Faith

#CreativeMissions 2014

#CreativeMissions 2014

For the past three years I’ve enjoyed the privilege of spending a week each May helping  pastors and churches all over the country with marketing and communications needs through an effort known as Creative Missions. Again this year, in partnership with The Center for Church Communication, Creative Missions will match the abilities of creatives from all disciplines  with  the needs of churches whose leaders understand the value of communicating with excellence and will ultimately run with the resources they are given at the end of this intense week of creative service.

Creative Missions is about creating sustainable solutions for churches to effectively communicate the ultimate message of God’s never-ending love for each community they’re involved in.

This year, 30 creatives will converge on 15-20 churches in the city of Baltimore, Maryland on May 17-23.  Our mission is motivated by the voices of leaders we’ve supported in the past:

  •  2013: Alaska – “As a church planter out here, sometimes I feel like an island,” said Jay Dagenhart. “Spending time with (the creative missionaries), I feel vindicated.”
  • 2012: Northwest Arkansas & Joplin, Mo. – “For four years we’ve had graphic design, video and website needs and your team knocked it out in a week,” said Andy Swart. Andy’s church experienced a 400% growth in the 8 months after Creative Missions. Here’s more from him.
  • 2011: Albany, N.Y. – “Thank God for Creative Missions!” said Sean Pierce. “We’ve had dozens of teams but none were better or had bigger impact! Their servant heart and expertise was a huge blessing to pastors.

Why is Creative Missions going to Baltimore?

Creative Missions BaltimoreBaltimore is a very influential city. There are 15 colleges/universities (200,000 students) and 19 hospitals. Johns Hopkins, in fact, is known as the nationʼs best hospital.

Baltimore is also rich in historical importance with past creative residents including Edgar Allan Poe, Billie Holiday, and Francis Scott Key.

However, recent numbers are eye-opening in terms of violence, poverty, and fatherlessness.

  • Often found on list of violent cities – more murders than calendar days in January 2014
  • 22% of the population lives below the poverty line.
  • 58% of homes are led by single mothers.

Baltimore is in desperate need of the gospel.

  • 52% of the population isnʼt affiliated with any religious body.
  • Less than 10% of the population is affiliated with an evangelical church – the number of evangelical Christians in Baltimore cannot fill the Ravenʼs football stadium.

Plan of Attack

Weʼre building five teams to accomplish a three-pronged strategy:

  • Big Focus Churches: Churches just short of knocking it out of the ballpark, but lack resources/budget to get there. These are also churches that have influence over other area churches. They’ll have a dedicated team for a majority of the week.
  • Other churches: Less time spent – tend to 1-3 top needs and move on to the next.
  • Workshops: Several churches will host workshops throughout the week and invite volunteers and other churches/businesses to attend. Teams will lead these.

Would You Help?

2013-05-23 10.13.26If the idea of Creative Missions resonates with you, there are number of ways you or your organization can still be a part of it:

  1. You could support me  through providing funds to cover my costs.  Click here to contribute and know that your gift will be tax-deductible.
  2. Follow the efforts of #CreativeMissions on Facebook and Twitter.

There will be more ways announced soon that you can provide additional support to the overall trip as we seek to meet every need we can for the churches we will be serving alongside in Baltimore.

I Am A Church Member

I Am A Church Member: Book Review

Church Membership. What is it really?

Whether you’re a lead pastor of a church working through your own membership process or a casual church goer deciding whether to go all in at your current place of worship there are some things you need know! Thom Rainer‘s book, I Am A Church Member is a perfect place to start. Read my review of this great new resource for churches as I guest post today at Church Marketing Sucks.

Read My Review Now

When you are in isolation, wading through criticism, in that moment lean into the reality that God delights in you.

Matt Chandler #Echo13

Creative Missions: Alaska Edition

For the past two years I’ve joined a team of creatives from around the country on an endeavor to encourage church leaders and help them communicate a message of hope to their communities. No, we don’t build church buildings or construct orphanages. No we don’t run a VBS or witness on the streets. We work to create sustainable solutions for churches to effectively communicate an ultimate message of God’s never-ending love for each community the churches we help are involved in. So far we’ve been to Albany, NY and Northwest Arkansas.

Last year Pastor Andy Swart from Metro Church, in Rogers, Arkansas was impressed that we knocked out needs his church had for four years.

“This week has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders as a lead pastor. I have in my head what I want things to look and feel like, and your team somewhere did a ninja assault on my brain and figured out what that looked like. I’ve worked two twelve hour days with them, but they have been energizing and refreshing days! The work they’ve accomplished allows us to focus more on getting Jesus to NWA!”

This year weʼre working with 15-20 churches and ministries in Anchorage Alaska and surrounding areas.

Alaska is the least churched state in the country and leads the nation in almost all of the worst statistics (suicide, depression, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse). Some move to Alaska to run away from all sorts of things including other people and even the influence of Christianity. Itʼs no surprise the biggest felt need is acceptance – community and belonging. However, God is at work and doing new things. People are responding to a gospel of grace. Thereʼs a real sense of unity among pastors. For the first time in years, many churches are being planted and working together with established churches to bring revival to Alaska.

We will be helping good churches and pastors like Jay in Wasilla who recently followed Godʼs call by moving his family from Virginia to plant a church. Heʼs bi-vocational. His full-time gig is working at Lowe’s Hardware. Creative Missions is the least we can do to help guys like that.

Finally, the good folks of Anchorage believe Alaska is the only state in the country where if you influence one city (Anchorage) you can influence the entire state. This is good news for us. Weʼre specifically helping churches in Anchorage to maximize the impact of Creative Missions in Alaska. You will play a part in spreading the gospel to all of Alaska!

Over the last two years we have seen the countenance of church leaders lift. We’ve heard them confess that, by the time we leave, they no longer feel alone in ministry. We’ve seen churches grow, add services and community outreaches as a result of just a few creatives dedicating a week of time. Creative Missions changes churches.

See what we’ve done the last 2 years:

Plan of Attack

Weʼre building five teams to accomplish a three-pronged strategy with 25-30 Creative Missionaries.

  • Big Focus Churches: Churches just short of knocking it out of the ballpark, but lack resources/budget to get there. These are also the churches that have influence over other area churches. They’ll have a dedicated communications/creative team for the whole week. Auditing, coaching, dreaming, and production will all play a part.
  • Other churches: Tend to 1-3 top needs and move on to the next.
  • Workshops: Several churches will host evening workshops throughout the week and invite volunteers and other churches/businesses to attend. Some of our team members will lead these and go over topics such as social media and general church communications.

Will You Help?

  • Will you help me get there – Obviously a trip to Alaska is expensive. I’m asking you to first help me get there. If you’d like to help you can go to http://SPONSOR.creativemissions.to (Donations are being handled by the Center For Church Communication and are tax-deductible.)
  • Will you help us on the ground – We still need people, churches, organizations, and companies to support our efforts. We need monetary donations, printing, sound/tech components, stage design, ProPresenter licenses, gift cards (gas, office supply stores, Radio Shack), and more. You can give here (Donations are being handled by the Center For Church Communication and are tax-deductible.)

Follow our Alaskan adventure on twitter and facebook.

525,600 Minutes

I’ve been analyzing data this afternoon prepping an annual report for a client. In the midst of my research I stumbled across a post from Mashable called Your Life as Data: The Rise of Personal Annual Reports. I was intrigued. Professionally I track data all year and analyze it against last years data, last months data, seasonal data, etc and attempt to project where that data will take me and what outcomes I can expect to judge how successful I am at what I do. But personally? The questions started flooding my mind. What would I track? How would I quantify it? I began looking at some of the data others have collected like this and this. I was disappointed to see reports on how much TV someone watched and how much they spent on transportation or time spent out of state, etc. The sad thing may very well be that tracking those things is the sum of what we care about or who we are. Am I really the $1,659.34 that I spent on coffee (a made up number as I am sure it’s much higher than that) and is that really how I wanted to spend $1,659.34? Is that the best I could do?

One of my favorite songs from the musical, RENT is called “Seasons of Love” and as colorful as the musical is they nail something on the head with this song:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

The trick is analyzing the right data. Too often I’ve come to the end of something and found I was collecting the wrong data or in the wrong format, rendering it useless. It got me thinking how to calibrate my life and begin tracking what matters and analyzing the data to make better choices. I shudder to think I get to the end of all of this only to find I collected the wrong data, measured myself by the wrong standard and ended up miles off course to where I could’ve been; should’ve been.

The same song from RENT ends with:

“Measure in love”

So what did you measure this year? Was it the amount of debt paid off or times under budget? Was it hours worked on particular projects or money earned on the side? Or was it how many times your children smiled, or the length of a kiss with your spouse, or how many coffees you had with a friend? What will you measure this coming year? Sunsets with your spouse, hours of play with your children or hours in service to those in need in your community?

How do you measure, measure a year?

*This post had been sitting in my draft box for 2 years now. Thanks to this post by Katie Strandlund for reminding me of a great song to make the post more cohesive.