Archive for December, 2009

>Lessons Learned Part 2

Posted: December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized

>Following the plan was the challenge. We knew that the culture required that we not “push” our religion. We decided that we would not initiate conversations, we would simply answer questions. We answered all questions but did not offer information that the people didn’t request. Now, we say we didn’t but we did. On several occasions and overzealous ice cream dipper would give way to much information too fast. For instance, a customer would ask “why are you doing this?” The correct answer is “because we like you.” But the overzealous dipper would sometimes jump right to the most important item in thier mind, the church start. “We are starting a church…” Then they would proceed to give a load of unsolicited information. The customer responded with a polite, but bored, stare and then wandered off. When we stuck with the plan, answer only those questions asked and avoid phrases that incite stereotypes (We get the money from our church), people were attentive and inquisitive and interested.

Often, after giving out my 100th cone without any interest in “answered” I would begin to question the whole idea. Am I just wasting God’s money here, giving out ice cream only. I would be tempted to bullhorn the “answers” to the crowd, but then God would demonstrate his awesomeness by sending someone who really needed some help. We would have an awesome discussion about a situation in his/her life and provide some great advice. It was all worth it.

The majority of people to stop and ask indepth questions were female. Some men did ask questions for advice, but the women were more detailed and spent longer talking.

>Lessons Learned Part 1

Posted: December 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

>We’ve closed Ice Cream and Answers for a couple of weeks while we prepare for our Launch. While I’m preparing, I thought I’d blog some thoughts and lessons we’ve picked up over the past 51 days. Today is an easy one…
People are generally very polite. It became evident quickly that many parent’s efforts to teach their children manners was effective. Most teenagers naturally said please and thank you. Most adults the same and younger children, of course, were prompted by their parents. What does this tell us? First, parents should be encouraged that their efforts will pay off. They should continue to train thier children. Second, teens are polite and the uncivilized savage kingdom we all felt was coming will be held off for at least another generation. Third, adults, know that the next generation is going well in this area. It was the rare instance when a teen did not say “thank you” upon receiving a free ice cream cone. Most teens were friendly, polite, and smiling. Granted, we are giving away free ice cream, but the ability is there. Be encouraged.

>Current plan….

Posted: December 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

>We will work the ice cream and answers until we run out of ice cream between the 29 and 31st. Then we will take a break to prepare for the church start. I’ll take an actual vacation from 1 to 4 January. We’ll spend the 5th through the 16th getting everything ready for that big first worship gathering. The band will work like crazy to get their song sets under control We’ll plan the worship time, we’ll finalize the small groups and other ministry. We’ll get our greeters smiling and every other detail we can imagine under control. On the 16th of January we’ll have a prayer meeting at sojourn at 7pm. We’ll also be asking for help those two weeks.

Right now, I know we need some more items. We’ll need a 24 channel, 150ft stage snake (if you have a spare), we’ll need to carpet our stage and repair a patch or two along the walls. We’ll need some stage lights, some music cables, four café tables with chairs, and a couch/loveseat combo that looks really good.

>A Typical Day

Posted: December 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

>What does a typical encounter look like. What is the collision of an ice cream cone and the will of God feel like? First time visitors are generally excited that they have discovered something new and interesting. They smile, are enthusiastic, sometimes they are confused but pleased. They question the “freeness” of the ice cream. “Really?” Then they ask “Why is it free?” Our answer is “Because we like you.” We really like them. Then they’ll ask “What are the answers?” Or “what about the answers part?” or “what else do you do?” Our standing rule is that we answer all questions, but we only answer their questions. We are following the cultural rule of not “shoving religion down their throats.” If they ask, they are inviting the conversation so it is permissible to discuss. So we wait and let them ask and we answer everything. We do follow another rule of our own. We don’t jump ahead with the answer. Many people will stereotype us if they hear “church” too soon in the conversation. We do not lie or deceive, we just don’t give a generic “church” as the answer to any question, we spell it out for them. Who are you people? “Church.” What answer is that to someone who either doesn’t know about the church or has a negative view of church? We are a group of people who want to help people with their relationship issues. Where do you get your money? “Church.” No, we shared our idea with several churches, organizations and people who all pitched in an gave us the money to stay open to the end of the year. Once people discover that “we know stuff” they will then mention a problem or situation posed as a question. We try to answer the question. We know the real answer will take some time and that we are not getting all the information, but we want to give them some hope that their issue is fixable. We give biblical advice without the bible reference and if we need to discuss spiritual matters, we’ll warn them ahead of time to get permission to go forward. This has proven to be very effective in engaging people in complicated spiritual matters without offending them.

>Waiting

Posted: December 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

>We’ve put our workshops online and have begun sending people to the web site instead of the workshop. We think people will be more likely to check out the web site than go to a workshop. We will continue to put information on the web. I’m finalizing a brochure for the church start and awaiting the brochure paper from OUTREACH. We’ll print these and start giving them out this week.

This next week will be extremely tough for this ministry as it is the final week before Christmas, the mall is open for 14 hours per day, and most of us have a lot to do that last week. So, we’ll be busy and some of our staff will not be able to make it. So keep praying for us.

We’ve learned that God moves people to connect them with us. We do really great ministry when we are patient and wait for the Spirit to prompt them to talk and ask questions. We’ve found that God sometimes sends people who just happen to connect well with the personality of the person dipping their ice cream. We’re seeing God do some marvelous work here.

Now, one frustration is that sometimes I want to jump ahead of God. I give away 50 cones with no one inquiring about our purpose and I think that I’m just giving away cones and doing nothing for the kingdom of God. Then someone begins to ask questions and before you know it we are doing ministry. I have to remember to wait on God to lead and move people.

>Web Site Up and Running

Posted: December 16, 2009 in Uncategorized

>We have been so very busy. Right now, we have the Ice Cream and Answers web site running and the workshops loaded. I’m still working on the audio for the Raising Children Workshop but the others are online. We’ve also loaded a written version of each workshop online. We’ve not had one person attend any “live” version of the workshops, though many people are interested and almost everyone knows someone who needs it. We think it is a better use of our time and resources to offer these online and then do a monthly “live” version. Check out the site and look at the workshops. Now for the excuses; the sun was in my eyes, I never learned to read, I really try to have good grammar, I said it right – that’s just my accent, spell check must be broken, I can’t hear you I have an ice cream cone in my ear. Thanks.

www.icecreamandanswers.com

>Our new space looks really great. Harry Black, the Director of Missions of the Madison Washington Baptist Association in Arkansas brought seven people from six different churches. They worked built the new 14′ x 28′ stage, a really neat sound booth and a great coffee bar. They also repaired the damaged walls and painted. The whole room looks really great and is almost ready for use. Harry’s group spent $1,837.12 donated by the Washington Madison Baptist Association on materials and invested 203 man-hours in the project.

Thanks also to Pastor Chuck Kizer and Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Council Bluffs for housing the team and to Linda Blair for bringing snacks during the work day.