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October 2009

My Review of What Difference Do it Make?

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Yes, that is the correct title. If you read the first book, Same Kind of Different as Me, then it makes sense. The saying goes. "You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." (attributed to Charles Jones) Same Kind of Different as Me was one of those books in my life. This book is a follow-up where Ron and Denver share in more detail their story together as well as how their book has influenced others to examine their hearts and their view of homelessness. It contains amazing recounts of people who after reading their first book, evaluated the role they could play in serving others, mainly those that are not in their circle. This book doesn't make sense unless you have read the first one and I highly recommend that you read BOTH in the order they were written. I was one of those people who thought that my kindness to those "less fortunate" at the holidays was a good thing...and it is in a way. But Denver's account as a homeless man of his thoughts when "nice white people" help out during the holidays was a wake-up call. He asked, "Do they think we don't need their help the other 11 months out of the year?" That honest statement has helped me to play a part in our church's response to a specific people group at Woodhaven Apartments year round here on the Island. We are are there every week and we have no intention of leaving. From restoring their community center, to helping kids with homework after school, to feeding them every week, to being there at the holidays...it is awesome to be a part of a ministry that thinks about the other 11 months more than just Christmas. In this second book, Denver encourages us to just give when we see the need. Don't worry about where it is going. Don't judge someone just because of their appearance. Do what you can with what you have and allow God to do the rest. There is such freedom in that way of living, don't you think?

Sunday Recap

I was back in the saddle this week leading worship after being out last Sunday with the flu. I still was not 100 percent. I have never had such a hard time getting over something as this. I'm still working in my pajamas right now! My doctor told me that you just need to listen to your body...if you need to rest, just do it. After Sunday, I crashed...still not there, but know I will be soon. It's great having a team that comes around you when you are physically weak. I co-led worship with Luke. I love leading with him. I just love the whole guy-girl worship leading duo anyway! Here was our service order:

"Salvation is Here" -  Hillsongs

"Let God Arise" - Tomlin

Welcome/Announcements

Scripture Reading - Romans 12

"Reign in Us" - Starfield

Message Video Bumper

Message - Pastor Brian Rose

Time of Response - communion, giving, prayer

"Running"- Gateway Worship

There are those moments when you pray through a worship set and believe that you are landing "on the money" when it comes to the tie-in with the teaching portion - mainly the set-up and response to that time...this was one of those Sundays. I chose Romans 12 to read as a congregation because I felt so strongly from reading Philippians 3 during the week that being a living sacrifice has to be THE priority to God reigning in our lives in every area. Pastor Brian hit it out of the park teaching on Philippians 3 and running the race. It really hit me between the eyes when Paul said "... I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead..." The one thing...I needed to hear that. "Running" was the perfect song of response to Brian's take-away. We had great attendance...our largest non-event Sunday...169 people. We had 40 kids in Promiseland between the two services. There was a lot of excitement and energy. It was a great day!

Join me at Fred's for more setlists...


The greatest complement of a leader

In 2004, I got pregnant with our 1st child, Sydney. I was working full-time at NorthStar Church as the Programming Director and had grown with that ministry since it's first few months of existence in 1996-97. By then, I had been blessed with a great volunteer team of worship leaders (2 of the 6 were paid - I was one of them) and a great staff (part-time media director and a full-time administrator).  But the true test was coming. I would take my maternity leave and I really didn't know how this was going to go with being gone for 6-8 weeks and then moving back into that role as a new mom. I prepared my team, delegated, planned, and then Sydney came 4 weeks earlier than she was due. I will never forget what a volunteer in my ministry told me when I returned. "Have you really been gone for six weeks? I don't want to hurt your feelings, Cynthia, but it didn't even seem like you were gone." It was the greatest complement that I could have ever received as a leader. In the early days of church planting, there is a lot YOU have to do. It has taken me two years with this church plant to be ready to hand off big things with a qualified team.  I handed off a huge programming piece to my programming leadership team last week. What exactly?  Every aspect of the programming elements of our student program on Wednesday nights called VIBE . Todd came home last night and said, (because he knows it makes me feel good) "Your team did great. You weren't even missed." I'm just a musician in the band on Wednesdays now (as needed). You may be thinking., "I don't know where to start to give leadership away?" Here are some thoughts that have worked for me. If you are not a leader who likes other people being able to do your job, you should stop reading this now.

1. Everything in your job could be done by someone else.  If you are the only one that can do your job at your organization, you are crippling the future of your ministry and the overall organization.

2. There is a HUGE difference between empowering a leader and abandoning a leader. Empowering means that you walk the ropes with them. You do it together for awhile. You discuss the 40,000 foot view of why, how, when, and where of all of it. You give them the opportunity to do it with you, but you are still there. You let them ask every dumb question. You are patient. You let them make choices different than what you would have done and you stand by their choices.  Abandoning a leader? well, it's the opposite of everything I just mentioned.

3. Affirm, affirm, affirm. They need to know that you approve. Debrief after big things. Ask them how they felt it went. What went well? What didn't go well? What do they need from me moving forward? Are you having a good time? 

4. Be ready when they quit or can't do the job. Not every leader is able to rise to the occasion after the baton has been passed. It's ok. Love them through it and help them refocus. They feel worse about it than you could ever imagine.

5. Other people won't like it that you are not leading everything. Every time I hand off something to a another team or leader, people assume something is wrong. I've had perfectly wonderful church members tell me that they didn't give their tithe money to hear "other people" sing. They came to hear me. Yeah, I had to count to 10 to respond to that one.

None of this is possible if you as a leader are so consumed in the fact that you have earned the right to do this.  I take what I do very seriously, but I know that it is God's grace that I have the privilege to be leading anything. Great leaders in my life (who were probably a little crazy) thought it was worth their time and frustration to let a 13-year-old lead a vocal group, a 19-year-old lead a entire rhythm section, and a 26-year-old lead an entire Worship Ministry at a church of 1500 people. Working myself out of my job is my goal. I love being a part of a team and giving away opportunity to others so they can do things they never dreamed they could do. So tell me you don't miss me when I'm not around...that makes me really happy.


Come as you are

We say this line a lot in church. We REALLY say it a lot as church planters :) But let's be really honest. If people really came "as they were", what would that look like? As ministry leaders, most of us want our churches to be a safe place for people to meet God wherever they are in their journey, but everyone's in a different place, right? I loved this post today from Pete Wilson. We do at times expect everyone in our churches to be where we are and to just " go with the program." Take this class, read this, do this...it will work out.  To steal Pete's word, it's not cookie-cutter. I know as a church leader, we miss it sometimes. We say "Come as You are." But after you come, what happens that makes you feel unique and not just "one of many?" We do try to make the Christian life a formula....and I'm not saying that there are not Biblical guidelines to being a follower of Christ (everybody, calm down). I'm just saying that we need to take the individual journey of a person from "Come as You Are"on Sundays to "Be Who you are" the next 6 days. We just kicked off our small groups for the fall on both campuses last week. Our small group starts next week. This is where it happens for me. We are starting a new study on prayer and that will be great, but that's not the best part. It's the conversation, prayer requests shared, laughing with each other, and sharing what really stinks in our lives right now - sharing the tough stuff. We want you to come on Sundays just as you are...please come and bring your friends. But the Christian life is more than just Sunday and when we say "Come as you are," we mean "Be who you are"  the other 6 days as well. If small groups aren't your thing, find someone you can connect with on your spiritual journey. We were not meant to do this alone.

being down

My body finally gave in to whatever my daughter had for a week. So I've been down since Saturday afternoon. I've watched almost every movie in our collection and too much regular TV. Once again, I realize why I am a
Hulu and Netflix fan. I watched several season and series premieres on various networks of sitcoms. I know the networks are struggling to get us to watch their latest offerings. I know why. For me, I don't really see the need to watch 22 minute offerings that ridicule people of faith and say monogomous relationships are boring. I guess I'm not in the target audience:) Sickness is a humbling experience for me. I don't like being on the sidelines of my life at all. I thanked Todd for really living out the "in sickness" part of our vows the past 2 days. He has done the grocery shopping for this week, taken Syd to school, done everything for the kids, worked on potty training with Sean, and still did his job. I need to be down sometimes to just get perspective that my little world can function without me. And also to appreciate those closest to me who show kindness and encouragement to me and my family when "mom" is out of commission. You know who you are...thank you so much. So don't totally hate being down. It reveals a lot that you don't get see when you are on the road of life driving 90 to nothing.

Sunday Recap - Anniversary Sunday

Ok...I know it's Wednesday, but here we go. It was our Anniversary Celebration this past Sunday. We moved our services to Hilton Head High School and the VPAC (Visual and Performing Arts Center). This room seats about 650 (I think). We used pipe and drape and sectioned of the upfront section...it looked great. CLICK HERE to see pics and other facts. Sunday reminded me SO much of the early days at NorthStar Church when we met at North Cobb High School.   Todd and I were a part of those 1st days there setting up and tearing down for about 4 years. I am still doing this? Yeah. Anyway, we loaded in part of the gear on Friday afternoon and then did set-up at 7 AM on Sunday morning for the 10:30 AM service. We used Bryan Philpot's company for production. He has been with us from Day 1 with all our technical needs. HE ROCKS! When you don't set-up and tear-down like this every week, it is MORE difficult to do this because you are not set-up to be mobile. We took a lot of stuff from our campus and integrated it with BP's gear and it worked great! I had to re-format all the video in ProPresenter since we do everything in 16 x 9 on flat screen TV's at our campus to 4X3 for a massive 10 x 14 front-projection screen. It looked great and sounded great. There was a lot of energy in the room....bigger room, bigger stage, bigger sound. We did familiar songs and introduced the newest member of our Worship Team, Lois with her singing "Friend of God" and "God of Our Yesterdays." She is a terrific soloist and has a sweet spirit. We did an LCC story on video. CLICK HERE to view it. It was such a great experience producing it with John and then editing it. It made me cry every time I heard Chris talk about her husband. Pastor Jeff  gave us  a "heart message...there is no better way to describe it. CLICK HERE to hear it. Our BBQ KREW grilled great food for us and thanks to Susie for the AWESOME anniversary cake! Here was our setlist:

"Sing to the King"

"Friend of God"

Welcome/Announcements

LCC STORIES  - video

"God of Our Yesterdays"

Video Message Bumper

Message - Pastor Jeff

"God of this City"

Closing thoughts - Pastor Todd

"Sing Sing Sing"

There is so much more I could write, but I will close with this. God has impressed upon me the importance of praying and telling the stories, and just felt that these two things were very manifest in our celebration. SO much prayer (not just me) went into Sunday and even though it took a long time to edit the video, it was SO worth it.

Go to Fred's for more Sunday discussion.


The power of the passionate volunteer

It's the eve of our 2nd year anniversary celebration as a church campus. I just printed the order of service (for the 3rd time since I keep changing it!) We're having one service at Hilton Head High School, complete with Jumpy House games for the kids, Free food afterwards - just a huge party! This week has been a lot of coordination and getting stuff from our permanent facility to the High School....oh, and I learned the basics of Final Cut Pro Express this week to edit a video I produced with John from our Bluffton Campus. Whirlwind is the only word to describe it! However, I spent today with the family, riding bikes, did a little clothes shopping, grilled out for dinner...just enjoying this wonderful Island weather (see my previous post on margins!)  As I reflected today on this past 2 years, a conversation I had this week really sums up the level of excitement and in some ways true joy about the way I feel about where we are as a church.  I was talking with 2 volunteer leaders over pizza and grape soda at VIBE (there names have been kept secret, but they know who they are!). They were expressing to me their frustration that we (mainly me!) do not ask them to serve enough. They were half-kidding about the fact that they want to help more, but we don't let them. The irony of this is that both of these leaders serve 1 maybe 2 days a week in different roles. They are passionate and with that passion comes the need for the "pace-yourself enforcer" which is me.  I am estatic that I am getting grief from leaders about THIS!  These 2 leaders were not involved at LCC two years ago. One of them didn't even live here. You cannot bottle and sell the passion that they have. Without the passionate volunteer, your ministry will not flourish. As a staff member, you can only take it so far and then you are just wore out. Todd and I have had seasons when we have tried to do too much. Don't want to go there again. This story is just a snapshot of the passion that runs deep in the hearts of our team. This is their church...their investment...their community. It's bigger than all of us and isn't that what we all truly desire? To be a part of something that is SO much larger than we can conceive?  I end this night with so much thankfulness for the journey thus far...all of the moments that I wanted to quit (yes folks, there were moments!), all the moments of utter joy when someone accepted Christ as their Savior or re-dedicated their life to following Jesus, and especially my "altercation" with my 2 friends this week.  I will sleep with great expectations of celebrating this with our church family tomorrow, but also with great anticipation for the days ahead.

My Review of "Fearless" by Max Lucado

_225_350_Book.72.cover The timing of this book could not be more perfect.  In a way that only Max Lucado can, he carefully weaves Scriptural truths into the most current of situations that we are all facing right now.  Fearless goes to the heart of an issue that is paralyzing our culture and the church today...we are afraid. We fear not making our mark in life, having enough money, our children being safe...Lucado shows us how Scripture gives us confidence and in living out those truths, we can become fearless when it comes to the day-to-day living of our lives.  I was convicted about how much I really do not trust God on certain things in my life because I choose to worry rather than pray and trust God to work it out. This book contains a great discussion guide that we are considering using for a Small Group this fall at our church. This book is a MUST read for everyone but very timely for anyone you know that is struggling with fear and anxiety in their lives. We all need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and the abundant life that He has for us...living fearless and without worry.


Margins

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I like to live full throttle. Keep going till you just drop dead of exhaustion. I enjoy the rush of a deadline, pulling an all-niter to record music or edit a video, and all the coffee that goes with doing these things. Todd and I were married for 9 years before we had our 1st child. It was our choice. We married very young and wanted to enjoy our 20's as a couple. I love to work. I am a strange woman, I know. Having a job is such a fulfilling thing to me. I have been blessed to be able to do such creative stuff in my 15 years of ministry thus far. I am energized by the "What if we did..." Then STOP THE TRAIN!!!! We had our 1st child. I was ready to to be a mom...SO ready. It was SO worth the wait!  Sydney was the text book perfect child...good sleeper, good eater, good napper... SO go with the flow! I worked from home, still full time, the first 15 months of her life. We didn't really miss a beat. Then we moved to NYC. We talked about a 2nd child, but we had just moved to NYC and I was working part-time now. Then I got pregnant... and miscarried a month later. That was tough and we had only been in NYC for about 4 months when that happened. We really knew that we wanted another child and God blessed us with another pregnancy and our son, Sean David. HELLO! Welcome to having 2 kids and a new word entered our lives...MARGINS. I don't care if you are planting a church, starting a business, or just living your life... without margins, it will kill you...oh, yes it will. Without margins, you will go insane. Todd and I have never done anything have-way or "that's good enough." We are OCD about things being done well. We are both first-born and very driven. I realized  very quickly that in order for us to maintain any sanity, raise our children the way we wanted to raise them, and to plant this church, we were going to have to have some SERIOUS margins in every area of our lives. We plan the work and work the plan. If we get off and decide to have a "non-margin" week, we feel the stress and our family doesn't function. I know my kids, my husband, and myself very well. So, I am now "officially" the MARGIN MASTER. I take the temperature of our family on a regular basis and draw the margins when I see one of us (including myself) going outside the lines. You have to have this person in a family. This has not been easy for me as I already mentioned. I like to go full steam all the time. This is a huge learning experience and spiritual discipline that I am enjoying. I'm not perfect at it, and I get frustrated when I get outside the lines, but the responsibility that I know I have as a Christ-follower, the wife, the mom, and the staff member is ever before me. If you are feeling stress, my guess is that the margins are not clear. You will never get everything done at your job. You will never get everything done if you are a church planter. You will never get everything done at home. The margins are the only thing that keep you sane and allow you to enjoy the 5 minutes that I just spent blowing bubbles with my 2 year old. Find the margins and grip them with all you've got.


I'm not suprised at all

I spent about 2 hours yesterday working on social media for our church campus...twittering for multiple accounts, designing facebook ads for events, updating facebook pages, blogging for multiple blog sites, and uploading video and pictures. I'm "officially" the Communications Director on top of continuing to serve as the Worship Arts Director for our campus now.  I went to bed last night and honestly, I was thinking about how much has changed since I started working after college 15 years ago.  I didn't have an e-mail address for the first church I worked for in 1995. We didn't have internet. This was about an 800 attendee church in South Florida...not out in the middle of nowhere. If we came up with a GREAT secular or Christian song idea in creative team back then, we would go around the room and pray someone had a copy of the song so I could rip the chart for the band that week. If they didn't, we asked our band and singers. If they didn't, I went to Media Play. If they didn't have it....oh well.  I cannot tell you how many hours I spent trying to FIND STUFF.  The fact that you are reading this right now is truly amazing. I didn't know what a blog was until Randy told me to start one in 2005 (which I didn't till 2006!) I have made life-long friends through social media that I would never have even crossed paths with in this life. Today, I read one of my friend's tweets , Carmen Coe, and she shared this video. I'm not surprised at all...