Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Will you help Spring Meadows Academy?

My friend Dale Jenkins has undertaken some ambitious efforts in helping to plant a congregation in Spring Hill, TN, just south of Nashville in a rapidly growing area. The congregation has been exploding with growth. Part of the original vision for the church was that it would also be connected to a new school that they would also found.

Dale is looking for 2000 people to give $10 so that they can afford playground equipment for the new school, which is scheduled to begin this September.

I am going to help, and I want to encourage you to do the same.

Thanks for your consideration,
Mark
---------------------------
Here is his e-mail:

I'll keep this as brief as possible. I have an idea today and want to see if it can "go viral" but I desperately want your help. YOU are the key to this working. We are needing to buy playground equipment for our our day school that will open in September.

I am looking for 2000 people who will each give $10 to this effort. It's just $10, you can do that. And just as important I need you to help me find those 2000 people. So could you/would you do two very quick things:

1. Send me an email letting me know you will send $10. I don't know who you will get this from after I send it out, so send the email to dale(a t)edge.net (Note: I edited the e-mail so he won't get spammed...please interpret it) - send the money to:
Spring Meadows Academy
2985 Duplex Road
Spring Hill, TN 37174

2. Whether or not you send the $10....PLEASE, PLEASE, forward this on to 25 other people. You know I don't forward a bunch of stuff, but this project is worth the effort. Regardless of who you got it from if you will do that I think we could find 2000 people who would send $10 in less than 24 hours. Let's see if we can. Let's see how far this will go.

Thank you.

In His Care,
Dale Jenkins

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Pictures For Power Point

To any of you who are regularly looking for high quality pictures to use for presentations, I want to encourage you to take a look at Wikimedia's Picture of the Day. You can subscribe to it with any feed reader, such as Google Reader, and they have a wide variety of pictures that could come in handy. They are available in high resolution, so they work well for cropping down to whatever parts you want to use.

I think many preachers make the error in using power point of making it be about the words on the screen. They will put the full text of their sermon on the slides, so that the preaching itself becomes almost unnecessary.

The point of using a visual aid is for it to be visual. Minimize words, and maximize the use of powerful images, such as the ones found here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Hebrew Lesson From Dr. Spock

I have seen at least two videos where Leonard Nimoy has surprised me. Interesting fellow.

One is this explanation of his inspiration for the Vulcan salute.



The other is music video about the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. I wish I knew how this came about; it's accurate, yet very weird.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

I can hardly believe it, but I think this is actually a real movie. A movie so stupid, and so ridiculous, that I feel compelled to watch it.

I give you... Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

Can I brag about my dad?

My dad is a very humble, selfless guy. I've never met a person who is less materialistic than him, nor have I met someone who is any more genuine than him. He has always put his faith and our family first. My sister and I are much better people for it. I've see him turn down promotions so that he wouldn't have to spend less time with his family. I grew up not missing a single worship service, except for illnesses. I have many memories of walking into my parents' bedroom, finding my dad lying on his bed, reading his Bible. It really does matter what your kids see you do.

He's been working in human resources for about 30 years now, and for the last year, he received the great honor of being elected President of TPMA (Tennessee Personnel Management Association), which is a large group of his peers. And now, they've elected him to be president for a second year (which has never been done before...it is always a new person each year). They recently presented him with a plaque, and gave him a standing ovation for the job he has done over the last year.

I'm sharing two pictures with you. The first is my dad with the mayor of Knoxville, Bill Haslam, whom he had just introduced at a convention there a few weeks ago. The second is my dad receiving his plaque.

Good parents and grandparents are worth more than anything money can buy. I've been richly blessed with family and good role models, who have impacted me profoundly.

I'm very happy for him that his hard work and integrity has been recognized by his peers. He deserves any appreciation that he receives.

A Drug Problem

My friend Bryan Dill forwarded this to me, and I thought it was worth reading.

It's Nacho Cat...in HD



I just got a Flip Ultra HD to use for the youth group, and I needed some way to test it. Though it's a bit of a shaky video, now you can see Nacho in HD. You can actually hear her purring, too. haha

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Word of Advice For Ministers About Shirt Designs

With camp coming up, my mind is beginning to focus on themes, logos, and shirts. One of my pet peeves is the way I often see people design shirts for youth groups. I believe that if you're going to go to the trouble and expense of getting shirts made, they should be of a quality equal to whatever the kids could buy at a name brand store.

I have known of many people to get shirts designed who meant well, but produced some shirts that must have quickly made it into either the back corner of the closet (best case), or to the local Goodwill (worst case). Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Bad Color Choices. This is always apparent when you're at an airport and you see a church group traveling. You know it's a church group because they are all wearing shirts that are some neon, radioactive canary color. Sure, when EVERYONE has one, it makes it look a little better and you can spot people. But individually, no one wants to wear a shirt that is so conspicuous, not to mention it could give you a headache. Stay away from neon colors. Most colors can work fine, if the rest of the color scheme is carefully thought out.

2. Not enough colors. People who get shirts designed often worry too much about budgeting. I fully sympathize that we have to not be wasteful, but if you go for the cheapest option possible, with one color printed on one side, the result will be an ugly shirt that feels cheap. One of my club brothers at HU got us a shirt one time that had the right colors, but all that was on it was a one color image on the back with no text, and nothing on the front. He was happy he had kept the cost down, and everyone got one, but most of us only used it for sweating in. Especially when you're thinking about representing your church, and therefore your God, you don't want something that says, "This is not worth spending an extra dime on."

In your attempts to be frugal, you're actually wasting more money than if you had spent an extra few bucks per shirt, because no one will want to wear it. Let's be honest, if you can afford a $7 shirt, you can afford a $10 shirt; especially if it is one that looks good.

3. A bad designer. I have also seen a lot of shirts put together by people with no artistic inclinations whatsoever, because they thought they could whip something together that would be "good enough". Know yourself well enough to know if you aren't an artist. There are lots of designers available who typically do not charge much for a shirt design. Whatever it costs you, to have a shirt professionally designed is completely worth it, and it reflects well on your group. Do not cut corners on getting your design.

4. Following fashions from the wrong era. Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than when I see something for a youth group that looks like it came straight out of the mid 80s. Words like awesome, radical, extreme, totally, etc., in spray-paint looking fonts and a full rainbow of colors are simply not how it needs to be done these days.

Since I've given you some things to avoid, let me make some constructive suggestions on how to have some great shirts:

1. DO spend some time looking at the current trends in shirts to get ideas for yours. Whenever I have given much input into whatever shirts I've had made, I began by doing research into what is popular. Go to the malls and look at the Ts. Look at them online. Take notes about colors, design styles, font styles, and material types. Are they earth tones or brighter colors? Ringer Ts or regular Ts? Is the type bright, or made to look faded?

I get that Christians are to be different than the world in the way we conduct ourselves. There are plenty of verses that urge modesty, but modest is not a synonym for "ugly."

2. Unless you are an artistic prodigy, or have formal training in graphic design, DO hire someone to do your design work for you. I've found that there are a lot of Christian graphic designers who are actually thrilled to do design work for churches at reasonable rates. It gives them an opportunity to use their gifts for God. Ask, seek, knock, and you'll have much better shirts. If you're in the boat of needing a design and you don't know where to find a designer, just ask me; I can refer you to several people who will do a good job. In fact, if you already have a shirt company in mind to use (I can suggest those also), they often have a designer on staff, or one they work with often. It really isn't that hard to find one if you just ask.

3. To make suggestions to your designer, I've had great luck by actually purchasing a shirt that resembles what I want, then giving it to them as a way to help them conceptualize what they will make. The most popular shirt I ever had made was when I was president of my social club. I bought a shirt at Old Navy that I thought looked good, then I gave it to my designer buddy and said, "Make it something like this." Everyone loved it, and no one complained a single time about the price, which was a few dollars higher than usual ($12 instead of the previous $7). I even heard people who joined the club later lamenting that they didn't get to have one. Of course, my designer deserves a lot of the credit here, because he's good, but any artistic person should be able to take an idea and run with it if you give them something of sufficient quality.

4. DO remember that quality communicates. If you spend the time and money to get something that really looks sharp, people notice. Nothing makes me happier than when I'm wearing a church camp shirt and someone says, "Wow...those look really good...where did you get them?"

For some examples, here are a couple of shirts I had made last year. One was for our Monterrey Mexico trip, and the other was for Church Camp. The Monterrey shirt was a darker, earth-tone color. The camp shirt is bright red. It is definitely possible to use bright colors--though I still would hesitate at neons--if everything else is done well.

Preachers and ministers are already viewed in our culture as uncool and suspicious. If I am going to encourage my teens to bring their friends and to represent the Church, then to the extent that I can, I should make sure they don't have to be embarrassed about the things I give them to represent us.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's Nacho Cat: Stick

Nacho loves to be out in the warmer weather. Carolina decided to grab a stick the other day, and Nacho had a great time playing with it. When she's playing, she does this bizarre thing where she takes her back feet and digs her claws into the ground/carpet behind her head. You can see this in the rather bizarre second picture.





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