3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks

Over the past six months, I have consulted with churches and communicators about the effectiveness of their messages.

Some messages are incredibly powerful, and some are not, which leads to the question, “What is the difference between a perfect message and a powerful message?”

Let me answer this question through these lenses:   Continue reading “3 Differences Between Powerful And Perfect Talks”

5 Things To Remember When Team Teaching

Recently my wife, Rene Clark, and I did some team teaching at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicagoland area where I am stoked to be a teaching pastor.

We have spent time teaching together in the past, but I have never shared any of our rhythm for preparing, praying and presenting as a team. So … here you go, friends:

Our message on LEVITICUS / “Take Me To The Cleaners” and 5 things to think about when team teaching:

1. Know your subject more than you know your notes.

I believe Carey Nuiewhof is the first person I heard talk about how a communicator should know their subject not just their notes.

This becomes even more true in team teaching because you must bounce off each other, and you alone do not have control of the flow at all times. There are times you must build a bridge in team teaching and insert something you know about the subject that appears nowhere in your notes!

2. Transitions matter.

It is much more difficult to team teach than teach alone, in my opinion. But team teaching also adds an element that a solo person teaching can rarely achieve. That being said, when you are teaching with another person you must take time to think through transitions.

You will each have different …

  • voice
  • inflections
  • intensity
  • content

And as much as possible these things need to match up when you make the hand off. This is not always easy to do as you will see in our message on Leviticus. We still have some work to do in transitions.

But we do work hard and spend much time talking through transitions so we can keep things as congruent as possible for the congregation.

3. Create space for each person to prepare on their own.

No two people prepare themselves or their message in the same way.

You should take time to prepare your sections of the message on your own … but also spend time during the preparation process bouncing ideas, intros, endings and illustrations off of each other. This is the genius of team teaching.

In addition, when it’s an hour before go time … each person prepares their heart, mind and soul in different ways.

Allow time to speak through the message together 2-3 hours before the message arrives so that when you are 30-60 minutes out, each person can come to God and prepare their heart, mind and soul in their own unique way.

4. Do a walk through.

When you are on stage by yourself … you are by yourself.

When you add another person to the often small stage space, it can make even little movements awkward. As you will see in our Leviticus “Take Me To The Cleaners” message, we had to make sure we were not stepping in front of or behind each other at odd times. This is super distracting for the congregation.

As you will see our movements were pretty choreographed as we spent time on the stage before the message actually “blocking out” our movements like a theater or dance production.

5. Know who you are talking to.

There will be three potential audiences for your message in most churches these days.

You will be talking to …

  • Each other
  • The congregation that is in the room
  • Those who are watching at a multi-site campus or online

Therefore, it is important to makes notes concerning who you are talking to during each sentence or section.

Most of the time you will be talking to those in the room or the camera that is capturing the video for the sites and online audiences. This requires that you not regularly look at or bounce off the person who is standing just a few feet from you on stage.

Then there are certainly times when teaching as a team that you want to interact mainly with the person you are teaching alongside.

This is part of the special sauce of team teaching.

Interacting with each other adds intimacy; often humor and spontaneity will make teaching as a team powerful and meaningful in ways that teaching alone can rarely match.

4 Safe Places To Admit Your Junk!

I just launched the “BAGGAGE” series at Parkview Christian Church. Parkview is a multi-site church of 9,000 weekend attenders in the Chicago-land area.  I am honored to be part of the teaching team and find myself traveling from Huntington Beach, California to be with the Parkview crew 12-15 weekends a year.

In the first 10 minutes of this message I littered the stage with about 50 FOLDERS and I told a story of an event that occurred 8 years ago and changed the rest of my life. The bottom line …

WE ALL HAVE FOLDERS!

We all have crap in our past to get past.

So how do we do that?

In this message I talk about 4 safe places to admit your junk.

Check it out.

 

 

How We Unintentionally Make The Devil Our Mentor

For nearly 15 years I think I made the devil my mentor.

Here is how it happened.

When I was in college I had a weekend youth ministry in Kansas City. Each Friday after finishing my classes in Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple) I would drive to KC to spend the weekend leading junior high and high school students.  It was an amazing, challenging, rewarding and exhausting season.

I can remember one Sunday evening standing in the little church kitchen and considering my drive back to school. It was 9pm, and I still had 2-3 hours of homework to complete when I got back to school for Monday classes. I also had several days of travel with the soccer team that coming week. I was feeling overwhelmed.

As I looked around the kitchen for some food to take back to college I can remember saying out loud, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!” 

How could I keep giving everything to …

  • My studies
  • These students in Kansas City
  • My soccer team / scholarship requirements
  • My fiancé (that’s another story)

How could I continue living this life of zero margin where I lived in the future and skimmed in the now?

As I was considering these things my senior pastor entered the kitchen and leaned up against the old pea soup green refrigerator. He asked how I was doing, and I let the dam burst. I told him everything that was on my mind and how I felt I was spreading myself thin and giving no one the best version of myself.

And I can remember exactly what he said …

“Well Todd, the devil never takes a break.”

 

And I lived with that mantra of never taking a break in my mind for the next 15 years.

And you may be reading this right now saying, “Hello! I agree! That is true. Buck up, Todd. The devil never does take a break, so we can never take a break.”  

And what is strange is, I agree.
The devil never seems to take a break.
The only problem with aligning our life with that truth is …

It makes the devil your mentor.

 

Listen friends, if you never say no to anyone and you try to care for everything, you will soon find you don’t care for anything.

We all know that we must steward our energy, time and even finances …

But did you realize you must even steward your compassion? I know that sounds so strange and almost anti-biblical. Don’t we have unlimited amounts of compassion? Doesn’t God give us energizer bunny amounts so that we can indeed never take a break in ministry?

The answer is no.

You do not have an unlimited capacity to care.

Even Jesus did not have unlimited capacity to care. Even Jesus had to steward his compassion right along with his energy and his time.

One of the strangest things I have learned in 25 years of ministry is that you must actually reserve some care and compassion for the people and things you love most.

If you make the devil your mentor you will justify “never stopping,” but you will end up “quitting.”

 

Knowing when to stop and rest and replenish your reserves is actually the very thing that will keep you from quitting.

Stopping something is not the same as quitting something.

 

So leaders, if you have spent the last few years living at peace with a completely out of balance life and saying in some form or another, “Hey, the devil never takes a break.”

If you have used that sentence as justification for almost any situation … my advice would be to realize what I realized.

It is true that the devil never takes a break.

But patterning your life after that truth makes the devil your mentor.

Parents, 3 Ways To “Instagram” In The New Year With Your Kids

Ok, let’s keep this simple.

Most parents and grandparents want to create some cool memories this New Year with their kids …

Most kids want to be on their phones in this New Year  …

So, let’s combine those things!

  1. Call a family meeting.
  2. Tell everyone to get out their phones.
  3. Open Instagram.

Then …

Give Thanks – Ask everyone to look back over the year and find one picture they are thankful for, ask them to read the caption and explain why they are thankful.

  • The only pushback here is going to be your kids saying, “Just one picture?”

 

Offer Prayer – Look back over the year in pictures and find one person or family that your family can pray for as this New Year begins.

 

Send Encouragement – Find a person in your past year’s photos that you can send a text of encouragement to today.

  • Maybe send them the picture, too, and let them know you are thinking about them!

 

To create your own 2016 Best Nine (like the photo at the top of this post) go to www.2016bestnine.com

The first Christmas from Heavens Perspective

This is the week we remember that God became man and sent us HOPE in the form of a soft skinned baby named Jesus.

It is common during this Christmas season to consider what Jesus did from the vantage point and writings of Matthew or Luke in the Bible as they tell us about Mary and Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, innkeeper, angels and Herod.

But I would like us to consider for a moment what Jesus did at Christmas from the vantage point of heaven.

Let’s “Unwrap Hope” from the perspective of heaven.

 

Philippians 2:5-11

 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

How to survive a TGIF (Twitter, Google, Instagram, Facebook) Christmas

Did your kids send you a link when you asked them for a Christmas list this year?
Do you ever call someone on the phone and in return they text you back?
Do you wear a watch on your wrist or carry a smartphone in your pocket?

The way you answer these questions and the emotion you feel illuminates exactly why communication will be tougher than ever this Christmas!

Continue reading “How to survive a TGIF (Twitter, Google, Instagram, Facebook) Christmas”

Surviving An Omni-Aware Christmas

More than ever this Christmas season we are omni-aware.

We are, like no other time in the history of humanity, aware of all the good and all the bad in the world the moment it occurs.

Think about that …

We see every heroic act immediately …
creating all kinds of unintended heroes.

We see every violent act immediately …
creating all kinds of super villains.

And we have to metabolize and make sense out of all of it.

What I want us to realize is that it has not always been this way.

For instance, in 1989 I was on a bus with a soccer team from the United States sitting at the Olympic training center in Hong Kong. We were on our way into China to play a match against their national team. We sat on the bus for several hours without moving and finally were told to get off and go back into the training center.  That afternoon we sat and watched uncensored television video of the tanks rolling down Tiananmen Square.

tsqarechina

What is crazy is that what I saw in “real time” that day, much of the world did not see for days because of the censorship of television at that time.

That is not the case today … we do not even need television to be aware today.

As Leonard Sweet says, “We are living in a T.G.I.F. Culture!”
Twitter.  Google.  Instagram.  Facebook.

These mobile technologies have made us instantaneously omni-aware of all the good and bad, evil and heroic moments that happen. And we experience all of this in real time all around the globe.

In any given day we will digest …

  • An airstrike in the middle east
  • A Tsunami in Asia
  • A fire at a concert that kills 40 young people
  • A dad who saves a boy from drowning
  • A police officer who risks her life to save children at a pre-school
  • A police officer that shoots an apparently innocent man
  • Children who are being trafficked
  • Parades for World series baseball teams
  • New diseases from mosquitos
  • New iPhones from Apple

When I think about our current culture,  it feels like we are living in a comic book because we are globally aware of heroes and villains like never before.

And what often happens to Christians when we get a real-time look at the world is that we get depressed because it often looks like the Church is losing.

From our perspective, things do not look good for the Church.

So I give you this true story to offset the omni-aware moments.

A few years back CNN did a special from France about the 50th Anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy. This battle marked the beginning of the end of World War II. In this interview CNN interviewed two elderly men who had been young soldiers and participated in the Normandy invasion.

The first interview was an infantry soldier, “We landed on the beach and I made my way through dead body after dead body … I saw my whole unit killed!   I fought hand-to-hand combat paying a high price for every foot of territory.   I looked all around me at all the dead bodies and I fell to my knees in defeat and I said to myselfthere is no way we can win.”

The second interview was a reconnaissance pilot, “It was my job to fly over the entire area of the battle and then report back to the allied command everything I could see from my aerial perspective.    And as I flew over the battle field with every hour I became more and more confident with what I saw and I said to myself there is no way we can lose!”

As we continue to make efforts to make sense of this omni-aware world from our perspective I believe all heaven is looking down upon us saying, “If you could just see what we see! If you could see this world from our perspective you would see that the message of Christ is advancing every single day.  And there is no way we can lose!”

I believe it’s our job as followers of Jesus this Christmas
to remind people
about God’s view.

It is our job to help people who get to see ALL the good & ALL the bad instantaneously … to realize that God is still in control!

Yes, our world is taking on a different shape,
but God is the one shaping it.

The omni-awareness of this culture this Christmas gives us the opportunity to not only hear the “bad news” but also be a part of spreading the Good News of Jesus.