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The Apple Watch is definitely interesting, but how does it really work in everyday life? I like this review by The Verge because it brings up interesting points. Do we really need to be more connected? Does a smartwatch make you treat others rudely? I like my Pebble watch, but I have learned to turn off most of the notifications. I think people will do the same with the Apple Watch. I also think that the watch is not quite ready. Too many features are just gimmicks in this first iteration. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few years.

Bible and Phone

Does your church provide internet access? That’s a question every church needs to think through. We encourage people to use the Bible app to follow along our sermon notes, so we really want people to stay connected. We also have a mobile app that we encourage people to download, so Internet access is a tool we use to help reach people. When Cornerstone moved in to our current location in a downtown storefront, we installed a wifi router with DSL for our leaders to use. However, it didn’t take long to realize that many others at church wanted access to internet. So we started by putting a simple password on our router and sharing that password through our bulletins and announcements. The next step was upgrading from DSL to Cable, and then we ran into our first problem. We simply had too many people on our router.

Consumer routers are only made to handle 20 to 30 wireless connections. After that, you run into trouble. Our router would continually crash on Sunday mornings, and then our children’s ministry would be stuck without internet access for checkin and children’s videos. We are in an old downtown building that is approximately 7000 square feet on each floor, and we only had two consumer routers providing poor coverage through the whole building.

I started researching possible solutions, and I kept seeing a company called Ubiquiti and their Unifi products mentioned. The prices for their equipment were extremely low, so it made me skeptical. But the more I read, the more I realized that is was a perfect fit for us.  For under $500, we added four Unifi internet access points, a Toughswitch POE switch to provide power to the access points, and an EdgeRouter Lite to handle the router duties.  Since then, we have excellent coverage throughout our building and the internet has been rock-solid with as many as 90 wireless connections on Sunday morning. Keep reading to learn the details of our new system.

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I recently read an article that made a point that I have been thinking about. Tony Morgan shares

It’s possible to obsess about excellence–which is more about the execution–and completely ignore the outcomes. Churches, in particular, need to be more outcomes-minded. We need to make sure what we’re doing is actually having impact and getting results.

Excellence sounds like a great ideal for the church. We should give our best and do our best for God. But we must be careful. When excellence becomes our goal, we lose focus, we damage relationships, and we lose opportunities to minister to others.

In the rise of the seeker-focused and seeker-sensitive church of the last few decades, the concept of excellence found its way into the mission of many churches.  But I have a problem with the pursuit of excellence. A natural by-product of excellence is discontent. How good is good enough? If we are not careful, we feel that we need to do a little better; just a little more, and then it will be excellent. The pursuit of excellence can easily lead to a perfectionist attitude where everything is criticized and deconstructed. When that happens, the church loses focus.

The pursuit of excellence can rob a ministry of it’s joy. The goal of worship is not excellence, IT IS WORSHIP!! The goal of ministry is not excellence, IT IS MINISTRY!!

Let me give you a real-life example. I read another blog post that shared the opinion that a church should never video their service or share their videos online unless they have a multi-camera setup with high-end equipment. The article relegated video ministry to only megachurches with large budgets, with the vast majority of churches unable to reach the acceptable level of excellence. Here is the problem. Context matters! What is excellent in one church is far from excellent in another. Again, how good is good enough? If you are able to use video and minister to people, then go for it! Don’t compare yourself to other churches. Use what works in your context to make a difference for Christ.

Here is another example from the worship world. I have seen the pursuit of excellence damage relationships. Almost everyone has a story of a worship leader or band member who is critical of others. Again, when excellence is the goal, every worship service becomes a performance where the goal is to not mess up. That is not worship! Worship is about laying down our lives before God, and honoring God for who He is and what He has done. We do need to be prepared, but I have seen God move in incredible ways when we take the focus off of our performance and put the focus on the greatness of God.

If you make a mistake, it’s okay. If you don’t have moving lights and fog machines, you can still worship. If your guitar player oversleeps, you can still have a powerful time of worship. If you have an old video camera, use it! Why? Because it’s not about us, it’s about God. We need to stop comparing ourselves to the church down the street, so that we can become the church that God has created us to be.

At Cornerstone, I’m doing a series going through the Gospel of Mark. I’ve got several commentaries and study books that I’ve found helpful in preparing each week.  I tend to gravitate toward study books that are more practical and application based. Here is a quick description of what I like.

Christ Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in MarkThis series is quickly becoming my favorite commentary series for preaching. It is practical and the Gospel is explained throughout. If you are preaching through a book of the Bible, I highly recommend this series to use in helping you develop outlines and ideas.

Cornerstone Biblical CommentaryThis is another series that I have enjoyed using. It is shorter in length, but it still has proved helpful in explaining tough passages.

Holman New Testament CommentaryThe Holman series is a little light on explanation, but it includes several stories and application ideas for each chapter. I haven’t found the outlines particularly helpful, but it does give me ideas on how to incorporate illustrations each week.

Jesus the King: This book, formerly titled King’s Cross, is by Tim Keller, and is a great resource on the book of Mark. Keller does an incredible job explaining the purpose of the book of Mark.

Hopefully, these will help you as you study Scripture. And as always, remember nothing can replace your time spent studying and praying through God’s Word.  

 

The links in this post are affiliate links for Amazon. If you purchase through these links, I do receive a small commission that helps cover my costs operating this blog. See my full disclosure policy here.

All my friends who work with bands or in churches with live audio will appreciate this. Check out the GaffGun. It tapes down audio, video, and electrical cords in seconds. Gaffing tape is durable and it doesn’t leave a residue, so it works great to tape down cords.  I can think of a lot of times where this would have worked great. It’s not cheap, but it is worth it if you do this often.  Check out the video below and then head over to their website to find out more.

My 14 year old son plays in a bluegrass band called ShadowGrass. We were in Nashville last week for the SPBGMA bluegrass convention. It was a great experience and Luke’s band was able to do a lot of late night jamming. They also were able to play a showcase for the group Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars.

One of the attenders posted a video of one of their songs, and it has been crazy seeing how it is being shared. So far in two days, it has been viewed over 21,000 times and shared 600 times. It’s amazing how quickly videos can be shared through social media. I’m proud of these kids. They are all great musicians and great kids. Even if you are not a fan of bluegrass, I think you will enjoy these videos.

Help them out by liking their Facebook page and by subscribing to their Youtube Channel.

Here is a playlist of a bunch of their videos

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