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You’ll Be Getting a Steal of a Deal

If you’re a deal-chaser, I’ll level with you: You’re about to get a steal.

Along with Tim Schraeder and Kem Meyer, I’ll be teaching at Exponential this year. We’re each leading individual sessions during the actual event, but we’re team-teaching a session at the Expo precon that you will definitely want to be a part of. Kem and Tim are there to teach you what’s up. I’m just there for the eye-candy (SNAP!).

I can assure you that this will be an ultra-intimate setting where you will get top-tier content from me, Kem and Tim. If you’re going to be at Exponential, you won’t want to miss it. I swear you’ll be kicking yourself later if you do. Like, right in the face.

The details break down like this:


Best of the Week, v.8

I wanted to turn your attention to some of the posts, highlights, lowlights and everything in between that this week has offered. Buckle up, get ready, it’s time for another edition of “Best of the Week!”

  • Best social media post of the week: Chris Brogan tells us, as gracefully as possible, why we aren’t as successful as we think we should be. He’s right on the money, FWIW.
  • Best ministry post of the week: Rhett Smith tells pastors to stop bleeding all over the congregation. Leading ≠ barfing uncomfortable information all over your people. Nor is it “authentic”.
  • Best survey of the week: A friend of mine, Drew Goodmanson, put together this short survey to take a look at how churches use their websites. We could use your input!
  • Best new website of the week: posts tweets for you at the most optimal time, according to the click-rate of your last 200 tweets.
  • Best food court proposal of the week: This gentleman thought it was a good idea to propose in front of a Sbarro. You can guess how this one ends.
  • Best meltdown of the week: Tim Floyd loses it at a UTEP game. He used to coach for Iowa State. Go ahead, Timmy!
  • Best news of the week: Amazon Prime now includes access to Amazon Instant Videos. Free shipping and free movies. Not bad.

Helpful or Hurtful?

This is a street preacher.

This video was shot in downtown Des Moines on September 4th, 2010.

Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Is this helpful or hurtful?
What is the primary motivator in this scene? Is it a desire for people to know Jesus or an individual’s need to feel and be perceived as faithful?
What do you suppose people who are walking by are thinking about this man? About God? About the Bible? Jesus?

You decide.


What Rage Against the Machine Taught Me About Preaching

I’ll admit it: Rage Against the Machine is one of my most favorite bands. Ever. I think they get a lot of things right–musically and philosophically.

Tom Morello’s play-my-guitar-with-a-wrench-beacause-I-can style.
Tim Commerford’s bubbling bass.
And of course, Zack de la Rocha’s unique, politically-charged, freestyle rap-rock lyrical delivery.

I feel like I’m outing myself or something. Yes, they have a radical message–but they’re passionate. And I love passion. I also have a sneaking suspicion that on certain levels, the life and message of Jesus looked more like Zack de la Rocha’s than Mister Rogers.


What Pastors Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Most pastors are teachers, but not all teachers are pastors. Most pastors have some sort of regular public speaking routine built-in to there weekly/monthly schedule. As such, we have a lot to learn about human communication.

We have a lot to learn from others who communicate a message effectively and decisively.

One of those people to learn from is Steve Jobs. In fact, someone named Carmine Gallo even wrote a book on the presentation secrets of ol’ Steve. I haven’t read the book, but below is a list of some of the “secrets” unveiled by Gallo in a video at the end of this post.


Black and White or Ambiguously Clear?

Watch this interview with Eugene Peterson and see if you have a response:

Has our preaching become too “black and white”? Perhaps even more so than the Scripture we preach on? What’s there to be said about the mystery of this whole Gospel story? Where did it go and how do we get it back?

Bottom line: Does a younger generation want to be “told what to do” or do they want to “connect the dots” themselves? One or the other? Both?


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?

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?

Willow Creek Leadership Summit | Chip & Dan Heath

Willow Creek Leadership Summit | David Gergen

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