Two months in to 2010 as of Sunday. How is your year going?
Mine has been very different than I thought it would. I received an email, read a blog and did some things today that caused me to be a bit reminiscent. For a guy like me that can be problematic.
2009 was a great year and a challenging year. The direction 2010 is going makes me think it's going to be a productive yet painful year. I've never been good at letting go of things. That's a good and bad thing. For me it seems as though I'm at a point where I have to. Here's a taste of what I'm talking about….
Sorry I'm not being more precise but my point isn't to vent about my struggles. My goal in this post is to pose the question to you. Are there things in your life that you're either being forced to or you need to let go of in order to move forward in your personal or professional life? What's stopping you from releasing your hand?
Finally, someone says what we've all been thinking. There is no real reason to listen to this "artist." Lady Gaga is not innovative nor is she a very talented musician. She is a gimmick and a fad. Sorry folks. The truth hurts.
So I had this idea. About a month ago I was sitting at the dinner table and I thought of doing something different. We were planning on doing a series for our Wednesday night service (The ELEMENT) on the topic of relationships. Specifically, romantic relationships.
We decided to intentionally plan the music portion of the night to do two things. First we wanted to give the students an opportunity to request some music. We have some of the most talented musicians which means we can do pretty much anything we want musically. Second, we wanted to connect some of the current pop radio music with the teaching of this series. So we programmed for three "perf" (performance) songs each week.
After making this decision I was challenged to do something creatively with the teaching. The original idea I came up with was to teach through story instead of the traditional sermon. After reading books like "The Shack," and "Leadership and Self Deception," I knew that this was possible based on all I personally learned from these stories. Where we landed with the idea was to make our story a creative element in the service and a built in illustration for the sermon.
So I took on the challenge of writing a short story. I'm not completely satisfied with the finished product but for my first effort at writing a legitimate short story I feel pretty good. Tonight was the finale of the series and I believe this creative element was successful based on two measurables.
The students seemed tuned into the story reading and at the end several communicated their opinion on the outcome. Perhaps the bigger sign of success was the conversations I had with several students who expressed an identification with the characters in the story. We discovered that this series connected with our female audience more than we ever have. Student ministry usually leans to the more masculine side of creative connection so we felt good about speaking so much to our female crowd.
It felt both very scary and somewhat exciting to be out on the ledge creatively. Every once in a while it's good to challenge yourself and move out of your comfort zone. It helps remind you just how dependent you are on God to move in your ministry area. If you're interested in reading the story click here and be gentle with your feedback. Hope you like it.
For anyone that didn't catch these pictures on twitter and facebook a couple of weeks ago (namely my family without facebook), I wanted to make sure you got to see my beautiful family. We had a snow storm and it was an actual snow storm. Actually the most snow since 1989; the only white Christmas I can remember. So check the photo album on the right entitled "2010 Snow Pictures." You're welcome.
Seriously people….I miss you. Call or text me or something. Let me know how you're doing and what amazing things are happening in your life. Or at least comment here on the blog. Who's got two thumbs and misses his friends like crazy? THIS GUY!
We're not yet a week into Lent and I'm already missing the things I've let go of for the season. As a reminder, here's what I'm fasting from until Easter…
Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Dailybooth, iChat & secular music.
Now I'm not sure what I'm missing most but I will say that I feel quite disconnected from a lot of the people in my life. There are people that I interact with solely on twitter or facebook. I have no idea what's going on in their life and it feels weird.
The music is interesting. I found myself singing some John Mayer the other day and Anita asked what the point was of fasting secular music if I'm just going to sing it all day. Good point. Also a very good sign that I've spent probably too much time listening to that music. I'm interested to see when my mind switches over to the music I'm listening to now as my default random singing.
So I thought I'd share some things that I'm missing a lot so far…
I miss facebook statuses and pictures, dailybooth photo's and comments, random ichats with my friends, listening to my favorite playlist in iTunes, skype video chhatting, but maybe most of all is twitter. I miss sharing the silly little moments in my life along with the meaningful happenings. I miss twitpic-ing.
What I've enjoyed about this experience so far is the time I have now. I'm getting more done at work and around the house. I'm reading more, writing more and blogging more. Although, now I wish people were blogging more often.
So how is Lent going for you? What do you miss? What have you learned? I hope this is a meaningful experience for each of you. I'm praying for you and I miss you.
After writing my "Difficult" post last night, I woke up and read Mac Lake's post this morning. Mac is the Development Pastor at Seacoast Church here in Charleston. His blog is a must read for leaders. His thoughts on "hitting the quitting point" spoke straight to my heart. Click on over and have a read, especially if you're in ministry.
Why Leaders Quit
Ever have one of those conversations that leave you hurting for someone else and feeling as though you’re not nearly as successful as you thought you were? I had one of those tonight.
The difficult part isn’t the pain you feel for that person or even the feeling of failure; it’s the thought that there’s nothing you could have done differently to make the situation better nor can you do anything now to change it.
I know that ultimately God is still in control and He is at work despite my understanding of the plans he has in store. But I can’t deny that it’s hard to trust. I know we’re not supposed to say that out loud, especially if you’re a Pastor. My lack of wholehearted trust doesn’t scare God nor does it cause Him to love me any less.
What I think is important to do in times like this is to remember all He ha done and the way He’s proven Himself trustworthy. As my old Pastor Andy Stanley says “God’s faithfullness in the past casts a shadow of hope on the future.”
My friend DC posted a video from an incredible church. I’m both blown away by the truth in this video and the amazing creativity. So for this installment of “Phillip’s Not Creative,” I give you Covenant Life Church’s Dug Down Deep. Don’t miss either side of this double whammy; the innovative story telling or the life-changing truth.
DugDownDeep_Carnahan.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.
One of the things we (NSM) have been trying to do a better job of over the last year is appreciating and celebrating how incredible our volunteers are. God has blessed us with some incredible people. In order to carry out all that God has placed in our hearts to accomplish we are dependent on having a strong group of dedicated and motivated volunteers.
We've been trying to raise the average age of our volunteers. That may sound a bit odd but the average age of our volunteer base a year and a half ago was approximately eighteen. While I love having high school students plugged into serving in the church, we need adults who are older and wiser to pour into these students.
While we could never truly repay these incredible students and adults for all they do on a weekly basis, we want each of them to know just how much we love them and how important they are to this church. Last weekend we surprised them with a little gift.
Of course now the students are clamoring to get their own hoodie. While we may offer this hoodie design for purchase in the future, we've decided that this particular design and color style will be exclusive to our current NSM volunteers. They choose to do what very few are willing to do; pour their life, time and energy into the lives of teenagers. It's one thing to have the privilege of working for a church and do student ministry. It's an entirely different level of commitment and sacrifice to volunteer with students. I'll never understand the passion and dedication I see in these men and women each week. What I love about them is the discipleship that is happening as the high school and middle school students that are led by these adults are eager to start serving as well.
Thank you NSM volunteers. All of you. From the high school students who help set-up, tear down, run the cafe, tech teams and small group apprentices to the adults who faithfully lead small groups, greet new students, give up vacation time and deal with the drama of teenagers. I'm indebted to each of you. As proud as I am, I know for a fact that our Savior is glorified by your service and worshipped by your faithfulness.
If you're reading this and wondering, "Who designed your hoodie?" Check out these guys for quality products made by quality people. I highly recommend AMB3R to anyone looking to create a phenomenal product at a reasonable price.