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Good News

Good News curriculum video shoot

Yesterday, Jon and I spent the vast majority of our day shooting the 6 fictional stories that go along with each lesson in our forthcoming Good News in the Neighborhood curriculum.

Seeing some of the big picture pieces come together in this project has been amazing. Doing the video segments actually brought new life into the project. With the deadline looming and the reality that there’s almost no chance we’ll be done by our self-assigned deadline of Monday, this project needed some fresh air breathed into it.

It’s funny how an idea takes a life of its own. In this case, a series of jotted in my notebook over time became several popular blog posts. And in those posts there were several comments saying, “Yeah, but how do I teach that to high school students?” It was the association of the blog posts and the comments of readers which spurred the idea to turn it into a curriculum.

Truth be told, I’d never have attempted this project without Jon. He brings a depth and breadth of experience to it which takes it from my blog posts to something anyone can try with their group. I’m thankful for his friendship and collaboration.

And now back to work. Acting as co-author, editor, art director, marketing director, video editor, and every other task on this project is insanity!

Categories
Good News youth ministry

Is anybody out there?

Yesterday Walt Mueller posted this video on his blog, it’s a lot to chew on. I hadn’t seen it but I’m glad I have. As youth workers, it’s both heart-breaking and knowledge we share that too many teenagers feel this way.

My reflections

  • It looked like a mature town… so lots and lots of churches. The church wasn’t part of the question of the video nor the answer.
  • What would be Good News to the characters in the video?
  • What if students in my neighborhood saw me as someone who could help in that situation?

What are your thoughts? 

Categories
Good News youth ministry

It’s Here! Good News in the Neighborhood Curriculum

Big news!

Jon Huckins and I have been working on this curriculum for youth groups and young adults for several months. I’m excited to tell you that it’ll be out on April 2nd, 2012. Woohoo!

If you buy it before it comes out… you’ll get it on April 2nd AND you’ll save $15. Here’s the link to buy it now.

Here’s the description:

This 6-week series will deep dive your students into the practical realities of a radical life with Jesus. Built around six core postures of community life, students will examine Scripture, gain an understanding of their role in their community, and be challenged by a series of simple experiments they can try. More than a series which teaches your students about being Good News in their community– Good News in the Neighborhood offers practical application based on the life of Jesus and the 1st century Church. Our hope is that your students begin to see how God has called them to become good news in their homes, schools, and neighborhoods.

Curriculum Outline

Week 1: Listening (Experiment: Ethnography/Observation)

Week 2: Submerge (Experiment: Participating)

Week 3: Inviting (Experiment: Two-fold inviting)

Week 4: Contending (Experiment: Standing up for our neighbors)

Week 5: Imagine (Experiment: New eyes)

Week 6: Entrusting (Experiment: Commissioning)

What do  you think? Like it? Hate it? Gonna try it? 

Categories
Christian Living Good News

Good News Spreads FAST

I sit in a funny place sometimes. Meeting with a church leader or talking to a passive Christian, they will tell me that they are too busy or too engrained to change.

As if reaching 10% or less of their community isn’t an emergency? Like, I don’t care what your theological position is on hell. But we, as Christians, believe to the core of our being that a life with Jesus is better than a life without him, right?

It’s an emergency! You need to stop what you are doing today and re-evaluate. [Insert red, flashing lights!]

The crux of their pushback is always the same: I don’t have time to do the things you are saying I need to do. (Be Good News in the neighborhood, on my block, at my school, or at my job.)

That’s what you don’t understand: Good News spreads fast. Good News spreads faster than your program. It grows faster than your church. It outgrows your budgets. The reason you aren’t growing has nothing to do with your words and everything to do with what you do with your day.

3 examples from yesterday…

  1. I wrote a blog post praising my experience of Good News from Southwest Airlines. They blessed me and I publicly thanked them. A short post I wrote over breakfast was picked up on their corporate blog and then shared on their Twitter feed to 1.2 million followers. Bam! That’s fast.
  2. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about gifts for geeks at Christmas. Last week I got an email from a producer of a BBC show in Ecuador asking me to be on their show. Yesterday, I got to appear on this show… in Ecuador… to talk about Christmas gifts for geeks and invite their listeners to my blog. That’s fast!
  3. Last year, Kristen and I watched our neighbors dogs so they could visit family on the East Coast at Christmas. This year we get to do it again. Now we are getting known on our block as the neighbors who are happy to do favors. That’s Good News spreading fast!

Is it that we’re doing something special or that God is blessing us in a way no one else can be blessed? Absolutely not. It’s just one simple thing lived out in three different ways.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Colossians 4:5

Categories
Christian Living Good News

Hard wired for Good News

Have you ever wondered how you could grow your church? 

What if I could tell you a way to grow your church and your churches impact in the community?

Here’s how. It’s mostly free. And it’s totally doable. Guaranteed to not backfire. 

Be Good News to your neighbors. Not start a Good News program. Not preach about Good News.

That’s putting it on someone else. It’s a way of saying your role as a leader is to move people without you yourself moving.

Here’s how you grow your impact in your community– starting right now. Be Good News to your neighbor. Yeah, the person next door to you. Yeah, the family across the street.

Ask yourself this question– What would be Good News for them? And do it.

Why will this grow your church? Because we, as humans made in the image of God, are hard wired to love Good News. It’s like crack to our soul. We can’t get enough. We are searching for Good News in an instinctual way we can’t explain. And when Good News happens to us or we even partner with a neighbor to bring Good News to someone else, something deep in our soul reasonates with that.

Each person is hard wired for God. And the catalyst, universal connecting point? Good News.

In a post-Christian society, the best way to grow your ministry is to deeply reasonate with the part of people’s soul that defies logics last stand. Good News supersedes all. It’s the Gospels secret weapon.

Categories
Church Leadership Good News

Bottlenecks

A bottleneck is a phenomenon where the performance or capacity of an entire system is limited by a single or limited number of components or resources. The term bottleneck is taken from the ‘assets are water’ metaphor. As water is poured out of a bottle, the rate of outflow is limited by the width of the conduit of exit—that is, bottleneck. By increasing the width of the bottleneck one can increase the rate at which the water flows out of the neck at different frequencies. Such limiting components of a system are sometimes referred to as bottleneck points.

Bottlenecks are one reason the church can’t grow to full capacity in the current model. It’s not that the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t appealing to more people. It’s that the mode with which the American church choses to operate is driven to a single bottleneck: The worship service. 

With a clearly defined bottleneck and the low trust, high control primary management style of most in church leadership– we are seeing other negative non-monetary economic principles come into play.

3 non-prescriptive solutions to finding church growth

  1. Embrace a high trust, low control management-style.
  2. Create additional entry points to biblical community. (Non-worship service endpoint)
  3. Capitalize on Americans culturally hard-coded draw to good news.
Categories
Christian Living Good News

The Power of Today

As I sit here this morning, looking out of my window onto my street, I have a single thought:

Today is powerful. 

One single day could change everything.

No, there’s nothing significant about this Thursday.

I mean that every day is powerful.

And you have one shot to get today right.

Each day I have the opportunity to do something… in this moment… or let it slip away.

It’s a simple thought. But perspective adds to the realization that today can’t be just another day.

So often we get lost in the busyness of doing what we need to do today that we forget that Jesus Christ has empowered his believers to measure each day differently.

Jesus measures your day differently than you do.

Today might not seem significant. But it is.

Today is a gift. And what you do with this day matters deeply to the one who made the hours we describe as a day.

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:36-39

What are you going to do today to Love God? What are you going to do today to Love your neighbors as yourself? 

Categories
Christian Living Good News

5 Ways to Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

Christians have a weird history with celebrating Halloween. Not growing up in the church I was appalled when I heard church people refer to it as “Devil’s night” and say things like, “Of course we don’t celebrate Halloween.” It’s as if we’re talking about two different holidays. There’s the one that actually happens and the one that you’re afraid is happening. Like all things– fear is irrational. 

The whole anti-Halloween concept is built on a theology of fear. Be reminded that in Ephesians 5 Paul instructs Christians to be light in dark places!

Many churches offer alternatives such as harvest parties, hell houses, or trunk-or-treating. Those things aren’t bad, but they aren’t good news in your neighborhood

Here’s my suggestion: Skip the Christian alternatives altogether and embrace Halloween for what it is. It’s a night when hundreds of families will wander around your neighborhood, smiling and enjoying one another, and giving candy to children.

Think strategically: For those who are anti-Halloween I have this challenge. One night a year one hundred families want to come to your door and say hello. Are you going to greet them? Or are you going to turn off your light and pretend they don’t exist?

Don’t be “that guy” on your block. Embrace Halloween as an opportunity to be good news in your neighborhood.

5 Ways You Can Be Good News in Your Neighborhood on Halloween

  1. Sit on the front porch. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on the front porch all night and talk to people as they come by. Resist the temptation to go inside between visitors. Trust me on this. You’ll like what happens. You’ll make great small talk with parents AND every time I’ve done it my neighbors see me and do the same. We have great little conversations porch-to-porch conversations between visitors.
  2. Make it a game. Set up a simple game in your front yard to give trick-or-treaters the opportunity to win the big candy bar. It could be as simple as a bean bag toss or throwing a football to knock something down. Make it simple, kids want to hit every house on your block, but this will make a great impression.
  3. Host a warming station on your block. We’ve done this one bunches of times– it’s ALWAYS a blast. We had close to 1000 trick-or-treaters at our house in Michigan and doing this cost me, maybe, $75. Set up a little tent in your driveway or front yard and serve coffee, hot cocoa, and apple cider. It’s a great break to the routine and easy to invite your small group or someone who doesn’t have trick-or-treaters to help with. Do it 2-3 years in a row and you’ll get known as the house that does that tent thing. Really want to make some friends? Offer parents a little Kahula or Bailey’s for their hot drink!
  4. Do something fun and not-so-scary. There are people in our neighborhood who go all out. They build tunnels over the sidewalk and scare the tar out of children. You can have fun like that and just make it fun. Rent a bounce house and play some music. Be weird and decorate your house for Christmas. Dress up like the easter bunny and have an easter egg hunt every 15 minutes. Just because you don’t want to get into the whole devil/ghosts/zombie thing doesn’t mean you can’t be creative to have some fun with the hundreds of kids who will come up your walk.
  5. Cover every house. I live on a block that has some elderly folks. Consequently, we have kind of a bummer block because many of them aren’t mobile enough to hand out candy. It would be great to rally a few people and make sure every porch light is on and there is candy at every house. Warning: You may need to actually talk to your neighbors to pull this one off. (Which is more scary than Halloween itself, right?)

What are other ways you can embrace Halloween as a way to be Good News in your neighborhood?

Categories
Church Leadership Good News

An example of Good News to a public school

A while ago I wrote a blog post called, 10 Ways Your Church can be Good News to Public Schools. Here’s one church doing just that.

Amazing.

Check out more like it at 20/20 Vision for schools.

Imagine what could happen if your church got together and said, “How could we be Good News to a public school?” Anything is possible.

Categories
Church Leadership Good News

Do we live on the same planet?

Sometimes I’ll meet a person in ministry and think, “Do we live on the same planet?” 

  • I’ve got a really solid core group of kids each Wednesday night– I think they have a chance at winning the Bible quizzing championship.
  • Our high school students are very involved in the community. Each year we get together with other churches in our district for a youth rally. They love it.
  • I always take my sword wherever I go. You have to be prepared for battle at all times.
  • I had to pull my kids out of public school because in California there’s a new law that teachers have to include gay history in the curriculum. (What’s really weird is that they don’t live in California!)
  • I teach my students that they need to take a stand. A life with Jesus is all about taking the stand, right?

Code language. Insular communities. Church-centric attitudes. It leaves me wondering who they are trying to reach?

It makes me wonder how they have a conversation with their neighbors? I wonder what they are thinking as they get to know Diane next door, who just had to put her mom in a home. Or what they talk about with the gay couple across the street? Or what their neighbors think about them when they turn off their light on Halloween? Or refuse to come to the block party because people are drinking?

I wonder if people think of them as good news in the neighborhood?

I’m guessing that there are a lot of neighbors hiding from a lot of their Christian neighbors in this country.

I believe in Jesus. He is my only hope for salvation. And I fully acknowledge that the church is God’s chosen instrument for believers. But there is this sliver of people in every church who… are really weird.

And no one ever has the guts to tell them the truth: “You’re weird. And you really need to work on that. Jesus asks us to be different in a good way. Your weirdness is making it harder for me.

The Flip Side – The culture wars are dying

Not all church staff are like that. It’s actually very few.

More and more I’m hearing a bad strategy being replaced with good strategy.

  • In order to reach a community you have to meet the relevant needs of the community.
  • In order to start reaching more people we had to stop fighting culture and stop teaching that the output of a life with Jesus is behavior modification.
  • We recognize that to reach our neighbors we have to be good news before they will hear Good News.
  • Rather than bring a program into our community which worked elsewhere, we’re going to the community and asking how we can serve them.
But it’s the really weird ones that we now have to shake and ask, “Do we live on the same planet?