Monthly Archives: April 2012
The 2012 Exponential Conference ended last week Thursday. After catching a flight home that evening I was glad to spend Friday through Sunday hanging out with my family, doing things around the house, and relaxing.
For those of you who weren’t able to attend I thought I’d share a few pics and some thoughts about this year’s conference.
This picture of our booth was taken on Sunday night after we set it up. While we were unpacking the books I realized that I love the smell of new books – fresh out of the box. With each bit of packaging tape that I split, and each cardboard flap I folded back, I was continually met with the aroma of a freshly printed book. Untouched by human hands, and waiting for just the right customer to come by and pick it up.
That may sound like a weirdly romantic way of looking at setting up a conference booth, but think about it this way: Most people that work for publishers are book nerds. If we weren’t, why would we have gotten into this business anyway? We care so much about books we go way beyond nerd-dom. We love the books. (Well, most of them.) They’re what we do. All the emails, meetings, edits, re-edits, deadlines, and contracts are endured so that we can produce great books!
I’ve set up numerous conference table booths in the past, but this time it struck me that the crack-and-sniff joy of opening a new case of books as I set them up in big piles on a table is not something very many book nerds get to experience. Unless you’re a retailer or a publisher you are unlikely to have an opportunity like that. So, I relished every minute.
Wherever I get asked to speak, I always enjoy walking the hallways of the churches I vist to view the historical photos. Many churches have really cool, old retro black-and-white pictures of all the pastors who faithfully served with a little gold label underneath that gives the length and years of their tenure. Right beside are classic photos of the church’s history. There’s usually a picture of the building just after it was built as well as a picture of the first congregation standing straight-jawed in front of the main step.
One thing is sure, back in the day when churches began, they planned on staying awhile. Their buildings all had chiseled stone engravings with the date the church was “established.” And as new congregations were born, everyone knew which had been around the longest (First Baptist, Second Baptist, and Third Baptist). But we aren’t in Kansas anymore. We now live in an era of such rapid change and social shifting that it’s just not wise, prudent, accurate, or practical to think that our churches will be around all that long. In days gone by, people stayed in the same city most of their lives, maybe moving once or twice. Our communities were stable and our churches could maintain a vibrant life for at least forty years – if not longer. Today, however, most people move eight to ten times in their life, maintaining residence in a single location for an average of three to seven years. In metro Denver, one-third of the entire resident population moves every year!
Just like college-based ministries, which have had to accept the painful fact that their congreagation completely turns over every four years, most of our churches now feel this massive flux. Establishing a self-sustaining faith community is almost a miracle; maintaining and growing disciples is even harder. Congregational death is not just a reality we will have to deal with eighty years and sixteen pastors down the road. It may be something you’ll need to face much sooner than you expect…and that’s okay.
“Avoid the Rock Star Trap” is an excerpt from It’s Personal: Surviving and Thriving on the Journey of Church Planting by Brian and Amy Bloye. Brian and Amy planted West Ridge Church in Dallas, GA, where Brian serves as pastor. Here they write specifically to church planters and those thinking of starting a new ministry.
A special danger for the church planter is the tempattion of pride. We live in an age of branding, where people are encouraged to think of themselves as products to be marketed. There are some excellent advantages in intelligently promoting a church or a ministry, but we can’t get personally caught up in it on an ego level.
I see planters becoming engrossed in social media, for example. This is fine, up to a point. I use Twitter; our church uses Facebook. These services are neither good nor evil, just modern media for specialized communication. But what happens when those of us in ministry begin to find our significance in how many people are following us through Twitter or retweeting attention-getting compliments? I’m seeing this happen. Planters are engrossed in the ideas of creating Internet identities. After a while, they’re so engaged in vast Twitter conversations over this or that, that they don’t realize they’re doing a lot less flesh-and-blood ministry.
Having followers on Twitter or getting your like button clicked on Facebook becomes one more path of validation. It’s the rock star syndrome, the seduction of image polishing. At the same time, denominations and planting networks are spotlighting people who have experienced some success, and this just makes the ego trap that much more dangerous. It’s just another hook that can be used to separate us from the real purpose of what we’re called to do: make disciples.
It’s Personal is part of the Exponential Series. Now through April 30 every eBook in the Exponential Series is only $2.99 wherever eBooks are sold!
“Let Pagans Play” is excerpted from “Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement” by Dave Ferguson and Jon Ferguson. It’s listed on pages 82 and 83 as one of the Five Factors for Reproducing Artists.
Many of our artists play in local bands and perform in theater companies. Since we encourage people at all stages of spiritual growth to use their art for God, we have lots of artists who are recruited by other artists and begin doing their art at our church before they become Christ followers. We’re not only okay with that; we encourage it. Our Romeoville campus has been very successful in encouraging people playing in outside bands to come to chruch to play in the worship bands. They have recruited two entire bands that way. Not only that, but as a result of the relationships that have been formed in these bands, a number of people in them have actually come to follow Jesus!
The next time you’re in a public place, take a look around. If you are in a public place right now, go ahead and take a look at the people around you. Think to yourself, “Thirty percent of the people I see have significant artistic gifts.” That’s three out of ten. And sadly enough, most of them don’t think they have a place in the church. Yet these are the very people that you need, along with your friends, to catalyze and sustain a missional movement. So go over and ask one of them to join you!
Exponential is the first book in the Exponential Series. Right now through April 30 all Exponential EBooks are on sale for $2.99 wherever ebooks are sold!
“New Kinds of Success” is excerpted from Brandon Hatmaker’s book Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture.
Success often comes in unlikely forms. For years I’ve told people going through membership classes that our church might not be for them. For years I secretly hoped that it was. So much so that if anyone were to leave our church, I would inevitably either wonder what was wrong with them, or assume they misunderstood something that was happening.
That’s a pretty narrow perspective.
Can it really be a success when people leave our church? Honestly, I’ve had a few leave that were a pretty big relief. Again, sounds mean. But when we’re in the wrong church, sometimes it makes everyone miserable. We meet, we email, we complain, we justify, and we spend countless hours investing in trying to make a fit – and they end up leaving anyway. It’s always telling when someone leaves your church and it feels like a relief.
We don’t like it when people leave our church. Too easily we feel as if they’re leaving us. Like we weren’t good enough for them. We get insecure even when it has nothing to do with us or our leadership. We need to learn to celebrate the victories more instead of just mourning the loss. When people leave, we should survey the season we had with them and learn from our time together.
Barefoot Church is part of the Exponential Series. Now through April 30 every eBook in the Exponential Series is available for only $2.99!
“Suffering Like Jesus” is an excerpt from For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Darrin Patrick & Matt Carter. The following excerpt is from a chapter written by Matt.
The Bible says that Jesus is our model for how to suffer well: “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2). Suffering provides an opportunity for us to learn what it means to be true disciples of Jesus, to surrender our whole lives to God, even (and especially) in the very worst and most difficult moments of our lives.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus clarified to his disciples exactly what it meant to be his follower: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As we now know, taking up the cross was more than a symbol or metaphor for Jesus. It was his vocation, his reason for becoming incarnate! And when Jesus called his disciples to follow him, he was not suggesting that they grin and bear a burden or two here or there. He was, and still is today, calling people to trust him and witness to his sacrificial love in the most painful, shameful times of our lives. “Enter boldly and faithfully into your God-appointed suffering. The world is watching! Let them see you follow me,” he says to each of us.”
For the City is part of the Exponential Series. Check back tomorrow for another excerpt from the Exponential Series. All Exponential Series eBooks are available for $2.99, now through April 30.
Today’s my last day in the office before heading to the Exponential Conference next week. To give you a snapshot into what being a publisher is like here’s what the schedule is for our team over the next few days:
- Sunday: Fly to Orlando. Arrive in the afternoon and start setting up the Zondervan booth at First Baptist Orlando
- Monday: Pre-Conference begins and we start selling books right away, meeting church-planters, and catching up with our authors. Busy-ness begins!
- Tuesday: The conference begins. Church leaders that will be at the conference include: Wayne Cordeiro, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Larry Osborne, Brandon Hatmaker, Hugh Halter, and lots, and lots, of others. It will be a full day of meetings, selling books, and hearing some speakers.
- Wednesday: More of the same!
- Thursday: More of the same, all morning! Then we tear down the booth (which is no small task) and head home.
All this to say, it’s a busy, but fun week. If you’re there be sure to come by the Zondervan booth and let us know you read Engaging Church. I’d love to meet you face-to-face.
Others are blogging about Exponential too. Here’s the links to their posts:
- Brandon Hatmaker – “Three Reason’s I’m Excited about Exponential”
- Scott Thomas – see his Facebook group for Gospel Coach for info on what he’s got going on
- Jack Magruder – Jack is the author of our forthcoming book “Missional Moves.” He’s got a lot of content on his blog about what missional ministry is all about. Here are his thoughts specifically about the conference.
- Geoff Surratt – Here’s his blog about his new position at Exponential
When I came into work today the first thing a co-worker said to me was, “Hey, did you hear Chuck Colson died?” I Googled his name and it turns out my friend’s information was bad. He’s not dead, though several major news sources say that his health is failing. (Here’s one link to the WP article about his condition.)
I thought that for today’s giveaway it would be fitting that we pray for him. He’s a brother in Christ that has done much in the recent decades to point others to Jesus. Regardless of your political leanings, I think he’s a fascinating American to watch an learn from. He’s articulate, unashamed of his faith, and has used his “platform” to share Jesus to perhaps millions of people.
So, for today’s giveaway, please post a short prayer for Chuck and his family. If this is indeed his time of passing then let’s thank God for his ministry and pray that his family will comforted in their mourning.
The DVD we’re giving away is “Charles Colson on Politics and the Christian Faith.” We’re going to give away two copies. Winners will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Friday.
AR for Z