Building Memories

This week, we’re hosting Douglas Gresham and Meg Sutherland at Sprig Studios. Doug is a long-time friend, and famed adopted-son of C.S. Lewis; and he’s also Meg’s Executive Producer for a potential record deal we’re working on.

Needless to say, the whole experience has been nostalgic and inspiring. Meg’s music is filled with the “divine melancholy” that Tolkien was famous for capturing; and spending any time with Doug’s larger-than-life persona is always a treat. His stories are captivating, and to hear him reminisce of growing up with Jack is nothing short of spellbinding.

But in the midst of the revelry, I’m deeply aware of the new memories we’re forming together—stories, I hope, that my children will tell of with great fondness.

Seek to live your life today in such a way that your great grandchildren will whisper about your happenings with wonder. Honor those around you, and build a legacy with the integrity of consistent action.

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Pictures from my Instagram feed:

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A Feeling Better Update

As reader Venaril so aptly put, I’d rather deal with a physical injury than be ill. Montezuma has not been good to me over the last 3 days. But some rice water and my first solid night’s sleep in 14-days finally did the trick. (All the prayers certainly had something to do with it too).

(To make rice water, boil two handfulls of rice in 3 cups of water for 10-15 minutes, strain, cool, and then drink).

Despite needing to make bathroom runs every 30-90 minutes, I’ve managed to make great headway on finishing Sprig Studios the last few days since returning from Guatemala; if I didn’t have a looming deadline, I’d have posted more about the trip (which I plan to by the end of next week). CS Lewis’ adopted son, Doug Gresham, is flying in on Monday with a new artist we’re signing to Sprig Records. Very exciting!

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Guatemala Tour 2014 Rewards

inn ministries infographic

Jennifer and I are hitting Guatemala for the next ten days, and we’re so excited to go back to a people and a ministry that deeply touched our hearts. Not only will we be able to re-connect with the four children that we sponsor, but we’ll be ministering before some incredible and diverse audiences. Even since Inn Ministries published this infographic, we’ve been notified that another school has invited us to come speak.

•••

Connect

A few fun ways to engage with us on this trip:

• Get constant visuals via our Instagram feeds (Christopher’s / Jennifer’s).

• Stay tuned here for long-form updates.

Invest $5, $15 or $25 to Inn Ministries.

Sponsor a child for $30/mos.

•••

Rewards

Giving should be fun. So let’s have some!

Shout Out Pics: For those of you who chose to invest into the Inn, Jennifer and I’ll post a customized picture just for you that will hit Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs. Mine will probably be whacky; Jennifer’s will be thoughtful. Mine will be random; Jennifer’s will be intentional.

Us and Your Child: If you chose to sponsor a child, Jennifer and I will post a picture of us with your sponsor child. This also applies to anyone who already sponsors a child through the Inn. Again, leave a comment and give us your child’s name. This is a beautiful way to connect with your kids through us—we’ll be your eyes, but you’re still the heart.

Thanks for for being an integral part of changing culture with us.

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Staying In Baghdad

Iraq isn’t in the news much anymore. At least, not the way it was in the 90s. But neither is Green Day.

So what’s current in Baghdad?

Last month alone, 1,013 people in Iraq – 795 civilians, 122 soldiers and 96 policemen – died as a result of violence.

The community of faith has certainly taken a hit too:

There were once 135,000 Jews in Iraq; only six remain. And Iraq’s Christians have fled by the hundreds of thousands in recent years. Out of 1.5 million in 2003, only around 200,000 remain. This is particularly tragic, because both the Jewish and Christian communities in Iraq are ancient and indigenous. They are neither post-colonial nor the result of Western missionary activity.

In a nation where acting like Christ comes with inherently severe consequences, you’ll be inspired by the story of a man referred to as The Vicar of Baghdad. Sound like a movie title? It should. Reverend Canon Andrew White—an Anglican priest from Great Britain, firmly planted in Iraq’s capital—does enough heart-string pulling to merit an Oscar. Only he’s not acting.

Apparently, he didn’t get the memo regarding “bunker mentality.”

Read the full story here.

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Three Reasons Our Church Is Embracing a Multisite Model

New Life Multisite Summary North Campus Depauville Peter and Nina Hopper

Announced yesterday, I’m excited to share that my church, New Life, is launching its first multisite location in Depauville, NY. Our new North Campus location, about 15 miles from our Main Campus in Watertown, NY, will be pastored by none other than my father and mother, Peter and Nina Hopper.

With over 3,000 multisite campuses in the US alone (and thousands more world-wide)—birthed by churches as small as 50 congregants, all the way up to mega-churces—there are numerous reasons to move toward a church model that plants new faces of the same expression throughout any given region.

Here are three of our primary reasons at New Life:

The Gospel Issue

The Gospel of King Jesus still needs to be proclaimed, lived out and administered. Church plants aren’t just for missionaries to start in 3rd World nations, but for missional Christians to start in all nations.

If we claim to be in Christ, we should constantly be on the lookout for new ways to preach this Gospel message.

Establishing a new expression of a mature church culture that a region has already embraced is an amazing way to do this. But rather than expecting people to come to us, the multisite expression loudly declares, “We’re coming to you!”

The Replication Issue

Much like walking into a quality hotel chain in any city of the country (or the world, for that matter), people know that they can expect the same exceptional experience in this new location as they could with the original. Sure, the pool might be on a different floor, and the windows might display a different skyline, but the thing that you count on—the thing that matters—is that the cultural values are the same.

(No, our church doesn’t have a pool, although that would be cool).

This quality of integrity is essential in begetting other Christians through the vehicle of the local church. If we have to reinvent church culture every time we start a new one, we’re ultimately inefficient stewards with the mandate of discipling others. It takes multiple generations to weed out worldly thinking and imbue kingdom thinking; so why start over every time we want to multiply?

Reproducing what works isn’t corporatism, it’s intelligent.

The Space Issue

Moving to a multisite model is an exciting step for any church to take, as it not only endeavors to reach more people with the Gospel by moving to where those people are, but seeks to deal with capacity issues at its primary location.

Right now, our Main Campus is running four services, and we’re past the 80% capacity mark in three of those services—the statistical benchmark of needing to create more space so new people feel like they have a place. Adding a fifth service, however, would put too much strain on what’s already a long day for our hundreds of volunteers.

While building a new sanctuary (and expanding all the support ministries to match, like child care, parking and hospitality) is certainly an option, the price of building is exponentially larger than the costs of creating a second campus in a pre-existing building.

Launching a new venue isn’t just a good Gospel move, it’s a good business move. Since many current congregants will switch their attendance to the new venue, as it’s closer to their home or they feel called to be a part of the ministry there, more seats will open up at our Main Campus for new people to attend.

•••

For New Life in particular, this move to multisite means something special. Not only will two 43-year pastoral veterans of the faith be caring for people in a region that deeply needs comfort, but we’re moving back into the property we vacated in 2008. The “Old Stone Church” was built in 1836 on land gifted to the town by Henry Depau; his mandate was that it always be used as a place for worship. While it’s remained dormant since we outgrew it, the walls will soon echo with praise again.

If you’re a faithful reader of this site, I’d ask that you please keep this launch in prayer. The first service will be held Easter Sunday, April 20th at 10:00 AM. And if you live in the river communities of Jefferson County New York, and need a church family, I can recommend no better pastors than the two people who raised me in Christ.

No matter the size or scope of your church, pray about the future impact you should have in your region. Planting churches—at least for New Life—is part of our Board’s growing 100 Year Vision.

For more material on this, I recommend the following:

Leadership Network Publications (free)

The Multi-Site Church Revolution: Being One Church in Many Locations, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2006

A Multi-site Church Roadtrip: Exploring the New Normal, Geoff Surratt, Greg Ligon, and Warren Bird, Zondervan, 2009

What strategies is your church embracing to reach more people with the Gospel and make disciples of Jesus? I’d love to hear.

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Quiet But Busy

I’ve had a few close friends note that it’s been quiet around here lately. Quiet, yes. But by no means fruitless. As any who know me might well surmise, my energies have been consumed by other more-pressing activities.

For one, I’m still writing—quite a lot, in fact. But not much of it, if any, is ready for daylight on a public forum. I’ve been writing daily, mostly of theology. While The Sky Riders II is in process, I’m simultaneously working on at least three other non-fiction works, as well as some writings for future songs and messages, all content that I feel needs addressing for the sake of Christians I find myself mentoring and pastoring. This has been further inspired and somewhat initiated by an uptick in my reading and processing of older Christian texts.

Apart from the reading and writing disciplines of my life, I’m in gaged in numerous New Life church activities, all of which have been large in scope and demanding of time. A vision to reach mankind with the Gospel and to make disciples should require nothing less. Our current production of A Watertown Christmas hits this weekend to two sold out audiences. On top of regular Christmas activities, as well as preparations for January’s series and annual fast, my team has had their hands full.

The businesses (CiCis Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery) have also consumed more of my creative attention lately, as I’m overseeing new directives to meet with school administrators and church leaders to ascertain how we might be able to serve their food needs and create win-win scenarios in the community.

I’m also fully engaged in one of my more favorite enterprises at the moment: overseeing the final phases of construction for Sprig Studios, due to open mid-winter. The final electrical work begins today, and we’re building all the custom light fixtures on site. The studio, by nature, begets newfound ventures of music creation, which are also simmering behind the scenes at home and in various nooks of the church.

Life is full and rich, made the most so by my wife, children and close friends, and reminds me of how truly blessed I am to be surrounded by constant beauty, creativity and mission. 2014 holds more adventures still, with calls back to Central America and Europe. May the God of the nations receive the glory that he’s due.

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Watertown Schools Talk Bullying Prevention This Week

Campus Impressions Team Lift HT Wiley Intermediate School

Caption: Students listen attentively to Campus Impression’s Team Lift during a general assembly at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School for Bullying Prevention Week. [Photo by Gideon Blackburn]

WATERTOWN SCHOOLS TALK BULLYING PREVENTION THIS WEEK
Tuesday, October 16, 2013
By Gideon Blackburn

WATERTOWN, NY - Electric guitars buzzed, drums roared, and vocals soared as 560 students at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School sang about treating one another with respect and “crazy kindness.” The vibrant concert-style event, complete with skits and charismatic youth speakers is all part of the the Watertown City School District’s creative plan to prevent bullying in its schools.

“This presentation is exactly the kind of thing we need in our schools,” says Patricia LaBarr, Principal of Wiley School, speaking about Team Lift of Watertown-based Campus Impressions. “Team Lift’s anti-bullying presentation wasn’t even over for five minutes when one of our students came up to me and said, ‘Principal LaBarr, guess what? One of the girls who’s been bullying me just came up and apologized to me. I can’t believe it!’ Now that’s just cool.”

LaBarr isn’t alone in her enthusiasm. The presentation at Ohio Elementary School had children singing along, including their administrators.

“Our assembly today was right in line with everything we teach our students on a regular basis,” says Principal Mark Taylor. “It was spot on, the kids loved it, and so did the teachers.”

Mayor Jeffrey Graham was on site for yesterday’s presentation at North Elementary School to proclaim that the month of October is officially Watertown’s Bullying Prevention Month, and kicked things off with a special greeting to the children. From there, Team Lift took center stage in leading an energetic and fast-paced presentation tailored for the students.

“This is about engaging kids with simple truths and making it fun for them,” says Campus Impressions speaker Christopher Hopper. “Treating one another with crazy kindness is one of the most powerful things we can do. We’re not just trying to help kids at their present age, but to give them tools for being successful adults when they grow up. We hope they remember these moments long after our events are over.”

Campus Impressions has three more schools to present in this week, including Knickerbocker Elementary School on Thursday, and both Sherman Elementary and Watertown High School on Friday.

“Today was a great way to kick off our bullying-prevention campaign,” says Wiley School Guidance Counselor, Lynne Hebert. “Hopefully Wiley School can spread crazy kindness!” •

Campus Impressions Team Lift Ohio School

Caption: Students listen attentively to skits by Campus Impression’s Team Lift at Ohio School on Wednesday, October 16th. [Photo by Gideon Blackburn]

Campus Impressions Team Lift Jennifer Hopper singing Ohio School

Caption: Singer Jennifer Hopper leading kids in song at Ohio School on Wednesday, October 16th. [Photo by Gideon Blackburn]

Campus Impressions Team Lift Christopher Hopper North Elementary School

Caption: Speaker Christopher Hopper speaking during Campus Impression’s presentation at North Elementary School on Tuesday, October 15th. [Photo by Jacob Widrick]

New Life Church Buys Old Cinema for $1.5 Million

WATERTOWN, NY - Senior Pastor Kirk Gilchrist and Associate Pastor Christopher Hopper stand in the sanctuary of New Life Christian Church's recently purchase building on Arsenal St.

WATERTOWN, NY – Senior Pastor Kirk Gilchrist and Associate Pastor Christopher Hopper stand in the sanctuary of New Life Christian Church’s recently purchase building on Arsenal St.

I love it when the Bride of Christ makes headlines in the public square for noble endeavors. This article just came out today on Newzjunky, and I couldn’t be prouder of New Life’s board, staff and congregants.

Much of this pride comes from what I know of the motivation behind the news: a desire to leave a legacy for the generation we’ll never meet. And while some may argue that only spiritual legacys are valuable, I’d insist people of those opinions have missed a deeper truth that physical properties, investments and possessions help usher people toward the knowledge of the truth when governed with heavenly wisdom. Sometimes the cost of a soul is a building, a billboard, a pamphlet, a commercial, a song, a piece of art, a tour, a tent revival, a school, an announcement.

My pride also comes from knowing the man that carried the bulk of this burden for six years, our Senior Pastor, Kirk Gilchrist. Working to build something that effects lives like this requires a tremendous amount of virtue—virtue being a form of sustained creative energy. There are constant challenges, roadblocks and dilemmas to any worthwhile project; meanwhile, the private man deals with sleepless nights, words of extreme ridicule, torment from the enemy, frustration, countless delays, and the nagging self-doubt that plagues all leaders I’ve ever met.

I don’t know everything he went through, but I saw and prayed through enough of it to know that Kirk is one of my heroes. He’s paid a profound price for this headline, and I’m celebrating with him today. If the Lord tarries and the Bride stewards things wisely, Kirk’s children’s children’s children and their generation will feel the effects of what he helped accomplish.

“Souls or I die.”
- William Carey

If there’s a leader in your life, go out of your way to thank them for their sacrifice of “normalcy,” because if they’re a good leader, their life is far from normal.

Here’s to the generation we’ll never meet.

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A Real Sky Rider: Jonathan Trappe

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UPDATE 11:39AM EST: Jonathan’s site is currently down, and it looks like he’s abandoned this voyage. Details still pending. He still gets a Kili-Boranna patch for his efforts.

If ever there was someone who deserved to be inducted into the Kili-Boranna Guild as an honorary member, its certainly Jonathan Trappe.

He’s an IT specialist and aviation buff who’s obsessed with attempting things out of ordinary in record-setting style. As if his cluster balloon airlift of a faux house á la “Up” wasn’t enough, he’s now attempting a trans-Atlantic voyage in a lifeboat basket beneath 300 helium filled cluster balloons.

Checking out his website is a definite must; there you’ll find two nifty links, one that’s plotting his course, the other that’s tracking his transponder, including his exact location, speed and elevation.

God’s speed, Jonathan. And as the Guild would say…

Fly or die,

ch:

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Local Author Self-Publishes New Novel

PRESS RELEASE:
For release on Tuesday, September 10th.
For additional information or interview, contact Rebekah Berthet or Candy Shaw: (315) 788-0825

WATERTOWN, NY - Christopher Hopper signs a copy of The Sky Riders for fans at The Vault in New Life Christian Church

WATERTOWN, NY – Christopher Hopper signs a fans book at The Vault in New Life Christian Church. Photo by Joseph Gilchrist.

Local Author Self-Publishes New Novel

CLAYTON, NY – What do vintage airships, giant birds, floating cloud cities and steam-powered engines all have in common? If you guessed local author Christopher Hopper’s new steampunk epic, then you’d be spot on. The Sky Riders, Hopper’s seventh novel to date, hits digital and physical bookshelves today via Amazon.

“This is really exciting for me,” says Hopper, a resident of the Town of Clayton. “From right here in the 1000 Islands, I get to publish my novels worldwide, all because technology has made it easier to reach fans.”

Formerly with traditional legacy publishers like Thomas Nelson Inc. and Tsaba House Inc., Hopper is one of the growing body of writers who’ve jumped ship to self-publish. Bowker Identifier Services reports that there are over 235,000 self-published titles now for sale, a 287% growth surge since 2006. And with entities like Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace—both Amazon companies—self-publishing for digital and print has become more accessible, and more lucrative. Bookstats reported that 2012 sales figures of ebooks hit $3.04 billion, which gives Hopper even more reason to be excited.

“Where you’d only make between 8-15% with a legacy publisher,” says Hopper, “my lowest royalty bracket with self-publishing is 30%, and my highest is 70%.”

While some ask Hopper about the readers he’s missing out on by abandoning the traditional publishing route, he’s quick to correct them. “I was missing huge amounts of readers with traditional publishing, as they were mainly targeting book stores. Today, I have instant distribution to millions of Kindle and Nook readers, and sales up are up over 300% from my legacy publishing days. The bottom line is that I’m reaching more readers with less work than ever before.”

Thinking of self-publishing your own title? Not so fast. “It’s a lot of work,” admits Hopper. “But outsourcing exterior and interior design, for example, as well as shopping for editing services, can help people where they might be weak.”

If you’re still wondering just how to self-publish through something like Amazon, Hopper has an answer for that too. He published his Handbook to Publishing Your Novel ebook last December.

From where Hopper sits atop his floating cloud cities in his fictional world, the future is bright for readers and authors alike, and the return is anything but make believe.

The Sky Riders is available locally at The Vault in New Life Christian Church, as well as online at http://www.christopherhopper.com. •

TSR Comes out Tomorrow!

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Hello, my amazingly faithful Readers!

Tomorrow is the big day: the official release of my 7th full-length novel, The Sky Riders. Even just ten years ago, had you told me that one day I’d not only publish a single novel over 100,000 words, but seven, I would have laughed in your face. So each and every time this “book release” occasion comes around, I’m even more indebted to the following:

• God, for humoring my inabilities with his abilities to produce capabilities.

• My wife and children, for allowing me to spend the long hours needed on my laptop at absurd hours of the day (and night).

• My English teachers, notably Dawn Sandquist and Margaret Grace, who poured into me even when I gave them the deer-in-the-headlights look.

• My writing companions and tour mates who encouraged, taught, corrected and inspired me to grow as a writer: Wayne Thomas Batson, Donita K. Paul, Eric Reinhold, Jonathan Rogers, L.B. Graham, Bryan Davis, Sharon Hinck, Gregg Wooding, and Christopher and Allan Miller.

• Former publishers who gave me a shot when I didn’t deserve one: Pam Schwagerl (Tsaba House Inc.), and everyone at Thomas Nelson Inc.

J.A. Konrath for enticing all of us legacy published writers to jump ship and dive into the self-publishing revolution.

Michael A. Stackpole for his abundant wealth of knowledge which he continually gives away for free, but has cost him years of development.

• My Proofies who have leant their selfless eyes to the ARCs I put out. You make me shine.

• The Inkblots, in all our various forms, who met (and will meet again) over pub tables to discuss writing, life and the future.

• The amazing staff, board and congregation of my church, New Life, for believing that my writings are just as much ministry as counseling someone in my office.

• My friends Peter Hopper (and dad), Kirk Gilchrist, Douglas Gresham, Brett Peryer, David Buckles, Joseph Gilchrist, Tony Hayner, Jason Clement, Nathan Reimer, Denis Johnson and Nate Cronk for their conversations, musings and creativity that have inspired me to think hard and dig deep.

And lastly, to my readers. I write every word with you in mind, and couldn’t continue writing without you literally paying my bills. I’m blessed I get to do things I love for a living. It amazes me every day, and I pray I never take it for granted.

Thanks to everyone for purchasing the new book, spreading the word, and leaving honest reviews. (When referencing The Sky Riders on Twitter or Instagram, please try and use #theskyriders or #TSR).

Fly or die,

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Freebies: TSR Banners and Wallpaper

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Who doesn’t like free stuff?

I thought it’d be fun to give away some desktop wallpapers, which incorporate some of my drawings from my notebooks with the book’s graphic design. The result is 5 different wallpapers that you can dress up your computer with to show your Kili-Boranna spirit.

And if you want to go a step further and tag your blog or website, you’ll also find a full range of banners (including HTML code for the true geeks among you).

Check it all out here.

If you want a wallpaper or banner that you don’t see, let me know. I might be able to make it for you.

Thanks for all your support in prepping for this book’s launch into the skies above Aria-Prime.

Fly or die,

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