Monthly Archives: December 2010

so… do you like texas or tennessee better?

best ice in texas

larry's - best ice in texas

i’m back in texas for the first time since moving to tennesee in this summer.

the questions i’m getting are how do you like your new church? your kids, how do they like the schools? how is your job? you know… that kind of thing… but the other question that no one adds… but surely is hanging there…is DO YOU LIKE TEXAS OR TENNESSEE BETTER… and the translation is:  “if it’s so great, and you love your church and your kids are happy, even your teenager… do you miss us even a little bit?!”

the answer of course is YES, absolutely YES. i wish i had infinite amounts of time to see everyone and spend time just hanging out… absorbing… catching up… that kind of thing.

i do miss my people here. in texas. i do miss the memories and laughs…and especially the ice at Larry’s diner. oh, how i love that crushed ice. its ridiculous!! i miss the excellent shopping… the numerous movie places (esp. angelika!!).  i miss the size, the options, the big breath between each thing that you see. there is space here in texas. there is room. that is nice. its easy to get lost in the crowd. its easy to keep to yourself if you want too. the places to go are limitless…. if you live here… i know why you love it and you have such state pride, i totally get it. it’s a great place to live.

but what i miss is the people, not the state.

at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters anyway – people, relationships, loving others, “doing life” ha… i’m laughing at the way that it sounds… but seriously. that’s the deal. thats’ the meaning of life on earth… loving and being loved in return. relating to others. pouring into others, and when you need the refreshment of the overflow it will be there to be poured back out on you… obviously the “meaning to our lives” happens when we worship and bring praise to the God that gives us life.

the thoughts are all over the place… i hope you see space in the discussion to breathe and let yourself think about what it means. how are relationships the only states that really matter? how are people more important than places? why do we need to make effort to add to our own lives connecting with others? all that and more…

i like anyplace that my people are.

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Ministry Entrepreneurs

I don’t know what kind of church you are serving at… but the one that I now call home, is a place that rocks my world. Let me tell you why.

I’m going to back up just a tad, but i promise, i’ll make it quick… In my career as a writer, designer I have interviewed many enterpreneurs, I have written article after article about their blueprints for Millionaire Blueprints Magazine. I even wrote a book that’s at Barnes & Noble called “Prepare to be a Teen Millionaire”, about 7 entrepreneurs that made their first million as teens. Suffice it to say, I have spent some time using and investigating the word “entrepreneur”. And honestly, the whole concept of someone being so passionate that they risk it all to go for their idea is highly appealing to my creative mind. I love the excitement you see when you talk to someone who has built something that started on a napkin or a legal pad. I celebrate the successes that people enjoy when they sell out for something they believe it.

Then, this morning, I was given a whole new way to think about this word… 
I was discussing a new project with my colleague, Jason Underhill. We were talking about how to revolutionize some things in our children’s ministry. I was discussing the things that we have come up with and gone for, even in my 5 months here at Long Hollow.We have incorporated kids into more corporate worship, we have built a drama team of 30+, we have instituted a monthly actor’s workshop – Company of HeArtists, we have developed our social media communication, we have increased video production and built our tech team, we have built a team of writers. We are revolutionzing VBS this summer. Essentially, we have become ministry entrepreneurs. Minpreneurs kind of sounds weird, so I’m not sure I’m ready to blend the word…

But this is what we have been able to do in the last 5 months. We have taken ideas and brought them to life. We have seen opportunities that involved risk and return and we have recognized great return on our investments of time and resources. We have recharged systems that needed attention, we have put new systems in place. Our communication has increased and the energy is palpable.

This is because of this church. I’m in a place than encourages ministry entreprenuerism. We are encouraged to come up with new and different methods, solutions, experiences, but even more importantly, we are empowered to pull them off. If I have a new idea for children’s ministry, I’m rarely told ‘we can’t do that’, I’m usually told ‘figure it out and make it happen. we are for you.” Our pastor, David Landrith, has repeatedly assured the staff that he is loyal to us and “for us”. Our next generation pastor, Jeff Lovingood, is constantly pushing us to do things better than ever. He does not allow us to sit in mediocrity or complacency. I find that this pushes me into entrepreneurism and gives me the confidence to go for it, whatever “it” may be.

If you are a pastor are you empowering your leaders? If you are a minister, are you taking your ideas and running with them? If you are a creative, are you putting legs to your ideas so that people can see them walking around. I have found at my church that my ministry can extend as far and as differently and unexpectedly as God gives me the creativity for, I pray you have this gift. It’s life-changing.

One thing that I have found through all of my interviews and acquaintances with succesful entrepreneurs is that somewhere in their history is a mentor, someone that believed in them. That’s what this community at CMConnect can and does provide. Mentors that will help you succeed. Soak it up!

What entreprenurial ideas have you pushed the envelope on, that have met with success? What are you still too scared to try?

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“i plagierized the bible”

my friend rachel lovingood was telling a story last night that was awesome… and convicting… and beautiful!!

her son, trevor, is in college at university of tennessee. his philosophy professor recently gave him a zero for plagierism. this was impossible because trevor didnt use any sources. none. he wrote from his personal knowledge.

apparently the computer had picked up on content that came from a source… well, the source, you guessed it, was the bible.

and not because trevor had taken things from the bible, but because trevor’s thought life and real life are so intertwined with the word of god that when he wrote his original paper… so much of it was straight from scripture.

wow… if someone listened to your conversation, read your emails, read your papers, your blog posts … would you be accused of plagierizing the bible!?!

sidebar: the professor, who is an athiest, regraded the paper, but took 15% off because he hadn’t cited his source originally… so trevor got an 85%.

long hollow women are doing a one year chronological read through the bible discipleship starting in january… its called THE WHOLE TRUTH… i’m pretty sure this is a discipleship opportunity that trevor would’ve said yes too.

bethlehem, we have a situation

Tonite we did something new in treehouse. new for me, anyway… and to tell you the truth… i wasn’t sure how it was going to go. i had high hopes. i had great expectations… and then i had kids who cant really read very well… reading the lines i had so carefully and prayerfully crafted.

we ran a 3 scene, 13 character show… with only one actor. (narrator).
the remaining parts were played by kids from the audience. the peanut gallery were given chants, motions and actions to create participation with the audience.

now, i will tell you, its tough to hear your lines delivered by 7 yr olds that can barely read the word “messiah”… and you’re feeling yourself pushing them forward… and you hope the kids are getting it, even though these aren’t actual actors… and then something like this happens:

i looked out into the crowd (after i had to join the characters on stage to help with some reading) and saw all of them standing when we said the word “star”, baa-ing when we said the word “shepherds” and flapping their wings when the angels were talking. YAY! They like it… they are having fun. then…. IT HAPPENED…
the oldest boy in the room told the teacher “IT WAS AWESOME”.

ah. nice.

got in the car with my own kids, who also happened to enjoy the experience… it allowed the younger kids in treehouse to “act”. and it spurred this conversation. i heard myself say, “the thing that makes me the most concerned, the thing that makes me hold my breath each weekend before we start a show… is that kids would be bored with the truth of the gospel because of the way we present it.”

two thoughts followed that realization
1 – good, that’s a good goal, to keep it interesting. i’m glad to name it.
but
B – am i pretending for even a moment that it is me that has to compel kids? am i presuming that God needs me to help him? am i making sure never to put myself above my God when it comes to what i expect from any given weekend…

whew. praying that kids will crave the gospel, and that i will not stand in His way…thankful i’m allow to be his vehicle sometimes.

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there’s gonna be one less lonely orphan…

lately i have heard more about adoption than i have collectively in my entire life.

i think it started when my friend ande underwood started sharing with me about his plight to rescue orphans in the ukraine. his ministry, skills for orphans, equips unadoptable orphans that will soon be fending for themselves. it is a crucial and vital ministry.

then i came to long hollow to work with jason underhill… jason and sarah are adopting twin girls from ethiopia. they are delicious and no one can wait for them to get here. at the time we didnt know who they would be…

in our months here we have encountered people that are foster parents to kids whose parents are in jail…

people who are adopting from all over the world… these are not people that can’t have children, these are largely people who have a burden for the orphans of the world and are convinced that God is compelling them to be part of the solution.

then i went to a church service at Christ City Church in Birmingham where i heard the testimony of rudy nasser, a 14 year old boy who was adopted from guatemala at the age of 6… it was intense.

the message that day was about adoption being a vertical experience first, that leads to a horizontal relationship here. the speaker, david nasser, contended that adoption is even more crucial than salvation… for it is adoption that makes us co-heirs with Christ. this thought has pricked my heart and brain.

i’m grateful to be adopted by the God of the Universe. i’m grateful to be in a place where missions and the plight of the orphan is a legitimate budget item. i’m grateful that my church is doing a single mom’s blessing event this weekend.

i designed this graphic for a couple that are going to be selling these tshirts to raise money for their adoption fund. in the process, i’ve come up with a few other designs… and sarah challenged me to make future orphan and adoption tshirt designs available. let me know if you need a shirt design.

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