Friday, September 10, 2010

Transparency Got Me


I love it. I can't lie. I love the new Domino's advertising campaign and I love the new crust and I love free pizza. Wait, I haven't gotten any free pizza, but I did want to mention that I love it.

However, my blatant appeals for free pizza notwithstanding, my point today is something else entirely. This very morning, at Septemeber 10, 7:30 real-American time, I saw a refreshing commercial. I may be naive. I may have just bought into another slick ad campaign. I may be an idiot. Whatever I might be, I like what I saw.

They've had this campaign going for a while in which they are urging customers to take a picture of their pizzas when delivered. The concept is that they don't need to set up picture ops by spraying their pizzas, or nailing them to a board or whatever tricks advertising people use. They say the product is good enough to stand AND it's good enough that anyone could photograph it at any time and it's still good. Not all pizzas are being delivered in tip-top shape, so you can imagine that some pictures are coming in of some jacked-up pizzas.

I remember the "Avoid the Noid" campaign that I thought was so cheesy that I could care less if there pizzas were. That was the 80s and Dominos pizza crust tasted like cardboard to me, and had about the same texture. However, the toppings were good and the Noid was fun enough, in a weird way, to give ol' DP a run. They aren't that way anymore.

Apparently they realized they needed change. They've made it. They made a commitment to improve their pizza and I think they've done a good job of doing that, and, in so doing, have changed their whole image. It's worked on me; no Papa's except when in conjunction with the Mama's.

This leads me to the part I really like. The CEO, or some high ranking official, of Domino's displayed a picture a kid sent in of a recent pizza order. The pizza was stuck to the inside top of the box. The executive seemed genuinely upset; he seemed genuine when he said he would not abide by poor quality such as that. He promised to make sure Domino's remained vigilant until all needed changes were realized to make Domino's good again.

They stepped up. Domino's seems transparent. I'm buying it. Matter of fact, I really did buy Domino's for lunch. It was good too!

If it's fake, they got me. I'm fooled. My tastebuds are fooled. My senses are fooled. IF that's what they are doing, they got me.

There are tons of lessons here, but big one sticks out to me: BE TRANSPARENT. Where there are flaws, deal with them. Where there are weaknesses, shore them up. Where there is failure, admit it. No excuses. No smoke. No mirrors. Domino's said they needed a better crust. They concocted one. They said their pizzas would stand on their own, without the aid of fancy photography. They failed. They confessed. They renewed the commitment and continued the campaign.

My goodness. What would happen if we ran our lives like this? Transparent. Confessional. Purposeful. Intentional. Correcting. Genuine.

Maybe Domino's could teach us a few things about our witnessing campaign.

Things that make you go "Hmmm..."

I love children, rock music, education, government, teachers and America. I think you need to know these things before you read any further. Some of the young people tell me that I "go hard," so I think some disclaimers are in order this morning.
America has become a weird hodgepodge of morality defined by illogical standards. I saw a strange episode recently that highlighted this. I don't even know if I can tell it without gettin' crazy, anticipatin' love and music...er...wait...

I meant without passion. Boston showed up in my mind.

During the course of my pastoral duty, I was having lunch with some elementary students. I always LOVE these times. Kids say the darndest things, so talking with them is a joy. They also have a beautiful, simplistic faith that seems to energize my oft-complicated view of things and remind me to simply trust and obey. (I think this is an unusual case of digress to progress...little to do with the story, but good to remember!)

So, that's the scene. Me. Lunch room. Kids. Gettin' it.

It was in a smaller school, the kind with the gym / lunch room combo that is a curtain pull away from being an auditorium. A gym class was happening on the other side of the big curtain, right beside us. Music was playing and directions were being shouted. We Will Rock You by Queen began to play. My first thought was, Dang, we did gym to no music and these kids are jammin' out! Hmmm...I do remember listening to The Sound of Music once while we did a cake walk. Wow.

Then, I began to look around and notice children all over the cafeteria KNEW THE SONG. What? This is Justin Bieber / Hannah Montana territory. They know Queen? Have I been transported to Backyonderland? Children not only knew the song, but they were singing and dancing! Even short adults are tall in elementary school, so it was easy to look over the whole crowd. I noticed it right away; it was like the first few kernels of corn beginning to pop, then more as students spun, snapped, clapped and boogied in their seats.

Then it hit me...THIS is allowed in school, but prayer, the Bible and faith is not? Hunh? What? See...what had happened was...

Did I mention "Hunh?"

I love rock-n-roll. I know many people would automatically grade me a pagan for that admission, but, pfffttt... I do really like it. I like Queen. Don't believe me? Check out my iPod. You'll see. Still, I don't hold Queen up as any sort of example for morality. Their lead singer was a homosexual. Sure, he was an awesome singer, maybe one of the best rock singers of all time. I'm not here to drag that guy down or run his name through the mud. He's deceased. It's unproductive. I know America's morality-nouveau equals homosexual equals cool. However, as antiquated as He might be, God still calls it sin. I'm not even here to debate that. The thing that hit me is that we have so promoted this stuff in schools that kids KNOW it and RESPOND to it at the drop of the hat.

Don't get me wrong, I KNOW that a child's morality and education MUST BE THE PARENT'S RESPONSIBILITY. Not only do I know it's not the school's job to raise my children, but even if I didn't think the system was broke, I wouldn't want them to. That's my job. 

I'm just saying...

Its' a strange place, both in time and geography, where we can't talk about Jesus in the public schools, but Freddie Mercury is "normal". Did I miss something? Okay, maybe it's just time. Maybe time fixes morality in such a way that 30 years down the road everything is noble. Maybe they'll beebop to Marilyn Manson in a few years. Sure. That must be it. Just more time and Jesus will be cool again, right?

I guess Elvis' gyrating hips would not be much of a stir anymore. But, that Jesus still is unsafe and controversial. The nerve of Him! 

It's not the music. It's not Freddie. It's not even the issue of homosexuality. It's the illogical way we seem to go at things in America. YOU -- yes, YOU, Mr. Government -- can decide what is cool for my kids to hear in school, and THIS is what you chose? THIS is what we got in the trade when we (The Church) silently let you begin to dictate too much of what's good and right? Really? How did you arrive at that decision? What criteria did you use?

Don't worry. This is not a public outcry. I'm not worried. I am thoughtful. I will teach my children. I will obey the Lord and shape their moral compass according to Him. I will teach them to love all kinds of good things; maybe even a few Queen songs, with a discerning ear / mind, of course.

It's our own fault anyway. Kids don't beebop, boogie, clap or sing in church either. Perhaps our worldliness is more contagious than our godliness...

Ouch.



Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fruitful Disciple

I believe I can teach the whole church something that WE all need to know.

Sometimes it probably comes across as arrogance, but I truly don't mean for it to come out that way. I am confident in what God wants to do in and through His church. It's not because I am "in the know" with some sort of special gnosis. I'm not. I only have two things going for me, and I can't take credit for either thing. First, God's word is pretty clear on the subject at hand. Secondly, the Holy Spirit is speaking with absolute clarity on this issue because it's constantly coming up.

What's the issue? Discipleship. Being and making disciples. Simple. We've got to get back to this. It WILL flow out of an abiding relationship with God. It just will. The cacophony of attention-grabbing, peace-stealing things that hammer at our attention every day only push that Still Small Voice further into whereverland; we need to hear and heed That Voice. Not to mention the hundreds of gods who sink claws into us; gods that look like hobbies and innocent "fun"; even religious goulash that has pious or sacred words as its identifiers steal away genuine stuff of faith and fellowship with Almighty God. We've got to get back to the main thing; walking with Jesus -- as a disciple -- WHILE teaching others to walk with Jesus -- as disciples.

I'm not talking about event-based evangelism. I am not talking about event-based teaching / learning (like most Sundays are in the average fellowship). I'm talking about The Church getting down to the blessed, privileged business of walking with Jesus. It's not new, but it's not being done on a wide-scale either. Hey, Lady...yeah, you...Ms. Church...hello? Let's talk. I've got some things I want to whisper to US. And, some things to shout.

And, I am tired of beating up the already-bruised-and-beaten Bride of Christ. I'm tired of blaming. I am tired of apathy. I am tired of complaining. I decided about 3 years ago to forsake that speech, and I'm learning to forsake the attitude. I'm going in a different direction. I am simply going to pursue the biblical mission of making disciples, gleaning from believers everywhere those who are hungry and ready for MORE...you know, that kind of MORE in Ephesians 3:20...the kind of MORE that says "GOD IS ABLE" to do more than we can even imagine! I am going after that. That's my mission. Make and grow disciples. Period.

I have a message. I have a vision. I have purpose. 

Sure, it's not original. Praise God, it's HIS and it's antique, even pre-historical. Sure, it's the same drum I've been banging to people close to me for a few years, but I heard a man say one time that it's okay to keep plucking one note when it's THE NOTE. This is the note. I am taking the show to a larger audience. 

So, maybe I'm talking to the wind, but I'm talking nonetheless. So, I might be unoriginal, and that's cool. I might SEEM arrogant, and even though I don't want that, I'll take that rap if it serves the purpose to awaken the ears of folks to the message. 

You interested in getting into this? Come to Fruitful Disciple. Theme: Discipleship. New? No. Relevant? Absolutely. Important? Imperative. 

I got something to say to you. Are you willing to listen?