Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Your life is being broadcast

Published by October 22nd, 2008 in Character, Church, Community, Future, Internet, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Technology  2 Comments »  

Wow! It’s been a long time since I made a post, and a lot has happened. Actually, I have like 20 posts in me, but because in the past my being open and honest was not allowed – I was scared – so I kept silent!

I wanted to write about my new job and my new boss, yet, because I knew when I posted a link to Brad’s blog he would find this blog, I kept procrastinating, and now it’s a mute point. Interesting enough, I did not actually realize how toxic some of my last situations were until I tried to function normally in a healthy environment. I mean, who else would have the coolest workplace, and be open to blogging, and open to voicing a difference of opinion than the guy behind churchmarketingsucks.com – yet I was conditioned for the last several years to not be myself – and it showed, because I was still too scared to be open and honest even though I was in a safe place.

I also wanted to write about control. As I went into this new job I worked extra hard to allow things to evolve around me without any interference by me. We either become control freaks, or become passive, in an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering, yet it is by going through legitimate suffering head on that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It was a great experience going into an organization and not as the boss. Nothing happened “my way”, and I loved every growth-packed minute of it. I actually believe that every mega church leader should go find a small church and work for two weeks each year as a lay person, and not be allowed to influence any decision. Basically seeing life from the other side. Not being the boss for a change was one of the best things that could have happened to me, but that is not the topic of this post.

There is so much that I want to write, and I wish my written communication skills were better so I could effectively communicate all that is my heart. I do regret allowing the oppression of my past situations to continue on into my new life. It’s not their fault, it’s mine! I made the choice to keep quiet, and that was the wrong choice!

What I feel compelled to write about is a change I see as our society becomes more voyeuristic and technology becomes more mobile. Like I said in the last post, I’m sure someone has already touched this topic so I may be behind, but it is very, very important. Now, it has actually come to life for me!

A few weeks back ICFG had to lay off 25 people, and I was one of them. For the record I want to say that although there is no easy way to let people go, ICFG had to make a hard decision, and they took very good care of us. You can tell if an organization has Jesus or not just by how they treat employees that are exiting, and former employees that for whatever reason moved on. Even though my time was short with Foursquare I am extremely impressed with their compassion and forward thinking.

The interesting part to all this is “Black Tuesday”, the day the layoffs took place, was broadcast over the internet via Twitter and Facebook. Some I have selected as a favorite on my Twitter page, which you can read here . Brad was twittering as it went down, and so were a few others in the office. It was weird, yet it is the future of how things are going to be – all of our lives will be broadcast over the internet – like it or not!

I believe the idea of a “big brother” watching us started with George Orwell’s movie 1984, but it’s not the government that is the soon-to-be big participator in broadcasting EVERYTHING, it’s little sister, Aunt Ruby, Johnny down the street, and Yilmaz over in Turkey. As we become more of a mobile technology world, more of OUR world will be broadcast to the Internet – AND NOT BY CHOICE!

As with anything there is good and bad. The good is people who do not have integrity will no longer be able to hide. The new world is all about transparency and vulnerability – everything will be exposed. The bad is there is no privacy anymore – none at all!

No matter if you like this or not, as in the case of “Black Tuesday” being broadcast over the internet, I didn’t have a choice, and neither do you. This train has left the station, and if you are not being real with people, LOTS of people will find out – and sooner than a you can click on a send button!

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Bless me or bless you?

Published by June 20th, 2008 in Change, Character, Community, Homeless, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, My Big Mouth, Outreach  2 Comments »  

For the last 5 years I have worked in churches that were 75% focused on “bless me bless me” instead of blessing others. It was not until I needed help because I did not have money or food that I consciously saw the fallout from that style of ministry. When people focus on becoming a millionaire their hearts change. When leadership’s primary teaching is about receiving instead of giving, even though helping others is mentioned, giving unselfishly never becomes a priority or a lifestyle. A generous heart cannot grow when a person is constantly praying to receive. 

A short time ago I had to apply for food stamps. Very humbling to say the least! At one point I was down to 3 cans of tuna. I found there are some very unselfish and genuine people in the world and I am in awe of the sacrifice they made to help me out. But none of those people attend a “bless me” church.

I say all that not to criticize the “bless me” churches, but to slap myself in the face! Thank goodness my original Christian foundation came from an outreach focused church because I continue to always put others before me, yet I am not proud of what I did or who I became these last several years. I compromised what I know to be right in so many ways.

Last week a couple handed me a large envelope of cash.  The week before someone filled my fridge and another person paid my mortgage. When I told my best friend he said “God blessed you” yet I disagree! God does not bless with a new car or a fat check. God blesses with challenges that help you grow. We are confused. We all run around seeking “blessings” from God that are for the most part material stuff we’ll end up selling on craigslist. The new car only blesses for a short time as you show off to your neighbors. We are being trained to be selfish “bless me bless me” so we perceive, for the most part, that the only blessings from God are material or financial.

In my adult life the biggest blessings I have ever received where 1) homelessness 2) divorce 3) unexpected unemployment. Why would I say that? Because in each situation I grew to be a better person – I was truly blessed!

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What I really wanted to say!

Published by June 20th, 2008 in Change, Character, Community, Customer Service, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, My Big Mouth  2 Comments »  

Ahhh the feeling of freedom after being repressed. 

For some time I was not allowed to be myself. To be completely honest I was employed at a place where people are not allowed to be honest and have to say things like “we are receiving our healing” instead of saying “I am sick” or “I have a cold”. Although I completely agree with positive thinking this type of environment is far from positive. People are scared to be real and it encourages people to be superficial. Even though the assumed intent is to create a positive workplace it actually produces the opposite since honestly is repressed!

When I wrote this post what I really wanted to say is:

If the local drycleaner cares more about people, genuinely cares more about people then the local church – there is something seriously wrong with the church!

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Holy Cow meets Hardly Normal

Published by March 13th, 2008 in Blogs, Community, Friends, Just Me, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Personal, Remarkable  1 Comment  

Besides getting to hang with “The Sindorfs” (I always kind of like to sing their name like you would “The Simpsons”) I was blessed by getting to know Michael Buckingham who is the founder and creative director of Holy Cow Creative.

When I heard I was speaking with Michael I was excited. I have been reading his blog for some time now and I am extremely impressed by his work. If you are looking for graphic or internet design I highly recommend you give Holy Cow a call. They even just won an Addy Award for the most original web design I have seen in a long time.

Mr. Holy Cow and I agreed on most everything. The only item in our presentation I had to differ with is Michael believes you should not steel ideas and instead be inspired.  I on the other hand find inspiration to plagiarize. That view comes from my music days. Frank Zappa did everything you could musically and KISS did everything you could as far as stage show. What’s left? You figure that out!

Creativity is forgetting where you stole the idea from! (the moderator of our presentation stole that line from me, and I stole it from an animator I had lunch with the day before)

I spent a few days allowing “The Sindorfs” (don’t forget to sing it) to pick on me and getting to know Michael.  Success is our value of relationships and my journey to NRB was very successful. I am hoping someday soon I will be able to work with Michael on a creative project because not only will I learn, it will be fun!

Holy Cow meets Hardly Normal

This was shot right before we spoke at NRB. I sure hope we didn’t mess anyone up!!! btw, my power point made Michael’s look good, although mine was much more entertaining! Look! A Squirrel! 🙂

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Listening to the unhappy customer

Published by February 18th, 2008 in Change, Character, Community, Customer Service, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Life's Lessons, Managment, Marketing, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Outreach, Remarkable  1 Comment  

I finally did it! I switched my Yahoo! start page to a Google start page. I probably have had a Yahoo! start page for over 10 years. Every time they changed I adapted, but about a year ago they created a new start page with a square ad right in the middle. It is horrible.

I didn’t make this switch overnight.  I wrote to Yahoo! on several occasions. Also, I started a Google start page about 6 months ago and kept trying it out during that period.  I would probably still stick with a Yahoo page, but every time their cookie is deleted I have to go to their new layout and revert. There is no way around this and it is very frustrating. So, yesterday I switched.

Seth Godin in his book Free Prize Inside!: The Next Big Marketing Idea makes a great point that we need to listen to our unhappy customers:

People who are happy are your company’s worst enemy. Satisfied customers don’t complain. Satisfied customers pay on time.  Satisfied customers don’t bother the boss or the tech support people or the legal department.

This is a problem. It’s a problem because satisfied customers are unlikely to radically increase your sales. Satisfied customers are unlikely to push you and your colleagues to stay ahead of the competition. One day, in fact, the competition will pass you and then the satisfied customers will quietly leave.

Your growth will come instead from dissatisfied and the unsatisfied. The dissatisfied know that they want a solution, but aren’t happy with the solution they’ve got. The minute they find it, they’ll buy it. Yahoo!’s best customers weren’t Google’s first users. Nope. The happy Yahoo! customers weren’t busy looking for a replacement. Google focused on dissatisfied Web surfers. People who were online but weren’t blown away by what they had been using (and wanted to be blown away)

Yes, the loud people who complain all the time are just that, complainers,  and are probably better off complaining in another church. But the majority of members who have been loyal for a longtime, but are now unhappy, and have been unhappy for some time (but have not said anything) will slip away without a word – unless you ask!

I believe in surveying. It helps in correcting issues and it greatly helps in being able to minister more effectively. Granger even offers the weekend survey they use for download. (another post about their weekend survey can be found here)

Of course, you might learn things you don’t want to know, because you might have to change, and change hurts because you’ll have to admit your way is not the best way!  But, if you are so closed you are not listening, or you don’t have an effective vehicle for constructive feedback established, you are seriously missing out on valuable data that can lead to great insight and growth.

Let’s be real for a second! If church is to be about helping others, and we don’t seek out their input, how effective can we be?  We cannot guess on how to help people and be really successful. Don’t ask your staff – ask the people you serve!

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Add to your vocabulary: “DNK.”

Published by December 8th, 2007 in Blogs, Character, Community, Just Me, Leadership, Learning, Managment, Marketing, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Personal Growth, Remarkable  1 Comment  

I love management and leadership guru Tom Peters. I was first turned onto him by a rant in a Seth Godin book, “The Big Moo”, which I believe might have come from a free pdf download on his site Tomato, Toma[h]to! Tom also has some very cool stuff to download on the free section of his website that you can find here. I also recommend his books. Great stuff!

On his blog today I noticed two great posts “DNK”! and 100 Ways to Succeed #99: – Reward “DNK” When You DNK..

I was once called into an executive management meeting, which was very intimidating so there was added pressure to impress. In front of a room full of executives I was asked if I would go to Africa, Southern Sudan to be exact. I had absolutely no international production experience to begin with and they wanted to send me into a war zone. As always, I was honest and said “yes sir, I’ll go but I have never done anything like that before” basically I responded with a “DNK”!

The executives in the room didn’t think anything less of me. In fact, they appreciated my candor. They decided to team me up with another producer that had lots of international experience so I could learn. On my second trip to Sudan I was the more experienced person and I am so glad that I was truthful. If my pride had me to not be honest and say I could do it, not only would the project be a wash but people could have been seriously hurt!

See, I have learned that my ego and pride is not as important as doing the job right, even if that means the task gets assigned to someone more qualified. It is far better to be honest then to fail! 

I know it is not easy. When tasks get assigned to us it is a normal feeling to say “yes, I can do that” when the truth is someone else could do it far better then you. It is not easy to admit we “do not know”! We think if we are truthful then management will judge us as being a failure. Any good leader or manager will respect your honesty and actually be able to say “DNK” themselves.

If we are truly the body of Christ we have to do what is right for the body and not ourselves. We must know our own strengths and weaknesses and when we cannot do something we need to be honest about it. Everything should be about Him and not me!

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Laughing until it hurts – literally

Published by November 23rd, 2007 in Character, Community, Friends, Homeless, Learning, Life's Lessons, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Personal, Recovery, Remarkable  Comments Off on Laughing until it hurts – literally  

Thanksgiving meal baby food!On my first day home from the hospital a co-worker had someone deliver a gift bag filled with baby food. I laughed so hard I almost bust a stitch yet I never looked at the flavors. Yesterday a friend brought over a plate of Thanksgiving food and we got to talking. I showed him the gift bag and started to bring the jars out of the bag and noticed they were in Thanksgiving flavors like turkey, squash and sweet potatoes! I laughed so hard it literally hurt!!!

God has blessed me with some amazing friends who are taking great care of me. I am an extremely generous person however, I don’t easily accept generosity. Maybe it is a trust issue because I am so independent having raised myself off the streets of Los Angeles, or maybe because I have been burnt so many times by people! Nevertheless, this has been a great learning experience for me because without a helping hand my recovery from surgery would be much more difficult!

By the way, there is a gorgeous married couple who brought me my favorite Starbucks drink yesterday!!! I will be forever grateful!

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I met my favorite bloggers

Published by November 11th, 2007 in Blogs, Community, Friends, Internet, Just Me, Life's Lessons, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Outreach, Personal, Personal Growth, Technology  Comments Off on I met my favorite bloggers  

This week I was at the Outreach Conference in San Diego. I really did not know who would be speaking except Craig Groeschel and I was extremely excited to hear him. Too me, what he said not only slapped me in the face, I wish every pastor would “get it”. Craig was awesome. At one point he repented in front of a room full of pastors for focusing on bringing people in instead of sending people out. Wow!

Running into a few of my favorite bloggers was the high point of the trip although it made me feel a little bit like a “groupie”! I read their posts everyday (ok most everyday) and I am really grateful for the insight and encouragement they have shared. I especially appreciate their courage for being transparent!

Having made a living playing music professionally for many years it was a little alarming to me that I was feeling like a groupie. And these were people who worked in fulltime ministry not rock stars. What was wrong with me?

I was reminded of the first time the tables were turned and I became a fan having my idol right in front of me. Growing up Frank Zappa had a huge influence on me. Every year on Halloween; Frank would hold a live event in Manhattan. I would go every single year and it was probably some of the best and craziest experiences of my life. Usually Zappa played a live concert but this particular year, 1982, he debut his movie “The Dub Room Special” at the famous Ritz Theater, which I believe is on 14th. (Dang that was a long time ago so I could be wrong!) Frank was known for being anti drugs and it just so happened that the very first time I ran into him I was wasted. We arrived at the club early and because we partied all the way there, about three hours, I was stupidly stupid!! I was standing across the street when to my shock Frank walked right in front of me. I could not say a word. I was embarrassed to meet such an intellectual while my brain was fried. As I type this the thought came that maybe that was God’s first attempt to get me sober!

Later after the movie I found myself in a line of autograph seekers slowly moving towards him. As a performer, I hated autographs and there was no way I was going to ask him for one. I was just in awe of being so close to him. I was like a zombie slowly moving forward not really paying attention to what was going on. The next thing you know, BAM! I am next in line. So I grab my ticket stub out of my pocket and I handed it to him. Up to this point Frank was going through the motions hardly looking up at people. I won’t post what I asked here but I am a real Frank Zappa fan. What I asked him to sign got him to stop and look up at me. He then looked me in the eyes and gave me this huge grin because he knew I was not just a normal fan but I somewhat understood him, like if anyone could ever understand the genius of Zappa! Wow, that was sure a long squirrel chase. Anyway, where was I?

Oh, at one point when I first got to the hotel I thought I saw Bobby Gruenewald, but I was not sure. I walked by him yet he did not look like the photo on his blog, heck, no one really did except Tim Stevens! Haven’t you run into people that looked like someone you know only to find out they are not causing an embarrassing moment? Well, I chickened out and I regret that now. I personally wanted to thank Bobby for answering my tech questions when I was starting this blog. He not only responded with help his response was prompt. Craig introduced Bobby before he spoke and I realized it was him. I was planning on saying thanks after Craig’s teaching but Bobby was nowhere to be found. Next time I will face my fear even at the risk of making a fool of myself. Why be scared of something that comes so naturally! LOL

Then I happened to run into Kem Meyer and Tim Stevens walking in the parking lot. I did recognize them but again chickened out. I usually have no fear so this was all a little strange. I kind of felt dumb that I didn’t go and say hello.

Then, as luck would have it, I ran into them in the expo hall. This time I simply walked up and introduced myself. It was an honor to meet them. Both of their blogs have changed me for the better!

The conference closed with a panel that both Kem and Tony Morgan were on. Tony was one of the first blogs I started to read on a regular basis. Being a squirrel chaser blogs fit my style of input. I really think it was Tony’s blog that first showed me how I can download a bunch of great ideas by reading blogs. I have read all of the Strategic books that Tony and Tim coauthored – great stuff!

After the panel was over I went up and introduced myself. Tony seems like a fun guy with a great sense of humor. Like Tim and Kem he was very nice and genuine! It really was an honor to meet people who have helped me in so many ways. It made the internet actually come to life for me! Even though I am still a little skeptical of online social networks and such, I believe I maybe changing.

I did have my camera on me and thought about asking them for a group photo to post here, but I chickened out. I have always wanted to visit Granger and now New Spring so I am just going to have to make that happen.

OK, well, I know Phil Cooke so I now only have to run into Seth and I will have met all of my favorite bloggers!

 Added next day:

I woke up this morning and was a little convicted about telling a Zappa story since it did not relate. Basically last night I was typing off the top of my head; like usual! I try not to tell personal stories from my past unless they may help someone today!  I would have edited this post but today is Sunday and it is Super Bowl time. I figured I would do it after church.

Pastor Blunt started a series on extreme makeovers this morning and I changed my mind. What a great example of how God changed a heart if several years ago I was doing drugs and going to shows waiting to meet my favorite music personality, yet today I am going to conferences, Christian conferences, trying to get ideas and attempting to network and make new friends.

For those of you that are new to hn.com and are reading this for the first time here is a link to my story. It is a great before and after testimony although God has placed my growth in overdrive these last two years. I may just have to produce an updated version.

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Top six perceptions of Christians

Published by October 5th, 2007 in Blogs, Change, Community, Future, Just Me, Marketing, Media, Ministry, My Big Mouth, Vision  Comments Off on Top six perceptions of Christians  

In my daily blog reading I found a great post on ThinkChristian.net. Read the entire post here.

Top six perceptions of Christians:
1. Anti-Homosexual – this is toward the person not the deed – 96%
2. Judgmental – 87%
3. Hypocritical – 81%
4. Sheltered
5. Politically Motivated
6. Insecure

As stated on their blog: An important thing to note here is that these perceptions were consistent from both inside and outside the church. 40% of the audience interviewed were from outside the church. Meaning that a big part of where these perceptions are coming from is within the church itself via both conversations and from the pulpit.

How do we change this?

This is a video from the authors of UnChristian about how Christianity is perceived.

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Power of an image

Published by September 12th, 2007 in Community, Homeless, Just Me, Marketing, Media, My Big Mouth, Outreach  1 Comment  

Tonight we partnered with another church and fed the homeless downtown. There is an amazing story that I may touch on later but right now I want to speak about the power of visuals. Remember, a good photo will always work far better then great copy!

When shooting photos sometimes you are not able to get permission to really capture the story you need to tell. I always approach a story from a fundraising or awareness perspective so I am trying to trigger an emotional response to drive to an action.

My choice would have been a close-up of the 4 children sitting next to each other that I handed a plate of food. What an amazing story however, we must respect peoples wishes and since it was our first time it is better to build relationships then get a one time photo op. Not everyone feels this way. I have been on location where the camera crew, instructed by their producer, did not care one bit about anything but the story. Too me, that is so very wrong! People should always come first – no exceptions!

When situations arise where you cannot shoot freely you just have to be a little more creative.

actual shelf in food pantry
The above photo is a shelf in their food pantry – I think the photo speaks of need very well and it tells a very real and sad story. I know I get an emotional response looking at it.

150 people were fed a hot meal
This photo shows the tickets people had to turn in to receive a hot meal. There are 150 in the basket so we served 150 people. I would use this photo to validate the event. People want to know their money was well spent and that your organization is doing what it claims to do.

I have learned that to be an effective fundraising story you must close with the need so if I was actually going to use these photos I would do so in the reverse order

I took many photos tonight but these two are the very best at telling a story

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