Wednesday, February 23, 2005

tipping point

spent a good chunk of the day working on the church budget for next fiscal year. as we considered investing in some cosmetic improvements to the building our church community uses for our worship celebrations and offices, i was reminded of some interesting ideas about the power of context that i recently came across in Malcolm Gladwell's excellent book, The Tipping Point.

in it, he notes the precipitous decline in crime that New York City experienced last decade and sheds light on it's most direct cause: a crackdown on subway fair jumping and grafitti-free subway trains. apparently, the new head of the subway system at the time decided to invest a sizeble chunk of his budget and leadership equity towards making sure that anyone who tried to avoid paying a fare would be rounded up, taken to a police station, and prosecuted, and that no train would make its route if it had grafitti on it. as soon as a train had any grafitti on it, it was taken out of service until it was cleaned up, so that the grafitti artists' nighttime work never saw the light of day. the remarkable result in a very short period of time is that every kind of crime in the city declined. and dramatically. murders, robbery, assault, you name it. in other words, those small but noticeable changes to the environment created a "tipping point", such that a large number of people who might otherwise have been inclined to criminal behavior (and in previous years, had been) simply did not commit those crimes. simply because the environmental changes communicated ideas like: "someone is in charge here", among other things.

so anyway, got me thinking about what impact the physical environment in which we worship has on our worship and even on our common life together. what small things might create a "tipping point" that frees people to worship wholeheartedly who might otherwise have a low level of distraction or preoccupation or whatever, just enough to keep them from engaging with what God is doing at any particular time? could the transition from 2-ply to 3-ply kleenex create a tipping point? how about good lighting? fresh paint? well trimmed grass? what small things communcate ideas like: "God matters to us", "people matter to God", "there's more mercy here than we know exactly what to do with", "broken things get fixed with love", etc? seems like a fun idea to experiment with.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

february 17th

taking Ronni out to dinner for her birthday tonight. Tracey, a friend with whom we served in youth ministry a few years ago, is coming to watch Colin. it'll be nice to get out together, sort of alone, for a bit.

earlier this morning, met with Mark, a board member who serves as treasurer for the church. enjoying developing a friendship with Mark. his dad and my dad were both elders at emmaus fellowship (the church that eventually, in a meandering sort of way, became or gave birth to the church that is the milan vineyard), so it's kind of cool to be serving Jesus in similar capacities together.

like everyone else, trying to shake a bad cold. hasn't robbed any of the joy i'm taking from the awesome winter warmth event. hard to imagine being any prouder of the church than i was on monday night. love, enthusiasm, passion, tirelessness, excellence in service to Christ.

hard to imagine being more in love with Ronni, come to think of it. here's one of my favorite pictures of her, taken on a date one fall before we were married. doesn't do her justice, really, but captures something of her bearing, joy, felicity, zest.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


had a conversation with Colin yesterday about his favorite people, and why they were his favorite. happy to say i made the list at number 2 (why? apparently because i play counterstrike with him and because i love him). you may be wondering who number 1 was. let's just say aunt becky must be letting him stay up way past his bedtime when she babysits.

the more interesting answer, to me, was number 5. "me," he said, seriously, but also a little like he was a surprised to discover that it was so.

"why?" i asked

"because I'm cool, and ..." here he paused to consider, and what followed were perhaps the most revealing, unexpected and thrilling words a dad might hope to hear. "...because I really love myself." matter of fact, unselfconscious. even sanguine.

just for fun, here's one of my favorite pics of Colin:

Sunday, February 6, 2005

super bowl party

went to Jon & Cathy's warm new home to watch the super bowl tonight. great fun had by all. must have been 20 people there at various times. i suspect Elle was as popular among a certain demographic as the game itself. excellent game, all the way around. the Pats make winning look like a character trait. dug the classy approach to the national anthem, and was surprised by how much i enjoyed the halftime show.

loved the mustang commercial with the frozen driver. Colin couldn't figure out why the guy wouldn't have pushed the button to bring the top up. he was also concerned that the spring thaw would result in him melting into a puddle in the driver's seat. hard to fault his logic on either score. the ameriquest mortgage ads with the don't judge too quickly tagline were brilliant as well. and who doesn't love chimpanzees in the workplace?

Saturday, February 5, 2005

template editing

as may be obvious to those of you who've visited this blog previously, i'm trying to figure out how to customize the template. i think i've made a little progress (new title image, footer, etc.), but i can't figure out how to change the individual permalink pages (the pages that display individual posts) nor the comment pages. click here for an example. they still seem to show up in the old template format. something about the blogger html that's mysterious to me. anyone have any insight that might be helpful?

edit: er, nevermind. simple brain malfunction. new posts seem to be showing up properly, which makes sense, of course, as the old permalinks were created with the old code, but the new ones are created by the new code, and look just fine.

introducing vineyard

very encouraged by the turnout at our 'introducing vineyard' class today. probably twice as many attendees as we've had before in our short history as a church. great mixture of folks with a variety of gifts, backgrounds, current life situations, places on their journeys with Christ, etc. also encouraging to hear from the different ministry leaders, board members, small group leaders who showed up to say hello. made me proud to be associated with the church. came away thinking: i'd like to be part of this church. every pastor should be so blessed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005


Elle smiled at me for the first time yesterday, or at least for the first time while i was looking. eye's twinkling, her whole face lit up, dawn to high noon in one breathtaking moment. glorious. the kind of thing a camera would have loved but would have been unable to do justice to. no matter; it's branded in my soul now.