Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Notes - Gaining By Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send - JD Greear

Fantastic read and I've always been impressed about Summit Church and their incredibly audacious plan around church planting, global missions and church multi site campuses. I was sold by the subtitle of this book and loved reading how Summit believes it to be true.
At our church, we simplify these two questions [what skill, where and how can I do it] into a single statement: Whatever you are good at, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.

What happens during the week establishes the difference between a disciple and an attender. And in our post-Christian age, the weekend is becoming less effective for reaching truly unreached people. Few and few lost people are moseying their way into our weekend services. Thus, equipping disciples to reproduce outside the church, during the week, is becoming vastly more important than having a great weekend show. As our society becomes more and more post-Christian, training members to 'go' will be far more effective than inviting the community to 'come.'

I devour books written by pastors and church leaders who understand how unbelievers think, even when I disagree with some of their applications. "Eat the fish and spit out the bones," I often tell our staff.

Luke goes out his way to show that the biggest advances of the gospel happen through ordinary people. Of all the miracles in Acts, 39 of 40 were done outside of the church. We need to expect that kind of ratio today, too. In our post-Christian age, fewer and fewer people casually “make their way” into churches. The de-churched are becoming the unchurched, who view Christianity the way you or I might view Islam. I wouldn’t meander my way into a mosque, even if their music was awesome or if their Imam was an engaging speaker doing a helpful series on “relationships.” We can’t expect cutting edge music and entertaining speakers to continue doing the trick. People in our day will increasingly have to be reached outside the walls of the church, and that means individual believers living filled with the Spirit is more important than ever.

Furthermore, it seems to me that a lot of missional ministry advocates have overstated the case against attractional ministry. I agree with them that our culture has changed and that people don't flock to city-wide revival services the way they did in the 1950s. But dare we underestimate the drawing, converting power of a Spirit-filled preacher of the gospel? When a preacher of God's Word 'lifts-up' the beauties of Christ, should we really be surprised when the community throngs to hear him?

The bottom line? Faithful ministries pursue both width and depth, because neither is really possible without the other. Depth in the gospel leads to width in the mission.

We must challenge our people to be leaders. Today we end every service with the benediction, "Summit Church, you are sent."

We must empower our people to be leaders.
...if the majority of what Jesus wants to do he wants to do in the community, it shouldn't surprise us that he puts his best vision into the hearts of the people who live and work there for the majority of their hours each week.
Thus, one of our primary responsibilities as church leaders is to help God's people uncover these ideas and to encourage them….
Ministries we own
Ministries we bless
Ministries we catalyze
We believe the great potential for ministry multiplication lies in this last category and each staff member is responsible to facilitate this where they can. We have as a goal the catalyzation of at least one hundred community-blessing ministries out of our church. We might be instrumental in getting them started, but we want them quickly to become 501C-3s with budgets and leadership boards of their own.

Church plants are like teenagers - they only want your money and affirmation and then for you to stay out of their way.

Making more and better disciples ought to be the goal of - and justification for the existence of - every ministry.

Every dollar you spend getting your members engaged in overseas missions will return to you fourfold. When believers see with their own eyes what God is doing around the world, their hearts open, and so do their pocketbooks.

David Garrison, who served for many years as church planting catalyzer for the Asian world, talks about the 'heresy of sequentialism.' Sequentialism is separating into components what really ought to be embraced all at once…. Global missions is part of God's essential recipe for discipleship, not something you get only in Christianity 401. It ought to be present in the first bite.

No blessing that God gives his people is separated from the responsibility to become a blessing to the nations. For example, at the Summit church, we build a global missions thrust into the first stages of our family ministries. Psalm 127 teaches us that our kids are given to us 'like arrows in the hands of a warrior' and (to use the words of Jim Elliot), what are arrows for but to be pulled back on the bowstring of faith to be launched into God's global battle? We quit doing 'baby dedications' and now hold 'parent commissionings', in which parents covenant with the church to raise up their children for the mission of God and to release them freely into that mission whenever and wherever God calls them. I make the parents promise 'If God calls my child one day to a difficult mission field, I promise not to stand in the way, but to bless and encourage my child to follow God." We don't need to dedicate a baby - the baby already belongs to God. It is the parents who need to dedicate themselves to raise up a child for the mission of God.

We challenge our high school students to serve for one month for one summer on one of our global mission teams, and we encourage all students to give one entire summer of their college career to serve in one of our mission projects around the world.

We encourage each small group to adopt both a city service-evangelism project and an international missionary.

I am not against a designated 'missions pastor.' We have a few of them, actually. But their jobs are primarily to catalyze the other pastors to lead them in global mission through their ministries. Our missions pastors should not do missions for the church; they should catalyze missions in the church. Big difference. They should not be leading in missions as much as creating opportunities for others to lead in missions.

Multicultural diversity is in the very DNA of the gospel, and a Spirit filled church will naturally drift toward this diversification. We see this reflected in how the gospel has spread down through history: Christianity has roughly 20 percent of its followers in Africa, 20 percent in Asia, 20 percent in Europe, 20 percent in NA and 20 percent in SA. Every other major religion has at least 80 percent of its followers concentrated on one continent. Christianity, statistically speaking, has no dominant culture. It is the most diverse movement in history.

Our church has asked God to allow us to plant 1,000 churches and bless 1,000 cities by 2050. We want to send out 5000 people as part of those church planting teams. We have started a pastor training school that will train pastors and church leaders. We have asked God to let us baptize 50,000 people in the Raleigh-Durham area. We have asked him to let us be part of major awakenings in Muslim and European nations. Each year we try to give away more money and send out more leaders than we feel we can afford. Only when our giving scares us do we know we are getting close to target.

Every time we send people out from our church, they leave gaps. It’s painful to think about sometimes. More than once, I have had to force myself to literally open my hands to God. Opened in surrender. Opened as a sign that I must take my hands off of one of the most precious earthly things to me—my church. Open as an offering of praise to Jesus’ worthiness and faith in his promise. Open in the belief that God builds his kingdom not as we hold on, but as we let go.

The slightest glimpse of what 'can be' creates more willingness to change than any sermons we can preach. If you want a ministry filled with people coming up with mission ideas faster than you can facilitate them, give people a glimpse of what can be and help them feel what God wants it to be.

Gospel-saturated people become visionaries. The gospel shows us the compassion of God for the world and his willingness to change it. The gospel is the single greatest catalyst for innovation in mission.

Those that know him well say that Jack Welch’s (the legendary CEO of G.E.) greatest gifting was his ability to spot and raise up leaders. An impressive number of CEOs came from G.E. Welch gave away some good leaders, but the leadership culture he created attracted many to replace the ones he “sent.” He knew that multiplication was greater than addition. And that is what we desire as a church, because the greatest ministry power happens not as we add to our numbers, but as we empower and release people into the world It happens when we open our hands to God and say, “We don’t want to be a group of people gathered around a leader, but to be a leadership factory.”

'The deader your gospel the flashier your package' Vance Havner

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Notes - H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle - Brad Lomenick

Great read by one of the current day leadership sages, Brad Lomenick. Great read and I loved the perspective from someone who has worked with some of the most effective leaders of our day.
Let your team manage up more than you manage down

Start a "Better than I do" List. Leaders need to be reminded often that they aren’t the only ones who are good at what they do. Keep a running list of people who do what you do better than you do. Whenever you find yourself reading too many of your own press clippings, spend some time reviewing this list to regain perspective. This has the added benefit of giving you a contact list where you can find people to learn from.

Reward Those Who Push Back - Healthy organizations incentivize moderate levels of dissent.

When I walked into the green room and encountered the Hillsong United band after their first set, I was nearly knocked off my feet. The band members were huddled together around a tiny television with a closed-loop feed of the first speakers. Then they watched the second presentation. Then, the third. Many of them had Moleskine pads, and were furiously scribbling notes. No one was talking. No one was checking text messages.

One of the great memories I have of a Catalyst Conference is a panel discussion with Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, and Erwin McManus during the first ever conference in 2000. Erwin said something profound, and John immediately looked down at Linda, his longtime assistant in the front row, and made a motion as if he was writing, indicating he wanted his Moleskine notebook to capture what Erwin had just said. In front of two thousand young leaders, John demonstrated his desire to learn. Andy Stanley made a great comment later on, and satirically asked John, “Are you going to take notes on my answers as well?”

But as I learned while working at Catalyst, creativity is not completely inborn. It’s not just the musician sitting on the rooftop, dreaming up new lyrics about the color of the sky at noontime. It is the man in the third third of his life, taking a college course to learn more about his field. It is the CEO who schedules a lunch with a local graphic designer to talk about trends in logo design. It is the team of accountants who train themselves to use a revolutionary computer program before anyone else in their market does. The key to innovation is intentionality.

You are the chief, but not the only, vision caster. When you hire new team members, don’t hire only staff executers. Stack your roster with some dreamers too. They’ll take the vision you’re placing in front of them and will run with it. Make sure to ask questions designed to reveal how much time they spend dreaming each day.

MURDER, WHEN APPROPRIATE. This habit must be handled with care. Don’t complete a project for completion’s sake. You’ll often realize that an idea should be killed while you’re still attempting to execute. When this becomes clear, murder it and move on. However, if you find dead bodies lying all over the floor, you should evaluate your creative process to determine why so many of the ideas your team is generating are unsustainable.

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided me a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Peeps I Meet

Some of the peeps I have met this NovEmber. I'm inspired by them.

: S - trying to start some kind of missions nonprofit in the Middle East.
: N - landed in NYC and trying to get involved in some kind of outreach or fellowship there.
: S - works with his wife shepherding a group of young adults.
: M - spent time working with the Peace Corp in Peru, where she saw an attempt of the OLPC program that didn't work very well. It wasn't a total waste though because she said lots of those kids took the computers apart and learned a bit of engineering that way. I talk a bit about OLPC in my talk teaching Perspectives and owned one in the past.
: A - spent time in northern Uganda where she saw families sell their malaria bed nets so their kids could eat.
: H - moved with his family to Tunisia for a year.
: M - works a part time job so she can spend more time working and serving with college students who are here from other countries.
: H - has a background in industrial design and wants to serve the less fortunate with her husband who is an engineer hopefully using both of their sets of skills together.

Photo: Blackfriars Millenium Pier, London, July 2015.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Paris Emergency Medical Crews had Practiced for a Mass Shooting Just Hours Before the Attacks
During Friday's exercise, trauma specialists used a centralized dispatch system to set priorities and direct victims to the ER best equipped to treat their injuries. Ambulance services made sure they were ready to roll, and hospitals verified that surgeons and staff could be quickly summoned to treat arriving victims. "We tested every link in the chain," Raux said. Because Paris emergency physicians work 24-hour shifts, virtually every ER doctor on duty in the city Friday night had already taken part in the exercise earlier that day.

::: Transportation Emerges as Crucial to Escaping Poverty
In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder.

::: 4 Years Ago, Facebook didn't Exist in Burma. Now it's the Country's Most Important Source of Information.

::: Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts. - Thomas Aquinas

Photo: Dinner before Perspectives earlier this week. Matt Maloy, left, Ember board of director. Trevin Hoekzema, right, local community outreach coordinator/Ember guide, Bay Area Comm Church. Lures, Crownsville, MD.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NovEmber #4

I had four speaking engagements all in the month of November and I never do that much public speaking. I'm glad they are over but each one of them was a lot of fun and I loved meeting people at each one of the talks. This is from the last one, earlier this week, a Perspectives class at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. Loved meeting Greg CLC's missions pastor and they had nearly 70 people at their class, which is huge. Their global missions team just set up Go Grants, a way to help fund people who sense a need and want to do something about it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NovEmber #3

Teaching at Perspectives last night at Bay Area Community Church outside of Annapolis, MD. Bay Area is a fantastic church and has a great missions pastor who grew up in the developing world - amazing paradigm of a suburban church with a global leader who grew up in Ghana.

Love the opportunity to show off some of our Ember tribe. Up front with me sharing for a few minutes is most of the 2015 Prague team and one of our illustrious board of directors. This is why we do what we do.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Burn

:::The Scientist
Read this please.
In 2004 at Burning Man, a yearly gathering in the Nevada desert, someone erected a 30 foot wooden pole with a dancing platform on top. Dozens of people failed to climb the pole. And then there's another who gives it his try. He doesn't look like someone who could climb it. And as he's trying, suspicions are confirmed. He's terrible and looks like he's about to fail. He hugs the pole the whole time as he squirms and inches his way up. With sheer determination he reaches the top of that platform. Who was he? Elon Musk.

:::: The Migration Towards Europe

::: Classic Bob Lupton

::: In the Christendom world, speaking was leading. In post-Christendom world leading is multidimensional:apostolic-realtional-adaptive @todbol via @RobJacobs_

Photo: Dog, laptops, prepping for a talk. In the spirit of Steve Jobs, we try to practice 1 hour for every minute of speaking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NovEmber #2

Sharing during a breakout about the pivotal roles of young people. Co-presented with older daughter Katie who shared lots of specifics about orphan and foster care while I tried to inspire people to action.

That's Measu and Hope from when they raised money for a water well when they were 15, before their illustrious careers as ProtoGuides.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Ember Balt 7

One of the concepts that doesn't get taught enough when executing community impact projects is the concept of community assets. What assets does the community already has have? What are the talents and giftings of people in that community that could be activated? What expertise do they have and what can they do for themselves? Asking this question and taking to heart the answers separates the managers from the leaders - you either are just providing hirelings or you are engaging in the art of catalytic leadership.

The Ember Cast hosted a team from Towson Cru this weekend along with some of Emily's high school friends for a little project at The Well at Curtis Bay this past Saturday. We've loved the story and ethos of The Well and our last project last March was so fun, we knew this one would be good too. The Well hosted an artisan boutique giving people in the community an opportunity to sell their merchandise. This was, in founder and executive director Mandy's own words, an experiment and you know how we love experiments. Lots of great stuff was for sale at the boutique and it was a great opportunity for people in the community to connect.

This kind of thing was a great example of community assets. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for those of us in the suburbs to default to the thinking that people in less affluent communities don't have initiative, leadership, or tangible skills. This mindset continues to propagate when those of us that set up this kinds of projects don't teach the concept of asset based community development.

So next time you take students on a service project, ask the people that live there about their community assets, listen. Even better, teach your kids to ask and listen too.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Extreme Poverty Could Cease to Exist in 15 Years

::: All 300 Languages Spoken in American Homes and the Number of People Who Speak Them

::: US Becoming Less Religious

::: Asian Americans Young Influencers List

::: MBTI Star Wars Style

::: "An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong" - Julie Andrews

Photo: The Well in Curtis Bay, Spring 2015. Ember returns tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

NovEmber #1

Before speaking to some youth leaders last night at Grace. That's terahgram and Kevin up front - some of the most phenomenal student pastor type people around.

During my talk, one of the leaders reminded me of the time I prayed over and anointed a team in an airport terminal with hand sanitiser.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Where Apostolic Leaders Thrive

From Sam Metcalf's Beyond the Local Church. I knew this book would be good after reading his blog for years.

1. The church in its apostolic, missionary form is just as equally "church" as the church in its local parish form. God never designed or intended either to do the work of the other.
2. The evidence from history is abundant that whenever these two structures work cooperatively and interdependently, the Christian movement thrives and moves forward. When one structure dominates or attempts to control the other, the movement suffers.
3. Apostolic leaders thrive best in structures uniquely designed for the fulfillment of their calling, and these leaders must have access to these structures in order to reach their God-given potential. When pastoral or denominational leaders mistakenly assume that such apostolic structures have no validity or are subject to their control, everyone loses.

I've never really understood point #1 with such detail before and all 3 of these points have massive implications for The Ember Cast.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Burn

:::: I Went to Change the World and Failed

::: Cash Strapped Missionaries Get a New Calling

::: 6 Rules for Great Story Telling

::: Mapping New York's Microdistricts
Link via kottke

::: Unused creativity is dangerous. - Brené Brown

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Architecting It

There are things you need to intentionally architect. And yes, I am using the word architect as a verb.

There are great ideas and there are mediocre ideas. But it's not so much about the idea, it is about the execution. Along the way to executing, you should expand your idea so that you have architected an idea model. An idea is great, an idea model helps you adjust and contextualize. Credit for this term and idea goes to Ben Arment and his book Dream Year.

Whether you like it or not, you won't be able to execute your idea or idea model by yourself. You will need a team of people. This structure should also be intentionally designed. You'll need your people - the people that will jump in and work in your passion. You also might need a team of advisers or directors. And you'll probably need a team of people to help you with the business end of things - budget, legal help, staffing. All of these teams will need to be designed.

Finally, you might need to architect your life. Your schedule. Your free time. Your career. Your finances. Your hobbies. Your patterns, rituals, and routines. Your values and non-negotiables. I'm not saying you cannot be spontaneous but clarity and thoughtfulness around what's important to you allows margin to do the things you love when the opportunity presents itself.

Great ideas, teams, visions and enterprises do not build themselves. They are built with intention and design, step by step, brick by brick.

Monday, October 26, 2015

That Far In Advance?

If you think it might be too early to start planning student missions for 2016 and believe that anyone who does is insane, well... Ember has a client [our home church] that already has trips, dates and important milestones on the calendar. Sick I know.

Having this far reaching calendar is a result of hard work and intention, certainly. This is also the result of having a very mature student missions process. This doesn't happen unless you want it to and it doesn't happen in an hour. It takes work to get here.

But you can get here too. Determine to get better at identifying and recruiting leaders. Get better at forming healthy partnerships with organizations in other cultures. Assume that you have students that are ready to travel and serve and learn and decide that your student ministry will be vital to helping them prepare for this kind of life.

Photo: Ember Prague 2015 reunion dinner.