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 and! 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 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:

You can become a "Facebook Fan" of their new project below:

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


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

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 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 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 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.


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 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!