Working on a Dream




Monday, July 29, 2013

Is your Church ready for this?

Below is a summary of the helpful book, "No Perfect People Allowed" by John Burke. In the book, Burke exposes the 5 hurdles facing the Church and offers insight as to how the Church can bridge the gap and become more effective at reaching out.


The church is facing its greatest challenge—and its greatest opportunity—in our postmodern, post-Christian world.  God is drawing thousands of spiritually curious “imperfect people” to become his church-but how are we doing at welcoming them?

The postmodern experiment has made Christianity and the church in America very messy. We’re dealing with the fallout of the sexual revolution, drugs, new worldviews and more. Therefore, the 5 main issues emerging generations are dealing with are: Trust, Tolerance, Truth, Brokenness, and Aloneness.

Trust – We must create a culture in our church that recognizes the incongruence in our lives. Address our hypocrisy and correct it. Encourage and create dialogue about difficult issues. Let go of the churchy facades and create a culture of authenticity.

Tolerance – Accept people as they are, but create a system for spiritual growth. There are two litmus test questions for postmoderns – “What do you think about other religions?” and “What do you think about gays?” What people are really asking is “Are you arrogant with what you believe?”.

Truth – While we know that we have truth, we need to be humble with our knowledge. Postmoderns don’t care about what we know. We need to introduce them to who we know. Jesus is Truth. We don’t just know the information of truth, we knew the person of Truth. We must then encourage new believers to share their newly discovered Truth with their friends and family.

Brokenness – People are hurting for all kinds of reasons. We must create a culture of hope so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In dealing with sexual wholeness, Burke presents the idea of first practicing mental monogamy. The idea is to first fully understand all of the right reasons to remain abstinent before marriage. He presents the whole package on the issue, and it’s great. Finally, we must create a culture of healing. If you can tell by now, the issues and culture creation are building upon each other, and this progresses until the end of the book.

Aloneness – People are lonely. We find ways to escape, whether it is alcohol, porn, drugs, whatever. In the church, we must create a culture of connection that allows people to be authentic and vulnerable. We can only find true intimacy with others when we are authentic and vulnerable. This must first be modeled by the Pastor and pastoral staff. Through small groups, we can then create a culture of family.

What do you think? Is there anything missing?
Would you add anything?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Part 2: How to deliver a Rockem' Sockem' Speech

I trust that you picked up some helpful tips in my last post about delivering a great public speech; hopefully you had a chance to implement the suggested concepts and your speaking has improved.

Today, I'll share more Rockem' Sockem' pointers that will enable you to improve even more as you become a person of influence.

Rockem' Sockem' Tip #4 Framework & Transitions:
The old adage: tell the audience what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them is a type of framework. A framework is basically a blueprint of how you want your speech to go.  When I delivered the "4 D's of a Dynamic Daddy" sermon, I used a simple approach: The framework was 4 moves where I emphasized each of the 4 points at a time. 
Point 1: A Dynamic Daddy lovingly Disciples his children.
Point 2: A Dynamic Daddy will give wise Direction to his children.
Point 3: A Dynamic Daddy sets the Destiny for his children.
Point 4: A Dynamic Daddy has to make a Decision to live out his calling.
After each point, in this case the "D", I would smoothly transition in to the next point.  There are two things to remember about transitions:
A) You need them.
B) You need to think about them before you are standing up in front of people speaking.
Your transitions will be the food you dangle in front of your starving audience's mouths.  It leaves them on their toes and will keep them interested.  In my case, the transitions I used went something like this: "A Dynamic Daddy that lovingly disciplines their children will by default set the destiny for them..." Simple.
I accomplished 2 things here. The first is I let everyone know that my initial point was finished, and secondly I informed the congregation of my next point that I would emphasizing.

Rockem' Sockem' Tip #5 End Powerfully:
As you come to the end of your speech, you should alert your audience that things are about to draw to a close. This will heighten your audience's attention again. You can use simple language like: "As we conclude" or "You are about to leave this place and enter the world, before you do, remember ... "  This is your time to inspire! Leave them with something that will force them to talk about your speech.  My goal is to have my sermon being discussed at the dinner table later that night. And I do not mean in the sense of, "What was that sermon all about anyway???" Also, it is during your conclusion that you will tack on your central theme / catchphrase.  By doing this, you will re-emphasize your main idea. 
NOTE:  Your conclusion is your conclusion.  There is nothing so irritating to your audience like when you conclude 57 times or when you feel the need to introduce new information at the very end.  Just close. Then find your seat. 

Rockem' Sockem' Tip #6 Bring things to Life:
This means illustrations.  Too often the speaker uses dry, boring illustrations like stats and graphs.  Please, please, please do not do this to your people.  If you have a statistic that you are using, use an illustration to bring that stat to life.  Chip and Dan Heath, in one of the best books that I read in the past few years, "Switch", teach a concept called the "Elephant & the Rider."  The basic premise is that each of us is built like a man riding an Elephant.  The Rider is rational.  He likes maps, flow charts, etc. The Elephant is emotional.  He is easily scared and really powerful.  When delivering a speech you must keep in the forefront of your mind that the people in your audience need to have their Rider directed and their Elephant motivated.   This means that you need to incorporate rationality and emotionality. 
People are both.  So your speech needs to include both.

Here is how I utilized this a few months back:
During my ordination, I did a lot of reflecting.  One of the things that I just could not shake was how many things I had started and ended over my life, but the one thing that remained constant was God's faithfulness.  I reflected about the times I tried teaching myself guitar, the times when I'd go fishing, the baseball / football  teams I signed up for -then quit. And then there was that stint when I thought I was golfer... The list continued to swell the longer that I reflected.  On the day of my ordination ceremony,  I wanted to communicate this truth to the congregation, so instead of talking about it, I arrived early with a box full of objects. Each object representing a thing in my life that I started, then eventually quit or became disinterested in.  I spoke about each object briefly, one at a time, going through them all in about 5 minutes.  Then, I walked into the heart of the church and said that there is One who remains faithful, more faithful than any brother or sister.  His name is Jesus and that is why I can stand here before you all today.
I then quoted Psalm 73:25-26:
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
I chose to communicate this way because I wanted to touch peoples minds AND hearts. I not only talked about the areas in my life that no longer remain, I put them on display.

This ends part 2 of our 3 part series on how to improve your speaking abilities. Please come visit for the powerful conclusion later in the week!

Science Of Persuasion

The Filthy Pastor

Have you heard of Jeremiah Steepek? He is the pastor that made quite an impression in his community and church because of one bold move ... 

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service....only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food....NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. "We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek"
The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation.
The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle ... the clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him he walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment, then he recited
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning...many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame, he then said:
"Today I see a gathering of people ... not a church of Jesus Christ. 
The world has enough people, but not enough disciples, when will YOU decide to become disciples? 
He then dismissed service until next week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Story: The Blue Rose. "Let the little children come unto Me."

A Story...

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to
go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs,
paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the

checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who
appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn't in a hurry, so I patiently
waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his
hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice,
"Mommy, I'm over here."

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned

and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened
and surprise exploded on his face as I said,

"Hey Buddy, what's your name?"
"My name is Denny and I'm shopping with my mother," he responded proudly.
"Wow," I said, "that's a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve." "Steve, like Stevarino?" he asked. "Yes," I answered. "How old are you Denny?""How old am I now, Mommy?" he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle. "You're fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by."

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes

about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone's attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny's mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time 
to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn't even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea 
where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I told her that there are plenty of redyellow, and pink roses in God's Garden; however, "Blue Roses" are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness.

You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn't stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they've missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, "Who are you?"

Without thinking I said, "Oh, I'm probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God's garden."

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, "God bless you!" and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don't turn your head and 
walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

A friend of mine emailed this story to me. 
It moved me deeply. 

No wonder Jesus said, "Let the little children come unto Me."

I get the idea that Jesus was trying to get a message across that was much deeper than what His disciples could physically see. I believe He wanted to teach His followers to stop and acknowledge people. Like usual, the disciples needed their eyes adjusted. On this particular day, Jesus rebuked His disciples because they too, overlooked the Blue Rose in front of them.  The children were insignificant, so the disciples  thought. That is until, Jesus brushed them to the side and took the children upon His knee confirming their value and worth in God's eyes.
The man in this story was wise enough to give a little of his time to this 15 year old boy ... and in doing so, he was giving more than just time, he was expressing love and interest in a boy that may have been overlooked a million times by others.

And in doing so, he experienced the beauty of the Blue Rose.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Deliver a Rockem' Sockem' speech!

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, "According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."

Whether it’s preaching from a pulpit, delivering a TED talk or attempting to persuade someone to buy your product, one of your primary tools for moving anyone is by delivering a compelling speech.  Today, I’ll give you some short tips on how to deliver the type of speech that you always wished you could give while speaking in front of a group.

Rockem Sockem point #1: Select your Topic.
The late Steven Covey introduced the world to the phrase, “start with the end in mind” in his fantastic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.  This advice is what you need to think about when you first consider your topic.  Meaning, you should have one topic, one main idea that you want your audience to leave with. My professor would often tell us in class that if your wife asks you on Saturday night what your sermon is about; you should be able to answer her in one succinct sentence. Remember, you do not want to resemble a shotgun shell spraying tiny bee-bee’s, rather a rifle shooting one powerful bullet.

Rockem Sockem point #2: Deliver up a Snazzy Catchphrase.
I like to use this little tool for all my sermons: “By the end of this sermon, the audience will walk away knowing more about__________”. By the time you walk out of the service, you will have learned _____________________”.   This helpful method forces me to reduce my speech to a single powerful topic, this also helps me to think about the message I want the audience to prepare for.  Your catchphrase should be a short, simple, sound-bite that grips your audience. The audience should sit up and take note when you deliver your catchphrase.

This will be your catchphrase you use in the beginning of your speech to introduce your topic of choice to the audience.  Only after I am completely done with my sermon do I go back to this aspect and try to jazz up the sentence to add interest.  For example, “By the end of this sermon you will understand the importance of being a godly father” becomes, “This morning I am going to talk to you about something vitally important in your life, how to be a great daddy. I will do this by teaching what the 4 D’s of a Dynamic Daddy are.”  The former puts me to sleep and if I hear that sermon title beforehand, I just might pull my car over and return home. The latter evokes interest.  It speaks to people's minds and hearts. Think long and hard about creating a great catchphrase.

Rockem Sockem point #3: Open up effectively.
You want to leave no doubt in your audiences mind that they made a very good choice when they woke up this morning and attended your speech.  Your opening is super duper important because this is the only time in your speech that you know for certain that everyone is listening.  Grab them and do it in a way that leaves no doubt in their minds they are in for transformation. There are a variety of methods that you could open your talk with, but I’ll suggest the 3 best ways possible.  
    A Story:  Make it compelling. Make it emotional. Make it make sense. Be real. Be raw. Be sensitive. And remember to use your unique voice, not someone else’s.
    Shock: An eye popping stat, a ridiculous quote or a jaw dropping phrase.  
    A Powerful Question:  “Many of you ate breakfast before service today, but did you know that during your morning cereal 37,988 people died of starvation???”  

After your introduction goes your catchphrase.
So let’s use the above for an illustration:

How many of you ate breakfast before service today? Did you know that during your morning cereal 37,988 people around the world died of starvation???  This morning, I am going to share how being a neighbor to those around you will save the life of 1 starving child. 
Please turn with me to Luke

Check back for Part II where I discuss:
-Adding Transitions
-Tacking on an Ending
-Speaking techniques (adding humor, notes & not looking like an idiot)
-How not to pee your pants because you are so scared.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why Good is just so BAD.

Good is the enemy of great. 

Leadership expert and popular author Jim Collins said:
"This is one of the reasons that we have so little that becomes great. We don't have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don't have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, precisely because it is easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great precisely because they become quite good. - and that is their main problem"  
-Good to Great. 

Why is it so easy to settle for good?  Do we love apathy so much? Are we as humans just lazy? Or is there another reason?  Let me take a stab at at least answering one reason why I believe we settle for good. Thomas J. Watson once said, Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops." How many times have you experienced this phenonema? You attain most of your goals ... so you give up on the rest. You set out to score a touchdown ... then you run to the goal line, put the ball down on the one yard line and call in the field goal team.  3 points is enough, you reason.  
If you are reading this and thinking internally, who really cares? Then I'd say you are in the company of the crowd, and this group is the same group that makes the same noise as those fluffy little things that Shepherds watch over.  In my mind, this demeanor was never the calling of the human race.  Go back in the book of Genesis and you'll see that mankind was the highlight of God's magnificent creation. We are His crowing achievement, made in His image. Part of this image bearing is that we have been instilled with a wonderfully creative spirit.   

This post is about greatness. 
Really, it is about sweat, determination and resolution.  Growing up, I remember hearing about the 5 D's.  Do you know them?
(I am sure there are more than 5, so the next time you run into me at Giant Eagle just tell me the ones I missed). 
The point is, many of the 5 D's have vanished in our society. I believe, it is due to our inability to seek greatness.  Handouts are rampant, grades are given to get kids just so they pass, our workplaces are glorified punch clocks for apathy.  Why?  Because greatness is not on our radar.
I am afraid to say that we, as a society, are generally apathetic. We want the crown, but not the cross. We love the destination of easy street, but do not take the grit road to get there.     

I know that for many, at one point in time you felt like you could conquer the world.  Then, life settled in and all those dreams got replaced with bills in your mail box.  If that is you, let me make a few tiny suggestions to propel you in the right direction. The first is to surround yourself with people that are seeking greatness.  Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn rightly teaches that,  You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."   

The second suggestion is to read. 
No that is not a typo.  Fill your mind with new thoughts.  Get inspired! I always tell people that the only way to fill a broken vessel is to continually fill it.  You gotta find ways to spark your creative juices in life and the best way is to find something interesting and read.  Before I move on, let me add this caveat.  I know that for some reading is just drudgery.  You'd rather pave my driveway on a hot, humid August afternoon.  For you, I'd suggest a seminar or a video series.  The same principle applies, it's just a matter of how you achieve gathering new information.  Years ago, a sage told me, "Anthony, if you want there to be a significant difference between the person you are today and the person you will be in 10 years, it will be via the books you read and the people you surround yourself with."  I can testify to that truth as I am a living illustration of implementing both. 

Finally, you might be thinking this is a bit too daydreamish and far fetched.  I say you are correct. But is there a better way to live?  I believe Les Brown summed it up best when he uttered these famous words, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

Go for greatness my friend! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why I'm [severely] Unbalanced.

No. I am not talking about having one leg longer than the other or a lop-sided head. I am talking about my personality & skill set. Now I know that me admitting this to you right up front may cause you to pause and scratch your head. Nevertheless, since you are reading this you and I have some sort of a relationship, so I think it proper to let you know this about me right up front.
See, I am not well-rounded. I am rather obtuse.

And I like it that way.

See, there is the conventional wisdom going around that is telling people that they should be men and women that seek conformity.  You know the saying, "The nail that stands out gets hammered back in." That's right: be the lame, sorry, boring nail that's in the wood.  Pardon me as I take a nap. No thanks. I'll stand out. Sure it's risky. But tell me, what in your life has made any kind of impact that was not risky?  Recently, I finished up a great little book by Peter Drucker and in it he shared similar lesson.  During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed 3 or 4 Generals before General Grant.  He chose the men due to their well-rounded background, personality and skills. And guess what? From 1861 to 1864, the North did not make any headway -that is until Grant commanded the troops.  Grant was known for his capable planning and leading winning campaigns. He was also known, however, for his temper and love for the bottle. Drucker said that Lincoln chose Grant not, "for his sobriety, rather for his ability to win battles."

This is true in any organization.  If you hire a person / staff to avoid weakness, then do not be surprised if you end up with mediocrity. Hiring for well-roundness is a sure recipe for a vanilla workplace.  Strong people have peaks and valleys. Sometimes very high peaks and very low valleys.
But at least you get something spectacular.

Think of the greatest basketball player to ever walk the court, Micheal Jordan (please don't argue this point, just accept this as a reality). Jordan lit up the NBA like no other. He has the titles, MVP's and records to back it up.  He also had this thing about him when he played ... your team would lose and his would win. It was hard growing up in the 90's as anything but a Bulls fan.
--Sorry for the digression.  
The point that I am making is that Michael Jordan quit basketball in the mid 90's to pursue baseball.  BASEBALL. He played for a minor league team, I believe it was the Chicago White Sox. Let's just say that no one wanted "To be like Mike" when he wore spikes.  On the wood Jordan couldn't be stopped. On the diamond, he couldn't get going. He found out that he needed to stick to what he did best, crushing people in a game of hoops.

See, for some reason we learn how to get A's when we are little and once we do, we are afraid to do anything outside of the box. The reason is because we just want an A.  So we get all the instructions out for our science project and follow all the rules.  Then on the day of the fair, we create the same stale volcano that all the other kids made too.  Forget that.  Forget the volcano. Turn the school into a flying object or something awesome.  Sure, you might flunk and get sent home to get evaluated, but people will have to pick up their jaws when you are done. And that my friend, is the type of person you should endeavor to be.  Take, for example the last week I preached. I preached a sermon titled, "The Greatest Boxing Match." Instead of spooning a boring sermon, my friends and I turned the front of the sanctuary into a real boxing corner. I was told that the sermon was a real "knock-out." (Sorry I couldn't resist). Seriously, I try to deliver something worthwhile, and that means I have to think outside the box.  I really believe that I am called to deliver a meaningful, significant, memorable message. And when I am called upon to do so, I give my best to present something significant.  

And If you think that I am off my rocker a bit, I'd just have you turn to First Peter 2:9 where the apostle teaches that God's people are called to be, "a peculiar people."  

SO, you see, Yes, I am unbalanced and I like it that way.
I am the nail that continues to stick out ... but I've got an inkling that you already knew that.