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Honor Revolution

I preached this morning at Abundant Life Worship Center in Stateboro, GA - (a.k.a. "The Boro") - I love this town and I love this church!

Here's what the town has going for it:
  • Diversity - racially and generationally
  • University - Georgia Southern University is located there so it has the "university vibe" of many university towns
  • Growth - all around The Boro there are signs of growth - new housing, new retail, new schools
  • Location - there are more gnats than you could ever imagine - this is great for cyclists (smile real big!), outdoor cooking and bbq (a little extra protein) and the locals(the locals are used to them and know how to "shew" them away without using their hands, this makes spotting someone from out of town much easier) - ok, that's not really a "plus" for the town - it's really kind of "buggy" (overheard today at lunch...just sayin')
Here's what the church has going for it:
  • Diversity - racially, generationally and leadership-experience
  • Unity - they are moving forward toward making an impact in their location
  • Identity - they are not your "typical" Pentecostal church - they are unique! They understand their identity and DNA, understand their values and identity and work toward making it hard for people to go to hell - you will be accepted and welcomed @ ALWC
  • Buggy - not really, just had to make it match the above
  • Creativity - they are intentional about taking the Gospel message, making it come alive, helping apply it to your life, and challenging you to believe and live that message - all while pushing the limits of creativity
  • Excellence - they are doing a few things well - and they are intentional about doing them better - Every. Single. Week.
In a nutshell, here's what I preached (Scriptures used: Philippians 2:25,29; Ephesians 6:5-9; Hebrews 12:7; Acts 13:36; Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:11-13):

We have an Honor Crises:
  1. We've been too casual
  2. We've been too critical
  3. We've been too "care-less"
We need and Honor Revolution!
I outlined the 5 solutions that lead to an Honor Revolution:
  1. Honor those Before Us - those that have blazed the trail; our historical leaders
  2. Honor those Below Us - there is structure & hierarchy - we should honor those that serve or work for us
  3. Honor those Beside Us - those people that are our peers, our co-laborers
  4. Honor those Behind Us - there's a generation that's looking to us as leaders - honor them with your integrity and humility
  5. Honor those Beyond Us - our leaders, the one's God has set in place over us at this time

My top 3 websites!

Here are my top 5 websites that I use almost daily:
  1. Evernote - this is the best site I've found to compile all of my clippings/findings on the internet into one place. It syncs with my iPhone so that I can instantly see all that I've stored. I clip articles about church growth, church revitalization, church planting, technology, "how-to" articles (for instance, I found a great article about how to sharpen a chain saw), sermon illustrations, devotional content, articles about the next generation of leaders, basically, everything.
  2. All things Google - I've actually linked the apps site because it's increasingly becoming the first stop for all things Google. I use Google for: email, calendar, docs, photos, analytics, reader, news, images for print or publication, search, and hopefully soon as our corporate email solution for my employer (more storage, better search, better filtering, FREE!).
  3. Pandora - Pandora is on constantly throughout my day. I tend to listen to mostly jazz, but every now and then I like to mix it up. Pandora is a great online music listening source - just type in the name of an artist or song and it will find similar styles/artists.
What's missing?
You probably would think those would've made the cut - truth is, a lot of that happens on my iPhone or through Tweetdeck. I'm not on it nearly as much as it appears!

What are your top 3 sites?

Be Our Guest



Let's have a little fun today - ok?

This song popped in my head, so I decided to look up the lyrics - wow! It wasn't revelation from heaven, but what I found was a slew of "best practices" and "topical considerations" for churches that offer a guest services (and if you don't...well, another post for another day).

I've included the lyrics below.

Please invite me to your church to help with training ushers, greeters, guest services, parking lot attendants - anything that interacts with a guest on Sunday morning - I promise I won't sing Disney songs and I won't use the following as an outline - well, maybe for kids church services I would...:)


Beauty And The Beast - Be Our Guest Lyrics

Lumiere:
Ma chere Mademoiselle, it is with deepest pride
and
greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight.
And now
we invite you to relax, let us pull up a
chair as the dining room proudly presents -
your dinner!

Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test

Tie your napkin 'round your neck, cherie
And we'll provide the rest
Soup du jour
Hot hors d'oeuvres
Why,
we only live to serve
Try the grey stuff
Chip:
It's delicious
Lumiere:
Don't believe me? Ask the dishes
They can sing, they can dance
After all, Miss, this is France
And a dinner here is never second best
Go on, unfold your menu
Take a glance and then you'll

Be our guest
Oui, our guest
Be our guest!
Lumiere and Chorus:
Beef ragout
Cheese souffle
Pie and pudding "en flambe"
Lumiere:

We'll prepare and serve with flair
A culinary cabaret!
You're alone
And you're scared

But the banquet's all prepared
No one's gloomy or complaining

While the flatware's entertaining
We tell jokes! I do tricks
With my fellow candlesticks
Chorus:
And it's
all in perfect taste
That you can bet
Come on and lift your glass
You've won your own free pass
To
be out guest
Lumiere:
If you're stressed
It's fine dining we suggest


Chorus:

Be our guest! Be our guest! Be our guest!
Get your worries off your chest

Let us say for your entree
We've an array; may we suggest:
Try the bread! Try the soup!
When the croutons loop de loop
It's a treat for any dinner
Don't belive me? Ask the china
Singing pork! Dancing veal!
What an entertaining meal!

How could anyone be gloomy and depressed?
We'll make you shout "encore!"

And send us out for more
So, be our guest!
Lumiere:
Be our guest!
Chorus:
Be our guest!
Mrs Potts:
It's a guest! It's a guest!
Sakes alive, well I'll be blessed!
Wine's been poured and
thank the Lord
I've had the napkins freshly pressed
With dessert, she'll want tea
And my dear that's fine with me
While the cups do their soft-shoein'
I'll be bubbling, I'll be brewing
I'll get warm, piping hot
Heaven's sakes! Is that a spot?

Clean it up! We want the company impressed
Chorus:
We've got a lot to do!
Mrs Potts:
Is it one lump or two?
For you, our guest!
Chorus:
She's our guest!
Mrs Potts:
She's our guest!
Chorus:
She's our guest!

Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Be our guest!

Lumiere:
Life is so unnerving
For a servant who's not serving

He's not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful...

Suddenly those good old days are gone
Ten years we've been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!

Most days we just lay around the castle
Flabby, fat and lazy
You walked in and oops-a-daisy!
Chorus:

Be our guest!
Be our guest!

Our command is your request
It's been years since we've had anybody here
And we're obsessed
With your meal, with your ease
Yes, indeed, we aim to please
While the candlelight's still glowing
Let us help you, We'll keep going
Course by course, one by one
'Til you shout, "Enough! I'm done!"
Then we'll sing you off to sleep as you digest
Tonight you'll prop your feet up
But for now, let's eat up

Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Please, be our guest!

OK, now you too can sing this song in your head all day like me...

Save the Drama for your...tv?


I tweeted this statement today:

"I need two more of me"

Of course, that prompted several sarcastic remarks (which I expected!) and some ensuing thought on my behalf.


Here's what I've concluded from my thoughts (sorry, not too deep) - just real!
  • There's only one of me - for which my friends are really happy :)
  • There are some things in life that are simply "time killers"
  • I'm coming to the place in my life and ministry where the phrase "killing time" is appalling
  • Time is a gift from God - each day, hour, minute and second is to be stewarded and redeemed for His purposes
  • Having said all the previous things...what I really need is better management of "me"
So, one of the immediate measure I'm putting into my life is limiting the amount of tv I watch on a weekly basis. I am a "news junkie" - particularly Fox News. But what I've come to realize is that Fox News (nor any other network for that matter) does NOT promote the news - they promote DRAMA!

Next time you're watching, carefully observe how each segue and promotion of each upcoming story is all about the drama involved - the tone of the anchors, the video/audio used in the background, the secondary screen graphics - all of it is geared to create drama and suck you in (ultimately so that you'll watch the commercials and they'll get paid).

I'm not sure about you, but I don't really see the need for the addition of drama into my life.

So, I'm now limiting the amount of tv that I watch to a few hours per week - there may be times when we have a family movie night that I may go over, but for the most part, I'm sticking to just a few (like 5 or less) hours per week - there's simply better things to do with my time.

What about what's going on in the world? Well, since you asked...I'm using RSS feeds and online editions of papers - I check them 1st thing in the morning in my morning reading (which is when I also read the blogs I follow). If something catastrophic happens, I always have CNN Breaking News coming to my phone via text and twitter.

A little less drama,
A little more time,
A little less drama,
A little more mind.

(hey, it's corny, but it works!)

What's the First Thing I'd do?


I've never been asked this question before, but I'm going to pretend I have...
play along with me...

Pastor: The Rev. So-and-So (Sr. Pastor of Nameless Church)
"Rick, you've visited our church several times now, what's the first thing we could do to make an impact in our services?"

Me:
"Pastor, are you sure you want the honest answer to this question?"

Pastor:
"I don't know is it going to be painful?"

Me:
"Yes!"

Pastor:
"Ok, go ahead and let me hear it..."

Me:
"Pay attention..."

Pastor:
"Go ahead...I'm listening"

Me:
"Ummmm, that was it - Pay Attention!"

Thanks for allowing me to do a little role-play dialogue with you - but you ask..."what do you mean?" (Glad you asked)

I visit a LOT of churches, I'm in a lot of services, I see a lot of things, I've traveled the east coast from Maryland to Florida in preparation for where God has me today.

And the one thing I'd say over and over to all pastors is that if you want to make an immediate impact in your Sunday service - simply pay attention! (I know...all the "spirituals" out there will say "pray more" - I'm assuming you're already doing that - if not, get on your knees and start!).

Paying attention is:
  • free (although it may cost a lot in terms of humility)
  • easy to do (although we don't because of the curse of the familiar - what we see too often, we too often forget - i.e., the cobwebs in the back corner of the church)
  • immediate (we can all find one or two things to perhaps "fix" or make better)
  • the start of a journey to effectiveness

Let me give you some practicals:
  • Pay attention during the worship service...does it connect? Ask people what genre or style of music they listen to during the week - does your even come close to theirs?
  • In addition to the style of music...are people singing along? Clapping? Enjoying themselves? Is it too loud? Is it balanced well (voices with band)? What about the lighting? What about the quality of the graphics you use for media? Is your worship band together and ALL going in the same direction? Have they practiced? Are you introducing too many new songs? Are their some songs that are just a flop? Are their some songs that we've used too many times? Do all of our songs sound the same?
  • I'll move on - there's probably enough there chew on for a while - but there's more: What about the transition off the stage by the music team and on the stage by the minister? Is it well planned? Planned at all? Do we reference what just took place? Or, do we "move on" with the next thing planned? Transitions are KEY in EVERY ASPECT of a church service!
  • What about your decor on stage? Have you payed attention to the dusty plastic plants hiding the choir? (Yes, I've seen it!)
Ok, this list could go on and one - I'm simply saying this:
Pay attention to what you have in place now and try to make it better!

I'm not advocating the best in sound reinforcement and lighting...I'm not saying that media has to be top of line - what I am saying is this: let's take what we have now, make it better or make it gone...try to improve upon each element, each facet, each transition, each sermon point (another blog post...)...each piece of decor...each and every thing that our guests encounter weekly.

Making things better is not such a bad thing is it?

Perhaps this is too simplistic but what if our goal each week was NOT to: heal everyone, save everyone, fix every marriage, bring ethical understanding to each businessman and right every societal wrong around us...

What if...instead

Our goal was to get people back next week? (and in doing so, let God fix all the other things)

What do you think?

Intersecting Life and Church at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse



Last week my wife and I celebrated 18 years of marriage with a dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

I absolutely love Ruth's Chris! The menu is great, the food is incredible and the service is warm, personable and second to none. I could write this post about learning how to do "guest services" in a church from the "business side" of Ruth's Chris, but I want to take a different approach...

While waiting on our order to arrive a group of 3 business men in suits arrived and were seated - not too uncommon, this particular location is in a white-collar business district. Shortly thereafter, a young lady arrived dressed in a business suit - of course, the gentlemen all stood to welcome her and wait until she was seated.

What happened next absolutely amazed me and could easily go unnoticed...

About 10 minutes later (our food had arrived and we were well on our way to filet-bliss) another gentleman arrived. He was NOT in a business suit - simply a pair of slacks and nice polo. Of course the entire party stood to welcome him, waited for him to be seated (including the lady). Then, after he was seated first, the lady sat and ALL THREE MEN took their coats off before sitting.

You may ask, "why does that matter?"

Glad you did...

Now, I don't know what these people did for a living...I don't know of the last arrival served in some sort of supervisory role...I don't know if they were attorneys, investors, or what...I do know this...

The three men:
  1. Were gentlemen when the lady arrived by preferring her above themselves...
  2. Changed the atmosphere of the meeting by taking it to a more "casual" atmosphere by simply removing their coats when the last attendee arrived...
  3. Were perceptive enough to think about the comfort level of the last guest
  4. Sought to remove barriers between themselves and their guests
So, what can church leaders learn from this interaction:
  1. Perceptiveness & Awareness - the 3 gentlemen displayed a keen awareness of their guests
  2. How to change and adapt based on the crowd - the entire mood and atmosphere of the dining party changed with the arrival of each guest. Not to placate or lower some sort of standard, but to make others embrace the company of each person. After some time, the lady removed her business coat. The dining party had shifted from a very cordial (almost stuffy) mood to a more relaxed, fun mood.
  3. How to prefer others - thinking of others first is not natural to people - it MUST be worked on and developed.
Have you ever seen situations like this? What if, instead of wearing a suit each week in church, we showed up in khakis and polos? or, jeans and a tshirt? In what other ways can we adapt, change, and prefer others that visit our churches? (obviously, without removing the message)