Archive - October, 2010

How to Plant a Church

Church planters have it rough:

  • Little to no dough.
  • No people.
  • Solo staff, so they wear many hats.
  • No guarantee of success.

To top it all off, they have people who make weird (but funny) videos like this, mocking their plight. I found the following a little angry, but humorous nonetheless. And hey, if you can’t laugh at the fact that nearly every church planter has some form of facial hair, you’re probably taking yourself a little too seriously.

Enjoy (and have a great Friday!):


A Song

I have had a song in my head all day long. It’s been driving me nuts. I had the melody, but couldn’t remember any lyrics. I was powerless against the Siren song of this wondrous tune!

Then I had an idea. I prayed. I asked God to help me remember the name of the song. Alas, nothing came to mind.

I sat down at my computer and fired up my normal go-to tune provider, Pandora. This particular station that I had cued up was from St. Germain’s “Sure Thing”. Normally it provides a good blend of ambient/acid jazz, french pop and the like. I’ve had it on for the last month and it’s solid. A true gem of my own creation.

As I’m still mourning the loss of the earworm that had been stuck in my head, I failed to realize what was happening in the earphones attached to my head. Lo and behold, the song I had been pining for all day long–neigh, needing all day long–was flowing from Pandora in all its brilliance. Out of the hundreds of thousands of songs Pandora could have chosen to play at that very moment in time, it played the one I wanted.

I had been saved.

Now, some could choose to look at this situation and dismiss it as coincidence. They may even be right. Totally conceivable.

But others … Others could choose to see this as something else. Something deeper…..


Social Media Summit Recap

The Social Media Summit just happened. Like, it literally just happened.

We had just over 5o guests,volunteers and presenters converge in downtown Des Moines to talk about the social web and ministry. I could not have been more pleased with the results.

Here’s a quick rundown of how the day went:

  • Josh Larson blew our minds with interactive visual worship via weiv.
  • My beautiful wife gave me the most honoring, thoughtful introduction I’ve ever heard.
  • Cynthia Ware beamed in via Skype to rock the Social Club with her new media prowess. (You should have heard the computer keys clickety-clack!)
  • A wonderful lunch was had by all by Flarah’s here in Des Moines.
  • Brandon Donaldson beamed in via HD webstream and talked about social media and the pastor’s heart. (Sam Duregger did a tremendous job at moderating this!)
  • We had world-class breakouts from Sam Mahlstadt (get the notes to his workshop here), Sam Duregger (find Sam’s notes here), and Paul Stewart & Chris Kretzu. These guys seriously blew me away with what they brought to the table.
  • And our day was capped off by cheesecake from Flarah’s and thank-yous to our guests.

A thank you to:

Tara Walter for keeping me on track throughout this whole process.
Tara Ely for making great decisions and putting together a phenomenal conference bag.
Jodi Stevens for making sure all of our guests were fed and sufficiently caffeinated.
Eddy Peterson for showing people how to get to where they needed to go.
And Eric Prust for making sure all the cables and buttons and sound and such actually worked.

This could not have happened without each of you.

Below are some photos from the day. Thanks to Bridget Purdy and Haley Patton for the wonderful work they put in. It paid off, girls!


Opening Video for the Social Media Summit

I had an amazing team surrounding me for the Social Media Summit. I could not have done it without them. It truly was a collective–dare I say, crowdsourced–effort.

I’ll have a full recap of the days events later this week, but for today I wanted to share the opening video we played at the Summit.

The intro was made by Josh Larson over at Josh is one of the most talented individuals I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Get this, he even built his own interactive worship platform because no one else was doing what he had in mind. Oh yeah, it uses Wii remotes. Wii remotes!.

Here’s what Josh created for us. Enjoy:


Why the Bible Must Be Read at Face Value

I once heard a seminary professor say, “If your interpretation of the Bible cannot be explained to a farmer with a sixth-grade education, you’re interpreting it wrong.”

I found that entirely refreshing.

In the endless search for new insights, I think we cloud the simplicity of the Scriptures.

God is.
God created.
God loved.
God died.
We live.

With all the endless amounts of resources, access to original languages, studying contexts and historical cultures, the message of the Bible is profoundly simple. So simple, in fact, that the overwhelming majority of humanity has understood the Gospel without the help of most of our modern study tools.

Study is important. Understanding is key. But when it comes to the Gospel, simplicity reigns. Jesus is simple.

Why The Way We’ve Always Done Things is Always Wrong

Whenever you hear a statement like, “We do ____ this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”, you can safely assume that person has stopped using their brain.

This is college frat boy thinking: “We got hazed so you have to get hazed.” Whether it’s loaning out mortgages, baking cakes, or planning church services, “Always Been Done” people have abandoned the critical thinking process.

How do I know? Because their response is automatic. They’re answering out of habit and ritual, not out of consideration for the situation in front of them.


Because it’s easier to flip the switch to automaton. It’s easier to do things by rote. It’s easier to be, in the words of Seth Godin, a “cog.”

More and more I’m convinced that most of life’s problems, in some way, shape or form, have a direct correlation to “Always Been Done” thinking.

Top-of-Mind Mondays On a Friday

  • I’ve been sharing a lot about the Social Media Summit lately. We’re in the thick of things, as the event is tomorrow. I cannot believe the time has passed this quickly.
  • After tomorrow, we’ll shift the focus on this blog onto other upcoming projects. What’s on your plate lately? What are you working on that’s got you excited?
  • Not to sound trite, but the Action Method has changed my life. The products are second-to-none, but the philosophy driving the products is life-changing.
  • Speaking of the Action Method, I just signed up to go to the 99% Conference in NYC this May. Kerry and I will cap off a vacation with this event. I seriously can’t wait. Are you going?
  • We had to do it so you have to do it.” This statement, in some form or another, is the source of almost everyone’s problems.
  • Most of you may not know this, but my sister is a seriously-talented food blogger with legit cred. I got to guest post for her this week. It was fun (and her readers are really nice!).
  • I’m really hitting a sweet spot with the Summit. A look into the future?
  • What’s up with Juan Williams? No, seriously. I keep hearing his name but I have no idea who he is or what he’s done. </ignorantrant>.
  • Brett Favre is going to walk out of the NFL with his tail between his legs and head hung low. He could’ve walked out a hero. Greed is an alluring toxin.
  • The ELCA, for all her faults, has been one of the most supportive organizations of the work I’ve been doing with the Summit. They are hungry to learn. I would even say that the event would not have been possible without them. Thank you.
  • We will visualize Twitter stream connections this weekend at the Summit. Here’s a snap shot. How does it work? No idea. Ask GodAtPlay.
  • What’s up in your world this weekend?

How to Stop Leaders from “Dying” Young

Too many young leaders die young.

I don’t mean physical death (although we do lose too many good people to an early death), I mean a potential death. In other words, too many young leaders die on the vine because no one bothered to pick them.

I was struck by something a mentor and friend wrote recently:

The next generation’s world changers are currently working in your organization. But chances are, their talent is buried, half-realized, sitting under the weight of the routine responsibilities that you’ve heaped upon them.

For them to ever realize their potential, their only options are to A. be empowered and blessed by you at your initiative and loss, or B. make you angry by going and doing it anyway.

Yes, you’ve made a huge impact. You’ve been used mightily. But it doesn’t last forever. God’s favor works sort of like “the flavor of the month.” Even Moses had to make way for Joshua.

Calling All Leaders

He’s writing to the current leaders. The ones who are in power. The ones who have paid their dues and are calling the shots. He’s calling them out.

I cannot tell you how much this post meant to me. I’d encourage you to read it in full here. But in the meantime, I wanted to offer a practical response to this post. I wanted to do something about it.

I’m 30 years old at the time of this writing. Realistically, I have 10-15 years (although 15 may be pushing it) to do some siginificant, ground-breaking, earth-shaking work. Those are the years where I get to lead, make mistakes, figure out what works and focus on the things I’m really good at.

After 45, I hope to start passing the baton. Giving the young ones behind me the chances that the older people in my life gave me. Shifting from blazing the trail to guiding people along the path.

After reading the post I mentioned earlier, I thought, “Why not start now?” I couldn’t think of one good reason why I can’t pour everything I know about social media, ministry, church life, blogging, entrepreneurship and life in general into a few young leaders right now. This very moment. Start the process that I want to be a part of.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

The Deviant Apprenticeship Series

I’ll call it a Deviant apprenticeship program of sorts. I’m looking for one or two dedicated individuals who have a desire to learn, who are hungry to take the next step in their leadership abilities. Ideally I’d love to have people who want to focus on a career in social web and/or ministry. I want to start passing off what I know to young leaders who want to go far. Is that you?

Here’s how I look at it: I’ve started a quasi-successful blog, had the chance to speak at a few places, and planned a social media conference from scratch with the help of some amazing people. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way. I’d love to show one or two young leaders how to avoid making those same mistakes so they can go further and faster than I ever will.

If you’re interested, let me know. It won’t cost you anything other than some of your time and sacrificing the mediocrity in your life. Like I said, I’m only going to take one or two people, so if you’re interested let me know as soon as possible.

The Only Way

Don’t die young. It doesn’t have to be this opportunity, but find someone who will pour into you. Likewise, if you’re a little bit further down the road of life, don’t let your legacy die with you. Find a young one to pour into and let them go farther than you. It’s the only way.

You Have to See It to Believe It

I’ve always found that the easiest way to understand something is by seeing it. I’m a visual learner, so seeing something gives me a grasp better than hearing or reading ever would.

I wanted to give you all a peek behind the design curtain for the Social Media Summit, which just happens to be this Saturday. (You can still get on board for a very respectable price.)

What you’re about to see is a sampling from all the imaging I used to create the brand for the Summit. Most of the design work here is from the Summit program, but you can get a taste of what it will feel like when you come to the party.


A Hero Joins the Social Media Summit

When I set out to plan the Social Media Summit, I had an idea of who I wanted to take part in it. I kept most of those names under a hat until I could flesh out what the interest level and availability was.

I also knew what I wanted to accomplish with the Summit. There are far too many good-hearted people in ministry who are absolutely terrified at the thought of social media. They know it’s important but have no idea where to start. I wanted to bridge that gap.

The two areas seemed easy enough to marry: Provide the comprehensive “why?” and “how?” for social networking to people in ministry and ask some of the brightest people in the field to take part.


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