Wednesday, December 29, 2010

15 amazing years >> thanks Chelsea Bayne!

15 years ago on Dec. 30 I married Chelsea Parks and it was the best decision I ever made. When I think back on all the memories and how God has worked in the midst of married life I am blown away. Thanks Chelsea for being patient with me, for believing in me when no one else did, for serving in the church together, for making our home a place to relax, for making me laugh, for giving me 2 amazing daughters, for pushing me to follow Christ, for not killing me when I failed Hebrew in grad school, for loving me when I did not deserve it, for making me laugh, for watching the Vols and Titans on Saturdays and Sundays, for showing our girls what a Godly woman looks like, and for being my best friend. When Chelsea and I celebrate something in our lives we travel and this week we are spending New Years in Las Vegas...we travel, that is just what we do together! Happy anniversary Chelsea, I love you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

final post of 2010

Wrapping up the blog for 2010 and just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has followed along this year. I blog because I want to connect with other leaders and share what God is teaching our team here at Grace Community Church. What we learn and experience we want to give away and this blog gives me an outlet to share with other leaders around the country. Thanks to all of you out there who have taken the time to follow along. I can't wait to see what 2011 brings.

This coming week is about one thing...VACATION...I thought I needed to go ahead and take a blogging break to better focus on playing Wii with my girls!! This week Chelsea and I have been married form 15 years and we are headed to Vegas to celebrate New Years. God has blessed me with an amazing wife who is a partner in ministry. God also gave us 2 amazing daughters who simply blow us away every day. Chelsea and I just want to have a marriage that thrives because we both want to be that couple that makes it to 50 years! Seriously, that is one of our goals. We want to make it. I am so blessed to be married to Chelsea Bayne.

Happy New Year everyone! See you here on the blog in 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A view of our first Christmas Eve service @ GCC

We had our first ever Christmas Eve service here at Grace Community and we wondered if anyone would show up. Well...people showed up. Standing room only for the 5 PM and a packed room for 7 PM. So encouraging to see that many people show up on our new campus to celebrate the birth of Christ. Thanks for coming out everyone...Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve services @ Grace Community

Our team is really excited about our first Christmas Eve service at Grace Community coming up this Friday at 5 and 7 PM at Kenwood High School. This will be our first time to get to gather on the Kenwood Campus as a church and our first time to serve the Kenwood community. Our family is changing up our traditions because we want this to be a part of our family Christmas experience. If you are in the Clarksville area I hope you will spread the word about these services. If you need more info check out www.gcomchurch.com. Merry Christmas, hope to see you Friday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

make a plan for 2011...

In the past I have been "that guy" who made fun of people with the new year resolutions and goals. I just avoided the entire process and decided that I was just going to work hard in the coming year and see what happened. Why did I need goals? I learned one thing in 2010. I need those goals. Last year I made a list of my personal and ministry goals for the year. Some of the goals I accomplished and some I adjusted mid year and learned from (AKA, I messed them up!). The amazing thing was that through the entire year I remembered that I had set goals and it made me think more carefully about the choices I made. My 2010 goals did make a difference in my life even though I didn't allow them to dominate my life. I made the goals and I had the freedom to adjust to goals...they were my goals. Goals should not be a burden, they should provide direction. They help me remember the big picture over the immediate want in my life. So why not take some time during you Christmas break to sit down and think about where you want to be in 2011. Why not make some personal and ministry goals? Here are a few questions to ask if you are going to set some goals for 2011...
  • What are some ways I need to stretch myself to be more like Christ in the coming year?
  • What are some areas of ministry that need my attention in 2011?
  • What do I need to do at home to be a better parent or spouse in 2011?
  • What are some things I need to start doing?
  • What is on my STOP DOING list for 2011? (this may be as important as what to do!)
  • What are a few projects that I want to accomplish in the coming year?
Today I looked back at my 2010 goals. I missed on a few of them but for the most part I made progress on every goal I set. I have to believe that did not happen by accident. This next week while I am on vacation I am going to set some 2011 goals. I hope you will too! Dream big and make 2011 count.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monsters in the Christmas story? Only at GCC!

We gathered a bunch of kids from Grace Community to ask a few questions about Christmas this year. We learned a ton about the birth of Jesus, what good Christmas movies are out there, and monsters that showed up when Jesus was born. Check this video out...

Monday, December 20, 2010

get CREATIVE

If you want the ministry you lead to be more creative you have to lead the way. I know you just read that and immediately thought "I am not creative" and you may be right, you may not be creative. You still have to empower creative people on your team if you want to pull off creative elements in your ministry. Now more than ever there is no reason you can't pull off creative worship elements in your worship services...have a great looking website...make fun videos to promo your events because the tools are available to us and the price is right! Want to GET CREATIVE then this coming year CHOOSE TO BE CREATIVE.  Creativity demands a few critical elements...
  • Time // Creativity and creative elements (video, lighting, drama, dance, music, art, design) demand we dedicate time. You have to choose to place a priority on these efforts and make sure they are communicating the message you want communicated. Creativity never happen by accident and creativity demands hard work. Want your ministry to be more creative then get ready to dedicate time (even if you are just managing the project and others are executing)
  • Team // Creativity flourishes when you bring people around you that are passionate about creative elements like design, video, or lighting. For those of us leading in student or college ministry we get to discover these talents and then empower students to use these talents for God. You will never have a creative ministry if you don't empower creative people. You need a team!
  • Resources // Creativity can be done with very little money but once you get rolling you will need to be willing to dedicate resources if you want to move to the next level. Start with the resources you have right now (your current computer, lights, sound, stage, set) and maximize them. Once you are maximizing creativity with what you have then make plans to add to your creative arsenal. Creativity thrives best when the entire team is maximizing current resources and adding new tools to enable forward progress. Creative people need forward progress...we get bored! Work to find the needed resources for your creative team but never let resources be an excuse for not being creative.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CHRISTMAS DODGEBALL BASH at relevant, Dec. 19

When we think about Christmas at RELEVANT we think about Dodgeball and this Sunday dodgeball is coming to RELEVANT Student Ministry. We are throwing a little Christmas party this Sunday 6:30-8:30 at the Clarksville YMCA and we are ready to throw some dodgeballs at each others head. This is going to be great. Get your small group together and get ready for some Christmas chaos. We promise, it will be epic.

What's next for YOUTH MNISTRY?

What's next for YOUTH MINISTRY is a question I think about because I am always asking what is next for the our youth ministry here at Grace Community Church. If you hope to invest in teens (not just the teens that come to your church) then you better be asking that question often. The other factor that makes this process more difficult for us is that we are asking the same question for our church as a whole. How can our church be a place where teens are a integral part of everything we do not just  an age group we provide a ministry or service for. One thing I know for sure is that God is advancing His Kingdom through youth ministries all across the country. Sure you may read articles about terrible statistics or declining churches but God is doing just fine accomplishing His mission. One of the amazing shifts I see God birthing is moving youth ministry from simply being church centered to city centered. What I mean is that we are seeing churches partner in order to create youth ministries that will reach kids from all kinds of backgrounds and them point them back to the local churches that are partnered together. Here at Relevant Student Ministry we are one of those type ministries who is trying to think about our city as much as we focus on building our churches. We are two churches partnering to create one youth ministry that serves the city. Why? We believe that every teen in our city deserves a next level student ministry regardless of their church denomination, family, or background. In both our locations we have teens that come from all kinds of backgrounds. Some go to our churches and some don't. That's fine. I really believe this is what the next phase of youth ministry looks like here in the United States. The team at Youth Specialties found this group of churches partnering together to serve their city. Check this out, be inspired, think about what this could look like in your city...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's your motivation for CHANGE?

What's your motivation for implementing CHANGE in your organization? I think this is a question we need to ask ourselves constantly as we lead the staff and volunteers around us. A healthy organization, ministry, non-profit is one that utilizes change in order for advance the mission. There are two kinds of change I see ministry leaders embracing...
  • CHANGE that empowers the STATUS QUO // this is change that is made to protect the existing structure of an organization. I see leaders choosing to implement small changes to satisfy people who are not satisfied while at the same time doing nothing different. Change that empowers the status quo likes to talk about change, talk about names, talk about plans more than carry out actual renovation. These are changes that distract from any real change of direction that might happen in an organization. Change that empowers the status quo is used to protect weak leadership and lack of vision. If you are making changes with the motivation to protect the status quo then your only mission is to protect systems and structures that were created in the past.
  • CHANGE that advances the MISSION // this is the kind of change that helps your organization experiment and innovate in a constantly changing culture. Change with the goal of advancing the mission is grounded in vision and strategy. This is change that is willing to risk what we currently "do" and "have" for the sake of what is possible. This is the kind of change that helps the organization stay fresh and empowers team members to think about what could be in the future if we took a risk. Change should be anchored by mission, vision, and strategy. When it is then risks can be taken, programs can be changed, staff can be hired because of WHAT IS POSSIBLE.
Organizations that are thriving today are led by leaders willing to CHANGE to advance the mission (not out preferences). Why is your organization implementing change? If you are just trying to protect existing structures maybe you should stop CHANGING and figure out what your mission, vision, and strategy are in the first place.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

People of The Second Chance // check this out!

A few years ago at Catalyst I got to hear from 2 guys named Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite and learned about their mission to help people understand and live out the second chances God gives his people. We call that grace. It is messy but so needed. The Catalyst team gave us a book written by Mike and Jud called Deadly Viper Character Assignments (you can only buy it used now, it is a long story!) and the book rocked my world. Mike Foster has founded an organization I would love for you to check out called People of The Second Chance and he has written another book called Gracenomics. The team at POTSC just made this video and you have to check it out. It is just way too funny, GREAT work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

PARENTS: change the plan and enjoy it!

Today was a change of plan day around our house. The snow came down, school got closed, and I rearranged my day to be at home for the morning. The change of plan was perfect because it allowed us to make some memories. As a parent one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is make memories with them AND make them often. I know there is an argument that quality memories are what matter most but I argue that a quantity makes a huge difference also. Why wait till vacation to do some fun stuff with your kids when you can find small ways to connect in the normal flow of life. Kids don't need extravagant they just need us to be present in the moment with them. Sledding today cost nothing for us but a rearranged schedule. I think the memory was worth it. I made a quick video of our morning...check it out!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top 5 / reasons to rethink mentoring

I am so thankful for the leaders who have mentored me over the years. When I look back on my time in ministry there were so many people who took the time to invest in me and gave me opportunities to lead. I have now learned that mentoring is not an age thing. You don't have to be older to start mentoring. To start the mentoring process you have to look around and invest in the leaders God is placing around you. Here are 5 reasons I think you should be intentional with mentoring...
  1. When I think of mentoring I thing of coaching. >> When I mentor someone I build a relationship of significance and I try to pass on what I have learned through ministry and life. That is coaching at its best!
  2. When we mentor/coach we set people up to succeed. >> When we mentor we make ourselves available for others. So many times mentors are able to help people see that next step. If nothing else we get to be a voice of encouragement to help others press on.
  3. When we mentor someone our past mistakes help future leaders avoid mistakes.
  4. When we mentor we connect with model of leadership development that Jesus used. >> yea, this is what Jesus did with those 12 disciples. That was simply mentoring.
  5. When I mentor another leader I get to be a small part of the Kingdom of God advancing. >> There is nothing like celebrating a victory with a friend and when it is Kingdom based it gets even better. When my friends succeed I get to be a small part of that through mentoring...I get to be a part of that story.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

spiritual ARROGANCE?

Arrogance...that is a strong word and when you talk about spiritual arrogance it goes to an entirely new level. Nothing makes the Christian look less like Christ than arrogance. We are a people who have been blessed with truth. We have been redeemed through Christ. We also never see Jesus modeling arrogance for his followers. Why do we see so much arrogance in the lives of people who claim to follow Christ? I seriously believe it is this arrogance that keeps many from the church today. Arrogance drives people away. Arrogance does not allow questions. Arrogance does not listen. The challenge for leaders today is to confront spiritual arrogance and not be afraid to challenge it. Donald Miller talked about the spiritual arrogance he sees in this generation recently on his blog...(this post caught a ton of flack and is not on the blog anymore, it still appeared in my Google reader, I think Donald nailed it)

But I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that a little bit of truth in the hands of the immature turns immediately into a sense of superiority, and usually an attack on whatever position is seen as contradictory.
 

What is really happening here is a young man who is struggling for an identity, to tell the world that he is right and smart, uses some bit of theology as a flag for his identity, skipping the part where the truth about God he has learned humbles him and brings him to his knees, and makes his heart tender and broken for those who are suffering outside the unconditional love of Christ. It’s a disgusting trick, and it isn’t from God.
 

When we are young or immature, right theology makes us feel superior, but when we are older and more mature, a study of theology makes us feel inferior and unworthy, undeserved, and grateful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

one word that could change your family life...

The one word that could change your family life is NO. I'm not talking about saying NO more to your kids, we do that all the time! I am talking about all the other people out there that keep demanding more and more time, attention, and money from your family. This past week we had a NO moment at home. Kozbi's school planned a choir Christmas event and we had gymnastics and basketball practice planned for the girls. We told the school NO and made sure the girls honored their commitments. We could say NO to the school event because as a family we are focusing on basketball and gymnastics and we are very determined to not be the family that does "everything". I think so often families are so scared they are going to miss something that they destroy family life at home to make everyone else happy...make the school happy, the church happy, the coach happy while at the same time robbing our kids of time together. If we never choose to say NO when will we have time to play a board game, shoot basketball, bake a cake, watch a movie, or take a trip together as a family. As a family if you want to say NO more often...
  • Decide what is most important // as a family choose what matters most and use that standard as a guide to saying NO.
  • It's ok to have NOTHING TO DO when you choose to LEVERAGE TIME with your kids // saying NO is not a excuse for you as a parent to play golf or scrapbook more. It's ok to have nothing on the calendar as long as you build in quality and quantity time with your kids. They need to know we want to spend time with them.
  • Saying NO will bring both BALANCE and CONFLICT // just know up front that saying NO will not always be easy for your kids or people around you. Balance comes with a price but in the long run it is worth it!
  • Saying NO helps show kids how to manage the demands of life // we have to model wise time management for our kids. Saying NO helps kids understand how to balance the demands of life.
  • Our goal is to have a healthy family and marriage NOT please everyone // why make everyone else around you happy at the expense of your relationship with your kids and spouse. Don't trade away your family life for people pleasing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

North Point's iBand...why? because we can!

You have to take a few minutes and check out this opener the team at North Point did as they launched their Christmas series. You may watch it and wonder why any church would do this in a service! The truth is that creativity and fun are a big deal and we need so much more of it in our church context. Thanks for NP team for sharing this moment. Great idea...check it out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

What does our team at GCC value?

It has been fun to watch our staff grow here at Grace Community Church. We have worked hard to bring people onto the team who will help our ministries advance. Staff is always added to help make ministry dreams become a reality with the help of our amazing volunteers here at GCC. We are in a partnership with our volunteers. We believe our volunteers are as called to ministry as any of us on staff and we work hard to link arms as we serve together.

Last week we spend some time in our staff meeting asking this question. What does a staff member of GCC need to look like? I loved some of these responses. Our people form our leadership culture! What are the values of people who work here...check out some of the responses and we started by saying we must always be people passionate for Jesus and dedicated to our families, check out these other values we want to characterize our team...
  • motivated
  • they have a servant's heart
  • trustworthy
  • team player
  • warrior spirit
  • enduring
  • flexible
  • people of integrity
  • grace giving
  • healthy (emotionally spiritually and physically)
  • authentic
  • forward thinking
  • have a desire for excellence
  • accessible
  • ability to say NO
  • fun

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Top 5 / reason to involve your FAMILY in your ministry

I had the chance to hear Phil Fulmer, former Tennessee Volunteer football coach, speak a month ago. One of the questions he was asked was why he always had one of his daughters by his side after every game. Coach Fulmer said he wanted his girls to feel a part of the program, to understand what their dad was doing during the season, and to understand the responsibility their dad had in leading the program. Chelsea and I have always tried to involve our kids in our student ministry for many of the same reasons. Here are our TOP 5 reasons we choose to involve or entire family in the ministries we lead...
  1. Relationships > we want to expose our kids to leaders who will model what following Christ looks like. Our kids have known amazing student leaders like Patrick Willis, Nate Edmondson, Chelsea Henderson, and Emily Eayre (and so many more I just can't name all of ya). Our kids have also been loved on by our great volunteer teams and staff. Their lives are better because of those relationships.
  2. Responsibility > we want our kids to understand what dad does at work and how mom supports and advances that mission. When your kids see that they matter most AND you also have a important job they understand the sacrifice when it's work time or travel time.
  3. Priority > we want our kids to know what matters...serving is a huge part of our life. If we are going to live life as a family we want them to know the church matters, serving God matters, and that we would do this for FREE. We just happen to get paid to do it!
  4. They understand US better > as our kids have been AROUND our ministry environments they have seen us in our element. They have seen us lead, laugh, and cry as we have served. I just think they understand who we are better.
  5. Life change > over the years our kids are able to see life change first hand. They get to see that Jesus actually does change lives. We hope our kids get to experience the power of God not just hear about it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

RECYCLE...your Bible // Dec. 5 @ Grace Community Church

This Sunday is our first (re)Word Sunday at GCC. We are asking people to bring their unused Bibles to church so we can distribute them to people who need a copy! We want to RECYCLE BIBLES. We encounter people all the time who don't have a Bible and many of us have copies we are not using anymore. Maybe we are not using them because we have versions on our phones or Kindles. Maybe we have a new version we like more. Maybe we have Bibles that were a gift that we are never going to use. If that is you, then join us Sunday as we recycle our unused Bibles and get them to people who need a copy. All you need to do Sunday is bring them to the 8:30, 10. or 11:30 service at GCC and drop them off. We will do the rest!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

make some MISTAKES...

It is impossible to grow the organization you lead if you never make mistakes. When I talk about mistakes I am not talking about character issues! There is no personal growth to be gained from telling a lie, stealing, or taking a character shortcut. The kind of mistakes I am talking about are mistakes that happen when try something new, restructure, or experiment with a new strategy. If you are not failing you are not trying. If you run a mistake free ministry then I know you are too safe for innovation to happen. Some of our greatest "wins" have come from our team being willing to take a chance. Many times we experienced mistakes in the middle of advancing toward the "win" but the mistakes were necessary pain along the road of forward progress. When we first launched Relevant Student Ministry we were small...I mean really small. We had nothing to loose so we had the freedom to reinvent and re imagine what could be. Being small gives you the flexibility to create a culture of risk. Being small allows you to lay the foundation of mistake making....risk taking...experimentation with your leadership team. If you're the leader then you have to give your team the encouragement to take some big risks and make some mistakes. You also have to help your team learn from your mistakes and get better. Do you want to reach people no one else is reaching? Do you want to try new strategies to help people grow in their faith? Do you want to grow? It will only come through taking a risk and being willing to make a few mistakes. Go for it, make some mistakes!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the WORK ENVIRONMENT is changing...

 The "work environment" is changing and I think for the better. The way we work, create, and lead is shifting in this generation and I love learning from leaders who are trying to shake up the status quo. I just finished reading two must read books that focus on the way we work and the way we make ideas become a reality. If you lead any size organization, church, business, or department then you need to check out these 2 books and process how these ideas might enhance your environment.

REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of the company 37 Signals wrote this book to provide an inside look at the work environment around their company. The book will make you uncomfortable, make you think, and make you evaluate why you do what you do at work. Why do we meet? How should we plan? Why do we never evaluate how and why we work. The book asks some amazing questions and provides some ideas that I think could help most organizations work better. Because this is an inside look at one organization you will not agree with everything but you will be pushed to think outside the box.




MAKING IDEAS HAPPEN by Scott Belsky is a book aimed straight at the heart of those who create. All of us have ideas. Making an idea become a reality is the hard part. I talk to so many great leaders who serve in churches all across the country who are great idea generators but terrible when it comes to delivering results. This is a book that will help you structure your work so you make you ideas come to life. This is a call to action. This is a must read for creatives inside the church. Check it out!

Monday, November 29, 2010

what matters most?

You are looking at my broken Macbook Pro screen. Yep, I accidentally ran over my laptop and Kindle over Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, I am serious. I ran over my laptop! While unloading our car to get something for my daughter I accidentally left my black backpack on the ground behind the car and backed right over it later in the night. I almost passed out when I saw it. My kids were watching and they know that Dad loves his Mac. Somehow I kept it together...I am not sure how but I just kept telling myself, THIS IS JUST STUFF (I also walked away from the car to VENT!). I immediately remembered I had backed up my Mac the day before. I guess that is really why I was able to not explode in front of my girls! My "replacement" Kindle just came in today and I am still waiting on my new Mac to get here. To be honest I am a tech addict so this has been a great few days to process what really matters. I bet I am not the only one who has leveraged technology to be a better pastor and leader. The problem comes when  the tools we use break or don't work. When things go wrong, break, glitch what matters most is exposed. What matters most is our character. What matters most is perseverance. What matters most is attitude. I was reminded this past Thanksgiving that thing break, things mess up, things go wrong. What matters most is how we respond!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 5 / stuff I'm THANKFUL for in 2010

It is the day before Thanksgiving and I am hanging out this morning with my kids and enjoying some vacation time before we head out of town to visit family. I usually do my Top 5 post on Friday but I am about to shut it down till next week. Since it is the day before my favorite holiday I thought I would talk about the Top 5 things I am thankful for in 2010. With 5 things I know I have to leave out some things that have been amazing but that is why it is Top 5 and not Top 25. Here are the Top 5 things I am thankful for in 2010...
  • I'm thankful for 15 amazing years spent with my wife >>  We are one month away but Chelsea and I get to celebrate our 15th anniversary this December. I am blown away by the amazing woman God placed in my life. I love the passion Chelsea has for our family and for Christ. Thanks for putting up with me Chelsea!
  • I'm thankful for another year with Kozbi and Kelyn >> I am blown away by the depth of my relationship with my girls. There is nothing better than being a dad and every year with my kids is a gift to be cherished. I'm so blessed to be DAD to such amazing girls.
  • I'm thankful for our upcoming Kenwood Campus at Grace Community Church >> In just a few months we will launch our second campus at GCC. I am thankful for leadership that is willing to change plans in order to follow God's plan for our church. This is going to be an amazing adventure as we seek to reach our city for Christ.
  • I'm thankful for our Family Ministry Staff at GCC >> I am so blessed to get to serve with Katrina Watts, Adam Bayne, and Brandon Reed. We have an incredible team of leaders investing in kids, teens, college students, and parents.
  • I'm thankful for the amazing NEXT GENERATION leaders I have met this past year >> seriously I have met some amazing leaders working with kids, teens, and college students across the country this year and it has brought me new hope. Because of blogs, twitter and Facebook we now can collaborate in amazing ways and actually learn from each other. I am thankful for this new avenue of connecting and collaborating.
I would love to hear your top 5...if you have time leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook. Thanks for taking time to follow my blog and have an amazing Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the power of SMALL GROUP

Student Pastor...if you want to make a difference in the lives of teenagers then make sure you empower your small group leaders to be the youth ministers in your ministry. This past week we had the chance to watch one of our small group leaders help 5 of the girls in her small group take the step of baptism. In our church we empower small group leaders to baptize people in their group. We got to watch a small group leader baptize the girls in her group. How amazing is that? That moment happened because a caring leader walked her small group through the idea of baptism. This happened Sunday because of the power of small group. Here are some reasons be believe in small groups here at Relevant Student Ministry...
  • Small groups provide a relationship of significance for EVERY STUDENT >> every teen that comes to RELEVANT needs a mentor. Small group leaders help provide another voice in a teens life pointing them toward Christ.
  • Small groups help teens take the NEXT STEP >> small group leaders know where each student is at spiritually and can encourage each person in group to take that next step toward Christ. Following Christ is about steps not leaps!
  • Small group leaders are able to PARTNER WITH PARENTS >> small group leaders have the chance to link arms with parents. Both parents and small group leaders want to see our students make wise choices and grow in their faith. That is a unique bond that unites small group leaders and parents.
  • Small group leaders MULTIPLY LEADERSHIP >> our ministry is better because we have many leaders not just 2 leaders on staff. Our small group leaders help our environment for students thrive not just survive. Your student ministry is only as strong as your volunteer team so make sure and invest in other leaders.

Monday, November 22, 2010

allergic to CHURCH?

When I was a kid I was allergic to almost everything. I took this test where they poked needles in my back and yep I was allergic to trees, grass, dogs, and cats. I then had to take allergy shots to build my resistance against those allergies. Over time I got over many of the things that bothered me because the shots kept exposing me to the things that I was allergic to in small doses. I tell you that wonderful story to talk about something else I am now allergic too and that is ineffective churches, outdated rules and religion. You want to know why people are resistant to Christ? Most of the time it springs from ineffective churches, outdated rules, and religion. When I get around a church immersed in poor leadership, legalism, and stuffy religion I feel like I am cuddling a cat (yep, very allergic to cats). I think my church allergy has grown because I now spend my life discovering ways to reinvent church for today rather than protecting ways we did church 50 years ago. When I get around old methods that clearly are not working anymore it almost like being in a house with mold...I HAVE TO GET AWAY. Here are a few things that kick my church allergy into next level craziness...
  • Poor Leadership / I am amazed that so many churches allow people with little character and leadership ability to make decisions and have influence. For most churches the people who shout the loudest and give the most money have the most control. Only problem there is that Jesus never modeled that mindset. Churches need a revolution of Christ-like leaders to rise up and stop the noise.
  • Poor Communication / seriously, I don't blame people outside the church for not coming to church when I hear most communication inside the church. Poor may be a nice word for much that goes on today. We have the greatest message in all of history wrapped in Jesus Christ. we have no room for poor communication!
  • Tradition Worship / not "traditional worship", music is only preference. Worship of traditions on the other hand is nothing more than worshiping a small man-made God. Traditions make us feel in control. Worship of traditions only place us in control.
  • Wasted Resources / think of all the resources being spent on dying organizations (churches). What if dying churches started giving their buildings to church plants that need space to grow? What an idea!
  • Legalism / obsession with rules, procedures, dress, behavior is a passion for many churches. Our goal is to make disciples of Jesus not robots who follow rules.
  • Inward Obsession / when you hear church leaders talk about how they are just focusing on helping the people who attend "grow" then you can bet they have not thought about reaching their city in a while. Inward obsession leads to a church culture club only interested in caring for one another. The others...those who have not found Christ get left outside our church doors.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Top 5 / reasons I love my KINDLE

I love books and I love to read. I had a hard time deciding to make the jump to the Kindle. I have been an Amazon-aholic for a long time. I am also a Apple fan and I spent many months trying to choose between saving up for an iPad or getting the Kindle. Love the iPad but I could not justify buying a large iPhone for the price I would pay. I have had my Kindle for a month and I am almost done with my first book and have been using it for my Bible reading also. Guess what...I LOVE IT. Here are five reasons I am in love with my Kindle...
  1. My shelves are full > I am running out of room in my office after grad school and 12 years of ministry. I also know I will still add books to my librabry but now with my Kindle I will be saving a ton of room!
  2. Whispersync > all of my books are available and sync on my iPhone, MacBook Pro, and Kindle. In one month this has already been an amazing feature.
  3. Feel > when I read with my Kindle it feels like a book and it is so light. Even out in the bright sunlight I am clearly chill and read. I needed an ereader with the feel of a book and I got it.
  4. Notes > the ability to highlight and make notes while I am reading is so amazing. I will not have a highlight sheet for every book I read. The ability to use this feature as a speaker and blogger is so cool!
  5. Value > seriously, the best 139 bucks I have ever spent. I use this every day multiple times. The battery lasts for 1 month. I never have to have books mailed to me and most books are cheaper. The new Kindles are packed with features that are easy to use. A great tool that works for my life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Run for a Reason 2 / CHRISTMAS FOR COSTA RICA

Here at Grace Community Church we are sponsoring our second race so we thought we would make a video to inspire you to make a difference in Costa Rica. Check this out...it is simply amazing work...



Ok, so maybe it is not that inspiring but here is the info you need to help make this race happen!

Run for a Reason 2: Christmas for Costa Rica


On Saturday, December 11th, GCC will host the Run for a Reason 2: Christmas for Costa Rica 5K and One Mile Fun Run to benefit the ministry of Jason and Kerby Harpst. Not a runner? Come and walk one or both courses! Registration will be available between services until race day, download a registration form online at www.gcomchurch.com , or register at www.active.com

Register before November 22 to be guaranteed a long-sleeved race shirt. You can register for the 5K as an Individual, a member of a team, or as a “ghost.” A ghost runner is one who wants to support the ministry and get a t-shirt, but not run 3.1 miles.
 

For more information or to volunteer to help with the race, contact Donna Pittman at pittmansfive@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

new leader to bring on your next RETREAT...

This year at CRAVE we added a new volunteer leader that I don't think we will ever be able to go without. We brought in a video editor for our team and set them loose to focus on making some great stuff for us to use. Grant Caldwell took the weekend off from the University of Tennessee, missed the Vols beat Ole Miss, and was our volunteer video guy for the weekend. we set him up with 2 flip HD cameras, a Mac, and let him create. Having a video editor helped our staff focus on teens, small group leaders, and production. It also kept us from staying up till 4AM to make the retreat recap video. check out one video Grant made for LATE NIGHT...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

why we partner with XP3 students...

Right now you can sign up for a free series from XP3 Students and I hope you will check the FREE series out, it was one of our favorites here at Relevant. 3 1/2 years ago when we launched Relevant Student Ministry we had the chance to rethink youth ministry from top to bottom. We dreamed, planned, and recruited leadership with the vision of doing youth ministry in a way that would reach students and allow teens to live out their faith in the middle of their world. We wanted Relevant to be one part of their life...not the center of their life. We wanted to support our church not replace the church. We wanted to create a youth ministry that any teen in our city could be a part of because we feel teens deserve an amazing student ministry regardless where they to church on Sunday. Right off the bat we partnered with XP3 Students to provide series for our large group experience and small group resources for our leaders. 3 1/2 years later we are so thrilled we partnered with XP3 because we can see the difference it has made in the lives of students and families. Here are some reasons we love working with the team at XP3...
  • Small Group priority >> the xp3 team designs each series with the small group in mind. everything is filtered through how the topic will flesh out in the context of small group. we have seen real life change happen in our small groups and we are stoked to work with a team who values it's importance.
  • Freedom to plan for our ministry >> with XP3 we can schedule our series in any order we need. We know what direction our teens need to head and the flexibility to schedule for our ministry is great.
  • Amazing graphics, video bumps, and large group ideas >> you will not find better graphics, video bumps, and large group resources out there and all of it is available to use for promo with your online presence!
  • More time to focus on what matters most for our team >> when we collaborate with XP3 our staff has more time to focus on what is most important to the team. Every element of our ministry gets better when we collaborate and work with another team!
  • Multi-site enabler >> We are one ministry with two locations. Xp3 enables a multi-site youth ministry to stay connected!
  • XP3 listens and supports our ministry >>when we have ideas to offer or have questions about how the XP3 strategy and curriculum works the team at XP3 is always ready to help. That is what a partnership is about...working together to reach students.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reggie Joiner talks PARENTING...

I am so excited to have Reggie Joiner guest posting on the blog today to talk about parenting. No other leader in the country has influenced our family ministry at Grace Community Church like Reggie. You can read more from Reggie at www.orangeparents.org and http://orangeleaders.com and that you can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/reggiejoiner.

Time flies fast from elementary to college age, so get ready to change your parenting habits. Every child seems to move in warp speed toward the teenage years.

I was caught by surprise when a new declaration of personal independence was automatically assumed the day my son got his driver’s license. It was as though I represented an oppressive and extremely unfair regime whenever I tried to enforce any rule. (Whenever I said no to one of my teenage daughters, she would go to her bedroom, close the door and play Britney Spears’ “Overprotected” over and over again for over an hour, loud enough for me and the whole house to hear.) I have to admit, it was difficult for me to transition from parenting children to parenting teenagers. I had worked with teenagers all of my life, but I had never actually had any living in my home. I am still a recovering parent of teens, but here are a few things I have recognized about this chapter of parenting:

It’s a complicated time.
While your children are transitioning from being dependent to independent, you are transitioning as a parent from having authority to leveraging your influence. You can’t parent them the same way you did when they were in elementary school.

It’s an urgent time.
Face it. You know a window is closing fast. Ready or not, in a few short years your children will be leaving home. You are running out of time, and it is easy to feel a little panicked. Everything seems to matter more (grades, decisions, relationships.) And to make matters worse, everything costs more too. Have I mentioned the price of college these days? Feeling better?

Keep fighting for your teenager’s emotional health by investing in relational time with them. Especially during this uncertain season, they need a positive relationship with you more than you or they may realize. Here are a few things to remember that might help you make the time you spend with your teenager more meaningful:

• Find a common activity you can both enjoy.
Go to favorite restaurant, movie, or concert. Discover a hobby or a type of recreation you can do together. Find common interests. It only takes a few.

• Make sure there is no agenda.
They will see right through a masked motive and interpret your effort to hang out as manipulation. Don’t forget. This is about building your relationship. So don’t use this time to deal with issues. Guard the fun.

• Keep it outside the house.
You probably already spend most of your time together in your home. It can be full of duties, responsibilities, and distractions, so get out and do something that is a contrast to your normal routine.

• Do it without friends.
Anyone you add to your time will drastically change the dynamic. Give your teenager individual and undivided attention, without your friends or their friends, and even without siblings.

• Mutually agree to turn off cell phones.
Make at least part of your time a no-electronic zone. Phones have a way of distracting you from meaningful and engaging dialogue.

• Put it on the schedule (but not on a Friday).
Be sensitive to how a teenager wants to organize his or her life. Discover the rhythm that exists in their schedule and agree with them on the best times to hang out.

• Stay flexible (and be willing to reschedule frequently).
A teenager’s world is always changing. They could feel trapped if you are rigid about your scheduled time with them. Don’t let your time with them become a competition with their other interests and priorities. Avoid making them choose between you and something else they really want to do.

• Remember your goal is not to change them.
Avoid getting into conversations where you are trying to correct or improve a behavior. Save those conversations for another time. You can shut down a positive experience if you try to leverage it to fix something.

• Keep working at it.
Learning to communicate with those you love can be awkward at times. Strive to ask the right kind of questions and listen more than you talk. You are not trying to become your teen’s best friend, but you are laying an important foundation for the kind of friendship you want to enjoy with them during their adult years.

• Use it as an opportunity to give your teenager approval.
I’m amazed at how many adults left home without ever really feeling like their parents believed in them. Look for numerous opportunities to encourage their specific strengths and skills.

Having fun and spending quality time together is increasingly important as your relationship with your child changes. This week, find out what kind of activities your teenager likes, and schedule some intentional time together when you can simply enjoy being together.

And if you have other tips you’ve discovered about spending time with a teenage son or daughter, please post them in the comments so we can all learn from our shared experiences.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

a few shots from CRAVE 2010...

It has been a wild 5 days. When I can't make it to the blog you know my life is insane. This past week was our fall retreat at Relevant Student Ministry. Here are a few shots from CRAVE 2010...



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the beginning of ALIGNMENT

When people talk about family ministry the first question that pops up is how we are able to get ministries aligned and working together? The beginning of the alignment process for our family ministry team started here at Grace Community Church with 2 choices. We chose to embrace a strategy and we chose a curriculum to support that strategy. 
  1. We chose to EMBRACE A STRATEGY >> our team had a powerful desire to rethink ministry. When we heard about the strategy of designing ministries that would partner with families we could not turn back. We watched other churches carry out the strategy. We went to conferences that talked about the strategy. We helped our volunteers understand the strategy. We hired staff to fulfill the strategy. The strategy is not an option for our staff or volunteer team. If you are not ready to push the strategy of creating engaging environments for the next generation and partnering with families then you do not need to be on our family ministry team. Alignment slowly came as we all bought into a dream that we wanted to see become a reality in our city.
  2. We chose a CURRICULUM TO SUPPORT OUR STRATEGY >> we simply decided that we were not going to settle and just get by when it came to curriculum. The first director of kids ministry at our church looked at everything out there to see what resources would help Grace fulfill the strategy. We landed on partnering with the team at Orange and we never looked back. In order to better align all our environments we began to use the Orange curriculum in every environment. The curriculum helps us speak the same language...engage parents at every level...move kids and teens through a process of growth...provide our entire church with resources they can trust...unite with churches all across the country with the same strategy.
Alignment is a hard process that continually needs attention. Without addressing these first two issues you will never get there. Embrace a strategy and then build your curriculum around that process!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I DARE YOU...to try a new curriculum

I dare you to try a new curriculum. I know some of you deal with curriculum just like I did in the past. You take your curriculum and you make the most of it. You argue that there is no perfect curriculum so why change. You use what has been used in the past in your ministry environment because your leadership understands it. You try to help your denominational publisher understand what you need and continue to live in frustration when it all comes up short. What if there was a better way? What if curriculum needed to be more about a strategy rather than an information bundle or teaching plan. What if there is something out there that might revolutionize the way you think about curriculum?

Five years ago when we launched Grace Community Church we chose to partner with the team at Orange and began to use material called 252 Basics for our kids ministry. The choice led us to take our team to the first ever Orange Conference and began our journey toward building a cohesive family ministry team that would invest in the lives of kids and parents. We now use all of the Orange Curriculum options in our ministry environments...First Look (preschool) 252 Basics (k-5) and XP3 (youth ministry). We believe so strongly in this curriculum because it feeds into a strategy that helps us invest in the next generation at church and home through partnering with families. This week I am going to blog about ways that First Look, 252 Basics, and XP3students are making a difference in our church. I am also putting out a challenge. Go try this stuff and TRY IT FOR FREE. Yes, the team at Orange is so confident is what they do they want to give it to you free so you can experience this for yourself. I dare you to take some time this week and check out a new kind of curriculum, a curriculum built around a strategy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

TOP 5 /apps for my phone

Two years ago I made the jump from a regular cell phone to a smart phone. If you read this blog you know I am an Apple guy so of course I went with the iPhone 3g. I am excited about upgrading to the iPhone 4 in 2011but even right now with my 3g I can't imagine life without my smart phone now. I think it has made my ability to stay connected while away from the office so easy. It has also enabled me to take my office anywhere I want and stay plugged in. Here are the apps I love and most of these are available for android phones also. Also I am going to cheat and give ya 6...consider it a bonus!
  • Evernote // this is a note application that syncs with Evernote on my mac and online! There is nothing better out there for taking notes then having them available on all your devices. Have an idea...open Evernote and don't let it slip away!
  • TweetDeck // love using TweetDeck in order to keep track of the twittervere. It also syncs with what is going down on my Mac and allows me to tweet ideas and share pictures fast!
  • Facebook // you know most of our friends are now on FB and these guys have done an amazing job with the app. If I need to get a message to a teen I probably am going to text or FB message!
  • YouVersion // an amazing Bible tool and any version I want!
  • Kindle // I can read any of my Kindle books right on my iphone and any time I read it syncs back to my Kindle!
  • Yelp // at a conference and need to know where to grab lunch...YELP IT...amazing app that allows you to see what people recommend wherever you are in the United States!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

CREATIVITY is no accident

Our family ministry team here at Grace Community loves creativity but we have discovered thinking creatively is no accident. Ideas are easy and exciting to dream up. True creativity only comes to life when we embrace hard work and discipline. Today our student ministry team worked on videos for our fall retreat called CRAVE. I promise, video production is hard work. The idea came quickly but the execution was a different story. Our entire team had to work together to pull the project off. If you want to be a ministry that embraces creativity you better be ready to...
  • schedule creative TIME //  dedicated time is the most important aspect to bringing creativity to life. Projects take time and any team that will schedule time for creative projects can embrace creativity. If you never block off time for your creative projects they will never happen.
  • manage resources // creativity is at its best when we take limited resources and deliver amazing experiences. Managing resources means we use the tools, funding, and facilities we have to their greatest potential. If your excuse for not being creative involves tools, funding, or facilities every time then your never going to thrive creatively.
  • create deadlines // perfection does not exist and deadlines help us move forward and create. Create deadlines and make sure you deliver.
  • utilize volunteer talent // if you will just look around I bet you have creative people around you that have talents that are not being put to work. Put creative people around you and let their talents merge with your idea.
  • take a risk // at the heart of a creative ministry is the willingness to take risks. At some point you have to go for it and sometimes it will work and sometimes it will fall short, but creativity demands risk.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ministry & Diners Drive-ins, and Dives!



Hit my fourth Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives location for lunch this past Saturday with my brother (and children's pastor at Grace Community) at Athens Family restaurant in Nashville, TN. Any place that serves breakfast all day is my kind of place. On Triple D, Guy Fieri travels to country looking for local restaurants serving up amazing food and experiences. Every stop I have made has been next level amazing. After a few stops and watching tons of the episodes on Food Network I think there are a few ministry principles I think we can EXTRACT from these amazing eateries...
  • Excellence Matters // if you want to connect with people you better do something really really well. Choose what you are going to do then do that with 100% excellence!
  • Keep it Real // people know when something is genuine and they love it. Embrace authenticity, be yourself, and go for it!
  • Create an Experience // environment is a big deal...when people walk into your ministry your environment is telling your story. Create and experience and let your environment tell people a little of your story or the stories you are trying to write.
  • People will TALK // when people are impacted by your ministry...people will TALK. The best way to reach people is through...you guessed it...PEOPLE. People will talk when amazing things are happening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

processing THANKFULNESS

Last night my girls had an amazing time trick or treating in our neighborhood. The first thing both of them did when they came home was run to our kitchen table and dump it all out and just stare at it. One massive pile of candy. When they were able to see it all out of their bag they were able to really be THANKFUL for our neighborhood. (we have the best Halloween neighborhood in the country, for sure)

I think we need to get in the habit of taking time to look around and process all we have to be thankful for. When we step back we can really be...
  • thankful for our volunteers
  • thankful for our families
  • thankful for the staff we serve with
  • thankful for the resources we have
  • thankful for churches that believe in reaching the next generation
  • thankful for freedom to create and rethink our strategies
  • thankful we get to do what we love and call it OUR JOB
  • thankful for our Macbook Pros (ok, those of us who are Apple people)
  • thankful for Jesus Christ
In our culture of progress, innovation, and obsession with what is new it is easy to never process what it means to be thankful, to be content, to be grateful. I think for our generation of leadership we must become intentional about creating a culture of gratitude. Take some time...dump everything out on the table...process what you have to be thankful for!

Friday, October 29, 2010

TOP 5 / reasons staff members leave a church

We have all heard this when a staff member leaves our team..."God is calling me away." Trust me, I am a pastor who serves from the 2nd chair, not in the lead pastor role. There are reasons staff members change churches. Yes, God does call people away and most of the time God uses "holy discontent" to help people make moves in different directions. Making a ministry move is not a bad thing. I know church members/leaders take it personally. The question many people wonder is...WHY DID THEY LEAVE "US"...WHAT IS WRONG WITH "US? If you want the truth here goes...there are many more unhealthy churches than healthy churches out there. Here are my TOP 5 reasons I see staff members make ministry moves. Please let me know what you think...
  1. Disconnection from the "church">> so many times staff members leave because they just do not connect with the vision and direction of their current church.
  2. Lack of support >> when leaders lack support from the lead pastor or overal church leadership...when they have an insufficient budget...when they have no hope of ever getting needed space in a facility. Yep those three will do it. When staff members don't feel supported many times they leave.
  3. Chasing THE LADDER  >> many times it is just this simple...sometimes staff members are not given the freedom to move into other ministry areas in their current church. Staff members have to make moves in order to go in a new direction...focus on their passion...have more influence. I hate the ministry "ladder" but we know it exists.
  4. Burnout >> when leaders place ministry ahead of everything else burnout is on the horizon. So many times staff people leave because they are have been beaten down by the system, wrong priorities, and lack of balance.
  5. Maturity >> This happens when a staff leader discovers who they are and who they are not. That powerful combination leads many staff members to new adventures.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LEADERSHIP = making adjustments

The strategist makes a plan but leaders make adjustments. I spend every Saturday watching the Tennessee Volunteers. I have been watching the Vols since I was in 7th grade so I am pretty passionate about the team and I am fascinated by many correlations I see in how coaches lead teams and how ministry leaders lead volunteers. This year the Vols come into the game with great strategy and for the first half they play great. When the other team makes adjustments during halftime our team falls apart (our record is 2-5). We have a young team and young coaching staff and neither seem to make adjustments well.

This week it dawned on me that leadership is not just about crafting great strategy. At the core of leadership is the ability to make adjustments when circumstances change.
Leadership is the ability to make the strategy/plan become a reality in the midst of a constantly changing environment we like to call "the real world." Leaders have to be willing to make adjustments and I promise, your leadership ability will be evaluated by how your adjustments help of hinder your team's ability to accomplish the goal. What I see all too often are leaders who love their plan so much that they ignore the need to make adjustments to the plan. The problem is that your plan will never include the challenges that only God knows are coming. Choosing to not make adjustments just leads to frustration, poor results, and fractured volunteer teams. Being humble enough to admit that your strategy, your plan may not be perfect and making the needed adjustments just reveals that you are the kind of leader people will follow. Go ahead and be a leader...have the courage to make adjustments and lead your team to make a difference.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

why PRAY with our kids?

I could not help but laugh when I saw this. I needed this when I was a kid growing up (we prayed no matter what and no matter where we were...sometimes it got a little odd!). You have to check this video out. The video got me thinking...Why do we as a family pray before we eat? Not because we have too. Not because we want to "make God happy" that is never earned. I just want my kids and our family to have times when we pause and remember God is in control. Why just pray at meals? Pray before you leave in long trips. Pray before your kids go to bed. Pray when you kids are having a hard time. Praying with your kids is a great opportunity to show them what it means to pause and acknowledge God is in control. Check out this video and enjoy a good laugh!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teens...thanks for SERVING NOW

Nothing compares to the energy and passion of teenagers serving inside the local church. When we launched Grace Community 5 years ago we decided that we would leverage the leadership ability of teenagers. 5 years later when I look around at the volunteer leadership at GCC teens rise to the top. I am always blow away by their passion and dedication when we give them significant opportunities to make a difference. Here are a few reasons we think it is drastically important to give teens the chance to serve now...
  • When teens serve now they grow in their relationship with Christ...faster // there is just something significant that happens in the heart when we serve, our faith is tested!
  • When teens serve now they have more adult mentors investing in their life // we think every teen needs 5 adults who know and encourage them...one small group leader is not enough.
  • When teens serve now they connect to the CHURCH not just our student ministry. // student ministries will never be able to replace what happens when all generations gather to serve God through this thing we call church.
  • When teens serve now they discover ways to use their talents and abilities for the Kingdom of God // that might just help them have a head start when they head to college
  • When teens serve now they discover they are NEEDED in the local church // they find a place to belong not just attend

Monday, October 25, 2010

what a COLLEGE STUDENT is looking for at your church!

At Grace Community Church we have been working hard to process what college ministry should look like in our context. (big thanks to Brandon Reed who leads our college and high school ministries) I also know that every student pastor out there is trying to figure out how to best set up students to have a smooth transition into college life. Our team at RELEVANT Student Ministry has been so blessed to be able to watch tons of our students leave our ministry and then find spiritual family in their new college setting. Today I wanted to ask one of them, Grant Caldwell a student at the University of Tennessee, what he was looking for in a church when he left for college. Check this out...

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Going off to college can be such a huge change in your life. Most of the new stuff you can prepare for though. You visit the college, you apply to it, you pick out the new furniture for your dorm. You have a feel for what you are getting thrown into. One thing that you’re not ready for though, and there really isn’t any way to prepare for, is a new church. Most of the time you don’t think about the change until it’s your last Sunday at your own church. These are four things that I looked at the most when I got to try out churches in Knoxville…

Worship >> I realized it after I got to college: I got spoiled by the music at Grace and Remix. Worship is such a big part of my morning at church. It prepares me for the message and gets me connected with God, and most of the time it’s the first indication of how the service is going to be. I’m not a hymns type of guy. You can check this out online before, most churches will tell you if it is a contemporary or traditional church.

Pastor >> This might be an obvious one to list, but sometimes its one that can be overlooked too. Leave a church one Sunday without getting anything out of the message and you’ll completely understand. It’s something that never happened to me at Grace, but it’s happened a couple times since moving up here. It’s a bad feeling. Find a preaching style that matches up with your learning style. This ultimately ends up being one of the most important things to me.

Atmosphere >> This is sort of a big category, but I group everything not part of the service as its atmosphere. This includes how welcome the members make me feel, how formal the church is, and even the setup when you walk in the doors. Every church has its own personality, and its important to find one that fits you. Grace has helped me feel comfortable in jeans at church, and if that’s the case for you too, be looking for it in your new church.

Serve >> Teaching at Cross Street was one of the best parts of my Sundays, and it was one of the first things I looked for in a church up here. For me, this led me to look at smaller church plants that would give me the chance to serve earlier.

You’ll eventually find a church that suits you. An easy way to find them is by getting involved with an on campus ministry- BCM, Campus Crusades for Christ, Navigators, Younglife. Get connected with upperclassmen with similar views and they will point you in the right direction with churches.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TOP 5 / books I have read in 2010

There were some great books that came out this year and some older stuff I have had to catch up on. It was hard to nail down just 5 books and I may currently be reading one that should be on this list but hey, this is a LIST POST so here goes. This are my the TOP 5 favorite reads this year...
  1. Linchpin by Seth Godin // great book that helps define what kind of leaders will shape organizations in the future
  2. Parenting Beyond Your Capcity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof // amazing read about how the family and church can partner for greater impact!
  3. Church in the Making by Ben Arment // never read a better book focused on church planting...this is a must read for any pastor. First book to help me understand what happened through our church plant 5 years ago at Grace Community Church.
  4. Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni // want to know how to lead a better meeting...this book will help. In fact get every Lencioni book and read it ASAP!
  5. Slow Fade by Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar, and Abbie Smith // this book inspired our Family Ministry team to totally rethink how we reach college students and pushed us to restructure our staff.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

REACTIONARY change vs. INTENTIONAL change

Change is needed if an organization is going to be healthy. If you lead a church / ministry / non-profit then you have to be the change agent for your team. On their own people will avoid change...they will not ask for change...when change comes they will be frustrated with the change and talk about how great things used to be before the change. The fact still remains the same, HEALTHY ORGANIZATIONS embrace change and if you are the leader your responsibility is to lead the change process. When it comes to implementing change we have 2 options, reactionary change or intentional change.

People who lead through REACTIONARY CHANGE...
  • Make changes only when people complain about what the organization does or does not do
  • Delay implementing change until there is no other option
  • Try to limit the power of other people on their team to make needed changes
  • Resist the best ideas because too many people might not like the change
  • Move forward with change only when they as a leader is completely stressed by current circumstances
Implementing change as a reaction to circumstances many times leads us to compromise our mission and values as an organization. We change or refuse to change due to circumstances and complaints rather than for long term heath.

Leaders who lead through INTENTIONAL CHANGE...
  • See what is coming and change to prepare for what is next in the future of the organization
  • Filter ideas for change through the mission, strategy, and values of the organization
  • Empower other leaders in the organization to implement change when needed to bring health to the team
  • Implement change even when there is a risk the change may not work (you never know many times until you try!)
  • Embrace a culture of change through the entire organization...change is allowed and encouraged!
As a leader, how are you LEADING when it comes to change? Are you being intentional or are you simply reacting?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

THE GOOD FIGHT / what are we fighting for AT HOME?

Tonight we start THE GOOD FIGHT series at Relevant Student Ministry. One thing we know is that every family fights. When it comes to teens and parents we know that fighting goes to another level. The next three weeks we are going to try to help teens choose what they fight about at home. What if teens (and parents!) started fight for a better relationship with each other instead of fighting for control. Home can be a difficult place for teenagers but our prayer is that during the next three weeks we can help them know how to fight with purpose at home...fight for what matters most...fight for honor. Parents, God gave you your teenage son or daughter. Teens, God gave you your parents. Now what are we going to do?

If you are a parents at Grace Community Church you can follow along with the series on our iTunes podcast or by our parent updates on www.relevanstudents.com. The next three weeks are a potential game changer for your home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the HOME - CHURCH sync

We are constantly trying to sync what happens at home and church at Grace Community Church. Why keep parents in the loop with what is being talked about at church? We do it because what is talked about at home...modeled at home...lived out at home is just as important as what happens at church. This month my 7 year old is talking about the virtue of initiative in Cross Street. This is one of those months where we have been able to talk about the virtue as a family every day. Initiative is one of those things that parents GRIPE about together when talking about their kids. It has been fun to watch my girls challenge me on things they see that need to be done. It has also given me a chance to encourage my girls to see what needs to be done on their own...AND TAKE ACTION. So thankful for a preschool and children's ministry that empowers me as a Dad. I am thankful for God Time Cards that help guide us through discussing the virtue during the week. I'm thankful for a family experience every month that allows our family to have fun and learn together. I'm thankful for being kept in the loop by weekly emails about what will be talked about in my girls' small groups. Never forget that what happens at home is just as important as what we do on Sunday mornings!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is God actually using our FRUSTRATION?

Ben Arment says in his book, Church in the Making, "God uses frustration to shape a vision." His idea is that God actually uses our frustrations in ministry to shape us for a future only He can see clearly.  When it comes to being frustrated I may be an expert. For years I served with passion in the student ministries I led only to be overcome by a sea of frustration after my Sunday morning experience and "staff meeting" where everyone else in the room seemed to be just fine with the weekend. I was not OK. I knew there was a different way. I knew God was birthing something different in my heart, but I also grew tired of being frustrated. I grew weary of trying to fix broken environments and programs. I wondered what was next. Little did I know at the time that God was using all that frustration to show me who I was as a leader. What I had to learn was how to lead in the mist of frustration! I had to learn how to trust God. Many preschool, youth, and children's pastors out there are frustrated. You are not sure if you can head back into staff meeting again this week. I just want to remind you today that God may be trying to shape a vision in your heart as you face the frustration. You job title, your ministry role, your position on the team does not define the leader God has called you to be. If you are stuck in a cycle of frustration remember...
  • Guard your heart // don't get bitter...make sure you heart and mind are resting in Christ.
  • Watch your mouth // make sure you publicly support your leadership even when you are frustrated. Public support leads to private influence. (thanks Andy Stanley!)
  • Make it better // work to be part of the solution. If you are frustrated then LEAD...the worse that can happen is you get fired and that may be the best thing that could ever happen!
  • Don't stop dreaming // the future is in God's hands, not in the hands of your current organization. God wants to use you to advance the Kingdom of God and you won't be in this place of frustration forever. Never stop learning, questioning, challenging, and dreaming!

Friday, October 15, 2010

TOP 5 / magazines I am reading

On Fridays I am going to start my TOP 5 series. Thanks for the idea to Ben Reed. Everybody loves a list...ok maybe it is just me that likes a list. Today's TOP 5 are the five magazines I am reading right now that really have my attention. With so much online content I have had to limit what magazines I subscribe to. These 5 are my favorites, there are other I like but these have my full attention. Check our my TOP 5 and feel free to comment on Facebook or the blog and let me know your TOP 5.
  • Collide // www.collidemagazine.com // one of my passions is creating environments where people can connect with God. Collide is dedicated to creatives who form environments inside the church. Great resource!
  • RELEVANT // www.relevantmagazine.com // This magazine has helped me wrap my arms around "culture" better than any other tool out there. Music, movies, social movements, you name it...RELEVANT has been there trying to help readers process and understand what is going on. Every student and college ministry leader out there needs to be reading this.
  • K Magazine // www.kidzmatter.com // As a Family Pastor who has been immersed in student ministry for the past 10 years this magazine helps me get my arms around what is happening in children's ministry. Very progressive, love what these guys are doing!
  • Neue //www.neuemagazine.com // Fantastic view into the world of CHURCH MINISTRY as a whole and what is coming next for those of us who lead inside the church.
  • Fortune // http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune // This is where the leadership nerd in me comes out. I love the view of the business world I get from Fortune. I know some of you would kick yourself in the head if you had to read it but I really enjoy learning from leaders outside our ministry bubble.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

a fresh perepsctive for PARENTS

Sometimes parents just need a fresh perspective...a new voice...a new idea and sometimes that voice comes from the most unexpected place. This past year at Orange 2010 we had the chance to hear from Rev Run...yes Run DMC Rev Run. Rev is a dad and he opened up his life for all of us to watch on MTV a few years ago. Rev is a Christ follower and has chosen to use his influence to help families live better lives. Check out this interview and get ready for a refreshing perspective on parenting...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PLEASE save us from our...PHONES

I catch a ton of grief from my kids...my wife...my friends about how much I am on my phone. I know I am not alone. We are more connected and more distracted from the present than ever. I have to constantly fight to be IN THE MOMENT. At any moment of the day I can be responding to a ministry email or watching a funny video a friend told me about on my flipping phone. Microsoft nailed it with this new commercial about their new Windows Phone...check it out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

what is your PERSONAL DEVELOPMEMNT PLAN?

What are you doing to develop yourself as a leader? Not the volunteers you lead or the people involved in your ministry...YOU. So many times we are so focused on serving others that we forget to make a plan to develop our own heart, leadership ability, ministry direction. If you want a healthy organization and you are the leader you better seek out personal health. Jesus asked his followers what good it was to gain the entire world but loose your soul. I wonder how many of us are dying on the inside, and I wonder how many of us would be in a better place if we had a personal development plan. For those of you leading kids, teens, or college students/ministries I hope you will check out YouLead this month. YouLead is a development plan for people serving the next generation and trying to think orange at the same time. This month it is totally free and wide open for a test drive. I hope you will check it out with me and let me know what you think. While I am talking about it here are 5 strategies I am using to maintain my personal health as a leader...
  • I am IN COMMUNITY >> I am in a community group and I have accountability with several guys on my staff at church. We need people in our lives who are not looking to us for spiritual direction. I also make sure I am going to the worship service as much as possible at church. I know it can get hectic when you are doing ministry with kids or teens but we need to be a part of church not just work at church!
  • I am READING >> I am always reading, always have a book I am tracking with, always trying to read other blogs. When I read I am being influenced by other leaders.
  • I go to CONFERENCES >> I am a conference guy. I love learning from other people doing ministry. I use conference time to connect with other leaders, refocus, and evaluated.
  • I give God SPACE >> I work hard to block out time to be with God daily. I know that should be normal but I am shocked at how many leaders are on autopilot with their time with God. My prayer time and Bible reading are a big deal to me personally and the people I lead.
  • I go HOME >> time with my family helps me stay focused and what matters most. I am a husband and dad first...leader at work second.

Monday, October 11, 2010

a quick look @ Cross Street LIVE...

We broke in a  new set this week at Cross Street Live and added live video during the event...LIVE VIDEO is such a big help! We loved it. Just wanted to post three quick shots I got from our tech booth. So proud of our stage crew, tech team, dancers, worship leaders, and actors. October was an amazing family experience for Grace Community Church! Check out these shots...