Monday, May 31, 2010

RELEVANT middle school camp // day 2 video update

2 days into Relevant middle school camp and God has really done some amazing things. Camp is just a small glimpse into what God has done in the life of a student through the entire year. We are blown away by this group of students. They have grown this past year at REMIX in ways we could never have imagined. This group is connecting with their small group leaders like I have never seen at a camp. So blown away by these leaders and these students. Day 2 was crazy so here is a short recap of what went down!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

RELEVANT middle school camp // day 1 video update

Just woke up, made it to breakfast this morning, and I am stoked about Day 2 here at Relevant middle school camp. Everyday we carry around our flip video camera and try to give you and inside look at camp. Check out the video and pray for us as we continue this journey with these students this we go...

Friday, May 28, 2010

RELEVANT middle school camp 2010 begins!

Really it's not summer until we hit Middle School Camp and on Saturday morning we load the vans and head to Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Alabama for an amazing week at Student Life Camp with some crazy middle school students from RELEVANT student ministry. We made the choice the first year of Relevant three years ago to make sure we had a separate Middle School and High School camp experience. We love partnering with Student Life for Middle School camp and Bigstuf for High School camp because of the amazing experiences both offer students. Both High School and Middle School camp weeks are next level and allow us to connect with some amazing students and watch God work in all our hearts. We are excited about the week ahead. Look for daily video updates here on the blog and on FB so parents and the peeps back at Grace Community can see what is going down!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I have always been a fan of Mark Batterson's blog and his writing and this idea he lays out in his new book Primal is stuck in my head...

Change of Pace + Change of Place = Change of Perspective

On Thursday the Family Ministry Teams of Grace Community Church and Cross Point Church are getting together to plan a one day conference for our volunteer teams. Why plan a training / refueling / equipping event for volunteers? We want to try to change their perspective when it comes to investing in the lives of families. For one Saturday in August we are going to CHANGE both place and pace as we invest in our leadership teams and we are going to partner to make the day happen. Both of our teams are changing pace and place to do some planning and we are hoping we can do the same for our volunteers in August...who knows what the outcome will be BUT I am excited to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

just listen...

Last week we gathered our Remix small group leaders for an end of the year gathering to help them prepare for this summer and to celebrate the end of the school year. My favorite part of the night was hearing the stories of life change that happened in their small groups through the past year. Listening to their stories helps us all connect with what God has done in the past year of ministry. We had the joy of listening to the experiences of other team members and celebrating with them. That moment never would have never happened if we did stop stop to connect. All of that went down because we slowed down to listen.

There is one thing I know for sure about the volunteers you lead and that one thing is that they need to be heard. When we take time to listen to our team we express their value. We say to them that what they do is important enough to bring our busy selves to a halt so that we can JUST LISTEN. How do I know this? I know this little fact because I love to be heard. When people listen to my story, seek my advice, want to hear my experience I feel valued. Why would I think my volunteers are any different? Once I hear the stories of those I do ministry with they are much more likely to join me in our adventure of creating the story of serving kids, teens, and parents at Grace Community Church. There ya go...make sure you stop to just listen to those you lead!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

congrats CLASS OF 2010!

Today is the day...the Class of 2010 starts graduating school by school here in Clarksville. I have 2 little girls and thinking about them graduating from high school almost makes my stomach sick. I also remember what this day felt like when I was graduating from Shelbyville Central High School in 1994. (I know most of this class was like 4 then!) That day was a day of celebration and completion for sure but it was also a day where I felt like my best days were ahead. I was thrilled about all the possibilities that might be in just a few years as I ventured into this thing called adulthood. As I think about the group of students who are graduating in the next few days I feel hopeful and excited once again. Sure seniors are leaving our student ministry BUT when it comes to following Christ the adventure is just beginning. This is where it really begins. What does "faith" look like when they are in complete control of their spiritual journey. Because we have created a student ministry where teens get to choose to join our community (not be forced) we are hopeful. Hopeful that they will make a difference in this world. Hopeful they will follow Christ as they hit their college campus. We are also pretty determined to walk with them, cheer them on, be here to give direction when needed, and celebrate with them as we watch them move to this next level of independence. Here at Grace Community graduation is not the finish is just the beginning and we can't wait to walk with you in the coming years.  Class of 2010...congrats, we are proud of ya!

Monday, May 24, 2010

stopping THE SLOW FADE

Reading The Slow Fade by Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar, and Abbie Smith right now and it is helping me process what it looks like to reach people as they move into their twenty's. I am not surprised that college students and young adults walk away from church. Are you? Have you been to many churches in your town? Most churches are wired to preserve the institution and traditions of a past generation. There are simply not enough churches passionate about serving this group of people...oops...let me change that statement, there are not many churches out there willing to do what it takes to serve this age group. What stirred in my heart in the first chapter was the idea that maybe God is going to call out a group of people to move around the institutional church (not wait on permission is what I am saying) and begin to invest in college students, young professionals, people starting out on this journey of adulthood. Listen to this quote by Reggie Joiner...

The church will struggles to implement a more strategic ministry for this age group. But as Christian adults, you and I don't have to wait for the church to figure this out and have a better plan. You can start today to influence a college-aged person. The best way to stop the slow fade in the next generation is to stop it in one person's life.

What a great reminder! It comes back to being willing to continue this journey with college aged folks through this time of massive transition in their life. To not make the finish line high school graduation. To find ways to engage twentysomethings as a local church. Stoping the slow fade is a life by life process and a passion the church must embrace. Reading the that quote in the first chapter of the book reminded me there are things we are and can do right now to reach this age group.
  • Plan your environments with college aged people in mind. // if you want to reach this age group you better remember to plan for them to be in the room on Sunday mornings. At GCC we intentionally plan elements that will target college students. Sure it might be risky but college students are just as important to the church body as the 55 year old professional.
  • Support intentional ministry. // Brandon Reed launched an intentional college ministry to reach students on the campus of Austin Peay State University. You would be amazed at the kids on college campuses looking for someone who cares for them. Show intentional ministry!
  • Gather and support adults who will mentor twentysomethings // what college student need are adults who will what faith looks like beyond high school. With all the change that happens when teens hit "the real world" what they need are adults who will still be there when everything else is chaos.
If you are a parent, youth pastor, senior pastor, or volunteer you need to click on the logo above and order a copy of this book. 3 chapters in and my head is spinning! We can stop the slow fade but we have to be willing to think beyond attendance and toward relationships.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

change of pace

Every summer at Relevant Student Ministry we CHANGE THE PACE of what we do with students. Changing the pace helps us...
  • give small group leaders a change of pace / break (small group leader still do ministry but they are just as busy as everyone else in the summer!)
  • keep teens engaged (doing the same thing over and over gets BORING)
  • give our student band and creative team time to prepare for fall
  • help teens experience a "new thing" every summer
  • focus our efforts on High School and Middle School camp and mission trips
  • meet with more teens one on one and in small groups with the goal of connecting and investing
  • build momentum for the fall (how do you ever build momentum if you never pause?)
Changing the pace doesn't mean we stop doing ministry because our school year environment stops...we just mix it up and try stuff. One of the things we are trying this summer are three gatherings we are calling Remix UNITED. One message series through the entire summer, one theme we are trying to drive home, a new communicator and worship leader for the summer, a new service flow planned for every night, and surprises that we really can't talk about right now! Will it work...not really sure, but that is what a change of pace is all about. We are taking a risk and willing to see how it turns out! 

I challenge you to think about how you can change the pace in the environment you lead this summer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

first ever FamilyVenture at Grace Community>> JULY 22, 2010

This summer we are going to have our first ever FamilyVenture at Grace Community Church. What is a FamilyVenture event??? It is one day in the summer we are asking families to get away together with other families from GCC and have nothing but fun. Yes, we think shared experiences make a huge difference in family life. We also know that many parents out there are busy. We are giving you a reason to take off work and be with your kids. This summer we are all going to gather for a day of craziness at Venture River Water Park on July 22 from 10AM to 6PM. THERE YA GO...THERE IS THE GCC SCOOP. Families with preschool, k-5, and middle school kids mark your calendar for the first FamilyVenture!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

still NERVOUS?

This past week we had our final student gathering (REMIX) and family experience (Cross Street Live). At both experiences I still got nervous! Why? Why am I nervous about a weekly/monthly experience where some of the most talented people in our city are involved in pulling it off? Why after working with parents and teens for 13 years do I still get nervous? I have been processing if being nervous is good or bad and I have landed on the side of good. Worry (or next level nervousness) is bad and worry is so different from having the jitters. When I am worried I am assuming responsibility for things I have no control over. When I worry I am telling God that I am not sure He will deliver. Being nervous flows out of a desire for excellence...expecting to see God do something amazing...from the place of being fully prepared and waiting for the moment. NERVES are natural. No one ever told me that as long as I was doing something I was passionate about, putting my heart and soul into my work that I would ALWAYS be a little nervous before speaking or leading or serving or helping. Why? BECAUSE I CARE! I am beginning to think that when you stop being nervous about the environment you lead it might be time for a change of pace or place! So there you have it. I still get you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why put on a FAMILY EXPERIENCE at your church?

We just finished year two of our Family Experience (cross street LIVE) at Grace Community. While we were setting the CSL stage up Saturday one of our team asked if we would keep doing CSL next year? In my mind it was never a question but for this leader on our team we are in totally uncharted waters for our church and our city. The family experience idea is still a new thing in our Clarksville culture. We are the only church in town asking kids and parents to set aside some time each month to come for an event together. (we soon hope to have another church doing a family experience in Clarksville!!!) The question got me thinking why we do this to begin with. What is the real benefit of taking the time and resources to make a family experience happen? I can think of several...
  • a FX (family experience) connects "Sunday morning" to Mom and Dad! > every month we are able to take what we talk about with kids on Sunday mornings and share the big idea with the family. At home parents are able to use the virtue, talk about the virtue, laugh about the virtue together. What happens at home is more important than what happens in our one hour at church...why not help the home connect with that one hour.
  • a FX helps the church DO SOMETHING AMAZING for the family! > once a month our entire church invests in the family. Our stage is up in the main theater, actors prepare, worship leaders learn songs, our staff gears up for kids and parents! The FX helps us do more than talk about family...we get to engage family! Come one time to Cross Street Live and you will see we do everything possible to help kids and parents have an amazing hour together!
  • a FX sets parents up to INFLUENCE at home > parents need a rally cry...they need a big idea they can focus on. This month we helped parents focus on PATIENCE...who doesn't need help with that. When we help parents come together to learn / think / sing / dance with their kids we set them up to influence at home.
  • a FX gives families a great environment to invite other families to join > we want kids to have a next level experience they can bring friends too! We want the same thing for parents. We want to create a "you have to experience this" kind of feel where families want to invite other families. Our hope is that empowering families will become viral and families all over our community will take a step forward in investing in the lives of their kids!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

make it better

Whatever you do...there is always room to make it better. Jarret and Jeanne Stevens are in the process of planting Soul City Church in Chicago. A few months back they launched websites and their social media presence as they gathered their core group. I love that they did not settle with the typical Facebook presence...they made it better. They found some help inside their core group and asked him to help take their Facebook page to the next level. It worked and now they are helping others make the improvement. What I love about this that they did not settle, they made it better. All of us in college, student, and children's ministry are heading into summer and wrapping up our "school year" programs. Why not take the summer to figure out how you are going to take what you do to the next level in the fall? You have around three months before your fall ministry launches full force. Don't settle...MAKE IT BETTER!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

freedom or fundamentalism in choose

Innovation always meets resistance from people who embrace what has been done in the past as the ultimate standard for the future. So many time when I have tried to rethink and reinvent inside the church I have been challenged to "be careful" not to get too far out there...not to move to far away from what we have done in the past...not to take too big of a risk. Why? Well because that is not how we do things. That is not the norm. There is wisdom in learning from the past but there is a call we all must embrace to risk everything for the sake of following Jesus Christ and expanding His Kingdom today. Sometimes I wonder if we have spend to long listening to people in love with what was in the past. We have embraced the voices of fear that warn of impending doom if we stray from outdated methods. We have listened to people to are trying to preserve rather than advance the Kingdom of God. The church is doing just fine, God does not need us to preserve anything. Read this from Steven Pressfield in his book, The War of Art...

The fundamentalist (or, more accurately, the beleaguered individual who comes to embrace fundamentalism) cannot stand freedom. He cannot find his way into the future so he repeats the past. He returns in imagination to the glory days of his race and seeks to reconstitute both them and himself in their purer, more virtuous light. He gets back to basics. To fundamentals.

Please do not place this quote in your framework of theology...PLEASE let's not shrink God into the box of your church culture. This thought from Pressfield flows from the idea of leadership and action...the choice to risk, create and innovate rather than preserve __________, you fill in the blank. The question I am asking today is what voices are you listening to you? The majority of people around you will ask you to conform, fit in, and shut your mouth. Sure...innovate but within this outdated mode of operation. Create...but paint on this broken canvas. Program...but do it with this Commodore 64 from 1986. (just a little computer joke there for all you non-nerds) Here is the heard part...all us have a small voice inside telling us to embrace fundamentalism and preserve our little reputation we have created.

Are we willing to choose freedom (freedom to risk, dream, create) over fundamentalism as we lead? Will we empower people to take risks? Will put our reputations on the line in order to maybe, just maybe follow the voice of God and innovate? You are going to spend your life fighting for something. Let's spend it advancing the Kingdom of God not preserving institutions and methods of the past.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

have some FUN

Do you have fun at work? I know work is work but I am the kind of guy who has to enjoy who I am with and what I am doing if I am going to stick around for the long haul. At the Drive Conference this year fun was brought up in the main sessions and in many of the breakouts. The team at North Point Community Church thinks that fun is a major ingredient to their staff and church culture. As I processed the idea of the fun factor it got me thinking about our staff culture at Grace Community. We have way too much fun. Our office is filled with laughter. We program fun into all our environments...preschool through the Sunday morning gathering! Honestly, if you don't like to laugh you won't last long around our church. I would argue that FUN is a great indicator of the health of a staff, a volunteer team, a church. God made laughter...why should it not be a huge part of our work, family, ministry, or church life? I started thinking about where it is important to have the fun factor in our churches...
  • Volunteering should be FUN // What volunteer wants to be a part of something boring? None of them! Serving should be fun because we are passionate about the mission and the people we serve with. Let's face it...making a difference in fun! Make sure your volunteers enjoy their time in your area!
  • Your staff should have FUN // I know, pastors are supposed to be serious. Get over it and have some fun! Working for the church should be the greatest job ever because we have the greatest mission ever. Healthy staffs take their Savior very serious. They don't take themselves serious at all...that is called HUMILITY! Jesus like it!
  • Your environments should be FUN // come on...why try to make church boring. Have some fun in your environments on Sundays and Wednesdays! How you ask...why not make announcements fun? If you work with kids or middle school students why not have a game that is FUN? When you are teaching why not add a little FUN with humor? Why not allows people to let their guard down.

Monday, May 10, 2010

perfect parents...DO NOT EXSIST

So many times in our search to become the "perfect parents" we allow our family life to be dominated by the never ending chase to give our kids all the experiences we think they need. We tend to believe if we make sure our kid is at the right school, enrolled in the best ballet class, on all the right sports teams, and getting the right academic coaching everything will work out in the end. Why do we do this? We choose this path because this is what our image of the perfect parent looks like. We adopt a broken plan that in the end drives our relationship with our kids and spouses into the ground. Reggie Joiner says it like this...we are experience rich and relationally poor. Our kids have everything but a deep, vibrant relationship with mom and dad! I have been trying process how to help my kids become relationally rich and then I discovered The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. This is must read for every family that wants to navigate the process of effective (not perfect) parenting. Every family needs a plan. There it is...every effective business and church in our nation has a plan. Why do we think we can live our family life out without a plan? Lack of planning is simply planning to fail. The tyranny of the urgent captures our family life and seems to never let go. Lencioni takes parents on the journey of how to make a plan for our family in this book. I am going to lay out the three BIG questions you have to be asking for your family THEN you go order the book at Amazon and get to reading. Your family is worth it! Here are the 3 BIG QUESTIONS for your family...
  1. What makes our family unique?
  2. What is our family's most important priority - RALLY CRY - right now?
  3. How will we use these answers and keep them alive?
I know you are reading those questions and wondering HOW WILL THAT HELP? These questions help provide context for the choices we make about family life. What your family needs is context! Trying to be the perfect parent will not work, but developing and living out a plan will be a step in the right direction. I hope your family will get this book and work through it. There are no perfect parents and no perfect plan...just have a plan and be intentional.

Friday, May 7, 2010


During my break off the blog this past week our city experienced the worst flood since 1975...I was not even born in 1975 just so you don't think I saw that flood. It is hard to put into words what it is like to watch your friends suffer from a disaster that can't be planned for or diverted. When you experience a flood all you can do is watch the power of nature take control of homes, parks, roads, and businesses. There is nothing you can do but watch. Just 35 miles down the road our friends in Nashville felt the same furry only on a larger scale. The damage is staggering. Now the question is how will we respond? My hope is that we can step into the pain and help be the solution. I pray that with every volunteer giving time we can bring a little hope. This will be a long process of helping folks get back on their feet. I pray that we will be present for the long haul. I am already blown away by the gnerosity of people in our city. I am proud to live in Clarksville. If you want to keep up with urgent needs in our city in the coming weeks go to and check out what is happening. Go ahead...step the solution.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

DREAM time // be back NEXT WEEK!

It was so amazing to get to blog for the Orange Conference last week and the upcoming week is packed also but this time the family ministry staff I lead at Grace Community are getting out of town to look ahead, dream, learn, pray, think, and process what God wants for our team in fall 2010 and 2011. With that said I am going to step away from the blog and Facebook this week so I can process with my team. We will be away at the Drive Conference for three days together then Thursday and Friday I am going to be back in the office to do some more looking ahead (and make sure we are ready for Sunday at GCC!) Why get away...because getting out of our normal routine and learning from others doing family ministry helps each of our team rethink how we do ministry in our context. Our team can't wait to see where God takes us next as we strive to create amazing environments where kids and parents can discover what it looks like to follow Jesus TOGETHER as a family. Thanks Grace Community for letting us serve your family! See you next week!