Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I was in McKinney, Texas earlier this week. I was able to combine a teaching stop and a visit with my son, Scott, and his lovely wife Ashley. Tuesday morning I went out on a morning run. I had run the previous two days, but on this morning I took a different route. Not sure this was the best idea.

My plan was to run about 4 miles. But half way through I realized I was not real sure how to get back to Scott & Ashley's house. Now their house sits right next to two large antenna towers. On these towers are flashing lights. Scott had told me to always look for those towers, head toward them and I could easily find their house. And I am sure he is correct; unfortunately on this day it was foggy. I could see no towers. I was on my own at ground level.

The good news I have had experience in being lost on a run in somewhat unfamiliar territory. I have found it best to keep running until you see something, anything, that has some semblance of familiarity. For me it was a street. I found a street that Scott and I had been on the day before. This was the good news. The bad news was if I went the wrong way on the street I would be going away from, not toward their house. And since I am prone toward being directionally challenged there would be no guarantee I would move in the correct direction.

I was able to find my way back, which is why I am able to write this blog. A residual benefit was I actually put in an extra mile plus of running. I also learned when it doubt...keep moving! Sooner or later you will find the way home.

Friday, April 24, 2009


This baseball season both the New York Yankees and Mets unveiled their new stadiums. Both stadiums are architectural marvels and multi-million dollar venues. Actually the Yankees spent $1.3 billion, but what’s a decimal point and a few zeros among sports franchises? In constructing these facilities they reflect centered change. They changed to mirror the sports climate of today, while holding onto the integrity of the past. “Both [stadiums] hark back architecturally to the glory years of New York baseball, but both hint at how the design-and the role—of the stadium is evolving” (Fast Company, “If They Build It,” April 2009, p39).

Historically as the church strove to connect culture with the Christ they have looked for venues to help house communities of faith. These faith venues have evolved over time. Today churches utilize all forms of buildings, a variety of venues and structures to house centers of ministry. Innovation is only limited by our flexibility, our situations and our responsiveness to the flow of the Holy Spirit. In the building of facilities, or the adaptation of existing spaces, there are things we can learn from stadium construction.

Merge tradition with technology. New Yankee stadium “…echoes their original 1923 one…,” yet it is one of the most technologically advanced. The designers did not compromise with maintaining a traditional feel with a technological flavor. A church does not have to be either traditional, or technologically with it; it can be both/and. Tradition provides a connection with the past. It gives a sense of comfort. Technology supplies an inroad into the future.

Create intimacy. I had a minister friend who said, “The only place I like a crowd is at church.” Most pastors would echo this. We like lots of people in our facilities, so we enlarge. The new stadium constructed for the Mets will have over 15, 000 fewer seats. They want to sell intimacy. If baseball executives recognize an innate need for intimacy we ought to catch on. Larry Osborne Pastor of North Coast Community church said, “A person needs to be able to stand in one place in your building and be able to look around and find a person they may want to locate. If they are unable to do this, your sanctuary is too big.” Don’t compromise intimacy.

Multi faceted, not mono focused. In the past stadiums were used on the days of their particular sporting event. “Fans came, they saw, they left. But the stadium of the future must be—and do—much more.” Steve Burrows a venue designer states, “These very expensive facilities just cannot sit empty for days and days.” Churches need to move beyond Sunday only to seven days a week. They must be sending stations and ministry hubs. Worship ‘only’ venues are limited and limiting. In many cases a churches worship space is the largest square footage under one roof. If these are designed for week-end only worship experiences you may want to rethink their use. If the set-up of your sanctuary space doesn’t allow you to rearrange (pews or immoveable chairs) for other uses, you may want to redesign. We can be bad stewards of our space much like we are of our finances.

Be of the community, not merely in the community. A church can easily be in the community, but they need to be of the community. Earl Santee, stadium designer, believes there needs to be more interaction between the community and the ballpark. “Stadiums,” he says, “will become a point of reference—maybe even the identity—of the community.” OF is interactive, available, connected and involved. IN is stagnant, stationary and staid.

I understand that churches are not entertainment venues, like many ballparks. But this does not mean we cannot gain insights and ideas to be more effective. After all, they paid a great deal of money to determine what works, why not glean from their investment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Do you know that you know that you know that you are exactly where you need to be in God’s history? Are you convinced of your call? And if you are convinced of your call, does this mean you are enamored with every aspect of your particular ministry assignment? And if the enamor is absent, are you questioning your ministry?

Answering these questions become critical as a movement is being built. You want those involved to have a sense of call. You want them to have a pull of destiny on their lives. A movement supersedes motion. Something can be in motion, but have no movement. A running car’s engine is in motion, but if the gears are not engaged there will be no movement. A movement necessitates engaged leaders; engaged leaders share both call and destiny. Here are some things to consider as you weigh your call and sense of destiny.

Call is forged in changing circumstances. Change happens. It is in this change dynamic we form our calling. We may be pursing our call in an area when something changes. An opportunity rises. An unexpected dismissal occurs. A life-situation shifts. Does this mean the call has ceased? No! It means we have the potential to forge our call in the new circumstance. Never let the circumstance define the call. Instead allow the call to flesh itself out in your circumstance.

Call may be prompted by passion, but it must not preside there. Passion alone a call does not make. I am very passionate about football, but this is not where my call presides. To think that passion alone dictates ones call is irresponsible. Passion is often short-lived. A genuine call has staying power. Passion can deplete, a call draws us to something beyond ourselves. Passion can be counterfeited, but a call resides in the deep waters of confidence.

Call is motivated by overall purpose not any one particular. There will be things about the call a person will not like. The ministry responsibility that is the current vehicle to transport the call may have particulars you would rather not do. But if the overall purpose fulfills you, the frustrating particulars can be handled. Now, if the overall purpose is de-motivating, you may want to evaluate.

I heard it said, “People who have a sense destinies die old and unhappy or young and unfinished.” This seems a bit pessimistic, but striving to fulfill ones sense of destiny can be frustrating. Consider these observations as you pursue your destiny.

Destiny is beyond any one daily activity. Many have heard the parable of the Bricklayers who were asked, “Why are you doing this job?” The first worker: “I am doing this for the wages.” The second worker, “I’m doing it for my family.” The third worker, “I’m helping build a cathedral.” But a fourth response is lacking, “I’m doing this because I love laying bricks.” It is not the daily stuff that we do that brings a sense of destiny, but it is the reality beyond the daily stuff.

Destiny is not the one thing. Destiny is not the pursuit of that ONE thing we can do; instead it is building off all we experience to discover the best thing we can do. Destiny is much more about being who God has created us to be, than doing something God has called us to do.

Destiny is something we actually know deep down. Most of us really do know our destiny. We typically are too frightened to share it, or face it. Most leaders have a level of “destiny drive” that motivates them. It seems we all hear, in our own version, the words of Mordecai to Esther, “…who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?” (Esther 5:14, NLT).

Movements don’t simply happen. Movements are lead, inspired, encouraged and motivated by persons of call and destiny. Who is to say that person is not you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Miss California was the runner up in this week-end's Miss USA Pageant. It seems she caused quite a stir with her response to the question provided her by one of the judges. This judge wanted to know her stance on gay marriage. She clearly stated that she felt marriage was between a man and a woman.

Many felt this cost her the crown. It was felt if she had made a more palatable (which is code for saying absolutely nothing so your opinion is that you have no opinion) response she might have won. It seems we want our Miss USA to be middle of the road and wishy-washy. After all, what would America do with a beautiful woman who also had substance? We like our "Barbie's" plastic not plausible.

The judge felt she should have kept her beliefs (Christian) out of her response. Miss USA needs to represent all America not just "Christian" America, according to this judge. This would include Jewish-Americans, Gay-Americans and Atheist-Americans as examples. And who is to say that her statement didn't represent those outside the Christian arena? Truth be told, her statement didn't represent all who share her foundational belief in Jesus and his salvation.

This judge even went so far as to say that if she had won (I guess we know which way he voted) he would have went up on the platform and taken her crown. Now that is what I would call a tolerate inclusive action! So what part of America would he have represented if it had come to that?

Here is what this judge and many others do not understand: When you make a statement, when you have an opinion there will be somebodies out there who you do not represent! This is why it is an opinion. It would have been impossible to make a statement that would have pleased everyone. It seems to me the judge was saying, by his actions, I want a Miss USA who represents me. And if that is what was desired then those rules ought to be made clear upfront.

The question was framed with what she thought. This being the case how can she be criticized for giving a personal response to the question? Few, if any, have to agree with her. The judgement should not have been on the agreeableness of the response, but how well it was articulated and thoughtfully given.

Next time just instruct the Miss' to provide an answer that people want to hear...then, again, would that not offend deaf people?

Sunday, April 19, 2009


E-mail is wonderful. Twittering is fun. Facebook is...well I really have no idea I have never been in that world. But regardless of the written medium we use and pictures we share there is still much to be said for chatting face to face.

This past week I had some e-mail back and fourths with a friend. I was told that an e-mailed comment I had made was "catty." I did not see it that way. And after a few back and fourths via the "e" I felt the conversation needed to be done. I am not sure it needed to be over, but it did need to be done. It was clear any further conversation via that media stream would do nothing for our relationship except deepen a potential rift.

It reminded me again how volatile these symbols on a page can be. Words communicate much, but nothing can take the place of sitting across from someone sharing thoughts, expressing feelings and showing emotion. This is where real communication takes place. This is where relationships are strengthened. This is where the stuff of life and friendships are forged. And all of this is built on trust. No trust no honesty!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I am an official twit! That's right I am twittering. I love it. Short comments. They can be meaningful, radom, insightful or...well they can be whatever you want. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. I like it.

I check it periodically each day. Fun to see my boys version of life. My daughter does a nice job of keeping info flowing concerning Brody my first grandson. In fact Brody is twittering. He is only two months old. Goes to show you anyone can indeed do the twit. Daughter-in-laws also twit.

I can't seem to get Joni to be a twitter bird. She prefers old fashion conversation. What is up with that? I think I will give that a twit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Tony Dungy in his most recent book, Uncommon, shares the following story:

Matt Emmons is a world-champion marksman. In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, he had a significant lead when he entered the final round of the 50-meter, three position rifle competition. He hit the bull’s-eye on his three shots, then looked on, puzzled, as the automatic scoring system did not credit his shots. He called the judge over, and the target was pulled in to ascertain just what had occurred. It was untouched. No holes.

The target in the next lane, however, had three extra holes—holes made by Matt’s shots. His mistake cost him in the standings, and he finished eighth (p125).

This illustrates a mistake many leaders make: We are making bull’s-eyes, but are hitting the wrong target. What leaders neglect to see is that hitting the bull’s-eye on the wrong target is still a miss. A bull’s-eye is only part of the effectiveness equation, right targets are the other part. What might leaders do to ensure their bull’s-eye is on the correct target?

Clarify the target you want to hit: It is easy to assume the target you are taking aim is correct. Often this is a result of it being the target others have taken aim. Someone else’s target may not be yours. Simply because another organization or church is aiming at a target does not mean you should. Try to avoid getting so focused on hitting the center that you neglect to notice if it is the right center. Could it have been that if Matt had taken an extra moment he might have noticed the target he was aiming already had holes? I don’t know, but I do know that if we take time to consider the targets we are aiming, will help us in determining if it is right for us.

Consider the ramifications of hitting the wrong target: The wrong target cost Matt first pace. Those of us who are engaged in ministry it could cost much more. Hitting the wrong target could result in people not being engaged for the gospel. Hitting the wrong target could mean ineffectiveness in helping people experience life change. We can get so focused on the target of appeasing members and developing internalized programs that we neglect the target of community engagement and contextualizing the gospel.

Confirm the target once you have hit it: I understand in military planning that once the first bullet flies all things change. This can happen in ministry. We focus on the correct target and then shoot. Could be that once the first shot is fired, things change. We need to step back and confirm what we are doing. It is easy to experience missional drift. We can quickly get off task. If the ministry being implementing is not achieving its intended purpose, stop!

Change aim when necessary: Why is it when the church makes necessary changes we view it as failure? This viewpoint often keeps us from making the changes. When we change our aim, or how we are doing ministry, this is not a failure. It could be just the opposite. It could be the first step toward greater effectiveness.

Celebrate the wins: When the right target is hit…CELEBRATE! A few days ago the NCAA Champion celebrated at center court. They did it unabashedly and full throttle. Why not do the same when we are hitting the bull’s-eye on the right target.

Are you making bull’s-eyes? Is the bull’s-eye on the correct target? If so…keeping practicing your aim. If not…adjust!

Friday, April 10, 2009


It is not uncommon to see people running in the rain. I never quite understood this. Why do this? Why run in the rain? So you skip one day, or you simply run on a treadmill. Yes, I know from experience that treadmill running is not much fun, and boring, but better that than getting soaked, or sick. Then where would their running schedules be? I have often commented to my wife, when seeing a person running in the rain, "Those people are idiots!"

My wonderful wife is a optimist and very practical. She would say to me, "Maybe when they started running it wasn't raining and they just decided to keep running after the rain began." Logically, this makes perfect sense. But I never brought it...until today!

Today changed everything. I went out on my run this morning. I started later in the morning as it was raining. And since I am no idiot I felt it best to wait a bit and probably take the day off. But the rain stopped and the forecast was for partially cloudy skies, with rain decreasing. I discovered "decreasing," not ceasing, being the optimum word.

I started my run under cloudy skies. Roughly a mile or so in it began to drizzle. I kept running because drizzle really isn't rain, and only idiots run in the rain. Another half-mile or so, the drizzle turned to a spring-like rain. And I continued to run as spring-like is not a genuine rain, and only idiots run in the rain. Heading into my third mile the spring-like became RAIN.

Now I kept running because I was into this now, and there was no way I was going to stop. Not to mention I would have to get home and running would get me there faster than walking. I thought to myself, "I should have suggested to Joni she come look for me if it started to rain."

I arrived close to home soaking wet. Fortunately I wear a hat when running so the hat's brim provided some protection. But shirt, shoes, socks, hat, shorts...all very wet. Joni drove up. She had seen the rain begin and decided to come and try to find me. I loved her thoughtfulness. I told her how much I appreciated her thinking of it. She said, "I know you say only idiots run in the rain, so I thought I should come get you."

I think it was her nice way of letting me know she doesn't think I'm an idiot, even though I ran in the rain. My attitude has changed. Now I feel sorry for all those runners who get caught in unexpected rain.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I had a friend who use to say, “Don’t just stand there, do something…even if it’s wrong!” I am not in agreement with the latter part of this statement, but I would agree that doing something is better than doing nothing.

Most leaders want to involve their churches in doing something. They want to move their people from where they are to where they need to be. They have a deep hunger to motivate their congregations in an “outside the building walls” mentality. In most cases leaders do not desire to do ministry as usual. They don’t want to just stand there!

This passion for effectiveness burning within leaders often results in moving too quickly. The thought is that the needed change must be done all at once. The congregation is challenged and expected to go into territory that is so foreign to them they collectively pull back. They view this BIG change as averse to their congregational well being. All too often adversity causes retrenching into old patterns. So what might be done to move a congregation from standing there to doing something?

1. Scale down the goal. Robert Maurer of UCLA’s School of Medicine in his book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life, delineates between stretch goals and whisker goals. Stretch goals are ambition teasers. They are the BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) Collins refers to in Good to Great. A whisker goal is an achievement that is a tiny step from the existing reality. An example would be the person who has seldom, if ever, exercised choosing to walk five minutes a day. Whisker goals help congregations get over the initial fear that can keep them from moving. It is better to achieve something small than nothing at all.

2. Improve what you do with the resources you have. During WWII the government needed to increase industrial production as some of the most talented industrial minds were being called away to fight. People were trained to “Look for improvements on existing jobs with your present equipment” (Fast Company, March 2009, Time to Aim Lower, p46). What resources do you have at your disposal? What are you currently doing? Present productivity can be leveraged for future potential.

3. Focus on your strengths. Change is not always doing something different. Change can be simply recommitting to what is done well. Change can be finding different ways of delivering what is done well. “Southwest [airline] officials admit they’ll never win over business travels who value first-class seating and other high-end services many large airlines offer” (USA Today, Southwest amps up its strategy, 12.26.08, 2B). This being the case they simply continue to offer what they do better and better. What does the congregation do well? How can this be improved? Do what you do very well and build off of it.

4. Start now. When you set a timer you have to begin the work. Set your congregational timer. Have some whisker goals. Begin to implement the small steps. Use the resources available. Improve on your strengths.

A snowball is simply an accumulation of tiny snowflakes. When small steps are implemented a large amount of progress is made. Gather the snowflakes. In the end you will have a snowball.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Brody, or Bro-frog, as we like to refer to him is my eldest grandson. He is only two months old, but his cousin, Eli, is not due until May so this makes him the old guy. We celebrated his two month B-day at Lucille's BBQ. They have the best beef ribs since my mother-in-laws. And this is high praise. Brody actually slept the whole time, but me, grandma, mom, dad, Uncle Ryan and Aunt Des all enjoyed the food. He was simply the excuse we used to gather for the excellent feast.

Last night Joni (grandma) and I (Pappy) got to babysit. Brody's parents went out to eat with friends. I had my knees bent and was helping him stand on them. He was up very high. He was looking down on the world has he knew it. He looked down at me and flashed me the biggest smile. It was if he was saying, "Pappy I am king of the world!" And he was.

He has a great smile. He is learning to communicate through coos and and grunts. He is awesome! If you want to follow little Bro-frog he is currently starring on twitter.