May 2011


In case you haven’t done the math, my kids are preacher’s kids, sometimes referred to in the churchiverse as “PKs.” They get top billing anytime I preach (whether the illustrations are true or not), they spend a lot of time hanging out at God’s house (“No running in God’s hallways!”), and sometimes I dream that we’ll be one of those powerhouse multi-generational pastor families where I’ll eventually pass my legacy down to them (current legacy includes a couple of Mark Driscoll books and a clergy parking pass to Duke Hospital).

But I realize that my kids aren’t like the PKs of my youth. Nope, my version of PKs – my friends Bobby and Tommy – had it way rougher than my kids do now. They had to walk a whole 75 feet from the parsonage to get to church. Their preacher daddy didn’t embrace his baldness like I am, and they were subject to the scourge of his toupee. They didn’t have a coffee bar, a plethora of campus choices, or worship leaders who wore skinny jeans. ‘Twas a rough life, yo.

Over the years, Merriem and I have discovered that we’re raising a different breed of PK. These are kids that have never really known traditional church. They’ve grown up in a multi-site, band-driven, set up and tear down, high school and warehouse church environment that doesn’t really lend itself to the flannel graphs and three piece suits of our day. As a matter of fact, they don’t always recognize (or understand) traditional church when they actually see it. For example…

Several years ago we took Jacob and Austin (then 9 & 8) on a road trip to visit the first church we served way back in the early 90’s. We were there for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, and Jacob grabbed a hymnal out of the back of the pew and examined it the way a monkey examines a nuclear warhead. “Mom,” he whispered “what is this?” Merriem looked at me as though we’d completely failed to bring our child up to love Jesus. “He’s a Southern Baptist’s pastor’s kid!” she said. “He should know what a hymnal is!”

A few months back Jase (then 8) told us that we ought to go and plant a church in a nearby small town. His reasoning: “All the churches in that town don’t look right. They all have those pointy things sticking up from the roof.” (God bless him, he doesn’t understand steeples and thinks warehouses are God’s chosen church design spelled out in Leviticus.)

And just last week, Austin (now 14) attended a friend’s birthday party in her church’s fellowship hall. When I picked him up, he said “Dad, it was one of those old churches, with tinted windows and pictures on them.” (Yep, stained glass.)

So how about you? What are your stories of being a traditional church parent raising emerging church kids? Comment below.

Dear Harold Camping,

The next time you decide to speak on behalf of all Christians…

Don’t.

It’s Friday, and you know what that means on Connective Tissue: the last post before the apocalypse.

No, really, it normally means nothing. Friday is just one more day of merriment and mirth and pseudo-information here on ze blog. But today I’m sharing what is perhaps the most simplistically creative video I’ve seen since…well, since the last simplistically creative video I shared with you.

If you’re a dog person, you’ll love it. And if not, who cares? The world ends tomorrow anyway. And since all dogs go to heaven, I plan on talking to this guy for a while. He’s funny.

(Big thanks to Aaron Coalson for the tip!)

Following is the transcript from my talk at yesterday’s Staff Infection online conference. If you fancy yourself an audible and visual learner, you can take your chances with my out-of-proportion head on the video (there’s no way my head is really that large…right?).

And no, watching the video and reading the transcript at the same time won’t cause a little bouncing read-along ball to pop up. But a guy can hope.

People, Not Projects from Summit Brier Creek on Vimeo.

Hey internet. My name is Danny Franks and I’m the Campus Pastor and Connections Pastor at the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

One of the issues that we face often on our teams is the constant tension between caring for people and managing projects. Like most of you, we’re neck-deep in an very busy, very fast paced church culture that sometimes requires spending a huge amount of time on administrative tasks like answering emails, suffering through meetings, or mowing the lead pastor’s yard. (maybe that’s just me)

Sometimes we get so busy doing ministry that we forget we’re pastors. 1 Timothy 3 doesn’t just talk about leading the church, but also caring for the church. We get caught up with blogging, budgeting, and barking out orders, and we forget that most of us entered the ministry first and foremost because we felt called to teach people to know Jesus and to care for them spiritually. I mean sure, we still may respond to an emergency hospital visit or a pastoral need, but those things have become times are reactive rather than proactive. Running the machine becomes central to us, and people are secondary. And when those events are over, we have a tendency to run back to our cocoons the way Rick Warren runs after an acronym.

This is a constant struggle for me as a pastor. Sometimes for me, days can go by – maybe even weeks in some seasons – where I don’t emerge from the church office or conference rooms because I’m up against deadlines. During those seasons I have a tendency to hide behind a layer of administrative assistants and voice mail and inboxes. That will kill your ministry effectiveness with people and cause them to feel like no one is concerned for them or cares for them.

To paraphrase something John Moore said in Tribal Knowledge – people don’t quit organizations, they quit people. In other words, if you have a church member who becomes disillusioned with your church, you can probably trace that back to disillusionment with a person. That person may be you or a member of your staff team, because often you are the face of your church.

Now, I don’t want to negate the importance of your administrative tasks. Those are still there as a constant reality. I have time blocked out on my calendar every day that Michael Hyatt calls the “alone zone.” That’s the time I try to bear down and crank out the administrative tasks that have to be done.

And what I’m not encouraging is for you to be available to every single person every single minute of the day. If you’re available to everyone, eventually you won’t be available to anyone. I’m not advocating that you put your cell number on a billboard with four foot lettering that says, “Call me if you need anything.” No, you have to be wise with the time that God has given you, but wisdom dictates that we fulfill what we’ve been called to, and that’s to care for people.

Jesus sums up this idea, and in fact his entire ministry, in Luke 19:10: “the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Jesus’ mission was people, and people should be our mission as well. But when people become projects or projects supersede people, we’re pathetic pastors. (I threw that in for free for my Southern Baptist friends.)

So what I’d encourage you to do is to take a look at your calendar for this week: are you spending more time on projects or on people? Are you trying desperately to get your inbox to zero, or are you spending time with the people that God has called you to reach? What we hold as valuable will hold our attention.

If we are to lead our teams effectively, we have to continue to beat the drum that people are the mission. We have to encourage our pastors to be pastors. We have to lovingly kick them out of the office and into the marketplace. We have to remind them that what we hold as valuable will hold our attention.

We have a calling to reach those who are far from God as well as to shepherd those who know him. Jesus purchased the souls of people with his blood. Again to paraphrase John Moore, we take missionaries (that is, our teams) and turn them into minions. Don’t be guilty of leading your team to accomplish more administrative tasks. Lead your team to love people well.


It all started with The Nines.

As you may recall, The Nines is an annual event that started on 9/9/09. Leadership Network invites church leaders from around the country to submit nine minute videos for an online leadership conference (our own Pastor J.D. was a part of that first year).

It was a huge success. I immediately launched a campaign to start another conference called “The Tens,” featuring people who were slightly better looking. But alas, Carman was busy with his new TBN show, “Pentecostal Power Rangers,” so my plans crumbled down around me.

That’s why I’m super excited about an event coming up this Wednesday called Staff Infection, also presented by Leadership Network. It’s a free online gathering of fifty leaders from churches around the country…leaders of big teams, small teams, and in between teams. Each presenter gets five minutes to talk about the best practices of the teams that they lead.

Spence Shelton and I had an opportunity to contribute some material to this event, as well. Spence is talking about hiring and placing staff, and I’ll be talking about caring for people vs. managing projects.

Spence and I were able to see an advance copy of the schedule on Friday. Y’all, this junk is good. Many of these are leaders that I’ve followed over the years and have a huge amount of respect for. I’m really looking forward to this. So much so, that I’m going to gather with the guys on my team and watch it live as it unfolds on Wednesday afternoon.

You should, too. Staff Infection is a four hour event, but you can tune in for any portion you’d like. Registration is free, and you can do that here.

A while back, I did it: I officially met the most selfish man in the world. I was having a conversation with a guy who told me that he didn’t let his wife play with his iPhone. Now at first glance, that made perfect sense. My bride has long accused me of loving my iHeroin iPhone more than her. I live in constant fear that she’s going to ask the “If the house catches on fire, what will you go after first…me or the phone?” question. And then I’d have to pull up my Magic 8-Ball app for help, and then it would all go downhill from there.

But back to the other guy. I said, “So you won’t let her do anything? No texting? No Twitter? No – GASP – Angry Birds?”

“Nope.”

“Why?”

“She’ll mess up the settings on my phone.”

“Wait…is she technically challenged? Have a history of messing up your phone? Does she play Angry Birds while going down a water slide into a swimming pool full of electrically charged magnets that will wipe out all the data?”

“No. Nope. Ummmm…no.”

“Then why…”

“I don’t know. I just don’t want her playing with it.”

I walked away from that conversation perplexed. Bewildered. Befuddled. I couldn’t fathom telling my wife she’s not allowed to play with my phone. On the contrary: when iBride holds iPhone, she’s even more iGorgeous. (I’m geeky that way.)

I was still thinking over that conversation late that night when I went for my bedtime snack of a spoonful of peanut butter. One thing you should know about our house: we keep two jars of peanut butter at all times. My kids like creamy. I like crunchy. Merriem likes neither. A side benefit to this arrangement is that my jar of peanut butter looks like peanut butter should: like it’s been operated with a guy with OCD just below psychosis level. It’s scraped out inch by inch from top to bottom. No knife gouges, no finger trails, no clumps of peanut butter on the lid, no hunks of bread crumbs that have been hardened to gravel-like consistency.

But when I grabbed my jar and twisted off the lid, I sensed an immediate disturbance in the force. Unevenness. Knife gouges. Bread crumbs.

Bread crumbs, I tell you.

So there I was: a grown man at 10:30 at night, marching into the living room in the most dramatic of fashion, holding my peanut butter jar up so Merriem could stare into it as if staring down the barrel of a gun. “WHO HAS BEEN IN MY PEANUT BUTTER?!?” I bellowed. And of course she didn’t know, because she hadn’t been the peanut butter police that day, but had been doing other less noble things like being a mother to my three children.

And after my rant and the subsequent re-hiding of my prized peanut butter jar (on the top shelf, at the back, behind a wall of muffin mixes and croutons), it hit me:

I’m the most selfish man in the world.

In that moment, I valued a three dollar jar of Skippy more than my children. In that moment, my scoffing at selfishness over an iPhone became conviction of selfishness over a bedtime snack. I’d rather berate my wife than pick around crusty bread crumbs. I’d rather hide my food than share with kids that God gave me to raise. This choosy dad chose peanut butter over his own offspring. No longer was I standing in judgment of my iPhone friend, but standing in humiliation over my stupid peanut butter.

So enough about me. Let’s make you feel bad about you: what’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever gotten mad over? Comment below.

Here in Ye Olde Triangle area, we’re hosting the gospel gangsta known as Tim Keller. He’s coming in this week for Advance ’11, and local theologians are so giddy they almost dropped their ESV Study Bibles.

So here’s what’s up: I have two tickets in my possession that I’m giving away. That’s right, peoples: a blog giveaway. (It’s about time you got something worthwhile out of this thing.)

Keep in mind, the tickets are for An Evening With Tim Keller (sponsored by Durham Cares), not the entire Advance conference. (What, you think I’m made of free tickets?)

Here are the rules for the contest:

  • This is not an academic competition: I don’t want to know how many of Keller’s books you’ve read. It’s not a theological competition: I don’t want you to tell me how you need to have a better gospel worldview. And it’s not a suck-up competition: I don’t want you to tell me that when my other six hairs fall out I’ll look as distinguished as Keller.
  • Nope, this contest is all about the funny: I want you to make me laugh.
  • Using your Twitter account, give me your funniest reason why you should get the tickets. Somewhere in your tweet, mention my Twitter handle (@LetMeBeFranks) so I’ll be sure and see it.
  • Don’t have Twitter? That’ll knock off some points, but you can put your 140 characters below. Bottom line: Twitter users get priority, so sign up.
  • Limits? There are no limits here. Give it a whirl as many times as you want…the more the merrier.
  • The comments will be judged by an independent panel consisting of Summit staffers @jasongaston, @jeremypollard, and special out of town judge @mkpearson.
  • The fine print: contest starts now (10:00 AM) and runs through 10:00 PM tonight; the winner will be announced by 9 AM tomorrow in the comments section below; you’ll need to come to the Summit offices to pick up the tickets. (What do I look like? FedEx?)
  • Immediate family members of Danny Franks, any relatives living or deceased, and especially 3rd grade teachers are ineligible to win (I’m talking to you, Mrs. Rogers).

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