Tuesday, July 29, 2008

august 3rd

As many of you know, the next few weeks are very crucial weeks in the planning for Remix. Over the past year Michael has been casting a vision about what it would look like to have a student ministry that is shaped around Loving God and Loving People. In fact the first few weeks he was in Clarksville he preached a series over those two ideas. I'm not sure that Michael knows this or not, but I listen pretty closely whenever he starts talking about different ideas he has for Relevant Student Ministry as a whole and also Remix, and as this year has gone by I've slowly started to understand what Michael's vision is and been able to make that my vision as well.

The reason I say all of that is because I think there's a principle about leadership there. Michael never called me into his office and said "listen Nate, I need you to get a picture of where we're going." He just started including me in discussions where he was evaluating and asking questions about what was next for Relevant, and as he included me and gave me things to do I started catching on.

That's really the same way I caught on to the vision of Grace too. My dad never handed me an outline of the type of church we wanted to create, but as we started talking about different things together I slowly began moving in the same mental direction as he was.

So I think Michael and my dad get an A+ in vision casting. I'm so thankful that they have both given me opportunities to serve and be apart of what God is doing at Grace. All that being said, THIS SUNDAY AUGUST 3RD the Remix band is leading worship at Grace. Last year we played one song, this year we're doing the whole service. If you've never been to Remix or seen what the student service at Grace looks like, make sure you're at Rossview sunday, because we're going to be doing Remix on a Sunday morning for the whole church to experience. It's gonna be awesome! We have lots of really cool intros/instrumentals made up and hopefully (if they turn the music up... sorry if you're a little bit on the elderly side, meaning 34 and above, and you don't like loud music. Remember we're BRINGING remix to sunday morning. At Remix it's loud.) it will be an awesome view of what a Remix service would look like.

Be there this Sunday August 3rd.

Friday, July 25, 2008

productivity>negativity

First let me apologize for not blogging this week. It's been a very busy week but also a very educational week... meaning I've learned a lot (which is somewhat surprising because typically people say that I'm a know it all..?)

There are a few specific areas where I channel my energy. Girls (or girl singular I guess), ASG (which is student council), and Remix (our weekly gathering for students). It's probably pretty obvious which of these categories is the most fun, but because my goal isn't to turn into some kind of sex god I try and focus time on the other two categories as well, and this week I've spent time on them all equally. Here's the categories brokendown for the week, minus the girl category because I really am not sure that I should share such information:

ASG- As student body president, I'm trying to revolutionize the way student council is done. Normally student council is responsible for planning 3 things: Freshmen Orientation, Homecoming, and Winterfest (Homecoming and Winterfest are both dances by the way). To someone wanting to do student council in an average way, I'm probably the worst canidate because I absolutely hate dances, but remember I'm trying to REVOLUTIONIZE the way student council is done.. so I'm actually the BEST canidate if you're looking for someone to improve things.

We have Freshmen Orientation coming up on August 4th, so I've been busy the last 2 months planning it in a way that will make it appealing and useful to an incoming freshmen. In the past it's been very unorganized and thus unproductive, and those are two words I hate when it comes to something I'm in charge of, so I've been making lots of changes to ensure excellency. My dad has pointed out that my biggest problem, though, is that I'm so busy working and planning stuff by myself that I don't fill others in along the way. This can be detrimental when trying to get others on board with your vision.

So last night I get an email from a girl asking "what the deal is for orientation". Now, this is a girl who is very much involved in ASG, so I'm pretty sure she knows what the deal is, but this is just a reminder to me that I need to fill others in and communicate more effectively as I'm planning.

Remix- We've taken a break from remix over the summer, so we're gearing up for the launch date on Wednesday Aug 13th. It's going to be exciting but there's still a lot of work to be done. I'm currently serving as the "Remix Band Coordinator" ... you can thank Michael Bayne for the official sounding title. Basically I arrange the songs and lead practice with the band. We're in the process of learning the new songs on the new Remix practice CD, and I'm really excited about what God is going to do through the production side of Remix. Even though I'm heavily involved in the Production/Band/Large Group side of Remix, I think life groups are really where life change is going to happen.

This week I've done lots and lots of work on all three of my areas of energy, and experienced negativity in every area. Here's what I've learned though:

Productivity is greater than Negativity. No matter how much negativity you have to face going through the process, at the end of the day the productivity is what will stick if you stay commited to the vision. I'm only 17, so that concept could change as I experience more life, but right now I think that's true. (Although when dealing with women, there's really no rules or basic equations that can accurately be applied.)

Productivity>Negativity.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

big dogs

When I was about 3 or 4 we had these neighbors that raised hunting dogs of some kind. I'm no expert in the study of hunting dogs, or even hunting for that matter but apparently hunting dogs are capable of killing things... which kind of makes sense I guess. What I was told as a kid, however, was that these dogs were dangerous. I remember having strategic family planning meetings where we would discuss different scenarios that could occur and what my reaction should be if those scenarios were to ever play out. Most scenarios were probably way over the top because I had a pretty wild imagination at the time, and I don't ever remember having to use any of the neighborhood survival information that was being covered in the meetings while playing outside.

That being said, the ultimate result of these meetings was not me becoming keenly aware of how to respond to a canine attack, the ultimate result was me becoming terrified of big dogs. This is a problem that I still struggle with today and I really see no light at the end of this dog house looking tunnel.

What I do know is this, everywhere I go there seems to be a big dog of some kind. In Brazil there were big big dogs everywhere. At my previous babysitting job there were three big dogs. In New Orleans there was a fire station-owned dog that was rather large and dirty and scary. Today at Amanda Boles' sister's house there was a big dog. In I Am Legend there were lots and lots of insane/rabies-infected big dogs. It doesn't matter where you go there's always a big dog there to end the fun that potentially could have occurred.

One thing I've learned though is this: no matter how big and scary the dog is, the owner's story is always the same. "Aww (insert the name of the owner's dog) wouldn't hurt a soul! He's the nicest ole dog you'll ever meet." As if anyone who volunteers their house for people to come over is going to admit that their dog would hurt one of the guests. As if my fear of big dogs is going to be eased by the OWNER'S defense in the dog. Like, I'm not concerned with how your dog treats YOU, considering the fact that it knows you and lives with you all the time! I want to hear someone who doesn't know the dog say it will be ok.

I know that at some point I need to get over my fear of big dogs, but the bottom line is this: there have been too many news stories done on kids being attacked by a big "friendly" neighborhood dog for me to believe that YOUR big dog is "the nicest ole dog you'll ever meet." Your dog may genuinely be a nice dog, but I don't feel comfortable taking your word for it.

****If you own a big dog, I apologize if this offended you in anyway. I realize that the term "big dog" is a stereotype in the world of pets that may be far off base, and I will still come to your house if you have a big dog, I'd just rather you make arrangements ahead of time to ensure my safety upon arrival... maybe a big stick or something... it's nothing personal.

Friday, July 18, 2008

mbti

I am constantly thinking and analyzing things. Sometimes I really like that part of my personality and other times I hate it. When it comes to thinking and planning projects I love it. When it comes to pursuing girls... I hate it. Either way I'm an analyzer no matter "how you slice it" (which is a lame expression by the way, but I chose this expression because "slicing" is kind of a form of analyzing.. you know?).

Anyway I really enjoy trying to figure out other people's personalities. A few years ago my dad got really into this thing called personality testing and ever since I've been really into it too. One of the things we talk about constantly is how people's personalities affect the way their responding to a particular situation (another form of analyzing on my part.)

Because I'm so interested in personalities, I want to give you guys a chance to talk to me some. You all listen to me talk a lot, but now I want to give you guys a chance to let me know a little about you. So once every 4 or 5 posts I'm going to try and do a post that gives you guys a chance to respond. This is the first survery category: MBTI

Myerrs Briggs Type Indicator- I'm really not sure how to spell that, but that's what MBTI stands for. This post is aimed at me figuring out what the personalities of my viewers are. So if you're familiar with your "type" I would appreciate you posting it for me. If you do not have a clue what I'm talking about, heres the online test:

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

If you do not know your 4 letter combination, take that test and then post it. It wont take you very long. If you know your 4 letter combination, post it!

Thanks guys

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

lightening bug moment

On Wednesday nights my parents have small group, so I stay at home on those nights and typically play video games. I'm a fan of games like NCAA Football, Madden, 2Kx sports games, Zelda, Super Mario, Mega Man, etc. My favorite game of all time, however, is Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. I actually love that game so much I'll probably give it a post all to its own eventually.

Anyway you can only play video games for so long before you become extremely bored... that happened to me tonight. I had nothing to do so I decided to waste some gas and go drive around on some country roads. I love getting out on the road where there isn't very much traffic to just drive and think. Very cool. So as I was on my way to Henrietta, Tennessee (birthplace of Pat Head Summit) a pretty rare and significant occurrence occurred (which is what occurrences tend to do...) A lightening bug splattered onto my windshield.

My first thought was "so what, I haven't washed my truck since August...", but then I realized the awesomeness of this moment. When a lightening bug hits your windshield the lightening bug guts continue glowing. If you've never seen that happen before you're missing it out because it looks really awesome.

Anyway, that was a cool moment in my life today. Probably not life-altering, although I'm sure I could make a lame illustration out of it if I wanted to. Like, "if we read the Bible, it's Light will direct us away from windshields... metaphorically speaking of course..." But I'd rather just enjoy the moment for the moment itself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

the template concept

Depending on how observant you are, I have officially changed my blog layout and template. If you're unfamiliar with the blogging lingo (which is highly improbable considering the fact that you are reading a blog) basically that just means I have made it look differently. I think that the way a blog looks is just as important as the information it's displaying. Honestly if a blog looks uncool I don't want to read it, regardless of what the person has to say. Up until this point I feel like I've been letting my readers get the short end of the stick when it comes to the template their blogging leader has displayed for them to look upon while they read what I have to say. (I also think from this moment forward we should be willing to acknowledge me as "The Blogging Leader". ) So I want to apologize for not giving you guys more of an appealing look.

Most people would nod their head in agreement with the above paragraph. It's a relatively simple principle that they way something looks generates our interest. One example of that would be a pretty girl... I see her and then become interested. Another example would be house cleaning. Anytime we have guests at our house my mom and step mom become extremely ridiculous about the degree of clean we must reach as a family... which is probably why we have a house cleaner come every other Wednesday.

Obviously the way something looks directly affects how quickly our interest is sparked. You fell in love with my blog because you're absolutely fascinated by how well I blend sarcasm and reality... but you would have fallen in love much sooner had my blog template looked more appealing.

This principle is very easy to recognize in every area of our lives, yet we are still designing churches that do not look appealing on the outside. Trying to create a church that is appealing on the outside is a threat to some people. There is this thought that exists that if you design a church that is appealing to the unchurched, then somehow you've lost sight of Jesus or God or the Gospel. Why? Isn't Jesus the most appealing thing that there is? Shouldn't church be THE MOST appealing thing on the outside?

My friend Michael blogged recently about Perry Noble and how he liked him basically because he wants to create church that the unchurched like attending. (http://www.michaelbayne.net/) A guy wrote back a long post disagreeing with this principle saying that church should be for believers, not a tool for evangelism. Michael wrote him back a very nice reply, but I'm not quite as nice as Michael. I think that statement Church should be for believers, not a tool for evangelism is one of the most ignorant statements that someone can make. I don't know that you can miss the big picture anymore than that. All my life I've watched church be done for churched people and I don't ever want to be in a church like that again. The church should be a picture of who Jesus is, not a place for Christians to feel good about themselves.

Bottom Line: The way something looks initially, directly affects our interest in that something. So let's make church appealing and designed with excellence, because Jesus is appealing and he most definitely displayed himself in a way that attracted unbelievers. Maybe it's time to change the template of the church.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

new orleans

Man it's been a while since I've been able to blog. It's crazy how much I start to miss the blogging world once I am away from Internet access for an extended period of time..

This past week I was in the city of New Orleans at Mission Lab. Grace took a team of 20 down there to just love that city, and it turned out to be a really cool deal. In the mornings we would go and clean up neighborhoods by pulling weeds, chopping down bushes, digging up trees, etc. In the afternoons we did a Bible Club type thing for some kids in Ward 7. There hasn't been a single ministry for kids in Ward 7 since Katrina, and so it was really awesome getting to go in and tell those kids about the Bible and ultimately about Jesus. We had some kids accept Christ, and it was awesome watching God work through us down there.

Random stuff that happened while we were there:

First of all you should know about this thing called "The Sugarshack". Day one of camp the camp director promoted this scandal called "The Sugarshack" over and over advertising that it was the greatest thing to have ever been introduced to a camp anywhere. He emphasized that this was a place we could all go at night to get late night snacks and drinks and caffeine etc. So being the way I am I made a HUGE deal about the sugarshack. I tried to lead cheers within our group about the sugarshack, I tried convincing others to get on board with this crazy thing called the sugarshack, and as it turns out... the sugarshack is actually the dumbest thing on the planet.

The sugarshack was about 1.5 miles from our dorms so walking there was a very big deal. So on the first night of camp we walk there and it was closed. I figured it was because we were too late because we arrived around 10:30. So the next night we decided to give it another chance. Day 2 we make the trek to the sugarshack, and as fate would have it, it was closed again. After wasting 3 miles of my life, I decided it was time to boycott this place called the sugarshack. My problem with it is this: The camp director acted like it was the most awesome thing ever... and it was never open!

Also there's the pool fiasco. It's open 4 hours a week. 8-10 PM on Monday, 8-10 PM on Friday- dumb.

Then there's the dorm controversy. Apparently the camp was trying to separate boys and girls into different dorms for obvious sexual reasons. So there were boys dorms and girls dorms (supposedly). The only problem is there were girls staying in a room in our dorm, and boys staying in a room in the girls dorm. So because of that reason the lady in charge (who was a rule freak and pretty paranoid all the time) would yell at us for having our shirts off in the hallway. Her reasoning was that it was a co-ed dorm and so girls didn't need to see us with our shirts off. Ok, that's pretty understandable. Here's what's really stupid: One night a group of our girls were in the lobby of our dorm playing cards, and the lady comes in and says they're not allowed to be there because it's a boys' dorm. Naturally I argued with her.

Either A- it's a co-ed dorm and girls ARE allowed to be in the lobby playing cards, or B- it's a boy dorm and guys ARE allowed to walk around with their shirts off. Being the controversial church that we are, we decided to take a stand. So for the rest of the trip we walked around with our shirts off anytime we were in the dorm. That was the least we could do to stand up for all basic logic everywhere!

Last thing- if you've been following the pickle story, you know that we've taken "Dong" on every single trip down I-65 this summer. Well, being the absent minded pickle guardian that I am I accidentally forgot the pickle on this trip. I was extremely distressed on the ride down there, and then had an idea. I could text my good friend Taylor Hughes and ask him to pick up the pickle and mail it to Mission Lab... so this is what we did. On Thursday afternoon the pickle arrived in New Orleans via the United States Postal Service. Rain, Snow, Sleet, Hail, Torching Louisiana heat, those guys deliver- and deliver they did! Dong was able to join us for the remainder of our trip.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

truth or dare

While everyone is waiting for me to post some thoughts for the new Oratory on Christianity, I thought I'd share with you part of my old speech on risks.. this was the introduction:

Truth or Dare is one of those games everyone plays at some point growing up, but in 5th grade, it’s really not a game… it’s really just a sly attempt for guys to hook up with women… not just women though, but 5th grade women.

It was Christmas break, and the girl was Shelby Richmond… it’s pretty safe to say we were in love. Despite all the “masculine” qualities that I posses, I couldn’t quite get up the nerve to ask her out on my own. So, I devised a plan that would accelerate all that “let’s go out for coffee stuff” and just get to the kissing. So, I organized an innocent little game of Truth or Dare, made my best friend dare me to kiss Shelby, and then just made sure I had on plenty of chap-stick. As long as the plan was executed to perfection, I was about to collide with my destiny.

So, when I was dared to kiss Shelby, of course I had to act like I didn’t know it was coming. “Dude are you serious?!?? You really want me to kiss her?!?” But finally, I made my move. I took Shelby into the closet we had set aside for “outrageous dares” (creepy sounding… I know) but suddenly, despite all my planning, despite all the time I had spent daydreaming, just waiting for this “mature” moment, I realized that I actually had to kiss her. I mean you can’t pass once you get INTO the closet. This wasn’t my fantasy world anymore… this was reality. Even though kissing Shelby Richmond was at the time my destiny in life, when it came time to actually do it, I realized it was also my greatest fear.

A lot of us live our lives in that kind of a moment. We know what we want to do in life, what we’re really passionate about, what we really want to accomplish, and the question is not if we have what it takes to reach those goals, the question, is if we’re willing to step out, and risk the possibility that we might fail.

Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, is about risking failure and facing your fears, in order to follow your dreams. He writes, “Sometimes our greatest opportunities come disguised as man-eating lions, and how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny.” When the opportunity presents itself, when all of your planning boils down to one moment, when your dream is on the line, are you gonna go for it, or watch it go by because you’re afraid to take the risk?

At this point in the speech I launched into the part where I connect the intro to the bottom line for the speech. Maybe I'll share it with you someday

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

church talk

I haven't officially started brainstorming yet, but I've been thinking nonstop the past few days about my next Original Oratory. Like I said in the post, "christianity oratory", I want to do my next speech on Christianity. Again I'm not sure the exact direction I'm going to go, but that's the broader topic.

Last night me and a friend were looking for something to do so we decided to show up at this girl's house unannounced. We're very close friends with this girl, and so we've reached the point in our relationship where it's ok to do that sort of thing. When we pulled into her driveway her parents were outside walking the dogs, so we got out and started casually carrying on conversation. They told us that this girl was not home but that we could stay and hang out if we wanted. Typically that would seem like a very weird thing to do, I mean not many people go over to their friend's house to hang out when the friend isn't even home, but we enjoy talking to her parents so we stayed anyway just to talk to them.

We ended up talking outside for about an hour before it got dark. We talked about all sorts of different things, but mainly we talked about their experiences with church. See, my friend, the girl, and the girl's parents all go to a different church than I go to, so it can get kind of awkward whenever they start talking about church stuff. But I was being a good sport and just listened as the parents kept talking about problems associated with church as they know it.

The main focus of the conversation was the contemporary service their church has. They don't feel like it reaches anyone. They think that the message is often way too deep and never covers material that can be applied to anyone's life. They say that all of the students skip the service if they can. So they started asking us (me and my friend) what we thought should be changed to make church better.

Now being the only person in the conversation who does not attend their church, it was kind of hard for me to come up with any real useable material they could apply to the service to improve it. So I stayed quiet the whole time. After some intense discussion on the topic, the dad of this girl said to my friend, "See that's the problem. You wouldn't invite your friends to the service. I mean I know I wouldn't invite MY friends! Now, Grace (the church I attend), that's a church people can invite someone to without feeling ashamed. They can just wear whatever they want and feel comfortable."

I don't type any of this so that you can use inferences to figure out which church I'm talking about or be negative towards any particular church or anything like that. I’m also not saying that my church has all the answers or that we’re better than everyone. I'm telling this story for a reason, here it is:

I'm sick and tired of churches having a mindset that a contemporary service is going to fix all their problems. I can't tell you how many churches in our city have decided to start a contemporary service so they can satisfy the younger congregation at their church. They think that if they suddenly use a guitar in one of their services that lost people will just begin flocking in to come home to Jesus or something. Obviously, based on the story I just shared, this is not the case. They still have just as many problems in the church POST-contemporary service as they do PRE-contemporary service. People are not looking for a service that is "contemporary" (that word is the most traditional word in the history of the world by the way), people are looking for a group of people who love them regardless of their dress, flaws, mistakes, screw-ups, or hangovers. People want to be in an environment where they can simply be themselves, not have to put on a fake face for the church people. Until churches begin to realize this, we'll continue to see contemporary service after contemporary service pop up all over America without any real church growth occurring.

It's easy to see from an outsider's perspective that the problems at the church from the story are all problems that revolve around leadership at the church. If churches do not start having an attitude of grace, the "revival" the church is looking for will not take place, regardless of how great the music or preacher is.

Bottom Line: It would be better to have the hymnals out and sing every hymn in the book, but still have an attitude of grace, than to have the greatest lights, music, speaker, etc in the world but judge people when they walk in the door.

"Everyone needs a place to start over... that place is Grace." (That’s the slogan of my church.) I hope so much that we never lose sight of that vision and actually continue to live by it.