Archive for April 2007

Packing in ten minutes…

Getting ready for a nearly two week journey. I don’t mind being on site on a trip, but really don’t like getting ready for a trip. It’s a bummer, in fact. I begin to miss Janie and the kids.

I have become pretty proficient at packing. Janie takes about an hour to pack for a 2 day trip. Not me. For this 12 day trip – I will take no more than 10 minutes – no kidding. Kind of like taking showers for guys versus women. Janie tells me all the time that it isn’t fair how fast I can get ready versus her.

It’s a biological thing.

Sometimes you need a good therapist…

Steve SjogrenI have been telling one pastor friend I have been working with for years that he is in great need of plugging in with a professional therapist. Until just last week he has blown me off. Don’t know what is up but he is suddenly open to seeing someone.

Pastors live in a near constant atmosphere of criticism and stress. With these leaders, it comes as no surprise that “anything that can be shaken loose will be shaken loose."

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

I have been working with many dozens of pastors in the Cincinnati area for many years now.

As we look toward moving in a matter of just 3 months, there are mixed emotions. Excitement and joy for new ventures, but sorrow for relationships that have been developed over the years that will be changed.

A lot of great things have happened in the two decades we have been here. I hope the catalytic things that have happened here are a mere downpayment on what is to come in the Tampa area and far far beyond.

Message Plans, for 2009!

I am working on plans for late 2008 to mid 2009  – writing and message plans. 

For some this seems like an incredibly long way away. 
I have about four years worth of message series that are all but finished and ready to go.  As we proceed forward with the Outflow model of church, the role of the weekly message is imperative. 
I have made more leadership mistakes than I can remember (I once approached one of my publishers about doing a book based on my top 30 mistakes – at the time they thought it was too depressing – that’s how bad my mistakes have been!).  One mistake I have not made is understanding the awesome power of strategic weekend messages. 
When introducing change, vision, it is necessary to slowly introduce that change over a series of series – not over a month but over months. 
In a previous plant when we had givers that were not all that well-heeled on the average, I was heading toward raising close to $1 million in six weeks.  Before introducing this idea to the Board or staff, I began to unleash my first series of messages on the weekend attendees.   We spent four series getting them ready to let loose of their resources like never before.  In the end they gave around $900,000 in cash.  It was an amazing feat – in part due to strategic preaching – WITH the profound presence of God’s Spirit in our midst.  Any of us who are communicators can preach our best message ever but without Jesus’ presence no life will change a single degree. 
Or, we can get up and simply weep for ten minutes, not say an intelligible word as a friend of mine did one week… and discover that close to every life present was forever changed…

Experiencing the Kingdom…

I have been in contact with one of our Coastland team guys, Scott Bane, who has been in South Africa for the past three weeks. This has been a major sacrifice for him, all things considered (wife at home with three small children – not overly established financially – made the trip on an offering only basis with them agreeing to only pay for his fare). With risk, sacrifice in response to the invitation of Jesus, comes the common elements of God’s kingdom’s presence. Scott had read about this prior to his trip, but had never experienced this.

The response to him spreading the empowering message of what we are nicknaming “Outflow," simply that Jesus wants to involve 100% of us as inviters of our friends, family, neighbors, all who cross our paths by serving our way into their lives, has been amazing.

Usually with this message there is a lag time between the scattering of the “seeds” of kindness, generosity, love – but in this case the response has been nearly immediate. Keep in mind the churches he has been speaking at have mostly been made up mostly of Afrikaners (Dutch descendants who are gradually becoming integrated) and vary in size from a few hundred to a thousand. A VERY large church in South Africa of this sort would be 2-3,000. Several hundred have come to Christ within days of being served or shown kindness. Experience shows me that in North America and most of Europe, that process is typically a year or more, in the best case scenario.

Scott is experiencing an apostolic level of God’s presence as he has moved out on this trip. Don’t be fearful of that adjective – he is not an “apostle” – I / we are not comfortable using that word – there is much misunderstanding with that vocabulary. But there is that sort of biblical activity going on around him and his team. More to follow when he returns mid-week. Check out his blog.

Things are Hectic…

Life has been a bit hectic around the Sjogren homestead this week. We are preparing to move. Part of the preparation is getting our home ready to sell and that involves lots of little repairs, painting and other odds and ends. On Monday I made three trips to the hardware store! That is two more trips than my annual quota. Lots of anticipation is building, though, for our move to Tampa! Janie is still mending, I am writing every day, and we are getting ready to move. Lots of fun!

Free Stuff on Moving Day, Maybe?

We are about to sell our house in West Chester on the north side of Cincinnati. It is often said, “Amazing how much stuff a family collects in the course of a few years stay at a house.” When we moved into this place we thought, “This place is so big we’ll never fill it!”
Now all of our children have moved out minus Jack, but they have left their stuff behind.

A word to those who are nearby – we will likely load our moving truck on about July 10th. If you want some amazing FREE stuff stop by that day… bring a big vehicle. Talk to me – not Janie. She usually sells stuff. I usually give it away for free!

Cutting Edge Training

Some amazing things are in the works and about to hit the larger Church scene in the U.S. These have to do with some simple yet cutting edge technology that our Outflow team have been developing. In short, we are allowing churches all over to participate in cutting edge training events that are live, on DVD and accessible through Skype high speed access. If you are a leader and find this interesting email my compadre in crime – Charles Wear.

Hollywood Highlights

I have been in the Los Angeles area for several days as a part of the previewing of a Universal film entitled Evan Almighty that will be hitting screens on June 22nd. I was a part of about 60 leaders from the Christian “media” who have been asked to give Universal their two bits about the film for one thing (I give it 3.5 stars out of five by the way – family friendly – PG rating – funny, engaging, no language difficulties for parents to worry about with their children – I predict this film will be a sensational box office hit provided there is not another film released that same weekend).

Why was I specifically invited? Two strong themes that run through the film, without giving it away, are ideas I write about constantly.
1. How to change the world…
2. The power of simply serving the next person God puts in front of you.

In short, the film was so strong, this audience stood to their feet and give it a nearly full minute ovation. The last time I saw that happen was when I saw Forrest Gump. The two films had that same magical sense to them. Yes, we can all make a difference.