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First impressions

It was 14 years ago. Lisa and I had recently been married and I had just gone on staff at my first church as a Youth Pastor. She was finishing her teaching degree driving an hour each way to and from school. I was full on diving into ministry, trying to change the world. It was a pretty tradition church. There was an organ and a choir in the sanctuary. It was a suit and tie kind of a place, cool church, just a traditional style church. The youth ministry was growing at a pretty quick pace and students started coming to this church that didn’t look, act, talk, or smell like they had ever been in a church before, and that was because they hadn’t. Being a pretty conservative environment, the church actually had a hard time with these new students walking through the doors. But something about the whole thing felt right. To fast forward, a young man by the name of Will came to the Student Ministry one evening and got radically saved. Immediately we started praying for his little brother. Eventually Will’s little brother shows up at church one Sunday morning. I can remember, he walked in all thugged out with his saggy jeans, black t-shirt, stocking hat pulled down to eye level, and a chain hanging from his wallet to his jeans. He walks all they way down the center aisle of the sanctuary and plops down on the front pew. He slouches down, crosses his arms, and didn’t move the entire service, not even when we stood to sing. He just sat there, as if to say, “I dare you.”

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Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership

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14 lessons from 14 years of marriage

marriage-death-demotivational-poster

While I’ll give it to you that speaking out of 14 years of marriage is not nearly the same as speaking out of the experience of some who have 25, 30, or even 40 years of marriage, it does at least get me out of the gates and past the level of novice. So while by no means have I arrived, we have traveled enough ground together that I’m able to speak from some really exciting wins and conversely some painful losses as well. So here are 14 simple lessons, in no particular order that I’ve learned in the past 14 years of marriage (and yes, all 14 of those years are to the same woman).

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Posted in Family

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sticky church

People end up coming to church for a myriad of reasons. Motivations range from church was something that they grew up with and is a cultural norm in their life, to a moment of personal crisis, a simple invite by a friend, and sometimes even a cleaver marketing campaign by a local church. But what makes them come back, what makes them stick?

In his book, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne does a great job of addressing the leadership tension between the front door (getting people in) and the back door (keeping people in) of the church. In it he asserts that, “As long as the front door remains larger than the back door, any church will appear to be growing. But sooner or later the front door can’t get any larger; either the budget or the skill set runs thin.” He goes on to explain that many pastors are guilty of using the people they already have in order to reach the people they want to reach. Instead of viewing their church as a flock to care for, lead, and tend to they often become viewed as a tool to get to the pastor’s dream…and that’s a dream that needs to die. If this has ever been an issue that you’ve had to contend with, you know first hand that by the time the indicators of a problem with the back door begin to rear their ugly head more often than not the problem has become so large and so complex that it takes a serious time, resource, and people commitment, and often times the courage to make some very difficult and far reaching decisions to wrestle this down.

You might need to spend some time addressing the backdoor at your church if you can identify with the following list:

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Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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are we there yet?

Are_We_There_Yet_v07

By now most of you know that my family and I recently all piled into the minivan and made the multi-day drive across the country to start the new adventure of serving as the Lead Pastor at North Metro Church in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. That’s not to say that the drive itself wasn’t a bit of an adventure. And thanks to my good friend Aaron McRae my kids actually thought that the more they said, “are we there yet,” the faster we would arrive at our new home in Atlanta!

My kids aren’t the first people on the planet to be so enamored with the destination that they lose sight of the journey. I bet Moses heard this phrase more than a few times from the nation of Israel, Noah probably heard it from his kids, Abraham heard it from Isaac, and so on, and so on. The reality is that if you and I are not careful we run the risk of becoming so fixated on the destination and where we are going that it becomes almost impossible for us to enjoy the journey along the way. This is especially true if you are the kind of person who has a fairly clear picture in your mind of a desired future and where you believe you are supposed to be, or where you are supposed to be leading a group of people to.

So how do you know if you’re so addicted to the idea of the destination that you’re in danger of missing the journey? If you can identify with the items from the list below you may need to come up for air and do some self evaluation, or better yet, hit your knees and do some confession.

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Posted in Leadership

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3 days in a minivan with 3 kids a dog and a crab

As I’m typing this on my phone (those who know me are proud of me right now for learning to use technology) it’s the last night on the road tonight & we hit Atlanta tomorrow to start the next chapter of our lives together. We’ve tried to make the roadtrip as memorable as possible for the kids. I mean how many times do you ever move your whole family across the country? I think we’ve pretty much succeeded, only 6 movies in 3 days means we’ve been doing a lot of other stuff. There were stories read, laughter, and multiple cow sightings by the girls. There was the blimp we saw doing training moves just a few 100 ft off the ground, the horses sticking their heads out of the trailer as we passed by, picnics at the rest stops, Lincoln loved yelling at every tractor trailer we passed, and so on. There were tons of simple yet satisfying moments that happened on the trip that as a father I hope I never forget. And then there were the ones I do hope to forget. You know the ones if you’re a parent.

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Posted in Family