Monday, October 31, 2011

Communication Breakdown

Last week many of us got to see an amazing communication breakdown on national television. It was during the World Series. Did you see it? (neither did I, thank you SportsCenter).

But here's what happened. St Louis needed to start warming up their relief pitchers so they called the bullpen, which is on the other side of the field and behind a wall, coach La Russa could not see what they were doing, he could only communicate by the bullpen phone.

The problem was, the Texas fans were so incredibly loud, the people in the bullpen couldn't hear the phone or the instructions. So a few minutes later when La Russa wanted a reliever to come in, he wasn't ready. He hadn't even started warming up. They were warming up the wrong pitcher. So they kept the current pitcher in a little longer. Bad move. The next batter got a hit, not just any hit, it scored two runs and put Texas in the lead (and eventually was the game winning hit). All because of bad communication.

Now where the problem was, who knows. Was it the phone? Was it the person on the other end just couldn't hear? Did they hear the right name but tell the others in the bullpen the wrong name? We'll never know. But it does make me think about the church. How good are we at communication? Are we sending a message of a loving God who wants to be a part of our lives to the people on the far end of the field? Are we even getting that message across to our own team?

Just something to think about.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Do You Really Want Change?

I was reading a blog this morning by a pastor named Shaun King. He talked about his experiences trying to lead a church through change, and I don't think I can add to his words any better. Here's an expert of what he said (the full post can be read here).

People L.O.V.E to hear about radical change. They just don’t love making it.

Political campaigns based on radical change win. Books written about radical change sell. Sermons on radical change boost Sunday morning attendance. The idea and thought of change is exciting to people, but mistaking that excitement for an actual willingness on behalf of those people to change now or later could be a miscalculation. I found out the hard way.

In March of this year, I announced I was preaching my last sermon series of all-time. For the next 8 weeks, I preached the most radical, game-changing sermon series ever entitled “Disciple.” Our average attendance was its highest ever. Our average offering was the highest ever. Excitement was its highest ever. Man, I was pumped!!

Then, almost literally the day we jumped into change, all types of stuff started falling apart. People left in droves. Scores of people started falling through on leadership commitments they made. Systems starting failing. Attendance was down. Offering was down. Excitement was down.

I had no idea that zero correlation exists between how much people love hearing about change and their actual willingness to make it.

This started me thinking about my own life, especially all the things I keep saying I want to change. Do I really want it... or just like the sound of it... After all, change means work...


Monday, October 17, 2011

Is Your Faith Co-Dependant?

Last weekend I was talking with my brother-in-law, just shooting the breeze, and we got onto the topic of cell phones, hew they have completely ruined our lives. Not in the way most people think about always being called, but how people have lost the ability to make decisions and whenever they are caught in any sort of quandary they pick up their cell phone and call someone else. They don't take any time to try and solve the problem themselves, that's too much effort. Quick, call someone. Look it up on Google. Text a friend. We don't like to solve problems ourselves...

I've noticed this more and more just in life. Something doesn't work, ask the person next to you what to do. I've had a few issues in the last couple of weeks where something electronic doesn't perform right, and immediately I'm asked to fix it. I don't know what these people expect, I don't have any more magical powers than they do over electronics. I had one a while back, all I asked "Did you check to see if it was plugged in?" I was answered with a blank stare. They hadn't even checked the basics.

Sometimes it's not even something went wrong, people just don't want to take the time and effort to make a decision. The other day I was thanked for picking a restaurant. Is it really that hard to decide what we want to eat for ourselves?

So today in my wanderings I started wondering, do we do this with God? Is our faith entirely made up of what others tell me to do? I've noticed people will join a Bible Study once they are invited to one they like. The sad part is if that doesn't happen, generally the next step isn't do the work to find one themselves or even start a Bible Study, it's simply not go. Either find me the place to learn about my faith for me or I won't go. How many people do you think would not be at Church Sunday morning if someone else didn't encourage them to go? Even some of the holiest people I know still needed someone to wake them up.

I don't know, I don't think someone should have to find me a place to serve, if I'm supposed to be serving (which I am), I should be finding that. If I'm supposed to be reading my Bible, I shouldn't have to wait for someone else to give me a devotional as a gift. If I'm supposed to be praying, I shouldn't be waiting for someone else to plan a prayer night and then invite me. The fundamentals of our faith can't be dependant on others, shouldn't we be doing that ourselves?


Monday, October 10, 2011

The First Time

Sorry it's been a few weeks. I had every intention of writing, but between a conference in Colorado, vacation in Disney and my grandmother passing away it's been a busy few weeks...

But I was thinking about something today that just keeps going over and over in my mind. Lorie and I went to Disneyworld for a week and it was great. We love the Magic Kingdom (and the other lands surrounding). So today I was trying to figure out which rides I like best.

There are always favorites that I run to, Soarin', Mickey' Philharmagic, Star Tours, but there was something that added to the fun this time. Both of those rides, on the last time we rode them, there were an abundance of first-timers, people who had never been on the rid before. It was great! The "oo"s and "ah"s, the screams and giggles, you can just tell when there are people experiencing this for the first time. And their excitement adds to your excitement, it feels great to be share something like that with them for their inaugural run.

And it got me thinking about church. Why isn't church that exciting? Why isn't church that much fun? Yes, on a typical Sunday morning the sermon does not need 3-D glasses, the sanctuary does not swivel right and left, and they don't pump in smells to take you to another place (well, our NewSong service does!) But I think it's more than the bells and whistles. Have you ever been to church with someone excited to be there for the first time, who is sharing time with Jesus and seeing Him, worshipping Him, experiencing His love for the first time? It makes it all the more exciting. At NewSong two weeks ago we had someone show up out of the blue (it was actually an accident, she slept in and missed the church she was going to visit), she loved it so much she became a member of the church that afternoon. The next week, she was in the front row, singing loudly, volunteering for communion, big huge smile on her face. Church was fun experiencing it with someone new...

So what do we need to get that excitement every week? Better yet, are we inviting new people and letting them have this experience for the first time...?