Archive - November, 2008

The Thanksgiving Day Post.

What am I thankful for?

  1. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, I’m thankful for the new relationships I’ve formed. Some of you live where I live (Des Moines, IA); some of you don’t (Australia, New York, Texas, California). It’s been such an encouragement to know that there are other like-minded thinkers out there.
  2. If you’ve been reading this blog, I’m thankful for the support in the my new hobby. Your comments on the blog, and in person, brighten my day.
  3. I am, of course, thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for my wife and our journey together the last two years. I am thankful for my job and my church.
  4. I’m thankful that I am thankful. Some people live their whole lives wishing for the “next big thing” and never truly being content. I’m thankful that I can be content, but eagerly anticipate the future.
  5. I’m thankful for the fact that I’m now, officially, going to be able to start enjoying Christmas music now that the “Thanksgiving Day” boundary.

Lastly, I’m thankful that I’m about to head out the door and stuff my face with Thanksgiving Day goodness with our blessed family.

Peace to you all. Happy Thanksgiving..

“Christians Are the Worst Tippers Ever.”

I told a story last week at Immersion that made people gasp. It spoke to the notorious stinginess of those who follow Jesus. I couldn’t tell if the gasps were “agreement gasps” (“Oh no you dih’int!”) or “horrified gasps” (In Sunday School, I once saw a little boy pick his nose and munch on his nasal treasure like it was a crisp, autumnal apple or a fistful of Cheetos. That was a horrified gasp moment). But they were gasps nonetheless.

I told the story of how when I used to work in the service industry, waiting tables, no one ever wanted to work Sunday morning brunch. I could never figure it out. Even the hardiest partier could drag themselves out of bed by 10am and paste on a “server smile”. Right?

“What gives?” I thought.

“It’s the Christians,” was the reply from my co-workers. “The Christians always come in on Sunday mornings for brunch after their church service and they don’t tip. At all. Christians are the worst tippers ever.”

When I heard that, it was like a kick in the gut.

Why?

  1. Mostly because it was true. We don’t tip very well. As a matter of fact, we’re pretty cheap. What makes this worse is that we paint “cheap” with a religious sounding veneer and call it “being a good steward.” Nothing like hiding behind the Bible to camouflage your stinginess.
  2. Because God is so generous. We are most like God when we are being generous; generous in all things, but especially with our dough!

Las Thursday I laid down the “Fat Tip Challenge.” The FTC asks you to lay down more than your normal tip next time you go out to eat. Usually put 10% down? Try 30%. Are you a 20% tipper? Bump it up to 50%. If you’re feeling really crazy, try a 80, 90, or 100% tip next time you dine out! Make up for all those lousy tips from other Christians throughout the years.

God says, “I own the cattle on a thousand hills.” As children of this great and generous God – the God who owns everything – can’t we afford to part with a few more of those tightly-pinched pennies? God can afford your generosity. So go on, be generous!

Are you a server with a tip (or non-tip) horror story? Let us hear you. C’mon … Let it out ..

Spam Filters Are Funny

I went to sign up for another Twitter account today and this is what I saw:

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It made me spell “farts”. Hee hee.

Update: My wife pointed out to me that not only does it say, “farts”, but “wholly farts.” If I have to tell you why this is funny … Well … Let’s just say not even this can bring a smile to your face.

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An Addition to BeDeviant.com

T-shirts! Check out the link on the side. Now you too can own a piece of BeDeviant.com. Check out the shirts. They’re ill. Just in time for Christmas! Huzzah!

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BeDeviant.com Interviews Anne Jackson Pt. 1

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I’m always looking for people in ministry who share my love for social media. People like Rhett Smith, Tony Steward, Cynthia Ware, and John “Human3rror” Saddington inspire me to dig deeper into what God is whispering through Web 2.0. New mediums like Twitter, Facebook, and UStream.tv, I believe, have yet to fully realize their potential. These people help me to see new ways in which they can be used.

A few weeks ago, I contacted Anne Jackson of FlowerDust.net. Anne’s another one of those “social media ministry” people who get it. She’s got a new book out, “Mad Church Disease“, which takes a look at church burn-out and the toll which ministry can take on individuals. She’s also a whiz at getting people to congregate on her blog. (Just take a look at the comment count on some of her posts!)

So, I asked Anne a bunch of questions. She answered them. I’ve split the interview into two parts. The first one is below and the second will come out later next week. Enjoy!

Anne Jackson Interview, Part 1

BeDeviant.com: First (and easiest) question, tell me about what you do right now: How did you get here? What do you do, specifically? Biographical stuff, etc.

Anne Jackson: Right now I am involved in a few things. I’m on staff at Cross Point Church in Nashville where I help protect our pastor’s schedule and time, do some communications stuff, and get to love on people. It’s been a fun journey in ministry over the last five years. I also write as much as I can, when I can and have a book coming out called Mad Church Disease, which discusses healing from the burnout epidemic in the church today. My husband and I live in Nashville.

BD: Tell me about the concept behind your blog. Why Flowerdust.net? If you were to boil down the purpose of your blog into a few sentences, what would it be?

AJ: It’s a community. In a way, I see it as a gathering place. I pay $6 a month to host it, share some ideas, and let the people who visit discuss them or put them into action. It’s kind of a hub for things in ministry, in the world, and life.

BD: How do you see the Church using social media (Twitter, Facebook, UStream.tv, MySpace, etc.) effectively? Ineffectively?

AJ: I think it can be used effectively by not putting any preconceived notions on it. Letting it go where it goes and influence who it influences, and not being concerned with being the biggest or best.

When churches, or the people who make up the church, care more about stats, link love, and stirring up controversy is when it’s being used poorly.

BD: Tell me a powerful or memorable story from your blog. In other words, how have you seen what you do through your blog change people’s lives? What is God up to?

AJ: Over the last year, somewhere in the realm of $125,000 has been donated or committed to charitable causes all by the actions of just a few hundred people. That is amazing. It has nothing to do with me, but again, just allowing people the space and opportunity to live out their faith is such an honor.

Part Two, coming soon!

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The Life of the Internet Integrated

Texas A &M Communications Professor Heidi Campbell says, “Ten years ago not everyone had e-mail accounts. Now most of us find it almost impossible to function without the Internet, whether it comes to banking or doing business or keeping up with friends.” She then goes on to suggest that we should expect no different when it comes to our religious lives. How have you found the macrocosm of the internet making its way into the microcosm of your church? Twitter? YouTube? Webcasting? Online campuses? Or, like Jonathan, are you finding it hard to even get your church to use Microsoft Word? How has the internet affected your religious life?

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For All You American Idol Fans with Daughters…

This is one of the best uses of YouTube I’ve ever seen. Capturing real life as it happens. Not going to lie though, this video makes me nervous to have daughters someday.

(For those who don’t know, these young women are upset by David Cook beating out David Archuleta in this year’s American Idol finale. As you can see, they take their Idol pretty seriously. ((FWIW, my wife and I reacted somewhat similarly.)))
HT: Ragamuffin Soul
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Advertising is Dead.

I was watching a commercial for some “gold-into-cash” website the other day. They used adjectives like, “the best”, “better”, “faster” and “we pay top dollar” (technically not an adjective, but who’s counting?) to describe their service.

My instant thought was: “How do you know?”

How do you know that your service is the best? Better or faster than the competition? How do I know you pay top dollar for my gold? Are you going to give me my gold back so I can send it to another company for the sake of comparison?

And here’s one for burger joints, how do I know you have the world’s best burgers? Or that your particular brand of burger is world famous? Really? You sure people in Bangladesh are going to know what I’m talking about when I say “Burgerland”?

Doubtful.

As a matter of fact, advertising seems to be having an adverse effect, with people simply tuning the “ad chatter” off. (Case-in-point: While listening to the radio, I heard a spot where they gave the phone number for the company three times in a row. I heard the announcer take a breath for the fourth round and promptly turned the radio off.)

Dave Winer shares my sentiment:

Assuming the economy comes back from the recession-depression thing that it’s in now, when it does, we will have completely moved on from advertising.

The web will still be used for commercial purposes, people will still buy things from Amazon and Amazon-like sites, but they will find information for products as they do now, by searching for it, and finding out what other people think, not by clicking on ads and buying things on the pages they link to.

No one needs advertising, and there are much better ways to sell products.

Where am I going with all of this? Simple. This little observation has massive implications for the church. For the way we “market” the church, if you will. (Although, Tony Morgan will argue that the church should give up marketing altogether.)

No longer can we depend on “Sunday Night Casual Service” or “Wednesday Night Potluck” to bring people into the pews. For the most part, a watching world has no idea what a church service looks like, let alone a casual one, at that. People will be drawn to your church – the Church – once they see life change flowing from it. And not before.

Amazon has a feature that suggests products to you based on what you’ve looked at or bought in the past. It also has customer reviews that tell the Average Joe/Josephine everything they need to know about the product and whether or not it delivers on its promises. A business may not always be honest about the benefits and drawbacks of its product, but a consumer always will be.

Could it be that the massive decline in American churches is because people are tired of a “product” that doesn’t deliver what it promises?

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From the Year 2000: Jobs of the Future

I don’t like to jump on bandwagons very much (I mean, the name of this site is Be Deviant!), but I’ll grab a seat on Seth Godin’s bandwagon any ol’ day! Seth recently talked about “Jobs of the Future”, one such being “Online Community Organizer“. What the heck is that? The answer comes from Seth’s Blog, via Tony Steward: “Somebody to create and maintain a virtual world in which all the players in an industry feel like they need to be part of it? Like being the head of a big trade association, but without the bureaucracy and tedium.” (For those of you wanting to start Internet campuses at your church, you should pay attention to this job. You’ll need someone to do this. And do it well.)

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The Simple Church.

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Is your church simple? I don’t mean simple as in, “Hey you Simpleton, take that dunce cap off your head and figure it out!” But simple as in, “I know what we’re doing. I know why we’re doing it. And, most importantly, I know how we are going to get it done.” Here’s a taste of simple:

  • Google has one image, a few links, and a search box on its main page, yet it is responsible for 75% of the searches conducted on the Internet.
  • Apple’s iPod is one of the best selling pieces of technology of all time, yet it essentially has one big button (scroll wheel plus a select button in the middle) that controls the whole device. There are other devices that have more robust features, but none have managed the simplicity of navigation that Apple has. (This, of course, is to say nothing of the iPod Touch which has no “physical” buttons at all!)
  • Fast food restaurants like Chick-Fil-A have literally one item on the menu: Chicken. They also have about a bazillion ways in which they prepare said chicken (I know, I counted once), but the point is clear: We do chicken and chicken alone. In a word, simplicity.
  • I recently came across John Maeda’s website, The Law of Simplicity, and my life feels less cluttered already. Maeda is a world-class designer who focuses on one of the most overlooked yet essential elements of design, simplicity.

In a world as cluttered as ours is, wouldn’t it be refreshing for the church to be an oasis for the messy masses? I realize I’m painting with big, broad, idealistic strokes here, but how can we be more intentional about “cutting the fat” in our churches?

Figuring out what God has called us in our specific context to do and jettisoning the rest? That may mean prayerfully discerning what beloved programs and classes need to get “Old Yeller’d” – tied up to the tree in the backyard and shot dead! If a program has gone “Old Yeller”, it’s become a danger to you and the people you’re shepherding. It won’t be long before that rabid program gets out of hand and bites someone!

Has anyone out there figured out ways to “beat the bloat” of so many churches today? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

Mad props to the authors of “Simple Church” for the base of this post. Go out and by it!

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