Sunday, May 30, 2010

not a typical date night

my wife and i have a "date night" every Friday night. That's just what we do and what we'll always do. (i've written about it many times before... like HERE.) Actually, we believe it's so important that it's a major budget item for us. "Date Nights" gets it's own line item in our household budget every month. it gets a pretty good wad of cash too.

Earlier this spring here is a picture of our "date night".

yeah, we went on a nice romantic date to Subway and split a $5 foot long! i think we split a bag of cheetos too and each had a free cup of water. i think total it was like $5.77 or something?

Why? well, it was the end of the month (the last Friday of March i think) and we were out of date night money. the budget was empty. the envelope that said "date night" on it that at one point was full of cash was now completely empty
But - my wife found an old Subway gift card with a little bit left on it... just enough to pay for our nice dinner there. it was awesome. seriously. a cool night.

*Dave would say we're "living like no one else so that later we can live like no one else." 
it would have been easy to whip out the credit card and go to Outback and a movie and drop $60 or $70, but we chose to do the whole night for free with a Subway gift card. that's just the way we roll. it's all part of the plan.

we think the plan is pretty awesome. i'm hard core about the budget. we do not go over or spend money we don't have.
but i'm also hard core about a weekly date night. we're gonna go out together no matter what.
so, in order to stick to our financial plan that might mean we rock some $5 foot longs every once in a while...
that's cool with me.

*I think i'll write over the next 1-2 weeks about our "Total Money Makeover" and how it's changed our lives.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bono's top 10 for this decade

i've written a lot about Bono in the past here on renown.

Recently i read his top 10 list for the next 10 years. you can read his 10 for the next 10 years HERE. he talks about everything from cars to intellectual property; from pollution to nonviolent revolution...

and here is his #1!

The World Cup Kicks Off the African Decade

"It’s getting easier to describe to Americans the impact of the World Cup — especially the impact it will have in Africa, where the tournament is to be held this summer. A few years ago, Ivory Coast was splitting apart and in the midst of civil war when its national team qualified for the 2006 jamboree. The response was so ecstatic that the war was largely put on hold as something more important than deathly combat took place, i.e. a soccer match. The team became a symbol of how the different tribes could — and did — get on after the tournament was over.
This time round, for the 2010 World Cup, naysayers thought South Africa could not build the stadiums in time. Those critics should be red-faced now. South Africa’s impressive preparations underline the changes on the continent, where over the last few years, 5 percent economic growth was the average. Signs point to a further decade of growth to come. Canny investors will put more capital there. This in turn has the potential to shore up fragile young democracies across the continent.
It would be fitting if Nelson Mandela, who has done more than anyone for Africa’s rising, would kick off the opening ceremonies. If he shows up, the world will weep with joy."

did any of you go read his whole top 10 list?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

another must see World Cup commercial

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world!
(yes, way bigger than the Olympics or most stuff many of us Americans get into.)

it begins in only 15 days, 16 hours, 30 minutes and 17 seconds (and yes I have a countdown on my phone).
I feel like a little kid again. i am so unexplainably excited. *This is the greatest month every 4 years! nothing rivals it.

There has already been one amazing commercial for this World Cup and i posted about it HERE. but this one that just released about a week ago is possibly just as good. it's a must see!

wow - Drogba, Cannavaro, Rooney, Ribery, (was that Roger Federer and Kobe Bryant in there?), Cesc Fabregas, Ronaldinho, and of course Ronaldo all in the same commercial!? wow. that's like 9 different countries represented right there. (not to mention America's only hopes = Howard and Donavan.)

The Rooney part is my favorite because it's so true. Rooney is a pimp. i love that guy. i want him with me if i'm ever in a bar fight. (which i hope i'm not... i'm just sayin.)

This is a short and simple but GREAT example of how BIG soccer really is and how entire countries hang their hopes on their team at the World Cup. Huge chunks of the globe stop for a month this summer. It's bigger than a game. It changes economies and statues are erected! Soccer is one of the greatest pictures of globalism and it is supracultural. i love it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

thoughts on my 1st radio interview today

i just wanted to take a few minutes to download my thoughts after my 1st ever radio interview earlier today about some social justice organizations.

*i think it went well overall. thanks to all of you who were able to tune in online or on the radio. i hope in some small way i was able to lift up the name of Jesus and push forward His kingdom.

- it felt a little bit weird that they were playing that "My Humps" song right before i started talking about Jesus and serving the poor. it was just awkward to transition from Fergie belting out her famous question = "whatcha gonna do with all that junk" and then talk about serving Jesus and the poor...

- it was interesting but really cool having an unbeliever interviewing me + 2 others in the room producing who probably weren't believers. the girl interviewer made all kinds of interesting comments like "i thought you were going to be this really weird spiritual guy but you're really cool." ha... i laughed.

- innocent question and i thought it was a great question that she asked = "does serving the poor have anything to do with your faith?" uh... yeah... everything. they are 1 and the same. they can't be separated. faith and action always go together. you cannot have 1 without the other.

- it was great to have my boy Brian in the room also doing the interviewing of me. he "gets" it, so it was cool to have a friend that was "for" all these causes we talked about.

- i could tell i struck a nerve with the unbelievers in the room several times. that was awesome. they were moved by stories via sponsoring kids through Compassion International and building clean water wells through Advent Conspiracy and Living Water International.

- there was always more i wanted to say after some questions... next time i'll know i just gotta be ready to say it. :)

- it takes a little while to get comfortable in that chair and with the mic in my face, etc... i didn't really feel "at home" in the conversation until about 5 minutes in.

overall good times. thanks Brian for inviting me. great experience.

Monday, May 24, 2010

i'll be on the radio tomorrow

Tomorrow, (Tuesday, May 25th) from 2:30PM-3:30PM I'll be on the radio for 2 straight shows (2:30 & 3). just wanted all you guys to know in case you're bored and wanted to listen?
(When i was a little kid i was on the radio a couple times, but just as a caller. This will be my 1st time actually being interviewed. pretty exciting.)

If you really want to listen, i'll be on 89.3 The Storm. They'll be interviewing me on the 2:30PM show and the 3PM show back to back.
(i'll be honest, i have never actually listened to 89.3 here in Charlotte. anybody out there listen to this station?)

The topic for both shows will be Social Justice. That's what i was asked to talk about in this radio interview.
i think specifically the hosts will be asking me about some cool stuff like:  
- Advent Conspiracy and building some clean water wells through Living Water International,
- Compassion International and specifically the Upstreet kids sponsoring a child in Kenya through Project Generosity at Ridge Church.
- the Junky Car Club!
- and the Now Project at Ridge Church.

(i have probably written 50 blogs posts on all these things, but instead of linking them - if you really want to know what i have to say about this stuff just use the "SEARCH" option up in the top left hand corner of renown. example - type in "Advent Conspiracy" and all my posts will come up for you.)

So, if you want to listen to these 2 shows with me on the radio you can simply tune into 89.3 here in the Charlotte, North Carolina area at 2:30PM.

But, if you don't live in Charlotte, here are a few links for you to listen live online!
-  For live streaming audio click HERE.
-  it looks like (unfortunately) you must listen to the streaming radio show with Windows Media Player. (so, if you have a MAC like me the links won't work and you will have to download WMP for MAC HERE.
-  on your iPhone, download the "Pocket Tunes" app to listen to 89.3.
-  on any other phone you can download an App called "Moodio" HERE.

*Hopefully the interviews will go well. my prayer is to represent Jesus well and somehow bring Him glory and make His name famous to people who may not think much about God. i'm excited to talk about "social justice" = helping the poor and those who live in poverty. for me it's a God thing. it is the gospel. it's not separate.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

who is this shawty?

the other day i turned to my wife and said "i'd like to meet this Shawty."

Seriously, who is this guy? EVERYBODY is talking about her/him.

He's the guy with "fire burnin on the dance floor." i know she's an "eeny, meeny, miny, mo lover" and she definitely gets "low low low low"

but, who is she? definitely from the ATL i'm pretty sure. what's he look like? what's her last name?

(hopefully you can sense my sarcasm)

outback or bologna sandwiches?

(This article is reposted from July 2, 2008.)
Peter is the young boy that Crystal and I have the awesome privilege to support through Compassion International. Make sure you go read a little more about Peter & Compassion here. That's where I wrote about him on one of my very 1st blogs.

He's our "adopted orphan" - the only kind we can afford for now. We'd love to "really" adopt an orphan in Africa one day, but for now we send support to him each month and Compassion makes sure he has plenty of food, clean water, health care, education, AIDS prevention and help for his brothers & sisters, a place to sleep, and they also make sure he hears the amazing stories about Jesus.

So, I went to the mailbox this past weekend and pulled out a letter from Peter. (He writes to us every 2-3 months.) It's always really exciting when we get a letter from him. I was stoked, but I had to wait on Crystal to get back because we always read them together. As soon as we opened it we could tell that he wrote it himself! This is the 1st letter from him that he actually wrote with his own hands. He is only 5, so a translator had to write it for him up until now! Looks like that $ is paying off as he has already learned to write REALLY well! Really well for a 5 year old anyway as there were a few backwards letters and misspellings, but not too bad. I thought I would share some of the letter with you guys:

How are you. I hope you are fine. I am also doing great because of the Lord. How was your Easter? Mine was great. I went to church and learnt about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thank you very much for your continued support and the gift you sent to me. I bought a goat worth 972 kshs and 50 kilos of maize worth 500 kshs.
Please pray for me that may do well in my studies. Is there any special prayer you would like me to pray for you? Bye til next time.
Love, Peter

Oh man, totally jacked me up a little when I read that. Definitely choked up a little. Pumped that he learned the coolest story ever - Jesus dying and coming back to life for us.
And then I read the next part. Crystal and I sent him a little extra $ for a Christmas gift. I think it was only like $50. We figured he could buy like a soccer ball and some toys or something. NOPE, he bought a GOAT! I read that and I just busted out laughing!!! So, I guess we got Peter a goat & some maize for Christmas. Actually I had some goat & maize together for a meal when I was in Africa. It's not bad when you're really hungry. Any of you ever got a goat for Christmas?It's just really funny to me.

Anyway, reading that letter makes it worth it all right there guys. When I think about there being 30,000 children dying every day from poverty, disease, and unclean water - it's crazy. But when I realize that for a little bit of my $ every month, Peter won't have to worry about it... what's a little bit of extra $? What's $40 a month going to do for me? 1 extra night out at a restaurant. But for Peter it guarantees he doesn't become a statistic! It gives him clean water, food, an education, medical care, etc... And it guarantees that he gets to be loved by a community of believers near his village who tell him the greatest stories ever told! His life is absolutely changed because of that money.

So, what do you think is more worth it? The night out at Outback or Peter? Get with it & sponsor a child! Go to right now and make Jesus really happy.

As for me, I'm cool with the bologna sandwich for almost free at my house.

Friday, May 21, 2010

porn unavailable on Macs!

i am a Mac/Apple man for life. there's no going back. i hate Windows. BUT, even if i weren't already sold for life this would go a long way to win me over.

i am hoping this is true and have no reason to believe it's not. Check this Tweet i just saw from Apple CEO - Steve Jobs:
"Starting this summer, porn will be blocked from all Mac browsers. If you want smut, use Windows."

WOW! that is huge. Steve Jobs, you are the man! i guess that means i won't even need to use XXX Church anymore?

big props to Steve Jobs & Apple. Windows sucks anyway. Here is yet another reason to switch to MAC!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

a friend of a friend

Have you ever thought about all the stories you hear that start with "a friend of a friend" or "my friend's friend"?
(i'm not just talking about the fact that the stories that follow are probably urban legends either...)

**But seriously, have you ever noticed that our friends' friends have way more crazy, fun, and interesting lives than our friends themselves? and certainly much more interesting lives than we do.

maybe the further we move out in the 6 degrees of separation the more crazy these people get?!  So, if we ever hear stories about "a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" - then that is going to be one freaking crazy story!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a song i'm loving...

i'm not really a big Eminem fan. honestly never listened to his stuff much.

i'm actually more of a Jay-Z fan when it comes to hip hop.
but Eminem's newest single "Not Afraid" is my favorite song right now. i'm just loving it. singing it all day long, it's always in my head, always playing in my iPod...

i think i'm even digging his heart behind it. here's the hook... or the chorus...
"I'm not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We'll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you're not alone
Holla if you feel that you've been down the same road

& a crazy catchy hook it is.

There really aren't many parts of the song i can post because i try to keep this blog PG-13. BUT, i think this bridge gets even deeper at the heart of his song (and it's all clean)
"And I just can't keep living this way
So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage
I'm standing up, Imma face my demons
I'm manning up, Imma hold my ground
I've had enough, now I'm so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now

i think these lyrics and Eminem's heart behind this song is legit. Plus i straight up love the sound!
Jay-Z & Eminem are actually teaming up for 2 concerts together = 1 at Yankee Stadium in NYC and 1 in Comerica Park in Detroit. i think that would be pretty sweet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

what's your outlet?

what is your outlet? you know, what you do to blow off steam and forget all your cares. that thing you do that you just lose yourself in. that thing that when you're doing it you can forget everything else - all your frustrations and cares and just get away from it all. almost to another world.

i heard some pastors talking about this over the weekend. their outlet was running marathons and that kind of crap and i was just like "you're crazy." but it was a good reminder to me that we all need our own outlets. something that works for each of us.

usually when i'm so frustrated or depressed or life is so crazy that i just need to "get away"... i can get away with just me and God. maybe just to a quiet room, to my porch swing, to some beautiful spot... and i can just pour my heart out to Him! it's beautiful. it's amazing. i can "cast all my cares on Him."

that's also what a good date night is for sometimes. i have an amazing wife. she lets me dump all my frustrations on her and she listens and comforts me and attempts to cheer me back up.

but neither one of those are really an "outlet". they are people. (which are honestly probably better long term solutions.)
Sometimes nothing is really wrong, we just need to blow off some steam. just get away from it all - to an outlet.

For me it's definitely soccer. as a kid and even a high schooler (and beyond) soccer was my "god". Not so much after i lost both my knees (cartilage). but i definitely still love the game. can't play it very well anymore but i love to play it so much. i can still lose myself in a soccer game. it's a beautiful thing. i get wrapped up in every facet of the game and lose myself in it.

So, i'm thankful to recognize it as a healthy outlet for me. i'm heading to my soccer game tonight in about 10 minutes. great timing too because i really need to blow off some steam and take out some frustrations. (i'm thankful i can do this instead of beating my dog... jk)

whoever woulda thought soccer can be so spiritual? but so can fishing or hunting or video games or reading or even running... or whatever your outlet is.

(PS - beautiful night of soccer. i really took out my frustration... with a Hat Trick.) 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

inside a colon

This is NOT a joke! This is an extremely large COLON.

A few weeks ago my wife and I went to visit some friends who just had a baby at Presbyterian hospital. This colon is what greeted us in the main lobby!

Upon closer inspection i found that it was not a joke but really supposed to be educational. you see, they had all the parts of the inside of the colon labeled. they even labeled them for us like this internal hemorrhoid!

wow. "this is crazy," i thought to myself.
I mean, they set it up like an exhibit at Discovery Place or an attraction at an amusement park... like for little kids to crawl through and explore! i'm speechless.

so, i thought i would crawl through myself! (& notice the strategically placed "Exit Only" sign at the end of the colon!)

Have YOU ever seen a huge colon like this? Do you think they put the "exit only" sign there on purpose?

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 staffing principles (leadership coaching thoughts)

(Read the 1st part of this HERE as a lead in for today.)

Here's my thoughts on Tony's 10 principles on staffing:
1      Create a culture that leads volunteers to do it before staff. i love this and i think we do a really good job of this at Ridge. We have so many high capacity volunteer leaders serving in staff positions (unpaid). i love being a part of that culture! [we get an "A" on this one i think.]

2      1:100 ratio = 1 Staff person (40hrs.) for every 100 peeps in attendance. This is Tony's recommendation for what is healthy. The average = 1:70. i think we're closer to the average. more like 1:66.6 & i know those 3 6s are bad!

3      Pay your staff well. a combo of these 1st 3 principles usually works out. i can see that happening. Tony said he has always wanted to have less staff and pay them a decent wage than stretch the staff and feel like no one is being paid well. He says to push peeps to the point where it’s almost unhealthy before hiring new staff. i can land on 2 sides with this one. i think people will do a lot for vision, not just $...

4      Hire from the inside! whenever possible. You know who they are and how they operate. You know they embrace the mission, vision, values of the church, etc… you've probably been the one to actually train and teach them! *hiring from outside is obviously way more risky! This is definitely the way of the future. i don't know how much longer resumes can survive in church world?

5      Don’t hire from a resume. Look at much stronger characteristics like = passions, personality, leadership capacity, overall capacity, integrity issues (all of this is much more important than education and experience and a freaking resume!) *You can take someone with the right mix of personality, gifts, etc… and make them great, but you can’t teach those things to someone with just education & experience! 
           -> also, if you sniff character stuff before hiring, just remember once peeps are in staff position, any integrity/character issues just get magnified.

6      Hire people like you… i.e. hire people you LIKE. Look at the crazy amount of hours we spend with peeps on our staff! You need to get along well. Chemistry is as important as competency & character. This makes it important to include other staff in the interview process to see if they all click.

7      Hire leaders, not Doers. There will NEVER be enough staff just to accomplish all the tasks! [IT'S ALL ABOUT LEADERSHIP, not tasks!]

8      Long Hellos and Quick Goodbyes. We usually do the opposite! We grab someone with availability, but they may not have the ability. Way easier to tell them they’re not a fit for a role BEFORE you hire them instead of after. We are too slow to have the tough conversation and let someone go. way too slow. [jim collins has a lot of great stuff to say about this in Good to Great.]

9      Staff ahead of growth. (how in the world can you do that? that's a tension.) a few options = staff with volunteers. Raising support is an option. Example – it’s hard to reach students (grow in student ministry) before there’s a leader to own it. [true]

10   Make sure you’re staffing for Attitude. a lot of time we forget peeps’ attitude. We hold peeps accountable for performance, character, spiritual disciplines, but we let them slide on attitude. But it has a BIG impact. Negative attitudes are going to repel people. Hold peeps accountable on this. **This is especially important for admin assistant! Peeps associate her attitude with ME! Peeps assume it’s an extension of my leadership!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

leadership coaching (thoughts)

i'm getting way behind on posting and processing my thoughts on takeaways from the leadership coaching network i'm in with Tony Morgan. You can read more about it HERE.
(i have several thoughts i want to post soon from the past couple months with Tony... i'm learning a lot of great stuff from him.)

*i want to learn and grow and implement these important principles and strategies i'm learning about leadership. i want to put them into action.
here's what i'm thinking about from the last time we met = structure and staffing. we're in a season of change and growth at Ridge so this is a constant conversation and thought process right now... especially within family ministries.
So, we must constantly structure and hire based on what God’s called us to do and our strategy.
*i love that Tony backs up what Andy always says about structure = Who is at the lead team meeting is not based on their ROLE, but based on their LEADERSHIP CAPACITY! *Don’t have a structure that keeps the best voices out of the room!
**i posted a few blogs on thoughts from what Andy has to say about this. it's brilliant! you can read my thoughts on that HERE and HERE!
you want peeps at the table who have a global/holistic view of the ministry (no matter their role). Big picture peeps.    

*Tony laid out a good challenge to find kid's ministry leaders who don't like kids! Because they need to be LEADERS who lead adults... not necessarily gifted with kids. i think we do a great job of this at Ridge. There are several leadership positions in kid's ministry that just desperately calls for talented leaders, not necessarily talented kid's people. i think we're rocking this challenge.

Great thought from John Maxwell on leading leaders. Just say to them - “Here’s the address. Here’s the keys. See you there.” – equip, empower, & then let go. [easier said than done, but way easier with good leaders.]

i'm liking the suggestion that between 5-8 direct reports is probably the most you should have at any 1 time. 8 seems like a lot... my capacity might need to stop at the perfect number of 7. But i'll take it a step further and say that everyone (even volunteers) all the way down the organization should probably follow this rule of 7. (everyone leads a few!) nobody should be leading like 10 or 12 people! (not for long anyway.)

*i know our structure and the roles people fill has to allow them to play to their strengths at least 80% of the time! we've got to figure out how to be a better job at this!

*i think this is a good suggestion = in the early days, hire all leaders and no specialists or support staff. you don't have enough room (or $) for them early on. the focus has to be on leaders. then as the church/organization grows, that can shift into hiring more support staff (assistants) and specialists, etc... i really like this and think there is a lot of wisdom in it.

OK, i'm going to cut it off there, but within 24 hours i'll post my thoughts on 10 principles on staffing. great stuff coming...
*i'm actually in Atlanta again right now for this leadership coaching 1st thing in the morning. looking forward to it! (+ really thankful to my awesome friend and host Andy Jones for letting me crash on his couch. always good conversations with this guy...)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

teams that work

(i think this will be my last post on my takeaways from Drive 2010. You can catch up on tons of my thoughts and takeaways over the past 9 posts!)

the 1st breakout i went to was "Developing Teams that Work". it was probably the best breakout session ever. (And i've been to hundreds!) the content was masterful!
it was with Clay Scroggins (aka - the "Scrog Dog") who's in the student ministry, but i think he said this was developed by Reggie Joiner & Kendra Fleming at North Point. And i'm almost positive i've read it before from one of them...

The subtitle explains it better. These are "5 Critical Responsibilities EVERY Ministry Team Must Monitor to Stay on Track"
(So, we've got 7 Core Values + 7 Practices we live by... but these are 5 things that MUST BE PRESENT on our team! i am working this out currently in my head. trying to figure out how our teams can improve...)

These 5 responsibilities are simply necessary in order to accomplish our mission. they are probably directly related to the success of our mission. When stuff goes wrong or when we want to improve it will usually come back to 1 of these 5 areas.
I am now convinced that every team needs to have an expert in each of these 5 areas! here they are...

1  Refine the Environment - we've got to have an environment person. Somebody who can practice "Vuja De" = always see the environment with fresh eyes. (It's a George Carlan joke... the opposite of "Deja Vu" where you've never been to an environment but feel like you have. "Vuja De" is a unique ability to have been in an environment hundreds of times, but still be able to see it for the 1st time.) We all know that the environment is HUGE! We must have peeps from the outside speaking into our processes and environments! ("Listen to Outsiders.")
If we don't continually do this 1st one with expertise then ultimately a generation will be lost! it's a pretty big deal.

2  Nurture the Leader - we need an expert leader of leaders. "Coached leaders go further faster." - Andy. we just need an expert leader coaching the top leaders... and then everyone leads a few... all the way down. this expert has gotta be a people person.
I'm thankful that if we're a part of any culture in this North Point system, we're a part of a leadership culture!
Speed of the leader = speed of the team. Our quality and growth will be determined by the quality of our leader!

3  Value the Team - We need a relational guru who can motivate with vision and appreciate the heck out of the individuals on the team! (I feel like #s 2 & 3 might have a little overlap.) ***Everybody needs to value everybody else's role! Connect every single person's role to the big vision! (remember we're a body like Paul said in 1 Corinthians...)

4  Inform the Crowd - We need a marketing genius like Seth Godin on our team! (i wonder if he's looking for a job at a small church plant in NC? seems like that'd be right up his alley...) somebody who can communicate & market to the masses.. how else are they gonna know?
i can't tell you how many times i've thought (and i'm not the only one) - "i just wish more people would have experienced that!" (it's the marketing experts job to make sure they do! or at least know about it.)

5  Perfect the System - Oh yeah, we need a systems nerd. An orgizational guru! someone who says "How are all these disorganized people [like me] even Christians??? Disorganization is so ungodly!" i want that person on my team!! Because they are the opposite of me.
if we don't perfect the system we "waste critical resources ($) and time."

I think we need somebody who MAJORS in each of these 5 areas on our teams!
*When these 5 are working it simply removes most of the barriers so that the Holy Spirit can work.

***I have not stopped thinking about this for over a week now. i can't get it out of my mind. i know we've got to step it up in some of these areas because the mission is that important!

*some other great leadership stuff during this breakout:
-  "The longer something is neglected, the greater the damage and the harder it is to fix." [man we need to keep that in mind!]
-  our job in every environment is to "Build a bridge and turn on a light." - Reggie Joiner
-  "Teams need a rallying cry." - Patrick Lencioni

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"the funnel" (continued...)

You can read the 1st half of this post HERE. (Seriously take 2 minutes to read that post. This won't make sense without reading that setup. this will just feel cold and rigid and you will probably accuse us of being idiots... you might do that anyway, but just read the last post!)

Today we'll dive into the 8 steps of "the funnel" that looks something like this:
And remember from yesterday's post that the whole point is LIFE CHANGE. but there is no sense in offending people with our crap. The only thing that should ever offend them is the gospel! (the message itself.) So we want to earn the right to challenge people each Sunday by intentionally walking through the steps of this funnel. (Not all 8 steps happen every Sunday.)
1  Pre-Service Experience - this begins in the parking lot. This is the broadest part of the funnel, trying to welcome everyone and make them feel GREAT!

2  Opener - Usually a song or game of some sort or something fun/entertaining... *We want to make people HAPPY they are here! **If we can make them laugh/smile the 1st 5 minutes they are here that's a huge WIN!

3  Welcome - Because there are GUESTS! we welcome guests into our home... we don't load them up with a bunch of info. We want 1st timers to feel WELCOMED, not announced at (that's not the win)!

4  Singing/Worship - (it's all worship... so the musical part of worship is step 4). There is a funnel even within this step of the funnel. we must be sensitive to the emotional flow... don't start with a crazy intense song about the blood of Jesus flowing down... that should come at the end of this step of the funnel. Start with a worship song that's way broader and more engaging.

5  Baptism - the way we do baptisms and the stories will get all the people in the room involved emotionally. You can't argue with someone's story! you just emotionally connect.

6  Tension (Andy calls this a "special") - Goal = to create a tension that the message will address. this is usually a song, maybe a video or interview or something. the tension should not resolve during this step! just create it! **tap into human emotion here. make eveeryone in the room say "I hope someone can answer that".

7  Message - start a whole new funnel here! Start out broad and catch everyone and then funnel down to the point that we RISK challenging them... risk offending with the gospel... for the sake of life change.

8  Closer - the only point is to punctuate the point of the message (or whole series).

Following this funnel/template should allow us to be way more creative!

*Here are some great Rules for the exceptions to the rules!
- It's OK to move away from this template on purpose, but it's not OK to drift by accident! You can decide to do it, but don't do it unintentionally. (we recently did this on purpose at Ridge for "Throwback" in April! It was intentional and we all acknowledged it and talked about it.)

- It's never OK to move away from this template because we're bored, we want to do something "cool", or we just want to change it up... *** "If we can leverage cool fro something good that's awesome, but cool is never the goal."

- When we move outside the template, there needs to be a good reason. (Like Throwback for us or our upcoming "Strategic Service" Sunday.)

There you have it. Our funnel or Sunday morning strategic template.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"the funnel" (steps on sunday morning)

(If you missed the video set up for this yesterday, just click HERE. or even if you just want a good laugh watch the video HERE.)

**Everything we do at Ridge Church we do on purpose. Especially on Sunday mornings. Every single word, action, movement, environment, color, angle, etc... it's intentional. Nothing is an accident. it's all strategic. We have planned and are ready for every person who comes through the doors.

This is modeled for us beautifully by our "mother" church who we are a strategic partner with = North Point. Andy Stanley (their lead pastor & 1 of our teaching pastors) does a better job communicating most things than most people. But he definitely does the best job communicating how intentional we are about what we do on Sunday mornings. Below is my humble attempt to download and think through 2 talks he has done about "the funnel". (The 1st talk was with strategic partnerships in '09 and the 2nd was just last week at Drive 2010.)

This funnel is like a road map or a template for the experience we want to create every Sunday morning. (I think he might call it "Rules of Engagement" now?)
To create this funnel (or template) we have to begin with the end in mind. Which in my very humble opinion and in my limited experience most churches don't do! 

So, on a Sunday morning, one of the goals for us is to have people change their thinking which leads them to change how they live. Goal = Life Change!
We're all about clarifying WINS at Ridge too. When an adult (or student or child really...) comes to Ridge who is not a "church person" and usually not a believer -> a WIN is when that person finds an environment (context) that's welcoming and good and comfortable (familiar) + communication that is engaging and helpful so that it makes them say "I'll come back next week." That's the WIN for us.
But, of course long term the win is life change as they keep coming back again and again.

In our church & no doubt at your church there is a wide range of peeps showing up. Peeps who have never been to church and don't like Jesus and peeps who were born at church and haven't left since.
So, here's a big Question = How do you help such a wide range of people take steps forward spiritually?
Answer = Do what Jesus did... unite them around a common emotion! 

Take 3 minutes and read Luke 15. you can even just click HERE if you don't have a Bible handy.

In that passage Jesus is speaking to a WIDE range of peeps. The craziest "sinners" around who knew nothing about God + the Pharisees and teachers of the law who knew everything about God. How in the world does Jesus engage both ends of the spectrum? He brings them together on common ground with a common emotion! = "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them..."

The sinner & the teacher are immediately FEELING the same emotion together! they're thinking "ahhh, that would be horrible..." 
**Jesus 1st takes them ALL somewhere emotionally! Doesn't matter if they are learned theologically or a "newbie"... He takes them all to the same place emotionally. Because "We build common ground with emotion, NOT INFORMATION."

He keeps going and creates 2 more emotions like this in order to drive home how he wants their thinking and their LIVES TO CHANGE!

*Jesus skipped giving information. He just got everyone nodding their heads "yep".

So, here are 3 Questions you should ask yourselves as you develope the elements for your template for what your Sunday mornings look like. (you do have a template even if you don't know you do.)
1) How will this make people feel?
2) What do we want people to feel?
3) At what point is it worth the risk to make people feel uncomfortable?
*This is so important because every Sunday we have to earn the right to challenge people.

OK, I hope that got you warmed up to actually see "the funnel." Here it is...

Impressive, eh? 
Tomorrow we'll dive in to the actual 8 elements of the funnel and I'm going to think through some other great thoughts about what our Sunday mornings should look like.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"funnel" spoof ("sunday's coming")

This was a hilarious video at Drive 2010. It was the perfect bumper video to play right before Andy Stanley talked about the funnel. That's the "funnel of love" or the "rules of engangement" North Point plans a Sunday worship service by. At Ridge we operate by the exact same funnel.
Our team of 26 people were sitting there cracking up. I love a good spoof video and I love it when The Church can be sarcastic and laugh at itself. ENJOY!

("Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.)

Haha, are you laughing your head off yet? What was the funniest part to you?
(What do you get when you mix contemporary and relevant?)

*check out my post tomorrow as I process my thoughts on "the funnel". This video is the perfect intro for "the funnel." i'm going through 2 different sets of notes when Andy taught us about it... Should be good.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day to my awesome Mom! the best i could ever ask for!

Thanks Mom for all you've done the last 27+ years to be a great Mom to me. Thanks for all the sacrifices you made to make sure i had an awesome childhood.

Thanks for raising me along with Dad to think straight and love God. Thanks for raising me to love people.

Thanks for being a great picture of unconditional love. i always knew no matter how many stupid things i did that you would always love me. i guess that's what a mom is. And you are a great mom!

i hope you know i'm so thankful that you are my mom! i love you mom. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Friday, May 7, 2010

leadership culture (Zappos, Chick-Fil-A, & NPCC)

These are some scattered thoughts from one of the greatest breakout sessions ever this week at Drive 2010 at North Point. It was called "Creating a Culture Where Leaders Thrive". I went to it because I think Jeff Henderson is one of the greatest leaders around... but it wasn't just him! The Chick-Fil-A VICE PRESIDENT (David Salyers) + a big dog with (Donavon Roberson) were also talking with us in the breakout!!!

It was freaking awesome. 3 great leaders from 3 great organizations with great leadership cultures talking leadership culture! like i said... freaking awesome.

So, here are my random thoughts & takeaways as i process them:
- Solomon was the wisest man in the world and he talked more than anyone about getting advice and counsel.

- Chick-Fil-A studies the greatest organizations in the world in order to learn from them. A couple years ago they studied NORTH POINT! Wow! CFA, one of the greatest - studying a church!

- "Endearing actions create enduring organizations." Do awesome things for family of staff, unexpected surprises, etc...

- The bottom line is PEOPLE. never lose sight of that.

- "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't care who gets the credit." - Truett Cathy

- Don't motivate people. RELEASE people. I've gotta release the potential of our team! Release them to try, experiment, and lead in their own way (within the guardrails of our mission and core values of course).

- On that above note, i love this formula from the VP @ CFA = Quality of the Idea X Acceptance = Effectiveness (Q x A = E)
10 that is the best idea ever, but the Acceptance is only 5 that = 50. BUT, If the Quality of the idea is only a 9, but Acceptance is a full on 10 the Effectiveness will be 90! that's powerful even though the idea wasn't quite as good.> I hope this is encouraging to all leaders to be accepting of all the half crazy ideas from leaders on their teams.

- "Creating a great leadership culture where the team thrives doesn't cost a lot of money. It does require intentionality." - Jeff Henderson

- We gotta Coach our leaders all the time. If we only do it when something goes wrong then that's really Criticism.

- "We want people to be just as clear on what we want for them as what we want from them." - Salyers. That is great great advice! I am going to start implementing that TODAY!

- ***Probably the greatest thing i took from this whole session was something Jeff said. It convicted me and brought something important back to the forefront of my mind! = "The best thing we can do to lead up is to pray for our leader! My job is to make Andy Stanley as successful as possible."
**I fully agree. My job is to make Chris Brown as successful as possible!
Jeff again encouraged us that we don't have to wait on formal authority! especially when it comes to this. right on. I need to be honoring our pastor & not wait on some kind of formal authority to do this. i need to figure out how to do this practically. working on it...

Those are my random takeaways as i break them down and try to apply them.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

opposable thumbs & leadership

(This post is simply me processing my thoughts from Andy Stanley's final talk at the Drive Conference 2010. It looks like the guys at Catalyst liked the talk so well they have made it the theme of Catalyst 2010!)
This is brilliant! I'm just trying to process it and take it from my brain to action (via this blog).

Why organizational tension is essential to progress (like THUMBS)

*Humans have opposable thumbs and it is an amazing phenomenon. That phenomenon is responsible for much of the good things we do and all the progress we have made through the millennia. It is all possible because we can apply pressure and tension with our opposable thumbs.
**Just like the thumb - the right amount of pressure/conflict/tension lets us make progress! There are some tensions that if taken away, would be like cutting off our thumbs!

Every Organization Has Problems That Shouldn't Be Solved and Tensions That Shouldn't Be Resolved. (because to do so would be like cutting of your thumbs.)
Some examples would be:
- Excellence vs. Stewardship = you can't choose 1! that's a tension that needs to stay.
- Time @ work vs. Time @ home = you cannot neglect either one!
- missional vs. attractional = we'll always need both.
- safe environment for unbelievers vs. deeper teaching for believers = this is a tension we will always need to live with.
- and there are hundreds, probably thousands more...

*If we "resolve" any of these tensions...
1) we create a new tension. but that new tension is more like a big problem that will wreck everything! **So don't "SOLVE" it... you're not solving anything, just making everything worse!
2) we create a barrier to progress. because...
**Progress depends not on the resolution of those tensions, but on the successful management of those tensions. (our Pastor tells us all the time all the time = "That's not a problem to solve. That's a tension to manage!" brilliant.)

a Great Question is = Are there mature advocates for both sides? - if so, chances are this is a tension to be managed. most of us grew up where all these necessary tensions ONLY had advocates for one side... so the ministry was screwed!

**We have got to be comfortable managing and leading through these tensions!

The Role of Leadership Is to LEVERAGE the Tension to the Benefit of the Organization.

YES! As leaders we have to maximize the upsides of each view and minimize the downsides!

*Here's some great suggestions for how we can leverage these tensions for the benefit of God's mission:
- "Identify the tensions in our organization." **We dare not let anyone  "win" this argument! if we do then we lose as an organization.

- "Continually give VALUE to both sides."

- "Don't weigh in too heavily based on my personal biases." = I lean to 1 side or the other in all these tensions because God wired me that way. We're all this way. SO, we've gotta give value to the other side!
**As a leader you could naturally champion 1 side & suffocate the other side! "See the Upside of the other side and the downside of your side." that is beautiful, mature advice for ANY situation!

- "Don't allow strong personalities to win the day." Don't let their side win just because they're loudest or complain a lot.
** "We need passionate people who will champion their sides, but mature people who understand this principle."

- "Don't think in terms of balance. Think Rhythm." Managers don't naturally go by rhythm, they lean toward balance and fairness. But rhythm goes by the crazy seasons in ministry...
Balance is equal, but we don't always need the same amounts of things. It depends on the time and rhythm of ministry.

Andy concluded with this:
** "As a leader, one of the most valuable things you can do for your organization is to differentiate between tensions your organization will always need to manage vs. problems that need to be solved."

**This is such great stuff. I feel FREED up to EMBRACE TENSION. Tension is a good thing. It lets us make progress in our mission!

I am stoked to work for a great leader like my pastor and boss, Chris. Andy started this talk by saying he had "never taught on this concept publicly" but had only taught it to his staff, etc... BUT, Chris says this stuff to the Ridge staff ALL THE TIME! maybe Andy passed this on to Chris at some point?
i feel pretty lucky.

I hope this has been helpful! This was awesome for me. In every facet of our ministries we must learn to embrace tensions between all the different kinds of people and ministry ideas and philosophies, etc... 
**Many times it's BOTH/AND NOT EITHER/OR!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Drive 2010 - Day 3

I am completely exhausted. physically and mentally from all the amazing ministry and leadership principles  packed into my brain over the last 3 days. I really want to start unpacking it all and writing about it on here.

Andy Stanley's final talk was worth the price of the conference. in fact, I think that talk is the main talk and entire theme at Catalyst 2010 coming up in October! It needs an entire post on its own just to process my takeaways. it was awesome.

I mentioned the 3 main talks from yesterday that would be posts all to themselves...

I would say my biggest takeaway from a breakout today was one with Bill Willits & later Jeff Henderson about creating a healthy culture for leaders & staff...
I love that North Point has created a working staff culture that attracts the BEST people and where those same peeps say "This is the best job I've ever had." That's their goal and I think it's pretty worthy...

Along those lines with developing people, Bill quoted Jim Collins who said something i think is awesome = "As leaders you can't predict the future. What you can do is develop your people. Doing so will take care of the future."

Obviously that's a principle and not something that will be true every single time, but that is a principle I want to live by with the people God allows me to lead at any point in time...

All the great (session long) takeaways wil start flowing tomorrow, so don't worry! In case you're dying for something right now, go check out Kendra Fleming's great summary of the "Partnering with Parents" pre-session HERE.

Otherwise, check in tomorrow - late afternoon or evening and I will have a pimp post up with a full brain load of processed takeaways from one of these amazing sessions...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drive 2010 - Day 2

Day 2 of Drive 2010 was amazing. best so far. i wish i could just post all my takeaways, but they will have to be spread out over many many blogs! so much amazing and helpful stuff!

with all the mind blowing stuff, you know what was my favorite part? the fact that we have a team of 26 Leaders from Ridge Church soaking it all in as well! That gets me stoked out of my mind! crazy awesome privilege for so many of our leaders to digest all the great stuff this week.

Chris is the man & brilliant to carve out 2 awesome (and intentional) times today for our team. 1 by the pool at a house to just chill and eat together... and the 2nd by another pool to share takeaways and encouragements from the conference about what we're doing well and need to be better at.
I am freaking encouraged by the people God has called to carry this vision from Him called Ridge Church.
(so freaking encouraged it's why i can't sleep right now when i should be completely exhausted.)
(this is Spanky, one of those leaders, in a jeep he wants to win from Drive 2010...)

So, there were 3 awesome sessions today that i will be writing many posts on with some amazing content/takeaways:
Andy's opening main session. He broke down "The Funnel" for everyone. can't wait to has that out of my brain & onto my screen...

2  Scrog Dog on "Developing Teams that Work" = those 5 essentials were worth the price of the whole conference & it was probably the best content in a breakout ever!

3  + a Chick-Fil-A executive, Zappos exec, and Jeff Henderson presented AMAZING stuff about developing a pimp leadership culture. really great stuff! (and free CFA!)

*those are at least 3 posts coming soon to renown! i hope you're intrigued!

How bout i leave you all with at least 1 awesome quote from today = "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't care who gets the credit." - Jeff Henderson or Truett Cathy or one of those CFA guys? (I am seeing that lived out all around me!!!)

looking forward to the final day tomorrow!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Drive 2010 - Day 1

Drive 2010 kicked off tonight & it was bumpin!
Around 3-4K Church leaders from around the world gathered for the kickoff tonight at North Point.

(i shot a short video of the opener on my iPhone and i was gonna post it here, but then i think i read somewhere that they ask we don't post video or something like that... can't remember where i saw that, but i'll be safe and not post it. my crappy quality video wouldn't do it justice anyway!)

Basically they rocked a cover of "Run this Town" from Jay-Z & Rhianna with a girl doing the Rhianna part who dropped down from the roof. pretty crazy. but no Jay-Z part... it was a crazy combined remix with Toby Mac's "Ignition" & 2 guys flowing with that. pretty sick.

Jeff Henderson said the last time somebody dropped through the roof in church was Luke 5 with the paralyzed guy and his 4 buddies... lol.

so, yeah. good times tonight. 3-4K church leaders worshipping God together at the top of our lungs is always an amazing thing! We took communion together and that was awesome.

I was overwhelmed by 1 of the verses on the screens during communion = Hebrews 2:9 = "...He suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."
blown away by that awesome thought tonight. that Word was powerful tonight.

Andy Stanley's talk tonight was great as always. I'm honestly really intrigued about what he's gonna say in the morning! They moved session #2 to 8:30am because he said it's really important for us all to hear what he has to say before all the breakout sessions tomorrow...
*I kind of think it will be about learning and being great learning and growing organizations.

Anyway, his talk tonight was stellar. He set it up by talking about the Vision God gives us and this "impossible" Dream we have that actually seems possible. BUT LIFE HAPPENS and we begin to shrink our dream to make it "manageable". (not cool.)

What's your dream? Does it seem impossible these days?
Andy reminded us all that Christianity growing and spreading was ridiculous and even laughable. it was impossible. But God made it happen. all God and He gets all the glory.

But Christians also had a part in changing the world by living out John 13:34-35 & loving each other! Loving slaves, women, the outcasts, Gentiles, etc...
**Jesus gave every single person value when He called us to love each other!

Because of all that - Andy's tagline over & over was "today, there's a cross hanging at the Emperor's entrance in the Roman Colosseum." Which of course, would have been an impossible thought back in the day when the Roman Colosseum was the height of violence and torture and everything that was wrong with the world...
just 1 example to show that no dream is too big. All this vision that God gave us is absolutely possible!

Nothing is too big.
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

DRIVE Conference starts 2moro

i am so tired.
but tonight's Family Birthday Celebration was awesome. Big thanks to everybody who made it happen. & all glory to an amazing God who does amazing things in our lives for His Name's sake.

Drive Conference 2010 kicks off tomorrow at North Point. We'll be there for the pre-session at whatever time that starts. leaving at 8am for the ATL. The whole Ridge staff team is going + a ton of volunteer leaders. It's gonna be a great week.

As always, i'll be learning and soaking up a TON of awesome stuff and this blog is my outlet for all that great stuff i'm learning... so, i'll try to write a blog each night with some takeaways from that day at the conference.

So thankful to be under the wing of an excellent and learning organization like North Point. tonsa love and respect.

looking forward with some big anticipation all that God has for me over the next 3 days. looking forward to dumping it here on renown each night. (Assuming I'll have internet access...)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

one of my favorite things

Family Birthday Celebration is tomorrow at Ridge Church and I am SO PUMPED! It's one of my favorite things.

The party that we throw is definitely awesome, but really one of my favorite things is that we celebrate the right things at Ridge. We celebrate life change. We celebrate what God is doing in the hearts of kids.

we just want to partner with families tomorrow by throwing a party for the same things the angels in heaven throw a party for!