I’m Writing A Book…

For the past month I’ve been a part of a social experiment initiated by one of my favorite bloggers & authors, Jon Acuff. The basis of the experiment was to gather a collective of folks that want to punch fear in the face and take a risk.

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I welcomed the challenge & began the journey of writing my first book. My specific risk was outlining the creative work that I desire to write.

The working title for my book is Continue reading “I’m Writing A Book…”

The Conflict With Comparing Yourself

I aspire to be Donald Miller, Carlos Whittaker, and Pete Wilson. If there was some insane way for these guys to collaboratively produce a child — I would want to be that strangely conceived offspring.

I read their tweets, look at their Instagram photos, and gobble-up everything on their blogs… and 3 things happen.

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I applaud the things in which are taking place that just seem so radical & revolutionary in their lives.

I dream about everything I hope will transpire in my life one day.

Then I begin to find myself depressed & defeated as I face the facts regarding elements of failure & folly in my life.
Continue reading “The Conflict With Comparing Yourself”

Lights… Camera… EASTER.

With Holy Week approaching, it’s interesting to see churches’ plans unfold as their marketing strategies are distributed via social media and it got me thinking…

Are the ‘over the top’ services that our churches rollout really the most effective means of evangelism for those visiting on Easter, as well as Christmas for that matter?

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I always grew up going to a church that would execute some extraordinary programs around the 2 biggest Christian holidays of the year. Whether it was renting out the local high school’s auditorium or producing an amazing musical theatre production, or assembling a 60-person choir [of which I reluctantly admit that I sang in as an awkward 14 year-old] …all of these things would go off without a hitch & seem to be a great success. As newlyweds, my wife & I played the roles of Mary and Joseph in an all-kid (except for us two young lovers) reenactment of baby Jesus’ birth. Even a few years back, as a church planter with just a handful of folks attending our gathering, we made a point to elevate our game when it came to our first Easter in South Africa.

The thought looming in all of our heads as we prepare for Easter is the spike in attendance. You’re lying if you’re unwilling to admit that it at least crosses your mind a time or two. There’s a pressure that builds with the fact that we’ll see a lot of folks for the first time since Santa came rushing through your town around baby Jesus’ b-day a few months ago — and it’s likely that you won’t see them again for another 8-9 months or so…

I think there’s this voice in the back of our heads doing its best job to convince us that if we can execute the most epic church service in the history of man, then maybe our bi-annual visitors will make the pilgrimage back to our pews the following week. The reality is they might wander back into your midst 7 days later OR they feel they’ve fulfilled their religious duty for the time being and will see ya again when chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.

But let’s say that they DO return. Will they even recognize the establishment they visited just one week prior? After your congregation has returned to its regular scheduled programming and everything that you’ve been planning for months has been executed & now torn down — how do you retain your guests? Chances are that the folks who were once strangers on Easter and now searching for a home within the context of your church gatherings didn’t come back expecting all the bells & whistles you included in your community Easter egg hunt or intergalactic resurrection light show.

Most likely it’s the warm smile from that person greeting them in the parking lot or the helpful hand assisting them with getting their kids checked into class or the authenticity leaking from the preacher that brought them back wanting more — that and the overarching radical work of God’s Spirit within their hearts. It’s those things we should excel at on a weekly basis that stand out to folks. Our snazzy productions are cool, but it’s the simple things in ministry that we can sometimes take for granted ultimately making the biggest impact on the people that pass thru the foyer these next couple weeks.

So in the midst of the chaos that ensues with all the moving parts of our services, don’t forget to smile or take a moment to lend a helping hand to someone that looks a tad bit lost — they’ll remember that way more than our crazy Easter antics.

THE COST OF INFLUENCE

Most of us want to influence the lives of the people around us. We want to impact people with our thoughts, dreams, and beliefs. The problem with that is we open ourselves up for others to cast judgment on our opinions & actions.

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Criticism is the cost of influence.

From 8:15am-5pm, I work among a collective of cubicles for an enormous organization. This occurs all the time. Our executives decide to move forward [or NOT move forward] with some sort of initiative. Within a day or so, there are over 3,500 different opinions that are cast because of the decisions made revolving around health insurance or technological advancements.

This happens incessantly online. We post a status update on Facebook or tweet something on Twitter… almost instantly, people begin to affirm your idea/action with a “like” or “retweet”. Sometimes, people pipe up & disagree with your status and/or add their own two cents on the matter. Or even worse, no one reacts to your virtual voice. You go unnoticed. Silence can be one of the loudest forms of criticism.

Whatever response you might receive from the thoughts you share or the things you do, we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to capture that opportunity to influence others. In some critical cases, the information you have to share could mean life or death for people. I believe that the lives we live hold eternal consequences — for yourself & those around you.

This is a pivotal point within the dichotomy as a Christian.

When it comes to expressing our core beliefs, we fear the fact that the bar will be raised. We can no longer fly under the radar & live up to low expectations that might be held by folks around us. Well, it might be true that people will dissect your words/actions/attitude a little more than usual. It’s true that there will be instances where you don’t fit the mold that folks typically assume Christian people to maintain… but there lies a wonderful opportunity for your peers to re-think their preconceived notions regarding Christianity because of your willingness to step out & speak up.

Grace is absolutely key in all of this. We aren’t called to promote our ideals from a slant of condemnation for those that disagree, but — on the contrary — our purpose for proclaiming our passions in life should stem from a heart of love that is ultimately sharing the hope that we have found with a great desire to see others consider our values as their own. This, in turn, creates influence.

We all risk the chance of being mocked for an idea or a dream that we hold dear to our heart. That is the price that we pay to impact people’s lives. Consider the cost & decide if its worth it. If Jesus is part of the equation, then it probably is…

What are some roadblocks that keep you from stepping out in hopes of influencing others?

What sort of approaches work for you when it comes to effectively impacting your culture?

*** P.S. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you think that this could benefit your circle of friends, please use the social buttons below & share it with others. I appreciate your support & encouragement. God bless. ~A