Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Cool vs. Effective

September 27, 2007

Read where Rick Warren said…“Concern: some churches would rather be creative and cute than effective; they prefer cool to effectiveness. Problem: most of the world is not “cool” and those churches become boutiques. (Eg, Wal-Mart is not cool.)” Thanks for the link Jeremy.

I agree.

Ever since I was a kid I have noticed and thought about how some people are cool. Well, sure I’ve wanted to be cool and maybe you could say I was -to some people (and maybe not to others), but generally I have always thought it was buggish as the English would call it.

I have friends in ministry who are really cool, but when I’m around some of them I feel an awkwardness that’s hard to describe. I feel a coldness. I have some ministry friends who do some really cool things and yes, who are really cool, but I don’t see the kind of life change described in the Bible oozing from within. I won’t dare criticize them because God uses all kinds of people. But I just want to look at them and ask them why I feel this way and why won’t they love and listen to everyone, not just the seemingly “important” people.

God addresses this in many passages. We are to maintain a balanced lifestyle of love and Truth. God’s movement is about trust and Truth, grace and love.

I have to admit I often feel tempted to try and be cool rather than effective. I am careful about who is on our team. I hope to build a team who wouldn’t know they are cool if they were, who just does what they can to reach real people.

The ultimate goal is always to not see the clothes we wear or the positions we’ve held. It’s to just see Jesus.

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The Genuis Misfits

September 27, 2007

Here’s a video worth watching. Created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. The Wizard Academy calls him a good example of a genuis misfit, something they specialize in. A genius misfit, says the Wizard Academy, is someone who suceeds in the mainstream even though they never feel completely part of it.

Would you be called a genuis misfit?

Who will Father and Mother all these children?

July 20, 2007

Spiritually speaking…

It’s easier to keep a few feet away (a mile for some) from those who don’t share a similar belief system than it is to invite them into our lives. There’s an easy way and a hard way to do it. The easy way has proven to be a remedial supplement for some, however it keeps us isolated from sick patients who need close, constant, attentive care. People don’t need Doctors that tell them how sick they are; they need caregivers who’ll Father and Mother the new baby child into its new world of fresh beginnings. Who will Father and Mother all these children?

The Crazy Ones Change The World

June 8, 2007

Just had a long late night conversation with my boy Freddy Williams. Freddy leads a big flock of crazy kids in the St. Louis area. I happen to believe that Freddy is crazy enough to CHANGE THE WORLD. Trust me – keep this guy on your radar. It’ll happen. Check out this video he pointed me to created by Apple. It’s about the Crazy Ones. You know, the ones who think they can change the world actually do.

The Group That Changed The Way I View Discipleship

June 6, 2007

About six months ago, a friend of mine asked me a question. He was a little curious, and wanted to know what I thought was the purpose of this mentor group I was a member of. It was a group of businessmen and ministry leaders led by Boyd Bailey a man who is very special to me and many others. Well, I wrote my friend and said some things I’ve never said before. I didn’t realize until it was almost over that this group and this one man helped changed the way I view discipleship.

So, when I recieved my friend’s email many thoughts rushed through my head and then I wrote the following:

I admit I had lots of reservations coming into this group. My reservations came from this lack of desire to join another Bible Study or accountability-type group. I guess it’s because I’ve been in so many of them that pumped me full of new knowledge and wisdom. I’ve found myself getting caught up (without admitting it of course) in the celebrityness of being around all these great men of God who have written all these great books and accomplished all these amazing things for God and culture. And I felt so high after soaking in their knowledge and wisdom. But it rarely changed me.

So when I felt the Spirit nudging me to be a part of Boyd’s group I was restless, until a few weeks in, when I begin to feel a deeper connection to some of the guys. I began to enjoy Boyd’s laid-back approach and it was evident he cared about us and would do whatever he could for us…with us.

To me, the purpose of the group was to come together and see what God had in store. And I saw amazing things happen throughout the year in each person’s life, including mine, and together off-group time. I looked forward to each meeting because I knew I didn’t have to do something in order to feel respected and loved by the guys. I just innately knew this was an environment of trust and unfailing love. One of the guys in the group lives around the corner from me and has become one of my closest friends, which is one of the most special things to experience in a lifetime that doesn’t just happen.

As a format, it was refreshing to be a part of something that was simple, that just flowed (the kind of flow I enjoyed personally), even without a slight of expectancy (I mean that in a very good way). Different, indeed.

To me, Boyd is an example of grace. He doesn’t try—he just listens, serves and learns with you. I’ve been around too many leaders who feel like it’s their job to present the knowledge and wisdom God has bestowed upon them. That’s not a bad thing. But it seems I’ve never once been changed in the right way by such a process. What has changed me is the people I get to know God with. Those who allow the Spirit to form a bond between brothers and sisters, who open their hearts up to whatever God has in store.

Example: As you know I’ve been able to get to know Josh McDowell who is well-known as someone who has a lot to say. And he does. But knowing Josh McDowell didn’t begin to change me until I begin getting to know him personally. I learned some great information and was affected by the piercing biblical Truth he presented day in and day out, but it was his life that I watched and listened to that awakened me to the unfailing love of God. I could have never experienced that without spending a lot of time with him. I could not have experienced that just hearing him preach and teach every day. Not a chance. Josh actually teaches what I am writing that it’s all about relationships – a perfect blend of truth and relationships. You know, I’ve never even thought of it this way before. Your questioning has blessed me. It’s revealed to me that I am changing. I feel slightly shocked while writing this. Josh’s teaching has taken years to truly resonate with me, to actually become a part of who I am becoming.

~Bry

Read. Think. Change.

May 4, 2007

An article that’ll make you think about the way we view and influence the culture. The author Mark Buchanan happens to be one of the best Christian writers out there.

So, consider his words. And think again, as I am, about how should we deal with culture. We should not be afraid to change.

Stop. Read. Think. Change.

Something is the new something

March 3, 2007

Sometime ago I came across this list of clichés (via google) about how something is always being transposed to be the new thing:

Clarendon is the new Helvetica
The location field is the new command line
Fake is the new real
Orange is the new black
Quiet is the new loud
Nearshore is the new offshore
Red is the new blonde
Blacker is the new black
Iraq is the new Vietnam
Movies piracy is the new plague
Fat is the new thin
Wide is the new black
Fat is the new tobacco
Organic is the new kosher
MCA is the new MBA
Small is the new big
Spim is the new spam
Being uncool is the new cool
Gay marriage is the new abortion
30 is the new teenage

the Bill Gates philosophy

November 19, 2006

In Bill Gates’ book (Business @ The Speed of Thought), he presents 11 rules that students do not learn in high school or college. Rule number two says: “The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.” That’s rough. Less than 25% of our culture is what we perceive as successful, so if this statement is true, 75% are failures. I fell into this thinking and my self-esteem was based on what I accomplished.

Such a way of thinking affects our physical, spiritual, relational and psychological well-being. It affects our legacies. It rips apart families. It saps our lives. I have friends who are addicted to a never-ending cavity of success. Nothing is ever enough, is it? I heard of one guy at the pinnacle of his success who was asked what he now knows that he wished he had known as a younger man. He replied, ‘I wished I had known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.

Success is such a danger isn’t it? The more you obtain, the more you have to lose. Even the good things in a life can become the idol that brings you down. It’s true – the more we learn and the more we become can just as easily become our biggest threat.

But is that what life is all about? Are you willing to settle with that? Could there be more to discover, maybe even a treasure?

Focus on changing the conversation.

October 26, 2006

Conversations are nurturing and meaningful while campaigns convert momentarily.
Cultural change happens most effectively through a shared conversation.
Campaigns are short-term. Conversations are long-term.
Focus on spreading conversations. That’s the consistent and sustaining way for change.
Conversations lead to conclusions. And conclusions lead to conversions.

You can survive in a constantly changing culture. It’s been done since the beginning of time. Today, we live in a harsh attention deficient world, saturated with marketing messages. Well, that’s life…one that requires us to evolve in order to refocus the conversation without becoming outdated.

Clearly, the most effective agents of change have discovered new ways to do things. As great thinkers like Seth Godin have discovered “the old way of advertising and selling products isn’t working as well as it used to, and they’re aggressively searching for a new, enterprising way.” One that requires a “fundamentally different way of thinking about advertising and customers.”

How are you changing the conversation?

Scenes from the Culture Clash

September 13, 2006

A fantastic article in Fast Company Magazine about how the next generation of workers WILL change the business landscape in many, many ways. Some will shock you, but some might encourage you if you are a right-brained, non-lineared thinker like most everyone under 30. For me, I’m anticipating the changes!

Btw…this is based on facts!

The

What Does the Malcom Gladwell Phenomenon Reveal About Our Culture?

February 10, 2006


How did Gladwell become the Dale Carnegie of the iPod Generation?

Last night I was wondering why the author Malcom Gladwell could become such a cultural prodigy. Better yet, I began asking myself the much more incisive question: What does the Gladwell effect say about our culture?

It says times have changed. The way we learn is different. The way we see and receive information is different. We’re searching for understanding, for something else, yet with reasons. What most people care about is fulfilling experiences, fulfilling relationships and reasonable understanding. Gladwell helps in the latter. We know we’re becoming more and more complex but we’re more than willing to allow it as long we enjoy life and relationships. This reveals a lot more than most of us take the time to consider, or have allow ourselves such time.

As most of us know, Malcom Gladwell is the acclaimed author of the hugely bestsellers “Blink” and “The Tipping Point”—so big it created an unexpected wave of non-fiction books to seize the market, the kind that none of us could be have predicted to become such a bestseller in the mainstream pop culture. But it’s not the sales that perplex me – it’s the impact it’s having on the entire culture. I’ve wondered what this could mean. What could this say about us? At first, his popularity and influence on our culture seemed strange to me, that is until I began a two-year journey seeking understanding of the culture and why the gospel stopped sticking.

This week I read a well-written article on Gladwell by the New York Times book review editor Rachel Donadio. Danadio made these elucidating observations, comparing Gladwell’s impact to Dale Carnegie (“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – 1936) and Norman Vincet Peale (“Power of Positive Thinking” – 1952), who’s books helped shaped society in a peculiar way.

In our “iPod generation” we’ve chosen Malcom Gladwell. While Carnegie and Peale produced books about understanding, relating and liking people, Gladwell helps us understand how things work in a way that helps us have control over them. What Danadio calls optimism through demystification. While optimism will always be a foremost way to win in society, certainly – a vital asset to all – but, it’s demystication that we most desire today.

What does this say to the person who is trying to add value to culture? It’s clear that people think differently – way differently than they did 30, 20, 10, even 5 years ago.

The biggest thing that I have to keep driving home to people and organizations is how vitally important it is for you to “think deeply” about what you do and why you do it. Not only in a linear approach but in non-linear, right-brained one. And then to work hard at communicating that to the everyday world, and make sure it’s transferable and memorable (Gladwell’s Stickiness Factor). This world intensely desires to have an “under the surface” understanding of life, and especially faith.

Gladwell is doing the work most people wish they could do. To think, write, converse and read all day in coffee shop’s. I don’t argue with that life because that’s the gist of my days – fortunately. So we have joined this guy’s journey of questions and desire for understanding through his writings, as he thinks deeply about the issues affecting our lives and culture. So he’s become our friend. He’s become one of our life tour guide’s. And all of us should be aware that this is the way many of the leaders in the 21st century will look.

He’ll have a message, but he’ll carry it with deep-seated “reasons.” He’s open. He thinks. He wonders. He sees new horizons. And the world becomes his audience.

He isn’t afraid of the complex, the unpredictable, the unknown. Rather he enjoys the process of finding answers while embracing the mystical. He is used to speed, to change and to options so he just goes with it, until he find what fits. He’d rather have mobility than stability any day. There will be a tension between opportunity and loyalty in his life. Leaders who follow Jesus will respond to that by being careful what they commit to, trusting the spirit to synch their heart with Jesus’ in every situation. There will be tension between short-term and long-term because many leaders see long-term commitment has a threat to their freedom and personalization. Again, leaders who follow Jesus will have to hack that one out with the Heavenly Father. The leader of the future loves challenges and will have a hard time with commitment. They don’t want to be loyalist just for the sake of loyalty – like their parents were taught and lived. Tomorrow’s leaders don’t necessarily want to change the world; they’d rather enjoy the world while changing it. He loves to rethink everything – another reason to welcome the Malcom Gladwell’s of the world, if only there were more. There are, just wait and see. In fact, the self-proclaimed liberal Gladwell is called a Spiritual leader of the American culture, which is scary.

I have asked myself constantly these sorts of questions the past couple years:
Questions of Purpose and Perspective : :
• Am I on this earth to fit my heart, passion and gifts into a system that seemed to work in the past? Am I on this earth to be a missionary to the real world or the church world?
Questions of Willingness and Aloneness : :
• Am I willing to do what God has called me to do even if I have to do it alone? Am I willing to pay the price for their souls? Am I willing to listen to the Spirit and explore the unknown or just do what people tell me to do?

I am becoming clearly convinced that most of us (if 40 yrs & below) are not meant to continue serving in the methods of the past. What we are meant to do is whatever it takes to lead this generation into the discovery of Jesus. And if the leaders older than us do not understand how to release us to reach our generations, then we have to be strong and courageous to make a new path without them. This isn’t about our parents or about us; it’s about destiny and people souls.

Mere Christians

November 23, 2005

We are “mere” Christians, are we not? Thanks to C.S. Lewis, the man on my mind this afternoon, we can effectively coin the answer we need the most right now. Lewis was a man who lived “Mere Christianity” beautifully authentically. Today his books speak as strong as they did in the 40’s and 50’s. His writing resonates with the postmodern culture because he would fit truth in a story. A man whose legacy penetrates the culture long after he leaves this world.

On the Cover of Rolling Stone

October 30, 2005

With thanks to RandyElrod.com for this…

Excerpts from Rolling Stone’s interview this week with Bono:

Q:What role did religion play in your childhood?

A:I knew that we were different on our street because my mother was Protestant. And that she’d married a Catholic. At a time of strong sectarian feeling in the country, I knew that was special. We didn’t go to the neighborhood schools — we got on a bus. I picked up the courage they had to have had to follow through on their love.

Q:Did you feel religious when you went to church?

A:Even then I prayed more outside of the church than inside. It gets back to the songs I was listening to; to me, they were prayers. “How many roads must a man walk down?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question to me. It was addressed to God. It’s a question I wanted to know the answer to, and I’m wondering, who do I ask that to? I’m not gonna ask a schoolteacher. When John Lennon sings, “Oh, my love/For the first time in my life/My eyes are wide open” — these songs have an intimacy for me that’s not just between people, I realize now, not just sexual intimacy. A spiritual intimacy.

Q:Who is God to you at that point in your life?

A:I don’t know. I would rarely be asking these questions inside the church. I see lovely nice people hanging out in a church. Occasionally, when I’m singing a hymn like . . . oh, if I can think of a good one . . . oh, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or “Be Thou My Vision,” something would stir inside of me. But, basically, religion left me cold.

Q:Your early songs are about being confused, about trying to find spirituality at an age when most anybody else your age would be writing about girls and trouble.

A:Yeah. We sorta did it the other way around.

Q:You skipped “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and you went right . . .

A:. . . Into the mystic. Van Morrison would be the inverse, in terms of the journey. It’s this turbulent period at fifteen, sixteen, and the electrical storms that come at that age…

Q:You never saw rock & roll — the so-called devil’s music — as incompatible with religion?

Look at the people who have formed my imagination. Bob Dylan. Nineteen seventy-six — he’s going through similar stuff. You buy Patti Smith: Horses — “Jesus died for somebody’s sins/But not mine . . .” And she turns Van Morrison’s “Gloria” into liturgy. She’s wrestling with these demons — Catholicism in her case. Right the way through to Wave, where she’s talking to the pope.

The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt. So the blues, on one hand — running away; gospel, the Mighty Clouds of Joy — running towards. And later you came to analyze it and figure it out.

The blues are like the Psalms of David. Here was this character, living in a cave, whose outbursts were as much criticism as praise. There’s David singing, “Oh, God — where are you when I need you?/You call yourself God?” And you go, this is the blues.

Both deal with the relationship with God. That’s really it. I’ve since realized that anger with God is very valid. We wrote a song about that on the Pop album — people were confused by it — “Wake Up Dead Man”: “Jesus, help me/I’m alone in this world/And a fucked-up world it is, too/Tell me, tell me the story /The one about eternity/And the way it’s all gonna be/Wake up, dead man.”

Q:Soon after starting the band you joined a Bible-study group — you and Larry and Edge — called the Shalom. What brought that on?

A:We were doing street theater in Dublin, and we met some people who were madder than us. They were a kind of inner-city group living life like it was the first century A.D.

They were expectant of signs and wonders; lived a kind of early-church religion. It was a commune. People who had cash shared it. They were passionate, and they were funny, and they seemed to have no material desires…

But it got a little too intense, as it always does; it became a bit of a holy huddle. And these people — who are full of inspirational teaching and great ideas — they pretended that our dress, the way we looked, didn’t bother them. But very soon it appeared that was not the case. They started asking questions about the music we were listening to. Why are you wearing earrings? Why do you have a mohawk?…

Q:What draws you so deeply to Martin Luther King?

A:So now — cut to 1980. Irish rock group, who’ve been through the fire of a certain kind of revival, a Christian-type revival, go to America. Turn on the TV the night you arrive, and there’s all these people talking from the Scriptures. But they’re quite obviously raving lunatics.

Suddenly you go, what’s this? And you change the channel. There’s another one. You change the channel, and there’s another secondhand-car salesman. You think, oh, my God. But their words sound so similar . . . to the words out of our mouths.

So what happens? You learn to shut up. You say, whoa, what’s this going on? You go oddly still and quiet. If you talk like this around here, people will think you’re one of those. And you realize that these are the traders — as in t-r-a-d-e-r-s — in the temple.

Until you get to the black church, and you see that they have similar ideas. But their religion seems to be involved in social justice; the fight for equality. And a Rolling Stone journalist, Jim Henke, who has believed in you more than anyone up to this point, hands you a book called Let the Trumpet Sound — which is the biography of Dr. King. And it just changes your life.

Even though I’m a believer, I still find it really hard to be around other believers: They make me nervous, they make me twitch. I sorta watch my back. Except when I’m with the black church. I feel relaxed, feel at home; my kids — I can take them there; there’s singing, there’s music.

Q:What is your religious belief today? What is your concept of God?

A:If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there’s a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in “straw poverty”; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.

Q:How does it make sense?

A:As an artist, I see the poetry of it. It’s so brilliant. That this scale of creation, and the unfathomable universe, should describe itself in such vulnerability, as a child. That is mind-blowing to me. I guess that would make me a Christian. Although I don’t use the label, because it is so very hard to live up to. I feel like I’m the worst example of it, so I just kinda keep my mouth shut…

Q:How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?

A:It sustains me.

Q:As a belief, or as a literary thing?

A:As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I’m the sort of character who’s got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I’m going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it’s sort of underpinning for me.

I don’t read it as a historical book. I don’t read it as, “Well, that’s good advice.” I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It’s a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you’re in. It seems to do that for me.

Q:You’re saying it’s a living thing?

A:It’s a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you’re at, if you’re still enough. I’m writing a poem at the moment called “The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress.” I’m not sure I’m the best advertisement for this stuff.

Q:What do you think of the evangelical movement that we see in the United States now?

A:I’m wary of faith outside of actions. I’m wary of religiosity that ignores the wider world. In 2001, only seven percent of evangelicals polled felt it incumbent upon themselves to respond to the AIDS emergency. This appalled me. I asked for meetings with as many church leaders as would have them with me. I used my background in the Scriptures to speak to them about the so-called leprosy of our age and how I felt Christ would respond to it. And they had better get to it quickly, or they would be very much on the other side of what God was doing in the world.

Amazingly, they did respond. I couldn’t believe it. It almost ruined it for me — ’cause I love giving out about the church and Christianity. But they actually came through: Jesse Helms, you know, publicly repents for the way he thinks about AIDS.

I’ve started to see this community as a real resource in America…

(Excerpted from RS 986, November 3, 2005) Read more here. Or better yet, buy the magazine.

Emerging Culture – Outline

October 13, 2005

Here’s the real outline. What’d you think?

I. Understanding Emerging Generations

How do we bridge the gap between the modern and postmodern cultures?

1) Our generation is now a missionary frotier
It’s time see the young generations as a missionary frontier.

2) Significant desire for experimental spirituality
We have chosen an extreme openness to experimental spirituality

3) Intense openness to spiritual things
We have become a deeply “spiritual” generative.

4) New Methodologies
Youth and College pastor must change their methodologies if they are going to reach the postmodern.

5) Christian Subculture
The Christian and non-Christian are becoming all too alike and this must come apart.

6) A Cultural and Global Generative
The leverage of the media and the Internet

7) A Disconnected Generation
Deep desire to be understood by their fathers and mothers.

8) Pluralistic Culture demands new approaches
Truth has to be personalized because we have been impacted by a pluralistic culture.

II. The Heart and Role of Leading Emerging Generations

What does this generation look for in a leader?

1) Relational vs. CEO Approach

Trinitarian-Shared Leadership

We have chosen Trinitarian leadership; instead of a hierarchy we should lead as a community of voices sharing each other’s roles unified in one direction.

2) Event vs. Process

Process Oriented Leadership

We have chosen to lead more by a process and less by events because that’s where real transformation takes place.

3) Being a “Poet and Gardener” Leader

Evolution of Leadership

We have chosen to embrace the evolution of leadership, understanding our role in God’s story.

4) Creative Innovators Artist Leadership
We have chosen to embrace our uniqueness so we artistically replicate our God.

5) Relevant Environments
We have chose to create environments that are conducive to the hearts of people. This will allow us to connect with people.

6) Organic Flow of Ministry

Participatory Leadership

We have chosen organic growth, ministry and movements instead of organizations and institutions. We live with a “tourist” mentality rather than a “maintenance” mentality.

7) Missional vs. Consumer Mentality

Reproduction Leadership

We have adopted the concept called missional living; therefore our theology has shifted from developing one system called “missions” to turning theology into one department of mission and moved from consumer church to missional church.

8) Leadership Conclusions

III. Spiritual Formation and the Emerging Church

How does this generation relate & connect with Christ?

1) Tribal Community Togetherness Formation
We have chosen to channel our growth through tribal communities instead of bureaucratic programs because we believe in a call to community where we live as one big family on a journey together.

2) Engage Culture Holistic Formation
We have chosen to integrate our faith into all areas of life Instead of separating the spiritual realm from normal life.

3) Return to the Sacramental Ancient Depths Formation
We have chosen to return to the ancient depths of our heritage.

4) Centralize Everything with Jesus A Jesus Formation
We have chosen to be like Jesus.

5) Greatness is Servanthood Slave Formation
We have chosen to walk by action and not theory.

6) Authentic Eyes Visual Formation
Reading the word through a refreshing lenses.

IV. Conversations and Communications with the Emerging Generations

How should we communicate with the emerging generation?

1) Moving from sin-management to kingdom-management preaching”

2) A new hunger for depth and theology vs. shallowness and anthropology

3) Who is truth? Vs. What is truth?
Apologetics focused on “Who is truth?” vs. “What is truth?”

4) Fellow-journeyer vs. problem-solver
The preacher as a “shepherd” and fellow-journeyer vs. a message presenter and problem-solver

5) Questions and Thinking Allowed

6) Use Visual eye-catchers in messages

V. 8 Postmodern Branding Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

AS THESE SEVEN KEY CHURCH CULTURE TRENDS SHOW, BRANDS ARE LESS AND LESS ABOUT WHAT WE DO, AND MORE AND MORE ABOUT WHO WE ARE. THAT’S TURNING THE CHURCH CULTURE BRANDSCAPE INTO A MINEFIELD.

That’s turning the church culture brandscape into a minefield.

Evangelism replaced by “Spiritual Conversations”

Discipleship replaced by “Replication”

Good News, a Worthy “News Flash”

Sermons replaced by “Weekend Talks”

Church Membership replaced by “Partnership”

Conversion replaced by “Allegiance to God’s Kingdom”

Systematic Theology replaced by “Worldview”

Missions replaced by “Missional”

The New Lingua Brands that are being made new by the Emerging Culture:
• Communal
• Radical
• Revisionist
• Social Activists
• Tribal
• Revolutionary
• Emergent
• Participatory
• Image-Driven
• Apostolic

Rethinking Ministry for the Emerging Culture

October 13, 2005

Last year I wrote a series of messages for Josh on the emerging culture. I have some other ideas for it and would love to hear your reaction as you read this broad stroke outline. Does it spark your interest? Make you want to read more? (wish I could figure out how to use my fonts – but I’m still blog-illiterate)

Rethinking Ministry for the Emerging Culture
“…exploring ministry in a post-Christian world…”

Contents

Outline

Goals

1) Understanding Emerging Generations
A foundational look at our emerging culture, where it is heading and how it influences where the church is heading

2) The Heart and Role of Leading Emerging Generations
Ministries suffer from a great lack of quality leaders; this generation has to rethink how leadership is done

3) Spiritual Formation and the Emerging Church
Thinking through how this generation experiences and connects with God

4) Conversation and Communication with the Emerging Culture
Rethinking how to dialogue with this culture

5) 8 Postmodern Branding Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss
As these eight key church culture trends show, brands are less and less about what we do, and more and more about who we are

Appendixes

Bibliography

Switchfoot

September 14, 2005

I couldn’t wait for the release of Switchfoot’s new album, “Nothing is Sound”. I bought it and love it! Once again, they delivered non-superficial music with depth and amazing sound. I thank God for these guys who are the real deal and live for the name and fame of our Lord Jesus. They represent exactly what the body of Christ needs today. I could go on and on…

Go get it today!

The Gatekeepers

August 23, 2005

There’s something to be said about the gatekeepers. You know, the ones who have the ability to open doors. They’re the influencers. We all know gatekeepers in our communities, churches, and businesses. They have extraordinary opportunities. They have the chance to control a situation. They may be directors, CEO’s, or community leaders. They have untapped vision. They need to find people who share their vision. They don’t have to have the same vision, just the same heart. We have to learn how to train the gatekeepers how to unleash the gospel into their arenas of influence. You see there are people who can control their art – like the Mel Gibson’s, Switchfoot, and U2.

So, how do we help these people walk the tightrope with finesse and delicacy?

Honesty Sincerity—There’s something to be said of people who can say things with complete honesty no matter where there at or what circumstance they are going through. It’s hard to just be honest, but it’s even hard to stay sincere. We want to say things to caress and impress. For example, even in Hollywood, you might be a lot of things, but if you’re honest with sincerity, they’ll love you in every angle.
I was at one of my best friends father’s funeral today. My buddy Ty led his dad’s funeral with as much honest sincerity that I’ve ever seen in my life. It was fifteen minutes that reminded me of the complete power of sincerity – it connects to the human heart every single time. With the spirit and love Ty spoke with, he could have given a sermon in any church across this country and extremely succeed.
I love people who are honest and sincere about life. You might be scared to death, shaking, cringing, but if you’re just honest and sincere you can connect with people. I think Jesus was the most amazing honest yet sincere example there ever was.

Authenticity—I know it’s the most overused and misunderstood word out there, but it’s still a great word that hits exactly what everyone loves and appreciates the most, especially today. All in all, you might speak a faraway language from culture, you might be a loss long hipster, you might miss a lot of beats from reality, but if you are real, genuine and authentic people will love you because you are a rarity.
People respect big hearts. As much as Mel Gibson’s movie stirred controversy, people still respected his big heart and vision.

Delicacy—There’s a frailty in people of delicacy. Delicacy is when we make known that we are weak too. Everyone has weaknesses and people don’t want to get around people who act like they don’t. It’s important to admit when we’re wrong or when we mess up. The church is desperately in need of people who exhibit delicacy in how they handle delicate people.
I’ve never known my brother when he wasn’t delicate with people. He’s one of the most compassionate people I have ever known and it comes through so natural. When I go to him about a problem or a situation where I need some counsel (and I do that often), he handles –me– with an extreme care and consideration. I’ve learned that people dig that and it’s not a coincidence that people dig my brother, without question. I asked him the other day about what he thinks I should do about with this thing that came up and it’s like he has this ability of putting himself in my seat as he helped me think through my decision. Yet the quality that I most admire about my brother is his loyalty to those closest to him like family and friends. He’s a valiant friend—who wouldn’t think twice about dropping his important daily tasks for a friend in need. People go through a lot in their lives: death, divorce and betrayal. They need a little delicacy every once in a while. They need people who they know will hurt with them. I hope they’ll find that in us. That’s what we find in Jesus—a Father who treats us with a delicate tenderness and understanding—a Father who weeps with us when we weep, who hurts with us when we hurt.

Finesse—grace, elegance, poise, refinement, assurance. I’m convinced some of us might be lacking in this area without much choice, but there are people who just have it. God knows that. God knows the ones he created. He knows some have gifts; he chose to give them. Thank God for finesse – the actors who make an epic come alive or evoke a memory we experienced. Thank God for a Billy Graham who preaches with deep-hearted finesse or a pastor Joe whose elegance helps draw people to an environment that leads people to Christ. People have finesse and we can help nurture them and unleash them to help stroke souls to God.
Finesse is not found in just charisma; finesse is found in the way we talk and walk. Finesse is being able to look someone in the eye with unwavering confidence. God gives us finesse. Finesse becomes choked up when we don’t know who we are because I think finesse has a lot to do with just being natural. While some may have more than others, we all have a life to tap into, a journey to reflect on, an experience to share. One of the ways I think finesse can be discovered is through our stories. Stories unleash assurance and gracefulness. We are assured from what we’ve experienced or what we believe; how we live is our assurance.

Ray Charles once said, “All we have to do is take the time to play the right notes for the occasion.” We’ve got the note – the gospel – now all we have to do is find, make, seek, and prepare for all those occasions where we can play our note with finesse, honest sincerity, authenticity and delicacy.

Power of the Marketplace

August 21, 2005

Been thinking a lot about the “engaging culture” mindset . Below is an excerpt from Bill Bright’s last book. These are the words he wanted to say to the church as he went home. I’d like to think this man (who influenced me in an incredible way) has earned the right to be heard. Personally, it struck me for several reasons. Read his words and allow me tell you why.

“I have been asked if I have any last words before God calls me to a new assignment, and I do. To the believing world, I would add this: in light of our failure through the years to be salt and light, as Jesus commanded, our generation is faced with a grave crisis. Anti-God forces have largely become the dominant voice and the major influence in our culture. My challenge to believers would be: reverse this tide. It is not enough to say, “I must live a godly life”—that is a given. It is not enough to say, “I must be a witness for Christ”—that is a given. Beyond these two, we must be salt and light in our culture, helping people to realize that the God of our Bible is our only hope.”

I don’t think he would have never said these exact words 20 years – especially 50 years ago. I’ve heard Billy Graham say numerous times that he thinks the greatest force the Christian cause has is in the marketplace. Very interesting when thinking about evangelism models. How does that make all of you feel who work in the marketplace?

The thought that comes to my mind is the way this affects those who work in the marketplace – the gatekeepers – who I’ll talk about tomorrow. How does this affect the way we lead our churches and ministries? It presents us with one option: to expect more out of them. We can’t by trying to raise up pastors – we need business leaders of steel who know how to penetrate the culture.

Thoughts?

Change the Heart, not the Mind

August 17, 2005

It’s important to change the way people think about things, but when it comes down to it, the mind war will always lose, whereas, the heart war will always win. As we enter a new era of ministry I recommend that we work harder at becoming authorities at changing the heart rather than the mind. This is a far off concept to the modern world and reasonably so, since for many years changing the mind has been an effective model, but today is a new day.

We’ve become a well-oiled machine at building great conferences and churches. We know how to attract people and we are surely knowledgeable at church growth, thanks to the Donald McGavern’s and John Maxwell’s. We’ve even put enormous attention on the inner qualities of the church called church health. Yet there is yet another wave growing amidst the church world, as God places holy discontment inside leaders, the same kind of righteous frustration that spurred church growth and church health movements. Without oversimplifying a big, complex thing, I’d like to think what is actually happening is a needed focus on relational health. This is because relationships change people, including hearts because they change what people care most deeply about. Churches are creating experimental environments, community societies, tools that replace our independence with dependence. Most people have holes inside of them because they miss-out on things that give them relational fulfillment. The business world is doing the same thing. Today, you can find gardens and bars, even a baby nursery inside of businesses. Whatever they can do to fulfill their employee’s needs they do. The church is trying to do the same thing.

This is something that is dear to my heart because for a few years I spent my ministry time dipped in trying to change people’s minds. My mentor has spent most of his journey trying to change the way people think about God, life and relationships. My respect for him is higher than almost any other person I know, but what I respect more than anything today is that he realizes how important it is to change the heart. I respect him for sticking to his calling – to help change the way people think because that’s important for vast reasons. Yet he admits today that it’s more important to change what people care about. You change what people care about through the relationship factor, building environments of relational health.

The reality is people don’t care about personally what they believe theologically and biblically. That is true because they don’t know how much it affects them personally and relationally. They believe good things but don’t care that much about it. Their loyalty lies in their membership rather than their heart.

Stats that make you go hmm…

August 15, 2005

Not that long ago, I attended a small pastor’s forum of 19-20 pastors led by John Maxwell and Ted Haggard. Ted Haggard who is President of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastors a mega church in Colorado Springs delivered an above & beyond inspiring lecture. It was so good – and informative – I decided to post ALL of my notes. I have to publically thank Doug Carter – Senior VP of EQUIP and Amber’s overseer for inviting me to attend such a forum. – thanks Doug! Enjoy!

I believe this is the greatest opportunity for ministry since Jesus’ day.
I believe this generation has been sovereignly prepared by God.

Interesting Facts:

For the First time ever…
• One world super power
• Economic explosion
• Trade Routes –The gospel traveled through trade routes to the world.
• Were we are today for the first time in the last 2,000 years all the forces are open to the gospel.
• US is freedom of religion
• More people today live under this special protection.
• US Navy keeps trade routes open
• UN fundamentally protects civil liberties which opens doors for missionaries.
• We have:
Economic Freedom
Military Freedom
Social Freedom

Amazingly, God has opened every force for freedom!

• We have more resources of communication, and travel ever before
• We have more radio stations, books, and leaders than every before.
• We distribute 170,000 copies of the Bible a day.
• We distribute 11 million Scripture portions a day. (Ex: 4 Spiritual Laws)
• 15,000 people are born daily. 150,000 people die daily.
• Net Growth is 2%
• 1/3 of the world identifies themselves as believers.

The 3 Most Powerful Men on Earth
1. President George W Bush A Committed Christian
2. Prime Minister of Great Britain A Committed Christian
3. Prime Ministry of Australia A Cultural Christian

We have to capitalize on this opportunity! We can’t become passive or distracted!

• Our greatest competitor is Islam – 1.2 billion
• We are growing at 9.3% a year.
• Islam is growing at 2.7% a year.
• The President has to identify it as a political conflict, but it’s actually a religious conflict (He knows that but can’t communicate that publicly).

The power of our advance is remarkable.

• More Wheaton College graduates are in the White House than any other college.
• Today there are more believers in the White House than ever before.
• We see missionaries → the number’s are amazing.
• God is raising up leaders with amazing influence.

This is why the Osama’s have great reason to be concerned. We are invading their world.

This is your Finest Hour!

Today, if you go to any nation with a prayer team and then follow it up you will see results. Our test saw 300-600% results. We are seeing this just about everywhere.

• Be outward focused, penetrate every system with the gospel because there are open doors everywhere.
• Everything you do will produce harvest if you’re in the spirit.
• It’s easier to win people to Christ than ever before.
• This could be the generation that could communicate to every person for the first time.
• Every day there are 460 martyrs (They are mostly in Asia and other unreached areas).

Books to Read→ Thomas Friedman’s “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” & “The World is Flat”
Huntington’s “Clash of Christianity”

Missiologists say that if we fail to do this in the window of opportunity Islam will prevail and we might not get another opportunity for 600-1000 years.
If we don’t our grandchildren are going to think → what was our grandparents thinking!

Examples
Cold War – We messed up! (We had the opportunity to stop them but we didn’t)
Hitler – We messed up! (Churchill warned the world but they didn’t listen and millions of lives were lost)

• There’s never been two countries with a operating McDonald’s where there has been a war. China – Nixon opened trade there and now it will go to a Democratic society.
• There are more churches in America than fast food restaurants.
• More Christians in media today.
• Mel Gibson is the Michelangelo of our generation. His movie has made the greatest impact than anything ever.
• John Maxwell– Christians are not to get into a defense mode—we are to penetrate by being salt & light.

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