Friday, September 29, 2006

God is in the tech details

Lots of techie details to square away in the next few days and then we GO LIVE with our new Web site. It's an exciting time for the eTeam -- it means our huge workload and this racing to get the site launched will be done. It'll change our pace from a sprint to a relaxed distance run. Creation is a lot more difficult than maintenance.

With my new, relaxed pace I'm going to read more. I took this semester off from UNL to get a breather, gain back some margin in my life and reconnect with friends and family. Our communications team is more than blogs and Web sites so there are some other areas where I need to focus.

So here's the bottom line: the new site is coming online soon. Pray for a smooth launch. Pray for the eTeam here and the programmers in Chicago. And once you see the new site, let us know what you think.

Go God!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Weekend on the Hill schedule improvements

A few changes have been made to the Weekend schedule for Oct. 7 and 8 to make the weekend a little easier on families and Husker fans.

  • Concert on the Hill Oct. 7: we've moved up the time to a 4 p.m. start so that Husker fans won't miss the televised game that night. Go God. Go Big Red!
  • Worship-Celebration Oct. 8: it's going to be ONE service only at 11 a.m. and we'll be indoors. Yes, we're going to get super friendly and close with our church family and guests by setting up every chair in the Worship Center and also some in the atrium. We can seat more than 600, so it'll have a Memorial Stadium feel, but it'll be fun to all be at the same service. There won't be DiscoveryZone but there will be NurseryZone for newborns through age 2.

Why only one service? We have an afternoon of great family activities planned starting with bag lunches for sale right after Worship, then Fam Jam with the kids helping their parents sing songs, and after that will be loads of free family activities, games, races, and fun all up until 3 p.m. It's going to be a blast!

Help us spread the word about the time changes. Weekend on the Hill is going to be an awesome time for Horizons, we'll be serving others with the benefit 5k Walk for and then just having some fun with our church family the rest of the weekend.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Don't let me forget

Tomorrow, without fail, I must get my 5k walk registration form and fee turned in. I've been putting it off, putting it off, and putting it off...not because I didn't know if I was going to do the walk, but because I kept thinking it was so far off in the future. Well, early registration ends Sept. 29, so this is the time.

Help me stay accountable.

If you see me tomorrow (I'm in DZ first service, Worship second service) remind me to get my registration done. Remind your friends and family also.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Revolution Begins

You got your invitation, right? Yes, you did. That nice blue envelope in the mail last week with all the small group info for Living Beyond Myself. We're setting up enough small groups so that everyone at Horizons will have a place available in a group of 6-8 people.

You do the math.

Yes, that's a lot of groups. Our organizing committee is setting up the groups so that you can get into a group that meets on the best day and time for your family, has childcare if you need that, and close to where you live. Each group will meet four times, once each week during the study. You'll get the free participants guide book at the first group meeting.

Here's what you'll get out of the groups:

  • Learn how your gifts can be revealed and utilized
  • Understand how you fit into the body of Christ
  • Discover new ways to use your strengths
  • Experience freedom to explore serving opportunities
  • Be challenged to be formed more into the image of Christ through serving

The highlight of the entire Living Beyond Myself experience will be the ministry fair and First Serves. I'm pretty excited about that. With First Serves we're setting up ways that you can visit a Horizons ministry area and just check it out. If you're checking out DiscoveryZone, for example, you will see how the ministry works and flows but you won't be asked to DO ministry. It's like taking a tour of a factory or shadowing a worker to see what they do and if it's something you might enjoy.

Living Beyond Myself begins Oct. 15, that's the Sunday after our big Weekend on the Hill that includes the Benefit 5k walk for Tracy DuPont and Concert on the Hill. Between now and Oct. 15 please pray for Horizons, that this serving study will light the fire for revolution at Horizons with more people serving God using the perfect example of Jesus.

Sign up for a small group this week and let the revolution begin! Go God!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blessings by the bagful

The first ever Horizons Free For All was a huge blessing for many families. When we left the church building last night, the tables were piled high, tons of toys were set out in three different areas of the atrium, and boxes and bags for shoppers were piled high near the entry doors.

Shoppers told our organizers how much these free clothes and gear were going to help their families. One shopper from Horizons was picking out clothes for a friend with three small children who recently left an abusive relationship. The free clothes probably meant the difference between winter warmth and food. That's cool to hear. Imagine that the "stuff" cluttering up our closets and basements were actually blessings to someone else. That makes me feel great.

The left-overs are going to the People's City Mission Distribution Center. A huge thanks to Amy Perdew and Monica Miles-Steffens for all their work organizing the event and for everyone who came out on Friday night to help set up the tables and sort the clothes. Another huge thanks to those who stayed Saturday to clean up and get the donation off to the Mission.

Blessings for All,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Free For All on the radar

I got a sneak peek at all the clothes, toys, books and kid gear that is set up on tables that fill the Atrium at Horizons. Wow. There's so much stuff there, tomorrow is going to be a blast. There is so much good stuff. Don't miss this if you have kids or a new one on the way.

The Free For All starts at 9 a.m. and will end at 2 p.m. Anything left over will go to the People's City Mission Distribution Center. Coffee will be made early, there are plenty of bags and boxes for your new treasures and remember, bring a friend but leave your money at home.

While I'm writing this, I'm watching the radar for south Lincoln and praying for a safe evening. The sirens are going off now. We are right around O Street, so I'm not about to wake up Mace at this point, but I'll be glued to the TV for the next hour or so until all of this has passed. Nights like this I miss the good ol' California earthquakes I grew up with.

See you at the Free For All tomorrow. For tonight, the basement is looking pretty good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sometimes we go far to get close

One of the perks of traveling to Phoenix for MinistryCOM was the opportunity to meet three others from Lincoln churches. Mind you, it's not easy to round up four people who have never met before, so we did a lot of reading name tags that first day and racking up roaming cell minutes.

First off, a big thanks to Kim Turnage, Director of Lay Ministries, with Southwest Lutheran Church here in Lincoln. She made the calls around town before we all shipped out to see who was attending, exchanged cell numbers and made sure we all got together for dinner Thursday night. That's a fine communicator!

Kim was joined by church member Dan Noennig, who is a graphic designer and tech support to his younger sister who is a college freshman. When the new Southwood church building is complete, they'll be our new neighbors around 40th and Yankee Hill Road. We should take them some cookies.

My other new friend is June Parsons, Director of Communication Ministries, with First Evangelical Free Church. June and I got to talk quite a bit and she's the genuine real deal. We talked about finding other Lincoln church communications workers/volunteers and starting up a round table discussion group. Maybe it's to share ideas, maybe commiserate, or maybe just because we like to talk. Uh, I mean communicate.

A big cyber hello to Kim, Dan and June. We'll talk soon. After the new Web site gets launched we'll meet for coffee. Edge64 makes a great latte.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's shakin' this week @ Horizons

Here's a quick drill down of a few things happening at Horizons this week:

  • Solutions, Wed. night. 70 min. @ 7 p.m. Got family? Get Answers.
  • Free For All. Bring your stuff to the church building this week. Sat. from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. we'll go wild and shop for FREE. Yes, yes, you can bring a friend.
  • 5k Walk. Sign up. Now. Talk to your extended family and friends so we can have a great turnout for Tracy DuPont. Visit for the form.
  • Sundaes on Sunday is, well, Sunday the 17th. Cool former Husker speaker, cold ice cream and warm people. Great time for meeting Horizons people you've never met before. I won't miss it.

Those are the few things on my radar. If there are events I've left out, let me know.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Vanna White and DiscoveryZone

To a fourth-grade student, Vanna White doesn't really do much on the Wheel of Fortune. Our Sunday large group lesson had Julie B. helping kids figure out clues and turning over numbered squares to reveal a letter clue underneath.

At one point, Julie remarked that this was like Wheel of Fortune and that she felt like Vanna White. Jack, one of our fourth grade students, leaned over and told me that Vanna doesn't really do anything but walk and point to the square and it lights up.

Well, I said, long ago she used to actually turn them around before they had these newer, electronic puzzle boards. Jack gave me a look of disbelief.

Just one of those funny moments that make you laugh.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Semantics and the noise of this World

An anonymous comment came in this morning when second service was starting, about one of my posts from Arizona. I listed two of my takeaways from the conference. One was about doing a more effective job of communicating our Christ-inspired message.

Here's the text:

It may be semantics, but something bothered me in the wording of this post. You
mentioned our "christ-inspired message". Isn't the message Christ Himself? You
could make a case for almost anything being 'Christ-inspired'; anything to do
with serving or the Golden Rule - whether it actually has Christ as the center
or not. It seems to me that if we truly believed that Christ was enough, without
all the glitz and the programming, then communicating that would be much simpler
than we've made it. Just an observation.
Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:04:05 AM

The person who posted the comment makes an interesting point that communicating the message of Christ would be easier without all the glitz and programming. Tell me about it.

The challenge now is that we have to compete for people's attention. I did not say we are competing with other churches, the Church has to compete with the shopping mall, youth sports, pro sports, MTV and the constant barrage of information and advertising that is shoved in the face of every child and adult almost every waking hour of every day. The noise that exists in our one-hour photo, multi-tasking world tells us we should do more, do more faster, get more and spend more. Life takes Visa. Coke - it's the real thing. Come and get your love (Alltel).

For the message of Christ to be heard in these times, our noise has to be louder. Our noise has to tell people they matter to God. People need to hear that life takes Jesus, that He is the Real Thing and hey, come to Him and get your love! Whether we achieve that by using blogs and the Web, podcasts or TV commercials, posters and newspaper ads -- all that says is we're trying to reach seekers and doubters where they are and in the era they live with the same technology they use. That's not glitz for the sake of glitz, it's facing reality and staying relevant.

Thanks for starting the discussion. I'm only slightly passionate about this topic.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Air travel mathematics

I'm zapped. My brain is tired. I'm ready to sleep for three days. When I made reservations for my return flight, I thought a 9 a.m. flight would be relaxing...maybe I'd be able to sleep in before driving the few miles to Sky Harbor airport.

It was a nice thought. I didn't do the math. Get coffee. Fill up the rental car gas tank ($2.53/gal.), drive to the rental car drop off, carry two heavy bags to the bus, ride 10 minutes to the airport, find a luggage cart. Get to check-in and get rid of one large bag. Lug the rest down a long concourse up the elevator and wait in a zig-zag line for security. Take off shoes. Unpack laptop and empty everything from every pocket. I get randomly pulled aside after getting through the X-ray. My camera, laptop, shoes, cell phone get checked for explosives. I pass. I get to put my shoes back on, repack all my stuff and then go wait for my plane. I have about 15 minutes until boarding begins. The flights are fine. I made videos for Mace of take off, landing and soaring through the clouds.

Good thing I got up at 5 a.m.

MinistryCOM was a great experience. Now I have a year to pick a few areas to work on, make a plan and see how I can improve the work our communications team does for Horizons. Next year, I'll catch up with everyone at MinistryCOM and see how we've done, what we've accomplished and what more we need to do even better. I hope we challenge ourselves to keep raising the bar, keep excellence at the forefront and remember that the greatest message deserves our greatest effort.

See you all tomorrow. Maybe a good night of sleep will get me back into this time zone.


Friday, September 08, 2006

So really it's Peoria

OK, so MinistryCOM isn't in Phoenix proper but in a suburb called Peoria. There's even someone attending from the other Peoria which must feel weird.

On my drive this morning on Interstate 17, I passed Cactus Road and Thunderbird Road. There are times you just know you're not in Lincoln. It actually feels more like my native Southern California with all the palm trees -- that is, as long as I keep the windows rolled up and the a/c blasting. Hot just doesn't describe this area.

Last night I had dinner with the Lincoln contingent and on my way back to my brother-in-law's house a monsoon hit. Yikes. I've never seen so much rain come down so quickly and then stop about as quick. Just an interesting place.

I cannot even begin to explain how much I'm learning here. Most of my take-aways for the conference after day one is a lot of internal stuff:

  • how I need to change my thinking about how I lead communications,
  • how I need to rethink our team's priorities to better serve God and communicate our Christ-inspired message.

It's a lot to consider but I have real experts to talk with, listen to and get ideas from. This is incredible.

More later. Much more.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Live from Phoenix, Arizona

This is awesome. I'm hanging with a few hundred church communications leaders who are gathered in Phoenix to share ideas, hear some very progressive speakers and learn how to better communicate the message of Christ. This is MinistryCOM. This is where I need to be.

What does a church full of communications folks mean? Tons of laptops spread out all over the cafe area I'm sitting in now during an afternoon break. We are at Christ's Church of the Valley, quite a large campus and they have their own Starbucks and free wireless Internet. Of course everyone is logged on and getting work done during the breaks. I'm working on the new Web site, keeping the blog moderated and culling photos for the new site.

It's been a long day of speakers, networking and breakout sessions to get deeper into topics that keep people like me awake at night but that most other people don't give a second thought to. I've met lots of new people from all over the country. I do know there are three others here from Lincoln. Still need to track them down. We've talked on the phone but when you don't know what people look like, it's hard to connect in a large gathering.

A few more presentations tonight, then dinner. Another full day tomorrow. I'll be back in Lincoln Saturday with an arsenal of new ideas and new strategies to help Horizons lead seekers and doubters to Christ. Well, maybe just get them in the building.

L(yes, but it's a dry heat)MF

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Big Event Reminders

Hey Horizons,

Two things I'm thinking about tonight:

  • Free For All: This is where families at Horizons (and yes, you can bring your friends) donate all the gently used baby, kid and teen clothing and gear they've been storing but no longer use or have outgrown, and then on Sept. 16, Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. it'll be time to shop FOR FREE. What will really help our event organizers is to get your donations dropped off at the church prior to Sept. 15. Until that Friday night, everything is being stored in the office next to Erin Dutter's. You can bring your donations on Sunday or even during the week when the building is open. You may want to call ahead.
  • Benefit 5k Walk: I know, it seems early but please start getting your registration forms and checks submitted. The team organizing the walk is working hard to make this a spectacular event. How else can you help? Take a few flyers to your business or workplace and hand them out to friends. If your company has an employee newsletter, ask them to include the Walk information. There's a link to the registration form on Help us get the word out!

Go God!


Go ahead, invite someone!

Dear Horizons Community:

Just wanted to touch base with you before Sunday. Even though we can always invite our friends to worship with us (most of us do it some of the time and some of us do it most of the time), the truth is that we all tend to put it off. We think about, but don’t always follow through.

So invite-a-friend Sunday, September 10 is just a way of getting us off our procrastinating buttresses and getting us into inviting.

Inviting is modeled often in scripture.

Andrew invited Peter to see Jesus; Philip invited Nathanael (John 1:40-50). The Samaritan woman invited a whole town full of people (John 1:29) and many of them believed (John 1:39). Four men brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus, where he found both forgiveness and healing (Mark 2).

You are already making an impact on several people in your social network, even if you don’t know it. God has sent you into their world. Bringing them to a service at Horizons is one more way you can continue the conversation.

This morning I received an email from someone who attends Horizons and had recently brought a friend. This friend had attended Sunday school as a child but had since then lost all contact with the church. The friend found Horizons less intimidating and easier to connect with than imagined. God used the invitation to help this friend get started seeking Christ again.

So, I’m asking you to ask God who you might invite this week. Somebody at work. A long-time friend. A neighbor. A relative. Someone you know through an organization or one of your kids’ activities.

This Sunday’s message in the series “Living Truth” will be “Learning Contentment.” The main idea is that contentment isn’t about how much we have or don’t have. Contentment is more about knowing what it is we really need and discovering that Christ is there for us.

And BTW- I promise that during the services on September 10, we won’t mention that it’s “invite-a-friend Sunday,” so the people you do invite won’t think we don’t want them the other 51 Sundays of the year, if you catch my drift. Anyway, see you Sunday.

Steve Todd

Monday, September 04, 2006

Solutions begins Wed. at 7 p.m.

Solutions @ Horizons begins this week!

Join the Horizons prayer team in the Worship Center each Wednesday in September at 7 p.m. for 70 minutes to get insight, tips and encouragement in personal, family and parenting issues. Solutions brings Christian professionals to us via satellite.

Child care will be available.

Contact: for more info.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


On my table in my office sits an old pocket watch that belonged to my grandpa Biehl. The story is that he found it one day while working around his farm. It’s nothing special. I don’t remember him ever using it. But I remember seeing it here and there in his house when I was growing up. When grandpa died grandma invited the grandkids to her house to choose some things of grandpas we thought we might like to have. The pocket watch was one of two items I chose that day.

The watch has traveled with me to every ministry setting I have been in. It has made the move from eastern Nebraska to Lincoln, to Albion, to Arizona, and back to Lincoln. I have always known where it is. It’s just one of those things that is always there. It is broken. I don’t use it to tell time, and it is not particularly attractive. For most people it serves no purpose except as a conversation piece. But, when I look at it I remember grandpa. I remember riding in his pickup through the pastures to cut thistles. I remember the time he was spitting out the window of his pickup and forgot that he had rolled the window up. The broken pocket watch on the table in my office reminds me of all that?

It is a strange thing to most people I suppose, that this broken, non-descript watch would cause me to recall grandpa’s life the way it does. I suppose it is strange. As strange as God looking at our brokenness every day and recalling the beauty, hope, and possibility He breathed into our souls when we drew our first breathe. As strange as Christ calling us to “love one another as I (God) have loved you.” A life of faith recalls that first hope; and believes the hope beyond our own brokenness where resurrection and new life await.

The day I chose the broken pocket watch, I also chose another item. I chose grandpa's slippers, for no apparent reason. Some things in life remain a mystery.

Clean out your closets! It's a Free For All!

Did you hear last Sunday about the Horizons Free For All? Here's what our women's ministry team has planned:

Starting tomorrow Sunday the 3rd, bring your gently used and clean kids' clothing, toys, gear (newborn through teens) to donate to the Free For All. The women's ministry team will organize everything by size/type and then on Sat., Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., we'll open up Horizons for "shopping."

You can come and take what you'd like and can use whether you donate or not. Our women's ministry team thought this would be a great way to help out families clean out closets and exchange clothes that no longer fit for other clothes that do. You're even welcome to bring a non-Horizons friend to also shop and help themselves to all the free stuff.

Again, did you read the part about free? There's no money involved, so leave your cash at home. In the meantime, if you have clothing, toys, books, baby gear or anything like that to donate, bring them to the church. If you bring items during the week, we'll be storing donations in the office next to Erin's.

We'll see you on the 16th. Any items remaining after the Free For All will be taken to the People's City Mission Distribution Center and cannot be returned.

I've been going through Mace's stuff and there are so many things we don't use anymore: stroller, toys, books, and so many clothes. I cannot wait to pass this collection on to someone younger. Bring on the Free For All!


Living Truth - Your work matters to God

Pastor Steve's new series, Living Truth, begins tomorrow, Sept. 3. Living Truth is a four-week series. Tomorrow's message is: Your work matters to God. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

Should be good and relevant no matter what your line of work. The next three weeks will have the following themes:

September 10 -- Learning contentment
“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12).

September 17 -- Holy rest in your hurried life
Jesus: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

September 24 -- Lies that lead to an affair
“Each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14).

These topics are relevant to real life! This is a great month to invite those you know who do not attend a church. Think and pray about those people you know or meet who you could introduce to Horizons.