Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Church with a Responsive Spirit

The church at Antioch was not so busy being preoccupied with its own interests that it could not respond to God. In three passages of Acts (11:21; 11:24; 11:26) we see that a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. We also see that there was implied discipleship taking place (11:26). Finally, there is the story of how the church, led by a prophet from Jerusalem named Agabus, responded ta a famine in Judea by collected gifts to send back (11:27-30).

A healthy church today will model a responsive spirit to the call of God - not only to the church itself, but to the concerns of others. What makes this even more remarkable is that the peoples they helped were some of the same ones they run away from to escape persecution.

So, the final two characteristics we can learn from the church at Antioch:

Passion for People Maturing Believers
How does your church measure against the model of the church at Antioch?

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Church with Resourceful Staffing

The church at Antioch was healthy and growing because it resourced itself with good leaders who were blessed by God. The unnamed men from Cyprus and Cyrene set the bar high by spreading the good news to the Greeks, with a great number of them believing in the Lord. Their success led the Jerusalem church to send Barnabas to the church at Antioch.

Barnabas is introduced in Acts 4:36-37 as a Levite from Cyprus. His first act of leadership is generosity: he sold a field he owned and put the money at the apostles’ feet. The next time we encounter Barnabas, he intercedes with the disciples on behalf of Saul/Paul. Because of Paul’s reputation before he encountered the Lord on the Damascus road, it wasn’t an easy task. Yet after Barnabas’ intercession, Paul “moved freely about Jerusalem, speaking boldly” (9:27). News of the church at Antioch reached the church at Jerusalem and Barnabas was sent to help. There he encouraged the church to continue their good work, but he recognized that Paul would be a great help to the young church, and he went to Tarsus to bring Paul back. They worked together for a year, teaching great numbers of people – who were called Christians first at Antioch.

Barnabas let no opportunity escape to add value to others. Probably the best example is his relationship with Paul:

  • He believed in Paul before anyone else did
  • He endorsed Paul’s leadership to other leaders
  • He empowered Paul to reach his potential

The church at Antioch was healthy and growing because it had selfless leaders like Barnabas who saw the necessity of investing in others so that their work might be multiplied.

Evidence of resource staffing goes beyond Barnabas’ direct interaction with Paul. One of the very first marks of the health of the church at Antioch was how they treated everyone – as family. Not wanting to carry the good news to just the Jews, they went to the Greeks. The fellowship and communion they held established deep connections as if they were family. And they were, not flesh and blood, but spirit bound family. The sense of family permeated the church even beyond Antioch. When news of a famine in Judea reached the church, Agabus organized relief efforts. Why? Because they were family, and family members cannot ignore the needs of others in the family.

This commitment to family relationships in Antioch also required the concentration on nurturing and discipling new believers. The sequence of events had Barnabas and Saul teaching considerable numbers for a year, and then they were called Christians. Theses new believers who had been won to Christ from a pagan background did not resemble followers of Christ until they had been discipled for an entire year. Discipling is nothing more that parenting new believers as they grow to maturity.

Here, then, are two more characteristics of a healthy church as modeled at Antioch:

Servant Leaders

Kingdom Family

Resourceful staffing means investing time and resources into developing leaders. You must do more than believe in emerging leaders – you need to take steps to help them become the leaders they have the potential to be. It requires energy and time. If you do it right, you will have the privilege of seeing someone move up to a higher level.

Who will you be the Barnabas to in your church?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Church with Real Spirituality

The church at Antioch had a real spirituality evidenced by the manifestation of the power of God and the evidence of the grace of God. Acts 11:21, 13:2, and 13:3 say this:

The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed
and turned to the Lord.
While they were worshipping the Lord...
So after they had fasted and prayed...
The "hand of God" in Scripture is a metaphor for the power of God. The power of God was present not just for show, but for results - a great number of people believed. The power of God led them to worship. "Worship" in this text is likened to "priestly work" - standing before God on behalf of people and standing before God on behalf of people. Fasting is giving up that which is normal, natural, and necessary in order to focus on one's relationship to God. The church at Antioch fasted, prayed, and their worship was made stronger.
If the church at Antioch is going to be a model for the church today, we have identified three more characteristics to develop:
Supernatural Power Christ-Exalting Worship God-Connecting Prayer
"The hand of God" and "the grace of God" are two phrases used to describe the favor of the Lord for the church at Antioch. It was demonstrated by large numbers of people turning to God, serious prayer and fasting, and the fellowship between Jew and Gentile. This was a church that could not be contained within walls, one that was living its connection to Christ everyday.
The church at Antioch focused its attention on God, standing before Him in worship, giving Him praise and worship. The results speak for themselves: many people came to believe. But note that church growth was not the reason for worship - it was a result of worship. If we plan and program worship to grow believers, we miss the mark. But if we focus on God alone, in praise and worship of Him, then a response will follow.
The church at Antioch understood that prayer connected them to the power of God. In today's terms, prayer was the fuel that drove the church at Antioch. And it was not superficial, recited prayer - it was prayer intensified by fasting, so that the focus could be on connecting with God.
Does your church have real spirituality? Is the power of God evident in the plans and directions of your ministry? When you worship, do you worship the power and glory of God, or put on a show? Is prayer your power source - or last resort?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Church with a Revolutionary Stance

The church at Antioch is introduced in Acts 11:19-30. The persecution of the Jews began full-force when Stephen spoke up to the religious status quo and was stoned to death. Men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and began to tell the Good News to the Greeks there. The Lord's hand was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

These nameless men (NOT church leaders) were compelled to come to Antioch from North Africa and the island of Cyprus to bring the gospel to the people there. The revolutionary stance of these men enabled them to see that adversity was not the occasion for fear and complacency but that it presented an opportunity to be seized. They turned the scattering because of persecution into the opportunity of spreading the good news of Jesus everywhere they went.

They also crossed cultural boundaries: while some of the scattered preached to the Jews, these men went to the Greeks also. They were not content to fit into the status quo, but instead chose to go to a group that had been previously excluded from the gospel. Craig Groschel says it well:

To reach people no one else is reaching,
we must do things no one else is doing.
If I were looking at the church at Antioch as a model or pattern to build a healthy church today, the foundation characteristic is this:
God-Sized Vision
Healthy churches are characterized by vision. They hear from God, respond in obedience, reorient their priorities, devise an action plan that reflects their vision and enables them to accomplish their goals, then they roll up their sleeves and go to work.
Thank you Pastor Sam for proclaiming the revolutionary stance of Bronx Bethany, not just for your community, but for the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Antioch: Model for the Effective Church

Earlier this month I was re-introduced to the importance of the early church at Antioch by Dr. Samuel Vassel, pastor of the Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene. In a passionate sermon, Pastor Sam ignited my curiosity that day (along with the rest of the congregation). I want to spend a few days posting about this church from Acts 11 and 13 and in the process, help us learn some lessons that are applicable to all churches today. In addition to Scripture, I will be referencing Pastor Sam’s work, materials from Dr. Ken Hemphill, and various other ideas.

Antioch was a major commercial city in the time of the early church. The third-largest city in the Roman Empire, it was located about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, about 20 miles form the Mediterranean Sea. First century Antioch was a genuine melting pot. Its 500,000 inhabitants joined western and eastern cultures, Greek and Roman cultures, Semitic Arab and Persian influences. The city also contained a large Jewish population, most likely larger than even Jerusalem. Amid all the sophistication, commerce, and culture, Antioch indulged itself as a very visible representation of Roman vice.

Yet in just a few years the young church had outpaced the church at Jerusalem. Why?

History lesson aside for a moment, what city today is “Antioch”? Pastor Sam makes a good case for New York City - and I agree. But to a certain degree, almost any urban area has characteristics of Antioch - and therefore we have an opportunity to learn about ministry in YOUR city.

And what characteristics must any church wanting to serve a modern Antioch possess? That's where we begin our journey tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Amazing Grace

A unique set of circumstances over the weekend led me to post on the 2007 movie "Amazing Graze":
  • My wife, an avid historical fiction reader, began a series that had a lot of information about the people who were involved in the British abolitionist movement in the early 1800s-especially William Wilberforce

  • I'm reading a book about urban ministries, and featured promptly in the book is the influence of a pastor in London who worked with William Wilberforce

  • The song "Amazing Grace" has popped into my life at least 3 times over the weekend, from playing on the radio, to being sung, to part of a hand bell piece I'm playing

If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend you purchase it and view it with your family - and view it again at least once a year.

Even with a little literary license, it accurately reflects the life and struggles of William Wilberforce and his 40+ year fight against slavery in the British Empire. Central to the movie is the character of John Newton, the former slave ship owner who became convicted of his sins and wrote the hymn we now know as Amazing Grace.

I close with one of the most powerful quotes of the movie, by John Newton:

Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very
I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Connecting Face to Face

In addition to the importance of connections to others via the social networking opportunities (Twitter, Facebook, this blog, etc.), there is no substitute for the rich interaction of face to face conversation and sharing.

For families, it's my wife and I driving our son 1 1/2 hours to drop him off for an overnight summer camp interview process; and then driving another 1 1/2 hours just to have supper and a conversation with our daughter and "that boy" at their college. After our brief time together, we will turn around and drive 3 hours back to Charlotte - late, to be sure, tired undoubtedly, but a very important part of parenting - even for a 20 year old. Because of crazy work schedules, that drive time will probably be a time of significant conversation for my wife and me.

For friends, it's being able to call someone who has the tools and know-how to diagnose a dryer that's not drying. The benefit: learning a little more about how things work (while your 16 year old son watches intently) and discovering that it will be a $40 part versus a new dryer. While the man talk is going on in the laundry room, the woman talk is going on in the kitchen as my wife and my friend's wife talk about what color to repaint the kitchen in the upcoming renovation work there.

For a different sort of friend, one who began as a acquaintance in ministry, but transitioned into a client, and now is a brother to share life and "stuff" with, its a relaxed conversation over a meal. Stories abound, laughter ensues, and life goes on - the better for the one hour conversation.

For business, it's a primary way to interacting with prospects, interested parties, and clients. Yes quick emails work; phone calls are necessary; even snail mail and other hands on media have their part in the conversation of business. But being able to look across the desk, or table, eye to eye, that's communication of the richest sort.

So, I'm an introvert who really gets into the digital communication - but face time is authentic community on the deepest level.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

About the Name

I've been asked several times in the last few days about the name of this blog. Here's the deal:

There are currently 4 generations of Adams men alive: my father, me, my son, and my grandson. The average of the years between generations is 27 years. Here we are at my other son's wedding last May:

That's Jack being held by my son Jonathan; my father HD, and me.

I write this blog as a cultural anthropologist - observing life in, and around, the church, particularly its leaders. I view it all through the lens of my faith, family, friends, and the future. I was greatly impacted by my dad and the church; my son is now having the same opportunities with Jack.

So, I listen, watch, and interact with the culture and the church. If God chooses to use me in some small way to impact His church, then that's really great. I want Jack to have the same, and even more, opportunities than any of his previous generations did.

That's what 27gen is all about.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Morning in Starbucks

In my continuing research and preparation for a presentation later this year, I spent an hour at the local Starbucks. Even though it's only a couple of miles from my home office, the experience of being in a different, welcoming environment is always helpful for the creative side of my brain. I took along the Bronx Bethany journal to continue writing that story; I also took along Will Mancini's book Church Unique for on-going dissection and application to the church consulting work I do.

Settled in a comfortable chair with a White Chocolate Mocha and a warm apple fritter (both very tasty on a 23 degree day), this was my hour:

  • Mike and Zach, a father and son from my church, came in for a hot beverage. Mike is a biology professor at Davidson College; Zach is his young son who is one day going to amaze the world with his creative zaniness. Mike was fortifying himself for an afternoon's work standing in a marsh - in below freezing weather!

  • Tammy stopped by for a beverage to go as she went from home to school to work. Her company is our vision care supplier - 3 of the six in my family have glasses, so her work is important to us. Does your eye care center deliver? Mine does! She is also a part of my itinerant bike team for the 24 Hours of Booty - a Lance Armstrong charity ride. By the way, she goes to my church.

  • Donna came in to pick up a friend's favorite beverage to take and visit. She had had a recent medical scare, and Donna just wanted to spend some time with her at home. Everything is going to be okay, but friends still do that kind of thing. She also followed up on a phone call she made to our home, asking my wife and I to consider doing a devotional at an upcoming Upward Basketball game. Yeah, she goes to my church too.

  • At least a dozen other customers came in; all were warmly greeted by the barista crew. Children were made to feel especially welcome - pretty unusual for a traditionally "grown-up" place.

  • At least two small groups of some sort were going on - prayer was definitely a part of the time together; Bibles were also out and visible.

  • In between all of that, I did get three journal pages written and 2 chapters outlined and annotated.

On the way out, I spoke briefly with the store manager, to set up future conversations about what I'm up to, and how great her store is.

I started this project going to this Starbucks because it was nearby, and fit my need for research.

I go to my Starbucks now because it's a place where I can relax, think, create, connect with others, and be a part of a community.

It's not about the coffee - it's about the experience.

What do you think this short story says about the church in general, and your church in particular?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inverse Law of Weather Prediction

Somewhere in the Meteorology 101 is a law that reads something like this:

The actual amount of snow received in a given
area is the inverse of the amount predicted.

Children hate that law; adults (especially those responsible for property management and life safety) love it. In Charlotte, the news begin murmuring Sunday about the possibility of some precipitation by Monday afternoon. In the South, the word precipitation always means snow or ice. By Sunday night, the murmurings became news: Charlotte Prepares for Wintry Blast. By Monday, it was not only a certainty, but the predictions first became specific, then increased:

1-2" of snow; no, 2-3"; no, really 4-6" of snow. By now, it was BIG time news: a bona fide Winter Weather Advisory for most of NC. It was to start as rain in the late evening, begin turning to snow around midnight, and accumulate throughout the day, ending around noon with depths of 4-6" in the Charlotte metro area, with more (or less) in surrounding areas.

The kid in me wanted it to snow a lot, even though I had to drive to Winston-Salem. The rational adult (there is a sliver of that in me somewhere), plus the knowledge that my property manager wife didn't want it, hoped for no snow.

The result: all of the above, in some manner or form. Depending on where you lived in Charlotte, you received from nothing to over 3" of snow. As I traveled northeast to Winston Salem early this morning, it was colder, and they had more snow - and ICE.

Around 7:30 AM I got to channel my favorite NASCAR driver when a car in front of me realized they were on black ice and slammed on their brakes. Even though we were going only about 45 or so, and there was a good amount of distance between us, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stop. I quickly shifted to 1st, then 2nd, went into a controlled spin toward the median, did a 180 and steered backwards toward the grass. When my wheels touched the grass I applied the brakes, came to a stop, and then calmly turned back in the right direction and continued on my way. The rest of the trip was uneventful for me - but not for the dozen or so vehicles I saw on the sides of the road.

Anyway, to bring this to some semblance of a conclusion: the weather people have loads of gear and data to support their predictions - and they can be wrong most of the time and still be thought of as successful. Why? Because the weather, in spite of our increased knowledge, is still largely beyond the grasp of predicting with any accuracy what will actually happen.

John 3:8 speaks of the Spirit as wind; both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit can be translated as "wind". Wind, or generally speaking "weather" is largely beyond our control - but we are subject to its power. We see the action of weather, we can plan for it's potential result, but in the end it is beyond our control. The weather always presents itself in great variety: it may be snowing in one place, but 3 miles away it is not. It can be 24 degrees here, but 33 degrees there.

So, like the weatherperson, we can try to predict the weather, but ultimately we are subject to what it will do on its own.

How many times have we been guilty of trying the same thing with the Holy Spirit? Have you made your plans and asked God to bless them with His presence? Or, are you humbly seeking God and letting His powerful Spirit direct you?

How is the Spirit directing your life today?

Monday, January 19, 2009


The world anxiously awaits tomorrow's inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Some people will expect instant miracles; others are waiting for the first mistake to happen to say "I told you so." Both groups will be disappointed when actual events end up somewhere in the middle.

Change was the tagline of the Obama campaign, and undoubtedly change will be coming. But there is enough bureaucracy in Washington DC that will slow some change down, and outright circumvent other change.

The opposition will wait for miscues to come, and when they do, pounce with all they have. Even some of President Obama's own will differ at some point.

Some pundits point to the similarities of FDR's assumption of the presidency and are looking for similar actions - actions that had both an immediate impact and were still in place 70 years later.

So here we are - it's the day before the Obama presidency - the legacy is already being shaped. What will the first 100 days be like?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Open Media Revolution

In the spirit of the last couple of posts dealing with Consumer Generated Media (CGM), here's a great post by Phil Cooke you need to take a look at.

Cooke is also the author of Branding Faith, a great book on some of the new realities of communicating in the 21st century. He is a television producer and a media consultant, and he's got some great tips for churches as they communicate a message with the hope of changing the world.

Bottom Line? Communication as we used to know not only has changed, but is constantly changing. How do churches tap into this dynamic?
  • Look for an insanely curious techno geek or two who will become your personal media revolution squad; make a big deal out of it by turning them loose to bring the latest and greatest apps to your attention
  • Develop another team who will generate content for said apps discovered above
  • Continually refine the process and the people so that you are challenging the status quo

What ideas do you have?

Why AREN'T People Talking About Your Church?

As a continuation of yesterday's post on Consumer Generated Media (CGM) and the church, I've got a simple question:

Why aren't people talking about your church?

Just a few years ago, that question, if it was asked at all, would have been asked in a different way. Today, with the explosion of technology that allows instantaneous, mobile communication among a network of a few people, or millions (literally), what are you doing to cultivate "talk" about your church and its ministries to your community?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Are People Saying To Each Other - About You?

The title of the book by Pete Blackshaw captured my attention and I wondered: Is this true for churches as well?

Blackshaw's work documents how the balance of power for today's businesses has shifted - the consumer is now in control. In the world of Consumer Generated Media (blogs, YouTube, social networking, etc.) a single disgruntled customer can broadcast his opinion to millions and derail a company or undermine a global brand. Companies can't ignore CGM, and have nowhere to hide. According to Blackshaw, the only response is creating 100 percent credibility by establishing:

  • Trust

  • Authenticity

  • Transparency

  • Active Listening

  • Responsiveness

  • Positive Affirmation

I know this is a business book, but the more I get into it, the more I find application for churches. Here are a few questions I have:

  • Are churches impacted by consumer-to-consumer communication?

  • Do churches have reason to be concerned about what people are "saying" about them?

  • How can churches find out if CGM is going on?

  • How can churches make positive use of CGM?

What do you think? What can you add to the conversation?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Warming Up at Starbucks

I'm finishing a quick hour of "on the road" office time at my local Starbucks. I'm beginning preparation of a presentation later this year for the NACBA on "Creating An Exceptional Experience" - and am basing it on the Starbucks model. I love research that involves a warm apple fritter and a cafe mocha!

It was about 29 degrees, and I was greeted by the barista with "Good morning - what can we do to warm you up from the inside out - you know, from the heart?" That's a pretty good greeting and is a good example of why churches can learn about hospitality from Starbucks.

I've got to run to conduct some staff interviews at a client, but this has already started out as a great day - I hope yours is too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Bronx Adventure, Day 3

This will be an abbreviated post as I am heading to the airport ina few minutes.
Yesterday my agenda was a series of meetings:
*Time with Pastor Sam
*Meeting with architects-Pete Ed and Kimberly- and Pastor Sam
*Staff meeting
*Board Meeting

It was primarily a day devoted to the physical spaces at BBCN presently and dreaming of future possibilities. I got back to the hotel after 11, pretty wiped out from the day. I will try to do some summary posts later.
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bronx Adventure, Day 2

4-6 " of snow in the NYC area didn't bode well for church, but at Bronx Bethany it only delayed things for awhile. Pastor Sam picked me up at the hotel around 7:45, and the first of two services started around 8:15 or so.

Worship is one is one of the high marks of BBCN as I discovered today. The service started with a traditional worship sequence of three hymns followed by a unison Christian confession. In the most dynamic and powerful worship of the day, a worship team led the congregation in a trio of energetic choruses. Next, the ensemble "Chosen" presented a unique arrangement of "How Great is our God", starting off as a solo, adding the ensemble voices, and culminating with the congregation joining in with a multitude of harmonious voice.

Pastor Sam preached about the church of Antioch from Acts 11 and 13, referencing their:
  • Revolutionary Stance

  • Resourceful staffing

  • Real Spirituality

  • Responsiveness to the Spirit

He equated the city of Antioch and it's importance in that time to the importance of NY today, and drew comparisons and challenges for BBCN to be like the church at Antioch through its witness, worship, and willingness.

When Pastor Sam called me up to give a word to the congregation, all I could think about was the beautiful voices I had heard all morning, each singing a distinct part, but blending together in beautiful harmony. To me, that was a tangible expression of the total ministries of BBCN: distinct individuality coming together in a power harmony that is bursting forth from the church.

Pastor Sam, the staff, and the whole congregation extended every courtesy and hospitality to me during the services today. Peaches, the church hostess, provided a mid-morning meal between the services for the pastoral staff and me that was sustaining and wonderful representative of Jamaican hospitality. Many members of the leadership team spoke highly of the time we shared yesterday in the leadership advance, and many of the congregation spoke to me and blessed me at the conclusion of each service.

Following the second service, I was amazed to note that it was into the early afternoon, and Pastor Sam and some of the staff had a surprise for me. We left and drove down the west side of Manhattan to the Chelsea district to Negril, home of the most authentic Caribbean cuisine in NYC. Following a shared wonderful sampler of seven items, I decided to be different (at least for me) and go with the Chef's Tasting Meal of curried goat, oxtail stew, and jerk chicken accompanied by rice and beans. It was wonderful food, but that was topped by the fellowship we all shared around the table as they told me stories of their past, including stories from Jamaica.

As we left, they had one more surprise for me: a trip back up the East side of the island, past the Brooklyn Bridge. I had made a reference to the bridge in my presentation yesterday, and they had picked up that it was my favorite bridge and the only place I had even considered visiting on this trip. With the snow, I thought that I would not be able to get down there, and the afternoon and early evening trip was a wonderful surprise.

The Brooklyn Bridge will be a vivid and symbolic reminder of my first Bronx Adventure. The purpose of the bridge is to connect two places that are separated. The Brooklyn Bridge does it with a graceful beauty that surrounds the foundation of strength that is the steel and stone of the bridge itself.

Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene is solidly rooted on the eternal truths of Scripture, yet presents a wonderful ministry of love and connection to its community.

I don't know what part of the continuing BBCN story God has for me, but I pray that I will be able to contribute in some way to their incredible journey.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bronx Adventure, Day 1

The first day of my Bronx adventure is done – it’s been a great day. The assignment from Pastor Sam had been fairly broad all along; I was to take some of the same things I had done at WFX, expand them, add additional materials, and bring an all-day Leadership Advance to their annual leadership meeting.

My topic selection ended up this way: Transitions, Clarity, The Kingdom Concept (thanks, Will, for inspiration and material for the last two), Building a High Performing Team, and Mastering Management Buckets. In my continuing transition of presentation styles, I had over 130 slides for the day, almost all with images and limited verbage, if any. The “information” was given in a handout. I had sketched outline phrases and words on my notes, but I was a little apprehensive going in.

As I mentioned in my introduction to the group today, my even being here as a most improbable God-thing in the first place. Just consider the sequence of events:

  • Pastor Sam hears me speak at WFX Indianapolis last spring and comes looking for me on the expo floor
  • I wasn’t at the NACDB booth; I was talking across the expo floor with a potential vendor partner
  • At the end of the show, Pastor Sam and one his leaders from the church, David, run into me out in the lobby of the convention center
  • We talk for over an hour about Bronx Bethany and their opportunities
  • We pray together and head off in different directions, both parties covenanting to continue praying for each other
  • At WFX Houston last fall, Pastor Sam, David, and Lilly, the Director of Organizational Development came by to hear my presentations and visit with me
  • By the last day of the Expo, we had talked enough to know that God was up to something
  • Later in November, Pastor Sam asked me to come up to BBCN and visit with their staff and an architect for consultation on future building possibilities
  • Originally scheduled in early December, it had to be postponed to early January
  • With the date change, the trip was lengthened to include an all day leadership training event – all by me!
  • By this time, I was thoroughly convinced that I was not adequate to the task
  • Pastor Sam thought otherwise, and I agreed to turn it over to God and come
  • In the week leading up to my trip, I polished the presentation, and true to my nature, I was doing a rewrite and addition late last night
So, the first day of my Bronx adventure has come and gone. We ended a little early due to the heavy snows in the NY area. As I write this Saturday night, snow is continuing to fall, the plows are busy, and we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings!

I will be posting more later, but a very special note of appreciation goes to the leadership team at Bronx Bethany. For the better part of a day today, these 50-60 men and women listened attentively, participated passionately, and humbled me with their devotion and commitment to their pastor, their church, and most of all, our Lord.

A very big Thank You to Anita and my friends who were praying for me throughout the day – I definitely felt the power of prayer. As I look back, my voice is gone and my body is tired, but my spirit is soaring!

The Bronx Adveture begins!

The Leaderhip Advance begins at 8 this morning, and lasts all day. The topics are: Transitions, Clarity, the Kingdom Concept (thanks Will!), Building a High Performing Team, and Mastering the Management Buckets.

There is snow coming, maybe 6-8 inches, so I might be delivering the Reader's Digest version!

Here we go!
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Friday, January 9, 2009

Clock Dyslexia

Note to self: don't rely on memory for flight tiime: The difference in 7:05 and 7:50 AM seems greater when you went to bed after midnight.
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Great Adventure

Tomorrow I leave early in the morning for a four-day trip to Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene. Pastor Sam Vassel, the church staff, and their leaders are meeting with me all day Saturday. On Sunday I will be worshipping with the church and doing a program and space analysis. Monday I will be meeting with the church staff during the day. Monday night I will be meeting with church leaders and an architect to talk about expansion possibilities.

It's an awesome responsibility, and I'm totally inadequate for the task, but somehow Pastor Sam found me at Indianapolis WFX last spring, and again at Houston WFX last fall, and I'm trusting in God to work through me.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated and needed! Look here over the next few days for impromptu posts.

The Bronx, here I come!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Kneebone is Connected to the ...

Whether it's the nursery rhyme about the bones or Newton's Second Law or today's crazy economic scene, it's pretty amazing to me how things connect and interact with one another. I know it's a God thing, and I'm very grateful for that right now.

Consider this:

I'm at work prepping for the fourth and final presentation in our Financial Learning Lab. We brought in experts from four different financial companies to talk with us on their work, how we can partner with churches to find funding for construction projects, and what their take is on the current financial picture. It's been great stuff, and will fundamentally alter our client interactions.

I spoke at Radiant Life Fellowship last Sunday on the topic of Transition, and will be speaking again in a couple of weeks on "Collective Potential".

I will be spending four days at Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene beginning Friday for an all day Leadership Summit, observation and analysis of space and ministry needs, staff meetings, and a meeting with an architect on site.

While these three events stand alone, they are also interrelated in unique ways. I am finding that my prep, delivery, and reflections for one are dovetailing into another.

All of this fits together, and is intertwined and connected in a way that only God can orchestrate. I feel totally inadequate for the task, and am behind in my preparations, but in a calming sort of way I know that God will bring something good for His work.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Divine Appointments

I love it when the God of the Universe reorganizes my schedule for a divine appointment. My view of God is so big that He created the universe and everything in it and that the universe owes its continued existence to Him. My view of God is so small that He delights in rearranging my schedule so that I run into people in the parking lot that I need to see, and hear from.

My day included a stop at Staples for office supplies, to the library to drop off and pick up books, gas for the Jeep (my office on wheels), the post office to mail some CD picture files to architects, and then by a client’s office to drop off a packet of information for an upcoming meeting. Simple enough, and logical – at least to me. That’s the most efficient way to make the trip.

God had other plans.

Looking at the long line out of the gas station and not wanting to fight the traffic, I turned the other way, the less efficient way, and headed to the client’s office. I dropped the info off, headed out to the Jeep – and promptly ran into one of the members of the vision team who was coming by the office also. We only had a 5 minute conversation, but it was pure gold. Insights from this individual on his thoughts of the upcoming project, observations about the vision team makeup, and his belief that God would guide the process if we would only listen with our hearts and not just act with our heads. It was stuff I desperately needed to hear, but would not, could not, have uncovered on my own.

Thank you, God, for reminding me daily that you want to be involved in all our lives, and that you want us to constantly seek Your wisdom.

A Bridge is Born

On January 5, 1933, work started on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA. Ideas for a bridge spanning the narrow entrance to The San Francisco Bay had surfaced just after the California Gold Rush of 1849, but engineering challenges delayed the project. In the mid-twenties two engineers came up with a proposal that was simple yet daunting: a pure suspension bridge with a center span of almost 4,000 feet. By the time the work was ready to begin, the Great Depression had begun and the project stalled. San Francisco based Bank of America stepped in and bought all the 30 million dollars in bonds to help the local economy. The bridge opened in May 1937, with over 200,000 people walking, riding, and even roller skating across the span. With its tall towers and red paint job, the bridge quickly became an American landmark and a symbol of San Francisco.

I love bridges. I collect books about them, I read many more, and I'm fascinated by their engineering and beauty. My favorite is the Brooklyn Bridge ( I'm going to be in NY this weekend, and I hope to get a chance to see it). The Golden Gate Bridge is also a favorite. Bridges represent the dynamic tension of a pure engineering and ascetics. It's no big challenge to build a functional bridge - they have been around for thousands of years. But to build one that works, and is a work of art, that is a special talent.

The purest purpose of a bridge is to get from one place to another, usually overcoming some obstacle. Leaders are bridges, too.
How are you building bridges in 2009?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Persuasively Speaking

While prepping for the weekly post at my blog on Church Solutions, I was struck by the word "rhetoric." In our society today it generally has a negative connotation - just think back to the recently concluded election campaign for examples. Originally, though, rhetoric was a good word, one of the three branches of discourse developed by Aristotle (the other two were logic and dialectic). At its heart, rhetoric is all about persuading people to your cause. Church leaders should know about, and practice, rhetoric in their writing and speaking.

Here are a few resources that will help:

Rhetoric - Aristotle

Words that Work - Frank Luntz

For real world examples of rhetoric in action, check these out:

White House Ghosts - Robert Schlesinger

Compelling rhetoric makes for compelling leaders. Leaders want their words to win hearts and change minds.

How will you learn to use rhetoric in 2009 to effectively persuade people?