Preparing to Keep New Year’s Resolutions

Now that I have New Year’s Resolutions, I’m preparing to keep them. First on the list is making the list trackable. Thanks to Joe’s Goals, I have a simple, online (oops; there goes goal #1) site to record my progress.

Less time online. Last week I had limited Internet access. My RSS feeder got backed up. Rather than attempt to read all the posts I missed, I deleted each feed that made me groan in the slightest. Blogs that post 20+ times a day? Gone! Saved me time today and every day from now on. I will continue to consolidate my political feeds. They seem to be the worst offenders.

Learn Linux. Putting the Asus Eee PC on my Christmas list (and actually getting it :)) is preparation enough.

Practice guitar more. I am organizing my guitar books, amp, pedal, etc., to eliminate the setup time. Now, I can just pick up the guitar and play/practice. The Crossroads DVD I got for Christmas is inspiration to continue practicing.

Exercise more, drink less caffeine, drink more water. The key here is in the writing of the resolution. Note the “more” and “less.” Success in these is virtually guaranteed. ;)

Well, that’s it for now. Gonna get offline and go practice the guitar.

New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions. But as the management tip I read recently says, “How can you tell if your team’s failing if you don’t set any goals?” So, in that spirit, here goes. I resolve to:

  • Spend less time online
  • Learn Linux
  • Spend more time with family
  • Spend more time studying spiritual things
  • Spend more time practicing my guitar
  • Exercise
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Drink more water
  • Read more books
  • Buy more flowers

Well, that should be enough failure for one year. Achieving even a portion of this list will be improvement.

What about you? What do you resolve to do?

Seeker Services

Todd at The Todd Blog asks about “seeker-sensitive” churches. Here’s my answer.

Guitar Group

My church has a guitar group. Over the last couple years or so, its focus has changed.

Beginner focused. When we started the group, most of us were beginning guitar players. We spent a lot of time learning guitar basics: how to strum different rhythms, how to finger a B-minor, how to play a barre chord, how to use a capo, etc. We had some more experienced guitarists show up. They never came back. I think we bored or embarrassed them (or both).

Growth focused. As we progressed, we entered a phase where we knew all the “cowboy chords”, needing help only with the more unusual chords or strumming patterns. We’d experiment with more complex songs to keep learning. As the word got out, some beginners wanted to join the group. Initially, it was a frustrating experience for those of us who had advanced beyond beginner status. Instead of learning our new songs and expanding our skills, we’d sit around while the one or two beginners learned how to play a G chord. In response, we started a beginners group that met at the same time. A couple of the more advanced among us would teach the beginners and then we’d come together at the end to play a song that all, even the beginners, could play. We led praise sing at church every two or three months and sang at a retirement home a couple of times. We had twin goals of improving our skills and increasing the size of the group.

Service focused. Now, we’re “better.” The guitar group leads praise sing every month so we’re more focused on learning songs for the next time. Some more experienced players have joined the group and stuck. We spend some time learning more difficult songs. We’re growing in different ways. We have a couple of bass players and we have people who sing. We do a much better job leading praise sing. We’re scheduling a couple more visits to retirement homes.

Unfortunately, not all changes have been positive. None of us seem to have the time or inclination to teach the kids anymore. They don’t show up much anymore. And that might be okay. After all, only so many guitarist fit on the platform.

I Thought This Was Going to be About Church…

The phases of the guitar group could be compared with many churches. The beginner-focused phase describes churches that have only seeker services. This is not a sustaining model unless the goal is to funnel maturing Christians to other churches in the area. “Mature” Christians will find another church unless they are quickly tasked with leadership roles.

Our second, learning and growth-focused, phase describes churches that have services for both the long-time member and seekers. While continuing to disciple maturing members, they also work to attract those with questions. I think those could be fun churches to attend.

Our group’s third phase could describe many churches, too. Rather than focusing on growing the church, they focus on serving. Is this a healthy church model? I believe so, as long as the focus is on serving those outside. One danger is that the focuses turns inward, on “doing church.” Rather than trying to grow the church, its focus become improving the “professionalism” of the church. “Sorry, can’t lead you to Jesus, I have to practice for church next week.”

An good book on this topic is Building a Contagious Church by Mark Mittelberg and Bill Hybels.

What do you think? Does your church have a seeker service? Are you a seeker?

G.A.S. Attack

PRS Mira Guitar

Oh my! That PRS Mira is a pretty guitar. Sounds nice and versatile, too. I haven’t seen any pricing, yet. Here’s hoping that a non-carved top, no binding, no birds PRS isn’t too expensive…

Line 6 Pod X3 Live

The Line 6 Pod X3 Live looks interesting, too. It’s priced another $100 over the Pod XT Live, but has a lot more features: two independent setups and effect chains and functionality for electric guitar, electric bass, acoustic guitar, and voice.

Oh, and G.A.S. is “gear acquisition syndrome.” I have the disease. ;-)

Life Goes On

Jamison playing his new electronic drums Life continues to intrude on my blogging time. My most recent discovery: I have limited ability to coordinate my feet and my hands. This comes as a shock to me after playing the piano for as long as I can remember. Somehow, I’ve been able to press and release the damper pedal at the musically right time. Apparently, timing has not been that critical. Even driving a standard transmission has done little to develop regular timing coordination between my hands and feet.

This realization became obvious to me while trying to play Jamison’s new electronic drum set. Pounding away in general mayhem is easy, fun, and satisfying — for a short while. Anything more rhythmically useful, and thus orderly, is beyond my current abilities.

Like learning guitar, I expect learning drums to be a slow process. Fortunately, with electronic drums, the rest of the family will hear only thwapity, thwapity, thwap and some occasional groans while I attempt to keep time with the onboard metronome shouting, “one, two, three, four” in my headphones. Accompanying actual music will have to wait a while.