Learning to Choose the WHY Behind Church Christmas Events

LOL 2015You know church Christmas events.  Christmas Cantatas.  Children’s Christmas musicals.  Candlelight services.

Christmas events are a given in the church world.  Some are nostalgic.  Some are tradition.  Some are innovative.  Others should have been laid to rest a decade ago.

No matter the variety, every Church Christmas event should serve an underlying reason “why.”

Knowing the “why” is more critical than the “how.”  The “why” drives the “how.”

It works by default or by choice.  You can focus on the “how” without considering the “why,” but it operates the same.  An unspoken “why” will drive it all, whether it is tradition or convenience or finances.

The event serves a greater purpose when the “why” is intentional.

Not every “why” needs to be the same for every church.  

Several “why’s” can be good.  Not any one is superior to all others.

You simply need to settle on the one you believe in most.  Choose it.  Don’t let it choose you.  Then, serve the “why” with passion.

Choosing a “why” for a Church Christmas event will produce stories worth telling.  

Conversations will turn from performance evaluation to emotional connection.  It will become less about what you can draw from the event, and more about the impact it has on others.

I know because I have a story to tell from Highland Park Church‘s Christmas event called Lights of Lakeland.  In it’s tenth year, Lights of Lakeland is an event that attracts over 30,00 people.  But, it’s not about the numbers.  It is about the “why” of leading people to love God and love others.

Here’s our story.

A young family has attended Lights of Lakeland several years in a row.  It has become a family tradition.  The whole family gets together for it.  Grandma and grandpa, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandkids, and cousins attend.

Every year they look forward to the experience.  It’s one of those things that put them in the Christmas spirit.  You know, like your city’s Christmas parade or colder weather or Christmas songs on the radio or visiting santa at the mall.

This year will be different.  Since last year, one of the children received a difficult health diagnosis.  He is sick.  Really sick.  It isn’t safe for him to be in large crowds.  Lights of Lakeland is too risky.

Wanting to keep life as normal as possible for him, his parents try something.  They email our church with a request.  Could you provide a way for our family experience Lights of Lakeland with our son without the crowds?

Yes.  We can.  We will.

The email was our first interpersonal connection with this family.  The second was our children’s ministry staff visiting the boy and his family in the hospital.  The third was the night they attended our church for the first time.

They are not church people.  Meaning, they were not leaving another church to attend ours.  Church was not a normal part of their life.

They have decided to give it a try.  They want to know what this Church thing is about.  They are ready to learn about God’s love and Jesus and how it can influence their lives.

And, this year, mom and dad will be volunteering for Lights of Lakeland.

Choosing the “why” behind our Church Christmas event is writing a new story for this family, and many more.  A story worth telling.  

Learning the Power of a Clear Vision

LOL 2015This December marks the 10th Anniversary of Highland Park Church’s Christmas event called Lights of Lakeland.  In a decade, it has grown to a point of attracting over 30,000 visitors.  A pretty big deal, if you ask anyone who’s put together a community event.

Why has it experienced such great success?  Clear vision.  From the beginning, the goal has been to create the city’s best family Christmas experience free of charge.  That’s right, I said free.  It is a gift to the community.

How is this possible?  Two necessities:  (1)  Team buy-in, and (2) Volunteer support.

The power of a clear vision is what brings these two groups together.  When people can imagine a specific, desirable future together, they will commit their energy to create something extraordinary.

It starts with team buy-in.

A leader with a clear vision inspires a team to buy-in to an idea.

Our team is bought in.  Our team starts working on building the set before Halloween.  Everyday for nearly two months they work hard painting, swinging hammers, climbing ladders, hanging lights, and organizing scenes.

The other part of our team goes to work recruiting volunteers at about the same time.  Close to three-hundred volunteers are recruited each night for six nights during two consecutive weekends.

Volunteers include:

  • Cast members (200 nightly)
  • Parking (40 nightly)
  • Electrician (4 nightly)
  • Food Service (20 nightly)
  • First Aid (2 nightly)
  • Shuttle Host (12 nightly)
  • Photographer (4 nightly)
  • Prayer station (12 nightly)
  • Overnight security (1 nightly)
  • General store (8 nightly)
  • Puppeteer (4 nightly)
  • Military scene (6 nightly)
  • Sound Engineer (4 nightly)
  • Greeter (40 nightly)
  • Security (2 nightly)
  • Photo orders (2 nightly)
  • Photo processing (10 nightly)
  • Costumes (8 nightly)
  • Sweet Shoppe (6 nightly)
  • Make-up Artist (6 nightly)

It rests on volunteers.

Without volunteers, the event would fall flat.  There is no way we could pull it off the live event with just our team.

A team who is bought into a clear vision will pass it on to their volunteers, who will then catch it for themselves.

This is true for us every year.  We have volunteers who donate their time all 6 nights.  That equates to be about 30 hours of service.

The power of a clear vision is the potential to accomplish more than the ordinary.  

Don’t believe me?  Visit Highland Park Church in Lakeland, FL on December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 from 6:30-9pm.  It’s our gift to you. 

 

Learning Different Ways the Church Can Be the Hope of the World


TurkeyCommunication with Brooklyn (my wife) two of the past three weeks have primarily taken the form of text or FaceTime.  Normally I bemoan the downfall of society thanks to these electronic devices we carry with us everywhere.  Seasons like these help realize the value of modern technology.  Without it, I would be waiting for physical handwritten mail (what’s that, right?) to slowly make its way home with news of her travels.

Brooklyn is fulfilling a calling she received from God as a teenager.  She is living the reality of a dream God gave to her when she was sixteen.  God told her, “You will travel the world to care for women, children, and orphans.”  Twenty-one years later, she is doing just that.

Her most recent assignments have taken her to parts of the world whose timezones are 11 hours and 8 hours ahead of Lakeland, FL.  Long flights (like over 24 hrs long) and sketchy shuttle rides have taken her to destinations most of us can’t imagine.  Meeting her there were hundreds of pastors and young leaders from countries all over the world.

Through her work, I am learning different ways the Church is being the hope of the world.  In one message she wrote, “I held a Syrian refugee today.  I held hands with a pastor who takes care of 5,000 refugees.  I am getting closer to the places where God cares for the orphan.”  Beautiful.  The Church is the hope of the world in places we only hear about in the news.

Over FaceTime, she told me stories of the way this pastor and his wife care for 5,000 refugees.  Knowing the refugees come from situations of scarcity, the pastors’ primary goal is to offer security for their most basic needs.  They want to give each person in their care 20% more resources than they need.  With God’s help, they are doing it.

In an email message, she sent me a video clip of a young leader singing a worship song in the style of his own native culture.  The message she typed explained the video.  He is a leader who created one of the most popular TV shows to air in his country.  It was picked up by a network equivalent to our MTV.  It ran for 40 consecutive days due to instant popularity.  The name of the show is “Ask Me Anything About Jesus.”  

She also told me about a young youth pastor who passionately serves the youth in her country while enduring less than ideal circumstances.  Her husband initially came to her country on a work visa.  It recently expired.  This forced him to move back to his home country for an indefinite period of time until he is granted permission to reenter.  For months now, she continues to faithfully serve her calling to youth in one country while her husband lives in another.

Most recently, she sent me message saying, “I was prayed over in Arabic Today.”  Below that, she attached a picture of a large group of young leaders from several different countries.  Next to it, she inserted a happy, smiley face emoji.

Brooklyn is helping me learning how the Church can be the hope of the world in different ways.  It doesn’t all look or sound the same.  God’s imagination for God’s people creates endless expressions of hope in our world.  I pray God uses this awareness to give others the courage to embody the hope of the world in their own unique way.

 

Learning What Prayer Could Change Our Nation

I often hear the same prayer request, “Can you pray for our nation, our government, and our leaders?”  It’s a valid request.  The underlying concern is the direction we are headed as a country.  The well-being of the future should be on our mind.

I am in favor of praying for the type of people who take office in our country at every level, both local and national.  I don’t imagine the wrong type of person can lead in the right direction.  As a follower of Christ, I believe the most qualified people able to fill these roles effectively are faithful, authentic, Spirit-filled Christians.

I am concerned, however, that we may be pouring our prayer energy into the wrong request.  I wonder if we are placing too much trust in the system of our government.  I worry that we are trusting politics to fix our nation.  I am starting to believe our faith is in a man-made system.

I think the Bible points us in a different direction.  An example is the story of Daniel.  God’s people, Israel, are living in unfortunate circumstances.  Due to their obstinance toward God, they find themselves captured by Babylon and cast into exile.  I assume it wasn’t the direction a nation would hope to be heading.  They are essentially powerless.  They are at the control of a pagan government.  If there was ever a time to pray for a leadership change, this is it.

Change came, but not in leadership.  It arose from the faithfulness of a follower of God.  Daniel.  God uses Daniel’s unwavering commitment and extreme faith to influence a nation to worship God (READ Daniel 6).  In the story we learn:  You don’t have to be in power to be used as an instrument of God’s power.  God uses people on the margin to change the people at the center.

I wonder what would happen if we became people whom God can use to change our nation, like Daniel?  A low estimate projects that 70% of the population in the US claims the Christian faith.  That averages out to be about 224 million people.  I’m not sure how many people work in our government.  I imagine it’s much less than 224 million people.  So, I wonder if our prayers are misguided?

What if we prayed for all 224 million people in the US who claim to be a Christian?  What if we prayed for each one to become a person whom God can use to change a nation?  Can you imagine the movement that would erupt on our soil?  Who could stop 224 million people from moving in the same direction?  Could a president or senate or house of representatives prevent change from happening?

Two presidents and one hundred twenty governors couldn’t stop Daniel who was only one person.

I’m learning what prayer could change our nation.  God, make every Christian in the US the kind of person whom you can use for your glory.  Amen. 

Learning When to Hide Beyond a Mask at Church

CostumeI normally wouldn’t recommend any time to hide behind a mask at church.  Church is the one place we should be encouraging one another to take our masks off.  I have found one exception.

This special case is Halloween.  I realize the mere mention of this fall celebration may send tingling sensations down the middle of your spine.  Why would a Church even acknowledge this pagan holiday?  I mean, it celebrates evil spirits and promotes poor health among our youth.  There is no good reason, right?

Well, I will not try to convince you of the goodness of Halloween.  I won’t attempt an explanation of how Christian’s can reclaim it by understanding and celebrating “All Saint’s Day.”  I don’t want you to feel any pressure to wear a mask or dress up or participate in an event that might feel is sacrilegious.

I only want to share with you one reason I have found to deviate from the general rule that “you should take off your mask when you come to church.”  I lead our church’s (Highland Park Church) Saturday evening worship service.  It starts at 6pm.  We meet every weekend, including all holidays.  Worshipping together as a group is a core value of our faith community.  It is a major part of our identity.

This weekend is Halloween.  Saturday is officially Halloween.  It is October 31, which means Trick or Treat will be happening at the same time as Saturday Night Church.  Kids will don their costumes, walk the neighborhoods, and go door to door before, during, and after the time we start our worship service at 6pm.  It’s one of my kids’ favorite times of the year.

I expect many families will be missing from our seats tomorrow night.  What can I do as a pastor?  Should I make everyone feel guilty?  I can’t cancel church.  Should I let it bother me that people will choose Trick or Treat over church?  Maybe I should have embraced it and thrown a huge halloween party, but church style.  What do we call those?  Oh yeah, Fall festivals.

Here’s what I’ve decided.  I will have fun.  I will allow this moment to let people see the normal, human, and silly side of me.  After dancing on stage in hammer pants, I decided I wouldn’t embarrass myself again.  I’ve rethought it, and I am willing to look stupid at least one more time.  Why?  I want the people I lead to know I am just like you.  Most people only see the serious preacher side of me.  I want you to see more of me.  The part of me that likes to have fun and isn’t perfect.

So, I have decided to wear a mask to church tomorrow.  Wish I could tell you what it is, but that would spoil the surprise.

It is not a celebration of Halloween.  I am not corroborating with the spirit’s of a pagan holiday.  I am taking advantage of one Saturday Night that will only happen every so many years.  My goal is to share a laugh with you.  To pretend like a kid again for just a moment.  And, to embrace my common humanity with your own that needs more occasions to smile at ourselves.

My only prayer is that I don’t make as big a fool of myself as I did with my attempt to dance MC Hammer style.  If I do, I hope you will still love me.

Learning How Much a Pastor Depends On Servant Leaders

Volunteers
Sitting together with a group of seven friends who attend our church, I asked, “Where do you see God moving?”

As a pastor, one response struck me with the most force.  He said, “I feel God moving through the First Impressions Ministry in which I serve.”  I sat up straight.  He had my attention.  “Okay, tell me more, ” I say.  “What makes you feel this way?”  He answered, “I see the impact it has on all the different people who enter our services each weekend.”

Wondering what a First Impressions Ministry” is?  It’s a team of people whose primary purpose is to make everyone who attends a weekend worship service feel “undoubtedly welcome.”  It is the first people you see when you enter the doors of our church.  Their mission is to help you feel welcome, noticed, cared for, and supported.

Simple, huh?

Yes and no.  Little difficulty is required to welcome people with a genuine smile (for most of us, anyway).  It’s undemanding.  It isn’t something you expect to make a big impact.  So, yes, it may be simple.  But, how often do you encounter people who are authentically happy to see you?  Rarely, I imagine.

It isn’t a little, simple ministry that has no real impact.  My friend’s assessment speaks an often unspoken truth.  God is moving in our First Impression Ministry.  God moves in the actions of every person who is willing to serve a mission to lead others to experience God’s love.

As a pastor, my role as a leader depends on the passionate service of others.  What God wants to do through the ministry that I lead and the Church where I serve is bigger than me.  I can’t do it all.  It’s impossible.  There is no way.  I must depend on servant leaders who stand shoulder to shoulder with me.

How much does a pastor depend on servant leaders?  Completely.  A pastor without leaders serving beside her/him doesn’t have a ministry.

Realizing my dependence on servant leaders, I pray for more.  I pray we have so many passionate followers of Christ who are eager to serve that we need to create new opportunities.  I pray God awakens the hearts of hundreds and thousands at Highland Park Church to embrace their gifts and callings.  I pray I am the type of pastor who inspires others to serve this mission together.

I confess:  I cannot do this alone.

I plead:  Serve at your local church.

I imagine:  Beautiful transformations for individuals, children, families, communities, and cultures.

   

Learning What It’s Like to Feel Appreciated

Pastor AppreciationI’ve never been a huge fan of surprises.  Lame, I know.  There must be something in my subconscious that makes me feel this way.  That is what I will go with, anyway.

Well, I was surprised this week.  Twice.  Yep.  They got me.  The first one came on a Saturday night immediately following our 6pm worship service.  I was grabbed by the arm and pulled to the lobby.  To my surprise, about nine kids in our PreK and Kindergarten ministry were waiting for me with special cards made by their little hands.  Each child handed me their beautiful creation followed by “Thank you, Pastor Coy.”  

As much as dislike surprises, I couldn’t be mad at this one.  The kids were so sweet.  Plus, what a blessing to see the faces of these 4 and 5 year olds who are being influenced  to love God and love others.  Thank you, Linda McGregor for setting up this surprise!

The second surprise came 4 days later.  A sneaky crew, they were.  One of our technical team members shows up to my office.  He asks if he can shoot a quick video of me with his phone to play in the services this weekend.  We sit down.  He says, “Okay, look directly into the camera.”  In rushes a group of people shouting, “You’ve been appreciated.”  Confetti was flying everywhere.  Kazoos in their mouths made party noises.  Smiles and excitement invaded my office. It was pandemonium.

Thank you to Christina Kelly and her team of support staff!

Here, you can see part of it slow motion:

Why two surprises in one week?  Great question.  For someone like me, there better be an answer.  Right?

It’s officially Pastor Appreciation Month.  So, as they said, I had been appreciated.

At Highland Park Church, this is what it’s like to feel appreciated by colleagues and friends.  What has it taught me?  Surprises can be good from time to time.  Even for those of us who can be a Grinch about it.  I am grateful to be surrounded by others who take the energy and time to show they care.  It makes my heart smile to experience your loving recognition.  You are special souls!

One last word.  I may have appreciated being appreciated, but I am not as excited about the confetti mess on my desk and floor.  Anybody who didn’t appreciate me already interested in appreciating me by cleaning up the mess?  Just kidding.  Just kidding.

Thank you Highland Park Church for letting me serve with you here in Lakeland!

Learning I am Just a Messenger

It is tempting for people to elevate a pastor above a messenger.  It is tempting for a pastor to desire such status.  It happens more frequently in large churches, but small churches aren’t immune.

You know a church or pastor is upholding this phenomenon when the main attraction is a single human leader.  People become followers of a person and not Jesus Christ.  Some indicators are:  an unwillingness to support a guest speaker (in a former church where I worked, people would call in each week to ask if the senior pastor was preaching in order to determine whether they would attend), attendance without a commitment to serve, and leaving the church when the current pastor retires or resigns.

I am fortunate to be on staff at a church that doesn’t breed this culture.  Our lead pastor, Brett Rickey, is a humble servant who honors God with all of the praise.  He isn’t seeking to build an empire for himself.  His passion is to reach the lost with God’s love.

It is relevant for me to learn that I am just a messenger because of the role I serve as a communicator.  As one who delivers a message to one of our worship services each weekend, the temptation is real.  I want to communicate effectively.  I want to keep people awake.  I want the audience to laugh and respond positively.  I want people to moved by what I say.  I want people to return the next week.  I want to know that what I am saying is making a difference.

If I am not careful, I can confuse myself as well as other people.  I cannot become an idol to myself or anyone else.  However good or bad I deliver a talk, it isn’t about me.  It’s about the message.  What’s important isn’t that others believe in me as a preacher.  Most important is that people come to believe in and trust God.  It is up to me to be faithful to the message in such a way that people can clearly distinguish between it and me.

I am reminded of this lesson from the experience of Paul and Barnabas.

Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra.  While in the city, they meet a man who is paralyzed from the waist down.  He’s never been able to walk.  The man listened carefully and with much interest as Paul was speaking.  Upon looking at the man, Paul felt a sense of deep faith emanating from the man’s heart.  In a loud voice, Paul instructs the man to stand to his feet and walk.

The man jumped to his feet and walked.  Amazed by what they witnessed, the bystanders immediately spread the word of the miracle.  But, they were confused.  They assigned the glory to Paul and Barnabas.  Based on their religious experience, the people of Lystra mistakenly perceived the miracle to be the work of the gods Zeus and Hermes.  They believed Paul and Barnabas to be the human form of these gods.

Within a short period of time, the priest of Zeus was preparing a sacrifice.  He ordered the oxen and garlands to be brought to the outer gate.  Crowds of people gathered there with him.

When Paul and Barnabas heard of it, they rushed into the middle of the crowd, shouting, “Friends, why are you doing this?  We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:15 NRSV).

Paul and Barnabas could take advantage of this moment for their own glory.  I mean, who gets a chance to be named a god?  Seriously, they want to crown them Zeus and Hermes.  Zeus!  It doesn’t get much better than Zeus.  These two could setup an empire.  Their influence would flood into all the surrounding areas.

Instead, Paul and Barnabas declare:  I am just a messenger sent by God to bring you the good news of the one true message.  The result wasn’t simple.  It took much convincing to restrain the people from offering a sacrifice.  Later that day, the people were influenced by the Jews from Antioch to stone Paul.

I am learning to realize that I also am just a messenger.  My desire is to be faithful to humbly admit this truth with courage.

Learning You are Uniquely Positioned to “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters”

Justice MovementIf you are reading this, then you are uniquely positioned to fulfill the prophetic words of Amos 5:24:  “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Why?  Well, I guess it may not be true of 100% of you.  My conjecture is based on two assumptions about you.  First, you are a follower of Christ.  Second, you believe the Church is the hope of the world.

If what I am assuming about you is true, then you hold the potential to lead the greatest movement of justice our world has ever experienced.  You are in a unique position to do it.

I realize you may not feel like this is true in the moment.  You may feel limited in your abilities.  Or, you may go to church but not really feel like you fit in.  You’ve tried to serve with the Church before, but disappointment has been your dominant experience.  Now, you think or say things like:  “It takes too long.  There aren’t enough resources.  Nobody cares.  Most of the people are too old to start something new.”  

These points of contention certainly feel valid because sometimes they are true.  God wants to change your mind.  I want to change your mind.  Whatever story is playing out in your brain, God wants to write a new one.

Your engagement with the Church is the force that can change the injustices in our world.  It is what sets you apart and make you unique.  The Church will not only have your passions and abilities, but it has Jesus’ passion and God’s divine abilities.  Think about it.  If followers of Christ everywhere played this role, it would create a collaboration of millions of people tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem what’s broken.  The transformation of entire communities, cities, and even countries becomes possible.

The Church is the hope of the world.  You are the hope of the church.  All that’s left is for you to believe it and act on it.

If you are ready to “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” a good place to start is joining the Justice Movement.  The Justice Movement is a collaboration of Jesus followers around the world serving together to build bridges and break cycles.  It is a voice for compassion and justice in the world.  It amplifies the voice of the weak and responds to their needs.  It’s an education.  It’s an event.  It’s a celebration of liberating power of Jesus in our world.

It doesn’t matter when you start.  It only matters that you do.  But, why wait any longer? Join today by clicking HERE.

Learning to Act as if Then is Now

In a leadership talk, Andy Stanley makes reference to an phrase he encourages his team to work by: “act as if then is now.”  It is a gentle nudging to work ahead of the curve.  Don’t wait to make changes when you get there because by then it will be too late.  Whatever you can imagine for the future, do what is required to make it happen right now.

He speaks of the phrase in the context of work, whether corporate or church.  I see the potential value for both worlds.  I will even implement it in my own work as a pastor.  But then, I heard echo of this concept in the Bible.

Philip is the wrong kind of Jew.  He belongs to the group of Jews called Hellenists.  Hellenists are second-rate Jews in relation to the Hebrews.  Hellenists grew up outside of Palestine.  The Hebrews living in Palestine believed themselves to be better Jews.

As you can imagine, conflicts easily broke-out.  One such case was the equal distribution of food to widows.  The Hellenists’ widows were being neglected.  So, in Acts 6:1-7, the decision is made to appoint seven men to overseer the matter.  All seven were Hellenists, one of which was Philip.

Philip was chosen by the apostles to serve this one task, so they could focus their attention toward prayer and scripture.  Preaching was not in the job description.  God had other plans.

God’s calling on Philip’s life transcended a food pantry.  The Holy Spirit moved Philip to preach the good news of Jesus in Samaria.  Many believed and the Church was born in Samaria.

Philip receives word from God to journey down a specific road.  While on the path, he encounters an Ethiopian Eunuch reading the scriptures.  At the Spirit’s leading, Philip strikes up a conversation with the Ethiopian Eunuch.  An opportunity opened for Philip to share the good news about Jesus.  As a result, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked to be baptized.  Right there, right then, Philip baptized him.

Here’s the deal.  The law of Israel strictly forbade a eunuch from becoming a convert to Judaism (Deuteronomy 23:1).  The Ethiopian Eunuch must have known this, as well as Philip.  They both also must have been aware of the promise found only three chapters beyond wha the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading.  It is written:

Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.”  For thus says the Lord:  To the Eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.  Isaiah 56:3-5 (NRSV)

By baptizing the Ethiopian Eunuch, Philip is declaring the day of the fulfillment of this promise.  He is acting as if then is now.  The future promise in Isaiah is that someday eunuchs will be included with everyone else who loves and obeys God.  In the meantime, everyone is waiting for that day.  Philip doesn’t wait.  He acts as if the promised future is in effect now.  He doesn’t wait to get there.  He brings there, here.

In the Bible, you find promises of a new day.  A day when the poor are made rich.  A day when prisoners are released, blind receive sight, oppressed go free, and our world is made whole.  Jesus declares, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21, NRSV).

Heaven is a beautiful image for tomorrow that Jesus initiates in the now.  The expectation isn’t for us to wait until we die to experience its reality.  You bring it into the present by “acting as if then is now.”

Learning to act as if then is now changes the way you think, communicate, act, live,  and love.  It will seem strange to many.  Few will be disappointed in the transformation it creates.  Praying we all can learn together.