Monday, October 30, 2006

There is No "I" in Meatloaf...

Yep. GCC's team at Hope Rescue Mission did it again. About 20 meatloaves, mashed potatoes, corn, eggs, cookies... oh yeah, good stuff! They helped serve 116 hungry people on Sunday evening. We had a great time meeting some new people and reconnecting with some old friends. Anna, Sophie and I had the great privilege of serving alongside some of the following faces:

Susie Peters and Two Eggs. Nice.

Anna, Soph, Me and Six Eggs. Nice X 3.

Vernard and Al. Two dudes who work down at Hope Rescue Mission.

Mr. Bob, Soph, Anna and 7 dozen Eggs. Nice x 84.

Site leader, Richard Measell. Nice apron Richard!

The BOSS (in a good way) of the kitchen and site leader, Nancy Measell. We love you Nancy!

Ingrid helped keep the supplies coming!

Connie serving up the salads. Two cukes, two tomatoes, raisins, cheese and lettuce. Yum!

Dick and Susie were really great. Keep shining you two!

Resident, Philip, getting the cleanup work done.

And finally, the line that got it done! Great work everyone! So great to serve with you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

6 Words Every Parent Likes to Hear...

So I'm giving my oldest, Anna (age 7) a piano lesson. We get to a song that is pretty difficult for a seven year old brain to comprehend. Hands moving in different directions at the same time. So, she's just played another piece pretty well. This one stumps her on the first try. She says, "Okay. That's enough for tonight," and begins to close her book. I tell her to take each hand separately first and give it another shot. She plays, then stops, and I can literally see her brain working through the look in her eyes. She then says six words that I loved to hear: "I THINK I CAN GET IT." And then she procedes to do just that! TEACHING MOMENT AT THE V'S HOUSE! If that is the way I could think all day, or even more so, the way the world would think all day, just IMAGINE what the world would be like. Call me an optimist. My daughter, teaching me life lessons. Thanks Anna.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Iron Sharpening Iron

Wow. A great Leadership Event. 27:17 promised men a chance to meet with God for 27 hours. Our group met with God. It was great! Thanks to all the guys who helped put it together. Alan Mock, Mark Meyer, Ted Bryant. Met a lot of great guys: Loren, Eric, Josh, Mike, Lee, and many more.

A pic of the band from 27:17. Alex, Jeff, and Brian: you guys ROCKED.

Had the chance to debut a song that I had written called "We'll Fight". It seemed to be well received. Kind of a rallying cry. Happy to be able to use the gift I've been given.

Here's a quick summary of the sessions:

Mark Beeson -
- Each man needs a Nathan in his life. Someone who can be brutally honest.
- the way David responded to Nathan showed his true, repentant heart
- David then publicly admitted his sin and even wrote a song (Psalm 51) to be sung about it at the temple. Amazing humility. Made me wonder about what it would look like if during the Clinton scandal, if he would have confessed up front, what a difference it would have made.
- This prayer Mark wishes we'd all pray: " Lord, I want what you want. I want to be confronted with truth rather than being safe from the truth."

Dr. Bob (I) -
- It's not what you put in physically, but what you put in spiritually that makes the difference.
- Gave some stats: Women are 2X more likely to be involved in discipleship and/or service in the church.
- It starts with the family
- if a youth comes to know Christ, 6% of their family usually comes to know Christ
- if a woman comes to know Christ, 11% of her family usually come to know Christ
- if a man comes to know Christ, 89% of his family comes to know Christ
- The world is watching what we men will do
1. We live a life opposed - we will suffer for our faith
2. Be real. Be yourself. - we live to impress too often - people looking for authentic men
3. Seek God's approval, not man's. Gal. 1:10 - God tests our hearts each day
4. Be a man of generosity
5. Look out for the meeker ones - our job to stand up for those less fortunate
6. Become a true lover of people. Seek to understand rather than be understood
7. Get a faith that works - get active in our faith
8. What's it take to get angry? A holy discontent. Important to feel what I believe

Pastor Glen Bone:
- "If you hold back your gift, you are robbing not only this world, but eternity."
- Our journey is to make our inside lives and outside match up.
- Men follow men. This became more clear over the time we had together. I realize that that is what we men are looking for. A man to follow. We see it inside and outside of the church. Gangs, etc.
Men don't often get involved in the church because they are B.O.R.E.D.
B - Busyness - too busy for God
O - Obligations - other stuff in our lives that distract us from real purpose
R - Rituals - don't just GO to church, BE the church
E - Education - we shy away from educating ourselves in God's word. We'll study sports stats, but not His word
D - Duty -
- He challenged us to become a spiritual father to someone. Our job, not just the pastor's.

Dr. Bob (II)
- He mostly challenged us to live a life that counts, a life that stands in the gap for our families.
- Highlight was Dr. Bob talking about a young man, Kyle who had a rough night on Friday night in a bar fight. Called his dad Saturday who told him to come down to the event. A few guys surrounded him in love and led him to Christ. Very cool.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Time to Rock...

This weekend: Men's Leadership Event

We're at Camp Mack for our first run at a Men's Leadership Event. (The event formerly known as Men's Retreat - kinda like Prince, but hopefully better)

Should be a good time. We've got Mark B., Pastor Glen Bone (of Good Seed Ministries in Chicago) and Dr. Bob - all bringing the heat! Praying for more men to get the vision of stepping up to leadership. Pics and stories when we get back.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wanna Help Some Kids in Need?

A few months back, I was challenged by the Bill Hybels interview with Bono at Willow's Leadership Summit to make a difference in the AIDS pandemic that is currently happening in Africa. One of the tools that I got from this was a DVD called Hope and Action

I would highly recommend it to anyone who needs a catch up on the AIDS crisis.
Fast facts:
· 29.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS
· Approximately 3.5 million new infections in 2002
· An estimated 2.4 million deaths in 2002
· 10 million young people (aged 15–24) and almost 3 million children under 15 living with HIV
· Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans.
· By 2010, the number of orphans will reach 42 million. Twenty million of these children - or almost 6 percent of all children in Africa - will be orphaned due to AIDS

Imagine the entire population of ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN THE U.S. without parents to watch them, help them grow, show them right from wrong. I was challenged by this DVD I watched to take action, so, if you'll join me, I'd like to help some orphans directly through a ministry called

These bracelets are made by AIDS orphans and/or their caregivers. The suggested donation for each bracelet is $20. The funds gathered go to support four outstanding charities working specifically with AIDS orphans in Africa--Compassion, International Justice Mission, Opportunity International and World Vision

Post a comment here if you're interested in helping AIDS orphans. I can get you a bracelet; or if you'd like to order some to collect donations for yourself, you can do that at their website. Thanks.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Catalyst '06 Day Two

Day Two and Catalyst certainly did not disappoint.

I was really impressed by the sound of the band. Super tight kick drum/snare combination. One small criticism, though I LOVE U2, it was almost comical by the end of day two when the guitarist would bust into an "Edge-style" riff, AGAIN! And AGAIN!

Great new song by Steve Fee, called Glorious One. Great energy, message and song hook. I really like to look at it for a weekend song for GCC.

Okay, just for fun - we made it into the Guiness Book of World Records for having the largest pillow EVER! All 10000 of us whacked each other for a solid minute. To the fire marshall's dismay, all the pillows began to bust open with flammable pillow inerds flying everywhere! Much fun!

First up - Donald Miller and his pastor, Rick McKinley
I have decided that Donald Miller looks like a cross between Matthew Broderick and Tom Hulce (add 70 lbs).

The first point that the guys was that it's not so much a question of "how" to love the world, but more of "if" we will love the world. This is the idea of the missional church - loving without an agenda and the fact that God is everywhere, we just need to align with his workings in the world.

Rick talked a lot about RISK and what it means to tell his church and our churches to GO. Go out and love the world. Sometimes our people freak out about this since they feel like they may get "infected" by the world. Here is where he made the point that the Christian walk can't be reduced to a set of rules to protect us (reminds me of the Pharisees). It means that we must teach our people discernment. Imagine that - intelligent, Spirit-sensitive, thinking individuals who would engage culture? Hmm. Sounds too crazy...

Donald is in the process of writing a new book about the need for men to mentor young people who don't have dads. He has set up his Belmont Foundation to help facilitate this.

Finally, when we're ON MISSION as a church, the world gets the right idea about the Church. When we're OFF MISSION, a very destructive image of the Church is displayed.

Next Louie Giglio,
The Church is the God's plan to change the world. It isn't plan B, or some kind of oops. With all the church's imperfections, we sometimes tend to look at it like that. The government - not God's plan. Social organizations - not God's plan. Educational system - not God's plan. The Church - God's plan.

Interesting quote: "The local church should be the least "safe" place on earth." Meaning, that is not a cush-cush comfy place to hang, but a place that sends us out ON MISSION. It should be dangerous. Radical. Messy.

We must develop God lovers first. This is key to the sending out. I'm reminded of Matt Redman's song "Mission's Flame". Lyrics "let worship be the heart of mission's flame." This is how we literally FIRE UP to be sent out.

Surprised to see AMBER COX (BEESON) here! She, her boss, Dawn, and Dawn's son ate lunch with me. Nice to hang with them and get their impressions.

Next, Kevin Carroll who wrote Rules of the Red Rubber Ball
This was introduced by the National Champion Dodgeball Team who were, in fact, youth pastors! They came out to the center stage and 30 people whipped balls at them. Then the whole crowd began to whip small red balls at them and each other. Very cultured.

Kevin had a good deal to offer in his narratives about dreaming big dreams. He was actually employed by the Philadelphia 76ers as a trainer and then Nike. He helped come up with the idea for Lance Armstrong's rubber bands that many of us wear today. He called us to BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). We have 86,400 seconds each day. What if each of them were $1? How would we spend them?

Good quote: "The master of the art of living makes little distinction between work and play." - James Michener.

Finally, Donald Miller closed us out on a rather serious note, pointing out that, as he sees it, there are three major influences on the Christian Church in America:
1. Free Market Economic System
2. Darwinian Theory
3. The Bible

We often fall into selling Christianity as a commodity. Selling it by saying "it will make you HAPPY!" Kind of the God infomercial.

As we insulate ourselves from the culture, we tend to role play. The "I'm doing great, how 'bout you?" syndrome.

We really need to be prophets to the culture.

Final thoughts on Catalyst 2006:
- As a first time attendee, I was blown away by the excellence level. It really helped me worship. "Excellence honors God and inspires people". They embodied that this week.
- Interesting that we heard so much about how the church needs to lose its ties with consumerism and yet, in the concourse area there were literally hundreds of vendors peddling their Christian goods to all the churches across America.
- The transitions were very thought out and well prepared.
- I like the idea that the Drive Conference, Orange Conference, and Catalyst Conference keep it simple by using only one word. I mentioned this to Amber Cox and Dawn, that I thought it might be a good idea to shrink the name of our Innovative Church Conference down to just INNOVATE. Simple is clear. We'll see where that goes.

Well, that's about it. Looking forward to applying what I've learned and sharing it with our teams.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Catalyst '06 Day One

I have to say from the getgo here:

Incredible. What a great first day! The planners of this event really took us on a journey. From laughing, to thinking, to crying, to celebrating.

First thing - I drive into the Gwinett Center parking lot, I see this:

Okay, I have to apologize for the small pic, it's from my phone and the resolution stinks!!! Yes, it's a hot air balloon. They were giving out free rides for conference attendees.

As I got closer to the door, this:

Bungee jumping for free! FUN! I'm going to try it tomorrow. My friend Ray got a minor wedgie when he jumped. I'll be sure to use proper precautions.

The conference began as all good conferences do with some way phat breakdancing. These people got air. Of course, then came the gospel choir singing with Steve Fee, a combo that kinda actually worked. We were then led in some worship songs - the standard Passion fare. Excellent sound with kewlio video panels in the back of the stage converted images into a giant pixel format. Kinda new, retro, if you will.

A picture:

Just before the message began, Candie Pearson came out and sang "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield along with the gospel choir. Now, I may be a little biased here, but I really think that GCC's own Angie Henry did a better job of it. Plus, I think our track (created by Jeff Myers) was a bit more accurate than theirs. Just my biased opinion though.

The keynote was Andy Stanley who "brought the goods". He stuck to a new thesis of his "the birth of the one point sermon". He literally had ONE point, but yet made it interesting.

He preached out of Daniel 4 "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of the men and gives them to anyone He wishes."
- Our positions of leadership are not of our own making. God places us.
- Leadership is a stewardship - a gift from God.
- It is temporary.
- We are accountable for how we steward it.
This was true in King Nebuchadnezzer's life. The position of king was given to him by God. The Lord took it away (he went crazy) until the king would confess that the LORD of the Israel was sovereign.
Since this leadership is given TO us, we must be:
- Diligent - We're here for a purpose. He placed us in the position. Now it's up to us to be faithful.
- Fearless - who shall we fear if God has us where He wants us. Gal. 1:10 "Am I trying to win the approval of men or of God?..."
-Humble - Christian leaders should be the MOST humble people in the world. Most often this is not the case.

Next, in the most elaborate set up that I've ever seen, Reggie Joiner and Lanny Donoho set up Marcus Buckingham by finding international conference attendees. They found a "brit" pastor, or so it seemed. Bringing him up on stage they begged him to sing "God Save the Queen". He acted very shy. Ultimately he was a ringer and busted into "Let it Be" by the Beatles with the band. They then covered: "Can't Buy Me Love", "Help!", and "Hey Jude". THEN, they marched in a set of UK flags along with "knights" on horses (from the local Medieval Times). And finally brought up Marcus with much pomp and circumstance.

Marcus Buckingham - Marcus mostly covered the idea that great managers help turn people's talents into performance for the team. They are catalysts for spotting people's strengths and then helping them to use them for the betterment of the mission of the organization.

- Not everyone is a great manager. I, Dan, admit that I am probably not the best at this. I like to plug people in, but I often like to bend their giftings to what I really need in a given role.
- (as his book Now, Discover Your Strengths covers, people tend to focus on their weaknesses that maximize their strengths.
- new series of short films are now available called "Trombone Player Wanted" that Marcus made with the makers of the Nooma films. These are about finding and living out of your strengths. View the trailer here.
- talked to Butch and I've purchased them for our team to go through and use. Should be enlightening hopefully.
- Lies we believe:
1. "As I grow my personality changes." Nope. Our habits might, our beliefs might, but our basic personality remains much the same. I simply become more and more of who I really am.
2. "You'll grow the most in the areas that you're weakest." He used the example of studying disease to understand health. We can't study the bad to get the good. Otherwise we end up with "not bad" rather than "good."

Lunch at Mama Wu's (should have been called Mama Patel's, since it was an Indian run Chinese place :))

Opening song after lunch: U2's "With or Without You". I thought they could have done the Rattle 'n Hum version having just had the gospel choir up there, but it was the Joshua Tree version. Massive U2 influence in their band. Dustin Maust would have been happy.

Next, George Barna and his book Revolution
. He talked about 7 things that make up a new revolutionary for Christ. He wanted us to focus on these seven things. Focusing on seven... Hmm... Sound familiar GCC folk? Almost carbon copy of our Focus on Five, only plus 2!

1. Have a posture of worship 24/7 - aka Take your next step
2. Evangelism by relationship - aka Invest and Invite
3. Discipleship in the Word - aka Read Your Bible
4. Here to Serve - aka Serve 1x per month
5. Build and sustain community - aka Have a friend. Be a friend.
6. Manage God's resources - good steward of time, treasure, talents, ideas, the environment for the Kingdom
7. Family as the primary expression of the church - can I get an amen to that?!

I keep hearing down here that there is so much to teaching our families to BE THE CHURCH on a micro scale. If each of our families were to disciple our kids well, we would have massive revival throughout our schools. The problem is that we as parents are WAITING for someone else to do it for us! The church, Awana, Christian schools, etc. These are all good things, BUT they should be reinforcement of what our kids are learning at home.

Our major challenge - LIFECHANGE in the hearts and minds of this generation and the next. It starts at home. We need to continually give our parents tools to use in discipling their kids. Familywise is a great resource that I'll mention again.

Next John Maxwell, who helped found the conference was interviewed.

As most of this conference seems to be confirming, he restated the importance of playing to your strengths.
- If you are at a level 4 at something, at best, you might improve to a 6. So focus on those things that you perform consistently at 6+ to improve to 8-9. This will help you make the greatest impact.
- leadership is influence, not position. It doesn't matter where you are in the org chart, you can influence your organization.

He wrapped up with a touching prayer for each of us to maintain purity in our lives through accountability, being in the Word, and being frightfully cautious.

The final session of the day wrapped with Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission who basically expanded his talk from yesterday (see below). A really great communicator, especially considering he's a lawyer.

They closed out with United's "Mighty to Save" with pictures from people who have been saved by IJM's ministry. And then - TOTAL POWER OUTAGE!!! Right in the middle of the song. Yikes! They slowly got things back up to at least get the sound back up. Lighting never got together. Hopefully no glitches tomorrow.

All in all a great day of learning, worship, and, I believe, kingdom expansion. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Catalyst Pre-Lab and Lab Day

A great day, packed with good info.

It started this morning with Reggie Joiner. He's no longer on staff at North Point. He is CEO/founder of Rethink. A group interested in helping churches literally "rethink" their strategies particularly focused on children's and youth ministry.

Brief synopsis:
- 60-70% of kids who grow up in church abandon their faith post-high school
- the church is not speaking to issues that our youth face each day in their schools
- Reggie challenged us that having our students "go to church" is not the goal. It's to have our kids "BE the church" that matters.
- He used the great example of the Church being described as a lampstand in Revelation. The only light in the temple that revealed, reminded, and showed the priest God's provision for His people. This suggests that the purpose of the Church is to "reveal God to the world".
- When we drift from this main purpose we use our "lampstand" to fight battles, make political statements, and often try to make our church look good. It becomes a 4-H Club - exposing Homosexuality/Hollywood/Halloween/style="font-weight:bold;">Harry Potter.
- When the lampstand is in it's proper place (shining it's light on what God's up to) , it will incite wonder, provoke discovery, and fuel passion. How often can we describe this experience in our churches today?
- Finally, Reggie reminded us about how much time we really get with our students in a year. On average, for a good attending student - 40 hours! This is opposed to the 3000+ discretionary hours that a family has together (on average). We've got to reach the parents to reach the kids. Countless parents surveyed (96%) have stated that they need help with their parenting. Here is where they most often turn to the church for help. Let's give them the skills they need.

Next, Eugene Peterson (author of The Message translation of the Bible)
A little disappointed since the topic was "The Contemplative Pastor" (which he wrote a book about), and he didn't really discuss this.
Briefly, he compared the mindset of Christ again the mindsets of Herod the Great and the Pharisees. Ultimately he spoke of Herod being a "successful" king with many building projects and relative stability during his reign. Jesus could have taken that as His model for building His kingdom, but instead chose to initiate it through the poor, lame, and second class citizens. I enjoyed this lecture, but it was literally that - a lecture. I felt like I was gonna have a test at the end - COLLEGE FLASHBACKS AHHHH!!!!

Next, Lauren Winner
Again, a topic that I was interested in "Sleep, Kids, Technology: Why They Matter" - no talkey. Completely different topic. But pretty good. Synopsis:
- Taking up where Reggie left off she made the statement:
"Part of the role of the church is to render those things invisible, visible."
- Culture is the script that a society has that makes us not have to think about everything we do all the time. (e.g. stop lights) A cultural script that is embedded. All of those scripts combined.
- We need to be aware of culture and it's affects on us. This is truly an impossible task. She challenged us to read Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine. This book chronicles how a couple spent a whole year pretty much disengaged with consumerism. I have to say, very much a challenge. They ate and did buy a few necessities, but no eating out, no new clothes, no movies, etc. Brought the realization that so much of people's time is spent "consuming".
- She went into a list of cultural artifacts and what they say about our culture. Things like a Blackberry reflect a value in our culture. The drive-thru window. Cell phones for kids. All things that tells us what is important to our culture.
- How can we as the church affect culture? Going from beyond merely understanding it to influencing it. Even changing it?
- Small steps can make a difference. Don't let satan's lie that "a token gesture doesn't make a real difference" stop us from challenging the culture. She gave an example of a group of parents who started a "No Sundays" Soccer League for their kids to allow their kids a proper Sabbath. Not a "Christians only" league, but one just giving kids a day off.

Next, Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission
Their purpose:
To provide:
Rescue to victims
Justice to perpetrators
Transformation to communities

Fast facts:
•Slavery – 27 million victims worldwide
•Sexual violence – engine of AIDS pandemic
•Illegal Detention – 50% of people illegally detained
•Forced Child Prostitution – 1 million taken in each year
•Torture – more than ½ world’s governments practice
•Widow Land Seizures -
•Police Abuse – rather than running to them for safety

What can churches do?
Educate themselves. Train themselves when they go on short-term missions trips to spot injustice and then report it.

Finally, he inspired us by a story of how this commitment to justice (following Micah 6:8) can be a witness. A young woman went to a rally about international justice, saw what the people were doing in the name of Christ, and committed her life to the Lord. Very cool.

Last session: Chris Seay and Rick McKinley

Probably the most interesting session of the day. Rick and Chris are hilarious and at the same time profound. Having experienced Chris back at Emergent Convention 2003, I was a little leary since he came out "guns 'a blazing" at anything that would be considered not "post-modern". Today, much different story. A real humility and meekness that I didn't see before.

Both of these guys challenged us to the missional purpose of the church. To reach out to those in the margins. To address the big issues of the day and not the easy ones. Things like the environment, AIDS, extreme poverty, etc. I like the idea of granola environmentalists and Christians lining up on the same issues but for different reasons. God created this thing called earth and everything in it. He also called it good and gave us dominion over it. That means to take care of it. And be part of recreating it. The kingdom in environmentalism. Good stuff.

Well, that's about all I have to say about that.

More tomorrow when 10,000 people hit the arena! Yeeehaaaa!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Howdy ya'll, from Catalyst!

I'm down in Atlanta getting ready for Catalyst '06.
I think I'm the lone person attending from the GCC staff this year. I'll try to keep up with the play by play. Now I'm not promising Corey-league reporting here, but I'll do my best.

Weather is awesome - 80 degrees. Flew down with Steve Miller (no, not the old school rocker - the old school bank man - yeah, Jason's dad).

Tomorrow, I'll be part of the Pre-lab session with Reggie Joiner (founder of
Familywise) who is highly influential in family-based ministries. Familywise is a pretty cool tool for parents who are looking for some structure in integrating faith into the everyday.

Then, I head into Lab sessions, hopefully discussing how the church can influence and help shape culture. More coming soon.