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Signs of Life...

One of the defining characteristics of maturity is the ability to reproduce

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So many words that so many people 
Would use to define what I was privileged to be a part of today
I call it
Growing Up

How to Introduce a Guest Speaker




One of the most encouraging things for me is watching an emerging leader who is intentional in what he does




Let me explain...
Our pastor was away on vacation and we were slated to have another member of the pastoral staff preach in his absence.  Keith would be the one "handling" the service - "handling" is the affectionate name that we use for the person who opens the service with prayer, communicates announcements, receives the offering and often closes the service - in most venues that's called an emcee but we can't use that name because it'd sound like a club instead :)

Here's what I noted about Keith's introduction:
  • He was intentional about his segue from one service element to another - in other words,  it flowed! And, it flowed because he paid attention. There was no "shock and awe" that happened as we moved from worship to word or any other part of the service
  • He honored the guest speaker - a first time guest would've thought this was a high-ranking community figure. Keith did an outstanding job of honoring the guest speaker
  • He told a story - Keith shared a personal story about the morning speaker that made him more personal and real to each of us

Words and the world they create

My last post, on the topic of communication, was over two months ago. Nevertheless, I've been thinking a lot about the topic of communication in that span of time.

  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated accurately
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated powerfully
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated honestly
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated relevantly
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated transparently
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated humbly
  • I've wondered if the message of the Church is being communicated lovingly
Our words, a.k.a. our message, impact worlds. Our words build bridges. Or, our worlds build walls.

I recently came across this video and have been thinking about the application to our words - our message.

Ask God to help you with your words.

I've been praying lately, 
"Lord, let my words be life. 
And let them be giving. 
And let my words be life-giving"


Can't I Just Use My Old Form of Communication?

There's a shift in the way we communicate...
We must embrace dialogue in various forms.

Remember "short hand" in high-school? Does anyone use that anymore?

Remember the hours spent learning cursive? I can't even remember how to form some of those letters...let alone how to connect them! Oh, and by the way, it won't be long until it's phased out of curriculum in most school systems.

And for those who've been around computers for a long time, remember BASIC? Or, COBOL?

I remember, some time back, hearing a Christian leader declare boldly that if someone needed to communicate with him, then they'd have to call (he was NOT going to text message).

I've heard of leaders who state categorically that they were not going to listen to voice mails...if someone really needs them, then they'll call back.

Finally, I recently saw a well known Christian artist notify everyone of his Facebook contacts that if they needed him, NOT to use the messaging service found in Facebook-instead, text or tweet him instead.

Which brings me to my question...
Why the resistance?
  • In the past week I've had work related correspondence via text messaging with 29 different people.
  • In the past week I've had work related correspondence via email with 12 different people (notice that email is going away...in fact, one major university is no longer assigning email addresses to students!).
  • Since the beginning of February, I've had direct contact via Twitter with at least 5 different people.
  • In the past week I've had phone conversations with at least 15 different people.
  • Since the beginning of February, I've had work related Facebook inbox message conversations with 16 different people. 
All of these statistics indicate one thing:
We don't talk like we used to!

The phone and letters both gave way to email.

Email is giving way to text messaging, inbox messaging, tweeting and status updates (by the way, the Georgia Conference Facebook page had a total of 1424 impressions so far from status updates through February - that's 1424 people that have seen what we posted on our wall).

Perhaps you're one who's resisted the shift in communication. What can you do to begin to learn a new form of communication?
  • Get a grip - in other words, begin to learn
  • Get a mentor - in other words, don't be afraid to ask someone who's more savvy
  • Get a plan - don't try to do it all at once, start small and build confidence
It's obvious that in order to communicate more effectively, as a church, business, family member or leader, that we must be willing to embrace the form of communication that others embrace. To abstain from doing so, indicates an unwillingness to communicate - which, ultimately, indicates an unwillingness to care!

Which form of communication are you using more now than you were a year ago?

3 Things Like About My Dad's Church

I'm just in from a weekend trip to visit my family and took the opportunity to visit my dad's church. For those not familiar, my father pastors Center United Methodist Church. Center UMC is located in a rural area just outside of Vidalia, GA. 


I left this morning having encountered Christ, His presence, the fellowship of believers and a confident reminder that God's desire is to give us a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone.


Here are three things that I like about my dad's church:

  • First, they recite the Apostle's Creed - perhaps in your tradition of worship you don't recite this often...I know in the pentecostal circles I am most accustomed to we don't recite it often (if ever!) - here's a refresher for you...think on each phrase...
    I believe in God the Father Almighty,maker of heaven and earth;And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,born of the Virgin Mary,suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, dead, and buried;the third day he rose from the dead;he ascended into heaven,and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit,the holy catholic church,the communion of saints,the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body,and the life everlasting. Amen.
                                    • I think the reason I enjoy this so much is because it's a bold declaration of theology and belief. Unfortunately, I've been in services where I wasn't sure of the theological bent and the focus was not necessarily on Christ nor His sacrificial work. I think it would do many of our pentecostal churches a benefit to return to some of these forms of liturgy. 
                                    • Second, they sing the doxology. Again, this is not something I hear much of in pentecostal circles - how sad! The doxology represents a powerful, declarative song of praise to God.
                                    • Finally, they embrace my dad's holiness/pentecostal preaching. This morning my dad preached a message that was a clarion call to live a life of holiness, to embrace the work of the Spirit in perfecting the image of Christ in us. I love the fact that my dad is called to the United Methodist Church (he was IPH as I am not so many years ago)...I love the fact that he is able to preach the pentecostal and the holiness doctrines as he always has. Plus, I just love to hear my dad preach - in my opinion, there is no one greater because I've seen the congruency of the Word-preached and the life-lived.

                                    Have You Read These Guys?

                                    I'm taking a break from posting my "Benefits of Technology" series to share  some "link love."

                                    I wanted you to be aware of several "new-to-the-blogosphere" blogs for you to consider...


                                    I encourage you to check out these bloggers, subscribe to their RSS feeds and check their sites often. They are all worth your time.

                                    UPDATED: Forgot one new blogger - Ron Clark is a student at Emmanuel College and a great friend - you can read Ron's blog at: http://revronclark.blogspot.com/

                                    Benefits of Technology in Ministry - Part 3

                                    If' you're just joining us, I've been posting a series of blog posts from a recent conference in which I was invited to speak on the subject, Benefits of Technology in Ministry. Here's the first post.

                                    The third benefit of technology, and this one really applies more to social media and the web, is: Presence.


                                    Pastor, church leader, business owner...the new front door to your establishment is now the web. And, increasingly it's not just the website. It's also becoming the conversation you extend via Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools.

                                    It's a fact that more and more employers are using these tools to aid in the recruitment and hiring process. Guess what? Although I don't have the statistics to back this statement, I believe more and more people are choosing where to attend church based on the presence the church/pastor has online.

                                    The days of the church web site being more of an online bulletin or brochure have passed...umm, last century! It's now more imperative than ever that your ministry/pastor be proactive in having an online presence that is authentic, approachable and relate-able. If you're sole purpose of having a Facebook page is so you can: a.) say you have one; b.) simply allow people to post on your wall without you interacting with them, then you're wasting your time (and mine). Realize this...it's about connection and conversation.

                                    As I stated in my training workshop, some are forcing the issue that community can be created online. I'm not ready to go to that extreme. Community is deep, personal and I believe involves life-on-life interaction.

                                    But here's what I am willing to say...although I don't think community can happen, connection most certainly can happen. And when you have connection, you find commonality which can open the door to community.

                                    Benefits of Technology in Ministry - Part 2

                                    As I mentioned before, in this post, I had the opportunity recently to teach a tremendous group of local church leaders. The gathering was the first ever Elevation Summit hosted at Abundant Faith Fellowship. Pastors and leaders were gathered together from at least 5 different churches.

                                    The second benefit, that I see, in embracing and utilizing technology in ministry is Identification.

                                    I recall visiting Israel in 1990, right before the Gulf War, and realizing there were very few Americans anywhere we visited. The threat of war evidently kept some people away...

                                    One evening, in our hotel in Jerusalem, as we were going to dinner we encountered some English-speaking friends - they were from Canada. Other than the broken English of many of the street vendors, tour guides and service industry personnel, we simply didn't engage in much conversational English with our Israeli friends. The exception was our friends from Canada. We were immediately able to identify with them, engage them and build relationship.

                                    The same principle applies today...when I travel to churches to speak or train (sometimes to evaluate), I begin immediately to try to find areas of commonality. Another phrase for commonality is "common ground" - by searching for common ground, I'm able to begin conversation, overcome awkwardness associated with meeting a stranger and begin to build report. In other words, I'm able to identify...me with them...them with me.

                                    Embracing current forms of technology (social media, web tools such as online giving, atmosphere creating tools such as lighting or projection) creates points of identity because people are used to them. Business people and students are used to projection...more and more people are opting for online bill payment...the news is being shaped increasingly by Twitter.

                                    Benefits of Technology in Ministry - Part 1

                                    I recently taught at a conference and was assigned the topic: Benefits of Technology in Ministry. I want to thank Pastor John Price and the great team of people at Abundant Faith Fellowship for having the vision to equip their leaders as well as other leaders in the Georgia Conference, the IPHC and the South Georgia region.

                                    Over the next few days I'll share what I believe are 6 benefits of embracing technology and using them in ministry. I taught this session with the specific focus of social media (facebook, twitter, mass email, web, etc). However, the benefits are broad enough that they can apply to other sources of technology - such as: multi-media, sound reinforcement, computer-usage, and other current technology.

                                    The first benefit of technology in ministry is Voice.

                                    I know you're thinking, "Voice!?!?!" - what are you talking about?

                                    As I see it, by embracing current forms and platforms of technology and utilizing them in ministry you are doing two things.


                                    • First, you give your ministry the chance to be heard. You ave the opportunity to offer input. As various forms of technology are embraced, used effectively and with excellence, you are effectively giving yourself the opportunity to be heard in your community and in the context in which you are ministering.


                                    • Second, the thing that happens when you embrace technology in ministry is you have the chance to shape culture. You give yourself influence. Now able to shape the conversations that are happening all around. You're able to give credence as a Christ-follower to the events, issues, thoughts, ideals, and conversations that take place in your context.