Friday, September 28, 2007

Willow Creek Ancient-Future Conference Pt. 2

So far so good, the conference has gone very well. I sat in on a great session this morning on the identification and cultivation of small group leaders. I will blog on it further at some point in the future, but it was simple yet brilliant.

Today we have two break out sessions to start the day off, so we didn't to worship to start our day off. That is honestly a disappointment for me. I love getting together and singing, and it is especially cool to do so in Willow's sanctuary with thousands of other leaders.

If you would like to know more about Willow Creek's Group Life Conference they have a lot of related resources over at the Willow Creek Group Life Community pages.

I am now in break out session #2 where I will continue learning about finding and developing small group leaders through a process called "Liquid" from the guys from Mariners Church.

Scot McKnight's session was very good yesterday. He effectively said the same things as he did at our Sanctuary service, but those who heard both were unanimous in their feeling that his presentation at our church was actually even better than his Willow presentation!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Willow Creek Ancient-Future Conference

We survived the drive to Chicago early this morning, through traffic, road construction and toll booths. I'll update this later, but wanted to point out that we (myself and a team member) made the cut and are shown on Willow Creek's Flickr account worshiping earlier this morning.

It's time for dinner - we're heading to Max and Erma's. This is my first trip into Chicago, and my first experience at Willow Creek. So far so good!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ancient-Future Conference at Willow Creek Community Church and our Meal Group Launch

Later today, myself and 5 others from my church will all pile into a 15 passenger van (minus the back seat) and make the trek down to Willow Creek Community Church for the Ancient-Future Conference for small group ministries. Scot McKnight, Will Miller, Henry Cloud, Bill Donahue, Alan Hirsch, Ron Martoia, and Mark Buchanan are just a few of the many leaders who will be leading sessions. We actually had Scot McKnight flown into our church (Crossroads) this past weekend to help launch one part of our meal groups ministry for our Sanctuary service.

I have never been to Willow Creek Community Church (or Chicago outside the airports for that matter) so I am excited to check things out. I have always attended the Leadership Summit at a satellite campus.

One of our plans while in Chicago is to eat at Gino's Pizza. My mouth is already watering! We'll then make our way down to Navy Pier after filling ourselves with some of the best pizza on the planet.

We launched our meal groups ministry this past weekend at Crossroads Church. It was a lot of work, but a great success. We doubled the number of people who are part of a small group in our church through this process. While we still have a good bit of room for growth in this area, it was a rousing success. Especially considering the accelerated pace at which everything had to be put together to get our meal group launch off the ground. We are now at roughly 40+% of our adults who attend Crossroads who are in a meal group!

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Ten Shekel Shirt Lyrics for "Great"

Below are the lyrics to the song Great by Ten Shekel Shirt. I really dig these guys.

I have always wanted to be somebody who is great

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

To love my enemies
To serve others until I become the least

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

Greatness in this world is different than greatness in your eyes

To be great in, great in your eyes, is my dream
To be the one who makes you smile is everything

To be genuine in my love for others and for you is to be great

Ten Shekel Shirt is not currently making together, though their front man Lamont Hiebert has been doing some great stuff on his own if you want something that is pretty similar. He has a new album coming out in early 2008 called Jubilee that suspect will make its way into my CD player.

A little bit more on Lamont Hiebert from his bio page on his web site:

In 2000, Canadian recording artist Lamont Hiebert wrote, recorded and co-produced the album Much. Before releasing the album Lamont recruited Austin Morrison (drums) and Tommy Lee (bass) and formed the band Ten Shekel Shirt. The independent release of that album sparked the attention of Integrity Music who then signed Lamont Hiebert as an artist under the moniker / band name of Ten Shekel Shirt. The debut album Much sold 130,000 units, was nominated for a Dove Award, featured the #1 hit "Ocean" and the top ten song "Meet With Me”.

While recording the 2nd Ten Shekel Shirt album Risk, Lamont co-founded Justice for Children International. (JFCI is a public charity that works to abolish child slavery and restore survivors.) Although the album Risk received rave reviews after its release in 2003 Lamont was torn between his music career and the abolitionist organization he started. “Unfortunately there is only so much time in a day. I was the Executive Director for a growing international charity and a front man for a successful rock band. From 2003 – 2006, I had to put my music career aside for the most part in order to focus on the organization,” Lamont recalls. Now with effective staff and offices for Justice for Children International in New Haven, CT and in the Philippines, Lamont is able to re-launch his music career guilt free.

So what happens when an artist turns abolitionist turns artist? You get some intense songs about pain, suffering, rescue and restoration. There is an extremely high level of authenticity that comes through in Lamont’s writing because of his work off stage. This isn’t a guy who is merely another spokesperson for a cause, Lamont stepped off the sidelines and onto the field that is the modern-day abolition movement.

Lamont has finished recording his much anticipated new album Jubilee and is set to release it in early 2008. He is convinced this is his best work yet. The line up of musicians has changed and the sound has evolved but the authentic presence of faith, justice and melodic rock remains.

For more info on Justice For Children International go to

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shaved head - my wife hates my new hair cut!

Yesterday I shaved my head. It wasn't supposed to be this short, but now it is. I started with a #3 on my whole head (leaving my bangs a bit longer than a #4) with my wife shaving the back of my head to make it easier on me. I then meant to do a #2 up the sides of my head, but grabbed the #1 by accident. One stripe up the side of my head made it obvious that #1 is really, REALLY short. It was a commitment cut. I called to my wife from the bathroom "My hair is going to be really short." Her response was "Ok." She had no idea just how short. To balance it out some, I shaved my goatee short as well.

With a forehead this big, I'm contemplating selling advertisements.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Funny caricature of Christians

A funny, and possibly painful commentary on Emergent/Evangelical/Fundamentalist differences in the Church today. This comes from Faithmaps blog.

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2008

Bill Hybels recently sent out an update about the 2008 Willow Creek Leadership Summit. In it he says:

We have already begun work on Summit 08 and are committed to putting together the best speakers and programming elements we possibly can. We know from past experience the earlier we start the better the final result and have already confirmed Craig Groeschel of and Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission to the faculty.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

John Piper presents the Gospel in 6 minutes (and 25 seconds)

Tim Challies passed this link onto his readers:

The Gospel in 6 Minutes
Here's a good one to bookmark because sooner or later you'll want to send it to someone: John Piper presents the gospel in 6 minutes.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Discovering your brand


In many cases, branding refers to an organization’s logo, but a logo is not a brand. Rather, it is a symbol of the brand.

Branding actually goes much deeper than design and marketing and is a representation of the unique personality of your church. It should take into account your church’s calling, strengths, and core values. In fact, your church’s brand should be communicated at every touch point your with your congregation and community.

But before you can successfully communicate your brand, you must first be able to understand and explain what it is. If you need help discovering your brand, ask yourself the following 18 questions:

  1. Why was your church created?
  2. What is your church’s mission?
  3. Who are you called to reach?
  4. Rank your target audiences in order of importance.
  5. How do you want to be perceived by each audience?
  6. What are your three most important goals?
  7. What is unique about your church?
  8. What does your church do better than anyone else?
  9. What values and beliefs unify your staff and volunteers and drives their performance?
  10. What other churches do you admire most and why?
  11. Why would someone who is unchurched want to attend your church?
  12. How do you market your church?
  13. What are the trends and changes that affect your church?
  14. Where will you be in 5 years? In 10 years?
  15. How do you measure success?
  16. What are the potential barriers to your success?
  17. If you could do or be anything in the future, what would it be?
  18. If you could communicate a single message about your church, what would it be?

Do you notice any common themes in your answers? If there are too many, narrow them down to the five strongest. How could your church’s brand be communicated in everything you do?

For instance, a church that focuses primarily on communicating God’s love might consider what colors, typefaces, and imagery communicates the warmth of God’s love. They might want to consider a cozier atmosphere for their facility rather than a cold contemporary one. Of course, these decisions must also be considered with respect to the church’s other brand themes as well as their audience’s culture.

These 18 questions are not meant to exactly pinpoint and identify your church’s brand, but they can be an excellent guide to better understanding your church’s priorities and branding. A church whose answers emphasize encouraging, equipping, and cultural diversity has quite a different brand from one that emphasizes love, community, and practicality. So think about what your church emphasizes and how you can better communicate that through your role at your church.

Note: Most of the 18 questions were derived and inspired by Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler, and they have been changed to apply to the church. If interested in learning more about brand identity, the book is well worth the investment.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Building a new church for Crossroads

I received some good news in my inbox today.
At the Wednesday night meeting of the Woodbury Planning Commission, our relocation project (the applications we've made to build and develop the land) got unanimously approved! Yea, God! Now, it all goes to next Wednesday night's meeting of the Woodbury City Council for final approval.

Are we expecting more good news? Absolutely. The Woodbury City Planners are on board and the City Council pretty much approves whatever they recommend. Following next week's meeting we will apply for a building permit and be off and running. We still hope to break ground in a month or so.

Continue to pray for the process. Pray for God's favor next Wednesday and also for favor as we negotiate what's called a 'developer agreement' (a fee we'll have to pay to develop and build). This fee could cripple us or just wound us depending on how gracious the City Planners are. Pray for good negotiations (we're a non-profit church not a developer who will be making lots of money on the property).
This is great news. Things have been stalled for far too long on this project due to some indecisiveness on the part of the Woodbury, MN city council. It has kept our church's direction hanging in the balance. We didn't want to abandon our goal of building this year, but we also didn't want to waste time pursuing that goal if we were going to have to wait 2 years to build.

Our church is simply bursting at the seams, which is a good thing. But if you've studied church growth at all you know that a "full" church is not welcoming to visitors. While we have grown as a church, I believe it has been at a stunted rate because we do not have open seats at optimum hours.

So this is exciting and very good news!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dr. D. James Kennedy has died

Earlier this morning Dr. D. James Kennedy died and went on to meet his Creator. Dr. Kennedy had a heart attack earlier this year that he had been struggling to recover from. Dr. Kennedy is known for his ministry at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, his Evangelism Explosion (4th Edition), and his radio ministry Truths that Transform.

Memorial information for Dr. D. James Kennedy.

Ed Stetzer points to something Dr. Kennedy wrote when thinking about his own death:

“Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. And I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.”

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chazown by Craig Groeschel - our new Meal Group book

Sunday I grabbed a copy of Chazown: khaw-ZONE - A Different Way to See Your Life by Craig Groeschel. Craig Groeschel is the lead pastor of which is a multi-site church with a huge online presence (including a Second Life Church) and campuses in six places in Oklahoma (Edmond, Stillwater, Tulsa, and 3 in Oklahoma City). They also have campuses in Mesa, Arizona, Albany, New York, Wellington, Florida, Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Our church (CrossRoads Church) is using Chazown for a church wide study in all of our Meal Groups (our version of Small Groups). Groeschel kindly recorded promotional messages for our church, so last week, and each of the next 2 weeks we will hear brief messages from him about his book. Then the 4th week we get an extended 8 minute segment where he goes a bit deeper about the book. I'm excited to see where this takes the church and what kind of conversations it creates.

Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE) is from the Hebrew, meaning a dream, revelation, or vision.



A Different Way to See Your Life

You’re invited on a most unusual odyssey—to find, name, and live out your Chazown. It’s a journey you’ll never forget because it’s impossible to return unchanged.

Practical, surprising, visually fresh, and biblically sound, the Chazown experience helps you clearly understand what you’ve always suspected: You’re not an accident. You have been created and put on earth for a unique and important purpose…a Chazown . And God intends for you to live it with passion and fulfillment for His glory.

But where to start your search? As Craig Groeschel will show, your own Chazown is hiding just under the surface of your life in three often overlooked areas: your core values, your spiritual gifts, and your past experiences. Once you discover your personal Chazown , you’ll turn it into a highly motivating credo—complete with short-term goals, action steps, and an accountability network to make your big dream a reality.

Pursue your Chazown and simultaneously improve five critical aspects of your life. These “small ‘c’ chazowns ” are your relationship with God, your relationships with people, your finances, your health and fitness, and your work life.

Are you living someone else’s dream for your life, or no dream at all?

Get ready for Chazown.

I read some of it yesterday, and it looks to be very interesting. I'll post a full review once I have completed reading it, and then maybe some final notes after our church has worked its way through the book together.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

TouchGraph - Graph your blog's web connections

Darren Rowse at pointed to this coooool little Java applet - TouchGraph - that will give you a graphic representation of your blog's connectivity across the net. All you have to do is put in a keyword and it’ll graph the top results in Google for you. This is actually useful outside of blogs - ie. you could see how well connected your church web site is, or basically anything with a footprint on the web. You can also do key word searches. An example I did was "Eagle Brook Church" and saw my blog come up a number of times associated with Eagle Brook Church. This is something that a guy could waste an afternoon playing with, so do be careful!

As Darren says: "It’s hard to illustrate the tool in a static picture - but each of the circles represents a website and the circles around it are other websites that link into it. Click on any of the circles and you can expand them to see what is in turn linking to them."

Have fun with it.

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