My Apple Experience

Why you should always get it in writing?

I’m a big fan of Apple products. I just upgraded to the iPhone 7. I have a MacBook I’m using to write this blog, and I have a 27” iMac in my office at church. So, when my wife asked me for the Apple Watch for her 29th birthday, I was happy to oblige. But my happiness turned to disappointment when the face randomly popped off the watch a few weeks ago.

Upon doing some research, I discovered this was a fairly common problem with the Apple watch. So, I contacted Apple support.

I hate talking on the phone so I was glad to discover they had a chat option.

After just a few seconds, I was connected with an Apple representative and was able to explain the issue. They asked me to send a picture of the Apple watch, which I did, and then they explained to me my options.

This is where I started to get a little concerned. I had heard about the incredible customer service of Apple. I had even bought the book, The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty.

So, why was I getting the run around?

They let me know my watch was out of warranty, and there was no guarantee they would fix it or replace it for free. Even though the face of the $250+ watch popped off after 16 months.

If they decided it wasn’t their error, it would cost me $199 to fix.

I let them know I wanted to send it in to see if they would replace it for free, but to contact me if they were going to have to charge me.

The representative let me know this was fine, but informed me I may have to pay to have it shipped back to me. I agreed.

They sent me a confirmation email to confirm I was sending the watch in for repair, which led to me having to provide payment information.

This alarmed me. So once again I asked the Apple rep if they would contact me before charging me, and they said yes.

I sent my phone in, and within two days a replacement had been sent back.

I never received an email or phone call to confirm, so I assumed they had replaced it at no charge.

I was wrong. A $217 charge showed up on my credit card a couple days later.

I tell you this story for one reason. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get things in writing and save important emails and documents.

Luckily, I had saved the transcript from my chat with the Apple rep. After a couple of phone calls, they had apologized and refunded my money and allowed me to keep the replacement at no charge.

I don’t think that would’ve been the case had it just been my word against theirs.

Hopefully, this saves you some time, trouble, and money in the future. And if you’re thinking about buying an Apple Watch, you may want to get the extended warranty.

What’s been your experience with Apple products? Have you been amazed by their customer service? Let us know by leaving a comment, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

6 Ways to Grow as a Leader this Year

Do you have goals for this year? Of course you do, you’re a leader, right? And as a leader one of your top goals should be growing your leadership capacity. But where do you start?

When I began serving in my church ten years ago, I didn’t know anything about leadership. A couple years in, my pastor introduced me to a book called The Creative Leader by Ed Young Jr., and that’s when everything changed. I discovered that I had a gift for church leadership.

Today, there’s a plethora of church leadership resources available, which means that we no longer have an excuse when it comes to growing ourselves as leaders.

Here are 6 Ways to Grow as a Leader this Year.

  1. Read the Bible

The number one source for growing your leadership is often the one most overlooked. The Bible is an incredible resource to learn about leadership. Just think about it, what other book can you learn from incredible leaders like Moses, Joshua, David, Nehemiah, and Esther? The list could go on and on. Ordinary men and women just like you and me who accomplished incredible things. And if that wasn’t enough, you have Jesus, the greatest leader of all time.

  1. Read a Leadership Book

I’ll be honest. I didn’t read as much as I should have last year, so one of my goals this year is to read more. If you’re looking for great leadership material, I would highly suggest picking up a book from John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, or Andy Stanley. Looking for more suggestions? You can find them here and here.

  1. Subscribe to some Blogs

This one would be a great place to start, especially if you’re pastoring in a small town. I would also recommend Carey Nieuwhof, Tony Morgan, and Ron Edmondson. Each of these blogs provides great content and give a great opportunity for discussion in the comments section.

  1. Listen to Leadership Podcasts

Are you starting to notice a theme? The amount of content available to grow your leadership is endless. If you’re a better listener than you are a reader, there are some great podcasts available to you. I would start with Andy Stanley’s and Perry Noble’s, and if you’re pastoring in a small town, definitely check out my friend, Jon Sanders.

  1. Hire a Coach

I wasn’t sure about this one until I decided to hire my own executive pastor coach last year. I’m so glad I did. Being able to talk to someone who’s been in your position about ideas, opportunities, and problems is so valuable. If you’re interested in coaching, and you think I could be of help to you, please send me an email through my contact page. I’d love to discuss the opportunity.

  1. Buy a Leader Lunch or Coffee

Maybe you don’t have the budget to hire a coach, but is there someone in your area you could learn from? Offer to take them out for lunch or coffee and pick their brains. You’ll be surprised by how many people would love to share their wisdom with you if you would just ask.

What other ways can you grow your leadership this year? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

Merry Christmas 2016

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. Thank you so much for reading the blog. Each one of you are a gift to me.

I’ll be taking the week after Christmas off to spend some time with the family and work on some new material for 2017, so Happy New Year, and I’ll be back soon.

My 2016 Year in Review

Today, December 22nd, 2016 I turn 36 years old. You don’t have to worry about sending me a card. You can just leave me a comment at the end of this post. Facebook wished me a happy birthday this morning, and they also reminded me to post my Year in Review.

Your Facebook Year in Review is a photo slideshow of different things you have experienced throughout the year. Although they say a picture is a worth a thousand words, I think sometimes it’s just better to write things down. So, I present to you my 2016 Year in Review.

  1. I read through the Bible this year. It wasn’t the first time I’ve done this, but it was the first time in a long time.
  1. I had the opportunity to preach at three great churches: Strong Tower Church, Generation Church, and Refuge Church.
  1. I started praying with my daughters before bed. This was one of the best things I’ve ever done. If you have young children, I highly encourage you to start doing this.
  1. I helped launch a second Strong Tower Church location in Lafayette, Tennessee.
  1. I met Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, one of my favorite preachers and authors.
  1. I ate my first elk burger on my first trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, while visiting Justin Davis who just launched Hope City Church.
  1. I watched the entire Star Wars Saga for the very first time. I haven’t seen the newest movie yet, but I plan on it.
  1. I went on a family vacation to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida that included my wife’s brothers and sister and their kids.
  1. I went jet skiing for the first time while on a church planters retreat in Savannah, Georgia.
  1. I took my wife to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico to celebrate our ten-year anniversary.
  1. I saw two of my favorite artists in concert, Dave Barnes and NeedtoBreathe.
  1. I went on a vision trip to Kenya with Compassion International and started sponsoring my first Compassion child.
  1. I went on my first African Safari where I saw elephants, zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, lions, and more.
  1. I took dance lessons to celebrate my wife’s 30th
  1. I ran a 5k…ok walked most of it, but still I’m getting older.
  1. I wrote over 100 blog posts.

Looking back over this list I have to say, 2016 has to be one of my best years ever. To say I’ve been blessed is an understatement.

I’m not crazy about getting older, but if I keep having years like this one, I won’t mind nearly as much.

How was your 2016? What were some of the highlights? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any of the tips on church growth, leadership, and more I’ll be delivering to your inbox in 2017.

4 Reasons Your Church Should Partner with Compassion

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go to Kenya on a vision trip with Compassion International. You can read about my experience here, here, here, and here. If you’re not familiar with Compassion, they are a Christian based organization dedicated to fighting child poverty, currently in twenty-six countries.

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I always thought of Compassion as a child-sponsorship program, and while that is a big part of what they do, it’s not all they do. They also have programs dedicated to child survival, leadership development, and complementary interventions.

When you put all these programs together, you see an organization that is making a huge impact in the world today. Not only are they fighting poverty, they are also seeing children and mothers come to Christ at an amazing rate.

If you currently don’t have a missions ministry at your church, or even if you do and you just want to take it further, I want to highly encourage you to consider Compassion.

Here are four reasons why:

  1. They Work Through the Local Church.

Compassion forms partnerships with churches that are already active in reaching children in their communities. Compassion realizes that while they come alongside and provide financial support, it’s the local church’s responsibility to disciple children and families.

  1. They are Focused on Bringing Up the Next Generation.

From day one, Compassion’s focus has been releasing children from spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty. Today, they currently minister to more than 1.3 million children. They realize the best opportunity we have to introduce someone to Christ is when they are children.

  1. They have Financial Integrity.

I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of money that has been donated to various organizations only to find out later that a very small percentage actually went to the people who needed it. This is not the case with Compassion. Compassion is so serious about stewardship that it is mandated that eighty percent or more of their expenditures go directly to improving the lives of their sponsored children.

  1. They are Growing Future Leaders.

Graduates from Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program who show exceptional potential for leadership are recruited to participate in the Leadership Development Program. This program enables students to receive a university education and Christian leadership training to help them become effective Christian leaders and make a positive difference in their communities and countries.

After spending a week experiencing all that Compassion does, there’s no doubt in my mind that they are one of the best run organizations that I have ever seen, and they are making a huge impact in the world today. I would highly encourage you to join them in their mission to eliminate poverty in the name of Jesus.

Are you currently working with Compassion? What has your experience been like? Leave a comment and let us know, and if you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on leadership, church growth, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

My Last Day in Kenya

Day 7 in Kenya

Today is bittersweet, I’m so excited to go home and see my family, but also very sad to be leaving such a beautiful place. I can only hope that God will bring me back here again one day. It was an early morning as we awoke to watch the sunrise over the savannah.

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Our goal was to see rhinos and leopards today, and while that search came up empty, we did see some incredible things today. For instance, we saw a group of four lions, two young males and two females, hunt a warthog this morning. While the hunt looked promising it was ruined by some hyenas who spooked the warthogs.

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We then ran up on three more older male lions. Pretty amazing seeing this big guy.

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After hanging with the lions for a few hours this morning we decided to have breakfast on a hill overlooking the savannah inside the park. Imagine sitting on a hillside eating breakfast while watching cape buffalo chase away lions in the valley below.

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We also got really close to some elephants,

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some giraffes,

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and of course zebras.

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I’m currently 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean on my way back home, and I can’t wait to see my wife and kids. It’s been a great trip, but there’s no place like home, and I can’t wait to get there. Thanks to all of you who’ve spent the last week keeping up with me.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Kitchwa Tembo Safari

Day 6 in Kenya

Today, was a huge transition as we moved from seeing Compassion bless kids, to seeing Compassion bless pastors and leaders. This morning we woke up early to catch a flight to the Kitchwa Tembo Camp in the Masai Mara. Our plane was a bit smaller than I’m used to, but it’s perfect for landing on a dirt runway in the middle of the African savannah.

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The Masai Mara is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and connects to the Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. It is known for its exceptional population of Masai lions, African leopards, and Tanzanian cheetahs, as well as the annual migration of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti. Upon landing at the reserve we were served tea and snacks before jumping into our Land Rovers to head out on our first safari.

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In just a couple of hours, I believe I saw more wild animals than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Some of my favorites included the hippos, the zebras, the elephants, the giraffes, the baboons, the hyenas, the crocodiles, the warthogs, and the cape buffalo. As amazing as seeing all those animals was, I believe the scenery may have been the most impressive.

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It’s absolutely breathtaking here. After our first safari we headed to the hotel to check in and get our rooms. We just so happen to be staying in tents, which I love since I’m such an outdoorsmen, but seriously these are the type of tents I want to stay in. Check out the view.

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It’s currently 11pm while I’m writing this and I can hear monkeys howling in the trees outside my tent. Pretty awesome, what’s not so awesome, were the two snakes they found in one of the tents another couple was staying in next door. After lunch and a quick meeting to debrief on our trip, we were back on safari again. What’s funny is that because there’s so many of the animals, you quickly become disinterested in many of them altogether and just concentrate on the one’s you haven’t seen yet.

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For example, elephants. Elephants are amazing creatures, but I bet we’ve seen over a hundred elephants today. So, for our afternoon safari we wanted to concentrate on finding lions, rhinos, leopards, and cheetahs. We ran up on four female lions napping pretty quickly. At one point I was within 10 yards of one and it never even looked up. Our guide informed us that lions are very lazy and sleep around 18 hours a day. He also told us that warthogs are very dumb, because they’ll be running away from a lion then forget why they’re running, turn around, and get eaten.

Cheetahs were a lot harder to find, and you’ll never believe how we spotted them. After a very long time driving a few of the guys decided they needed to…um relieve themselves. So, we stopped the vehicle, let them out to do their business in the middle of the savannah, and when three or four of the guys had their pants down, the cheetahs appeared. Luckily for the guys, the cheetahs were still a few hundred yards away and our guide had eagle eyes. We were never able to get very close to the cheetahs but it was still cool to see them run away from us.

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That’s it for tonight, they shut the electricity off here in a few minutes to conserve energy. Tomorrow, we hope to see rhinos and leopards as we go on our last safari, then board a plane home.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Meeting Pauline

Day 5 in Kenya

Today was a little different than the past few days because it was Sunday, and Sunday means you go to church. The church we went to was located within one of the largest slums in Nairobi, but you couldn’t tell it by the way they worshipped. What amazes me is how these people can have so little, yet are able to worship God with such passion and joy. It’s something the American church can learn a lot from.

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After church was one of the best moments of the trip, we went to lunch and I got to meet my sponsor child, Pauline. Just to be transparent, I didn’t sponsor a child until I was invited on the trip and learned that I would keep the opportunity to meet her, an opportunity few sponsors ever get.

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I learned that Pauline was called a miracle child. Pauline is currently 5 years old, and didn’t walk or talk until she was 3 1/2 because of malnutrition. Luckily, Compassion stepped in and made her a part of the program. Had they not stepped in, there’s a good chance Pauline wouldn’t be alive today. Pauline lives in the slums with her mother who suffers from epilepsy, and an older brother who makes sure she gets to the Child Development Center each week.

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It’s impossible for me to ever convey the environment many of these children grow up in. Pauline had never drank out of a glass, let alone eat at a restaurant. She doesn’t know any of the Disney characters, she had never seen bubbles before, and she had never even tasted candy. Most of the children’s families that are sponsored through Compassion live on less than a $1.25 a day. When you’re here and you see the conditions these children are growing up in, it can look like a hopeless situation, but there is light coming out of these dark places.

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Take for instance, Jey Mbiro who spoke to us tonight. Jey grew up in one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa. When Jey’s mom was unable to provide food for his family he took to the streets to beg for food and money. He eventually got arrested for stealing and put in prison at the age of 9. In prison he prayed to God for a way out of prison and poverty. Upon his release he thought he would once again have to go back to the streets, until he was invited into Compassion’s Child Development Program. He would graduate from the program, go on to college, and have a successful career in music in Kenya. He is now a youth pastor, and DJ living in Atlanta, Georgia, and also speaks on behalf of Compassion. He is just one of many success stories coming out of the ministry of Compassion.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.