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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Music Video Friday: Thriller by Michael Jackson

Widely regarded as the greatest music video of all time by everyone but Kanye West, Thriller is more like a musical short film than a music video. And while Its not one of my personal favorites, it is Halloween weekend, so I couldn’t resist featuring it this friday.

Thriller is the most downloaded music video on iTunes and is also probably one of the most referenced music videos in popular culture. A recent parody is a scene in Wizards of Waverly Place wherein zombies partake in a dance battle with the Wizards – said one zombie, “One music video and we’re expected to have dance battles everywhere!” There’s also the only scene my dad ever wants to watch out of the movie 13 Going On 30 wherein Jennifer Garner leads a party in the dance. But really you can find the dance anywhere; prisons, marching band shows, weddings, weddings and more weddings. Dragon*Con even attempted a world record for the most people doing the dance at once. Mexico City holds the record at almost 14,000 people.

So yeah – Thriller is pretty much the undisputed most influential music video to have been produced to date. One last interesting fact about the song that few people seem to recognize: While MJ wrote many of his own songs, Thriller was written by a guy named Rod Temperton who also wrote several other songs for Jacko.

Have a good weekend and a safe Halloween!

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The Gift of Worship

Worship, Worship, Worship and more Worship

I throw the word worship around a lot. I mean, I probably use it 50+ times a day. If I’m honest, most of the time I misuse the word – using it in one of the following three ways:

  1. Worship is the music that happens before and after the sermon
  2. Worship is a weekly hour-long event (often called a ‘service’ for some reason) that is a combination of elements ranging from entertaining videos to ‘talks’ and ‘testimonies’
  3. A lifestyle in which the worshipper defers to God in every major opportunity.

All of these do fit into one verse or another, but none of them represent one of the most common greek words for worship. I know it’s right on the tip of your tongue so I’ll help you out, it’s προσκυνέω. As found in the phrase “Hey how on earth do you pronnounce ‘προσκυνέω’?” In case you, like me, missed most (or all) of your second (and first) semester of greek the word is pronounced “proskuneō.” Proskueno appears in the New Testament 59 times and each time it is translated as ‘worship’. Here’s the definition:

1. to crouch, crawl, or fawn, like a dog at his master’s feet; hence, to prostrate one’s self, after the eastern custom, to do reverence or homage to any one, by kneeling or prostrating one’s self before him; Used therefore of the act of worship.

2.to kiss the hand to another as a mark of respect, to do obeisance, etc. to another, especially of the Oriental fashion by prostration, hence to worship.

Listen, I’m not going to write any self-righteous paragraph about how we should all aspire to view worship more like this. I just challenge you to read this definition and really meditate over it. This isn’t the only word that relates to worship, but I just thought it was a startling and vivid image and not one that readily comes to mind for me. For a list of words that are related to praising and worshipping check out this page.

Do you ever think of the enormity of the gift we’re given in worship?

I brought this up because of something that our senior pastor Tim Thompson talked about this morning. He was discussing the importance of being plugged into worship. He mentioned a boy who said to his parents “Do I have to go to worship?” to which his father responded “No, we don’t have to; we get to”

If you actually believe in what the Bible says you have to consider how fortunate we are to be invited into God’s presence. To really frame it, I just want to parallel a few scriptures.

The first is the last several chapters of exodus. These chapters outline the specifics for the construction of the Tabernacle. If you haven’t read it recently (I’ll admit it’s not generally considered some of the more inspiring verses of scripture) check out Exodus chapter 26. Look at the insane detail that is given. In all of this God is saying “This is what you have to do to commune with me.” and not everyone got to really be with him. God dwelt in the tabernacle in one place, the “Holy of Holies” this phrasing was a common Hebrew idiom and you see it all over the Bible; Lord of Lords, King of Kings etc. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. Check out chapter 16 of Leviticus (again, not the favorite among youth leaders looking for scripture that’ll easily relate to this generation) this details the process of bringing a sacrificial lamb into the most holy place.

Doesn’t all that seem difficult, tedious and unnecessary? It is …. now. But only through the blood Christ. When Jesus died the curtain in the Temple was torn away. To those of us who have been following Christ for any number of years this is an all-to-familiar scripture but since most of us weren’t raised in first century Palestine, it means little. So let me remind all of us what this means.

Take a second – really think about it.

I’ve been a Christian so long that I’m bad about taking it all for granted. God – let it sink in. God. . .  the God of the heavens and the earth who created the sun, the moon and the stars (why are they always in that order?)… The same God who created tiny seeds that can grow into a giant redwood… The same God who is beyond our understanding… The same God who took human form and died on a Cross… who had every reason to demand that we come groveling to Him – he came to us. He left the most holy place and made himself available to us.

There are so many times in scripture where the writers of the New Testament do a great job of going through the Old Testament and explaining what it means under the New Covenant created by Christ. The book of Hebrews is written for the Jewish believers, so it focuses on the Old Testament and seeks to explain why and how Jesus is the fulfillment of those scriptures.

So now read Hebrews 9 Check out the first few words:

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. Heb 9:1

Yeah. Yeah it did. Now look at Chapter 10

18And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” Heb 10:18-19

Put it into prospective

Let me encourage you again, go back read Exodus and Leviticus. That was worship to the Hebrews! That was what they thought of when someone said “Worship” The tabernacle; that was the model worship center. That’s nothing like what comes to mind for me when someone says ‘worship.’ Now read Hebrews 9 and 10. Worship – worship as we know it, is a privilege, an honor, a gift. How blessed are we? We get to worship.

We get to worship.

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…and TV as we know it will cease to exist…

This is about as controversial as I get…

There’s been a great deal of speculation over the ‘future of TV’ and the ‘future of the internet’ or the ‘future of the internet and TV’ I went looking for some blog posts on this and the theories are both wide in their variance and numerous in count, but none of them quite capture what I believe to be one obvious theory on what TV will look like in only a short time from now.

What do others think?

Its funny to me that many “experts” try to use year-old statistics about cable or broadcast TV as proof those things will be the same in ten years. I’ve read lots of blog posts and I’ve heard people say things about how cable/broadcast TV is still the primary medium by which people get their news and how TV sales have increased over 2009. (which is a DUH by the way – I don’t know if these same people heard about a certain digital conversion that took place in 2009) TV network execs like to make a very cyclical argument that in short says “we already exist, so we’ll continue to exist – online TV basically doesn’t exist so it will never exist.” In other words they think they are ‘too big to fail’ and that internet-based video cannot compete with cable or broadcast. (Sounds similar to the record industry in 1999) One very experienced media professional actually simply said to me “The internet is a terrible delivery system for video” Its clear to me that in general, today’s TV professionals have no idea what’s coming. First off TV sales won’t stop the Internet from being the delivery medium. Second off when those ‘experts’ say “Internet” they’re thinking ‘search engines,’ ‘computer,’ and ‘browser’ – these words aren’t in the vocabulary of what internet-delivered TV will look like in the future.

So they’re just going to merge together right?

Well let me start off by saying that I heard someone say recently “these two are just going to keep growing together” which sounds like a simple answer that most people would probably agree with. This answer is totally correct in one way and totally incorrect in another way.

  • I believe that it is correct in that to the end user, the effect will still be that you sit down on a couch, Turn on your TV and be able to choose the programming in a similar fashion that you might to a DVR or a Video-on-demand service. It’ll still be on your TV.
  • I think that it is incorrect in thinking because the effect for the content producer and network execs will be totally different since it will no longer be sent over a cable TV service

…yeah so here’s where some people just aren’t going to believe me. Cable as you know it may no longer exist – possibly within your lifetime. Sorry to drop a bomb on you like that, but that’s it. I don’t make the rules. Do I think that the computer will just replace the TV? No. Do I expect that people are going to start hooking up their TVs to their computers every night to watch the overpriced movies on iTunes? No. Do I believe live television will cease to exist? No. Do I believe 24-hour TV stations will cease to exist entirely? Doubtful, though possible.

So what will TV to become?

I think in ten years you’re going buy a TV with an operating system on it with a GUI similar to Apple’s “Front Row”, Hulu’s “Hulu Desktop” or Microsoft’s Xbox 360 “360 Experience”. The TV will have a small solid-state hard drive on it, which will allow you to download ‘apps’ much like the ones everyone’s so crazy about on their phones right now. These apps might serve functions ranging from playing games to telling you the weather or helping your kid with their algebra homework. Many of these apps will simply be TV Channels. You’ll download only the channels you want – some of them will be ad supported – others will cost a premium. Some will be available for individual download – others I suspect will still be packaged together.

At the forefront of all these apps will be your queue – anytime that a new episode of the shows that you subscribe to comes up, it goes into your queue. So you sit down on your couch and turn on your TV – if you turned it off in the middle of something it’ll start playing that again as if it had just been paused. You may think that sounds just like DVR – well it does, but there’s more to it. You see, instead of receiving a stream of channels over digital cable, you’ll get it over cable-based Internet. And instead of storing that episode on a hard drive in a set-top box, you’re streaming from an online service. I do think that live events will still stream live over their respective channels- though I imagine that they will likely still be available at our convenience for a period afterwards. When you finish one Item in your queue, your TV will advance right on to the next unwatched item and so on, and so fourth. If you don’t have anything in your queue it’ll most likely select something else similar to what you’ve already watched, so in the end the effect is still the same: you can sit and aimlessly watch TV all day long. Don’t worry, there was never any chance that was no longer going to be the case.

So this is what I’m sayin’

A television device with the power of the average computer in its innards. No more flipping through ‘channels’ but rather subscribing to specific shows off of specific channels that will land in your queue. Ads will definitely still be in there – and there won’t be anything you can do about it, but they will likely be more things that actually interest you. And yes, more than likely over-the-air 24 hour local stations will still exist and your TV will allow you to open those up too. But if you’re a local TV station, ten years down the road you’d better be saying ‘we have an app for that’ to your customer so they can still tune in.

Permission to treat the witness as hostile

Why do I think this? Am I just being or crazy? No, I actually have some research to back me up. Perhaps the greatest argument is this: TV’s primary reason for existence is not to entertain, but to deliver ads. The market penetration of DVRs is steadily increasing. According to a Barclays Capitol study, a third (33%) of homes with TV now have a DVR also. Try to follow me here: according to this same study: 1) DVRs increase the amount of TV watched 2) most of these DVRs are new within the past year 3) People who haven’t had DVRs as long (2 years or less) don’t usually skip commercials those who have had it a while do skip commercials – so therefore 4) At this point, commercial viewership is still up. (I liken this to the initial increase in CD sales the year Napster was introduced) Think about it: as consumers become more savvy and as DVRs get more popular – guess what isn’t going to be watched? Ads! – People are going to be fast-forwarding right through them! An internet-based medium allows for assurance that not only are ads being viewed, but also they can be tailored specifically to the household watching. Once advertisers start realizing that thanks to DVRs ratings of TV shows ≠ viewings of ads any longer there will have to be a shift in the way people deliver those ads.

Another issue to be considered is the advent of these subscription-based and ad-supported streaming services being available on devices like the Android, iPad, iPhone and iPod as well as your netbook, notebook desktop and work station computers. It’s available in all of these places and not on the big screen in your home? Um, is anyone else seeing why this is the obvious next step? If you had one of these new subscriptions to a premium service like Netflix or Hulu Plus – you’d be able to watch it on your break at work on your desktop, while you’re waiting to pick up your kids on your phone, flying to Tokyo on an iPad or amazingly, just at home on your TV.

The third reason why I think this is so likely is because ITS ALREADY HAPPENING. I have my Xbox set up to stream Netflix movies in HD – I often use Hulu Desktop to watch movies and TV. While I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you as I am probably a little more knowledgeable than the average user, I also recently helped a couple (who would not really call themselves ‘super tech savvy’) install a new blu-ray player that has Netflix, youtube and Pandora streaming right to it. After a few minutes of watching a 720p HD show on Netflix they decided to get rid of their cable and just hang onto the internet. You know where this 30 something guy got the idea? His Dad! – His Dad who had already bought a Roku streaming device to replace his cable box. And I know several more families that have already gone this route – citing its affordable price and customizability as strong reasons for jumping on it early. I could write another whole article about how streaming video is ideal for sports fans – and how they are already using it. Most folks have at least one team that they love that doesn’t see much coverage on the major networks – imagine, you just download the “Redwings” app, pay a subscription and you won’t miss a game!

The next big step in the process is going to happen soon when Apple releases its App store for the newly upgraded “Apple TV.” The Apple TV isn’t a TV at all – it’s a box that works with iTunes and allows you to play your HD content directly to an HDTV. The App store will work like the app store on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and now Mac computers. So you could download apps – like the Netflix steaming app, the Hulu app, the ABC app….are you getting the picture yet? It’ll replace the need for cable or satellite in many homes.

Apple is actually late arriving at this game, Boxee – a very forward thinking company – has developed a similar product that uses existing streaming services like Hulu and Netflix as well as services provided many sporting franchises. People are even buying cheap PCs and Mac Minis to dedicate to their internet-based TV watching using Hulu desktop, Apple front row or boxee. You can find out more about boxee by checking out their site. Mark Cuban wrote an interesting blog post entitled “the future of TV is TV” wherein he said he didn’t think these ‘extra boxes’ will catch on because they’re complicated and people like things to be simple. I agree with him – the boxes won’t last, but I think that’s only because people will start integrating the same functionality into the sets themselves. Eventually, just like the guy who decided to put a cable receiver and a TV into one box, someone is going to realize the value of having this device integrated into the TV – no extra boxes externally.

Think inside the box

Still think I’m crazy? Okay well here’s a surpise for you: What I’m talking about already exists. Samsung has integrated into their last two TV model series what they call “Yahoo Widgets” available for download to your TV – one of which is Netflix. Think that’s an outlier? Sony’s Bravia Series (already 68% of the market) now ships with the ability to stream Netflix directly. Are you starting to see a trend here? I think that the TV will still basically look like a HDTV does today, but I think that it will have a role similar to an enormous iPad – simple, yet versatile. It will sync with the computers in your house and may even have a built-in camera for video chatting (which is already becoming more popular thanks to skype and Apple’s ‘face time’ commercials) Imagine – finally being at the Jetsons/ back to the future 2 stage where your TV rings and its your grandma or your boss. It’s all the very least we could have in ten years.

But this really can’t happen in ten years . . . right?

Ten years ago I remember having to explain the idea of an MP3 player to the average teenager. I also remember people saying that MP3s would never replace CDs – I was one of them. Then in 2001 Apple introduced the iPod. I don’t know that I have to explain that any further but, what the heck; To date, Apple has sold a quarter of a billion iPods (yes, that’s billion – with a ‘b’) – I couldn’t find an exact figure but based off of the iPod’s current market penetration I think that it’s safe to say that this is just over half of the total number of digital audio players sold over the past ten years – that puts the total players (of any brand) somewhere close to 500,000,000. I could give you tons of staggering statistics about how quickly the adoption of file-based digital audio caught on – like the fact that when apple released iTunes for Windows it reached one-million downloads in less than three days – but what it comes down to is this: technology changes fast and if something is a good idea people will jump on it. If anything, I think ten years is conservative.

These crazy kids and their interwebs…

If you’re over age 60 and you’re thinking “I’d never use that! – that sounds complicated” first – I completely agree. You probably wouldn’t – but your children will. In fact, it’s likely some of them already do. Second, the iPhone is yet again an example of how if a device is way more capable in some ways, people are willing for it to be a little more complicated. You don’t buy the iPhone because its an awesome phone – you buy it because its cool and can do lots more than a regular phone can.

In Conclusion…

So, the future of TV will be very awesome for the consumer – lots more personalized and versatile.The future of TV for the professional will only be as hard as they try to make it – if they can accept the change and jump into a forward thinking group and things will be on the up and up. But if they resist, I think we’ll see a great deal of the same thing that happened to the music industry who tried to bury the MP3. If I could paint it in a word picture –its like trying to plug a leak in a cardboard boat – it won’t ever stop. People will find the content they want in the most convenient way for them.

What does this mean for you if you’re an upstart non-profit, church or small business? Awesome news! Instead of paying absurd fees to appear on cable or even more absurd fees to be on broadcast TV, you can own your own channel! You can have visibility that rivals any Turner network if you just hire a developer or get your code-monkey friend to put together an App for you. Online video services like vimeo and youtube are free, but you can even develop and host your own for only a few thousand a year. In addition, local advertising will be more accessible than ever! You’ll still be able to advertise to the local area (much like you already can with facebook) on preexisting services.

So yeah, I’m excited. TV’s only going to get cooler.

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Music Video Friday: SMS [Shine] by David Crowder Band

This Friday I’d like to feature a video that just came out this week. David Crowder Band’s latest music video for their song SMS [Shine] The video was shot directed and edited entirely by the band. The entire thing is a stop motion animation with a Light Bright at the center of the action. The video appeared on Fox News where they revealed that it took 700,000 Light Bright pieces to pull this thing off. After seeing this video I’m wondering if the Light Bright is going to make a come back this holiday season.

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Today’s Quote: Political Ad Campaigns

I love what comedian Brian Regan said about political ad billboards – he points out that they’re often just the person’s name and 2-3 words they’ve chosen to describe themselves, as if that’s all that was needed to make an informed decision. Political Ads are ridiculous. Alabama is famous for its political ads – whether its for Young Boozer (and yes, that’s his real name) or Dale Peterson. But funny ads are everywhere else too. One of my favorites is anti Sam Katz, a guy who is apparently running for mayor of Winnipeg. It ends with footage of him playing soccer and accidentally kicking a kid in the face. You’ll want to check it out sometime. I don’t know what they’re like where you are – but here in Montgomery the negative ads have gotten so intense that I almost don’t want to watch TV until after the elections are over.
By this time everyone has to be getting tired of the mudslinging – in relation to that, this quote about negative political ads caught my eye.

Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country — and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.
– Charles Krauthammer

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A Quote for Today

saw a quote that caught my attention today thought I’d share;

“One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.” – G.K. Chesterton

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Why I Pray

Do you pray? Do you know why?

A study was released in 2006 that seemingly proved that prayers for healing were ineffective. This is the largest study of its kind and to many it seemed to prove that prayer was a useless escapade and that if there is a God, he doesn’t seem to be listening. My first reaction was depression. I thought “God! – Why didn’t you show up?” and for a little while I let it affect my faith, but then I did some of my own research both in the scriptures and elsewhere and I realized that this study doesn’t change anything because that’s not why I pray.

So how do we as Christians react to this study? Well, we could point out that most of the studies before this one seemed to show the opposite to be true – such as a similar study in 1988 which showed that people who were prayed for anonymously needed fewer meds than those in the control group. Or we could point to the fact that statistically those who are involved in church are more likely to heal from diseases. But I really don’t think any of these prove anything. I’m not saying I don’t believe that the most recent study is conclusive; I think none of them are, and I don’t think any of them ever will be.

Why?

If someone asked a wise and generous millionaire for $100 randomly, he might say yes, he might say no – he could have good reasons for both. Perhaps he knows that the person in question is just going to waste that money or perhaps he knows that if he doesn’t give his money to that person, they’ll have the opportunity earn it themselves and in the process learn something. He might even say no and then offer them a job and in the long run, give them way more that $100. He also might give to people who didn’t even ask for it. If someone with whom he’s close asks him for $1 wouldn’t he be more likely to give them the money? Even more so if they were asking for that money so they could use it to help someone else in need? Obviously this analogy has its limits, but I think it changes things we you stop thinking of God as a giant slot machine and start thinking of him as a person. You can measure the statistical likelihood of a slot machine giving you a jackpot and it will not change over time. God is dynamic and while his character is unchanging, in scripture it’s clear that he’s not a slot machine.

So is it useless to Pray?

Medically prayer is shown to be effective for the person praying in that it promotes healthy blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and lowers heart rate. So regardless of what you believe, it is not useless to pray.

But do all of the effects of prayer have to be measurable by numbers? Think of your best friend, your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend – do you find a conversation with that person to be ‘effective’ or ‘ineffective’? Do you only consider it a ‘success’ if you received something from them? Do you quantify all of your relationships in statistics – saying that the relationship isn’t ‘effective’ if you’re not receiving what you ask for? I hope not – most people wouldn’t stand for that. Why do we expect a relationship with a living God to be any different?

The Real Authority

A few years ago there was a distinct drop in pretty much every car’s estimated miles per gallon. Why was this? Did every car actually get less efficient? No, It was because the testing standards became more realistic – the auto industry realized that their mode of testing wasn’t really testing anything real – instead it was just measuring what the MPG would be if a professional driver on a closed course were driving their car. They had to actually study what they were trying to study. I’d suggest that in addition to the fact that prayer isn’t quantifiable, these studies are much the same as the original MPG test; the conditions didn’t actually consider what real prayer looks like – what its purpose is or even simply, how to do it. That brings us to the question, “What then should prayer look like?” For the answer to that question we have to go to where we should have started: Scripture.

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If you’re like me, you never think “I wonder if I’ll have enough water today”

While at catalyst this year I was reminded of one of my favorite charities. Charity:Water is one the many charities that’s helping provide people in developing countries with drinking water. I’d heard about it last year at catalyst, but this year Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity:Water came and spoke at the main event. His testimony of God’s faithfulness in his own life was powerful enough, but his story of bringing water to over a million people in developing countries was one of my favorite talks given at the conference this year.

Dirty water kills more people per year than any form of violence, including war. But by donating even $20 to charity water you can give clean water to one person for 20 years! $5,000 is enough to dig a well for a whole community! Today is ‘blog action day’ wherein bloggers are chellenged to write about an issue and this week’s issue happens to be – you guessed it, Water. So I decided to use this opportunity to launch a campaign to build a well.

You can help me raise money by visiting my charity water page

Click here to donate

Charity water is an awesome charity for several reasons:

  1. 100% of what you donate goes straight to drilling water wells in developing countries, giving people clean water who never would have otherwise. All the administrative fees are paid for by private donors, so if you donate to Charity:Water you can know that all of your contributions are helping people get water, not for office furniture or travel expenses.
  2. Branding – Charity: Water has created a brand that people recognize – if you haven’t seen their ad campaign you should take a look at it. They do a good job of bringing the need home, not just guilting people into donating.
  3. The movement – In addition thousands of people making small donations – many more are collecting donations towards goals. This was made much easier by the launch of mycharitywater.com which is one of the first social-networking style donation sites run by a Charity
  4. Perhaps the coolest thing to me about Charity:Water is that it’s founder, Scott Harrison is a Christian. His amazing story at Catalyst was a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us.

So that’s it

Please, take some time and donate – you can donate as little as one dollar. In the words of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 25,

“…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

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If I had to describe catalyst in 300 words, I’d write “Awesome” 300 times.

Catalyst 2010 was awesome. There are no two ways about it – the only real disappointment I had they didn’t hand out LED key chains this year. That may not sound like much, but it was one of the biggest ‘wow’ factors of last year – when they turned off all the lights in that arena and 12,000 little red,blue and white LEDs start twinkling 360 degrees around that enormous room – wow. It really added to the crowd participation during  the performance songs.

But, this year was awesome in its own ways. So I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite things about the conference in 2010.

My favorite parts of Catalyst this year

  • Andy StanleyI don’t think that I could pick out a favorite talk. They were all so incredible, but I really appreciated both of Andy’s talks. His first message focused on setting aside our appetites for  God’s plans while his second was about tensions within the church and how some tensions don’t need to be solved, but they do need to be managed.
  • Tim Elmore – Of the Labs that I went to this year, Tim Elmore was without a doubt the coolest speaker. He talked about the differences between generations, specifically focusing on the younger half of Generation Y. I was so impressed with him that I bought his book, “Generation iY” before they handed them out free to everyone there. So someone in my family is getting this book for Christmas.
  • Randall Wallace – After lunch on friday they surprised us by having Randall Wallace, screenwriter of Braveheart and director of Secretariat which released that day. Randall turned to the crowd of Christian leaders and admitted that he would probably meet with trouble in his industry for coming to such a conference but then said to the crowd “I’m with you.” It was very encouraging to know that there are still Christian people in Hollywood.
  • Michael Junior – I’d never heard of Michael Junior, a comedian who has appeared on Jay Leno and numerous comedy clubs. Michael had been a Christian since a young age when one day he was praying before going out on stage and he felt God was calling him to use his gift as an outreach. Now he does comedy in rehab centers, children’s hospitals and even prisons. He made a documentary about the different places he went and a played a segment of it, but more than anything – he was just funny. I’m usually pretty snobby about humor and he made me laugh out loud several times.
  • Scott Harrison – The founder of Charity:Water, Scott Harrison has a great story. I can’t do it justice in just a few lines, but the most amazing part was that his mother, whose immune system was destroyed due to carbon monoxide poisoning, was miraculously healed after he decided to start Charity:Water.

So those were a few of my favorite parts this year – Catalyst basically inspired this whole blog, so it won’t surprise you to know that I expect it to inspire four or five more posts before the month is out. There were lots of great videos, ministries and charities showcased there and I’ll be featuring those in the weeks to come.

What I, as a creative, took away from Catalyst this year:

  • Theme, Theme, Theme – It’s not a new lesson, but like most lessons worth learning, it’s always good to be reminded. Many of the big events (church or other-wise) that I’ve been a part of producing have had a theme of some kind. Most of those events didn’t follow through with the theme in any way beyond the graphics. This year’s theme was “The Tension is Good” – which upon first hearing, I thought was too wordy and thus made for poor branding. When I got there I realized that they followed through with this theme in many of the talks, the interviews and creative videos throughout the conference. From beginning to end we were being taught that ‘the Tension is Good’
  • Nobody’s perfect (I know, I was shocked too) If you’re like me you have to put many of the most important elements of church work in the hands of volunteers. Let me say that my volunteers are awesome and I literally couldn’t do what I do without them, but there’s a reason why calling someone a ‘pro’ is a compliment while ‘amateur’ is not. Generally we have at least one small but significant flub in any given worship service and sometimes it can be pretty frustrating, but take heart! There were several technical snafus at Catalyst, from feedback over the PA to totally wrong lyrics on the screens. I don’t know if they did it on purpose to make the rest of us feel better, but I certainly thought “you know, if these guys can’t get it perfect at this one event, I think I can accept a few mistakes on a weekend service.”
  • Content is King – I know this one isn’t new either, but Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson made a pretty good statement about this, he said “Good product is the new marketing – Good marketing just makes a bad product fail faster” In other words – if you don’t have content worth communicating, it doesn’t matter how cool it looks or how well stated it is, if you don’t have anything to say it’ll come through. My boss, Ken Roach – the communication director here says if he ever writes a book on communication it’ll be called “First, have Something to Say”  (© Ken Roach 2010) I think we need to make sure we’re spending as much time on our message as we are on our medium.
  • Lots of great ideas for creative elements – Videos, crowd participation and great sermon illustrations galore! One of my favorites was during Craig Groeschel’s talk he played a video of  ”An Interview With the Devil” which I think he may have done as a series back at life church.tv Either way, it was very funny and very simple. There are lots of great crowd participation elements at Catalyst every year. Like I mentioned, last year they handed out LED key chains (which are surprisingly inexpensive) when the lights get turned out, all the LEDs come flashing. It created a really cool effect. Our church is planning on borrowing this play in an upcoming series. There were too many great sermon illustrations to mention, you’ll just have to come next year to get the experience.

It was a blast! I can’t wait until next year!


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