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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


I haven’t had a chance to do much writing lately, so I have decided to share some great articles with you. I use a web service called Pocket to collect interesting articles online to read later. From time to time, I will be sharing interesting links and articles that I have read.

Do you like working in a Coffee Shop, but you can’t find one close by? Check out this page for ambient coffee shop sounds – Coffitivity

Here are some more to check out

Every now and then, you come across an app that really works and fills a need. This is one of those apps. If you ever need to email or send a document, forget the scanner and just use this app. It’s quick, it’s easy to use, and it does a great job capturing multi-page pdf files, receipts, and business cards.

It’s created by Evernote, so it’s integrated tightly with the Evernote platform. However, you can still use this even if you don’t have an evernote account.

This isn’t a new concept. For several years, I have had an app called Scanner Pro by Readdle. But Scannable is quicker and better. Watch the following video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, the app is only available for iOS now. Hopefully, an android version will be coming soon. It’s free and it works. Trust me, this is an app that will simplify how you communicate.

Why Youth Stay in Church

January 10, 2015


I had a conversation about youth ministry a few weeks ago with a friend. Jennifer and I started working in youth ministry almost 19 years ago, and we have been blessed to teach and mentor hundreds of youth over that time.

During my conversation, I started sharing success stories of the youth who have gone into ministry and mission work, and those who have succesful careers and are serving in their churches. But I was also quick to point out that we have former youth who have struggled. Some have struggled with drugs and alcohol, some are even in jail, some are already divorced, some have fallen away from church, and some are even now atheists. Here’s my point. In ministry, we do what we can, but ultimately, each person is responsible for living their life. I was reminded of what the Apostle Paul shared to the Corinthian church.

1 Corinthians 3:5-7 NLTAfter all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.

If we take credit for the success, then we are also the ones to blame when bad things happen. In youth ministry, we really only have a small window of opportunity to make an impact on the lives of teens. I have seen God change lives in a dramatic fashion, and I have also seen youth repeatadly reject the Gospel. Again, our responsibility is to be faithful and obedient, and to not give up. I love what John Wesley once said.

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

– John Wesley

At our January First Sunday at Cornerstone, Jennifer shared from this article three traits of youth who stay in church once they reach adulthood. Read this and really think about the importance of living out the Gospel in the context of family.

  1. They are converted.
  2. They have been equipped, not entertained.
  3. Their parents preached the Gospel to them.

I love how the article wraps up and sums up my thoughts.

Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.

I once heard the saying that truth taught in the context of relationships changes lives, and I couldn’t agree more. Our teens don’t need more pizza parties and concerts, they need relationships where the Gospel can be demonstrated and taught. They need opportunities to put their faith in action, and they need to realize that church is not something you attend, it’s belonging to the Body of Christ. If we pass that on, we are doing more than entertaining them, we are actually discipling them to live as followers of Christ.

For Christmas this year, I decided to consolidate all our photos and videos in one place. I considered buying a new computer just for managing all my media, but in the end I decided on using an online service called Picturelife.

It’s an online photo management storage system that really works. You start by uploading all your old photos and videos. Picturelife can also automatically load photos from your social media accounts. They also have apps for your computer and mobile devices to automatically pull in new photos.

The mobile apps are really where Picturelife shines. It’s easy to scroll through all your old photos and find what you are looking for. I have uploaded almost 200 Gigs of old memories, and the service is still extremely fast.

It’s not free, but having all my files together has been worth it. They do have a free 8gig introductory account, but you will really need to upgrade to a paid account to use. For me, this was also much cheaper than buying a new computer. I like having everything automatically uploaded, and looking at the memories feature each day has reminded us of so many great times we have together as a family. Here’s a video with more info.

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