Thursday, May 25, 2006

NCC Leadership Training Environments

I want to do a 2-part series on our approach to leadership training at NCC. Today, I will begin by describing our primary leadership training environments.

1. Leadership 101- This 3-hour class is required for anyone who wants to lead a small group or ministry. We cover the basics of leadership and discipleship, our philosophy and structure for small groups, our discipleship map, and our vision of Be One, Make One, For One. It's just the bare bones to help someone get started.

2. NCC Small Group Leader Playbook- We give this resource to every person who comes to Leadership 101. We have discovered that you can talk until you are blue in the face about navigating conflict and dealing with difficult people, but until a leader is actually faced with that situation in real time, the information means nothing. So we give them the Playbook so that they will have useful information right at their fingertips.

3. Annual Leadership Retreat- Every year, we take every leader away for two days and pump them full of vision, encouragement, and leadership training. We have high octane worship and we unveil the theme for the year. And we pick up the tab.

4. Semester Leadership Summits- Each semester, we meet with all of our small group and ministry leaders at the Semester Summit. We worship, Pastor Mark shares vision, and a staff pastor teaches on a leadership topic. It's also an opportunity to get everyone on the same page and geared up to go into a new semester. The summits have become an important part of our rhythm.

5. Zone Leaders- Every small group leader is supported and served by a Zone Leader. Zone Leaders meet with their teams of small group leaders monthly, and they meet with individual leaders as appropriate. Most of the hands-on training happens here as leaders learn from one another and Zone Leaders navigate their people through the hurdles of small group leadership.

6. We have created an online environment,, for our small group leaders to get a daily shot of leadership adrenaline. The ZoneGathering is a place for leaders to learn and share ideas.

Tomorrow, I will talk about how to make training environments worthwhile and fun. We've probably learned more about what not to do than what we should do. But it's helpful to learn from the mistakes of others!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Communication According to James

As we seek to become good communicators as leaders, the best place we can start learning is the Bible. James in particular had a lot to say about communication.

James 1:26: If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself and your religion is worthless.

And then there's the famous controlling your tongue passage of James 3, where we read stuff like, "So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. It can turn the entire course of your life into a blazing flame of destruction, for it it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison."

And with that...I think I should probably just shut up!

We will get to principles of effective communication throughout an organization and principles of communication through various written and verbal forms. But before we launch into communication guidelines for leaders, let's meditate for a while on the first verse in James that addresses how we use our tongue, James 1:19, "My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."

The Message translation says it this way: "Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear."

That’s three easy rules: 1) Quick to listen, 2) Slow to Speak, 3) Slow to Get Angry.

Most of us are naturally wired to be slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. So how can we implement these rules?

Quick to Listen
As the Message says, “Lead With Your Ears.” About halfway through Lent, I told Ryan that I should have given up my opinions for Lent. I tend to be a pretty opinionated person, and I always have plenty to say on any given topic. In fact, I have a tendency to adopt any opinion that might lead to a good debate. But I think I could grow spiritually by fasting my opinions from time to time and refraining from sharing them unless asked. It would force me to lean into the other person and actually hear them at a deeper level.

Being quick to listen means seeking to understand the other person. It means not only trying to understand and comprehend the words they are saying, but also trying to understand their heart and motives. I know this is the typical leadership development stuff, but ask clarifying questions to help you listen better.

Being quick to listen also means being there for the person. Often, our minds are focused elsewhere. We are formulating our next opinionated response. We are thinking about where we are supposed to be. We are wondering why this person keeps going on and on. We are trying to make eye contact with someone across the room. Just stop and be there.

Slow to Speak
James encourages us to be “slow to speak.” Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Ecclesiastes 3:7 says that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. Before we speak out loud to another person, we should speak to God first. A wise pastor once gave me some good advice on how to deal with things that concerned me. I was encouraged that I should pray about problems more than I talk to others about them. If I was talking to other people about issues more than I was talking to God about those issues, then my communication was out of balance. Talk to God first.

Secondly, think before you speak. This will help you avoid saying things that you will regret later. The Bible gives us plenty of reasons to think before we speak. Take Proverbs 13:3, for instance: “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Or Matthew 12:36-37: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Thirdly, being slow to speak means that you don’t interrupt. I have a tendency to interrupt for two reasons: out of defensiveness and out of excitement. Sometimes I interrupt because I feel like I need to “set the record straight.” Other times, I interrupt out of sheer excitement and joy at what the other person is saying. In both of these situations, I need to go all the way back to Rule #1: Be Quick to Listen.

Finally, words should accomplish a purpose. When your mouth begins to move, consider what the purpose is. Are your words true? Are they uplifting? Are they useful? Be slow to speak and consider how you are communicating. How you say something is as important as what you say. We will talk about this principle more in the coming weeks.

Slow to Get Angry
I love how the Message says, “Let anger straggle along in the rear.” This is a character issue. It’s about growing in the fruit of the Spirit. Ultimately, what comes out of mouth will reflect what is in our hearts. And what grows within our hearts will be nurtured by the words that come out of our mouths. It’s a never-ending process. For some of us, being slow to get angry means counting to ten. Sound silly? It’s actually helped me from time to time. Counting to ten helps me to be quick to listen and slow to speak, giving me time to talk to God first. Typically, I have to keep counting beyond ten because God isn’t done talking to me yet. Ultimately, we want to become people who are instinctively slow to get angry. But until I get to that place, I need to keep counting to ten and talking to God.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that our tongues have the power over life and death. Let’s make an effort to speak words of life this week. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Never Again

As I blogged previously, I am leading a May Term lecture-style group called The Story which surveys the entire Bible in 3 weeks. Actually, we go through the story of the Bible in 2 weeks because the first week is more introductory.

Last night, I went through the entire story of the Old Testament. One night. Two hours. Twenty pages of speaker's notes (that's the equivalent of 3 sermons for me).

Never again.

It's just too much. I had to skip so many things. I think next year we will have to do The Story: a high speed thrill ride through the Bible in four weeks.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I don't think I can do it in 3 anymore.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Checking Out

I am checking out of the blogosphere for a few days to concentrate on some writing. My husband Ryan and I are going to Fairystone State Park in southwest Virginia, so there won't be internet access. So don't go all crazy on the comment section and stir up fights and crazy talk.

Be back next week!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Story

We kicked off The Story last night, a three week high speed thrill ride through the entire Bible. It's one of my favorite things that I do at NCC. I love the Bible, and I love helping others fall in love with the Word of God.

The Story is part of our "May Term" group offerings. In May, all of our small groups take a break between the spring and summer semesters, and we offer staff-led groups for people. We had over 60 people attend, so it wasn't exactly a "small group." It was more like a lecture. I like the lecture format of The Story for a couple of reasons. One, it appeals to folks who might have a more intellectual bent in their approach to discipleship. Two, it is a good first step for people who might be interested in small groups but a little intimidated about going to the home of a person they've never met. The Story is a smaller setting than Sunday morning, but not as intimate as a home-based small group. So people can dip their big toe into the water and give it a trial run for 3 weeks.

Here's some more info on how we do it:

The Bible is a story of passion, adventure, ultimate loyalty and ultimate betrayal, war and peace, extreme love and extreme hate. It is a story of mystery, intrigue and excitement. But we often turn the Bible into a boring religious document. It is not a theological textbook. It is not a history book. Likewise, it is not a scientific, anthropological, or political textbook. It is the story of the Creator on a passionate pursuit of a people. It begins with God and ends with God. And we are found somewhere in the middle. We find our purpose when we see our lives against the backdrop of the story that God has been writing throughout history. The Bible is first and foremost God's story. And as we develop our relationship with him, we realize that it is also our story. It is our history, and we must know the story of the Bible in order to understand our own.

We spend the first night Exploring the Backlot-- talking about where the Bible came from, who wrote it, how it's structured, where the events took place, and other background information. Everyone learns cool words like "plenary inspiration" and they find out where places like Goshen and Corinth are located. They get a great packet of maps (that's one of my favorite parts!)

Next week is Act One: Exploring the Story of the Old Testament. We will start with God creating and the Holy Spirit hovering, move through the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, the patriarchs, the exodus, the judges, the kingdom, the divided kingdom, the exile and return. We will talk about who Obadiah is, what his book is about, and where he fits into the story.

The last week is Act Two: Exploring the Story of the New Testament. We will talk about the Life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospels and then learn about the spread of the Church in the book of Acts. Then, we will put all of the epistles into context of the story.

It's a lot of fun, and my ultimate prayer is that people would want to go deeper in their study of God's word.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Taize and Other Stuff

I am working on a book about different pathways for experiencing Christ and growing closer to him. My premise is that the standard evangelical methods of personal Bible study and small groups are limiting and that we should expose ourselves to a wider array of spiritual growth opportunities. Additionally, we should recognize the discipleship value of certain things we are already doing (like missions trips and retreats) and seek to maximize that value in the ways that we approach them.

Here's what I need. I'm looking for people that have had experience with and would be willing to comment on any of the following experiences:
  • Taize
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Spiritual Formation Retreats
  • Pilgrimage
  • Corporate Fasting
  • Charistmatic Worship Services
  • Passion Worship Conferences, Catalyst Conferences, etc.
Additionally, I am particularly interested in hearing from folks from the evangelical camp who have had significant spiritual growth experiences in liturgical worship settings. And I'm interested in hearing from liturgical friends who have experienced significant spiritual growth in charismatic/pentecostal circles.

As I continue to work on my research, I will post more requests like this from time to time.

If you would be willing to share your thoughts on any of these, please use the comment thread or shoot me an email.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Spiritual Growth Metrics

My good friend Elaine Bayless is an M. Div. candidate at Regent University, and she is developing a small group/discipleship program at the church where she is interning this summer. She sent me a question that I wanted to throw out to the Wineskins crowd:

I'm looking for ways to add measurability to my church's discipleship program. We' like to have some sort of assessment that people can use to see where they are and to monitor their growth on a regular basis. Aside from individual assessments, what are some other metrics we can use to monitor the spiritual growth of the congregation? We're a small church of about 120 people.

I would recommend Seacoast's Spiritual Growth Assessment Tool. Also, Todd Rhoades had a good post about this on Monday Morning Insight recently. You can check it out here. I posted something similar here.

Anybody else have recommendations?

Launching People Into Leadership

When I was in college, I went to a church with a fantastic small group ministry. In fact, I would have to say that my love for discipleship started there. The teaching and community at that church rooted me firmly in the Scriptures, and I gained a strong understanding of the purpose and role of the church. I will always be grateful for that church and its leadership.

But I have a bone to pick with their leadership development process.

There always seemed to be a need for leaders, but it was ridiculously hard to become a leader. Here's my story. I grew up in the church and in Southern Baptist Sunday School (which I have discovered offers more Bible teaching to 5-year olds than some seminaries offer to MDiv candidtates). I put my faith in Christ at the age of 6 and was baptized when I was 12. I worked as a counselor at a Christian youth camp and I was an intern at my church's youth group. Granted, like all of us, I definitely I had (have) lots of things that God needs to work out in my life. But it took me 3 years to become a small group leader at this church.

Here were some of the problems I encountered:

Don't Ask, Don't Tell. At this particular church, leadership was elevated to such a high level that there was an unspoken rule that you had to be "tapped" to be a leader. In fact, any mention of being interested in leadership might come across as arrogance. Being asked to be a leader was almost as rare as the audible voice of God.

Passover. About 1.5 years into my time at this church, I heard the audible voice of my pastor asking me if I would ever be interested in small group leadership. I answered enthusiastically "yes," but was careful to not appear prideful. He seemed shocked. Which I still don't really understand. I was involved in everything and constantly offering to help with stuff. But then, I had to wait another 1.5 years before actually being able to lead. I was passed over twice for leadership. I never really understood why we couldn't start two new groups instead of just one. And I only actually assumed leadership by default when one of the leaders placed over me stopped coming to group.

Wandering in the Training Wilderness. Training to become a leader was always a moving target. Would it take 3 months? 6 months? One year? Two years? It kept changing. At one point, the training to become a leader took so long that a college student could potentially complete the training by graduation day, if he really applied himself.

I take leadership very seriously. And I take the Biblical requirements for leadership very seriously. All of our potential leaders go through a rigorous application, training, interview, and approval process. They are asked to sign our core beliefs and a leadership covenant, and they are ultimately approved by our Executive Leadership Team.

But we try to make entry into leadership as easy and quick as possible. In general, we like for people to be at NCC and involved in a group for a year before leading, but that's not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes, we have launched people into leadership after one semester. Other times, we have asked long-time NCCers to hold off on leading their group and get involved in a discipleship relationship with a leader first. But in general, we try to launch as many people into leadership as possible.

At my college church, discipleship was viewed as an activity that only a privileged and gifted set of people were qualified to do. That's not what Jesus said. Discipleship is an activity that every Christ follower should be involved in. We believe every person at NCC needs to be discipling others, and we want to encourage, equip, and empower them to do that.

Here are some ideas for launching people quickly:

Always Ask, Always Tell. Encourage your people to lead small groups. Ask them individually to lead groups. We even ask new Christians are encouraged to become "helpers" in our Alpha course. Create an environment where everyone is expected to share their faith and teach others what they know. Be on the lookout for how God has wired people and suggest to them how God could use them to help others grow in their faith. After all, that's what full-time ministry is supposed to be about (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Raise Up. Raise up leaders, don't pass over them. I am not advocating putting people into leadership before they are ready. The Bible strongly cautions against that, and we will be held responsible for placing people into leadership who are not ready. I am advocating that we put them on a path towards leadership. If there is someone with great leadership potential but they need to grow spiritually or deal with character issues, put them on their own path of discipleship to work on those things. When we have told people "no" at NCC, it is a conditional "no." We put a path before them and a timeline for reevaluating. This helps them grow. And it's the church doing what it's supposed to do.

Streamline Training. Make your training understandable and accessible. At NCC, we have a 3-hour training. I LOVE training. It's one of my favorite things to do. I would like to have a year-long training class for NCC leaders. But discipleship and leadership is not learned in the classroom; it's learned on the field. We have found that the best way to train is to get them started with a short introduction to discipleship- we talk about leading yourself well, discipling others, and how to lead a group-- and then put them into relationship with a coach (we call them zone leaders) who continue to disciple them and train them in leading their group. Don't make your training so overwhelming that people are intimidated.

This is a balancing act. Implementing an expedited leadership process can be risky, but we have found that it's a risk worth taking.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Importance of Communication

Every Thursday, I post a leadership lesson on the ZoneGathering, our online community for NCC small group leaders. Sometimes, I double post that article here. This week, we begin a new series on the topic of communication.

The Importance of Communication
A few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to Disneyworld. Yes, a pilgrimage. You laugh, but I am partly serious. You see, my favorite part of Disneyworld is EPCOT Center. Yeah, that’s the park everyone else hates. But I love it because it’s the place where God fueled in me a love for science and technology. It’s the spot where I had an unexpected encounter with God in the 7th grade and decided to study biological engineering in college.

As I journeyed through the greenhouses of the Land Pavilion, I was transported back through time and space and was reminded in a powerful way of the faithfulness of God in my life. Although I no longer draw my paycheck from doing that stuff, I still love it. And it’s part of my DNA and the path that God led me down to get me to where I am today. But that really has nothing to do with what I want to talk about today…

One of my favorite “rides” at EPCOT Center is “Spaceship Earth.” It is the most famous visual element in EPCOT- the big golf ball at the entrance. As a kid, I thought the point of the ride was a sort of time machine. You enter the “vehicle moving at the same speed as the platform to your right” and take a journey back to the caveman days. The car then transports you to ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, into the modern era, and beyond. As a kid, it was a fascinating trip through history.

But now that I’m older and actually listen to the ride narration and comprehend the story it’s telling, I realize that this ride is not so much about history as it is about the development of and importance of communication. In fact, that’s the underlying message of the entire EPCOT complex. Whether we are advancing technologically in Future World or building cross-cultural relationships in World Showcase, communication is the glue that helps us grow as a people. The message of EPCOT is that communication is key to progress.

I learned the importance of communication in a very personal way during the trip, as well. There were 5 of us on vacation together- my husband Ryan, Ryan’s 11-year old brother Josh, my parents, and me. Because some of us love roller coasters and some of us love It's a Small World, there were certain times when we decided to “split up.” My parents would go ride Dumbo while the rest of us would go ride Space Mountain. Cell phones were critical to the entire trip. From coordinating flight arrivals to checking on reservations to reconvening after Dumbo and Space Mountain. I kept thinking, “How in the world did we do Disney before cell phones?” Communication was key to maximizing our vacation experience.

But looking at things critically, I’m not sure if technology has made us better communicators or worse communicators. Sometimes, I think that technology has made us faster communicators but not necessarily better communicators. Some of the worst communication I have ever seen has occurred over email. People slap stuff on blogs that they would never print in a book. Text messaging provides an outlet for quick but thoughtless transfer of thoughts and emotions. We live in an age where communication is easy but often ineffective. Rather than communicating well, we just contribute to the white noise.

The Scriptures speak often about how we use words and interact with one another.

They speak about the power of words: "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (Prov 15:4)

They speak of the value of words: "
Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies." (Prov 20:15)

They speak of the source of words: "
For whatever is in your heart determines what you say." (Matt 12:34b)

Good communication skills are essential for any leader. Over the next several weeks, we will explore different types of communication. We will explore what Scripture teaches about how we should use our mouths. We will talk about 360 Degree Communication-- with God, with those in authority, with other leaders, and with those you lead. We will establish guidelines about both written and spoken modes of communication. We will share ideas on how to communicate in specific circumstances-- communicating change, communicating in conflict, communicating in confrontation, communicating encouragement.

If there are specific communication topics you would like to see addressed, please use the comment thread or shoot me an email.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Changing Communities

One of the best ways to build community in a group is to serve together. That's why mission trip teams form such tight bonds. We encourage our small groups to do at least one service project together each semester. We want our communities to buzz with God's love as our groups demonstrate it to them in very practical ways.

In the past couple of weeks, we've seen some really fun stuff.

Props to Michael Ferrigno and Jeremy Hancock. Our Fantasy Baseball groups serve as the grounds crew at a local Little League Field. You can see pictures and read more about it here at the Zone Gathering, our online community for NCC small group leaders.

Props to Joseph Llobrera. His Social Justice group went out to help with an Anacostia River clean up. You can see pictures and read more about them here at Zone Gathering.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Leaders That Buzz

Leadership identification and deployment are typically the limiting factors in small group ministries. There never seem to be enough groups because leaders cannot be multiplied quickly enough.

When I first started doing discipleship ministry, I worked hard to streamline, organize, and standardize our small group program. Basically, I created a small group ministry and asked leaders to come serve that vision. Add to that the fact that I lost 20% of my leaders every year because of the transient nature of DC. I felt like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland; I was running my tail off just to keep up. No matter how simple I made the process or the curriculum, it was difficult deploying new leaders.

A couple of years later, we reversed that. We encouraged our leaders to get their own vision for discipling others and then equipped them to do that. We had only two requirements for a gathering of people to be considered a "small group:" It had to be relational. And it had to be missional. In other words, the two primary purposes for the group should be community building and discipleship. We realized that simply meeting for a Bible Study may or may not be discipleship while a group of people learning sign language together could create opportunities for spiritual growth (that's a real life NCC example).

Our leadership base exploded.

We believe discipleship happens best within the context of shared interests, and it flows naturally out of leaders who are driven by a passionate vision from God.

The NCC vision for small groups- relational and missional- is specific enough to give direction and focus, but broad enough to give latitude for leaders to get their own vision from God and run with it. Leaders are motivated when they see where their passion meets a need.

When leaders are driven by a passion and vision from God, they burn white hot and they buzz. I'm convinced that we would have a thriving small group ministry without throwing one cent into any sort of internal marketing because the word-of-mouth from leaders would compel people to come into their groups.

It would be light years easier for me to standardize our groups, give them the same curriculum, organize them according to age group or address, and structure them in nice tight coaching models. But then they wouldn't be serving out of a God-given vision or passion. I would rather manage the complexity and messiness that comes with our system and have the privilege of watching God do amazing things in and through the hearts of his people. I love watching our leaders get a vision from God, catch on fire, and start helping people grow closer to Christ in their spheres of influence.

Post-Buzz Thoughts

After the Buzz Conference, I've been thinking about a lot of the conversations I had with folks about how we do discipleship at NCC. Over the next week or so, I will post on some of the questions people asked and the main points I presented in the Theaterchurch Forum and Staff Q & A.

Here is a list of stuff I will hit:
  • Leaders that buzz
  • Empowering your leaders
  • Non-linear discipleship
  • Making training fun
  • Communicating the importance of discipleship
  • Implementing different types of discipleship models
  • Finding a rhythm
  • Implementing a structure that serves your leaders
  • Multiplication by pioneering
  • Blurring the lines between ministry and community

Monday, May 08, 2006

Leadership Process

I really want to make this a learning community for people interested in exploring new ways of making disciples. Occasionally, I will throw out questions for feedback from readers.

Today, I want to explore the leadership process. From identifying potential leaders to launching them out to start their own groups and ministries. And all the steps in between.

What are the steps you have in place for launching new leaders?

Empowering People, Part 2

I woke up this morning thinking again about what compels people to stay at a church. As I shared in the previous email, the answer one of our volunteers gave was "they empowered me to be a leader so quickly."

I think it boils down to two things: relationships and responsibility. When a person feels connected to people and feels ownership of the vision, they are going to stay. Leadership at NCC gives people relationships-- with other leaders, group members, zone leaders and coaches, etc. And leadership at NCC gives people responsibility-- their job is strategically and integrally tied with the larger vision of NCC.

But compelling people to stay does not have to begin at the leadership level. We should look for ways to foster relationships and delegate responsibility at every level of church involvement. Think about it. A person who runs power cords on the production team is going to feel more compelled to get to church on Sunday morning than a person with no ministry involvement. A person assigned to bring snacks to small groups will not re-consider going to small group because they are tired and don't feel like it.

I am not talking here about tricking people, coercing them, manipulating them or anything like that. I am talking about making the church what it should be-- relational (people connected to others) and missional (every person playing their God-ordained role with their God-given gifts).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Empowering People

The Buzz Conference is all about Luke 14:23, compelling people to come into the church.

But what compels them to stay?

One of the Buzz attendees approached one of our conference volunteers and asked her that very question. As she related the story to me later, she said she had never really thought about it before. But the reason she stayed was because we empowered her to be a leader.

That's what it's all about. And that made my day!

Bloggers Breakfast

We are in full swing with the Buzz Conference. Great stuff. I will blog more thoughts later. For now, I want to shout out a big thanks to all the bloggers who came out early this morning for our Bloggers Breakfast.

Here's a list of those who came (or at least those who signed in) with links to their blogs:

Matt Kerner
Joshua Singleton
Ken Yarmosh and here
Bruce Chant
Tony Morgan
Scott Hodge
Matt Green
Scott Harris
Dan Ohlerking
David Torres
Travis Johnson
Matt Morgan
Tally Wilgis
Trent Redmann
Bob Franquiz
Mark Rodriguez
Robert Pooley
Tom Buckley
Dean Jackson
Steve Wilson
Bobby Lepinay
Brad McDonald

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Buzz and Small Groups

We are flying around getting ready for the Buzz Conference. It's fun! I will be speaking at two sessions tomorrow:

1) The Theaterchurch Forum on "Addressing Greatest Challenges"- doing discipleship in theatre venues. In this session, I will focus on the importance of discipleship and the necessity of small groups for churches that meet in rented facilities.

2) The Staff Panel Q & A. In this session, I will talk about how we create small groups that "buzz" through internal marketing, passionate leadership training, and dynamic community outreach.

I will post my notes from these sessions when I get a chance.

I'm also a judge for the Buzz Film Festival! Not sure how that happened, but it's been a great experience so far. Erik Lokkesmoe (another judge) and I watched the videos this morning. It's amazing to see the creativity!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Alpha Day Away and Revenge of the Sith

This past weekend was really busy. On Saturday afternoon, I spoke at the Alpha Day Away. It's like a mini-retreat where the participants hear about the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. Nicky Gumbel gives some of the best talks on the Holy Spirit I've ever heard. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts are either ignored or packaged in weirdness. But Nicky just puts the Scripture out there and leaves you longing for more of the Holy Spirit's work in your life. For the past few semesters, I have done one of the talks live, "What does the Holy Spirit Do?" It's always fun and it's overwhelming to see God at work in the lives of seekers, new Christians, and old Christians looking to put down new roots.

Then, I had to scram back to NCC to preach at our Saturday night service. It was Episode II of our annual God at the Box Office series, and I was preaching on SW3 Revenge of the Sith: Choosing Your Destiny. We had ridiculous technical difficulties on Saturday night, but our amazing production team pulled it off. The Sunday morning services went a lot smoother.

Now, I am gearing up for our Buzz Conference!