All posts by kchagan

Pen Review: Retro 51 Tornado Slim

I have been hearing about Retro 51 pens now for over a year on the Pen Addict podcast. Myke, one of the host, is always raving about his love for Retro 51 Tornado pens. About a week ago I finally decided to order one – Tornado Slim Electron.

It uses the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 black ink which is kind of a mix of rollerball and ballpoint pen ink (you can learn more about it here – a great blog post about the ink).  And I will say that it is a wonderful pen.  The turning mechanism to get the pen ready to write is tactilely fantastic.  The ink is smooth and dark, but dries quickly and writes on just about any surface.

My only issue with the pen is, do I really need a $25 rollerball pen?  At the end of the day, that is what this decision comes down to.  I really love this pen.  It is an A+ pen.  It isn’t a question of IF it is a better writing experience than the pens anyone will pick up at Office Depot.  And yes that even includes my beloved Energel!  It is a question of, “Am I someone who needs a $25 rollerball pen?”  If you can afford one, by all means, get one.  It is really a dream to write with.  But if you can’t, don’t feel like you are cheating yourself.  It is more an issue of do I need and will use this pen enough to purchase a $25 rollerball pen.

Ministry Tip: …God meets us where we really are.

“God comes to us not where we should have been if we had made all the right choices in life; not where we could have been if we had taken every opportunity that God has offered us; not where we wish we were if we didn’t have to be in the place where we find ourselves; not where we think we are because our minds are out of sync with our hearts; not where other people think we are or think we ought to be when they are attending to their own agendas. God meets us where we really are.“ – Margaret Silf (Source: Inner Compass)

I came across this quote a few years ago and found it again as I was preparing for an upcoming sermon.  It is easy to think that if we have missed our preferred future or dream life that we have somehow missed out on God.  Scripture and experience remind us that that just isn’t the case. Thank God that he is where we are, not where we could have been.

Ministry Tip: You Have To 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.