Monthly Archives: September 2010

I liked this article by Mike Foster, so I thought I would share. It’s great for pastors, but also good for CEO’s, parents, etc. And if you’d like a list of the Coffee Church’s failures…we have a pretty funny list, starting with a sermon series titled Fruitcake and Jesus. Have a good day…and fail a little!

We are not OK with failure. I’ve never seen a CEO’s bio proclaiming the projects that went belly up. I won’t log onto your website today and hear about your underperforming men’s ministries or how last weekend’s services were completely average. I often tease a pastor friend of mine that I’ve never seen a Tweet that doesn’t describe every event at his church as “AMAZING!!!”

I’m guilty too. But I truly believe if we want to cultivate life-changing innovation we need to strike a more balanced perspective on success and failure. Otherwise this distortion will drown out the dreams of our dreamers, choke out creativity, and handcuff our innovators.

So here are a few suggestions:

Everybody wants to start a movement these days. And frankly, that bothers me. Size has become the unfortunate benchmark for value creation. I like the concept of “Go Big or Go Home” but not everybody has to be as wildly successful as TWLOHA, charity:water, or LifeChurch.TV.

Our definition of value has been hijacked by speed of growth, prominence, and attention. But it is critical for all of us to understand that the true worth of an idea isn’t determined by whether our efforts are showcased in the New York Times or if we have 500,000 Facebook Fans. These things are certainly helpful, but ultimately can be misleading and a bad reference point for value.

Value creation happens when someone is impacted for the good, lives are changed, people are transformed, and hearts are healed.

As leaders we need to celebrate and highlight the things that are simple yet truly profound. Too often we overlook the killer project happening right in front of us because it’s just not sexy enough.

And for all you innovators, focus on building something that works well locally and then deal with the larger movement when it’s kicking down your door. Until then serve faithfully knowing you’re making a difference.

I realize our work is important and the stakes are high. But holy cow do we need a good dose of perspective sometimes. I’ve seen heads roll over the misspelling of a word in the weekly bulletin, a poor choice of paint color for the lobby, or lack luster attendance at the youth miniature golf event.

For some leaders, a chill pill may be just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes our obsession with excellence has sucked the life right out of our team. If you have no room for error, then you have no room for dreams.

I guarantee if you and your staff are having a good time, then you have created an environment for new ideas to be birthed. But if laughter doesn’t fill your office hallways, my guess is you’ve got an innovation problem.

Before Apple sold 2 million Ipads in just 2 months, they first had to fail at the Newton. The Newton was the first tablet platform that Apple developed that the public rejected. Though the device never really caught on, it certainly can be seen as a pre-cursor to the smashing success of the Ipad and a legitimate part of that story.

Too often we want to pretend that failed ventures never happened. We erase them from the history books. We frown upon the people that even dare to bring those events up. But what is even worse is that we pretend our failures have no impact or relevancy on what is working well today.

Listen, don’t diss your disasters. Show them a little respect. As a leader, having transparent dialogue of struggle, failure, and the honesty of your checkered past will only sweeten the experience when success finally comes your way.

What words to say???? My text falls short in comparison to my emotions. I feel like shouting from the rooftops… “WE MADE IT!!!” As I blogged earlier, the four year marker is substantial and we’ve arrived. I’m not blind to the fact that a thousand things could still go wrong, but nonetheless, for right now, I don’t care about that. I just care about all of the lives changed so far!

This weekend Mark and Chris co-preached. You’ve probably never done that, but it’s HARD. It’s very similar to a dance…if you are in tune with your partner, awesome…if not, well…Very clearly they danced perfectly and it was fun to be a part of! Watching those two men up there was inspiring for me. What godly examples of pastors, husbands, and dads. In the midst of the media frenzy with Bishop Long, I am grateful for men who stay as far away from the line of trouble as possible. Mark and Chris fight for integrity, honor, and lives above criticism. I watch them both go WAY out of their way to make sure there is no question about their conduct. Thank you on behalf of a church that doesn’t need you to be perfect, but we do need you to abide by a high moral standard. That wasn’t in my notes…

On Saturday, Catalina (a teenager), brought her entire birthday party to church! There were teenagers crawling EVERYWHERE, which is my favorite thing! Ten years of youth ministry means that my comfort zone is with people under the age of 20…

We had lots of guests again with us this weekend! Thanks for coming to the Coffee Church to celebrate with us! We hope you had a GREAT time with us.

A shout out to our worship team! You are all such an amazing blessing and you give SO much on a weekend. The talent you have is astounding and your hearts are amazing. Thank you for serving!

We had three highlight videos of Jessica, Sandy, and Nichole. There were all SO funny! Nichole wins for raw humor, though, because she actually kicked one of our advertisments off of her porch because she thought it was a bomb… Thanks to you awesome ladies who let your faces pop up on the big screen!

We had a baptism video with every baptism we have even done at North Creek. I cried everytime I watched that thing! Sixty-one baptisms in four years…every one of those lives in precious to my heart and I am so thankful that we got to be a part of their stories.

Here’s to another four!

Today is a very reflective day in the life of the Newells. It was four years ago that North Creek Church began and it is SO good to have reached this milestone! Four years ago last night I stayed up the entire night. I was nursing a fussy baby and printing bulletins up until the very last minute. I can remember being wide awake at 2:00 am praying that God’s favor would be in this adventure. My twilight prayers seem to have been answered time and time again.

Honestly, looking back, I have no idea how our team of people accomplished all that was to be done in such a short amount of time. We went against all odds and went through the entire process of church planting from the last week of June to our launch in the last week of September. (Experts don’t recommend that and neither do we!) In those three months, we found a location, determined our identity, became an official non-profit, advertised to 5000 homes, acquired a trailer full of equipment ranging from kid’s stuff to sound stuff, signed a bunch of contracts, set up our accounting, and built a staff of people…did I mention I had a newborn? The entire team of 39 people (mostly kids!) were quite literally bleeding by the end of it. It was a monumental and miraculous feat. It showed me that if you have unity and Jesus, you have all that you need to succeed.

Now here we are. And four years in the life of a church plant is a key marker for long-term survivability. There are a few statistics out there that I’ve had my eye on for all of these years as my own personal “reality checks”. Here are three that are key: #1 – The average four year old church plant’s attendance is 85. We are just shy of 200, which is just totally God! #2 – 68% of church plants make it to year four. That means 32% of church planters get their heart broken by this point. We are humbled to be going strong. #3 – The average four year old church plant will grow by 15% that year. If we don’t grow at all the rest of the year, we will hold tight to 17% growth this year. I don’t know about you, but I also intend to continue to grow! There’s a world that needs Jesus, so we have no other option!

What I gleen from it all is this…So far, so God. There is just simply no other way to say it. By all worldly standards, we should have failed by now and we didn’t. We didn’t have enough money, enough people, enough wisdom or enough leadership ability. We were short on all counts and God seemed to continuously fill in where we fell short.

So, wonderful church, Happy Anniversary! Here’s to many more years…

About 25 years ago my best friend’s mom gave me my first Bible. I had just met Jesus at summer camp and was so hungry to know more about him and what impact he could have on my life. My family home did not have one Bible in it and even at that young age, I knew that there was a plan and a purpose for my life. I was desperate to discover what the Bible had to say about that.

My friend, Kristi, and her mom, Edee, came to my rescue. They went to the local Christian bookstore and bought me a blue New Testament. I was SO excited! I literally took it home and over the course of the next year I read the whole thing…as an elementary student.

After I was finished with that one, it would again be Edee who would buy me another Bible, this time with the Old Testament included! And again, in a year’s time, I finished reading that Bible as well. It was the beginning of a deep love affair for the Word of God that would infiltrate my life for the next quarter of a century. It would be the catalyst for a list of good decisions and the basis of my calling into ministry. Knowing the Word of God would literally steer the course of my destiny.

This month Edee was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. When I got the news, it very much took me aback. It caused me to reflect on the 30 years that I have known her and I wondered what she’s been thinking about as she looks back on the significance of her own life.

Edee probably went to the bookstore that day, 25 years ago, and wondered if her purchase would be wasted on a dusty shelf. I can imagine that she said a prayer that this Bible would be used well as she laid those dollar bills on the counter to pay for it. I laugh to myself thinking of what God saw as she drove the few miles into town to buy a Bible for a little girl down the street. He saw my future. He saw me studying at Bible College, marrying a pastor, becoming a pastor myself, and He saw this church plant. He knew that Edee was changing my life that day.

So, Edee, in this trying time in your own life, as you are looking back over the significant moments, I hope you will add that one gift to your list. That errand on a summer afternoon made all the difference to me. In fact, I still have those two Bibles. The covers have long since been ripped off, the binding is battered, and the pages are a mess, but I have never thrown them away. When I “use up” other Bibles, they are disposed of, but these two I will keep forever.

You are in my thoughts and prayers! I trust that you will turn to the pages of the Bible as well and find the hope, strength, and determination to win this battle. I stand upon the greatness of God in this situation for you and for your family! Highlighted in the first few pages of that tattered New Testament it says, “What god is so great as our God? No god is as great as our God.” Thank you for giving me the book that taught me to believe that.

Mark and I will look back at the adventure called North Creek Church as one of the best seasons of our lives! Daily we thank God that His plans are so much better than ours. This journey has not been short of hard work or intense emotional roller coasters, but we look back on all of it and are so amazed at God’s hand in all of it. Join us for our 4 year celebration this weekend!