Thursday, October 30, 2008

Archaeologists find 3000 year old Hebrew text

Today a news story came out that archaeologists have discovered a 3000 year old Hebrew text, perhaps with links to King David. It was foud Elah, where the Bible tells us that David killed Goliath. Some of the words found on the pottery piece that have been able to be read so far include "judge," "slave," and "king." Sound biblical?
This text predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by 1000 years! See Achaeology Story.
What do you think of this finding? Does it confirm your faith or not affect your faith?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who will win the election?

Who will win the 2008 presidential contest--Barak Obama or John McCain? I asked this question on one of my websites on an online poll. The results so far? There have been 19 respondents, and all 19 have said that John McCain will win.

That is interesting, considering I did not ask who did people want to win. I asked who they thought would win--a prediction.

How do you explain this prediction, since McCain is down in every poll? Is this a desire for McCain to win, or does this group know something others don't know?

Hospitals and Evangelism

Hi guys. Just checking in. I'm out at the hospital, waiting with a family of a member who is having heart surgery (Mil).

I care about people, and it is always good to serve and try to show Christian love and care. I am not, however, a person who really enjoy just being a hospital chaplain. My gifts are more evangelistic than pastoral.

However, in most serious cases where people are in the hospital, there are non-Christian family and friends who are present. By showing genuine love and care, Christians can open doors to Bible studies, worship, and conversation with non-Christians who are present. These extended visits, where you are waiting with a family for several hours, can also help give a person credibility with these families. This credibility may enable a minister or church leader to then call these family members to greater Christian service somewhere down the line.

All of this fits into Christ's example of serving people before presenting the gospel. Anyone, no matter where they are in their Christian walk, can serve others. And hospital visitation is one such service. We need to encourage a whole church to do this whenever they can.

None of us can get to everyone, particularly in a large church. But with a whole church looking for these opportunities, we can try to cover all of those who are facing serious health problems.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Microtargeting and the McCain campaign--a model for outreach?

I read today an article on Microtargeting by McCain campaign on NPR (National Public Radio). The McCain campaign will call people and record whatever information that they discover that could be helpful in "microtargeting" them. Then, when McCain workers go and knock doors, they pull up this information prior to seeing them. Then, they base what they talk about upon this information.

For instance, if they find out a person is a teacher, they will talk about McCain's education plan. This strategy is light years ahead of non-targeted, one size fits all advertising and messaging of previous years. Here is a wikipedia article on microtargeting.

All of this made me think about outreach. What if we put this much time and effort into approaching people with the gospel with a "targeted message." For instance, going door knocking or visiting a family of four, telling them about our church's children's ministry. Or talking with a person who lost a loved one about the hope that Christ offers. Or sharing with a person who has been addicted how Christ can break the power of addiciton.

Are we less committed to reaching out than political campaigns are to getting people to vote for their candidates?

Should we seek to "microtarget" our outreach efforts?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm about to perform a wedding

That's right. I'm up here at the church building, getting ready to perform a wedding at 2:00 PM today. This will be the wedding of the soon to be James and Marie Ward. They are a couple from the community who came in looking for someone to marry them.

I view these types of weddings as an opportunity to serve and reach out. I've done some pre-marital counseling with them, and we have scheduled after the wedding a time to begin doing some Bible study as well. Please pray for this study and for their marriage.

Did you have pre-marital counseling? Was it helpful?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crowdsourcing - Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future

I have a lot of books that I am working through right now. But I picked up one recently that I found fascinating called Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe.

I have been reading several books on the power of social networking through the Internet and its implications for ministry and outreach, not to mention life itself. Crowdsourcing is one of these types of books.

The power of the crowd is phenomenal, but not perhaps how it might typically be thought of. The power of the crowd is not a "crowd" or "mob mentality." The power comes from each individual acting individually, in large numbers, problem-solving the same issue.

It is actually the diversity in this type of crowds that makes the crowd so effective in problem solving. If everyone thought alike, no new solutions would emerge.

Howe cites a Innocentive, an online group that posts problems in business, chemistry, and other fields that have not been solved, offering prizes for whoever comes up with the solutions. These are problems that all of the top people in a company have not been able to solve.

We might think that the solutions would come from other top people in the same field. For instance, a top chemist in another company solving a chemistry problem that no one else could solve.

Instead, most of the solutions to these problems came from people solving problems outside of their fields. For instance, physcicists came up with physic solutions to chemistry problems. They saw solutions that chemists never were able to see because of their different perspective and background. The power for problem-solving came from the diversity of the crowd--a physicist looking at chemisty problems.

This got me thinking. Rather than having only "evangelism experts," for instance come up with outreach ideas, we ought to have a wide diversity of people looking at these issues. Someone is sure to come up with a great idea that experts have missed, because of his or her different background.

Where else might the power of diverse crowds be helpful in ministry or outreach?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A sad mission

Teresa, who volunteers here in the office and is on our outreach team, and I are going to go and take food to a family who is friends with one of our members. The son in the family committed suicide. Please pray for them, and that we can be a source of love and healing for them.

What can we do to prevent suicide? Also, how can we best minister to families who has had someone in their family commit suicide?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Starting a Missional Network

Hey guys. I was up till about 3 AM last night working on a new project. I'm starting a "Missional Network"--a social networking group that works like Facebook with Wiki technology. I'll share more later. Stay tuned!

Are you using Twitter?

Twitter is a new "microblogging" technology. See My question is, are you using twitter? If so, how are you using it and how often?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taliban Kill Christian for Sharing Her Faith

Yesterday I spoke on "Jesus Christ, Our Life." It was a sermon about making Jesus the most important person in our life. To illustrate this point, I highlighted Christian martyrs throughout the centuries who had given up their lives for Christ.

While losing our lives for Christ seems remote to American Christians, there are Christians around the world who are losing their lives for their faith. Note this news story about a Christian aid worker in Kabul who is killed for "spreading her religion."

We need to be praying for these Christians around the world.

Would you be willing to die for your faith?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This baby can preach! (Video)

This is a pretty funny video of a baby preacher who really gets down. See I think I picked up some preaching pointers here. Skip at least to the 1:20 minute or so mark and catch the end of this video.

How do you like this baby's preachin'?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to make small groups evangelistic and outward focused

Most small groups are not evangelistic. Period. This is, unfortunately, the simple truth. There are many reasons for this.

First, this is not their stated purpose. There is no intentionality for this.

Second, most small groups are study groups, and this only appeals to a limited number of people.

Third, the groups are made up of close knit, long time Christians, discussing things which only Christians are much concerned about. This is intimidating for non-Christians.

There are several different ways to make small groups evangelistic.

1. Make this the stated purpose of the group. This will drive the decisions that are made, and fellowship, prayer, and Bible study will probably happen along the way.

2. Have your group serve some group or individual in the community who is non-Christian at least once a month. When we serve others, it opens hearts and doors of opportunity to share what we believe and why we are serving.

3. Have your group study something of interest to non-Christians. Like biblical principles of money management or help for marriages. Have a specific start and stop time (8 weeks series, for instance), and let those involved know that there will be a mix of Christians and non-Christians at the study. Offer good food. Make the study portion no longer than an hour, and leave plenty of mingling time.

4. Make your group social groups that seek just to befriend and do fun things with non-Christian friends, such as having a barbeque, going to a ball game, etc. Do this repeatedly with the same non-Christian friends, out of genuine love and interest in them, and see what God will do with this.

5. Pray for non-Christian family and friends by name. This can be done every week, and I can personally testify that this is powerful.

Here is a good quote from Jeffry Arnold, in his book, Small Group Outreach, on how to make a small group evangelistic.

"As you and your group prepare for evangelism, each individual should sit down with a pen and paper. List family, friends, neighbors and work associates. To identify the people your group should pray for and talk to, look for the ones who (1) live close enough to attend the group, (2) need the life-giving offer of salvation through Jesus and (3) would be comfortable in your group."

What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have any additional suggestions for how to make a small group evangelistic?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bob Newhart Skit/Video on Therapy - "Stop it"

Here is a video clip that I used Sunday in my sermon, "Making Positive Change in Our Lives." It is hilarious.

While this kind of blunt, direct, talk featured in the skit may not always work, the point I made was that we need others in our lives to help us make positive change.

In Sunday's sermon, I highlighted three ingredients needed to make change: relationships, a desire to change, and the Holy Spirit.

Do you like the skit? What do you think it takes to make positive change in our lives?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Heading Back Home

I had a good week with some great training at the 3 day Coachnet seminar that I attended this week in California. I'm flying back tomorrow morning. There is a connecting flight in Phoenix, so it will take most of the day to get back home. See you guys soon!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I arrived late Monday night in Ontario, California, to attend a Coachnet coaching seminar with Bob Logan. Coachnet is the top group for Christian coaching.

What is coaching? Well, the term itself actually is a bit problematic, since it evokes for many a very directive relationship--telling a person what to do. In fact, coaching as it is defined by Coachnet is coming alongside a person and helping him or her realize his or her God given goals and dreams.

In the coaching relationship, the person being "coached" sets the agenda, determines what needs to be worked on, etc. The coach asks a lot of questions to help the person help clarify the issues that need to be worked on, and put together an action plan to help with these issues.

This actually fits very well with the Strengths and Spiritual gfits discovery process, in which we ask a person how they can apply their Strengths and Spiritual gifts in their lives. The assumption is that because the Spirit of God lives in this person, he or she is the one who bests knows how to make these applications. Only after a person exhausts his or her resources or ideas does the assessor give ideas of his or her own. People are much more likely to follow their own ideas than the ideas of others.

I'm staying in a Best Western hotel. I got a good deal on it through Orbitz. I didn't expect a lot, but actually it is a great room right by the pool with a friendly, helpful staff. Too bad I don't have much time to enjoy it!

Last night I ate dinner with a guy from the seminar named Damien. He is from St. Petersburg, Florida. We went and ate at the Rain Forest Cafe. Gina and Emily would have really liked it, with the rain forest scenery and the elephant figures. Damian and I had an interesting discussion on what spiritual formation is and how it happens.

I just now finished today's seminar sessions. We did a lot of coaching in triads. Hands on training for this is essential. I'm catching a bit of political news before going to get something to eat. Catch you guys tomorrow!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Groceries have risen 10.5% this year

I always laugh at the government's Consumer Price Index and their estimation of "core" inflation. These numbers will come out, and it will be said that "core" inflation is, for instance, 4%--excluding "volatile" food and gas prices.

Last time I checked, food and gas are a key part of people's budgets. This is particularly true for lower income people.

This week, CBS Marketwatch reported that groceries are 10.5% higher this year than last year. See That, combined with high gas prices, presents a significant increase in cost of living for a great number of Americans.

We are seeing this hit people as so many are now coming through to our food pantry.

Now, more than ever, is the time for us to be as generous as possible as a church and individually.

Have you noticed the increase in food prices? Has it affected your family or others that you know?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Coachnet - Helping People Realize their Goals and Dreams for God

Next week I'll be headed to California to attend a Coachnet training conference. Coachnet trains people to coach others by giving coaching on a person's coaching. In other words, they help trainers become better trainers.

The Coachnet philosophy ( is that each person generally has the solutions within themselves. By asking good questions, developing a relationship, and listening, coaches can help those with whom they are working to grow in the areas that they have identified.

This very much fits into the philosophy of Strengths and Spiritual gifts--that God has created a person uniquely, and that the Spirit of God is at work in each person's life. Thus, while at times people need information and advice, primarily the goal of a Strengths and Spiritual gifts assessor is to help a person become more aware of how God is already at work in his or her life.

For instance, when I go through a Strengths and Spiritual gifts assessment, I ask a person to try to apply his or her gifts in the three areas of his or her life--family, workplace/neighborhood/world, and the church. However, I resist making these applications for them. They know themselves better than I, and they will take more ownership of applications that they make for themselves. By asking good questions, an assessor can help someone make these applications.

I am looking forward to this conference, which is also a part of my D.Min. work at Fuller.

What do you think of the coaching philosophy?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Our trip to Harding

The Harding lectures went well. I taught three sessions on Spiritual gifts, and they were well attended. Since there most probably do not know me, I take this as a good sign that people are interested in this topic. After years--decades?--of ignoring teaching on the Spirit, our people are showing real interest in the Spirit who lives inside of us and how they can better serve.

I saw a lot of friends--Keith Stanglin, who teaches at Harding, and his wife Amanda. Chuck Monan, who preaches at Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, AR, and his minister friend Jeff Spry. Chuck helped encourage me to go into ministry, and we used to minister together in Oklahoma.

Jeff is doing some great work partnering with government and charitable organizations, helping connect churches to these groups to serve the community. He will be leaving Pleasant Valley soon to start a non-profit organziation to help churches connect across the country. We'll probably bring Jeff in in the Spring to talk about this.

One ministry that we will definitely be looking into is Celebrate Recovery, a ministry that helps people recover from various forms of addiction. I met with one of the ministers from White's Ferry Road, Mike, who does work with World Radio, to discuss this.

White's Ferry Road has been using this ministry, which was started by Saddleback, to reach many people for Christ. (By the way, anyone who has interest in this ministry, both for members and as an outreach, or know of people who might be interested, let me know). They have 150 people attending on Friday nights.

I also saw friends from Liberty, Oklahoma Christian University, students from High Pointe, and old friends from all over. Lectureships really do bring people together, for learning, connecting, and discovering successful ministries across our fellowship.