At Evening…

grasshopperI love that my daughter longs to read to me at night…  It is a great joy to me and a wonderful way to end her day, and mine. Tonight, the story she read to me was a beautiful reminder of just how fast life moves… and why I need to slow down and enjoy the road.  It is worth sharing.

It is taken from “Grasshopper on the Road” by Arnold Lobel.

At Evening

In the evening Grasshopper walked slowly along the road.  The sun was going down.  The world was soft and quiet.  Grasshopper heard a loud sound.  ZOOM!  Grasshopper heard another noise.  ZOOOM!

He saw two dragonflies in the air.  “Poor Grasshopper,” said the dragonflies. “We are flying fast.  You are only walking.  That is very sad.” “It is not sad,” said Grasshopper. “I like to walk.”

The dragonflies flew over Grasshopper’s head.  “We can see so many things from up here,” said the dragonflies.  “All you can see is that road.”  “I like this road,” said Grasshopper. “And I can see the flowers growing along the side of the road.” “We are zipping and zooming,” said the first dragonfly. “We do not have time to look at flowers.”

“I can see leaves moving in the trees,” said Grasshopper.  “We are looping and spinning,” said the second dragonfly. “We do not have time to look at leaves.”  “I can see the sunset over the mountains,” said Grasshopper.  “What sunset? What mountains?” asked the dragonflies.  “We are diving and dipping.  There is no time to look at sunsets and mountains.”

ZOOOM!  The two dragonflies raced across the sky.  Soon they were gone.  The world was quiet again.  The sky became dark.  Grasshopper watched the moon rising over the land.  He watched the stars come out too.  He was happy to be walking slowly down the road.

Grasshopper was tired.  He lay down in a soft place.  He knew that in the morning the road would still be there, taking him on and on to wherever he wanted to go.

Just beautiful.

As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.  For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.” Psalm 103

Remembering Barry B…

Church IT lost a good friend last week to brain cancer.  Our friend and colleague, Barry Buchanan went to be with Jesus this past Wednesday.  Barry was a funny guy, crazy smart, and a good friend to many.  He spent the last 10 years of his life as the IT director at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX.  I first met Barry back in 2007 at a “Large Church Gathering” here at Watermark.  I remember liking him from the very beginning.  His wild, long, red hair and crazy wit made me think he was some sort of slightly insane viking.  But if he was a slightly insane viking, he was a kind one, with a infectious laugh.  One of the many things I loved about Barry was his creativity.  Over the years, he began to draw webcomics… many about life in the IT world at a church.  If you haven’t seen them, check them out at www.dontfeedthegeek.com.  One of my favorites was a comic he drew for me after a church IT roundtable that we held in Dallas in 2010.  Check it out below.

2010-11-04-the-IT-roundtable

We loved Barry, and we will miss him.  But we also know that he is with Jesus… and that is FAR better.  There is more laughter in heaven today because Barry is with them.

Is there a doctor in the house? – A supply and demand problem with IT in the church.

Stethoscope on a computer keyboardIs there a doctor in the house?  Being in church IT for the past 14 years sometime feels like playing doctor.  You see ministries that need help, you know there are things that you could prescribe to them as solutions that would help them.  At the same time, you also know that you only have enough medicine available to help some of them.   Others will have to wait and suffer.  It’s a supply and demand problem.  You want to increase supply, but you can’t.  You might also want to limit demand, but you can’t do that either, and probably don’t want to.  Demand means ministries are happening.  So the sick will go and find other medicines to help them (and it might work for a while), but ultimately might just make them sicker.

I have wrestled with this for years.  Over the last 3 years, I’ve only seen this opportunity increase, especially as more and more people are consumers of IT.  (see this article for a good summary of the consumerization of IT in the church)  As a manager of IT (or a DOER of IT) you probably enjoy dreaming, at least a little bit, about how every ministry at your church could be better.  Many of us are maximizers and futurists.  We dream about what the future could be, and how we can use our training to help others get there.

However, many church leaders don’t understand the value that IT can bring to the organization.  They often like us… mostly because we provided the shiny new laptop they are using, and we can fix their printer every week when they forget to load paper in it.  (kidding…somewhat).  What they don’t understand is that their church is far less effective than they know.  People are leaving and no one knows why.  People want to serve, but have gotten frustrated finding a place of service and have given up.  People want to be in a small group, but don’t know how to find one.  The membership process drops people through the cracks. We want to plant a new campus, but we don’t know where people actually live.   The list goes on.

We want to help.  We have the medicine.  We want to dispense it.  But let’s be honest…. we want to help everyone.  And we can’t.  And it’s hard.  When you help everyone equally, you end up helping no one.  Prioritization becomes very important.

So what are some solutions?  Can we outsource?  Somewhat yes but that’s expensive medicine in many cases.  Can we use volunteers?  Also yes, but you will need a significant season where you are investing in people and getting very few tasks done.  It’s a great model, once you get the balls rolling (and then work to sustain momentum with volunteers).  Add staff?  An option if you can get approval AND find talented people who have a passion for Kingdom work (and often the pay cut that comes with that decision)

How are you doing with the issue of supply and demand in your church?  What is the most effective way you have seen to create organizational change from the bottom up?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Don’t marry who you love, love who you marry…

Great message this morning from Todd Wagner from John 13:34.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

If you are married (or single and want to be married), I’d challenge you to listen to the message.  You can find the whole thing here.   One quote that jumped out at me was that God doesn’t call us to marry someone that we “love”, He does however call us to love the one we marry.  Everything in our culture tells us that love is a feeling.  However scripture shows us that everything about love is an action, and has nothing to do with how we feel.  (See 1 Cor 13 if you need proof of this).  The American church loves to point at the outside attacks on the definition of marriage as if somehow we haven’t been doing the institution of marriage a disservice all along.  We may say that marriage is between one man and one woman, but what we’ve really been saying is that it is between one man and one woman… at a time…

The divorce rate among Christians is where the church needs to double down, and ask how well you are doing at loving the one you marry.  Is your marriage the kind of marriage that make people want to stop and ask about why you love that way even when it is hard?  Are you treating your husband or wife in a way that shows off John 13:34? There have been many times when I have loved poorly.  Sometimes spectacularly poorly.  I’m thankful that we serve a God who loves broken people and loves to heal marriages that seem spectacularly broken.

What has been the hardest thing for your marriage to endure and what are some creative ways you have learned to better love your husband or wife?

How To Hack Chipotle

For those of my friends who eat Chipotle on a regular basis (looking at you John Cox).  This is worth a read from thoughtcatalog.com.  You can find the original article here, by William Hudson.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/how-to-hack-chipotle/

If you’re reading this, you probably know. But do you know know? Sure, Chipotle is a big deal in your life. You appreciate what Steve Ells, the Steve Jobs of burrito making, has created. It’s not only a big deal, but a good deal, and you know that. But do you know how to make it the best deal? Here’s how.You can get both beans. You will be asked: “black beans or pinto beans?”. This is a Chipotle mind trick to make you believe it’s either or. Actually, it can be both and. Every single day, it can be both and, at no additional cost. Just tell them how it is.

You can get both beans (part 2). Execution is key. If you make your eventual position known from the start you’re going to lose this negotiation with Chipotle. Don’t leave money on the table. Answer the question with just one type of bean, like “black beans, please.” Timing matters. Wait for the beans to be applied to the burrito, then say “can I have pinto beans too?” This method ensures two full scoops of both. At first, you may feel more comfortable acting as if you had not yet considered that you’d like pinto beans too, until just the very moment in which you requested them. You’re still testing the waters. Later, you’ll get tired of keeping up appearances and just execute emotionlessly on the dual-bean option with perfect timing. You’re a rational creature now.

1/2 meat + 1/2 meat = 3/2 meat. Forgetting is natural, like Chipotle meat, so let me remind you that when you add fractions you only add the top part, when the bottom part is the same number. Therefore, when you’re asked what type of meat, and you say “half chicken and half steak”, it should equal one serving of meat. But it never does. Because a scoop of meat is kinda just a scoop of meat, and nobody in Chipotle management has yet introduced new “half” scoops with which to more precisely address this perfectly legal request. So use it. IMPORTANT: Unlike with the beans, you should make your position on the half meats clear from the beginning, otherwise they charge you for “extra meat.”

Ask for fajitas in your burrito. They’re the grilled onions and peppers next to the rice and they’re hiding in plain sight. Why don’t they ask you if you want them every time, like rice, beans, and meat? I don’t know. Maybe they’re trying to keep them from you. Maybe they take you for a sucker. Say you want Fajitas too, and they’ll know that you know know.

Make an informed decision regarding the guacamole. Once you’ve gotten to this stage you’ve said yes to everything, except maybe one out of the three salsas. That’s permissible. You can’t sink the whole enterprise in liquid. But now the guacamole situation requires a real value judgment. Basically, you could get two whole avocados at the market for the price of one scoop. Consider ordering a burrito bowl, and adding your sliced avocado on top. Ultimately the guacamole decision is a value call and you have to look deep within your heart and wallet to make the decision that’s right for you. NOTE: If you forgo the meat, the guacamole is free.

Gift cards. Now it’s time to check out and also time to ask yourself: “What’s my highest-performing investment of the year?” The answer is Chipotle. From now until the end of the year, whenever you buy a $30 gift card, you can use that receipt to get a free burrito WITH ANYTHING ON IT through Jan. 2013. That is why I now have $180 of Chipotle gift cards, for myself. You see, it’s essentially a buy 4 burritos ($30), get one free deal. i.e. a 25% return on investment. Now you just have to use the gift cards through 2013, ideally running out of gift cards on Nov. 1st, 2013, when you can start investing in gift cards again.

The Chipotle app. This is the biggest life hack of all time. When you’re burrito hungry between the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 4 p.m. to closing, chances are that you’re going to find yourself in line. But you don’t need a helicopter to avoid some traffic. Place your order on the app, and then go DIRECTLY to the cash register to pick up your order, sans waiting in line. This requires only 15 minutes of foresight to allow them to process your order, i.e. the typical amount of time it takes to get to Chipotle.