Happy Birthday Fresh Life Radio!

Three years ago today, during a live worship experience, we signed KFLF 91.3 FM on the air in the Flathead Valley for the first time! Trust me when I tell you that it is a full God thing that we came into owning and operating a radio station (I share the story of how it all happened 44 minutes into this teaching called “Fighting Forgetfulness” during our Uprising series if you want to hear it.) Two years later we acquired our second radio station, this time in Billings, Montana–the largest city in the state, KYWH 88.9 FM and a translator 107.1 FM. Because of God’s favor, we now have a radio network that covers more than 1/5 of the state and through the internet is available everywhere!

Not only are the teachings that we play each morning unbelievable (Pastors James MacDonald, Greg Laurie, Pedro Garcia and others) but the music that we feature is stuff that you really don’t hear on any other Christian radio station that I’ve heard. Since we don’t care about charts or demographics or what drives record sales we just play music we like. It’s killer. It’s also an amazing opportunity to broadcast Skull Church events and Fresh Life worship experiences live on the radio. And God is using it in a major way. We regularly see people commit their lives to Christ and register their decisions after listening to the message via the radio. My dad specializes in media and broadcasting and I literally grew up in radio stations so this kind of thing is in my blood, but it never gets old to see God’s Word amplified through modern media delivery vehicles and change lives in the process!

I am so thankful to the Lord for giving us this opportunity and my dad for all he has done for our broadcasting arm. I am also so grateful for the incredible team that works so hard to keep it fresh. Happy Birthday Fresh Life Radio!

This past year we also rolled out our app in iTunes and the Android Marketplace and one of the best features is access to fresh life radio streaming 24/7 so no matter where you live you can enjoy it on the go. Get the app here.

Listen to the live stream on your computer here.

Fresh new version of freshlifechurch.com

Today we finally went live with version 3.0 of the freshlife website! It has been in the works for a LONG time. Pretty much since the last version was rolled out. It was a team effort and as always they did a great job. Way to go freshlife creative! It is an honor to partner with you in the gospel.

It is, in my opinion, a major improvement over the old site, but the biggest change you will notice is the teaching archive portal. When you pick a series it loads up the first message in the HD player window and you can see all the different messages below. There is also a brand new feature that will tell you which messages are the most popular based on other people’s clicks. (unfortunately, it’s not retroactive so it is which is the most popular from here on out.) Once people start viewing messages it will be interesting to see what gets watched the most.

I also love the way they have made it super easy to tweet or post a status update about a whole series, or any message you are watching and it will preload your status update with the album artwork as well as the link. The online store is pretty epic too, there is some never-before-sold-online merch available now. (hint–awesome skull church stuff)

Anyhow, check it out. We are praying that God will continue to reach many who are stranded in sin with the life and liberty in Christ through our site. We see people come to Christ online all the time and it is a thrill to fish in such a big pond as the web. Even though we have been bug checking for a long time, feel free to post a comment if you find a glitch. You can also leave a comment on this post and tell the creative team how awesome they are. It’ll make their day.

Here is the link.

No Txt is Worth Dying For

If you can’t make it to Skull Church you can make the commitment to not TXT & Drive and request a Skull Church Thumb Band BY CLICKING HERE. The Thumb Band is our gift to you, free of charge. If you would like to make a donation to cover the Shipping & Handling that would be rad.

Read an article about this initiative that was in the newspaper today HERE.

Below is a picture of me committing to not text while driving. I was the first to put my thumb in ink and make my mark on the giant phone screen. I want to lead by example. Even though I sometimes forget and grab for my phone when it buzzes I am dead serious about giving it up.

I brought my oldest daughter, Alivia, with me as I took the pledge. She is a powerful reminder of what is at stake if I foolishly choose to text and drive. No text (or tweet or email or status update) is worth missing out on her life!

For those of you who don’t live in Montana, Take the pledge here!

Whitefish Campus

This weekend at fresh life we announced a new campus that we will be launching in Whitefish, Montana at the beginning of 2011. We are stoked on this venture in faith that the Lord has us taking and are praying that many people meet Jesus through it!

Please join with us praying:
For many people, who live in the North end of the valley and attend fresh life, to view this as their home church and be apart of the mission and community of this campus.

That God would continue to bless the awesome churches that are already making a difference in Whitefish and that we would have the opportunity to be a blessing to them.

For God to raise up an army to accomplish all that will be necessary for this to happen; and for those who will leave ministry holes behind in Kalispell–that God would raise up new people to step up to the plate.

For those who see and believe in the vision to continue to give generously as we advance the cause of Christ.

That we would find ways to reach the tourists and visitors who come to the Valley to ski, vacation and visit Glacier.

For protection from the enemy who would love to keep Jesus from building His church…but can’t!

For many to find life and liberty in Christ as we seek to make Jesus famous!

Webcast Upgrade

I am excited to announce that last night we officially launched a brand new Skull Church/Fresh Life webcast experience. Although we have been webcasting for almost 3 years and have seen God use it in amazing ways (we see decisions for Christ registered online each week) it has been as lofi as you can possibly get.

After working for months on an overhaul of our video infrastructure and systems we now are able to offer a webcast that we are excited about (and not bummed out by–though you should never despise the days of small things…) One of the great new features is that it is now streaming in HD! And in addition to computers you can watch the live feed on iOS devices like iPhones, iPod Touchs, and iPads. And if you own a Droid you can listen to live services through the Fresh Life Radio app that is available in the Droid Market. I want to give props to our creative and technical team for this epic win.

Check it out! The live webcast occurs during all of our weekly services. Details here.

I’m trying but the mouse is a beach-ball…

Last week was one for the books at fresh life. By that I mean the record book of how many technical things can possibly go wrong in a week. I think it was written by a dude named Murphy. I hate that guy. It would be hard to try and come up with more things that could have gone wrong.

Here is a snapshot:
While preaching at skull church my mic went out briefly and came back on with some terrible feedback that continued for what seemed like forever. What I didn’t know was that whatever had happened also took out the live radio broadcast. The webcast also crashed at some point in the night as well. And our system that sends txt msg questions, that come to my skulpit, to the screen went down. This weekend, I was supposed to preach the 11 o’clock at the Strand but, due to a series of events, they moved me to the Liberty at the last minute. I was supposed to be piped live into the Strand but they had to resort to a video backup because, for the second time ever, our fiber optic feed freaked out. When the video backup was fired it first came up with only audio before (fortunately) coming on correctly and playing all the way through. Man, just reading that list stresses me out.

Stuff like this makes the hair on the back of my team’s neck stand up. Excellence is something that we value highly. I can’t see how we really have a choice about that. Our mission is to see those who are stranded in sin find life and liberty in Christ. Eternity literally hangs in the balance. Like it or not, that injects importance into everything. We simply don’t have the luxury of dismissing even the smallest detail as being trivial. The stakes are too high. Hell plays for keeps and forever is a long time. Even small things deserve our very best effort.

Coming out of a week like we have had there is definitely the temptation to be upset, to be bummed, to beat ourselves up and only focus on every single thing that went wrong. But we won’t. You can’t live that way. If you do, eventually you will end up in the fetal position under your desk mumbling, “Laces out, Laces out, the Laces were supposed to be facing out...” And that’s not good for anyone. You have to accept that if you are are committed to thinking outside the box and pushing the envelope; there are going to be bad days. Things happen. Computers crash. People make mistakes. That’s life. Deal with it; don’t dwell on it.

Instead you have to learn to focus on all the good that happened in spite of the problems. The people who gave their lives to Christ listening to a message with feedback coming out of the speakers. The fact that people were blessed who were ministered to by the Bible study and felt God as they took communion even though according to our runsheets everything took way too long to come out of the meet and greet. The hundreds and hundreds of people who signed up for small groups even though at two of the services the amazing small group promo video never even played. And above all, the fact that the Word of God cannot be chained! (2 Timothy 2:9)

I think it’s also important to be thankful for the hundreds of services a year that have gone by without major meltdown. All the webcasts that didn’t go whack, all the times the fibre hasn’t failed and the projectors didn’t show the blue screen of death. Thank God for the other thousand times that your mouse didn’t turn into a beach-ball.

I’m not saying that you are supposed to just be ok with things that go wrong. You shouldn’t be. We aren’t. I can assure you there will be meetings where the glitches will be analyzed and assessed. We will ask: Why did this happen? Has it ever happened before? What could have prevented it? Was it human error or just a freak–the devil is in the details– kind of a thing? Do we need to upgrade a system? buy new equipment? Retrain someone? Conduct an exorcism? And we will do our best in the future to learn from our mistakes and move forward. We will pursue perfection and seek after seamlessness. As I said, I believe that the urgency of the gospel requires nothing less than our very best efforts.

But at the end of the day if anything eternal is going to be accomplished it’s not because of us, it’s because of Him. It’s all about Jesus and what He did for us at the place of the skull. In our weaknesses His strength is made perfect. If you keep that in mind, you can keep your eyes set on heaven even in the midst of a technological week from hell.

Fresh Life Radio — Enhanced Streaming Player

Our creative team just rolled out a slick new interface that takes listening to fresh life radio on your computer to the next level. The player now tells you the name of the artist, song, and album (with artwork) that you are listening to currently. It also tells you the name of the last song that was played and the song that is on deck.

This is a feature that I think people will really enjoy, because we aren’t exactly a chart-driven radio station. (understatement of the year) We shuffle a blend of: killer teachings, modern worship, groundbreaking indie, and alternative rock. We play music we like and we hope you like it too. We also know that, in our quest to discover and play new artists, listeners will be regularly be asking, “who is this?” as they listen and we are stoked to finally be able to give an answer. And an elegant one at that–kudos to the code monkeys for building this classy little player!

If you haven’t listened yet, check it out. It’s great stuff. I’ll be honest, if fresh life radio didn’t exist I wouldn’t listen to radio at all. I’d just as soon rock Pandora or my own iTunes library. No offense, but on most Christian stations it’s the same 8 artists over and over again…ad nauseum. On fresh life radio, in addition to bands I already know and love, I am regularly being exposed to new artists and having to ask our music director and station manager, “I LOVE this song, who is this?” Fortunately, with our new player, they won’t have to be constantly fielding those texts from me! Plus, radio stations have a personality that playlists, even music genome generated ones, do not.

We also have a streaming app available in the Android market (link) And a stream at freshliferadio.com that will run in the background on your iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad.

Try it, you’ll like it. (yo gabba gabba reference)

Day Tripper

I’m heading home from an overnight trip to Seattle and my head is spinning from an awesome 24 hours of stimulation and information…and now I am singing the beatle’s song that I used to title this blog…but I digress.

Pastor Coy and I shot out here after Skull Church to attend a one day leadership conference put on by Catalyst featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel. From 9am to 5pm we were (literally) bombarded by an exorbitant amount of practical advice on leading with vision and energetically executing your God-given mission. Andy pastors North Point in Atlanta, Georgia and Craig pastors Lifechurch.tv (the church that produced the killer Youversion Bible app for mobile devices.) Their sessions were salient, sage, and strategically aimed at cranking up momentum in ministry. Phenomenal.
Straight after the conference we headed downtown and met Pastor Mark Driscoll and his executive Pastor Jamie Munson for dinner. They were gracious to spend almost three hours with us as we picked their brains on ministry, church, leadership, and what they have learned in the almost 14 years that Mars Hill Church has been turning Seattle and beyond upside down for Jesus. They opened up the floodgates and, in what I have realized is quintessential Mark Driscoll style, were like machine-guns of advice/encouragement/challenge/inspiration/sarcasm. It was kind of like drinking from a fire hose but it was awesome. There is much I can learn from Mark and I was honored to spend time with him.
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Over the course of the day we took in a lot on subjects ranging from: effectively using video teaching, conserving energy in the midst of a full preaching schedule, building systems and structure to keep up with the growth with out smothering the creative chaos that God used to bring the freshness and growth in the first place, etc; One topic of particular interest to me was the ins and outs of having multiple sites. All three men we were listening to do this VERY well. If you take North Point Church, Mars Hill Church, and Lifechurch.tv together there are over 25 campuses! We meet at two locations currently but are praying about more in the future.
Coy and I spent some time, later that evening, ambling around downtown Seattle ruminating on the different things that we had heard, like glutted cows. I’m sure for several days to come we will continue to be processing and sifting through the wealth of knowledge that has been imparted to us.

I try and learn what I can from a broad spectrum of leaders, not just any one source exclusively. (Except Jesus!) An important part of that is having the wisdom to chew the meat and spit out the bones. I think you should have a full “bull-pen” of influencers and coaches, who are each strong in different ways, without ever trying to be a carbon copy of any one person exclusively and you will be much better for it. This means being quick to learn from anyone but slow to implement with thought and prayer. And this coaching doesn’t have to be face-to-face or even at a conference. I learn from pastors, leaders, authors, and people that I have never met on a weekly basis through podcasts, books and websites. I definitely have found that leadership is something that is caught better than it is taught.
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This morning (since it was my first time in Seattle) we made the obligatory tourist trip to the Pike Place Market and had a coffee from the very first Starbucks. The Mermaid Mecca. It was surprisingly humble and yet they have a map on the wall showing all the Starbucks in the world, all birthed from that nondescript location. I6,082 was their number of locations at the time the map was printed. Staggering. As I drank my Americano and thought of the evangelistic manner in which Starbucks spread their wings from their “Jerusalem,” (Seattle) to their state, the country and literally to the ends of the earth I was inspired to continue to make Jesus famous, with every breath, ’til He returns.
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Skullchurch.com 2.0

Ou team just released the newly designed skull church site and it is slick! It now includes a page where you can watch performances from many of the artists that have visited and it is much easier to navigate through the different series. Check it out!
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being in two places at one time

This past weekend I was in Orange County hosting the Friday and Saturday nights of the Harvest Crusade at Angels Stadium, but through the wonders of technology I was also in Montana teaching at our 4 weekend services.

Though we have heard from many wonderful guest speakers, and it is wonderful to hear from fresh voices and outside perspectives, there is something to be said for maintaining the energy and momentum by not putting a series on hold. In order to do that (until science nails the whole cloning thing) for the past few years we have been using video teachings that I record prior to leaving town.

The hardest part about this, surprisingly, isn’t teaching to an empty room, it’s having to prepare three messages in a week instead of two, with the additional pressure of preparing for the trip. For some reason preaching with no audience isn’t really that different from a normal Sunday, I just think and pray for those who will be listening just like I am also thinking of the web/radio audience that I can’t see every other week.

A definite benefit is that the media team has time to post-produce the video, dialing it in. I especially love the unique Nehemiah themed lower thirds that the team generated for this particular message.

Here is the most recent “virtual levi” (as my staff affectionately refers to this teaching style) rock this city teaching from this past weekend. In it, Sanballat and co. try to assassinate Nehemiah as the wall nears completion.