Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hire for Education or Exerience?

I recently completed a masters degree. People struggle with the "titles" they acquire and the pedigrees they can list on a resume. At a graduation luncheon with the church staff, it was interesting to note the conversation around the table. All of a sudden, people were interested in what rung on the ladder they were. What degree do you have? From where? How long did it take you to finish? How long have you been on staff here? Do you plan to go further in your education? These questions were not asked about me...but those around me. It's easy to play the comparison game, isn't it? Almost sounds like who gets to sit at the right hand of God in the end. It's all about the best seat in the house. Or is it?

Would you hire someone with a degree with minimal experience or someone with plenty of experience but no degree? I was recently asked this question by several people who were contemplating major next steps in their lives. There are definitely pros and cons to
both. While everyone would like to hire both well educated and well seasoned professionals, I firmly believe that experience outweighs education. I'm not saying that I don't value both, but if given the chance to hire someone with 4 years of education vs. someone with 4 years of experience on the field - I'd take experience. Here's why...

1. Real life situations don't compete with education when it comes to working with people. I'd rather have someone who is great with people than someone who runs over people with their knowledge.

2. You can gain education along the way in the real world. For example, you can easily get together over lunch with others to talk shop. There are books to read. There are seminars and conferences to attend.

3. I've found educated people tend to ask experienced people how they've done things. Occasionally you'll get the opposite, but only occasionally. And when it is the other way around, the real worlders usually say, "Oh yeah, I guess I already was doing that - I just didn't know what to call it."

4. At times, an educational institution can have master teachers who are excellent at theory, but theory in a bubble. While this isn't always the case, it can be frustrating to hear what an "ideal situation" should be like only to discover that the real world produces different results.

Please don't misunderstand me, institutional education is important...just not as important as real world education in my book.

God, help me to remember who I really am. It's not my title, my knowledge, or even the experiences that make me who I am. You have already made me a child of You. Help me to act like it - regardless of my background.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Satan and the Stealth Bomber

I'm a huge aerospace fan. If it has to deal with airplanes, rockets, space travel, or jets - then count me in. While recently in Houstonia, MO visiting family - I had an extraordinary experience, at least for me. While I was coming out of the small town house where Lisa's grandparents live, two of Lisa's cousin-in-laws (not sure if that's even right) were running down the sidewalk and pointing up at the sky. And there it was - a beautiful sight...

There appeared a lone Stealth Bomber crossing the sky. Low to the horizon. It raced through the low level clouds, close to the ground. But to my amazement, I couldn't hear the jet engines. Only after the bomber had passed by several miles did I hear the jets roar. By the time I had actually heard the engines; the bomber had already circled back and was heading back to base. Whiteman Air Force Base is only 15 miles from the metropolis of Houstonia, MO.

About 10 minutes later, I was inside the house...and through the window I heard the jet engines again. I didn't even bother going out to look because I knew it would be too late. But it got me thinking.

When Satan attacks me, it's a lot like my encounter with the Stealth Bomber. Many times I don't realize it until after the attack has already happened that I was attacked at all. If the two guys had not pointed out the bomber flying overhead, I wouldn't have even noticed that it was there. Sometimes I need other people to point out that I'm being attacked. Sometimes I only see the effects of an attack afterwards - like hearing the jet engines after the bomber is already come and gone. I guess that's what makes a Stealth Bomber a sly machine.

God, protect me from the attacks of the evil one by being alert. I have no reason to fear because You are on my side, even though this world is Satan's dominion. But it won't be that way forever, because You will claim victory in the end.

1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

What I Learned at the Demolition Derby

Shrieking, twisting metal. Burning rubber. Sweating mobs of people. Flying mud. Obnoxiously loud exhaust systems. These were just a few of the real experiences I had last Thursday night at my first Demolition Derby (Platte County Fair - Platte City, MO).

I never realized how fun it would be watching cars smash into each other in a mud pit. I was amazed at how much fun those around me were having. It might have been because half of them were drunk. But I have to admit, it was fun. It's the reason everyone likes to see a big wreck in a race. Of course you hope everyone is OK after the crash, but boy is it fun to see how much damage there is. The only difference between a big NASCAR wreck and a Demolition Derby hit is several million dollars.

You can learn a lot from a Demolition Derby. Here's what I learned...

1. Many times God will use the most unlikely person after they have been told by others that they aren't road-worthy to do something incredible. Cars end up having a life-span, just like people do. After cars are in a wreck, sometimes they are deemed "totaled." They are discarded by the owner, and sometimes end up in a Demo Derby. But God can use something that's been discarded or disqualified (Moses, David, etc.). If you think about it, at the Demo Derby...these cars are being cheered by thousands of people. Just because a car isn't road-worthy, it doesn't mean that it can't be used to touch the lives of more people than it would if it was road-worthy.

2. After being totaled and discarded, we are still expected to follow the rules God has for us. It doesn't mean we can do whatever we want because we've already been 'washed up.' Just because these cars can't drive on the road where other cars do, they still need to abide by very specific rules and regulations. For example, you can't remove the interior of the car (to prevent fire), move the gas tank to the back, move the battery to the front, chain your bumpers to the frame so they don't fall off, and a lot more. These rules are different than cars on the road, but none the less - they would be disqualified from the derby if not followed.

3. God doesn't like sandbaggers and neither do others in the game. "Sandbagging" means driving around without getting hit - in other words, not getting in the game. You see, you could end up driving around the derby and win the silly thing by avoiding being hit. What's the fun in that? There is no fun, but you would end up with $500. In the derby, the officials want you in the game. The crowd, who each paid $7 to see you in the game, would have every right to call you a wimp if you were found sandbagging. God can't use someone who simply avoids following Him.

4. Frequent inspections help us please God and be more effective. Cars in the derby are inspected before, during, and after the event. We can't take a vacation from following Christ...ever. If the drivers knew their cars wouldn't be inspected, you'd have all kinds of "helps" installed on the vehicles. In fact, while we were of the cars was inspected and found to be an older car than what was allowed. They were asked to remove their car from the derby. Begrudgingly, the driver floored the gas and left in a tizzy.

God, help me to remember that you might use me - even though I may not be someone special in my own eyes. Help me to follow Your rules, even when I get disqualified. Push me to get into the game and follow You actively, not be a deadbeat. God show me things in my life that need to be changed before I enter the mud pit to please You. When I leave the mud pit, show me again and help me not to become prideful of the job I did in the pit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Entire Church Takes Trip to West Virginia

OK, the title caught your eye...but here's what happened. Last Sunday at Grace Church (Lititz, PA) we managed to pull off a bluegrass segement in our worship service. Our Senior Pastor Scott Distler has ribbed us about never attempting to do country music at Grace. So we emailed everyone in the church, except Scott, and let them know what to expect. Click on the link below to listen to what happened. Please excuse the quality of the audio mix.

Click here to stream audio of bluegrass at Grace.

Click here to download audio of bluegrass at Grace.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pew Report - Snapshot of Grace

Surveys can be overated. However, if done properly can be a great snapshot of a church - just like this one of Grace Church (Lititz, PA). As long as surveys have a purpose and measure what needs to be measured while measuring it correctly...then by all means take a survey. When we looked at the survey data from the survey as a are some of the infferences we generated.

  1. Personal invitation is still the biggest reason people attend Grace for the first time.
  2. The location of our crowd is being drawn mostly from our immediate areas (within 10 miles).
  3. We have "two" churches under one roof. One group of people who have started coming in the last 2 years, and another group of people who have been coming 10 years or more.
  4. If trends continue and no changes are made, while there are the fewest people in the 60's and 70's age group could be our largest age group in the next 20 years.
  5. We are currently attracting a younger comparing the age makeup of those who have started coming in the last 2 years with those who have been coming 10 years or more.
  6. We have more visitors attending than "visitor cards" that are turned in on weekends.
  7. The most popular radio stations are adult contemporary music (7.0%) and country music (6.8%), but only after taking out the 50% who listen to Christian radio stations. Scott Distler, eat your heart out.
  8. A comparitive study might be interesting by taking another identical survey in 2-3 years - comparing the results with this one.