Me and the Mrs. Were able to travel Granger, IN last week and attend the Innovate Conference. Just like most conferences it felt like we were drinking from a fire hose.  There was so much great stuff to process so I am gong to do a little mind dump here for myself and for those who care to read…

  • In my mind I have been to the Mecca of all conferences (Catalyst). I assume that smaller more local conferences will not be as great or as big of a deal.  That was the first thing that caught me off guard about Granger. There were under 1,000 people there but the production level and excellence was so great that you could put it in an arena with 10,000 people and nothing would need to change. Not even the amount of screens:)
  • Most conferences to a fault are talking head conferences.  You are taught and you take notes and that is awesome but by the end no matter who someone is or how good they are you can tune out.  Sometimes at these events they will bring in a fire truck or elephant to wake you up and change things up but it can be gimmicky stuff that doesn’t teach you.  Innovate used creative ways other than talking head speakers (video, worship, creative planning, drama, etc. to teach and stay on point and still inspire me the attendee.
  • SESSIONS 1-Mark Beeson shared in the opening session about the importance of leading a team.  He shared that they have the gifts and your only job is not to keep work from them but to champion the vison and values.  He shared a bio of one specific team he leads.  This really resonated with me as I thought about my team. I lead a team with a police officer, a dog trainer, a corporate bank employee, some stay at home moms, college students, A food company executive, a nutritionist, a property manager, A church asst., and a project manager.  I missed a few jobs, but you get the point…teams have various personalities, gifting, experiences, and passions.  Everyone who comes to you has some sort of momentum but you have to make sure it is moving with the team where you are going and not another direction even if it is only slightly difference. We have to put our energy into unifying them and keeping a ministry on target.
  • SESSION 2-Tim Stevens talked through worship experiences and planning that are original or recycled. He said that sometimes we see churches copying another or we see others that are so original and we get jealous, proud, or caught up in the whole thing.  The only question should be ”IS THIS EFFECTIVE IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR CHURCH?”  You don’t have to ask what are the new cool sermon series’ being named. You don’t have to ask did do this song yet. IT IS SIMPLY A QUESTION OF EFFECTIVENESS.
  • Sidebar: I think I mentioned this on here before but man is staying with Jeremy and Ginger Byng great. I got to see the Wednesday night ministry at their church as well as take in the middle school and high school evening. PS-Ginger is an awesome cook.
  • Something else that was awesome at Innovate was that the schedule allowed for breakout sessions and Q and A times with staff members. The first session Kristin and I chose to attend the student ministry one. It was great because they had like 5 staff members there. I could ask someone who is doing planning on a larger scale than us how they dream up a series, and I could talk to their small groups girl and ask about shepherding a group that is big.  You can always find someone doing something bigger and better than you but to be able to have their attention around a table with 1 2-1 staff ration is price less. I also left feeling pretty good at where we are as a high school ministry.
  • Something that was awesome for a session was the Creative Arts Mash-up. They gave 4 churches who are knows for being creative one verse (Phil 3:2) and just told them to fill 15 minutes creatively communicating that. There were funny videos and cover songs from a suburban church, there was dancing, and rapping from a hip-hop church, there was rock and comedy from a 20-something church, and a take home for everyone there from a new church.  This idea was great because I learned and was inspired by other creativity. I could work for the next year to steal and work off of the ideas I saw in this one session from 4 churches.  Not talking head teaching, but I learned and furiously took notes.
  • For my breakout session I went to Leading Change with Tim Stevens.

Here are his steps for Leading Change

  1. Make the case for change
  2. Make the decisions for change
  3. Create an urgency for change
  4. Implement the change
  5. Communicate the church (25% of the process is the change, 75% is the communication)
  6. Manage the change
  7. He also mentioned that change is good and can creative momentum, you must always have the meeting before the meeting with the influencers, you have to remember you always have a bucket of gas or water to throw on every sitatuion, and with big change you must have all hands on deck.
  • Shannon O’Dell shared his story of working in rural America. He took a church of 31 people and than lost 12 of them in a town of 88. That church is not 5 campuses and over 2,000 people in a county of only 19,000 . It connected with me since I am from the metropolis of Sterling, OH.  He talked about calling, your marriage, the waves a church makes in the community being more important than the size, and structures being important.
  • The conference was closed with communion in a very creative way that I think is tradition at Granger but was new and refreshing to me. I can’t say enough about the worship and media used.  They do this every week, but it was great to see.  There band was top notch and in some sets had as many as 4 worship leaders on stage.
  • SESSION 8- Mark Beeson closed the conference by first praying for everyone there in a very personal humble way for such a great crowd.  This church realy knows how to host and care for people.  Later Beeson shared the 5 stages of innovation.
  1. People deny that innovation is required.
  2. People deny that the innovation is effective
  3. People deny that the innovation is important
  4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effect required to adopt it
  5. People accept and adopt the innovation, adopt its benefits, attribute its success to anyone but the innovator, and pretend steps 1-4 don’t exist.
  • The programming was great at this conference there are some other ideas I am not mentioning and including humor which I think is often lost in Christian circles.
  • The price was great, the drive was short, and experience was awesome and I would wholeheartedly recommend that anyone attend this conference.  Obviously it has a specialty of sorts. It is no Piper conference, but if you are looking to be innovative and creatively present your message at your church I don’t think you will find a better conference.


This past week I attended INNOVATE 09 with my husband.  He tries to attend a conference or two every year to stay current and refreshed.  I would think for most ministry couples conferences are attended by the husband and the wives stay at home.

Many times this is because of finances and it is not bad but it causes a divide.  Nothing that will ruin a marriage, but it isn’t what may be best for your ministry long term.

When Mark comes home I want to know everything that went on from start to finish. I need to hear what the topics were, who were the key speakers, what was good or not so good and so on and so forth! We spend hours rehashing these conferences so that I can try and capture the same vision and excitement that Mark has. The divide is in un-shared experiences.

As the first session of this conference began and the worship was kicking off we both felt like we were breathing fresh air because it is refreshing to be poured into instead of being the one running the show.  In that instant I was glad that we would have the same experiences and could learn together and debrief over lunch, at night, and on the car ride home.  During the first session I leaned over to Mark and said, “ Every Pastor’s wife and woman in a ministry position should attend some conference with or without their husband every year.”  This thought began to spiral into many thoughts on women in ministry in my mind and so here I am writing another guest post.

I loved being at INNOVATE because I realized how much I need to be reminded about teamwork, vision casting, leading, and being creativity in ministry! Attending a conference together, we were able to debrief about our church vision, our creativity in youth ministry, how we can do it better, and what we are doing to build our team.  It gave us both a renewed excitement that we are doing what God has called us to do and doing it to the best of our ability.

You don’t have to be a pastor to vision cast, build a team, be creative, or be in charge of a ministry. If you are a pastor’s wife then you are part of the team! If you are the children’s director, creative director, etc. then you are part of team too! You can contribute to the vision and the creativity of ministry as much as someone who is paid on staff.  If you are serving in a position like Children’s ministry then there are so many ideas and ways to be challenged so you can better your ministry.

I think that wives should go with their husbands to these conferences as well as your paid women on staff (with their husbands).  We as pastor’s wives, creative directors, or as children’s ministry directors need to know the vision and be inspired to be creative and understand the changing culture in our churches.  IT’S NOT JUST FOR THE PASTOR…it’s for the whole team around him.


HSM has Wednesday night worship as our first step.  Our Grace (small) groups are step two and our discipleship philosophy.  Jim Heffner oversees all those groups, so it seems anymore my biggest involvement is that I happen to be married to one of the girls group leaders.  Kristin’s group started tonight and as she came home and told me the makeup of the night (minus the confidential details no leader should ever share) I was really impressed and asked her to write a guest blog post. I hope this can help someone who reads it and I think I will send it to our adult staff too.


I am in no way an expert Grace Group leader and most of the time I feel I am not sure what I am doing! I do find that making a “lesson plan” helps me to stay on topic and organized so that Grace Group runs smooth and orderly. Otherwise it’s easy to forget important discussion questions or to get off topic.

We had our first group of the year tonight and it was very exciting! I thought I would blog about what was talked about, planned out and laid in front of my students for this year.  I am leading with Katie Rochte this year and it will be great. She brings a fresh perspective as a college student and the girls really love her!

1-    To start we went around the circle and said name, grade and school (each girl had to say everyone else’s name as well as their own). We had a few new girls join so this is an easy icebreaker.

2-    Before I started talking about our vision I told the girls that I was going to ask an important question at the end and I wanted to give them a good hour to come up with an answer so I posed the question at this time: “ what is one thing you want to be held accountable to this group for. We will ask each other publicly every week”

3-    I transitioned into what I call “the business meeting time”.  Here are the first items of business:

  • who is Grace Group for?- GG’s are for Wednesday night HSM attendees who have a relationship with Christ and want to continue growing in their faith. They are not for first time visitors or someone who is not a Christian (we want those students plugged into Wednesday nights first and then after they accept Christ we point them to a GG where they can grow).
  • Why do we have Grace Groups? So we can share life together, grow in our faith, and hold each other accountable in our walk with Christ.
  • Do I need to commit? Yep! I ask that the girls get their homework done and plan their outside activities at other times than 6:30-8:30 on Sundays. They need to commit for the sake of their own personal growth as well as keeping the intimacy created by everyone being there and caring about each other.

4-    The next order of business is talking about the vision of GG. There are four main areas that we want to emphasize and practice every week:

1)    Caring relationships- this happens at the very beginning when everyone arrives and we hang out in the kitchen, eat snacks and catch up with each other

2)    Biblical truth- we are doing a DVD series on Fransis Chan’s book Crazy Love. We will watch the short chapter clip each week and talk through discussion questions at the end.

3)    Accountability- We will all talk about our personal time we have spent in the Bible that week and the things that God is teaching us.  We will also talk through the specific things each girl mentioned as a struggle that needs accountability.

4)    Prayer- simply put we will pray for each other. This may happen in pairs some weeks or corporately. We also would like to have a chair sitting in the middle of the room and if someone feels there is a need beyond what we general pray for then they will sit in the chair and we will come around them and pray for them. It is a new idea that I feel will bring intimacy to the group and create an atmosphere of sharing real life struggles with each other.

5) I thought we needed to lighten the mood in the middle, so we all went around and shared something positive or a praise that happened in the last week.

6) At the end we all shared something that we need to be publicly held accountable for and wrote them down. It was a great time to see girls open up and share things that they really want to see changed in their life.

7) I had them get into pairs and pray for each other and any other request that came to mind from the night.

8) I think we are set to hit the ground running next week!

(Katie also brought up to the girls that everything sounds so serious, and it is but the girls also need to know that beyond the deeper sharing we also need to be sharing the praises in our lives and celebrate the things that God is teaching us. We can grow just as much by seeing that God is alive and active and doing great things in our lives. )


Week #2 of the back to school rush is almost over so here is a little mind dump review of some happenings and thoughts.

  • Awesome week at HSM.  Focused on Growing in Grace Groups and the importance of biblical community.
  • Tons of people wanting connected in a group so now we have to make it happen.
  • Last night I didn’t speak. The only thing I did was freestyle for a game we did….it was fun and it ended up pretty good. I was afraid I would make a fool of myself, but our white kids wouldn’t know if it was bad anyway.
  • I mentioned this a little bit in my last post but Sarah and Stacie were with us last night and spoke on discipleship.  In some ways I shouldn’t be caught off guard since it is their job but holy cow were they good. They had our students attention the whole time. I actually just regurgitated their stuff to my own Grace group last night.  If they are coming to your area, get them with your students.
  • I love the nights where I get to just be in the back.  I am there just to make sure everyone knows their cues.  We had 18 people on stage with the welcome, game, announcements, prayer, testimonies, teaching, and worship.
  • We are doing another HSM shirt, I will have to put that pic up on here next week.
  • In the last week I have had over 20 students in my office for meetings and it has been refreshing.
  • I am learning a ton right now as we transition to having someone over our grace groups.  Transitioning “power” and “authority” is not seamless.  I believe in what we are doing and can’t wait to get there.
  • It is weird how exciting it is when college and pro football startup. These couple months are the only reason I still own a TV.
  • Malachi is spending the night at my parents tonight. Kristin and I don’t even know what to do when he is gone. I mean for a few hours we washed our cars and mowed the yard but after that it is lonely.
  • So maybe it wasn’t a good idea to loosen the light fixture at Mike and Emily’s house as a prank? Just kidding but check out his battle scars.
  • Kary Oberbrunner is speaking this weekend. He is money,  I hope I don’t find out in the future that he has been on HGH this whole time.
  • Spent some time at the Spoelstra’s house last night.  Melissa heard I am doing the shirt interviews and also that HSM is doing a testimony every week now. She asked if I stole those things from her husband and Encounter Church our church plant. OK so maybe I stole the testimony thing, but the interview thing I stole from Nick Cleveland in 2003 and have just had it in my back pocket.

There I got it all off my chest…….Gotta go!


Last night Sarah Knepper and Stacie Fay (the CE National ambassadors) came and spoke to HSM about discipleship.  If I were to grade them it would be an A+. They did a perfect job of drawing our hearts to a desire to know God more.  I was actually jealous at how the whole room was paying attention.  I will debrief more later but I just wanted to thank them this morning and show some link love to their road trip blog. CHECK OUT THEIR BLOG!


Anyone who knows me knows that I love to chew gum.  Most pictures of me, if you look close will show a piece of gum tucked somewhere in my smile.  In an effort to keep things light here on I thought I would offer a peep into my recent thought patterns and my overall THEOLOGY OF GUM.

When I was young I chewed my fingernails like a fiend. For better or worse that was me. I couldn’t quit, even with that stuff that tasted terrible painted on my nails.  I was a victim of my oral fixation. I chewed the feet off of my brothers’ action figures when I got really desperate. It wasn’t until I got to high school and was finally allowed to chew gum in class that I realized I could gain freedom by diverting my attention.

It was in 1997 that I became a gum man.  I soon began carrying a pack with me at all time. Soon I realized I was accustomed to having good breath and it became a double addiction.

At first I would take only the yellow and green gum from the multi-pack of Carefree gum my mom would buy each week with our family groceries. Soon it became clear that I had to branch out and buy my own gum. My three needs were a gum that was sugarless (since I would chew it 10 hours a day), gave me good breath, and lasted long enough to make it worth the price.

My gum of choice at that time was Ice Breakers and it worked until around 2001 when I discovered the new Extra Polar Ice flavor.  I always knew Extra lasted longer like they said but until that flavor nothing they offered really gave good breath.  I stayed with that gum until the present.

I have been tempted to try new things like Orbit, 5, Dentyne Ice, and Trident Whitening over the last couple years. I am not sure if they are sugarless but an added bonus of whitening made me think about it. Over the years I chewed a ton of gum and so the I would never run out I always carried a second or third pack. The biggest thing that kept me with Extra was that they still packaged in a small traditional 5 piece pack.  When you get down to the last piece in a big pack (15 pieces) you have to carry a second pack and the two packages can be bulky in a pocket almost the size of a second wallet.

Wrigley’s Extra recently decided to keep up with the Jones’ and go to the big pack that carries 15 pieces.  It’s not a big thing but that is the only thing that had kept me still with their brand.  Not I owe it to myself to see if there is a gum out there that will satisfy my new criteria.


Last a long time (almost from one meal to another)

Travels light in my pocket

Gives me good breath

Whitens my teeth

I bet you have never seen someone care so much about gum or give their THEOLOGY OF GUM. So what should I chew? What do I need to check out?


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HSM launched last night. This can only mean one thing…….MIND DUMP!

  • I thought I knew how much I missed Wednesday nights, but being back made me realize how much I miss it even more. I just miss seeing my peoples.
  • For the first time in my time at Powell, we did NOT launch our year with a food fight.  Middle school still did it, and had one guy bring 25 friends. We decided to switch gears and just launch.
  • Started the year with a series called Vision. We are going through our values-worship, grow, serve, outreach.
  • The night was focused on worship. I taught through Revelation 4-5 to try and give a glimpse of who God is and why he deserves worship.
  • Not sure my part was great but God used it. The night as a whole was phenomenal though.
  • Worship was top notch. Our band has been building for 3 years and we now have some sharp upperclassmen that can rock.
  • Kelly Coville is going to be great in her spot of highlighting what God is doing through testimonies.
  • The food and atmosphere was instant the minute you entered the room.  Vickie raised her game with multiple banners and visuals.
  • In total we had 15 students on stage and even 10 without the band.  Transitions were seamless and we even had some budding comedians among us.
  • We used the polls as our game and it worked just as well as at momentum.
  • We had some big numbers. Maybe the biggest we have ever had for a Wednesday in the basement.  I had a conversation this week about evaluating what you value so I am not going to talk about butts in seats.  Although that is one thing we value we value visitors, salvation decisions, baptisms, and verbalized commitments just as much.
  • One number I liked from last night was that 12% of the people there were visitors.
  • Rachel Weng is money as our check-in person. She knows almost every person that comes in the door…which is more than I can say for me. To top it off she is volunteering like 2 days a week so she sends the follow up letters to all the firs time visitors that she registers. I love it.
  • Next week we continue our vision series by talking about our value-grow.  We will have CE National’s discipleship gurus Sarah Knepper and Stacie Fay in the heezy to Ambassadize the crowd.
  • The goal is that as they encourage the value of discipleship Jim Heffner our grace group guru will than transition to connecting them to one of our group leaders who will be in the room that night.
  • I got to go to a soccer game this week and be a coach again. I miss it a lot.  Unfortunately for the soccer guys Malachi is way cuter than them.
  • In other news, Grace Church goes to 3 services this week.  I am excited to see the growth and changes more people serving in our body will bring.
  • Grace Kids continues to upgrade the building in major ways. There isn’t a hallway that hasn’t been repainted. I will have to get some pics because it looks sweet these days.

Welp I think the posts will be more frequent now since the fall is in full swing.