Food Network, the Cooking Channel, and the progressive development of the Church

In 1993, with a straight forward title, the Food Network was launched.  An entire network dedicated to cooking shows and entertainment.  Makes sense.

And people enjoyed it.  And the chefs and cooks with their “BAM” and their butter and Southern drawl transformed into celebrity personalities.

And then came the competition shows featuring massive cakes, and Iron Chefs, and the whatnot.

But somewhere along the way, the Food Network became more about the personalities and the lifestyles of food than the food itself. It became decreasingly “how to” and increasingly spectator driven.

The Food Network even developed shows like “The Next Food Network Star” and “The Next Iron Chef” that were all about who would be appearing on their other shows on the network.

Somewhere along the path to critical mass and insulation, the network became about so much more than what it was when it started.  As it grew and expanded, the fringe programming became more and more central demanding more time and pushing the tried and true cooking format shows to the edges.

Last year, the network created a second network.  An entire network dedicated to cooking shows and entertainment.  The programming that the Food Network was originally created to provide no longer had a place in the line up.  But the Cooking Channel was created in its place to provide a home for all of those shows.

We’ve seen this happen before.  In 1981, it would’ve been hard to believe that you would ever need more than one cable channel dedicated to music.  I mean, the radio plays the same songs for free.  But inevitably, the popularity of the additional programming kept requiring more space from the music.  The answer – MTV2!

And we’ve seen the same happen within the walls of the church.

I’ve never met a pastor who wasn’t committed to sharing the truth of the Gospel and the love of God with people who need it most.   But, it happens.  In the course of the church growing, so many things become a regular part of the life of that church and they must be attended to.  The fellowships, and support groups, and events, and classes, and outreaches, and services.  The kids, the newly marrieds, the singles, the divorced, the seniors, the youth.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with any of those things.  Just the opposite.  There is great benefit in being able to minister specifically to a wide range of people.

We’re taught to want that very thing.  But we have to make sure we aren’t sacrificing our original design and purpose.

And we can’t be surprised when God suddenly decides that He wants a Cooking Channel to your Food Network.

Ferret People & Sub-Culture

Was headed to bed the other night and flipping the channels when I got fascinated by a documentary on PBS called “Ferrets: The Pursuit of Excellence”.

The documentary followed a group of ferret owners at the Buckeye Bash Ferret Show.  These were not just any ferrets.  They were show ferrets.  Ferrets of the highest caliber who had been bred to compete and be judged.  

I started watching out of a bizarre wonder that people would spend that much time grooming, and thinking, and working, and daydreaming about ferrets.  

It seemed to me like a weird little community, but then I realized that is was just like every other sub-culture.  You can change the subject, environment, and lingo, but it’s the emotions that are the same.  

There is nothing different about the “Ferret people” that isn’t exhibited by a group of guys who are cheering on their favorite team, or people who are fans of a certain series of books, or folks like me who are hopelessly addicted to LOST.

We all have lingo and terms that are foreign to people who are on the outside.  Cover 2 and Mike.  Lothlorien and Hogwarts.  The Hatch and the Dharma Initiative.  These are all cultural shorthand within our respective sub-cultures.  Anyone who isn’t a part doesn’t understand.

These respective sub-cultures are made up of people who are looking to connect; people are wanting to be a part of something.  Where they are safe to share their passions and joys without the fear of ridicule.  

More thoughts to come on sub-cultures and how they might relate to the Church.  But first, what sub-cultures do you participate in?  College football?  Are you a Mac fiend?  Cars?  Shoes?

Whether we know it or not, we are all a part of some  sub-culture.

Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful…

Heard this song just the other day in a service and was amazed at how fresh it was… Passion never grows old! It’s amazing what focusing on and meaning what you are singing can do to a song that many would consider old…

And the verse is what wrecked me…

I want to take your word and shine it all around.
But first help me to just, live it lord.
And when Im doing well, help me to never seek a crown.
For my reward is giving glory to you.

Let’s add intention to our ability when we worship.

Permission and Mindset

Continuing some thoughts on permission and creating environments of innovation…

The “big news” of the weekend was Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.  

I think there will be some Republicans who hear what the General has to say and will be influenced by it.  Certainly, some will join him and “convert”.  Not all, but some.

Colin Powell has broken the matrix.  He has stepped beyond what many dutiful Republicans see as very clear lines.  And in doing so, he has granted “permission” for others to do the same.

I believe that if you asked most people they would probably say they are pretty open minded.  We all like to think of ourselves as objective and logic based.

The reality, however, can be quite different.  

Most of us have constructed a mindset based on feelings, teaching, training and experience.  It is the feelings, teaching, training, and experience that create the boundaries of our thinking, and in fact, wall off our thinking.  

These walls often prove to be immovable and impenetrable.  Instead of confronting them, we shrink when we encounter them.  They act like mental bumpers. 

But very rarely, someone (or something) will come along.  Someone we have trusted or respected.  Someone we identified with and considered to be like us.  

And in viewing their journey beyond our carefully constructed walls, we will find freedom to think differently, believe differently, and live differently.

Their actions create permission that we grant ourselves to step into new possibilities.

Organizational Permission and Straw House Thinking

The following is from a post from Tony Morgan. Consider what organizational permission can do…

Once upon a time in a far off land there lived a leader who supervised three little pigs. The leader was committed to excellence in his life and in his organization. He knew there was a direct correlation between the quality of the houses his pigs built and the success they had in protecting themselves from big, bad wolves.

The leader obsessed about every detail. He also made it clear to his team of pigs that they, too, needed to obsess about every detail. It didn’t take long for the pigs to realize that their interpretation of excellence might not be the same as their supervisor’s perception of excellence. Because of that, the pigs began to bring every decision about every detail to the leader. The pigs didn’t want to run the risk that they might not “get it right.”

Over time, the leader found himself in a challenging predicament. He was overwhelmed because he had to touch everything. And, he was frustrated that he was responsible for generating every new idea. For example, he was the one who originally developed the design for straw houses. His pigs built excellent straw houses. In fact, no one built straw houses any better. What they did, they did well. But, they were stuck.

“If you try to control things, that’s self-limiting,” said Michael Dell, chief executive officer of Dell. “The easiest way to think about this is that if all the decisions inside an organization had to roll up to the center of the company or to one person, it’s a massive bottleneck to progress.” (Check out the rest of the interview.)

In the end, the leader in this story learned that sometimes values collide. His commitment to excellence wasn’t the problem. Control was the problem. His obsession with getting it right became a roadblock to progress. He discovered the need to empower his team with broad responsibilities to fulfill the organization’s mission while still holding them accountable to the overall vision and values. He needed to let the pigs take risks…and sometimes fail.

Continue reading…

The Permissive Environment

How often do you say “yes”? Not in the “Would you like cream and sugar” way, but in the “Try something different” kind of way.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creating “permissive” environments. Not places where anything goes, but, rather, places where people are free to adhere to a core set of standards and discover how they can be expressed through the prism of who they are.

I understand this doesn’t work in every circumstance. A Big Mac should always be two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles on a sesame seed bun. I shouldn’t walk into McDonald’s one day to find bacon on my Big Mac.

But when you are talking about “Change the World” kinda stuff, do you really want the equivalent of a burger flipper? Do you want someone who can tell you what you already know? Are you willing to not only hear but also learn from those who share your worldview, but maybe not your execution?

More thoughts later…

Church Tech Camp

I had a chance to pop in and join the discussions at the first Church Tech Camp in LA yesterday.

So what is Church Tech Camp? From the website…

#churchtechcamp is a localized unconference for people of faith to gather and share their own best practices and “in the field” insights. More simply put – it is a place where we all are the expert, everyone has something to share, and we all have valuable experiences we can learn from.

It was great to see so many folks I’ve come to know online (okay, maybe more like stalk online) gathered in one place.  And sharing collective wisdom and insights helps everyone become better. You can find additional thoughts from these great folks:

Tony Steward: http://www.tonystewardblog.com/

Robert Yang: http://www.kindlejoy.com/

Rich Kirkpatrick: http://www.richkirkpatrick.com/

Cynthia Ware: http://thedigitalsanctuary.org/

Matt Singley: http://mattsingley.com

Even better, if you weren’t able to take part, you can still catch the conversations by clicking here.  It’s well worth the time, so make sure to visit when you get the chance.

P.S.  I would love to connect to others in the North Florida/South Georgia area who might be interested in getting together for something similar.  If you would like to take part, you can email me.  Look forward to it!