Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prayer for Matt Chandler

{this is a prayer request/repost from}

Well, today we NEED to pray for Pastor Matt Chandler. One of the best preachers in the world, pastor of a growing/thriving mega-church, a husband, and father to a young family, Matt will be having emergency surgery this Friday to remove a tumor from the frontal lobe of his brain.

Can you imagine those conditions? Well – Matt is facing them with a courageous faith, but we need to PRAY! Pray out loud. Pray right now. Pray later. Start prayer chains. Tell you pastor. Tell your friends. Call grandmama and nem. MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF THIS.

  • Pray for Matt Chandler by name. Pray for his peace of mind. Pray for his total recovery! Pray that he hears the voice of God in a real way in this tough season.
  • Pray for his wife Lauren by name and pray for their beautiful family. Pray that God holds her up and strengthens her from the inside out as she serves as the rock of their family.
  • Pray for Dr. David Barnett – the chief surgeon this Friday. Pray for his skilled hands and that God uses him to perform medical miracles. The surgery is THIS FRIDAY AFTERNOON!
  • Pray for Village Church. Pray that they lean on God like never before. They love their pastor and need him to recover. They have a prayer meeting tonight (Wednesday) @ 7pm.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Some people want to live within the sound of church bells but I want to run a rescue station at the gates of hell
-C T Studd

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

God’s “wrath” is his withdrawal.”
- Greg Boyd

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Hello everyone out there in the blogosphere. Just wanted to give you a little random updates from my world...

  • I'm really excited about the "Revolution" Community Youth Service @ VHS this Wednesday. It's great to see the body of Christ coming together to worship our Saviour.
  • Been studying the book of 1 Corinthians A LOT! I'm [and Chuck too] preaching through the book on Wednesday nights. There is SO much information to process. Just wish we had enough time on Wednesdays to get to all of it.
  • Going to the beach this weekend. No, I'm not an idiot. Every year our District of the Assemblies of God hosts a Youth Leaders Weekend @ Orange Beach. I look forward to this every year. It's a great time to reconnect with friends, relax, get new ideas/hear from God. This will also be Aiden's first trip to the beach. I'm hoping it's not too cold to at least stick his feet in the water.
  • Speaking of Aiden, the little guy's growing so fast. I still can't believe how quickly it's going by. But, I'm enjoying every moment of it. I LOVE that every time I say "Da-Da" to him he busts out a HUMONGOUS, toothless smile.
  • Amanda and I are trying to find a workout program to get back in shape. I get winded way to easily and the pounds are coming on quicker than before. For those of you who want to pull the "Oh Matt, your still small" I leave you with this: I'm already bigger than my Dad was at 22. Exactly.
  • The VHS Jr. High football team went undefeated. First time that I've ever been a part of an undefeated team in any sport. My first year coaching Jr. High (2005) we were 2-4. My second year (last season) we went 7-0, and then got dropped in our last game to finish 7-1.
  • I love being a part of the VHS community. Love the kids, the faculty, the parents. Couldn't ask for a better job.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back in the Swing...?

Greetings everyone. It's definitely been a while since I've sat down and written out a blog post. For that, I apologize. I know that you--like I--have jam-packed schedules. So thanks for continuing to check in. Here's some things that have been going on:

  • I am LOVING being a Dad. It's still a bit surreal to me and it's definitely weird if I pause to let that opening statement settle in. [*PAUSE*]. Yep, it's weird. I am not intelligent enough to write how amazing it is to watch this little dude grow up. Couldn't be prouder of every little advancement that he makes; whether that be holding his head up, making sounds that in no way are words (but still calling it "talk"). It's all wonderful. He's going to be an awesome man of God when He's grown!
  • Been coaching football at Vincent for the Jr. High. I love football. It borders on obsession at times, so I have to keep that in check. This year I've met two (new) awesome men: Shae Supri and Chris House. It's their first year teaching/coaching, so it's been fun helping them out. They even let me help call plays. Even more thrilling to me though is that through my time at the school we've had about 8-10 new guys coming on Wednesdays. Three of them have gotten saved and I can see a HUGE difference in their lives already! God is awesome, and I am so thankful that He gives me opportunities like this to impact the lives of teens.
  • Got to hang out with a friend of mine from High School. Actually, we've been best friends since about 2nd Grade. He's in Pharmacy school @ Auburn (boo!). He's a super competitive, super intelligent, super funny guy. He was the person who knocked me down to Salutatorian in HS.
  • I have another best friend, Allen, who goes to school in Troy. Got to meet his girlfriend Rachel a couple of weeks ago when I went down to NB. They're doing a fantastic job volunteering as youth leaders at a church down in Enterprise.
  • Started a new sermon series on Wednesday nights. We're going through the entire book of 1 Corinthians verse-by-verse. This is a new experiment for me. It's going to take us about 25 - 30 weeks to finish. I am super-excited about it and believe that at the end, our youth ministry will look completely different.
Unfortunately, that's all the time I have for now. Hopefully there will be more tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

[I really have no idea what to title this] pt.2

Here's the second video in the series from The People's Church...

Monday, October 12, 2009

[I really have no idea what to title this]

Here's a video from People's Church in Oklahoma City advertising their upcoming series. I love it...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just a Heads-Up

Sorry for the LOOOOOONNNNNNG delay since my last post. With the new baby, helping with the VHS football teams, and a couple of sudden life-curveballs, it's been hard to get everything done. So blogging got pushed to the bottom of the pile.

It's still going to be a few weeks before I really get back in the swing of things as far as blogging is concerned. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into posting daily.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Benaiah Aiden

Wow! What a weekend. This has definitely been one of the highlights of my life (as if you couldn't tell from the pictures :)) Amanda and I both apreciate all the prayers and for all the kind words/visits and gifts over the past few days.

I'll try to recap as best as I can (which really isn't all that good because words really can't describe ow great this has been):

Abouts 2am Saturday morning, Amanda woke up. She wasn't feeling well and she was having some spotting. She waited around til 2:30, but she was still spotting, so she woke me up. For the next half-hour, we tried to see if her condition would get better. We even called the OB/GYN, and he sayed we should be ok. Of course, Amanda was worried that something had happened to the baby. I knew she wouldn't be able to sleep until she was able to talk to a doctor face-to-face. So we loaded up in the car and headed to Brookwood at 3:30.

When we left the house, I fully expected to be back home in just a short while. Amanda was not having contractions and the due date was over 2 weeks away.

When we got to the hospital (at 4) and got out of the car, Amanda froze in pain. I tried to pursuade her "Come on, we're here now. Let's just get inside teh door." We got inside and they put us in a room (probably because Amanda said, "I think we may be having a baby today.") We got in and when they hooked Amanda up to the contraction monitor and then checked to see if she had dialated. When they did, her water broke. And we discovered that the pain that Amanda had experienced in the parking lot was in fact a contraction. In fact, they were starting to come every 5 minutes or so. So our "quick trip" to calm our nerves turned into "Wow, we'll have our baby today!" :)

Our doctor was on vacation, so we met Dr. Gams who would be our substitute physician. After about 2 hours at the hospital, Amanda hadn't dialated any more, so they gave her a hormone that increased the rate of her contractions. She also got an epidural, so from about 5a on, she was pretty comfortable.

When they checked Amanda an hour later, she had dialated to 7cm. Every time they checked it got closer to the goal. By 11, she was at 9 1/2 cm (or so we thought)

About 12:45, the Dr. popped in again and checked to see if she made it to 10cm. But, he delievered some discouraging news: Amanda was not at 9 1/2, she was at 7, maybe 8 at best. He said that the labor had stalled out and that we would have to have a C-section.

There's a verse in Job that sums up how I felt in the moment: "I am terrified." That's actually probably an understatment, but I don't know if there's a strong-enough word to describe how I felt. I tried to be calm and brave because Amanda was even more shaken that I was (obviously). She had never had surgery at all--or even been admitted to a hospital. So that compounded the fear. They set the time for 1:30p to do the surgery.

During the down time, we tried to comfort each other. I got to put on my surgery scrubs. They wheeled Amanda back and came back to get me a little later. It was probably only 5 minutes, but it felt like 30. When I got to the operating room, they had Amanda sliced open. I got to sit at her head behind the curtain (thank God for that because I would have straight passed out). It took only 3 - 5 minutes and we heard the most wonderful sound I have ever heard. Little Benaiah Aiden was here (at 1:47p) and he was letting everyone know about it. Because he was a C-section baby, he had a lot more fluid in his lungs, so his first yell sounded like he was under water.

Amanda's cousin Amy--who works in the NICU at Brookwood--was in the room and was one of the nurses who handled the baby. She even got to give his official weight (7 lbs. 8 oz.). Then mommy got to hold the baby for the first time. Then daddy got to take him to the nursery to let everyone else see. Amanda's dad lucked up and found our path so he got a sneak peek.

After everyone got to see him through the window for a coule of minutes, we carried him to the recovery room, were the nursing staff gave him a bath, checked his temp., gave him a shot or two, measured him (21 1/2 in.), put medicine in his eyes, etc. Then Daddy and Aiden got to wait for mommy. About 20 minutes after we got in the recovery room, they wheeled mommy in and she REALLY got to hold baby.

We stayed in recovery for about 2 hours. I know it killed our family because they couldn't come back. Then at 4p we moved into our suite and the family got to see baby and Mommy for the first time.

So many other small things happened that would take too long to explain. But needless to say, we are overjoyed (an understatement indeed) to have little Benaiah Aiden with us. Also, August 1st happens to be my late grandmother's birthday. So God gave us a little poetic miracle in that too.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Buffalo River... the end

You can read the first two parts of this account here and here

When I woke up Friday morning, I had lost a lot of the desire to keep going. I had fun the day before, no doubt; but, now that I had slept all night (and watched as Jason and Robert fought off the army of raccoons that invaded our camp) I had stiffened up and really did not want to paddle more. Jason and I agreed that we should try to get to the end as fast as possible... and we did.

Too fast actually. We did not realize that our campsite was 2/3rds of the way to the end and thought we had to paddle as long as we did on day #1. Wrong! It took us only a couple of hours to get to the bridge where we could load back up on the church van. Had to wait about 2 more hours before everyone else caught up.

Once everyone did we all loaded up on the van and went back to the hotel. Ate some pizza... took a nap... ate some more (including frog legs for the first time ever!)... went to bed.

Woke up and helped load the van. Cranked up the big white bus and about the time we started getting in someone said, "Hey, what's that?" Couple of minutes later we determine that it is in fact gasoline. Diesel Gasoline in fact. As mentioned earlier we were at the end of the earth, so of course, no mechanic shop was open on Saturday except one across the border in Missouri. Yeah.

So a group of 4 brave souls--Shelby, Mark, Kenny, and Terry--stayed behind as the rest of us shoved off for Alabama. Ate lunch at an extremely hot Burger King in Memphis. Really thought we'd all die of heat stroke by the time we got to B'ham. But, we made it home.

It was great. Got to know some new people. And there's probably a whole lot that I've forgotten since a month ago...

Oh, well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Buffalo River pt.2

Ok, so this post is WAAAAAYYY over due. But, here is part 2 of the post I began earlier chronicling my expedition to the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

You can read part 1 here.

We woke up early the next morning (Thursday, I think) and enjoyed a free breakfast at the before-mentioned Western Sizzlin'. Then we loaded up on the vans for another 45 minute trek through mountain roads and little towns. We arrived at the canoe rental place called Crazy Bill's. This immediately struck a little fear in my heart because I was in the presence of Buffalo Bill (compliments of Joe Dirt). We then were taken to a drop off point where we were picked up by a Crazy Bill's bus. They took us up river to the place where we would put in.

We got in. The water felt great. Saw a lot of fishermen not catching anything. Took a couple of swim breaks. Watched Robert jump off a 45 ft. cliff...twice. Thought Josh would be eaten by a moccasin. Enjoyed my Vienna's for lunch. Thank God for caramel popcorn or I would not have survived the trip.

Saw dozens of turtles sunbathing. Started to get sunburnt (not nearly as bad as Glenn and Devin). Finally made it to the campsite. Sat in the lagoon for hours. We were the 4th canoe to arrive (out of 8 or 9) and the last canoe came in about 4 hours after we arrived. Some people liked to stop and fish and swim a lot.

Cooked my hot dogs amongst a variety of foods--from beanie-weenies to pork chops that were 2 inches thick. Crawled in the tent and tried to go to sleep on my wet sleeping bag.

Pt. 3 tomorrow (hopefully)...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Insights from "The Monkey and the Fish"

Just finished reading The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church by Dave Gibbons. This book really challenged me and it also reinforced some things that I already have been exposed to. Here are some excerpts:

"I believe that today God is calling us in the church to become a different kind of movement, known for our kisses of compassion rather than our condemnations."

"I think we {the church} are preoccupied with big."

"We cannot be fully human alone."

"...questions should lead us. Questions, not answers."

"'You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into the bottle, it become the bottle. You put it into a teapot and it becomes the teapot. The water can flow. The water can crash. Be water my friend' [Bruce Lee]"

"While an answer may fork in a specific situation, questions can guide us to the answers is all kinds of situations."

"Where is the other side of the tracks in your cit or region? In other words, who are the marginalized or the outsiders near you, people whom you feel pain for?"

"What will draw most of the world to Christ is not simply a prosperity gospel but a gospel that takes a real look at the beauty and the bane of suffering."

"Any worthy endeavor is constrained by our worst fears."

"Our {the church's} party should be the best.

"...create unity among diversity."

"We need to learn to walk in the blur and in the intersections of cultures, to bust the walls that separate us from a world of colliding cultures and generations, and the shifting of roles, responsibilities, and influence."

"All of the prejudices we've set up among cultures, among peoples of color, among backgrounds is so alien to the mind of Christ that it is the deepest kind of evil that I know. {Brennan Manning}"

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Greatest Wedding Entrance...EVER!

Crap, why couldn't I think of this...?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

7 Lessons on Parenting

*Disclaimer: I found this pic on a Google search, this was not an experiment of mine

Ok, so I haven't had a lot of extra time to come up with my own posts this week, but there have been some AMAZING posts on other blogs that I read. I can't post every good thing I see, but in light of the baby that's almost here and my journey into fatherhood, this post spoke volumes to me:

(oh yeah, I found this on Mark Batterson's blog)

Can I take a little blog survey?

I ask this question of other parents all the time:
what is the greatest lesson you've learned as a parent? Would love to hear about some of the lessons you've learned at different stages of parenting. Nothing ismore rewarding or more challenging than being a parent. We need to help each other out. I know it's tough to boil it down to one thing. So feel free to share a few lessons learned.

Here are seven lessons I've learned:

Your greatest failures as a parent can turn into your greatest successes IF you simply apologize. You are modeling one of the toughest skills to learn: how to handle mistakes.

2) A
great marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids so focus on your marriage first and your kids second.

3) You
create memories via engineering shared experiences. Be intentional about setting shared goals. Become a student of your kids. Learn to love what they love.

4) Parents are
prophets. Don't just use your authority to speak correction into their lives. Use your authority to speak encouragementinto their lives. Otherwise you will become a prophet of doom.

5) We have a
Heavenly Father who compensates for our parental weaknesses. So take a deep breath and relax a little. Even if you're a single parent, you're not alone. God will make up the difference!

6) One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is
time. A little one-on-one time opens channels of communication like nothing else. If you hang with them when they are young they'll want to hang with you when you're old.

7) If all else fails, teach your kids to say
please, thank you, and sorry. Especially to God.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stop Reading

Here's a post from Stephen Furtick, Lead Pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. This one really helps me out...

The following approach to reading has been freeing for me. Maybe it will liberate you too.

When you’re reading a book, and you lose interest, give yourself permission to stop reading. My goal in reading a book isn’t to finish. I read to learn. When my interest ceases, I figure that either I no longer care what the author is saying, or I already know it.
If I don’t care, I won’t learn, because my mind only processes and integrates information that it perceives as relevant.
If the information is redundant, there’s a good chance the author has squeezed a 10 page concept into a 200 page book. Once I’ve got the concept and enough application to get started, I’m ready to move on to something else. I may come back and finish the book later. I may not. There’s no book report due, so it’s up to me. This is one of the advantages of being a grown-up.

If I don’t understand the concept, my solution is the same: I need to stop reading. I’ll either read it again when my mind is fresh, or pick up a different book that explains the topic at a level that does pique my interest. I’m not in high school anymore, and I’m not working from a syllabus. Life’s too short to read stuff that’s too complicated or convoluted to capture my attention.

Of course, this rule does not apply to the reading of God’s Word. When it comes to the Bible, it’s usually the parts you want to read the least that change your life the most.

But if the book you’re reading isn’t the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of the Lord, read until you lose interest.

Then stop.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nice White Lady

I hope no one gets offended...this was just too funny to pass up:

Friday Update

Well, everyone is off to Costa Rica for the next 9 days. I am the only staff pastor left behind. Part of me wishes I would've went, but at the same time I know I would be miserable right now--worrying about Amanda having the baby.

It's been a great day today. Strangely quiet, but I'll take it.

Just wanted to throw a quick promo out for this Sunday. The title of the message is:

"Hannah's Prayer"

I'm believing that it's going to be an awesome day. Though many will be gone ministering in Costa Rica, I believe that God will reward us as a church for the investment we've made. Maybe 50 people will go on the next missions trip!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Monkey and the Fish

So, one of the new books I'm reading is called, The Monkey and the Fish. I thought it was a rather strange title. It's about (Christian) leadership that is needed in our ever-changing culture today. I didn't take me long to figure out why the book is named what it is:

[From the Preface]:
A typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree leaned precariously over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down, and snatched the fish fromhe waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a restful peace.

--An Eastern Parable.

The monkey was genuine and compassionate, but his "help" did more damage than good. A lot of times, we as Christians and leaders within the church respond--out of good motives and compassion--to what we perceive are needs, when in reality our "help" leads to death and destruction.

I could've stopped reading the book after this and had a deeper understanding of our need to meet people's needs in ways that matter to them, and not what we think is best.

When I finish (which shouldn't be too long, if the rest of the book is this good), I will share more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It's definitely been a up-and-down ride the past couple of weeks. I thought going into this summer that it would be a little more teaching every week of camp; no kids camp. But, I was wrong. This summer is also filled with personal tragedy (and NOT because MJ died).

Couple of weeks ago I went to the Buffalo River. Yes, I know, I never finished telling the story. Maybe when I get caught up on all the stuff I've missed the last three weeks, I'll finish.

Had an awesome time at youth camp. As expected, God did amazing things (hmm, maybe there's something about our level of expectation and God's reaction to it?).

Then I received some bad news this past Monday. My grandmother (Gammy as I call her) had to be hospitalized. She was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia back in March. In this form, her white cell counts were extremely low (as opposed to extremely high with most types of the disease). Of course, no white blood cells = no immune system; so, she had infection set in her kidneys that soon spread to her blood. Her spleen had also swollen.

By the time I got to the hospital Wednesday morning, she looked like a ghost. Fortunately, she still had the strength to communicate with me. We told each other "I love you," and she told me to "keep loving the Lord." From then on I witnesses a rapid decline. By Thursday (she got to come home under hospice care Wed. afternoon), she mostly just slept. By Thur. night, she couldn't talk with us anymore--just grunts. That night, we all stayed at her and my granddad's (Gangy) house. At 2:40am my mom's sister, Gina, came and woke me up. By the time I got to the bedroom where my Gammy laid, she was no longer breathing.

We had a memorial viewing on Saturday night at Sorrells Funeral Home in Enterprise (Great People). Over 200 people came to visit. Even more people showed up Sunday afternoon for the funeral. And then her body was committed to the ground in Old Tabernacle Cemetery...across the street from the church she grew up in (and that I went to in high school).

Please remember my family--especially my granddad--in your prayers. For all of you who have lost someone close, you know why.

I'll hopefully get back into the rhythm of regular blogging over the next week or so.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Hot Day, An Army of Racoons, and a Broken Van

Been a long time since I've blogged last. [Sorry for the delay]. Last week, I went on the EDGE Men's trip to the Buffalo River. I will attempt to chronicle this great adventure below.

We left on Wednesday (June 17) at 8 in the morning. I [very wisely] chose to ride in the huge white bus--which now has a small narrative of its own, but that's for later. The air worked like 10x better than the A/C on the silver bullet. Had a great time texting Josh and Josh (Acker and Sims) about everything...from indoor plumbing to what if GW was still prez. Played on Josh A.'s iPod Touch. He has the dumbest, and yet oddly fun, apps possible.

Stopped in Hamilton, AL for a rest break (took Robert a while to figure this one out, despite the HUGE water tower). Saw a great advertisement at the Gas Station for "Dipped Ice Cream." [yumm] Resisted the urge to buy those great chicken fingers and massive potato wedges. Back on the road.

Stopped in Olive Branch, MS--home of former UA player Jimmy Johns--for lunch at Chic-fil-a. Took over driving for Pastor Mike for what would seem like several days. The A/C became decreasingly effective the hotter the day got. Drove around Memphis. Not nearly as impressive as I thought. The Pyramid and the Old School iron bridge over the mighty Mississippi were cool though. I've never seen so many 18-wheelers in one place in my entire life. Guess Memphis really is the shipping capital of the US.

Crossed into Arkansas for the first time in my life. Must say that it lived up to expectations--which weren't much (in defense of Hog Nation, I didn't visit any major cities, like Little Rock. Plus, Jonesboro was nice). In the southern part of the state, nothing but flatness and rice fields. In the north nothing but mountains and towns with populations hovering around the 600 mark (which even by Vincent/New Brockton standards is tiny!)

Asked for Jason and Terry, who were in the lead van, to pull over for a water break. They insisted that we were almost there. Two hours and 10 towns later, we arrived in Mountain Home, AR...population 10,000. Went to Wal-Mart where everyone in that town + us decided at the SAME EXACT TIME to buy a fishing license (which was a complete waste of $11 for me). Josh A convinced a sales associate that he really believed we were in Canada. Somewhere Tim Abbott is still laughing.

Left and went to the Ramada Inn and Convention Center, which from the outside looked like a roach motel, but once inside we found nice, large rooms that were all built around a ballroom and the biggest hotel pool I've ever seen. You could even dive in (well you weren't supposed to, but it was 9 ft. deep).

Tried to get dinner at Western Sizzlin' at 8:05pm. Unfortunately, we forgot how far away from civilization we were, as the restaurant had closed at 8:00. Let that sink in. Crossed the parking lot to Pizza Hut. Enjoyed a great Meat Lovers'. Then it was back to the room to get a good night's sleep before the trek down the Buffalo. Started missing Amanda and the baby...a lot. Didn't sleep real well. be continued...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Well, it's been a couple of days since my last post, for which I apologize. My computer at the church bit the dust (yes, it was a PC). Making matters worse is that my hard drive was completely shot, meaning I lost ALL of my files (I know, I'm stupid for not having everything backed up). I miss my iTunes the most.

I was hoping that maybe this was my chance to upgrade to a Mac, or at least get a pc laptop, but unfortunately Geek Squad can fix my computer (excluding the files, of course) for less than a new computer.

So, my posts may be a little sporadic over the next couple of days until I can get my computer running smoothly again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lessons from a Rant...

As promised, here is the rest of my rant (you can read the first post here):

I believe there are a lot of things we (churches) can learn from businesses--both from their successes and, in this case, their screw-ups. Here are some points I learned from this whole experience:

1) Make sure you have enough room for people. It can be intimidating and frustrating to enter an unfamiliar place and feel like you are in the way. I've been in churches where I always felt like I was in someone's way. Make sure that you have plenty of space for people to mingle and for relationships to be forged.

2) Perception is reality. The reality of both of the restaurants I attended was that they were successful. The Taco Bell had several plaques awarding their accomplishments over the past consecutive years. However, my experience outweighed any good that they were doing. My thoughts and emotions are what formed my opinion, not how successful the restaurant may have been. We have to remember that no matter how successful we may consider ourselves, no matter how many great pastors we've had, or how much we've given to missions...people are going to form an opinion based on what they experience--whether that is just a perception or actual reality.

3) Make sure you let people know that you want them there. Don't be phony or plasticky, but do what you can to let people know that you care about them and want them to be in your church. Make sure the carpet and bathrooms are clean. Leave out some peppermints for people to grab. Have greeters and ushers and parking attendants to show people where to go. And most importantly, teach your people to be friendly and loving and full of grace to EVERYONE who enters your church.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Rant Against the Restaurants of Dothan

[bends over to look under table]

[pulls out soapbox]

[stands on soapbox and begins to speak]

I have something to say.

The restaurants in Dothan, Alabama are terrible! It is absurd at how miserable a job these places run their "organization" (hard to call it that because I saw little of anything resembling organized). Visiting my father the past two days, who was in the hospital with chest pains--he's ok by the way, no heart problems--I had to eat twice (well sort of 3 times) at food establishments in Dothan. With the exception of McDonald's (which is odd because usually McD's usually has awful service), who did a fantastic job (my food arrived quick and correct) all of the restaurants failed me miserably.

Here's some of my complaints:

1) Make sure you get the order right. If you don't give people what they want, especially when they've invested the time and money to get to your place, you are failing as a business. Of the 5 items (excluding drinks) that we ordered at Taco Bell, 4 of them were wrong. Captain D's did little better, forgetting my extra fries and that I ordered with a coupon. Now, Taco Bell saved a little face be replacing my whole order for free (and much quicker than the first order came up).

2) If you expect large volumes of people, have space for them. I've never been diagnosed as a claustrophobic, and I've never noticed myself having a problem with small spaces--until this weekend. Apparently if I'm in a tight space with a lot of people around me talking loudly and moving back and forth, I get a little frazzled. I would have never known this, however, if only TB and CD offered a little more space to wait on your food.

3) Restaurants are the face of the city they are in. Oftentimes, a restaurant is the first impression a person has of a city. Now, I've been to Dothan a lot in my life, and I would never take a vacation there because of how close I grew up to it, but I thought to myself in those crowded, poor service restaurants how I would never want to visit this city based on the impression I got in the restaurant. It's amazing. It's not like the Visitor's Bureau of Dothan runs the restaurants (maybe they should). But I unfairly (but matter-of-factly) have a negative impression of Dothan because of two restaurants!

4) Customer service is HUGE. If you want people to hang around you, or your business, you need to treat them like royalty. At the new Waffle House in Harpersville, they open the door for you and welcome you to a fully-staffed, fully clean restaurant (granted, it is new, but still). Even though I'd rather have the steak and eggs at Huddle House, the experience at Waffle House is enough to draw me back. Conversely, the experience I had at CD's and TB in Dothan made me never want to go to those two stores ever again.

Now, maybe you've noticed or not, this has a correlation with churches, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Download

Here's a few ADD/shotgun thoughts for you:

  • Amanda and I still don't know what our baby is going to be. On the bright side (for her anyway), she gave blood for the last time!
  • Youth Camp is coming up really fast. I love Camp, despite the extreme fatigue that I will have to fight off on the drive home.
  • The CM Camp will be this weekend. We're going to my old stomping ground: Coffee County. We'll be ministering in the service at my granddad's church Sunday night, then doing our own thing the next two days.
  • I am convinced that the kids of VRC are great. Wouldn't trade them for anyone else.
  • I've already started working on the soulimpact calendar for next year. I'm hoping to have it completely (well the big stuff anyway) finished by August.
  • This July, we're going to be having "Open Mic" nights in youth. It will be an opportunity for the teenagers to get up and say what they feel God wants them to say.
  • I'll be using July to study up and plan out the preaching calendar for 2010. I've already got some ideas, but I'm going to do my best to get a lot of background stuff done.
  • School's just gotten out and I'm already excited about the next school year. We've got some pretty cool stuff planned (including a water-ballooning). It's going to be awesome

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Uninspired Blog Posts

It's been several days since my last post (for which I apologize). But, to be honest, I am having a little trouble finding something inspired to write about. Most of the things that pop up in my head are pretty lame and would be a waste of both yours and my time.

So, I have a question: "How do you overcome un-inspiration?" What do you do when you feel creatively empty to refill the tank?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Office Season 5 Finale

Weekly Update

Well, I finally managed to get back on a "normal" schedule. For whatever reason, I had gotten completely out of sync and it was driving me crazy. Good to feel ahead of the game this week.

Speaking of this week: it's really busy. I'm exploding with excitement about tomorrow night's service. We always try to do something huge at the end of school. Last year we really didn't, but this year we're bringing crazy back. Rented some of those Sumo Wrestler costumes so everyone can Sumo Wrestle. It's going to be hilarious. Worship will be awesome and the message has already been a fun one for me. With all the info I was able to dig up, I could have made a VERY, VERY, long sermon. But I was able to deny the Teacher within and cut it down to what's most important (I think this is a desirable trait of a pastor).

I'll be in the office (or around somewhere, working) Thursday and then hittin' up graduation that night @ 7p. Congrats to Codie's brother Chase for achieving Valedictorian. I always get nostalgic at this time of year.

After graduation is over, we're bee-lining for my parents house. First thing Friday, we're making the quick drive from my parents to PC Beach. After an exhausting day, we'll head back to my parents and spend Saturday with them. Then we'll be back for Sunday.

Busy week. Exciting week. Exhausting week. It's going to be great!

What about you? What's your week shaping up to be?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mac Strikes Back...Again

For those of you who may not know this, I'm a Mac. Ok, that's not entirely true, because I don't actually own a Mac right now. But, I absolutely love them. A few months back I thought my office computer crashed and I was pumped because I thought I would be able to replace it with a Macbook (unfortunately it hadn't crashed, it was just moving really slow).

The folks over at Apple are marketing geniuses. My favorites are the "Hello, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" bits. Recently PC fought back by showing all these commercials of regular folk shopping for computers and choosing PCs. PC always seems to be a step behind these days. Well, their commercials irritated Apple, and when they retaliate, they go for the throat:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Drive-By Evangelism

This post was inspired by--of all things--a lightbulb. This morning as I searched for a lightbulb to replace the blown one in the children's pastor's office, I found hundred of old bulbs in storage. These bulbs were special though; they were part of an old "evangelism" effort.

I know this for two reasons:
#1) They had a little poem attached to them with the church's service times and phone no.


#2) Because, when I was in High School, we did the exact, same evangelism idea.

I very vividly remember the outreach. The Assemblies of God declared a nationwide Outreach month (or day) and sent a letter of potential outreach ideas. The one my church partook in was giving people lightbulbs and inviting them to church. Being the naive and energized teenager I was, I thought it was a great idea and risked life and limb (I was surrounded by three rottweilers at one man's house, who didn't seem to happy for me to be near their owner). We even had a little catch-phrase: "Just like these bulbs give light, so Jesus is the Light of the world. We hope to see you Sunday." Then we'd get back in the car and go to the next victim.

Now, having gained a little more perspective, I realize how horrid an idea this was. It's like evangelism drive-by. You stop by someone's house, whom you've never met, throw a lightbulb in his/her hands, say a witty (or not-so-witty) poem or invite, hop back in the car and take off. Exchange the bulbs for guns and what do you have...? A drive-by.

The thing is, drive-by evangelism rarely works. More times than not, a person whom you have no relationship with will not respond to your frail attempts to "save" them.

The reality is that evangelism is best served in the context of relationships. Now that doesn't mean you can't share the Gospel with people unless they're one of your closest friends, but it does mean that people don't want to be handled--they want to be loved. Evangelism drive-by makes people think that all you want is to bolster your attendance numbers and raise the offering. But, when you develop a genuine relationship--even a small one--in which the person knows that you care for them, you now have fertile ground in which to plant seeds of the Gospel.

Easter Egg Hunts, Fall Festivals, even door-to-door invites cannot replace people sharing the work that God has done/is doing in their lives, with the people they have relationship with (not that those things are bad, just less effective). If the church is to grow, it will grow through the relationships we have with other people.

Let your light shine!