Want me to avoid your church or hide in the corner?

If church is the best community on earth and less people are going...these 2 lists need to be read.

10 ways to keep me from discovering your church
10 ways to stop community at your church

And here's another list when your ready for action:

10 ways to draw me to your church

Conversations start it all...

Kem Meyer from Granger Church has a great blog about a recent Business Week article involving the importance of facilitating conversation. Very insightful.


Four Corners Church gets exposed

It's exciting to watch Four Corners grow and mature...we are continually evolving. And as we have evolved we have been blessed enough to get some exposure for what we have created.

• Our website has been featured on Church Relevance, Church Beauty and Color Project

• Our website has had over 40,000+ unique visitors in the past 2.5 years

• Our designs have been viewed over 40,000 times on Flickr

• Our church and its impact events have been in the city-wide news 5 times

• We have a partnership with Outreach.com coming soon to sell our resources

So who knows where this all may lead but if you haven't checked Four Corners Church out yet...get there! Here's to what still may lie ahead.

My memory will not fail (a concert to remember)

This past Friday I saw the band Over the Rhine for the 8th time over the past 12 years and never have been so moved by music as by them. They are a band who haunts the memory with passion, boldness and sincerity. A rarity in the music industry riddled with pop music clones out to sell their soul for a platinum record and the bling.

Karen Bergquist has a hypnotic voice fit for an angel...floating, piercing the soul and lingering in your head long after you start the journey back home. Lindford plays the piano with such gusto and ease you would believe it is simply an extension of himself. As one reviewer said of the married duo, "...they breathe life into music." Truly gifted in every sense of the word...the embodiment of why I listen and am touched by music.

If you've never listened, start now. Here are a few songs to begin with:
Born, Jesus in New Orleans, Give Me Strength, Spark

(Another band Ellery opened for them and was also amazing)


United 93

I have hesitated a long time from watching this film for many reasons. I decided to watch it and was blown away...in tears at times, heart fluttering the whole time, speechless at the impact Paul Greengrass achieved with this sobering masterpiece.

He has captured the human aspect of the September 11th tragedy magnificently. I have read extensively about the happenings of that landmark day and yet he drew me in and reminded us all of the impact it had on our country. He unapologetically shows the portraits of evil the terrorists represent...innocent men and women with families and histories, slaughtered by extremists.

This is possibly one of the most important films of our generation...preventing us from forgetting .


Cincinnati...a beautiful contradiction

I have lived in Cincinnati for over 16 years and still find it hard to call home. I have the Rockies in my veins from living in Colorado. But ESPN Senior Writer Pat Forde has a piece that describes Cincinnati exactly.

How to make space creative?

We talk about this constantly as a church meeting in a school. Overall modern schools are sterile and bland making it a challenge for a church striving to be creative. We have used trussing with colored par cans, large (10' by 5') banners to convey info, made Chipotle-inspired coffee bars, huge inflatable for kids, and Ikea decorative strips acting as water...but we strive to continually up the creative experience.

Here are a few examples of idea of interesting additions to make a space pop: a large piece of notebook paper, countdown on concrete, images in water

(thanks Church Relevance)


What I'm watching...

1. The Shield
2. Entourage
3. The Office
4. 30 Rock
5. Battlestar Galactica
7. 24
8. Prison Break
9. Grey's Anatomy
10. Curb Your Enthusiasm
11. The Wire
12. Heroes
13. Notes from the Underbelly
14. Planet Earth

Wow...that's a lot of great TV. Anyone else want to add to the list or suggest a show?

Is this how a trend starts? (iPhone)

Apple is making no secret of its unflinching desire to broaden its reach beyond computers and iPods. It announced AppleTV and the iPhone as well as dropping computer from Apple's name to now just Apple Inc.

Being a Mac user I have always touted Apple as the model of business and cultural innovation. They tend to start and build user trends second to none (i.e. the iPod revolution). Steve Jobs has an uncanny ability to "prophecy" where personal technological trends are moving and lead the edge there.

With the iPod, mp3 players were already everywhere but Apple offered a product that rapidly differeniated itself from the competition through an intuitive interface and easy purchase on the iTunes store (which has now sold over 2 billion songs).

AppleTV, I'm convinced, is simply the beginning of what Apple sees as the future. The device, although needing a lot of develop to jump over hurdles like limited media sources and no 1080p, has tons of potential. And the market is relatively uncluttered currently for these types of devices...

So the iPhone is a whole new leap...moving into a supersaturated market with major technological competitors who are not about to surrender market share. So how likely are you to bite at Apple's newest "innovation"? According to a recent survey...very likely. I'm eagerly waiting for the phone (and waiting for a price drop).


Finances for dummies

And I'm the dummy...up to this point in life I've done more wrong than I have right financially, but Jill and I are committed to constantly moving ourselves toward financial health. Yes, we have credit card debt, car payments and student loans...but we are moving forward.

I guess you can say my financial education comes from the school of continual hard knocks. Debt free may be a distance way but we're learning more all the time.


Music to my ears (April edition)

I've slacked lately on my new music happenings but aim to correct that:

1. The Myriad: You Can't Trust a Ladder
An awesome little band with a big sound. I enjoy their honest and deeply heart felt lyrics.
Download these for a taste: When Fire Falls, We Will Be Disappointed Together

2. The Cinematics: A Strange Education
Saw them live with Mute Math and wasn't blown away but then listened to them again once I got home...these Scottish boys who know how to rock!
Download these for a taste: A Strange Education, Break

3. Until June: Self-Titled debut
A fresh sound that I discovered a little while ago with their EP and now their freshman album has arrived...good stuff.
Download these for a taste: Saddest Song, All I Have

One week later...

The sensational headlines are gone and yet life for 33 families, friends and a whole university will never be the same. The New York Times has a beautiful page on the stories of the departed to remind us who live that life is not something to take for granted.

UPDATE :: TIME has a great article (thanks Barb Nicolosi for the heads up) about the narcisscism of shooters like Cho. A provocative read...


Happy Feet + Kevin Bacon

"Happy Feet" is the eco-friendly retelling of "Footloose".

Four-Wheeler Maddness

Yesterday was one of the best times I have had in a long time. We went quad riding near Lake Cumberland, KY with 5 guys for the day.

I have really never ridden a quad (minus in Greg's backyard but that doesn't count) and this one heck of an inauguration. Huge logs, massive holes filled with water, rocky slopes, old railroad tunnels, steep hills...the ride had everything I could have ever wanted. The only bummer was my sprained wrist in the last few miles but it was worth it.

Thanks Kevin for the ride...you rock!


Setting the Table (Part 1)

I'm beginning to read Danny Meyer's "Setting the Table". And already feel it's worth the read (and I'm only on chapter 1).

In case you've never heard of Danny Meyer...he is CEO of one of the world's most dynamic restaurant organizations ( in which he has opened and successfully run 11 establishments in and around NYC. All of his places thrive in an industry where restaurants go belly up all the time. His secret..."enlightened hospitality" (I'll elaborate on that in other posts as I read).

I'm reading this book to learn how the church, a notoriously cold place for many, can extend itself with God's generous hand of hospitality to doubters, seekers and followers. I truly believe churches are the best communities on planet earth better than bars, softball teams or even your neighborhood...it's often veiled behind a poor execution. It's time to change that...

Here's a few quotes from my reading so far :

"Within a few moments of being born, most babies find themselves receiving the first four gifts of life: eye contact, a smile, a hug and some food. We receive many other gifts in our lifetime, but few can ever surpass those first four."

• "...what's most meaningful is creating positive, uplifting outcomes for human experiences and human relationships."

• "Err on the side of generosity: You get more by first giving more."

Walkaways for us as a church :

1. Those 4 things, eye contact, a smile, a hug and some food (both for the belly and soul), would change our environment immediately. People would want to come to church, if for no other reason than experiencing love and belonging. We cannot underestimate its effect.

2. People want to come to church to uplifted not guilt tripped. I'm not saying water down the message but come one, if people are coming to connect with others and God...let's make them feel like it could actually be a positive and enjoyable thing.

3. The church should be a place of generousity because it has even reason to be. We expect people to give their offering but how much would that increase if the church modeled what it desired of its people.

I'm looking forward to reading and learning a whole lot more...

How about them apples?

I love thought provoking quotes...

“You cannot lead people any further than you are willing to go yourself” - Andy Stanley

(Thanks to Tadd Grandstaff )


A peek inside the Hollywood Machine

The movie "Sahara" wasn't good and it wasn't terrible...it was even worse. It was forgettable. And although you and I have long forgotten Matthew McConaughey's excuse to lose yet another shirt...the courts have not.

In an LA Times article this week, we (the movie going public) get to see how the money truly flows like the salmon of Capistrano in the movie business. Read it and weep...and get me an Entourage!

Media and Massacre

Everyone has been inundated by the tragedy of Virginia Tech but the recent discoveries of a multi-media "manifesto" by the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, has added a sickening twist.

The Columbine killers had hundreds of pages of diary entries and hours of videotape documenting their rage and hatred. Jeff Weise, the Minnesota school shooter who killed his grandfather and 9 others, had a website with a flash movie showing a shooting.

The need for having secrets known and how the new media has opened up another more anonymous place for Pandora's Box to be opened is frightening. It fascinates me to see how both people use the medium and the medium uses the people...a devious symbiotic system.

It is obvious many of these people are motivated by a need to be known, "famous", or remembered since their current place in this world is not creating awareness. Would these killers be as motivated (and maybe even rethink) to commit such atrocities if they would not be "known" by millions following their act?

Optimizing for search engines (SEO)

A friend of mine is an IT geek and was telling me about the new ways search engines are searching the internet. Gone are the days of searching meta-keywords. Now engines look at meta-content...descriptions of your site, who links to your site, etc.

SEO Quake is an interesting new tool he pointed me to. The browser extension looks at over 35 parameters it analyzes on your site including Google PR, Yahoo Link, Technorati, Del.cio.us, Alexa, etc.

For example ::
Four Corners Church (www.4cornerschurch.com) has - 139 Google links, 82 Yahoo links, 160 on Yahoo LinkDomain, 137 MSN links, and 10 Del.cio.us links.

A good start but we have a long way to go compared to someone like Relevant Magazine who has - 26,700 Yahoo links, 52,300 on Yahoo LinkDomain, 19,613MSN links, and 376 Del.cio.us links.

Now I know my local church can't compete with a nationally distributed magazine, but I want to think we could have the same reach (as I'm sure many churches/organizations do). I would love to see the number of people checking out what's happening in West Chester, Ohio increase. I want to see our sphere of influence grow broader and deeper.


I am my numbers...

Since my children's birth they have been assessed by the numbers...Apgar, percentiles, etc. And I thought about how many of us define (or are defined) ourselves by the numbers.

I am my...address, salary, test scores, social security number, credit card accounts, bank accounts, horsepower, model number, cable channels, bandwidth, grades, temperature, number of kids, hours I work, hours I play, age, blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol count, credit score, IQ, weight, height...and so much more.

I would hope they are simply facts about me instead of defining me, but it makes me wonder.

The Gospel as noise?

Tony Morgan posted about an article Seth Godin wrote in the Washington Post regarding appreciation for what some deem "classic" and "important" but many in the masses ignore. Tony also has some interesting insights that resonate so much with me.

10 Things to learn about Church Design

I had previously posted about the discussion strand about the mediocre state of art in churches and my passion to see that disappear. I don't want to restate the whole argument but thought it would be worth posting the walk-aways from Paul and me from the whole discussion. These points are certainly not locked into the church and its design only...these can be used across the board.

1. Evolve
Our design should be the challenged and evolve...all of us no matter the level we see ourselves on.

2. Don't minimize
The message is too important to be minimized by copying culture.

3. Don't hide...
Church's cannot simply hide behind deadlines and "from the top down told me"...we, as communicators, must push creativity beyond the "first idea" with leadership and our teams (if we have them)

4. Reclaim the leading edge.
The church must reclaim the arts and be the leading edge of creativity.

5. Find a collaborator.
It's key to find someone who will challenge your thoughts and ideas, be a sounding board and help direct or redirect you toward successful ideas.

Devour the theme.
Look at keywords and inundate yourself with good design, and hope that it rubs off.

7. Throw it away.
Write down your first ideas -- and toss them into the trash. The likelihood that your first ideas haven't already been done (exactly the same way and most likely better) are slim to none.

Push Your Limits.
Verbalize or write down every idea you have, no matter how crazy, complicated, abstract, controversial it may seem.

Gather Materials.
Find as many elements and pieces that help you effectively communicate the concept. Often you have to adapt (or tweak) your concept to fit with what you are provided from your resources.

10. Take Criticism.
Listen to criticism and separate yourself from your work as much as possible. There are some critiques you will need to ignore but many will help you grow as you continue to create.

More detail on some of these points can be found on Wiseacre's blog.


A drop in the ocean

"One dumb radio/television shock jock's insult is a drop in the ocean of barbaric filth and anti-female hatred on the radio."
Michelle Malkin, NY Times Columnist

Although the Don Imus debacle has been put to bed (supposedly), I cannot get over the issue of semantics and language in our culture. What is permissible and what is not? Michelle Malkin's column is absolutely astounding and provoking. I encourage you to read it and see the semantic game at work.

Giving Gas Away

I spent the morning giving away $5 worth of free gas to over 200 cars. Even though it's a miserable day (40° and rainy), I think people were blessed. It did amaze me how many people asked us what the gimmick was in order to get it. We are breed to be skeptical, aren't we? Churches have the awesome opportunity to battle this with a generous spirit and contagious impacts events.

"How can people give away free gas? There's got to be something they want..."

Yes, there is something we want. For you to feel God's tangible generosity. I'm confident they did and look forward to our next impact event.


"Get your sexy back..."

I'm so excited for a new series starting this week at Four Corners Church called "Get your sexy back...". Paul and I worked through a ton of concepts before landing on the artwork for it all. I posted a preview here but check out the MALE and FEMALE full-size versions on Flickr.

I'm a self-admitted media nut...I love TV shows, movies, video games, music, the web, etc. But in all this creeps in a sense of disgust at the self-implosion of body image going on every day. We are told to look this way and that...perfection is just around the corner but around that corner lies another labyrinth of expectations to reach whatever IT may be for the day.

It disturbs me when I see ads like THIS Dove Beauty campaign, which make me think we are learning to live with our ourselves and then find out it is the same company that makes AXE too. A campaign riddled with scantily clad supermodels running around speaking sexual innuendos. Unilever give us a break...your hypocrisy is sickening. You're pandering to us...literally the good, the bad and the ugly.

We're going to go right at it...talking as bluntly as any church has about dating, sex and marriage. We're talking about how God has created what sexy was created to be and how we are going to reclaim sexy and live in the freedom of it. Marriages can be fresher, dating can be more meaningful and sex can be a whole lot more enjoyable. Do I hear an amen?!

If you live near Cincinnati...come check it out! If not, listen to our podcast or download the talk starting Sunday (4/15) afternoon.

MTV knows there's a God

"99.7% of our viewers express a high interest in knowing about God. However it has never occurred to most of them to investigate God in the church".

MTV Media Relations Executive

The question should be...what are we in the church doing to invite MTV viewers in?
(Thanks Matt Card for finding this)

Why we go and don't go to church

A recent Gallup Poll discovered that 40% of Americans claim to attend church or synagogue regularly but 15% never attend. The reasons why are:

#1 Reasons Why People Attend Church

* 23% for spiritual growth and guidance
* 20% keeps me grounded/guided
* 15% it’s my faith
* 15% to worship God
* 13% the fellowship of other members (the community)
* 12% believe in God/religion
* 12% brought up that way (tradition)

#1 Reasons Why People Do Not Attend Church

* 24% don’t agree with organized religion/what they preach
* 21% don’t have time/don’t get around to it
* 16% don’t believe in going to church
* 10% don’t believe in God (atheist)
* 9% don’t have a church I connect with
* 6% I’m lazy
* 3% church wants/asks too much money
* 2% poor health/disabled
* 1% family members are different religions

(posted on Church Relevance)

A fit of morality...

Barb Nicolosi of ACT ONE posted this quote this morning in response to the Don Imus debacle:

"We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality."
Abolitionist and Reformer, Lord Thomas Macaulay, 1800-1859


We copied culture and called it good...

A fire burns in my belly for the church to embrace its creative side. I'm tired of the Christian world being a known for either fluffy or crappy artwork. I have seen the whole gamut but as I work toward creating original pieces that both communicate and provoke...copying culture seems a sin. Like pasting my head on a bodybuilder and sending it to my relatives to boast how exercise has worked for me...I have taken someone else's work and tried to pander it as my own.

I help administer a Flickr Lab for Church Marketing Sucks and there is a lengthy but worthwhile discussion about this very topic. The very volume of responses in the strand shows this subject to be a hot button issue...

Are we cheapening the message of Jesus by simply modifying cultural icons and slapping Christian platitudes on them? "Extreme Home Makeover: Marriage Edition"..."CSI: The Mystery of Easter"..."Desperate Houselives". I hang my head when I see these...we are better than this, aren't we?

The Spring storms

Our first real thunderstorm of the season just echoed through. We looked out our back windows as the dark sky ominously gathered overhead and rain began making its dash to earth. It brings me joy to watch children enthralled by the world around us...so many of us adults forget. The beauty of seasons and the passing of death to life in them.

The night has fallen and the lightning flashes in the distance reminding us that Spring is truly upon us. The western horizon clears now as the sun waves goodbye to another day and heads to rest. Drizzle pelts gently on our roof (leaking by the way) beckoning us to sleep.

Racial Semantics

The whole Don Imus thing has been interesting...an old stodgy shock jock who made some ridiculous remarks about Rutgers black female basketball players has highlighted the semantics of race in America. Jason Whitlock of the Kansas Star has an interesting article about the whole issue. A fascinating read...

NPR featured a commentary by Juan Williams discussing the "invisible line" Don Imus crossed with his remarks.



The web is huge and overwhelming...so much amazing content but so little time. I have found this cool little extension for my web browser called StumbleUpon. You enter in some topics you find interesting and it brings sites to you at the click of a button. A great time waster...here's some cool stuff I've found recently:

Mono Face (a trippy experiment in face swapping)

Steal Deals (an amazing collection of the best deals on the web)

Where did the time go? (answering life's bigger questions)

One Sentence (true stories told in one sentence)

What a wonderful world

I've been watching Discovery Channel's Planet Earth with my son. It likely is one of the most amazing nature documentaries I have ever seen. Just when I thought I had seen everything (remember Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom), this show portrays our world in breathtaking form. Thank you God for HD TV.


Triple Shot, Non-Fat, Half-Caf Manifesto

I make no secret about my love of Starbucks and the experience it helped spawn...the new third place. About a month ago Howard Schultz (the CEO of Starbucks) had a memo "leak" and the Wall Street Journal reported on it. Starbucks was slipping and they knew it...you can't stay on top forever. He knew the brand was in danger of commoditization.

There's an extensive Manifesto online right now by a Starbucks marketer about how Starbucks can evolve and meet this challenge head on. It is lengthy but contains some interesting ideas...

Can you grow 277%?

As a staff member at a newly planted church we are talking about growth...how can we grow in people (the numbers) and grow them spiritually. We continue to grow in both ways, which is exciting, but we are looking for that "tipping point" (one of my favorite books of late) where you go from growing to exploding...a contagious place of faith and community.

Today I was sent this case study about a church in Delaware that engaged in a campaign to grow with radical results.

War and Peace

As I mentioned last post, the Iraqi War has become the litmus test of political loyalties in this country...you're with us or against us! I think the mistake both I and many other conservatives (and liberals too) have made is not considering the philosophical undertones of war. I can easily jump on a bandwagon and not look back.

My brother sent me an interesting speech from Martin Luther King Jr. about Vietnam. Take a few minutes and read what he had to say and think about today. For either political side...food for thought.


Stories of the fallen

The Iraq War divides America ferociously these days...people literally screaming at each other. But in the bickering we often forget the stories of the fallen...the honored men and women who have sacrificed themselves for the protection of our great country.

Newsweek has been running a series of articles on the fallen based on their own letters and communication back to us here at home comfortable in our houses. It's a moving picture of of these people...and,regardless of your political bent, the people whose lives have been lost are the stories of us all...mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives.


Christian Art...will it always suck?

For the past 3 years I have been the Creative Director of Four Corners Church and have been forced to ask myself again and again...what is "good" Christian art? So much of what churches and mainstream Christians produce is either imitation or mediocre compared to secular peers. I personally have seen amazing work and people who produce it, but it tends to be shunned or written off by the so-called protectors of Christian art.

But instead of a lengthy diatribe about it...Joshua Blankenship has an amazing post on his blog about this very topic. Come join the conversation HERE regardless of where you stand...


To pray is to change...

At Four Corners we chatted about prayer this morning...something widely accepted as something it may well NOT be...easy to understand. As Greg, the pastor, pulled some amazing stories from his life to illustrate his difficulties and frustrations with prayer in his journey with God. Like...why do some prayers seem to be answered and others don't? But instead of offering some trite answer he explored the depths of why we pray in hopes that this would shift our line of questioning. I think the quote from Richard Foster sums up much of what was said,

"To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives." Richard Foster

Prayer may always be a bit of a mystery but certainly it takes little away from what lies at its heart.