Kasen Discovers: The Bounce House

This is one of those obligatory father posts – some of you won’t care, but I’m a proud father who has to share ’cause he loves his boy so much!

We went to the church-wide BBQ today in honor of the first responders of Lake Jackson. We had a great lunch and when the rain stopped (for about 15 minutes) they took a towel to the bounce house and gave the kids (who weren’t wet) a chance to play. Kasen is 17 months old and this was his first bounce house experience. We’re glad he had the chance ’cause next weekend he’ll be at his cousin Reid’s b-day party where there will be lots of them!!

I’m not sure if it’s really jumping or galloping, but he had fun! My favorite part is the way he looks up at me at the end of the clip.


Kasen Discovers the Bounce House from Steve Corn on Vimeo.

Changing a Culture

09-01-22-icebergSome of the church leadership people met with Dave Herman, (our “Transformation Coach”) this morning and I created a few diagrams to help explain some of the things he shared. Although we talked about quite a few other topics, most of the conversations centered on changing a culture.

I think it’s important to first define culture. For the purpose of this conversation, we are not talking about the culture at large but rather “organizational culture” and specifically our own church (Lake Jackson FUMC) culture. In my “Christian Leadership” classes at CBS, we learned that organizational culture is defined as “that which is assumed.” People assume things to be a certain way because a culture has told them so. Assumptions are made based upon the way things have always been done within the culture of that particular organization. Culture is an understood (and mostly agreed upon) set of rules by which everyone plays within that organization. Culture was also described like an iceberg. The way an organization does things (what is seen) helps us understand it’s culture, but there’s usually a lot more under the surface. You can change what is seen, (like core values or mission statements) but without changing the cultural support, nothing will really be different. The look may change, but the direction and momentum remains fixed because culture carries so much weight.

Anyway, here’s the first diagram:

01 Changing a Culture

The congregation is represented by the blue line and the leadership by the green.


Church/organizational culture is portrayed by the purple wave which flows in and out of it’s members as a story. The church culture is very difficult to define (a wave) because it is ever-changing and organic in nature. Culture is created, reorganized, and understood by the average member throughout their lives. When they hear stories of things going on in the church or are reminded of memories of the “good ol’ days,” they instinctively define the church by those stories. Although it changes often, the church culture is mostly defined by who the people are, and what they’ve done in the past. This results in a status quo or good ol’ days mentality. Some of the members, are also leaders. They may not hold positions, but they have influence and others hear their stories with greater appreciation.


03 Changing a Culture

The leadership of the church is called by God to direct, empower, and equip it’s members to live out the story of God rather than the story of the status quo. They should be mostly concerned about the future of the church and should speak a new story into the lives of it’s congregation. A story which represents the calling they believe God has placed upon them collectively. The red wave represents this “God story.” It’s also important for this story (vision) to be clear, concise, and compelling. (not like a wave)

I should be clear to say that the purple wave may very well be Godly too, but it is fluid in nature and much less defined. Setting a church on a specific course requires strategy which calls for definition and focus.


05 Changing a Culture
Too many church leadership teams function the wrong way. They call members to join them. Yet, in the servant leader model, the leaders are called to serve their members – step out of their positions to work alongside them. In doing so, they build relationships which allow them to gain influence. Once that influence/relationship is built, the leader can tell the new story and begin to have an impact on the culture from the ground up. A leader serves. That means culture is formed as leaders kneel.

06 Changing a Culture

As those relationships grow, the members, become leaders/interpreters/proponents of the new story which they have seen lived out in their leaders. Pretty soon, enough members have become a part of the new story that the church culture approaches a tipping point. Then the culture truly begins to be shaped by the new story/vision as it ripples through the congregation. Unfortunately, there will always be a few people who will never join the new story. When the whole culture changes around them, they find themselves trapped. Some will leave the organization. Others will just go into hiding, hoping that the new story will fail so they can come out and say “I told you so.” Some will just live out the rest of their lives in bitterness – always trying to regain their personal story. The good news is that God’s story has room for everyone! Some (the disciples) will choose to follow while others (the Rich Young Ruler) will hold on to their own and miss out on God’s best.


I’m excited to be a part of a new story here at Lake Jackson FUMC. I pray that I can be one of those green X’s who will serve this church family by humbly telling a new story and seeking to love in such a way that the culture, community, and my friends will know Jesus more.

Just a final note of thanks to Dave Herman. This is very insightful information, which will benefit us greatly as we seek to be a part of God’s work in the transformation of His church. I also want to apologize if I have misrepresented him in any way. The explanations are a combination of his words and my own thoughts. Dave, if you’re reading this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I get it mostly right?

Mental Photography

 

When I came home last night, Kasen was asleep on the floor of the living room. I put away my things, emptied my pockets, and then went to sit on the couch to talk to Miranda. As soon as I settled into my spot, Kasen stirred a bit and opened his eyes. Half asleep, he stood up and stumbled across the floor to me. And then raising his hands, he grunted a sound that I understood. I picked him up and he fell asleep again on my chest. 

nap-time3I stayed there and held him. I prayed over him and tried to savor the moment – thinking, “I want to be able to recall this moment when he’s 16 and yelling about how much he hates me.” I thought about how it felt to have him wanting to be in my arms. I felt for his heartbeat and listened to the way he was breathing. I took a mental photograph of his sleepy eyes when he realized that I had come home and I filmed his stumbling walk across the floor. 
I love my boy and I loved that experience yesterday. 
I know he won’t always want me so close, but I’m already realizing how difficult it will be to allow him to grow up. I’m praying that my mental photography and videography will help me make it through the tough times that are lurking in our future. 
Take some mental photographs today of the people you love. 

Faith and Fear

paulIn his book, Paul the Leader, J. Oswald Sanders says, “The man who does not know fear cannot know courage.” (p.44, 1986, 4th printing, Navpress)

 

I have always believe myself to be a courageous man. My brother and I grew up daring/encouraging/shaming each other to try the next more dificult feat. I want my son to grow up seeing a father who is a man of courageous faith, and yet, I must admit that I’m not sure there’s anything that I’m attempting right now that’s scary. (Besides my roles as husband and father – and by the way, those are the most important roles I will ever have.) I’m not sure I’m exercising my faith too much right now. I know that I’ve gotta be faithful with what He’s given me in order to be given more, and yet there’s also this timing thing. I know I can’t wait ’til everything is perfect to step out in faith ’cause it’ll never be perfect, but. . . I also don’t want to step out in my own strength before the Spirit prompts me in His power. This whole “following Jesus” thing is hard.

 

Anyway, this one statement from Sanders has sent me on a journey into my own perceptions of life and faith. I share it here, hoping that it will stretch your mind a bit too.

Consistency

consistencyIn his book “Wild Goose Chase,” Mark Batterson brings up something that really struck me. He says that the reason we take things for granted is because they have been so consistent. I think it’s true! I take it for granted that my bride will get up when Kasen cries in the middle of the night. Why? Because she’s been so consistent about doing so. Because she’s so good, I’ve come to expect it. At one time earlier in our relationship, I was surprised by some of her actions/behaviors etc. I saw them as incredible expressions of love – she has continued to love me in those ways, but I have gotten “used to it” and grown to expect it. I’m not longer surprised by those things.

I remember Voddie Bachaum speaking about relationships at a bible study saying that we should work to “Expect nothing and appreciate everything.” This is perfect advise for me.

Here’s another thought – I wonder if we miss God because He’s so good? Because He’s so good at being God, we take Him for granted. His consistency/goodness has caused us to have some expectations. What if we were surprised when we were given another new day to live? Would we live differently? Would we remember Him more if we didn’t have food consistently on our plates? Maybe this is the “gift” He has given the poor?

Bottom line: He is so good to us. Maybe we should quit expecting and begin appreciating a little more.

Arizona

Our mission trip to Arizona was amazing!!! We took 28 people to the Tohono Oodham Reservation to work with children doing VBS. Our youth had to learn to give their testimonies and present the gospel in order to attend. Once we arrived on the reservation we were split into 3 different groups who each traveled to separate villages to do ministry. My team went to the village of PiaOik (sounds like Bee-oik). Anyway, this village was abandoned by the Catholic church about 15 years ago and we were the first people to do any sort of official ministry in the village since that time. That means that some of the children we worked with had never heard the name of Jesus. Some had heard through their families, but unfortuantely, much of what they knew was a mixture of Catholicism and native tradition. Anyway, it was truly a pleasure to get to know these kids and to tell them about Jesus.

Bringing Light

For me, one of the biggest experiences happened the last day we were there. Well, it started the first day, with a little girl (3 yrs old) named Sadie peeking around the door of her house at these strange white people who were inviting her to VBS the next day. It was obvious that she was a little scared of us, but interested. The last day, as our van drove around the curve of the road, we could see Sadie, literally jumping up and down waving at us as we arrived. The transformation we saw in Sadie was a beautiful hint that we had certainly won her over and I feel confident that we had an impact on her. Sadie’s transformation was duplicated in each of the kids we worked with. Chelyssa, Listen, Jayden, Brent, Sidney, and Colin.

The Darkness

Life on the reservation was also very eye-opening. The average income is just under $7,000/year. (Lake Jackson FUMC averages $100,000/year) Most people didn’t have running water and still used outhouses. The kids only go to school 120 days a year (as opposed to our 180) which means that the few who graduate will still only have an 8th grade education. Many don’t graduate ’cause it’s sometimes a 2 hour bus ride to get to school. When they do graduate, they struggle at a college ’cause they’re so far behind academically and so most end up coming back to the reservation to live. The reservation is the largest crossing point for drug traffic and mexican illegals and so Border Patrol presence was everywhere. We also met the gang task force leader on the reservation. Because of the environment in which they live, gang activity is rampant. He has a staff of 4 in a huge area which has more gang activity than most states. The native religion worships a god called I’Itoi. He is believed to have led the Tohono people into this world from the underworld and when someone dies, he leads them back from the light into darkness.  They use a symbol of a man in a maze to depict it.

God is Sovereign

Interestingly enough, the grandfathers also speak of a time when their people worshipped the “Creator God.” They say that in those days (less than 100 years ago) the land was much more fertile – even describing walking through grasses that were waist deep. Today, however it’s just desert – dry, dusty, nothing but cactus. Anyway, they have a legend that says that when the Tohono people go back to worshipping the “Creator God” there will be “Streams in the Desert.” Isaiah 43:19 also speaks of Streams in the Desert when Jesus returns. It’s amazing to me that two totally different cultures are saying the same thing. God reveals Himself all the time in so many ways if we’ll just listen.

Anyway, all this is to say, that it was a great trip! We got to learn alot about the Tohono Oodham culture, and we got to tell them about Jesus. Our group also had the chance to bring a slip-n-slide to PiaOik the last day. The kids had a blast on it. In the desert, there was no grass so we slid across the concrete bastball court. We also had fun watchin fireworks on the fourth of July which were lit by hand about 50 yards from us – I kept wondering what would happen if someone accidentally knocked one over in our direction. We also had “Hampster Races” on a T.O. ranch one night. You’ll have to ask someone about that one.

Click

06-06-29Miranda and I saw the movie “Click” the other day. It was not as funny as I thought – more serious – of course anything with Adam Sandler has some funny stuff too. Anyway, it was a better movie than I expected. Makes you really think about how even the small, boring, or “not fun” things in life are important. Made me think about treasuring every moment I have in life. Even the parts I hate – like watching “So You think You can Dance” with Miranda.

Lions, Little Boys, and Me

Here are just a few thoughts about stuff God has been showing me lately. I’m not sure how it all fits together, but I’m gonna try to explain it here as best I can.

The story that sparked my thoughts was from Efrem Smith at Ichthus during the communion service. He talked about a tribe (I think in Africa) where they practice a coming of age ritual for boys. When they are about twelve they are expected to kill a lion in order to become a man! Since I teach a guys small group I wondered what I could do to help my guys “become men.” Anyway, here’s how the boys do it: (According to Efrem this practice is still in existence)

06-06-22The bravest boy sneaks up on the lion while he sleeps and then runs to a certain place where 4 other boys are ready to attack the lion with spears and knives. When the lion is killed, the bravest boy (the one who woke the lion) cuts off the mane and wears it as a symbol of his bravery.

Efrem used this story to go on and talk about the “lion” (Satan) who prowls about seeking to steal, kill, and destroy us. He also spoke of the “lions” in our lives which attack us like addictions, bad habits, unhealthy relationships, etc.

My mind went somewhere else though – I was thinking that Efrem was talking about Satan attacking us, but his story was about these boys attacking him. Maybe that’s the difference in a boy and a man. Boys live life trying to prepare for when Satan attacks them, and men live planning their attack on the lion. It’s the difference in living life defensively or offensively. Another BIG difference is that boys get attacked by a lion they never see, but men (with this definition) CHOOSE THEIR LION. When they attack their lion they know where the resistance will come from.

As I look at different youth who I have watched grow up, I can see pretty clearly how this difference plays out in their lives. Here’s an example I heard this weekend: One of the speakers talked about a 20 year old girl who had gone on mission trip one summer when she was in High School. Now, at the age of 20 (no college) she is running an orphanage for over 50 children. She is living her life offensively. She knows that the lions (Satans) attacks will be on this ministry that she is putting her heart into, but she has also chosen that lion. She has “taken ground” for the kingdom of God. Now, take another girl who went on the same mission trip, who decides to go off to college. She too will fight a lion, but it will be on his ground. She too might very well “take ground” for the kingdom, but her attack will probably come in a way that she would never have expected – Satan will use a relationship to attack her, or maybe her professors will challenge her faith, who knows? – the point is – she doesn’t know where her attack will come or even what her “lion” looks like.

For men – God calls us to be warriors – to be “wild at heart” as one author puts it. I certainly have something in me that wants a “battle to fight” and an “adventure to live.” I wonder how I can live this way? How can I be offensive for God? Which “lion” will I choose? And who are the other 4 guys I should ask to help me in this fight? God show me. I need You.