Thursday, October 30, 2008

more from catalyst 08...

I still have so many notes from Catalyst and now I am going back and listening to the pre-conference sessions I missed. You need to hear Reggie Joiner's pre-conference talk! If you did not go to Catalyst this year go check out their conference experience pack. Get it for your team and start digesting it. I thought tonight I would get out some insight that I gained from hearing Jim Collins, YES THE JIM COLLINS for those of you who loved Good to Great and Built to Last, speak. Yes, I have read both of those books multiple times. Looking back at my notes here are some great things I took away from his session...

Good is the enemy of great!

When you start compromising the quality people on your bus (your team) to gain fast growth you will fall.

Growth must not get ahead of the ability to have the right people on the bus. UNDISCIPLINED PURSUIT OF MORE!

If we get the right "WHOS” we get better WHATS! Life is people! Our lives are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with.

The only thing you can control is WHO you do life with! Who are you going with!

Many churches are dependent on a powerful personality this sets them up for failure. Personalities end, the measure is after the personality leaves.

If you build a great church doing great things we must help it be ENDURING with the right people in leadership!

Work is infinite, time is precious

Yes, Jim Collins is an amazing leader and thinker, go check out

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Am I making a difference?

Woke up at 5:20 this morning just trying to get out of bed and head to this men's gathering and small group environment called Men's Fraternity. The first thing that popped in my head was a small whisper saying, you have remix tonight, does it really matter, why do you do this, is it really making a difference? It was quick, it was quiet but it was filled with dread and self doubt. I quickly screamed back, in my head of course, YES IT MATTERS, THIS MATTERS and went on about the morning. Do you have these thought? I have had them my entire time of following Jesus. Even as a volunteer it seems Satan has wanted to fill my mind with doubt about my worth, my effort for the Kingdom, the value of serving others. No matter how close I am walking with God these thoughts come and attack and I have had to learn to rest in the fact that my this is all God's plan and I am His servant and He cares more about His kingdom advancing than I do. For all of you serving kids and teens, please fight back against self doubt. Please rest in the fact that God is using you to advance His Kingdom. Just as yourself thee questions...

What is the most imporatant thing about a human soul? If it is that they have a relationship with God then move forward with confidence...

Is investing in the lives of kids and teens important? If you say yes then move forward with confidence...

Is spending your time, money, faith, and, career advancing the Kingdom of God worth it? If yes then move forward with confidence...

Do you believe in the mission and process of your organization (your school, church, young life group, fca, community group, business, or church)? If yes then move forward with confidence...

Jesus said in John 10:10 about Satan, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Choose life today and move forward with confidence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MNF and the titans! with some other thoughts...

Got to go to the Titans / Colts game last night and experience MNF for the second time in my life. The last time I saw the Titans on Monday night Steve McNair and Frank Wycheck were leading the way and then last night I got to see them honor both players and Eddie George on the same night. The crowd was amazing and what the team did on the field topped it all off. There is no doubt that the Titans are for real. To bad there is no mid season trophy. All of us here in the Nashville area want to see these guys take it to Tampa on Feb. 1 We have a long road ahead but this has been a great start. I had a great time.

I hope if you are out there doing ministry you have a place you go just to relax and have fun. I love sports. It is my distraction from the demands of leading and it gives me a mental BREAK. We all need it, get out there and take a break. Go fishing, hunting, play music, go to a game, hiking, running, WHATEVER. Serve God, invest in others, work hard, invest in your family with passion, and take time to rest. Life is way to short, take some time to enjoy it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

CRAVE weekend

Getting ready for our CRAVE retreat this weekend. Yea, retreat. for some of you that sends chills down your spine because you have already done your fall retreat and you are still wiped out from it. I understand and I have been there before. With all the extra work that a retreat brings, I am still excited about the weekend. We are different than most busy student ministries. We have said no to busyness to strive to make what we do the best it can be. The big deal for us here at RELEVANT is our weekly ministry. Even with that, we do one thing each week called REMIX and we strive to make that one things the best it can be. Each fall and spring we focus on one weekend so we can help teens get away and connect with God, their lifegroup leader, and with their friends. For all of you who have to plan busy ministries so that you can provide a social calendar for your church kids, I am sorry. Some of your choose bsuyness and some are forced to do it that way. I hate you have to spread yourself so thin and take so much time away from your family. My advice is to slow down and focus on what you can do BEST for the teens you invest in. I thought today I would post some thoughts I have been thinking about retreat the past few years...
  • use as many of your weekly leaders as you can - this is where relationships really grow. Give your volunteers the chance to invest and make memories with your kids!
  • use youth pastors you trust to speak - there are tons of youth pastors you know who are good communicators. It will save you a ton of time and allow your kids to hear a fresh voice speak into their lives.
  • make sure your retreat format supports your weekly ministry format - make sure what you on retreat looks much like your weekly experience. RETREATS should support and enhance what you do each week.
  • make sure your teens have time to have fun - PLEASE MAKE ANY RETREAT YOU DO FUNNNNNNNNNNNN. Not sure who said fun was not holy. Fun softens hearts and builds relationships.
  • think outside the box - go places and do things your kids will not expect. We go to major cities and stay in nice hotels, WHY because we are tired of teens getting second best. They need to know they are worth the investment. You do not have to do every retreat in the woods even thought roughing it can be great. One of my friends does a great retreat each year with house boats at a local lake, GREAT IDEA!
  • partner with other youth ministries - any size church can hold a great retreat and numbers help bring momentum. If you lead a small church and have a small group, gather with five other churches and bring the momentum!
  • focus on the kids who go - we are all terrible at worrying about why kids do not go on an event we plan. Invest in the kids that go, give them your total attention.
  • pray, pray and pray some more - so many time we plan great things but forget the most important thing, TO PRAY! We need God to show up more than anything. Get people praying for your retreat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


This morning I went to see Brock Rowland play football. The little guy is a great football player and his coach is a good friend of mine, well Go COACH CHAD. The team did not pull off the win but it was a great game. After the loss I watched the fans of the team cheer the team on, I watched Chad gather the boys and encourage then on a game well played, and I saw a ton of parents proud of their kids! I have met a ton of senior pastors in my day but this is the first one I have met who will give his time to coach a team of kids 2 afternoons a week with a game on Saturday to serve a group of families who want their little kids to play football. Sure, I know Brock is on the team. That is a huge investment in itself. Thanks Rowland for caring about investing in people (our community) not just the church you lead. final word - Good game today Brock, I can not wait to see you run the ball at RHS or CHS! (wherever you live then!)

Again today I ask where are you serving or giving that has no direct connection with your church? How are you involved in your community?

Friday, October 24, 2008

fall festivals = big crowd = good times

Kozbi's school had a fall festival tonight and of course we went. Yes, it was amazing, well amazing in terms that my kids loved it and the school basically threw a great party and raised a ton of cash for the school. Here are some thoughts from the night. I know you can not wait!
  • We did the cake walk 4 times and did not win cake. SOLUTION the girls and I went to Food lion and got ice cream and a brownie mix. BAM, take that cake walk%^%^&%^&%
  • The food at the festival, not that good but it was Kelyn's favorite meal. Pizza and Cheetos!
  • The crowd, wow it was packed and got to see a ton of friends. Good times!
  • The girls got to play a ton of games and the highlight of course were the TATTOOS, fake of course since it may be a little early for the real thing!
  • Chelsea volunteered the final hour while I cooked the brownies. we had a sweet after festival party at home.
  • KOZBI loves her school. Good job to the staff there, you guys and gals are amazing. We have great schools in Clarksville.
  • OUR FAMILY had a great time!
Of course here is the ministry lesson I thought of tonight. Our hope is to connect with people and help them discover Jesus Christ. If we are going to do that we might want to care about the things they care about. Good schools, the arts, city sports leagues for kids, safe cities, taking care of the environment, safe environments for kids to have fun and learn, and the list can go on and on. Sometimes I think we care about our own needs as followers of Jesus instead of the needs of those far from Christ. So go on out there and care about something that is not on your church calendar. Go ahead Jesus will be pumped even if you church friends are not, heck bring them along!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

what is God doing?

I feel like for the first in a long time God is giving me clarity to see what He is up to in our family ministry here at Grace Community. I am in the middle of year 2 here at GCC and all around me right now God is softening my heart and giving me WOW moments just to be amazed at what He is up to. Relevant, Grace Aces, and Cross Street are full of kids and teens connecting with God like they never have before. We are seeing parents and teens worship each week together and actually talk about what God is doing in their lives. We see kids and teens excited about coming to the environments we create each week at GCC. It amazes me that teens want to be at church and out student gathering and it is not just about seeing their friends (we know they love connecting with each other). I feel like right now God is helping me to rejoice in what He is doing all around our team here at GCC. My heart needs to be thrilled every time I see something go down that makes the heart of God joyful. I need to be pumped about what God is pumped about. Once again God is teaching me. Sometimes my own drive for more and better crushes the ability to celebrate God's goodness. Drive is good but it can crush joy in God and rob the state of being content in what He is doing all around us. We put this video of our student video together last week and every time I watch it I am blown away and thankful for what God is doing here in Clarksville. The video is from our weekly gathering for teens called REMIX.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

more about being "churched" as a kid...

I had to follow up from my post about Matthew Paul Turner's book called Churched. Yes, as I read the book I was reminded of all the crazy things I experienced and "picked up" as a kid in church. There are also some amazing things that happened while I was growing up in church as a kid. Here are just a few things I learned, discovered, or noticed while growing up in church in the 80's and early 90's...
  1. I became a follower of Jesus Christ.
  2. I learned that my spiritual family (the local church) matters and a I met some amazing people who loved me and my family.
  3. I discovered that real manhood could be lived as a follower of Jesus out as we live daring lives in and for the Kingdom of God. I encountered many REAL men who loved God and loved others.
  4. I found truth and wisdom in the Bible. I learned I could meet God there in those pages.
  5. I understood eternity was real and that what we did in this life would matter in the next.
  6. I learned to stand up for what I believed in.
  7. I learned that people where made in God's image and every human has value.
Yea...God did wild things in my heart in those early years. No local church is perfect and it gets messy because people are messy. My prayer is that we will all struggle to help our local churches become places that point people to think, live, work, parent, dream, and serve in a way that looks like and honors Jesus Christ. I pray that we will begin to live out the ways of Jesus in our local churches. What are some of the lessons you learned and took away from "church" when you were young?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

show me the money!

It has been amazing to watch our country go into PANIC mode about the economy. All of us who lead and work in non profits feel the pinch. Yes, we are in an economic slow down. Yes, these are difficult times for many people around the world. But, do we have to stay in panic mode? The question we have here on our team is how will we react? In staff meeting this morning we talked about the economy, how it is effecting giving at Grace Community, and how we will move forward from this time. Yes we are planning on moving forward. We do not have the option of PANIC mode when we serve the God who holds it all in His hand. We must move forward, make wise choices, and trust God to accomplish His plans here through GCC. I have fallen in love with Google Reader. I wanted to post what the campus pastor at Buckhead Church in Atlanta shared on the Buckhead Church blog today. Yes, this came through the glory of GOOGLE READER, google is taking over, WOW! Anyway, I think this sums it up...

The economy has generated a lot of concern among businesses, families and non-profit organizations. And understandably so.

At Buckhead, we want to lead very well during this season. Last week, I shared with our leadership team that I want us as a church to “respond but not retreat.”

This simply means that I want us to respond to the situation by continuing to use the financial systems we have in place allowing us to make wise stewardship decisions. At the same time, I do not want us retreating at all from the mission God has placed before us.

We will continue to do our very best to be wise stewards of the resources entrusted to us. And we will also move with confidence and faith that God is with us.

As your campus pastor, I greatly value your continued confidence and support which allows us to respond wisely to the current economic situation but not retreat one inch from leading people into a growing relationship with Christ.


Churched by Matthew Paul Truner

Started reading this book last Thursday and just have not been able to put it down. Matthew Paul Turner ( is a writer, blogger, thinker, follower of Christ. The book i simply his story of growing up in a fundamentalist church in the 80's. As I read I just could not stop laughing. The book is an honest on open look at life in his church growing up. I have not connected with a book like this since Blue Like Jazz, and I fully recommend it for all of you out there trying to get over your churched upbringing.

I am so thankful that my parents were Christ followers but the with my church experience it was difficult to connect church and the teachings of Jesus. It was almost like we believed we could never be like Jesus because He was perfect so we need all these rules and this institution to keep us all on track. The amazing thing is that I became a follower of Jesus at a young age but even then I wondered why church had to be so boring and non- Jesus like. Jesus was amazing, the churches in our town really were not.

I think I connected with the book because it is my story. So many of the stories in the book were situations I lived out and experienced. The difference for me was that my Dad as the pastor. I was able to see God change my Dad's view of FAITH as He changed me personally. By the time I was in college I began to see the possibility of church. I felt called to the movement of church not the institution. Now I serve at a church where we are striving to recreate church as a movement and not an institution. We are striving to create a place where we can remove distractions and allow people to gather, commit to community, and serve each other each week. We hope to create a space where people can be honest about their broken lives and the pastors do not have to pretend to be spiritual superheroes that have it all together. We are just a group of people trying to think, live, parent, work, and serve like Jesus Christ. So I thought today I would just make a list of some of the funny things I learned in my days of being a kid and teen in church. Yes these are funny but sad at the same time, this is what I had to GET OVER...

  1. Revelation movies about the rapture are VERY SCARY! I had many nightmares!
  2. You should always dress up for church because God expects that we give our best. We need to look, PROPER, at church. (in middle school my parents started to let us wear Air Jordans to church, I told my Sunday School teachers when they complained that my shoes cost more than their whole outfit!)
  3. Southern Gospel is God's kind of music.
  4. Rock and Roll is devil music. (this one ticked me off then BAD, I remember hiding my tapes of ACDC and early rap music, NWA, go Easy E)
  5. Only sinners go see movies rated other than G.
  6. It is ok to call out from the "pulpit" people who smoke, gamble, drink alcohol,lie, steal, are homosexual, or have had any moral failure.
  7. If you are not a Christian then you are "stupid".
  8. Christians are Republicans.
  9. When you are at camp you have to wear pants to the worship service at night because that is what God wants and the best way to be respectful and NO GIRLS can ever go swimming with a 2 piece bathing suit.
  10. Handing our tracks and carrying your Bible to school or work are the best way to tell people about Jesus. If they do not accept Christ, then oh well, they are going to Hell and they deserve it.
  11. You cannot be friends with people who are not Christians because they will WRECK your life and THEY ARE DANGEROUS.
  12. The goal for kids it to get them saved so they will not burn in Hell. After salvation we can make them good "church" people.
  13. You always have to go to church 3 times a week on Sunday morning, night and Wed night!
  14. Revivals that last 7 days are awesome. The longer it goes the better it is!
So there are some of the wild things I heard and picked up at church growing up. I am just glad my kids will have a different experience! What are some of your crazy "growing up at church" memories?

Monday, October 20, 2008


I love innovation. I love seeing things get better. One of the cool tings about Apple as a company is with all their products they are on a mission to make them better. They never arrive, they are always trying to make the products and services they have better. The environment I work and strive in is a church. In my day to day life at GCC I have a passion to see our team make this local church the best it can be. I love that we have the freedom to innovate, create, start, quit, and dream. When we meet as a staff we are always asking ourselves how we make things better. Part of innovation is simply exploring new ideas. The idea of the Internet being our second campus here at GCC is not a new idea but the idea of "Internet church" or "Internet campus" where people can connect with each other and with God is new. Imagine someone claiming to go to Grace Community totally by an online experience. That would be very new for us but the reality is that we have hundreds of soldiers doing this every week overseas. If you have time check out Pete Wilson's post about Internet church. Check out the comments posted and think about it. Goof stuff Pete!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

mind dump...

Just got home from GCC today and I was just blown away with all God impressed on my heart. It was a great day. I just wanted to get some thoughts out from the morning...
  • Grace Acres and Cross Street (our kids ministry were both amazing this morning. I got to hear both groups in their music time and those kids were singing to God.
  • In Cross Street the kids are singing Broadcast by Steve Fee! Man I wish I had music like that when i was a kid. Broadcast is an amazing song for kids to grab hold of. Go check that song out.
  • Dr. Kent Hughes (Kent as I like to call him) spoke today in our gathering about communication in marriage. It was a great talk, go get the podcast. In tough time Satan attacks marriages. we just want to everything we ca do to help families thrive.
  • Grateful for my wife today, she is amazing! Love ya baby! (got to get that in after that talk on communication)
  • In our gathering the band led Everlasting God, love that verse saying that "strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord", WOW...just a reminder that I am always in process and always in need of His strength!
  • With the end of fall break we had an amazing crowd, I was just reminded how much I love the people God is bringing to GCC. There is an amazing vibe and it is great to see people connect before and after service.
  • Got to have lunch with a group of high school and college students who feel called to ministry. What a blessing, God is calling out incredible people to serve Him.
  • I am a better person when the Vols win! Now I am going to watch the Titan game on DVR and spend the evening with my family. Go Titans!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

winning is just better, go vols!

I may have been the one guy in Clarksville who paid the cash to watch the Vols play tonight against Mississippi State. I just can not give up. I know the season is a train wreck but I am hooked. I love my Vols. The offense is still a work in progress but once again our D showed up ready to play. In the picture above, that guy is praising God for a touchdown, YES God loves the Vols. Honestly I am just a better person when the Vos win...I am learning a ton about losing this year. I will take the win this week. Thrilled I got to see it. Love that the undefeated Crimson tide get to come to Neyland Stadium ths week. Go Vols!

CRAVE is coming...

At relevant ( we do one fall and one spring retreat. Crave is our fall retreat and of course like everything else around here we try to do the retreat a little different. Instead is going to the woods or mountains we go to a major city. This year we are hitting downtown Chattanooga. We wanted to make a little promo video for this amazing weekend so here goes the LO -RES version, enjoy...this may win an Oscar!

Friday, October 17, 2008

candy corn? why do I love it...

I took a picture of this delightful treat right before I ate them. Yes, I ate them. I admit this is one of my favorite things about fall. Candy Corn is amazing. I am not sure why I love it so much. Add peanuts and hang on to your seat. Today I salute you candy corn for all your greatness. Bring on fall. This week it finally felt like fall. I just had to pay tribute. Here is my favorite things about fall list...
  1. the weather, wow - what more can I say
  2. the Tennessee Vols
  3. the Tennessee Titans
  4. like I said candy corn!
  5. seeing my kids have a blast during Halloween
  6. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love what is stands for and the fact that you actually get to rest and connect with family!
  7. There is an excitement in the air about things going on at GCC, REMIX, Operation Serve, a new school year - it is just good.
  8. did I say football???
What are some things you love about fall?


One of my greatest assets in ministry is a wife who has a passion for the ministry I lead. Yes, Chelsea is amazing! My wife is a lifegroup leader for us in relevant student ministry and leads a great group of high school girls each week at REMIX. Tonight she has a few of them coming over to hang out. Yes I get to take care of Kozbi and Kelyn then go hide so they can have fun and watch movies that do not interest me at all. This weekend another leader (Becky Edwards!) is having a bunch of girls over and in September two middle school group leaders (Jeremy and Nate) did a laser tag event. Here is the point. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER more than my weekly talk or what songs the band leads at REMIX. If relationships are going to become the focus of our ministry then it is so important to empower my youth volunteers to become investors and not just task people. If you are a student pastor you will never be able to connect with all your kids. I promise if you surround yourself with 10 other leaders who care and invest into teens the ministry you lead will thrive. Why? Because teens need to be known and cared for if they are going to begin to live out what God wants for them. Teens need relationships that matter in their life. They need to see what following Christ looks like. They need to be mentored. When we free up our volunteers to become youth ministers with us we can do this. Thanks to all our lifegroup leaders for going the extra mile. Thanks for investing into the students you lead!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

follow through...

We have a retreat called CRAVE in 2 weeks. Do you know why we are staying the hotel we are using (the Marriott downtown)? Because Emad from sales followed through and contacted me back the week I made a request. 4 hotels in Chattanooga contacted and one followed through. They have been great to work with and they got our attention because they did their job and contacted me back with an offer. Today in the church and business world if you want to be amazing...just do the basics well! There are so many churches and businesses doing terrible jobs at the basics that the basics now stand out. Is your team following through with people? We are asking that question here and trying to get better at simply following through. I think it will stand out!

If you need a hotel in Chattanooga, check out the Marriott Downtown...

Thanks to Emad for following through and doing a great job for us at Grace Community!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

hard work...

Yea that picture is my back yard. It is fall break here so Chelsea and I got tired of looking at our backyard with no grass and decided to do something about it. The previous owners had dogs. They destroyed our yard. Right now I wish I could strangle those dogs, but that is another post. We started Monday and we finally got finished Wednesday night. Digging, raking, picking up rocks, seeding, fertilizing, and straw are killing me. I am way over it but as I took that picture I could not help but think about how things that matter are filed with hard work. I promise if it is worth doing it will be hard. If a cause is worth working for it will be filled with challenges and struggle. In the end the hard work leads to payoff, the promise, the goal. For my backyard the payoff is grass. I hope we get grass. In the middle of this project I was ready to quit. I know in next spring I will be glad I did not. What are you in the middle of that is hard? If it is worth fighting for it will be hard. Just get ready and put on some gloves (if you are in the back yard with NO GRASS!)

more baptisms

This is the second baptism video from our outdoor baptism service in September. I have to say, this just never gets old. Seeing people take this step always brings me back to what is important. We showed this video Sunday and it once again reminded me why we do this thing called church. God's mission is to redeem people, to bring them into a relationship with the creator, to bring Him glory. God has a plan to bring us into what it really means to be human through Jesus Christ. I am so thankful to be part of God's mission...GO GOD!

Ringold Creek Baptism Part 2 from James Bell on Vimeo.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Kozbi got up Sunday morning and was really feeling bad so she stayed home with her mom and sister. Missing church used to be such a great thing for my wife and I when we had sick kids. Now we just get mad because we miss being with our spiritual family. So we Chelsea stayed home and I went on to church and we both tried to figure out if Kozbi was faking. Sunday afternoon we had then entire family out picking up rocks in the back yard and doing yard work. No big deal, I thought. She went to see the doctor this morning and BAM...she was not faking. Double ear infection and a bad sinus thing going down. What does this mean, Kozbi is amazing and is hard core about living life. Kozbi's parents do not like going or taking anyone to the doctor. The cool thing is that when she came back in the door this morning from going to the doctor she brought me a racing sticker she had picked out for me at the doctors office. Wow! That means nothing to many of you but what she was screaming to me was, I LOVE YOU. My Koz is a little gift giver. She loves to give and I am nothing like that. I love it when my little girl teaches me another way to show people I care about them. Kozbi, thanks for the sticker!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Do you ask enough questions? I really don't think we ever ask enough questions. Questions make us think. They make us ask ourselves why we do the things we do. When we are busy with life and ministry we tend not to worry about questions because we don't have time to think them through. At Catalyst this year Andy Stanley ended the conference talking about questions he is asking himself and his team. Here are the questions we wrestled with at the end of Catalyst. Ok, these are statements that lead to questions, you get the point!

To reach people no one else is reaching we have to do things no one else is doing!

The next generation product almost never comes from the previous generation.

If we got kicked out of our church and the board brought in a new CEO what would they do different!

When your memories exceed your dreams your end is near.

What are some leadership ideas that push you to ask questions?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

glad to be home

Got home from catalyst and I am so glad to see my girls and Chelsea. I have been to Atlanta and back 2 times in one week because we took a team down to North Point to see Kidstuf last Sunday. Coming home is so great. 2 cool things this morning that reminded me how much I love home...

1. My girls love listening to best of u2 in the mornings! WOW do I need to say more!
2. Kelyn pooped on her own this morning. I know I should not talk about poop but she went with no on asking and NO HELP! God is good! This is a new day!
3. breakfast on saturday with college gameday on, nothing better!

Good to be home!

Friday, October 10, 2008

integrity, moral authority, whatever...

Here at catalyst again and it has been a great morning. I have so many leadership thoughts banging around in my head right now so I am going to take the next few days to post them as i wrap my mind around it all. Yesterday Andy Stanley talked about why people follow us. We lead in volunteer organizations where people choose to come and attend, serve, give, and live. The question is why do they follow us. The answer was, is, will always be moral authority or integrity, or character (whatever you want to call it). Here is the idea. Moral character takes years to develop but can be lost in a moment. I will not type it all out but go look in the Bible in the book of Nehemiah and see how he was able to confront corruption and lead volunteers. He was able to lead because he made wise choices when no one was looking. The bottom line is that there must be a link in what we say and how we live. CONSISTENCY

The idea hits home because we are all drawn to the public side of ministry, business, and life. We look at where people are currently and never give thought to the choices that led that person to that place of leadership. The small things matter. The small issues are huge. How we handle the small things, how we confront sin on a personal level. The choices we make when no one is looking does matter. There is a tension for all of that we must dream, strive, plan but at the same time make the right choice in the moment. The question I am asking this morning is have I been ignoring the seemingly small things in my life. Have I been taking shortcuts? If I ever come to place to saying I have no weak areas I am a liar. Lets get introspective and take action.

My prayer is that God will keep exposing this stuff so that I can be used for His glory. I am thankful for leaders helping us come back to the heart of God. God is VERY interested in what is going on in our hearts and he already knows the short cuts we are taking. God please show us what you see!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

catalyst confrence day 1

Trying to recap a day at catalyst can take a ton of typing. Just thought I would get out some thoughts from the day that really hit me. Like no other catalyst I have been to, I sense God at work in every session. I can not explain this. It could be that my heart is more sensitive. Could be that I am just that jacked up and God is stirring in my heart. There is a sense that every element today just had the hand and presence of God behind it. The greatest thing I can say about today is that I encountered God and He moved within my heart. God changed me, what else matters. When you come to a conference to think, pray, dream, or whatever the greatest experience is to sense the movement of God. Thanks to the catalyst team for planning a great day. Here are some random thoughts from the day a I look back through my notes...

  • This morning Andy pushed us to link what we believe and what we do. Moral authority is earned in the small choices we make that no one sees but God. With many of these thoughts full blogs will come so i will keep going!
  • It was great to connect with friends...Terrace Crawford and Aaron, Ben Carr, Joel Engle, Jeremy Bullock and texting with Pat Rowland, Chris Pittman and Josh Mcfarland WAS GREAT. man it is good to catch up!
  • Reggie Joiner, Lanny Donaho...BEST YEAR YET hosting, funny stuff guys!
  • William Paul Young author of The Shack, did a great job. My wife loved the book and I am going to read it.
  • Jim Collins and Seth Godin led amazing sessions. They have both been huge influences in my life and my style of leading. Thanks guys for giving us your time!
  • Steve Fee, Eddie Kirkland, Jon Foreman - all did amazing jobs leading us today to lift up the name of Jesus with music. I am tired of calling music worship since worship is life not music. That is another blog, sorry...
  • Steven Furtick is a incredible young leader and did an amazing job challenging us all to lead strong. Loved his perspective, go check him out.
  • Craig Groeschel spoke and gave a message that I can not wait for our team to hear. Again to go into it would be an entire blog.
  • Eats -WELCOME TO MOE'S!!!
  • Robbie Seay and Jon Foremen closed our night with a concert.
  • I am about to fall over GOOD NIGHT NOW...

this morning at catalyst!

Made it to Atlanta last night around midnight, got a little sleep and
made it to Catalyst today at 8:30! Got into the room and for this
first time in my catalyst going history had to go upstairs. it was
amazing to see 12000 leaders in on room going for it. This is the
biggest crowd I have seen here. There is a hunger in this generation
to move forward, to move God's kingdom forward and that buzz is in the
air. Let me say up front that these guys rocked it out with the stage
and production here in the Gwinnett Center. Loved that there was a
team of worship leaders (steve fee, eddie kirkland, etc.) leading

Heard from Andy Stanley this morning! Will post some of that jank
later, right now watching some guy break dance...can you say amazing.
This is leadership!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Catalyst conference this week!

Really looking forward to the catalyst conference this week. Go check it out at . Every year Catalyst brings together some of the sharpest leaders in the business and church worlds and then bring 12,000 people gather to dream about what is next for this generation of leaders. I like the conference because it is energy packed, the best communicators are there, and leaders from all walks of life unite for 2 day. I am going to be blogging from the conference just so I can get some of my thoughts out from each day. If you have never been make plans for 2009 or just come on down in the morning. It will be amazing. This year Jeremy Chandler is rolling with me and I am looking forward to connecting with a ton of friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

operation serve video

Just wanted to share this moment by video...Sept. 27 was an amazing day here in Clarksville.
Operation Serve 2008 from Operation Serve on Vimeo.

Monday, October 6, 2008

why people do STUFF...

Ok, I admit it. I am a Seth Godin fan and have really enjoyed his book and now I am hooked on his blog. Here is his blog ( and get ready to read some stuff you think is useless and then other days get that nugget you need to understand your next step leading your team. It is good stuff. Here is a great short post from this week...

Some people want to do things because they are interesting.
Some people want to do things because they work.
Some people want to do things because everyone else is doing them.
And some people are satisfied/scared/shy/lazy and don't do anything.

Think about blogging or buying a new pair of shoes or voting for a candidate or picking one career over another. Different people have very different agendas. The key in understanding someone's actions is understanding their agenda.
- Seth Godin

one amazing day...

In September we had an outdoor baptism and saw over 40 people be baptized. We are showing the baptism videos in our services the next 2 weeks. Just wanted to post this to shout here in the web, GOD'S KINGDOM is moving forward. No matter what is going on in our local churches, this is what matters. Lives being changed by Jesus Christ. These are all regular people going after God with their lives and it is incredible to be able to celebrate with them!

Ringold Creek Baptism Part 1 from James Bell on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


What risks is your church taking for Jesus? What are you doing in your church for Christ that you have to explain?

These questions have burned in my heart ever since I heart Alex Mcmanus ask them last week. They are beating in my heart even more right now because Chelsea and I are here in Atlanta with another couple dreaming about launching a service in Clarksville that will be very OUT OF THE BOX for Clarksville. We are praying, dreaming about a once a month service in Clarksville that allows kids and parents the chance have go to a worship service together. This is far from the wonderful (just kidding) idea of dragging kids into your service and making them be quiet, or draw on offering envelopes. I know some of you reading this think church is meant to teach your kid how to be quiet. I call that environment school but that is another post. We are praying about creating an amazing monthly experience that will help kids and parents connect and talk about God. I know not many of you have seen this idea in action but they do it well at North Point Community Church and we are going to learn from them. I am excited about this new adventure for GCC and excited to take the RISK. I am stoked to be on a team willing to embrace risk and seek God's wisdom. We need risk! We need it so we learn to experience faith and trust of a God who can do the impossible.

Once more, what risks are you taking right now for God's Kingdom?

church planting thoughts...

A few of us from GCC had the chance Tuesday to go to Mosaic Church Nashville and spend the day listening to Alex Mcmanus ( /author, speaker, teacher, church planter, futurist, brother of Erwin Mcmanus) talk about church planting here in the states. The fact is that we live on the mission field. We are surrounded by people each day who are far from the gospel, never grew up in a church, and have no concept of Jesus outside of Easter Sunday each year. Even though millions here in America have abandoned the church and the Christian faith they are very spiritual and seeking answers to spiritual questions. We have can either ignore the fact that we live on the mission field and huddle up in our churches and wonder why people do not come or we can join God in his mission to redeem people here and across the globe. Have no doubt God's kingdom is expanding and moving. Will we join him in that movement? With all that said, here are some thoughts from the seminar Tuesday...THESE ARE RANDOM and I am still processing much of this but here goes. Dream with me!

Has church became a place for us to stay clean and safe together instead of a launching pad for God's work in the world?

How can we connect with the unredeemed? What kind of environments connect with the unredeemed? How many real relationships do we have with people who are not Christ followers?

Today many times people come to Christ over time these are 4 turns people make when coming to faith in Christ… Turn to Jesus, Turn to scripture, Turn toward the world to serve, and a Turn to community

Gathering people together to live dream act like Jesus is not that popular. Planting like a church that looks like Jesus is messy. Thinking outside the box gets you slammed.

If we shut our church doors would our city miss our gathering of God’s people?

The church today struggles to reach its own generation …how will they reach future generation.

Our church structures are set up for maintenance not mission. We make people do things our way that are not working in the first place! (when David went to fight Goliath, Saul tried to gave him the armor of its failed army) Seminaries are producing leader to lead a institution! God will raise up an army of warriors to lead against the grain.

The west is a mission field, what will it take to reach this mission field. Will we do what it takes?

Its more important to be the church than just do church!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

the GOD moment...

Today I was taking the girls to school and had 2 of those God moments where his plan is different than my plan. Dropped Kozbi off at Kindergarten then took Kelyn to preschool and got to have 2 incredible conversations with people who needed to talk right there at preschool before I went in the office. It was just a reminder to me that we have to be open to having our schedule changed in order to be ready to enter into God's plan for the day. God is at work where we can never imagine. We just have to be ready to be flexible. Are you ready for God to give you a moment to serve, to encourage, to connect. Look for the God moment today!

yey for youtube...

Here is the final play from the MTSU game Tuesday night! Go Middle...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Went to the MTSU game tonight. The game was on ESPN 2 and yes I am a Middle grad! Me and about 25,000 fans showed up in black for the BLACK OUT and yes we made a difference in the game. Here is the story from tonight... was amazing. Watch Sportscenter to see te final play of the game! Go Blue Raiders!