I saw a neat link from Church Relevance last week about a website with free demographic info for your community. This site is different from most because it breaks down the 5 most prominent lifestyles and then describes them with unique labels. I did a quick lookup on Galax and here is what I found.

From PrizmNE: Back Country Folks, Golden Ponds, Heartlanders, Simple Pleasures, and Young & Rustic

From ConneXions: Active Urban Singles, Cautious Pre-Retirees, Premium Payers, Simply Mature, and Switchers & Shakers

From P$YCLE NE: Bottom-Line Blues, Country Cottages, Middle Ages, Old Homesteaders, and Senior City Blues

So, this is pretty interesting. On their site, you can find out how they describe each group. For our church, this is helpful information in understanding our community and culture. I don’t think I fit into any of the categories. I guess that shows how weird I really am!

Claritas offers a free resource called “You Are Where You Live” that enables you to look up the 5 most prominent lifestyles within a specific zip code using any one of the following three sets of segmentation research:
  1. PRIZM NE: 66 distinct segmentations (lifestyles) based on demographic and consumer behavior data
  2. P$YCLE NE: 58 distinct segmentations based on demographic factors that have the greatest effect on financial behavior (e.g., income, age, presence of children, home ownership, etc.)
  3. ConneXions: 59 distinct segmentations based on household consumption of communications products and services

It is a great resource for helping your church better understand the community it is reaching.


March 28, 2007 — Leave a comment

What type of world do we live in? Sanjaya stays and Chris Sligh is gone? Chris was a worship leader at Seacoast Church in Greenville, SC. A real good guy and now he is voted off way too early. Will the popularity of Idol start to go down if talented people keep getting sent home before ones that are in over their head? That just ain’t right.

How to Share Your Faith

March 27, 2007 — 1 Comment

Ed Stetzer has a great post over at the Resurgence about sharing your faith. He talks about the different approaches and why we need to return to the model of Jesus for sharing. In our area, many churches feel that confrontational door to door evangelism is the only way to share your faith. I believe that sharing your faith is best done through relationships. I like Stetzer’s comment that the church is like a bear fed by tourists. The truth hurts sometimes. Let’s teach our teens and adults to be bold about sharing their faith to the people that God brings into their path. Check out the following quote

To share Christ, we have to go beyond formulas that fit on napkins. The Gospel is not a doodle. Isn’t God’s story of redemption and reconciliation for His creation bigger than what can fit on a napkin? People are searching—but they are searching for something more than fire insurance or “five steps to financial freedom.”

For 30 years we’ve taught people to “bring your friends to church” and have considered that evangelism. Well, there are not as many boomer seekers out there as there were back in those days. We must to share Christ, and that will be mostly done through relationships (sounds like Jesus, right?).

Today, the church is like a bear fed by tourists. It’s lost its natural ability. We need to share Christ in meaningful ways without just inviting people to a congregational event. … let’s get that back by starting where people are, listening to them, building a relationship, telling them about Jesus, sharing with them the story of redemption, and bringing them to a bloody cross and an empty tomb.

For the youth out there that give me a hard time, I know I am a serious nerd. But did you know that it’s cool to be a geek now, and it even makes me attractive, just ask Jenni. Check out the top ten list here.

(ht to Tony Steward)

We took the youth group to the WinterJam concert a couple of weeks ago. If you have ever taken groups to concerts or conferences you know how the logistics can drive you crazy. It was a good concert, but it was a little crazy keeping everyone together. I have mixed feelings about concerts with general admission seating. On one hand, you just show up for the concert and don’t have to worry about getting tickets in advance or worry about youth backing out at the last minute. On the other hand, it is almost always a challenge to get enough seats together for a large group.

We left after church and heading to the mall for a few hours before the concert. We left with plenty of time to get to the concert, or so we thought. We didn’t anticipate having to sit in traffic for over 30 minutes trying to take the exit to get to the arena. The concert was at an old coliseum and they honestly didn’t have enough police to help with traffic to get people in. We could see the place, we just couldn’t get there! We ended up having to send a group of adults and older teens to walk in and save some seats. The parking police also separated our two vans into two totally separate parking areas. Not good when you need to follow each other to get out. We were also planning on eating pizza in the parking lot while waiting for the doors to open. Well, the doors opened while we were stuck in traffic, so that didn’t happen. Luckily they let us take the pizza in to eat and we had just enough seats to get everyone crammed in.

So the moral of the story is … when it comes to youth ministry, you always have to be super flexible. Don’t let things that are out of your control like traffic and parking arrangements ruin a trip. The youth are always looking to your example in how to handle difficult situations. If you get mad or frustrated then it is infectious, it spreads to everyone else. There’s nothing worse than a whole group complaining and fussing about stupid things! So be prepared, be creative, be resourceful, and always look for ways to teach by example in difficult moments. Remember, it’s not just the youth who are looking to the youth leader for leadership, it is also the other adult volunteers. In the past, I have had to pull adults to the side and talk to them about their complaining. It really does spread through the group like wildfire.

For any concert promoters out there that may happen to read this, please remember to take into account groups who are traveling a long ways to get to your concert. For us, we have at least a 2 hour drive to go anywhere, so it makes it very difficult to navigate traffic and parking with a convoy of cars and vans. Make it easy for us to park together and sit together as well. It is hard to watch over and shepherd your younger students when they are not all together. I look forward to the day when we can take a bus to events. I have done that in the past and it makes it so easy to get where you are going and stay together. But for the vast majority of youth leaders, we are struggling to focus on ministry while handling all the logistics at the same time. This concert actually started earlier than advertised and went way later than we anticipated. Details like that will drive a youth worker crazy. Any way that you can help is greatly appreciated. Thanks for letting me do some constructive venting.

I’m Still Here

March 23, 2007 — 1 Comment

No, I haven’t quit blogging, I’ve just been pretty slammed this week. At work, we have been busy getting a whole line of prototype weight lifting machines done for a big Fitness show in San Fran, and at home I’ve been busy trying to be Ty Pennington. I’ve built a rock climbing wall in Luke’s room and I’ve plumbed in two new tankless gas hot water heaters. Luke just had his 7 year old Star Wars Birthday party. Crazy but fun. I’ve got a long list of topics I want to write about. When I get a few minutes you will see a download dump of my thoughts. I’ll post some pics of the rock climbing wall as well.


March 19, 2007 — Leave a comment

Luke, my 6 year old son, made a casual comment last week as we were driving down the road. He’s such a great kid. I can’t believe how fast he is growing. More than anything I’m proud of his huge heart.

Isn’t it strange that we go to church in a school, and we go to school in a church.

We have decided to homeschool Emma & Luke, but they do attend a co-op for homeschoolers one day a week at a local church. Our church meets in an elementary school. Jenni and I have never thought about the irony, but apparently Luke was thinking about it. I love the mind of a child.

Unleash was Awesome

March 16, 2007 — Leave a comment

We got back late last night from the Unleash Conference. It was absolutely amazing. What I love about Perry’s preaching is that he is not afraid of speaking truth, even if it steps on your toes. I felt like he was speaking directly to me in both of the main sessions. We must continue to lift up the name of Jesus. If we preach Jesus, then people will be changed!

Check out outlines of Session 1 and Session 2 from Tony Morgan. I also got to talk with Tony at the conference. He’s a great guy who has really inspired me as to what a Christian blog should be. The comments are really flying in on Tony’s blog about the main sessions. When you don’t hold back, not everyone will like it. I loved what Perry had to say and I appreciate his courage to say it.

The Breakout Q&A sessions were good as well. I’m sure the NewSpring staff was tired of being asked, “how do you get volunteers?” and “how do you get the money?”, but they kept on communicating the importance of vision. People don’t give of their time or their money to a need, they give to a vision. My only problem is that I wanted to be at all of the breakouts. I think they will put the transcripts of the breakouts and the messages on their website soon. I hope so, to see what I missed in the other breakouts. When they do get them up, I will definitely link to them. I attended the breakouts on “The Volunteer Experience” and “The Creative Process”. Jenni attended “Creating Excellent Experiences for Kids” and “Creating Community in Church”. We learned a lot that is transferable to where we are as a church.

The music was off the hook! I think my insides are still shaking from all the subs on the stage. If you measure the Worship time by the amount of chill bumps, then this one was near the top. I truly felt in the presence of God. The singing really opened my heart to what I needed to hear. I like how they have worked some contemporary songs into their set list. It reminds me of a statement that I heard someone make a long time ago. “What is Christian Music? When did the music get saved?” If the lyrics support the point we are making and are Biblical, and if the song connects with people, then why not use it in church? Makes sense to me.

I also spent some time talking with Pastor Ken Nienke from Fellowship Community Church in Salem, Virginia. I look forward to taking a visit to his church and spending some time with them in the near future. Ken’s a great guy and their church had a very similar start to ours. They are also part of the SBCV, which I think is a great organization. I’ll have to share some of my background with them in a future post. It’s great seeing how Fellowship is growing and reaching their community. I have met and been inspired by their youth pastor James Tippins several times in the past. Check out his blog if you haven’t already.

And finally, Perry made the comment that the sermon begins in the parking lot. From the time we registered on Wed. night to the time we left Thursday afternoon, we were constantly engaged by NewSpring’s incredible volunteer staff. They were there to help us find where we were going and they were great at letting us know how excited they were to be there. And most of them had to take a vacation day from work to help with the conference. They definitely have set the bar high, and it gives me something to really think about as we move forward as a church. They definitely made us feel welcome and I want to thank them for the giving of their time to make the conference successful. Well done!

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