Running Feet

Thirty-eight days ago, I began a 40-day challenge. You can read more about the crazy idea here.

I’m two days away from the 13.1-mile adventure. I have a ton of questions running (pun intended) through my head.

Am I ready?
Will I finish?
If so, will it be a respectable time?
Am I going to die?
Would any anyone come scrap me off the road if I did?

I’m sure the questions and nerves will only grow over the next 48 hours. As my mind races toward to finish line (pun intended) of the 40-day challenge, I have tried to think about what this process taught me.

Here are 4 things that I learned on the 40-day challenge:

#1—I need more discipline.

I have some bad habits. I eat too much, and most of it is junk. My sleep schedule is way out of whack. I procrastinate on important projects and then panic when they have to be done at the last minute. This totally throws me off schedule and into bigger trouble. These issues were present before, but the 40-day challenge really exposed the problem. I’m not sure how I’m going to solve it, but I really need to do something.

#2—I need more excitement.

I am an adrenaline junkie. I love to take on big tasks just so I can feel the pressure and excitement. The nervous energy that I’m feeling right now is actually something I crave. I have a passion to feel like I’m teetering on the edge of failure or something great. The 40-Day Challenge has reminded me that I need to take risks and dream big ideas in other areas so that I can experience the same excitement and possibly accomplish great things.

#3—I need more support.

The last 38 days have been pretty brutal, especially on the few long runs I’ve made. The worst part about the training was doing it alone. I realized several times in the process that the training would be much easier and much more enjoyable if I was doing it with a partner or team. This easily translates into other areas of my life. I need to partner with others in ministry to make the task easier and more enjoyable.

(My wife has been a great support, even though she thinks I might die mid-way through the race. I love you, honey!)

#4—I need more challenges.

The 40-Day Challenge has taught me a lot about myself. It has helped me to see what I am capable and incapable of doing. The challenge may be a half marathon, but the training and lessons are much more about life than running. As I come to the end of the challenge, I’m really excited to think about what could be the next challenge. Will it be another physical challenge? Will it be a mental or spiritual challenge? I want to continue to push myself in these areas so that I can be a better ministry leader, better husband, and better disciple of Jesus Christ.

I can wait to post about the race experience–that is if I make it out alive! I will have 13.1 miles to think about what I’m doing, so I’m sure I’ll have something to say about it. If you would like to support the awesome cause of the race, Soaring Wings Ranch, please do so at the link below.

Click Here to Donate

 

BombBomb Logo Sta

We’ve started using a new company to help with our communication to parents of preteens. It is so stinkin’ cool that I wanted to share it!

BombBomb.com is an email marketing platform that allows you to juice up your emails with the power of video. You can embed HD video, linked documents, text, etc. into the email template. BombBomb will optimize your video for all platforms: desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. This means your video looks its best on whatever device the recipient uses to view it.

Here is the best part for those of us in ministry:

1) It integrates with several church database systems, including Church Community Builder (CCB), FellowshipOne, AccesACS, and ICON systems.

We were sending out parent emails to almost 400 unique addresses that were already saved in Fellowship One. I did not want to have to enter each of those contacts again, and I didn’t have to with BombBomb. They have a really simple integration that allows you to sync your database groups with the email template. It literally took me 2 minutes to transfer the 400 contacts!

2) BombBomb gives you tracking analytics on EVERYTHING!

Here is a snapshot of the Analytics page:

Screen Shot 2012 10 23 at 10.48.32 AM

When you send a traditional email, it’s really hard to know if it’s opened or if the attached documents are ever downloaded. With BombBomb, you can see all of that information. They tell you how many emails were delivered vs. bounced to spam. They tell you how many emails were opened, how many clicks were made on each specific link, how many plays of the embedded video, and how many downloads of attached documents.

In ministry, it’s really hard to gauge success and failures. This data really has helped us to see what’s working and what is not. One thing we quickly realized was that our parents were very likely to watch the video (60%), but few downloaded to attached document (7%). If we want to communicate important info, we now know that it needs to be in the video!

If you’re looking for creative ways to communicate with volunteers or parents, you should definitely check out BombBomb.com. They will create custom email templates for your ministry, and their monthly service fee starts at only $29/month.

Here is how we used BombBomb to communicate our series content with our parents:
(Thanks to Jim Kast-Keat for the “Fifty6 in :56” idea!)

Fifty6 in :56

preteen text

Next time you’re sitting in a public place, count the number of people who are using their phones to text. I bet you lose count!

Texting is quickly becoming the #1 form of communication. Good or bad (that’s a topic for another day), it is the truth. This is especially true among preteens. In early 2008, Pew Research Center found that 51% of 12-year olds had cell phones. I can only imagine that this number has increased in the last 4 years.

According to research cited by Common Sense Media, texting is the #2 use for all cell phones behind checking the time! The research also shows that preteens (age 9 to 12) send and average of 1,146 texts per month. That’s more than 37 texts per day!

Texting is changing the way preteens communicate with one another. Should it change the way we communicate with preteens?

Here’s the question that I’ve been mulling over for the last few weeks:

Can text messaging be used constructively in preteen ministry?

I’m interested in hearing from those that have used text messaging in student ministry and/or preteen ministry. I have some concerns about using text messages with 9 to 12 year olds, but I can see value in being able to communicate things like weekly devotions, small group questions, updates about service projects or events, etc.

What do you think? Is text messaging beneficial to preteen ministry or is it a slippery slope that should be avoided?

Sweet Morning Prayers

October 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

morning prayers

One morning, I parked the car at school and turned around to talk to my 2-year old daughter. She was having a hard time with being dropped-off at school. And by hard time I mean snotty-nosed crying fits that left me feeling like a terrible father. As we talked, I asked her if she wanted to pray about it. I’d like to say that moment was my wisdom, but it was really just a moment of frustration and desperation!

We prayed a simple prayer that morning, but nothing really changed about the drop-off meltdown. I didn’t think anything else about the prayer until the next morning. As soon as I turned off the car, she said, “Let’s say a prayer?”

That prayer has turned into a moment that we share every time we pull into the parking lot. Before I can even turn the car off, she’s getting excited and ready to pray. Part of it is that she just likes to see her daddy talk with his eyes closed, but I think she also gets the point of Who we’re talking to.

As we were praying this morning, I was just reminded at how important those types of moments are for parents and children. As parents, we are called to disciple our children but we often don’t understand when or how to do this. These moments create a rhythm that is necessary to discuss and model faith.

This rhythm is a routine. It is not necessarily a sit-down Bible study that bores the kids to death. It is infusing Grace and the Gospel into every moment of every day life. These moments are special. They take the ordinary and connect the dots to the extraordinary. They will often lead to other moments. And the goal would be that the whole day is filled with moments that strengthen our faith and bring us closer to God. I think that’s what it means to disciple your children.

I want to find more moments like this to share with my daughter. I want to be constantly looking for teachable moments when I can help her see God’s Grace and the power of the Gospel. Even as a toddler, I want her to understand Who God is, what He has done and what great plans He has for her.

I don’t have it all figured out. No one has called and asked to make a documentary on my life because I’m an expert of discipling my children. I doubt that will happen. But, I’m thankful for our sweet morning prayers and what God is showing us in that time.