Saturday, August 30, 2008

Empty Nest

It happened today. Our son just left for college. Both previous years we took him and helped him move in. This year we decided to wait a couple days when we could spend a whole day on campus, instead of driving both ways in one day. We will make a run out to Indiana with all the things our son and daughter still need for their rooms next week. I'll post pictures from his room when we get there.

We met my mother-in-law for breakfast and then sent him on his way. I feel quite proud of his independence. He commented, "It might be kind of nice to have fewer people trying to help us move in all at one time." (I can take a hint).

I adore our kids, I am missing their noise and messes already. But the fact that they are strong, determined, creative, dependable and Godly eases the loss.

You pray your whole life for your kids to answer God's calling on their lives, both spiritually as well as vocationally. What you have to do to allow that calling to become their own is let them leave. Empty nest...I can't believe it has come so quickly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What I learned today

I learned that leaving your youngest child at college is a mixed bag of emotions. I expected to be completely a mess, but her excitement was contagious.

Our colleague and friends, Mary Kay and Mark Pierce are also experiencing empty nest. Their experience dropping their final daughter off at Cedarville was incredible. Both from amazing programing created for parents of Freshman, as well as the entire Freshman student body arriving at the same time.

Our experience was different. Although IWU has a full weekend planned for the parents of Freshman, our daughter had to come early due to an editing position. So, we simply moved her in, hung out all day and headed home.

I think the lack of complete devastation is due in part to the fact that I know we get to come back on SundayMonday with our son. He attends the same college. It will be so exciting to see her again after she has been on her own for a week. She will have completed her Newspaper orientation and will be full of stories and information relating to her job. But most
I would guess, stories about her new friends. I cannot wait!

We have fully participated in our daughter's life. We have attended everything she has ever participated in, no small task, as well as filling our home with her friends. We have taught her the Word of God both verbally and hopefully by our lifestyle. We now release her to fulfill whatever God created her to accomplish. It will be one of the most exciting chapters of her life!

Everyone has an opinion

Last week my Senior Pastor and I discussed changes we would like to see on our worship teams. The following day our Executive Pastor sent me a top ten list of what annoys people the most about worship teams and worship leaders.

  1. When they tell you what to do and how to worship… to the point where it makes you feel guilty if you don’t conform yourself to her/his understanding of what worship is
  2. When they talk between every song.
  3. When they repeat the same catch-phrases every week.
  4. Breathy speaking between songs
  5. When worship teams forget that the audience of worship is God, and start making it a performance for those sitting in front of them
  6. Worship leaders who seem really wrapped up in being “cool.” Sometimes you can tell they’re being fake and/or showy
  7. When they don't know the lyrics
  8. Sing with their eyes closed the whole time.
  9. When singers act like they are really bored up there
  10. Transitions between songs take long time. Uncomfortable dead time between songs

I have honestly heard people mention one of these top ten dislikes following the same service another person compliments it!

Worship leading and music selection have to be two of the most controversial topics in ministry. Everyone has an opinion.

As a leader, this can become very discouraging, or it can be embraced as a challenge. A challenge to come so prepared and passionate about worshipping our God, that you just let God work through you. Our confidence comes from Him not from man.

Psalm 96:1-4 "Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! (2) Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (2) Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (4) For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Crazy Day Off

My day off report this week is crazy! Not relaxing, enjoying my family this week.

I began by carrying all my daughter's college bound gear down the the dinning room, our staging area. Wait until you see how much she is taking when I take pictures tomorrow.

Next I visited a friend's daughter in the hospital.

Followed by an amazing massage. (Ok so my day off wasn't that bad!)

I then went to 5 stores looking for a duvet cover for my daughter's college bed. Ok, so can I just rant for a moment? Every store in America sells down comforters, you know the plain white ones. So then, why would every store in America NOT sell the duvet covers that you have to put on them? I went to 7 stores in search of a duvet (counting 2 on a previous day), and only 2 stores had 1 duvet cover each. Crazy!

I then came back home for a short time because my parents were delivering treats for our kids to both take to college.

My husband and I then went to a Special Olympics softball game. Talk about pure unadulterated joy! I am blessed every time I am around these amazing people.

We finished our evening with a bowl of soup at Bob Evans and are now on our computers, side by side trying to finish work before heading to drop our baby off at college at 6:00 a.m.

Thank you for listening to my rantings. Tomorrow I'll be crying, missing my girl.

Our services rocked!

The weekend services went off just as planned. Several times recently things just have not gone as we planned on Thursday. But, this weekend went great!

The worship was impacting and the drama/music combo "Let Go" was fabulous! This was a WillowCreek creation. And although it was quite old, it was very relevant and deeply impacted our congregation.

No need to recreate the wheel when products this excellent are available to purchase. You can watch the whole service at Enjoy!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Voiceless leader

lead-er (lee-der) noun 1. a person or thing that leads

No spectacular definition, no fancy description, just a person that leads. That is me.

In recent years my confidence in my own leadership has been greatly affected by what I realize now is truly a handicap. My family and friends began to notice several years ago that my voice would sound funny, so I finally went to a throat specialist. Diagnosis - dysphonia.

Dysphonia is basically spasms, and these spasms are in my vocal chords. This has been devastating at times. Never more so then when I recently tried to speak from the stage in our MidWeek service. I was being interviewed along with the four staff members I supervise. We are the Magnification team.

The guys were spectacular, I was a mess. I had so much I wanted to tell our audience about how hard the guys work, and how much all of us care deeply for our Magnification teams. I could barely speak.

Leaders should have a good voice, a strong voice, but at times I have no voice.

For now this is my voice, writing. This avenue of conversation has opened up to me just when I needed a way to speak. In the traditional way of leading and speaking I will be silent for a while and ask for healing, but in this format of speaking I will speak loudly as God allows.

Ecclesiastes 3:6-8 (English Standard Version)
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

I am ready for a quiet time before the Lord.

I am, a person that leads, as the definition above states.... just not in the typical way.

Evaluation is good?

Again this Thursday during our live broadcast, we had a few problems, so we had to tweak as we went. We got through the meeting, very technical in nature, and then the fun began!

We knew we would be a bit stiff and too business like (not our regular behavior) for the first few weeks. But when the camera turned off good stuff happened. You may ask, what was it that sparked our creative processes to kick back into gear? Evaluation.

Our pastor kindly waited for the cameras to stop rolling before evaluating the problems he saw in the MidWeek service. But, what could have been a dissapointment to our team turned out to spark a lively discussion about what we could improve on. Everyone in that room wanted the same thing, to offer our best to the Lord! Our Worship Leader even asked Pastor Tim for ongoing evaluation when he saw potential slips in excellence.

Before the off-camera disscussion ended, we were considering a huge concert style weekend, like we used to do! The team was jazzed! The other decision we made was to change up our programming broadcast to include evaluation live! Brave huh?

We will see you next Thursday with our new broadcast format. Remember, evaluation is good!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

one new thing: I am not alone

I love to read! If this is the case then why don't I read more? I have been reading occassionally taking forever to finish even the most valuable and best of books. Now I am on a mission!

The following is the list of books I am completing:
  1. New Testament - I am reading through the New Testament and am currently in Romans. I read a chapter each day and then go back and sumarize in writing what I've read each day.
  2. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian (this is a re-read for me)
  3. Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Harney

This book comes from a pastor's heart, not a corporate leader. He says, "Learning to live an authentic and examined life demands daily choices that are consistent with God's desires for us." He suggests using the following five tools.

  1. Self-Examination Suggestions: develop patterns and disciplines that lead to health and help you avoid pitfalls in ministry.
  2. I've Got Your Back: because we can't see every part of our lives clearly, we need people who will cover our backs. We need to invite other to warn us when we're in harm's way, when our actions are dangerous.
  3. Doctor's Insights: Wise people get regular medical checkups to catch health problems before they become critical. We need to practice spiritual self examinations.
  4. Network Building: We can't lead in isolation. We are wise to build a network of people who will help us lead in ways that honor God and bless others.
  5. Help From My friends: Harney invited other leaders to share how they create lines of accountability and build networks that strengthen them as they serve Christ and his church.

As I began this book I was astonished at how many of the experiences Harney lists that are identical to periods of my own ministry experience. One of the key ways the enemy discourages us is by convincing us that we are alone, that issues are isolated to our ministry or personal life only. That we can not trust anyone. This is such a deception!

Listen to this heart felt quote from Leadership From the Inside Out.

There are days, weeks, even months that my heartbeat is weak, almost too faint to be heard even by God's spiritual stethoscope. If the truth were known, if people could see inside of me, they would be shocked... I hope that no one will notice I'm one heartbeat from spiritual cardiac arrest.

I am sad there are such unrealistic expectations on our pastor's and staff to be perfect, to never be weary and to sacrifice all their personal time for the ministry. I am excited to learn from this pastor how he has surrounded himself with Godly people. I will write a summary of this book when I finish.

Last week I said I wanted to learn one new thing each Tuesday. I was reading a book technical in nature trying to learn something new, but nothing jumped out at me. I think instead God chose to teach me today that I am NOT alone. I need to embrace and bury this truth deep within my soul to battle the enemies lies!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Day Off

I have great friends that graciously allowed me to take my family to a lake house this past weekend. We headed to Lake Erie with trunks full of supplies and more food than we could possibly eat. It’s amazing that just an hour and a half drive from home can feel like you are far away. It was beautiful at the lakes, what a blessing!

We ate constantly, watched the Olympics, took walks, sat by the lake, video taped my dad talking about the old days, ate again and ended the night with a rousing game of Family Feud. This was our final time together for the summer. This was the end of many things.

My family is changing rapidly. My dad turns 80 tomorrow, my husband turns 51 on Wednesday and my children both go to college in a week.

Empty nest. Time moves rapidly forward. I am sad, excited, nervous, and curious to see what God has planned!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

weekend changes

Even the best laid plans don't always guarantee success!

You may have watched our live programming broadcast on Thursday. If so you may also realize that what we planned didn't happen.

As we always do we met after the Saturday night service to discuss what worked and what didn't. A lot didn't! Pastor Tim just didn't feel like the flow worked, both in the praise music as well as his message.

We decided as a team to eliminate a song completely and moved the order of music around. It was a huge improvement, our pastor was dead on!

Don't be afraid of last minute changes, the key of course is to clearly communicate with all the volunteers involved. It takes leadership, vision casting, if you will to communicate the reason for last minute changes. After all the team has invested time learning the song that you just cut, so never make cuts without taking time to explain why. And to thank them for being flexible.

Never, never settle for OK, push forward always to give your very best to the Lord. The rewards are forever!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A star is born

I am very excited about the newest Magnification project. We are asking our audience to create a 'home video announcement segment'. We will use the top videos to take the place of live announcements during our services in September, or October.

We created packets for all interested participants to pick up this weekend. The packets contain our offering envelope, and information card. Both have to be included in their announcements. Beyond that requirement the length of video must be 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Audio must be very, very clear. And, of course we reserve the right to remove any content we deem inappropriate. Project is required in digital format, either tape or DVD.

These types of congregational participation projects are opportunities to give our volunteer announcement guys a break, as well as helping me to sometimes discover a new "star" videographer for my department.

You may ask, what happens if there is no interest? This has happened on occasion, for instance it was a problem one time with a teen photography display I wanted to put up for Fathers Day. I always know the possibility is there, so anytime this is the case I simply recruit! I already have 4 people in mind that I will ask to create the announcements for me if I don't get audience response. Either way the congregation will never know whether I had to ask people to shoot video, or whether they volunteered. Everyone wins in the end.

I will post a link to the videos when we get them ready for broadcast. I can't wait!

(PS: for great creative ministry ideas please visit - one of my favorites)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

riding the curve

Ok, so I'm 50 and trying to keep up. I decided I am going to try really hard to learn one new thing each Tuesday. I oversee the Tech areas of our church and Pastor Tim has always assured me I don't have to know how to do everything myself. That is the reason we have two young tech guys. (see one of my tech guys blogs) But recently I have felt more than ever a growing chasm between myself and the tech guys conversationally.

I smile politely and try to join in their enthusiastic 'geek' talk, but find I'm just embarrassing myself half the time. So, armed with the latest tech/ministry magazines I am setting off to investigate the latest tech stuff (and other things ministry related). One of my favorite retired volunteers recently asked me, "please give me something to do during the week, I need to think to stay alert and connected. When I stay at home I get confused and bored and stop thinking." This of course was music to my ears - give me something to do, gladly! But it is true, we were created with brains that need to be stretched.

I would love to be ahead of the curve instead of simply rinding the curve. I need to educate myself enough to have an understanding about the newest creative technology and oportunites for our ministry. I would appreciate any information on websites or other connections any of you may have that keep you current.

Join me each Tuesday as I report on One New Thing I Learned Today.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Magnification Small Group

I will be launching a new ladies Magnification small group in September. I really want to know the girls that serve in our department better. I have very little time when we are preparing for or during services to get to know the volunteers on our teams personally.

I thought the best way to do this with the girls might be to begin a early morning coffee group. We will use journals to record one anothers prayer requests, pray for one another and celebrate answered prayers together.

Our meeting location will be Panera Bread at 2070 Walker Lake Road. We will meet the first and third Thursday of each month. The date of our first meeting will be on Thursday, September 4 at 7:00 a.m. See you there girls!

My day off

I am going to try to write each week on my day off. I think I will make my day off entries more personal. Hopefully they will give you a peak at who I am and things I care deeply about outside of ministry.

This morning I went to my home town of Ashland, Ohio to meet with my sister. She is also in full time ministry. She is the administrative assistant to her Senior Pastor. I am blessed to have a sister to confide in, who understands the pressure, confidences and delights of ministry. Our mission was to take some current pictures of our father to use in a Birthday newspaper add.

My dad is turning 80 years old next week and is still working as a barber! We wanted the pictures to represent his current life as opposed to using a picture from his younger days.

My dad is one of the hardest working, most honest and Godly men I have every known. My sister and I had no choice but to dedicate our lives to the Lord's work based on the example our parents are to us. They have served in every possible volunteer position in the church.

My dad has been a barber for 53 years and my parents will celebrated their 51st anniversary this year! God is good!!

I remember as a young girl being at church almost every day of the week. We were either cleaning as a family, or mowing as a family or taking meals to someone in need. Despite some ugly business meetings and a couple of pastors being asked to leave, my memories of church growing up are good memories. We were there together, whether it was good or bad!

Our childhood definately shapes who we are. I am more thankful than I could possibly say to my parents for not just giving lip service to Christianity, but living it out each and every day.

Happy 80th birthday dad! I love you!! I had a really good day off!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

crazy weekend

Wow, what a weekend!

We were so excited to have our Senior Pastor back with us this weekend from his study leave! Things, however didn't go quite as planned. When Tim arrived to teach Saturday evening, he told us his back was really bothering him. He said he didn't think he could get through the night!

I knew this meant two things, we needed to get another teaching pastor wired up and I had to make really, really sure that we taped the service successfully. This would allow us on Sunday to run the message off DVD if Pastor Tim couldn't teach and if the pastor's decided to run the DVD of the teaching vs. another pastor trying to teach.

Our worst fears came true Sunday morning as we got the call that Pastor Tim was on his way to the ER! The team went into high gear! You may ask, what is the big deal you had a DVD? Yes, but there were many other details to attend to.

  • I met with our Executive Pastor, Mark Pierce to discuss his entrance and how he would introduce the message DVD
  • I then explained to the band and vocalists that we would begin the service 2 minutes early to allow for the introduction. I asked the worship leader to dismiss the audience if they didn't leave when the DVD's dissmissal came up.
  • I then talked to our Technical Director asking for additional lighting cues to be added. We needed to light the introduction and to add a lower light setting for the house to make the DVD easy to see while allowing people to fill in the blanks on the teaching notes.
  • I then communicated with the video production area also explaining that we were going to begin 2 minutes early and that the DVD would run after the introduction. They also had to watch the DVD carefully and be prepared to go to a second playback source if anything went wrong.

Our worship was of course live and truly amazing, you can watch the service at

If anyone thought it was easier just to run a DVD think again!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Web broadcast today

We were able to broadcast our programming meeting on the web successfully today. We have a few bugs to work out but overall it went pretty smooth for our first time.

Many thanks to the brilliance and hard work of Jonathan Pierce and Steve Browning who made it all possible. They make all our wild ideas become a reality.

Thanks to those of you who tuned in, we will program again next Thursday at 1:00.

Programming Live

Today is the day! At 1:00 p.m., please click on the link located below the title 'Programming Live', and you should be able to watch us. You will find this Link in the left column.

See you soon, actually you'll see us soon!

Bye for now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Production Room almost ready

We go live tomorrow at 1:00. We have just a few details to finish. The room is almost ready. I'll post the Link later today - stay tuned!

Please let us know if you find this meeting helpful.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Magnification Picnic

Sunday night we had the Magnification picnic at my house. Our attendance was great with a little over 70 enthusiastic team members present!

A picnic format gives me a great opportunity to thank and recognize our teams. I began the night by thanking everyone for their hard work this past year as well as introducing the Elder over our area of the ministry.

The Elder over Magnification is Jeff Schultheis who opened the picnic in prayer and served as a judge for our wacky team building games.

The pace picked up as we divided everyone into teams and gave them crazy instructions that challenged their ability to communicate, work together and be creative. All elements required in the Magnification Dept.

This part of the evening is always a hit and causes team members to quiz me weeks in advance about what activities I have planned. I give them no advanced information!!

I asked our main announcement guy to work as the MC over most of the activities. And believe me; he rose to new heights with his constant taunting and comments all night long. (The man never stops talking!) We are blessed to have Bill Hill (yep that’s his real name), as are our main announcement guy. Over the past 12 years we have dressed him in both thematic and completely random costumes and put him in various videos in an effort to make the dreaded announcement segment fun.

One more segment of our picnic has sadly become a tradition as well. The dousing of the Director of Magnification, with any kind of liquid they can get their hands on. The last picnic we had I was chased down by 2 of my staff with a large ice water cooler, I did outrun them for quite a while, but eventually gave up. I learn from my mistakes and vowed never to “provide” the opportunity by filling coolers again. So, Sunday we had canned soft drinks and bottled water. You ask did this keep me dry? NO! They planned ahead and 3 guys brought already filled super soakers! Foiled again!!!

I could have planned forever and not come up with the final event of the night. One of our sound guys owns a Hummer and had asked to drive it through my creek. We finally relented and much to our delight, he buried it and couldn’t get across!

Everyone began giving him suggestions, and even took matters into their own hands. Next thing I knew one of our singers had his truck out, filled it with other Magnification members and tried to pull him out.

As you may have guessed, it didn’t work. Finally we got a larger truck and were able to free him by giving him a little tug.
I was surprised by how long everyone stayed just enjoying one another and getting to know others they don’t normally serve with. The night seemed to be a hit! Mission accomplished.
I am now going to take a very long nap!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

First Post!

Today is the first entry on my blog. I am Lori Biddle, the Director of Magnification at Crossroads Community Church. We are located in Mansfield, Ohio.

Although my official title is Director of Magnification, I am often referred to as the Director of Programming. It has been my privilege to serve in this area for 12 years. First, as a volunteer and then as a full time staff member.

Over the years we have been contacted by other churches asking for advice on organizing volunteers as well as programming services. I am happy to say beginning this Thursday at 1:00 p.m.; we will begin to broadcast our programming meetings live. You will be able to watch as we discuss what elements to include, talk about where we purchase elements or how they are created. To watch our programming become a service you can watch our services by going to our website on Monday evening. Our web address is

I will always try to blog on Monday mornings reviewing what did and did not work over the weekend. My blog will be used for information on programming as well as a link to the programming meetings. We look forward to serving you in this way.

In Him – Lori