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.

Open Mind, Insert Thoughts

As this posts, my bride and I should be in the air on our way to Atlanta.

This will be our first time at Catalyst.  I am excited and looking forward to hearing from a variety of speakers from an even wider variety of backgrounds.  Some are familiar and some will be new.  I expect to be challenged in a number of ways.

I feel like it’s the chance to visit a “mental DisneyLand”.

The importance of being poured into cannot be overstated.  So, my question for you… who do you look to for inspiration, challenge, or insight?  Who, where, when do you have to invest towards a better version of yourself?

That can be the difference between innovation/freshness and stagnation/irrelevance.

The waters are stirring.  It’s time to jump on in.

Give Victory a Chance

An amazing thing happened this past weekend.  It helps if I set the stage a bit.

My family has never been accused of being particularly athletic.  The greatest accomplishment I ever experienced on the field of sport was with my high school marching band.

Now, people generally assume that a guy my size had to have played some kind of ball at some point in his life.  When asked what position I played in high school, the answer is always easy.  I played bass drum.

So, it was with a certain mix of trepidation, bemusement, and hope that I watched as my son began his first experience with organized football.  I am not one of those sport parents who imagines that their child is destined for a pro contract.  My interest is to present him with enough opportunities to discover what may or may not click with him.

All of that said, an amazing thing happened this past weekend.

His team won.  His team won and he played a big role in the success.  I saw the light in his head come on and saw him begin to understand the game and enjoy himself.

In watching him play, I was struck by a simple thought.

You can never know for sure that you don’t like something if you never experience a measure of success with it.  You owe it to yourself not to quit without first experiencing a taste of victory.

Sure, it’s easy enough to decide to stop when it’s hard and you don’t understand and it all seems pointless.  But only until you get to a place where you have pushed past the initial awkwardness and difficulty and experienced a little epiphany, you won’t be able to distinguish between your dissatisfaction with the activity/job/responsibility/role/etc and your apparent lack of success.

It may not be that you dislike what you are doing.  It may simply be that you have yet to see what it’s like when you are successful in it.

Give victory a chance.  Then decide if you want to quit or not.

Living with the Asterisk

The asterisk is the little guy in the corner who gives you your first warning that the statement you’ve just read may not be as simple as the statement you’ve just read. He is your gateway, your Looking Glass, into an entire world of fine print and legal jargon. All for the purpose of allowing two competing mindsets (marketing vs. legal) to occupy the same space.

Marketing wants to tell you all of the AMAZING things that will happen once you buy-consume-read-attend-clickon-watch-etcetera their item. Legal wants to tell you that it’s not their fault if it doesn’t really happen.

And, the reality is, whether we see it or not, we’ve all become accustomed to adding asterisks to what we see in our lives. We’ve been trained as consumers since we were small children to see between the lines of marketing and legal.

Remember, opening a Cracker Jacks box for the first time? There was a PRIZE inside!! OMG! Never once did I stop to think about what kind of prize could actually fit inside a Cracker Jacks box. All I knew was there was a PRIZE inside!! A prize that you couldn’t just go buy at the store. No, my friends, this was a prize that you could only find if you were fortunate enough to have the very same box of Cracker Jacks that I had. But you weren’t.

And opening it to discover the teeny baseball card, or tattoo, or whatever prize from the Island of Misfit Toys had found it’s way into my box left me a little deflated. But I knew from then on, I knew that Mr. Cracker Jack’s definition of prize and mine were not the same.

It becomes so easy to apply the same asterisk thinking to faith. Sure, we know that Jesus said to love your neighbor, to turn the other cheek. We know He said to take up crosses and follow Him. But, I mean, that’s not really what He meant, right? Where’s the legal fine print to tell us exactly what the terms and conditions of our love, sacrifice, and discipleship are?

We’ve read John 10:10 about Jesus offering us life and life more abundantly. To the full until it overflows. Or that God promises to heal, to save, and to redeem. But, surely, that’s just marketing talk to get me to become one more church consumer, right?

Maybe they didn’t have the asterisk in 6 AD.

Investment time

Shared with the Vivid Church peeps this AM that God seems to be calling an increasing number of people to a time of pursuit and consecration.  

I truly believe that the month of May will be a critical time of investment and sowing.  May will be a pivot point in this year.  

The Bible instructs us in Isaiah 55:6 to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.”  There are times when God is in motion and we must get in on what He is doing.  

There is a set time to plant and make investment.   Together, we are committing ourselves to seek God throughout May in unprecendented ways expecting unprecedented harvest, unprecedented breakthrough, and unprecedented impact.