October 2009

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed on Off QUEUE and facebook, in honor of the beginning of the reformation that began 492 years ago under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary at Wittenberg.  Wherefore he requested that those who are unable to be present and debate orally, may do so online (at least that’s what he would say today).

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. The church is not a neighborhood social club.
  2. “Christian” is not an adjective.
  3. “They” will only change the world if you won’t.
  4. The U.S. is a mission field.
  5. Tradition is not Gospel.
  6. God does not conform to my reasoning.
  7. Being in the majority does not mean I’m right.
  8. I don’t have to convince anyone of or defend God to anyone – He’s got that under control.
  9. A pastor’s message is not “good” if it doesn’t strengthen your stance or change your direction.

    9.5.   Luther, Calvin & Wesley were three men with great convictions many years ago.  Where are those kind of men today?

And then finally, Andy Stanley returned to the stage to conclude the conference with a discussion that may have been the most applicable session as I continue in this leadership journey that I seem to be on.  Andy formed the foundation of his talk around the idea that healthy people will not stay in unhealthy environments.  And that the way we create a healthy culture is through trust.  He used the illustration that often there is a gap between what we expect people to do and what they actually do.  How we fill those gaps will create the type of culture we live in.  We can choose to believe the best or assume the worst.  He took those ideas and tweaked them out a bit, but that was the gist of his talk.

There were three quotes that Andy used during his talk that are worth repeating:

“The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake.” – Jim Collins.

“Teams use trust as currency.  If it is in short supply, then the team is poor.  If trust abounds, the members of the team have purchase power with each other to access each other’s gifts, talents, energy, creativity, and love.  The development of trust, then, becomes a significant leadership strategy.”  Reggie McNeal

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I’m certain that as I continue in leadership, these ideas will remain prominent in how I operate.

There were a couple of other things that took place at Catalyst that are worth watching on YouTube.

The first was Professor Spash who belly-flopped into a world record from 35 feet in the air into just under 12 inches of water.  Watch it here:

And the second was when a guy who had been sponsored through Compassion was introduced to his sponsor for the first time.  I’m told there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as this took place.  Watch it here:  http://vimeo.com/7072300 (it’s worth waiting for the download – if your’s is slow)

Like the last post, this one is going to be stretched over several speakers from Catalyst.

Priscilla Shirer got up the second day and got the blood pumping.  She pointed out that sometimes it’s time to get excited about the treasure we already have.  She charged us to “Act Immediately, Act Fearlessly, and Acknowledge the Presence of God”.  And then using the story of Joshua 3 where the people are waiting to cross the Jordan, she told us to “Act today, like God’s going to move tomorrow.”

Dave Ramsey used a formula to gain momentum.  And I, being the only person I know that actually recognizes the uses of Algebra in my daily workings, loved his use of the formula.

Focused Intensity (GOD) = Momentum

That’s Focused Intensity over Time, multiplied by God equals momentum.

Dave then clarified some of those terms and how they effect our perception.  First, that when we have momentum, we look better than we are.  And that momentum is created, it does not randomly occur.  Focus was defined as when I can’t see anything except what I’m looking at.  And finally, Dave pointed out that focus can be lost because of fear and/or greed.

For me, this was a great session in light of where we are with Ascension Worship.  It’s grown unbelievably over the past two years.  But as I look back I see the focused intensity that has persisted over time.  I see how God has taken the little we’ve generated, multiplied and blessed it and it has generated a momentum that has been unmistakable to our team.

Louie Giglio was the next speaker that I heard because we took the opportunity to beat the rush and left for lunch a little early.  Louie, being in a transitional point in his life pointed out that we’re holding the door for the next generation to run through.  I wrote next to this statement that this is the job of Ascension Worship.  We have the core value of being a resource to the local church that ignites a fire within that context.  We may be holding the door for the next generation of leaders, but we’re also providing that transitional culture between old and new.

Louie continued with a quote from Thomas Merton “Your life is shaped by the end you’re living for.  You are made in the image of what you desire.”  He pointed out that Christ had said that he did what He saw the Father doing.  And He said what He heard the Father saying.  We as imitators of Christ should be doing and saying the same.  Then Louie closed out with a statement that I loved and needed to hear in a time where it seems there are more dying and failing churches apparent than ever before.  He said, the church rests on Him.  We’ve got a competent, perfect head leading this thing.  He’s got it under control.

– more to come –

I’m gonna hit on several speakers this time that all had little nuggets that stuck with me.  Shane Hipps, a former advertising guy for Porsche hit on the idea that the medium is the message.  That what you use to package up your message may say more than what you are really trying to say. 

Rob Bell talked about the 10 commandments and how the first 9 are all externally visible, but the 10th (coveting) is a reward for not doing the first 9.  Because when you do the first 9, you won’t want the life anyone else has. 

Tony Dungy quoted Reggie McNeal in saying “Sometimes we get so busy in what we’re building that we lose sight of what we’re becoming.”  And he went on to talk about one of my favorite stories, Nehemiah 4:13-14:

So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

But what I had never noticed was that Nehemiah, a leader in the process of rebuilding a safe place for God’s chosen people to live and worship God, positions the people on the wall as families and commands them to fight for your neighbors, kids, spouses and community.  I tend to take my spot on the wall and let my family remain behind the wall – which seems counter productive when I write it down, but goes without notice in daily decisions. 

Matt Chandler made a few statements that are worth repeating.  First, that every bit of hesitancy in obedience to God is Him beckoning you towards deeper water with Him.  In other words, when we pull back from where He’s leading, we’re pulling back from going somewhere new with Him.  Matt challenged us to play our part well in this life.  And then challenged us to be faithful and not get caught up in the historical silliness that captures so many people’s attention.

– more to come –

Malcolm Gladwell followed Andy Stanley and stepped on stage and seemed to speak directly to one of the areas of my life.  Malcolm was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2005 and is a staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine since 1996.  He hit the ground running with the topic of “Miscalibration”.  Coming from an electronics background where calibration is the key to everything, miscalibration caught my attention.

Malcolm defined miscalibration as thinking you know more than you do.  He went on to cite some study that was done where it was expected that the more information you provided to a professional counselor, the more accurate diagnosis the counselor could provide.  Makes sense to me, but that was not the case.  When given just a little info, the counselor would make an adequate diagnosis.  When given a little more info, the counselor would make a little better diagnosis, but be more confident they he/she was correct.  When given more info or all of the info, the counselor’s diagnosis would return to the same level as when they had just a little bit, but the counselor would be even more confident that he/she was correct.  The study concluded that because of the overconfidence of the counselors, more or complete information did not produce better diagnosis.

During the session, it was recognized that mistakes are made by all of us.  And that we can understand incompetence when people are operating outside of their specialties.  The point was that overconfidence is scary.  We look to experts to guide our decisions.  We trust our nation to a team of confident leaders.  We trust our finances to a group of confident leaders.  We trust our churches to confident pastors.  At what point do we quit looking at the confidence of men and revert to the humility of being honest enough to say “I don’t know”?  Malcolm listed a few signs of overconfidence, but the only one that I wrote down was refusing to listen to others. 

He finished his discussion with two conclusions.  First, while we are trapped by our overconfidence, the world around us can change and we may never notice.  And secondly, finishing with a majority may not equal victory.  I look around and wonder if we’re so confident in our direction that we’ve accumulated a majority but have missed the change that God was trying to instill…

– more to come –

Last week, I made what has become an annual trip to the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta.  In describing the conference to first time attendees, I compare it to taking a drink from a fire hydrant.  There is so much information packed into such a short amount of time, it’s often overwhelming so you grab what you can and hope that you can remember and apply those key ideas. 

This year was no less amazing compared to my previous experiences, but in going back over my notes, there wasn’t that one speaker that just blew me out of the water or created that “ah-ha” moment.  Don’t get me wrong, the speakers were top-notch, al people that I have heard before and would love to hear again.  And they each brought new ideas and perspectives from what I’ve heard before.  And my notes show that there were several points that I needed to hear, just not that big moment like a couple of years ago when Craig Groeschel talked about “Practical Atheism”.  But regardless of whether they were huge moments for me at that time – or not, these are the things that I’ve been thinking about since leaving Catalyst…

Andy Stanley opened the conference, titled “On Your Mark”, with a little statement and clarification.  He questioned “What man is a man who doesn’t leave the world better?”  That, in and of itself, is something that as a mid-west boy growing up I was taught foundationally.  If I was borrowing something from someone, I was taught to give it back in better condition than what I got it in.  So, I resonated with this opening thought and once again, I was engaged in the Catalyst conversation.  Andy took that idea and took it a step farther though.  He clarified that that desire, to leave things better, is God’s thumbprint on our lives.  I don’t know that I had recognized that as being God’s thumbprint. 

He followed that discussion by tying it into the conference theme and pointed out that as leaders we’re trying to leave our mark on the things we touch.  But that we won’t recognize our greatest mark until long after you’ve left it.  So, even though we may be trying to make that big impact, it may be years later that we turn around and point back to today as being the time that we left our greatest mark on this world. 

– more to follow –