Friday, December 29, 2006

The Question We Have All Been Asking

The following question was posed to me by author Chuck Klosterman in his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. Easily the most interesting question asked of me in the last week and a half. By the way, you can pick up this book warned though, if this book was a movie it may have an NC-17 rating.

Let us a assume a fully grown, completely healthy Clydesdale horse has his hooves shackled to the ground while his head is held in place with thick rope. He is conscious and standing upright, but completely immobile. And let us assume - for some reason - every political prisoner on earth (as cited by Amnesty International) will be released from captivity if you can kick this horse to death in less then twenty minutes. You are allowed to wear steel-toed boots. Would you attempt to do this?

Happy New Years!
Live from beautiful Comox Valley, BC

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Have you ever had a Christmas present that, in all of its shiny paper, seemed so full of potential; pregnant with possibilities?
And then you open it...
And you find that basically the wrapping paper was more interesting then the actual gift and you find yourself muttering something about "how thoughtful or how handy" the gift might be. There is an old adage that says, "It is better to give then to receive" but it might just be that giving is just less embarrassing.

Anyhow, where ever you are in this great nation, enjoy Christmas this year, be thankful, and remember Jesus.
Live from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Clam Crowder Soup

A friend whose name will only be referred to as Cody from herein found that it would be in Jeremy’s best interest if Cody would set up an account at Relevant Books for Jeremy to choose some books that Cody would then buy for Jeremy. Three books arrived at my door two days ago by a FedEx man in tight jeans and a ripped bluejean jacket…obviously out of uniform...I immediatly, but briefly, admired his vigilante spirit and applauded his complete direspect of social norms. But I suppose that is another post.

To the story at hand. I was obviously giddy like a 13 year-old cheerleader (without all the stereotypes associated with 13 year-old cheerleaders) to get this early Christmas present! I eagerly opened the FedEx packaging and found Everyone Want To Go To Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die, The Relevant Church, and The Relevant Nation.

I quickly grabbed the novel I was reading, finished it, and cracked the cover of Everyone Wants To Go To Heaven written by David Crowder with bandmate Mike Hogan. Maybe one of the best things about this book is that there is a banjo on the front cover that, if you were perceptive enough, you would notice looks remarkably similar to Dave Crowder’s face if you turned his head and mess of hair upside down. That said, the book itself held a few more remarkable insights as it toured around on an often convoluted history, discussion, and story of death, suffering, the soul, and bluegrass music. Interesting, cleverly written*, accompanied by a bookmark, and free! Thanks Cody.

Looking forward to what the other two reads offer.

*For example, I learned that the word Presbyterians happens to be an anagram for Britney Spears and that it was, no doubt, predestined for this anagram to happen since the dawn of God’s green earth.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Let's Get Some Link Love

Hey yo
There are a bunch of faithful readers of this blog and I do, maybe more then I care to admit, really appreciate that. There are even some regular comment posters and you, my friends, are my favorite! :)

Anyhow, its been quite some time since I have updated the links on my side bar; if you have a personal blog that you would like to see added to the sidebar just leave the blog address in the comments section so I can get that updated for you.

Also, if you still haven't started using bloglines then I would recomend that you do. It will help you surf through the wide and wonderful world of blog - trust me. It works and it works well. Anyhow, looking forward to adding your links.

Grace and Peace,

PS - If you are already linked on the side bar or, if you've left your link and still are feeling frisky, check out this short post by favorite blogger in the entire world.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

True or False: v2.0 Proximity

The other day 'sloos and I were sitting in a quiet little coffee shop drinking tea and talking about a true eclection of ideas. One of the statements that was made (with some grimmace) sounded like this:

"Other then Jesus, the most important aspect of leadership and ministry is proximity." Simply, the distance between the leader and the follower has the largest impact on the quality of the leader/follower relationship.

True or False?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Anatomy of Buzz

Following are a pile of questions that I have been asking myself after reading a marketing book called The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen. I would recommend that you find this book and add it to your own personal library. Print this off and take some significant time to work through these questions with the people closest to your ministry. Some of the questions asked you may need to ask me for clarification on…ask! Lots of good brainstorm stuff here!

1. From who do our newcomers typically learn about youth/young adults?

2. What do people say when they recommend youth/young adults?

3. How fast does information about youth/young adults spread compared with other churches/young adults groups/organizations?

4. Who are our network hubs? Are there any mega-hubs? Which are social hubs and which are expert hubs? Are there any categories of people who might become network hubs for youth/young adults?

5. Where does information about young adults hit a roadblock? Do our hub people know what the heck is happening?

6. Which are the most important sources of information that our youth/young adults rely on to know who we are/what we are about?

7. What other kinds of information spread through the same networks?

8. Who are our inactive markets that our youth/young adults are not reaching? Are we listening for silence where we are not known?

9. Do we offer a quality event, program, and community?

10. Do we underpromise and overdeliver? Overpromise and underdeliver?

11. Does youth/young adults enhance the lives of the people who come?

12. Contagious products and ideas draw attention to themselves; how well does youth/young adults draw attention to itself?

13. Do we offer anything new? Buzz reflects excitement and excitement does not build around old ideas and predictable approaches.

14. Are we operating in a spirit of truth, honesty, and directness?

15. What are we willing to do to accelerate the contagiousness and word-of-mouth spread about youth/young adults?

16. What do students/young adults tell their friends about us? About other churches/youth groups/young adults?

17. What is the general church culture saying about young adult and youth ministry right now?

18. How receptive and responsive are we to our student and young adult concerns, comments, suggestions? How easy is it for people to talk to us?

19. Can we limit access to youth/young adults to create buzz? Scarcity build interest.

20. What sneak previews do we want to give to grade 12's for young adults and grade 8's to youth?

21. What can we do that will surprise people?

22. How outrageous can we be?

23. Who and how can we take people 'behind the scenes'?

24. What is the story and drama that we need to keep telling about our communities?

25. What events can we stage to get people talking about youth/young adults?

26. What kind of "pass it on" promotional material and mechanisms do we have?

27. How visible is youth/young adults to youth and young adults?

28. Are our youth talking to each other? The more that they interact, the more involved they will become with youth/young adults and the more likely they will tell other people. Can we find ways to help them talk to each other, socialize, and exchange comments?

29. Is there anything that we can do that makes youth/young adults more useful as more people use it? Example: email is more useful when more people use it; myspace is more useful when more people use myspace. People will spread the word more readily if they perceive some sort of personal benefit.

30. Is there anyway that we can offer any type of 'referrals reward program'?

31. Can our ads be clever enough to create buzz on their own?

32. How well can our youth/young adults articulate who we are and what we are about?

33. Are we supplying our networks with a constant flow of innovations that people can actually talk about?

34. Are we keeping people involved? If people join us but never think about it again, we can't expect them to talk about it too much. However, if we involve them, engage them, make it interesting for them, they will talk. Involvement translates to action, which in turn translates to buzz.

Identifying Network Hubs
"Whether you spread an idea, a product, or a service, you always have a choice. You can broadcast or you can connect. Broadcasting involves massive mailings or buying media time and packaging your message so that it can be transmitted simultaneously to all nodes in the network. Connecting involves starting a dialogue with certain individuals in the network that you are trying to influence." -Emanuel Rosen
How do we identify these certain people?
1. Let network hubs identify themselves. These are people who come to us for something they want more then anything else: information. Network hubs feed on information.

2. Identify Categories of Network Hubs. The way to look for a category is to look for people who, by virtue of their position, have a higher then average number of ties with people in the networks you are trying to reach.

3. Spotting Network Hubs in the Field. It's easy to find these hubs when you are apart of a community. In fact, when you are apart of a community don’t really have to search.

Seeding Ideas
Successful seeding is an active process. It goes beyond the Field of Dreams cliché "If you build it, they will come." Rather than waiting passively for people to come to you, you go out and plant seeds all around the forest.

1. Look Beyond the Usual Suspects. Think broadly. Who are the people outside of our normal networks that could be 'seeded' with new ideas about young adults?

2. Put Information/Product In Their Hands. What piece of young adult product can we put in people's hand that will 'germinate itself' into other people's hands?

3. Listen For Silence. Successful seeding requires that we pay attention to dead networks and go further in order to reach them.

4. What seeding efforts are we doing right now? What should we be doing in the near future?

Hope this can be some use to you! Let me know if you need clarification on certain ideas or questions...I'd love to help. If it helps you pass it on.

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Monday, November 27, 2006


My good friend Chad Langerud said this important statement to me this summer,

"Let's make sure that IT is familiar but never predictable."

The conversation below is not over.

PS - New stuff over at the eddie def blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Economics, Church, and Scarcity

Simple economics tells us that people will value anything that is scarce; scarcity drives prices up and, for those who can afford scarcity, it drives personal status up. We live in a supply and demand culture that demands much more then most in our culture are ready to supply.

Some examples of the supply and demand culture we live in:
The powers that be that control the Middles Eastern oil sands have driven the price of oil up significantly simply by limiting the amount of oil taken from the earth. The result has been a world wide jump in prices at the pump, a renewed search for more oil in other parts of the world, grain fuels, and ‘wars on terrorism.’

Gmail. When gmail was first introduced the only way that anyone could sign up for a gmail account was through a personal invite from a friend who only had a limited number of invites. It was a great bit of marketing that allowed new gmail users to, at least for a while, feel a sense of status in ‘the next big thing.’ Early adopters of gmail had a superior service that gave a personal sense of superiority and insider knowledge. Everyone wanted to at least get the invite so they could check it out!

Now let’s transition this to ideas, actions, emotions, and spirituality. To do this, keep this key thought in your mind: “Familiarity breeds depreciation.” When something, anything, is too familiar, it looses its value.

Ideas – Which ideas get the most play time in your thoughts? The ideas that are surprising, arouse curiosity, and are counter-intuitive to what you normally think. Right?

Actions – I have a sneaking little suspicion that sex is talked about, joked about, thought about, viewed online, and highly valued because sex, for most people, is a scarcity. Again, supply and demand.

– Imagine if everyone was accepted. Imagine if no one ever felt like the outsider, rejected, or lonely. Imagine what would happen to acceptance! No one would care anymore and it obviously wouldn’t be something that people see counselors about, cry in bathroom stalls about, or jump off bridges for. Acceptance is a scarce feeling because so many are not accepted. Now consider this; most strong emotions have something to do with a scarcity.

Spirituality – Have you heard a statement like this before, “We live in a culture that is very interested in spirituality but not interested in the church or Jesus.” I’m sure you have. Have you ever thought why that statement is made?

I think it might have something to do with scarcity. Bible-believing Christ-centered spirituality is no longer sacred in its ideas, actions, and emotions because it is no longer scarce. There is too much of it. Think about that for a moment…

Familiarity breeds depreciation. People don’t care because we’re not sexy or, as Jesus put it, salt and light.

Could it be that the large majority of our current Canadian society does not appreciate or has a growing depreciation of the church simply because they already know what they are going to get? I’ve heard it said over and over that the church needs to be known in culture but maybe we need to be less known? Are we too familiar? Maybe. Could we somehow surprise culture with something they don’t know, feel, or see?

There might be room for scarcity in your church. Scarcity drives market.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stuck Learning #2

Following is a rebuttal to my recently writen Stuck Learning post. This was sent to me by a friend who I am sure will see my way in the end! :)

First off, how do you know that people aren’t learning anything in the opposite states of which you’ve presented?

1. Knows Everything Already – Some people know vast amounts, and really what those teachers/communicators have to offer, these people already know and understand it. So, over all, there stands the obligation of those people who are teaching to go further than their students. Some of those people, I would suggest are possible sick of what is known as satisfactory. What if someone has exhausted all of the resources that they know of, and sincerely can’t find anymore so they can proceed--- all the resources have been used by this person. Is there more to learn, and are they to create new resources out of thin air?

2. Busyness
– Sometimes you really do need to deal with what’s in the front of you before you can deal with anything new. So, you can’t always learn something new. Sometimes people just have to cope with and process what’s going on. If you take new things on all the time ‘in hopes to learn’, it can result in stress, and possibly, eventually burn out. I would suggest to encourage people to sometimes stop learning new things so they can digest what’s in front of them already.

3. Boredom – What are the teachers actually teaching? Are they teaching material that is intriguing, one that challenges or are they simply teaching what they know? Sometimes people have, again, exhausted all the resources, and as a result are bored. The onus is no longer on the learner, but the teacher.

4. Repetition – I think there’s something to be said for perfection. You have to practice it until you get it right. “Practice makes perfect.” Think of drumming for example. The drummers, who are really good, have perfected every step before they move on to the next/new one. This applies to more than just this one aspect of life but, I would suggest, in its varying forms, to every aspect. You have to master the placing the light bulb into the socket if you want to actually see the light turn on when you flip the switch.

5. Completed Living – Again going on the thought of the drummers training. You can’t move on until you’ve perfected what you have just been taught. Bringing a new aspect will completely throw you off. Some things in life require you to acknowledge that you have perfected something, and that you have completed it in order to move on and be successful. If you recognize that you are incomplete in something, haven’t mastered it, and move on anyway, you could be setting yourself up for future folly.

6. Crisis Free - I think ‘troublems’ is a wrong way to put it. What about learning through just simple observation? I wouldn’t say that you’re stuck if you aren’t experiencing crisis. Crisis can sometimes again, cause stress or, as an end result, burn out, and thus crisis as a positive, can be a dangerous ally.

7. Unnecessary Failure
– Aka, Ignorance. That’s another way to look at it. What if you don’t know that the knowledge is available? You have absolutely no knowledge of this higher level. Is the onus on you if you actually don’t know?

8. Isolation – What about the introverts? The ones that can’t learn with others. You look at college and high school years, where you have various students. Some of the students simply can’t learn from and while being around people. They need to be alone so they can process. Being in a room of people is distracting, causes dissention for them, and, therefore, disallows them from being able to process any information. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone learns the same way. To make a universal statement that shared space is a learning environment that works, seems rather presumptuous.

Thanks Steve!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

HDB is short for _________ .

Apparently this blog is an HDB. Thanks Paul!
To find out what category of blog yours falls into check out this exhaustive list.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stuck Learning

Sometimes people get stuck not learning. Some stuck places include:
1. Knows Everything Already – These people never allow themselves to be surprised or effected by any new insight. Sometimes arrogant and often criticize without offering solution.

2. Busyness – People who are so busy that they are too busy to “notice” learning. Busyness allows us to only see the immediate survival steps and never imagine the next steps.

3. Boredom – This is normally a side project of ‘knows everything’ people; nothing is ever new, surprising, or engaging – every bit and piece of knowledge is old and frustrating. Bored people generally are boring people who look more for entertainment then learning.

4. Repetition – No one can become better by doing the same thing the same way forever. What worked yesterday and today likely will not work tomorrow. Feel free to tweak and change it up or risk living in a mediocre and non-innovative life.

5. Completed Living – These are stuck places that misinterpret goal completion as finished learning. Incompleteness must be acknowledged in order to move on.

6. Crises Free – You might find that your capacity for learning is stuck if you have not had to work through conflict or find solutions to problems. Learners generate troublems.

7. Unnecessary Failure - This is not a stuck place but rather a metric of being stuck. You might be stuck if you have failed because you have not learned from the knowledge available to you.

8. Isolation – Though not always the case, isolated people generally like to dig holes for themselves; community involvement, collaboration, juxtaposition of ideas, and shared spaces are key learning environments. Learners ruthlessly seek out other learners.

Any thoughts on getting unstuck? Post here in the comments, write a column and we can post it here in a few days, or respond on your own blog.


Saturday, November 04, 2006


What are people most interested in?
Themselves, obviously.

Watch anyone look at pictures from last night’s little shindigger and what photos do they spend the most time looking at?
The photos of them, obviously.

Who do news crews interview and which people care the most when disaster happens in India?
Indians who still have family living in India, obviously.

What causes are people most likely to get behind?
The ones that are about them or somehow impact them personally, obviously.

What communities are people most likely to be actively involved in?
The ones that enhance their life, obviously.

What bands, films, songs, and advertisements are people responding to?
The ones that are the closest to who they are and who they want to be, obviously.

What version of truth, certainty, spirituality, and belief do people love?
The version that fits their life, obviously.

Which god do you serve?
The version that fits your life, obviously.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How Certain is Certainty?

Merry the Day After Halloween - it's like Boxing Day for candy and you can get pumpkins for nearly free. I dressed up as a kissing booth.......Anyhow, following is an article from a friend who has moved to the UK this year for school. He is also in the process of writing a book on the subject of truth; he would like some of your response to this thought. Enjoy!

It seems like one of Christianity’s favourite topics these days is truth. On a blog such as this, the topic needs little introduction. And so, I’ll skip the introduction.

Whatever you believe truth is, whether you believe in absolute truth or not, there is a deeper question, which is the inevitable product of all of these questions. Should we be certain?

–noun, plural -ties.
1.the state of being certain.
2.something certain; an assured fact.
3.for or of a certainty, certainly; without a doubt: I suspect it, but I don't know it for a certainty.

It has been my experience that most of our questions about truth are actually just a form of this question of certainty. Those who believe in absolute truth are just more certain of ideas. A wise man once said to me, “the only certain thing in the world is that only crazy people are certain.” Is that just a statement of relative truth? Or is it wisdom stemming from a realization of the limits of the human brain?

If in fact it is wrong to be certain of something because we are human, where does that place us in relation to God? Belief is a function of the human brain, and I believe that this function is no different no matter what its target is. Thus, if certainty is not a positive modifier of the function belief, certainty in God cannot be a good thing.

I also believe that faith and trust are synonymous, and that faith has nothing to do with belief unless you are trusting in someone who told you to believe something. I do not see faith as a reason to be certain of God’s existence.

The problem with certainty is that we are always capable of being incorrect. Certainty is what stops us from seeing when we are correct. I once knew a Christian who was so certain that God created the world in six days that she said “I wouldn’t believe in evolution even if you proved it right before my eyes.” She then proceeded to say that her certainty came from her faith in God. The equation, as I see it, is as follows:

Belief + Faith = Certainty

I’m almost certain that is incorrect. But what about this one?

Belief + Proof = Certainty

Or this one:

Belief + Proof = Absolute Truth

I must distinguish the difference between certainty and absolute truth. This is hard to do since in my last blog on absolute truth I discovered that people have three different definitions of the term. Certainty is when your belief is “without a doubt,” in an “assured fact”.

The biggest pro of being certain is that it allows you to develop ideas on a firm foundation. When you are sure something is true, you can then base other ideas on the fact you have already discovered. Also, certainty can be considered necessary in order to have assurance of salvation. The main drawback of certainty is that we are human and could be wrong. Also, certainty is offensive to those who believe differently.

I am currently writing a book on the topic “truth”. I have gotten to a point where I cannot continue to write until I know what side I am on in the argument over certainty. I would love to hear your ideas.

Is certainty a positive, negative, or neutral characteristic of one’s beliefs?
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Friday, October 27, 2006

Artistic Leadership

There is a certain artistic flare that is the signature and calling card that accompanies every leader through the large and small tasks of leadership. Artistic flare separates and identifies leaders; it is your brand, your feel, the vibe and buzz that you create, and is visible among the every day details and in the wildly conceptual.

The problem with art is that it is hard to qualitify and measure. There is a gallery close to where I live that keeps a steady rotation of mixed media, canvas, photography, and even some writing of local artists to showcase and sell their work. It is a small little gallery that I find myself wandering into every week or so to take a quick look.

As the summer was turning to fall and I was doing some writing in the park I decided to take a break and walk into the gallery. Among that day’s selection of art was only one piece that just mildly interested me and held my attention for only a moment. Objectively, I could admire the time, technique, and color used in each of the pieces but…and this is a big but…what it didn’t do was make me feel. And because it didn’t make me feel it didn’t make me buy. The same is true for a dancer; you can teach most anyone to raise their right arm and move their feet in the right sequence but if there is no feel and vibe attached to the movement its not dancing; its simply choreography.

But that’s not to say that the choreography won’t fool anyone. And what I am definitely not saying is that, just because I didn’t feel and buy the art, that nobody else would. Somebody will. In fact, everyone buys something. If everyone bought the same art we could easily mass produce and sell it at any big blue and yellow maze that doubles as your ‘storage solution’ store.

Your art and your leadership will only be attractive to some. Your leadership success and failure is not dependant on your perfected time and technique but on the flare and vibe that you add to it. Some of us paint eccentrically in forms and shapes that inspire contemplation. Some of us paint real-life stills that reflect reality and insist on response. Some of us paint the future, other the past, and some just dance!

Focus on your genre.
Your medium.
Your style.
Make me feel your leadership.
It will connect.
And people will buy.
What is your vibe? Your leadership art and style?

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Free Links For Sale

Happy Thursday everyone! Steve, I'd like to offer you an online hug! Do you feel loved?
Some new stuff posted by my very own personal alter-ego.

Also, a great question and discussion going on at Jabin's blog; anyone who has ever been broken and loves Jesus now might be interested. Go add your disagreement.
Leo, I still miss you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How Many People Do You Know?

If you hadn’t noticed or have been living under a rock or somewhere near Manitoba and are boldly holding onto long distance phone plans and Canada Post then you likely might not have noticed that it seems that whole world is connected via the internet. And, I suppose, by the simple fact that you are reading this you would already know this and don’t live in the flat wasteland. The words and sentences that follow are ones that I am unsure of how much I actually agree with and, to some degree, even care about. You may even notice a contradiction or un-correlated correlation when it comes to the role of proximity in relationships. It’s there. Anyhow…

There are many people writing the score for a tune that sounds something like this; “People are connected today like never before – proximity and geography are no longer!”
And it’s true. And so wrong. Or at least not too accurate.

Even in the world wide café of internet, msn, myspace, forums, chat rooms, blogs, youtube, limewire, or whatever where constant connection with other people is the norm; physical proximity to each other still holds the strongest links for deep relationship. There is popular speculation circulating among church futurists and marketers alike that suggests that everyone in the world will be linked via technology and that this linkage will radically alter how people know and are known. And, though it is true that many millions of people have formed weak links to each other through a variety of online sources, it is not true that it is going to radically change (in the near future) how humans connect to each other in meaningful ways.

Consider these words of psychologist Robin Dunbar; despite the fact that the worlds’ population is migrating to the cities and living shoulder to shoulder with each other “we still know only about the same number of people as our long-distant ancestors did when they roamed the plains of the American Midwest or the Savannah of Eastern Africa.” Read that again. If that is true, it is incredible!

Our own built in OS (operating system), the brain, is only capable of managing so many “links” at any given time. We were built with a capacity to only have so many relationships with so many people. The ceiling on these links is not limitless; the implication suggesting that the most significant links will still be the ones where human-to-human interaction is regular, in person, and online. Technology has played a role in adding to the frequency of these strong links but has not significantly created many more strong links.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Silly Church People

Ok - so, what?

Here is a statement that bugs me when church people ask/state it; "We want something different, but we don't know what it is.?"

What are these people really asking?
How many times do, when we change and go different, do the same people say the same things?
Are these people the same people all the time?
What do I do now?

Friday, October 13, 2006

"And the greatest of these..."

Two questions:
1) What are the most important questions asked in the Bible? Which is the greatest?

2) Are the questions asked in the New Testament greater then the ones asked in the Old Testament?

I'll be away from my computer for most of the weekend; looking forward to your thoughts.
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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tattoo Soup

My favorite quote of the entire week goes to an unnammed source:
"Just because all of your tattoo's are spelled right doesn't make you an intellect."

Speaking of intellect - some ideas on marketing, Jesus, church, and leadership in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, add this blog to your bloglines, and I'd appreciate if some of you would stop agreeing with me.

New songs "up" by East Van punk roark kids - Living with Lions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Top Ten Memories of Youth Ministry

The last couple of weeks has been a lot of fun recounting my top ten most favorite youth ministry memories. There seems to be so much negative media and thought about ministry these days that I think it would be really cool to hear and read some of your top ministry memories over the last number of years. Our past sets us in the direction of our future. Thanks for reading - hope you enjoyed - and enjoy remembering!

#10 Shared Crises
#9 I love watching leadership development turn into developed leaders!
#8 Team Chemistry
#7 Shared Experience
#6 Building Great Teams!
#5 Shared Space
#4 People are getting married! Congrats to all!
#3 Eclectic Learning Environments
#2 I am at home ministring with people that I love.
#1 Together, our life is ministry.

What do you think?

Favorite YM Memory #1

I’ve said it piles of times before and I am quite certain I will continue to say it; “I absolutely love doing ministry together with the people I love.”

Youth ministry is hard. It can be thankless, the hours are all over the place, teenagers have emotions like yo-yo’s, some parents have expectations that are maybe too high, events can bomb, leaders can let you down, and there always seems to be someone who has a brighter, flashier, and funnier youth ministry down the road.

On the other hand…

Youth ministry is very rewarding. It is appreciated by many people, the hours you work are the ones you choose, teenagers emotions hold a great capacity for discovering Jesus, some parents will be so grateful that you have come along side of them, events can be amazing, leaders will rise to the challenge, and there will still be a brighter, flashier, funnier youth ministry down the road.

Balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly can be a tiresome task while taking a great toll on a person emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. In fact, two years into this I wrote a resignation letter that outlined how I felt and why I had to leave…I still thank Jesus that I never went through with that.


Because I have an amazing ministry partner – my wife. Honestly, it would have been the longest five years of my life if Candace wasn’t so passionate about youth ministry; she is the brains, the prayer, and the passion behind this whole operation! Together, our life is ministry. It has been a lot of fun figuring out how we minister together and what works for us and what doesn’t; we have built memories and friendships and have been used by God in ways that we would never have ever imagined. Candace, I know that you’ll read this, I love you.

Thank-you Jesus for five amazing years of youth ministry; we will follow you into the years ahead.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Great Day

To the Canadians - Merry Giving Thanks Day!
And to the gun totters – Happy Columbus Day!

Candace and I had a great day today – lots to give thanks for. We woke up and went for a walk in the cool and crisp morning air before sitting on a Starbucks patio. Once our pumpkin lattes had been drunk we set off for breakfast – waffles, eggs, and peaches. So good! From there we loaded our climbing stuff and made our way into one of our favorite climbing areas near the town of Hope. The forest and the rock was absolutely amazing today…lots of color and the friction was great! Once we had finished climbing we laid down beside each other on the forest floor and had a nap under a large boulder – it was one of those quiet moments of celebration that is enjoyed by couples who are head over heals in love. Amazing. Now that we are home we are waiting for a couple of our close friends to come over to make pizza and then watch a movie. I love life.

PS – Favorite youth ministry memory number uno is dropping like a pound of bling tomorrow. Bring sexy back!
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Friday, October 06, 2006

Nepal in Motion

My friend Cody went to Nepal and found his way to Mt. Everest...he has footage to prove it! Honestly, as I was watching the short short film he made of it I could not help but know that I was in the presence of God. Follow this link and download the movie he made - stunning photo's and footage. Well done Cody!

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Favorite YM Memory #2

Sequoiadendron giganteum, the largest living thing on Earth, begins life looking very much like a blade of grass. And honestly, it is a miracle that this little one-inch tall “tree” has even made it this far – in fact, it is only a tiny fraction of 1% that it will even make it this far. Too much sun will kill it. Too much rain will kill it. Soil temperature and moisture must be optimal. Elevation plays its part. Availability of nutrients makes or breaks the deal.

"Of those few seeds that do germinate naturally in an open forest where conditions are close to ideal, only a very small percentage will survive. Giant sequoias normally develop an extensive root system very early in their careers - within the first two years of growth, the root system begins to branch out more and more thickly, and as the tree grows larger, it is this lateral development just beneath the soil surface that continues most strongly. Eventually the roots of the larger trees reach out one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet, and in some cases may reach out more than two hundred feet. This means that some large sequoias extend their area of influence throughout some four square acres of forest land!!!"

Did you get that?! One large sequoias having an influence of up to four square acres! More importantly, have you ever seen just one tree in a forest? No. The more influence these trees begin to have over an area the more their roots will be intertwined with the roots of the other trees around them! Amazing!

Every now and again I get phone calls from pastors in churches offering me really cool positions with more money then I make now asking me to move away; I always ask them the same thing – “Why are you trying to uproot me?” My favorite youth ministry memory is much much more then a memory – it is also a present reality: I am home ministering together with the people I love. These are my roots.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


Just got the newish Desperation Band CD - these guys rock! If you do music in your youth ministries and churches I would highly recommend that this CD makes it into your collection. Comes with DVD and chord charts. This from inside the cover:
Desperation is the united efforts of the student ministries at New Life Church. We believe that the local church is God's chosen vehicle for creating change. Change happens locally, it happens when people act where they are with what they have. Change happens gradually. It occurs when people do a series of little things over a long period of time.

Go pick this up!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Listen to this...

OK - I just posted a few minutes ago, however, I came across this great article that I think everyone who teaches, sells, or markets anything should read. In fact, I would call it a must read. If its new to you - great! If it simply confirms a suspicion - pat yourself on the back. If you've been working this way for ages and ages now - you might consider teaching us a seminar.

So...after you have read the previous should most definitely read today's thought from marketer and liar Seth Godin.

Favorite YM Memory #3

I have always found that school was very easy; there was nothing that ever really seemed that hard or proved to be too difficult to have to really apply myself. I was the guy who, while everyone else was studying hard to get a C, was out skateboarding and getting an A. True, if I had only studied I might have been at the head of my class, but then, who at the head of their class got to shred the g-nar that often? Exactly. School was easy.

An education, on the other hand, has been a lot more difficult. School was a bit like a communicable sexual disease; it makes you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you have the urge to pass it on. An education, though maybe just as communicable, cleverly puts you in the place where your only escape is to think.

And this has been one of the best memories I have from five years of youth ministry; a lead pastor who has created an eclectic learning environment that has allowed me to learn in the way that works best for me. I was given a book budget and was expected to read, write, learn, and dialogue – part of my official job position focus is to blog. My budget and expectation for learning ballooned to include traveling to places I never thought I would…all for the set purpose of learning and being mentored.

Thank you to everyone who I have been privileged to share great conversations with whether in the realm of the internerd blog-o-sphere, telephone, or in person. Thank you to everyone who has recommend great books for me to read and learn from. No thanks to those who have recommended crappy books! Thank you to everyone who has been enough of a push-over to allow me to force my way into your schedule…your wisdom has shaped me. Thank you to everyone who has challenged and tested me, to everyone who has helped me when I needed help, and to everyone who have gently pointed me in the right direction when I was clearly headed the wrong way. Each of you, and many many others, have shaped part of who I am and have etched your way into my top ten memories.
Grace and Peace,

Friday, September 29, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #4

People are getting married!

It has been a genuine pleasure to watch relationships grow and mature through the stages of introduction, getting to know each other, flirting, wondering about each other, dating, engagement, and marriage. In all honesty, it has become a marker of communifing community that shows and gives example of deep relationship.

It has been a successful journey based not on the numbers of community development but on the depth of community development. Exciting times!

Next step: babies.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #5

Everyone hates to love some things. The thing I hate to love is a stinky old mouse infested double wide portable trailer that leaks when it rains, is far too hot when it is hot, and, in my opinion, is a fire, health, and beauty hazard. Our church office with its paper thin walls, interesting eco-systems, and over crowded desk space is set against the backdrop of a beautiful monastery type locale of lush green forest atop a mountain. It is in this setting of a decaying twenty-five year old ATCO trailer that I have come to learn and love the idea of shared space.

Shared space in our office is not an option…there is none among us who have the luxury of privacy. We have two actual offices in our building, a boiler room, two bathrooms, and a common area. In this small space we have eight people with their own desks and another open desk available for interns and our out-of-office staff. The dynamic of cramming everyone into such a small and ghetto place has been one of those leadership things that we have learned by accident and have been pleasantly surprised by the result. In fact, as we have been brainstorming our new offices we have been trying to figure out ways to ensure that shared space is still an active part of our office structure with playrooms and common areas.

Because all of our space is shared our brainstorming, problem solving, sermon preparation, mentoring, reading, and writing is influenced, developed, and sculpted in a community environment. I would call it an eclectic learning environment that allows for and encourages the input and creativity of anyone else who happens to be around. To me, here is the most important aspect and question to ask; how can one lead a community without leading in community? It’s brilliant.

I’ll leave you with this, a quote I found on the back of a Starbucks cup while we traveled through the High Sierra desert this spring:

“If we really want to understand innovation and collaboration, we have to explore shared space. Consider Watson and Crick; how many experiments did they do to confirm DNA’s double helix? Zero. Not one. They built models based on other peoples data. These models were their shared space. Their collaboration in that shared space powered their Nobel Prize winning breakthrough. If you don’t have shared space you are not collaborating.”
- Michael Schrage, MIT Researcher.

I will never forget our portable office.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Exciting stuff over here happening in the Hawkins camp. Matt, I am very stoked on what you are doing - eventually I will only be able to book you 6 months in advance because your skills will be in such high demand. We all wish you the best of luck with this venture...

Favorite youth ministry memory number five dropping tomorrow. Get bent.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #6

For a time in my life I quit all team sports – not because I didn’t like the particular sport, I just didn’t like being on the team. I was always among the top most talented members on whatever team it was and was always annoyed that everyone else kept us from winning every single game every season. The more talented I became the more frustrated I got – I was too good for teams. So instead, I decided to focus on sports where I won and lost or progressed based on my own ability; snowboarding, skateboarding, track and field, and bouldering.

Admittedly, I still do not play team sports, however, my motive has changed (accept I still won’t play volleyball unless it involves sand and speedo’s). Five years of youth ministry has drastically changed how I view teams and has taught me again how to problem solve, work towards a goal, and celebrate with other people. My closest team is a tight group of four guys; myself, Chad Langerud, Josh Livingston, and Chris Luff. Together we build all of our teams based on four C’s in the order and priority of what we think is most important. We have unashamedly stolen three of these from Ol’Billybones himself. A summary:

1. Character - We need to know that you know and love Jesus and are living a life that honors and follows his teaching. You are growing in faith and operating in the spiritual gifts needed for the precise moment that you need them.

2. Chemistry – Some chemicals simply do not react well together; you need to be a good fit for this team!

3. Commitment – So many people define commitment in so many different ways; the definition we use is this, “If you died right now and Jesus asked you about your life you would talk about this team.” Ya dig?

4. Competence – We are not ashamed to go after top notch and highly skilled individuals to lead with a ‘we kick-ass’ attitude. Unfortunately, too many teams are built with competence as the highest priority. The reality is that competence is the easiest of the 4C’s to learn and the easiest to fix. i.e. Failing at completing a certain task is much easier to fix then a team member sleeping with the secretary or doing something equally as stupid!

Go build a great team!

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Motorcycle Diaries

Merry Sunday!
A few days ago I wrote about how part of my leadership style has been shaped out of roadtrips and the effect they have on the people you road trip with. Anyhow, to further illustrate the point I should point you to a film I watched today; if you can get through the sub-titles and reading f-bombs you'll do fine. The Motorcycle Diaries moves along at a pace that is neither heroic nor spectacular - it is the simple story of two lives lived beside each other for a time while on the road. Its a true story and a great film. Go rent it!

Favorite youth ministry memory number six hits news stands tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #7

Often times memories become memories because what you are remembering are highlight moments in time that seem to have more significance then the everyday mundane moments. Whether the mundane or the highlights have more or less significance then each other is debatable and would be fit for a future post and doesn’t really play a role in today’s favorite youth ministry memory number seven.

This memory is actually a collection of memories from HistoryMakers Youth Convention, Merge, Chubb Lake Teen Camp, Scotland missions trips, Full Life, Reality Check, and other various retreats. These are the memories of deep and focused times of spiritually building into the lives of students and leaders; these were times of defining the direction of Christian spirituality in many teenagers lives and act as the hinge points in why they follow Jesus today.

Focused spiritual retreats and getaways in youth ministry do a number of things:
1. Community is built through shared spiritual experience.
2. Community is maintained through shared spiritual history.
3. Christian spirituality is built in the context of community.
4. Spiritual sensitivity is expected among students and leaders.
5. Spiritual leadership among emerging leaders is tested, cultivated, and encouraged.

Many students, when reflecting back on their spiritual history, point back to a retreat experience as the defining moment(s) in their Christian commitment. I am sure that many who read this can very likely remember a time away from home in some over cramped chalet, hot broken-down bus, or bug-infested campsite when God seemed more real to you, simply because you were away from the normal everyday distractions of life.

Have fun creating amazing retreat experiences this year!

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Marketing Emotions

Loyal customers will sell for you more product then you will ever sell.

Last night, Thursday September 21, 2006 I found my self wandering through Prospera Center in Chilliwack, BC with corporate seasons passes looking for Section B, row 10, seat 9. The event? The first ever WHL game of the newly minted Chilliwack Bruins.

It was very interesting watching the sold out home crowd cheering on their new home team; everybody knew who it was that they were suppose to be cheering for but had little-to-no reason to actually cheer for them. The usual electric feeling of a season opener in a full arena was simply not there as everyone sat back and quietly observed who this new team was. Any cheering that actually happened felt very contrived and more of an obligation then a real response to what was happening on the ice.

Until they scored two goals less then a minute apart.

The crowd erupted. Suddenly there was a reason to cheer because cheering was the only worthy response to a team that suddenly held some credibility. From that moment on, you could feel an emotional shift in the building from cautious observer to Bruins fan. The crowd had been bought at the price of two goals, a few good hits, and a fight.

People will buy what you are selling and cheer on your product, whether it is an idea, a way of life, or a nic-nac piece of junk, if you connect them to a credible product at an emotional level.

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PS - If you are looking for more of my top ten youth ministry memories check back tomorrow for number seven.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #8

Traditionally, Monday mornings are the worst morning in the work week; they are a mixture of dreary eyes, more caffeine intake then is healthy, and the overwhelming thought that Friday is further away today then any other day of the work week. Monday’s, in many work spaces, are the days you call in sick…unless you work in our office.

Patrick Lencioni in his book 5 Dysfunctions of Team says, “It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” and “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

By far, one of my favorite memories and “events” that I look forward to every week is our Monday morning staff meeting. Any outsider who has been privy to observe or take part in our staff meetings may ask themselves as they are leaving if we actually accomplished anything at all. They are a mixture of great food, laughing, giggling, practical jokes and more fun then anything else – it is amazing that we get anything done.

To qualify this somewhat: we actually do get to business, sit under the incredible leadership of Jim Lucas, and problem solve…however, where is it written that important assignments must be carried out with an air of grim determination? Where is it written that breakthrough ideas can only emerge in a business-as-usual environment? Why would anyone want work to feel like, well, work?

The best ideas come from playful and creative minds.
Turning these ideas into accomplished goals will only happen when a team can laugh and play and fight and, ultimately, work together.

My favorite youth ministry memory # 8? Team Chemistry.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #9

In five years of youth ministry I have had the privilege of leading some exceptional volunteer teams of adults who love youth ministry. In that time, I have also had the opportunity to train nineteen different interns, most of whom, are still in close ministry contact with me or are currently on paid staff at our church. The most exciting thing about this is that as these interns graduate and move on we are seeing them get into ministry positions around the country and kicking butt at what they do! I tell all of my interns when they start the same thing; “I am looking forward to the day where, when every year our district conference rolls around, we all rent out an entire wing or floor of a hotel and spend the week together inspiring each other in ministry.” Isn’t that at least a little bit exciting?

If you and I know each other at all, you would most likely know that my natural leadership bent is to not manage teams but to create leadership cultures that are inspiring and innovative. Among my favorite ‘successes’, memories, and things to observe have been some of our new young leaders who have come up through our youth ministry, have been involved in leadership development, and are now plugged into leadership as developed leaders on our adult teams.

Simply this: I love watching leadership development turn into developed leaders.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #10

A couple of years ago on our ‘annual’ grad trip we found ourselves in a very cramped van, an Alberta thunderstorm, and a left hand turn straight into a big Alberta half-ton truck. Now, normally when I find myself in Alberta and I begin to imagine the kind of people who drive these trucks, I imagine the typical oily rig-pig who would sooner shoot you then talk to you. Thankfully this was not the case.

With our mode de transportation now severely hamstringed our trip to West Deadmonton Mall seemed like only a bleak possibility. We were stranded in hickville Alberta with not a lot of money and almost no vacancy in the entire town. Finally, we found a little place that was way more money then we could all afford but, under the circumstances, it was our only choice. And so, like any ‘its your only choice’ options, we took the room…which turned out to be a huge blessing; once we had said that we would take it they gave us half price, moved us all into a room with a extra bedroom and a kitchen! Awesome! I felt ok. Except that I had to somehow get all of these teenagers home.

To make the story shorter then it is: between the free mechanic, an extra night on the road, an amazing breakfast that the grads all chipped in for, cooked, and then made us eat, it was, by far, the most fun I had ever had on a youth ministry trip. Not only that, but when I mentioned that I was writing a top ten youth ministry memories piece, a few people jumped in right away and said, “You’ve got to write about that grad trip!” It was amazing.

I learned a very important leadership lesson on that trip: Leadership and Community will not grow unless it is tested. Crises is the lifeblood that must flow through the veins of every effective leadership community. Crises shared together builds shared memory and experience that is among the most important aspects of ‘coming-togetherness.’ Crises creates the learning that we try and teach in workshops and on blogs. In fact, this trip impacted my style of leadership so much that I now do two things:
1. If I feel there isn’t a lot of crises happening – I create it, and
2. I’ve made road trips a mandatory part of our young adult leadership team: each person on our young adult leadership team is required to go on a roadtrip at least once every 6-months with people they have just met in the last 6-months. Awesome!

Check back for Number 9 Coming soon!

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Monday, September 18, 2006

TODO list: 5 Years of Youth Ministry. Complete.

I spent this last weekend in a huge chalet in Whistler, BC with 29 members of our youth leadership team. We had a great time building the chemistry bonds that hold teams together while together learning new leadership skills. This years leadership retreat was themed around ‘Puzzles’ and was dedicated to leaders who will imagine a new and better realities; instead of asking the question, “Are we great?” we asked ourselves, “Are we better today then we were yesterday?” It was a fantastic weekend!

One of the best moments for me through the weekend was looking out at this remarkable group of people who love teenagers and thinking to myself that there is no other place that I would rather be. I wouldn’t have traded the last five years of leadership development, youth ministry, and relationships for anything in the world. Over the coming week I will be sharing with you my top ten memories from five years of youth ministry and some of the things I have learned from them.

If anyone on our leadership team reads this know that you have been apart of the most inspiring five years of my life. Thank you.
Grace and Peace,

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Information Flush

According to the Bathroom Readers Institute (Volume 18), the first Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1771, was only 3 volumes long. Image that – the bathroom reader, which is no doubt the most fascinating and eclectic reference set you will ever read, has six times as much information as the first encyclopedia!

Some more interesting bits of information to pass on to you:
In a book titled Information Anxiety author Richard Saul Wurman writes that a “weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than an average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.” And here is the kicker; the New York Times, unlike the 18th edition of the Bathroom Reader, can be read in one sitting!

Unless you’ve run into a very bad case of something awful.

We are a culture trying to sort through the collateral damage of information overload; there is so much to take in from so many different sources that we have evolved into living breathing RSS feeds. We will only take in exactly what we want and nothing else because there is simply no other option.

The noise that surrounds the message and story of Jesus is louder and more cluttered then ever before; the market share the church once enjoyed has been slowly and, in many cases, systematically filtered out. What will the church do to make it necessary for people to hear them? How will they hear us?

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The Day History Changed

I guess, in reality, everyday is a day history changes. However, on this day in 1991 Nirvana released its Nevermind album with the hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Every now and again a new idea, a band, or a film comes along that doesn't simply change how a genre is viewed and expressed - it creates a genre. Since 1991 there has been a musical flood of Seattle Grunge (as it was soon labeled) that lived in Chicago, New York, Hong Kong, and Toronto. Where ever there were kids with guitars, three chords, and plaid shirts with ripped jeans there was Seattle Grunge.

Why did it explode? Why was it big enough that even Weird Al did a parody? Because it connected socially and emotionally. Immensely.

Need proof? I cried when I heard Cobain died. So did a thousand(s) others.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

True or False: A Theology of Everything

Judging by the many people who have either called or emailed demanding that comments be turned back on it should not surprise me that people actually respond to this new True or False question. So here it goes: True or False?

"Because we are created, God's handiwork, then it follows that all of our problems and their solutions in life are theological."

If you read this, response is required.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Small is the New Big

Let me help you with your style.
Pink was the new black.
Brown is the new pink.
Alpha male is the new metro-male.
And Small is the new Big. Follow the link to an important article that, in my opinion, has big ramifications for the church. CraigsList has got it....why doesn't the church?

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Go Hiking!

Theory and reality are often worlds apart.

Between my Myers-Briggs and Birkman it is pretty apparent that I am much more comfortable working with abstracts, the conceptual, and theory while concrete reality and practicality prefer to makeout in the backseat. The problem is, however, that practicality score more points and wins more games then theory.

For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson said this; “Do not go where the path may be. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” This all may sound very good and appealing but that fact of the matter is simply this; when you step off the trail local vegetation is at risk, erosion quickens, and you might just get stung with stinging nettles.

If you must step off of a trail, pay very close attention to where you place your feet – in theory and in the forest.

Happy Trails!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Confused selling?

Let’s pretend for a moment that marketers actually sold what they advertised.

Yesterday as I was doing an errand through our local mall I passed an Aldo’s store full of people, shoes, and people buying shoes. What grabbed my attention most was the huge window advertisement of a girl in a short-short skirt with the question, “What is your story?”

Is Aldo selling shoes or stories?

Marketers clearly know that quality product alone does not move product from retailer to consumer. Consider this billboard (and Failure to Launch line), “Buying a boat is not about the boat, buying a boat is about the culture.”

What are you selling? Facts, formulas, hard truths, and fake community…or…are we selling great stories, culture, and life. How would a marketer sell the church?

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Unchurchable Stories::Unchurchable People

Richard Stone, head of the Storywork Institute in Orlando, Florida, says this, “To change an organization you have to change its stories.”

Living on the left hand clasp of the buckle in the Bible belt it is not uncommon for me to run into, on a surprisingly regular basis, disoriented and disenfranchised Christians. These are the over churched and rarely churched who are quickly becoming the unchurchable because of some bit of history they have had with the church. The story of the church and the story of their lives simply do not seem to merge.

If our churches must have stories then our jobs as leaders in these churches is to create the stories that connect. If our churches must have stories then our job as leaders is to take the stories that have existed through the ages and connect them. If our churches must have stories then lets tell the right ones.

Do you want to connect with the unchurchable? Surprise them with a story that they never would have ever suspected the church would tell.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Primal Leadership

Sir Isaac Newton was a complete crackerhead, nutball, wackjob, eccentric, over-the-top, and generally just a really weird and controversial person…yet, he was brilliant. Doesn’t it seem very peculiar but at the same time very normal that the weirdo’s are also the ‘brilliant ones’ or, at very least, the ones who fail or win at something new, risky, outrageous, or controversial? At some point along the way these eccentrics depart from the established norm often only holding loosely to the ragged edges of convention or, for that matter, sanity. These are people who have the ability to imagine new and better realities and who will eventually be the ones to enter the arena of creativity to test, determine, and forge the best possible path to this new realm.

Leadership that does not allow for these people is, in my opinion, short-sighted, power-hungry, and intolerable. The non-conforming inventive spirit of the wingnut-eccentric is often the expression of a leadership that is pulsating with thee primal and divine leadership instinct:

The urge to create.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Young Buisness People

Who wants cash?
There is a lot of money out there to be made, spent, and given away! I know that there are a number of pastors who are regular readers of this blog and I know that you likely know and even mentor young and emerging business tycoons...or at least future ones.

Among our many roles as pastors we have the unique position and responsibility to give some spiritual guidance and mentoring to our young buisness leaders. Let me recommend a couple of things:

1. Young Mavericks is a buisness event sponsored by Dreams Unlimited for the purposes of equipping and inspiring young money makers!
This years event is in Abbotsford November 2-3.

2. My brother Jon Postal, who is a dynamic and smart young buisness leader, is developing a learning network on his blog for young entrepreneurs. I would highly recommend that you pass on his blog address to the people in your circle of influence. God is raising up kingdom financiers before our eyes - let's support them and help be a catalyst for their networking! At least go over and say hi...

Grace and Peace,


"How embarrassing that the institution that worships the Creator is often bankrupt of creativity.......Creativity as a leadership art of spiritual navigation is critical creativity: it aims not at novelty, but at innovation that specifically continues the divine work of creation."
-Len Sweet

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Prayer

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

-THOMAS MERTON (1915-1968)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Merry Long Weekend!

Hey yo - it is September now! Crazy hey?! Anyhow, start checking back in here regularily as I begin this new writting season. For now, let me recommend a couple of things:

1. There are certain books that are good but are so far advanced that you need to re-read them. I would suggest finding a groundbreaking book from five or six years ago and re-read it - you might understand it this time. I did. It was cool.

2. If you still don't own the American Idiot album by Green Day there is something wrong with you. The whole album is one story that follows the lives of a few characters in their search for Jesus. Some find grace, others friendship, and others suicide. A moving album.

3. I found two corpse's yesterday. Read about it here.

4. I would suggest some kind of trip this weekend. Call some freinds, load up your car, and go. Candace and I and a few friends are backpacking/hitch-hiking around the Gulf Islands. Should be good times.

5. Add Jim Lucas to your bloglines. I am sure that he will be writting some great stuff in the near future.

Have a great weekend and welcome back to eclectivity!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sleepy Hollow Church?

Here is a series of emails between myself and member of our church community. Some of you might find it interesting and together, Dave and I, would be interested in any of your response.

Further to conversation last night and your comment that most church attenders are asleep: a couple of questions for your comment (3 to be exact).

1. What has have you observed to lead you to this conclusion?
2. How could the church be awakened?
3. What roles (or responsibilities) do the organization and clergy have in creating and awakening this sleepy culture?
Look forward to your comments.



Dave if I can respond briefly I will. To set records straight…my comment was more to the point that people in churches have their minds on simmer. They are stimulated just enough to be enough and not much more. Sleeping works as a metaphor though…

1. What has have you observed to lead you to this conclusion?
My main observation, and I could obviously explain it clearer in person, is simply that we are taught to not think. We disguise this terrible misrepresentation of the church by suggesting that what we must do ‘is just have faith’. Unfortunately, faith can not exist without doubt…and, for whatever reason, we have villianized doubt, doubters, and people who like to ask questions. Faith without doubt is not faith at all; it is knowledge.

By way of example:

It is suggested that somewhere between 80-90% of teenagers will have left their faith and never walk through the doors of a church again by the time they are in their mid-twenties (or, consequently, by the time they are finished their degree). Now imagine this change of events; a teenager has been taught and spoon fed some ‘truth’ their whole life in church, then, they are faced with some truth in a science, philosophy, psych, or whatever class at University that contradicts what they’ve always held to be true, then, they are left with an intellectual dilemma. Do I hold to a faith that, at this point seems contradictory to truth, or, do I hold to my intellectual integrity? I would suggest that probably 80-90% of these now students go with their intellectual integrity. You follow?

I would further suggest that people who have truly and honestly struggled through their doubts, concerns, and skepticism can give a much better apology for faith then someone who has never dealt with such issues.

2. How could the church be awakened?
I believe that we, as the Church and the church, must learn what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. We need to recognize that more often then not the translated word ‘soul’ is in reference to our minds. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind’ seems to show Jesus’ view of how to love God; with our minds and our hearts and through our physical. I believe that if people think right they will begin to live right. This means asking questions and developing a healthy and Biblical worldview. This doesn’t mean that once our worldview is developed that we hold to it unswayed; rather, it means that we interpret life knowing that there are holes and blindspots in how we view the world. Simply, people’s heads need to ‘get saved’ just as much as their heart and experience needs to ‘get saved.’ In my humble opinion.

3. What roles (or responsibilities) do the organization and clergy have in creating and awakening this sleepy culture?
I’m not entirely convinced that it is merely a clergy problem. Though, I do believe that as teachers of God’s word we need to make this very clear to those we teach. IMO I believe that churches and their leadership should be willing and open to dialogue and conversation which, to all of my experience, has been the case. However, I do know that there are many cases where debating theology or questioning is taboo or outright seen as a threat. I am going to shy away from the question at this point and not suggest what I think everyone else should do…however…I will tell you what I try.

Anti-conclusions. It is my observation that generally preachers and workshop leaders too often try and create a witty presentation complete with nice stories, provocative language, and cultural cues (all of which I think are effective and help people to engage) and then end with a conclusion that we can walk away with. The problem with conclusions is simply that; they are concluded matters. No more room for thinking about it…the matter is concluded. What if our thesis was a question and not a statement. What if Jesus wasn’t the great void filler answer so much as he was the question (read my post called “Jesus Doesn’t Fill Your Void)? What if the ‘conclusion’ forced you to be moved and stretched beyond yourself so that it wasn’t a conclusion but rather a starting block? Education happens when you are put into a place where your only escape is to think.

Another thing I do is that I deliberately leave holes in my teaching so that it leaves room for people to fill in the blanks on their own. Follow this.

I’ve learned that people are challenged to learn in one of two ways:

-ONE, by dealing with weird vagueness. People, by nature, like to organize, systemize, and make specific of big meta ideas into smaller compactable ideas. So…I present huge ideas with holes that people have no choice but to think…because it is their nature.

-TWO, by dealing with bold specificness. Culturally, we shy from absolutes and, as a result, any time we teach of anything concrete or absolute or objectively true, it challenges people. People, by nature, like to challenge anything that is bold and overly specific….often times out of spite. And so…I will boldly specify something but leave holes in it.

Beyond that, I think that as a clergy we can really impact the cultural feel of the local church to either think or not think. It takes a lot more work, is entirely more messy, and encourages people to be different. But it is worth it. I might say it is an eclectic: a gathering of diversity.

Anyhow, I wish I had been briefer as I have loads of stuff to do before Friday. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this though I may not be able to respond until next weekend as I am away most of next week. Thanks for the convo last night – I enjoyed it.

Grace and Peace,



From your answer, and some of your other writings, could it be said that you see Christianity as a primarily mental or mind process? A process of learning, evaluating and questioning? Or maybe you feel that this the aspect that has been most neglected in the current Christian environment? In which case you’re your contention that the goal is to encourage the local church to think can address the problem of the simmering mind.

In your position ministering to young adults who are intense in learning and questioning and being heavily influenced by new and different ideologies, it is important to encourage them to think – not only to evaluate their belief in God, but also to question all the other philosophies and theories that they are being taught. I have great respect for you and your commitment to the young adults.

After my first (and only) year at WPBC, I was talking with my mom, decrying issues I had with the structure of the church, the seeming emptiness of the liturgy (yes, PAOC has liturgy) and the lack of integrity between what was preached from the pulpit and the reality. My mom, probably led by the Holy Spirit (though I doubt she realized the impact of what she said), told me, “If you have so many problems with the church, why don’t you just stop going?”

That is what I did. I moved to a Frat house at UBC and registered to take Sciences. I spent 4+ years there in the middle of what the church fears greatly but did not find conflict with my faith. I was an enigma, I partied, studied seemingly heretical theories, did not attend church but had faith in Jesus and was known as an upright compassionate person. There were many things I was not interested in knowing or questioning - but issues that brought questions, I sought, and found the answer. Often it was to be skeptical of the theories and subject them to the same critical analysis so often reserved for Christianity. Learning to question that which is taught elsewhere has been more beneficial that learning to defend my faith. The learned defense is only good until a better sounding opposing argument is presented. Questioning the opposing argument critically will unearth its falseness.

As I remember our conversation, we were discussing how to engage people and making church more relevant to them. Your response was that people in churches have their minds on simmer. While I agree that many people do not critically evaluate their faith and seem to have their minds on simmer, I do not think that providing teaching that causes them to think is the answer to making church more relevant to them. It may be a component of building a sound belief system.

I find it bothersome when I hear messages to church goers that criticize their lack of faith, of righteousness, of evangelism and telling them how they should be living and relating to the world. Everyone is on a spiritual journey including those who go to church. It is not easy in this society that is highly critical of Christianity to make a commitment to attend a church and those that do should be honoured for their commitment. They should be commended for their decision and treated the same as those outside the church. If we are to not download or argue with those outside the church, why should the church be structured to download on those who attend? Yet that is what church is: get to the church sing a few songs, get dumped on, and go home. Sure the messages are often stimulating, but how often do they have real impact on the lives of those who hear them? I may be jaded (having heard thousands of sermons) but I would say only a few of them have impacted my life. I would say that the most important of them were a conduit to my meeting Jesus in a new or deeper way.

I think, that to make the church more relevant to the world, we have to make the church more relevant to those who attend. And I think that this must include engaging people. Creating an environment where people contribute to and create a community. I don’t mean in setting up chairs or serving coffee but real meaningful contribution. If I could say there was one main reason for joining CLCC, it would be this. However, achieving this goal is a struggle. We seem to get distracted and the pull to do traditional church is often too great – especially with the rapid growth lately.

More than anything else, church is about meeting God and building a relationship with Him that endures through the week. We often think that the way to build this relationship is to know more about Him so we listen to sermons, read books, analyze scriptures, conduct Bible studies. But the result is that we become more like the Pharisees, with lots of head knowledge but who don’t know God. The way to relationship is to spend time with God, listening to him and letting his Holy Spirit change us. And our church needs to be a community where we spend time with God, and share with others the revelation God brings to us.

In the isolation created by the church that seeks to direct (and control) the relationship people have with God, I often feel that I am the only one that communes with God – or that no one else understands God like I do. In my care group this last year I strove to break this isolationist mindset and was often astounded by the way others (who I thought were simmering) had a real and vibrant relationship. For some it took a long time to break the silence and required building a community where we were secure and accepted.

So I have done just what I criticized, dumped on you but I hope that there is something in this that builds community and helps enrich your communion with God.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Leaderless Church

For many among the emerging or self-described reforming church there lies at the back of their mouth a bitter taste that their taste buds tell them is leadership. For some, they have tried to get rid of this bitter taste by sticking their fingers to the back of their mouth and, in process, have gagged themselves often to the point of seeing their lunch again. Any time that you see your lunch for the second time you know that something has gone horribly wrong.

The truth is that in many cases leadership has indeed left a bitter aftertaste for some and, much to the delight of local media, has even at times gone disgustingly sideways. People are naturally becoming more and more wary and less and less trusting of their leadership; whether at work, in the political arena, at church, or otherwise. Leadership, it seems, has become to the churched, disoriented churched, and maybe even the unchurchable a word, idea, and system that does not allow for honest community. Why? Because we don’t trust leadership. And so we do not trust.

The backsplash that surrounds the leadership sink is a ‘popular among the emerging church’ idea that suggests we can have leaderless church and leaderless structural organizations. If you are one of these ‘bad aftertaste’ people then this is a really sexy idea because now there is no leader and there is a group of people who are gathered around a common cause. Sounds good doesn’t it? Too bad that it actually doesn’t work.

Most often the leaderless organization is set up as a backlash to an existing ‘personality driven’ style of leadership. However, leaderless leadership (yes I recognize the oxymoron) and over zealous personality driven leadership are both at unhealthy ends of the same continuum. The goal is neither a leaderless leadership nor a one man band leadership but rather a type of connected matrix of leadership.

Leaderless organization is a very appealing ideal that at first tries to pass itself off to the eager consumers as very community driven. The problem is that the consumers of this ideal are likely more selfish-driven then community-driven. Let me generalize; proponents of leaderless organization often struggle with submitting to authority. In fact, leaderless organizations actually perpetuate personality driven leadership because someone will eventually emerge as ‘the leader’ and, because there are no other leaders or leadership development, the organization will become focused on that emerged leader.

Leaderless church can quickly become the very thing that it was trying to avoid.
Leaderless church rejects one of God’s spiritual gifts to the church; leadership.
What else will a leaderless church reject? God himself? Maybe.

There is a fear out there that says we must not base our ministry on a specific person; we don’t want personality driven ministries. Leaderless leadership structures do not fix this. Yes, I would much rather a group rally around a cause and not rally around a person…but what proponents of leaderless organization do not recognize is that there still needs to be some rallying people to a cause.

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