Sunday, October 31, 2010

The NEXT Adventure...are you in?

There are two ways that people movements grow. The first is through addition growth. That means that people are invited into a primarily centralized group or organization and they stick around - usually because they relate to the overall mission of the group. But also because they find a place where they sense personal belonging. This is true across the board - you see it in politics, social groups, and organizations that exist to cure cancer or fight for animal rights. You also see it in local churches.

The second way that movements grow is through multiplication. These sorts of organizations tend to be less centralized while finding a way to retain common mission and language. They place a high value on reproduction.

The novel (and movie) Fight Club paints a fictional example of a movement that transitions from addition growth (people inviting others into one fight club) to multiplication growth (other clubs springing up in other cities and places without warning.) The movie is rather vile and probably shouldn't be on your list for family fun night, but I can remember watching it and seeing a vision for the church.

What if a local church could be unified in mission and vision, but just decentralized enough to spread easily and quickly wherever God wanted it to go? This idea so ravaged my heart over a decade ago that I  led the church I was pastoring away from an addition growth model toward what I hoped could become a multiplication model. We learned some lessons in that process. We may have transitioned too quickly and we probably became too decentralized in a classic pendulum swing reaction. But my ecclesiology (what I believe about church) and my missiology changed forever through that process. To put it simply, I believe that the Kingdom grows optimally in a multiplication mode. Addition growth is good. Multiplication growth is better. I could prove this historically, but I shall bore you with those details at a later date.

This brings us to where we are now at Vineyard Cincinnati. This weekend Dave announced that we are aggressively moving toward a more multiplicative mindset as a church. Reproduction across the board will be our new goal. Multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and celebrations...

(A side note about The Vineyard. Before my time we planted nearly 30 churches in greater Cincinnati. This is, indeed, multiplication thinking at its finest. It was one of three key reasons that coming to The Vineyard appealed to me so much. This new thinking is congruent with that, but just a new strategy to multiply in a different way.)

In 2011 we will launch two larger sites in Uptown on Short Vine near the University of Cincinnati and in Middletown. These sites will have their own style and flavor, but will be part of Vineyard Cincinnati. We are just becoming one church in many places. To find that sweet spot between decentralization and speaking a common vision, we will have the same weekend teaching at every site using video. I am very excited about this multiplication strategy, but that isn't all that we are doing.

Other churches around the U.S. are multiplying through this sort of strategy. We aren't the fist to think of it, but we took a long time to pray about it. God is leading us to do it differently than some of them. We felt that our initial sites should be in areas of our city that are currently struggling economically. It is in  our DNA to serve those who are struggling the most. We want to go to them first.

We are doing something else within this strategy that appears to be unique to us. We have come to see that we can learn a lot from the house church movement. (Also called simple church or organic church in some circles.) I was in this movement for several years. Smaller churches that function more like missional small groups have an amazing potential for multiplicative growth. What if The Vineyard created space for very simple expressions of church to align with us organizationally? They would function as smaller communities of people living out the reality of following Jesus in their neighborhoods, but they would also choose to be a part of The Vineyard because they share a common mission and vision with us. By using the weekend teaching time on video they would align with our overall mission and direction, but they would also be small and mobile enough to reach people that we currently cannot. Having been a part of a house church movement in the past, I saw that bigger churches were able do some things that my little church of 12 people couldn't. For instance, The Vineyard just drilled our 90th clean water well in Nigeria. Being a part of a bigger group of people allows us to do bigger things that we cannot do on our own.

What if we could find that sweet spot and have "micro-sites" that operate as a hybrid between a house church and a weekend celebration. There is literally no barrier to that sort of growth. As a matter of fact, our first micro-site is launching in Hilton Head, South Carolina. A multiplying mindset breaks down barriers that are impassable in the addition mindset. Even geographical ones.

Maybe you are someone who loves Vineyard Cincinnati, but you live farther away than is conducive to come to Tri-County, Uptown or Middletown on the weekends. Maybe you have felt like part of us from afar. Maybe you used to be a Vineyard member but moved away and have yet to find a home church that connects with your outward focused dreams in your new location. Or maybe you live in Cincinnati and love our church, but also have seen the benefits of the simple church movement. Maybe God is calling some of you to pray about entering a time of training to lead a micro-site community where you are. The good news is that our church now has a new strategy to experiment in ways that before were impossible. We are ready to multiply. If you are as well...and your heart is racing, email me now and we will begin the discussion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Doing vs. Having Done

I do a lot of things that I like having done, but don't love doing. For instance, I don't like running. I do that about four or five days per week. It's good for me and I feel great after a run...but I hate every minute of it. I've been running for nearly two years now and it is supposed to be fun at some point, but I'm not counting on it.

I feel the same way about reading. I love having read a book. I don't like the process. It takes a lot of time and makes me sleepy.

And then there is writing. Some of my friends love the process of writing. Not feels a lot like running without the shortness of breath. I love that I have written a book and a few screenplays. I like that I have blogged for nearly a decade now, but I don't enjoy the process of writing very much at all. I like being a writer, being called a writer, having written...I just don't like writing.

Some other processes do hold my interest. I enjoy the actual process of acting, improv, producing and teaching. I think this just means I am a performer - for better or worse.

This is all one big preamble to say that I have been writing more or less nonstop over the last week for stuff coming up over the next year at VCC. I am excited about having written all of it, but I am rather creatively wiped out. Blogging tends to suffer as well when bigger writing projects kick in. I am excited to get back to the Community Series next week. You can catch up with it on the sidebar to your left on my blog page if you want.

That's all I have to say for now. I have to quit writing this post now to go write some more. Then I may go for a run...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The World Premiere!

I wanted to quickly thank all of you (over 200) who came to the premiere of Hitting the Nuts Saturday night. It was the perfect way to launch this movie. I was honored and humbled by all of your support. Now onto the last stage of making an indie film...the distribution. The buzz around the festival is helping to get the word out. The more times people see HTN and talk about it in a positive way, the better.

It's a funny movie that the world will want to see. Now it's all about getting in the right hands.

After the buzz from Saturday night, the second showing tonight at 7pm quickly sold out. Luckily, the Esquire just now opened up a larger theater for us. So, there are about 100 tickets left if you would like to see the movie tonight in Cincinnati. You just need to call the theater to reserve with a credit card at 513-281-2803.

Once you see the movie, if you enjoyed it, you can help get the word out by going to the official imdb page and rating it, writing a review or starting a discussion. That link is

Thanks again for all of your support! I have great, supportive friends.

Friday, October 08, 2010

July 4, 2006

I was on the back half of an improv tour turned bad. It was a holiday and I hadn't seen my family for a month. My team was staying at a Hampton Inn near the airport in Atlanta and I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I remember waiting in the lobby for my three friends to come down from their room so that we could go to Stone Mountain and watch the fireworks there. I was thinking about how I had moved to LA about a year earlier to pursue acting. I was wondering how I had gotten to the place of being apart from my family and giving away promotional t-shirts in shopping malls. It wasn't the best season of my life.

The lady behind the front desk asked how I was doing. I knew her name at the time, but can't remember it now. We had been at the hotel for a week already. I told her I was missing home and feeling a little betrayed that my "improv" tour had transformed into very little improv and a lot of brainless brand marketing.

"What do you really want to do?" she asked.

"I want to be a part of a movie that I could be proud of," I said.

"Then you should write one," she said. "And then make it."

She was right. I knew it instantly. So I spent the last few weeks of that tour thinking about what kind of movie I could make. I started a few rough drafts that did not work at all. And then I decided I would write a comedy about the things I knew...things like Bible Belt America...and Texas Hold 'Em poker. That was it. Those two worlds combined created instant comedy in my mind. And my first movie had to be improvised or it wouldn't be me. So I came home in late July and began writing.

As it turns out, that tour wasn't so bad after all. I met some great people...four of who actually ended up in the movie. And I met a wise, nameless hotel employee who deserves credit for any success this little project will generate. And I learned that all good things take time. So, tomorrow Hitting the Nuts premieres at the Cincinnati Film Festival - only 1,557 days later.

It's a funny movie. That is the one thing I was sure would be true of it from start to finish. It was written by an ex-pastor who became a pastor again before it was finished. If you'd like to be part of the world premiere, ticket info is detailed at this link.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

How to See "Hitting the Nuts" in Cincy!

I am extremely excited that my comedy, Hitting the Nuts, is set to premiere and show a total of three times at the Cincinnati Film Festival next week. It is a little confusing as to how to get tickets because of all the various options. I am going to attempt to walk you through them now, so hang on...

The first thing to know is that HTN is showing three times.

Sat. Oct 9th at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, IN at 8 pm. (World Premiere - 21 or older)
Mon. Oct 11th at the Esquire in Clifton at 7 pm (no age restrictions)
Tue. Oct 12th at the Esquire in Clifton at 5 pm (no age restrictions)

Here are some links to help you get tickets.

1. "I want to see HTN Oct. 11 at the Esquire." Go to this link and scroll to "Oct. 11 7pm" Tickets are $10 each.

2. "I want top see HTN Oct. 12 at the Esquire." Go to this link and scroll down to "Oct. 12 5pm" Tickets are $10 each.

3. "I want to go to the World Premiere at Hollywood Casino and JUST see HTN. I don't want to see the other movie that day or go to the pre-screening reception." (The after party is free with a ticket. The pre-screening reception (food, drinks) is not free. This only includes the movie and after party for $10. Go to this link and SCROLL down to OCT 9, 2010 8pm to get your tickets.

4. "I want to go the World Premiere AND the pre-screening reception." OK, you party animal. Go to this link and SCROLL down to OCT 9, 2010 6PM then select "Reception and HTN." This is $25.

5. "I want to see the 5pm Saturday Night Live Documentary by James Franco and HTN with an option to go or not go to the reception." You are an overachiever! But I'll be there with you for this one. This is $35 (or $20 sans reception). Go to this link SCROLL down to OCT 9, 2010 5pm and follow the directions like a trained monkey from there.

6. There may still be day passes available for $20 and full festival passes for $80. Find that info yourself by looking around. They can also answer questions you may have from here. I have give you all I know!

Can't wait to see you there! Pass this info around on Facebook at Twitter to help a brother market a movie. As a final reminder, this is a personal comedy project (PG-13ish) just for fun and with no agenda apart from world-wide box office domination.

Check out the latest teaser video: