Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't wait for the introduction

Just returned from Florida & a great family vacation. Nothing better than a cross-country jaunt with the wife & kiddos. I'm all about family time & family talk, but I must say, whoever invented the car DVD player should win some kind of Nobel Prize. And whoever invented the wireless DVD headphones should win two.

Right in the middle of Mississippi, I passed a giant billboard that read: WHEN YOU DIE, YOU WILL MEET GOD !!! I suppose this was supposed to scare me into a better relationship with the Almighty. What a shame. First, scare tactics seem to be the most time-tested and failed evangelism strategy in history. Maybe that's why Jesus himself went in a whole different direction.

Second, what a bummer to think you won't meet God until you die. Isn't that the whole point of the incarnation? That, and the gift of the Holy Spirit? God is present right now. No need to wait for a relationship. No need to ride this thing out for 80-some-odd years waiting in line for a crack at eternity. Go ahead and cut the line. Move on up front and get an early peek. Kind of like a backstage pass for sound check.

I went to a Jackson Browne show once, got there early and watched sound check with 40 people. Then some 15,000 poured in for the show. When we talked about what happened with some late-comers, they were jealous. All they wanted to know was what it was like? They enjoyed the concert, but they were convinced that they missed out on a much better experience. Bottom line: They were right.

Life is so much better with God in it. No need to wait for the introduction.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oxen are gross!

Wisest dude in the world once wrote: "Where there are no oxen, the barn is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest (Proverbs 14:4)." Seems like we all want harvest. Got that part down. Also seems like we buy into the part about needing oxen to get the job done. Makes sense, too.

The trouble comes when we really stop and think about the reality of having oxen in the barn. Seems agreeable at first until they start slobbering everywhere. They stink, and they tear up the place. That and they go to the bathroom more than seems physically possible. Who wants a nasty barn? Who wants to care for and clean up after oxen?

The truth is: too many people in leadership. Good leaders want harvest. They also usually want clean barns. Not happening. Great leaders learn to expect the mess that oxen - the very tools for harvest - bring with the process. I once heard Rick Warren say that ministry was messy. Ya think? Yet so many people in ministry look and act completely baffled when progress leaves in its wake a pretty big mess. The mess includes fatigue, frustration, defensiveness, offended church members, inconvenienced staff, criticism. At the same time, according to Solomon, it takes the oxen to get the work done. And there's just no way to have a clean barn that's full of oxen. If you know this up front, it sure makes the barn cleaning easier.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lessons from the Bike

Saturday was among the greatest days in my life - literally. My little girl learned how to ride a bike right before my eyes. I cried I was so fired up. She has tried forever, and she just couldn't get it. Then, voila!!! Talk about a transformation. Frustration and angst became joy and confidence. Her whole demeanor changed in an instant As her father, I celebrated her joy all day long. Still celebrating. We're riding together tonight.

I know not everyone buys into the whole "God as Father" metaphor - too many crummy dads and all. But aside from being the dominant metaphor in the Bible, I think it works here. As her father, nothing brought more joy to me on this day than watching my little girl discover a new skill & gain some worldly confidence. I suppose that's what God feels like when we all do that. Whatever happened to the aura of discovery for adults? Why do we settle so easily for that which we already know? What skills, talents, dreams, accomplishments are you sitting on that are just waiting to emerge? How about throwing the routine in the garbage for a day, taking a big, fat risk and discovering something entirely new in your life. It will do you some good, and I know it will make God smile.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Young Leaders

I don't get it. Why doesn't the Church do a better job of identifying and developing young leaders? Why do we wait until people are 55+ and "been called" into ministry before we start considering them for ministry? I'm OK with the whole "called" thing, but I can't recall Jesus waiting for folks to come to him and letting him know they had been divinely inspired to join the cause. Seems like he identified folks with limited credentials but with huge leadership upside and intentionally invited them to get on board.

If the religious angle creeps you out, think about it from a secular point of view. Would Coca-Cola, or Apple, or Southwest Airlines wait around and rifle through the best applications from a limited pool of folks who felt called to work for them? Or, would they go out and seek the very best talent they could find. That's exactly what they do because they know the future of their industry depends on gifted leadership. And they can't afford to wait for it to come to them. Better yet, they have sophisticated, but highly efficient systems in place to ID and train up people already in their ranks. Genius! I'm glad to work for a church that is committed to raising up principled, Christian leaders. We're going after them, and we're going provide a great culture to keep them in ministry for a lifetime.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Still rockin' Pong

My family was the last one on the block to get an Atari. Remember those things? They were revolutionary video game systems in the 70’s, but my house kept plugging along with Pong as long as we could. Not sure why, but we were always the last to get on board with household technology. I think my mom finally sprung for a microwave in 2005.

I’m still that way. My staff has encouraged me to start blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking forever. I’m still plugging along with hand-written letters and the requisite e-mails. And I’d much rather call you than text you. I’ve resisted blogging and Twitter because I thought they were self-serving. Who cares what I am doing or thinking, right? I’ve been embarrassed to consider that people would want to “follow me.” I suppose it’s time to change, and here’s why...

God has blessed this ministry in so many extraordinary ways. While much of our denomination is retracting, we keep growing. It has occurred to me that maybe God is up to something with Cornerstone, and maybe what we are doing really is worth sharing. We have a platform that has far-reaching potential (even globally). What God is doing through Cornerstone matters, and if what we are doing and what we are thinking needs to be shared, then we need to share it.

So here goes:
1. I am starting this blog. I hope you’ll check it out and begin to follow it. I’ll be writing about all kinds of things like why we do what we do, what we believe to be important, and the ways in which Cornerstone goes about its business. I hope it will be meaningful to you and other churches as well.

2. I’m starting to Tweet (hope I said that right – it sounds illegal). From time to time, I’ll be sharing all kinds of leadership and spiritual resources, articles, experiences, thoughts, etc. with you.

3. I have asked our staff to step it up with our Facebook. This really is an amazing tool, and you can keep up-to-the-minute with all things Cornerstone and all things Munger Place.

I hope you’ll sign up and share in this process with me. And I hope you’ll encourage your friends to do the same. In the meantime, I still rock at Pong.