bobble head theater

The web is a wonderful thing. There's a site called Multisensory Worship, which is dedicated to helping new emerging churches explore ways of communicating truth in creative ways.

From this site I found my way to Emerging Minister. It's a site that combines blogs with resources for people who are involved in the emerging church conversation. You have to check out the video archive section. TRUST ME: YOU HAVE TO CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ARCHIVE SECTION.

More specifically, you have to download the nine-part Bobble Head Theater series. It's not a 56K modem download! But it's worth the wait. I laughed out loud several times -- no, multiple times.

For those of you who live in San Diego, it's likely you'll see a few of them at LifePoint :-)

is normal now a mental disorder

A long time ago I signed up for Google alerts, a service of Google News that grabs news stories that match a profile you create and emails the link to you. It's wonderful. Especially if having 100 + emails in your inbox makes you feel like more of a man. Seriously, I love it.

OK, so today I get this headline that reads, "Is Normal Now A Mental Illness?" What a great title ... and an interesting question. In a world that celebrates abnormality and weirdoes, what is normal any more? Are you normal? Am I normal? What is normal?

It made me think that Jesus himself was not normal. He didn't operate the way the "normal" leaders of his day did. He didn't manipulate. He didn't coerce people into following him. He didn't sit back and demand that people bring him a drink. He didn't berate those that fumbled and stumbled in their attempts to serve him.

If being "normal" means acting like the guy who chews out the cashier in a grocery store line, maybe we shouldn't aspire to being normal.

If being "normal" means behaving like a three-year-old when things don't go our way, perhaps being normal isn't the way to go.

Just something to think about ...


week three

LifePoint is now three weeks old and getting older all the time. As a new church community, there are growing fits and learning experiences. Technology continues to be a blessing and a curse. The same program that allows you to feed text over video and jump slides on the fly is the same program that decides to lock up five minutes before worship is to start. Personally, I believe it's the spirit of Bill Gates manifesting itself in our PC. At least XP got rid of the blue screen of death.

Our LifePoint team continues to serve cheerfully and enthusiastically. Many of them are serving dual roles at both gatherings -- some arrive as early as 7:00 AM. Building a new church community is definitely a team adventure. And I do mean adventure.

One very encouraging sign is the number of new faces who have offered to help. This is the lifeblood of a new church.

Next Sunday we'll get up and do it again. Not because we have to but because the mission is compelling. The mission of reconnecting people with the God who created them and loves them immensely.


creative arts, a palette approach

One of my desires for LifePoint's worship gatherings is for them to reflect the creative diversity that exists both within our church community and the community at large. Our God is a creative God and didn't finish his creative work after six days and retire. He's still creating and has put his creative impulses within us.

We had our first large-scale creative arts gathering last night at our house. It was great! The best way I like to describe our approach is to use the analogy of an artist's palette. Each of us brings a certain perspective, background, training, and passion to the creative process. Last night we had musicians, artists, actors, teachers, and nerds like me.

If a pastor isn't intentional about using the gifts of others, he will create a worship experience that reflects the heart and head of one or two people. He will probably teach in the way that he learns -- missing those that learn in a different way.

Working with creative people isn't easy. But I also know that working with software programmers isn't easy either. CPA's can drive you crazy, too.

I'm excited about October's teaching series because it will be the first one to utilize the full creative arts team. You'll have to see it to understand.

lifepointcommunity.com updates

I've been re-working LifePoint's website so it reflects an actual church rather than a church in planning. It's 99% there ... for now. A few of the tweaks include:

  • I've brought back the right-side modules to highlight upcoming events. This will give the site more flexibility as events increase.
  • Users can now download our Sunday teaching material and related graphics. This will be especially helpful to those LifeGroup leaders who will be using Sunday's teaching as discussion starters in their groups. You'll also get to see my teaching notes in their raw, unedited form. You may even learn to decipher my short-hand.
  • Our creative arts team now has a secured section of the site where we'll post our ongoing creative planning ideas and assignments.
  • You can view our current and past media efforts, including mp3's of our featured artists.
  • Jay has added a category entitled "Worship Thoughts" where he posts occasional, random thoughts concerning worship.
  • Of course, there's now a link to this blog as well.

Feel free to email me bugs or broken links, that's how we improve.


more memory rules!

In order to beef-up the laptop to better handle video, I went from 512 MB to 1GB of memory. It's smokin' fast. I went to open MS Word and I never even saw the splash screen. BAM! It was there.

We use a lot of video at LifePoint, most of it ran off the laptop using a program called "MediaShout." I highly recommend it to any church that wants to do more than PowerPoint during worship. We use it to put video loops behind song lyrics, show flash animations, and DVD clips. The DVD function is really cool. You can cue up the video from within MediaShout and play it as part of your presentation ... all from the laptop. It also allows you to jump to any thumbnail without having to go in linear order. You can also make edits on the fly without your audience knowing it. For PowerPoint users, you can import existing PowerPoint presentations and it maintains transitions and animations. Now how cool is that!

Needless to say, I'm happy for now.


live at lifepoint

Each month at LifePoint we feature a local artist in our "Local Artist Showcase." This is part of our commitment to the local arts -- and part of our way of reclaiming the use of creative arts in Christian expression. There was a time when the church was at the forefront of producing art.

In October we will be featuring Jason Turtle, a local singer-songwriter. You can learn more about Jason by visiting his site ... www.jturtlemusic.com. It's well worth it.


the morning after the second sunday

It's 8:56 on Monday morning and I've only had two cups of coffee.

LifePoint is now two weeks old and moving right along. One of the most exciting parts of starting a new church community is meeting new people. Yesterday we had 50 people attend one of our two gatherings who I did not know three weeks ago. This is in addition to all the people who were there that I did know three weeks ago!

We're continually fine-tuning and had our sound down to a more manageable level yesterday. Just like any start-up (church or dot-com), there will be glitches that must be continually worked on. Unfortunately, churches don't have the luxury of beta testers. Even then, I've been around tech companies that released software that they knew was buggy but shipped it any way.

One of the great things about LifePoint is that we are not program-driven, meaning that everything must be just right and done with mechanical precision. We're a worshiping community made up of ordinary people who want to offer God the best we can. But we recognize that we're also human and humans flub up from time to time.

As we like to say around LifePoint, we don't take ourselves too seriously but we take God very seriously.


an article on creativity and the arts

A friend sent me a link to an article by David Ruis entitled, "Creativity and the Arts." Ruis emerged as a leading worship voice through the Vineyard churches and has penned some outstanding songs ("Every Move I Make", "You Are Worthy of My Praise", and more).

Here's the article reposted on LifePoint's website.


somewhere between lazy and over-the-top

I had a great lunch today with an old friend. He started out in ministry, went into full-time business, and is now considering a return to full-time ministry. We were talking about how ministry has a tendency to either attract lazy people or turn good people into lazy people. At many churches, the pastor supervises himself and can set his own hours. If the pastor is not intentional about working hard, it's very easy to hardly work. If the pastor is not a self-starter, there is no supervisor or boss at hand to "encourage" them to get busy.

On the other extreme, is the pastor who becomes a workaholic -- eventually doing damage to his family, himself, and his ministry. These pastors can do unnecessary damage to themselves and others. I certainly am all for giving one's best to God ... but we must be careful not to justify hidden or buried motives under the guise of "serving God."

Somewhere in the middle (and more towards the workaholic) lies the answer. I've always viewed my salary as a sacred trust invested in me by the church I'm serving. As with any profession, one should work at with all his or her heart because in the end, you're serving God and not man. A pastor should not complain about evening meetings when most of the volunteers who come do so after leaving work.

My buddy will do well in either ministry or business because he has a healthy drive to do well. Of all callings and professions, pastors ought to be the most driven because we are dealing in matters of eternal consequence.

May God give us the balance we need, a healthy perspective, and a good bit of fun.


a follow-up to coffee shop christianity

I almost included this in the previous post but it was already getting windy.

Back during the pre-launch days of LifePoint, one of the ideas I bounced around in my head was the idea of launching the church in several coffee shop locations simultaneously. Several of the coffee shops have an open mic / concert room that typically seats any where from 50-100 people. They are already staged and have tables and chairs.

The idea was to offer the same type of worship style in multiple locations and try to build on the foot traffic of each coffee shop. I believe all of the coffee shops are open early on Sunday mornings and none of them has a group that uses them at that time.

The crowd would be smaller by necessity, which could create an awesome opportunity for a real sense of community to develop.

Maybe next time ...

coffee-house christianity

Don Bosch, in his blog The Evangelical Ecologist, described LifePoint as "coffee shop Christianity." It's hard for me to be offended since I'm writing this blog from a coffee shop. In fact, I may adopt the phrase myself -- with proper references, of course.

An entire marketing/sociological concept has arisen over the past few years known as "third place" thinking. The idea is that after home and work, people need a "third place" to feel connected.

Starbucks has sought to master the idea of creating an environment that invites lingering. The most popular independent shops have the same mojo -- people go there as much for the environment and connections as they do the coffee. You begin to see the same faces, you know which chairs will be comfortable, and there's a barista behind the counter who remembers your drink.

Robert Putnam wrote an interesting book a few years ago entitled "Bowling Alone." The book explored the levels of people's involvement in community and civic groups. Not surprisingly, we have become increasingly isolated over the past 30 years. That's why the title itself is purposefully ironic. No one used to go bowling alone; you always bowled in groups.

I like the idea of coffee-shop Christianity, especially if it means developing intentional communities of faith that invite and welcome. A place to linger. A place to absorb quietly or engage in a game of chess. A place to go where you have a reasonable sense of what to expect.

Perhaps the church of the 1980s and 1990s resembled Dunkin' Donuts more than a good coffee shop. It emphasized efficiency and structure. Dunkin' Donuts doesn't give too much thought to ambience.

As I sit in Twiggs, I'm struck by the bohemian feel of the place. A hodge-podge of couches and chairs, eclectic artwork, concrete floors. And it's brimming with people of all ages and backgrounds, different colors.

I hope LifePoint can learn from "third place" thinking. This is where the community/relational nature of the church can have a powerful impact on our culture. It's not trendy to talk about creating an environment that is inviting and warm -- it's biblical.

May you never have to bowl alone again.


a few grand opening observations

After a few hours at Twiggs, I'm feeling a bit reflective. Besides being rich in antioxidants, coffee can also move a person to moments of inspiration. Indulge me as I share a few thoughts regarding LifePoint's grand opening.

Diversity. One of the things I've been praying for in regards to our new church community is for it to reflect the diversity that exists in San Diego. I believe an apostolic church will be a diverse church. Perhaps the most diverse church that ever existed was the first one in Acts 2. In that text we're told that the Holy Spirit enabled the earliest Christ-followers to speak in multiple languages. Why? Because they were speaking to a diverse crowd.

Among our 112 people yesterday we had black and white, Hispanic, Asian, Filipino, and more! We had a healthy mix of ages and generations. We were geographically diverse as well. We had folks from Carlsbad to Chula Vista, from Pacific Beach to Lakeside. We even had a 35-year-old white guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.

It's a shame that more churches are not intentionally seeking diversity. There's a prevalent church growth principle known as the "homogenous" principle. The idea is simple and it works: like attracts like. The idea is to segment the market and do what appeals to that one segment. It's basic marketing.

While it's good marketing, it may not be the best theology. If we're not careful, we will create a community that only reinforces our own prejudices and preferences. And we will miss out on the creativity of God himself.

Team spirit. I'm continually impressed with the power of teams to accomplish big dreams. We began LifePoint with seven adults and God has continued to bring alongside us key resources (i.e., people!). This church community is just that -- a community. It's not about Ken or any one person. First and foremost, it's about God and what he wants to accomplish through us.

LifePoint has a special group of people who are continually asking me, "What can I do to help?" I'm convinced that each of us wants to feel like we're a part of something larger than ourselves. And we want to feel like we're making a difference. And we are!

Risk. One of the things I was asked prior to starting LifePoint was "What if it fails?" Besides the obvious encouragement such a question inspires, it did cause me to come up with an answer. Perhaps only people who have a sense of calling will appreciate my answer. I answered, "To me, the greatest failure would be not trying at all."

I felt (and still do) that it would be more dangerous to not venture out than to venture out and fail. To stay the same invites stagnation. The Jesus I read about did not mind taking risks. He welcomed situations that required a stretch from the status quo.

In some places, the church has become too safety conscious. We fail to act boldy because we live by the old addage, "It's better to be safe than sorry." What that usually means is that we live by sight and not by faith. We live within self-imposed constraints that do not reflect a faith in an omnipotent God who wants us to succeed.

We value risk at LifePoint. I know that sounds like an odd thing for a pastor to say. But I can promise you this: it won't be the last odd thing I say :-)

scenes from day one

Here are a few pix from LifePoint: Day One!

This is Ken interviewing Will Edwards, our first featured local artist.

first gathering at 9 AM

The crowd at our 9 AM gathering.

The crowd at our 10:45 gathering.

Another shot of the 10:45 gathering.

Jay and Ben trading acoustic licks.

Our way of doing communion.

The couch lounge.

holy joes

Holy Joe's, the LifePoint Cafe.

That's Kirby behind the shield.

jay and will

Jay with Will Edwards.

The Kids at KidPoint.

Getting ready for KidPoint.

What a surly group of kids!

Matt helping a little buddy shoot pool.

The tech guys are under a lot of pressure.

Yes, this really is our band.

Will Edwards performing live at LifePoint.

Will Edwards still live at LifePoint.

a grand grand opening

LifePoint held her first public worship gathering yesterday and what a great day it was! 112 people braved the nice weather to join us as we celebrated the beginning of a new way of experiencing church. Our band was fantastic, the multimedia flowed well, and Will Edwards did a great job as our first featured local artist. All the kids seemed to enjoy KidPoint -- and the adults serving out there did, too.

It's hard to describe with words seeing a dream come to life. LifePoint has been over a year in the works and God has proved himself faithful throughout the whole process. There were times during the music when I just closed my eyes and tried to grasp what was happening ... a new church community was being born!

Here's the most inspiring thought of all -- this is just the beginning. LifePoint is about engaging people in an ongoing creative dialogue. It's both humbling and exciting to know that we'll do it all again in seven days.

If you're looking for a church community that wrestles with spiritual matters in a fun, creative, and thoughtful way, come check us out. I have a feeling you'll be glad you did.

Pastor Ken

Here's how one guest viewed our opening gathering. It's from The Evangelical Ecologist web blog.

    Sometimes the simplest message is the most effective. And sometimes the simplest place is the most effective place to hear it. Jesus met real folks in real places. Pastor Ken Hensley is doing just that here in San Diego.

    If there was such a thing as “coffee shop Christianity,” LifePoint would be it. In fact, their place in Mission Valley just off I-8 looks like an oversized coffee house, complete with a stage for musicians and speakers, couches forming fellowship nooks in the back corners, and a full-service espresso bar cranking out lattes.

Read the full blog at http://www.evaneco.com/2005/09/either-every-single-life-has-meaning.html


first results from first postcard

LifePoint's first postcards landed in mail boxes today. By 1 PM I had already fielded four phone calls from people who had received one of our postcards. Four out of 15,139! I'll take it. I asked one guy what he thought of our card -- he said it was "outstanding."

On a related note, I'm being interviewed later this afternoon by a reporter from the San Diego CityBeat magazine. She has seen one of our Craigslist posts and wanted to learn more about us. They publish weekly so there's a good chance we'll be featured before the end of September.
The ball keeps rolling closer to 9.11.05!


15,139 postcards delivered today

I'm blogging from a comfortable chair at Twiggs because I'm worn out. Our direct mail postcards arrived from Toronto today ... all 60,000 of them, neatly divided into four pallets. They've taken over our garage. After unloading 76 trays of postcards, I had to take the first shipment to the La Mesa post office to be processed. That meant loading 18 trays into the back of my Honda, driving to La Mesa, unloading them so they could be weighed, and then reloading them back into the Honda. After that, I had to drive to Carmel Mountain to the main mail processing plant and do the same thing again. I need to join a pastor's union.

If you haven't seen the postcards, click here to check them out.


6 days to grand opening

We began the process of starting LifePoint six months ago ... we’re now six days away from Grand Opening! Over the course of the previous six months we have had over 130 people come to a LifePoint function, not to mention the countless others you have told our story to. We have migrated from Sunday nights at the Hensley house to a very unique Sunday worship space. It has been quite a ride.

The greatest pleasure has been meeting people like you. Throughout history, whenever God put a vision in place he always provided the resources needed to carry out the vision. You are LifePoint’s greatest resource.

Investing yourself in a new way of doing church will be one of your life’s most rewarding experiences. God has granted you an opportunity that only a few believers will ever experience. Not many people can say, “I was there from day one.”

I’m planning on sending out a countdown email each day this week. Not just to remind you that we open our doors September 11 at 9:00 and 10:45 – but to encourage you to keep spreading the word about LifePoint. If you're not receiving our regular email blast, click here to send me an email.

Thanks and may God bring out the best in us!