I am so glad to begin to close this last chapter of ministry; I am also excited to start a new chapter. God's ways are higher. I want to live in those ways.

20 March 2007

First day of classes

Today was my first time being back in classes at NCU since I graduated (almost 10 years). I am so amazed at how nice the rooms are. I was just observing today, but we did an impromptu forum in the ministry of the youth pastor class. We discussed teams: developing a team, recruiting a team, the health of your team, all stuff about youth ministry teams.

Some highlighted discussion:

Q: How do you motivate your team? Won't they be discouraged if they don't get paid and the youth pastor does? A: No amount of money will make you feel encouraged about doing ministry... and if you are doing it to get paid you are in the wrong profession.

Q: How do you recruit a team? A: Any and every way you can. People want to give back, but they need to be invited to join a healthy team.

The best method of recruiting is a healthy leadership team. Positive leaders will bring in more leaders better than any "method" of leadership recruiting.

It takes a team to grow a ministry. Pastors have an unhealthy need to be needed. If we truly want to grow we must invest into a ministry team. God won't bless a ministry with more people to care for until the people presently there are being ministered to.

Team ministry is the most fun.

Team ministry has the greatest rewards.

Team ministry doesn't focus on one age group. A tendency of youth ministry is to focus on just the young, hip, cool people that have the appearance that they will be good at ministry. The best team is made up of all ages, races, and ministry giftings.

There is no doubt that teams are the future of church ministry.

Q: How do you get your volunteers to get "it" (your heart for ministry). A: DNA. You have to transmit your ministry DNA to your leaders. Does their ministry focus match yours? Why not? A pastor must have leaders that know the heart for the ministry. Which relates to a healthy ownership from the volunteers.

That is all I can remember. I know I am missing a few good points, but I will post them later.

On a side note, yes, I think the bullets look like flowers (thanks J). If anyone knows how to change that let me know. Flowers don't belong here. I give flowers to my wife; I don't post them on my blog.

19 March 2007

People Perceptions

As I drive I like to scan radio stations. I hardly ever make it to AM radio, but I did today. As the stations scanned I came across a radio host asking people to call in telling who they would be voting for president in the upcoming election. A few things caught my attention:

  1. I was amazed at how people came to their perceptions of the candidates. They knew nothing about the character of the candidate; they just "liked" them and that was good enough for a vote. How scary that a position of president is left up to a popularity contest.
  2. Assumptions. Callers seemed to have made assumptions with little or no information concerning the candidate other than what they've heard.
  3. Why does everyone feel like they know what the youth of this country want? I heard this so much... "They are very popular with the youth of this country", "The youth of this country need this leader". How do they know?
  4. The leader was chosen on what they would or could do for the individual.

The many conversations on the radio seemed to reflect church life all too much...
  1. Sadly church seems to be a place where false perceptions/assumptions flow freely. What if church didn't have false perceptions? What if we saw people the way Jesus sees them? It is sad when a desire for holiness leads to a critical heart that justifies critical perceptions. What if we are so concerned with growth that none of us ever quit reaching for more of God?
  2. The church seems to have almost more gossip/assumptions than society does. The church just hides it better with the "oh we need to pray for...". We have our ways of masking gossip in false concern. What if we loved on people? What if we put criticism aside? What if God's love really was the most important thing?
  3. Do we know what the youth want? How? When is the last time there was a meaningful conversation totally about a teens' spiritual growth? The church assumes they know what the youth want. What if the youth weren't disregarded? What if the youth were validated and listened to? What if some of the older people listened and learned something from the younger generations?
  4. Who is a leader in the church? How do we choose leaders? Because they have been around for a long time? Because everyone knows their name? Then Norm could be a leader... everyone knew his name.

I wonder if the church will stop mirroring society?

On the road again

This will be a fun week. I get to teach a couple of youth ministry classes at the college i graduated from. It was a flood of memories as I drove back to the campus. The memories kept coming as I was approached by a bum asking for money. Things have changed though... they used to ask for change... this guy asked for five bucks! I am looking forward to having the opportunity to share some thoughts from the last ten years of youth ministry and learning some things along the way too.

The new center for youth and leadership is very impressive. Youth ministry is it's own department now, when I was here is was a small office in the corner of the pastoral ministries department. It is great to see how much the school has grown in the past years.

17 March 2007


Notes from a conference that I read off of Tony's blog:
  • Churches don't grow without Godly leadership.
  • Moses simply listened and obeyed.
  • Have you ever felt like God was leading you to do something?
  • One of the most common phrases in the first chapters of the Bible is this: "The Lord said to Moses..."
  • Time with God is the most important thing you do. Period. (Especially for senior pastors.)
  • How can you get a vision for your church without time with God?
  • In the Bible, God never gave the vision to a committee. "The personnel committee, they're of Satan."
  • "God didn't ordain deacons to tell the pastor what to do."
  • Hebrews 13:17 -- Your pastor is accountable to God.
  • We fight over the dumbest things. And we handcuff the senior pastor. The pastor can't even hire and fire the people on the staff team.
  • "If you've never been scared, you've never heard from God."
  • If you're not the senior pastor, you have to trust that he's hearing from God.
  • Moses did not compromise the vision.
  • "Powerful people in your church will always try to alter your vision."
  • "As a pastor, I can't please everyone." I'd rather offend the people in the church seats than God who gave us our vision.
  • People will leave. And that's OK.
  • Moses didn't try to do it all.
  • "Pastors, one of our biggest problems is that we think we're needed."
  • Numbers 11:14-17 -- The pastor can't carry everyone. "You will not have to carry it alone."
  • "The pastor is not supposed to do everything."
  • "You have to surround yourself with Godly people."
  • "Pastors, you also need to learn how to rest."
  • Moses was willing to attempt the impossible.
  • "God has never called us to do anything that's safe."
  • "It insults God when we dream small dreams."
  • Stop using money as an excuse. "If it's God's will, it's God's bill." God isn't limited by money.
  • Ask God for big things.
  • "If you can sleep, it's not a vision. If you can do it, it's not a vision."
This is great stuff! It would have been fun to be there. Reading this list again and again just seems to hit so close to home. Wow! Church today just doesn't get it. When will it be more about God and less about our personal desires?

16 March 2007

Disney Quote

"It's kinda fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney

Why should Disney have all the fun doing the impossible?

I remember reading a book in college, Lord of the Impossible. How is it that a theme park designer/cartoonist seemed to take it to heart more than most Christians? I think its about time to do some impossible things for the Lord of those things that seem impossible.

Why should Disney have all the fun doing the impossible? Chase a lion!

15 March 2007

Fear this

Something I read that I wanted to pass along...
"You're afraid? So what. Everybody's afraid. Fear is the common ground of humanity. The question you must wrestle to the ground is, 'Will I allow my fear to bind me to mediocrity?'"
Andy Stanley
Are you ready to wrestle fear? What is binding you to mediocrity? God never intended us to live average, vanilla, half-way-up-the-hill, boring lives. Are you living one? What needs to happen to move out in to the God-sized adventure He has in store for you?

... Ready ... Wrestle!

More than I can imagine

Ephesians 3 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I believe it! There's a lot I am dreaming about right now... more to come on that later. This verse really encouraged me. As I remain in Him and honor God; He will do immeasurably more than I can imagine. I am excited for that because I have a big imagination. Here we go!

10 March 2007

Stupid Quote

It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid
than to open it and remove all doubt.

Mark Twain

09 March 2007


A recent discovery shows people that are coming to a place where they see them self as the self-appointed church "monitor". There is an assumed personal endorsement or maybe entitlement to be critical of church life that they either don't like or don't understand. Has church really become more about what people want and becoming less about what God wants? I hope not...

A pastor in North Carolina recently did a great job dealing with a difficult situation.
The other day, a lady said something to my wife that made me sick to my stomach upon hearing about it...

Then the woman made one of the most absurd comments I’ve ever heard from a churchgoer, even here in the Bible belt. That’s saying a lot.

“I wanted to let you know that there’s one praise song, I can’t remember the name of it, that ya’ll do better than all of the dozens of churches we’ve been to in our church shopping quest.

Trust me; you'll want to read the rest of the story. Go get 'em Steven!

06 March 2007


Life sure is weird...

05 March 2007

Me Church

I think I know where this church is...

03 March 2007

Too Early

I can remember getting up early, crazy early for three special occasions: a father son fishing trip (I was in 5th grade, we caught a crooked fish), a fishing trip on my 16th birthday (it snowed in N.D. in May, but we still went fishing), and then my first hunting trip. All three times I can remember thinking this is crazy. This would make a fourth...

In the wise words of scuttle, "We're out to discovah!"

02 March 2007

Chase the Lion Trailer

Still Chasing

Here is a poster of the Chasing the Lion Manifesto...
Go here to get all of the Chase the Lion stuff.

Student and Teacher

Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Ms. Smith stopped to gently reprove the child.

Smiling sweetly, the teacher said, "Bobby, when I was a child, I was told if I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that."

Bobby looked up and innocently replied, "Well, Ms. Smith, you can't say you weren't warned."

from Mikey's funnies

01 March 2007

Gas Guzzler

I was doing my best to keep up with traffic tonight. Some people dont like driving in Chicagoland traffic. I love it. But tonight I was getting passed left and right. I was torn between keeping up with traffic and the fact that I could literally see my gas gauge going down. With gas prices going up I felt like this picture tonight. I think I could handle 1MPG in a Hummer, but not in my vehicle.

Table Talk

Most dinner conversations are boring. At most restaurants there is enough "white noise" to drown out conversations. That was not the case tonight. I stopped at Panera for a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee (great deal). I chose a seat next to a power outlet... my phone doesn't hold a charge anymore, another post for another time.

I sit down and plug in to charge up and about threw up. The group next to me was talking about a live turkey farm and how they kill the turkey. Their conversation was so loud. Before I knew it I realized they were fully engaged in the "gossip chain".

I can't believe how people can talk so much about other people's business. Maybe it's just me, but I can't do that, I like people, but I don't want to talk about them all the time. I am a student of social environments and behaviors. It is very interesting how people act and what they do in certain situations. Gossip is an unbelievable environment. I feel like the croc hunter in the wild seeing a rare species in its native habitat. I have never gotten to see gossip up close like this.

Usually people gossiping are trying to avoid me, especially because I have been the topic lately. Gossip is a very sad conversation. Nothing about the discussion was even remotely positive or uplifting. They didn't even know the people they were talking about, but were making some very critical assumptions about them. I couldn't believe how ugly the conversation was.

I wonder if they regret things they say after they walk away from the conversation? It's no wonder the bible talks so specifically about avoiding the chains of gossip.