All posts by kchagan

Ministry Tip: Learn To Take It or You Have To Learn To Hit It

I was watching a baseball game last week and Preston Wilson, a surprisingly accomplished baseball player, shared a story about one of his former batting coaches.  In developing as a hitter Preston was told, concerning facing certain pitches, “You have to either learn to take it or you have to learn to hit it.”

As leaders, parents, pastors, or people – we are probably talented. We can get the job done in a handful of areas.  We have learned to hit a lot of the pitches we face.  But I wonder if we have learned how to “take” the pitches that we can’t hit.  Are we comfortable not trying to do more than we can?  Are we willing to admit that we can’t do it all?  Sometimes the best thing we can do with the opportunities that are presented us is simply to let them pass by.  If we can’t hit it, we need to learn how to take it.

Ministry Tip: “I walk down another street.”

I came across this poem a few years ago.  It is from Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.  I love it.  In ministry, we have many, many folks who have been walking down the same streets for years and sometimes even generations.  Sometimes, those folks are us.  Find another street.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

Ministry Tip: It Is Only High From The Ground

This weekend I was with my kids at the playground.  I was doing my typical parenting style of being overprotective and worrying.  My son, who is 2 and a half, managed to work his way up the stairs and steps to the third tier of the playground slide.  I gave my usual encouragement that was couched in overcoming my own concerns.

It reminded me of an expression – that it mountains only look high from the bottom.  When Henry was up on highest level, it wasn’t high to him.  He was just having fun and enjoying his surroundings.  When you are trying to make a brave and bold decision, some folks from the ground might be concerned.  They will probably think that you are too far up and way outside of their comfort zone.  That is ok. It isn’t high for those of you who are up doing great things.  Hang in there and take a friend up there with you so that they can see what you are seeing.

Ministry Tip: This Time

If you are like me, you struggle when getting started on most projects…

If you are like me, you are often paralyzed with doubt, anxiety, and soul-crushing fear when getting started on most projects.  I have yet to do something significant that doesn’t involve some roadblock along the way.  It might be from an outside source or more often for me, within me.  Perfectionism, questioning my talent and abilities, or the constant reminder of my past failures – take your pick.

The question isn’t what will sidetrack me or you, but what will we do THIS time.  Let’s just act like last time doesn’t matter because this time it doesn’t.  The project you are working on right now doesn’t know your record or your history.  Just do your best this time.

My Favorite: Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 getting released earlier this month and the trailers for Spiderman: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok picking up traction, I thought it was time to put together some thoughts on my favorite films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  Becuase there are so many I will just put them in Tiers, not a numerical order because who has time for that.

A Tier: (ordered by release date)
Iron Man – It started the rebirth of Marvel movies fantastically.
Captain America: The First Avenger – Finally Chris Evans found a decent superhero to play.
Thor – As a long time Thor fan, this was all that I could have hoped for.
The Avengers – This was perfection. In my opinion a near flawless film in introducing all of the characters and offering fantasy with humor.
Captain America: The Winter Solider – Fantastic!
Ant-Man: This was a delight! I had not bothered to watch it in the theaters expecting it to be average at best, but I was pleasantly surprised.

B Tier:
Iron Man 2 – This barely makes this Tier. In light of how good the other films have been this seems lacking.
Thor: The Dark World – Very good film, but far from great.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 – This won’t be popular with some (Jack), but I didn’t love it. I don’t know what it was, but it was great to me.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron – It didn’t have the magic that the first did. I just found it trying to get too much done in a couple of hours.  Also, why am I watching Captain America and Iron Man having chopping firewood contest?
Captain America: Civil War – Again, good, but just not great.

C Tier:
Iron Man 3 – Really? This movie is total buns.

N/A (I haven’t seen these)
The Incredible Hulk – I have seen parts of this one with Norton and I have never found myself wanting to finish it.
Doctor Strange – I’m truly ashamed that I haven’t watched this yet.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – I’m working on it!!!

 

OC#17 Breakout Notes: Reimagining What A Small Church Can Do

Last week, Tim Tharp and I got the opportunity speak to Small Churches at the Orange Conference.  What an honor and privilege to be able to share what God has been doing in our community.  I wanted to highlight the Pivots again for anyone who might have missed them (my wife reminded me that I talked way too fast…sorry about that).

  • Pivot #1: Priorities
    • From advocating for Adults to championing for Children
    • Who gets the most time, energy, and money at your church?  If you are like most churches – then it is Adults.  Adults will get what they need.  Kids need someone to speak up for them.  Who is championing Children and Students being a priority in your church?  If you don’t make kids a priority then no one will.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we put Children at the center of our church
  • Pivot #2: Strategy
    • From a mindset of Scarcity to Sufficiency
    • Feeling like we don’t have enough isn’t an emotion reserved for small churches.  Everyone wants more – more volunteers, more space, more money!  But what if we believed that we had enough of what we needed to make a difference in people’s lives. HOW we use what we have, our strategy, is more important than the quantity of our resources.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we believe we have enough
  • Pivot #3: Focus
    • From focusing on our congregation to focusing on our community
    • I’m not sure when exactly it happened – but at some point, during my last few years in ministry, I realized that I spend the majority of my time caring for and managing the business of ministry.  Maybe I should say the BUSYNESS of ministry.  When did we stop making time for people that needed help the most?  It wasn’t a deliberate shift away from my community, but it will take intentional effort to get back to serving my congregation and community.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we look beyond the confines of the Sanctuary – into the needs of our community
  • Pivot #4: Perspective
    • How we see other churches in our community from competition to colleagues
    • This might be the hardest lesson for leaders and pastors.  If we are honest, most of us have been trained that for our church to succeed, other churches in our community must fail.  If you are like me you often see the church down the street as competition.  Quickly my energy is spent trying to build my Kingdom instead of working to build God’s Kingdom.  Guess which one will last?
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we realize that when any church in our community wins our entire community wins

I hope that this was helpful.  I can’t tell you how cool it was to be able to share about some of the ways that Wrightsville First United Methodist has been utilizing these principles to transform our church.  If you would like more information about the Breakout you can find me at – kirkhagan(at)gmail.

Ministry Tip: You Will Always Find Critics

News Flash: People love to question good ideas when they didn’t come up with them.  They will find a reason, or more often reasons, why your idea or the strategy that you are implementing isn’t right.  They will find flaws and holes.  They will think of ten different ways that are better than what you and your team came up with.

Don’t be surprised.  People will be critical.  Sometimes they are right.  But lots of times, they aren’t.  Have you prayed about your plan?  Have you had conversations and discussed your options?  Have you done the necessary work of coming to a good decision, involving the right people at the right time?  Then don’t doubt that.  People will always come in as the last coat of paint is going on the wall with an opinion that you should have gone with a darker shade.  But you won’t.  Because you are doing what best.  Not because you came up with it, but because you followed your process and trust the team that is doing ministry.  Listen to yourself.  Trust your process.  Follow where that leads.

Ministry Tip: Get the Right People Involved at the Right Time

Have you ever realized that you were getting great feedback…after it was too late?  This happens to me constantly.  I have an idea.  I start making plans and arrangements.  I get just enough folks on board to implement the idea.  We execute the idea and it goes ok.  Just ok.  Afterward, I have people who could have offered invaluable information and suggestions.  Unfortunately, it is too late.

As the leader, pastor, director, whatever – it is our responsibility to have the right people involved at the right time.  Tomorrow is probably not the right time.  After the event or decision is not the right time.  It is difficult and hard work to have conversations where you might not get your way before the event happens.  The old saying of, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission,” is funny and stupid.  Don’t be that guy.  You will not last long and you will not make a difference.

Ministry Tip: Make Only The News That You Intend To Make

I was listening to a podcast a few days ago and heard a fantastic line, “Make only the news that you intend to make.”  It was used when discussing a hearing that a public figure made concerning some sensitive and important information.

I wonder how often I succeed in, “making only the news that I intend to make,” in the meetings I attend and lead.  How often do I muddy the waters by interjecting unhelpful comment?  How often to I sidetrack our intended purpose by offering up an opinion that will get more “press” the following week than the original objective of the meeting?  Make only the news that you intend to make…I couldn’t have said it better.

My Favorite: Pen (you can get at your favorite Office Supply Store)

Listen, I get it.  You have been waiting for me to write this.  I have had countless friends, Tom, Jack, David, and others, hounding me wanting to know what I think the best inexpensive pen you can buy from most office supply stores.  So I’m going to tell you.

The best you can get!

The Pentel Energel Needle Tip in .5 is my go-to pen.  It is cheap enough so I don’t mind giving them away or losing one, but a great writer on any paper.  Surprise, surprise my favorite feature is the almost instant drying time. #leftyproblems  But it isn’t just how fast it drys.  Pentel’s blue ink is one of the most vibrant I have seen (apart from some Fountain Pen inks, I’m looking at you Noodlers Baystate Blue!).  I have been pleased with all of the colors I have used, Black, Blue, Red, and Green.  Although I have seen some bleed through on the green with some types of paper.  Pentel gives you plenty of options in style, pen tip (Classic or Needle tip), and width of the line (from .38 to 1.0).   You can learn more than you care to know about them at a great blog post at JetPens.

I would also add an honorable mention to the Uni-Ball Signo RT1 .38 for my favorite micro gel pen.  You can’t get this style in stores in the U.S. (sorry Tennessee).  I discovered both of these and more from Brad’s Pen Addict list of Top 5 Pens.  It is really the place to go if you want to start exploring some other options.  The Signo RT1 gives an incredibly thin line (I write small!) and looks stylish and distinct.

So to recap.  Throw out your terrible Pilot G2.  I know they are everywhere but so is trash and I don’t see you picking that up and writing with it!  Spend $5 on a 3 pack of the Energel pens.  If you don’t love them, mail them to me!  I will gladly use them.