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ButterflyThe “butterfly effect” is a term from a pioneer of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz; his 1972 presentation – “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” – describes the idea that a tiny event can start a chain reaction and have large and wide-reaching effects. It is why those seven-day forecasts for the weather are only right a small percentage of the time.

Let’s take the same idea and apply it to your next idea, concept, or new business venture. What if that same “butterfly effect” takes place with your new venture?

For instance, what if that seemingly small idea of yours, put into motion, could have a wide-spread and wide-felt impact? I’m betting it can and it will!

I’ve seen it happen many times before. A couple of computer guys think of a better and more economical way of putting computers together in one of their garages and then next thing you know personal computers are so common that everyone now just refers to them as PC’s.

Another couple of guys begin experimenting with wild and wacky flavors of ice cream and soon they’re pints are available in almost every grocery store throughout the land. An entrepreneurial lady has the idea of helping women across the country earn income while remaining stay-at-home-moms by selling upscale cosmetics and offers pink Cadillacs as rewards and a new industry giant results.

So what idea of yours is just chomping at the bit to reveal itself to the rest of the world or your state or your town? Who knows, it could be the next best thing! All you have to do is try.

By the way, it will cost you everything you have to bring out into the open. Just saying. But the world will be a better place for it.

Memorial DayFrom our friends at Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

By the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as people visited the graves of their deceased relatives in church cemeteries, whether they had served in the military or not. It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountains. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. There often is a religious service and a “dinner on the ground,” the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the “memorial day” idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

So this day, as you celebrate with family and friends the first long weekend that kicks off summer, pause, if only briefly, to remember those who have been killed in the many conflicts and wars we seem to take for granted. And also remember that freedom is never free.


“My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.” – Bjorn Borg Professional Tennis Player

The first one that came out was not the completed version.

The new corrected version is now up and ready to read.

Thanks for reading and letting me know! You guys are great readers!

Little Island

March 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

The picture in the header above is of sea lions on Little Island. It’s not much bigger than you see above! Saw it last year while in and around Alaska.

Group ReadingPart 3 in the series.

It doesn’t matter what message series we are doing on the weekends, whoever is talking mentions that each of us should be connected in a group every weekend. Almost everything we do points people to get connected in a group. The reason is we truly believe that life change happens best when doing life together with a smaller group of friends.

For example, during a 2007 message series on recovery called “The Road to Recovery,” they featured a different testimony each week on the power of being in a group and the resulting life change that can happen (Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care, Grief Care, Divorce Care for Kids, etc.). During church-wide campaigns, groups are a natural emphasis and our groups swell to the largest number meeting during that time.

Currently we are walking through a series on what it takes to become healthy – as a church and as individuals. Part of that is reflected in the emphasis to do life with a group of like-minded people.

So no matter the series we are working through, we always find a way to point people to connection and care through groups.

What do you do to connect people into groups?

How often do you emphasize that?

xmas treeIs a free download of a song.

Thanks for continuing to follow and read. And if you’d like, share the link with a friend or two. That way you can give them a gift as well.

The song is O Holy Night performed by Kings Kaleidoscope. Enjoy!

An on-going post about Small Groups responding to a post from Larry Osborne.

The Holy Place Myth

A spiritually crippling falsehood began to lose its grip on our congregation when we embraced small groups. What I call the Holy Place myth is the idea that God’s presence is somehow greater in some places than in others. It’s why some Christians will tell a joke at the office they’d never think of repeating at church. It’s why others don’t think twice about lying on a loan application but still swear they live by the Ten Commandments.

The Holy Place myth fosters a false dichotomy between the secular and the spiritual by leading us to believe that there are some places where God hangs out and lots of others he seldom frequents.

A significant small group ministry undercuts this myth because when people begin to see God at work in their apartments and living rooms, they start to realize that a baptism can take place in a sw2imming pool, that Communion can be celebrated around a dining table, and that God is just as likely to answer their prayers in the front room as he is to answer mine in the front of the sanctuary.

With the demise of both the Holy Man and the Holy Place myths, our ministry was, for the first time, genuinely unleashed. People started bringing God to the workplace and into their neighborhoods rather than trying to bring everyone to the church building. And they quit insisting that I or another staff member had to show up in order for God to show up.

Once people start taking ministry into their own hands, they discover they’re pretty good at it. So much so that if I ever tried to return to the old days of centering ministry around the Holy Man and the Holy Place, I’d have a mini-riot on my hands.

Once people get a taste of frontline ministry, they don’t let it go easily. Once the church has been let loose, it’s hard to put it back in the box.

Part 5 on empowerment tomorrow.

John’s Comments

We have found similar things to be true, if we, the pastoral staff, will continue to keep our hands off the ministry and focus on equipping the leaders for the work of ministry. That doesn’t mean that we don’t like to be involved – many of us lead small groups, we do still go to the hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

How have you successfully released the people to do the work of the ministry?

An on-going post about Small Groups responding to a post from Larry Osborne.

The Holy Man Myth

One of the first things I noticed was the demise of a great falsehood that cripples our churches: the Holy Man myth.

It’s the idea that pastors and clergy somehow have a more direct line to God. It cripples a church because it overburdens pastors and underutilizes the gifts and anointing of everyone else. It mistakenly equates leadership gifts with superior spirituality.

Here’s how it impacted me. If someone in our church needed prayer, advice, or simply a visit in the hospital, I was the only one they wanted. If someone else showed up, apparently their prayers wouldn’t take and their advice wouldn’t work. And if I never made it to the hospital, the patient was sure to complain, “No one from the church ever visited me.” Even though their friends (who were all from the church) stopped by daily.

I could never figure out how people’s seeming dependence on my prayers, advice, and physical presence squared with our stated belief in the priesthood of the believer – the New Testament doctrine that every follower of Christ has the privilege of direct access to God. It’s hardly a peripheral doctrine. It’s one that God himself emphasized when he ripped open the temple curtain that had, until Jesus’ death, separated the Holy of Holies from everyone but the high priest. This event symbolized the end of an era when a special holy man was needed to stand in the gap to mediate between God and man.

Small groups undercut this Holy Man myth because they typically meet in widely dispersed settings. This makes it impossible for the pastor ( or any other staff member) to carry out all the pastoral roles and functions. They simply can’t be everywhere at once.

As a result, small group leaders inevitably step up and assume roles of spiritual leadership that they would have otherwise deferred to the pastoral staff. That not only changes the way small group leaders view themselves; it changes the congregation’s outlook as well. Once people begin to realize that God’s anointing and spiritual power aren’t restricted to the guy who speaks each Sunday, they whine a lot less when he’s not available.

We’ll look at the Holy Place myth next and how small groups help people move past the myth onto the frontlines of ministry. Part 4 next Monday.

John’s Comments

I have found this myth a hard myth to get rid of. Many people, especially those from smaller churches, are simply used to their pastor or staff being the only one who can visit them in the hospital. Thankfully we’re now at the place where a small group leader and/or members will be the “first responders” to someone from their group in the hospital and eventually the pastoral staff will learn about the situation.  That can take some getting used to for the pastoral staff as well – if they come from a smaller church.

I’ve also found that these same people think in similar ways of the church building and resources contained within. With all that’s going on around here we have to keep calendars way in advance so as to ensure room usage availability, personnel availability and more. But you would be surprised how often we have people assume that they can use a certain room or equipment – just because it’s there.

How do you handle the every member is a minister situation in your church?

I was going back through my files, yes I still have a few hard copy files, and found this article written by Larry Osborne a few years ago. You tell me if it still applies.

Lots of churches have small groups. But if truth be known, they’re usually more of an add-on than a church-wide priority, a little something extra for those who want to go deeper with God.

While many church leaders claim that small groups are an integral part of their ministry, I’ve learned that two simple measurements will always tell me their real place in a ministry’s pecking order: 1) the percentage of adults who attend a small group, and 2) the participation level of senior staff and key leaders.