Archive - January, 2010

Help For the Haitian People

At this point, no doubt most of you are aware of the catastrophe in Haiti:

  • 7.0 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.
  • Thousands dead–countless injured.
  • People still buried in the rubble.
  • All-out chaos, confusion and bewilderment.

Here’s how you can help:

This is what your money will go to (stats courtesy of RagamuffinSoul.com):

  • $35 helps provide a relief pack filled with enough food and water to sustain a family for one week.
  • $70 gift helps care for their needs for two weeks.
  • $105 helps provide relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain two families for two weeks.
  • $210 gift helps care for two families’ needs.
  • $525 provides relief packs filled with enough food and water to sustain 10 families for two weeks.
  • $1,050 gift cares for 10 families’ needs.
  • $1,500 helps rebuild a home.
  • $2,100 supplies 20 families with the basics for three weeks.

There’s a lot of work to be done. But thankfully, most everyone reading this has a lot of resources to do work with. (If you have money in your wallet or purse, you are amongst the wealthiest people in the world.)

Maybe this could be your chance to step out of the web culture and do something in the real world. What do you think?

UPDATE: Here are some powerful images from the rubble of Haiti from Boston.com.

5 Lessons to Learn From the Leno/Conan Controversy

We wrote several months back on the transition of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno to Conan O’Brien. I commented on how gracious Jay was and how excited I was to see Conan host Tonight.

Looks like that excitement was a bit premature.

Chances are you’ve heard about the epic fail NBC has itself wrapped up in. It looks like it’s Jay v. Conan v. NBC and no one is going to come out on top.

As a casual observer, here are some things we can take away from this late night letdown:

5. Stick to the Script!

According to Conan himself, NBC never gave him a chance to “get the wheels moving.” Leno is proud of touting the fact that he entered as host to The Tonight Show as #1 and left as #1. What people don’t realize is that there was 17 years of work and ups-and-downs in between those two periods. Leno wasn’t #1 the whole way.

NBC had a plan devised to let Conan take over since 2004 and they only gave it seven months to develop. That’s a recipe for disaster. From Conan’s official statement: “After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.”

4. A Little Humility Goes a Long Way

People are calling Conan a “class act,” “humble” and characterize him as “taking the high road.” Meanwhile, people are calling Leno “unfunny,” “a corporate shill” and saying “he needs to go.” NBC is getting its lumps as well – one only needs to take a quick peek at the #NBCfail hashtag on Twitter to see what people really think. I don’t think Leno is to blame for this major snafu, but that’s not the perception of the public. And in instances like these, perception is everything.

3. People Will Notice

I think NBC was hoping no one would notice this decision. A kind of, “there’s nothing to see here” attitude has characterized the execs at NBC in all the media appearance I’ve witnessed. Unfortunately for them, people are noticing this. And they aren’t happy. They aren’t happy because people, A.) Don’t like the decision and, B.) Don’t like feeling as if someone is trying to hoodwink them. If you try and make sure no one notices, people will notice.

2. Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say!

In the same vein as #5, let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no! Now you have a major network on the brink of late night disaster because they did not say what they meant or mean what they said. No matter what happens from this point, Conan is gone from NBC. I don’t see any way for him to remain on that network given the way he’s been treated. Not only that, but you have the fates of Jimmy Fallon, Carson Daly and Jay Leno hanging in the balance. (Some say that Leno is getting ready to jump ship as well.)

NBC has tried to weasel around by saying that Conan will still be the host of Tonight, only it will air 30 minutes later. Nevermind the fact that Tonight has held the time slot for the entirety of its 60-year history! Technically he would still be the host of Tonight, but as Conan said in his now infamous statment, “The Tonight Show at [a later time] simply isn’t the Tonight Show.”

1. Never Underestimate the Power of Twitter

#TeamCoco, #TeamConan, #ProCoco, #SaveConan – if you read any of the tweets coming from these hashtags, one thing rings true: Twitter loves Conan! There are petitions being tweeted around, EECB’s (executive email carpet bombs), fan art and more, all for the love of our beloved Conan. It remains to be seen if this social media support will have any effect on the decisions made at 30 Rock (my guess: It won’t). Nevertheless, people are letting their voices be heard via Twitter.

Those are some of the lessons I’m walking away with.

What do you think about the Leno/Conan debacle?

Faith Bloggers to Watch in 2010

Problogger had a great idea about creating a “watch list” for 2010. Seeing that I’m a faith blogger (amongst other things), I thought I’d compile a list of the faith bloggers to watch (and read) in the year ahead.

No real criteria was used in picking this list outside of a “hunch.” I expect that the people on this list will have a big year in the Christian blogosphere in 2010. That’s about it.

So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Daniel Berman

Honestly? I like most everything Daniel tweets. He’s informative, funny, and timely. His blog posts are short and to the point. Plus, he dabbles in a field that you can never know too much about: Communication. On the web: DanielCBerman.com

2. Jon Acuff

You may not know his name, but you know his website. Three words: Stuff. Christians. Like. Jon is the mastermind behind the site and all the effort shows: He’s one of the most prolific and popular bloggers out there. Jon’s got a book coming out soon and once it does … Well … Let’s just say Jon will be able to quit his day job. He’s smart, funny, faithful and pokes fun at the dumb things Christians do with a grace that is hard to replicate. On the web: StuffChristiansLike.net

3. Margaret Feinberg

I don’t know much about Margaret, but I do know this: She’s in tight with Walter Bruggemann. Anybody with the clout to hang with Walter (both physically and intellectually) is okay in my book. Her writing is sharp and to-the-point. Her website is simply gorgeous. Shen gently challenges what is with what could be. Margaret is smart–I like that. Watch for great things from this one in 2010. On the web: MargaretFeinberg.com

4. John Saddington

Again, the name may not be immediately recognizable, but you’d know his work. John Saddigton, a.k.a. Human3rror, is a blogging legend. He’s a phenom, basically. John’s got some great blogs, but I think 2010 is his year because of his skill in WordPress coding. My prediction? John will release some themes this year that will change the way WordPress is used. He’s that good. On the web: Human3rror.com and ChurchCrunch.com

5. Tyler Braun

Tyler’s young and he’s got passion–two key ingredients that will make him fun to watch in 2010. I’ve had the chance to guest post on his blog a few times, so I’ve enjoyed watching how he writes and interacts with his readers. He’s got a sharp mind and his posts are short–a good combo. Tyler’s a blogger to watch because he’s got a theological education and he knows how to use it. He’s proving that seminary ≠ cemetery. On the web: ManOfDepravity.com

6. David Housholder

I like Dave because he’s incredibly brilliant but writes with such clarity that you don’t feel like he’s talking down to you. He’s a pastor who can communicate complex truths of Scripture in a sentence. That’s hard to do. He’s one to watch in 2010 because of the insight he brings to the table regarding the impending demise of denominationalism. Dave’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt to prove it. On the web: Dave Housholder Live From Robinwood Church

7. BeDeviant Contributors

That’s right. This unruly band of bloggers are going to become ones to watch for what they bring to the table here at BeDeviant.com. We had over 30 people respond to our initial push for contributors–awesome! Some posts have been pushed out from these Deviants–but look for more to come! These are people who desire to “think differently” and honor God in all that they do. On the web: BeDeviant.com Contributors

That’s who I’m watching. These are the people who I think we’ll see big things from in 2010. They’re sharp, smart, committed, faithful and passionate.

But that’s my list. Who are you watching and why? Who do you expect big things from in 2010?

Share your list in the comments!

What’s Your Reaction to This Reaction?

I just came across a slew of articles I’m reviewing on the future of the “virtual church.” Needless to say, people are talking and reactions are mixed.

A recent poll from the Leadership Journal shows, in fact, that people aren’t sure what to make of the idea of having church online. Here’s a poll I participate in recently at the Journal:

Honestly, these results surprised me. I realize two things:

  1. This poll is unscientific.
  2. This poll is anecdotal.

Most of the people engaging in this poll either love the idea of an online church or they hate it. Where do you stand?

I’d love to re-create this poll on BeDeviant. So, in the comments, note your selection and perhaps a few words on why.

The question: What’s your reaction to the virtual church trend?

The answers:

  1. Excitement. Anything to reach the lost.
  2. Optimism. Finally, an affordable way to grow.
  3. Caution. Let’s see what happens.
  4. Confusion. Is it really church?
  5. Repulsion. How low can we go?
  6. None of the above. You don’t like pre-determined answers and want to come up with your own.

So … What do you think?

Best of the Week, v.2

top_3

Here’s a recap of the top three posts from BeDeviant.com this past week. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by the site, check out these posts and get up-to-date. These got the most traffic on the site, were shared the most, and had the most comments.

  1. Skye Jethani, Dropped Jaws & Disagreements – A barn-burner for sure. Skye Jethani wrote a book. In that book, he talks about consumer Christianity. He cites another book written by some other respected pastors and disagrees with what they wrote. Result? Well, you’ll just have to read and find out.
  2. What You Need to Stop Tweeting About – A hilarious comic by TheOatmeal.com. Warning: The language is a little raw but you’ll finally find out what you need to stop sending out into the Twittersphere.
  3. How Much is A Dollar Worth? In the age of new media, where word travels fast and customer experience rules the roost, do you really want to alienate your customer base for a measly dollar?

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

Comfort vs. Character

This is a guest post by Kevin Eagle. Are you interested in contributing to BeDeviant.com? Check out the details here.

I’ve tried in all my geeky wisdom to get my wife to use an RSS reader to aggregate all of the blogs that she is now following, but much to my chagrin, she still insists on reading each one individually.  Well, the fact of the matter is, I don’t really care, because she still shares good stuff with me from time to time.

Case in point, we were sitting in front of the TV on Saturday night and she speaks up to say that I needed to read the blog post of one of her favorite bloggers (http://www.mycharmingkids.net) from that day.

Well this morning, I finally got around to it, and one sentence struck me as profound. “God cares about my character, not my comfort.” (from http://tinyurl.com/yawoob)

I’ve written recently about my lack of focus and uncertainty about the potential for 2010.  What’s really going on is that there are so many things in my life that I’m uncertain about right now, I’m swimming in the “what ifs” and continually asking “what should I do?”

I’m very uncomfortable right now…with questions about my ministry, with questions about my career choice and direction, with questions about my finances, with questions about my family life.  But this one statement made me stop and think, God wants me to be uncomfortable, because that’s when I can trust him most, and that is when I have the opportunity to build on my character.  God cares more about my character than my comfort because comfort is a human attribute, a human longing, a human emotion.

Character is who I really am, and who I really am reflects who God created me to be and reveals the ways in which I am created in His image.

So my response?  Worship and praise!  Praise God for my discomfort!  I worship Him with my disconcerted life by obedience and my quest for His perfect will.  He is shaping me through these experiences, because I certainly can’t shape myself to perfect all aspects of my life.

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.  ~1 Peter 4:19~

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!  ~Psalm 104:33~

Originally posted here.

Skye Jethani, Dropped Jaws & Disagreements

I just finished Divine Commodity [affiliate link] by Skye Jethani. A phenomenal read–a must-read, even. But I got to a section of the book and after I read it, my jaw dropped.

Here is that section:

Pastors Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan encourage church leaders to “embrace entertainment” in their book, Simply Strategic Growth: Attracting a Crowd to Your Church. And like many others, their motivation is life transformation. They write, “We are about entertainment to the extent that it allows us to captivate the minds and hearts of those who don’t yet know Jesus.” To that end, Stevens and Morgan insist that staging an upbeat worship service is key. To infuse the proper level of energy they recommend “pumping up the volume . . . louder music creates more energy.” Temp is also important. “Songs that are upbeat and more celebratory in nature will generate a positive response from the congregation.” They also advise people on the platform to “practice looking happy” and “make sure you’re strategically using humor.” As the title of their book reveals, the reason for micromanaging the staged worship experience is to attract a crowd.

These pastors, representative of so many contemporary Christians, believe that God changes lives through the commodification and consumption of experiences. If our worship gatherings are energetic, stimulating, and exciting enough then people will attend, receive what’s being communicated, and be spiritually transformed. The justification for this approach is simple–people won’t come to a church that’s boring. And what qualifies as boring is defined by our consumer/experience economy. But the moment we believe transformation occurs via external experiences, the emphasis of ministry must adjust accordingly. Manufacturing experiences and meticulously controlling staged environments become the means for advancing Christ’s mission. And the role of the pastor, once imagined as a shepherd tending a flock, now conjures images of a circus ringmaster shouting, “Come on, come all, to the greatest show on earth!” In Consumer Christianity, the shepherd becomes a showman. (p.75)

I was shocked by the way that Skye didn’t mince words. It was refreshing, especially in Christian circles. Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan are two well-known evangelical pastors. But Skye saw something that troubled him about their beliefs and he wrote about it.

Brilliant.

I was more refreshed by the way that Skye challenged those with differing ecclesiological beliefs than what he actually stated. He honored these two men while simultaneously disagreeing with their fundamental approach to the way church should be done. Awesome.

That’s me. What do you think?

ThePrayerRoom.tv Drops Subscription Fee – Now Free

In what can only be considered a monumental act of generosity and faith, the International House of Prayer has now made their 24/7 prayer room webcast free.

The service used to be subscription based with different levels of pricing based on the quality of stream you desired. Now it’s free. All of it. Huge.

What makes this even more staggering is that the webcast is really good. I mean, phenomenally good. I’d venture to say it’s one of the top church-related web ministries out there. The Prayer Room team explains the change on their website:

Beginning January 1, 2010, the 24/7 Prayer Room webstream will be available without charge to the world.

Though the stream will be freely available, the prayer room operating costs are $150,000 per month.

Starting January 1, 2010, you can make a monthly tax-deductible donation in the amount of your current subscription.

More than ever before, your donation will help keep the 24/7 prayer room webstream up and running for you and the rest of the world.

Additionally, we have plans over the next 12 months to increase the content and functionality of what will be called “IHOP TV.”

NO ACTION is required if you are happy with this transition.

Please be advised:  Should you choose to cancel before January 1, 2010, you will no longer have access to the Prayer Room webstream.  Please click here for cancellation instructions.

If you have any questions, please contact us by email at webstream@ihop.org or phone at 816.285.9370 or 816.763.0200 x. 8010.

Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support as we transition. You are greatly appreciated.

I appreciate the fact that the folks at IHOP are quite literally putting their money where their mouth is. They believe the message of Jesus is the most important in the world and want as many people as possible to hear it–even if that means shouldering a heavy financial burden. As you can see, the cost of offering this service is monumental, some $150,000 per month!

Do yourself a favor and check this ministry out–if not for the content than for the excellence in which they operate.

Hear The Voice – New Bible Translation

I’m a self-confessed translation junkie. If there’s an English translation available, I probably have it. NLT, NIV, TNIV, NJB, ESV, KJV, NKJV, NET, The Message, EKG, PPT–I love them all.

Imagine my delight when I learned about a new translation called The Voice, published by Thomas Nelson. I picked up a copy of the The Voice at STORY 2009 and couldn’t be more pleased with it. From the preface of The Voice:

The Voice is created for and by a church in great transition. Throughout the body of Christ, exten- sive discussions are ongoing about a variety of issues including style of wor- ship, how we separate culture from our theology, and what is essential truth. In fact, we are struggling with what is truth. At the center of this discussion is the role of Scripture. This discussion is heating up with strong words being ex- changed. Instead of furthering the division over culture and theology, it is time to bring the body of Christ together again around the Bible.

Right now it’s only available in the New Testament. But it’s a steal at $20. You can also download the entire book of John for free on the website. Check it out and let us know what you think!

What’s your favorite translation and why?

What Church-Planting Taught Me About Rest

This is a guest post from Sam Mahlstadt. Interested in contributing to BeDeviant.com? Read more here.

My wife and I packed up our stuff last April, and moved to Winston-Salem, NC to help build One Church. When we arrived, we knew that the church’s September 13th launch date was quickly approaching, and we jumped right into strategic planning meetings. With another couple, the four of us made up the leadership team and bore the responsibility of birthing a new local church that would reach those who were overlooked and dismissed.

We were all transplants from Iowa, who had given up our comforts and safety nets to see this goal take place. A bit of pressure (read: fear) accompanied this responsibility.

The four of us met semiweekly to brainstorm, strategize and collaborate on ideas that would ultimately create the systems that facilitated the church. The meetings took on more weight as September 13th continued to stalk us. When we ran into a few consecutive dead-ends where we were expecting momentum builders and energy boosts, we had to answer some hard questions. We had to examine our efforts, and re-access what God was asking us to accomplish.

It caused us to think differently about our approach to creating the church. We were doing a lot of work for God, but we seemed to be distant from the work God was doing in us, and ultimately through us. With this realization, we stopped our meeting in its seemingly God-forsaken tracks, and began to pray as a group.

It was a time to refocus our minds and renew our hearts. That moment has served as a defining step in the direction and personality of the church we lead, as well as our approach to the church. I believe every company, organization, or ministry has these moments where a break is simply the only answer. Not more meetings or planning, but rest.

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