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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Kyle Lake

I was deeply disturbed and saddened to hear of the death of Kyle Lake. Kyle was the lead pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, TX. The church is made up primarily of Baylor University students and is probably best known as the home church of worship leader, David Crowder. UBC is known for their innovative use of the arts and technology in worship.

Kyle was electrocuted while performing a baptism when he reached to adjust a microphone. The woman he was baptizing was unhurt.

Kyle was 33 and leaves behind a wife and 3 children - a daughter and twin sons. My thoughts and prayers go out to Kyle's family and congregation.

Read more HERE and HERE.

Shaun has some great words and memories HERE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Handwritten is just better!

I have said it before: I am a technology guy. I love it. I love being able to shoot off a quick e-mail to someone with an "atta-boy" or go to Hallmak.com to fire off an e-card.

However, recently I have recommitted myself to a dying art: the art of the handwritten note. Now don't get me wrong, e-mail is great. But there's just something special about getting that handwritten note. It conveys the message that the sender thought enough about the recipient to take time to write something by hand.

Lydia Ramsey, in her article, "Business Note Etiquette: Sending Handwritten Notes," says:
If you are looking for ways to stand from the crowd, to be noticed by your colleagues and clients, try putting pen to paper whenever you have the slightest excuse.

There are few acts more impressive than handwriting a letter or a note to someone with whom you do business or would like to. Most people think that writing notes by hand requires extra time and effort. Ironically, it can be quick and painless if you do it frequently and follow these tips:

1. Have writing supplies close at hand.
Store stationery and stamps in the most convenient place in your desk. When you need to send a note, all you have to do is reach for your stationary, dash off a few lines, address the envelope, put the stamp in place and mail it.

2. Keep your message brief.
These are notes so you only have to come up with three or four sentences. If you attempt to compose more than a few lines, writer's block is liable to set in and you will never get past "start."

3. Develop a system.
Before you head out of the office to a business meal or function that someone else is hosting, address an envelop to your host. It will be a breeze to jot down your short message when you return.

4. Use the appropriate professional stationary.
Both single-sided correspondence cards and fold-over notes with the company name or logo imprinted on them are business-like and will represent you and your organization well.

5. Poor penmanship is no excuse unless your handwriting is totally illegible.
The person who receives your note will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will not be grading your handwriting. If your penmanship does not meet your standards, it is never too late to improve. There are numerous resources at your library or on the Internet to teach you to write legibly.

6. Use any occasion to get noticed with a note.
A few of those instances are when...

  • You have received a gift
  • You were a guest in someone's home
  • You were hosted to a meal
  • You received a business favor
  • You are replying to an invitation
  • You are sending condolences
  • You want to offer congratulations
  • You need to apologize

7. Make your message timely.
Whether you are sending a note of appreciation, congratulation or condolence, do it as quickly as possible. A thank you should go out within 24 to 48 hours. However, don't forgo sending a note because you think too much time has elapsed. There is no definite statute of limitations on appreciation.

8. Understand that e-mail is not a substitute for the personal handwritten message.
The Internet is fast, efficient and remote. If you are corresponding by e-mail immediately following a meeting with a business associate, include your expression of gratitude, but don't let that stop you from sending a second message by ground.

Successful people pay attention to the details and look for ways to build better business relationships. When you take the time to send handwritten notes, you will stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Your next big sale or job promotion may came about as a result of your doing business just a little differently.

For more inspiration, The Art of the Handwritten Note gives thorough instruction in the specific details that give so many men and women the jitters when it comes to correspondence that can’t (or shouldn’t) be produced on a keyboard. From overcoming illegible penmanship to mastering the challenge of keeping straight margins, avoiding smeared ink, and choosing stationery that is appropriate but suits your style, this is a powerful little guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring - and noteworthy - way.

(HT: Just Charlie)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sermons - A Team Sport?

I believe in the power of team.

That statement was not birthed in me overnight. By nature, I tend to be a lone wolf, a rugged individualist, and a control freak, so doing stuff as a team has been difficult.

But I have seen glimpses of greatness in being the part of the right team. I now know that teams can be far more "lethal" than individuals because of the sheer raw horsepower they bring to the table.

As a Worship & Creative Arts Pastor at NewCov, we do much of what happens on Sunday mornings as a team. But I am beginning to think about expanding the team concept to my preaching. Recently, the CreativePastors Blog posted the article, "Build a Better Message... and Have More Fun While You're at It!"
During the first several years of Fellowship Church, I spent 30-35 hours a week planning and preparing the weekend message by myself. At that time I experienced considerable anxiety because as soon as I delivered one sermon, another would be waiting for me, like giant waves that kept crashing over my head week after week after week. Finally, stress, anxiety and writer's block forced me to remove myself as a creative bottleneck and adopt a different method - creative team planning.

After all the teachings I'd done on creativity, I asked myself, "Why not tap in to the creative geniuses you have around you?" So, we began bringing in 4-6 staff members each week to add their insights, their passion, and the stories from their lives to help craft the weekend message. The messages are much better now that we use team creativity... why wait until after you speak to get a critique?
They give the following key points to remember about team creativity:
  • Plan ahead. Creative team planning goes beyond simple brainstorming. These meetings work best when we have a general idea of what we'll be talking about so we can all bring ideas to the table supporting and examining that idea. I set the direction for the message and determine where we want to go. It's the team's job to help us get there.
  • It's not a free-for-all. The weekend speaker has to lead the meeting and call the shots. Frequently I'll guide our discussion by asking questions and we use the answers to craft the message.
  • Check your ego at the door. To get effective input, you have to be transparent and allow your team to be honest in critiquing and shaping your ideas. Don't let your ego get in the way of doing this. The spoken word is the most important part of the weekend service and this process will only improve your message.
  • Bring the right people to the table. The foundation of our creative team stays the same from week to week, but then we add a few different people to get diverse perspectives. We make sure to include women, singles, and a variety of age ranges in the mix. But whoever participates must be someone we connect with and someone we can trust.
  • Choose the right location. Think about how people write for sitcoms - they do it in a relaxed setting. If you want to spur creative interaction, design an inviting environment. Part of my office at the church includes a sort of family room with comfortable chairs, writing tools, food, coffee and bottled water.
  • Staff your church accordingly. Don't overburden your foundational team with too many other job duties. They can definitely carry some additional responsibilities, but they have to be freed up to participate in the creative meetings each week.
So how about you? Have you used the team concept in your sermon development? How has it worked? How can it work better?

Read the full article HERE.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Stoopid Fun!

This video is hilarious!

(HT: tony morgan | one of the simply strategic guys)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Butlers but Were Afraid to Ask

I don't remember how I ran across this site. However I got there, I must admit... it is very interesting. I'm talking about The International Guild of Professional Butlers.

They've got all the answers to the questions you want to ask about butlers:
  • What do you call what butlers do? (It's called "butling.' And yes, I laugh just a little when I say it out loud).
  • How much do butlers make? ($50,000 - $150,000 a year, US. Also included is housing, a car, appropriate clothing, and a generous bonus at the end of the year. In case you're wondering, the highest paid butler in the US makes $400,000 a year).
  • Can a butler be a woman? (There may not be all that many female Butlers around but there is a definite demand. The International Guild of Professional Butlers knows of many families who employ female Butlers. Particularly families in the Middle and Far East often prefer female Butlers. So do a lot of female celebrities).
Yep, all these answers and more!

Other cool stuff includes a section on folding napkins, how to set your table correctly for any occasion, how to remove stains, and even how to clean jewelry. There are also sections on how to tie a tie and a bow tie.

I realize this all sounds kind of corny, but the next time you want to fold your napkin using the Lady Windemere's Fan fold, just take a look at The International Guild of Professional Butlers.

Just a little fun for a Sunday night. And yes, you will be graded the next time I come over.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Starbucks and God

Ever go to Starbucks, read "The Way I See It" sentiments on the cup and think, "I wish there was a cup that represented a Christian worldview"? Coming in 2006, there will be.

According to USAToday, coffee drinkers could get a spiritual jolt with their java in the spring when Starbucks begins putting a God-filled quote from the Rev. Rick Warren, author of the mega-selling The Purpose-Driven Life, on its cups.

It will be the first mention of God in the company's provocative quote campaign, The Way I See It. In 2005, Starbucks is printing 63 quotes from writers, scientists, musicians, athletes, politicians and cultural critics on cups for company-run and licensed locations to carry on the coffeehouse tradition of conversation and debate.

Warren says the idea of a grande pitch for God as creator came to him after seeing a Starbucks quote on evolution from paleontologist Louise Leakey. Because Starbucks solicited customer contributions for 2006, Warren sent his in. On Tuesday, Starbucks spokeswoman Sanja Gould confirmed that it would be used.

Warren's quote will read:

"You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny."

Read the entire article HERE.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Godfather and the Blogosphere...

It is 10:00 p.m. Pacific time. I am watching The Godfather on Bravo (for the 100th time). This movie is a classic... I never get tired of it ("I never knew until this day that it was Barsini all along.").

I just finished reading Technorati's State of the Blogosphere, Part 1. Since my 100th post, over 200,000 new blogs have been created. Check out these staggering statistics:
  • As of October 2005, Technorati is now tracking 19.6 million weblogs.
  • The total number of weblogs tracked continues to double about every 5 months.
  • The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of let-up in growth.
  • About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day.
  • About a new weblog is created each second.
  • 2% - 8% of new weblogs per day are fake or spam weblogs.
  • Between 700,000 and 1.3 million posts are made each day.
  • About 33,000 posts are created per hour, or 9.2 posts per second.
  • An additional 5.8% of posts (or about 50,000 posts/day) seen each day are from spam or fake blogs, on average.
Read the entire article HERE.

FYI - Bravo just reported the body count in The Godfather was 17 (18, if you count the horse).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Top 10 Blog Design Mistakes

Awhile ago, I linked to Jakob Nielsen's article, "Top 10 Web Design Mistakes." Now, Nielsen has another top 10 list: "Top 10 Blog Design Mistakes." Here they are:
  1. No Author Biographies
  2. No Author Photo
  3. Nondescript Posting Titles
  4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
  5. Classic Hits are Buried
  6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
  7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
  8. Mixing Topics
  9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
  10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
Read the entire article HERE.

Too much technology?

The new computer is loaded up and I am back in the saddle. All in all, it was a fairly painless process.

At the risk of being accused of being a Luddite, sometimes I wonder if my constant access to technology is such a good thing. The other day I was driving somewhere while talking on my cell phone and I thought, "You know, 10 years ago, I would just be enjoying some quiet time alone in the car right now."

Today I read about the VisionMirror. It is a mirror iwth a TV built in. When it is turned off, it functions like a normal mirror (imagine that!). When turned on, this water-proof factory-made TV mirror will not only show you broadband, sattelite and/or cale television, but it will also accept a computer signal as well (which means you can read your e-mail while going big-boy-pottie).

Tell me, is there a need for more TV viewing and computer-using opportunities in the bathroom? I have been getting along fine for years with just book, magazines, and the occasional sports page. I guess it could be good when you have to "go" somewhere in the middle of your favorite show. Of course, you could just get a Tivo.

Anyway, enough ranting about technology. I need to get back to checking my e-mail while listening to a podcast on iTunes as I read Seth Godin's latest on-line book.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Away for a few more days.

Got my new computer today... Dell XPS Gen2 laptop. I'm busy trying to move stuff from the old computer to the new one, so I won't be posting for a few more days.

Saw Third Day tonight. They rocked. Check out Mark Lee's blog: This Guy Falls Down.

Technology as a Ministry Trojan Horse

Remember the battle of Troy? The Greeks sailed across the Aegean Sea to rescue their kidnapped Queen. They thought it would be a short war. Ten years later, the city of Troy was still impregnable. Then, according to Greek mythology, Athena gave Odysseus an idea. The Greeks built a hollow horse big enough to hide a regiment of soldiers. They parked the horse by the gate of the city and sailed their ships around the tip of the island. The Trojans thought it was a peace offering, but in the middle of the night the regiment of soldiers exited the horse, opened the gates for the Greek army that had sailed back, and rescued Queen Helen. Mission accomplished.

Here's a thought: technology is a Trojan Horse.

Blogs and podcasts are Trojan horses that get behind the impregnable defense mechanisms that keep people out of church. Why? Because they are non-threatening. Blog visitors can remain "anonymous" as long as they want to or need to. Podcast listeners can download Theaterchurch.com and check us out while they work out or hang out or commute to work.

We don't ask people to come to church. We go to them. Podcast listeners can have church anytime, anywhere. Am I suggesting that a podcast is a replacement for "the gathering" together of believers? Absolutely not. Think of the podcast as a side door into NCC. Actually, front door might be a more apt description. Podcast listeners are subscribing at a rate of almost 100 per day less than three months after launching our podcast.

One last thought. We're not trying to save a Queen who has been kidnapped. We're trying to rescue souls that have been kidnapped and held captive by the enemy. Hopefully the podcast and blog will help people find their way back to God.

Read more HERE.

(HT: Evotional.com)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Procrastination hack: “(10+2)*5”

Following on the idea of the procrastination dash and Jeff’s progressive dash, I’ve been experimenting with a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. Brace yourself, because it is a bit more byzantine than is Merlin 2005’s newly stripped-down habit. It’s called (10+2)*5, and today it will save your behind.

Who it’s for

  • procrastinators
  • the easily distracted
  • compulsive web-surfers
  • people with a long list of very short tasks (a/k/a “mosquitos”)
  • people having trouble chipping away at very large tasks

What you’ll need

  1. a timer
    • must be easy to reset
    • electronic kitchen timer is particularly good (pref. with multiple alarm memories), or
    • an app like Minuteur (get the newest version—several cool new features)
  2. a reduced subset of your to-do list
    • tasks that can be worked on (not necessarily completed) in blocks of 10 minutes or less
    • GTD people: next actions only, please
  3. an hour of your time (less is potentially okay, but it’s non-canonical)
  4. your sorry, procrastinating behind

How it works

It’s called “(10+2)*5” and here’s why:

  • 10 - Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 - After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • *5 - You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking

Important squirrely rules

  • You do not need to finish your task or your project in ten minutes; you just need to move it forward
  • If you finish a satisfying amount of work in fewer than ten minutes, STOP, and go right to your 2-minute break, than start another 10-minute dash
  • Do NOT skip breaks! You are not allowed. Breaks cannot be missed. Period. Go surf the web. Now. Seriously. GO!

What will happen

You’ll blaze through an hour’s worth of work/not work and will find yourself looking forward to both the breaking and working parts of the cycle. (Dang, how’s that for a change?)

Read the entire article HERE.

100th post

Well, here it is: Post #100. Thanks to my loyal readers I am currently ranked 230,356 by Technorati. I haven't yet attained the ranking of some of the blogs I enjoy:
At least I have something to shoot for. All in all it has been great. I wonder what post #500 will be like?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Leading Ideas: Listen to the Whisper

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
When I do mission & vision work with clients, the first thing I have them do is present their current mission & vision. Most of what I hear could put you to sleep. It's formulaic. It's lifeless. And the delivery is uninspired. I then ask them to dig a little deeper. "What's the mission that's whispering to you? - that's begging you to follow it - that might sound silly or unreasonable, but that gets you fired up as you think about pursuing it." The answers to these questions are often much different. They're electric in comparison. They're raw, but they're real. And as a result they have the ability to inspire and move people.

Consider This: Mediocrity is easy - follow the masses. Excellence, however, is not - that's a path you've got to carve on your own. Your guide is often no more than a faint whisper inside of you. To pursue it takes courage. And to succeed takes imagination and hard work. However, the payoff is big if you stick to it. You will have built something from nothing. And you will have forged your character and legacy in the process.

Try This:
  1. What whisper do you hear?
  2. Put it on paper - I recommend doing this even if you think you know it already - it forces you to articulate it more clearly.
  3. Recognize that this is your sweet spot - the place where you'll find more creativity and success than anywhere else.
  4. When the time is right, follow it. Slowly at first if you have to.
  5. Revisit this whisper at least once a year as it can change and grow as you begin to listen to it.
Question: How have you woven your whisper into your life?

(HT: FC Now via Random Ramblings of a Church Gatherer)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Sunday night unwind... 10.09.05

Tonight I'm taking it back to 1978 with "The Cars." Who can forget "Good Times Roll, "My Best Friend's Girl," or "Moving in Stereo"? Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School, here I come! Take me back to the 7th grade!

Hilarious fun on a Sunday afternoon...

This is a crack up! Ever feel the need to come up with some biblical samck-talk? Then the Biblical Curse Generator is for you! Here's an example of a real zinger:
Hear this, O thou sulphurous nonentity, for you will be trampled by a herd of stampeding pigs!
Oh yeah... this is the good stuff!

(HT: ScottHodge.org)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Opening Big

Seth Godin recently wrote about the importance of "Opening Big." He says that while we would all like to open big, rarely do we get that opportunity. We need to keep plugging along and wait for the momentum to build.
The bottom line is that it's way way easier to start things than it used to be (opening a movie big costs a tenth of a billion dollars, while opening a blog costs about twenty). The natural, user-driven networks that make a product succeed or fail rarely hit all at once. But the snowball effect online is far more powerful than the old-world scream & dream approach.

So, what's it mean to you?

Make something worth making.
Sell something worth talking about.
Believe in what you do because you may have to do it for a long time before it catches on.
Don't listen to the first people who give you feedback.
Don't give up. Not for a while, anyway.
Read the entire article HERE.

(HT: Churchwerx)

Friday, October 07, 2005

The ZoomQuilt - A collaborative art project

This is pretty cool... The ZoomQuilt.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Growing Your Blog

1. Post about something that you're passionate about (and that interests others.)

Me, I'm passionate about Leadership and learning to be a better leader. If you're passionate about something, it will show. But don't just post what your cat did yesterday.

2. Have a vision for your blog.
What are you trying to accomplish with your blog or site? Is this just an online journal or do I have something to actually share. Is your life that interesting? Where there is no vision, the blog readers perish.

3. Ask yourself "So What"?
Ask yourself the question, we ask during sermon prep, "So What?" before you post. Will anybody care what your Grand Ma got for her birthday?

4. Post something you know people will want to link to.
Along with the previous question, ask yourself, "will someone find this interesting and want to link to it" and share with their world. It's all about networking.

5. Post more frequently.
If you're posting once a day, guess how many time people with Bloglines are coming to your blog? Just post one more time a day would increase your viewership.

6. Check other blogs and leave comments on great posts and link to them.
I find other leaders' blogs by them leaving comments here and elsewhere and from my referral logs. Don't be selfish with links! If you link to others, they will be more likely to link to you. If you link to me or most other people, we will come to your blog.

7. Get on a blogroll of a blog that is more popular than your own.
Often your initial exposure will come down to location, location, location.

(HT: The Leadership Blog)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Top 10 Web Design Mistakes from 2005

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox today spoke of his Top 10 Web Design Mistakes of 2005. They are:

  1. Legibility Problems
  2. Non-Standard Links
  3. Flash
  4. Content That's Not Written for the Web
  5. Bad Search
  6. Browser Incompatibility
  7. Cumbersome Forms
  8. No Contact Information or Other Company Info
  9. Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths
  10. Inadequate Photo Enlargement

Read more HERE... (Interestingly enough, Nielsen's site is one of the ugliest sites I have ever seen).

(HT: Church Marketing Sucks via Effective Web Ministry Notes)

The Pumpkin Gutter

I like to think I carve a mean pumpkin (the picture is NOT one of mine, unfortunately). Last year, in a come-from-behind win, I was victorious in a contest between Randy of Ethos and some other friends.

But my efforts pale in comparison to The Pumpkin Gutter (yep, the picture is one of his). This guy is unreal! I don't know if I could ever carve another pumpkin. Check out his stuff HERE.

Here's a picture of my winning pumpkin. Note to self... Don't quit your day job.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Holy Grail of Customer Service Phone Numbers

Oh my gosh!

I just ran across this at the Church of the Customer:

Can't reach a human when dialing a company's 800 number?

This handy chart helps you navigate out of automated phone system hell for 71 U.S. companies. It tells you the exact numbers to dial and phrases to say to reach an actual person.

Now I can't wait for something to break! Get the chart HERE.

(HT: Church of the Customer)

Monday, October 03, 2005

All Pastors are Salesmen

Here's a quote from H. B. London from Focus on the Family's ministry to pastors. Provacative talk that I'm sure not all will appreciate:
"The church in more ways than not is mirroring Wall Street and the world and Madison Avenue. We're [lagging] behind them to a certain degree, but we're using all their techniques."

"Nearly every pastor is a salesman or a marketer of one kind or another because... we have a philosophy to sell," says H. B. London, vice president of pastoral ministries at Focus on the Family. "The best marketers and best salesmen will have more converts, will have more people, will take in more money.... Evangelicals are marketers because they're really passionate about their product."
This is from an article in the Christian Science Monitor a couple months ago. You can read the entire article HERE.

So what do you think?

(HT: Monday Morning Insight)

Sunday recap: 10.04.05


  • My Redeemer Lives
  • Everyday
  • Fairest Lord Jesus (Passion Hymns version)
  • Offering

Other elements
  • Song: We Trust in the Name of the Lord"
  • Song: "There is One"
  • Testimony: Bill Choate

Message: "Move Out"
Pastor Jän challenged us to "Move Out" like the 72. He used 2 reminders and 2 tools. The reminders were a cotton ball (we are sheep among wolves - innocence) and a nickel (in God we trust -dependence). The tools were Steps to Peace with God and a 3x5 card (to write the names of the people you are going to pray for and the buddy you are going to pray with).

People were invited to come forward to pick up a "Move Out Toolkit" that contained those 4 items and were directed to the Move.Out blog for encouragement, a to post about what God is doing, and to leave prayer requests.

The highlight of the morning (unplanned) was Bill Choate's testimony about falling off a balcony and breaking his back and how God used the kids in the Sunday School class he teaches to encourage him and give him opportunities to share with the doctors and nurses why he loves teaching Sunday School. It was an awesome moment reminding us of how God can use ordinary us in extraordinary ways, even in spite of our circumstances.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sunday Night Unwind, 10.04.05

Tonight, the unwind is a vague soundtrack from the 70's/80's. My parents read the book and watched the movie (Jonathan Livingston Seagull - a narrative about reincarnation and ascension).

Then they bought the soundtrack. I never got into the story, but liked the music. Let's see if it has the same calming effect that it did 25 years ago.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Drive Conference Videos... YEAH!

I missed the Drive Conference this year at North Point. My friends who went were amazed and inspired. I can't wait until next year's event.

However, you can watch the main sessions online. That's what I said: you can watch them online!

Go get 'em HERE. Scott Hodge and Mark Batterson, you ROCK!.

(HT: ScottHodge.org via Evotional.com)