12.31.2007

A Great New Year's Eve

(warning: no-caps post)
jen and I went over to jason and jen hauck's house for a new year's eve party with eric & nicole, bryce & melissa (happy new year's!!! it just turned midnight) and bob & april. it was such a fun night. we started with some fondue including venison and beef in oil as well as bread in molten cheese. we moved on to a very sophisticated wine tasting. unfortunately, i'm the low-brow member of the group. i had to have my pregnant wife smell each glass to tell me if it was any good or not I had some company with bryce, who is also not much of a wine connoisseur.

the wine tasting finished nicely with just a hint of a buzz. we moved rapidly on to catch phrase where the women proceeded to make the men look like women (a sexist way of saying the women kicked our testostorized asses) we spent a large portion of the time rolling in laughter over what eric thought "beaver cleaver" meant. let's just say he had no idea it was a television reference.

it was a great night. i had a conversation with melissa that got me really stoked about public relations. i'm gonna study p.r. at fresno state and am stoked to see what comes of that. she convinced me of a few key things.

  1. being in p.r. doesn't mean pimping companies that suck. she is very intentional about choosing great clients who offer a great product and challenging those who she thinks could use a little more brainstorming.
  2. being a p.r. rep doesn't mean pretending to be an objective person and claiming a product is great. full disclosure is an important aspect to what she counsels her clients to embrace, and i'm all about that.
  3. being myself can be a plus. i am not good at kowtowing to "the man" and i also suck at pretending to be something i'm not. my online persona matches my real life persona pretty well. i used to think my online persona was too playful and goofy, but i am a playful and goofy person. a professional persona online would definitely confuse any potential employers and possibly land me a gig that i would hate and do a bad job at.
thanks melissa for the info. i'm very excited about the possibility of telling people about incredible new companies and getting paid or it. hopefully his whole public relations thing will work out.

12.30.2007

Farewell Cedar Hills/Eric & Nicole Rust Are Incredible People

Today was my final day at a Cedar Hills Sunday gathering for a while, and probably last ever as a staff member.

I moved to Sandpoint in 2001 to start CHC with Eric and Nicole Rust. In 2004 I married my wife, Jen and in 2005 we had our first child, Ani. Our second baby is due in May of 2008. Needless to say, my life has changed dramatically during my tenure at CHC. I've learned a lot about myself. I've become very familiar with my weaknesses. In more recent years (maybe even months) I'm starting to recognize and embrace my strengths as well.

At this point, I hope I don't ever take a paycheck from a church again. While there are many great aspects to working for a church, the challenge of balancing "work" and "ministry" is not one that I negotiate well. I look forward to being involved in ministry in the future as I definitely believe God has used me for His purposes. I just want that to be on a volunteer basis.

Throughout the past 12 years of my life there has been a constant source of friendship. Eric and Nicole came to Fresno and became the youth pastors at the church I grew up in. After I graduated high school I worked as an intern for Eric with the youth ministry. I went out of town for college for a year or so, but then they called me and said they were moving to Sandpoint, Idaho and wanted me to come do music for a church they were planning to start. It's been over 6 years since we moved up together. We've been friends through the birth of both their kids, Courtney & Mitchell, my wedding, my first child, Ani, both of our first house purchases. On a list of "important life events" we've been friends through several.

Thanks Eric and Nicole for the friendship, leadership, kindness, generosity and love you have shown me and my family throughout this time when our lives have been entwined. As we enter this new era, I hope that what I become is a reflection of the great things I've seen in you and your family. Thanks.

12.28.2007

It Got a Lot Better Tonight

It's way past my bedtime and the whole house is dark save the digital glow of my wife's macbook pro. It's way past my bedtime but in the interest of balance I have to share an update after my last post.

Things started looking up this afternoon. The new Christmas clothes I got looked a lot better in the mirrors at home than they did at the store so my self-image (which apparently changes in less time than it'll take me to write this aside) improved. Then tonight, the going-away party was a blast. We hung out at Doug and Kaycee Lutz's house and most of our friends from the band and tech teams were here. It was a great night of hanging out together. I got to connect with everyone for a bit. The kids played well together. The food was great. I couldn't ask for more.

This was another great reminder of what incredible friends we have here and how different life is gonna be without them. It also served as another proof that things that seem like a big deal right now won't be soon. Life moves pretty fast ("if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it," thank you Ferris Bueller) and for me that means that the thing that's bothering me today probably won't be bothering me tomorrow. And whatever I'm proud of now will fade quickly.

I'm really gonna miss the people I've gotten to work so closely with in the band and tech teams of cedar hills. They are truly a remarkable group of people. Between my family and friends, I couldn't have planned out a better life.

P.S. Also, as I was googling the Lutz's to try to add some linkage, I came upon this video of Wade, their eldest son. I shot this video like 4 years ago and posted it to youtube and googlevideo. Somehow, it made it to clipplay.com, whatever that is. Here's the video.

One Hell of a Day

I don't know why but I'm in a bit of a funk today. I have to be careful in these kinds of moods because they feel so pervasive and I can easily lose perspective on life. I like to think that's because I'm a creative artist. Maybe I just need to grow up.

Today's malaise is likely the result of a combination of factors.

  1. I had my last day in the office on Thursday and while it was a good normal day, there was no real closure to it. I don't have a sense of being done. Technically I'm not. I'm playing on Sunday, but I should be pretty much done and yet I feel as though there are ample loose ends still needed to tie up. I couldn't tell you what they are though. I think I'm just worried that the little things I did will catch people of guard and get dropped. Some of that's natural but I've been working hard to minimize it. I hope I did a decent job.
  2. I'm ready to start something again. The past several months have been about finishing, leaving and saying goodbye. I'm ready to say hello and start something new.
  3. This time of transition has left me without a sense of accomplishment. I've always struggled with that in my job too because with an ultimate goal of "transformational growth" for people, how can one ever know if that job is done? Currently though, I just don't have a sense of being able to actually complete anything. It's all dangling, waiting for the next step.
  4. I'm worried that 2 families living under one roof is going to be tough on my wife. Jen is pregnant and in the midst of a huge transition. That doesn't make for a relaxed person. She's feeling a strong sense of wanting somewhere to call "home" where she can have the space that she needs and just be who she is. At this point that looks to be farther on the horizon than she's really comfortable with. And if she's feeling stress, then so am I. I really hope I can finish school in a year.
  5. I feel very frumpy, out of shape and unattractive. I know that kind of stuff shouldn't matter and I also know that men really aren't supposed to sweat it, but today, that's just how I feel.
So there it is.

Tonight will be a blast. We're having a going-away party with the band and tech team from the church.

Tomorrow will be fine.

Even this afternoon things will probably start looking up.

It's hard for me to stay down for long.

I'm starting to feel better already.

12.20.2007

If I Ever Get Attacked By A Kindergarten Class I'll Be Ready

Good to know

22

If you want to know how you'd fare, click here.

12.19.2007

Urgent Message!!

I just came across this p.s.a. on youtube. Apparently an age-old disease is resurfacing in our youth based on a lack of education and inoculation. Don't let your kid become a statistic.

12.18.2007

Blue Like Jazz For the Illiterate

My buddy Brian Hale posted a blog about this and it looks interesting. I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also heard a lecture by Don Miller that helped me to rethink the way I see ministry.


12.11.2007

Apparently I May Be a Sucker

So, as to the previous post, here's a link from snopes.com which confirms or debunks rumors and urban legends.

12.06.2007

To Quote Will Ferrell Playing Alex Trebek...

"...and the show has reached a new low."

I was chatting with some friends the other day when the subject of a new hallucinogenic drug arose. I don't remember the context of the situation, but suffice it to say such strange topics are not a rarity. This "new" drug is made by fermenting human sewage and seems to be known, from my limited internet research, as "jenkem."

There's a relatively extensive wikipedia entry describing its origins with Zambian street children as well as recent media attention. The thing that's gonna make this hard to control is that everyone can make it for free.

The thing that's gonna make it hard to use is that according to the wiki, "it has been noted that Jenkem usage will leave a taste of sewage in the mouth lasting for several days." Don't forget the Listerine chaser.

Ustream.tv Also Records

I don't know if I mentioned that before, but it's true. It'll record your show and then you can embed that as well. The recordings I have thus far are available only by special request (as if anyone would request them) due to the potential use of said recordings for blackmailing purposes. :)

Communication Training Session

Mobility P.R.'s Melissa Burns is helping our staff at cedar hills learn to better communicate to our church. here's the live feed via ustream.tv.





12.03.2007

The Search For Truth

I just read a cool little article in Wired about "The Golden Compass." I wasn't aware until recently that there are conservative religious groups who are boycotting this film because of its anti-theistic story line. The article suggested that director Chris Weitz had broadened the meaning of the film to include any dogmatic authority, religious or otherwise. Philip Pullman, author of "His Dark Materials" which is the literary basis for "The Golden Compass" is reputed to concur with Weitz that book is ultimately about dogmatic authority more than specific religious entities.

The upshot in my mind is that boycotting a film like this does nothing more than prove that Christians are afraid of challenge. We (I say we to try to bring a little bit of unity to Christendom in this discussion despite my supposition that I have very little in common with the average American boycotter) give credence to the idea that what we believe in is a poorly constructed house of cards that will be downed by the slightest breeze of question.

In reality, at least as I see it, the God I believe in has no desire to create a dogmatic authority on earth by which to control its inhabitants. Rather He seeks relationship with each of us which, like any relationship, will have ups and downs and doubts and joys, etc.

If the foundation for my relationship with God was as fragile as "atheists" say it is and freaked out Christians apparently think it is, then I'd better be picketing every piece of art, rhetoric or legislation that challenges it in any way.

If the foundation for my relationship with God is truth then what can possibly shake it? Are questions about the nature of gravity going to make it hurt any less when I fall? Does an in-depth look into our physical world threaten to unravel its very existence? Of course not. The rub is that we can empirically measure physical properties of the natural world whereas in the spiritual we're left to rely almost exclusively on faith. Does this make the spiritual any less real, any less true? Is the nature of faith so subjective that we each create a truth of our own to govern our lives and potential afterlives?

If it is, then what's all the fuss about?

So bring on the questions. Bring on the winds of scrutiny and doubt. If I'm deluded, I want to know. How else than by a constant search for truth will any of us ever come into even a glimpse of what it may be?

12.02.2007

it seriously snowed like 10 inches last night

it took me almost 10 minutes to get out of my driveway this morning. luckily i ws able to sort of slide into some previously-cut tracks on the road since the roads in our neighborhood hadn't been plowed yet.

i'll try to post pictures later.

i love weather like this. it's cold enough that the snow will stay light and there's a whole lot of it!



11.28.2007

CHC Talk Planning Retreat 2007

This is pretty sweet. Ustream.tv allows live streaming for anyone...just another step forward for us voyeuristic and self-obsessed people.

Scroll down to the bottom for some recorded footage.






11.27.2007

How Does the Holy Spirit Interact with Us?

Here’s a journal post I wrote this morning based on the following verse:

 

Acts 4:8a “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”

 

Reading through this passage reminds me of the importance of being connected to and prompted by God’s Holy Spirit.  When Cedar Hills (the church I helped to start 6 years ago) began we had to work hard to convince people that the Holy Spirit can work in advance as easily as he can “in the moment.”  In reflection, I wonder if the whole conversation is somewhat of a fallacy.  Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit works “in the moment,” but he also guides us far in advance.  When we are faced with predictable circumstances in which there is a usual method of operation, we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our planning process.  I’ve felt this a lot recently in terms of planning our gatherings.  Song choices have coincided well with teaching topics with more effectiveness than I have expected.  I have made several recent choices based on a feeling that it’s something that we “should” do, not necessarily because I see the great fit.

 

The converse is true as well.  In situations where we are unable to prepare or where change occurs, we must rely on the Holy Spirit for leading “in the moment.”  We also must be aware that the leading we receive in the moment may be apparent to us or it may be a result of the progress he’s been making in us in the past.  As Christians we should be continually relying on the Holy Spirit for his leading whether in the everyday progress of life or “in the moment.”

11.24.2007

w.w.j.y.a.?

I've been organizing my little corner of the blog-o-sphere and came across this post that i wrote December 26, 2006 and never published. I've grown over the last year, but this is still a good reminder for me.

here ya go:

who would jesus yell at?

for a long time, i've been pretty confident in my answer to this question. religious people, religious people and religious people. i feel a sense of quiet satisfaction, believing that my perspectives differ in many ways from the american church at large. you could call it smugness or arrogance, but i prefer to think of it as righteous.

the way this plays out in my life is through a sort of informal personal mission to live my life in such a way that will challenge the church (read, all christians) to examine it's beliefs, hold them up to the light of christ's love and see how they match up. granted, not only is this a very lofty goal, it's also birthed out of a naive and pompous belief that i've got things figured out. ( i know, i know...i'm a jerk. but let's stay focused here, okay? i'm trying to explain that i've been wrong.) this belief has led to a lifestyle in which i take great pride in not listening to very much "christian" music, (is that music that has a personal relationship with god or music that's marketed to christians? whatever) disconnecting from pop "christian" culture and generally rebelling against anything that titles itself "christian" so that i can show people that following christ isn't about wearing a shirt with a fish on it or knowing the personal details for every member of audio adrenaline.

anyway, i read a christmas manifesto from moby today, and the comments awakened me to a blindness that's been in my heart. all this time, i've been seeking to set people straight. it's all been sort of under the surface, but it was definitely my goal. now, in processing who jesus was and how he lived, i'm realizing that he didn't seek to set religious people straight. he wasn't trying to show them where they were wrong. in fact, he seemed eager to support them in their search for truth without dismantling all their false ideas first. he was interested in helping people build on whatever foundation they had, not tear every weak or faulty foundation to the ground before rebuilding. however, that's what i've been trying to do.

so, w.w.j.y.a? me. he would try to encourage me lovingly, but in my passion and misguided arrogance i would believe i was doing him a favor. he would try again, knowing my intentions and wanting to build me up. still i won't respond. finally, he'll let loose a verbal lashing and i'll finally see that i'm today's pharisee. i'm the religious person who's trying to get all the other religious people to do it "correctly."

wow, i've got a lot to learn. i'm sure i've been the cause of much offense to my brothers and sister and for that i'm sorry. i don't have the answers. i'm not more righteous than you (probably much less given my attitude) and i have no right or responsibility to set anyone straight because i don't even know how to love. and as 1 john 4:7-8 states, we must love one another. god IS love and anyone who doesn't love doesn't know god.

11.23.2007

Black Friday Stumbling

Here's some cool animation at petpunk.com.

Here's a cursor-crazed rabbot at andrius.enu.lt.

nuTsie.com allows you to upload your .xml library from your iTunes (a file describing what's in your library) and then play it over the web. I haven't actually been too impressed with the gui yet since i haven't found out how to browse my iTunes library, but if this works it'll be awesome!

eatliver.com offers random comical pictures ranging from political to, frankly, kind of gross.

hubsess.com:
(this picture's worthless at this size, but the caption at the top says it's comparing the space it takes for travel by car, mass transit or feet and bikes.

It's 7:30am and I'm already an hour and a half late

Black Friday, named for its propensity for thrusting struggling businesses into the black, is well under way. Most sales I've seen advertised started at 6am this morning.

when i first heard the term "black friday" i thought it was some sort of reference to this day exemplifying the commercial exploitation of everything in our nation. Apparently it's not that dark a shade of black.

I was not raised to think this way. We hit the sales as hard as anyone else. As I've grown I've realized that my parents spend relatively responsibly (although I've heard financial woes expressed over the new kitchen counters) and while they are not averse to spending on credit, they are diligent in repaying those debts quickly.

Somehow, I missed that part when I was young. On tour in Las Vegas with the performing choir I was a part of in college, I leaped at the chance to get a free water bottle for signing up for a credit card. Then there was a booth offering a free t-shirt. It became a sort of joke of who could get the most free crap for signing up for credit cards.

A couple thousand dollars later, I came to grips with the fact that I spent money on credit that I didn't actually have. That's why now I'm not going to spend any money that I don't already have. Being in debt can be manageable and even advantageous for some people. For us, the freedom that comes from having zero consumer debt (we did finance a house) is priceless. Especially because life keeps rocking, debt or no. Unexpected tax bills, emergency room visits and the like are always sneaking up on us, reminding us that having no debt allows us to pay those off quickly, rather than adding a big chunk to an already heavy load.

So today, black friday, we'll be participating in National Buy Nothing Day. To me it's an intentional statement toward our nation learning to live within its means. It's an intentional choice not to go into the lion's den where I know that everything is aimed at getting me to buy more than I came for. And I probably would, just like most Americans. That's why companies do it...it works.

11.17.2007

follow-up on the previous schissler post

jeff is currently sponsored by Transition Bikes, Sandpoint's own Alpine Designs, Utopia Optics, 661 Protection and their subsidiaries Royal Cycling Clothing and Sunline Racing, Magura Brakes and e.13 Components. he also has a blog of his own at schissler.blogspot.com

two posts prior is a video of Jeff riding in Sandpoint, ID.

11.16.2007

"Attraction"

I get this newsletter on parenting from enjoyparenting.com. it's a cool resource and they've got a lot of good stuff to say. today's reminder was great, if phrased a little intensely. it sounded like something that i feel i hear a lot these days so i thought i'd pass it on.

here's the article, it's pretty short:

Attraction means pulling instead of pushing. The "pull" of attraction is not physical. You attract by focusing your mind. Your thoughts have a sort of "gravity" that pulls matching thoughts, conditions and events into your awareness and experience.

Today, try this experiment...

Think of *one* characteristic that you really, really adore and appreciate about your child. Something that makes you smile when you think about it. Pick a keyword or phrase to remind you of this trait, and write it on the back of your hand. (If your child can read, use a code word or symbol instead.)

The idea is to focus on this aspect of your child as many times as you can today. But don't tell your child specifically what you're doing -- the power is in what you think, not what you say.

You might also put little reminder Post-It notes in places like door handles, telephones, the fridge, your car visor -- wherever you frequently look or reach.

After a full day of focusing on this aspect of your child, review the day and note how it affected your interactions.

Can you see how, through your intentional focus, you
*created* (attracted) that experience?

the purpose and outcome of this is right on the money. i've found this to be one of the most effective practices in my life in terms of appreciating people on a consistent basis.

however, the whole "attraction" thing is just more ethereal than it needs to be. one could do this same experiment with something more tangible, like the color blue. if i spend mywhole day focusing on the colr blue, i will tend to see more blue that day. does this mean i've attreacted more blue into my life?

when we got our new car (a subaru forester) we suddenly began to see a lot more foresters on the road. does this mean that a bunch of people bought foresters at the same time as we did? did we attract more foresters into our life, or just become more aware of the foresters that were there all along?

these traits that we "attract" in others by focusing on them are there all along. we may allow other aspects to crowd them out of our perception. by focusing on aspects that we appreciate i our family, friends and coworkers, we will likely be surrounded by more of those traits than we thought.

don't think the things that used to bug you disappeared. it's just that now the positive aspects in focus have squeezed others out of the limelight.

11.15.2007

jeff schissler is still the man!!


my friend jeffrey, who recently moved to san luis obispo, is good at riding his bike. here's some video footage to prove it.

oh, and jeff's sponsored by some great companies which i would be willing to list here if he'll remind me who they are.

hi jeff. hi monica. see you guys soon.

Christmas music is playing already!! AHHHH!!!!!!


For more widgets please visit www.yourminis.com


In an effort to not be left behind, I've added this handy countdown widget so you know exactly how long until Christmas Day.

Every year, Christmas is such a wonderful reminder of the birth of Jesus and just how much commercial success we can milk it for. It makes me proud to be a capitalist!

If you're planning on exchanging presents with someone you care about, or even someone you feel culturally or socially obligated to, here's a great way to give a gift that will benefit a seller who could use some help.

NightLight is an organization in Bangkok, Thailand that helps women and children caught in the vortex of the sex trade, to climb out and find gainful employment elsewhere.

This is a link to the website where you can buy jewelry made by these women. In this way, we can continue to express our love for each other tangibly while also helping some people who are doing there best to make a living without renting their bodies. The gifts we give are nice, but the gift of freedom is one I rarely have opportunity to give.

Merry Christmas

11.14.2007

Higher Education, Here I Come!!


In August 2001, I moved from Clovis, CA to Sandpoint, ID with Eric & Nicole Rust to help start Cedar Hills Church. I was 22 years old, idealistic as the day is long and very energetic. A couple years later I met an incredible woman who would be come my wife. Less than a year after we were married, we had our first daughter and now we're expecting number 2.


The next chapter in our lives has been a mystery to us until recently. After much discussion, deliberation, waffling, prayer, vacillating and a bit of him-hawing, we've decided to move nearer an institution of higher education so that I can finish a bachelor's degree that I started nearly a decade ago (ouch). We're moving (back for me) to Clovis, CA. We're gonna live with my parents, at least for a while, and I'm going to attend California State University Fresno.

What am I gonna study? Great question. Maybe electrical engineering, maybe mass communications, maybe whatever degree my previous 3 years of college have gotten me closest to.

While we're very excited about this decision, the reality of having to leave so many people that we love is sinking in with each passing day. I know that part is only going to get harder and am sort of bracing myself for the impact.

Regardless, this period of our lives has been a time of incredible change and growth that will stay with us always. The relationships we have here have meant the world to us. It's hard for me to imagine life without those we've grown close to.

The plan at this point is for our final day with Cedar Hills to be December 30th. We'll probably roll out around the first of the year. I start school mid-January. Wow.

Matsiko Choir coming in 2008

11.13.2007

worth enjoying


If you're interested in good music, and hopefully you are, check out the overdubs podcast. I'm friends with the band so I'm definitely a bit biased. But still, it's fun. The newest episode is a never-before-released song called "working song."

10.28.2007

autumn feels spectacular

autumn is a spectacular time of year. i've never been a huge fan of the way i look in shorts so i always get excited when it's time for pants and long sleeves and jackets.

jen, ani and i have been in transit for the past 4 months or so and it's surprising what it's done to my world view. we moved out of our house in june and rented it to some wonderful people who are here in the area on extended business. the initial goal of this was to make some extra money so that we could outfit jen with the necessary equipment to turn her photography hobby into a sideline. 4 months later she's got a laptop, a canon 30d and a couple paying jobs under her belt. i couldn't be more proud. she's really got a great eye.

the ancillary effects of being homeless have been challenging, but in a way that fits us well. since we knew we weren't gonna have a permanent home for at least a year, we had a garage sale and got rid of a bunch of stuff. at the end of our first house sitting gig we had another yard sale and got rid of a bunch more stuff. we kept only the necessities and those things we absolutely couldn't part with yet, which has left us leaner and nearer the ground than we've been our whole life together. it's a good feeling. it's sort of the opposite of the feeling you get when you realize that while you're pretty happy where you are, you could never change anything anyway because there's just too much at stake. the way i, and i think i can safely say we, feel now is that it would take an awful lot to rock us. our expenses are lower than they've ever been. our only debt is our house. we're loving life as a family and getting used to ( not completely of course) being outside the beautiful den of comfort we'd worked so hard to build.

so now as autumn begins to pick up speed rolling down the steep hill toward winter, i feel pretty safe. there's plenty of stuff that can go wrong. i don't doubt that plenty of stuff will. but if i'd made a list of the things i had to concern myself with last year at this time, and then compared it with a list i made today, today's list would be much shorter. for a guy like me, that's a very, very nice feeling.

10.25.2007

Politics Schmolitics!!! :: a political post turned biblical diatribe

I just read a great post by Brant Hansen over at Letters from Kamp Krusty. One comment on his entry by John Husband suggested that voting for a real Mormon is better than voting for a fake Christian. John goes on in his blog at disorganizedreligion.us to expound on this idea.

Interesting premise. I don't think i agree.

I support the separation of church and state. I've known plenty of "real" and "fake" Christians in my day (who decides who's relationship with God is real or fake? Me?) and the one thing they all share is that they share few, if any, common threads. We could probably come up with a basic statement about who Jesus is and the concept that he died so that we could live and I think most would sign on that line. Other than that, it's pretty much up for grabs.

The problem is that the Bible isn't the "instruction manual" it's been dubbed. It's more like a cross between a history book and a bunch of stories about people's lives.

"OH, so you think the Bible's just some book huh, you heretic!!"

Not so fast there, Slappy, i believe the Bible is the word of God and that ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. That doesn't mean it's a 1 to 1 read.

People who simplistically claim that you just "Read the Bible and do what it says!," are at best missing the point, and at worst, completely unaware of some of the most important messages the Bible has for us.

The Bible likens a husband's love for his wife to Christ's love for the church. This seems to suggest that marriage is a great thing.

Then Paul tells us that remain single if possible, so that we can devote ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.

This is a great example of two opposing choices both being Godly for the right reasons.

Song of Solomon reads like a Danielle Steele novel, but is not meant be some sort of medieval Kama Sutra. It could be to give us a glimpse into what sexual intimacy can be. Maybe it's a sort of allegory to God's love and devotion to us. The point is that the "just read it and do what it says" argument falls apart quickly as soon as we switch on our brains.

Even in the big ten, "thou shalt not kill." It seems simple enough but then what about war? David was a great king and leader of armies and was also a man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22)

Anywho, the point is that politics can not be based on religion any more than the color of someone's skin. A person' (professed) religion can tell you little about that person.

Plus, it's not like our votes will count anyway, so what's the difference?

10.11.2007

plastic pastors

i read a blog post today over at spitbox called "blog honesty". this guy is talking about how he reads a lot of christian bloggers, specifically pastors, and that they appear perfect because they never struggle with anything. i can see his point. i know that i struggle with being fake myself as a pastor. the problem is, people only want authenticity when it agrees with them. i don't know about the people over at caffeinated faith.com but i've had several conversations this week where i felt inauthentic.

i listened to a woman tell me that the music in our sunday morning church gatherings is too loud and that she doesn't want to have to leave the church, but that all her friends are mad and they might have to leave if the music doesn't get quieter.

that's garbage. she doesn't have to do anything. she and her friends can choose to leave the church because the volume of the music is more important than the relationships, teaching and other things the church has to offer. that's fine. just don't tell me you have to leave. that's a copout. (my language there was edited by me for public consumption. after all, i am a pastor)

but what did i actually say? "that's tough. i don't want to downplay the seriousness of your concern, but it's a very complicated issue where live instruments blah blah blah. and we'll never make everybody happy so we've chosen to focus on blah blah blah."

of course she didn't hear a word i said. she simply reinstated her plea as she left to be picked up by her husband who wouldn't even speak to me (being one of the main people who is offended by the loud music)

and then earlier this week a fella i know from around town who's a part of our church casually came into the office to reserve a space for a baby shower for he and his girlfriend's upcoming baby. I congratulated him excitedly because that's exactly what i was supposed to do.

what i really wanted to say was, " are you crazy? you weren't even sure how into this woman you were last time we talked. are you even gonna be around to raise this baby? she's already got another son you're gonna have to raise and, no offense, but i'm not sure you've thought this through." and of course they hadn't thought it through, it was an accident.

by the way, this isn't to say that i appreciate authenticity that i disagree with any more than the next person. i'm just acknowledging that this whole "emerging" or "emergent" or whatever-the-hell-you-wanna-call-it movement is extremely concerned with authenticity and yet, in my personal, totally fallible estimation, has neglected to count the cost of such open honesty. that's not to say that we shouldn't go there, let's just try not to romanticize it so much. i mean, what's romantic about a more complicated life, lots of hard conversations and a lot of hurt feelings that will, hopefully, with the holy spirit's involvement, lead to some growth in the long term?

10.04.2007

Acer still thinks (knows?) i'm a sucker

today i got this response from my last response to Sarah at Acer Corporate Customer Care.

Hello Justin,

I did check on the history of your unit and it appears to be about 5 months out of warranty, therefore any repairs preformed would have a fee of $449. If you would like to set up service, you can contact 800-816-2237 and they would be happy to help you out.

Thank you,

Sarah Wykes
Acer America
Corporate Customer Care

shocking!! i must give her props for responding the next day, and i know she's just acting on behalf of Acer, so, Sarah, i know it's not your fault. anyway, here's my latest response. (i can feel my heart race just thinking about how little Acer cares about my troubles)

That’s very true Sarah, and it seems to prove my point, that although your tech support team was unable to fix it while it was under warranty Acer’s not willing to work hard to win my business. I’m sure individuals like me are a small portion of Acer’s income so it’s understandable. However, paying for acer to try to fix something that they were unable or unwilling to fix while the item was under warranty seems more than a little ridiculous.

Thanks again for trying, but I fear the best Acer can do is give me excuses and charge me for things that should have been included, like software that wasn’t reloaded at the repair depot, and product repairs that were botched twice while the unit was under warranty.

justin landis

acer seems to be trying

i received this response from my previous email yesterday.

Mr. Justin Landis,

I apologize for your frustrations and we would definatly like to get this resolved for you. I checked the history on your monitor and it appears that it has never been in for service. If your unit needs to come in for service, we would be more than happy to set that up for you. If you would like to have it repaired, or if you need technical phone support, please contact 800-816-2237, and they will take care of you.

Thank You,

Sarah Wykes
Acer America
Corporate Customer Care


while i was far from optimistic that anything would actually be done, i appreciated the gesture and responded.

Sarah,

Thanks for the response. The monitor is fine now, but I had to figure it out. The item that has had the main problems is my Travelmate 8200 the has come in for service at least once, and I think twice, over the past year and has never been repaired. If you are able to help me with this I’d love it. The s/n for the laptop, if you want to check the history, is xxx.

Thanks for the response,

justin landis

10.02.2007

Don't Buy Acer Products

it takes a lot to get me really upset. it takes a lot to motivate me to ever make public statements like the one i'm about to make. after all, i'm the farthest from perfect. however, in this case, i've fallen victim to far more than a few accidental oversights. in my experience Acer America i poorly organized, does NOT value customer service, and is unwilling to stand behind their products. Below is an email i just sent to one of the few email addresses on their corporate page. it gives more detail about the problems.

here's an overview:

  1. I bought a high-end laptop and had problems out of the box (a clicking sound when playing dvd and the monitor inexplicably shutting off, necessitating a hard restart.)
  2. after sending the laptop in to tech support, they returned it without fixing the problem and without explanation.
  3. during the tech support they reloaded my hard drive but didn't reload the acer erecovery software, rendering my recovery discs useless and preventing me from creating new ones.
  4. when my recent tech support call ascertained that erecovery had not been reinstalled (at the repair depot), they refused to comp me the $40 recovery discs that i now need.
  5. several calls to Marty Lower, who was supposedly helping me get this taken care of, went unreturned
  6. email tech support took at least 4 days to respond.
The point here is to detail my experience in the hope of preventing you from experiencing similar problems. I may be the exception to the rule, but if that were the case i think the few people within Acer who i've shared this story with would have been a little more shocked at my "bad luck."

Do yourself a favor and pay a few extra bucks to get a different brand that will hopefully make a decent product and stand behind its performance.



To Whom it May Concern,

I am the owner of a Travelmate 8200 as well as (2) AL1916W's. I have had more than 3 encounters with Acer customer service and technical support and NONE of them have been helpful. I sent my laptop in for repair once and it came back with the same problems, a form letter, and zero help.

I had a problem with the monitor and the tech support was unable to fix it. I ended up finding the solution on my own while talking with the tech support staff.

My recovery discs for my laptop won't work because when I sent my laptop in for repair, they reloaded my hard drive and somehow didn't reload Acer's eRecovery software, rendering my current discs useless in addition to preventing me from creating new ones. When the tech support people figured out why my recovery discs weren't working they refused to comp me the $40 replacement recovery discs that I was unable to create because Acer didn't reload the software!

Anyway, I couldn't find anyone else to communicate this too. I'm beyond caring about how you deal with me. However, if my business had as many breakdowns as Acer does (in my experience) I would certainly want to know about it. It's possible that the stars aligned and I just happened to fall through every tiny crack, but if that was the case, I feel that once that was noticed I would have been dealt with much differently.

Thanks for your time. Please forward this on to whomever may benefit from the information herein.

justin landis



reply:

Dear Justin Landis,

Thank you for contacting Acer America. I apologize for the delay in
responding to your inquiry. I see in our database where you called in to
our tech support line regarding this issue. This is to acknowledge receipt
of your email.

Respectfully,
Jeff Waits
Acer America Online Technical Support


Name: justin landis
E-Mail: justin@cedarhillschurch.com
System: LCD Monitor
Model: AL1916W
Serial Number: ETL86080587170CC7C4230
Operating System: Windows XP
Date Purchased: 09/20/2007
Subject: native resolution

Question / Problem:

When i set the resolution to the native 1440x900, the picture is squeezed
with lines on the top and bottom of the monitor. i have the same model
monitor for my second and it works just fine.

this monitor is acting like its native resolution is 1024x768, which is the
resolution of the monitor that this new one replaced.

i've tried uninstalling the monitors, uninstalling the video card, changing
the settings through both the windows video configuration as well as the
video card's ati catalyst control center. i also tried to reset the
settings in the monitor but that didn't make difference either.

do i need to do something in my computer itself? do i need to do some sort
of hard reset on the monitor? please help me fix this problem.

thank you.

9.27.2007

john edwards seems nice

i've been watching the chooseorlose.com streaming video of a john edwards q&a session at the university of new hampshire. it's making me sort of like john edwards. the only thing that's kind of funny is that while i agree with most of what he says, he almost sounds too idealistic to me and i wonder if he's just playing to the crowd. i mean, it's a university crowd so of course they're on the liberal end of social and international issues. he's almost coming across too idealistic - like it's hard for me to believe that he'd actually do what he says because it all sounds so noble. i guess time will tell.

anyone have any ideas about presidential candidates?

9.20.2007

malaise

...

i feel like i should be writing but i'm not sure what to write about

do i even want to be a "blogger?"

what's the point of Thursday anyway?

is this malaise?

...

9.19.2007

summer vaca' photos


i think the best way to see the country is with one's eyes. the information captured optically is so much more visula than that captured through the ears, nose, mouth and touch receptors.

these photos memorialize who we were when we saw the country more than they do the country that we saw. nonetheless, they seemed, at least at the moment, worth sharing.

appropriately, no method for smelling the country can beat one's nose. (this is nonesense)

9.16.2007

wow, what a week!

i'm so behind on blogging that the thought of catching up almost makes me shake. i spent the week in pennsylvania with my family, immediate and extended, to say a final goodbye to my grandpa and honor the life he lived. i'm gonna try to post more about this but it'll take me some time to put it all down. the week was great. i missed having my own family (jen and ani) there with me, but for being on my own that way, it was really good. just a couple simple bullet points are:

  • i doled out marriage counseling to the lady sitting next to me on the flight from pittsburgh to harrisburg.
  • i got in a fight with my brother (verbal only)
  • one of my female cousins was kissed on the cheek by some random guy in a late-night hotdag stand and there was almost a brawl
  • my father was warned innumerable times (by my grandma) to "watch those curbs" as he chauffeured everyone around in her cadillac.
  • we got lost on the way to the funeral
  • we drove nearly 2 hours to get to an all-you-can-eat restaurant called the shady maple, but referred to by me as the "sweaty maple" as an homage to the perspiration brought on by sudden and intense fits of gluttony
stay tuned for more text as well as photos. it's gonna be good if i get around to it.

9.04.2007

farewell grandpa

i'm gonna take a short aside from the vacation mini-series that i was thinking about posting cause it's been a strange week. i found out this morning that my grandpa died. he's been very ill for quite a while, and honestly his death should come as more of a relief than anything. his last few weeks were very uncomfortable for him as his body worked up to give its formal resignation. my dad told me that when he was in florida visitng, my grandpa had been in pain. when the drugs kicked in to kill the pain, grandpa went to sleep. when he was alert he was hurting, and so the cycle went. so thank God he's died now and begins the next leg of his journey.

on saturday night a friend from church, rich herman, died. he'd also been weakening for quite some time. he hadn't eaten anything in over 40 days. he had cancer that had been threatening to take him for years, in fact i don't think this is the first time he was given no more than a couple weeks by doctors. but they were finally right and he cast off sometime saturday evening, i think.

strangely, both of these events are withing spitting distance of my own recent recognition of mortality. i see the world around me with eyes that i've never used before. this might seem stupid, but i'm finally starting to fear death. i think it's sort of like how parents are never afraid of monsters. it's not because they're so tough or strong, it's because they know there's no real danger there. the same way young people don't fear death. well, i'm officially not a "young person" anymore. i'd be out of place at any college party. not yet creepily out of place, but definitely sadly out of place.

so, goodbye grandpa. i wish i knew you better. you taught me some memorable and valuable lessons about how to be a patient husband on a long shopping trip. you also taught me not to take life too seriously. i guess i don't know how exactly like i don't remember any specific times or anything, but it seems like he was the type who'd be equally comfortable at the kids and adults table. i love you grandpa.

8.29.2007

the first few days

wednesday we drove to silver falls in oregon. we arrived optimistic, refreshed even with our first night of camping ahead of us. we set up our tent, we rolled out our bedding and we were ready. however, it was also at that time when we realized that we a) had food to cook and no stove, b) decided not to bring our bikes but watched with envy as every other family in the site rode around joyously, c) were 30 minutes from the nearest restaurant, d) had no firewood, but no smores stuff either so that one was kind of a wash and e) had one small headlamp to service all our lighting needs. the night was very nice nonetheless. we got some hiking in before dinner and slept beautifully in our new tent.

the second night we spent in the redwoods on the coast of northern california. we got a late start in the day by the time we'd packed up, found somewhere to eat breakfast that wouldn't necessitate back-tracking and made a stop at target, costco and joe's sporting goods to procure a lantern, contact solution, a camp stove and propane for said stove. the redwoods were very nice. the camp site was clean and wooded with enough separation between the sites to feel semi-private.

the next day we drove a short way to the beach where we planned to spend a good portion of the day, partially for the enjoyment of it and partially so that on this, our longest driving day, ani would spend a significant part of the drive time asleep. we found a beach that was off the main road a bit and held the promise of seclusion even if we had to take our lives in our hands to hike down to the sand.

we picked our way carefully down sandy trails stepping on exposed roots when possible and avoiding the sections that offered no more traction than a slip 'n slide. we almost turned back at several points but ultimately we pushed on. as we made the final hop down onto the sand, we could see that the trek had been worthwhile. the beach was nestled in a cove, littered with rock islands of various size. however, rather than fumble over the description and leave you with a mediocre picture of the place, here are some pics to prove how beautiful it was.

2 weeks in bite-sized chunks

on wednesday, august 8th, a new chapter in life began for me. i didn't know it at the time, but i was stepping into the dimly-lit vestibule separating young adulthood from full-fledged adulthood. there've been a few instances in my life thus far when i've felt a sense of being a person, on my own, in charge of my own destiny. but these instances, however brief, had more to do with autonomy than turning into my own father. there were several moments throughout this journey when i felt a sense of kinship with my parents, knowing what i apparently put them through so many years ago with my aching desire to help check into the hotel room or have them explain the deep reasoning behind every little thing they did. (why? but why? but why?)

the other sensation that peppered my journey was, and this is almost embarrassing to admit for some reason, the feeling that i was the father in some chevy chase movie about taking a cross country trip. some of the key elements that contributed to this were our clutch going out unexpectedly, discovering that our campsite had been overrun by ants by way of inadvertently eating some, a "check engine" light illuminating somewhere between the two "d"s and the "w-h," a late night repack of recently unpacked camping gear due to potential emergency room trip and the kid throwing up in the car, once all over herself, once caught by mom in a napkin and thrown out the window without so much as a bathroom break to clean up.

7.30.2007

Ani's Second Birthday

I've been remiss in posting photos of ani anywhere, so here's something.

there were a couple notable aspects of this party.

  1. it was huge and ani'll never remember it. it ended up being basically an excuse for a summer party to invite all our friends
  2. the massive slip 'n slide we built was a blast, but nobody at the party went on it, only jen and i when we made it.
  3. unfortunately, due to the extremely hot weather, the slip 'n slide cooked the grass severely, all less than 6 weeks before carson & karen's wedding reception that'll be happening there.
click below for photos.
flickr set

small town life is pretty sweet

we've been doing a lot of stuff outside these days. it's really making me appreciate living in a small town with an incredible family and awesome friends.





7.26.2007

ani, tayler & i

yesterday, jen worked in the evening as she typically does on wednesday. ani's cousin tayler was over so she and ani and i hung out last night. we went out on the lake with some friends. tayler ran the flag and did a great job. then later, we went to a birthday party where the girls got to play for several hours straight. tayler hit it off with yeo won and ellie who are both right around her age. then we went home, but we ended up going for a bike ride. tayler loved riding in the bike trailer with ani. it was really fun.

while ani was still napping, before we even went out on the boat, i was showing tayler some photos of her grandpa that i'd edited with photoshop. she wanted to do the same. here are the aforementioned photos.




















7.19.2007

sanuk calls them sandals



so, i got these on sunday afternoon. my other sandals, which really liked, blew out. they were redleys. the natural rubber top sole is not only slip-resistant, but they are the only sandals i've ever owned that didn't stink to high heaven.

anyway, these were available locally and were the only thing i could find that felt decent. i'm loving them. they're comfortable, (and getting more so every day) and unique. they're not too hot, although a bit hotter than sandals. the other beauty is just the feel of them versus walking in sandals.

so if you're interested, check them out at sanuk.com. the model is called "donny."

oh, and i'm wearing a black t-shirt today. so if you see someone wearing a black t-shirt, it might be me and you could check out the sandals for yourself if you ask me nicely.

7.03.2007

i'm getting close to 30

okay, so i've got a couple years to go. but i do think i'm close enough to start preparing myself for that lifestyle. i found this list on my cousin's blog and it seemed worth reposting (if not committing to memory for the years ahead). so, here you go.


I have a few thoughts on being over thirty and my wife encouraged me to post them. Also a college roommate of mine and I were exchanging emails about life before and after 30.

Here's a few things guys should NEVER do after turning 30. I am guilty of doing a few of these.

The list does make life after 30 look pretty boring. Although, the source isn't too credible... it was in a magazine.

• Use the word party as a verb.
• Do impressions of Austin Powers characters, especially Dr. Evil.
• Crash on a friend's floor or couch.
• Experiment with facial hair.
• Let your underpants show above your jeans or below your shorts.
• Apply paint to your face for any reason at all.
• Know the names of the current Real World cast.
• Remove your shirt in public--unless there is sand and a large body of water nearby.
• Use the word dude, except when referring to a ranch or a well-dressed Englishman.
• Use the word dawg in a sentence when referring to a friend or, worse, yourself.
• Sleep past 10:30AM.
• Cook exclusively on a George Foreman grill.
• Wear a jersey with the name of a professional athlete on the back.
• Use Internet acronyms, especially ROFL and LOL.
• Shave any part of your body except your face.
• Pick a fistfight by thrusting out your neck, flexing, and screaming, "It's go time!"

7.02.2007

on the topic of innnovation

this is reposted from blog.guykawasaki.com. there are some great reminders in here for us church leaders.

Ten Questions with Scott Berkun, Author of "The Myths of Innovation"

Myths.jpg

Scott Berkun worked on the Internet explorer team at Microsoft from 1994-1999. He is the author of a recently released book called The Myths of Innovation. He also wrote the 2005 bestseller, The Art of Project Management. He teaches a graduate course in creative thinking at the University of Washington, runs the sacred places architecture tour at NYC’s GEL conference, and writes about innovation, design and management.

In his most recent book he explores (or, more accurately, “explodes”) the romantic notions of how innovation occurs. Join me in this Q and A session as he explains the real world of innovation.

  1. Question: How long does it take in the real world—as opposed to the world of retroactive journalism—for an “epiphany” to occur?

    Answer: An epiphany is the tip of the creative iceberg, and all epiphanies are grounded in work. If you take any magic moment of discovery from history and wander backwards in time you’ll find dozens of smaller observations, inquiries, mistakes, and comedies that occured to make the epiphany possible. All the great inventors knew this—and typically they downplayed the magic moments. But we all love exciting stories—Newton getting hit by an apple or people with chocolate and peanut butter colliding in hallways—are just more fun to think about. A movie called “watch Einstein stare at his chalkboard for 90 minutes” wouldn’t go over well with most people.

  2. Question: Is progress towards innovation made in a straight line? For example, transistor to chip to personal computer to web to MySpace.

    Answer: Most people want history to explain how we got here, not to teach them how to change the future. To serve that end, popular histories are told in heroic, logical narratives: they made a transistor, which led to the chip, which create the possibility for the PC, and on it goes forever. But of course if you asked William Shockey (transistor) or Steve Wozniak (PC) how obvious their ideas and successes were, you’ll hear very different stories about chaos, uncertainty and feeling the odds were against them.

    If we believe things are uncertain for innovators in the present, we have to remember things were just as uncertain for people in the past. That’s a big goal of the book: to use amazing tales of innovation history as tools for those trying to do it now.

  3. Question: Are innovators born or made?

    Answer: Both. Take Mozart. Yes, he had an amazing capacity for musical composition, but he also was born in a country at the center of the music world, had a father who was a music teacher, and was forced to practice for hours every day before he started the equivalent of kindergarten. I researched the history of many geniuses and creators and always find a wide range of factors, some under their control and some not, that made their achievements possible.

  4. Question: What the toughest challenge that an innovator faces?

    Answer: It’s different for every innovator, but the one that crushes many is how bored the rest of the world was by their ideas. Finding support, whether emotional, financial, or intellectual, for a big new idea is very hard and depends on skills that have nothing to do with intellectual prowess or creative ability. That’s a killer for many would-be geniuses: they have to spend way more time persuading and convincing others as they do inventing, and they don’t have the skills or emotional endurance for it.

  5. Question: Where do inventors and innovators get their ideas?

    Answer: I teach a creative thinking course at the University of Washington, and the foundation is that ideas are combinations of other ideas. People who earn the label “creative” are really just people who come up with more combinations of ideas, find interesting ones faster, and are willing to try them out. The problem is most schools and organizations train us out of the habits.

  6. Question: Why do innovators face such rejection and negativity?

    Answer: It’s human nature—we protect ourselves from change. We like to think we’re progressive, but every wave of innovation has been much slower than we’re told. The telegraph, the telephone, the PC, and the internet all took decades to develop from ideas into things ordinary people used. As a species we’re threatened by change and it takes a long time to convince people to change their behavior, or part with their money.

  7. Question: How do you know if you have a seemingly stupid idea according to the “experts” that will succeed or a stupid idea that is truly stupid?

    Answer: Don’t shoot me, but the answer is we can’t know. Not for certain. That’s where all the fun and misery comes in. Many stupid ideas have been successful and many great ideas have died on the vine and that’s because success hinges on factors outside of our control.

    The best bet is to be an experimenter, a tinkerer—to learn to try out ideas cheaply and quickly and to get out there with people instead of fantasizing in ivory towers. Experience with real people trumps expert analysis much of the time. Innovation is a practice—a set of habits—and it involves making lots of mistakes and being willing to learn from them.

  8. Question: If you were a venture capitalist, what would your investment thesis be?

    Answer: Two parts: neither is original, but they borne out by history. One is portfolio. Invest knowing most ventures, even good ones, fail, and distribute risk on some spectrum (e.g. 1/3 very high risk, 1/3 high risk, 1/3 moderate risk). Sometimes seemingly small, low risk/reward innovations have big impacts and it’s a mistake to only make big bets.

    The other idea is people: I’d invest in people more than ideas or business plans—though those are important of course. A great entrepreneur who won’t give up and will keep growing and learning is gold. It’s a tiny percentage of entrepreneurs who have any real success the first few times out—3M, Ford, Flickr were all second or third efforts. I’d also give millions of dollars to authors of recent books on innovation with the word Myth in the title. The future is really in their hands.

  9. Question: What are the primary determinants of the speed of adoption of innovation?

    Answer: The classic research on the topic is Diffusion of Innovation by Rogers, which defines factors that hold up well today. The surprise to us is that they’re all sociological: based on people’s perception of value and their fear of risks—which often has little to do with our view of how amazing a particular technology is. Smarter innovators know this and pay attention from day one to who they are designing for and how to design the website or product in a way that supports their feelings and beliefs.

  10. Question: What’s more important: problem definition or problem solving?

    Answer: Problem definition is definitely under-rated, but they’re both important. New ideas often come from asking new questions and being a creative question asker. We fixate on solutions and popular literature focuses on creative people as being solvers, but often the creativity is in reformulating a problem so that it’s easier to solve. Einstein and Edison were notorious problem definers: they defined the problem differently than everyone else and that’s what led to their success.

  11. Question: Why don’t the best ideas win?

    Answer: One reason is because the best idea doesn’t exist. Depending on your point of view, there’s a different best idea or best choice for a particular problem. I’m certain that they guys who made telegraphs didn’t think the telephone was all that good an idea, but it ended their livelihood. So many stories of progress gone wrong are about arrogance of perception: what one person thinks is the right path—often the path most profitable to them— isn’t what another, more influential group of people thought.

  12. Question: Is innovation more likely to come from young people or old people? Or is age simply not a factor?

    Answer: Innovation is difficult, risky work, and the older you are, the greater the odds you’ll realize this is the case. That explanation works best. Beethoven didn’t write his nineth symphony until late in his life, so we know many creatives stay creative no matter how old they are. But their willingness to endure all the stresses and challenges of bringing an idea to the world diminishes. They understand the costs better from the life experience. The young don’t know what their is to fear, have stronger urges to prove themselves, and have fewer commitments—for example, children and mortgages. These factors that make it easier to try crazy things.

the chc@dtc experiment is coming to a close

february of this year saw cedar hills church launch its first off-site gathering. we prepared for a couple months and then launched february 18th. it has been quite a ride. we've been meeting in downtown sandpoint at a restaraunt - downtown crossing. the gathering has been put on by a group of about 10 people and attendance has ranged between 18 and 60.

there are several really cool aspects of the downtown crossing gathering (chc@dtc). we do live music, the teaching component happens via video, which i like, we offer free drinks at the bar (non-alcoholic only or we'd definitely be packing the place out) and a great group of people who are there consistently. i also really like the time slot. i'd much rather be a part of a gathering like that in the evening than the morning.

for all its great points, chc@dtc has failed to build momentum. the most common comment heard when i mention the gathering to people is, "wow, that's cool." however, for all the people who apparently think it's cool, very few of them, if any, make it a priority to be there.

We had a conversation last night with the core group who make that gathering happen.
two main questions were asked. first, how has this gathering helped to introduce people to a growing relationship with christ. second, if the goal is to create an event or venue that will further god's mission in sandpoint, and given the resources expended on making this gathering happen ($200/week and many, many person-hours) would we do this or something else?

the answers to these questions were much more unanimous than i expected. while there have been many great benefits from this gathering, we haven't seen an influx of people who wouldn't be a part of cedar hills anyway. most people who have made it their primary gathering simply prefer the evening to the morning. the second question really clarified the issue for us when we all felt that the resources used could be pout to more effective and efficient use elsewhere.

so there it was. a great experiment coming to a close. from here i'm gonna post some key learnings that have popped up so far as well as some reasons why this gathering may not have taken off.

  • innovation is difficult but very worthwhile. i really can't say enough about how great it is to be able to try new things without fear of being chastised for failure. cedar hills really understands the value of innovation as a tool for growth. having taken the step to try something like this, i think it'll be even easier in the future to try things with less than 100% chance of success.
  • it's great to have a church presence in downtown. there's no data that has anything to do with this. i'm just a big proponent of being a part of a community, involved and in touch, rather than separate and unaware.
  • leadership was a problem from the start. i am the leader of chc@dtc because it fits within my realm of responsibility. the idea of the gathering is right up my alley, but with my current workload there's really no way i could have given that gathering the attention that it needed. i piled it on top of an already-full plate and it just got lost in the shuffle. so to sum this all up, intentional leadership would have made a huge difference.
  • drop in traffic isn't a reliable growth engine. i kept waiting for people to pop in off of the street and just be drawn to this gathering. there were 3 people in 6 months who came and stayed, 2 of which i knew already. several more popped in, but left when they realized what was going on.
  • advertising to remind people about a gathering at a different time and place than they typically expect a church gathering.
  • treat it as a different entity rather than simply another gathering of cedar hills. our goal was to position this gathering as simply a third option alongside the two sunday morning times. however, it was different enough in other aspects that i don't think people really saw it that way. we could have leveraged this difference into a whole new worship experience that may have seemed to have more merit, as opposed to a copy of sunday morning, but with a smaller band and video teaching instead of live.
  • leadership is key!! i know i mentioned this earlier but it's so primary in my mind. i'm gonna pick myself apart for a minute here. 1. i didn't make room in my schedule to lead this gathering. 2. i can either lead people or be a part of making a gathering happen, not both. leading music on sunday night pulled my attention away from other things that could've been crucial to helping the gathering along. plus, in retrospect, it could've been a great venue to give away musically. that was the initial idea, but when it came right down to it, i think it seemed like too big a risk. plus, mentally i was expecting the thing to be a hit right off the bat and wanted to go with a proven entity - the status quo!
i'm sure more learnings will emerge over time. i'm sure this won't be the last off-site gathering that we do. there was some great times had, people who got involved in leadership that weren't before, new relationships and several people had their first church experience as a part of chc@dtc. all in all, a huge win! now to find the next experiment.