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Showing posts from April, 2013

Processing the Transition of a Pastor

While I was at work on Sunday my wife emailed me and said she heard there was a big announcement coming up during the church service.  I wondered as I worked what the announcement might be.  A big donation?  Moving to a new facility?  More staff being added as the church continues to grow.  I had a few ideas what it might be, but none of them included what it actually was.  Later in the morning I got another email from my wife.  One of our church's co-pastors was leaving the church to take a position with the church he served before starting CANVAS Church.  Wow.  Didn't see it coming.  At least not that morning.

Rewind.  Two years ago a friend of mine from Atlanta posted a message on Twitter about a friend of his who was starting a brand new church in Minnesota.  Being a church news junkie I responded to the tweet and asked where the church was going to be planted.  Knowing my friend in A-town I figured that his friend would likely be a pretty neat guy.  To say I was shocked wh…

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Church Services More Boring

Tony Morgan wrote this list back in 2005, but I thought it'd be fun to revisit it.
10 Easy Ways to Make Your Church Services More Boring 1. Don’t worry about when you finish. I’m sure no one has plans after the service.  2. Straight Scriptures. No stories. Jesus didn’t teach that way, but you’re a better communicator than Jesus, right?  3. Television. Movies. It’s just a phase. People don’t really need visual stimulation. They prefer talking heads.  4. Use the same service order…every week…no exceptions…ever.  5. Make more announcements.  6. Encourage your elementary school kids to sit through your services. They love lively 45-minute sermons. It’s good for them. It builds character.  7. Talk more about the past and the less about the future.  8. Play the same Chris Tomlin song every week. And, try the chorus one more time.  9. Use lots of big words that no one uses in normal, everyday life.  10. Forget relevant topics and life application. People are really only interested in hear…

Losing Productivity with Old Technology

Anyone else get purchase anxiety like I do?

I need a new computer because the laptop I am using goes so...so....slowly.  During the evening I use Stephanie's laptop, but during the day she needs it at school so I am left with a choice between my ancient BM machine and the iPad, neither of which are great options for typing.

I am considering just getting a wireless keyboard for the iPad, but I think I would like greater functionality for writing and doing other presentation project.  I like the iPad for surfing the internet, using Twitter and using the many different apps that are outs there, but I haven't found a way to be real productive on it yet.

Anybody have any thoughts or recommendations for me?

Quit Blaming Someone Else and Own Up to Your Life

There's usually enough blame to go around.

That is a line from a Berenstain Bears book I was reading with the kids yesterday.  The story was about Brother and Sister Bear learning that instead of blaming and fighting with each other, they should own up to their part of the problem and work together to find a solution.

Think if adults read that book and put it's simply idea into practice everyday.  There would be less divorce, less road rage, less workplace problems, less complaining, and a lot less unhappy people in this world.

It is an exhausted cliche, but if I had a nickel for every time a grown adult at my place of business blamed another grown adult for something, I wouldn't have to work another day in my life.  It honestly blows me away until.  Then I look at my kids school, at my kids sporting events, at our city council, even the churches I've attended, the blame and complain game is epidemic.  Nowadays (myself included at times I'm quite sure) wants to own…

This Day

God has been preparing you for this....

this day
this challenge
this opportunity
this new beginning

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

As you go forth today day, do so in the knowledge that God has already gone before you. He has prepared the way for you. He has shaped and molded you so that you are ready to handle all that comes your way as long as you stay connected to him.

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? - Ester 4:14

Extra, Extra -
How cool is the Lord?  I blogged these thoughts at a coffee shop in Northfield, and then I drove to a coffee shop in Fairbault where the same Proverbs 16:9 verse was written on a whiteboard in the coffee bar area.

Reflections on the Last Few Weeks, Boston Strong

Wow, the last couple weeks have been a whirlwind of crazy and fun.

Three weeks ago I was concerned about our townhouse and some of the repairs that were needed there.  so I took Jacob and drove up to Monticello for a day.  Then I went with Stephanie to Boston, MA for a long weekend with some amazing friends there.  Four days after that Stephanie and I took the kids to meet her brother and his family in Brainerd at a water park hotel for a weekend of swimming and hanging out with the cousins.  One day after getting home there was the terrible explosions at the end of the Boston Marathon.

Oh yeah, throw in a couple exciting meetings related to some doors I think God may be opening up for me, reading three books, Stephanie going to the Chris Tomlin concert with one of her best girl friends, and the kids starting practice for the Alice in Wonderland play they are doing this week!

Some reflections...

- loving friends are family are critical in making life delightful
- amazing that you c…

Book Review: What is a Healthy Church?

One of the books I read on the plane during our flight out to Boston last weekend was a short book called "What is a Healthy Church?" by Pastor Mark Dever.  It is an insightful work exploring some of the key aspects of what makes up a healthy church.
The book is divided up into three parts:
1) What is a healthy church?
2) Essential Marks of a Healthy Church
3) Important Marks of a Healthy Church

Dever answers the question "What is a healthy church?" by offering this definition -
A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God's character as his character is revealed in his Word. I like this definition because is allows for different sizes of church, different styles, different methods, and different models of service.  I also like this definition because it rightly puts the focus for health on knowing God and believing his Word.  This is critical.

Some of the statements in the book that were meaningful to me are as follows:

- You (the reader) an…

Special Thanks to Some Special Folks

Stephanie and I are getting ready for our last day in Boston.  We've been here since early Saturday morning and we've had a terrific time with here visiting the city and spending time with some very good friends/mentors in our lives.  There are many memories and photos to share, but before that happens I want to say thanks to the people who made this trip possible.

Without my parents, Stephanie's parents, our neighbors, some good friends, and the staff at Stephanie's school, none of this weekend would have been possible.  The whole experience reinforces my belief in how desperately difficult and dreary life would be without the love and support of friends and family.  Each of you special individuals know the role you played in making this weekend happen.  For that - thank you, thank you, thank you!

What Would You Do in This Situation?

I am very interested in what you readers think of the following scenario.....

A man and a workplace peer are in a conversation with an auditor.  The auditor is looking at how some new work processes are being executed in their place of business.  Both the man and his peer know that the expectations for running the processes are completely out of whack with the reality they face each day.  However, the scores given out by auditors are scrutinized very carefully by upper management and there is a large amount of pressure to deliver good audit scores.

During the conversation the auditor asks a questions about some of the employees running the process. There is a second's pause, and then the man's peer answers the question in a way that is not completely factual, but will satisfy the auditor's question and will earn the place of business a good score.

Here's my question to you readers.

Do you speak up and correct your peer, possibly costing your company a passing score?

3 Questions to Assess Your Maturity Level

Tonight at the retail store where I am a manager we had all the lights turn off for a minute or two as the store switched form generator power to utility power.  We made an announcement on the overhead paging system twice before the lights went out.  Not surprisingly, despite our forewarning, there where a few people confused and startled by the sudden change in illumination.  What made matters even worse, was that there was a man in the building screaming (in jest) because it was dark.

When we confronted the man he because very upset and defensive towards us, blaming us for turning out the lights while the building was open.  We told him we are a 24 hour store and that we had no choice, but he still complained and actually started to get aggressive towards us.  All because we asked him to act like an adult and stop screaming like a child while the lights were off.  The whole thing was rather remarkable.

Makes me think about my own behavior.

1.  Do I act like a child when I should …

Winter Comes Before the Summer

On Sunday I received some wonderful encouragement from a member of my faith family.  A woman talking to Stephanie and I told us how much she cares for us, how her and her husband are always thinking and praying for us and how she can't wait to see all that God has in store for our family.  Then she shared how, in her life, she has seen so many breakthroughs and great things come forth for people after they have gone through a tough time.  The blessing comes after the trial.

In an astonishing, only God kind of moment, on the way home from church that same day Stephanie was talking to the kids about the cold weather and she said, "Think how much more we're going to enjoy the summer after such a long winter."  I immediately thought of the encouragement from church and connected the too statements as synonymous.

Trial = winter.
Blessing = summer.

You don't get summer without walking through a winter.

For the City, For Northfield, For Jesus

I started reading For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Matt Carter and Darrin Patrick.  I love my city and I want to be a part of a church that cares for the good, not just of it's members, but also for the good of the entire community around it.

I'm glad that CANVAS Church is a church like this.  In its first two years CANVAS has worked hard to build in roads of blessing in Northfield.  Some examples....

- Before planting CANVAS our pastors visited local churches to build relationships centered on Christ.
- Volunteers have done multiple, awesome tasting, catered dinners for local school teachers during conference time.
- Last Christmas we collected thousands of dollars in cash and goods and donated them to a local Crisis Pregnancy Center.
- Volunteers have provided free meals to women in a Northfield therapy group.

Probably most importantly, our pastors continually remind members of our faith family that "church" happens Monday-Saturday, not j…