Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Addiction

One of my Twitter Friends @ChristieSays sent this to me today via Twitter:

"@MarketerMikeE: Your stressing putting focus on others instead of self on twitter. But your own blog is about you."

Wow! That knocked me out! At first I thought, "She has no idea what she is talking about!" Then I realized that she had stormed into the truth.

@ChristieSays was right and made an extremely terrific point. Even when I am sharing, telling, tweeting, preaching, harping, bitching and or complaining to others to spend more time focusing on others and less on self, I can actually be focusing on me. How? Because when I am doing this I can actually be thinking in my Messed Up mind, "Wow, the people who are listening to me must think I am really cool because of what I am saying!"

So before I tweet, speak or preach I am going to try to remember to stop for a minute and think about this: Is the next thing to come out of my mouth really and truly about helping others or is it just about me?

Thank you God for @ChristieSays and other people you have brought into my life. Thank you for using these people to knock me into reality and to remind me that my biggest and worst addiction is: SELF.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helping Her Was The Last Thing

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?

--The Beatles

Be careful when you ask someone this question: "How are you doing?" It's potentially dangerous. Why? They might need your help.

Today was day 4 of my new job as the Community Relationship Manager at my company. I'm very important. I'm extremely busy. I'm making things happen. Then I screwed up. I asked a co-worker how they were doing? She said, "Mike, this has to be one of the worst weeks of my life. Can you lend an ear?" Crap. She wants me to listen. She wants me to stop for a moment and listen. What could be more important than day 4 of my new gig? I put the extremely selfish, self centered Mike Ellis aside and said, "Sure, I've got time to listen." Then she poured her heart out and began to cry.

Helping her was that last thing I wanted to do. Helping her was the most important thing I did today.

Help isn't always complicated. There are moments when helping is simply listening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Men, How Dare You

How dare you? Who in the Hell do you think you are? Abusing a woman. Neglecting a woman. Being a coward. A fool. Who do you think you are? You're not God. You're just a man. You're not an impressive man. You're not a responsible man. You're not a noble man. You're not a respectable man. There is no excuse for any man who claims the name of Christ to treat a woman in a dishonorable, disrespectful way.
--Pastor Mark Driscoll

Men, watch the complete clip below. Does he have a point? Is Mark right or wrong? I watched it and was convicted. After watching this clip, will you treat your wife differently?

Christians Behaving Badly

When Christ followers act like complete jerks, ass___, dorks, or $%!@!@^% by eating their own or judging and hurting other believers we have "given the world the justification they're looking for to disbelieve the gospel", and I am sorry.

Even the grandson of Billy Graham is taking some heat at a church he pastors in Florida. It reminds me of what happened to my friend Dr. David Cox while he was the pastor of a church here in Daytona Beach, Florida. Sounds like some of the same nutty stuff that happened to David Cox is happening again at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in South Florida. The pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, wrote the words below and it was published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"Six members of our church recently circulated unsolicited letters and a petition voicing their opposition to my leadership and requesting a congregational meeting to vote on whether to keep me as their pastor.

The Bible says God wants the church to be a visual model of the gospel. He wants us, in other words, to live our lives together in such a way that we demonstrate the good news of reconciliation before the watching world.

The late Francis Schaeffer once noted that bitter divisions among Christians give the world the justification they're looking for to disbelieve the gospel. But when reconciliation, peacemaking, and unity are on display inside the church, that becomes a powerful witness to this fractured world. "Just as I have loved you," Jesus commanded, "you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

Whenever you see any of us who claim to be "Christ followers" behaving in a manner that is unlike Jesus, please forgive us. And please let that be a reflection on us, and not on Him. As imperfect people, we will continue to let you down and disappoint you, but Jesus will never let you down--he will never disappoint you."

--- Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

Click here to read the complete newspaper article.

Big Thanks to Social Marketing Maven Todd Rhoades for inspiring this post. Check out Todd's blog here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Liberace and Mr. T's Love Child

My Best Friend, Russell Holloway wrote this amazing post. I didn't ask him for permission to post this. Don't tell him. Thanks.

"God created us to be relational beings. When we are at our best we are conduits of God’s love.

Three years ago I walked into the Port Orange YMCA and saw a man sitting in the lobby by himself, sipping coffee out of a Styrofoam cup, who at first glace reminded me of Liberace and Mr. T’s love child.

Harvey had all kinds of rings on his fingers and jewelry hanging from his ears. He seemed a little sad, but Harvey told stories, one after the other, in his loud and aggressive New York City accent. When he made an important point he waved his fingers in the air like a piano player hitting a keyboard. Interesting guy. Because we both like to tell stories, we became instant friends.

Most of the last year Harvey has been up in Queens taking care of his 94-year-old mother. We sat in the backyard this afternoon with our other friend, Mike Ellis, and talked about musicians like, Johnny Hartman, Keely Smith, and Louis Prima. Later we got on the computer and listened to them sing, amazing. Harvey produced two Grammy winning albums for Eddie Palmarie back in the day. He knows more than most on the subject of music. (See CD cover above featuring a much younger Harvey)

When we were alone Harvey looked me in the eye and told me that the people in Port Orange saved his life three years ago. Fame for Harvey had come and gone . . . it was love and kindness . . . God’s love, moving through the people Harvey met, who changed his life.

You have the power to change someone’s life, even if with nothing more than a smile.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Jesus was talking about these things in the context of the Holy Spirit working in us and through us. Harvey’s life has been changed because a group of strangers reached out to him, unconditionally, in love . . . in our Savior’s name.

. . . Father, thank you for Harvey and thank You for being a God who loves us. Father command our spirits to be open to opportunities to change people's lives just by using kindness. When Your love flows through us it is an amazing thing. We praise You and pray to You in Jesus name . . . "

You can follow my fellow messed-up Christ Follower Russell Holloway on Twitter. His Twitter Nick is @LuvStomp. He has a blog too. His blog is much better than mine. My blog is really messed-up and so am I.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We Throw It Away and God Still Loves Us

Watch the YouTube Clip below and read my "messed" up thoughts.

So many things come to mind as I watch this over and over again. The world says, "Little Girl, you are so stupid. Don't you know that throwing that ball back is wrong?" God says, "Little Girl, I love you whether you throw away the ball or keep it!" The world says, "Keep that ball Little Girl, don't you know how valuable that ball is?" God says, "Little Girl, your true treasure is in me and not in things!" The world says, "Little Girl, we won't love and accept you because of the mistakes you have made!" God says, "I love you and accept you no matter what kind of choices you have made."

Satan looks back and sees our mistakes, God looks back and sees the Cross. He doesn't calculate what you did in the past. It's not even on the record.

God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so.

He loves you when you don’t feel lovely.

He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.

“I’ll call the nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Rom. 9:25 MSG).

Jesus loves us even at our worst, demonstrating “his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Take a moment and watch the YouTube clip again. My favorite part is when the dad realizes that his daughter might be feeling bad due to the choice that she has made. Do you see what the Dad does? He reaches out without hesitation. He hugs and comforts his daughter. Even though she threw the ball back she received a loving bear hug from her dad. Kinda like what God wants to do to us……even when we mess up!

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

We have a Heavenly Father who wants to do that for you and for me.

How many times have we thrown away the ball that God gave us? He takes us back and loves us anyway. Hit any foul balls into the stands lately? God is waiting to catch us. He'll run to us with open arms. He wants to hug us and welcome us home.

My good friend Louie Mercer was writing his latest post at about the same time I was composing mine. Here is Louie's take on the Good Father.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Reason YOUR CHURCH Must Twitter

It's been surprising to me to see how few churches are on twitter. In my opinion," if a church is NOT on twitter, they should have their heads examined". If churches (yes, there are exceptions) are on twitter, they are typically doing it wrong. What do I mean? Some churches and pastors believe that Twitter is a broadcast medium or a bullhorn. It's called "Social Media" not "ME, ME, ME media". When a church or pastor is on Twitter, it should be a conversation. My friend and pastor Steve Shears is on Twitter. In addition to using Twitter to listen and watch, Steve is doing some absolutely amazing things through live chats he is promoting through twitter. Within the past several days, through one my twitter accounts @HeRockzDotCom, I made contact with a lady who is from Oklahoma or @OkieGray on Twitter. It didn't take long for me to see that she was going through a rough time. See actual tweets from twitter below.

Me: @OkieGray How are you doing today?

Her: @HeRockzDotCom thanks for asking... feeling a bit sad today. You know you can't keep giving without getting "hurt." If that makes sense? :(

Me: @OkieGray I pray in the name of Jesus for healing in your heart and your mind and that He gives you a peace and calm that comes from Him.

Her: @HeRockzDotCom thanks for the prayer... we have got to find a nice church home here in Yukon, OK! Too much twitter time. I need peace & calm!

Her: @HeRockzDotCom I really need a spiritual advisor and the sooner the better. Got to get my head cleared up on some issues which make me sad!

After the tweet above, I asked her if it would be alright for me to send some people I trust her way. She said yes. At this point I asked pastors I know from twitter to connect with her through twitter

Me: Dear @johndobbs , @treymorgan , @steveshears , @rachelshears would you mind reaching out to @OkieGray ? She is lady in OK who could use an ear.

Right away, within moments, the pastor who is constantly watching and listening to Twitter responded. My good friend Steve Shears.

Pastor Steve Shears: @steveshears : @HeRockzDotCom cool Mike i'll follow @OkieGray

Pastor Steve Shears makes first contact with @OkieGray: @steveshears : Hello @OkieGray Good to meet ya Okie..

Not one of these tweets from a church leader or pastor were about their new I-Phone, their new building, their new carpet, the church bulletins, the capital campaign or the pastor's new "life-changing" podcast. Each of these tweets were directed at reaching out to someone who was hurting and then finding someone that they could connect with. There are so many lonely, broken, hurting people on Twitter just waiting for someone real, caring and authentic to reach out to them. Every church needs to be doing this. Are you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Men's Ministry Sucks

Last Saturday, I went to a local men's ministry breakfast. I was asked to speak while guys were chewing on lukewarm eggs, burnt bacon and other somewhat delicious(?) foods. Not surprisingly, attendance was small. 6 to 7 guys. The leader of the group seemed frustrated and discouraged. He has poured himself into men's ministry. He really wants it to work. When you lead men's ministry week after week, month after month and only a few guys show up, it can be very discouraging. In my opinion, men's ministry is the bastard child or the ugly kid at the dance in most churches.

Usually enthusiastic dudes will come back from Promise Keepers or some other big time men's event chock full of ideas about how they are going to start or pump up men's ministry at their church. Their enthusiasm is removed quickly by pastors or other church leaders who look at them and say,"We've done that before" or "That will never work" or "We don't have the money for that!" That kind of discouragement will never make anyone want to run up Hamburger Hill.

Then comes another challenge. How in the heck do you motivate men to do anything other than scratch themselves? Men are pooped. They have been asked to do things for everyone and they are completely worn out. Weeknights are tough because men just gave everything to their jobs and they have nothing left. Weekends? Are you insane? Soccer games, honey-do lists and the Patriots. Don't you dare ask them to do one other thing on the weekends. They are already being forced at gunpoint to go to church.

Here is yet another challenge of men's ministry. Lack of leaders. I've experienced it and I saw it last Saturday morning. One or two guys have a passion for men's ministry. They lead. They facilitate. They organize. They promote and market. They invite. They get really, really burned out. Guess what? These men who have a passion for men's ministry and actually do the work are the few, the proud and the brave. If these men's ministry leaders get hit by a semi or eat something bad at the church potluck, the men's ministry will die a quick death.

Pastors and church leaders, if you have a man who is passionate about men's ministry, support and encourage him. If there is a men's ministry event, show up. Don't treat men's ministry like it's a pain in your backside. Find some money in your budget to support men's ministry. Take some cash out of the women's ministry in your church. Women's ministry has always had more than enough support and encouragement at most churches. Prioritize men's ministry for a change.

I have noticed that men are gathering in other places. There is a Panera near my home. Ever since the place opened up, I have seen a group of 4 to 5 men who meet for coffee, bear claws and conversation nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning. They call themselves the "Old Farts Club". What is it that drives men to Panera, Lowe's, Home Depot or the local bar and not men's ministry events. On Sunday afternoon, I couldn't believe me eyes. There is a new Philly Cheese Steak place that just opened and it was slammed full of men. Yelling, Screaming, Cheering on their favorite football team. I don't know about you but I don't remember men enthusiastically yelling, cheering, screaming or having an actual, authentic good time at most church or men's ministry events.

What the heck can be done about men's ministry? Can it be saved or will it continue to suck?

Would someone please pass the eggs?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mr. Cruddy Christ Impersonator

My son is on the swim team and he had a swim meet this weekend. Yesterday while I was sitting on my butt watching the swim meet I heard over the loudspeaker that parents were needed to help out with timing the races. I got out of my lawn chair and lumbered over to the volunteer desk. When I got to the desk I announced to everyone that I was going to save the day by being one of the official timers. No one was impressed. Someone told me where to go, I took my post and I began my duties. It wasn't long before I was grumbling and complaining to myself. And because what I was feeling was so damned important, I began griping to the other parent I was working with.

"It's hot. It's raining. I'm getting splashed. Why hasn't anyone brought me some water or something to eat? Isn't anyone going to give us a break? Why hasn't anyone told me how wonderful I am to be a parent volunteer?"

Then came the last straw. One of the kids from the swim meet asked me a question. I told him I didn't have the answer. He looked at me and said, "You shouldn't be doing this if you can't answer questions!" I gave the kid my world famous "hairy eyeball" and said, "Dude, you need to learn how to talk with respect to adults!" The kid didn't walk away because he suddenly began respecting me. He walked away because I was being an official ass and dork.

Today as I write this post I am confirming something about myself. Whenever I volunteer at church, at the swim meet or at home, I feel that I deserve something. I want applause, ticker tape parades and my name in lights. At the swim meet while I was volunteering I was basically pissed because no one came over and bowed at my feet. Why shouldn't they. I'm so amazing. Look at me. I am so giving of my extremely valuable talents and time. I wasn't mad at the kid for being disrespectful of me. I was angry because no one put a crown on my head or knighted me. Today I feel bad about the kid I snapped at and the parent I was working with who today probably thinks I am a jerk.

Jesus came to this earth to serve and expected nothing in return. As a matter of fact, Jesus walked willingly to the cross and gave his life to save each and everyone of us.

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage." (Matthew 20, The Message)

The last thing I thought about at the swim meet was serving others. I went to a swim meet this weekend and expected people to feed me grapes and rub my feet.

Just call me "Mr. Cruddy Christ Impersonator".

"If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do we look so much like the world?"---Todd Agnew

Want to see some other Cruddy Christ Impersonators? Check out this post from the Jesus Needs New PR blog.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Messed Up Guest Post: "Broken Hearts"

Richard and Linda are grieving and mourning over the loss of their son Garrett. He died on Monday. Garrett's funeral is Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. It starts at 4pm. Today my friend Russell posted this prayer on his blog.

"Father, thank You for friends during times of need. All love originates from You, but it often arrives through the actions of Your sons and daughters. Father, there is a lot of pain in Port Orange this week. Your love gives us peace, but our hearts are breaking for the loss of Garrett and for the suffering of his family. We cry out to You, Father, give us peace, but stir our spirits to never forget. We ask Your forgiveness, we could have done more. We lean on and cry out to You in Jesus name."

Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garrett is Dead and I feel Selfish

I don't know much about how Garrett died. Yesterday he was found dead in a motel room somewhere in the Daytona Beach, FL area. I do know a little about how he lived. I wrote about Garrett in this post. I do know that Garrett struggled. He struggled with so many things. I had the opportunity to know him during the last part of his life here on earth. Several months ago, I remember him coming to church while he was a part of a Christian rehab program. He was so on fire for God. I thought maybe, just maybe, Garrett had tackled the demons in his life. I remember thinking that he had so much potential to win so many people to Jesus. Garrett left the rehab program and soon it was apparent that he was slipping back into his former life. Just a few days ago, I felt led to call Garrett. I didn't. Today I feel regret about that. It reminds me how important it is to call someone when God lays that on my heart. When I talked to Garrett it was always frustrating. He didn't take responsibility. He made excuses. He blamed others. I had a difficult time understanding him. He was a white guy who was always trying to sound like a gangster. Most of the time when I talked to him I wasn't very loving. I got in his face. I probably wasn't very kind to him. Maybe I could have been more of a listening ear.

Just a few days ago, I should have called Garrett but I didn't. I didn't call him because he was annoying to me. On the day after someone dies, that sounds like a pretty lame excuse. I think it sounds very selfish.

Friday, September 4, 2009

You'll Get Burnt At Church

I've been Burnt In Church. Have you? Below you'll find a guest post from Josiah Potter. I didn't ask for his permission to post this. I found his post at Anne Jackson's blog. I didn't ask her permission either. So with that in mind, please quickly read Josiah Potter's guest post below before the authorities ask me to take it off my blog. Yipes! Maybe I'm Burning Josiah and Anne by not asking for permission to post this? You should read this post quick!

Blessed are the Peacemakers

It’s no secret that if you work at a church you will get burnt one day.

I’m talking about a deep wounding that is inflicted from someone you look to as either a mentor, elder or spiritual authority.

My dad got burnt by the church. My wife’s father got burnt by the church. Anne has been burnt by the church. I have recently been burnt by the church and I continue to hear heartbreaking stories from pastors around the nation staggering through the same valley.

When people hear these stories they are blown away. The western church has fallen into a dangerous niche where we elevate certain men and women to sinless standard because they teach from God’s Word on Sunday mornings.

These men and women are filthy sinners just like you and me. They need Jesus just like you and me. They are subject to their own sinful nature yet we place them on a pedestal and then are amazed when they fall from it!

The reactionary trend has been to respond to getting burnt by being angry and afraid. The enemy loves is when we live in fear. If we surrender to those things we ignore direct commands from Jesus Christ.

God revealed to me last Friday that He wants me to be the peacemaker in my ‘burnt situation.’

I don’t want to be the peacemaker. Everything in me and everyone around me tells me not to darken the door of the church. Going and making peace scrapes against everything I’ve been taught about being a man, not backing down and the resistance has been bruising my spirit in the way a street-fighter’s fist collides with the pavement after his opponent dodges the attempted blow.

But God told me to be the peacemaker so I will make peace.

I will go to them this week, ask forgiveness for any wrong I have done against them, tell them I forgive them for the wounds they have inflicted and make peace.

This isn’t a prideful attempt to steal glory or even draw sympathy to myself because of my situation. This is done out of obedience to a Holy God who’s Son taught us to live in peace in a very functional and contagious way.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Mark 9:50
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

I don’t know how my offering of peace will be received. I am trusting God to handle that part. I do know, however, that one day I will stand before Jesus Christ and He will ask me if I made peace with them and I will be able to respond.

Yes. I did.

What is your story?
Were you burnt?
Did you make peace?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's The Best Thing You'll Do Today?

What's The Best Thing You'll Do Today? Check out the photo above. It's proof of the best thing I'll do today. I did it first thing this morning with my son Devon. Each day, before school, we are walking together. Today he said something so simple and it hit me square in the middle of my heart. As we were walking towards the school Devon grabbed my hand and said, "Dad, it's so great to spend time with you."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

4 Reasons I Love My Church

I Love My Church. It's called First United Methodist Church. You'll find it in Port Orange, FL. It's not perfect. As a matter of fact, it's really messed up but I love my church!

Why do I love my church? Here are 4 reasons.

Pastor Tom Nelson has an amazing heart. He likes it if you just call him "Tom". He doesn't look down on you if you don't call him "Reverend", "Father" or "Pastor". You don't need to kiss his ring or act like you're talking to a celebrity. He's got a crappy van and does not have a helicopter. He's also cool because he lived life before he became a pastor. He has been married, divorced and married again. Tom did a variety of jobs to make a living. As a pastor at this church he's got an extremely tough job. He has to make so many people happy. Before Tom started a little over a year ago, things weren't going so great at the church. As a matter of fact, things were pretty crappy. Through God, I really feel Tom has turned it around. I wouldn't want his job if I had a gun held to my head. Whatever they are paying him is not enough. He is a combination of tough and sensitive. His wife Michelle is great too. She doesn't look or act like she is the wife of a pastor. She is, for lack of a better word, “normal”. Pastor's wives can go either way. Way too cutting edge, runway model-like, nutty hairdos, lots of makeup and basically out of touch with most women. I am also thankful to see that Michelle does not do the “frumpy, I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders, I’m miserable and I am going to make sure you know it routine”. She actually seems to be supporting Tom without looking like a door mat and acting as though she is unhappy about what her husband is doing for a living.

Patrick our new worship pastor is great! He just started a couple of months ago. I love his enthusiasm and passion. He's around 25. When he was hired I was so happy because he wasn't un-hip and bald. He's got that worship pastor sticky up hairdo and he has tattoos. Young people can walk into our church for the very first time, take a look at Patrick and say, "Wow, this just might be a hip place to do church!" In a very short time, he has done some really adventurous things musically. I have also noticed that he is doing a great job when it comes to reaching out to people of all ages. Any worship pastor that can work with and hang out with the young and the old is amazing. Patrick is doing that.

Emily is our youth pastor. If you live in the Daytona Beach, FL area and you have kids, you need to check out what God is doing through Emily. Kids of all ages and backgrounds are coming to FUMC's youth group. Emily also has an extremely tough gig. She is successfully making parents and kids happy. One other thing I love about Emily. She is teaching the kids in youth group the importance of reaching out to the helpless and the hopeless.

They love me. Ask people I go to church with. Ask the people from the church I attended before this church. Ask my wife. I am not an extremely pleasant person to hang out with. I am really screwed up and messed up. I've got addictions. I am chock full of sin. I struggle with depression. I'm opinionated. I'm black and white. I think I know it all. I'm defensive. When I drink too much I get loud. I'm critical and judgmental. I cry when I'm happy or when I'm sad. I'm selfish and self centered. All that aside, I really feel that there are some people in my church that accept and love me even though I annoy them. One of the reasons that I describe my church as "messed up" is because I'm a member.

My church isn't perfect but I love my church. Why do you love your church?

If you'd like to visit my church you'll find out more info here: www.firstchurchpo.org

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Got Poked In Church

WARNING: This post will show just how judgmental Mike Ellis is and without God he has no ability to love, forgive and accept others who don't think or act like him or agree with him. If you are involved with leadership at Mike's church, please ignore this post. His "talking doctor" said he should spend time writing out his thoughts. Please ignore Mike's ramblings. They are still working on his medication doses. These are the opinions of Mike Ellis and NOT the staff or leadership of First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL.

On the 5th Sunday my church does something I am not really wild about. I call it "East Meets West". We combine the 9am and 11am services. The 9am service is traditional. The 11am service is contemporary. The 9am has more "seasoned citizens" compared to the 11am contemporary service. 9am service features hymns. The 11am? Tomlin, Crowder, Tomlin, Tomlin, Hall, Brewster, Tomlin. If I go any further describing the differences I will only continue to show my true colors and absolutely seal the deal that I will never get invited to any church Christmas parties. Look, I know that people from my church in leadership positions may have decided to do this because it was a great idea. Build a bridge. Create Community. Seal the Gap between the Generations. In my opinion, I think it's a train wreck. There are times that putting two entirely different communities together is not a great idea. Want examples? Opera and Monster Trucks. Kiss Fans with Celine Dion fans. Are you tracking with me?

This past Sunday I experienced one of the challenges of the "combined" service: Generational Conflict. My son Devon and I went to church early to help out with a youth group fundraiser. The service had already started and I realized that my wife had not made it to the church. I was concerned so I called her on my cell phone outside the church. She didn't pick up the phone so I left her a message. I walked into the church service and sat myself down next to my buddy Russell. During the offering while a very nice lady was playing the piano, my cell phone rang. It was my wife. I answered it because I was worried about her. She was not in church. Was she sick? Did she get into an accident? I answered my cell phone. During the 11am service this is not big deal. I quickly realized that answering your cell phone in the "combined service" is worse than a "fart in church" or "putting a turd in the punchbowl at the potluck". While I was on the phone quietly trying to talk to my wife, I felt a serious poke on my shoulder. Then possibly a second stronger poke to my shoulder. After the second poke, I looked behind me and realized that a man "voted most likely to come to the 9am service" was the poker. When I looked at him with complete amazement he shared the following with me, "Hey Mac, this is a church. That phone doesn't play in here!" Then he glared at me. The guy was actually angry. I got up and walked out of the church to talk with my wife on the phone.

You know what bothers me? Not that he poked me. The poker bothered me because sitting next to me was a family that I invited to church. This family is what many would consider to be "un-churched" but they came for the first time last Sunday. I don't know if they witnessed the "poking" incident or not. I do know this. If I came to church for the very first time with my family and I saw an "old guy" seriously poking and acting like a jerk to a "younger guy", I might not come back to that church next week or ever again. What would a family visiting a church for the very first time be thinking if they saw this happen? What if that "old dude" works with the children in church? Do I want him hanging out with my kids? What if I get an emergency phone call during the service? Will he get angry and poke me?

What are you and I doing to poke people? What are you and I doing to poke first time visitors to our churches? What are your experiences with "blended" or "combined" services? Am I wrong?