Model T’s are Here to Stay

Today begins a week long 100th anniversary celebration of the Model T Ford in Wayne County, Indiana. Is anyone living that could say today, “That was my first car. I bought it new.”? Probably not; this is a really old car. Affectionately called “Tin Lizzie” it was America’s first “affordable” automobile.

To most of the world, really including me, this celebration will not be a major event in our lives. As an observer of culture, however, and someone who truly loves change, I’m reminded today that “the more things change, the more they remain the same. The author of Ecclesiastes said, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

There is no doubt that the world is changing fast. I saw the phrase “temporary contemporary” recently and that seems very true about our society. Nothing seems to stay the same for long. Cultures and paradigm shifts that used to be measured in decades will soon have to be measured in years. Just to keep up these days it is important for organizations to be continually adapting. We should be changing before the next paradigm shift gets here if we are to be successful. Futurists and others who monitor trends and can predict where society will go next are in high demand and will remain valuable to any organization.

While all that is true, we must never forget that there will always be those who resist change and there will always be elements of society that places a high value on tradition and things of the past. (Keep in mind, things of the past is a very relative term these days.) The balance of celebrating “retro” and adapting to “modern” will continue to be a true art in the days to come.

Front Porches

The issue came up today about the lack of front porches. Years ago every house had a front porch and we knew all our neighbors. Now fewer homes have front porches; in fact many neighborhoods have none; we invest most of our money in our backyards with pools, patios, gardens, etc. and most of us couldn’t tell you our neighbors names, much less anything about them.  Yet, interestingly, we are evidently desiring more than ever community, as evidenced by the dozens of social networking websites that are so popular.  We have become introverted neighbors and extraverted bloggers. 

Which reminds me that our oldest son, the extraverted Jeremy has said many times he wants a big front porch on any house he owns!  Go Jeremy!  Bring back real community!   

Church Competition…May Be A Good Idea

We could use a little competition in the church.  I know, that’s a “bad” word around most church people, but frankly, I’m not your average church guy.  I guess coming from the business world into the church world one of the things that has baffled me the most is this anti-competitive spirit among pastors and churches.  I really believe a little competition could do us all some good.   

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m advocating.  I believe we are all on the same team.  I think, if we have a passion to reach people for Christ (the one and only Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of kings, Lord of lords, Creator of the Universe who died and rose again and only through Him we receive eternal life Christ….just so I’m clear) then we share the same basic vision for our church.  We are all trying to disciple people to reach more people for Christ (Yes, that same Christ.) 

What has seemed strange to me is how many tend to view any church that honors Christ opening near their church that also honors Christ.  (Again, same Christ.)  When we started our church one would have thought we were starting a war in some people’s minds.  This is my second church plant.  This one happens to be in my hometown.  The first one was not.  Because I was an unknown planter I didn’t bother anyone there until we started to grow and then it seemed every large church in town wanted to get to know me so they could figure out what we were doing.  I always felt the main thing they wanted to know was how many of their people we had.  People can criticize the way we began. (I’ve seen the Ed Young Jr. video criticizing what he calls “church pirates”.) They can argue against our methods (to reach people for the same Christ I remind you), but the bottom line most of the time, at least it appears to me, is that in the church world some feel there is to be no competition.  This is especially true within particular denominations. 

That appears exactly opposite of the business world. Competition in business serves a great function. Today in Philadelphia I saw a Ted’s Montana Grill right next to a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  Of course, anyone who goes to Philly is made aware of Pat’s and Geno’s steak sandwich war that’s been going on for years.  They are right across the street from each other.  Almost everywhere I see a Lowe’s I also see a Home Depot nearby.  Some say the best pace to open an independent coffee shop is near a popular Starbucks.  Why do the best malls have the nicest food courts; with dozens of restaurants located next to each other?  Have you ever been to a farmer’s market?  Just wondering: is it still called a farmer’s market if there is only one farmer there? 

Could it be because the business world knows something about competition that the church world needs to learn?   Perhaps we need to learn a valuable business principle that competition drives interest, which generates traffic, which translates into bigger sales; which happens to be the like goal of each of the businesses.  If we are all in it for the same end purpose, maybe we need to be less afraid of competition and more grateful when someone in the same “industry” of leading people to Christ (same Christ) opens nearby.  We might even want to help them get started. It might be good for “business”.     

By the way, in addition to greater sales, competition also has a way of generating better quality and we all know a few churches (including mine) that could always use more of that….

Industry Changing Rapidly

I was just thinking today.  Name an industry that does not have to change rapidly in this current economy and culture? 


Here are a few industries I can think of that I have read or heard news stories in recent months that are facing significant changes:

·         Airline

·         Automobile

·         Electronics/Technology

·         Television

·         Publishing

·         Utilities

·         Agriculture

·         Banking/Mortgage

·         Manufacturing

·         Housing

·         Healthcare

·         Music


Should there be any question that the industry of church (the way we do church) would need to be undergoing change also?  The product stays the same.  The way we get people interested is changing rapidly.

What to do with an extra hour?

What do you do with an extra hour in your schedule?  I had an hour in between meetings today and not enough time to go back to the office.  I wondered what to do with my time.  I came up with these options: 

·         Write a blog (Obviously I did this one.)

·         Call my mom.  (She loves when I do, but I’m in a crowded place.  Not sure that’s a viable option.)

·         Pray.   (I have lots to talk with God about.) 

·         Send emails to check on people I’ve not seen in a while.  (I did some of this yesterday.)

·         Read my Bible. (Actually doing some of that.)

·         Dream.  (This is a constant for me.)

·         Work on next week’s message. (I’ve already got 2 pages of notes that I could organize.)

·         View my calendar for the next few months.  (The second half of this year appears much busier than the first.  How could that be?)

·         Interact with strangers here at Blondie’s.  (The strange may come out of me if I do that now, according to who is here.) 

·         Twitter something. (If I can get it to work.)

·         Sing along to the music playing in this place. (Current tune: Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley)

·         Get another cup of coffee.  (Never too much caffeine for me!) 

·         Search the web.  (Thank God for filters should I go this route!)

·         Write devotionals.  (  needs new material.) 

 Suggestions?  What would you do with an extra hour if you are away from home or the office?  



Hygiene Public Opinion Poll

I’m conducting a very official hygiene opinion poll.  Results will be tabulated and sent to the Harvard School of Family Behavioral Sciences for further evaluation.  (Just kidding…it’s not official.  You didn’t fall for that though did you?) 

My family is divided on a hygiene issue.  Let me explain.  Jeremy, our oldest son, moved out a few weeks ago to live at the fraternity house near the college he attends in our city.  He came home this past weekend to be here.  We have better food than the fraternity house.  He forgot to bring his toothbrush.  Of course the fraternity house is a good 4 miles from our house, so it would have been much too far for him to drive to get it, so in lieu of having his own toothbrush (Apparently as you will see, we are a weird family in that everyone has their own) he decided to use mine.  When I realized this I threw up (vomited). 

I confronted my family about this serious health violation and we were split in our opinion on the wrongness of this act.  Cheryl and Jeremy think this is an okay thing to do if you need a toothbrush.  They seem to believe you can share germs and bacteria if you are related.  (“Just run some hot water on it”, they said.)  Nathaniel agreed with me saying, “That is the grossest thing I’ve ever heard of.”  In an attempt to break a tie vote I asked Jeremy’s girlfriend her opinion.  I was sure she would agree with me.  She didn’t.  She responded with the same “Run hot water over it” answer.   

I need your help.  Will you agree with me that using someone else’s toothbrush is WRONG?  Don’t you think it would be better to brush your teeth with your finger than to use someone else’s toothbrush?  

In the meantime, I have purchased new toothbrushes and all their handles have been wrapped with masking tape.   I’ve warned anyone who touches them that they face cruel and unusual punishment. 

How My Son Processes Spiritual Stuff

Being 17 is an awkward, life-altering, figuring out who you are time of life.  As parents we try our best to help them through these days, giving the best advice we know to give.  Yesterday was an example of one of those delicate times in the life of our 17 year old (formerly known as Nathaniel funny sometimes jerky son Nate, ). Let me explain. He was going to see a movie with some friends.  He was concerned it might sell-out before he got there, so he asked me to purchase his ticket online.  I was hurrying out the door for an event and so I quickly purchased the ticket.  This morning my accountant wife sent me this email.



I don’t know if you know but when you purchase tickets for the movie online they charge a few.  The ticket last night cost $9.50.  Don’t think they charge fee when you purchase it from kiosk.  I know he didn’t want to chance them selling out or have to stand in line, but just thought you would want to know how much those tickets costs.




I simply forwarded her email to Nathaniel so he would have it for future reference.  Here is his reply: (As the title of this post indicates, this movie ticket purchase mistake has caused him to deal with some very serious spiritual stuff.)

heeew, thanks for the heads up. Next time I’ll try and consult you guys beforehand. I’ve been thinking and praying, and I feel like God is telling me that yesterday I really just blew past a life altering decision without giving Him a chance to offer his insight. He says that my life is too short just to make every decision on the fly, and that a life that truly glorifies Him is a life that challenges me to live by the Word and see what the Bible would say about life situations. Obviously in 1 Cor 10 we are to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God, and I’m really sorry that God’s glory was sacrificed here because of the extra $1.50 we spent at the movie. I’m going to try and do so much better when it comes to online shopping because as you know I spend way too much time wanting to buy things online. This is probably the biggest struggle I’m facing right now and I just want you to be praying for me in that area. Thank you for your guidance as a parent and I
 understand if you think I should stay home the next few nights and think some more about what I’ve done. May the Word penetrate my heart and character!

Thankfully, the conviction of sin still leads to repentance.    

Wal Mart Changing its Logo…what does that mean for the rest of us?

News that Wal Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is giving itself a new image via its logo fascinates me.  From what I’ve been able to tell online the new logo isn’t much different than the last, but to logo experts, I guess it’s a pretty big deal.  The bigger deal for me is that they are changing it at all.  They remain Wal Mart.  The giant, mega-sized corporation that no one seems to be able to fully compete with doesn’t appear to need the help of a more modern symbol to represent its supremacy.  Or does it? 

The king of retail has faced challenges on numerous fronts in recent years from employee lawsuits and threats of unionizing to more challenges than ever to locating in certain areas.  Some don’t want the giant retailer in their neighborhood, and, not accustomed to being told no, Wal Mart is now losing the battle in some communities they have tried to enter.  Reports also indicate that Wal Mart hired an outside public relations firm several years ago to look at ways to improve their image among workers and consumers.  Perhaps this new logo is a product of their work. 

As a church leader, I think this teaches me more than just to be looking for a new symbol when I need bargain toilet paper (or whatever else I need).  I think it reminds me that if Wal Mart must continually evaluate things as simple as logos (really not so simple), then surely we do in the church. 

So, consider these questions: What does your organizations current logo say about you? Is it still saying what you intend it to say?  Does it adequately communicate your vision?  Is it warm, inviting and reflective of the organization you are today?  Is it time for a change?  More importantly, what about the image of your organization that your logo represents?  Could it use an overhaul?  Finally, and this is a hard question, if a fancy PR firm, the kind only Wal Mart could afford, told you that people think you stink, do you believe in success enough to humble yourself and change?   


Quotes I like from Most Admired Companies

I like these quotes and observations from Fortune Magazine’s article on America’s Most Admired Companies: (March 17, 2008) My question in reading these snipets about each company is what can the church learn from corporate America, especially successful corporate America?  You make your own conclusions, but to me some of the applications are very obvious.

Berkshire Hathaway

Said of Warren Buffet’s success: His key to turning today’s problems into tomorrow’s profits: “An absence of any regard for short-term results”


Google’s philosophy:  Google believes “what’s good for the web has always proven to be very good for Google.”

(That sounds like a Kingdom principle many churches should learn.)

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson responded to the uncertainty in the health-care markets by “narrowing their focus”.

Goldman Sachs

The company posted record profits in 2007, in a year when Wall Street was struggling to hold their own.  Reason: “Its results are a testament to its culture, and impossible-to-replicate mix of extreme aggression, deep paranoia, individual ambition, and robot-like teamwork.”


In a year when retail sales were in a slump, including at this retailer, they continued their tradition of giving away $3 million a week back to the community.


The company may be 100 years old (I had no idea), but they act much younger. They are known for their “ability to combine cutting-edge technology with its own brand of ‘human engineering’ to great effect.”


Known for being a mega-sized company ($24 billion a year), but still managing to generate new ideas each year.  William McKnight, Chairman, says, “Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative.  And it’s essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow.” The moral, according to Fortune, “Don’t tell employees how to do their jobs — let them innovate. “

I don’t know about you, but there are lessons here for me.  Thanks Fortune for a great article.

Which comment jumps out at you most from this list?