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How are you doing with your play time?

Not sure you should even have a play time? Are you too grown up and mature for downtime, rest, and even . . . play? Well, maybe this is part of what you’re missing in life, and you’re beginning to pay the price.

Research conducted by Dr. Stuart Brown, psychiatrist, clinical researcher, and founder of the National Institute for Play, reveals that a lack of downtime leads to lower work productivity, social isolation, and even depression. Brown says, “The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression” (Dare to Lead, 107).

Through extensive studies, Dr. Brown and his institute have discovered that play increases empathy, creativity and innovation. It actually impacts our brain waves by creating a “cool down” from the frenetic pace of synapses permitting neurons to pass electrical or chemical signals to other neurons.

If you want to be more productive at work, become intentional about cultivating play and sleep. Dr. Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, puts it this way: “We have to let go of exhaustion, busyness, and productivity as status symbols and measures of self-worth. We are impressing no one” (ibid., 106).

Practically speaking, this means many of us need to make some changes. We need to establish boundaries by shutting off email and social media at a set time in order to focus on our families and our spiritual and emotional health. We need to stop celebrating people who work eighty-hours per week and stop bragging about how we’re tethered to our laptops, as though that somehow makes us important.

Are you living at an unsustainable pace? If so, you are opening yourself up to some dangerous side effects of depression, anxiety, and burnout. And you are continuing to feed a culture of workaholic competitiveness in which no one wins.

Jesus’ solution was simple. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31, NIV). Go with Jesus. Find a quiet place. Get some rest.

My mentor, Alan Ahlgrim, always says, “Change of place + change of pace + change of people = change of perspective.”

Not bad advice. Sounds like it came from Jesus.

Sometimes I lay awake at night with my heart pounding in my chest. Sometimes I can’t “shut off my brain” as I try to think through a problem at work. Sometimes I find the joy draining out of my soul. When these things happen, I realize that my work pace has overtaken my faith place, and I need to come away with Jesus, find a quiet place, and get some rest. And sometimes that even includes . . . play.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

From Good to Unforgettable

Laura and I had a double-date last Friday night at a well-known, local steak house, and the steak and service were . . . remarkable.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you were so impressed with the food and service, it was unforgettable?  Have you ever stayed at a hotel where the service staff went way above normal expectations, and your stay was unforgettable? 

Have you ever visited a church for a weekend service where your experience was, well, quite forgettable?

Why is it that some within food and hotel industries go above-and-beyond to create such remarkable experiences that people can’t wait to come back, but many in the church “industry” treat guests as outsiders with whom they would rather not bother? Churches should be leading the charge in doing everything possible to connect with and engage guests.  After all, building relationships that last for an eternity is a far bigger concern than a quarterly return for shareholders.

In their book The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath, tell the story of Magic Castle Hotel, one of the three top-rated hotels in Los Angeles.  How did this small, non-chain hotel beat out the likes of the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles? 

Unlike their name, it wasn’t magic.  What this unimpressive looking hotel did was create over-the-top impressive experiences. 

For example, mounted to a wall near their small, courtyard swimming pool is a cherry-red phone. “You pick it up and someone answers, `Hello, Popsicle Hotline.’  You place an order, and minutes later, a staffer wearing white gloves delivers your cherry, orange, or grape Popsicles to you at poolside.  On a silver tray.  For free” (10).

They also include a snack menu ranging from Kit-Kats to Cheetos to root beer that can be ordered . . . for free.  On top of that are board games and DVDs that can all be rented . . . for free.  Three times a week, magicians do magic tricks during breakfast.  And then there’s the laundry service where “your clothes are returned later in the day, wrapped in butcher paper and tied up with twine and a sprig of lavender” (idem.).  And did I mentioned that all this is provided . . . for free?

The magic in Magic Castle is that they obsess over every detail.  Hotel guests will forgive unimpressive room décor on account of radically impressive service experiences.

Yes, churches could use a little (or big) dose of the “magic” seen at Magic Castle.  And not to earn bigger profits, but to earn bigger trust for deeper relationships that last for eternity. 

What are you willing to do to invest in relationships that could introduce people to the most important relationship they could ever have—with Jesus Christ?

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19, NIV).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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