Monday, May 31, 2010

Alabama Politics: Dale Peterson and Young Boozer

I spent Memorial Day in Sweet Home Alabama. Love home. I've got a lot of personal stories to share, but I'll save that for later. Tonight, in honor of tomorrow's election, I just want to share a couple of Alabama political commercials. I'm not making any endorsements. Nor am I adding any commentary. None is necessary. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Would You Rather? Friday


Would You Rather write a New York Times bestseller OR write a Grammy award winning song?

And tell us why...go...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Operation Kaboom- The Process

This is Part 2 of a series on NCC's Operation Kaboom-- our systematic dismantling, revisioning, and rebuilding of our small group ministry.

The first step was to fire all existing zone leaders and team leaders. That sounds a bit harsh. And I never actually considered it to be a "firing," but that's how Chris Jarrell described it. All of them were invited to be a part of our transition team and Operation Kaboom team. And let's give credit where credit is due-- I did not coin the phrase Operation Kaboom. That came from an email from long-time leader and discipler extraordinaire Ms. Sarah Owen. went something like this...

I asked Sarah Owen to lead Operation Kaboom from a logistical and strategic perspective. I invited a group of 14 people to be a part of the brainstorming team. The process went something like this:

July 27, 2009- email was sent to zone leaders, team leaders, and other stakeholders to let them know about the transition to a new structure and inviting people to be a part of the rebuild.

September 15, 2009- OpKaboom team met for the firs time. HZ cast vision. Pastor Mark cast vision. We explored Biblical models of discipling, mentoring, and coaching. We heard "case studies" on leadership best practices from the perspectives of the business world, academia, family, military, government, and athletic contexts. We assigned people into teams to consider the following: 1) Leadership Recruitment, 2) Leadership Training, 3) Care and Spiritual Formation of Leaders, 4) Data, Metrics, and Communication, and 5) Research on Other Church Models. Each member of the team was assigned to one of those areas.

September- October- Teams met with one another to research best practices and to develop suggestions/recommendations for NCC.

October 27, 2009- OpKaboom team met to hear best practices from different teams. Team D took those findings and began to outline some new structures and processes.

November 3, 2009- OpKaboom "lite" team met (i.e., the team leaders for each of the five areas) to review findings, consider Team D recommendations, and move forward.

November 10, 2009- NCC Staff Retreat. Draft 1 of new structures and best practices presented to NCC Executive Leadership team. Staff-level OpKaboom team members continued to develop their ideas.

November 17, 2009- OpKaboom meeting to share Draft 1 of new system.

November 21-22- OpKaboom Retreat-- including members of the Operation Kaboom team as well as former zone leaders, team leaders, and other stakeholders who needed to be a part of the decision-making process. Developed Draft 2.

December 10-11- Willow Creek Advanced Small Group Leader Training. Received feedback on our new proposed systems from Willow Trainers.

January 12, 2010- OpKaboom meeting to discuss final Draft 3.

January 30, 2010- OpKaboom rolled out to leaders for the first time at Annual Leadership Retreat.

February- March- Coach recruitment, training, and assignment

April- May- Small Group Coordinator recruitment and training. New Leadership 101 development.

Okay...that's the boring stuff. I'll start talking structure in the next post...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Operation Kaboom- The Backstory

I'm going to start a series of posts about NCC's Operation Kaboom-- the systematic dismantling and rebuilding of our small group structure.

The genesis of Kaboom was probably our Zone Leader/Team Leader retreat in November 2008, where we candidly discussed what was working well, what was working marginally, and what was a total flop in small group world at NCC. We learned that communication was breaking down. That we didn't know our leaders as well as we should. That our leaders probably needed to be cared for and trained better. And that our structures might need some adjustments.

In the summer of 2009, we suspended our support and training structure for the A18: Neighborhoods experiment for the purpose of re-thinking some things.

When three of my best zone leaders stepped down from their role in 2009, it was the fire I needed under my rear to catalyze a re-thinking of our system. I realize now that I had worked those poor leaders into the ground for far too long, asking them to run a system and structure that was no longer working for their leaders or fulfilling for them.

In the Fall of 2009, we dissolved the zone leader/team leader team, assembled a team of thinkers and visionaries, and threw everything up in the air.

This blog series will look at the reasons for Operation Kaboom; the process of researching, dreaming, and rebuilding; and our new structure.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Would You Rather? Friday

On Wednesday, I trekked to New York City with a couple members of our team. One of whom is a master of the "Would You Rather?" game.

Here is my Would You Rather? for this Friday.

Would you rather be an artist with a painting hanging in the Museum of Modern Art or an illustrator of children's books? Why?


Friday, May 14, 2010

Pilgrimage to West Virginia

I'm leading the Sacred Roads Retreat this weekend. And also going on a personal pilgrimage of sorts. We decided to keep the participation small and head to Mt. Zion Retreat Center in Harpers Ferry, WV. In Fall of 1999, I led my first real retreat there. While I had spoken are events and led campus ministries, that retreat was the first time I felt like I was doing ministry "for real." Or maybe it was just the first time I received an honorarium and that somehow made it feel real. I invested that check in a couple of additions to my small library: Grudem's Systematic Theology and an anthology of sermons.

At that retreat, I had no idea the circuitous path God would take me in the next ten years. I'm excited to get back there this weekend and look forward to the next ten crazy years of chasing after God.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Yearbook Bible

In The Story, I do a quick overview of a couple ways NOT to read the Bible. The first is the Bible Roulette Method, where you flip until you stop and then read whatever your eye lands on. I'm not saying God doesn't occasionally in his great mercy speak to us in that way, but it's not the primary approach we should use.

I also talk about the Yearbook Method. Maybe I'm just narcissistic, but whenever I got my school yearbook, the first thing I did was hunt for pictures of myself and my friends. I didn't care about the chess team page. Or the band page. No pictures of me there.

I think we tend to read the Bible like we read our yearbooks-- hunting for pictures of ourselves. And that's why we feel so comfortable hanging out in books like Psalms, Ephesians, and Philippians. We don't find ourselves in the book of Leviticus. Or if we do...something might be terribly wrong with us. Normal people just don't see themselves in long-winded and repetitive writings about the clothing of priests and the proper way to drain blood and wring heads off birds. There are no pictures of us there, so we skip it. But the Bible is not primarily about us. It's about God. And Jesus can be found on every page of Scripture.

If we read the Bible looking for ourselves, we will not find ourselves in many places and therefore skip a lot of parts. But if we look for Jesus in the Bible, we will find him on every page and discover ourselves in the process.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who is Reading You?

Yesterday, I got to hang out with small group guru Rick Howerton for a few hours and pick his brain about life and ministry. One of the questions I always ask people is to name the 3 books that most impacted their life. Rick named a few books but said that relationships were much more transformational in his life than books. And proceeded to name people that had most influenced him.

It reminded me of what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
Someone is reading you. Who is it? And what are they reading? Are we letters from Christ that are worthy to be read? Are we living stories worthy of the calling of Christ?

Someone is reading you today...what are they learning?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Few Things I'm Thankful For- Mother's Day Edition

Here are just a few things I appreciate about my mom:
  • She always had brownies at my house during the high school-college years, which made my house a popular pit stop for my friends.
  • She ran a daily taxi from school to tennis lessons, dance lessons, youth group meetings, softball practice, piano lessons, acting classes, play rehearsal, and other random extracurricular events.
  • She likes to play video games-- at least those of the Super Nintendo variety.
  • She likes to kayak in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland.
  • She influenced hundreds of kids as a school teacher at Vigor High School and Cottage Hill Baptist School. Many of those kids are teachers today. Others are leaders in academia, politics, business, and ministry.
  • She introduced me to Appalachian ballads, folk music, and Shakespeare at a young age.
  • She took me to my first Petra concert.
  • She let me watch Smurfs, collect Disney movies, go to Mardi Gras, and be a Star Wars fan when everyone else was boycotting them.
  • She kept a sticker for the band Poor Ol' Lu on her teacher book bag.
  • She didn't miss a ballgame, stage performance, or recital. And some of those earned her extra crowns in heaven.
Thanks for being awesome Mom!! I love you!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sacred Roads Retreat

Team D is gearing up for our first ever Sacred Roads Retreat. We are going to explore the historical paths of discipleship and help participants discover their unique path--
  • Relational (growing closer to God as we grow in community with others)
  • Experiential (growing closer to God when our senses are stirred and awakened by his beauty)
  • Intellectual (growing closer to God be learning more about his truth and ways)
  • Personal (growing closer to God through the practice of personal spiritual disciplines)
  • Incarnational (growing closer to God by becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in service to those around us)
The retreat will be May 14-15 at Mt. Zion Retreat Center in Harpers Ferry, WV. Cost is $60. To register, go here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Miracle in the Mundane

As many of you know, we are reading through the Bible in a year at NCC. It's called From Garden to City, and it's kinda a modified NCC Liturgical Plan. Right now, we are reading through Numbers, Joshua, 1 Kings, and 2 Kings in a series called "Miracles."

A few weeks ago, I knew I would be sharing the weekend message, so I read ahead. And discovered that my section didn't contain any miracles...just land distribution. Yikes!

As I continued to pray and study, however, I realized that the section of Joshua that was the most boring for us to read was likely the most exciting part for those who were actually living the story. There are miracles in the mundane. Here's a link to the webcast.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Making Heroes

I don't remember which speaker at the Orange Conference said it...and that bothers me because I would love to give credit for this one...but someone encouraged us to make heroes out of other people.

I love that.

I'm convinced that a dimension of leadership is to help others discover who God created them to be and to succeed at that. A dimension of leadership is to help others fulfill their God-given destinies. If we look at Scripture, this principle can be seen in a number of places-- Elijah mentored Elisha, and Elisha performed double the miracles of Elijah. Barnabas took Paul under his wing, and Paul became an apostle, missionary, pastor, and prolific theologian and writer. Barnabas also took a young guy by the name of John Mark under his wing when others had given up on him. That kid went on to write the Gospel of Mark. Paul poured his life into young pastors like Timothy and Titus. They made heroes out of others.

That's a worthy life and ministry goal-- to make heroes out of other people.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Short List of Wins From the Orange Conference

My heart is pretty full of gratitude and my head is full of great content to process, but here is a short list of wins from the 2010 Orange Conference:
  • Locking my car keys IN the car along with all of our bags on our way to the airport, requiring me to sprint to Union Station and back to track down my husband who had his cell phone turned off. We still made it to the airport before the rest of our team.
  • Running into old youth group buddy turned Anglican priest Stuart Shelby and being moved by the adventure God is giving him.
  • While catching up with Stuart Shelby, running into our old youth pastor, Stuart Hall, and reminiscing about the crazy days at Dauphin Way Baptist Church.
  • Listening to the Ortbergs share their experience and wisdom-- so thankful for their leadership and teaching gifts.
  • Getting lost on the way to Steak and Shake.
  • Hanging out with the gang from The Walk at the Steak and Shake.
  • Listening to Perry Noble give it straight about the importance of family ministries.
  • Talking with a room full of leaders about the messiness of community and how to navigate that. Thanks for the opportunity, Mike Jeffries.
  • Leaving the conference later than planned, then going 25 miles IN THE WRONG DIRECTION on the way back to the airport, and STILL making our flight.
  • The joy of hanging out with an amazing team of friends and fellow-NCC leaders, dreaming about our future, celebrating one anothers' gifts, and laughing until we hurt.