Month: July 2012

Gateway Branson

Last week I helped lead a serving trip for High School students to Branson, MO. I know, people keep asking, “Branson, Missouri? On a mission trip?” Yes, it’s not what you would expect, but yes. Let me tell you more about what is happening in Branson, it’s really cool.

So, about three or four years ago, Brian and Amy Stallings, who have lived in Branson for over a decade became aware of the poor and homeless situation in Branson and felt called by God to do something. They started an organization called “Jesus was Homeless” and began feeding those in need. It just started with 30-40 people and has grown significantly. More on that in a second.

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Defining Success

On Monday I wrote about a leadership lesson I learned from growing grass. I shared how I failed early in growing new native Texas grass (on the first attempt) because I didn’t know what success looked like.

Honestly, I believe that many of us in ministry wouldn’t know success if it smacked us in the face. Don’t get offended, for most of my years in ministry, I didn’t really know what it looked like either. There’s a great chapter in the book I helped write last year about measuring success and I believe that it speaks to this very issue. You can get The Eric Trap here.

I think that most of the time, we dive into a program, an event or some other activity without asking ourselves the questions, “what does success look like? Is success measurable? Will we measure it? Will we celebrate it?”

No, we usually just jump in and do stuff. We “feel” that we’re successful if we have a certain number of people attend or we raise a certain amount of money or some other highly tangible goal. However, I’ve found that many of these “feel good” indicators probably don’t address the things that are WORTH measuring.

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What I learned from my grass

So I live in Central Texas where last summer, it hardly rained and I think it was over 100 degrees for 300+ day’s straight. That may be an exaggeration, but my yard wasn’t happy. Actually, about midway through the summer, I got a notice from our Home Owners Association that the grass in my front yard needed to be repaired. We were given an extension with no definite expiration because there was no way to repair the grass without significant wanter and since were were under heavy drought, that action wouldn’t be prudent.

Sara, my smart and beautiful bride, and I started doing some research. She was ready to go with the full on “Arizona style” zero-scape, but I wasn’t quite ready to be that neighbor. I started looking into the other kinds of grasses we could use. I kept telling Titus that we were getting rid of the “Florida” grass (St. Augustine) and looking for some good “Texas” grass, which made him happy. I learned that Buffalo Praire Grass was allowed by our HOA and it looked like a good option. It’s actual native to this area of Texas and incredibly drought resistant. Because I have some shade (not much) in my yard, I actually found the perfect solution, a grass mix called Habi-turf. It is a mix of Buffalo Grass, Blue Grama, and Curley Mesquite. Sounds like a grass from Texas, huh? It’s both drought resistant and does well in some shade. Woo hoo! Here’s the vision my friends. One the grass is established, I can water it only once every 45 days. Even better, I can mow it just once a month. And guess what? It loves the hot 100+ weather. Sounds like a yard dream come true, huh?

I’m getting somewhere, I promise.

So, in late May, I spent an excruciating 15 hours tilling up my entire front yard

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App of the Week: Casey’s Contraptions

Honestly, this is probably one of the most brilliant apps for kids I’ve ever seen. Sure, Plants Vs. Zombies is great fun and Angry Birds is an addictive¬†phenomenon. However, my five year old Titus and I love solving the open-ended puzzles of Casey’s Contraptions. Casey’s Contraptions is a little boy’s dream come true. It’s a digital Rube Goldberg Machine. You know, the same reason we loved the game Mousetrap when we were kids. The boot kicks the bowling ball, which caused the chicken to lay the egg, which cased the dart to pop the balloon which cased the door...

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Kids Camp: JUMP

It’s been a slow month here at, but it’s been crazy busy for Kenny Conley! Yes, it’s that time of year, Summer Camp. Two years ago we began attending a great camp in South Texas called Camp Zephyr. We participate in the facility’s organized camps, but we get a big say in what camp looks like for our students. One of the ways we get that big say is that they’ve hired me to be the camp pastor. Two years ago I led the camp that our kids attended. Last year I taught at two sessions of camp and this year I’m doing all three preteen camps. Now, just a few days into camp, all is going incredibly well!

Every year we have used Orange summer curriculum like Live it Out, Chase the Light and this year… JUMP.

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Gateway’s new Student Pastor

Last week I wrote extensively about my adventures of leading a student ministry for the last year. I also shared what I was looking for in a new Student Pastor. So, I thought I’d take just a minute and introduce him with the community here. Three weeks ago, I hired Chris Parker as the new Student Pastor for Gateway Church and I’ve never been so excited. I’m excited to pass the mantle of responsibility for sure, but I’m excited for what NextGen ministry at Gateway is going to look like in the coming years.

Chris Parker is a young buck, which has many advantages. Being in his early twenties, he will easily bring a younger perspective than I could being in my mid-thirties. It also creates a great environment as I feel that we’re intentionally investing in the next and younger generation of leaders at Gateway. I feel that it’s important that we not just grow old as a church, but we continue to hire and invest in younger leadership.

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