Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
BY ED FANSELOW
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Last week Ross and I went to his company Christmas party on the Spirit of Chicago. There was dancing and dinner and we even braved the cold to go stand out on the deck and watch the sky line go by.
This time of year is especially busy for the Stangers, with rehearsals for Christmas tagged on to their regular duties. Christmas at Willow is going to be pretty special this year, so, if you want to come and see what Steph and Mark have been working so hard to prepare for, click on the link below to get your free tickets!
Next week I ditch the Stangers to go to North Carolina with Ross for Christmas. We're leaving the 22nd and coming after the New Year. I'll get to meet the Cangelosis and, Ross promises me, sleep in as much as I want :P I can't wait! And when I come home Mally will be starting day care and I'll be looking for new work. Exciting times!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
by Abram Book
Christianity Today, Leadership Journal.net
The pastors who gave us "purpose-driven" ministry and "seeker-oriented" services are leading their churches to take up new causes, campaigns that do not promise growth, at least not traditional church growth.
Rick Warren is championing the eradication of AIDS, illiteracy, and poverty in Africa, and Bill Hybels has named racial reconciliation as his next summit worth climbing. The question is, will their churches and the thousands of churches that take their cues from Saddleback and Willow Creek join the campaigns?
A skeptical observer of these developments suggested this article be titled "Boomer Pastors Get a Social Conscience," noting that concern for social issues was characteristic of his own generation since before they were named "busters." It is true that the prominent churches of the boomer-led era are known more for excellence in leadership, weekend services, and evangelism than for tackling social justice issues, but to attribute their leaders' recent elevation of social causes to the midlife need for significance and legacy seems a harsh judgment.
The megachurch pastors who have set trends in worship style and evangelism for three decades have done so out of concern for the lost people of their (and the subsequent) generation.
Their emphasis was in leading Christians to reach unchurched people in their surrounding communities effectively. Now, with their paradigm-shifting strategies ingrained on their local congregations and espoused by pastors in churches worldwide, these prominent leaders are turning their focus further outward.
They're shifting their efforts to people and issues that cannot be changed within the walls of their large auditoriums, or by cell group meetings in their church members' suburban living rooms, or through pilgrimages to summits at satellite host sites across North America.
The apostles of the contemporary church are moving out of Jerusalem and Judea, through despised Samaria, to address even larger issues worldwide. And they're inviting their purpose-driven and seeker-oriented disciples to follow.
Click here for the rest of the article.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Over the last ten years, I have written dozens of joke letters, sometimes under pseudonyms, to companies large and small in America and around the world. Many of these companies have written back.
(To see pictures of the letters, click on the link in the title.)
Lyle E. Castrole
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015
March 11, 2001
Pastor Bill Hybels
Willow Creek Community Church
67 East Algonquin Road
South Barrington, IL 60010
Dear Pastor Hybels,
I am going to be in the Chicago area from May 4-22, and am interested in attending services at Willow Creek Community Church. I have friends in both Wheaton and Carol Stream who have recommended it to me. I have heard that Willow Creek is committed to delivering God's Word to people of all backgrounds as well as levels of mobility. As I am handicapped, this is welcome news to me.
My disability does not require the use of a wheelchair, nor is it an impairment of either my eyesight or hearing. Pastor Hybels, I have a handicapped brain. I'm not mentally retarded. I have no learning disabilities, and I have full cognitive ability. What's different about me is that I react in very extraordinary ways to very ordinary stimuli.
For example, last Tuesday I was watching television when a commercial for Odor-Eaters came on. The commercial was very normal, as were the actors and the product they were selling. But when the voice-over announcer stated the words "activated charcoal", that's when things got crazy. Upon hearing those words, I promptly stood up, kissed my next-door neighbor, removed my shirt, got a pencil from the drawer, stuck the pencil up my left nostril, and walked in a perfect circle for 37 minutes.
Three weeks ago, on my 31st birthday, my mother came over to my house, bringing with her a photo of myself as a baby. I laughed at the chocolate cake on my face, but when I saw the 1969 calendar in the background, it triggered my odd behavior. I ran out my front door with one hand on my head and the other on my right thigh, and when I got to the 7-Eleven I stopped, looked in the window and made donkey noises for twelve minutes.
Many different triggers have had repeated effects on me, and as a result I am no longer allowed in Office Depot, McDonalds or any hotel (the little soaps make me belch the alphabet).
Pastor, I am writing this letter to you to make sure your church can accommodate my unusual disability. I can make sure to locate myself in a corner of the sanctuary, where I might be out of the way of most people. I cannot predict whether or not I will have an incident at the church, but I do know that every time I watch TBN, something happens, and it's not because that woman's big hair. Is there any way there can be a security officer nearby in case I get up and scream "the bucket the bucket the bucket" until I drop?
Lyle E. Castrole
Bill Hybels passed your recent letter along to me. My name is Bob Irwin, and I am the Safety and Security coordinator here at Willow Creek. I would be glad to personally attend to you, if you decide to visit us in May. Please contact me when you know the date you will be attending one of our services and I will arrange for your special needs.
Willow Creek serves over 17,000 attenders at our weekly services, so it is our desire to protect them from disturbances of any kind. I appreciate your consideration for others. It would be advisable for one of your friends to accompany you when you visit, and we will do everything we can to attand to your disability.
Lyle, you can contact me at (847) 765-5000 ext. 633. Leave a message for me giving your phone number and also your friend's phone number. Let me know which service you will be attending. I will then arrange to meet you, or have another security person escort you during your visit.
It is important that you contact me before your visit so that I can provide a safe place for you thus allowing you to enjoy the service. Thank you for writing and I look forward to hearing from you.
Lyle E. Castrole
P.O. Box 598
Clackamas, OR 97015
April 16, 2001
Bob Irwin, Safety and Security Coordinator
Willow Creek Community Church
67 East Algonquin Road
South Barrington, IL 60010
Dear Mr. Irwin,
I appreciate you taking the time to write me back before the days in May that I was supposed to go out there and attend Willow Creek. There have been some huge things that have happened since I wrote you that letter in April.
If you remember, up until recently I had this odd problem of reacting very strangely to certain "trigger" words or phrases. I would hear a particular word on TV or in a conversation, and all of a sudden I would go berserk. I think I told you about the McDonald's incident in the last letter, where I got kicked out because Ronald McDonald's face made me start singing songs from the Rocky Horror Picture Show (a movie I haven't even seen). Well, I am happy to say that that whole problem is gone due to the thoughtful work of my pastor, Jess Northrup. He suggested one night that I might be demon possessed. I told him it wasn't possible, since no demon has ever signed a lease! (A joke) Then he got really serious and started yelling at me, shouting out commands like Get out! and Leave him! Well I got up to leave but he was holding me down! Suddenly I felt this wave rush over me and I knew I had been cured. Pastor Northrup said that I definitely had a demon inside of me that was doing all of this crazy stuff. He said that the demon needed to be exercised. I didn't get it. Wouldn't that make the demon stronger? Well, maybe the workout tired him out and he fell out of me. Anyway it worked out.
The problem is that I was shaken really hard and I kept hitting my head on the floor, and a week later I went deaf and I can't speak a word. The doctor says it's temporary, that I should be back to normal in a year or so. In the meantime I'm not supposed to travel, so the Chicago trip is a bust. Also I can't get Bob Carlisle's song "Butterfly Kisses" out of my head. I appreciate all that you were willing to do for me to accommodate my condition. Therefore I have a new question:
Are there transcripts of Pastor Hybels (spell check suggests: "Highballs"!) sermons available? Like in script form, or outline? Since I can't hear (temporarily), a tape is useless. Some pages to read on the bus would be good. Please let me know. And again, thank you for all of your generosity and dedication to making sure I could enjoy the service. I feel "safe and secure" already!
Lyle E. Castrole
P.S. My nephew told me a joke: What was King Nebucadenezzer's favorite kind of sandwich? Babylonian cheese (Baloney and cheese) Pass that on to Pastor Hybels!
NO FURTHER RESPONSE
- Not Myself, Room for Squares by John Mayer
- High...and Loneseome, Dear Life by Bill Mallonee
- Brian Wilson, Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies
- Red Hill Mining Town, Joshua Tree by U2
- Life, in a Nutshell, Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies
- Real Down Town, VOL by Vigilantes of Love
- Real Light, Tomorrow the Green Grass by The Jayhawks
- Worry Too Much, Universal United House of Prayer by Buddy Miller
- Forever has Come to an End, Buddy and Julie Miller by Buddy and Julie Miller
- Telephone Road, El Corazon by Steve Earle
Video Pick of the Week:
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
by Ken Walker of ChurchCentral.com
Dick Towner, executive director of the Good $ense financial ministry at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, says pastors shoot themselves in the foot by reducing the topic to an annual plea for more money.
"One friend calls it the lamentation of desperation for the church budget," Towner says. "In large measure the church has failed to teach on stewardship. Materialism has won the day in the hearts and minds of people."
Towner sees various factors at work in the church’s failure to teach about stewardship, starting with most seminaries neglecting the subject.
In addition, he says many pastors are uncomfortable discussing money, either because of modest salaries or high educational debt that leaves them struggling to pay their bills.
They also face potential opposition from congregants who are either ignorant of how often the Bible addresses the topic or guilt over their own lack of giving. Yet, two-thirds of Christ’s parables concern money or possessions, Towner says.
"Materialism is a theological subject," Towner says. "It teaches that ultimate reality is in physical reality and everything can be explained by it. It’s a god of good news that (says), ‘Things bring happiness.’"
To read the entire article, click on the link in the title.
Dear E-News Friends,
I know this update is long overdue, so let me begin by saying I am sincerely sorry for not communicating sooner. No excuses.
These past few months have been packed with some of the most exciting experiences of my life. The Leadership Summit was judged by many as the best ever. Over sixty thousand pastors and church leaders attended the various sites all over North America. Shortly after that, the top-rated sessions were translated into multiple languages and final preparations were made for our Global Leadership Summits which are taking place this fall in 52 cities around the world. More than 20,000 international pastors and church leaders will benefit from these high-impact two-day events. Two weeks ago our dream of a Global Summit in Moscow was realized when almost a thousand church leaders gathered in the heart of that great city. The reports we received from that site alone made the entire GLS effort worthwhile.
While all of that was going on, we launched the new ministry season at Willow. I was privileged to do a three-week series titled “When God Rocks Your World.” The final weekend of the series featured a 45 minute video interview I did with the Irish rock star, Bono, from U2. Bono talked about his own spiritual journey as well as his passion to fight the dual tragedies of global poverty and AIDS. I never tire of seeing God touch and transform lives of the most unusual people!
In early October we also launched our fourth Willow regional congregation—in the heart of downtown Chicago. Those who attended the Grand Opening service will never forget what it was like to see more than 2,500 people stream into Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theater. Who knows what God might do in and through that new congregation?
Next came a trip to Korea that timed out perfectly with the North Korean testing episode. But I will remember that trip for another reason. Just as I was ready to give my final evening talk, the auditorium where we were meeting exploded into an extravaganza of music, laughter, applause, confetti, dancers, streamers and singing. I was totally caught off-guard until a huge banner unfolded with “Happy Birthday Willow Creek” sprawled across it. At the same, time a cake was brought out on stage with October 12, 1975 written on it and 31 candles waiting to be blown out. Later that night, in my hotel room, I pondered the significance of a church on the other side of the world throwing a birthday party for a church in suburban Chicago. I also reflected on the heartfelt words of the senior pastor of that church as he and his congregation prayed that night for Willow. “Thank you, God,” they prayed, “for raising up a church that has inspired us to believe that Acts 2 can still be experienced today.”
And speaking of Acts 2…just last week we test-flew a new way of teaching and learning at our A2 conference by presenting case studies of six different WCA churches that are living out their calling to “be the church” in unique ways. By all accounts, the opportunity to learn from a variety of different ministry experiences was a home run.
Clearly it’s been a productive fall in terms of conferences…and it’s not over yet! Next week 7,000 church leaders will gather in Bremen, Germany for our European Leadership Summit. Please pray for God’s blessing on that event.
On the personal front, Lynne and I are thoroughly enjoying our new role as grandparents! On October 7 our daughter Shauna and son-in-law Aaron welcomed Henry Todd into the world. I am not being biased when I say he is the coolest baby ever born. It’s the simple truth! Holding him in my arms when he was barely 20 minutes old was one of the peak moments of my life. I can speak for the entire Hybels family when I say that we consider the arrival of this little guy as the highlight of the year.
Finally, many of you are aware that I have been fighting some battles on the health front for the past several months. I would appreciate your continued prayers in that regard. Mayo Clinic physicians are confident I can make a full recovery from the respiratory infection and related complications that have been plaguing me, but they have also reminded me that a 54-year-old body can no longer do what a 40-year-old body once did. Hmmm….that was new information to me…but I can’t deny it any longer. While I look forward to the myriad of Kingdom challenges that still lie ahead, I realize that I need to approach them with a modified level of intensity and pace. Your prayers for wisdom as I sort this all out will be appreciated more than you know.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
The site is still under construction but if you wanna know more about SMLC go to www.willowcreek.com.
I had the pleasure of attending this show, but there's more at work here than personal nostalgia. In fact, I almost didn't recognize the 90-minute concert video, because the lighting and audio has only improved with first rate editing and mixing.
It looks and sounds comparable in quality to productions by U2 and Coldplay, and the accompanying CD captures most of the excellence. Moreover, the behind-the-scenes featurette is actually interesting to watch, and a fascinating 30-minute documentary delightfully demystifies the band's celebrity by sharing their history, home life, and personal photos. You truly get to know Delirious and their mission better with this project.
The set list relies more heavily on Delirious' The Mission Bell than on their classics, though that helps distinguish this from past concert albums.
The Bottom Line:
Access:D remains their best live album, but this will likely become the quintessential concert video for Delirious—generous in quality and content, everything's done right here.
Way to go Stanger! (And a great big way-to-go to all the Willow volunteers who worked on this puppy - making the paid professionals out there look bad! ;)
Friday, November 03, 2006
- Ground On Down, Fight for Your Mind by Ben Harper
- Faithfully Dangerous, Good Dog, Bad Dog by Over the Rhine
- The Man Who Loved Life, Sound of Lies by The Jayhawks
- If I Had a Million Dollars, Rock Spectacle by The Barenaked Ladies
- King of Pain, Every Breath You Take by The Police
- In Your Eyes, Woven and Spun by Nicole Nordeman
- Shelter Me, Universal United House of Prayer by Buddy Miller
- Cowboy Romance, Tigerlily by Natalie Merchant
- Dirty Water, Buddy and Julie Miller by Buddy and Julie Miller
- Skin, V.O.L. by Vigilantes of Love
Video pick o' the Week: Ground on Down by Ben Harper.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
By Gudrun Schultz
Evangelical and Catholic leaders who have issued a joint statement declaring that care for the vulnerable in society is an essential requirement of authentic Christianity which must reject any deliberate taking of innocent human life as murder.
“The direct and intentional taking of innocent human life in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic research is rightly understood as murder,” the document ‘That They May Have Life’ declares, from Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
Catholic leaders who endorsed the statement include Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Fordham University, Fr. Francis Martin, a foremost Catholic theologian and member of Mother of God Community, and Mr. George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Evangelical leaders included Mr. Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, pastors Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, with the Willow Creek Community Church and Saddleback Church, respectively, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Charlie Dean at Random Thoughts and Associations
Saturday, October 21, 2006
New York Times
As dusk settles on this neighborhood of 1920’s bungalows and old farmhouses northwest of Chicago, Randy Frazee strums a banjo on his front porch, waiting for his dinner guests to arrive. No cars line his curb because everyone who is coming lives within walking distance.
Once the 12 guests — ranging in age from about 7 to 70 — and the Frazee family have gathered around three tables set end-to-end, they join hands, and Mr. Frazee, a pastor at the Willow Creek Community Church, says a prayer. A meal of barbecued brisket, cheese potatoes and green beans follows.
Throughout the evening, conversation occasionally touches on favorite scriptures and “walking with the Lord.” The guests tell about their best and worst moments of the week. As dinner wraps up, Mr. Frazee asks one of the couples to talk about “how Christ walks in their life.”
It’s the first night of “The Table,” a new program offered by Willow Creek — a nondenominational megachurch that regularly draws several thousand people to its services at a 155-acre campus nearby, in South Barrington. “The Table,” however, is deliberately kept small as Willow Creek seeks innovative ways to meet the changing needs of churchgoers searching for ways to express their faith.
Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek, has used business-world strategies — notably branding and word-of-mouth marketing — to help the church grow from 125 congregants 30 years ago into the megachurch it is today. While Mr. Hybels says he does not use marketing techniques to spread God’s word, “we do attempt to harness the full potential of modern technology and business strategies to communicate with our members and our community.”
He has also brought in advisers like Mr. Frazee, who use business ideas to spread the message of the church. Mr. Frazee said many of his ideas grew out of a friendship he had with a Texas developer. “I mentored him in spiritual matters and he mentored me in transferable concepts to the church from his world of business,” Mr. Frazee said. “I would say it was one of the many factors that led me down a path to the ‘Table’ concept.”
The new messages — from Willow Creek and other nondenominational churches to mainstream denominations like the Episcopal and the United Methodist churches — tend to focus on connectedness, theology and shared values.
Click on the link above to read the entire article at the New York Times website. You may have to register, but it's free.
Indicative that suns go down;
The notice to the startled grass
That darkness is about to pass.
Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.
Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards - day!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Playing dress up: best spot for costumes
by Stephanie Tao
While using public transportation, it would be difficult not to notice the many posters, billboards and signs posing the question, "This is church?" The signs depict scenes of every day life as well as uncommon ones, like elegant ballet performances. What are these advertisements about, and how are these activities even related? It is all a part of Willow Creek Community Church.
The church, which is the largest American inter-denominational church, just began services in the heart of downtown Chicago. More than 2,000 people attended the first service on Oct. 1, a very impressive turnout for a blossoming church branch. The historically rich Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress Parkway, home to The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, hosts the epic Sunday Morning gatherings. This unconventional location is actually not unusual for an evangelical church as Willow Creek’s very first service in the 1970s was held at a rented movie theater in Palatine, Ill.
For the rest of the article, click on the link above.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
By Chrissie Thompson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
October 13, 2006
Church members gave 2.56 percent of their income in 2004, down from 3.11 percent in 1968, according to the last study on data analyzed by Mrs. Ronsvalle and her husband, John L. Ronsvalle. Both figures are well shy of the biblical 10 percent tithe.
Church giving increased from 1998 to 2001, recovering to early 1970s levels before decreasing to the current average.
The study also found more that 85 percent of contributions to churches funded the general operations of the local congregation, while about 15 percent went toward "benevolence," which was defined as for "the broader mission of the church, beyond the local congregation."
"Both of these numbers raise the question, 'Has the church lost its vision?' " Mrs. Ronsvalle said. "Is the church turning into a club, or does the church see itself as salt?"
Brian McAuliffe , chief financial officer and director of operations at Willow Creek Community Church, thinks increasing church attendance may cause per capita giving to decrease.
"A lot of times people who are new to churches don't understand giving back to God," he said, whose South Barrington, Ill. [sic] "It may take a couple of years before someone feels comfortable and says, 'Yes, I really believe in this, and I want to give to support that.' "
Mrs. Ronsvalle said giving began declining in the 1950s when poor Americans became a minority.
"When everyone was poor, you obviously gave. You knew that your kids were one step away from it," she said. "When we all started getting comfortable in this world ... ministers found that people weren't so excited hearing about the poor."
To read the rest of the article click on the link above.
- Time in Babylon, Stumble into Grace by Emmylou Harris
- Hawkmoon 269, Rattle and Hum by U2
- Surf Wax America, Blue Album by Weezer
- Jacksonville, Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
- Firecracker, Gold by Ryan Adams
- Kit Carson, Nothing but a Burning Light by Bruce Cockburn
- Find me in the River, The Cutting Edge by Delerious?
- I Can Feel It, Wherever you Are by Third Day
- Come Back, Take Time to Listen, Vol II (Various Artists) by Dime Store Prophets
- Just Not Urban Enough, Urban Sophisticates by Urban Sophisticates
Video pick of the week: Jacksonville by Sufjan Stevens (#4).
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
- Everyman's Daughter, Good Dog Bad Dog by Over the Rhine
- World's Apart (live), Futhermore: Songs from the Stage by Jars of Clay
- Ten Little Kids, Tomorrow the Green Grass by The Jayhawks
- X&Y, X&Y by Colplay
- 3X5, Room for Squares by John Mayer
- That's Just How She Cries, Buddy and Julie Miller by Buddy and Julie Miller
- Elevation, All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2
- Life, in a Nutshell, Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies
- In the Garage, Weezer (Blue Album) by Weezer
- It's up to You, Sound of Lies by The Jayhawks
Video pick of the week: In The Garage by Weezer (#9)
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Willow Creek `mega-church' has big hopes with launch of its first Chicago location
By Jeff Long
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 2, 2006
...Pamela Gomilla, an African-American woman who lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, entered the historic Auditorium Theatre in the Loop on Sunday not sure what to expect from a church service with roots in mostly white suburbia...
Willow Creek’s Chicago debut
Signature service draws crowd of 2,000 to Auditorium Theatre
By Ed Fanselow
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Monday, October 02, 2006
...The inaugural service was the latest milestone in a whirlwind year for Willow Creek, which now counts an average weekend attendance of more than 20,000 in South Barrington and its three satellite campuses in DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties.
In January, Hybels announced that the congregation was pledging more than $1 million to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa, and in July, the church was named as the most influential in America by a popular Christian magazine.
A few weeks later, Hybels and newly recruited Willow Chicago Pastor Steve Wu inked a one-year lease with the theater, the stately Romanesque-style building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway that has become one of Chicago’s most cherished landmarks since hosting its first event, the 1888 Republican National Convention.
The building’s prominence isn’t lost on Wu, who said he was looking for a hook to draw in so-called “unchurched” Chicagoans as well as 20-somethings who have moved into the city and away from their family churches and college campus worship centers.
Many there Sunday said they learned about the service from billboards in CTA buses and at el stations...
Suburban megachurch opens Chicago satellite
Friday, September 29, 2006
Brittnie Sarnes has 5,000 MySpace friends. Actually, make that 5,036. At last count, anyhow. About 10 people a day ask to "friend" her.
Usually she says yes.
She knows they're total strangers, but it doesn't matter. Each time she's asked, it feels "kinda cool — like 'Oh, this person thinks I'm cool enough to befriend me,' " says Brittnie, 17, of Columbus, Ohio...
Friendship always has been a tricky game, especially for teens. But in the past it was played out in school hallways, on playgrounds and in late-night phone calls.
These days it is happening in full color on the computer screen — often in front of the world. And it can be confusing, especially for teens trying to fit in.
How many friends should one have? What kind of friends should they be? Are online friends "real"?
Does it help boost self-esteem, or might it be harmful?
There are no rules...
Competition for friends can be so fierce that ad-supported websites are cropping up. They plug you into a system where you can start automatically generating friends — or where you can generate fake friends — to make lists look fat.
And last October, a 19-year-old calling himself "Samy" took credit for writing a computer worm that automatically generated friends on his MySpace page.
Some say overly long lists can smack of desperation.
When Georgia Bobley, 18, a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., sees a page with more than 500 friends, she thinks "it's a little creepy."
But having too few friends might mean you're not very popular. "When I go onto somebody's Facebook profile, and they have four friends, I'm like, 'Oh, my God. What? They only have four friends?' " She has 329.
Brittnie won't friend anyone with fewer than 150 friends; it means "nobody likes them."
But Valerie, who has 1,327 friends, says she will sometimes ignore list length for the right reasons. If she encounters someone with "only 12 or 20 friends, but they seem like a cool person, I'll start a conversation with them, and I will still treat them like someone who had a thousand friends or something. They could've just started their site, too."
Then there's the issue of the kinds of friends you keep. Make friends with too many losers, and you might find yourself on the other side of a virtual closed door.
If, for instance, a person friends bands (on MySpace you can friend actors, bands, movies and even commercial characters) that "suck," Brittnie says, "then that person probably does, too, and you probably don't want to add them."
She has other standards: "The other day I got a friend request, and it was a picture of like this dude's (genitals). I didn't add him."
But mostly, for Brittnie and a lot of others, friending is a kind of game. She'll ask to friend someone "like if you come by somebody's page, and you're like, 'They seem cool; I like their hair.' Or, 'Oh, he's hot,' then, you know, you just add them in hopes of maybe they'll talk to me, and we can become best friends. Or maybe they won't."
For others, though, especially younger teens, it's not a game.
"There are lots of kids who go there looking for friends because they don't have them elsewhere," Aftab says. "And they'll find different ways of getting them. The standards may not be so high."
At its root, competing for friends and fighting for status is hardly new behavior, Aftab says. Kids have always judged each other by the friends they keep.
"If you're snubbed by somebody walking down the hall at school, it's not as obvious as if no one wants to be your friend on your profile. If the other kids think one of your friends is lame, and they start commenting to your site, a lot of kids will drop friends because they're seen as not cool by other kids."
It isn't just kids who are learning the rules or making them up as they go along. Take the perilous issue of the Top 8, which seems to trip up everyone at some point.
That's the top eight friends displayed by default on a MySpace page. The rule is, you put your most important friends on your Top 8. Except if you don't know the rule.
That happened with Bob Christianson, 40, of Hudson, Fla. Christianson originally got on MySpace to keep tabs on his 14-year-old daughter and quickly got hooked on the site, which he uses to date and meet people.
But recently, he had to post an explanation of his Top 8.
"Just so I don't offend anybody," he wrote, "I don't rank my friends, so if you're not in my Top 8 it doesn't mean that you are any more or less of a friend to me."
That kind of explanation may calm adults. But the Top 8 issue constantly causes teen angst, says Amanda Peters. "Some people get really anal about it. They're like, 'I'm on your Top 8, but why am I the eighth person? Like how come I'm not No. 2?'
"I think it's just really stupid. I'm not the only friend people have, so why should I have any say on who they have in their top whatever?"
Nevertheless, she understands what happens when Top 8 status isn't reciprocated.
"You could think you're misjudging the relationship. Which sounds really funny because it's such a small trivial thing. You could feel kind of sad, like 'Oh, I thought we were hecka close.' "
- Jane, Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies
- Baloney Again, Sailing to Philidelphia by Mark Knopfler
- Cleaning Windows, The Best Of Van Morrison by Van Morrison
- Nothing Like a Train, Audible Sigh by Vigilantes of Love
- Pray for Me, Tomorrow the Green Grass by the Jayhawks
- El Macho, Sailing to Philidelphia by Mark Knopfler
- 2 Become 1, Perfumed Letter by Bill Mallonee
- The World Has Turned and Left Me Here, Weezer (Blue Album) by Weezer
- Why Georgia, Room for Squares by John Mayer
- Innocence Again, Learning to Breathe by Switchfoot
Video pick of the week: Baloney Again by Knopfler. Haunting song off the album that made me love Knopfler.
Blogging the Conference
The pagittBlog. (Doug Pagitt hasn't actually blogged about the conference yet, but if someone could please get the man a power cord he might ;)
This morning the conference began at Willow Creek Community Church. Its’ theme is the primary colors of small group ministry. As a guy with a degree in graphic design I immediately plugged into the context for the meeting. God, the ultimate designer CREATED us with an intrinsic need for relationships. There is in each of us two holes. One is filled only by God and the other by relationships. I get the whole “I need community thing” you know. What I miss sometimes is the context for what a real, biblical community looks like.
I have never done this before but I left on a trip and forgot my power cord for my Powerbook. If anyone has one I could use for the next two days and could meet me at Willow Creek or the Marriott hotel off I90 and route 59 please give me a call - 612-730-7337. It will work if it is for the Mac Powerbooks or Ibooks.god-of-small-things (This one has nothing to do with the small groups conference but I thought the guy had a good point so I'm throwing the link in for ya.)
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Sliced and diced 'Veggie Tales'
By L. Brent Bozell IIISeptember 13, 2006
Maybe you're familiar with the computer-animated cartoon "Veggie Tales," a video series targeted at children ages 2 to 8, and which features moral and religious tales hosted by Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. Beginning in 1993, the series was distributed on VHS tapes, telling biblical stories like the Battle of Jericho, David and Goliath and the tale of the Good Samaritan. Each show ended with a Bible verse.
And it's been a marketing phenomenon. Without any broadcasting or syndication on television, "Veggie Tales" has sold more than 50 million "Veggie Tales" DVDs and videotapes -- primarily, but quietly, through big chain stores like Target, Wal-Mart and Family Christian Stores. As their popularity spread, so did "Veggie Tales" T-shirts, plush toys and other products.
...Eventually, someone in Tinseltown saw the commercial possibilities. Now, the news breaks that NBC (as well as NBC-owned Telemundo) will begin showing "Veggie Tales" cartoons on Saturday mornings for the new fall season.
But here is what should be news. The early word from producers is that NBC has grown increasingly fierce about editing something out of "Veggie Tales" -- those apparently unacceptable, insensitive references to God and the Bible. So NBC has taken the very essence of "Veggie Tales" -- and ripped it out. It's like "Gunsmoke" without the guns, or "Monday Night Football" without the football.
Think about this corporate mindset. NBC is the network that hired a squad of lawyers to argue that dropping the F-bomb on the Golden Globe Awards isn't indecent for children, but invoking God is wholly unacceptable. Or, as one e-mailing friend marveled: "So, saying [expletive] you' is protected First Amendment speech on NBC but not 'God bless you.' "
The cartoon's creator, Phil Vischer, posted on his personal Web log the news of NBC's increasing creative stranglehold. "At first we were told everything was 'OK' except the Bible verse at the end. Frankly, that news [never] really surprised me, because, heck, we're talking about NBC here. [Would they allow] God on Saturday morning? It didn't seem likely."
But it grew worse than that edict, Mr. Vischer reported: "Since we've started actually producing the episodes, though, NBC has gotten a little more restrictive." How so? He said, "We're having to do a little more editing." How much? So much so Mr. Vischer implied the God talk is landing on the cutting-room floor. Now, he's merely hoping people will "maybe wander into Wal-Mart and buy a video with all the God still in."
This is one of those moments where you understand networks like NBC are only talking an empty talk and walking an empty walk when it comes to the First Amendment, and "creative integrity," and so on. They have told parents concerned about their smutty programs like "Will and Grace" that if they're offended, they have a remote control as an option. The networks have spent millions insisting we have a V-chip in our TV sets. Change the channel. Block it out.
But when it comes to religious programming -- that doesn't even mention Jesus Christ -- just watch the hypocrisy. Instead of telling viewers to just change the channel if they don't like it, or put in a V-chip for Bible verses, they demand to producers that all that outdated old-time religion be shredded before broadcast.
It's truly sad this anti-religious hypocrisy would emerge. Today, no one in network TV fears what the children are watching -- unless it makes them think about God.
I really recommend reading the entire interview at CT Online.
Here's an excerpt:
Lang: ...I hated Christianity. I couldn't stand to hear about Jesus. I just hated it.
Groves:So what happened? How'd you get from there to here?
Lang: When people used to try to persuade me with the message of Jesus, I would say, "I understand that you believe that, but I don't. He's going to have to basically show up and let me know who he is, or I'm not going to believe it." And that's what he did. He literally did that. (see link above.)
(This video is a little out of sync.)
Even before this, you've always seemed deeply spiritual. Was music your God?
Lang: Yes, because I mistook that spiritual feeling I would have when I would perform for being god. You think just because there is power that you are on the right track. I didn't know there was power on both sides. Now music has taken a major back seat to God. Music is something I definitely enjoy and am passionate about, and it's strange, but I don't have the same infatuation with it that I used to.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
2. What's your favorite article of clothing? A heavy cardigan sweater!
3. Favorite physical feature of the opposite sex? That's tough, I'll say hands.
4. What's the last CD that you bought? I think it was David Crowder Band's Illuminate.
5. Where's your favorite place to be? Hmmmm, I think it's a tie between church and Ross's apartment.
6. Where is your least favorite place to be? Hospitals!!!!!
7. What's your favorite place to be massaged? My neck?
8. Strong in mind or strong in body? Stronger in mind than body, but that's not saying much ;)
9. What time do you wake up in the morning? Usually sometime between 8 and 9.
10. What is your favorite kitchen appliance? The dishwasher!!!! Wow, I love the dishwasher. Excuse me a moment while I go give it a hug.
11. What makes you really angry? On a normal day - abortion, reckless drivers, not having food at hand. When I have PMS - everything under the sun.
12. If you could play any instrument, what would it be? The piano.
13. Favorite color? I don't know. I use a lot of brown when I paint but red makes me happy.
14. Which do you prefer...Sports car or SUV? SUVs because they are taller and you get a better view from the driver's seat. Sweet.
15. Do you believe in an afterlife? Yup.
16. Favorite children's book? Horton Hears a Who was a favorite when I was a kid.
17. What is your favorite season? Summer.
18. What is your least favorite household chore? Cleaning the litter box!
19. If you could have one super power, what would it be? I often wish I were invisible!
20. If you have a tattoo, what is it? I don't have one. I used to want an eyebrow ring but I got over it :)
21. Can you juggle? No.
22. The one person from your past that you wish you could go back and talk to? Mrs. Musniki from fifth grade. She changed the way I felt about myself and I'd like to thank her.
23. What's your favorite day? Sunday.
24. What's in the trunk of your car? A donut tire, a jack, an ice scraper, a pair of socks, a garbage bag, some old cassette tapes, a folder from a conference, some baby toys, and some
25. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger? Hamburger.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Carrying on its tradition of globally relevant music, Delirious? returns Oct. 17 with the CD-DVD release, Delirious? Now Is the Time: Live at Willow Creek, on Sparrow Records. Known for its compelling live performance, Delirious? recorded the project in front of 5,000 fans this summer at the Chicago-area’s Willow Creek Community Church, the second largest church in America.
Not only was this my third date with the illustrious Mr. Ross-alosi, but it was also a pretty awesome concert! And my BIL was one of the cameramen, so even if you're not a Delirious? fan you should pick this up just to see some of Mark's moves!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
- One book that changed your life? Where is God When it Hurts by Phillip Yancey. Along the lines of Why Bad Things Happen to Good People by Kushner except it's not UTTER CRAP.
- One book that you have read more than once? Just one? Hmmmm. Anything by Jane Austen stands up to multiple readings. But what stands out in my mind is Mordan'ts Need (Vol. 1 and 2) by Stephen R. Donaldson.
- One book you would want on a desert island? The Bible.
- One book that made you laugh? Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. One of the funnest reads ever!
- One book that made you cry? The Black Flower by Howard Bahr. I still cry when I read it.
- One book you wish had been written? I wish Dorothy Sayers had finished Thrones, Dominations.
- One book you wish had never been written? Can't think of one. I've read some real stinkers though! Blech!
- One book you are currently reading? Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip
- One book you have been meaning to read? The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
- Now tag five people: Steph, Noah, Lauren, Mom, and Dad
Monday, August 14, 2006
Although Devotions does not answer the philosophical questions, it does record Donne's emotional resolution, a gradual movement toward peace. At first - confined to bed, churning out prayers without answers, contemplating death, regurgitating guilt - he can find no relief from fear. Obsessed, he reviews every biblical occurrence of the word fear. As he does so, it dawns on him that life will always include circumstances that incite fear: if not illness, financial hardship, if not poverty, rejection, if not loneliness, failure. IN such a world, Donne has a choice: to fear God, or to fear everything else.
In a passage reminiscent of Paul's litany in Romans 8 ("For I am convinced that nether death nor life...will be able to separate us from the love of God..."), Donne checks off his potential fears. Personal enemies pose no ultimate threat, for God can vanquish any enemy. Famine? No, for God can supply. Death? Even that, the worst human fear, offers no final barrier against God's love. Donne concludes his best course is to cultivate a proper fear of the Lord, which fear can supplant all others: "as thou hast given me a repentance, not to be repented of, so give me, O Lord, a fear, of which I may not be afraid." I learned from Donne, when faced with doubts, to review my alternatives. If for whatever reason I refuse to trust God, what, then, can I trust?
In his disputation with God, Donne has changed questions. He began with the question of cause - "Who caused this illness, this plague? And why?" - for which he found no answer. The meditations move ever so gradually toward the question of response, the defining issue that confronts every person who suffers. Will I trust God with my crisis, and the fear it provokes? Or will I turn away from God in bitterness and anger? Donne decided that in the most important sense it did not matter whether his sickness was a chastening or merely a natural occurrence. In either case he would trust God, for in the end trust represents the proper fear of the Lord.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
I recommend turning the volume WAY UP! (Spoiler free!!)
"Everyone wins when you add skill to passion. Well, hell loses, but as they say, who the hell cares." - Bill Hybels, opening session of Willow Creek Leadership Summit
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
The Father of Willow Creek
by Manea A. Brachear, Tribune Staff Reporter
Rev. Bill Hybels opens his eyes at dawn, rolls out of bed and lands on his knees. For 10 minutes, he says, he kneels in prayer, thanking God.
That one-on-one time came more easily three decades ago, when Hybels was an evangelist working outside the mainstream, launching an experimental ministry called Willow Creek Community Church.
Now Willow Creek is a big part of the mainstream, the South Barrington-based megachurch at the forefront of an international phenomenon counting almost 12,000 congregations.
And Hybels has become a power broker in evangelical Christianity, the CEO of a movement. This year he stepped away from Willow Creek's day-to-day operations to concentrate on expanding the ministry to the unchurched abroad and to broaden its urban, multicultural reach at home."In the early days I was the father, the mother, the uncle, the aunt, the grandmother. I was really the only teacher, the only pastor," he said. "These days ... the church's dependency on me has gone down just exactly the way we planned it."
Last week, the church made headlines in his absence by planning to move its fledgling Chicago congregation into the historic Auditorium Theatre. This week, Hybels will attend Willow's annual leadership summit, where more than 50,000 pastors and key volunteers are expected to attend or tune in via satellite.But Hybels said none of that means much if he can't find the time to cultivate his personal relationship with God, whether it is grabbing 10 minutes first thing in the morning or taking more time away from the 20,000-member church to go to his summer home in Michigan.
"I can't do a gourmet meal if I can't get the time in the kitchen," said Hybels, 54. "If I don't have mechanisms in place to lower my RPMs and help me focus, I'll just hydroplane over things I shouldn't hydroplane over. I'm an activist personality. I like high challenge, high speed, high risk."
Before he escapes for the summer, there is one rite of passage he never misses--the annual baptism in Willow Creek's pond. More than 500 teens and adults wade into the water so that Hybels or another pastor can cradle them in his arms, proclaim their conversion "in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit" and douse them.
In South Haven, Hybels has contemplated his wife's vision of expanding Willow Creek's global outreach. After a trip to Africa, she challenged her husband to respond to the AIDS crisis there by providing medical and hospice care.Hybels has also used the downtime to develop his vision of building a more multicultural church. Last year he and seven pastors from predominantly white, black, Latino and Asian evangelical churches around Chicago began meeting monthly to collaborate on a community service project. And for several summers, he and Rev. James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago have marched with others across a bridge in Selma, Ala., to commemorate the civil rights struggle."I am one of those prototypical, white educated folks who wonder why there is still a problem. If the laws have been changed and if everyone is voting and there is equal opportunity, why is there any lingering difficulty?" Hybels admitted to a group of worshipers at the First Baptist Church in Selma.
"As the church started to grow and exposure to the world began to increase, I
began to become more aware of some of the tensions between races."
Part of his response has been the opening of the downtown Chicago branch, one of four Willow Creek satellites. The church also hired a pastor to lead a Spanish worship service.And Hybels insists on casting more minorities in the church's Broadway-style stage productions that have earned national acclaim and often bring worshipers to their feet.
While everyone in the sanctuary sways and waves their arms in praise, Hybels stands, his hands folded behind him, his eyes closed in contemplation. Even if that makes him seem a little out of place in his own church, he figures it might help somebody else in the crowd feel a little more comfortable."I'm not an arm waver and a clapper and a dancer," he said. "Music doesn't do that to me, although it stirs me inside. I think there's a contingent of people at Willow who gain some permission to stay in their true response because they know I do. They're glad I stay true to my wiring. It gives them permission to stay true to theirs."
I've just posted the very beginning and the very end of this article. You can find the rest by clicking on the link in the title.
I wasn't terribly impressed by this article. It seemed meandering to me and, for a bio piece, paints a very vague picture. Now if Cathleen Falsani of the Sun Times sat down to do this job, that would be interesting!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
- Sooner or Later (Soren's Song), New Way to be Human by Switchfoot
- In a Little While, All that You can't Leave Behind by U2
- Tokyo Rose (Live), My Year in Review by Bill Mallonee
- When it was Over, Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves
- Walk On (Live), Elevation in Boston by U2
- The Prodigal Bride, The Green Room Serenade by Lost Dogs
- In God's Country, The Joshua Tree by U2
- To the Moon, Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves
- Linger, Everybody Else is Doing It... by The Cranberries
- Brothers in Arms, Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits
To the Moon (#8) "It was there in the bulletin, "We're Leaving Soon." After the bake-sale to raise funds for fule. The rocket is ready and we're going to take our church to the moon. They'll be no one there to tell us we're odd, no one to change our opinions of God. Just lots of rocks and this dusty sod, there in our church on the moon. We know our liberties, we know our rights, we know how to fight a very good fight. Just grab that last bag there and turn out the light, we're taking our church to the moon. We're taking our church to the moon. We'll be leaving soon."
The Prodigal Bride (#6) "All your haves and your have-nots will turn to dust in time. There's still a chance to save yourself while I've got you on the line, and you know it." "You don't see clear I'm standing here, in the shadows of your imagination. And you alone, for blood and bone, put flesh around my incarnation." "When you first beheld the man, you nailed down his open hand, because he wasn't much to look at way back then. And your dance of freedom raised a storm, a day for death, a time to mourn, until that long lost love is born again."
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The Chicago branch of huge Willow Creek Church is excited about the prospect of worshiping in the legendary Auditorium Theatre
By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 1, 2006
Named for the Palatine movie palace in which the suburban megachurch got its start,Willow Creek Community Church now plans to establish a city home in a theater of a different kind.
Beginning Oct. 1, the historic Auditorium Theatre's gilded walls and massive archways will become home to Willow Creek Chicago, the church's newest campus, under a handshake agreement reached by both parties Monday.
The city satellite of the South Barrington church, which expanded its auditorium in 2004 to accommodate its 18,000 members in multiple services, was launched in March and has been drawing about 150 people on Sunday afternoons to the Union Station Multiplex on West Jackson Boulevard. The church now hopes to draw hundreds more to hear its pastor preach from a stage that has featured Frank Sinatra, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and the Joffrey Ballet.
The unconventional location is not unusual for an evangelical church--especially one that hosts worship services that resemble Broadway productions.But the Auditorium Theatre is a cornerstone of Chicago history, a granite monument to the days when the young city aimed to outshine New York as the nation's cultural hub. A national historic landmark, the Romanesque building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway was designed by legendary architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.
Leaders of Willow Creek were conscious of the history of the Auditorium as they planned the megachurch's urban expansion."It's got Chicago written all over it," said Rev. Steve Wu, who moved to the city earlier this year to lead Willow Creek Chicago.
Willow Creek members will be able to worship in the theater on Sunday mornings for one year, with the caveat that they must clear out before Sunday matinees, said the Auditorium's Executive Director Brett Batterson, who declined to disclose financial details of the arrangement.
The goals of the two organizations are the same, he said.
"The [theater's] mission is to make it accessible to all of Chicago," Batterson said. "If the renter is a church or a Broadway producer, we're more than happy. It's an auditorium for everyone."
The history of the Auditorium Theatre is as grand as its architecture. Even before it was finished, the theater hosted the 1888 Republican National Convention that nominated Benjamin Harrison for president. When the theater officially raised its curtain a year later, new President Harrison watched from a box seat. That night, star soprano Adelina Patti performed her signature song, "Home, Sweet Home."
Recalling the nostalgia of that era and welcoming its neighbors, Willow Creek Chicago's first series of sermons will be titled "A Place to Call Home."
"We want to communicate that Willow is here in the city to provide a place to call home--as a church, as an outreach to the city around us, to the community that so desperately needs the great message of the Gospel," Wu said.
Wu, 41, who moved from California's Silicon Valley, said he discovered the Auditorium Theatre while wandering around downtown and praying.
"There would be days I'd walk around and absorb the city, feel the culture, emotion and heartbeat," he said. "When I walked down in the theater district, I just had this sense in me that this would be a great place to land."
The performing arts, including live music, dance and drama, have always been a hallmark of Willow Creek's worship, and services at the acoustically perfect Auditorium Theatre will be no different. Worshipers will hear show tunes, jazz numbers, blues and gospel, Wu said.
"One of the things we believe musically is we need to have breadth of genres that resonate with the city instead of one wedge of Christian music," he said. "We want to really resonate with the deep musical history of the city."Music does not have to be Christian to draw a listener closer to God, he said.
"Music is a great gift from God we can use to speak to each other," Wu said. "When people hear a certain tune it evokes certain thoughts and emotions. The message might not be out-and-out Christian, but it resonates with the human soul."
The art and architecture of the theater also stirs the soul, said Willow Creek Chicago member Kathryn Tack, 60, an executive coach and mother of three. Her first visit to the theater was to see a production of "The Phantom of the Opera," she recalled.
"There's just the awesome presence of the Creator," Tack said. "The building in and of itself gives you so much to fill you intellectually and touches your heart. That's part of what God represents to so many people. It would be really amazing to have church there."
The theater has 3,800 seats, but Wu said he believes the house will soon be full. In addition to the performances, Willow Creek Chicago plans to develop its ministries for the homeless and prostitutes.
Wu said the expansion to Chicago is not only more convenient for city dwellers but enhances the partnerships Willow Creek already shares with social service agencies. In addition to its South Barrington campus, Willow Creek has regional sites in McHenry, DuPage and Lake Counties.
"Our dream and our hope," Wu said, "is to really bring something wonderful here to the city."