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29 October 2009

Story09: Day 2

Day 2 of the Story Conference has definitely been more workshop than conference.

More intentional in offering presentations focused on a specific aspect of our "stories" and how they fit into the greater "Story."

Quick Summaries:

  • Skye Jethani: Summarized the difference between teaching and preaching - suggested that it may be more appropriate to preach on the vision of Christianity vs. all the practical life application stuff - which tends to reinforce the understanding that God is the way to fix everything about your life here and now.
  • Thomas Fluharty: AMAZING story from an illustrator that draws/paints for top magazines in the country. He shared his salvation story - very encouraging.
  • John MacMurray: Nature photographer/theologian that helped paint the picture of the Trinity and how nature is the "natural" overflow of the beauty that exists in heaven. Interesting thought that nature is the one thing that people understand to be beautiful no matter what their background.
  • Tony Morgan: Stepped in as a guest speaker since the speaker in his slot was unable to make it to the conference. LOVED hearing from my boss (from a few years ago) about leadership principles to keep us from Killing Cockroaches instead of doing what God designed us to do.
  • Ron Martoia: Transformational architect - painted the picture that the Bible has been inaccurately called our "owners manual" when it might be better viewed as a: Classic, Score or Script. Suggested that the stories of the Bible may be better suited for round table conversations with a wiki approach to understanding the cultural relevance. Radical and interesting but the potential for misuse is definitely there (my thoughts).
  • Phil Cooke & Dawn Baldwin: Interesting discussion on branding in the church world. Presenters had thoughts - but also took numerous questions from the audience on branding dilemmas currently being experienced. Good discussion as to why the cross is used as an iconic symbol for the Christian faith.
  • Brad Abare & Michael Buckingham: 8 Lessons in NOT sucking:
    1. Find your soul: Hershey PA example. Know your internal DNA and allow it to guide you as you interact with your community.
    2. Connect the dots: Work on your flow, and connect it for people so the experience matches the promotion.
    3. Stop dwelling in what doesn't exist: Tell people what has been done and what you are doing - not what's coming up.
    4. Don't just say "NO!": Bad ideas are often springboards to good ideas. Ask questions and talk through it. You may find something amazing in the thing you were going to toss out.
    5. Your vision shouldn't need glasses or contacts: Vision is key to the to the inner workings of any organization. No vision leads to stumbling and bumbling.
    6. Just bringing the "pretty" is not enough: Don't elevate "art" over the story. Use words AND imagery to tell a compelling story.
    7. Don't get too familiar with the story: Familiarity decreases passion. How do we stay "in love" with Jesus and the Story?
    8. Don't discount yourself or people's abilities: We were created to be creative. Creativity is in everyone - just in different ways.
It has been a great three days of teaching, preaching, and the arts. Now to head home and rest.

Story09: Day 1

My thoughts on Day 1 of the Story Conference in Aurora, IL will look vastly different than those from Cultivate the other day.

The main difference is that Story was for me experiential more so than instructive.

From the arts to the media to sessions filled with passion and encouragement - I was only able to sit and soak it all in.

From the antics of Ed Young to the pure transparency of Donald Miller I simply sat in awe and wonder.

Such diverse backgrounds with unique stories, ministries and passions.

I loved every minute of it. And I'm tired. But there is one more day to go.

27 October 2009


I have so many things going on right now I can't see straight. I guess that just means I need to pull back for a few days and regenerate.

And there's no better way than going on a road trip with the Communications team.

First stop: Cultivate09

Here are my notes, chicken scratches and takeaways from the day. Overall a great conference. Met some new people and definitely left with stuff to chew on.

Phil Cooke
Creating compelling content in a media-driven world

2 Things are happening:

  1. Our content has become shorter
  2. We spend more time communicating + less time creating each message = Time Suck
Four questions to ponder:
  1. What are you really trying to do? "Remove obstacles/barriers (smooth the path) for people taking their next steps on the web.
  2. How do you deal with ambiguity? NOT providing the perfect answer to difficult questions when there really is NO perfect answer.
  3. Are you asking the right questions? Jesus is God - but so what? How does that impact my life?
  4. Stop focusing on: How much will it cost? And: When will it be ready?

Developing a web strategy
Drew Goodmanson (cobblestone software) & Gabe Taviano (Digital Disciples)

SEO (importance of - added numerous visitors/members the weeks following the optimization)

Online evangelism as a strategy is 1% or less successful. + side is that church members forming relationships in the community use the website as a connection point to get people into church.

Theological issues exist in the understanding of online church and if it's even possible for people to connect that way.

Must be PASSIONATE and PROFESSIONAL in order to be successful online.

Use of website for visitors: Visitors can send message online letting people know they are coming to church so you can meet them and welcome them at the kiosk.

Tony Steward ( Digerati) & Rhett Smith (counselor)

How does your pastoral responsibilities translate to the web?

How much are you responsible for? Do you have to answer every inquiry? Do you have to provide all services to all people?

So many books out there to grow social media - but are there resources to shrink and better manage your use of social media?

"Batch" your online usage. Check email/Twitter every hour or so rather than the minute it comes in.

Boundaries are huge when faced with the new onslaught of online communication. AND it's not really up to the leadership to set boundaries (work schedule and time nanagement) when they are God's boundaries from the beginning (Sabbath).

Matching space for space (people on computers are rarely standing) (Book: 4 hour work week)
Native to the environment (making the experience feel native to the user - what they would expect and want to see/feel)

Clint! Runge
Archrival Creative in Lincoln, NE

Differences between Gen X and Gen Y
  • Xers ask how can I be different. Yers ask how can we be different
  • Xers = exclusion. Yers = inclusion
Generation Y
  • Attitudes: "we" (as in Wikipedia).
  • Peer to peer approval most important thing. Branded to death so they tend to trust peers more than advertising.
  • Success = good life, good job with purpose and meaning.
  • Huge belief in causes: Environment (easy and no one is really against it), economy and education.
  • No Brand Loyalty.
Mobile devices are the "First screen"

Future of social media: 15 minutes of fame is an expectation rather than an aspiration.
  • First screen - "Social mobilization" GPS socialization.
  • Creation of smaller social networks based on interests and not the global collective.
  • Virtual world - Second Life.
Let people in on your "secret" and who cares what everyone else things. Marketing plan similar to that used by Red Bull, "We just want the 14-20 somethings drinking our drink so we'll cater to them in marketing - who cares what everyone else thinks..."

What's the next generation going to be known for? Those born in 2001 or later - Gen Y x50 or something to that effect. Born with the thought that they have all the answers and want
family cohesion.

Trends seen recently
  • New politics: Skepticism. People want change but not sure that change will occur. "Apple will have more impact on them than the government will."
  • The modern guy: What does it mean to be a guy these days? Free to explore things they are interested in. Things like dance, creativity, arts, starting different businesses, etc.
  • Life tracking: adding content to social media and even medical outlets so that it can be tracked and the collective data used for personal development.
  • Do the right thing: Too many ethical dilemmas. This generation gets very worked up over this stuff and there is a sense of relief when their decisions are seen as right or ethical.

Small Explosions
Bobby Gruenewald & Terry Storch (Digerati -

Creating small but sustained explosions that can stand the test of time rather than huge explosions that make a big impact that then fizzles out quickly.

Digerati Team: In the development of something like Youversion you start with the big picture in mind. But in that you must also check in each week to ensure the right steps are in place in order to move on to the next week's tasks. In these meetings you may only look a couple week's down the road rather than revisiting the big picture.

New York Cab Driver example: Keep moving forward and don't look back or to the side. Everyone knows his or her role and as long as the meeting up front does well at setting the expectations and framing the roles then everything works.

The 3 T's: Text, Twitter and Thumbs.

Tim Schraeder & Michael Forsberg

Park Community Church uses Jarbyco during all services to elicit feedback from participants on the messages and what they think. Also used interactive polling during a service to help drive the service.

Facebook, Twitter and Texting each hit a niche area and can be used in different ways. Nothing wrong with using all three.

Jon Acuff
Author of the Blog: Stuff Christians Like

"Booty. God. Booty." Description of being all about God only on Sunday mornings...

"Satire: Humor with a purpose."

The Devil tries to destroy your story and get you to discount your story.
Our response: Give your story to God. Don't forget why you tell your story.

06 October 2009

Would I Leave Palm?

I spent hours researching the Palm Pre and counted the days until it came out. So am I happy with my decision?

Well...sort of.

I mean it is definitely one of the top devices available in the country right now - and with the addition of flash support via Flash Player 10.1 (coming soon) it might even move up in the ranks from there.

But I'm still disappointed with a number of things like no video, no inline word hints or word lists to choose from when you start typing and clunky copy/paste. All things that will reportedly be released in future OTA rollouts. But I'm impatient. I want a device that does it all - right now. I look at it like this:

If you want to run with the big boys, you have to implement the technology that's available. Not some of the technology, ALL of the technology!
So at this point in time it makes sense to use OLED screens for battery life, wifi, a camera that takes pictures and video, flash support, intuitive copy/paste, incredible device/email/online search capabilities, tight integration with social networking solutions like Twitter and Facebook and the ability to connect to media services like iTunes or Zune Marketplace for their music, TV and movie needs, etc.

Again, I think Palm is headed in the right direction, just not sure how fast they are going to get there.

Because of this I am always on the lookout for the next big thing - the phone that has it all.

I recently purchased the Zune HD and love it. Aside from the slow and cheesy browser I think it has the potential to make a great phone someday. Looks like it's on the radar - just no timeline as of yet. Maybe in a year or two when I'm up for a new phone?

05 October 2009

It's Coming!

Flash support via Flash Player 10.1.

It's one of the reasons I purchased the Palm Pre in the first place. I knew that flash support was to be added by the end of the year.

This is HUGE for me because I don't like mobile websites - I want access to the full version of the website on my phone.

Today I finally saw some articles come through about flash on the Pre. This post on PreCentral even has a video demo showing flash in action on the phone. Another article here on Mashable.

Looks like hte countdown has begun. Can't wait!