Archive - January, 2009

The @LosWhit Challenge.

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Here’s the thing: Carlos Whittaker has a crazy popular blog. A lot of people like what he has to say on Twitter, too.

I catch a post of his every now and again, and today I happened to notice “Where Did You Grow Up?” In it, he states the following:

Whenever you ask people where they are FROM, there is always some followup statement that sounds something like:

‘Oh, but I grew up in LA’ or ‘Oh but I grew up in New York’.

Like they somehow must right the wrong in their lives that has led them to Des Moines, IA.

Oh, Carlos. How could you know that people who grew up in Des Moines (and currently reside there) would actually read your blog?

This got me thinking, “I wonder if he has ever been to Des Moines. I wonder if he would ever want to come to Des Moines? Gosh, maybe I’ll ask him!”

So, Los, with the cautious optimism of a second grader about to win a state-wide spelling bee, I ask: Would you like to come and visit Des Moines?

Here’s what I’m proposing for your visit to the capital of the Hawkeye state:

  • A visit to “Baby Boomers” to grab some of the chocolate chip cookies that President Obama had served at the inauguration.
  • (If you come in August) A visit to the Iowa State Fair. Words fail to describe the essence of this world famous fair, but one can sum it up in two words: Mullet hunting.
  • A chance to preach a Thursday night message at Immersion. You can preach on whatever you’d like. You can even talk about your blog. (Update: You can also lead worship at Immersion if you wish. Thanks, Andrea!)
  • A t-shirt of your choosing from Des Moines’ own SMASH.
  • A tour of downtown Des Moines via DART (Downtown Area Rapid Transit).
  • A beverage of your choosing from Mars Cafe.
  • The admiration and respect of thousands of Iowans.

Whaddya say?

I hereby decree this to be the “@LosWhit Challenge of 2009 And Beyond!” Will you help spread the word?

Encourage Los to embark on a journey he shan’t soon forget! Beg, plead, encourage, and share your stories of the bliss that is Des Moines with Los. You can find him here:

  1. His blog: www.RagaMuffinSoul.com or www.CarlosWhittaker.com
  2. His Twitter: www.Twitter.com/LosWhit
  3. His email: carlos[at]carloswhittaker[dot]com

So for you fellow lovers of Des Moines (or those of you who you enjoy a good challenge), join me in the “@LosWhit Challenge of 2009 And Beyond!” Tell your friends and let’s get Carlos to Des Moines!.

This Makes Me Mad.

You know what bugs me?

Lint traps.

You know what really bugs me?

Anti-intellectualism.

If you don’t know what that means, I trust that you’ve heard it at play:

“Jesus didn’t go to seminary, why should I?”
“Seminary? More like
cemetery! (Followed by snickering)”
“The disciples didn’t have degrees.”
“Me? Oh I just like to keep it simple. No fancy schooling for me.”

It drives me crazy. And I hear it all the time. It’s very subtle, but it’s out there.

It’s bad logic for so many reasons (Jesus, just like any Jewish boy in the first century, would have had extensive schooling; Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was one of the most educated men on the planet; Luke, who wrote Luke-Acts, was a doctor, etc.), but most of all it’s profoundly prideful. Not to mention it segregates and divides those who have done the hard work of formal seminary education (like me, for instance).

Bottom line: If school is for you, awesome. I got nothin’ but love for you. If school is not for you, realize that God does call some people to get a formal education. Sorry..

Kind of a Big Deal.

In the age where anybody and their brother can broadcast on “the internets” (case-in-point: This guy), the following may not be all the spectacular. But last night at Immersion, the ministry I’m blessed to be a part of, we broadcasted our service to the world in a way that hasn’t ever happened for us before.

I started webcasting the sermons a few months ago by taking my laptop up on stage, firing up the ol’ webcam via UStream.tv, and pressing “start”. It worked for awhile, but I think the viewers were getting a little tired of looking at the right side of my face every week. (Not to mention the fact that laptop internal microphones are exactly equipped to handle the 85-95 dB’s that our band puts out!)

One of the main parts of our vision at Immersion is to be “Immersed in Culture.” We want to be forever reaching out with the love of Christ in culturally relevant ways. With churches like LifeChurch.tv and Seacoast pioneering the digital path for the 21st century church in America, last night I felt as though Immersion joined the revolution of sharing the reality of Christ in culturally relevant ways.

The following video is last night’s service from beginning to end (and a little more! I forgot to turn the camera off for awhile after the service was over.) If you’ve never been to Immersion, this should give you a pretty good picture of what we do. If you live somewhere that’s not near the Des Moines area, please feel free to join the webcast every week at 7:37pm at Live.BeDeviant.com!

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Obama’s New Phone.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but President Obama is a poster boy for Blackberry. Dude loves his device so much he refused to give it up when he became Commander-in-Chief. (Apparently when you’re the leader of the free world, people want to read text messages from the First Lady that say, “Pick up some milk on the way back from addressing the nation.” Who knew?)

One of the reasons that I “heart” our new President is because of his love for technology. Everybody said, “Sir, it’s time to hand over the Blackberry,” to which Obama defiantly said, “Security threat? Fine. Make me a new one that’s not.”

And behold, it was done.

What do you get when the Commander-in-Geek wants a wireless version of Fort Knox? This:


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This, in a word, is awesome. Encrypted everything. More buttons than a spaceship. A wicked piece of machinery.

I love this guy for no other reason than his quiet, confident, respectful defiance of that way things “have always been.” Obama’s shaking things up, and it’s starting with a Blackberry.

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The Day Everything Changed.

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I heard someone say on the radio today, “What’s the big deal about the inauguration? It’s just another President!

Respectfully, I disagree.

There has never been another time like this in the history of our country. Ever. The peaceful transfer of governmental power is a unique distinction of the United States of America. This is a feat in and of itself. Most other countries transfer power in the same way that a tooth is ripped from the jaw: Painfully and with lots of blood. No, this inauguration day is different for another reason: Hope.

When Barack Obama became the 44th President this afternoon (after a bumbling, stumbling swearing-in ceremony thanks to John G. Roberts), the nation took a deep breath and exhaled together with a collective word: Hope. It feels like this country has hope again.

How do I know? I felt it. Didn’t you?

Sitting in my living room, by myself, eating a salami sandwich, I felt it. Deeply.

While watching, I was taking notice of how deeply I was being affected by the events I was witnessing:

I felt the relief of people of color as they watched “someone like us” take the highest office in the land. What an incredibly empowering turn of events, when only 40 short years ago in this country, minorities, specifically African-Americans, were met with fire hoses and police dogs, not cheers and inaugurations!

I felt the relief of a younger generation–my generation–feel as though they have someone in the office of the President who understands how we live (for crying out loud, Obama’s a poster boy for Blackberry! His weekly updates are on YouTube! This is a guy who gets communicating with a younger generation.)

Most of all, I felt the relief of a country that is tired of being divided. I felt as though we, as a nation, said to one another, “Truce?” Enough with the bickering in Washington. Enough of the conservative whining. Enough of the liberal agenda. (Which is why I am so disappointed by Christians who are still under the delusion that it’s their job to “win the country for Jesus.” Please, let it rest. Jesus could have conquered Rome in an instant, yet he didn’t. Read the Gospels to find out why.) Enough of the negativity and writing people off before they even have a chance to prove themselves. Enough.

I don’t know if Obama will be a good President. I hope he is. I do know that Jesus said, “You will know a tree by what kind of fruit it produces.” For that, first and foremost, I look to Obama’s family. From what I can see, his girls love him and honor him, and his wife cherishes him. For the record, that’s a good sign. That’s good fruit.

I want to give you, Christian or not, permission to be excited if indeed you feel that way. You have no reason (yet) not to be. God bless Barack Obama. Amen!.

Freedom! (The Application, That is.)


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I have recently come across a little application that is bringing much freedom into my online, integrated life. The app, incidentally enough, is called “Freedom” from ibiblio.org.

You know how it usually goes: Sit down to do work. Email indicator and/or sound blips. Check email. Email links to YouTube video with chimp that makes balloon animals. Reminds you to check Twitter to see if @Chimpy replied back to your DM. Twitter friend links to Facebook profile. Check Facebook. Look mindlessly for half hour at status updates. Work still waits. Three hours pass. No work done. Feel like failure. Productivity FAIL.
I’m not saying this is always how it goes, but every now and again the non-productivity bug can bite. Freedom is a good remedy. It completely disables all network capabilities on your computer for the time you specify. That means no “internets” or email or Twitter until you say so! The only way to turn it off is to reboot. And let’s be honest, if you reboot to get around this app, you’ve got bigger online problems than should be allowed!

So check it out. Get “free“!   

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The Future of Ministry.

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“The future, Conan?” Classic.

I like to think a lot about the future:

  • One of my Strengthsfinder strengths is “futuristic.”
  • When I was a kid, I remember reading a book that predicted what life was going to be like in the year 3035. They showed robots walking around and people living in space. My little 7-year-old mind was blown.
  • I am amazed at the “could be” and the “what if?” (So much so, in fact, that the therapist who did my entrance interview for Bethel Seminary said I may have “trouble connecting with reality.” Oops.)

Recently, I’ve been contemplating the future of ministry. Specifically the future of Immersion, the ministry I help lead. After being heavily influenced by “The Simple Church”“, and collaborating with some of my key leaders over a shared document via iWork, I think we’ve come up with a vision that is clear, concise, simple, and most importantly, God-breathed.

What is it?

Find out tonight, live, 8PM CST on Live.BeDeviant.com. We’ll be broadcasting the message at Immersion live. (If you come late to the party, you can check out the recorded message later.) Buckle up. This is going to be fun.

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The Social Media “Mind Skin”

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This is from Digital.Leadnet.org, but I had to share it with all of you. It is so good at not only highlighting the exciting possibilities for social media, but the mindset that is needed to go along with it. Social media highlights a different way of communicating, one that requires a different mindset from which to operate.

Kudos to Greg Atkinson for this article. Here is a snippet, you can read the rest here:

“Mark 2: 22 ‘And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. Butnew wine must be put into new wineskins.’

Follow me now – and please don’t take this as an exegisis of this Scripture passage. I’m chewing on something and honestly it’s still stirring in me, so you’re reading thoughts in development – kind of like me thinking out loud. If “new wine must be put into new wineskins”, I think new strategies and tools to reach, connect, engage and mobilize people must be employed with new mindsets.

The following is from my friend, Bill Seaver’s, MicroExplosion blog:

[…A lot of companies are considering trying some new marketing approaches these days. They have become enamored or curious about the new social media tools that are widely publicized and are trying to determine how it can work for them. This is a good spot to be in, but I’ve realized something is still missing. What’s missing is the appropriate mindset needed to use the social media tools, techniques, and stategies well. The old mindset won’t work with the new tools. They don’t mix. Seth Godin wrote an entire book about that called Meatball Sundae.

New marketing only works with the new mindset. Simply using the new tools with the old mindset won’t bring about the marketing change you need and want…]

Many of you know that I work with churches, organizations and companies of all kinds. I’m brought in as an innovation consultant and these days almost all want to talk about using new media and social networking tools. What I’ve noticed is that they get excited talking about these new tools and desire to use them, but haven’t had a change in mindset (like Bill said) and thus are striking out.

I’m thinking of 2 cases in particular: One with a well known Christian organization (there’s no need to share their name) that desparately wants to reach the next generation and brought me in to consult on how to use social media/networking to connect with them and the other is with a fitness/health company that I consult on using new media to help get their message out and expand their business.

Both want to tap into the buzz (or what Tony Steward calls “the awesomeness”) – the latest tools and technology. Mind you: this isn’t a bad thing. I do like to keep it in perspective and realize that these are all just tools, but I like that they are wanting to enter this world.

The problem that I see with these 2 organizations (and honestly with a ton of churches, including my own) is that they don’t dive in. They try to dip their toes in the water and hope they catch a fish. A fisherman gets dirty, gets wet and smells. I love to fish (that’s for another blog – Brian Davis and I can bore you with fish tales) – but I know that when I fish, I don’t wear my best clothes and I don’t expect to cast once and catch a bass on the first throw. You have to have patience. You have to be committed. You have to think like a fish.

You can read the rest of the article here. Please do! Here’s to new “mind skins” for new “wineskins”!  

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Excuse Me, Sir? Your Website is Showing.

I recently “un-attended” the ChurchTechCamp Dallas “un-conference” (#CTCDallas on Twitter) and came across this little gem in the message boards: “For 20 years, incoming students at DTS (Dallas Theological Seminary) reported that the #1 reason they come to DTS is the influence of a pastor. In 2008, the new #1 reason was that they like the website. If our future leaders choose seminaries on the basis of websites, certainly our congregants are doing the same.” Yeesh–that’s telling. The question you/your ministry/your organization needs to ask is, “What does our website say about us?”

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5 Things I Want To Do In 2009

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Perhaps it’s the donning for a new year. Perhaps it’s the inspiration from my friend Rhett. Perhaps it’s the buzz surrounding the most recent announcements from Apple at Macworld 2009. Whatever it is, I’m feeling goal-oriented six days into the new year.

With that, 2009 proves to be an exciting one and there’s a few things that I want to experience and/or accomplish. In no particular order, here’s my list:

1. Build interactivity into my preaching and teaching: I’ve just recently come to the conclusion that the last thing most people need to hear is another sermon … And that’s what I do for a living. By and large, a non-Christian world is watching and is not impressed. At all. Some of it is squarely on the shoulders of Christ-followers, but a large majority is just sheer ignorance of how life outside the Christian bubble works. Simply put, people are tired of being preached at and want to take part in what they’re being told. A shared experience, if you will.

In light of that, I want to build interactivity into my preaching and teaching of God’s word. I just discovered a live-texting service at Jarbyco.com, a service which, amongst other things, allows listeners to text in questions to the preacher while they are preaching and have them answered in real time. I’ll be integrating this into my message this week at Immersion, and I want this week to be the first of many where skeptics and sold-out Jesus folk alike can have access to the person in the pulpit. (This is part of breaking down the “fourth wall” as I discussed in an earlier post.)

2. Get simple: From house decor, to the food I put in my body, to my schedule, to our finances, to the way that I approach graphic design, the name of the game in 2009 boils down to one word: Simple. The world is complex and loud. I don’t have to buy into this. Pruning and getting as “lean” as possible is my goal for a prosperous 2009.

3. Integrate digital life into my church: 3 out of every 4 people are online in some fashion. Information is exploding in a way that history has not seen. Social media sites are some of the fastest growing sites ever. A new generation is speaking a new language, and the vernacular is largely digital. To effectively be the church, you must speak the language of the culture. If you don’t do this, you fail. Not “the Church”, but certainly your church. If you tell a non-English speaker that they just won one million dollars without translating that good news into a language that this non-English hearer can understand, the power is lost. The message, no matter how powerful it is, gets “lost in translation.”

People can’t understand what you’re saying.

So it is with Christianity. If our services, messages, outreach events, and discipleship efforts don’t migrate, at least in part, to the digital arena, we will be far less effective than we could be (and should be, in my opinion.)

4. Lose some poundage: I’m not in dire need to lose a ton of weight, but as I get older I’m finding that “lighter is better.” 5-10 lbs. max. I’d like to get under 210. Current weight at the gym this morning: 217. (Update: Want to see how others are doing in their New Year’s weight-loss goals? Follow Des Moines Juice on Twitter to watch the “Juice Fitness Challenge” unfold.)

5. Procreate: Bring life into this world. 2009 is the year that many would never thought happen: I produce offspring. It shall be glorious.

What about you? Do you have any goals that are just bubbling forth from your unclouded, simplified, fit cranium? Do share. In the meantime, here’s to 2009!

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