My random, sometimes insightful thoughts on life, God, family, and everything else

Leadership

The birth of “Acorn Ridge”

Over the last several weeks I’ve had several people ask me about our property and how things are coming along. If you remember I shared with you all our dream of opening up a retreat center for Pastors, Missionaries, Military and Law Enforcement Chaplains, and other leaders in our post when we were selling our home.  Since moving in on December 23rd…yes you read that correctly two days before Christmas, (oh and we had family staying with us, we just like to do things difficult) we have made a ton of progress!

The most exciting and recent development is that we are now an officially recognized non-profit business in the state of Indiana. I went through the process of writing our Articles of Incorporation (yeah that was fun), jumping through the appropriate hoops, and cutting the necessary red tape, and we received our notification on Monday. So, we now are officially Acorn Ridge Retreats Inc. Now, I get to go through the exciting and exuberayting process of applying for 501 c3 status with the Federal government…anyone want to help with that?

Here are some of the physical things we’ve been up to:

  • There are two houses on the property, one is the main log cabin, and the other is a 2
    IMG_0221

    Daisy looking very despondent because of all the work to do

    IMG_0154

    One bedroom after drywall and primer

    IMG_0289

    The flooring that made me limp for a month!

    bedroom stick-built home that was pretty much trashed. I pretty much gutted the house, and I am still in process of putting it all back together again. Our oldest daughter Kaitlyn, is currently living in the house, but once she moves on from us…a little tear just fell…we will open up that house to our guests.

  • There is a small, 400 sq ft, cabin that the previous owners used as a practice run for the main cabin. It is just an empty shell, but our plan for that is to turn it into a ‘tiny home’ for our guests as well. Unlike the stick built home, I haven’t had a chance to do anything with this yet. But, I’m hoping as I wrap up some of the other projects currently going on around the property I’ll be able to start getting this piece ready for guests as well.

 

  • Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a piece of the property that I hadn’t even thought of before, but after a conversation with a friend, I realized what a cool tool it could be. I took an overgrown, but fairly level piece of the land and tore IMG_0520it all up, I removed trees, shrubs, a few woodland creatures…don’t worry there’s lots of land for them to move to…and created a nice ‘camping’ area where those who travel around the country in RV’s could come and park and enjoy the retreat area as well. Yesterday afternoon I had 12 cubic yards of stone delivered and I began the process of graveling so that they could easily level their traveling homes and enjoy an extended stay. The IMG_4540only thing left to do is to run a 50Amp line for them to plug in and water. Hey, anyone have a trencher or Ditch-Witch just laying around???
  • There is an extensive flower bed and stone bed system on the property. However, all of the beds were badly overgrown. We’ve killed, uprooted, and hacked out about 80% of the vegetation and now are preparing to lay a ton…literally…a ton of mulch.

You may read all of this and be asking yourself, ‘why in the world would they do this, are they just that bored?’ No, I promise you, with everything going on at Friendship and all of the growth, construction, and everything that comes with it, we are FAR from bored. But, several years ago we were blessed beyond belief with our sabbatical, and from that point on we’ve been asking God to allow us to be a blessing like that in the lives of other pastors and leaders who bear such a heavy burden on a regular basis, and who rarely if ever have the luxury of just being a human being. This is not just a dream for us, but a labor of love. Our hope is that through this extension of Friendship Church we will either directly or indirectly save some leaders from burnout, some marriages from failing, and some churches from deep hurt. The verse we’ve chosen as our theme is Hebrews 6:10 NLT, here’s what it says:

For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

Believe it or not, our first guest will be coming the weekend of June 17th, which is about 2 years before we planned on it, but hey, God always has better, bigger, and more beautiful plans than we do!

This is Traci and my dream, but it’s an extension of Friendship, and every ministry family served will be served by you! Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love of our family and all of our leadership families, and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor! You guys are awesome!!!

Dave


Just Say No!

Logo-no-just-say-no-480I am old enough to remember the anti-drug and alcohol campaign that touted and launched this iconic saying. Even as I watched these commercials as a preteen and teen I realized that even though the commercials themselves were more than ‘lame’ (80’s throwback reference) the power of the statement really did make an impact. I mean I started saying no to my teachers, my coaches, my parents…I may have taken that out of context, and it most definitely got me in trouble!

As I’ve grown older, gained more experience, and grown a touch more mature, I’ve realized there is incredible power in that little two-letter word.  I’ve also learned that if I’m going to be able to say ‘yes’ to the things in my life that are really important, I’m going to need to learn how to say ‘no’ to the things that are less important. Now, this isn’t to say that things others are asking me to do are bad, in fact, many if not all of them are very good, but it’s not what is best for me.

Over the years I’ve gleaned from some masters in the art of saying no, and I’ve taken some of the best ‘no’s’ I’ve received over the years and incorporated them into my own personal repertoire, but for the sake of time and space I’ve boiled down some of the best, so without further ado:

Dave’s Top Five Ways To Say No With A Smile!

  1. I would love to, however, my schedule simply doesn’t allow me the time to do that.
  2. Thanks so much for thinking of me, as awesome as it may be, I cannot do that.
  3. I am so sorry, but that is just not something that I can do at this point.
  4. Unfortunately, do to my other commitments, I must decline. However, (so-and-so) might be a perfect fit.
  5. Thank you so much for the offer, but in an effort to honor my time with my family, I cannot take you up on it.

I’d love to hear some of your great ‘no’s’ in the comments, just maybe I’ll steal one for my own personal collection!

And hey, don’t feel bad about saying ‘no’, they won’t have to give an account for how you used the time God gave you…but you will!

Dave


Free Agency and Church Staff!

colts-movingI am an unabashed fan of the NFL.  Since the day that the Mayflower trucks rolled out of the ingrate city of Baltimore (yeah, I said it!) to the current day I have been a Colts fan.  When we lived outside of the state of Indiana and the Colts weren’t particularly good I would often frequent sports bars so I could catch the game.  Then in year 5 of my absence from the greatest state in the world, came this new fangled thing called NFL Sunday Ticket (insert hallelujah chorus)!  I was now able to watch my team play each and every week, albeit with terrible announcers because quite frankly the Colts were fairly terrible.

So, when the NFL season is over, like all rabid fans, I begin to wonder what my beloved Colts will do during the off-season.  Today, March 10th, is the official beginning of what is called Free Agency, I’ll explain that knowing that some people reading this post have no idea to which I am referring to.  Free Agency is when veteran players contracts with their current team are up, they become a ‘free agent’, in essence they are now free to sign with whatever team will pay them the money they want.  Some teams (I’m looking at you Oakland) are typically overspending on players that are flashy and fancy, and they never quite work out.  Each and every year teams are lauded for making the ‘bold move’, for signing the ‘difference maker’, for catching the one person who could make them Super Bowl contenders.  The problem is, it RARELY works out that way.  Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report wrote a fantastic article yesterday that chronicled the teams that ‘won’ free agency the last several years and balanced that against their resulting record.  Suffice to say, it isn’t pretty (Winning Free Agency Hardly Equates To Winning Games).

Now, you might be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the church?”…well I’m so glad you asked!  For years and years the American church has been participating in it’s own brand of free agency.  One church signs another churches ‘star’ player and plugs them into their programs expecting blazing results and championship caliber play.  What happens more often than not is terrible friction, mediocre results, and an overall discomfort for the whole team.  If the senior leader is worth his salt then he can usually rectify the situation but it takes precious time and valuable energy to do so and it ends up being the church and the other staff who pays the price.  I’m not saying that it is never worth it to bring someone in from the outside, but you had better make sure it’s the right person you’re bringing in.  Otherwise, you will at best move sideways for a while and at worst your ministry may regress.

Many years ago I heard Rick Warren, pastor/founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, say something like this, “Building your staff from within is always preferred when possible.”  That statement has resonated with me over the years and as I have thought about it more and more, it just makes sense!  The people in your church are already passionate about what you are doing.  They get your vision, they hear you talk each and every week, they are already known commodities.  You may be thinking about the ‘professional training’ that outside ‘free agents’ may have, and there is some truth to that.  But if I’ve learned anything about hiring staff over the last 20 years it’s this, you can teach people the ins and outs of ministry, but you can’t teach passion, you can’t force them to get the vision, and you can’t know someone you’ve never worked alongside of.

Of the 5 additional full/part time staff we have at Friendship all but one of them are homegrown.  This doesn’t mean that we will never hire from outside, in fact at some points you’ll need to, but I will say that when you hire from the inside the learning curve is much less steep and the failure rate is infinitesimal in comparison.

I thank God almost daily for the staff he has allowed us to assemble at Friendship.  They make what I do easier and a whole lot more fun.  Pastors, your staff can either make you or break you, make sure you choose wisely!

I’d love to hear back from you on this, even if you are not hiring in the ‘church’ world.  What has been your experience with this?

Dave


Five Things the Spurs Can Teach Us About Teamwork!

I was really rather amazed this year by the San Antonio Spurs.  In spite of havingSpurs Championship the best record in the NBA they were rarely mention by sportscaster and prognosticators alike.  They were the forgotten powerhouse.  To most, they were to old, to boring, and to…well not the HEAT to win.  Now, as much as I would love to make this a blog, blasting the HEAT and Lebron James, I just can’t.  In spite of my disdain for them, did I mention I’m a lifelong Pacers fan, you can’t ignore that they’ve made it to four consecutive NBA Finals, and won two of them.  That’s impressive, plain and simple.  But, compare it to the Spurs, who since 1999 have won five titles, that’s a 33% title winning percentage over a 15 year period…Now that is amazing!

So, what can we learn from this ‘blue-collar’ team, that have been in the playoffs 24 of the last 25 years, captured 20 division titles, won 50+ games for 16 seasons straight, and had the same head coach for nearly 20 years?  Well, here are five things:

  1. ‘Superstars’ can’t do it alone: Often we fall prey to the idea that if we just get this amazing guy on our leadership team, or on staff, or as a volunteer, that will make all the difference.  And, for sure there is almost always an immediate impact.  But, if you’re looking for sustained, long-term impact, it can’t be about just one guy.  In 1997 the Spurs looked completely lost.  Even though they had one of the best big men of all time in David ‘The Admiral’ Robinson, a perennial MVP candidate, they were consistently getting bumped out of the playoffs in the first or second round.  It wasn’t until they drafted a young guy named Tim Duncan, that the Spurs began to take shape.  David Robinson now had a teammate who could shoulder the burden alongside of him.  In fact, Robinson made it his mission to mentor this young guy and help him become a top tier player in the league.  Robinson even lessened his role intentionally so that Duncan could begin to flourish.  Just two short years later, 1999, they were the NBA Champions for the first time.
  2. Old doesn’t mean finished: I honestly wish I had a dollar for every time that I heard the Spurs were ‘too old’ this year!  The three main guys on the Spurs, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, are past ‘their prime’.  But, just like David Robinson before them, these guys had been mentoring the younger, fresher legs on the team.  Taking a few less shots, allowing them to experience what it was like to carry more of the load.  Just because you may be past your prime, doesn’t mean your ineffective.  Might your role be changing, would you be more effective as a mentor than a major player, maybe.  The bottom line is stop thinking you’re too old to be useful on a team.
  3. Teamwork beats star power every time: It was said that the Spurs offense was old, outdated, and boring.  Their main offensive philosophy; pass the ball to the open man, in spite of who it is.  Their belief was that the open man has a better chance at making a shot or a play than one of their big three in a double team.  So, on any given possession you would witness 3,4, sometimes even 5 passes before a shot was taken.  It was a completely unselfish ideal that every guy on the team had to embrace for it to be effective.  In a league where isolation and one-on-one play is the course of the day, this type of offense seemed almost foreign.  But to me, it was beautiful!  You see when you play as a team, it’s not about your individual stat line as much as it is how the team did.  Sure Lebron averaged a bazillion points and rebounds in the series, but the Spurs hoisted the trophy!
  4. Longterm success demands stable, consistent leadership: Greg Popovich may be the most boring interview in the history of sports!  But, what makes him boring to a reporter makes him invaluable as a coach.  He knows exactly what he wants to do, teaches it ad nauseum to his players, and demands that they run it with ruthless efficiency on the court.  His players buy in to it because he’s proven it works.  Sure, he makes tweaks here and there, takes input from his players, and makes in game corrections.  But, his players know and trust him because he’s always headed in the same direction.  As a leader sometimes you feel like you need to be perfect, but what is actually more important, is for you to be consistent.  If as a leader of a team you are all over the place emotionally, or with ‘new ideas’ or vision every couple of weeks, you will quickly fatigue your team and they will quit trying, not because they don’t care, because they just don’t know where your going!
  5. Talk less, do more: There’s an old expression that goes something like this, “Those that talk about it rarely do it; those that do it rarely talk about it.”  Basically, all of the hype, the fashion, the bling was all one-sided during the NBA Finals this year.  The HEAT were the talk of the town, ‘Can they three-peat’, ‘Did you see what Lebron/D-Wade was wearing’, ‘Just how many tattoos does Chris Anderson have’.  While people actually poked fun at the Spurs for their lack of fashion sense.  The Spurs simply went about their business, no one talked about winning their fifth championship, or that if they won again that Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili would have won four championships together.  They simply played their boring brand of basketball and won.

So, congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs, and thanks for the lessons in teamwork!

Dave

 


How to Increase Your Creative Juices!

I have been blessed with having a wealth of people in my life who are and embrace creativity.  I personally love creativity, and love to watch people flourish and expand in creative environments.  But being a creative or an artist can often be scary and intimidating.  Even if you’re successful, the pressure then mounts for ‘What’s next’ and living up to your own success.

So, for all my creative, artistic, skinny jean, scarf wearing buddies out there, here are 4 things that if you constantly remember and pursue will keep those creative juices flowing:

  1. Believe God made you extraordinary, never stop discovering how!
  2. You are created in the image of THE CREATOR, He created everything from nothing, what can you create with all of your something?
  3. Fear of failure is the death of artistry! Embrace failure as a step closer to your greatest artistic achievement.
  4. Staying ‘in your box’ makes you square…I’ve never met a square creative!

Your awesome!

Dave


Our Newest Staff Member, Sarah Pead!

Sarah-webA Little Bit About Sarah:

I’m so excited to announce to you that Sarah Pead will be joining the Friendship Church staff beginning Monday, September 9th.  Sarah will become our Arts & Communications Director.  Sarah has been working for the last 5 years as a Graphic Design and Marketing Consultant for Willow Marketing on the Northside of Indianapolis.  Willow is one of the top design firms that works with non-profit agencies in the entire Midwest.  Her invaluable experience in the design field, marketing, advertising, social media, and print media will become an unbelievable asset to us as we continue to grow as a church.

Sarah has actually been serving in a volunteer role at Friendship for 6 years as our Lead Graphic Designer.  In that role she has created all of our graphics for every series that we have done at Friendship, created our church logo, the Friendship Kids logo and branding, Fusion, Man Stuff, Shape, and well, just about every other logo we’ve got out there.  Sarah’s guiding hand has allowed us to do things that churches three times our size cannot even do.

What Sarah Will Be Doing:

As our new Arts & Communications Director, Sarah will now be overseeing the following areas:

  • All physical print pieces including the Worship Guide, posters, handouts, etc
  • Continue to act as our Lead Graphic Designer
  • Wed Design & Social Media Team
  • Photography & Video Team
  • All digital media pieces including e-mail communications, registration forms, event forms, video pieces, etc
  • All areas of communications whether print, digital, or video

Why Is This The Right Time For Sarah To Come On?

Man, I am so glad you asked that question!  As our church has grown Traci, Dustin, and I have had to increase our areas of responsibility, sometimes even beyond our particular area of expertise.  All of the areas listed above are items that one of us is currently doing to varying degrees of success.  With Sarah coming on staff it relieves significant pressure from each of us and allows us to focus better on our ‘sweet spots’ in ministry.  Below is a snippet of what I shared with the Elders when we first talked about this several months ago:

  • With the continued growth of the Shape Women’s Ministry (145 ladies at Rejuvenate…that’s just crazy) and requests for her to counsel ladies; with the continued growth of the church and the increasing time it takes to manage my schedule, requests for meetings, and communications on my behalf, Traci is not able to spend the time needed to continue to grow Women’s Ministry.  By removing her media and communication responsibilities it allows her to redeem and re-purpose that time for greater effectiveness and growth for Friendship.
  • With our continued growth as a church, our print, digital, photographic, and web media needs continue to grow.  This growth is becoming increasingly difficult for Dustin to manage effectively and is beginning to demand more time than can adequately be given without negatively affecting his main responsibilities.  Bringing in Sarah will free him up to spend more time and energy in developing the creative arts ministry while at the same time allowing the communications/media areas to continue to grow.

I can’t hardly believe that we were able to get someone of this caliber with this much experience.  This will allow us to continue to grow as we grow as a church and relieve a significant bottleneck of time, resources, energy, talents, and people.  I’m really looking forward to the many things that God is going to allow us to do through Sarah’s expertise and incredible work ethic!

Send your congratulations and prayers to her new e-mail: sarah@experiencefriendship.com


Building Update #1

Well, it’s been a busy couple of months around Friendship Church!  For the most part that explains why I took a two month absence from posting another blog post.  Besides all of the normal stuff that happens I’ve been doing a lot of preparation work for our future building project.

To give you a little background on how we got here; two years ago we were looking at our growth and realized that very soon we’d be out of space in our building.  We talked extensively at that time and actually met with a small group of men, all of whom are elders today at Friendship, and prayed through, talked through, and did research on whether or not we should consider building.  At that time we decided that it would be a better use of our resources to begin doing two services, even though all of the “experts” told us we wouldn’t be successful.  We believed that was what God was calling us to do.  It was a HUGE step of faith, and I’ll be very transparent and say, I was nervous!  We launched our two services for the first time in March of last year, a little over a year ago.  Since then we’ve grown by 35% or almost 100 people, we’ve seen over 50 people come to know Christ, disciple over 120 through our Workshops!  Suffice it to say, it was obviously the right decision and God has blessed us beyond measure. 

So far this year we are running just shy of 300 people each weekend, and our kid’s ministry is packed to the gills!  If we continue growing anywhere near our current pace, we will outgrow our facilities in a year or less.  We’ve spent the last several months, praying, talking, and researching all of our options and we are confident that this time we need to build.  Right now we are in the slow, not very exciting, phase of the process.  We’ve been talking with financial people and getting ourselves in the best position possible; we’ve had quite a bit of site engineering done, to make sure we know all the potential “surprises” that may come up; and we’ve met with the City of Greenwood to find out there…um…demands ( I jest of course, they’ve actually been very helpful).  All in all the process is going along very smoothly and we are excited for this next phase to begin!

Here’s how you can be praying:

  • Wisdom: we are going to be making a lot of decisions as we continue to move forward, and we’ve got a tremendous group of elders.  However, you can never, ever pray or have enough wisdom when making decisions that will have such a significant impact as this potentially could.
  • Vision: one of the reasons that I believe God has blessed Friendship is because we are constantly moving forward towards our vision of “Glorifying God as an Effective and Influential Church”. We don’t want to become so bog down in decisions and details that we stop pursuing the vision.
  • Faith: God is doing some pretty amazing things, and I’ve been around long enough to know that when God is moving He’s going to ask us to take some pretty big steps, which means we’ve got to have some pretty deep faith.
  • Focus: All of us elders have full-time jobs where we have responsibilities, and on top of that our families.  Times like this demand a lot of meetings, and extra hours of reading and research.  It can become overwhelming, and cause us to lose focus or get frustrated.  I don’t know about you, but no decisions I’ve ever made when frustrated worked out well!

Thanks for praying for us and for the future of Friendship Church!  That’s all for now, but keep an eye open for the next update…