Thursday, July 30, 2009

ethan is a married man!

WHOOOO! I can't believe it, but my best friend (other than my wife) for the past 8 years is finally a married man!!! So let me say publicly here on the renown blog = CONGRATULATIONS TO ETHAN!!! A great man & I have no doubt he will be a great husband to Ashley. You did good Eth! I'm honored to be your friend and to have the privilege to celebrate the awesome occasion with you!

*In case you're interested you can still check out all the excitement from Ethan's bachelor weekend & wedding from this past weekend on Twitter! As the Best Man I took on myself the duty of creating a Twitter hashtag (#) just for Ethan's wedding. So, to follow the action simply search #ethanswedding & you can see all the Tweets from last weekend!

It was a pretty crazy weekend for me. I got in to Raleigh some time in the middle of the night Thursday night/Friday morning from Big Stuf camp with our kids from Ridge. (Read more about that HERE, HERE, & HERE.)

But I was up early Friday morning to hook up Ethan's Bachelor Weekend Golf Tourney @ the Crossings in Raleigh. 2 of my best friends - Caleb & Jim + their wives were just across the hall from me & Crystal at the hotel. We got some breakfast together and then took off to the tournament.
It was a "Captain's Choice" tourney which meant each foursome was on a team trying to win the whole thing. I was in Ethan's group along with his Dad & some other guy that wasn't very good (haha, jk). We actually WON the whole tournament at 6 under! I haven't played golf since I was 17, so I wasn't all that into it, just there to support Ethan.

On the back 9 he added asked me to hook him up! As the Best Man he wanted me to give him 1 sex tip on each hole on the back 9! I had already given him every sex book I've read and I thought imparted all my sex knowledge to him after he got engaged... but I loaded him up with another 9 tips. The funniest part was when he was talking about Tip #2 on the 11th hole & the drink cart girl was standing right behind him. She started laughing. haha... I couldn't tell if Ethan was embarrassed or not?

I also JACKED a house with one of my tee shots. I mean KILLED the thing. It was hilarious. I tweeted about it of course (& hashtagged it = #ethanswedding)

The whole weekend was awesome times hanging out with some of my best friends that I really don't get to see that much like Jim, Caleb, Ed (haven't seen in 4 years!), both Ethan's bros., Stephen, + getting to meet & hang out with some new friends. Anytime you get this crowd together it's "INTERESTING"! Picking up the tuxes was an adventure for sure. I guess we were quite entertaining as all the employees came out to simply watch & laugh at us.

The Rehearsal Dinner was at a really pimp place! It was sick & the food was amazing! (Thanks Mike & Sandy!) Then there was a really awesome time where everyone stood up & said good stuff about Ethan & Ashley. pretty cool.

But of course we were ready to get out of there for the bachelor party! I planned that bad boy & it was a 2-parter. Part 1 was 9pm-1AM & Part 2 was 1AM-7AM. Fun times!
Ethan had to wear a "Bachelor Crown" everywhere we went (as you see pictured). There was also "the List" of crazy and embarrassing stuff Ethan had to do throughout the night out on the town. Unfortunately, to keep from incriminating or embarrassing Ethan I won't talk much more about it... except to say that he's starting off marriage right by not doing stuff he thought his soon-to-be-wife would be mad at.

At one stop of the bachelor party this drunk guy jumped into play pool with us! (He looked just like my friend Jeff Abernethy, btw!) The only reason we let him play was because Ethan wanted the shirt off his back... & he was really funny... in a sad sort of way.
Then there was the other drunk guy who was laughing so hard he knocked over a whole line of beer bottles. As he was awkwardly scrambling to pick them back up he looked at Caleb & said = "I'm sorry, was that your beer I spilled?" Without missing a beat Caleb said "No, that was my grandma's!"
The guy looked at him with a straight face and said "What's she look like?" Then went on to laugh & say he was just kidding. Pretty funny.

We ended up back at our gracious host's house around 2AMish... AJax! Right before we rolled into his place we stopped and got some 5 hour energy shots. Of course driving around all night with like 10-12 other married guys, you know what Ethan was asking about & you know what we were all telling him about! Well, there was one of those conversations taking place that was OUT THERE for sure & I won't go into it at all right now in an attempt to at least keep this blog PG-13... But during that conversation, Jim got pretty adamant (as we were waiting in line at the gas station for our 5hour shots) and said "I will NEVER do... (the thing we had been talking about)." Without knowing what we were talking about a biker dude in the other line turned to Jim and pointed his finger at him & said "Never say never." HAHA! Definitely quote of the night.

Back @ AJax's bachelor pad, Ethan wanted nothing more than to have a big game of poker with his best friends in the world, so we hooked it up for a game that lasted about 4 hours. I think AJax actually took home all our $ because he beat us all pretty bad. Going "all in" on an offsuited 10 & 4 to take the final guy down.
During the night we were also rocking some Guitar Hero World Tour & Fifa '09 on the big screen.

By 7AM we were done. Me, Jim, & Caleb went back to our hotel & crashed. (& btw, don't feel sorry for our 3 wives - they were having fun together all night without us and all the next morning out at the pool while we slept.) My wife woke me up @ like 11:30 reminding me of all the wedding crap I needed to do. So, I got a shower & then Erin (Caleb's wife & pimp hair stylist pro) was gracious enough to hook me up with a free haircut. I jotted down some thoughts for the best man toast & then we rolled out to go to the wedding spot.

On the way we stopped for lunch. This experience turned into somewhat of a fiasco. I had some breakfast muffins on the dashboard for later, but when Caleb took off they flew everywhere. We went to the Wendy's drive through & I was calling Ethan to see if he needed food. I was cheering for him getting married in just a few hours on the phone & apparently the Wendy's drive through minimum wage guy didn't like it, so we bounced out of line & went over to Sonic. While ordering there Jim was in the car behind us and started beeping his horn to be funny. Caleb made some comment about the jerk behind us & the lady taking our order said she would just make him wait a long time. Haha, she had no idea we knew him. She said something like "I hate impatient jerks like that."

I honestly wasn't even all that hungry, but I was CRAVING one of their huge 44oz. ICE WATERs!!! I couldn't wait. I got it in my hand & was ready to dive in as we pulled out. Then the tragic happened! Caleb turned weird & I spilled the ENTIRE 440z big gulp ice water all over my shorts! I had to take them off really fast (freezing cold). They were drenched, so I showed up to the wedding site in my boxers. No biggie because my tux was in Jim's car. I was just gonna throw those pants on real fast. Until Jim realized he left his tux at the hotel & took off like a bat out of hell... with me & Caleb's tuxes in going with him! So, I just hung out in my boxers for a while! I'm not posting any pics of that, but I think the wedding photographer guy got a lot.

The site was PIMP! The little log cabin all us groomsmen got ready in was pretty sweet. And then me & Ethan just chilled in there for like an hour. Eating some of the spread they left for us. He was so confident & relaxed. It was awesome. He was excited. He couldn't wait to marry his bride. It was beautiful. Ethan's pastor, JD, showed up and hung out with us the last 15 minutes.

The wedding itself was awesome! It was also like 150 degrees which kind of sucked. Sweat was literally dripping and running off everyone. Especially crazy Andrew. it was crazy hot.
When Ashley came down the aisle, Ethan got the biggest smile on his face I've ever seen him have & he was straight mezmerized by her. It was so cool. He was amazed at his bride.
Ethan & Ashley wrote their own vows & I thought that was awesome. Beautiful. I think at 2 points during the ceremony I teared up... I'm not ashamed to say it.

I was actually so into watching Ethan & Ashley that I guess the flower girl got stung by a bee, ran off the stage, & then later came back up on the stage & I had NO IDEA about any of it! where was I?

Definitely fun times at the reception. Dancing was a lot of fun! Ethan had been waiting for months to do the dance tunnel line thing like at the end of the movie Hitch. We rocked it well I think. Of course we had fun with the Cupid Shuffle & Cha Cha slide + some Boom Boom Pow & other fun stuff. We stuck Ethan in the middle of a mosh pit more than a few times. (I think that's a "litote" I just used.)

I got to see & hang out with tons of my best friends all night long as we danced til we couldn't dance anymore. We all were really sweaty. I definitely downed about 5 8oz Prime Rib Steaks! that's like 40 ounces. I was killin' it with that horse radish sauce... so good!

Again I just wanna wish Ethan & Ashley a great & long happy marriage together! Like the great philosophers and theologians the Beatles said - "All you need is love." Their marriage is starting off centered on Jesus... they've got everything they need. I couldn't be happier for them!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Driscoll deleted from Facebook!

I just saw @PastorMark's latest Tweet & it simply says - "Removed from Facebook". I was like WHAT? So, I clicked the link.

Over at The Resurgence, they wrote a short blog about it which you can read HERE. This is a short snippet from the post:
"In recent years, Facebook has become a great way for me to connect with folks from all over the world. This week, without warning or explanation, my Facebook page was removed by their team. So when we figure out what is going on, we will let you know..."

I remember that Driscoll was actually one of my very first friends on Facebook. I thought it was very gracious of him to accept me even though we had only met 1 time ever & I was shocked that he would remember me. But later I found out I think he was just accepting everyone because he quickly passed the 5,000 friend barrier!
*You didn't know that? Yeah, you're not allowed to have more than 5,000 friends on Facebook! [Funny thing is that my own Dad is almost there! He's at 4K! AND, today is his birthday also, so quick shout out to my awesome Dad! Happy B-day!!! He's like 40 or something, haha.]
So, he had to open a Fan Page. Then everyone started becoming a fan of Mark Driscoll.

Apparently that Fan Page is what Facebook deleted. I think he said there were like 35K peeps on it! Crazy.

I'm sure there are already tons of theories floating around about it. My guess is that the Southern Baptists finally took over the world & their 1st order of business was to exterminate Mark Driscoll... haha!
(You can read why I think that HERE.) Maybe next on the list for them will be Satan or somebody like that?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

church giving away their "church" (building)

Don't worry, I'm going to blog all about my boy Ethan's wedding this weekend very soon (probably tomorrow or even tonight!) But for now I have SO MUCH to catch up on I'm just going to repost this from Carlos Whitaker's blog that I follow. You can read it on his site HERE. Catalyst even picked it up and you can read their post on it HERE.

picture-11

"This is Rolling Hills Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA’s web banner on their website www.wheresthesteeple.org
Not the sexiest thing we have ever seen.
And you know what?
Who cares?

Rolling Hills Baptist Church, Fayetteville, GA
Their building and property is worth over 1.1 million dollars.
The church has a nice facility that is almost paid off.
The church owes less than one hundred thousand dollars.
The church has 1 million in equity.
The church has many families who have lost their homes and jobs.
The community is one that could use resources and money to help families in need.
The pastor and his congregation have decided to sell the church building and property to take care of his members and put roofs over peoples heads instead of their own on Sunday.

On October 5, 2008, the members of Rolling Hills voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining GOD in His redemptive work by selling her buildings and property, and using the proceeds to increase ministry and mission efforts in our community and beyond.

They are looking to lease a movie theater or something after the property sells.
Other churches have offered their facilities.
This is the church at work.
Pastor Frank is my new local church hero.
Bravo to you for doing what you most would never do.
Bravo for you for following in obedience.
May God bless you and your church richly.

This is the most backwardly beautiful thing I have seen a church do in a while.
I can only imagine what could happen if this became a trend.
Thoughts?
Los"

All that above in italics & quotes was straight from Carlos' post.

I think what this church did is REALLY awesome + kingdom & Jesus minded. What do you think?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Big Stuf 09 - Day 3

Day 3 @ Big Stuf was awesome! (You can read about Day 1 HERE & Day 2 HERE).

The day kicked off with the 1st session around 9:30 = with the Daraja Children's Choir! It's all connected to the 410 Bridge which is an awesome ministry out of Big Stuf to advance the Kingdom of God in Kenya... (You may have seen it before over on the right of this blog.)
They are always awesome and always rock the hearts of the kids (& mine).

Big Stuf always partners with Compassion as well (which you all know I am ALL ABOUT!) & specifically targets children in Kenya! AMAZINGLY cool that one of our students from Ridge so far has adopted a Compassion child this week. He is 6 years old and his name is Marco (& no his last name isn't "Polo"... I can't really spell his last name or else I would write it on here.)
Hundreds of kids have been sponsored by these students and that puts a big smile on God's face!

I ran into Andy Stanley here @ camp. He was asking me all about Ridge and what God is up to & had some encouraging words for us. He knew some behind the scenes stuff about our church and was asking me about all that. And he asked how our kids were liking camp, etc... & I said "great since you talked about sex for 45 minutes..." just kidding, I didn't tell them that.
Later he bumped into Crystal & talked with her for like 20 minutes at Starbucks. Pretty cool, brilliant, HUMBLE, and great guy!

Speaking of Andy, he spoke at the night session & it was all about the Cross! It was powerful. Our kids were definitely affected by it. HUNDREDS of teens stood up to let everyone know that they were for the 1st time declaring they were all out going to follow Jesus with their lives.

I learned a valuable lesson as well. Pizza, middle school girls, middle school guys, being at the beach, a long day of fun & trying to have a group discussion about the cross will only work for about 10 minutes... after that it's all over. Learn something new every day I guess.
Day 3 was a great day for sure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big Stuf 09 - Day 2

Day 2 (Tuesday) @ Big Stuf 09 was awesome! (you can read Day 1 HERE.)

We kicked off the day with a little free breakfast from the hotel. The breakfast room looked out at the ocean, so that's always cool.

Our 1st session of the morning kicked off the way every session @ Big Stuf always kicks off... EVERY TIME... (after some kind of fun video or song)... MR. BIG STUF makes his entrance to officially begin. And his entrance always includes throwing out probably 20-40 Big Stuf frisbees into the audience while the band plays and sings the old Jean Knight song - Mr. Big Stuff... & of course Mr. Big Stuf is none other than Lanny Donoho, the creator of Big Stuf Camps (& also from North Point Community Church).

The Fee Band led us in more amazing worship during both our morning & evening session on Day 2. In fact... at night Lanny had to cut it off because he said "the people who work at the arena need to strap the roof down before all of you blow it right off during worship the next few nights." It was cool times. Kids are really lifting their hearts up to God and just going after it.

Perry Noble (Newspring) spoke in the morning session. He is one hilarious redneck! He told us all the story of how he ate tacos in the 6th grade right before the sit-ups test in P.E. & then the prettiest girl in school held his feet. On the 3rd sit-up he farted right in her face and "parted her hair". That's not good. Kids were rolling of course.(Then right after the session we went to lunch & ate tacos... of course we were all thinking of Perry!)

Perry presented the gospel during his talk & by my guess around 150-200 kids stood up and said they wanted to make the decision to follow Jesus and trust Him with their lives! Really awesome! crazy party in heaven that was kicked off right then! The angels were going crazy!

After lunch we all headed for the beach for a few hours of free time. they guys played some football & body surfed in the waves. The girls mainly chilled on the sand & @ the pool. When we all got tired we ended up back at the hotel rocking some Guitar Hero World Tour...

We carved out some Quiet Time for the students before dinner. we all went out to the beach & sat in the shade before sunset. Big Stuf provides some awesome Quiet Time stuff for every student.

Andy Stanley (one of our teaching pastors @ Ridge and lead pastor of NPCC) definitely didn't disappoint in the night session. He brought it with an awesome sex talk from 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. Bottom Line = "honor God with your body" REAL frank & relevant for the kids...not like the sex stuff we heard around church when we were growing up.
So, immediately after that talk our group from Ridge got to have some fun discussions about Andy's talk. good honest stuff.

I think some guys ordered a cheesesteak @ 2:30 in the morning? anyway, great 2nd day. Looking forward to more awesome stuff today & fun on the beach!

Monday, July 20, 2009

@ Big Stuf

Big Stuf Day 1 is pretty much complete. We just finished our small group time & the guys are running out to jump in the pool at 11something pm.

(You can read what I wrote about Big Stuf camps last year HERE or just check out their website HERE... but I really don't feel like writing about it all again. I'll just say that Big Stuf is unbelievably AWESOME!)

Big thanks to my buddy Ryan for letting us bum a ride from Charlotte down here to Daytona Beach on the buses with his student ministry. Fast trip & we're all checked in to our hotel... on the beach. YES! I'm looking at the ocean waves right now as I right this.

UNFORTUNATELY, the website pics of this hotel would have to classify as a horrible case of FALSE ADVERTISING. Yeah, this place is nothing like the pics on the website. Crystal has already said "we're switching rooms"at least twice. I've talked her out of it though both times. We'll see what happens.
BUT the kids from Ridge don't notice a thing. they're lovin' life right now!

1st session was tonight with Steve Fee & his band leading us in worship along with some guests like = Chrystina Fincher, James David Carter, & Danny Dukes...
awesome awesome new song that Steve taught the few thousand of us tonight! (I'm guessing it's gonna be on his new album this fall = Hope Rising.)
I really think I'm gonna like the song. It's so awesome & it's kind of like a shouting song, so I can actually sing it well. perfect for kids to. Goes like...
"Our God is risen and reigning and we're elevating the glory of our God and King now everybody rise and sing"
(& then there's some fun repeat parts & Whoa whoa whoa's... too)

Steven Furtick from my awesome hometown of Charlotte spoke tonight. He was real with the kids & said a lot of frank stuff that was great for them to hear. & he was entertaining as always (although he was wearing a goofy shirt with a big fish on it... weird.)

Honestly, as far as production goes, it seems like the Big Stuf team is even more on their game than in past years. Maybe it's because they've got Bigstuf media now? I don't know, but the whole production was pretty sweet.

I'll try to update as much as I can about the fun we're having at Big Stuf & what God is doing in our lives. It's gonna be an awesome week. (I'll try to post some pics too.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

quotes of the week #10

back again with quotes of the week here on renown! Hope you enjoy!
You can read the disclaimer & explanation HERE. [my personal thoughts are in brackets]

#1 Quote of the week:
“I don’t know where the legalism committee is or when they meet, but they have gotta come up with some better stuff to be legalistic about! Like 'eat bacon' and 'take naps' and 'make love to your wife'.”Mark Driscoll, pastor @ Mars Hill, author, & quickly becoming the leader of a huge & influential movement with thousands of young pastors following [haha, i love it when he talks like this! the legalists have got the wrong peeps on the committee! Because they're SO putting the wrong stuff on the list of stuff to be legalistic about!]

“We have insulated ourselves from miracles. We no longer live with such reckless faith that we need them.” – Shane Claiborne, ordinary radical & author [hmmm... think about that one]

"The creatve process that propelled your organization to success is the very thing that will anchor you staleness. Disturb your process!" – Carlos Whittaker, "blogstar" & former SPD @ Buckhead Church [I am currently taking Carlos' advice on this. I needed it!]

**“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be made sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” – Madeleine L’Engle, the late author [that's beautiful. I know what she is trying to say, but I would even say that there is NO SUCH THING as sacred & secular]

“What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or gradual reform? Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.” – Alan Hirsch, author [nice... i like it. seems like we're not doing all that great at telling the story.]

“The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.”Rick Warren, duh... no intro needed, Saddleback, Purpose Driven everything, Peace Plan, etc... [This guy is a great man I'm still learning from!]

"If you're not willing to look foolish... you're foolish & you'll never accomplish much for the kingdom. – Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church & author [this guy has so much good stuff to say!]

"If I want people to bring their friends, I have to preach like they are there." - Andy Stanley, pastor @ NPCC & author [& most pastors don't do this! no wonder...]

“I believe that it is no harder to build something Great than to build something good!” – Jim Collins, crazy popular author... Good to Great [what do you think about that statement?]

OK, as always I would LOVE to know which one was your fav quote and why? + which ones do you want to chat about?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

i'm tired...

i'm tired & don't really feel like writing a blog. I'm just being honest.

I'm so wasted that I've got a bunch of stuff written already & just don't have the mental energy to post it on here.
I will post tomorrow though. Maybe "quotes of the week" for this week OR part 2 in the 7 practices series? ("Think Steps Not Programs")

I'll be all over the place the next few weeks. Similar to last summer. I've got some PIMP guys writing guest blogs for me. They'll be WAY better than what I normally write. I can't wait to post them while I'm on my travels and might not always have internet access.
I'll still be writing stuff too and posting it of course, just not every day. But with the guest blogs there will be something on renown almost every day for the next few weeks!
peace til tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 ways to support charity through social media

This morning I was reading Proverbs 14 (14th of the month of course) and knowing that I would be posting this blog today there were of course 2 sentences that jumped out at me.
"blessed are those who are kind to the needy." (v.21) & "whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (v.30)
Those verses also used much stronger language that you can go read yourself. I just wanted to focus on the positive today = helping & being "kind" to the "needy"/poor. Because today is a concentrated effort & part of the Blog Action Day campaign, I'm just doing my part.

(This post is a collaboration between Mashable's Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell's "10 Ways" series. The post is being simultaneously published across hundreds of blogs.)


Social media (blogs, twitter, facebook, etc...) is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That's one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite causes you are passionate about through social media.
summerofsocialgoodnew
Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help awesome causes via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you'd like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, just use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Write a Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a cause you feel passionate about. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days -- whether that means a site running WordPress, an account no Blogger, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you're passionate about, you're helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.

Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.
*You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.

2. Share Stories with Friends

twitter-links

Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you've gathered a social network.
Plus you'll be helping organizations you support when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.

3. Follow Charities on Social Networks

In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow organizations and causes you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you're increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, linking & liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it. Pretty much all the causes I've got linked on the right side of this blog are also on Twitter & Facebook!
*I like to follow these guys on social media sites because it's a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it's a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.

One example would be my favorite of the 4 Summer of Social Good Charities: Oxfam America follow them on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube by simply clicking the link!

4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs

Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like Change.org, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.

It's important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they're another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you'll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally. (haha, we love that word in staff meeting @ Ridge!)

5. Find Volunteer Opportunities

Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and Idealist.org, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.
*For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out HelpInDisaster.org, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. I've heard that a cool site for teens is DoSomething.org, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.

6. Embed a Widget on Your Site

Most organizations and causes offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These widgets raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information on their site. And very often they are used to raise money.

***For example - on the right side of this blog I've got a few widgets. The 1st one you would see is for Compassion International! I believe in what these guys are doing so much & so does God! There is a different child in poverty pictured everyday and you can click that picture to partner with Compassion and support that child monthly to provide food, clean water, education, healthcare, and a chance to hear about Jesus! You can also click and it will take you to the website to choose from hundreds of kids to sponsor! *AND you can click the little link that says "get this widget" and add the same thing to your site!

& lower on the page I have a widget from the Joshua Project that shows us all a different unreached people group each day to pray for. They are doing some of the most awesome cutting edge work in helping us complete the Great Commission!

7. Organize a Tweetup

You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that's important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.
Be sure to check out Mashable's guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.

8. Express Yourself Using Video

As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like 12seconds.tv, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.

Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. The idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.
If you're more into watching videos than recording them, Givzy.com enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude's Children's Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.

9. Sign or Start a Petitiontwitition

There aren't many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or PetitionOnline.com, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.
Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.

10. Organize an Online Event

Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized "tweet-a-thon" like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.

In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.

Bonus: Think Outside the Box

blamedrewscancerSocial media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew's Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew's cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.

Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for his charity.

The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Feel free to share them in the comments.

***If you're wondering what some good causes might be for you to support in these creative ways using social media... CLICK HERE! It's a post I wrote long ago that has SEVERAL links to orgs that will help you DO SOMETHING IN THE WORLD! They are all organizations who will help you be "kind to the needy" like God wants us to do. I recommend all those causes + of course the ones on the right side of this blog. check them out!
& yeah, do some good this summer!


(A special thanks to VPS.net, who are donating $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup they receive this week.
Sign up at VPS.net and use the coupon code "SOSG"to receive 3 Months of FREE hosting on top of your purchased term. VPS.net honors a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee so there's no risk.

About the "10 Ways" Series
The "10 Ways" Series was originated by Max Gladwell. This is the second simultaneous blog post in the series. The first ran on more than 80 blogs, including Mashable. Among other things, it is a social media experiment and the exploration of a new content distribution model. You can follow Max Gladwell on Twitter.
This content was originally written by Mashable's Josh Catone.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

STICKY @ Ridge

I told you that you didn't want to miss Ridge Church yesterday! (& that you didn't want to be late!)

We started our brand new series - Sticky By Design & it was crazy fun! There are a few pics here from the stage set... & yes, those are ALL sticky notes. Rusty created that with individual sticky notes. It looked bangin'!

Chris' talk was awesome - some things stick & other things don't. Environments are a big part of making things stick. You can listen to it HERE.

We also played a fun game = "Songs that Stick" & throughout the day the band rocked SEVERAL sticky songs... songs that stick in your head all day long. So, yesterday at church included:
The Top Gun Anthem
(along with clips from one of the greatest movies of all time)
Eye of the Tiger
- Survivor
Smells Like Teen Spirit
- Nirvana
Mmmbop
- Hanson (you read that right! worst song ever to stick in your head!)
Sweet Home Alabama
- Lynyrd Skynyrd

Mindie was the contestant & did pretty well. She won 2 bottles of Sticky Fingers bbq sauce & some Ridge sticky notes... not a bad morning.

So, if you weren't there you missed all that fun!
The worship set was awesome too = We Stand (Lee McDerment), Salvation is Here (Hillsong), & Jesus Paid It All (Kristian Stanfill).

Next week is part 2 & is going to be just as much fun. ANOTHER sticky game... but of course I can't tell you what it is. You'll have to BE THERE.
Go ahead and plan to be there. You don't want to have to hear about it on Monday morning again!

I'll leave you with the title package Rusty made for the series...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

quotes of the week #9

OK 3rd week in a row of this 6 weeks of trying out "quotes of the week". You can read the disclaimer & explanation HERE. [& as always my personal thoughts are in brackets]

#1 Quote of the week:
"The concept of downsizing so that others [the poor] can upgrade is beautiful, biblical, & nearly unheard of." - Francis Chan, author & Pastor of Cornerstone... [I LOVE that! And I wanna DO that. And I wanna make this concept become HEARD OF instead of "unheard of."]

"If a man wants to read good books, he must make a point of avoiding bad ones; for life is short, and time and energy limited."Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher [I am being very strategic about doing just that!]

“That’s the reason they don’t go to church – because they’ve been to church.”Chris Brown, my pastor @ Ridge, + my mentor & boss [he said this in a staff meeting conversation a while back. It's so pimp & so true which makes it so sad. BUT we're a church that's trying to change that. We're changing the paradigm.]

[I read this tweet a few hours after Michael Jackson died...] "crazy thought... the 'king of pop' stands before the 'King of Glory' today... Fame redefined." - via @feeband (Steve Fee) [I just had to ReTweet that! (new awesome album coming 10/6! stoked.)]

The church gets in trouble whenever it thinks it is in the church business rather than the Kingdom business... Church people often put church work above the concerns of justice, mercy, and truth.” – Howard Snyder, theology prof. [ouch. Is he talking to me?]

Don’t defend what you’re doing, just DO what you’re doing.” – Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring [I am starting to straight up love this guy!]

The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.” – Mortimer J. Adler, author [from a great little book (ha, 600 pages) called How to Read a Book that I highly recommend if you read more than 1 book per year. Or, if you don't even read 1 per year then maybe YOU'RE the one who really needs it? Anyway, do you agree with that quote?]

The Church is 1 place in the world where there should be equality.” – Rick McKinley, author & pastor @ Imago Dei. genuinely normal dude.

“The power of the Gospel lies not in the offer of a new spirituality or religious experience, not in the threat of hellfire…which can be removed if only the hearer checks this box, says this prayer, raises a hand, or whatever, but in the powerful announcement that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun.” – N.T. Wright, bishop & author [right on bishop Wright!]

“There are no U-Hauls behind hearses.”John Piper, author, pastor, & one of my heroes. [right on Piper... my homeboy. WHY don't we live like we believe that?]

***And yes I put those last 2 peoples' quotes together on purpose... haha, not accidental. Hopefully you enjoy the irony.

Now - YOU'RE TURN. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SOME OF THESE?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Clarify the Win

(As I said yesterday, I am going to be writing about what we have set up as our "guardrails" at Ridge Church. This is part 1 of 7 Practices for Effective Ministry. These are 7 practices that we follow ruthlessly at Ridge.)

Practice #1 (& the one that potentially jacked me up the most when I was confronted with this whole philosophy) is simply to CLARIFY THE WIN. This is HUGE! It might not sound like it at first but I believe it will make or break a ministry (or any organization period)!

I can remember reading this chapter & listening to the concept of this practice being discussed by Andy, Reggie, & Lane and I was blown away, because the ministry I was working in was FAR from practicing this and I could see that it was killing us! (btw - you can also listen to that conversation around these 7 Practices! Download the podcast on iTunes for free - it's called "Practically Speaking". & everything in "quotes" is either straight from the book or the podcast.) I asked a lot of tough questions and it will eventually drive any leader crazy when the WIN is not clarified. So, I totally know how is to be on both sides of this!

As a leader in ANY organization you MUST -> Clarify the Win! You must "define what is important at every level of the organization." I believe it is suicide not to do this.
This is probably easier for most companies to do, but churches straight up suck at it! The only thing that most churches can think of to prove they're winning (or losing) are money & numbers!
But, we've GOTTA do a better job than that!

Forget money & attendance numbers... at Ridge Church we're trying to ask questions like - “do peeps feel comfortable inviting their unchurched friends? Are our people recognizing the need to give a percentage of their income? How many individuals are successfully getting plugged in to small groups? Do our people understand how to apply the scriptural truths we’re teaching in their daily lives?

& You can't praise the wrong things! But you need to praise the things that are WINS for you, because what you celebrate is what will be repeated! So, "clarifying the win simply means communicating to your team what is really important and what really matters."

Some of the most cutting statements that guys like Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner constantly say about this practice is “As long as the ‘win’ is unclear, you force your team to guess what a win looks like.” & “if you don’t define winning for your ministry leaders, they will define it for themselves.” And you KNOW that is so true! Every volunteer in your church just makes up their own WINS when one is not clarified for them.
Even staff at a church have to make up their own wins... and it's usually based on what is celebrated. So if #s are all that's celebrated, then that is the main WIN for that staff member! Leaders communicate SO MUCH more than they realize by what they celebrate!

When you don't clarify the WIN for your team, you can't stay on the same page! And Reggie says that being on the SAME page is even more important than starting with a BLANK page as a staff team! You've got to continue to hold up a clear picture of what the WIN is for your team if you want to lead effectively!
And it is so true that when staff and volunteers know what the WINS are, they will fight to WIN & when people are winning they will "1) work harder, 2) be less negative, 3)trust the leadership, 4) give more generously, 5) stay involved." & obviously we all want those things.

Reggie Joiner gives 4 steps to helping you clarify the WIN for your team & volunteers:
1 Sum up the Win in a Simple Phrase
- Key Question = “What do we want people to walk away and do?” The answer to that can clear up a lot of confusion about the goal of an environment and force you to clarify the win!
2 Keep the Win as Specific as Possible
- “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Don’t be too general. *I think these wins have to be things we can actually DO/ACCOMPLISH. Obviously some stuff has to be left to the Holy Spirit.
3 Restate the Win Frequently and Creatively – constantly keep the WINS in front of your peeps. I must creatively keep the wins in my everyday language!!! [so, I think it’s gotta be something cool & easy because I’m gonna say it a lot.]
4 Meet to Clarify the Win at Every Level

For example - our Upstreet environment (Children) @ Ridge Church we have 3 overall WINS = Excellent, Helpful, & Fun. Hopefully every volunteer knows these wins because they have heard us say it a million times! So as we go home on Sundays we can know if we won by simply asking the question "Was it excellent, helpful, & fun?" And for our Small Group Leaders in Upstreet we add 1 more Q = "Did our small group build better and deeper relationships today?"

And another example is our Student Ministry at Ridge. A win for us is NOT how many students showed up to something, but instead it's our goal to see 3 things = Students SERVING STRATEGICALLY, CONNECTING RELATIONALLY (with peers and small group leades), and INVITING THEIR FRIENDS! When we see students engaged in those 3 things we know we are WINNING in student ministry! Pretty simple!

The process of writing these WINS is time consuming and hard, but it's so worth it because "the payoff is HUGE!" as Andy says.

So, what are WINS for YOU? If you don't have any then just remember that your peeps are defining wins for themselves!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

finished 3 books last week... + what's coming

Last week I finished reading 3 books. I'm a "readaholic" as I've mentioned before. I'm never reading just one book at a time. In fact, if you look to the right of this page you can see where I constantly update what books I am currently reading and then the ones I have recently finished reading.

So, last week I finished a book I have been reading for a long time. I read a whole book in 1 day. And I finished a book I started a couple weeks ago. So, a little bit of everything. One day I hope to post full reviews & takeaways from these books, but for now here is a line about each.

I have been working on Good to Great for a month or 2. Mainly in my car on my way to and from work. Jim Collins, the best-selling author, was kind enough to read it to me from my iPod. It is an AMAZING book. I took about 13 pages of notes on it! So relevant for us at Ridge Church! If you work in any kind of business or organization and have a leadership role, you have no doubt heard of it. Now I'm telling you to pick it up and read it!

At 1 of my side jobs I can listen to my iPod the whole time. I was thankful to download Francis Chan's book Crazy Love for FREE - HERE! I popped it on my iPod (actually on Crystal's iPod because mine has been full for a year or so) and listened to the WHOLE book in 1 day. (I also took 3 & a half pages of notes on it.) Pretty awesome. Francis is one of the rawest guys I follow. He has some awesome stuff to say in this book (& you can buy by clicking the pic of it to the right if you prefer the print version).

And last but not least I finished the latest from Rob Bell - Jesus Wants to Save Christians. I listened to the sermon series by the same title a while back, but then my friend Brian let me borrow it to read. So I couldn't write in it which is my normal practice, which meant I could only read it when my laptop was handy so I could type up my notes! Awesome awesome book. I hear this guy is going to start writing more and I'm all for that because I could read him every day. Stoked he's coming back to Catalyst again this year too!

And now for what's coming the next several posts here on renown...
I'm going to be posting my thoughts & commentary from a book that's in my top 5 of all time (as you can see to the right). I read it roughly 3 years ago. It's by Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, & Lane Jones -> part of the original leadership team at North Point (our planting/sending/father/partner/whateveryouwannacallthem church). It completely jacked me up the 1st time I read it. It caused me to HAVE to leave my former job at another church. I had to be a part of a ministry that implemented the practices in this book. Once I knew this stuff I couldn't operate any other way!
I jokingly call this book our "Bible" at Ridge Church. These practices in the book truly are our guardrails for ministry. They are the practices we follow no matter what!

So, it's not JUST a book. There's a podcast conversation between the 3 authors you can download for free on iTunes & it's a constant conversation with us. So, my commentary will be just that - commentary, not just notes straight from a book.

The book is called 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. I'm taking some Ridge Church leaders through it right now & probably will always be taking leaders through it... over & over. It's an awesome book that YOU should read, but in case you don't have time, I'll be posting my thoughts & commentary & applications.

There are 7 practices, so I'll try to talk about 1 practice in each post. Just to let you in on what's coming, here are the 7 practices:
1) Clarify the Win, 2) Think Steps, Not Programs, 3) Narrow the Focus, 4) Teach Less for More, 5) Listen to Outsiders, 6) Replace Yourself, 7) Work On It

Ahh... I'm all worked up now just typing them! here are a couple other thoughts from Andy to get you thinking...
"These practices have FORCED US to let go of some comfortable yet ineffective approaches to ministry."
And before somebody starts jumping up and down about how the church shouldn't follow a system or model or something about the Holy Spirit... he also writes in the introduction - "these strategies are not nearly as important to your success as being in sync with what God desires to do in your church."

I would love to get some feedback and have some conversations around these next 7 posts about our 7 practices!