Saturday, May 31, 2008

i guess i like to read old bald guys with glasses

2 of my favorite authors are Dave Ramsey and Brian McLaren. Both of them have books that are currently in my all time top 10. Thanks to Dave's total money makeover plan we've been able to get out of debt and really take ownership of our finances. McLaren is one of my favorite and most enjoyable authors to read. He makes me laugh. Within the past 6 months I've finished reading Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover & McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy. 1 day these 2 books were sitting on the table side by side and I was struck by something. See for yourself...

I know! the resemblance is UNCANNY! take a closer look...

So then Crystal says "They're the same person!" and went on to explain that "he" was just using one of those pseudonym things to write different types of books. She was kidding, but it is possible I guess because they REALLY do look alike! Don't you think so?

Honestly, I think EVERYONE needs to read The Total Money Makeover!!! Seriously, if you haven't read it then you NEED to read it TODAY... unless of course you you have so much $ that you are just sick of the thought of having more, giving more away, and investing more. I guess YOU should not read the book. But if that's not you & especially if you're in debt (like a house payment, car payment, anything) then go buy the book here & read it TODAY. (you can read it so fast it only takes a few hours!) + check out Dave's sweet website with all kinds of amazing resources you can use to help you financially (for free!).

Of course, when I even mentioned Brain McLaren's name 1/3 of you wrote me off as a heretic, 1/3 of you laud me as your hero, and 1/3 of you have no idea who the heck this guy is and why people hate him. So, if you have ever wondered about this whole "postmodern shift" that is taking place before our eyes or have ever had any questions about the Christian faith or want to understand it better then you MUST READ McLaren's A New Kind of Christian. It's written as a story which is pretty cool because it deals with such heavy topics. A great read. Buy it here.

any other authors out there you think look alike?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

buy some shoes + help a kid in poverty

I spent a few months in Botswana, Africa a few years ago and one of the things I immediately noticed was that none of the kids had shoes. The culture there is so awesome and the people are so great that none of them ever complained. We even played soccer together for hours and they're pretty good with no shoes. But I noticed they would walk for miles on some pretty sketch ground to get places and I remember thinking "That can't be good for these kids' feet. It would be so cool if they could have shoes."

Well, a guy named Blake probably had that same thought and he did something about it! He started a shoe company called TOMS SHOES. Just another entrepeneur starting a trendy shoe company? Not quite. For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. One for One.

How cool is that?! Man, just thinking about it gets me all pumped up! That's called using your talents and desires for a greater good. I think God is smiling away every time somebody buys a pair of TOMS. So, I'm saving my dough for a pair of my own. (you may have noticed this company over to the right as it was one of the original links here on renown under "websites you should check out". TOMS = "sweet shoes with a cause")

The shoes are pimp... that's right, it's not just some cheap charity gig... these shoes are straight baller. You can find them at many of the really high end shoe boutiques across the country. Pretty trendy slip ons. And comfortable. Their mission is "to make life more comfortable." Check out all the styles at their website.

But here's the really cool part. In the first 6 months they sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. So then came the '06 shoe drop in Argentina. So cool - they gave away 10,000 pairs of shoes to kids who didn't have any shoes. Check out the video...

And in November they just went to South Africa and gave away 50,000 pairs of shoes to kids who needed them. In 2008 TOMS plans to give away 200k pairs of shoes to children in need around the world! That's so awesome.

All I have to say is this - the next time you need a pair of shoes, get a pair of TOMS... and a child living in poverty will get a pair too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the sun & wind made a bet. maybe we should too

I remember this book I had when I was a kid that was filled with Aesop's fables and stuff like that. + it had a lot of cool pictures. I'm all about a story. I can still remember the pictures in that book. It was before I could read because I can remember my parents reading it to me.

One of my favorite stories was about the sun and the wind. Basically it went something like this:
The wind and the sun argued one day over which one was the best/most effective. Spotting a man man traveling on the road, they made a bet to see which one could remove the coat from the man's back the quickest. The wind blew strong gusts of air, so strong that the man could barely walk against them. But the man clutched his coat tight against him. The wind blew harder and longer, and the harder the wind blew, the tighter the man held his coat against him for protection. The wind blew until he was exhausted, but he could not remove the coat from the man's back. It was now the sun's turn and he smiled kindly on the man. He gently sent his beams upon the traveler. The sun did very little, but quietly shone upon his head and back until the man became so comfortable and warm that he took off his coat and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

I love that story. I haven't heard it in probably 20 years, but yesterday it popped into my head out of nowhere! Then I had an epiphany (I think this may be the first time I've ever used that word!). I think it could be a parable for the Church. Let me explain:

Imagine that the man is an unbeliever and his coat is his defensive barrier he puts between himself and Jesus (just like the coat was really a defensive barrier between the man and the weather). We in the Church desperately want this man to find the love, grace, redemption, and satisfaction that only comes through Jesus, but we can't get through to him because of the shield he holds up because of his negative perceptions about Christianity. At this point I believe there are 2 schools of thought/methods to help this man drop the "coat" so that he can find the love of Jesus.

#1 - This group of churches are like the wind. They try to knock the man's coat off by telling him he's wrong for having it, and they come at him with all the force they can muster! They don't even attempt to make him comfortable because "he's a sinner and he shouldn't feel comfortable in his sin. When he comes to this church he needs to feel convicted!" Instead they are harsh. So, each time they see a new guy with a "coat" on they try to rip the coat off & tell him he needs Jesus and should become a Christian! The problem is, the harder they "blow" the tighter the man holds his coat on. He walks out the door never to return to that church and his barriers and negativity against Christianity are even stronger now.

#2 - The second group of churches are like the sun. They try to make the man as comfortable as he can be. They are really nice to him. Believers make friends with him (not just to "convert" him but to love him like Jesus does). He has relationships with these people, so he keeps coming back and hanging out with them. He's really comfortable there... he likes it. After time goes by the HOLY SPIRIT convicts him. One of his Christian friends who has had a relationship with him for some time now gets to talk to him about it. He's so comfortable talking with his friend that he takes the coat off. He has no need for it. The conviction doesn't feel condemning or mean or harsh... it's more like love. So, why would he need the coat? The guy believes the great story about Jesus and he is never the same.

I love something I heard Jeff Henderson from Buckhead Church say a few months ago = "Comfort and Conviction go together." I had always heard the opposite. If we hold back and try to be nice and put them at ease it's like compromise. Conviction only comes when the person is hit harshly with something - that's what I used to think. what about you?
I think it's obvious that when someone is convicted in an atmosphere that is not comfortable they automatically hold the coat on tighter and get "offended" (not at Jesus but at our method) and walk away. Conviction is easier to swallow & is MORE EFFECTIVE in a comfortable context! And I think you will agree that a relationship is the most comfortable context there is!

Put yourself in a similar situation. Imagine you just bought a new shirt. You love it! You think it's cool. In fact, you know it's cool. Imagine a complete stranger comes to your door and says to you "The shirt you're wearing is the most out of style, ugly, and ridiculous shirt I've ever seen! I really hope you don't wear it out in public because people will think you're out of it." You would totally be thinking "who are you again!?!?!?!?" I think that's exactly what unbelievers think when we "proselytize" them without a relationship. They hear some preacher making them uncomfortable and trying to convict them (instead of letting the Holy Spirit do it) or some guys they just met at church tell them they need to change & need to accept Jesus and they're like "who the heck are you!!?!?"
Now imagine that you're wearing that same shirt and your spouse of 10 years or your best friend says to you, "I know you love that shirt & you think it's cool and all, but I think you got some bad information. It was cool like 7 years ago. I'm only telling you because I'm your friend and I don't want you to look dumb." Now, that's never fun to hear but you must admit that your reaction to your friend/spouse will be WAY different than to a stranger.

Unbelievers can be convicted by the truth through either of these methods. I simply think that one of them is very effective and the other probably does more damage than good.

*The Sun told the Wind that gentleness and friendliness are always more effective than fury and force.*

[the whole connection to the children's story was just a random thought that hit me yesterday, so i didn't take any time to perfect it or craft the way i said it. maybe i will do that sometime. for now it makes sense in my head, so i hope it makes sense in yours.]

Monday, May 26, 2008

love wins.

yep. that's all i need to say.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

what's in my ipod

so this is the new deal I'll do on the weekends. Just try to let everyone know about some cool stuff that's currently getting a lot of airtime on my iPod. Stuff that I think is worthy of entering your ears & that I think you'll be singing along with in the car at the top of your lungs (btw - Friday night on the way to our date night I was singing to Crystal along with the radio & it got pretty intense. It was that "keep bleeding" song & I got really dramatic and was creating all my own motions to which she got embarrassed & said - "Patrick, people are watching you!" and they were.)

anyway, I started listening to Remedy right when it came out last year & for about a month it was the only thing in my iPod... then it rotated off my playlists & is fresh again so I'm listening to it a lot now. especially in the shower 1st thing in the morning. i love it as something to help me wake up & focus on God in a fun way 1st thing in the morning (i am the opposite of a morning person).

If you're not familiar with the Rock 'n Roll extravaganza that is the David Crowder Band then 1st of all WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? & 2nd of all buy this CD today! These guys are probably the most creative artists on the Christian scene + David is a worship wordsmith. The live show is amazing. They're a part of sixsteps records (Louie's label) which helped get them "out there" along with their involvement in the Passion Movement since the late 90s. They've produced several rockin' worship anthems that have become staples for this generation. Pick up any Passion CD or I highly recommend Illuminate and A Collision or (3+4=7) as 2 of the band's best records.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that David is one of the funniest humans alive! He's written 2 books and I rank them both as the 2 funniest pieces of entertainment EVER produced. That's right EVER!!! Funnier than any comedian, any movie, any joke... straight up funny. That's just natural Crowder. So go buy his 2 books = Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi and Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die or (the eschatology of bluegrass). But I recommend starting with the 1st one, Praise Habit. It is really short with really big letters and glossy pages and even color pictures!

But back to Remedy. I'm guessing you already have it because everyone should, but if you don't buy it here today.
If you were at Passion '07 you'll recognize a few of the songs he debuted there like The Glory of It All & the amped of version of the great hymn O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing - Charles Wesley would definitely be proud and shouting along "So come on and sing out Let our anthem grow loud There is ONE great love... Jesus!" (yeah, I think Charles Wesley was a pimp like Crowder over 200 years ago. They kind of look alike right?)

Then, there's the great techno-feeling, experimental, Crowderesqe Can You Feel It? that makes every muscle in your body start to move inexplicably... because YES, you do feel it. 3 of my favs on the album are ... neverending ... & 2 we do at Ridge a lot - We Won't Be Quiet (which propels me to obey the title for the next half hour after I listen to this adrenaline-filled, ADD kids wonderland of a song that lasts all of 1 1/2 minutes) & the smooth, catchy Never Let Go.
Oh, what love, oh, what love/ In joy and pain/ In sun and rain/ You're the same/ Oh, You never let go - it's a beautiful song!

Of course, anything produced by Louie is gonna be pimp. It's a guarantee. I can almost hear his influence in the last track on the record - Surely We Can Change. Basically a plea for God to "let us be the remedy!" This song ignites passion and hope in me simultaneously (and is usually playing as I'm brushing my teeth & running out the door, so good timing).

But, my favorite song on this CD (which is kind weird for my because I'm not usually a "title track" kind of guy) is Remedy. It's honestly just the beautiful story of humanity's brokenness and God's grace and beauty coming to rescue us. It's a beautiful story that is written as worship back to our amazing God... who IS the REMEDY!
You are the ONE who has saved us
You are the ONE who forgave us
You are the ONE who has come and is coming again
Oh, in us You're the remedy
Let us be the remedy
Let us bring the remedy

So, definitely buy this cd(from probably my favorite "still playing" band) if you don't already have it. You can buy it here or on iTunes or wherever you buy music. (don't just rip it off your friend illegally).

Friday, May 23, 2008

quotes of the week

I'll probably be doing this sort of thing a lot more often here at renown. Just putting up a lot of quotes that are or have been on my mind recently. "Quotes of the week" may be a little misleading in that none of this stuff was actually said this week, nor did I necessarily read them this week. "Quotes of the week" simply refers to the quotes being posted on renown this week. Hope that makes sense.
*Let me also throw out one of those little disclaimers - just because I post a quote that has made me think and I think might be worthy of making other people think does not mean I totally agree with the quote or everything the speaker/author of that quote has ever said, written, thought, or dreamed and with every person he/she has ever had lunch with.

Enjoy the quotes and drop some comments to let me know which ones are your favorties, which ones made you think most, and which ones you hate...

- " is on the cross that we see what love looks like when it stares evil in the face. It is that cross that has led many of us to war zones like Iraq as extremists for love, as people who believe that there is something worth dying for but not worth killing for." - Shane Claiborne, author/activist

- On Coming to Christianity [this is beautiful] - "I thought Christ was like this weird Santa Claus figure. [But my friend told me], 'If you're going to talk about Christ, you should probably read the Gospels, so at least that way, you'll know what you're talking about.' So I did, and I was converted." - Moby, musician [pretty cool story]

- "We [any team] cannot survive a culture devoid of trust." - Andy Stanley

- "Is not the term 'Systematic Theology' as paradoxical as a 'wooden iron'? One day this conception will disappear just as suddenly as it has come into being." - the great theologian Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics [i kind of hope that "one day" won't be too long & as I read this from an old dead scholar I can faintly hear my generation cheering...]

- "The day we are completely satisfied with what we have been doing; the day we have found the perfect, unchangeable system of work, the perfect answer, never in need of being corrected again, on that day we will know that we are wrong, that we have made the greatest mistake of all." - Vincent Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered [RIGHT ON!!! somebody needs to preach that to come Christians]

- "We as a group [Western Church] are people who have shown a lot of signs of being unwilling to give up our wealth in order to follow Jesus." - Derek Webb, singer/songwriter

- "I kind of thought the Church was asleep and turned into a 'holy bless-me club' or whatever you want to call it, but I'm glad to say I was wrong. Particularly the evangelicals, who seemed very judgmental to me over the years, turned out to be incredibly generous in their time and their support of the AIDS awareness effort. I've really had my view of the Church turned upside down." - Bono [pretty cool, but we're just getting started...]

- "There are many ideas within Christian spirituality that contradict the facts of reality as I understand them... When we worship God we worship a Being our life experience does not give us the tools with which to understand. If we could, God would not inspire awe." - Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

- "At the heart of the decline [of twentysomething church attendance] is the church's failure to meaningfully connect with a changing culture." - Jeff Kern, former president of Great Commission Ministries

- "To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. It is rather to be in a loving community of people who are seeking the truth on the road of mission and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still... We're not finished." - Brian McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy

- "What binds people in Emergent is that most everybody would rally under the flag of hope. We have hope for the future. We have hope for the Church. We have hope for the kingdom of God to break into the present and transform the present." - Tony Jones, Emergent coordinator

- "I really don't understand the notion of a pro-capitalist, pro death penalty, pro-war Christian. To me, that just seems like a vegetarian who eats a burger." - Moby, musician [ok, all you hard core right wingers have at least gotta chuckle, right? or do you feel like someone just knocked the wind out of you?]

- "Those of us who've been living in this friendship and talking through these issues have been hard at work for nearly a decade. Why wouldn't you give me, your brother in Christ, the benefit of the doubt? What is it in Christian circles that the immediate knee-jerk reaction is, 'Oh, they've lost their way. They're heretics'?" - Tony Jones, Emergent coordinator [great question, Tony]

- "To live in a Christlike manner is to reject the lifestyle being prescribed by the media, to reject the affluent lifestyle that has become normative in America and embrace simplicity." - Tony Campolo, author/activist

- "It's not like you have to or can do everything, but do something. Do anything other than nothing." - Ben Harper, musician

- "If you have to give a loyalty lecture it's OVER, you just don't know it yet." - Andy Stanley

- "Our common ground is this disease of a conviction that we are right. I don't want to try to convince people to come to Jesus. I just try to tell my truth and share my story and the stories of daily salvation." - Anne Lamott, author

***What do you guys think?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

creativity, kids, and changing the way we do education

My friend Rusty had a really cool blog post yesterday. Rusty works at Ridge as our Service Programming Director. He's a genius. Not a genius like Rain Man or something, but a genius at what he does. anyway, read his blog post here.

Rusty, me, & Adam were talking this morning at the office about his post. We all thought it was fascinating. So, watch this video!!! You'll love this guy's British accent & he is flippin' hilarious... you'll be cracking up for sure.

I absolutely agree with what this guy is saying! I think something MUST fundamentally change with the way we do education. I've had similar thoughts but still don't know exactly how to put it into words. This guy really gets me fired up. Maybe you have thoughts on the subject too. Feel free to discuss them in the comments section. I just feel like I want to help do something about this for the sake of my kids (and their kids).

Honestly I think I resonate with this because I was the ADD posterchild & education tried to "fix" me. Not that I was crazy gifted or anything, just different than what schools try to produce. I think lots of kids are like that and far more gifted than me. But like this guys says "we're educating children out of their creativity." I was also inspired to return to that crazy little ADD kid still in me when he said "if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Simple, but so profound. HUGE implications for the church! Huge implications for all of society really & could seriously change the way the world funtions over the next 50 years. anyone have any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

props for my fav magazine

If you've ever checked my listing of magazine links (to the right) you've noticed that my #1 fav is Relevant magazine. I love this magazine! It's a great day each month when I find one in the mailbox. I've been tracking with these guys almost since they started the magazine & plan on subscribing until I die. They recently celebrated their 5 year anniversary with a stellar issue looking back over some of the highlights from the 1st 5 years of Relevant.

What kind of magazine is Relevant? The title tells all - it is a magazine of all things relevant. I feel like it's a magazine made especially for me... which means they're hitting their demographic dead on = mainly early 20s - early 30s. It's definitely some of my favorite reading material. A Christian magazine that sees everything as spiritual (like myself) so half their stuff is considered by many to be "secular" (a genre which doesn't really exist, but more on that another time). Basically everything that me & my peeps (Mosaics & Busters) care about = spirituality, music, books we might like, entertainment, life stuff, and the pimpest (yes it's a word even if i did make it up!) interviews EVER. Interviewees range from peeps like Bono & Matis Yahu to Johnny Piper & Tony Jones. And most of the orgs you find linked to your right are commonly promo'd in Relevant as well. They even had an issue with an idiot's guide to the '08 election which I was lovin' because I'm a straight up idiot when it comes to politics. I guess my favorite thing about Relevant is I feel like (as far as my generation is concerned) they are helping lead the charge for the poor in the world. They're making a huge difference.

To sum it up, my fav magazine contains everything relevant in today's culture... pretty cool stuff. I HIGHLY recommend you subscribe! (only like $20 for 2 years. can't beat that.) At least check out their website which is money. Complete with sweet blogs, an awesome store, polls you can participate in, videos on relevant tv, and Ks of articles you can read.

Shortly (probably tomorrow) I'll start frequently sharing some posts with random quotes I think are baller that I've read that week from all different places & you can bet many of them will have originated in Relevant Magazine. Because this is one magazine I never leave home without... that's the truth.

Monday, May 19, 2008

i don't think they're allowed to talk about that... are they?

(First of all, I told you all there would be a new weekend segment & now the weekend is over... still no new segment here on renown. Sorry, it was out of my control. I actually had the blog written, but our internet got knocked out here at home. It's still knocked out, I'm just blogging now from another "secret" location. just kidding about the "secret" part. we had a new security system installed at our house - don't try breaking in now by the way! - & it knocked our internet out! sorry to all you "loyals" but the new segment will begin this coming weekend.)

Do you guys remember my blogs about Deadly Viper a few weeks ago? If not, you can read them here and here. Mike, one of the Deadly Viper guys also founded XXXchurch & the Junky Car Club. One of the character assassins they are passionate about helping us defeat is the Boom Chicka Wah Wah assassin - with a specialty black belt in sexual sin. Probably safe to say we have all seen more leaders ruined by this assassin than any other! (i know many of you, like myself, are sick of seeing that happen!)

In my humble opinion - the reason so many leaders are ruined by sexual sin is because we (peeps in the church) DON'T TALK ABOUT IT!!! For some reason we're afraid to, or we get embarrassed, etc... But, if there's no communication then there's no accountablity. And when a certain subject is made "taboo" b
y the church it's really hard for guys & girls to come out and talk about it!

So, our friends over at the Deadly Viper blog are working on fixing that. This week they (Mike,
Jud, & Anne) are hosting a "hold nothing back", "no holds barred", no topic off limits, candid discussion about sex, sexual sin, healthy sex lives, and some pretty crazy sex stuff. It is actually titled "The Week of Hot Sex". They say, if we can't talk about it on their blog, then where are we gonna talk about it???

They're diving in deep & I REALLY encourage you to participate! And if you don't see the importance in all this then just read any stat about Pastors & sexual sin & you will see that the Boom Chicka Wah Wah assassin jacks up a ridiculously high percentage of Pastors by causing them to sin sexually!

Click here to see their intro to the week & here to see Day 1. Click here for the main blog site.

*Disclaimer = the Deadly Viper blogs this week will definitely be Rated NC-17!!! so, if you are too young for these topics don't go snooping over there. If you are easily "offended" (spelled "embarrassed") I would also recommend you steering clear of their blog this week. When they say "no topic off limits", THEY MEAN IT!!! Don't say I didn't warn you.

And for all you fans of renown, be sure to check their blogroll!>

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drive Takeaways

Here's the rest of the amazing stuff from Andy's last session at Drive 08. You can read part 1 here (and you probably should to even know what I'm talking about).

3 "What do I believe is impossible to do in my field, but if it could be done would fundamentally change my church?" [or maybe even THE Church] - Joel Barker, Future Edge
- I sat up and perked up when I heard this one because (audacious as it may sound) I think part of my Chazown is to change the world... I'd be satisfied with changing THE Church 1st.
I felt like this one flowed nicely from the 2nd point. Andy was talking about some much needed paradigm shifts within the church world! There are things that could revolutionize the Church for good if we could figure out how to shift some paradigms which seem "impossible" to shift.
Example 1 = 13 years ago (when Andy was starting NPCC) he had a dilemma about the lead guy of a church. "Being able to talk well and lead well are 2 totally different gifts!" [to which I say YEAH THEY ARE!] So Andy said there must be a way to break that model. The Point guy as the leader & speaker paradigm must be broken! Because let's face it, when you have a mediocre communicator OR a mediocre leader it just slows the whole thing down! [not to mention when there is a crappy leader & communicator... those churches are just plain strugglin']
***The paradigm finally shifted when the idea of "video church" came along. Andy said that was the ticket to release Great Leaders (who are decent, but not phenomenal communicators). Have a great leader leading the organization but pipe someone like Andy in or some other baller speaker to do most of the communicating. brilliant, yet SO SIMPLE!
it's stuff like this that must be fixed! Someone just has to figure it out.

Example 2 (current) = There is a bazillion million dollars being ridiculously underused by churches all across America! (nobody would argue with that). BUT, down the street is a church plant that's bumpin' & making stuff happen, but they're meeting in a flippin' Senior Center on Sunday nights! Ok, he said warehouse not senior center, but you get the point. So, Andy said we MUST figure out how to merge the $/real estate/resources from the old & dying church with the new (but poor) church who is on the verge of changing the community! Then he made a very humble & inspiring statement that still burns in my mind & heart & I will probably never forget = "I don't have the answer for this, but I hope one of YOU will figure it out." [man, I hope so too Andy]
*OH, and this is the point when our whole row of Ridge peeps wanted to stand up & cheer!
those were just two examples, but there are more paradigms that need to shift in the Church world.

Andy's Takeaway = "Pay attention to the people who are breaking the rules." [and I guess that bodes well for me as I have been a rule breaker all my life... maybe now that will finally pay off after the detentions, suspensions, & expulsions]

4 "If we got kicked out and the company brought in a new CEO what would HE do? Why don't we just walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?" - Andy Grove, Only The Paranoid Survive
- we all love the way we do ministry, BUT does it work? what would someone with fresh eyes do? somebody who isn't stooped in the tradition of our system? If it's broke then challenge the process NOW!

Andy's Takeaway = "We rarely get serious about change until we run out of MONEY!" - we're more worried about paying the bills than about the unreached people in our city! [This is absolutely the truth & I'm gonna go out on a limb & say Jesus is pretty ticked at this.]

5 "What's in Decline and where are we manufacturing energy?" - Andy challenged us to evaluate ALL our underlying assumptions! An underlying assumption is something you've assumed so long that you don't even know why you assume it to be true. And let me add that if you had to ask what they were, you probably have them! They can be a beast of an enemy!

Takeaway = "Acknowledge what's not working and own up to why I'm not willing to do anything about it." [why would you not!?!?]

6 "When my memories exceed my dreams the end is near!" - unknown

*OH WOW... I've met some people like that! & this is SO TRUE. Andy said, "who wants to be an expert on the last 15 years of ministry?" - who gives a crap about that... let's figure out the future of ministry!

Andy's Takeaway = "Don't let success or momentum overshadow your vision. Keep vision in front."

***Whoa. and these last 2 posts were all from 1 talk. That's why Chris says "Andy says more in an hour than most guys say their whole lives." Hope you enjoyed some of that & there's lot's more coming.

[btw - since hardly anyone reads over the weekend & since I don't post much on the weekends... I think I'm gonna start a new weekend segment on the renown blog. check it out this weekend if you're curious.]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

found it!

whoohoo! found my Drive notebook today. I guess I get the $1 reward.

I'm just going to jump right in to some of the best takeaways from the conference - starting with Andy's last main session. As I said before he had an entire leadership talk planned but scrapped it in order to share the things he is currently wrestling through. so cool. I love that! it was kinda like "Andy unplugged". We all got to peak inside his head for an hour.

He gave us 6 quotes that were causing him to reevaluate, think, dream, etc... here they are, Andy's "Random Thoughts on Church & Leadership":

1 "To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing." - Craig Groeschel
my first thought was that it's straight up pimp that Andy quotes Craig! Our lead pastor shared the same reaction in staff meeting Monday morning. Super humble of Andy to quote a young & revolutionary leader when you know Andy could have quoted himself on this one. no ego there. (by the way - if you haven't read Craig's book Chazown yet... what are you doing still reading this blog!!! Go buy it here & read it ASAP! it's in my all-time top 5.)

Andy said he's constantly looking at peeps outside the church and asking - "what about them? who's reaching them?" he said "I've gotta let it bother me until I figure it out!" (even if you're "successful").
Andy's Takeaway = "Become preoccupied with who you haven't reached as opposed to who you're trying to keep." (hmmm... that sounds really familiar... like it goes with one of our 7 practicesor something?)

2 "The next generation product almost never comes from the previous generation." - Al Reis, Focus
How true is this one!?!! SOMEBODY is gonna figure out the next generation of what ministry is gonna look like & it's probably not gonna be a bunch of 60 year old deacons (no offense), it's gonna be someone from my generation. here was a genius comment Andy made = "the older generation has all the resources, so when the next generation figures out the next generation of how to do ministry the older generation can fight it or they can fund it!" So true & I love it! Andy included himself in this one (as he just turned 50). He knows there's stuff he won't like coming out of my generation, BUT he said we've gotta have some old vet leaders who will say "I don't like it & I don't get it... but I'll fund it."
***gem of a quote by Andy = "You can be so cautious you're irrelevant."
Andy's Takeaway = "Be a STUDENT, not a critic."

- RIGHT ON to that Andy! way too many "Christian leaders" out there criticizing other peeps trying to make things happen for the sake of the kingdom. I'm pretty freakin' sick of it & it was cool to hear that Andy is too. this has been a motto of mine for a while = "I'll learn something from EVERYBODY!"

OK, the rest of them are shorter, but I'm going to post them tomorrow. I can't wait for #3!!! you don't want to miss it either. It's definitely Andy's cutting edge thoughts which are the stuff that's just about to explode in the church world...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

drive - off the top of my head

that's right, I still haven't found my notebook from Drive '08 that contained all those pages of all my precious thoughts & ideas from the conference. There are some sweet takeaways in there!!! so, I'm offering a $1 reward to anyone who finds it. cash money.

Today I'm just going to try to download some of the general thoughts I had from the conference off the top of my head (not from my notes). Oh & btw - here's a pic of our group from Ridge at the Drive conference.

- *My #1 thought (which Rusty also shared in staff meeting Monday) was that this was one of the 1st conferences I've been to that EVERYTHING that was presented & that I learned I could immediately return home and implement. You have no idea how HUGE that is. I have never been in a context like that before & it is such a breath of fresh air. Usually all of us young, naive guys go to these conferences & get all pumped up to rock our churches when we get back with all the great things we've learned... only to return to our broke system in which it can't even be done. Then we learn to go to conferences and hear great ideas and say "yeah, that's great, but it will never fly at my church." I honestly can't explain to you how awesome & freeing it is to work in a system that isn't broken & be able to implement great ideas. (fyi - this isn't a slam on anybody just a slam on broke systems that people are for some crazy reason dedicated to.)

- Andy's 1st talk had a BIG impact on me. He talked about 2 gifts that every staff member must give each other = trust & trustworthiness. It was an amazing talk and inspired me to be absolutely trustworthy as well as give the gift of trust to everyone I work with (always give them the benefit of the doubt). Just think for a moment... how amazing would it be to work in a context like that?!? There would really be NO problems on church staffs today if each staff member gave everyone those 2 gifts = trusting them & being trustworthy.

- I learned (was reminded really) that I work for a great leader. it's a huge privilege to work for Chris Brown. He's too humble to say it, but he is a remarkable leader. Specifically at this conference I was reminded of this in every main session with Andy Stanley. He was giving talks to over 2,000 pastors & telling them things to do in order to be a great leader, how to effectively lead a staff, etc... Everything he said are things I see Chris do consistently. It was like Chris was up there giving the talk. Man that is awesome! I can work with a lot of confidence knowing that's the kind of leader I'm following.

- One of the coolest things was Andy's last talk. Actually he trashed the talk he had planned for the last session and did something REALLY cool. He shared with all of us 5-6 things that are going on in his brain RIGHT NOW. Stuff he's wrestling with and trying to figure out currently. Safe to say this stuff is the cutting edge! Too much to share here, so I'm gonna save it for another post - hopefully my very next post if I find the notebook! (remember... there's still an outstanding $1 reward on that thing.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Upstreet ROCKS!

every Sunday is an awesome day for me! not only because I get to be a part of what God is doing in Charlotte through Ridge Church, but also because I get to work with something called Upstreet! and Upstreet flippin' rocks!

Upstreet is our environment at Ridge for kids in Kindergarten - 5th grade... definitely the most fun place to be! There is an AMAZING team of volunteers who serve in Upstreet. Seriously, these people blow my mind & do a really awesome job.

This pic is of our 3 actors from last night. You might be wondering "Why is that guy green?" Well, "that guy" would be me & we just thought it would be a fun thing to do. Seriously, this is us "backstage" getting ready to go back out for the final part of the production. My character (Tyler) simply didn't have enough patience (our virtue for the month) to NOT jump in the pool with all the chemicals in it, so he consequently turned green. Crystal painted me green after Adam & Travis dumped a few buckets of water on me - you know, to give it that whole look of I just climbed out of the pool. (did I mention we have a lot of FUN in Upstreet?)

We also kicked off our brand new series at Ridge - Parental Guidance Required. It's complete with a movie theme including red carpet, movie posters, a popcorn machine, & Rusty made a sweet marquee like on top of those old school movie theaters! You've gotta check out this series! 3 more weeks left.

PS - definitely can't wait to post my takeaways & all the cool stuff that went down at the Drive conference! 1 problem - can't find my notebook with all my thoughts & brilliant ideas from the conference! HOPEFULLY I'll find it tomorrow, but even if I don't I'm going to start posting the stuff I can remember off the top of my head.

**ALSO, Happy Mother's Day (yesterday) to my Mom (if she ever gets around to reading this) & to all you moms out there; you all have a big job. THANKS MOM, you're the best!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

north point & the blue collar funny man!

so, the Drive conference ROCKED! (read here to catch up.) we all loved it. we not only learned an insane amount about our model of ministry, but also had a lot of fun!!! North Point really knows how to have some fun. I'll get to all the learning & millions of takeaways & post them on here later, but for now let me just tell you about tuesday night!

we went to the Browns Bridge campus about 20 miles north of North Point Tuesday night after Andy's session. we knew there was some BIG surprise & I was calling it the whole time = Jeff Foxworthy (several other peeps were calling it too).

Pretty cool atmosphere when we got there - 2,500 pastors & church leaders just hanging out eating burgers, ribs, cotton candy, funnel cakes... kind of like the fair or carnival or whatever you call those things. We checked out the Browns Bridge facility for a while and it was PIMP! UNBELIEVABLE!!! their children's environments were definitely some of the best I've ever seen!

so, then we go into the worship center for the "surprise" & some lame blue grass band came out and played & i was like "ok, Jeff Foxworthy's gotta be next to make up for this!" Then a little red car pulled out on stage and... (drumroll please) - JEFF FOXWORHTY stepped out of the car! we were all goin' crazy. I love the guy & have maybe 60% of his material memorized... yeah, I'm a big fan.

I've listened to Jeff Foxworthy hundreds of times on CD, my iPod, DVD, etc... and he's pretty funny. But, there was a totally different dynamic seeing him live in an audience of 2,500 people! for over an hour he was busting out his redneck monologue bits. a few times i laughed so hard i though my diaphragm or lungs (or whatever is there in the middle of my torso) was gonna pop out of my body! Then i was getting really cracked up at my friends sitting around me laughing! my boy Travis has a laugh like a horse & 8th grade girl mixed... pretty funny. One time Marla got really tickled & it made me laugh during the complete silence. He even busted out some redneck Bible jokes - pretty funny, but he should stick with the regular redneck stuff.

Of course, they bring Jeff to these things a lot - Big Stuf camps (hopefully he'll show up when we're there in July!!!), Orange conferences, North Point events, etc... Lanny and Andy and those guys are great friends with him + he attends North Point on Sundays. The next day at the conference Andy told us this story & I'll leave this abbreviated version with you...

I was in Wal-Mart in the bathroom & there was a guy at the urnial BAREFOOT!!! pretty gross. When i got back to the car I immediately texted this to Jeff thinking this would be great material for him. Within 30 seconds he texted back - "oh, tell my Uncle Ed he left his boots in my truck!"

That's a pretty funny & quick-witted man right there! (stay tuned for some unbelievable takeaways from Andy Stanley's talks at Drive.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

drive '08, baby!

chillin' at the hotel here in the ATL to write a quick blog. I'm here in Atlanta, GA with the Ridge staff & like 20something of our amazing volunteer team at DRIVE '08, baby!!! It's kind of like visiting the homeland or the mothership for us (that was sort of a joke). Drive is North Point Community Church's conference that thousands of pastors come to in order to get an inside at North Point's model, systems, and philosophy.

anyway, it's been unbelievable so far and will only get better as the week goes on. Tonight Andy gave a sweet talk about staff relationships & trust/trustworthiness & we had a pretty amazing worship time led by Steve Fee, Kristian Stanfill, Todd Fields, Eddie Kirkland, & some cool painter guy.

So, check for updates the rest of the week and I'll download some of my takeaways from the conference as I have time. peace...

Friday, May 2, 2008


Got plans Sunday night say, 6pm? I hope not & if you do I really think you should try to change them because you will want to be chillin' with us at the Levine Senior Center. That's right... not a typo... we're at the Senior Center [insert your own joke here]. Seriously, clear your schedule to be there. Chris is giving a pimp talk on one of our core values - relational evangelism.

I'm thinking that most Christians are confused by the word evangelism. "Isn't that something for seminary grads & old pastors?" Or at the very least they get a little tense & uneasy in their stomach when the word comes up... like that feeling when you watch someone bungee jump or you accidentally see just a little too much cottage cheese at the beach. Definitely shouldn't be that way, and hopefully after Sunday it won't be so confusing. because the way we do it is all natural (sounds like a commercial for some kind of yogurt or something).

Plus, it's not everyday we get to hear Chris give a talk right? Of course, Andy Stanley's not all that bad [that was sarcasm if you couldn't tell]. But Chris is a stellar communicator. Maybe something like a mix between Bono, Barak Obama, & Louie Giglio. haha... I just made that up on the fly. Seriously, you have got to come hear him. (Read his thoughts on the night, him speaking, etc... here - but the best line from the whole post is "This whole thing for us is about bringing God glory and reaching people." WHOOOOO! that fires me up and makes me wish Sunday was tomorrow... uh, except for the fact that I have a few more props & SFX to prepare.)

So, if you're anywhere near Charlotte on Sunday night you should definitely check it out. Michael Johnston (former front man of the Smalltown Poets - definitely brings back some memories from high school) is leading worship for us along with a stellar band. I'm pretty sure it will be the best use of your 6-7pm block on Sunday night unless you're feeding some orphans or maybe fixing that global warming thing. (click here for directions.) Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

blue like jazz

like I said yesterday, I read the book about 3 years ago for fun & now I'm reading it again, of course for fun, but also strategically to take some good stuff away. If you've never read it, you will really enjoy it (I promise) and can buy Blue Like Jazz here. Donald Miller is probably one of the most "easily readable" & fun to read authors I have read. He's just an amazing storyteller.

so, not in any professional sort of way, here are some of my personal takeaways from the 1st half of the book - as well as my own thoughts regarding them...

- "my Sunday school classes did much to help us memorize commandments and little to teach us how God was and how to relate to Him..." - man, we've (the church) gotta do something to fix this! we'll jack up the generations after us if we don't.

- "Some people skip through life; some people are dragged through it."

- "if he [satan] can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God."

- not really a takeaway here, i just love this. it made me laugh = Donald on never owning a television... "however, I visited a church in the suburbs, and there was this blowhard preacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said that when we are watching television our minds are working no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon." [that's gotta make you smile]

- this ending to a poem by C.S. Lewis and Miller's question made me put the book down & think introspectively:
Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love -- a scholar's parrot may talk Greek --
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
"I sat there above the city wondering if I was like the parrot in Lewis' poem, swinging in my cage, reciting Homer, all the while having no idea what I was saying."
[wow, we definitely do this in the church! we talk pretty big & half the time I bet we don't know what the heck we're saying...]

- "Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror."

- "The elements of story began to parallel my understanding of Christian spirituality." [setting, conflict, climax, resolution...]

- here it is, straight from the heart of an "outsider", how they interact with the gospel = "I was judging the idea, not by its merit, but by the fashionable or unfashionable delivery of the message." - we have SO got to realize this! it's a fact. the gospel is the most relevant thing in the world, so if we make it irrelevant or "unfashionable" as Miller puts it, aren't we defaming God's name? not to mention the fact we're turning "outsiders" away unecessarily.

- "Interacting with these guys showed me how shallow and self-centered my Christian faith had become. Many of the students [at Reed College] hated the idea of God, and yet they cared about people more than I did." - isn't this the truth? that's pretty messed up. without loving each other people have absolutely NO REASON to believe there's anything different or good about us (John 13:35 - read it the next time you're hanging out with your Pharisee homeboys & you think your right belief is ok instead of your right actions).

- from an unbeliever = "Don, I can't explain how freeing that was, to realize that if I met Jesus, He would like me." - OK, that's pretty jacked up that we [believers] have portrayed Jesus in a way that makes peeps think He wouldn't like them. man, we jack stuff up... when are we gonna change?

- Miller on his fundamentalist days = "I believed that if the word got out about grace, the whole church was going to turn into a brothel. I was a real jerk, I think." - HAHAHA... LOL. I seriously laughed out loud when I read this stuff on this page because I can totally relate.

So, maybe I'll share the rest after I finish the book again this weekend. Gotta go now though. I'm 'bout to beat my wife really bad in some rummy...