Archive - August, 2009

ELCA Churchwide Assembly Begins Amidst Controversy

Today is a momentous day for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.


The background is fairly complex, but today the ELCA will decide whether or not to accept the proposed “Statement on Human Sexuality.” (Here’s a good article describing what’s on tap for the assembly.) The passing of this statement will give local congregations the control on whether or not to ordain pastors in monogamous, same-sex relationships. There are four resolutions that must pass and in the following order:

1. The ECLA is committed to allowing congregations and synods to recognize and support “lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

2. The ELCA is committed to finding a way for people in such relationships to serve as clergy in the church.

3. The ELCA agrees to respect the consciences of churchmembers who disagree on the issue.

4. The ELCA agrees to remove the blanket ban on partnered gay clergy.

Make no mistake, these resolutions will pass. All of them. But not without a fiery debate first. If you want to follow the hashtag of the convention, just check out the twub for it here.

I will post more thoughts on this later this week. In the meantime, pray for the ELCA, its leaders, its churches and the convention..

Top 5 Posts of the Week

Here’s a recap of the top five posts from this past week. These got the most traffic on the site, were shared the most, and had the most comments.

5. Claim Your Facebook Fan Page Custom URL Today: This has been one of the most consistently searched for posts on the site. A good tutorial on how to get a custom URL for your Facebook fan page.

4. Women, Divorce and Gays: A simple question with a not-so-simple solution. A good discussion with surprisingly level heads prevailing.

3. Hackers are Heroes: Gary Hamel Melts Faces: If you’ve been reading the blog the last few days, you know that since the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Gary Hamel is my new hero. Here’s a snapshot of how he believes younger leaders will emerge and thrive.

2. Willow Creek Leadership Summit | Dave Gibbons: My best attempt at catching the lightning that David Gibbons was throwing at the aforementioned Leadership Summit.

1. Open-Source Sermons: Ah yes. Opening up the weekly message to the community. A new idea spurned by Gary Hamel’s talk. Check out this new idea and consider the implications.

So there they are, your top 5 posts of the week! Recap, refresh, re-read, re-tweet!

Have you enjoyed today’s post? Would you kindly consider subscribing to our feed through RSS or email? That way, you’re never out of the loop! comes to you, how brilliant. Thank you!

Open-Source Sermons Update


Earlier this week I shared about open-source sermons, an idea I got after listening to Gary Hamel at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. The gist of the idea is to leverage the power of new media and give people the ability to contribute to the R&D process of my weekly message. I used Google Docs, Twitter and Facebook and let ‘er rip, not sure what would happen.

To my surprise, people gravitated toward the idea. Some even contributed. I even utilized some of the insights people shared. It was wild.

If you tuned into the webcast last night at Immersion, you heard me describe the process and thank the people who contributed. My friend Dave added some wisdom, so did @NeilGilbert and @bwgoods. Someone even gave me the wonderful image that’s at the top of this post (you need to read 2 Samuel 6:1-11 to have that make sense, though.)

I felt myself refreshed and encouraged by the response, and even changed the direction of the message based on some of the contributions. Simply wild.

Even after one week, this is making me re-think my sermon preparation strategy:

  • If we believe that God’s Word is living and active, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it is saying something new and fresh to everyone who engages it?
  • If I can incorporate others experience with the Word of God in tasteful ways, why wouldn’t I do that? As John Donne said, “No man is an island.” (I’m sure Donne would agree that no woman is either.)
  • God’s Word is communal. The letters that Paul wrote that we now call the New Testament were read in community.
  • Jewish rabbis hashed out the Scriptures together in midrash.

Contrast this with our modern messages. They are largely written in solitude by one person with very little interaction or feedback from real, flesh-and-blood people. Rob Bell once said that the “Scriptures are like a gem. The more your turn it, the more the light reflects and refracts through it.” If that’s true, wouldn’t I want as many eyes on the gem as possible, telling me what they see?

I’m not trying to be critical, just observant. I’m not saying open-source sermons are the “right” way to go, but I do think there’s a whole lot of value in listening to what God’s Spirit says through other people.

So here’s your chance to join in the fun. I preach again on the 27th of August, so I’ve made the passage we’re using available here: Check out the text and join in the discussion; join in the open-source.

What would it take for you and your community to go “open-source”? Is this something you feel would be beneficial?

Thank You!


We wanted to take a quick second and thank the sponsors for their continued support of this site. Making this site “go” consistently takes work and our sponsors make that work a little bit easier. If you get a chance today, check these guys out:

1. Need affordable, clean, well-designed websites for your ministry or church? Clover will hook you up! My friend Paul’s church uses Clover and they couldn’t be happier.

2. Twubs is about to explode. Trust me. Twubs is the place to go when you want to know what’s shaking down Twitter. I also got a chance to see some sweet features that Tony and the crew is about to roll out for conferences and churches. The next time you find yourself stuck at home during the next big conference, go to and feel like you’re right there in the action.

3. Aside from being one of the nicest guys on the planet, Matt Harrell also has a phenomenal online solution for small groups, ministries, and churches. If you’ve found yourself frustrated while trying to get a whole bunch of people all on the same page, MemberHub is your (affordable) solution. Group calendars, file sharing, e-mail and text reminders for your hub–they’ll hook you up. “Empowering groups, growing communities.”

So THANK YOU! If you’re interested in partnering with us at BeDeviant, you can check out our sponsor page or hit us up on the email. We’re also excited to roll our our new partnership with They’re pretty selective on who they partner with, so we’re honored to be a part of the team.

We’ve also rolled out a few new sponsor options, namely the four buttons at the bottom of the main post. Each spot is $29 per month and as of this post, all four spots are open! This would be a great opportunity to grab some affordable advertising space on our emerging and growing community here at

Feel free to get a hold of us with any questions and check out our sponsor page for more opportunities. And again … thanks to our wonderful sponsors!

Open-Source Sermons


I listened to Gary Hamel talk about the future of the church at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. He blew my mind. One of the gems he dropped (among many, mind you) was the following:

We need a lot more business models and innovations in church. Why is church a lecture, not a discussion?

He talked about how the church has become a one-way street when it could be (and should be) a two-way street. Less monologue, more dialogue. More questions, less answers. Then he mentioned something that had never occurred to me as a preacher and teacher:

Open-source sermons.

It’s like Linux or WordPress, but for messages. What if the members of the community had a chance to give their input into what was covered in the weekly message? What if someone has a unique perspective on the Scripture being preached on and can “lend a hand”? What if some of your members have a Masters of Divinity just “sitting around” and would love to “take it for a spin” every now and again?

So, in keeping with another Summit presenter’s advice to “just do something,” I decided to give this a try for my message this week. (And beyond, if it works!) My text is 2 Samuel 6:1-11, so I’d encourage you to give it a read and contribute your thoughts here: The beauty of this all is since Immersion is webcasted, my “community” is literally worldwide. Certainly there are some limiting physical factors, but anyone and everyone can contribute and watch what God does on Thursday nights.

Think of the benefits:

  • Attenders eagerly anticipate the message, hoping something they’ve shared can add to the word that God has for your congregation.
  • Increased Biblical fluency–if your people want to contribute, they’ll have to read and know the Scripture you’re talking on!
  • Decreased preparation time for the communicator.
  • Broader ecumenical and cultural experiences built into the message.

You, as the communicator, would ultimately have the last word in what went in and what didn’t. This idea speaks to shifting the “professional clergy” from being the “powers the be” to the “powers that see”–see the connections, opportunities, and wisdom in the surrounding community. It would leverage technology in order to allow the faith community to build a collective and communal word to themselves. Brilliant.

Would you be willing to try it?

“Apertures” | A Napkin Sketch Production

A few friends put this piece of art together in less than 48 hours. All things considered, this is brilliant.

Do yourself a favor and check this out.

Apertures // 48 Hour Film Project 2009 // Des Moines from NapkinSketch.

Hackers are Heroes: Gary Hamel Melts Faces


Gary Hamel is my new hero. I had a chance to hear him speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit on the future of the church from a management perspective. Gary, unbeknownst to me, is the bee’s knees when it comes to business management strategy and innovative thinking. Check out his blog here.

Gary was dropping all sorts of bombs at his talk, and no one was safe. (For a great summary read, check out Tim Schraeder’s site for the notes.) One of my favorite fire-starters from Gary’s talk at the Summit was “Listen to the positive deviants. Learn from them. Learn to be one.” He didn’t know it, but he was giving me one of the biggest shout-outs I’ve ever received (Hey, this site is called BeDeviant!)

One of the areas Gary touched on was managing the next generation of leaders, i.e. the “Facebook Generation.” I caught one of his earlier posts on the subject on his blog and wanted to share the 12 keys to managing Generation Y as they begin to migrate into the work force.

1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.

2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.

3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.

4. Leaders serve rather than preside.

5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.

6. Groups are self-defining and -organizing.

7. Resources get attracted, not allocated.

8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.

9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.

10. Users can veto most policy decisions.

11. Intrinsic rewards matter most.

12. Hackers are heroes.

For a more in-depth explanation, check out Gary’s original post here. But make no mistake about it, the emerging generations need to be led differently than the previous ones. Are you ready?

Willow Creek Leadership Summit | Chip & Dan Heath

Willow Creek Leadership Summit | David Gergen

Willow Creek Leadership Summit | Wess Stafford

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