2013 International Speaking and Self-Promotion Tour

Okay, it’s hardly a speaking tour and it barely qualifies as international, but I’m going to be at a few great events in the near future. Here goes:

Killer Tribes Conference — Atlanta, GA | March 23

Can’t wait to attend this conference, let alone be a part of the official program. I’ll be participating on a panel of authors, drawing upon my VAST experience. Want to come to Killer Tribes? Register here and save $20 with the promo code ILIKESCOTT. (Note: You don’t actually have to like me.)

TransFORM — Ft. Worth, TX | April 5-6

This event is dedicated to forming missional communities — a cause I can certainly get behind. I’m teaching a workshop on story, and the registration cost is just $25, so sign up.

Tapestry Adoption & Foster Care Event — Irving, TX | April 13

Adoption is a big part of my family’s story, which figures prominently into the opening of Tell Me a Story, so I’m so happy to be talking with adoptive and foster families about story at this free event. Tapestry is a wonderful ministry that Annie and I are honored to be a part of, and you’re welcome to join us.

Create — St. Catherines, ON, Canada | June 3-5

I spoke at the first Create back in 2011, and I’m thrilled to be invited back this year. If you’re Canadian, or if you’re just fond of Canadians, you’ll love this experience. They’ve put together a great lineup (as always), so check it out.

Echo — Dallas, TX | July 24-26

When I was the director of Echo I could just invite myself to teach a breakout session (and I did, like, every year). This year I’m no longer the director, but the Echo team was nice enough to invite me back any way. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

So, that’s my schedule. I hope to see you out on the road somewhere!

Wait, What Is Vision?

For all the talk about the importance of defining an individual’s or organization’s vision, I’d never latched onto a definition of the word itself that really captured my imagination. Then one of my teammates here at IBC, David Grant, sent me this article by Scott Cormode for Fuller Seminary. Here’s how Cormode defines vision:

Vision is a shared story of future hope.

I just love that. Cormode’s piece is about how stories can compel people toward meaningful change. In fact, there’s a great example in the article about the leaders of a next generation ministry that took seriously the challenge to give their students stories of future hope.

If you’re still wondering what a shared story of future hope might look like, consider Cormode’s opening example: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What was perhaps the most beautiful, compelling, and revolutionary vision of the last 100 years went something like this:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

And of course we know that Dr. King’s dream ultimately pointed to a story of future hope that was articulated long ago:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the flesh shall see it together.

As someone who has dedicated much of his thinking lately to story as it relates to the people of God, I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Cormode for his helpful definition: Vision is a shared story of future hope. Here at IBC we’re doing what we can to tell a shared story of future hope — the story of what God has done, is doing, and will do in and through us — and we’re inviting all who hear to join in.

Grateful

Well, I’m a published author. Tell Me a Story is out. In light of that strange and unlikely reality, I’d be foolish not to stop and say how grateful I am to a number of people. Will you indulge me?

First, my wife Annie. She’s the best. I couldn’t have done this without her, and she loves telling people about this book. Amazing. Everyone else falls in line after her …

Moody Publishers — the team at Moody has been so encouraging from the very beginning, and as a first-time author I’ll be forever grateful to them for that.

Jeff Goins — Jeff is a great writer and he was generous enough to contribute a compelling foreword to Tell Me a Story. If you don’t know his work, or if you haven’t read Wrecked, please remedy that situation immediately.

The Endorsers — I’ve made wonderful friends in this church leadership world over the years, and several of them were kind enough to put their names on my book. Thanks to Jon, Charles, Phil, Amena, Kem, Rhett, Jonathan, Brad, and Blaine for being willing to take a bit of a risk. (Check out the Endorsers link for their words and links.)

The Informal Marketing Department — several people have helped me spread the word about the launch of the book, and I’d love to mention a few:

  • Church Marketing Sucks and editor Kevin Hendricks — they reviewed my book, let me write a guest post, and Kevin even mentioned my book in a post on his personal blog
  • Jonathan Merritt — I was so fortunate to participate in this engaging Q&A about the significance of story and storytellers in our day and age. Read it if you get a chance.
  • Sunday| Magazine — Thanks to editor Jonathan Malm for the opportunity to write this article on short stories.
  • There are more, of course. People who’ve tweeted kind and wonderful words about buying the book and enjoying its contents. Thank you all.

The People of Irving Bible Church — I’ve been a part of IBC for about nine years now, but I’ve only been on staff for about a month. I’m still the new guy. And yet, that didn’t stop the staff from throwing me a book launch party today complete with books for everyone, more than enough pizza, and a gigantic poster of me. Yes, a gigantic poster of me. I haven’t done anything yet to deserve that kind of love and support, but I guess that’s what grace is all about.

All of these people (and more) have made the release of my first book an experience I’ll never forget. And for that, I’m grateful.

Keller On Marketing In The Church

I’m doing some reading along with my fellow pastors here at IBC, and in that process I came across a helpful thought I felt I should share. Here’s a slice from Tim Keller’s conversation with Christianity Today about his ministry and the ideas he puts forth in Center Church:

CT: What role should marketing play in the church?

KELLER: The critique is that the church has overused, maybe unconsciously, business marketing techniques. And I think that critique is probably half right. Whenever people talk to me about marketing, I say, “Tell me what marketing is.” Some of what they usually describe seems like common-sense, wise communication. Some of it seems like manipulation. I commend wise communication, not the other parts that make me cringe.

I appreciate that clarification. As I’ve opined several times in the last few years, the ends never justify the means. We, church leaders, of all people should know that. In other words, the manipulation side — anything less than honest and authentic communication — ought to make us cringe too. We ought to crusade against any hints of manipulative communication in our churches, regardless of the medium or the cause.

If you have time, read the entire CT piece. It features really interesting thoughts from both Tim Keller and Andy Stanley, two brilliant communicators with very different styles and church communities.

Tell Me a Story Is Available for Pre-Order!

I’ve mentioned this in passing a couple of times, but not in the form of an official announcement:

Tell Me a Story is now available for pre-order! As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this fact.

Yes, the book will be officially released in 10 days, but I know you. You’re an early adopter, always on the cutting edge, pre-ordering books well before anyone else has even heard of them. That’s why I’m bring this information to you.

Assuming you’ve got 9 or 10 bucks to your name, here’s where to find Tell Me a Story online:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

 

 

You can also find it at Christianbook.com and Books-A-Million.

Friday Likes

It was a busy week for me, but that didn’t stop me from finding time to like some stuff.

1. Scott & Vik Harrison interviewed on The Great Discontent

Those two are the driving force behind one of my favorite organizations, charity: water, so it was great to see them featured on a fantastic interview site. Their personal stories are inspiring, and their work is second-to-none.

2. The new IgniterMedia.com

I’m so proud of what my former colleagues launched this week. It’s beautiful, functional, and built to serve the church around the world. I also happen to know that the site is the result of months of hard work by the Igniter team, and I’d say that hard work has paid off. Great job, guys.

3. Talking story and church communication with Tim Peters

This week Tim Peters posted a 10-minute conversation we recorded last Friday. In the interview we talk about story and church communications — two of my favorite topics — and Tim gave me the chance to mention my book as well. You can watch the conversation here:

4. My book is a real thing

It happened this week … I received a few copies of my book in the mail. Not the manuscript. Not an unedited proof. The actual paperback book people will get when (okay, if) they buy a copy. Holding my first book in my hands was a strange and wonderful feeling, and not one I’ll soon forget. I told Elise and Maggie I’d give them bacon in exchange for five-star reviews of my book on Amazon, so they each agreed to take a look:

E & MCrazy.

And that’s what I liked this week.

Friday Likes

It’s Friday and, well, I still like stuff. As such, here’s another edition of Friday Likes:

1. Wunderlist

There’s no shortage of to-do list apps in our world, but Wunderlist is my current weapon of choice. It’s free to use on your computer, phone, and tablet thingy, and Wunderlist syncs your lists and tasks across all your devices. If you’re already financially invested in another app, or if you need something that’ll integrate with a team, Wunderlist probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a personal productivity solution, give it a spin.

2. James Vincent McMorrow

I was introduced to this artist via @paul_cawley, and I feel like I owe Paul a debt of gratitude. This tune might persuade you of McMorrow’s greatness:

3. Blaine Hogan’s blog

Blaine is an artist, author, and the Creative Director at Willow Creek Community Church. Lately, Blaine has been on a blogging roll, and you’d be crazy to miss out. Read and subscribe and all that.

Those are my likes for the week. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Cardboard Leadership

cardboardcar

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Elise’s preschool sent her home with a big assignment: all the three- and four-year-olds had to transform a cardboard box into a car. Then, last week, all the students brought their cars to school and raced them in a big grand prix. I knew what I was going to see at the grand prix, and yet I still wasn’t prepared for it. Here’s what I mean …

When it came to designing and constructing Elise’s car, my wife Annie and I made a conscious decision: we were going to let her take the lead. Our primary interest, as far as this project was concerned, was Elise’s development and learning experience. (At this point I should probably mention that Annie is a certified teacher and a longtime practitioner of child development theory.) But what I saw when I attended the grand prix was that we were among the few parents who felt that way.

The other parents — as we suspected they might — appeared to have entered into a competition to see which adult could deliver the most impressive cardboard automobile. There were Batmobiles, princess carriages, sharks-on-wheels, and blinking lights. But there wasn’t any self-expression on the part of the kids. Our daughter’s car bore the telltale signs of unsteady hands, haphazard spacing, and an underdeveloped eye for color. Our daughter experienced the joy and frustration of a blank canvas.

A lot of the kids were pleased with what their parents made for them; our daughter was proud of what she’d made.

I’m far from being a model parent. Just ask Elise — she’ll tell you the truth. But I think I’m learning something about what it means to be both a parent and a leader. See, it’s always easier for me to do an art project myself — to sketch the princess, to build the castle, to color in the lines, to cut out the shape, to tape the pieces together — but my daughter will never grow into an artist that way.

It’s not enough for her to observe art being made or to receive art that has been made. She’s got to do some making herself. I’m learning that teaching and leadership aren’t the easiest ways to deliver a project, but they are the most formative for Elise.

If I’m truly interested in that which is most beneficial and transformative for Elise, I’ll commit to doing things the hard way. I’ll grimace as she stumbles and slips, but I’ll bite my tongue because she needs the practice. I’ll let her get her reps. I’ll also be content to show up at a preschool grand prix with a ramshackle racer covered in enough glitter to choke an elephant. I’ll stride past the row of cars that look like they were built by Audi’s cardboard design division and take my seat.

As the preschool director screams, “Start your engines!” I’ll smile — not at what I built, but who she’s becoming.

Friday Likes

Here we are — week 2 of my little Friday Likes experiment. Here’s what I’ve been into this week:

1. Air Review, Low Wishes

Air Review is a band based here in Dallas and comprised of some great guys. They released this fantastic album (iTunes, Amazon) this week, and I’ve been playing it nonstop. From songwriting to performance to production, Low Wishes lacks for nothing in my humble opinion.

2. BBC’s The Hour

The Hour is a fantastic series set in 1956 London — think Mad Men meets The Newsroom meets Rubicon (I’m the only human who watched Rubicon). The series features a great cast, including McNulty from The Wire and Moriarty from Sherlock. Find the DVDs or download it from iTunes.

3. What It Means To Be a Man by Rhett Smith

My friend Rhett’s new book won’t be out for three more months, but I’ve been fortunate to get to read an advance copy this week. The book has really challenged me, and I think it’ll do the same for many, many others. Rhett’s offering a small group of people the opportunity to read and discuss the book early — check out this post for more details.

That’s it for me this week. I’ve got a new job to get to today, so I’d better put down the laptop and get ready.

Innovation and Revival

dore-paul

You’ve no doubt read a pre-obituary or two for The Late, Great American Church. You know, because she’s dying and stuff. All the numbers and pundits say so.

In response, some of us push the panic button, have an ideological fire sale, and try to remake the church into something postmodern Americans might find palatable. Others batten down the hatches, refuse to change even the slightest detail about how they do the church thing, and try to put a noble spin on going down with the sinking ship.

However, as is often the case in a world of polar extremes, there exists a third way. Something in the center, as it were. Here’s Tim Keller in Center Church:

“… when we study the history of revivals, we usually see in the mix some innovative method of communicating the gospel.”

He’s talking about how revivals are almost always marked by the familiar — “preaching, pastoring, worship, and prayer” — they’re also almost always marked by something unusual (outdoor preaching, society meetings, weekday prayer meetings, the printing press, etc.).

So, we must cling to both the old (beliefs and practices) and strain ahead toward the new (methods, metaphors, and expressions). We the communicators must be historians, contextualizers (sorry, that’s not a word), archaeologists, and designers. We must grasp the ancient and the emerging, and we must enjoin them in a narrative that is distinctly now.

This is one of the main ideas of Center Church, and I believe it ought to be one of our main ideas as well. After all, revival is the most confounding response to an obituary.

Communications Pastor and author of Tell Me a Story