Collins, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay

Today the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins comes out today, and this month I read all three of the novels in the series. It’s a terribly depressing read, and that is why it is so great.

The books are about a future society where the gap between the rich and the poor has become the defining cultural trait. The poor exist for the benefit of the rich, who have demonstrated power enough to be able to keep the masses from uprising. The primary control tool they use is a spectacle where children from each of the districts of the poor  are put into a large arena and whichever child survives wins…the right to stay alive.

What I found most remarkable was the way that Collins was able to grab the reader and not let go. Most people who read these books report that they are unable to put them down, and this was also true for me as I read them in the evenings in just one week.

What gripped me was the way that the rich people exist at the expense of the poor, and how I am guilty of that in the world I live in. It’s a hard reality, that begs many questions, to see that the world has a sharp divide between the rich and the poor. It’s one of those stories that should cause a change in life.

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Waltz, How to Wow Your Church Guests

When you plant a church the way that we did with The Grove, there’s a while where all you are is your Sunday morning experience. This isn’t exactly true, a church is much more than what happens on Sunday mornings, but to someone unfamiliar with Jesus, Sunday morning is often the front door to the faith.

This is why the first impressions that we give at The Grove are hyper-intentional. Pastor Darrell and his team (more than 100 people!) are constantly developing and adjusting so we can create the best experience possible in the first 3 or 4 minutes that people drive up and enter the school we rent. There a lot of people who have had a past negative experience with church in our city, and when they summon up the courage to walk into a church for the first time in years, we want to make sure that they know they are welcome with us, and we’re glad they’re with us, and that The Grove is a safe place for all sorts of different people.

So, I picked up this book by Mark Waltz, How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 ways to make a meaningful first impression. Waltz is a pastor at Granger Community Church, which is a larger church a couple time zones away that does a great job at helping other churches from their own experiences. Even his blog is chock full of amazing ideas. His book isn’t meant to give a lot of theory behind it – it’s a small book with short chapters with great ideas. I promise you can read this and find 10 quick ideas that you can implement right away in your church. and you don’t have to be a pastor to make it happen.

Here’s some helpful quotes:

  • p.11, “Learn form the best, become better than you are, and teach someone else what you’re learning.”
  • p.15, “When a church is intentional about reaching new people who don’t know they matter to God, new people will show up. And they will take your parking spot, and they will sit in your seat, and they will crowd your children’s space. Are you okay with that?”
  • p.45, “…cultivate a culture where volunteers own the ministry. And then give them credit when they lead out and create initiatives that serve your guests well.”
  • p.53, “Will people understand what ‘Kidutopia’ means? Or would it be better to simply say ‘Kids’ Center’ “?
  • p.109, “Years ago in my retail management days, my regional manager told me that if I built a strong team who liked each other and had fun together, I would never have to recruit staff outside of my store again.”