Archive - December, 2009

The Top 20 Posts of 2009

In celebration of the new year, we thought we’d roll out the most popular posts of 2009. Did you catch them all? If not, find out what was in 2009 here on on

  1. Tornado Hits Near ELCA Assembly Hall During Vote
  2. “Christians Are the Worst Tippers Ever.”
  3. Is ‘No Sex Before Marriage’ a Realistic Expectation?
  4. 95 Lutheran Pastors Stand Defiantly During ELCA Vote
  5. A Christian Responds to the Iowa Gay Marriage Ruling
  6. Claim Your Facebook Fan Page Custom URL Today
  7. Use Your Imagination Like a Google Employee
  8. 7 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Most Christians
  9. Asking the Wrong Questions About Online Community
  10. A Lutheran Responds to the ELCA
  11. I’d Like to Introduce You to My Son
  12. Why a Four-Day Work Week Will Be the Norm
  13. The 21st Century Church: The Pastor’s Wife
  14. Open-Source Sermons
  15. ELCA One Step Closer to Passing Sexuality Statement
  16. What Do Young People Want From a Church?
  17. Why You’ll Need a Digital Pastor
  18. The @LosWhit Challenge.
  19. My First Piece of Hate Mail
  20. The 21st Century Church: The Pastor

Peace to you and yours. Here’s to a glorious 2010!

The Decade in Seven Minutes

Video courtesy of Newsweek

A Quick Way to Get Started With Google

I’m in the process of tracking down (and attempting to secure) all of the “JustinWise” user names across the interwebs. I’ve already landed the ones that matter most:

But a few important ones have eluded me. Namely, my Google account and subsequent Gmail address.

Back in 2006 when I set things up, “” was already taken, so I had to settle for “Justin.M.Wise” instead. Not a big deal, but frustrating to my need for consistency. (Fun Fact: The “dot” in your Gmail address is optional. “Justin.M.Wise” and “JustinMWise” both go to the same place: My inbox.)

Every now and again I’ll check to see if “JustinWise” has opened up, but never could find an easy way to check Google without having to go through the registration process.

Enter this wondrous link:

It bypasses the whole registration process. It tells you, plan and simple, if the name you want is available. All you have to do is replace “YourUserName” with the one you want and it checks for you.


So if you don’t have a Gmail or Google account, or if you want to see if your desired name is open, check out the link and hop on board.

The Self As a Brand

Seth Godin suggests that brands represent an ideal, not necessarily any tangible goods or services provided by the brand:

The great brands of our time are not about what they are. They are about what they represent.

What happens when a brand is a person (i.e. Sarah Palin) and not a thing (i.e. Apple Computers)? Is this a demoting of the person’s humanity? Or is it a brilliant move to realize the truth of all marketing–it all centers around someone? More from Seth:


Just a Little Bit of Looping

That was a great break. I took a four-day rest from all things social media and blogging. Much needed.

But we’re back in the saddle and ready to share. I have a fondness for the beautifully bizarre and weird.

Here’s another oddity to add to the pile.

Merry Christmas from

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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16 RSS Feeds Worth Checking Out

I’ve been doing some year-end housecleaning in my digital world. Part of that includes paring down my RSS feeds. Simply put, I don’t need to be reading every blog post every written.

Some of you asked for my list, so here are my top 16 RSS feeds (in no particular order–all links go to the RSS/Atom feed of the site listed).

No-Miss Reads

These are the posts that I hit no matter what. I read every post, every time.

  • Kerry Wise – She’s my wife. Not only do I enjoy living with her on a daily basis, I enjoy reading her posts. (She’s ten times the writer I’ll ever be.)
  • ChurchCrunch – John Saddington inspires me to do what I do daily. He’s a great guy and a good leader for church leaders and technology.
  • Ben Arment – Ben’s posts are bite-sized and influential.
  • Dave Housholder – Well-thought out posts that are intelligent, weighty and easy to read. A hard combination, but Dave nails it.
  • Anne Jackson – She’s a staple for any serious Christian blogger. Transparent and fun.
  • Michael Hyatt – As a CEO of a publishing house, Michael is single-handedly showing the corporate world how to leverage social media. Great content.
  • Iowa Girl Eats – My baby sister and a deft blogger. Again, it seems the women in my life run circles around me when it comes to writing and I’m 100% okay with that.

Sometimes Reads

When I have a little more leisure time, I’ll hit some of these posts. Some of them are longer posts, some of them post frequently, some I don’t connect with all the time.

  • Gary Hamel – Gary is a Christian and a business leader who does things right. He blogs for the Wall Street Journal.
  • ProBlogger – Want to learn how to blog? Stick with Darren. He’ll treat you right.
  • Seth Godin – Seth is one of those guys who takes the thoughts in your head that you never could get words for and elegantly puts them into manageable posts. Creativity abounds with this one. He’s awesome.
  • Copyblogger – Great blog writing tips.

“So Many Posts I Can’t Keep Up” Reads

These are the sites I enjoy, but they post so much there’s no way I can keep up. I’ll scan and read the titles that catch my eye.

  • Lifehacker – Mostly follow for the Mac and DIY stuff. A fun blog with posts for everyone.
  • Engadget – Techy, geek posts.
  • TUAW – Apple geek posts.
  • WebWorkerDaily – Teaching me how to utilize social media more effectively and how to blog better.
  • ReadWriteWeb – See above.

That’s who I read. I think it’s so vital to read because, as the saying goes, “leaders are readers.”

When we read what others are writing, it’s an act of submission. It’s an act of humilty. We’re saying, “you know something that I don’t. Teach me.”

Who are you reading and why? Let’s flatter some people – please share!

The Death Rattle of Blockbuster

I remember my first experience renting a video from our local Blockbuster.

The excitement of peddling my bike as fast as I could, hoping that the movie I wanted (Teen Wolf Too) would be on the shelf.
The sense of satisfaction I got by triumphantly returning home and inserting the tape into our family VCR.
Watching Jason Bateman conquer his foes in the boxing ring as a half-boy, half-werewolf teen hero.
It was pure movie bliss.

Today I got this in my inbox:

I thought to myself, “It’s been a good run, Blockbuster. You’ll be bankrupt soon. So long.” It’s almost as if you can hear the BB executives saying, “PLEASE rent from us, please! We have shareholders to please! For crying out loud, just take a movie and give us whatever you feel like on your way out!”

Do you sense the desperation in this email? I can. Turns out I’m not the only one. Business Insider listed Blockbuster as one of the brands that won’t be around at the close of 2010. Sadly, I agree with them.

As the article points out, Blockbuster has lost their chance to be a formidable player in the new era of media distribution. Lack of innovation, old business models and plain being outplayed by the competition (Netflix, Redbox, Hulu, etc.) will make Blockbuster fade into the media peddling background.

This, of course, begs the question, What other brands won’t be around this time next year?

I have my own suspicions, but I’d like to hear what you think.

Selling Tickets to the Gospel Show

An interesting trend has popped up on the Christian cultural landscape: Tickets. Tickets needed to attend worship services, namely Christmas and Easter.

The process is fairly simple: People go to a website or to the church itself and get tickets to attend the service of their choosing. The “call-to-action” almost always sounds something like, “Such-and-such service is almost sold out. Better get your tickets soon!”

Pros to Tickets

I understand the sentiment and heart behind wanting to fill up a church auditorium with masses of people, all to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Some other benefits of “selling” tickets to your services include:

  • Ability to plan ahead. If you know how many are coming, you can plan much more strategically. Think about what would happen if you prepared dinner at your house for a dozen people and 300 showed up!
  • A sense of excitement. Let’s face it, we live in a culture that bleeds immediacy. If it’s in demand, no matter what it is, we want it. Selectively offering tickets is a good way to “build demand” for your service.
  • You ensure every seat is accounted for. Good stewardship.

Cons to Tickets

In light of the benefits of selling tickets to services, we must look at the other side of the coin. What does selling tickets to services say about the Church? (To be clear, I am aware that churches usually do not “sell” tickets in the same way that Ticketmaster does. No monies are exchanged.) What are we saying socially?

From where I sit, here’s what it means:

  • We have bought into the consumer-driven culture. We see something working (scarcity creates demand) in culture and we model it. For better or worse.
  • If you needed a ticket to attend your very first church service ever, what conclusions would you come to even before the pastor spoke a single word?
  • This seems to be a violation of the openness of the Gospel. If you run out of room at your church, you make more room. Hallways, gyms, fellowship areas, kitchens–you do everything you can to make sure everyone who wants to hear, can.
  • What do you say to people who don’t have a ticket but want to come? Do you turn them away?

To be fair, I have never been a part of a church that sells tickets to services. These are simply my observations after doing a small bit of research.

That being said, what do you think? Have you done this in your church? Been a part of a church that did? How did it work?

Sunday Funday – Mascot Dunk

My favorite part? The poor guy dragging himself off the floor when no one will help.

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