Friday, September 28, 2007

Fall Resolutions

Disclaimer: When I use the word "popular" what I mean is generaly uninspiring, yet scarcely worthy of perusal.

Since my Summer Resolutions post was one of my most popular, I'm going to post some Fall Resolutions now.

"Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors, the weather, the crisp air."
That's how I started the summer resolutions, so you can see why I'd like to make this Fall significant. Fall already holds many of my favorite memories and I'd like to add to that collection this year.
Here's a few things I'd like to accomplish between now and, say, Thanksgiving.

1. Take my family on a few weekend drives to some of the best spots I know of to see the fall colors.

2. Go to a major college or pro football game. I don't care what teams I watch, just want to experience it. (note: I've been to one NFL game and several Notre Dame games as part of the media - even stood on the sidelines taking pictures at those games - but I want to see it from the fan's perspective)

3. Continue fishing.

4. Play in the fallen leaves with my kids.

5. Finish the two books I've just purchased - Made to Stick and Now, Discover Your Strengths. (I've only read the intro of Made to Stick and I already feel like I've got plenty to blog about and try to apply)

6. Eat chili, but not too much because ...

7. Lose weight. I could stand to lose 10-15 pounds. I want to do it by eating healthier and establishing a consistent workout routine that includes lifting weights and some sort of cardio exercise (preferably basketball) 2-3 times per week.

8. Take lots of pictures and videos of my kids. I just realized how little we've been documenting their lives lately. For example, we have only measured and marked my son's height once. He's almost 3!!!!! By the way, he's the exact same height my daughter was when she turned 3, and my daughter is 3 feet, 9 inches. I have a feeling she's going to be tall like her mommy (6'1").

9. Look for new ways to be generous to people. This could include giving money away, but I'm thinking more of different forms of generosity. I'll try to let you know as I think of them.

10. Come up with a plan to start my own design business. This would not replace my job at the church, but serve as sort of a side job.

OK, that's it. Ten things I need to get started on. What do you hope to accomplish in the next few months?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Parents

My parents recently celebrated their 35th anniversary.
If you stop and think about it, that fact could probably stand alone as a pretty good post. But, there's so much more to the story.
My mom is not my dad's first wife. My mom and dad were pregnant with my sister before they got married. My dad is a recovering alcoholic. Theirs is a great story of grace, forgiveness and salvation.
I lived the first five years of my life breathing in secondhand smoke (which might explain something about me!) and watching most of the adults in my life drink alcohol like I now drink soda. I vaguely remember my dad letting me taste his beer (further explanation of my current state).
Another vague memory I have is of my mother and me picking my dad up from jail after getting arrested for drunk driving.
Recently my dad and I went on a short camping/fishing trip and I got the chance to talk to him about some of these memories. It was good to hear it from somebody who remembers it better than I and it helped me put some of the pieces of my family's story together.
My dad told me his perspective about the day we picked him up from jail. It wasn't his first time there, but it was mine. My sister was old enough to be in school, but I was still at home. I guess I was in my pajamas when we walked in to get him and the sight of me hit him like a hammer.
That was more than 27 years ago and my dad hasn't had a drop of alcohol since. Not too long after that he quit smoking and decided it was time for us to start going to church. A clear memory I have is of him telling me we should start going to church and me replying, "I don't think so." Apparently my opinion didn't count for much back then because we started going to church and it was not very long before my dad accepted Jesus into his heart and was made new.
The great thing about all that stuff happening so long ago is that I don't remember it very well and most of my clearest memories are from after he was saved. It's also good to have the fuzzy memories I have of the bad times because it is a reminder to me of how good God is.
My mother grew up in a Christian home and I'm still not sure how she got hooked up with my dad, who was a divorced alcoholic. Maybe she was going through a rebellious stage. I guess I'll have to go camping with her sometime. Whatever the reason, I'm glad she took a chance on him and was on board with going to church.
My parents have served in the church almost as long as they've been attending church. My dad is a long-time Sunday school teacher and they both served as youth group leaders on an off throughout my time as a student.
My parents were fairly strict with my sister and me, at least compared to many of my friends growing up. I didn't see the value of this until later in life, but man am I glad they gave us those rules!
Now that I'm a dad and I have a daughter who is 5 and a son who is 3 (somewhere near the same ages of my sister and I when my dad stopped drinking) I'm trying to look at myself and see what I need to do differently. There are plenty of bad habits I should drop; plenty of good habits I should start.
The most important thing, however, is my relationship with Jesus. If I get one thing right as a parent, it's going to be setting an example of a life lived in relationship with Jesus. Now, I've got a long way to go before I consider myself a success at that, but at least I have a goal.
Who knows, maybe 27 years from now my son (and daughter) will look back and be as thankful as I am for a dad who gave his life to Jesus. That's my ultimate mission.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MinistryCOM Takeaways - Part 2

Both days of this conference had a different feel, in my opinion. Day 1 was more of a "what are we in for?" feel, while Day 2 had a "I'm ready for more!" feel. At least that's the way I experienced it. So, here's what I brought home from Day 2 at MinistryCOM.

General Session 3 - Shawn Wood, Experiences Pastor, Seacoast Church
Brand Schizophrenia
1. Two faces of brand: a. the expectation of an experience; b. the emotional aftertaste left by an experience.
2. It's not what you say, but what they say.
4. Characteristics of an experience: Distinctive, Relevant, Memorable, Effective.
5. Create for and as unto God.

Breakout Session - Ashley Schuermann, Graphic Designer, Seacoast Church
Graphic Design in Ministry
1. Online printers can save you money.
2. Anything seen by 100+ people goes through the designer.
(this was a very practical, nuts-and-bolts session)

Breakout Session - Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor, Proverbs 31 Ministries
Revamping Your Newsletter
1. Women in their 40s are the most likely audience of a church newsletter.
2. Don't assign an article to a pastor without very specific instructions.
3. Pick a style and stick with it.
4. Embrace your editorship.
5. Always improve.

Breakout Session - Ginger Sinsabaugh McDonald, Top Cookie,
The Crave Factor
1. Don't tell people what they need -- create a craving.
2. Know your audience (really well).
3. Keep it simple.
4. Say it in a new way.
5. Don't expect overnight results.
6. Start using creative briefs. (I can tell you what these are if you care)

General Session 4 - Kem Meyer, Communication Director, Granger Community Church
Everybody Doesn't Hate You, It Just Feels Like It
1. Get an image consultant.
a. Find out how you come across to others.
b. What do people say about me?
c. Accountability & Advocacy.
2. Check your ego.
a. What is your motive?
b. Are you taking yourself too seriously?
c. Is it about control or are you looking for ways to help relieve the team's pain?
d. Is it about helping people do what they want to do or getting them to do it your way?
e. Are you having conversations or sending emails?
f. Do you admit mistakes?
g. Are you asking questions or making statements?
3. Find common ground with those you work with.
a. Keep your emotions in check so you can care for co-workers.
b. Show up at events from other ministries just for support.

So, there it is. As you can see, I've got a lot to process from these two days in Nashville, which is an awesome city by the way.
I probably won't write any more about this topic, unless more is requested. These last two posts were actually more for my benefit than anything else. It will help me to have this info an an easily accessible spot.
I'm planning a few posts in the next few days, so don't give up on me if you were bored with MinistryCOM. I'm going to make some fall resolutions and share with you about some of the most important people in my life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

MinistryCOM takeaways - Part 1

Since I could never sufficiently recapture the significance of each general session and breakout from MinistryCOM, I'm going to share my big takeaways from each. This was my first time at an event like this and it was very valuable.
One of the main benefits, which probably won't show up in any of my big takeaways, was realizing how many people there are who do the same job as me and deal with all the same issues as me. We are a privileged group of people, but sometimes we don't feel privileged. We feel misunderstood, alone, disliked and in the way a lot of times. But, we also are blessed. We get to use our gifts to advance the Kingdom every day. We get to support our pastors and other church leaders. We get to serve the people who attend our churches.
So, here's what I learned on Day 1 of MinistryCOM 2007.

General Session 1 - Terry Storch, Digerati Pastor,
"Communication Revolution"
1. Church 1.0 vs. Church 2.0
One-way communication vs. multi-faceted communication
Service times vs. Experiences anytime
Walls vs. Omnipresent church
Physical outreach vs. Online community organizer
Everyone invites one vs. One invites everyone
2. We have a greater opportunity than ever before to reach the world - we have to own it.

Breakout - What Tools Do You Use? (Discussion group)
1. There's way more out there than I ever imagined or thought I needed!
2. Develop a style guide - consistency is impossible without it.

Breakout - Church Marketing Lab LIVE!
1. Design is much more than making something look pretty - there has to be a concept and all the elements must support the concept.
2. Do creative briefs (more on that later)

Breakout - Dawn Nicole Baldwin, Founder & CEO, Aspire One
Branding 101
1. Definition of branding: The practice of delivering a promise that reflects the mission, uniqueness and personality of your organization.
2. If we're not intentional about defining who we are, others will do it for us.
3. Don't ask, "What are we trying to say?" but, "What conversation are we trying to create?"
4. Clarify the vision; Identify your biggest fans; Give them something to talk about; Give them tools to share the story.

General Session 2 - Brad Abare,, Center for Church Communication
A Matter of Message
1. Be Salty: Pursue more of God
2. Be Transparent: Pursue your own story
3. Think Local: Pursue Others
4. Keep it Simple: Purse a life of less

Like I said, this is in no way intended to capture all of what went on at MinistryCOM, but share with you my biggest lessons learned. If anyone wants more information, or clarification, on any of what I shared, please ask. That's it for Day 1. Tomorrow I'll give you the rundown of Day 2.

Catching up is hard to do

Today is my first day back at work after a whirlwind trip to Nashville and a whirlwind trip to Indianapolis. It's good to be back in the normal routine, although I think it might take a few days for it to be normal.
I've been out of the habit of blogging for quite a while (20 days, to be exact) so let me get you caught up.
At church we launched a new series, called "Centered?" which made me extremely busy and without time to update the blog. You can see some of the "Centered?" stuff at my flickr site.
I also had to get things ready for my absence last week, which was kind of challenging. I have trouble handing responsibility off to other people. I don't know if it's because I don't think they can do it, or because I don't think they should have to. Either way, that just added to the busy-ness.
Last Wednesday my wife and I headed to Nashville for MinistryCOM, a church communication conference. We spent two nights and two days in Nashville before heading home late Friday night. We spent the night in Mishawaka, where our kids were staying, and then drove home early in the morning. At noon on Saturday we left for Indianapolis (Carmel, actually) to attend my cousin's wedding. Saturday was also my birthday (31)We stayed the night there and drove home Sunday afternoon. Monday was a catch-up day where we took time to be together, get groceries and do some birthday shopping. I then headed to my friend Craig's house to watch Monday Night Football.
So, now I'm at the end of my first day back and it feels good. In the next two posts I'm going to try to highlight my time at MinistryCOM. Stay tuned ...