Guiding Principles For Returning To “Indoor” Worship

We distributed this video last week to answer the question, “When are we coming back?”

Here are the principles in writing:

We value being right over being first.
We anticipate a rush to open by some churches in our area. We will resist the temptation to be among “the first” and will instead focus on the wisdom and clarity necessary to do it right. read more

What A Photo And Its Caption Taught Me About Leadership

I’ll admit it: I have an uneasy relationship with leadership.

In some ways I think I lead well. In a lot of others, I know I don’t.

Nevertheless, in this ongoing life tutorial about leadership, I learned a valuable lesson recently. And that lesson stemmed from this photo that one of our staff pastors took of his children raising their bibles during last week’s livestreamed service at Good Shepherd. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Reflections On A Couple Of Days In Nashville

Julie and I spent last Thursday – Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee, where we visited our daughter Taylor Underwood and her husband Nate.

Here we are in front of Parnassus Books (see #5, below).

Five Reflections, in no particular order of significance.

One.  We flew … and flying is getting back to near normal.  The airports in both Charlotte and Nashville were by no means full, but neither were they ghost towns.  Security check were easy — thank you, TSA Pre! — and the flights were comfortable.  Flying with a mask on isn’t much fun but they’ll let you remove it if you are drinking something.  I was tempted to nurse a lemonade for an hour. read more

The “Eye Surgery” Sermon Map Rewind

For the second straight Sunday, I interrupted a series to deliver a message more designed than written; more mapped than manuscripted.

Here’s the general flow of what I hoped to accomplished.  I did in fact lead to a pretty coherent bottom line:

Why be color blind when you can be color blessed?

Here goes: read more

#TBT — Avon Championships, Dallas, Texas, 1980

This is from a Mixed Doubles exhibition match I played with three other juniors from Dallas during the 1980 Avon Championships at SMU‘s Moody Coliseum. The Avon tour was the successor to the Virginia Slims and the predecessor of today’s WTA tour.

I know the other male player was William Daniel who was a couple of years young than me but also played for Princeton. I believe Kay Tittle was with us, but don’t remember the fourth. I DO remember asking Will to hit everything to my backhand so I wouldn’t have the embarrassment of a forehand in the bottom of the net in front of all those people. read more

Ear Writing And How To Do It

What in the world is ear writing?  And why would I give this post that odd title?

Well, ear writing is the process of writing with the understanding that what you write will be HEARD more than it will be READ.  Which is the opposite of how most of us were taught to write in school.

Ear writing is the specialty of those who write speeches, those who write advertising copy, and those who write … sermons.  Here are some clues I have learned in my time on the job: read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Ways Geography Shapes Ministry At Good Shepherd

A lot of you know this already, but I’ll repeat it again:  I love the Steele Creek section of Charlotte.  We’ve lived in the same house since our arrival at Good Shepherd in 1999, and I like almost everything about this unique corner of our region.

Yet I have been thinking this week about how it is that our geography shapes our ministry.  Factors ranging from our terrain to our socio-economics all help mold Good Shepherd into the kind of community it is.  Here are five ways in which that’s true: read more

A Spontaneous Sermon Rewind

How do you have a “written” sermon rewind of a sermon that you never wrote?

How can you recap a message that had a spontaneous delivery, far from the norm of an internalized message stemming for a carefully prepared manuscript?

Well, two friends from social media offered their summaries soon after delivery yesterday morning.  Here’s the first: read more

#TBT — When We Were Young And They Were Younger

Riley and Taylor, summer, 1995.

Sandestin Resort, Destin, Florida.

Two tan kids. Very tan.

And two grateful parents who in many ways got better than we deserve.

How Me And The Boss Are Bros

Several years ago, I read Peter Ames Carlin’s biography of Bruce Springsteen.

And in reading it, I discovered something I share in common with him.

Not guitar talent.

Not singing voice.

Not ability to write lyrics.

Not even time in New Jersey — my seven years pale in comparison to the sixty-five or so that he has lived there. read more