Category Archives: culture

Ed Stetzer

Oh my folks I have a great quote for you.  I am listening to a message Ed Stetzer gave at this year’s Baptistapalooza (Baptist Convention, a friend told me to check it out) and he said the following:

 “Paul in Romans 9 would be willing to sacrifice his own salvation so that others might be saved, but… many of  we cannot give up our own Sunday morning preferences so that men and women may be saved.”
Spank.  Take that folks.
I’m wrestling with who I am and who I’m supposed to be.  I don’t want to be one of “those people” who hold so dear my preferences at the cost of reaching people for Christ…
Oh man.  A lot to think about.  Go Ed!!

Marketing to Employees

I’m sure many people today wish that they were full-time employees over at Apple… Steve Jobs announced yesterday that they were giving all full-time employees free iPhones.  How’s that for treating your employees well!!
I’ve been thinking about this in light of the church and staff.  I have a little document I keep in case of the traumatic event God would want me to be a lead pastor where I put things I think should be done, and this action by Jobs got me thinking about adding another line item.
Over on John Moore’s blog, Brand Autopsy, he had some great thoughts today about the Apple iPhone giveaway that I think we could lift some ideas from:
  • I am a huge proponent of companies spending marketing money on employees. It’s simple. Astonish employees and they will, in turn, astonish customers.
  • Giving every full-time employee a $600 (retail value) iPhone is an astonishing act that will only help to feed the already vibrant evangelical corporate culture within Apple.
  • At Starbucks, we would also spend marketing money on employees. We knew if we could get Baristas jazzed, they would get customers jazzed. 
  •  I applaud Apple for taking a strong financial stance in showing how much they appreciate employees by giving them a super-spendy iPhone. That says a lot!
I think these are some great thoughts, John.  And it brings me to some strong comparison regarding the men and women that give their lives to serve in ministry.  
  • If I’m ever a lead pastor, I hope I place a high value on paying my staff well (our pastor here does).
  • Lead Pastors, you need to see your staff as your primary investment outside of your family.  These are the men and women that are walking out the Gospel every day under your helm.
  • If you’re not jazzed, don’t expect your staff to be jazzed.  I’m not saying you have to be spaz personality, but you need to be excitement.  People respond to passion and excitement far more than kicking their tails and “whipping them into shape”.
  • You need to look at your staff for who they are as a person and for how they are uniquely wired AS MUCH as you look at the product of what they do.  I mean don’t just look at your music guy as the guy you need to get through 4 songs and prep some creative stuff here and there, see him WHOLISTICALLY as an asset to the Kingdom.  Know what’s going on in his life.  Know his wife.  Know his kid’s and his dog’s names. (now if you’re the pastor of a church with a very large staff, obviously I’m not saying know everyone that well, but definitely your inner circle.
  • If you create an environment where you are celebrating what God is doing through your staff, people will stay.  People will not want to leave, they will want to stay and walk this thing out long term.
  • Your staff needs to know that you are their biggest fan, that you support them and are willing to go to bat to give them the tools they need to succeed at what you asked them to do.
  • Astonish your staff, model the goodness and abundance of God, and they will model the same all the way down to the last person through the door on Sunday, the last person given food and clothing throughout the week, etc.
Steve Jobs rocked his employee’s world yesterday when he gave them free phones.  I’m not saying we need to give our staff and volunteers free iPhones (although that would be freakin cool!!).  I’m saying they need to know we care, that they are more than just someone who performs a service for us, but they are appreciated and celebrated.  I’m preaching to myself here.  I need to do a better job of this, but dream of a time when the staff and volunteers under my area feel that way with no doubts about where I stand.  And if I’m ever a lead pastor, I hope I remember to open that little document and lavish it on my staff.
Man, I’d really like an iPhone…

iPhone Craziness and a lil’ bit o’ depression…

So Pam Sanza (our worship pastor Frank’s wife and by far the smarter and hipper of the two)) is one notch behind me as a machead.  I’ve wanted this iPhone since it was announced… but have been unable to raise needed capital.  She must have sold drugs or something, she is first in line at our local AT&T store.  Keep in mind, this is a small town so it’s not some beautiful Apple store or anything like that, but there are already people in line waiting (and this before 10:00 a.m.)!!

The story of the day from here is that some guy is paying 8 Hispanic workers $7 an hour to sit in line waiting for phones for his employees to get one.  That’s pure craziness!! Who would have thought that in the midst of lil Sherman, Texas.
Our church administrator is getting one as well.  I’m the one who is a macfreak above anyone around here.  They’re the ones with the dough.  I’m a little bit depressed.  Maybe they should buy a brother a phone 🙂

Creativity, Art, and Short Videos

Our worship and arts pastor, Frank, has a real great eye for video stuff.  I mean shooting it, editing it, understanding the shots, etc.  Actually he’s probably better at that than he is in his music role (which I am sure he’d agree).  I think it’s an area that God could and will use him in more and more as time goes on.  Now I can’t get into specifics (or else we’d have to break your knees) but I know he and his team have their sights set on a couple of ambitious things in the future, and I think they can make a great splash.

So this leads me to this point: my heart has been burning for how arts and the church can go hand-in-hand to reach the culture.  I remember Mark Batterson posting a blog a few weeks ago expressing some thoughts about preaching and ways to improve how we connect with people, and I am thinking along those lines as to how to engage people in conversation.  How to open their minds…  I just can’t get the idea of using short films as a way of sparking interest, in capturing attention, etc.  
I showed Frank some Nooma videos today.  I can totally see he and his team creating artistic, God-honoring videos like this.  I don’t know what you think but I think they are great.  I think they are a great way to start discussion, to reduce tension in the room, etc.  I think the Church can rise up and use video as a medium to reach people in a powerful way.  I’m not talking about Christian movies (not that I have anything, or rather, too much, against them).  I’m talking about shorts, 10-30 minute films that engage, inspire, connect people to the truths of God, that open a door for us to discuss spiritual things.
I’m blessed to see some churches get it.  Who use their fancy lightshows for more than just trying to look like some rock concert, but rather, to set the mood, create a great environment for people to connect with God.  Who use creative videos as more than copying the mainstream culture, but rather to meet people where they are, to celebrate artistry and capture the hearts and minds of those in view.  And for the people doing great things (like Rob Bell), why is it that non-believers blow it off as cheesy.  Why do we appreciate “secular” art for what it is (even though we may not share those particular religious or non-religions expressions) but certain people just cannot see the artistry or creativity in what Christ followers do simply because they are that?  Come on!
Last night I was listening to my friend Scott Hodge‘s podcast where he was casting vision for the next year.  I was so excited to hear him talk about investing money in technology in some key areas.  Not so they could “look” like culture, “make videos” that look like they are mainstream culture, but rather to engage people where they are.  To stimulate minds.  They are investing a boatload of money in children’s media stuff to grab their attention.  Not to entertain, to compete with the video games/shows kids are already watching, but rather to point these kids to Christ in a compelling way.  Go Orchard!
Let’s keep thinking, trying, celebrating our creative God and all that He has done.  Keep writing, dreaming, painting, singing, creating.  Don’t be afraid to fall down, step out and use the gifts that Christ has given you.  Shouldn’t Christ followers be able to set the pace in creativity?  

Joshua’s Crossing

I had the privilege this morning of speaking at another church here in town called Joshua’s Crossing.  They are a cool church plant, maybe 3 years old-ish, and they are doing some really cool things over there.  One of my personal core values and a heartbeat of our church is working with and supporting other churches, so when they called and asked me to speak I was very happy to do so.

The first service my mic wasn’t working (which was a great introduction) so I had to use a hand-held (which is really awkward for me) but the second service went really well.  God showed up this morning and I was just blown away.  I had a great time speaking and sharing, and several people came up to me and shared a bit about their lives and what they had been through, or how some part of what I said really touched them.  I love hearing others share about their lives, it’s the best part.
The guy leading worship was 18 and is better now than I ever was when I led worship and people were crazy enough to pay me.  I had a great chat with him and hope he goes far in ministry and life.  The band just did great!  They did a song called Rescue that I think was by Desperation Band that really touched me so I had them do it at the end of the service as well.  I was really blessed to see people encountering God.  It was a great morning!

Trust takes time…

Mark Batterson was recently on a podcast with Rick Warren, and man you need to check it out.  They were talking about being vulnerable and humble as a pastor, showing vulnerability, etc.  Mark had some great things to say in the midst of some pretty funny technical issues, he was very transparent and seems like a guy I’d want to hang with for sure.
Rick Warren is the man… he had a great quote worth repeating, living, owning :
“Before there can be truth, there has to be trust.  You have to build the trust in order to share the truth, and that takes time.”  Wow.  Seriously this is common sense but has such great implications.  I don’t know that the one-off “you need Jesus” talks are working too well anymore.  I’m wrestling with that.  I know for me personally I want to build relationships with people before I attempt to speak truth into their lives.  How often do we want to short-circuit the trust-building process in relationships and go for the easy kill?  Usually if a leader comes and says they are having trouble getting through to someone they are leading, you could ask them how much they are really investing in the relationship.  Have they built the relational equity to have a venue to speak truth into someone’s life?
How about you?  Is there some relationship that you’re trying to share truth but haven’t built the relational equity to do it?  How’s that working for you?  What examples can you see in your life where taking the time to build trust in a relationship opens the door for you to speak truth?  
How do we share the truth of Christ?  Is it worth the long-term, marathon investment rather than the short-term sprint?  Can both work?  What do you think?
To listen to the podcast, click here

The great disconnect.

I was reading some Barna research (I’m a research geek) this afternoon and came across this quote from the 12 Most Significant Religious Findings from 2006 Surveys:

Although large majorities of the public claim to be “deeply spiritual” and say that their religious faith is “very important” in their life, only 15% of those who regularly attend a Christian church ranked their relationship with God as the top priority in their life. As alarming as that finding was, its significance was magnified by research showing that on average pastors believe that 70% of the adults in their congregation consider their relationship with God to be their highest priority in life.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how us “paid clergy-folk” need to understand the culture that surrounds us, and I have this sinking suspision that we just have no clue a lot of the time. We’d rather sound authoritative when we speak based on what we feel is the case, with no concrete evidence to back it up. How often do we think the needs and such of our communities are so far from what they actually are.

I’m calling on you and I to do some research. To spend some time doing some cultural research, to pull demographics, to do surveys, to talk and actually listen to people in your community. To see what their needs are, to see where they stand on certain issues. To stop the great disconnect between what we think might be going on and what we think other people are thinking and actually find out.

Paul did this, why shouldn’t we? He knew the culture inside and out, and was able to speak to it. Perhaps we need to put our pride away and engage the culture on their terms instead of running away and complaining about how they don’t conform to our terms.

I’m just wrestling with this and throw it out for discussion. Thoughts?

My friend Scott spoke a few weeks ago about what people think of Christians (including what he thinks!). You can get to it from his blog here.