You Gotta Read This...

I can tell you without question I married an incredible woman. Not only is she my best friend, a great mom and a wonderful hiking partner, but she has bailed me out with great children's sermons on more than one occasion.

That is why it was so exciting to get home today and find the new Abingdon Children's Sermon Library Volume 3, waiting. Why was I excited you ask? Because my wife, Heather Hagler, was one of the contributors!

I am sure all the books in the series are great but I know from experience, there are great children's sermons in this new release. I can't tell you how cool it is to be able to hype my wife's work. So what are you waiting for? Get a copy for yourself (or a pastor who needs it) @

A Look Into Church Planting...

Not far from the reality. For additional thoughts, check out this blog from Oak Leaf Church. They aren't the only church blogging of their experience of planting, but their approach is less presumptuous.

Bottoms Up!

It's that time of the year! For those of you who have not had the pleasure of drinking barium-contrast "smoothies" - be thankful. Wednesday morning I get to start the day with a bottle of the stuff! I used to use chocolate to add flavor but I'm going to try the strawberry syrup this year.

It has been 8 years since my diagnosis with testicular cancer. I've continued to receive a clean bill of health. Each time I go through the process of doing check-ups is sacred time, in many ways like Ash Wednesday. It is a time to reflect on my own mortality and how grateful I am to still be here and able to serve others who go through similar struggles.

Christians: Taking Our Own Medicine from Cruise?

Not up to speed on Tom Cruise videos lately? H/T to Gavin for staying up on the situation. Trying to find it on YouTube takes some work but Gavin found excellent parodies from Craig Ferguson and one on Cruise and Clinton.

This video has provided good laughs and quite a bit of discussion about Scientology. I heard all this talk of "orgs," "criminon" and "KSW." Besides thinking of Lord of the Rings and rap groups, I began wondering if a whole lot of people feel the same way about the language used in churches.

Seriously, this is probably the first time Christians got a taste of what it is like when we use words like "narthex," "sacristy," "font," "baptistry," "UMYF," "ebenezer," "tithe," and "ordination" just to name a few. Try your hand at these and see if you know the definitions:

Throne of grace

Miss a few? Maybe have the gist of some? Need some help? Check out this glossary of terms from “What People Ask About The Church,” by Dale A. Robbins. There are other glossaries from the Catholics and from Ken Collins regarding church architecture.

Jesus talked to the religious leaders of his day with some pretty rough language saying to them, You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don't enter it yourselves, and you don't permit others to enter when they try. (Matthew 23:13 GW) Is that a little harsh to say about our church language? Maybe but considering the response Cruise has gotten it is something we ought to consider in the words we choose to use.

May I Ask: What are some of the words and phrases you hear that leave you dazed and confused?

May I Suggest: Start making a list of alternatives for confusing words. Post them here!

Around the Crossroads: Outstanding Achievements

While we've had our share of frozen weather these days, the Crossroads Community in North Paulding certainly doesn't seem to be frozen under. I love living here! I love our growing community, the new folks I meet everyday and the friends I've made. I love that county leaders both in politics and business are involved in their community and people are interested in making North Paulding a great place to live.

New Additions on Harmony Grove Church Road.
At our last Crossroads Business Association, Board of Commissioners Chairman, Jerry Shearin, announced that soon a sign would be going up at Harmony Grove Church Rd. and Graves Rd. A new fire station, sheriff post and public library are on the way! Speaker of the House, Glenn Richardson helped to make this happen.

Paulding County Schools: a Metro comparison
In the latest issue of Atlanta Parent there was a comparison of metro schools. Among metro schools, we have one of the lowest student to teacher ratios at 16 to 1. I am really proud of our schools as well considering our per student expenditure is the lowest of all metro at $6,121.

Woodruff Salutes McClure Middle School Teacher
Congratulations to Carol Fuller for being honored by the Woodruff Center! Ms. Fuller is Theatre Educator at the new Sammy McClure Sr. Middle School in North Paulding. What an incredible achievement.

With this kind of community leadership and support, it sure seems our county is moving forward with it's priorities in the right place. Change certainly is not easy but it no doubt provides great opportunities for outstanding achievements for the good of all.

May I Ask: What outstanding achievements are you observing in your community? What achievements are you involved in?

May I Suggest: Take the opportunity and point out to those around you outstanding achievements. Oh yeah, why not get involved in it too?

Productivity Pirates

Watching Pirates of Caribbean 2 this week, I began thinking about things that steal away my productivity. Like Captain Jack Sparrow, my mind cooperates completely in this, rationalizing away. Before I know it, my time and opportunities have found their way lost in the depths.

Here are the top 10 pirates I've done battle with:

10. Soda vs. Water
There is more energy available in water - duh!!!

9. Sleeping in vs. Going to bed on time

This is more personal - I do my better work in the morning. Staying up late kills my productivity. That maybe opposite for you.

8. E-mail vs. Phone calls
E-mail is great, don't get me wrong. Talking with people however, builds partnerships.

7. Phone calls vs. Connecting

Phone calls are great, don't get me wrong. There is something about connecting face-to-face that solidifies friendships and teams.

6. Talk Radio vs. Podcast
Talk radio is fun and informative but redeeming travel time can be done much better through the mp3 player of your choice and podcasts of value.

5. Junk Food vs. Fruit

See number 10.

4. Brain vs. Task List

My brain doesn't work like it used to, wait...when did it ever work like it used to? My point exactly: Enter the Task List.

3. Inside vs. Outside
It is so easy to stay inside and in our comfort zones but the action is outside, always has been, always will be.

2. Daydreaming vs. Visioning
Amazing how thin this line is.

1. The Mouse vs. The Keyboard
Sure, you look busy sitting at your laptop, reading blogs and checking out sites. But what are you creating? With all that information in your head, what are you doing? How are you challenging the status quo? How are you making the world better?

My friend, Scott Ginsberg is always saying, "Writing is the basis of all wealth.” I think writing is also the basis of productivity. Pirates: Be Ye Warned!

May I Ask: What activities and behaviors are pirating your time?

May I Suggest: Add your "pirate" and alternative to the list.

Your Next Cellphone?

My dad knows I'm a gadget person. However, I think I'll be passing on this one - though the self-destruct feature shows promise!

Jabba the Cat

moar funny pictures

Got 2 Year Olds?

"We don't want a 2-year-old to disrupt anyone's experience."

That quote is an actual quote (in context) taken from an article in theAJC from an actual church staff person at 12Stone Church. Those words have really messed me up. I know some people can make great arguments for not having kids in church but once they put it on paper...they just don't come across well.

This is not the first time in my blogs I have mentioned children in worship. After reading through David Murrow's book, "Why Men Hate Going to Church," I am concerned that we do not have enough 2 year olds disrupting our experiences. For the sake of the men out there, some thing or some one should disrupt a little!

As a pastor and father (and former kid who didn't like church), here are some things to consider...

1. Children's Sermons.
Done well, a Children's sermon impacts everyone and addresses the learning styles of everyone more so than most sermons. Done poorly, some 2 year old will get a laugh and everyone in church smiles.

2. Clock Management.
Be it football or basketball, coaches know the importance of clock management. 2 year olds and men don't do well sitting for long periods of time. Kids do a great job of coaching us on time management.

3. Honest Criticism.
The word has it most people read on a fourth grade level (or is it lower now?). When you have an elementary schooler say they liked the sermon then there is a good bet everyone else got it too. I'll take that any day (and a hat tip when they tell you it was bad!)

4. Families Together.
I know there are times kids need to get out. There needs to be places for them on Sunday mornings. BUT if a dad or mom is working 6 days a week, it may not be time away from kids they want at all but a place that welcomes them as a family. If it is important to mom and dad it is important to the little ones too.

5. What Did Jesus Do?
Look at Jesus' teaching model and it reminds us that simple truths come through much clearer. Plus, I think this little exchange is particularly relevant:
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:13-14 NASB)

Every church is different and I am thankful for it. I have friends who are part of 12 Stones and it has made a huge impact on their faith. At Crossroads UMC, our vision is to carry on the example of Due West UMC. We see it as a value for families with children and youth to experience God together. It may just be God intends for those little ones to disrupt our experience, after all, isn't Christmas, Epiphany and revivals all about God disrupting us?

May I Ask: How often does your life and plans get "disrupted" by little ones? Is that a good thing or bad thing? (Now, think before you answer...)

May I Suggest: Take some time to watch and listen to the sounds of kids. Ask them what they think about God and who they learned about God from.

Holiness...are you serious?

The people who call themselves "Methodists" have long been associated with the term holiness. But for all intensive purposes, the idea of holiness seems like something from a long, long time ago and a galaxy far, far away. No one seems to preach it. No one seems to talk about it. Echoes of holiness float through the winds during revivals and "campmeetings" but beyond that holiness has been lost.

I'll admit it. I'm not holy and no, I've not spoken of it or preached on it as much as I might ought to. Maybe I'm not comfortable with it myself. Maybe it is because terms like holiness and perfection and righteousness are so easily twisted to other meanings.

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48 NASB)

Those words of Jesus haunt me. There isn't a judgment in those words. Coming from someone else maybe the words come across a bit harsher. I'm not sure the last time I've heard anyone else say them anyway. But coming from Jesus, there is an element of hope here - something hidden underneath the surface. John Wesley put it this way:
"[These words are] referring to all that holiness which is described in the foregoing verses, which our Lord in the beginning of the chapter recommends as happiness, and in the close of it as perfection. And how wise and gracious is this, to sum up,... all his commandments with a promise! [A promise that] he will put those laws in our minds, and write them in our hearts! He well knew how ready our unbelief would be to cry out, this is impossible! And therefore stakes upon it all the power, truth, and faithfulness of him to whom all things are possible."

Somehow the idea that perfection/holiness is impossible makes it all the more worthy a challenge! Forget Super Bowls and NCAA Championships...I want to do the impossible (granted, those are both impossible for me now anyway).

I think I owe some folks an apology too. I used to say that faith was just a journey. I'm betting that wasn't what Jesus was saying to the crowd...there is a destination, one Jesus seems intent on making clear to me.

May I Ask: Does holiness/perfection have a chance in the 21st century?

May I Suggest: If you have a personal mission statement, does the idea of holiness/perfection have a place? Is it worth changing to go after the "impossible?"

H/T: teampyro

A Perfect Ministry Day?

I keep finding that somehow the days I have set aside for working on an important project get pushed aside for meetings and events beyond my control. In ministry, I find sometimes my schedule is someone else's schedule.

Which is why I think John Jantsch's blog on "What would the perfect business day look like?" is great. What on earth would a perfect ministry day look like?

What did those days look like for Jesus? How about Peter? And what about Paul? As a Methodist, I often wonder how mine would compare to John Wesley. Is it a comparison of apples and oranges or can an argument be made that the ministry day of the pastor/clergy/elder remains the same as it did 2000 years ago?

I know from experience that when others determine my day, I should be in the office from 8am to 5pm so anyone can drop by and talk with me. I should be visiting with people most of my day as well. During this time, I should also write incredible engaging sermons, provide leadership to Bible Studies and committees, have time to pray and nurture my inner life as well as spend time with my family.

I don't know if there is a perfect ministry day. It is probably more realistic for pastors/clergy/elders to look at a perfect ministry week than merely one day. I think for certain it is in the eye of the beholder or at least in the eye of the schedule holder.

May I Ask: Who is best equipped to determine the schedule of clergy?

May I Suggest: Consider asking some clergy who consistently lead growing churches how they determine the "perfect day?"

Myth Management

In the work of starting Crossroads United Methodist Church, I find there are many differing opinions about how things ought to be done or should be done. Some of those differences are a matter of timing, resources, or convictions. Others are merely opinions and in some cases myths. We ought to be a little thoughtful in managing what we build our decisions and leadership on.

Myths make great bed time stories and can even teach some principles but they do not make a foundation to build an organization, church, or business. Data and tendencies are helpful but when it comes right down to it, it is real work that matters.

Guy Kawasaki featured Scott Shane in a recent blog entitled, Top Ten Myths of Entrepreneurship. His list of myths related to start-ups includes...

- It takes a lot of money to finance a new business.
- Venture capitalists are a good place to go for start-up money.
- Most business angels are rich.
- Most entrepreneurs start businesses in attractive industries.
- The growth of a start-up depends more on an entrepreneur’s talent than on the business he chooses.
- Most entrepreneurs are successful financially.
- Many start-ups achieve the sales growth projections that equity investors are looking for.
- Starting a business is easy.

Today I spent the day in Cumming, GA with the folks at Sitting in a room each month with 10-12 pastors starting churches presents a case study to most of these myths as they apply to start-up churches.

To this point, I've not met a pastor who has started a church because they thought it would be easy or to become financially independent. As we talked about it today, I was reminded it is because we've come to know the grace of God that we seek to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and to help other people live like Jesus and love like Jesus. (Kudos to David Putnam for that one!)

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33-34 NASB)

May I Ask: What myth(s) have you discovered you have been listening too? How has your life changed since that discovery?

May I Suggest: Find some "myth managers", people you trust, and give them permission to point out myths in need of some management.

Baby On The Way!!!

Due West United Methodist Church in Marietta, GA and the North Georgia Conference announces that a new baby will be born, a new baby church that is! In September of 2008, just nine months from now, Crossroads UMC will begin worship in north Paulding County, GA. Rev. Ken Hagler, Associate at Due West UMC will be leading this new church.

Like any baby, there are a lot of needs that a family faces when a baby is born. In the excitement of the expectation, Due West UMC is hosting a BABY SHOWER on March 2nd after the 11AM services. We’d like to invite you and other groups in your church to be a part of this exciting event in the Kingdom of God.

Wondering just what a new baby church needs?

TARGET Baby Registry

You can visit online at or at your local Target store. Crossroads UMC is registered under the name “Ken Hagler.” This is an easy and convenient way to help us with some of our start-up needs.

SAM’S CLUB Gift Card

Many additional items and needs related to hospitality and Children’s and Youth ministries can be found here.

There are additional needs a new church has when they are portable and starting out. In addition to the list above, Crossroads UMC will face unique needs regarding sound, projection and transportation of equipment. Here are some of those needs and costs Crossroads has in preparing to start:

• 3 Pack & Play Cribs, $90 each
• 2 Rocking Chairs, $70 each
• 2 Wood Candle Holders, $13 each
• Soundboard, $1,600
• 4 Banquet Tables, $45 each
• 1 Coffee Urn, $60
• 1 Diaper Genie Pail, $20
• 1 Changing Table, $80
• DVD/VCR Player, $80
• Wireless Microphone, $500
• 3 Sound Monitors, $500 each
• 30 Children’s Chairs, $30 each
• 1 Projection Screen, $670
• Coffee (regular/decaf) and Tea
• $20 each for background checks
• 2 First Aid Kits, $15 each
• 6 Baskets for Communion, $8 each
• Video Projector, $3,000
• Advertising expenses
• 1 Hot Air Popcorn Popper, $40
• 4 Microphones, $100 each
• Diapers
• Hand Sanitizer
• Case of Bibles, $60
• Copy paper
• Baby wipes

We are so thankful for the support we have received from Acworth UMC and from friends at Gainesville FUMC (GA), Jarvis Memorial UMC (NC), and Starkville FUMC (MS). Beyond the areas of Mission and Evangelism, there may be Sunday School classes, Bible Studies or groups in your church who might also want to be involved.

You are invited to come to the BABY SHOWER @ Due West UMC on March 2nd. Please RSVP by February 25th so we might be prepared for you. You may contact either Ken Hagler or Deb Ingham at 770.427.3835 or by e-mail at We invite you to learn more about Crossroads UMC at

New Genes For A New Year?

I've been on vacation for a while as all of us need to do. As the new year gets underway let me ask ya, have you ever taken a test or inventory to determine your personality type or your leadership type? You can now find questionnaires about what super-hero or super-villain you are. You can discover what House in Hogwarts you should be sorted into as well. Of course, my favorite was learning which Star Wars character I am (for the record, I am most like Yoda). Much of this is in our genes.

You cannot choose your genes. Sure, you can choose your jeans but the genes will likely choose the size. You will choose your children’s genes and for a few years, their jeans. However, it is unlikely when they are teenagers, you will have much say about their jeans.

Our genes? Whether it is our hair color, skin tone, body type, or eye color, our genes make it happen. Today, we can manipulate a lot of this. You can color your hair or get a sun tan (or burn), but these are only things we can manipulate on the surface. Still, these outward changes will not change our genes, our DNA.

I am sure most of us have things we want to change. During this past week, you may have considered some of the things you want to change. It is the New Year and it is the time of the year for resolutions. Maybe you have made your list of things to change. All the little boxes are blank and ready for you to check off. You are raring to go.

But is a list the answer? Does a list make up a person?

Think about it. At funerals do we celebrate lists? No, we celebrate the life of a person. Though you may know me as a pastor, my children know me as their dad. The boys in my Cub Scout den know I am their Den Leader but Chris knows me as his friend.

So this year I am forgoing the traditional list and focusing on who I want to be like this year. This year, I am going to start with two people: my mom and dad. As I look at their lives, I see two people who gave of themselves for others and still give today. My parents were both in education, my dad, a teacher and my mom, a librarian. In retirement, their lives remain focused on others – building wheelchair ramps, a volunteer librarian, and helping families in crisis.

Both my mom and dad’s lives are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. On their own, these words are just descriptions, the Scout Law. Together, they describe the characters of two people I would like to be more like.

May I Ask:Who is someone you would like to be like?

May I Suggest: Leave the lists with Santa and instead live like one you would like to live like.

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