Monthly Archives: March 2016

My One Year Experiment – The First Quarter Update

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With episode six dropping on Tuesday, I’m just about a quarter through my one year experiment in starting a podcast.  (Click here for more information about how I’m evaluating my experiment, or here to listen to my podcast!) With that in mind, here’s a quick check in on how everything is going.

1) Am I having fun?

The short answer: yes. Some of it, especially the sound editing, feels like work at times, but it’s been unbelievably fun to have conversations with incredible people across the country. More than anything, I enjoy the feedback I’m getting from friends, family, and colleagues who have listened to my episodes and found something that struck them. (Yes, I know I should probably just enjoy recording podcasts for the sake of the art, but I find that my nascent creator-ego enjoys the validation more than it probably should.)

As I settle in, I’m also getting contacts with a wider range of potential interviewees, outside of the metho-church planter-verse, and am getting ideas for new shows. (Q&A e-mail episode with your favorite guest, as voted by my loyal listeners, anyone?)

2) Is it sustainable?

It’s a pretty open question right now. Each podcast takes me six to ten hours to produce, which adds up to a pretty heavy duty commitment over the course of a month, especially as I’ve become a new dad.  Yes, I really enjoy it, but do I enjoy it to the tune of 12-20 hours of unpaid work and stress every month? For me, how I’m able to answer the next question will determine how I end up answering this one.

3) Is it making a difference?

After a pretty slow start, the podcast is starting to grow, from about forty listeners at the beginning, (by the way, this is pretty much friends and family, which I can tell because most of the listens come from the island where we live or the towns where my family lives,) to about seventy now. I’m still struggling to find ways to engage with my audience (so far, only one person has taken up my every-episode plea for “thoughts, feedback, questions, or protests,) and have utterly failed in getting reviews on Itunes or on other places that would perhaps help me make contact with people outside of my social media sphere.

I’ve received wonderful feedback from some of my guests in particular, which make me feel like this podcast actually might serve a real need among Jesus-followers in the country, but I would want to see substantial growth in the size and engagement of my audience before I decided whether this was more than just a little ripple in a very big pond.

My hope? To average around 100 listeners to my podcast by the time the July rolls around and have enough audience engagement that I could a listener e-mail show without too much shameless begging.

4) Am I learning?

Yes, I think so. I’ve cut the production time for each episode in half. (My debut episode was a 20 hour, seemingly unending audio editing maze, mostly due to my own learning curve, followed by an unintentional three day staggered launch as my podcast slowly percolated onto podcast distribution services,) I also feel like the interviews are unfolding a lot more organically than before.

I’m also starting to get my arms around the edges of that vast mystery known as Marketing. I’ve learned that  the number of listeners I get for every episode is almost entirely dependent upon the amount of times the episode is shared on social media. I’ve also learned that, for every thousand people I reach with a post, only 40-50 people actually engage with my content. (Out of those 40-50 people, I might get feedback or engagement from 10% of them.)

I still haven’t figured out how to turn my listeners into an engaged tribe – who will read my non-podcast facebook posts, ask me questions, share my episodes, and give me feedback. This is the BIG question I’m trying to grapple with in the next few months.

The Right Type of Church Building Project

A brilliant idea from the Bridge, a new missional church in Ontario. From

Some of the people involved in The Bridge, a church plant of the Christian Reformed Church in Niagara Falls, Ont., are living out their mission by purchasing homes in identified neighborhoods. It is another venue for building relationship while rebuilding floors and walls.

“I think it’s setting a precedent of what a missional community really looks like,” said Rev. Allen Kleine-Deters, pastor at The Bridge.

Bridge participants Phil and Leanne Korten relocated to a fixer-upper in Niagara Falls from nearby Fenwick, Ont. “In the process [of renovations] they’ve developed a friendship in particular with one neighbor across the road . . . [and] this really cool friendship has developed that now has encompassed more of the Bridge people,” Kleine-Deters said…

“Since nothing has been done to the house in 40 years, we saw that as an opportunity to gut the entire house and create a space that will be inviting to friends and neighbors alike,” Vermeer said. “It’s so important to leave margins in our lives so that if someone wants to chat or needs a hand, we are always available.” (Alice Banner, The Banner.)

What would it look like if we chose to invest our resources in houses in poor neighborhoods rather than in our big-steepled religious fortresses?

What if we looked at ministries like this not just as a chance to do good, but to make friends as well?

Work like this gives Jesus a far better name than yet another new carpet, organ renovation, or church building renovation.

Hat Tip:  Jim Doepken

My Son

There are moments that focus your life to a single point.

I’ve had two, exactly eight and a half years apart.

The first was the day I married Melissa, a moment of such intense joy that I still get a silly grin every time I think about it.

The second happened two and a half weeks ago, when my son, Michael, was born.

People say having children changes everything. I certainly understood much of that: the excited anticipation, the shock and intense sleep deprivation, the way that your schedule and priorities inexorably and irresistibly bend around that little one, but what I couldn’t have ever imagined was the way that becoming a father would simply and completely change me.

Some things just have to be experienced to be understood.

No one could describe what it would be like to watch Melissa be transfigured from wife to wife AND mother in the course of a single day.

No one could describe what it would be like to watch my child take his first breath.

No one could describe what it would be like to put my nose to my son’s nose minutes as he lay on his mother’s chest, and have our eyes lock for one eternal moment.

No one could describe what I would feel as I held Michael in my arms and wept as I told him over and over, “You are MY son.”

No one could describe my unmistakable conviction that I had changed, at a level so deep that I still don’t have words for it.

Thanks to a truly blessed birth and a truly amazing community who have given us space to breathe as we’ve transitioned into parenting, I’ve had nothing more important to do than sit in the presence of that singular moment.

No one has asked me for advice about being a dad. (Nor should they really, I only have two and a half weeks of experience, after all. ) However, if I was to have learned anything so far, it is this:

In those precious few hours and days, don’t get distracted by expectations, by anxiety, or by plans for the future.

You’ll always carry expectations around with you. Anxiety about the future will inevitably emerge, whether you want it or not. Your plans for the future, whether that be cloth diapering or Netflix binging will come to fruition or fall apart in glorious chaos.

Stop and receive that one singular moment as a gift.

Because it’s there for a second and gone in a flash, leaving trails across the rest of your life.

And the worst thing you could happen is to miss that spectacular, life-breaking event that will literally be looking you right in the face.