Pursuing Christ, Creating Art – A Review

I was thrilled when I heard the news that my friend Gary Molander was writing a book.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Gary a number of times on the phone as well as admire his work for several years now.  From those experiences I’ve learned that Gary has so much insight and wisdom for creatives that are on church staffs and/or are involved in creative media production and design.  His book Pursuing Christ, Creating Art is one of those books that I find hard to put down.  Honestly, I think for any church staffing a new creative position, they should be given a mac pro, Final Cut, Adobe Creative Suite and a copy of Gary’s book.

Continue reading

counting what counts

“How many does your church run on Sundays?” “So, what size student ministry do you have?” “How big is your church?”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question in my ministry years and even how many times I have probably asked this of others.  Here’s the rub on asking this question: If your church is running less than theirs, you end up feeling inadequate; if your church is running more than theirs you end up feeling self-righteous.  Heard a speaker say one time “There is not a whole lot that can tell you less about what’s going on in a church than that question”.  I think there is some truth in that statement.

Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not wanting to get into a discussion on church growth.  Anyone can read the book of Acts and see that the early church GREW.  A church that is not growing is in decline, imo….and that’s really the point of asking a different question.

No, the thought that struck me was what if we flipped that script on the question “how many are you running?” and started asking different questions, maybe additional questions.  We’ve been going through a message series at Cedar Creek called Chairs.  It’s been a vision series with a focus on the idea that the empty chairs that we see around us on Sundays and at HOME group should serve as a visual reminder of who is missing.  This past Sunday during Wes‘ message at the West Campus, this thought hit me:

What if we started asking:

“How many empty chairs did we have at our church Sunday?”

How would that shift our focus of what we do?  We recently put together some numbers that showed there are approx. 80,000 people in Aiken County that are unreached, that are unchurched and probably don’t know Jesus.  How would asking that question shift our focus in reaching them?

what creatives need….

What do creatives in your organization, church or business need?  Not ALWAYS the top of the line equipment (although I must confess, having 16g’s of ram and 8 processor mac does help tremendously).  What they DO need is the freedom to create, experiment, dream and at times fail.  Case in point, the video below. Shot and edited on an iphone.  Watch all the way through to see how they did it at the end.


the cussing pastor

confession: I have a draft in my draft folder of my blog called “The Cussing Pastor”….it’s been there for around 8 months.

It’s not about anyone in particular at all, but just a growing trend that has emerged among pastors, leaders and communicators.  I didn’t finish the draft and probably won’t.  I think Ed Young nails what I was thinking.


Social Networking and the Church

I was reading a Nielsen report on social media networking (facebook, twitter, etc.) and some of the highlights struck me.  Your can download the full report here but here are some bullet points:

  • The number of American users frequenting online video destinations has climbed 339 percent since 2003.
  • Time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000 percent over the same period.
  • In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10 percent, the number of streams grew 41 percent, the streams per user grew 27 percent and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71 percent.
  • There are 87 percent more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883 percent more time devoted to those sites.
  • In the last year alone, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73 percent.
  • In February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time.

Here are some questions/thoughts to consider, some of which I’m asking myself:

  1. What is your church doing to engage people using social media networking and website interaction?
  2. Is it just one way communication (ie: watch our video, read our website, etc.) or are you actively engaging people online in a conversation?  More and more people are looking for the latter.
  3. Does your “online campus” have any type of interaction (live chat)?
  4. If your lead team doesn’t use any kind of social media or blogs, I would say a few things: 1. Get your head out of the sand! 🙂  2. Find someone on your staff that will or does and utilize them to get your church connected.

Paradigm Shift – Part 2

Okay, so it was more than a few days, but I wanted to finish up my thoughts on Paradigm Shift that I started in this post a few days earlier.  As I read through Acts 10, this process of change seemed to look like this.  I won’t go into detail, but you can hit Acts 10 when you get a chance:

Process of a paradigm shift for a leader:

  1. Need – Cornelius was hungry for God, but he had yet to hear the story of Jesus.
  2. Truth/Vision – In his vision, God laid down the truth that God has called him (and us) to do what it takes to tell the story of Christ to anyone, regardless of background, etc.
  3. Calling – it was the Holy Spirit (v19) that told him to get up and go with the men to Cornelius’ home.  Just a thought here, am I  (and are we) listening to the voice of God for His vision for our life and ministry or are we just adopting someone else’s?
  4. Obedience – Peter left and went to Cornelius’ home.  Once he heard from God, there was no more prayer needed about whether or not he should go.  “God, give me ears to hear like that” is what I’m praying for.
  5. The Shift – “I now realize…” (10:34) The truth that he knew with his head was now internalized in Peter.  It was no longer just something he knew but was in his bones at that point.
  6. God Moves – When Peter acted on the vision, calling and truth that God had given to him, the Bible says that while he was “still speaking these words” (v44), the Holy Spirit came on all who heard.  God showed up in a big way.  What an incredible picture for our ministries and lives that is.  That whole point could be a sermon 🙂
  7. The Shift spreads in others in the ministry and organization – v45 says that the “circumcised believers” ie Jewish believers, were astonished b/c the Holy Spirit had been poured out “even on the Gentiles”.  Because of the paradigm shift that happened in Peter, it affected the other Jewish believers and would eventually open new doors for many Gentiles to receive Christ in Acts 11.

Thoughts & Questions on The Shift:

Here are some of the ideas and questions that I’m asking myself as I’m thinking through this process of change and having a shift in the way that I think.

  • The paradigm shift began in one person.  Yet it impacted the entire Church and everyone at Cornelius’s house and help spread the news about Jesus.  He was also a centurion so he had much influence over his regiment and others.
  • Churches and organizations that refuse to change their methods will eventually die.  This is the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.  That can be true for the church that’s been in existence for 100 years or for even 2 years.
  • What assumptions do I have that are simply cultural and traditional that are not necessarily Biblical?  What sacred cow needs to be turned to T Bone?
  • What are the 1 or 2 changes (maybe more) that I need to make in my church or ministry area that could facilitate a move of God?  What are the 1 or 2 changes that I need to make in my life?
  • What could/would your church look like if you made that change?  Dream big!
  • What are the assumptions that I have that have placed God in a box?
  • Some common questions that I’ve struggled with. Maybe you have to: What if I fail?  What if that idea/method doesn’t work? Did I hear God right on that?
  • I think it is important that we think through is it change for the sake of change or is it change because our methods are busted and ineffective.  You MUST be honest here.  Drag the elephant in the corner of the room to the middle and talk about it openly and honestly.

Ed Stetzer on the Baptist old guard

3617dsc_0025A friend of mine sent this article to me today, and I wanted to pass it along.  It’s Ed Stetzer speaking at a conference hosted by southeastern baptist seminary.  He is one of the sharpest minds in the American church, imo.  If you’ve ever been to a baptist convention meeting (state or national), you will appreciate his remarks.  The reason why no young people are showing up?  1. There are no young people on stage 2. Sniping remarks at newer methodologies and my personal opinion 3. they’re boring as crap.  I went to one….that was enough.  Anyway, thought it was a good read:

Ed Stetzer Article

Paradigm Shift – Part 1

the-thinker4Some people embrace change, some people are okay with it, some people despise it.  Change is inevitable, sometimes painful, but in the end necessary.  That’s been a principle that has been hammered in my life over the past year or so.  I think Perry Noble at UNLEASH (see Session 1) kind of encapsulated this idea for me.  He said, “I think that most churches are one or two changes away from doubling in size.”  The message for the Church doesn’t change, but the methods MUST.  I would say that is true for churches, organizations, businesses, and people as well.  One or two changes in our lives have the ability to make a profound impact on so much.  Lasting change, I believe, begins first with a Paradigm Shift.

Paradigm Shift: a fundamental change in approach or assumptions

I’ve been reading through Acts 10 and came across what I would call a serious Paradigm Shift: a change in the way we think and view things.  Peter experienced a Paradigm Shift that rocked an assumption that he had held as a fundamental truth his whole life.  I’m going to stretch this out over a few posts because there’s just so much there that stuck out at me about this.

Here’s what’s going on here.  Cornelius was a non-Jew.  He believed in God, gave to the poor, prayed regularly and yet hadn’t heard the full truth about Jesus.  God sends an angel to him, instructing him to call for Peter to come to his house.  In the meantime, Peter was up on a rooftop praying.  He has a vision while he’s up there.  The vision had all kinds of animals in a large sheet being brought down from Heaven.  It included all kinds of animals that Jews were not suppose to eat b/c they were “unclean”.  Peter hears a voice that says, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Peter says “no way, I’ve never eaten anything unclean.” (my paraphrase)  The voice speaks back saying, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  Same vision happened three times to Peter.  At that point, the Cornelius’ guys show up asking Peter to come to with them.  The Holy Spirit tells Peter to go with them.  So Peter does.  Peter goes to Cornelius’ house and tells the news about Jesus.  Everyone there gets saved and then they’re baptized by Peter.  You can read the full account in Acts 10.

Here is where the paradigm shift has to happen for Peter.  Peter had grown up believing that Jews were not allowed to have fellowship, to have community, to live life with a non-Jew.  Just like the food in his vision, the non-Jews were seen as unclean.  It was first century racism.  Even though Jesus had said to go into ALL the world, it seems that most of the Jews didn’t REALLY think that he meant THEM, especially to the unclean.  God wanted to shift Peter’s paradigm: “Peter, you’ve thought for so long that these people are lower than you, beneath you, unclean…maybe unworthy.  The truth is that every drop of blood that I shed for you and every other Jew was shed for Cornelius and every other non-Jew.  And I want to use YOU to go reach them.”  God wanted to change the way Peter thought in order to change the way Peter lived, led and ministered.

Tomorrow I’m going to bullet point the process of a Paradigm Shift for a leader as I see it in Acts 10, but for now, here are a few questions that I’m processing:

  1. What are the assumptions, methods and processes that my church or ministry area has that could possibly be limiting us from reaching our community?
  2. What paradigm shift do we need to make?  Do I need to make?

photoshoped movie posters

lordofwarsm1If you live in the world of professional design, graphics and video, at some you’re going to tangle with Photoshop.  There aren’t too many videos that I produce that don’t utilize photoshop on some level, and definitely for most graphic stuff.  I came across this list of some pretty incredible movie posters that were all edited and created using photoshop.  I think my favorite is Lord of War simply because of all the detail and time it probably took to create it.  Check them out here.