Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lessons learned (the hard way) from event planning!

Every event (weekly gathering, retreat, camp, or whatever) I learn something new. One rule of event planning is keep learning and keep trying to take the event to the next level. When you think you have arrived that is the exact point where you go backwards. This is what kills me about churches and ministries who never change up their environments...IT GETS OLD and when it gets old you loose momentum and energy. People start coming to your event out of obligation and tradition rather than with JOY. So here are a few other lessons I have learned about event planning...

  • For all you youth pastors...Transportation is a big deal, always have a plan to get people moved around SAFELY! Transportation is not a last minute deal. Also always call the bus company and make sure they REMEMBER. We had three buses not show up after camp one year!
  • Sound / Lighting / stage "look" MATTER - work hard to mix what you do up. Change the stage around, change the lighting, get creative. It really does help set people up to listen / learn / experience in a fresh way.
  • STAFF your weakness - if you are not good at "games" add a game coordinator to your team for the event. Contract out your weakness with paid staff or volunteers. A special event is not the place to get better at what you are not good at. Your weakness can make the event very UN-SPECIAL.
  • Make sure you trust EVER PERSON LEADING ON STAGE. Know what you have to work with. I have made some bad calls on this one!
  • PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY then PRAY MORE. If you want God to work in a specific way at an event you better start praying. The cool thing is if we make prayer a central part o the event God might just change our plan.
  • When the event starts, BE FULLY PRESENT! Once the event is on the roll, get in the mix and experience it as it happens. You can make changes after each phase of the event but know that your event is what it is after it starts. Get engaged, take notes, and trust God to work.
  • Have fun! If you do not enjoy the event you are leading or planning and can never enjoy the process, you have the wrong job. Have fun - when you have fun it sets up your team to enjoy the ride.
What are some lessons you have learned about event planning???

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

14 years ago...

14 years ago my life changed. God allowed my best friend to become my wife. Chelsea Bayne is the most amazing woman I know. She is an amazing mother and amazing wife. She brings so much joy to our home and wow...keeps me on track. That is a miracle in itself. Chelsea, thanks for spending your life with me. Thanks for loving Jesus with all of your heart. Thanks for helping our little girls become young ladies. Thanks for letting me play PS3 till 2 am, go to concerts, yell at the TV when the Titans or Vols play. Thanks for serving with me in ministry and pushing me to pursue Jesus first. Thanks for loving a guy who has never had it all together and helping me become the man I am. It has been an amazing 14 years and my heart is thrilled to see every day God gives us ahead. Happy Anniversary Chelsea, I love you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Too many EVENTS = Many poor EVENTS

How packed is your student ministry schedule? Some of us feel like we have to constantly be pulling off an event to justify our staff position. The thought is that we can show the people we report too ALL THE GREAT STUFF WE ARE DOING. Here is a rule I have learned to live by in event planning...

Rule #2 - TOO MANY EVENTS = MANY POOR EVENTS

When your team runs from one event to the next with no break and no time to plan you are destined to be too busy to really pull off great events. This applies to weekly events and seasonal events. Some of us have a mid-week service, a Sunday night small group time, Sunday morning Bible Study groups, and weekly fellowship events that we are responsible for making happen. There is no way all of those ministry times get the focus needed and the resources to make them great. Trying to do too many events lead us to many mediocre events that never accomplish the goal we have in mind.

If you want to take your camp, retreat, outreach event, small group, weekly student gathering to the next level...MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TIME TO FOCUS ON MAKING IT GREAT. Do less in order to accomplish greater impact. It takes time and focus to make an event a great experience for teenagers. Be willing to pace yourself. Say no to some opportunities. Stay focused. Build momentum. Move your event from good to GREAT. If you are going to do less in order to do more, take time with your team to figure out what you need to stop doing. Have the courage to slow down in order to focus and take your event to the next level.

Monday, December 28, 2009

DOING TOO MUCH = BAD EVENT

I am speaking at a retreat for middle school students this week and it reminded me of some bad retreat mistakes I have made over the years. Student pastors are event coordinators! If you run bad events you will not gain momentum in your effort to connect with teens. This week I am going to try to think through some things NOT to do when it comes to event planning...

RULE #1 - NEVER try to do EVERYTHING...empower a team!

If you want to run a successful event you better get talented leaders involved in leading different areas of the event. One year I tried to lead worship and run an event...NOT GOOD. One year I was a key speaker and then tried to run the camp...NOT GOOD. One time I tried to be the primary tech guy at a retreat...NOT GOOD. When you try to handle too many areas of your event you will be distracted from leading with a clear mind. Every event needs someone leading who understands and is fighting for the end goal of the event. If you are too tied into one aspect of an event you will not be free to address problems when they come and I promise they will come! Your best events will be one with the best team around you. Support them, cast vision, empower them and let your supporting cast take your event to the next level.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just want to say a quick Merry Christmas to any of you who follow my blog at michaelbayne.net or on Facebook. It has been an amazing year of ministry at Grace Community and in the Bayne home. As I look back I am a little overwhelmed and thankful for what God has done and is doing. To know Christ, be blessed with an amazing wife and kids, and get to serve with some of my best friends in the world at GCC is all so incredible. To any of you who read this...I am glad we get to live life together and I am honored you would ever read anything I ramble on about! Merry Christmas everyone! Will post again before 2010 gets here!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cross Street kids raise over 2,000 for NETWORK!

This fall Cross Street (our kids ministry at GCC) decided to join the NETWORK project and help compassion international to buy mosquito nets for kids in Africa where malaria kills so many kids. Mosquito's spread malaria so if you stop them you help stop the disease. We set a big goal, we wanted to raise 1,000 dollars to help. The kids at Cross Street took this to the next level and made a huge difference by raising over 2,000. These are nets that can save lives, give a kid a chance to be healthy, allow a kid to know someone around the world cares, and hopefully provide another day where a kid can hear the gospel and become a follower of Christ. Thanks Cross Street kids and families to making a difference. This is who we are...we are the church and we are living out our faith not just talking about it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thanks GCC Volunteers! // Christmas "THANK YOU" reception this week!

This week at Grace Community we get to say THANK YOU to our volunteers! Sunday from 9:30-10 and 11-11:30 we have a Christmas reception / open house / breakfast / whatever you want to call it planned in the gym for all of you who serve at GCC. There is no way we could do what we do at GCC without the amazing volunteers that serve week in an week out. I remember visiting GCC when the church was just a year old, meeting in a small private school, I looked around and was amazed by the passion I saw in the volunteer team. Three years later I am still blown away every week by what all of you do to make GCC happen. We hope to see all of you Sunday at the reception and from the GCC staff to all of you who serve week in and week out...Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking volunteer leadership to the NEXT LEVEL

Taking volunteer leadership to the next level takes work...and yes we are constantly working on it. Our normal view of volunteers in the church/non-profit world is of a "worker" not as the leader or vital supporter of the mission. What we have found at GCC is that it is very important to find high impact volunteers and elevate them to volunteer staff...leaders of leaders...people using their gifts to further the goal of reaching our city for Christ. Volunteers want to be a part of the team. Sure they need leadership, they even want it! They also want to be able to give input and feedback as we lead. Here are some of the ways we are trying to elevate the role of volunteer...
  • Ask for feedback and listen even when it is not asked for >> we listen to our volunteers when they contact us. Why? Because they know where we are going as a church better then anyone else. We ask for feedback and we listen when we are approached with a concern. Volunteer leaders need to know they have a voice.
  • Trust volunteers with significant responsibilities >> counseling, leading small groups, leading ministry teams, training, creating. We empower volunteers on all levels of the organization to do significant things. Gifted volunteer leaders want to be in the mix and do not mind doing hard things. Being "paid" is not required to have an important role on the team.
  • Train and Mentor >> we are trying to create a culture of leadership so we have to train, mentor, and inspire our volunteer teams. We take volunteers to conferences, we do online training, we pair up volunteers for one on one mentoring. Investing in volunteers pays of on better leadership form volunteers.
  • Connect >> we want our volunteers lead as a family, to enjoy teamwork, to be known. When volunteers join the team they are joining a leadership family. A good volunteer team is one you love spending time with. (if ya don't like your volunteers you might have the wrong people on your team!)
  • Place volunteers in the right roles >> We work hard to evaluate volunteer leadership and assist volunteers to find roles that fit their gifts and passion. Yea, this takes work and patience and it goes way beyond just filling holes in our ministry. We we also work to promote volunteers to new levels of leadership when we see they can lead on the next level.
  • Seek wisdom from volunteers >> In times of challenge or times where we had to make significant decisions in church I have watched our team seek wisdom and prayer from key volunteers. I know this is an art but every leader needs to have a few other key volunteers that they can go to in critical times of organizational life. In your organization's your volunteers do amazing things in their jobs day to day...they may have wisdom you need to gain from!
  • Keep volunteers in the loop >> volunteers should be kept in the information loop. Keep volunteers up to speed on where the organization is headed. Our volunteers should have key info and be able to spread key info!
Those are a few things we are trying to do to raise the level of volunteer leaderships here at Grace Community. How are you empowering your volunteers?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

VOLUNTEERS as staff...yep it is possible

Volunteers can make or break the ministry/church you lead. Really, they are the foundation of everything you do since they set the tone for so much of what happens in your ministry. For our family ministry (preschool, k-5, and student ministry) volunteers greet kids, welcome parents, are the first to connect with kids and teens, teach the Bible, lead worship, and it goes on and on. Not really sure if many of us who are point leaders step back enough to evaluate how we relate to our volunteers. Do we connect with them as "worker bees" fulfilling our mission or do we see them as partners and co-leaders? I will admit I went through my phase of making sure volunteers just did their job and soon found myself overwhelmed and wondering why there was not more passion from my volunteer team. That changed when I started viewing volunteers as staff vital to the organization. When volunteers begin to be viewed as fellow staff on our team we empower, train, inform, and listen to them in different ways. We start giving away ownership and freedom do to their job. We allow them to question and have input. It is at this point where volunteers can buy in with all their heart because...THEY KNOW WHAT THEY DO MATTERS! When volunteers are treated as staff it allows you to begin to find influential people who will invest at a high level in your ministry. At the heart of every volunteer is a desire to do something significant. They are ready for next level leadership. Let's empower them, support them, do ministry with them instead of asking them to be THE PEOPLE WHO TAKE ORDERS FROM US. The effectiveness of your volunteer team depends highly on how you lead and relate to them. Lead and treat them well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

what i REALLY like about Christmas...

Christmas is a big deal in my house. Decorations, parties, cooking, lights, eating, presents, church go full force this time of year for us. It got me thinking about what I like so much about November and December...
  • Watching my kids count down the days till Christmas, visiting Santa, checking out the ornaments on the Christmas tree, and checking out the lights ion downtown Clarksville.
  • Seeing so many former students come home from college. I miss those guys.
  • The amazing Christmas service every year at GCC! It is an amazing time or worship as we celebrate the birth of Christ.
  • Christmas trees...we have 6 at our house...we are addicted!
  • Christmas movies...they never get old.
  • Time off...yea that is great!
  • Bowl games and NFL football!
  • Spending a little extra time with people I love!
  • Cool Christmas music...yes it is out there, you just have to look for it.
  • The hope that IS the birth of Christ...that moment changed everything. God came to earth, that is amazing!
What are your favorite things about the Christmas season?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

what to do if the church/ministry your lead is in DECLINE...

CHANGE...there is the answer. Do you want to hear it again? What do you do if the church/ministry/business/non-profit you lead is decline is, CHANGE. Change has to happen for any organization that wants to grow or continue growth. Change is hard but it leads to growth (spiritual, financial, numerical, insert what you measure or care about). You can either change and experience growing pains that come with growth or you can run from change and experience the pain of decline and lost momentum. This year we added a third service at GCC and moved to service times of 830, 10, and 1130! Wow, that sure is fun...NOT. It has been a big change for us, added work, more volunteer needs, and we made families have to choose when they would serve and worship. After 4 months I can say that this CHANGE has been totally worth it because it enabled us to continue to serve our community and make room for the people who have not found Christ yet. That is a big deal. The service time change and the growing pains of it are totally worth it in comparison for the decline that comes from having no room for new people to discover our church. What keeps churches/nonprofits/ministries/businesses from making the changes needed to get HEALTHY. It is one word and one emotion and that is FEAR.
  • fear of what MIGHT happen
  • fear of what our family will think
  • fear because it "has never been done like that"
  • fear of the current leadership
  • fear of failure
  • fear of success
  • fear of making someone mad
  • fear of getting fired
What are you afraid of? Why are you not fighting for change? What is holding you back? Do you think you are actually helping the people you lead/serve by allowing them to stay in DECLINE MODE and not fighting for change?

If your church/ministry is not changing it is probably declining. Organizations that refuse change will die and some churches/ministries do need to die so new life can begin. There is hope. Have the courage to begin to ask God what needs to change where you are at and with courage, faith, and humility start fighting for that. Change might just be what brings a new beginning.

Monday, December 14, 2009

why blog?

After 495 posts I can officially say...I am a blogger. I looked back today and realized that I have made blogging a regular part of my life. This (michaelbayne.net) is my online web journal. I started doing this as a simple way to talk about ministry, my family, things I wanted to remember. I still have that same passion but I also love getting to write out my thoughts about leadership and the church. After 495 posts since December 2006 this is why I keep blogging and thanks to Ron, Anne, Pete, Ben, Tony, Terrace, and Michael for making me a better blogger as I followed your blogs.
  • Share - I really hope to pass ideas along to others. Parenting, leadership, ministry ideas, all that stuff...I just want to share that in an open format.
  • Invest - I really feel like this is one way to invest in other leaders around the country. I have been so blessed by so many other leaders who have invested in my life from a distance through books and blogs. This is my way to pay it forward.
  • Family - I really like talking about my family and hey this is my blog so I get to do that! I also want my kids to be able to look back and read what I was thinking about in 2006,7,8,9...you get the point.
  • Expand - blogging is one way to take a conversation on Twitter or Facebook to a different level.
  • Vent / Challenge - ya know, sometimes you just have to get stuff off your chest. BLOG ON BAYNE!
  • Laugh - I really like YouTube! I really like to laugh...
  • Inform - I use my blog to talk about things God is allowing us to do at Grace Community Church and Relevant
There you have it...WHY I BLOG! Why do you blog, why not? If you start one get ready to make it a part of your life or just pass on it and do not worry about having one. This is post 496...stoked to see what the next 496 look like!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One year anniversery OF...Cross Street LIVE // Dec. 13 at 5:30!

One year ago we put into motion the idea of having a monthly worship experience for families. No where in our city had anyone planned an event where Parents and kids would gather TOGETHER! Tonight we celebrate one year of CSL and we have been so amazed by how God has used this experience this past year. We hope to see many of you tonight and thanks to all the actors, dancers, set builders, tech guys, and Cross Street volunteers who have made CSL happen each month. For more info about Cross Street Live go check out our website!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thankful for FALL 2009!

  • Thankful each week I get to serve teens here in Clarksville with our team of volunteers!
  • Thankful Remix (our weekly gathering) grew in amazing ways. Thanks to everyone who invited friends into this weekly experience.
  • Thankful we were able to partner with One Church and launch a second location of REMIX.
  • Thankful for Grace Community Church believing and funding our effort to serve teens in this city!
  • Thankful that St. B Christian Church allows us to rent their facility!
  • Thankful that each weeks teens get to experience community through small group not just a big gathering!
  • Thankful for the team at xp3 and partnership with have with them with our small group material and series!
  • Thankful for an amazing team of volunteers who make this thing happen each week!
  • Thankful we get to connect and empower parents as they invest in their teens.
  • Thankful our all the work our worship leaders (Mike Grayson, Will Mckelvy and Grant Brashears) invest into REMIX and the amazing job the REMIX band does each week.
  • Thankful for our students proving to me that "youth ministry" can be different. To all of you who come to REMIX each week, you are each so amazing. I am blessed to be able to hang out with you and invest in your life each week!
This was our final REMIX of 2009 and I am just overwhelmed looking back at what God has done. It has been an amazing fall...I cannot wait to see what God does next!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

why your ministry needs a website

Connected with a friend in Virginia and found his ministry website and I was reminded how important it is for us to have website's for the ministries we lead. Several years back when we launched our kids / teen environments at GCC we decided to invest in web site's for our kid's ministry and student ministry. It has been one of the best investments we have ever made. Why does your ministry need a website...

  1. Branding - online is the starting point to creating the "look" for your ministry. If you want to make a good impression start online.
  2. Connect with Guests - we know kids and teens might not visit your site first but I promise, TONS OR PARENTS will. When they do visit you want to help them get a good picture of what you value. When a teen does check out your website go head and design it with them in mind. Again, design it so it makes a good impression!
  3. Information - what do you believe? when do you meet? where are you? who are you? all that should be on your website!
  4. Connect with Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace are great tools but your website should always be your HOME BASE. Teens are out there living in social media, give them a place to use as a tool to invite their friends.
  5. Simplify registration for events - we have an online culture for all our event registrations! WE NEVER MAIL STUFF! We use our web for sign up and payment with our paypal account. It works!
  6. Connect with Parents - I know I am back on parents but we use our site as a hub to inform our parents. Parents can engage kids when they know what we are talking about. From our site they can link to the podcast or get our weekly parent update.
  7. Inform your volunteer team - your volunteers should have a place to go and get quick info. THE WEBSITE is it. Keep it up to date and your help your volunteers stay in the loop.
Those are some quick thoughts on why we use our websites. How are you using your website? Why do you think we need an online presence or do you think it is a waste of time and money? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

directing passion vs. discovered passion

A few of us on the GCC team are working to fine tune our communication process (how we get people info). Our website, our weekly info card we pass out at the gathering, the information table, Facebook, texting, and twitter are all great communication tools but what we have to work on is what and how do we use all these tools. Not sure about your ministry but year to year we continue to struggle with communication. Every year we have to adjust our communication systems. It is a constant fight! Today in our meeting we moved quickly from communication tools to how we needed to communicate what we are most passionate about. Communicating information and vision means we are guiding what the people at GCC are passionate about. What and when we communicate empowers people to be a part of the movement we call Grace Community Church. As we communicate we have to direct passion and allow room for God to lead us to the things He is passionate about.

Directing Passion - we have to communicate the GCC strategy, major events, causes we support, mission efforts we embrace, and the ministries we carry our each week. We are working to focus on what is most important to GCC and communicate those messages creatively and with clarity. When we communicate the things that are most essential to the fabric our our church we DIRECT PASSION! We allow people to be a part of the mission and know clearly where we are headed. Directing the passion of any size group of people takes careful planning, consistency, creativity, and hard work.

Discovered Passion - in our communication process we have to maintain the flexibly to communicate information when we discover a new passion or direction. The church is not about controlling passion it is about releasing the passion of people to fully pursue the heart of God and advance the Kingdom of God. When God gives us a new direction, a new passion we have to have the flexibility and ability to get people info so they can discover what God is doing in that moment. All of us in student and kids ministry know we need the flexibility to change direction and communicate quickly. Basically we are the ones who live for what God is doing in the moment. We need that freedom as much as we need a directed plan!

We don't have this all figured out but we are working toward a balance between communication that is directed and quick communication that adapts to what God leads us to discover. If what we communicate directs passion then it's worth working on!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Student Pastor / Children's Pastor YOU NEED COMMUNITY!

I spent years serving in church as a volunteer and on staff as a pastor but really not having "community". Sure I was leading people, I was busy, I was teaching, but I was not connecting with a small group of people weekly so I could let me guard down and be "ME". Yes I know some of you will not agree with this but you need a place where the private you can come out and be known. The private YOU that you guard is the real you, and God made that private person that you work so hard to guard. Yes your public leadership role and personality are both important but at some time you have to let the guard down. I have found that place to be fully transparent in my community group I meet with on Sunday nights. Several of those people will read this post so relax y'all, not going to far with this! Ha! Here are some lessons I have learned from the past year in true community...(and thanks to everyone in my community group, Chelsea and I love your friendship and support in this journey. Thanks for being patient with me after a Titans loss on Sunday nights!!!)
  1. Community built only around your ministry is not refreshing for your soul. Sure you lead a girls group each week, have leaders/staff meeting, but in those setting you are still on guard. You need a group of people around you who know you as a person not only as a pastor.
  2. Plugging into a small group sets the example for your kids! My daughters think community group is just a normal part of the week. They also have groups that meet on Sunday morning. When I plug into community group then I set the example for my kids!
  3. Leader - you really don't need to promote "community" when you do not experience regular community. I tried to do this for years. It just does not work. When I talk to students at REMIX about small group I can do so knowing why community can change their life.
  4. If you are too busy for community group then you are too busy. When we have to many important things to do maybe we think we are a little too important. Maybe we need to quit trying to be so important and start trying to find balance in life.
  5. I learn so much about God's love and following Christ from the others in my community group. When we talk about scripture, faith, life, parenting, evangelism, hope, or struggle I learn from my friends.
  6. In community group I get a glimpse of what it means to BE THE CHURCH not just go to church. When God created this idea of church He meant it to look like family. Yes family is messy but it is real, transparent, caring, correcting, and encouraging. When we serve together, learn together, pray for each other, argue, think, dream, and laugh we are living our God's idea of church.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

watch what you pray for!

We are so excited about what God is doing at Grace Community Church here in Clarksville. In four years we have seen God do unexplainable things in the lives of people. It has been an amazing adventure. We have been a church on the move since our first day. We have had the joy of watching God provide the right space for us to gather week to week and we have learned the art of flexibility! We have really maximized our space at Rossview High (3 services on Sunday morning!) and we are moving toward...are you ready...hold on...BUILDING! It is hard to believe but God has delivered the right property and we finally have a peace about building. Yes we thought at one time we may never build. God has given our team a peace and we are moving forward with this new phase in the life of GCC. With building's come DISTRACTION from the mission. I am having to work hard to guard how I am praying right now. My heart cannot be aimed at a facility more than focused on Jesus! This morning I was praying about the future gathering place of GCC and God reminded me...pray for lives to be changed, pray for families to follow after Christ, pray for broken people to find healing, pray for the good of the city, pray Jesus will be lifted high in all our ministries week in and week out. Should we pray for God to provide this facility...YES. We also should constantly make sure our hearts are seeking after things that are MOST IMPORTANT. What we are praying for matters and reveals what we care about the most...I am praying God gets the Glory in this future facility and we get there with the same passion to serve our city we had when we met at our first facility four years ago.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Engaging kids WITH VIDEO (you make!)

We love the mix of our live storytellers and video in our large group gathering for kids each week at Cross Street. We find that when we mix up what is going on with the screen and what is being taught live we help our kids stay focused. All video gets boring...All TALKING gets boring...we mix it up. Adam Bayne, our children's pastor here, is doing an amazing job of using video to connect with kids, parents and volunteers. We are always looking how we can find good video elements for the gathering and blocking out time so we can make video that will work. YES, you can make your own videos. All you need is a Flip Video camera and a Mac or a PC with the ALREADY INSTALLED video software (we are Mac people, we love iMovie). Sure it takes TIME, and PRACTICE but it really can help engage kids in your ministry on a different level. Here is the video we made for large group this week. HEY BUSTER! Check it out... OH, one more thing. There are some great programs out there that enable you to download video off of You Tube. Feel free to use any of our stuff! We hope it might help other ministries!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

how NOT to engage a parent

The worst thing you can ever do when engaging a parent is start the conversation off saying something negative about their child. When something negative is said about our kid from someone else the WE WILL ALWAYS MOVE TO A DEFENSIVE POSITION. This week I had lunch with my daughter and one of the new ladies who works in the cafeteria came over to to talk with us. I had never met this woman and she started the conversation off with us (in front of my daughter) talking about how she had to get on to her "so much" for talking in the cafeteria. All I heard was BLA BLA BLA and I could see frustration and worry coming on my little girls face. I rushed to end the conversation and protect my girl from an ODD MOMENT with someone in leadership at the school. For all of us who work with parents, if you don't have something encouraging to say to a parent about their kid please just say nothing. Even when we are have to talk with parents about problems (at school, church, in our neighborhood) we have to slow down and find something good to encourage the other parent if we are going to have credibility to talk about a problem with their kid. Parents need to know we care about their children. Parents will shut us down if we try to engage them on the basis of all the things wrong with their kids. Why do parents get defensive? They get defensive because they love their kids and most parents I know will listen to other people who also love their kids. How can you partner with a parent? Believe in, support, encourage their kids and you begin the partnership process!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

THE BEARD // 10 reasons I EMBRACE No Shave November

November is NO SHAVE NOVEMBER at relevant student ministry. How did this start you ask? Nate Edmondson had the idea a few years ago and all of the guys at relevant jumped in so it has kept going. Many people started and did not finish but the faithful few stood strong over Thanksgiving and boldly stood in front of our grandmothers with our beards and took the heat. Yes, you know grandmothers and weird people at church and work are always the ones who comment on people who grow beards. To all of you who have to tell us how you do not like it...THANKS you just motivate us to keep going! Why did I grow the beard...here are my top ten reasons to embrace No Shave November...

10. It is COLD outside, the beard helps!
9. No Shave and November just work.
8. Because I can. That should just be enough.
7. Because I once worked at church who had a "personnel manual" that addressed BEARDS! Ha!
6. I read Wild and Heart a few years ago and it inspired me.
5. So I can hear my daughters call the gray hair in my beard "WEIRD"
4. So I can inspire the guys in our student ministry to NOT SHAVE!
3. So one day I can have a beard like Jamie McGregor, he was growing a beard in 6th grade!
2. Because the Titans have not lost a game in November.
1. Because MY WIFE LIKES THE BEARD! BAM!

Monday, November 30, 2009

kids and technology...

When you step back and think, it is amazing what a technological advantage our kids have today. Kozbi navigates her way around our Mac at home with ease. She loves to open Word and type letters! She loves playing on webkinz.com and nickjr.com! She thinks her Mom's IPhone is her personal new toy and I am sure she will be begging for one when she is a teen. Yesteraday she emailed her Mom from her iPhone all by herself...She wrote...

I had fun today mom.
Study well at coumunitygroup!
See you ulater.
I love uyou vary much!

Your douter'kozbi
Psst i hpe the foods healthy!

That was an actual copy and past from the email! How amazing that she thought to send a note by email to her mom and she is 6. It was a good reminder to me that our kids will never know a world without DVR, wireless internet, Smart Phones, laptops, Text Messaging, Flip Video, or Social Networking. This is the generation we serve. Instead of always talking about how to protect kids from technology why not work hard to teach kids how to use technology in a healthy way. It is called balance and our kids need us to show them the way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

DEADLY VIPER is now People of the Second Chance

2 years ago at the Catalyst Conference I learned about the Deadly Viper book and movement founded by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. The mission...to inspire people to pursue radical integrity and radical grace. The book is one that inspired me and will be one I will read again every few years. This past week Mike and Jud shut down the Deadly Viper website and stopped the printing of any more books because some people took offense and "themes and imagery" in the book toward martial arts and Asian culture. I am proud of the choice of Mike and Jud to move on and recast the vision of this movement. There is no win in fighting a fight that is not winnable and could keep people from chasing after integrity and grace. Here is the last message I got from the team at Deadly Viper. I wanted to post this and ask you to consider joining this movement.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Due to an unfortunate conflict that arose from a group of individuals who considered Deadly Viper themes and imagery offensive, Deadly Viper is officially shutting down.

Our team is deeply saddened and brokenhearted by the end of this incredible ministry that has impacted thousands of lives over the past 3 years.

We wanted to say thank you for your support, love, and comittment to radical integrity and grace. And special thanks to those who have been especially supportive over the past 2 weeks during these very difficult events.

For more details on what is next for Mike and Jud please visit:
http://www.POTSC.com

You can become a "Facebook Fan" of their new project below:
http://www.facebook.com/#/peopleofthesecondchance?ref=ts

Thursday, November 26, 2009

this is how I feel...

After a full day of hanging with family, EATING, and watching football this is how I feel. Watch this...THIS IS HOW I FEEL!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks

Thankful for life
Thankful for hope
Thankful for Jesus, my Savior
Thankful for my incredible wife
Thankful for Kozbi and Kelyn my daughters
Thankful for God's love
Thankful for my family I will spend time with this week
Thankful for freedom
Thankful for friends
Thankful for music
Thankful for Grace Community Church
Thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers I work with
Thankful for laughter
Thankful for 2nd chances
Thankful for football and Diet Dew
Thankful for Relevant Student Ministry and REMIX
Thankful for a new day
Thankful...

Hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adversity and kids (well my kids at least!)

This fall my daughter Kozbi has had to face adversity in her 1st grade class. Her teacher who she loved so much had to move to California with her husband who is in the military. For a 1st grader this is a big deal. This is ADVERSITY and this moment will shape her little life in so many ways for the good. She now has a wonderful new teacher but this challenge in her life allowed her to pray, to question, and to trust God to take care of this situation. Chelsea and I had one role to play as she walked through this situation...to walk with her, to pray with her, to see her through it. Our kids need to go through hard times. I know lots of parents try to help their kids avoid struggle at all cost but this is just not reality. Sure we protect from harm but we can never be the EASY BUTTON for our kids when adversity comes. What comes from adversity...
  • We learn who we can trust (as parents we show our kids we can be trusted when trouble hits!)
  • We develop character
  • We learn what is really important
  • We learn what prayer is really about and we discover a God who promised to be with us in the middle of life (God never promised a happy ending to every adventure)
  • We learn about patience
Ok, those are just 5 things we discover in times of adversity but you could probably list 20 more! So thankful Kozbi reminded me this fall how adversity shapes us and makes us stronger. Jesus said...

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

DIVERSION, everybody needs one!

Diversion is a big deal. I know when I say diversion many of you think distraction, but I am not talking about distraction. I am talking about something you do that gives you a mental break from your normal routine. Whatever it is that you do there are times you have to take time to step back and let go. Sports is on of those diversions that helps me keep some balance in my life. This picture came from the MTSU game this Saturday afternoon. I took my family, we cheered, and we forgot about all the other stuff going on in life. It was a great day and a great break in a really wild week of ministry. Those of us in ministry tend to justify never taking breaks and never resting because we have convinced ourselves we have to be in the middle of everything. If you have not figured this out let me remind you...your ministry will be just fine without you. Having a diversion (fishing, reading, writing, sports, exercise, whatever) gives you time to place your ministry back in God's hands and take a break. Funny, God called for us to have a time of rest each week called a Sabbath (Exodus 20). We tend to forget rest and forget we are called to ultimately depend on God. Diversion helps you connect with the joy of life, gives you a time to rest, makes you a better leader, helps you obey God and REST. Make sure it is happening in your life and don't apologize for saying no to some things so you can have diversion be a part of your life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

never underestimate kids...

At the beginning of November our children's pastor at Grace Community came into my office and told me about the Bite Back project through Compassion that helps buy mosquito nets for kids in Africa to help stop the spread of Malaria. Sounded like an amazing way to serve kids on the other side of the planet so we went for it. Adam set our goal at 1,000 dollars. Honestly I thought this might be a little high. I wondered if our kids and adult leaders would grab on to the cause. My worries were a waste. As of today the kids in Cross Street (our kids ministry, check our www.gcomkids.com) have gone over the 1,000 mark! We think we may even reach 2,000 dollars raised by families and kids in our church. I was reminded once again to never underestimate the passion of kids when they see a need. Our kids and our small group leaders have a heart to make a difference. These kids will not settle just to talk about Christ, they want to live out their faith. This generation of kids is making a difference!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ELEVATING SERVICE, some chick fil a thoughts!

I am so impressed with Chick- fil-A and the leadership model in their restaurants. I really like the chicken but let me talk a little about what I see that makes the Chick Fil A experience work. I love that they elevate service. Service is a big deal at Chick Fil A. In most fast food places they throw your food at you and wish you luck. Tonight when I was holding my youngest daughter they brought my food to my table...WOW! That is service. We happen to have 2 owner operators in our church and they are amazing people. I love that both families are actively leading their stores. I see them there every week leading their teams. I also have noticed that all the managers go out of their way to model service for the team they lead. ALL OF THIS TO SAY, service takes the chick fil a experience to the next level. You want to come back, you want to bring your kids back, because the service is flat our better.

I think as we lead our kids, preschool, and student leadership teams we need to constantly ask ourselves how we are serving the families coming week to week. How are we making a kid or teen's experience better? Are we striving to help parents connect? If every leader had a goal to make one person's experience better each week what kind of difference could that make. SERVICE (not new lights or signs) might take our area's to the next level!

Monday, November 16, 2009

teamwork on a staff...PRICELESS!


From the very first day Grace Community have tried to embrace teamwork as a core value of our staff. We never thought it would lead to Batman and Nacho Libre hanging out on our office! We added three incredible guys on staff (Adam Bayne as our kids pastor, Rog Hill our Serve pastor, and Brandon Reed as our college pastor) and it has been amazing to watch our team come together even more. As we have added staff the extra margin created has led to our team serving as one even more! We hate the silo approach to ministry where everyone stays within in their own area. We staff around our strategy and since we all embrace the same strategy we can all have a voice in each others ministry. We really feel when one area of the team wins we all win. When we needed some help for a Cross Street Live video Rog and Brandon stepped up to the plate. That is flipping teamwork!

Here are some things I think make teamwork on a leadership team work...
  • Everyone has a voice (maybe not a vote but a voice) - thanks Max Dupree for this lesson!
  • Everyone has to be willing to give TIME to the other members of the team. Yes, keep the door open, and let another team member give or get input!
  • Everyone has to CARE - yes that is big, we have to care about what each othewr are doing.
  • Everyone has to believe in the other members of the team. Hiring the right people brings confidence!
  • Everyone has to embrace healthy conflict. Yea, there are times we will not agree but that many times brings us to the best decision. Conflict is not a four letter word.
  • Everyone has to be willing to step in when crisis hits!
  • Everyone has to be able to laugh. Yes this is a big deal.
  • Everyone has to understand the mission and strategy. We do not hire team members to come give us a strategy here at GCC, we have one! We hire people to push the mission and strategey forward.
  • Everyone has to be a VOL...ok maybe not but it would help!

Friday, November 13, 2009

retreats, staff meetings, and the health of a team

Our team gathers a few times a year to do short one or two day staff retreats. This time we are in Nashville but usually we just get out of our office and into a local retreat center, hotel, church, or business to think as a team. How and if you meet, plan, dream together with your team says so much about the health of the organization or team you lead. If you are going to unite behind a vision you have to meet. If you are going have a plan and implement it then you have to slow down and meet. If you are going to work well together then you have to take time and meet. Retreats and staff meetings (our family ministry team and GCC staff meet every other week just so ya know) bring teams together and help us learn how to serve each other as we lead. We have to come to a place where we enjoy slowing down and spending time with our team. I know, many of you reading this gripe about "meetings" like it is an Olympic sport. I know they can take time from your schedule and lead to frustration when you hear other people talk BUT we have to learn to serve with the people on our team or go find a new team. It does not matter if the staff you lead is all volunteer or paid, ministry is about working, serving, and living life with other people. Retreats and staff meetings help us to get on the same page and they help us learn how to live life together. If you lead a retreat or scheduled staff meeting make sure it is scheduled properly (not too much not too little), honesty is valued, laughter is regular, and new ideas are allowed. If you constantly dread the time you spend with your team...please have the courage to find a new team. Thanks to the GCC team for making working together so amazing! So there ya go, my thoughts on meetings and retreats. I AM OUT!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cross Street LIVE // NOV. 15 at 5:30!

Nov. 15 @ 5:30 @ Rossview High School CROSS STREET LIVE goes down and you and your kids need to be there. Ok if your kids are grown or teens not so much, but if you have a kid (or grandchild) in K-5th grade this is a family experience you don't need to miss. We believe parents should join their kids in a worship experience once a month so they can "get" on the same page! If you live in Clarksville, and you have kids, this is for you. Check out www.crossSTREETlive.com for more info and watch this promo video for November...

Guide or Security Guard...what are you?

Don't imagine us leaders to be something we aren't. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God's most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them. - Paul, I Corinthians 4:1

How do you see your roll as a leader/servant in the church? Are you trying to be a guide or a security guard. Paul told the people in Corinth he was there to be a guide and I think that must be our roll as we invest in the people God has brought to us to lead. I grew up in a security guard world. My leaders tried to protect me from wrong doctrine, from sin, from the "world", from rock and roll, from rated R movies, from Christians of other denominations, from lost people, from doubt, from __________ I will let you fill in the blank there with whatever else you can imagine. Security guards simply protect. Security guards keep things INSIDE THE FENCE and SAFE. Paul says he was a guide and more than anything this generation needs an army of guides to step into leadership roles. Guides give direction, answer questions, allow questions, lead a group, point out danger, lead people to experience beautiful things (thinking grand canyon here!), serve the group they lead, and are willing to stay with their group but right out in front.

Security Guards keep what they have safe inside the confines of the church. Guides take a group of people and lead them beyond NORMAL, beyond SAFE. Guides add people to their group. Guides are willing to lead because Christ has transformed them and they want to bring others along on the journey. I want to be a guide!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why ask why...

Why is such an important world for our organization. Before any event, training session, message, or worship set our team wants to ask WHY? Why guides, clarifies, and when answered brings confidence. For some reason many organizations never ask the why question and when they do and hear truth they get mad and continue to do the same thing they have always done. Asking why sometimes leads us to protect the vision and strategy and sometimes drives us to make drastic changes. One of my favorite bloggers is Seth Godin. Seth's blog is the only blog I get emailed to me daily. The rest of what I read is on my Google reader account. Here is what Seth had to say today about asking WHY...

Successful organizations spend a lot of time saying, "that's not what we do."

It's a requirement, because if you do everything, in every way, you're sunk. You got to where you are by standing for something, by approaching markets and situations in a certain way. Sure, Nike could make money in the short run by licensing their name to a line of wines and spirits, but that's not what they do.

"That's not what we do," is the backbone of strategy, it determines who you are and where you're going.

Except in times of change. Except when opportunities come along. Except when people in the organization forget to ask, "why?"

If the only reason you don't do something is because you never did, that's not a good reason. If the environment has changed dramatically and you are feeling pain because of it, this is a great reason to question yourself, to ask why.

The why factor is really clear online. Simon and Schuster or the Encyclopedia Britannica could have become Google (organizing the world's information) but they didn't build a search engine because that's not what they do. Struggling newspapers could have become thriving networks of long tail content, but they chose not to, because that's not what they do.

Why?

That's the key question, one that organizations large and small need to ask a lot more often now that the economy is officially playing by new rules.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Why we do events? (should I say why just a few events)

If you are a student ministry and you do events you probably need to know why you do them. When we launched relevant three years ago we had to think hard about what events we would do as a ministry and why we would do them. We did not have a ton of students coming and we really did not have a big budget. We decided that we would put all our resources into a few high impact events a year. Three years later we know we made the right call. We use events to help us take relationships in our small groups to the next level. The shared experience and spiritual growth of a small group over a week at camp or a 3 day retreat is huge. At the same time the bulk of impact and focus is given to our weekly experience at our student gathering. Build your ministry on events and you will build a shallow ministry built on buzz. Life change comes through investing in students week to week not event to event. Just so you know we do a fall retreat, spring retreat, summer camp, and high school mission trip...THAT IS IT! We do all of those with excellence but our passion is about the week to week ministry at REMIX. We just finished our fall retreat so here are some pics from the weekend...





Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why do we ask teens to serve on Sunday?

Why ask teens to serve on Sunday...THEY ARE READY TO SERVE! We do not have a teen environment on Sunday because teens at our church serve and go to the Sunday gathering with their families. Sunday morning is our "family environment" for teens and parents of teens. This is one time of the week where teens can worship with their families and serve with their families. Our hope for every teen is that they serve and become a vital part of the local church. If teens learn what it means to serve now they will find their place in church. Teens gain a voice in our church through serving others! When students serve they move away from church consumerism and toward becoming part of the movement of God. Why should we ask teens to sit in class and listen to another mini-sermon from another teacher when that hour could be used serving preschooler, kids, running lights, greeting, or leading worship? Who decided that teens had to wait to serve? We have decided the best thing for teens on Sunday is to become a vital part of the church...is that not want we want when they move on to college?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why we do small groups connected with our weekly gathering?

When and how to do small groups is a big issue for any of us leading a student ministry! This is another one of those big issues that I really struggled to work through when we launched our weekly gathering. We thought about doing home groups that met a different night but worried we could not find the right night. We fearfully launched groups that met following our gathering for teens. We were scared this approach would scare kids away but after three years we can clearly share why we keep doing small groups on the same night of our student gathering...
  • Its makes community REAL at our weekly gathering. Every kid who comes is known by a adult who has the potential to be come a mentor! Not sure if you know this yet but teens want to be known, missed, celebrated, and cared for.
  • Every student has a chance to express what God is doing in their heart. We feel if kids do not have a time to talk about the night and process we have failed them.
  • It allows our volunteer leaders to move into "ministry" roles as they care for kids at our weekly gathering! Our volunteers are making a real difference week in and week out.
  • We have time where we can take what was talked about on stage to a deeper level with each age group and gender as needed. 12th graders process differently than 9th graders!
  • When teens get to block out one time a week and GATHER AND COMMIT to small group it makes the life of mom and dad more simple! One night is always better than 2 for parents.
  • Teens don't just come to a big crowd experience and leave. We are trying not to be a spiritual pep rally. By doing groups connected with the gathering we hope to give teens a safe place to rethink faith, move forward in their journey with Christ, and discover community!
There you have it! It was a hard choice to make and this plan might not work for you. We do know that God is using small groups in a big way in our student ministry. Thanks to all our amazing small group leaders!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why we do our student gathering MID-WEEK

When I am hanging out with student or children's pastors I always have 100 why questions for them. In every ministry setting there are are cultural and strategic influences that guide what we do. This week I want to do a few WHY posts about our ministry here at Grace Community here on the blog. Our WHY issue today is one that we really struggled with. We really worked hard to think through when we would do our weekly gathering for teens. We tried Sunday for one year and then moved to mid-week on Wednesday night from 7-8:30. Why mid-week? Here goes...
  • Mid-week gave us a 2nd time each week to connect with teens since Sunday is such a big day for us at GCC.
  • Mid-week allowed teens to invite and bring friends. We see first time guests every week that get invited to come on Wednesdays.
  • Mid-week gives teens more time to hang with family on Sunday's. Sunday was a big family day in Clarksville and the service seemed to be getting in the way of that.
  • Mid-week allowed our teens and small group leaders to focus on serving on Sunday morning.
  • Mid-week allowed us to partner with our school system since Wednesdays are not busy days for sports.
There ya have it! That is why we do our student gathering on Wednesdays. We know a weekend service can work and will work for our middle school ministry in the future, but for us Wednesday night has helped us connect with more students.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

the morning after...HALLOWEEN 09

We made it through another Halloween. The kids had a great time, the Vol's beat South Carolina, and our family had some great time together. For me it was a good night. I think Halloween is a good night for America in general. I know you might be rolling your eyes if you grew up talking about Satan worship and the dark arts of Halloween, but hear me out on this idea of Halloween being a good thing for America. Halloween is one of best family/ community nights of the year for MOST families. It is a built in night where we get to connect with our KIDS! Do not miss that...we get to make memories with our KIDS and they love us being a part of it. Think what you want to about scary movies and the dark parts of Halloween but come on, making memories with our kids is what it is about. The other amazing aspect of Halloween to me is the fact that I get to connect with my neighbors on Halloween on a different level. THEY COME TO MY DOOR! I get to serve their kids, I get to say hi, and our neighborhood has fun! When you put together the thought of making memories with my kids and connecting with my community together I would say Halloween rocks! For our team at Grace Community we will never do a Halloween event because we want to release families to make memories and serve their community on that night of the year. Sure one day we may do a rocking pre-Halloween event but not on the 31st! The opportunity for our families is just too GREAT!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Donald Miller / A Million MIles in a Thousand Years >> get this!

I have yet to read a Donald Miller book or hear Donald Miller give a talk when I did not walk away with a better perspective on life and faith. There is just something about his writing style that draws me in and I simply love his perspective. Sure, I follow the guy on twitter, read his blog from time to time but really I feel like I know the guy from his books. That is the kind of writer I like, and from my friends who know Donald personally he is as genuine, funny, and insightful in real life as he is in his books. I like that kind of person. I want to be that kind of person that is consistent. One of my good friends did not like Blue Like Jazz because it did not give enough "answers" to the issues that Donald brings up in the book. After picking myself up off the floor of the office that day when I heard my buddy express his thoughts about the book I realized that I loved the book because it allowed me to think. To be passionately in love with Christ yet still ask intense questions. I am a Christ follower who needs to think, explore, question, live, and start over. I need questions be cause I have been force fed answers my entire life. Even as I discover and question I am finding more joy in Christ than I ever have. OK BAYNE WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT MILLER'S NEW BOOK. My rant is over. Here is your answer...

I was blown away! It was amazing!

This is a book you have to pick up and read because once you start you will race through it. It is honest, challenging and inspiring all at the same time. I wish every high school student would read this book and begin to examine where they are headed in life. As I read the book I constantly examined my own story, the story I am living out with the days God has given me. The story God has called me to. I am thrilled with so much of the story I am living yet challenged to take greater risks and tackle hard things in other areas. This is a must read. This is a book I will be giving away for years to come.

Donald, thanks for putting your life out there for us to learn from. Thanks for being willing to ask hard questions, choosing to do hard things, and allowing us to take a look at your story!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SMALL GROUP EVENTS // smaller may be better!


The 2 pictures above came from a small group event that Jeremy Sydnor and David Tittle arranged for their small groups at REMIX. We love our weekly gathering, the teaching time, the worship, great video, the experience but the truth is that kids come each week because they are able to meet with a group of friends and an adult leader who cares for them each week in small group. Our hope is for life change to happen in the middle of RELATIONSHIP as students process what was taught from the Bible. When small groups excel they take the relationship to the next level. Next level small group leaders help their kids connect outside of small group time online and through planned events where connections can happen. Small group events help kids make memories. They give small group leaders the chance to have significant conversations with teens. They enable the small group to come together, to unite. When small group leaders do smaller connection events like a rafting trip, a camping experience, dinner out, or a sleepover teens have the chance to let their guard down and get to know their small group leader and the other people in their circle. Big thanks to Jeremy Sydnor and David Tittle for leading the rafting trip for their small groups. Thanks for working hard to take small group the next level!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ORANGE TOUR thoughts...

We had an amazing day learning from Reggie Joiner and Sure Miller at the Orange Tour. I wanted to post some of the aha moments that I took down on my Mac as we listened. Check these thoughts out...

Reggie Joiner on CHANGE...

People Change when the pain associated with the status quo becomes greater than the pain associated with the change!

When you get to the place in your ministry when you are operating off your memory and not your imagination you are in trouble / Mark Batterson

If you want to build something that lasts you have to be willing to change what you build!

Sometimes we get so consumed with not causing pain to our current leaders through change that we forget about the people we will never reach if we do not change.

The best way to keep a team moving toward the mission is to frequently upgrade your systems

The churches that refuse to change are the ones threatening the mission!

Every change gives us the opportunity to decide what is core and what is cultural! Relevant – connecting something eternal to the matter at hand!

So many times we just patch old systems with new upgrades and they just do not match, we add upgrades that do not fit the old system

Sue Miller on working as a Family Ministry Team...

Working together as a family ministry team means we will love each other, learn from each other, show up for each other. PLAY WELL TOGETHER! HONOR EACH OTHER.

Our teams must combine our strengths to lead better together!

All our environments / ministries are connected and when one loses we all lose! – Reggie Joiner and Sue Miller

Change in good times; do not wait for the dip to change!

From an Interview with Jim Wideman...

Being a balanced church is not about having tons of stuff going on, it is about simplifying so we can invest in this generation!

Reggie Joiner talking about COMMUNITY is student ministry...

The older a kid gets the more important it becomes to have a consistent leader in the life of a teen.

If we do not give teens another adult who will give affirmation they will find it somewhere else they will find it outside of the church.

What you invest in is what is important to you!

The older a child becomes the more important it is for a small group leaders to stay involved consistently for the long haul.

The kind of leaders we need do not sign up by announcements; we have to make the BIG ASK then empower them to bring on other leaders!

Student ministry is a moving target, teens get to choose if they come or not. Kids come to our gathering because they know there is an adult there who cares for them!

Reggie Joiner on partnering with the family!

We define our ministry by the parents who we want to make happy inside the church that we forget all the families who want help and want to partner outside the church!

96% of parents /ALL PARENTS/ feel responsible for the moral development of their kids! The church needs to partner!

Parents want to know WHAT IS NEXT; we can help make that happen!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ORANGE TOUR today in nashville

Spending the day connecting with other Orange leaders and learning from Reggie Joiner and Sue Miller from the rethink group. Already in the first session this has been a great time for our family ministry team from GCC. You can follow what we are experiencing from my status updates on twitter and facebook and I will post some of the best thoughts from the day later here on the blog. Click on the graphic and check out the Orange Tour.

Monday, October 26, 2009

U2 webcast = amazing!

I joined millions of people all over the globe and watched U2 live from the Rose Bowl last night. I can not believe I just typed that, I WATCHED U2 LIVE...ONLINE...AND FOR FREE...WITH MILLIONS OF PEOPLE...ON MY MAC! It was so incredible to see a band that I respect so much go for it totally live with no edits like other concerts we see rebroadcast. This was full on experience the moment and it was amazing to watch the technology come together to make it happen. Online video experiences are changing they way we are able to connect with people where they are at. Video tools are even changing the game in our church experience. We see video making a huge impact here in our own church as we allow people to look in and hear our messages from home or on the road when they can. (There is even and I phone app for that!) We are also able to use video to connect with leaders and parents on a different level as we train and inform. It is just my opinion that this experience shared last night by millions may be a game changer in the way bands connect with fans. HUGE thanks to U2 and Google for being willing to take this risk and take the tour to the people. It was a great online experience!

Friday, October 23, 2009

connecting with teens...through amazing small group leaders!

Was reminded of the power of Small Group leaders tonight. Chelsea booked a girls night out tonight and of course I got to rock it here at home with my two amazing little girls. THE PROBLEM...the biggest football game of the year goes down tonight in our city. THE SOLUTION...our small group leaders are there in force! Where I could not be our small group leaders stepped in to be present and connect with teenagers. I know this sounds simple but it the power of multiplying ministry through other leaders is the secret for moving to the next level in youth ministry. I talk to so many guys and girls in ministry trying to be EVERYTHING in the ministry they lead. It is not possible. It is not fulfilling. It makes youth leaders quit serving teens. YOUTH PASTOR, your extend your influence when empower your volunteers to be partners in ministry. I am so thankful for the passion of our volunteers at Relevant. REMIX and Relevant Student Ministry is what it is because of passionate volunteers!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sin Cage 2009

We started a new series at REMIX this week called TEN revolving around what the Ten Commandments reveal about the heart and desire of God for our lives. It was a great start last night and I wanted to share a video that we made to talk about SIN...it is called SIN CAGE 2009. Hope you enjoy, call me if you want to buy one of these!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CRAVE 09 // fall retreat for Relevant

Nov. 6-8 is CRAVE 09 for relevant student ministry. If you are out there and you have not signed up, you can go get info, sign up, and pay at the RELEVANT WEBSITE. We do a fall and a spring retreat and we have learned a few things about retreats over the past few years. The Crave experience is different because at the heart of the weekend are small groups and going deeper. Sure, we have an amazing time. Our end goal is to allow small groups to come together and go to a different place in their relationship with Christ. Does not sound very "youth ministry" does it. We are done with making retreats about creating buzz or energy. We have an event we love for our students to bring guests to every week called REMIX. We work hard on our weekly environment but we want retreat experiences to be next level. So...here we go. In 14 days we have a weekend planned to help you and your group move forward together, in community. We are so excited. If you want to have an amazing weekend with your small group from REMIX and connect with God in a different way, this weekend will be for you. I cannot wait to see what God does!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

6 things I love about Cross Street Live (our family experience!)

Cross Street Live is our monthly family experience we host for our community. We feel families need a place where and kids and parents can connect with God TOGETHER. That together part is a big deal. I thought today I would list my favorite things I love about CSL!
  1. I love we help kids and parents think through a VIRTUE like honesty, wisdom, etc. and then give them some tools to go home with! What happens at home is so significant!
  2. I love the energy that comes when the theater is packed with kids who are singing to God!
  3. I love that families can see with their own eyes that we think they matter. We put a ton of time into this monthly experience for families! They matter!
  4. I love watching kids and parents laugh together...it is priceless!
  5. I love watching our actors, dancers, and worship leaders go for it. THEY ARE SO TALENTED!
  6. I love that families get to make a memory that is fun and exciting at CHURCH! God is amazing and church should be too!
There you have it...6 quick things I love about Cross Street Live. Go check out www.crossSTREETlive.com for more info. We will see you this Sunday night, 5:30 at Rossview High.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great trip to Disney...

We had an amazing trip to the Magic Kingdom...really it was amazing. Our girls had the time of their life and 3 and 6 was the perfect age to take 2 girls who love all the princess movies! Sure, every night we came back to the resort wiped out but it was all worth it. This was not a vacation for us, it was an experience. For our family, vacation is about rest...this was crazy, busy, fun, and engaging. Rest is not in the Disney vocabulary. I go to the beach each year to rest...this was a family adventure and it was great. If you take your family...
  1. Stay at a Disney Resort - that was great in every way besides that they do not have wi-fi!!!
  2. Do the Disney food plan...that really worked well!
  3. PLAN - there is just too much to do, make a plan!
  4. PAY FOR IT BEFORE YOU GO...we paid on this thing all year and it was fun to go knowing it was paid for. Debt vacations SUCK!
  5. Go in the fall or winter...it was still crowded and hot but nothing like summer.
  6. Take your kids to the character meals...they are great and your kids will love getting to meet the characters.
  7. Take your kids when they enjoy the MAGIC! Do not miss taking your kids when they are young if you can.
Got back in the office today and got to dive right into getting ready for Cross Street Live this weekend. It was a fantastic break but it was just as fun to get back to the team at GCC. I have so many thoughts coming out of the Catalyst Conference but my brain is still not in gear. Hopefully this weekend I will be able to get it in gear!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Catalyst 09 in the books...headed to DISNEY WORLD!

Huge thanks to the team at Catalyst...what an amazing 2 days. I am still processing all that I learned and was challenged with and God is birthing some crazy ideas in my heart. Hearing Chuck Swindol today was a highlight! I have listed to this pastor since I was a kid. He was one of the first communicators as a teen I liked to hear. It was great to honor his ministry. I have so many thoughts from Louie Giglio and Andy Stanley BUT this is big....here we go...

I AM TAKING MY FAMILY TO DISNEY FOR 5 DAYS!!!!!! Here we go! I am unplugging, stopping, and hanging with my family for the next 5 days. Everything back home will be fine, I am stopping to rest!

See ya when we get home...headed to make some memories!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

day one at Catalyst...

I am ready to crash but I wanted to look back on the day before I shut it down. It was a significant day here at Catalyst filled with some really powerful moments. Just want to make it clear...God is at work here. What makes this 2 day experience so wild? Jesus is here shaping and molding our hearts, our desires, our dreams for Him. It is just good to shut it down and spend a few days learning and listening to the voice of God. Highlight today was hearing Rob Bell speak. I know...many of ya do not dig Rob and many of you love him. God has used Rob in my life at some critical times to reveal some great insights and today was one of those. What did he speak on? It was all about sabbath. It was about balance in life. We looked at how we can give ourselves to the church to such a level that we only have seconds left for God, our kids, friends, and wife! You know this happens. You know leaders crash and burn because they love the idea of a successful ministry more than serving others and following Jesus. We depend on our own strength and talent. Rob called us to come back to a place where we do practice sabbath and discover abundant life. The burden of Jesus is light, it is when we build our life around our own goals and dreams that life gets so heavy!

It was a great day! Matt Chandler and Tony Dungy also really did a great job. Can not wait to see what goes down Friday. NOW I WILL SLEEP

Made it to Catalyst 09...barely!

After an amazing night at REMIX Adam and I headed to Atlanta to meet up with the rest of the team from GCC. We did not make it to our hotel until 3 Am eastern...AND THEY HAD MOVED US TO A NEW HOTEL! Ok, it was not my live like Jesus moment of the year. I was a tired and mad they had not saved our paid for room. The Hyatt put us up in a retreat center down the road that is own by the Methodist denomination. It was nice, had wifi, a great breakfast and a bed. Nothing else matters. We made it to to Catalyst in time to hear Andy Stanley and Steve Fee lead us this morning. As soon as I stepped into the arena I was so glad we made the trip. God has used these 2 days each year to work on my heart each time I have come. What Andy said this morning is still ringing in my heart. Looking at the life of Joshua in the Old Testament he encouraged us to not worry who was on our side...who was for us...who was supporting us...but rather worry about who we are for. It is a waste of life to spend our energy making our mark. Making our legacy. We breath, eat, sleep, think to allow God to make His mark through us! That is big. That is worth spending your life on. GREAT REMINDER for me to start the day off. We are tired but headed back to the arena after a quick lunch and Internet hit at Starbucks to hear Rob Bell, Matt Chandler, and Francis Chan. Our team is going to grab dinner tonight at the Flying Biscuit, one of my favorite Atlanta spots. I cannot wait to hear how God is working in our team's heart!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Catalyst Conference 2009 // blog updates to come

Headed with 6 leaders from GCC for 2 incredible days at the Catalyst Conference. What I love about Catalyst is that it is a gathering of next generation leaders of all ages going after God for 2 days together. We all look different, come from all denominations, leading in different contexts, but for 2 days we get to come together...learn together...lift up our great God together. 12,000 leaders in one arena with one purpose is an amazing thing to be a part of. I am amazed at how many business and church leaders do not know about Catalyst. I hope if you get the chance to break away from what you do for 2 days you will come to Atalanta and experience this conference in the coming years because this year is SOLD OUT. The best part of this conference is that we have the chance to learn from leaders from all walks of life...that sets this gathering apart from any other I have been a part of. I will be posting as many updates from Catalyst as I can so check the blog out for what God is doing from Catalyst 09.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

when do you train your volunteer team?

Training is always a big issue in any organization. How do you set up your team for success? How do you empower them to do ministry in your setting? You have to train in order to give your team direction. Many times I have planned training experiences only to have half the volunteers come. Yes, I lead in a church...my team is a volunteer team. Unlike Michael Scott calling a meeting in the TV show The Office, my team does not have to come. One way that we have found to maximize training times is to offer multiple training sessions on SUNDAYS when our team is already here. We just held one this week for our children's ministry team and guess what...it worked again. Our team needs training but they need it in time and form that works for them. Short Sunday training sessions go a long way. We are also finding youtube to be a big help to allow volunteers to listen to training sessions anytime they need it. We have to meet our volunteer teams where they are at and create avenues for training that work. Taking up another night of our team's week is not always the best way! Church leaders...what are some ways that are working for you?