Monthly Archives: December 2016

An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

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It’s day three, and my withdrawal symptoms are raging. Shakes. Irritability. Difficulty focusing. Depression.

If you had told me I was “addicted,” I would have denied it, but apparently I am.

Okay, I’m a bit melodramatic. I’m not depressed, and the shakes are from a lack of coffee. However, it’s surprising to me how difficult my latest act of obedience has become.

I recently felt like God asked me to go without social media or television for 2017. That’s right, a whole year.

What no Facebook? No Twitter? No Instagram? No Madam Secretary or Designated Survivor?

Yup.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s a bit of the backstory.

I was one of the early Facebook users. I wasn’t, however, using it a lot or using any other social media sites until just before my first book, Epic Grace, got published. My agent and my publisher at Tyndale told me, “You need to set up an author page on Facebook and get on Twitter and maybe Pinterest to promote your book.”

I didn’t even know what Pinterest was (and it took me days to figure it out). I thought Twitter was stupid. But okay, I’ll jump in and do my best. So, I set up the accounts and downloaded all the apps on my smartphone and iPad.

Since then, I’ve posted thousands of pictures, pins, and pithy comments. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing to admit how much time I’ve spent on social media. It was the first and the last thing I did every day, and let’s just say my time on “the throne” also increased exponentially

For decades, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the idiot box (i.e. TV). In the early years of our family, we often chose not to have a television in our home. It seemed counter-productive to a healthy family environment, and we wanted our kids to be avid readers.

Then after a while we’d break down and buy a cheap one, and end up watching it too much until we tossed it again in frustration (or at least stuck it in the closet) after about a year.

For the last ten years or so, with all the kids out of the house and a bit more free time on our hands, my wife and I found it relaxing to watch a few of our favorite programs together each week.

But then a few each week became a couple each night. It was my fault. I’d say, “I’m pretty tired and stressed, let’s just veg-out tonight in front of the TV.”

Back in the dark ages (when I was a kid), most of the TV programs were limited and awfully stupid. Of course, I watched them anyhow, but you can only take so much of Gilligan’s Island or Green Acres.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of choices and many truly entertaining programs flooding the airwaves. Fortunately, I’m married to an action junkie like me, so we’d both get excited about programs like Alias, 24, Burn Notice, or NCIS.

Then NCIS became NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, and NCIS Spokane (still waiting for that one).

Of course, the fact that the Seahawks became fun to watch didn’t help reduce my TV watching either, and man those three hours go by fast.

Then God whispered to my heart a few days ago, “What do you think 2017 would be like for you without any social media or TV?”

“Uh, God, stupid, and boring, plus I’d probably just work 12-hour days instead of 10-hour days!”

Silence.

The next day, I see this YouTube link about Millennials on Facebook, ironically. One of the things this Brit, Simon Sinek, is talking about is the negative impact of social media on the younger generation and our culture.

Seriously, Sinek, why are you so cynical?

But God was speaking to me again (btw, if He can speak through a donkey, He can speak through anybody, even Simon Sinek).

“Kurt, imagine the relational growth you might experience with your friends and family without TV. Imagine the new things you might learn without all the distractions. Imagine how you might better use your time to write more without social media. Imagine all the books you’ll get to read without all that wasted time.”

Surrender.

And now I’m getting excited!

Just this morning I read something extremely confirming to me by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp.

She wrote, “This is the year to engage silences regularly and retreat to the ‘back side of the wilderness.’ Because when you do not need to be seen or heard—you can see and hear in desperately needed ways. You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls—and not the glare of screens. Break free, break out of ruts, break idols—or they will break you.”

Hmmm . . . you find your true self in your reflection in the eyes of souls—not in the glare of screens. Wow.

So, my so-called experiment in “anti-social” behavior (at least via social media and TV) begins. I’m still using email, I’ll be on my computer writing more, and I need to enlarge my book budget, but I’m pumped to see what 2017 holds for me.

Maybe God has something to say to you about all of this?

Of course, my directive from God is not necessarily yours, but you might want to ask Him what He wants from you this next year.

It could be exciting.

Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who

hear the word of God

and put it into practice.”

Luke 11:28 (NLT)

 

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16 Responses to An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

  1. I turned off my social, except Netflix, well over ten years ago. Result, haven’t missed it one bit. Slight withdrawal but that disappeared soon after the severance. Today i get whatever news I may want from internet sources (not that they are any better) but I am not exposed to the never ending commerdials; oh how they bugged me. BTW, i never listen to the radio in my car, amazing how nice silence is, how clear my thinking can be, how in touch I feel sometimes.

    I dont physically talk to myself, do it mentallly now and hear God pretty clearly, sometimes. As I am a senior in age, dont feel it though, i seem to do a lot of thinking, dont have anyone to debate or share ideas, so i find talking to the Lord peaceful at times, should do it more often, good New Years, draw a line in the sand idea.

    Just a quick note to share that social media, for me was like giving up cigarettes, course i dont smoke but you get the idea. Thanks for your service, i searched for the right service for me, I was led to Eastpoint, i have found a home. God bless you in your challenge to continue to avoid social media,, it gets easier over time and surprisingly, you dont miss out on the news, it seems to find you somehow.

    Ciao. Bob

  2. Dad, not many people have noticed but for the last several months I frequently will go 1, 2 or even 3 weeks without getting on Facebook. I was with Facebook when it first started, back when there was still MySpace, and Facebook was created for Students. I love the connection it brings to family and friends far away, but I tire of hearing “you didn’t know?! …I posted it on Facebook!!” So, I chose a while ago to go without it from time to time. I miss out on a lot of social media “news”, but it forces me to reconnect with people in real life (IRL). To gather my news through IRL connections. I love my Facebook free weeks. I always go back to it, but I’ve learned that I can live without it, and the quality of life improves. I spend more time reading, as my wonderful parents taught me. I’ve started writing again, Kyle and I spend more quality time together, and I find myself having more time for the important things in life. Especially more God time. I probably won’t go a whole year without, but I will continue to do my Facebook fasts. This is a great post, Dad! Go you!! Proud to be your daughter! Love you lots!

  3. People wonder why I do not get on Facebook. Well, I would take it on like a “job” and I am retired. It still takes time to erase the 40 or so emails I receive each day – mostly from places that want to sell me something. But, I can get distracted by the idiot box. Even Tiny House Nation can become habit forming. I need the reminder that junk food tv is still junk food tv. If God has a plan for the remainder of my days on earth, I need to spend more time listening. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  4. Great work Kurt. I’ve been off of facebook for nearly 4 years now and I was happy on day 1, and still am today (and I’m a millenial).

    The social media culture is not quite as life giving as most would hope or pretend it to be.

  5. This is added confirmation to my own conversations with God lately. Three weeks ago I removed FB app from my phone after a long conversation with my life long best friend. I happen to believe God speaks through her all the time 🙂 – We were discussing the stress FB actually was placing in our lives… the time suck it has become and how I am privy to unwanted knowledge or information that ultimately makes me feel sad or frustrated on a regular basis. And on January 1, 2017 I aimed at giving it up altogether for 21 days and I would see how I felt going forward from there. It’s day 5.. I yearn a little to see what is going on in the cyber world but that yearning is trumped by the peace and contentment I am feeling and the ability to pursue more satisfying interests… reading, writing and talking face to face with my kids and hubby. Thank you Kurt! I don’t know if I am ready to drop TV yet, but I admire your example and appreciate your candid thoughts! Happy “freeing” New Year!

Christmas 2016 ~ From Our Heart and Home to Yours!

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Like a lot of you, I typically get to December and think, “I’ve gotta get my annual Christmas letter done soon!” And then for days, as I procrastinate, I start to remember and reflect on all that has happened over the past twelve months.

  • The birth of our 8th grandchild, Lupine, to Isaac and Tiffany. 

  • My first trip to Africa to participate in the Purpose Driven All Africa Pastors Conference. 

  • Celebrating 41 years of marriage to my best friend. 

  • Another missions trip to Guatemala. 

  • Publication of my 6th book and 2nd children’s book, Bye-Bye Monsters

  • An awesome vacation at the beach in San Clemente. 

  • Nearly 14 years of pastoring Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley. 

Naturally, the year presented some unexpected events and circumstances, but I have so much to be grateful for at this stage in my life I dare not complain.

I recently asked my ten-year-old granddaughter, Adelle, what she likes most about Christmas. She thought for a moment, smiled, and said, “Family!”

That pretty much sums it up for me too, but I would say family and friends. Of course, I value and honor the goodness of God who loved us so much He sent His son to love and redeem us. Unquestionably, I enjoy this wonderful season of celebration and joy. And yes, my wife’s Christmas baking always makes me smile (and fat).

But you matter to Laura and me. Whether we connect face-to-face, via Facebook, or through an occasional call or email, the people in our life are a gift to us . . . people like you.

The older we get, the more we realize the wisdom and blessing in collecting friends rather than possessions.

I hope this Christmas you remember our love for you, and I pray this next year you experience all God has for you and yours.

You are loved!

Merry Christmas and Hope-filled New Year,

Kurt & Laura Bubna

Snowy Day – A Winter View Out Our Back Window!
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10 Responses to Christmas 2016 ~ From Our Heart and Home to Yours!

  1. Thank you! We love you and Laura and have been more than blessed to a part of the Eastpoint family!

    • We still have the Christmas “ornament” of Bobby on our tree! 🙂 You guys are very special to us! Love you and your family too! Merry Christmas!

Help, I’m the Old Guy on Staff! (How to Manage Millennials with Mercy)

Help, I’m the Old Guy on Staff! (How to Manage Millennials with Mercy)

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I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I became the old guy on our church staff. I don’t think of myself as old. I’m social media savvy. I text on my iPhone 7+. I don’t use it, but I even have a Snapchat account (I’m not sure why.).

Of course, I don’t wear skinny jeans, spike my hair, have a long beard, or have the coolest eyeglasses. I don’t sleep more than 6-7 hours a night. I still say “dude,” and I enjoy a mid-afternoon power nap. I also now qualify for the senior discount at a growing number of places.

Okay, at almost 60, maybe I am old, but I’m learning some things about relating to millennials. I’ll get there in a second, but let’s first attempt to describe who is what.

The generation breakdown is a bit difficult to define. In fact, the census bureau doesn’t classify the different generations except for Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, who are roughly 52-70 years old).

The media, or some self-proclaimed pundit somewhere, have said that Gen-Xers are those born between 1965 and 1981, those who are 35-51. Millennials are typically those under 35, born between 1982 and 2004.

I’ve never been a big fan of pigeon-holing people, and there are plenty of folks who defy definition, but I recognize that some significant differences exist among these age groups.

That being said, how does a Boomer love and care for a staff comprised of some Gen-Xers and lots of Millennials?

Here are seven lessons I’m learning:

  • Be a good listener. If you’re a pastor, you’ve told couples a thousand times, “You’ll see some major improvements in your marriage if you work on your listening skills.” We all know how important this is, but we senior pastors (pun intended) have a nasty habit of liking the sound of our own voice when it comes to managing staff. However, it’s better to ask insightful and useful questions and to listen sincerely. You’ll make great headway with a Gen-Xer or Millennial who feels genuinely heard.

  • Clearly define your expectations. Listen first and listen well, but you’ll avoid a lot of frustration with everyone if you work hard to spell out what you want (or don’t want) and when you need it. Communication is a challenge when assumptions are made and ambivalence and indecision are present.

  • Pick your battles. On a regular basis, while being challenged by one of the young bucks on my staff or in other areas of my life, I’m consciously thinking, “How much does this truly matter? Is this a hill worth dying on?” Be honest. When it’s all said and done, does their way conflict with your ultimate goal? If you’ve defined the “win” (your clear expectations), it’s okay to give a lot of latitude to those doing the work. Of course, there are times when you should pull rank and say, “Thank you for your input, but this is what you’re going to do.” Just make sure those times are done in love and after you’ve listened to them well. Also, learn to under-react rather than over-react.

  • Don’t get defensive. Millennials are sometimes combative. I know that’s a generalization and not always true, but it is a common trait among the young. They rarely lack an opinion, and they often won’t back off until they feel valued and heard (review the point above about listening). Yes, it’s irritating when it seems like you aren’t being respected and your experience is being rejected or discounted as irrelevant, but take a deep breath and work hard not to be aggressive, defensive, or cynical because doing so never ends well for anyone. Remember, Millennials want to be valued (which is a good thing), and their opinions matter too.

  • Be mindful of the common ground you probably have with Millennials. Keep in mind, many Boomers (myself included) once were the arrogant, cocky, self-absorbed, know-it-alls who challenged everybody. Sooner or later, most people figure out that the generation before them weren’t all idiots and that experience actually does matter.

  • Lead by example. Words matter. Actions matter more. If you want them to work hard—then work hard. If you want them to have a servant’s heart—serve. If you want them to listen more and talk less—listen more. If you want them to learn from their elders and be teachable—you keep learning too. Being a lifelong learner isn’t easy. At my age, I’ve caught myself thinking, “I deserve a break. I shouldn’t have to work 10-12 hour days anymore. Where’s that life cruise-control button?” But relevance and respect must be earned, even if you’re old.

  • Be patient. If heading up a church staff and being the lead pastor were easy, you probably wouldn’t be needed. Believe me when I say, staff challenges are common. Put two or more humans together and some conflict is inevitable. Be patient with your young staff, and be patient with yourself.

Mistakes will happen. People will fail you, and you will fail them, but failure is always an opportunity for change and growth.

I’m thankful for the younger staff who surround me. I believe in them, and I see enormous potential for the future of the Church led by these young people. I deeply value the input and perspective of the young. In many ways, my Church is what it is because of the Millennials who contribute so much to who we are and what we do.

Sure, you and I might be old, but God’s not done with us yet. We still have the opportunity to shape the generations in our wake. Whether we do or don’t will have a lot to do with our attitude.

Enough said. Time for my nap.

 

 

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8 Responses to Help, I’m the Old Guy on Staff! (How to Manage Millennials with Mercy)

  1. This is really sound advice Kurt! I find as I get older, I much more enjoy listening to others rather than myself (which use to be the other way around when I was younger, lol).

    However, I do enjoy the wisdom and discernment that comes with growing old too!

  2. Yep! There’s still lots of life (and wisdom) in this Baby-Boomer yet!
    Great advice on how to communicate with and encourage the younger generations, Kurt.
    Blessings!

Why We Took “Christ” Out of Christmas (Or did we?)

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xmas-4I get a call or email from her every year. I don’t know her name. She doesn’t go to our church, I only know she’s mad, and she considers it her spiritual duty to correct me.

The issue?

Xmas.

For years now, we’ve placed an electronic reader board near the street in front of our Church building before Christmas that lists our Christmas Eve service times. The sign says, Xmas Eve.

And every year she accuses us of taking Christ out of Christmas.

Hers is a common misconception.

First, she is historically wrong. The use of “X” has been common in the Church for a long time, and it stands for CHRIST. (See this link for an explanation.)

In fact, its use was a very popular practice, particularly by religious scribes, who are thought to have started the whole “Xmas” thing in the first place. Indeed, the practice of using the symbol “X” in place of Christ’s name has been going on amongst religious scholars for at least a thousand years. (Here’s another link just in case you need more convincing.)

biblical-scribes

Second, we use Xmas on our sign for a very practical reason: Space. To use “Christmas Eve” and list all our services would take too many panels. People driving by have time only for a glance.

Third, of all the things that matter, like the billions who don’t have clean drinking water or the millions suffering from starvation, this issue is not worthy of an uproar by Christians. (Especially, when they are being inaccurate. See my first point.)

Maybe instead of worrying too much about taking Christ out of Christmas we should be a lot more like Christ at Christmas. I’m quite certain Jesus wouldn’t mind the use of “X,” and He’d be way more concerned with things and people that matter.

Fourth, to think that a Christian, evangelical church has taken Christ out of Christmas is a unfortunate false assumption. Every week we preach Jesus, and our stated mission is to “help people find and follow Jesus!” For the record, Jesus Christ is at the center of everything we do and say at Eastpoint! Everything.

Fifth, our mission as a church is to reach the unchurched. And trust me, the unchurched are not the ones calling and complaining. Frankly, they tend to think arguments about “X” are stupid, and they sometimes use this foolishness among believers as an excuse to avoid Christians. How sad.

x-logo
A = Alpha / W = Omega / X = Chi (first letter in “Christ”)

When the sign got delivered this past week, one of my staff said, “Are we going with ‘Xmas’ again this year? Are you sure it’s worth the flack we’ll get?”

“Yup,” I said, “We’re not trying to be offensive, but the only people who will be offended aren’t the unchurched folks we’re trying to reach.”

She smiled. So did I.

Merry Xmas!

(Please feel free to share this post with your friends and family. Thank you!)

 

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8 Responses to Why We Took “Christ” Out of Christmas (Or did we?)

  1. Bless you, Kurt, for taking the time to elaborate on the meaning of the “X” in Xmas. I had read about it before, but it is sadly something so many folks don’t get.
    Have a blessed Advent and a Merry Xmas!

    • Sadly, some Christians seem to just need a “fight” to find worth. Unfortunately, they (we) tend to pick things that a watching world just shakes their heads at while wondering, “Why don’t they fight for something (like better drinking water) that truly does make a difference.” Thanks for adding to the conversatio, Martha.

  2. Learned about Xmas from a Lutheran Pastor many years ago. Maybe the person with complaint needs to take a little class. Pretty sure ALL of the Christian Pastors could school her. Proud of you for sticking to your guns. Merry Xmas!!

  3. This is a fine explanation. But I ask you, how many people who drive by your sign know Greek? How many people remember when it started happening (Xmas instead of Christmas)and felt the change as a slight by commercialism to save space on the signs for shopping and remove religion from a holiday we weren’t allowed to talk about in schools. I am 65 years old and it will always hurt just like cussing and putting Christ’s name in the sentence when you are not praying but angry. At school, we can’t say Christmas but have to say Happy Holidays. I kind of feel like saying Christ’s name for the good whenever possible.

    • Hi Judy,
      I agree, very few know Greek, and I don’t pray to “Dear X” — but I would respectfully ask you to consider all five of my points in this blog (including the “space” issue). This blog was written to: 1) educate the uninformed (ignorance is never a good excuse for anything); 2) to explain the use of Xmas on our sign; 3) to remind Christians (the only ones who get upset about this) that we are trying to reach non-Christians (and they tend to think our fighting over “X” is “religious nonsense”). Remember this too…we have not taken Christ out of anything at Eastpoint. In fact, over the last 3 Sundays, over 25 new believers have given their lives to Him at the conclusion of our services. I humbly suggest that we best keep Christ in Christmas by doing our best to reach those He came to earth to reach.
      Thank you for adding to the conversation.
      You are loved.

  4. The only sharing I will be doing will be adverse to your explanation, which is nothing but a cop out. If I recall I said “whatever your reasoning, you are yielding to a secular idea of Christ.” I do appreciate your attempt with the cute story (I’ve got a few of them myself in the opposite direction) you used to make a case for your reasoning behind the word (is it really a word?) on the sign, but it doesn’t fly with. Other Christians that I have spoken to were appalled, whereas I am merely disappointed. Merry CHRISTmas to you. Sincerely Lee W. Pitts

    • Lee, I would encourage you to read my blog again, and perhaps more carefully, I can assure you we have not “yielded to a secular idea”. Facts, history, and our clear and evident passion for Jesus at Eastpoint, are not the results of human “reasoning” or a cop out, my friend. Frankly, the divisive and judgmental nature of some Christians continues to break my heart. We have not taken “Christ” out of Christmas at Eastpoint. But sadly, too many who follow Him have taken His prayer for unity (John 17) out of their lives and out of their practical experience with others within the Body of Christ. We can disagree, but we cannot, and I will not, make our pet peeves a point of disunity.
      Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.”
      – M.R. DeHaan
      You are loved,
      Pastor Kurt

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