what Daft Punk can teach church leaders

Daft PunkDaft Punk is an electronic music duo from France that rarely performs on TV. Even Stephen Colbert couldn’t get them to perform on his show. So I was looking forward to see what Daft Punk was going to do at the Grammy’s.

It was amazing! One of the best performances of the night. Everyone was standing and dancing and having a good time.

But something struck me during their performance.

They were not the center of attention. In fact they shy away from the center of attention. Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers, Nathan East and Omar Hakim were on the stage. Most of the performance was pure old school magic with Stevie Wonder taking solos, switching keyboards, and firing up the crowd. Daft Punk for the most part were backing musicians. They were hidden behind screens for half the performance and received far less camera time than those on the stage. Everybody knew it was a Daft Punk performance, but they were not in the main attraction.

I picked up on three things that Daft Punk can teach church leaders:

  1. Collaboration is key. Daft Punk brings in people to collaborate with. They are producers who parterner with other producers, musicians, singers, and artists. Just one look at their newest album offers a who’s who list of people they collaborated with. Who can you collaborate with to make the church better? What are some areas you are weak in that others can navigate more successfully?
  2. Promote others not yourself. I am introverted, but my guess is Daft Punk is extremely introverted. They succeed in an extroverted business by promoting others. This feeds back to more and more folks wanting to collaborate with them. It serves to diversify the stage experience and shines the light on others who may have been forgotten. Are we in the church promoting ourselves as leaders or are we helping people discover their life in Christ? Who do you need to promote in your church? What are some ways you can be a better cheerleader instead of a figurehead?
  3. Mystery is important. On the rare occasions that Daft Punk is seen in public they are never seen without their robot helmets and wardrobe which protects their identity. It also contains a sense of mystery. Who are these people and what are they like in real life? I believe once the church started trying to explain away all the mysteries we lost something. In order to seem seeker sensitive we became ordinary and normal. Daft Punk shows that it is okay not to be ordinary and normal. We can be mysterious and people will still seek out the church. What is the value of mystery and wonder in the church? What are some things in your church that need to reclaim their sense of mystery and wonder?

how I became a better reader(again)

books_saleI used to love to read. I would read all the time. I grew up reading book after book after book. The stories just fueled my imagination and wonder.

But something happened.

In seminary reading became something of a chore instead of something I enjoyed. I would have to read 3-4 books for 3 different classes in a semester, and a lot of those books were dry technical books full of big weighty concepts. Reading became something I had to do instead of something I wanted to do.

That changed this year. I wanted to reclaim my love of reading, so I took 3 steps to help me become a better reader(again):

1. I fully committed to ebooks. I know for book purists this is a cardinal sin, but for helping me become a better reader this platform is really easy. Amazon makes kindle available on every single device you own. eBooks are always going on sale. You can have your book on your phone, your tablet, your computer, and your eReader. Best of all it syncs across every device so your books are on whatever chapter you are on. I can pick up my phone and start reading where I left of on my tablet. Even if you own a tablet I would suggest you get a dedicated eReader. My choice is the Kindle Paperwhite. eInk is easy on the eyes for longer reading, battery life is amazing, and the most important thing is that it doesn’t distract you from reading with thousands of apps calling your name.

2. I became a social reader. My friend Chad Brooks posted a challenge on his blog called the empty shelf challenge where you spend 2014 filling that empty shelf with books you read. Reading is more fun when you are reading with others. Friendly competition gets involved. What books will I read and what books will they read? The biggest movement in social reading is Goodreads. You can see what your friends and favorite authors are reading right now. Goodreads takes the loneliness out of reading. Best of all the new Kindle Paperwhite automatically syncs with Goodreads and takes the guess work out of it.

3. My final secret this year is that I appropriated Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret. The secret is this: he would write every day and mark of the day on the calendar. He wanted to keep the chain of writing going for as many days as he could. So every single day he would try to get something written and not break the chain. I altered it for reading. Every single day I read at least 1 to 2 chapters of a book in order not to break the chain. If the chapters are short I will read 3 or 4. A typical novel has 18 chapters, so in 12 to 14 days a typical novel is finished. That is two novels a month you can be reading.

unable to speak #LukeActs2014

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”
The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.” – Luke 1:18-20

I have been unable to speak many times in my life.

Once when I was getting married. Everything around me just froze and I found myself unable to form words.

Once when I was getting ordained. I felt the hands of my mentors and friends on my shoulders and I found myself mute in that moment.

Once when I found out we were getting children. My wife and I are unable to have children or so we thought. This past year we became foster parents to three amazingly wonderful children with the hope to one day become permanent parents. I remember sitting in the sanctuary crying and then I found myself unable to speak. I still worry and doubt, but Zechariah reminds me to be silent while the Lord works in mysterious ways.

How does God render you speechless?