Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Humorous theology video

I saw this video on a friend's Facebook page and couldn't resist sharing it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Learning a Lesson from Tylenol

In late September and early October of 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking extra-strength Tylenol capsules that had been tampered with and subsequently found to contain cyanide. The criminal behind these deaths was never identified and brought to justice. On October 5th, the parent company Johnson & Johnson took the unprecedented step of recalling some 31 million bottles of Tylenol in circulation with a value of more than 100 million dollars. They did so even though it had been clearly demonstrated that the poisonings were the result of deliberate tampering with the bottles and not a consequence of a production error. In the aftermath of these deaths, Tylenol introduced a new triple-sealed package to prevent such crimes in the future. While in the short-run, Tylenol’s market share dropped from 35% to 8%, before the year was out it had completely recovered, and Tylenol would later become the country’s most popular pain reliever.

I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the way Johnson & Johnson handled this crisis. Even though they were not directly responsible for the deaths of those who swallowed the tainted capsules, the company willingly incurred a massive financial loss by recalling all of the existing stock to ensure public safety. Furthermore, they changed their packaging (which also undoubtedly represented an additional outlay of capital) because they were intent on regaining the public’s confidence.

There will be times when we are unjustly accused of wrongdoing. At other times, suspicion will be cast on our motives. It is then that we need to be willing to go the extra mile to demonstrate that we have the other person’s best interest at heart. If a secular company can right the wrongs committed by another, surely we as Christians can do likewise.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reggie McNeal's Conference

I thoroughly enjoyed the day yesterday at Pleasant Valley Baptist in Liberty, MO listening to Reggie McNeal expound on missional living. He's an extremely engaging communicator who mixes in lots of humor along the way with his critique of the established church for going about business as usual and allowing programs to drive us rather than passionately engaging those outside the walls of our institutions. He sprinkled in lots of statistics and stories of individuals and churches that are "getting it" in terms of the shift to living missionally.

His presentation pretty well mirrored the contents of his recent book, Missional Renaissance, with its insistence on the need to change the church's scorecard in terms of what we count and celebrate. Reggie did a great job yesterday of addressing two of the three shifts he talks about in that book (from an internal to an external focus, and from running programs to developing people). He didn't really discuss at any great length the third focus the book mentions which is the shift from professional leadership to leadership shared by everyone in the community. I suppose he was alluding to this when he did answer a question about the future of the ministry as we've known it in the past.

He made an excellent point when he stressed that leaders are often too quick to sell solutions to problems before they've sufficiently convinced people that a problem exists. I think that's why the majority of our churches find it so comfortable to continue sustaining traditional programs rather than asking the hard questions about which programs really deserve to be maintained and which ought to be allowed to die a merciful death.

I'm glad that several from our staff were able to attend the conference together because it gives us a common framework of experience to discuss these issues. I expect it will provide some great fodder for thought in the coming days.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good weekend at Windermere

I returned this afternoon (Saturday) from an enjoyable time the past couple of days down at Lake of the Ozarks at the Windermere Baptist Conference Center. The BGCM had scheduled a two-day retreat as a part of our quarterly board meeting. The additional time gave us the opportunity yesterday to do some team-building exercises. We viewed and interacted as a group with a training DVD produced by Franklin Covey entitled "The Speed of Trust." We spent time conversing about what it means to build a high-trust organization and the means of doing so. I thought it was a very productive time and we had some outstanding fellowship as always when we gather.

Today we met with our individual teams to engage in some planning and strategizing before meeting as a group to conduct business and hear the insights and ideas of the other teams. The Missions Mobilization Team that I lead talked about our ongoing partnership with Guatemalan Baptists and ongoing opportunities for ministry there. We continue to explore ways to engage the Lakota Indians living on the Lower Brule Reservation in South Dakota where our church's youth have traveled the past two summers.

One of the major initiatives we're undertaking involves the official launch of ChurchNet, our organizational name and identity. The BGCM remains committed to serving churches as our first priority and the goal is to do so much more effectively as we roll out a new website that will offer a much more interactive approach than our current site. It will feature an extensive resources database that will help churches find the assistance they need as well as allow members to suggest, identify, and contribute resources to the site. The website will also contain links to training opportunities that we ourselves will be leading or that other groups are conducting.

I'm excited about what the future holds for ChurchNet as we move forward with the implementation of our new five-year strategic plan. It's great to be a part of a Baptist group that isn't squabbling and fighting internally and whose focus is on helping churches accomplish their ministries more effectively.