Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween


100_2857
Originally uploaded by tonytsheng.
from the flickr blog tool. halloween = mini prom?

Nov Launch

We announced our November launch this morning at both middle school and high school services. I put together these little info cards. We also had about 200 left over Starburst candies left over from the NYC trip. So I taped one of those to each card. It's a novel idea, until you actually have to do it all yourself. I suppose it wasn't that bad. Get it - SPACE and STARburst? Ha ha.
One of the things that I'm finding gradually, is that this thing that I'm doing requires a lot of admin/paperwork/computer work. It's a good thing that I work in an industry where I sit in front of a computer all day. I'm doing a lot of that kind of stuff all the time. For instance, in the past month:
- info card previously mentioned
- proposed budget spreadsheet for 2004-2005
- emails about potential mission trips for summer 2005
- notes about last MTF meeting and potential partnership - at least 3-4 years out
- powerpoint slide to sunday announcements (maybe next Sunday)
- I also almost always write up a little something after a launch and send it to the youth min staff as well as to my prayer support list

Anyway, the November Launch is when we rent a school bus and drive it around the community, strategically raking and bagging people's yards. Most of the people we target have some kind of direct or indirect connection with GCC. Last year, 5 out of 7 were not from GCC, but someone there knew they had a need. It's really a lot of fun and just wacky enough. This year we are calling it The Mulch Shuttle. SPACE - shuttle, get it? Ok enough of those jokes.
For those of you that are reading this and part of LC/CpR -
The Mulch Shuttle
November 20
9.15 - 3.30
Meet at the Warehouse
Bring:
a rake if you have one
a box of lawn bags
gloves if you have them
$6
Lunch provided
sign up by Sun Nov 11/14
email me to sign up

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Millenials into Leadership

Thisarticle in CT is a good read about the Millenials which are, most, if not all, of the students we minister to today. The article highlights some very good tips on welcoming them into ministry leadership. It's important to think about because we all know that the students ministering to other students is one of our key goals.
- Create cooperative organizations
- Plan safe risks
- Understand the family connection
- Make it fun

An interesting set of tips, one that I can definitely relate to. These tips also remind me about the importance of collaboration and true partnership in defining cross cultural mission trips.
For more on the Millenials:
A good overview and well read summary
Barna calls them Mosaics
These three articles might be pretty old, but reading them again was a good reminder for me.

Urbana 2006

Urbana 2006 moves to St. Louis. But will they still call it Urbana? Read more here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Happy Halloween Weekend!

To all you readers - have a great Halloween this weekend!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

City Church Planting Self Assessment

Is City Church Planting for Me?
Twenty Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Considering Starting a Church in a Metro Area.
(Answer Yes, No or Not Sure)
1. Is my principal motivation for considering church planting in the city the glory of God not dissatisfaction with my present situation?
2. Am I convinced that the city is the most strategic place to change the world?
3. Do I believe the gospel is the "power of God" not only to change individuals but also to continually revitalize people and communities?
4. Is my evangelistic outreach adequate? If I had started with zero two years ago, would the addition of new Christians be adequate to provide a fairly solid church now?
5. Have I had enough exposure to church planting in the cross roads of a city that I know what the life of a founding pastor is like?
6. Am I assured of God's call to church planting in a city environment?
7. Do I have all the training I need to do church planting effectively?
8. Can I articulate quickly what my gifts and personal characteristics are that would make me effective in church planting in a city context?
9. Am I comfortable with people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds and able to accept them joyfully into the community of faith?
10. Is my spouse and family willing, even enthusiastic, about our doing church planting in the city?
11. Do I have Gospel-confidence (a repenting-in-joy spirit) of being effective in church planting?
12. Do I have the spiritual disciplines (consistent prayer/Bible study, free from patterns of besetting sin, good accountability relationships in the Body) necessary for being a spiritual leader?
13. Do I display self-management disciplines (getting work done on time, keeping commitments, consistency, honesty) that will encourage followers to trust my leadership?
14. Have I developed a comprehensive vision (a clear picture of focus and style) of the kind of church I want to plant?
15. Am I a people person (good listener, teachable, patient and warm, sensitive, winsome)?
16. Do people tend to sit up, listen and come back when I preach?
17. Do influential persons in my life tell me church planting in the city is right for me?
18. Have I had a positive track record in the church ministries I have led?
19. Do I have an abiding passion for church planting? Is church planting compatible with my personal career goals?
20. Understanding the gifts and skills of a church planter include being a visionary leader, evangelist, and Christ-centered preacher, do I believe God has given me these endowments?

Found the city church planting self-assesment here. I scored a 'you should think, pray and talk to others more before moving in this direction.' I'm not surprised by that and that is a good thing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

YS - looking for service project stories

We are looking for stories about how you or your ministry are cultivating the hearts of students through service projects and outward focused ministry. For example, are your students serving a local school or visiting children's hospitals or elderly homes? Have your small groups been service oriented and has this given them a different view of life and living?

Are you having semi regular or on-going service projects? How are students being impacted (personal stories here)? How are the people students are serving being impacted?

Please send your responses to Brock@youthspecialties.com. Thanks!

From the YS Update.
Yes, I sent something in. It might have been a little long winded...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Winning the Hearts

Real, sustainable change occurs when actions are in response to values. But helping a community based on legalism change to one based on ethos can be terrifying. A community really can’t be based on both. You can either invest your energy in attempting to control people’s actions and thereby lose their hearts, or you can focus on winning their hearts so that, in the end, their actions will represent the values that are important to you. - McManus, from An Unstoppable Force

Post retreat

A few places that people have written about the CpR retreat -
Leslie
Amy

I'm sure there is more out there...

Cameroon

I went to a Missions Task Force meeting last night at GCC. It's a funny thing, I'm a member of the task force, but I really only go for special things. In other words, I usually only go when I need something from them... But last night, there was a guy who came to talk about him and his family moving to Cameroon with the Navigators to do youth ministry there. I've added my notes in two pieces below. First are some interesting facts. Second is a list of things he said about the ministry specifically that I thought were excellent ideas.


Cameroon fast facts:
- 50% of population under 15
- 270 tribal languages in Cameroon
- climate is green, 80s, 4 seasons
- Jan is the hottest time of the year
- malaria is a big threat
- AIDS - 30% of population
every person has a fam member that has died of AIDS
their ministry is not relief specific but cannot ignore
- government - 2nd most corrupt in Africa
bribes expected in the post office
people in college are already working the system, therefore high school age can impact the culture
- Religious Climate:
Cameroon considered central Africa - 50% Christian
West Africa is 90% Muslim
the plague of Cameroon is nominal Christianity
big issues of church leadership
shallow churches, power struggles
big thing now is training leaders, pastoral and denominational leadership

Cool things regarding the ministry there:
- summer 2004 - first Nav conference in Cameroon
nationals - first generation national leadership conference
talked about strategy for the next 15 years
identified most important demographics
#1 - college
#2 - high schoolers
- They will spend first 11 weeks at a Wycliffe training center there
11 week African orientation course from Wycliffe that they will go to
7 weeks campus living
3 weeks village living
1 week of primitive camping
(That is seriously intense...)
- First year - to just build relationships
no specific responsibilities
- No specific youth min model
need to understand the culture first, existing models from the US may
not be applicalbe
important to be a student of the culture first

More about Cameroon specifically:
CIA world fact book
Joshua Project people group listing
Operation World's write up

Sunday, October 24, 2004

My Weekend

Not a bad weekend at all, except I missed the CpR retreat. From everything that I have heard, it was great. I would expect nothing less.
Friday I worked from home in the morning and then had lunch with K, who was back from college to help with the retreat. We went and had Indian food, it was his first time. We have been exploring what a career in cross cultural missions might look like for him, so its always fun to spend some time with him. Quality guy all around. One of the big things we talked about was that it is not Biblical to make missionaries the heroes of the faith. People that are involved in God's mission, every day ordinary people like you and me, engaged in what God is doing right here right now, those are the heroes. Like Erwin says, "We don't send out missionaries. We send out people who are passionately in love with Jesus Christ."
Being able to meet one on one with people like K, talk and formulate what missions looks like in their lives - its a pretty constant desire of mine. SPACE has been great at getting events to get kids to do something. The logical next value in this experiment must be that we value discipleship and growth. We will not be an important component in our youth ministry if we only plan events but do not grow students in some way. I think it also goes back to a certain disposition that I have - I need to connect with students in meaningful ways, like in a mentoring, discipling context.
I had the afternoon off so K and I picked up #2 from her preschool. My wife and mother in law went off to hear Beth Moore speak in Baltimore. She has been raving about the conference every since she got back, it sounded pretty awesome. The #2 and I went over to the church. If you read my posts about last weekend's SPACE launch, you know about our envelope fiasco. What I didn't talk much about was that the envelope issue stuck around all week, since somehow, the host organization didn't come to pick up their 80 pounds of direct mailing. Anyway, I wanted to pop into the church offices to make sure they were gone. And to give penance. Luckily, the goods were picked up. If not, #2 would have had a lot to carry. We also helped at the Warehouse for the retreat departure, which I wrote about previously.
Saturday the girlies and I went to a local farm, for a hayride, pony ride, and pumpkin picking. Ah, fall in Maryland - nothing like it.
And last night, I worked a marathon release. Actually, it was two releases. The first went very well and was a really big milestone for the project that I am on. The second didn't go so well, but luckily, the problems were not related to the work my team implemented. So I was at work from 6pm to 7.30am. Today has been kind of a daze. Anyway, thats what the weekend looked like.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Teenage Driving lately

In just one month's time, 15 young people have been killed in the Washington region, including a 3-year-old girl, in nine crashes involving teenage drivers. The first occurred Sept. 16, when a 16-year-old Vienna teenager smashed into a tree on a winding road while playing cat-and-mouse with another teenager. The ninth and most recent happened Oct. 17 on Interstate 95 in Virginia, when one passenger died after a 17-year-old girl lost control and rolled a Cadillac sport-utility vehicle filled with members of her rowing team. She had six passengers, more than she was allowed by Virginia law.
The Washington Post reports here about the last month's string of teenage driving accidents around DC. Two of these incidents happened with Howard county teenagers, including the one mentioned with the 3-year old girl mentioned above. Tragic.
Last weekend, while on the way to Helping Up Mission, one of the guys was telling me about a sleepover a dteam had the night before. One the way from a CpR outreach to the sleepver, two of the guys were goofing around having a mock drag race from a red light. Although they never broke the speed limit, a county cruiser pulled them both over, to the tune of $350 per car. Ouch. Apparently, the police in our area are being quite vigilant due to the accidents of late.
I can easily attest to the fact that when I was a high schooler, I drove like the people I looked up to. If the youthworkers that sacrificed their time for me drove like The Road Warrior, then it was okay for me to do too. And when I became a youthworker, the kids who saw me drive first hand eventually drove like that when they got their license too. It's a complex thing to be an example for the younger generation entrusted to us. And sometimes, we don't even realize the influence we have.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Retreat Departure

I thought it might be fun for some of you to see what it actually looks like when we leave for a retreat. For a lot of you, the idea of retreat conjures nightmares of logistics, permission forms, lost luggage and hyper kids. Yup, all that and more! You know you love it. Anyway, I was there to help out a little bit this afternoon and snapped some pictures, so I thought I would share.
1. Tag your luggage
Everyone comes into the Warehouse lobby and tags their stuff. Everything gets tagged, name and grade. For the entire duration, students are responsible for all of their stuff. We used to have volunteers move it like bellhops, but no more. This way, you lose it, you don't have anyone else to blame. Tags and markers provided at 4 tables in the lobby.

2. Into the big room to register.
We have desks lined up, and grade level registration. What it looks like before the crowd comes in and during. Mayhem but relatively organized. Take your stuff with you.
Before the kids come in. Also note, Amy is the person on the right.

During:

3. Onto the buses.
4 buses for this retreat.
Every bus has a bus captain, with a list of who is on it. Broken down by grade. Students take their stuff and put it onto the bus and then hop on.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

All nighters

Jason posts about having an all nighter with the guys from his youth group. There is something weighty about a group of guys staying up all night to hang, isn't there?
I can remember some pretty significant times being together all night long.
- One time, we had a sleep over at our lead pastors house, since his son was part of our group. I had to leave early and took a student home, while the rest of them left in the church van with my co-leader and went to play Manhunt at a golf course. Later that night, I got a call from MK asking if I had taken JB home. Um, no. So I had to wake up our lead pastor at 3am. Not grand.
- On another occurrence, we spent the night at one of the kids houses who had a lake and a huge field on his property. (His dad is a lawyer...) MK and I made up this really cool game, a lot like Capture the Flag and Manhunt. The coolest part was that when we set up each round, we took his Jeep all over the property.
- When they were seniors, right before graduation, we did a Wild At Heart-esque type of overnight. We camped out with them in MK's friend's orchard, had them do some intense journaling about their future (adventure to live), did a very elaborate (and not so well taken) GPS scavenger hunt (battle to fight), wrote letters to their future wives (beauty to rescue). It was very cool.
- Before we were supposed to come to his house for a sleepover, a kid decided that he was going to get high. We showed up, he was out of it. We asked him about it and he confessed. We talked with him and his mother. He spent the rest of the night in his room, while all his friends had a sleepover at his house. Rather strange.
Like Jason, I can relate to the mix of feelings after one of those nights. You smell like you've wrestled sweaty middle schoolers for 2 hours, your bones creak like you are 67, and your head pounds like you are some kind of addict. On the flip side, you have ventured into a student's world, you made some lifelong memories, and whether you think so or not, you encouraged and challenged someone in their walk with Jesus.

Fall high school retreat

If you remember, pray for our high school retreat this weekend. I am, unfortunately, not going. I have a weekend release I have to work for the day job. Our speaker's name is Lance, there are about 200 kids going, 9th through 12th grade. Our Fall retreat is focused on small groups - building community in them, getting kids to know each other, and concentrating on investing into kids who are already walking with Jesus. The Spring retreat is where we challenge kids to bring friends and where the program and messages are more towards kids who are unchurched. Here is the rough schedule:

(Schedule is subject to change)

Friday, October 22nd
3:30 pm Check-in begins at the Warehouse
5:30 pm Estimated arrival at Summit Lake
7:30 pm Dinner
9:00 pm Evening program
11:00 pm Small group time
12:30 pm Lights out!

Saturday, October 23rd
9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am Morning program
11:45 am Small group time
12:30 pm Lunch
1:00 pm Free time
5:30 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Leader’s meeting in the dining hall
7:30 pm Evening program
10:00 pm Small group time
11:00 pm S’mores by the camp fire
12:30 pm Lights out!

Sunday, October 24th
9:00 am Breakfast
Chapel in small groups
12:00 pm Lunch
12:45 pm Departure from Summit Lake
2:00-3:00 pm Estimated arrival back at the Warehouse


I love the way we do retreats. The coolest thing to me, is that every message ends with two or three application questions, and rolls right into small group time. We tell our speakers that their job is two fold - to do a great job speaking, but just as important, to set up small group time. I remember countless retreats where the speakers were great and when they were done, it was time to go to the gym. Not so here. Small groups are integral times for the retreats.
Your prayers for our students would be awesome.

Jesus got angry

A summary of the LCWE2004 from the Friday Fax -
The church also pays far too little attention to children:
one third of the world's population is under 15 years old, but only 10% of
missionary effort is aimed at children. One participant summarized the
situation as follows: whether we hide them away in Sunday Schools, or ignore
the millions of children who suffer in the sex industry, hunger, AIDS or under
child labour, the church has failed. This was also the context of a miracle
during the conference: one speaker shouted 'Jesus became angry' with his
disciples for not allowing children to come to him (Mark 10:14). Just as he
spoke the word 'angry', the electricity failed in the entire building, and the
microphone with it, with a loud bang.

Wow, thats pretty intense.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tony Campolo interview

Let me just put it this way. I've been on the international board of Habitat for Humanity from the very beginning. When it comes to building houses for the poor, evangelicals are right there with their hammers. When it comes to changing housing policies at HUD, evangelicals are not interested. We've got to do both. We've got to build houses on the micro- level. We've got to change housing policies coming out of Washington.
Campolo interview here. Via Faithmaps.

Halloween

I love Halloween. It's one of those times of the year when so much energy, fun and excitement come together. That, coupled with the turning of the seasons, the chill in the air, the leaves turning colors, just makes for a really awesome time of the year. Of course, I'm not into Halloween as much as some of my friends. One of them loves Tim Burton movies. That's a little weird. On the other hand, some of you reading this might think it incredulous that I have fun during such a pagan time as Halloween. Well, sorry... but I'm sure you'll get over it.
Here is a few view points I have about Halloween:
- What a great time of the year to get out and meet your neighbors. When else does the whole neighborhood come out, take walks, see all of everyone else's kids?
- There are elements in Halloween that are part of a Biblical worldview. Now some of you are really freaking out. Let me explain... and then you can delink me. (But leave a comment if you do delink. :-) ) Halloween can be a little creepy, with all the ghosts, goblins, and witches that are tradition about the holiday. The ideas of good versus evil, light versus dark and right versus wrong should be part of a Biblical worldview. Jesus spoke about all of those elements and the Bible is clear that there is a spiritual battle happening in and around us. As Eldredge says, "To live in ignorance of spiritual warfare is the most na├»ve and dangerous thing a person can do. It’s like walking into an al-Qaida training camp, wearing an “I love the United States” T shirt." There is of course, plnety more that I could write about this subject.
- Halloween is a great time of the year to engage your students. A number of years ago, a youth group we worked with would have a leader scavenger hunt in a local mall. The leaders all had to dress up in any kind of costume, and then go walk around the mall. The kids would show up at the mall 30 minutes later, with copies of the leaders pictured normally, and would have to try to find as many as they could. The way they found them was to walk up to them and quote John 3:16. If the person was not a leader, they would, of course, think the student was a crazed religious fanatic. The one year I helped out, it was crazy fun. I had a bunch of teen age guys at the mall laugh at me because I had a fake beard that looked ridiculous. A great ending to an activity like that would have been to talk about the masks, how often we put up a front, how Jesus can see through that, and how God calls us to be authentic.
Anyway, we will be taking the girlies for a night away for fun. The Seawitch Festival in Rehoboth Beach is about 2.5 hours away. It should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Warehouse - 2004 SPACE page

Well its not much, but I made some updates to the SPACE 2004 summer mission trips page on www.atthewarehouse.org. I like what little I have done to it.
It seems to me that it is so important to have a web presence with students today.

Monday, October 18, 2004

India - Fusion

Made a connection with another guy from Fusion (our Young Adult church plant within a church) talking about yet another missions trip... very cool... I wrote about the previous one here. For this one, there is a team of seven, going to India. The first part of the trip is working with a Compassion International project. The second part is working with a church planting ministry. The team leader has done work with Compassion in India before and another member of the team has done work with the church planting ministry before. I like that there are connections with these ministries before. This trip is slated for January. (That's fast...)
There is also this funny element around the trip, in that at least two of the team members felt this distinct feeling and call for going to India in January. That's some wild stuff. I dig it.
It's really satisfying to be a resource for these teams. It fits in with what I think I should be doing with enabling and mobilizing students and others for missions. When we came up with the concept for SPACE, this was definitely on the right track. It will be neat to see how it plays out when the high school and middle school students I deal with right now get to be the ages of a college/post-college person and what kind of missions will happen with them then. This thing gets funer and funer.

SPACE mission links

Added some SPACE mission links to the right.

2/5 kids don't live with their father

At Mens Frat last week, the speaker threw out this statistic. And then he said:
"This is a more important fact than what is going on in the Middle East, what is going with the economy and what is going to happen with the election."
Interesting.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Helping Up

My short chronicle, with some hindsight thrown in for good measure, about today. All in all, it went pretty well.
- 8:00am : a call from one of the other leaders stating that the Baltimore Marathon is this morning. In other words, we need to find an alternate way to the Mission and plan for much longer travel time. Not a big deal.
- 9:00am : showed up at the Warehouse. One of the other leaders had booked us to help with some envelope stuffing for the Howard County office for Habitat for Humanity. This lady for HoH was supposed to be there at 9 sharp. Apparently she goes to Grace but didn't know where the Warehouse was. Uh, right.
- 9:00am - 9:30am : kids start to show up. Good crowd, about 18 kids or so. Two no shows, not a big deal, but I wish the two had made it because they are pretty great people.
- 9:30am : HoH Lady shows up. We have 6500 envelopes to stuff. A fold down small envelope, a tear off return slip, a letter to be folded in thirds, all put into one large business size envelope. Yes, that's right - 6500. I'm not exactly enthralled at this point. I tell her we have a baby schedule to keep.
- 9:55am : We leave the Warehouse after a quick, 2.5 minute devotional about God being our rear guard. (It's cool - Isaiah 58)
- 10:30am : We arrive at Helping Up. With great skill and more great luck, somehow we lock the keys in the church van. Right outside the front doors of the Mission. With it running.
- 11:30am : One of our students is able to use a coat hanger and roll down the window to get it unlocked. Remember - Long Reach High School provides a quality education.
The rest of the day was pretty fun, we did some painting for them, a lot of serious cleaning, had lunch with the residents and then had some time in the rec room with them just hanging out.
I think it was a valuable experience overall. Most every student that came was great, they worked hard, loved the experience and was impacted with how really blessed we are. Seeing some of the middle school kids that came was awesome, because one of my goals as a leader is building for the future, and we have to engage middle schoolers now for the future for SPACE.
Looking back, a few key things:
- For the locking the van thing, we should have called AAA, had a leader sit with the van and sent all the kids to go in and do what we were there to do.
- Next time, we should get a list of stuff they know they need before we go, or find out exactly what we are doing there. For example, we could have easily brought boxes of cleaning supplies, painting supplies, etc. and it would have saved them resources for that work.
- Pray more. That kind of place is in the midst of a huge spiritual battle. They run a 12 month addiction recovery program. You can bet there is powers working against each other constantly there.
- Be unwavering in planning about logistics. Specifically, for the envelope stuffing thing, as a leader team, we did not know about all the details, the numbers of envelopes, etc. Had we known, we could have certainly planned much better. Instead, we are stuck with this commitment. I had a SPACE team lunch planned for tomorrow with some other things we needed to get done. Instead, I have to bag those plans to do more envelope stuffing. I'm not very happy about it. But realistically, I should have insisted we flesh out all the details between that task and working at the Mission.
Some good lessons and reminders, just a little bumpy. It was still a treat, a real joy to take a team of kids out to intentionally bless other people.

Friday, October 15, 2004

SEMP 2005

SEMP 2005 dates have been announced. Listing here. When I think of the Baltimore Inner Harbor, my first thought isn't getting engaged there, so many fun times with my family there, but sharing Jesus with strangers.

To Remind Me

A few Septembers ago, our high school pastor talked to us, a group of youth workers. His challenge was two-fold. First, think and identify a defining moment in your ministry. A moment when, for the first time, you came to the realization that you could do it. A specific moment that you realized you were making an impact, that you felt and observed that God was using you to bless others. Secondly, understand that so much of ministry is providing an environment that is conducive for others to have these defining moments. His challenge really struck me, because I could readily identify with one of those defining moments.
I was about 23 years old and had been offered a dream job for the summer. I was in the midst of working on my Masters degree and had zero aspirations to work in that field for the summer. I wanted to do something fun. The church where I had been volunteering at had a somewhat progressive youth missions summer setup. Each summer, kids could go on potentially three different missions experiences, but would have to go through a progression of stages before moving to the next one, ie - Phase 1, 2, and 3. Because of my volunteering, relationships with the kids, past experiences, etc. the church offered me to lead Phase 1. Phase 1 was a 6 week sample of different mission and ministry experiences, a week at a time in places like an inner city kids camp, open air evangelism in a city, a work project, all around the East Coast. For the job, I had to raise support, but that would cover a very small salary. In other words, I would get paid to lead a 6 week student missions trip. I jumped at the chance.
It was an incredible opportunity. I had to recruit and interview a team, knowing that they would be launched into future summer mission experiences as well. I had to develop some sort of Bible study plan for the team. I had to make contact with the ministry hosts and firm up logistical plans. I was in charge of all of the financial and prayer support. There was one slight detail - week #5 was unplanned. There were lots of possibilities but nothing set.
So I had a week to do with whatever I wanted to. Talk about freedom to explore, experiment and risk. It was like a blank check. Having read about Kentucky coal mines and applachia and that whole region a bit, I researched going there. After some phone calls and such, we had planned to spend week #5 there, doing two Bible clubs, and staying in a Bible camp in the middle of the Kentucky mountains. Very cool. It was all coming together.
In a lot of ways, the whole summer was a defining moment for me. I learned an incredible amount of things, about myself, about the team, about God. It was a new experience for me, really running a ministry. It was neat to see all the ground work from the spring and its fruit during the actual trip in the summer. It was awesome to travel, learn and grow with students from the church that I attended, an immersion experience in bottling up discipleship for 6 weeks in a church van.
Our first morning in Kentucky was glorious. Here was the fruition of a vision I had conjured up and now, my team was running a Bible club for a bunch of kids in the middle of the Kentucky mountains. I was astounded at God's goodness to me. We ended up finishing the Bible club way early and had about an hour to kill before parents came to pick up their kids. With no plan in place, somehow I came up with the idea to paint some rocks. We had lots of paint and a whole gravel driveway. I still have that rock, it sits on my desk in the office. On one side it says "MP92" (MP stands for Mission Possible), the other side says "KY", and there is some paint all over it.
For every mission experience I do now, I try to get the students some little token. Like that little rock that reminds me that incredible summer where God impacted me so I could impact others, my hope is that one student looks back on this token thing and remembers how God spoke to him or her, how God used them, how God loves them.
Here are some of the things we have done and what I have given students that come along:
- lunch with homeless in a park and then working in a food distribution center : a used (but clean) spoon
- raking peoples yards in the community : a checker game piece (had the idea of strategically meeting people)
- throwing a Valentines day party at a nursing home : a little heart shaped stone
- serving at a pregnancy center for a morning : a baby teether
- NYC missions trips (2) - a NYC subway map and an "I Love NYC" keychain
For Saturday, when we go to Helping Up Mission to help serve the homeless, I am going to give each one of them a roofing shingle. I have to say, I'm more excited about this one than all the rest we have done. I REALLY love this momento. And if you are one of the ones coming along with us, don't blow the surprise.

Google Desktop

I just downloaded it yesterday, it's pretty cool. One thing though - it doesn't search zip files... is that right?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

No Hymns

"They don't sing hymns. McManus says "European" songs have no relevance in a multiethnic, multicultural urban church of revolutionaries in the heart of Los Angeles in the 21st century."
From the LA times article about Mosaic here. (Free registration required.)
Oh, and by posting this, I'm not saying I like, or don't like hymns. I just thought the quote was funny.

Launch this Saturday

Our first SPACE Launch of the year is this Saturday. I'm pretty excited about it, it's always so much fun when we get kids out of the Warehouse and into the community doing something. We will be going to Helping Up Mission, helping prep and serve lunch and doing some things around their property. We have also hooked up with Habitat for Humanity to stuff around 4000 envelopes for them. I think its a good balance, providing both some indirect and direct serving of the homeless, with approaches from two different ministries.
I'm also excited because everytime I take students out of the Warehouse, whether for just a day to serve, an evening to meet and talk about serving, or a week for a missions trip somewhere, there is a feeling, an energy, a aura. I know it sounds weird. I get a serious rush when I am involved in something intentional, missional, where students are engaged to serve and minister in ways that are out of the ordinary.
My other goals for this Saturday:
- for kids to really engage people that are homeless
- for all of us to understand a little bit better how blessed we are - AND - that God blesses us so that we will bless others
- see that they can engage in service as a lifestyle choice and not just a once in a while decision
- get to know some middle schoolers so they have a vision for this when they get to high school

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Oriental Trading

We get this catalog every few months in the mail. It never amounted to much to me before, just another junk mail trinket catalog. But tonight, we took a good look through some of the stuff in there. This was one of my favorites!

Ok, you are right - enough sarcasm. Seriously though, if you need party stuff, like for a youth min event, and you have enough lead time, this seriously is the place to get your stuff. Lots and lots of different things, all kinds of themes, quantities in bulk, really inexpensive. It will be my source this year for SPACE trinkets.

World Missions Staff

I was poking around the Northpoint website, Andy Stanley's church. I don't much about him and haven't read too much of his stuff. But seeing their World Missions page, wow. They are seriously organized.
Here is a listing of their World Missions staff:
Director of World Missions
Director of Funding
Director of Short Term Missions
Director of Training and Equipping
Manager of Mobilization and Communication
Strategic Partnership Director
Director of Short-Term Trips

And looking at the listing of all the opportunities they make available for short term trips, it's no wonder they need all that staff.
"Each of our short-term trips is specifically designed to meet the strategic needs of our partnerships, missionaries, or potential partnerships. God has blessed North Point with many people who possess varying gifts, abilities, and talents, and He is using all of us to help support the efforts of Christians and missionaries overseas. Each short-term team goes through a four-month training process so that every team member is adequately prepared for the trip. Almost all of our trips require no extra-ordinary skills or previous experience and are great for first-timers.
God commanded His Church to make disciples of all nations, and each of us has a responsibility to get involved in some way. Where will you serve?"

Neat operation.

"Missionaries and Youth Workers Working Together"

Missionaries who understand the dynamic interaction between youth culture and different kinds of societies are needed to help churches face these global challenges. But in order to do so, they have to be well-trained as both youth workers and missionaries.
“We handed out a ton of food and clothing to all those poor people.” (Never mind the fact that this initiative may have helped bankrupt several local businesses or that the items were later sold at a local market for a good profit.) “We went with these American doctors and nurses to set up an eye clinic and they treated 500 people in only a week’s time.” (Unfortunately many of the conditions they found required longterm care but the local physicians moved out of town when they found it too difficult to recover from the sudden foreign competition.) “We did this pantomime and music performance in the streets, and 500 people made decisions for Christ.” (Unfortunately none of these new Christians could be found in the local churches a week later.) “It was unbelievable how open and loving the missionaries and the local Christians were to us.” (Undoubtedly they were sincere, but they may have funded their entire year’s activities off the revenue generated by caring for that single short-term team.)
Read the whole article here.

The Uncomfortable Church


The Cycle
The Church in the first century joyfully adopted this risky lifestyle.
Particularly in the first eight chapters of Acts we see the apostles
and disciples caught up in a cycle of dangerous and counter-cultural
activity for the cause of Christ.

God Speaks Through Followers – 2:14-40, 3:11-26, 4:31, 7:2-56,
8:4-40
Living out the Word of God would be incomplete without speaking
the Word of God. Communicating the truth about man’s depravity,
God’s redemptive work on the cross, and the reality of a life
“more abundantly” is the ministry Christians are called to in
the Great Commission. In the power of the Holy Spirit, men like
Peter, Stephen, and Paul boldly proclaimed the good news to gathering
crowds. They were intentional and took advantage of the opportunities
God laid before them. In fact, they were constantly looking for
those very opportunities. They were “prepared in season and out
of season" to "give an answer to everyone" who asked them to
give the reason for the hope that they had (2 Timothy 4:2, 1
Peter 3:15).


Pre-printed from an upcoming Caleb Project publication called Shaping Eternity Interactive Study (SEiS).

Click here for more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

swim

If you know me pretty well, you know that I'm not a great swimmer. In fact, I'm really a big fan of the water, just not being in it. I love to canoe, be near the beach most of the time, listen to rivers and oceans near me. Heck, I've even gone whitewater rafting one time. (But just once.) I just never learned to swim when I was a kid. My parents didn't take the time to get me into that kind of thing, and my mom doesn't know how to swim either.
It's gotten a lot better in recent years, since having children has this crazy effect on you sometimes - ie - you have to do things you never thought you would. In my case, the first diaper I ever changed was my daughters, I never played with Barbies (and still try desparately to get out of it), and I have to spend more time in the pool than all my pre-fatherhood years combined.
I can remember the first time I felt even close to being comfortable under water. It was on a high school retreat and I asked a bunch of the guys in my small group to help me learn how to swim. It was a very big deal to me. Up until then, I had almost no comfort level when my head was under water. One of the guys had brought me two pairs of swimming goggles, he had found them at a good price since he was a lifeguard (in other words, for free.) Anyway, the goggles, and the short time with those guys in the pool really did it for me. I was becoming a merman.
This summer, one of those same guys took K for swimming lessons. One hour a day for about 5 days, and she became a mermaid. The transformation was incredible. At the beginning of the summer, it took all her nerve to put her face under water. At the end of the summer, she was swimming underneath the rope in the pool and jumping into the water. What was just as wild was to be a part of this cycle, where a student we had served came back and served one of our kids, in such a real and tangible way, because he really wanted to. When I pressed him for how much he makes for paying swimming lessons, he wouldn't even come close to telling me. I asked his mom and she said he wanted to do it for free for all the years I had served him. (You call a short Bible study, lots of Manhunt, pizza and brownies serving? haha...)
If you've been in this thing we call 'youth ministry' (which really is such a limiting term for what we long to do) for any amount of time, you know that what you get always far outweighs what you think you give.

Monday, October 11, 2004

LWCE - local connection

I just read this posting somehow from a link from another link from another link from a blogger friend. Anyway, it is a blog of a pastor of a local church down the street from us, who is in Thailand (or was), and at the LWCE, which I have written about before. One of the comments in his post was from his daughter... Read it here.
That is what mission is about.

Guat - Fusion

We have this team of students from the college age fellowship (Fusion 15:5) at GCC that are planning a missions trip to Guatemala. Fusion 15:5 is a new 4th service that got started aiming for 35 and under people. (I still fit into that!) I think the church likes to think of it as a church plant within a church, which is a really cool way to think of it.
There are 4 people in charge of the whole trip and their team is pretty much chosen now. They had their first team meeting this past weekend. They will be going for close to 4 weeks, helping out a self sustaining farm and orphanage. The current team size is 27 people. Wow.
There are a few things that are very neat about this trip. First, that there is this whole group of college students that are really really excited to go overseas to travel and work in a third world country. I scoff sometimes at the elements of affluence in our community - luxury cars, humongous malls with aisle upon aisle of objects of desire, people that are fanatic fans of sporting events... you know the drill. So to be able to see a group of young people that decided, close to a year ago, that 2005 would be a summer where they would travel to help serve, that is really something. As we all know, finding people that have the desire to go overseas is not easy. Secondly, they planned it all themselves. They identified like minded people with this desire, they networked with other missions people to get some ideas, they hit the books and the web to do some research about where and when. And they did it mostly on their own, with no 'adult' type of people. Indigenous at best. They have lead their culture and impacted it from within. Thirdly, it will be neat to see how it affects students that are younger than them. This team is out of my area of oversight, since they are all post high school. But it will be neat to see how the students I work with envision what they themselves will do in college. 'Could I go and do something like that when I am in college? What will my summers look like? Maybe I should give up a few weeks to do something awesome and crazy like that'
There are a few things about the trip that make me glad I'm not involved. First, a team of 27. That is huge. I can't imagine traveling through airports, customs, local buses, etc. with a team that large. On one hand, its great momentum. On the other hand, traveling internationally with such a large American team, in a post 9-11 world, that would have me, and has me, a little concerned. Concerned for their logistics and their safety and them not drawing attention to themselves. It will be virtually impossible to not have people notice them. I also hope that this trip really engages on some of the present/future ideas of mission. These ideas of training local, indigenous leadership; making sure that there is not a dependency built upon a non local church or group; sensitivity and caring for the local culture; and making sure the team members can articulate their passion and what they did when they were there.
I'm sure I will be posting more info about them as it gets closer. Overall, another really awesome thing happening in this progression of missions at GCC.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

moved to Flickr

Well I moved almost all of my image links in my posts to Flickr. Its a pretty cool tool, try it if you haven't already and see what you think. I did have a fotopages page too, but you can't link from images there. And my tripod thing never did work quite right. There is only one post I did not fix, that was the one that I had like 30 thumbnail images of our mission teams from last summer.
Here is what I did for those of you that might be interested:
- Somewhat unrelated, I archived my whole blog to my computer, by messing with the blogger templates, archiving options and line breaks, so that the whole thing showed up on one page. I was wanting to save off the whole thing for a while anyway. Therefore, I had all the images locally.
- I uploaded all of those images from my machine instead of from my old host for the images.
- Thinking that I could just easily edit the links, I left the images the same names. That would be too simple.
- Instead, when you click on a photo on Flickr, it will give you some size options and also give you a URL if you want to link to it. That URL is nothing like what it was in tripod (tonytsheng.tripod.com/***/jpg). So, there was no way to do any simple editing of the links. You have to open each image to grab the URL that gets generated by Flickr.
But all in all, not a very big deal. I didn't have that many images anyway. But now, since it works pretty well, it will be easy to have more.

more SPACE 2

I didn't really capture all of what I was thinking or feeling in the last post. So I need, more for just me, to write about it again.
This is the second year that we have done this big experiement, this thing called SPACE. Last year went so incredibly well, we had some really great community service days (called Launches), they were implemented so well. Even more significant, they just had some great thinking behind them. There was serious purpose, intention and just enough craziness, it was so so magnificent. Then came the summer, which also had some great things, including mission team prep meetings, raising support, and the actual trips themselves. When the rest of the youth team was getting ready for the school year to start, I felt like I was just almost done resting.
When this year started, we had one team meeting. We had a few ideas on the table, but nothing seriously groundbreaking or cool and suave, different from last year. And then we had a few schedule conflicts, so we couldn't even get a second meeting. We lost a bit of momentum.
But Friday changed all of that. I printed out a schedule of dates and things we wanted to do. I also had the title as "The Meat is in the Street" which I got off of PM's blog post yesterday. And I started our meeting talking about that phrase, to frame the purpose of our being there, and then telling a story about Wimber (the one of him in the plane seeing a woman's name on the forehead of the guy sitting across the aisle from him.) We also had three new members to the team, and they brought some energy and excitement with them as well. A sophomore and two juniors. And, we had something set for our first launch, not just a date. Having a date but not having any plans drained our energy. It gave me a sense of dread for about three weeks.
It's interesting to see how this year will play out, having been pretty succesful for the first year of this thing, a first year we called a 'pilot' year.
I still love to tell people its just a big experiment. But what I'm seeing more and more, is that there should not be an experiment to see if students will engage in service and mission opportunities. It is not an experiment that will fail because this generation of students today will serve the community and others. They have hearts that are drawn towards a holistic, integrated faith that inherently values serving out of their belief system.

Friday, October 08, 2004

more SPACE

Here I thought that we were starting the year off slow... When tonight, we had the best meeting we have ever had. Lots of plans, lots of initiators, lots of fun. Three new people came to the crew that hadn't before.
One of our goals was to involve kids that were not already involved, and engage those kids that were not fitting into band, skit, etc. teams.

A vacation?

PM has jotted some notes of his from a youth conference he spoke at, about his missions strategy.
c. Sounds like a vacation to me?
i. Try doing 5-10 fundraisers
ii. Try taking 13 kids oversees
iii. Try doing the admin paperwork
iv. Take the vacation with us then - see how much work it is

Read the whole set of notes here (Search for " Notes from the Arizona Vineyard Youth Leaders Conference".

Humble

I had to meet with our high school pastor and one of the potential mission team leaders for this coming summer last night. It was to talk about something in the hopper for 2005, and it was not such a great thing to have to talk about. But I came away with it just impacted because both of these men are so incredibly humble. It's awesome to work with people that so desire that Jesus is glorified - that everything else just falls away.

I love it

Eldredge describes meeting a new neighbor and saying that her son is always welcome to visit the three Eldredge boys, who have an arsenal of toy weapons. The neighbor is crestfallen, Eldredge says, and announces that she doesn't allow her son to play with toy guns. Eldredge confesses to his brothers that he was tempted to tell her, "Just go ahead and cut his [testicles] off."
I know there are quite a few people, and at least one of my readers, that do not like Eldredge. But you have to admit, no matter what you think of him, that is quite a statement. Read the whole article here.

UPDATE: From one of my beloved readers....
Hi Tony --

I've tried to post comments on your site a couple of times and for some reason I can't. So if you can find a way to transfer this to your site, great. I just wanted to say that although I'm not a big fan of Eldredge, it's not because of this. This, I found great! I think he's solid when he confronts what contemporary society, and even modern evangelicalism, has done to biblical masculinity with examples like this. I'm not as sold on the theology behind his critiques, but we can quibble about that later. This is good stuff!

Seven Realities About the 10/40 Window

A great summary of the seven realities of about the 10/40 window. I can't say that I have ever really seen this articulated so well.
1. Historical and Biblical Significance
2. Unevangelized Peoples
3. The Heart of Religions
4. The World's Poor
5. Megapeoples
6. Megacities
7. Stronghold of Satan

Read the whole article here.
The author will be giving the keynote at the ACMC Maryland conference next month.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Flickr

I'm starting to use Flickr, so over the next few days, I'm going to relink all my personal images. Hopefully, it will make the image loading more stable. That tripod thing never quite worked right.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A new level of mission

I find that as I talk to people who are interested in missions, a lot of times, they stop talking to me. It's not something that I want to happen. Most of the time, it's pretty awkward. And most of the time, I try to be up front and tell them that first, I could talk about the subject for a long, long time. And second, that they might not like what I have to say.
The reason for this is because I believe we need to call people to a new sense of mission/missions. We can no longer plan mission trips based on superfulous reasons, like our travel preferences, because the church down the street did it, or because it sounds like a great vacation. Believe me, I am guilty of all of these too. My first international missions trip had violated just about every principle I believe in now.
And a lot of people do not like to hear that.
One of the key things I am learning is that I need to pull back a little bit and stop being a mission snob. It's hard because I'm really convicted about the things that I believe. But I think it's the right thing to do.
You can't mobilize if no one wants to listen to you.

the other perspective on LWSE

Check out what Marc says about the LWSE. I think it's a good and healthy perspective.

Potential Youth Ministry Scenarios

One of the Five Areas of Youth Ministry that needs Attention:
Adopt a “Go” Mentality
Jesus’ last words to the church were a call to centrifugal outreach: Jesus said, “Go!” This being said, most ministry programs are centripetal and focus instead on the word “Come.” While gathering together is essential to the formation of the church, it’s less effective at outreach.
Real disciple making occurs as we follow Christ into the world. Developing programming (other than the occasional mission trip or service project) that takes place where students meet and gather is essential for the future of youth ministry.
Also, it’s important to build into your students the desire to reach out in their lives rather than merely inviting friends to church. Time at church must be used effectively to develop believers and then see them reach out into the marketplace.
The greatest revolution in outreach will probably take place among marketplace leaders, not professional ministers or ministries. Thus, students must be equipped and prepared to integrate their faith into their living.

Read the whole article here.

Oral is ...

"These numbers are staggering. If you don't think it's happening in your school, community, church, or even under your own roof, you need to think again." Read the full article here. Another great one by Walt and the gang at CPYU.

Mens Frat update

Well I made it this morning. Boy, was it early. And boy, it was worth it. The speaker was excellent, and I'm really excited to see the momentum that is generated. The theme for this first 9 week session is to deconstruct cultural manhood. I also got into a great small group for the discussion portion of the morning. There were like some 250 men there.
The speaker read this story, in the context of 'Is that what our culture says is a real man?' Very funny.
And look, I'm still awake!

Skyler's picture

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mens Frat

GCC is doing this 9 week thing for men called Men's Fraternity. It is going to be on 'The Quest for Authentic Manhood' and will be 9 Wednesday mornings, starting tomorrow morning. The setup is that it will be 45 minutes of listening to a talk from Dave Krueger, who is an excellent communicator, and then 45 minutes of small group breakout discussion. Here is the rub though - it starts at 6am. Correct.
Most of you know that even getting up at 7am is a big stretch for me... Yes, I'm going. At least, that's what I'm saying tonight.

Skyler update #3

Thanks to all of you who prayed for my niece Skyler. She came home from the hospital on Monday and got the A-OK from an infectious disease specialist. We believe that it was pretty much a miracle, and I'm writing about it because I think it's helping me process it a little bit better.
There are a few things I find interesting about it. First, that so many people were praying for her. That was really cool, we got such a response from our friends and family and even you readers out there. Really neat. Second, from all accounts, she shouldn't really be alive. Every doctor that saw her said that she should either be in a coma or be dead. Sad, scary, mysterious. When her mother (my wife's sister) was young, she had Rye syndrome and was hospitialized for a few weeks. Same kind of thing. She should not be alive. Which is the third thing, isn't that interesting that it's kind of a thing (the miracle of them both recovering) that has run through both mother and daughter.
Recently, I've really been thinking about the whole extraordinary signs and wonders thing. If you have read this before, you know most of it comes from this Power Evangelism book. And from reading in the book of Acts, lots of miraculous stuff going on. It makes me wonder what God has planned for Skyler.
Anyway, thanks to those of you that were praying. I hope God uses some of these facts to encourage, challenge and inspire you.

First SPACE launch of the year

Our first SPACE launch of the year will be on the 16th. We are taking a team of students here. I had some grand ideas about what to do first, but nothing really came from those ideas. It was too bad. Anyway, I think this will be really good.
Last year, our first launch consisted of, first, making lunches along with the bag lunches the students brought. Then, we went into DC and found two parks where homeless people were and gave them the lunches and sat down and ate the lunches we brought from home with them. Then we went to the Capital Area Food Bank and sorted food for a few hours. It was a really good day, I felt like we had a great balance between doing a service project and actually having relational contact with people the kids would have never engaged with ordinarily. After thinking about it more, I think this year will be a bit better because we are actually working with a ministry that is indigenous to the culture and mission that it is trying to reach. We can only do so much by bringing food to the homeless ourselves, we can probably have a bigger impact when we help a ministry that does it as their primary passion.

Balance is Bunk!

An interesting article here about the balance between work and life. Er, rather, that there is no balance.
"At Microsoft, my definition of balance was getting a decent number of hours outside the office and off email. Now I don't care about that, because the email I check at midnight may come from a person who says he wants to endow a school in Vietnam. So I can't help but read that email, because it's a chance to change a kid's life."
Wouldn't it be great to have a job that had so much impact like that?

"contextualised truth into youth culture"

"It is not uncommon for youthworkers to advocate a completely formless, unstructured approach to church. After giving a seminar on the future shape of the church, Michael went to dinner with some students. At one point someone said, “I agree with you about the church. It needs a complete overhaul. I mean here we are, six guys eating together, talking about Jesus. We’re a church now!”"
Good article here that summarizes a lot of key concepts about cross cultural missions - contextualization, syncretism, the core of the Gospel and the Muslim C scale. It's an excerpt from what looks to be like a really good book.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Uprising - Passion

"When our passions are transformed by the presence of God, they always lead to freedom. As with all true passions, the life that is born out of them must come through death. This is why only when we die to ourselves do we finally begin to live. Then we will understand that freedom comes not by avoiding pain and suffering, nor by prolonging our existence, but through the freedom from fear and the confidence that not even death can rob us of life." - McManus in Uprising

Mission trip prep

PM writes some ideas for preparing his mission teams. Good stuff. (See the post titled ' Mini Pre Service Mission Trip Lessons') If you've never read his blog, I encourage you to. He's got some great ideas about engaging students in mission.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

read Uprising again

Sounds from what David is saying, that I need to read this book again. (Look under "Transformation Resources, Eric Bryant, Mosaic." because permalinks at this time are not working.)

OTC : Gen 3-11

My notes from this morning's message.
=====
Gen 3-11
Mark Norman
2004-10-03

History
- Gen 2:16
not about moral discernment
God is not concerned with us not knowing right from wrong
God vs. His people
the issue is rebellion

- Gen 3:6
chain of events set in motion
there are parts of me that I don't want others to see
everyone is like this
The Fall - Rom 5:12

Theology
- Depravity
the worst thing we can say to someone is 'Be yourself.'
depravity grows and grows in 3-11
Cain and Aabel - envy and murder
Lemmick - polygymy
Noah - gets drunk, curses grandson
Tower of Babel
Gen 6:5-6 - the Lord was grieved

Biography
Gen 3:1-7
Satan making Even doubt God's goodness
temptation in the area of vulnerability
rewards of sin are always overplayed
consequences of sin are always underplayed
this is textbook how Satan attacks us
- doubting God's goodness
- tempting in the area of vulnerability
- overplayed reward and consequences
- tries to get us to make the decision in isolation

film clip - The Lion King
elphant graveyeard

no wrestling of the decision in community - Eve faces it in isolation
1st time the word 'afraid' appears - Gen 3

More Theology
God still looks for Adam after Adam sinned
He still chases us - Gen 3:15
First shedding of innocent blood - to cover their nakedness - precursor to Jesus

Covenant
Rom 5:17


===

The one thing that really struck me was the last point. In Gen 3, it was the first time that innocent blood had been shed to cover up for Adam and Eve. I had never really thought about that before. It's so symbolic to what Jesus did for us, so that we could have a perfect relationship with Him. Very interesting. Of course, Pastor Mark was awesome this morning, like he is almost every single Sunday.
I'm really looking forward to next week on Genesis 12. If you have taken Perspectives, you know that Genesis 12 is huge. Just humongous.

LCWE - 10/03 update

FAST FACTS: On Orality, Literacy and Chronological Bible Storying
* 6.3 billion world population
* 6,809 languages spoken in the world
* 2,737 languages surveyed and listed as needing a translation (estimated population: 147 million)
* 1,699 Scripture projects underway
* 4,147 languages have no Scripture
* At least 1.5 billion people in the world have never been introduced to reading/writing
* At least 67% of the world’s people are either non-literate or functionally illiterate
* 75-85% of Islamic women are oral communicators (non-literate to functionally illiterate)
* At least 65% of Islamic men are oral communicators
* Significant numbers of Islamic Quranic leaders in the Middle East and Africa are oral communicators, operating by means of a memorized Quran
* Illiteracy is dominant among animistic peoples.
* 48-51% of adult Americans are non-literate or functionally illiterate
* Oral communicators understand, learn and assimilate information best when it comes to them in narrative or storying formats
* Oral communicators find it difficult to understand, and next to impossible to remember, recall and reproduce expositional outlines, points, principles and steps

From the daily update found here.
In case you didn't notice from this, we have quite the privlege to be able to read and write. On the flip side, if we don't pay attention, the part of the world that doesn't read and write could easily miss the Gospel. Those are some staggering numbers.
After taking my team to NYC this past summer, and having one evening where we helped with an ESL class that Urban Impact had run every Monday for the whole summer, I got to thinking that we had this enormous talent that most students never even thought about - the asset of being able to teach English. It was pretty incredible, these people were so grateful, and we thought hardly anything of explaining the alphabet and phrases.
Seeing these statistics now kind of make me think about this even more. But along slightly different lines. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to teach English. Maybe we should be careful about the balance between teaching English and refining our ability to tell the Gospel in a narrative form. Maybe we need to hone our abilities to tell stories, especially in dealing with cross cultural ministry. Maybe it has a lot more to do with context than I have thought so far. Interesting.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Proof

Here is proof that at least one person on my SPACE team actually reads the emails that I send out (look under the post for 2004-10-02 23:32). I am validated.

Nation Master - Lesson Plans

NationMaster, which is such a great resource for getting info about other countries, has just started providing various lesson plans for educators. See them here. If you've never looked at NationMaster, check it out. You will literally be baffled at the number of statistics they capture. It's an incredible resource.

LCWE - 10/01 update

Updates that struck me from two issue groups from October 1.

Issue Group #18
The evangelization and discipleship of children as a primary responsibility of and privilege for the church.

Why is it important?
The church is loosing ground in sharing the “Good News” with children:
- In England, during the 1990’s, the Church saw 1,000 children less each week in church programs.
- Only one in six children in church will remain in church by the age of 25.
- One-third of all the members of unreached people groups are under age 15.
- The majority of all believers receive Christ before age 15.

Action Plan
* Ask every Church - and every Issue Group at the Forum to put “Children” and “family” on their agenda.
* Ask Churches to empower children to share Christ with other children and with their families.
* Increase the use of technology – Internet, TV, Multimedia – to reach masses of children who cannot or will not enter a church.



Issue Group #23
Reaching the Youth Generation

Why is it important?
The Youth generation cannot be reached using traditional methods and approaches.
Action Plan
* Help youth workers to understand that the youth generation is attracted to, and shaped by, electronic media.
* Create evangelism tools that address the felt needs of this grouping:
Materialism, Loss of traditional values, Lack of meaning in life
* Launch evangelism efforts that address the needs of the millions of young people dying of AIDS.


Very interesting. Some pretty staggering numbers when they talk about children and reaching them. It's cool that they are addressing that issue.
Read more here

I like the way that they have come up with a list of action items. It is saying that the Forum is focused on getting busy and not just meeting to talk about a bunch of theory and concept. A few things come to mind about how the action items should be relevant to us. First, these should expose us to larger global issues around the issues groups. For instance, for Reaching the Youth Generation, do we really understand, as youthworkers in America, that there are millions of young people around the world, that are the same ages as the students we minister to, dying from AIDS. I don't think we do really understand. For the Forum to bring that up as a global issue that could potentially stop God's mission from reaching the youth generation, that should be pretty important to the average youthworker here in the US. Secondly, it should confirm our ministry. For instance, the action item about helping youthworkers understand electronic media... that is good. And we should all realize that we are dealing with a culture that is attracted to and shaped by a new stage of media. If you read the Forum notes and were surprised that media was an issue with your students... well, you know... Relevance to the culture is _________. Anyway, it will be exciting to hear about the rest of the Forum. I will continue to send reflections from the emails.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Friday night football

Tonight we went to see a high school football game, me and D and the girlies. At the same time, there was an 80s night CpR outreach at the Warehouse. I was going to go over to it after we came home from the game, but it's been a long week, and I've got a headache and a stomach ache.
I am ashamed to say that in around 15 years as a youthworker, I've only ever been to 2 high school football games. It's kind of sad isn't it? For my advocacy, I will say that 7 of those 15 years have seen some kind of summer missions trip. (The last statement is really only to appease myself.)
In any case, we had a great time tonight. There is something about a high school football game under the lights, the energy, the texture, the innocence. And now I really see what our high school pastor S says so much of the time - that if we are going to do outreaches on Friday nights, they had better be almost above excellent, since we compete with some pretty quality talent that night, movies, dances, games.
But that is the gist too isn't it? That what we create, the outreaches, the events, the relationships, the art - it all must compete in some way, and be better than what a culture without Jesus is providing.
I think we do it at CpR. I know tonight they were having an 80s dance at the beginning, and then two very intense dramas and two students sharing at the end. One of the dramas is a mock funeral, and S said, "They mock it very very well." Meaning it's going to bring out some significant questions from some students. That and the fact that this week, two students in a local high school were killed in a car accident.
All this to say, being involved in sports or the marching band or a cheerleader at high school is a huge draw. It's tough competition for what we need out of students that serve in our ministry. The Church had better see the task at hand and that need to be excellent in how we are engaging the culture.

Middle School boys

if you remember, pray for our middle school boys retreat happening right now. yup, retreat season is upon us.

Skyler update

Hi friends,

Thanks for praying for Skyler. As of today, she seems to be doing well - responding to the medications, becoming more alert, and it looks like she will be moved out of ICU in the next few days.
Thanks again for praying it up!

LCWE update

On Thursday morning at the opening Convergence session, Dr. Paul Eschleman (JESUS film Project) identified four categories that each of the 31 Issue Groups fall into in their common call to advancing the gospel:
- Mobilizing the Church to
- Share a Clear and relevant Message
- Using a variety of Methods
- To reach the Most-neglected, resistant or distinct groups

Paul then identified 12 aspects of evangelism that are being addressed at the Forum that the Convergence group will monitor:
- Prioritizing the unreached people groups of the world.
- Accelerating church-planting initiatives in the most neglected areas.
- Emphasizing the building of prayer movements
- Developing new approaches to Bible translation – especially for oral learners.
- Increasing the use of media – and preparing the next generation to be “storytellers.”
- Translating training and discipleship materials.
- Creating micro-economic structures to ensure the church is financially independent everywhere.
- Accelerating the training of younger leaders and empowering women.
- Facilitating the Two-Third’s World vision of sending 100,000+ new missionaries to the world.
- Cooperating – especially in reaching the cities.
- Focusing on the most open people group – children and young people.
- Living and preaching a holistic gospel.

Wow. Is this stuff hot or what? I don't know about you, but reading about a delegation of 2000 people from around the world, to meet and create execution and implementation plans around these common goals and issues, that makes me get sweaty.
A few things come to mind as I think about this list. First, the idea of getting churchs to be financially independent is great. We have embraced the wrong idea about missions for too long - this idea that churches outside of the Western hemisphere need us for financial viability. Instead, we need to come alongside these churches with our mission trips, and help them build national, indigenous leaders and help them create cuturally relevant, viable processes and ministries. Many of our mission trips are building a financial dependency by accident. Second, I love this idea of using media for storytelling. Last weekend, two Jehovahs Witnesses stopped by our house. I don't know you feel about them, but when I have time, I enjoy engaging them, at least for a few minutes. However, I'm pretty careful to not invite them into my house. Somehow, when I was a high schooler and had just become a Christian, someone told me of the idea of not to invite evil into your house. Maybe that was just my imagination. Anyway, we talked for maybe 15 minutes. Most of the time, I was feeling like they were salespeople. They were not telling a story about God's glory, how God has this mission to make people whole, how God desires an intimate relationship. Of course, these are JWs. Instead, it seemed like a propoganda drive - let me give you this magazine and that handout. But to reach our culture today, with any kind of spirituality or religion, it's much different than a sales call. Finally, I love the whole notion of church planting. Most of you that read this know that I've been pondering the IMB Church Planting booklet a lot lately. And it just continues to remind me that the local church is the light of the world. The parachurch and community organizations are great, but it seems to me that the viability of affecting a community, culture and locality gets turbocharged when the local church becomes the light.

No Debate for me

As you might have noticed, I don't write about politics at all in here. Not that I think that we should live with our heads in a hole and disengage. Not at all. We should be totally engaged, informed, catalytic change agents in our culture. And with that, we have a great responsibility and privilege with the ability to vote.
But I do think there is a lot of rhetoric about the election. Depending on how you feel, sometimes it seems like you can get information to back your stance just based on where you look.
Anyway, so instead of watching the debate, we watched this:

Overall, a very entertaining movie. It reminds me of a few things:
- As the father of two girls, the film reminds me that there is an unbiblical worldview that is pervasive, attractive and subtle. In fact, there are many worldviews that our kids can and probably will gravitate to. And they may not even realize that they are attracted to them.
- The best catalytic change to a subculture happens within people of its own subculture. People from the outside can only do so much. Like the scene near the end when the teacher is moderating the big self esteem exercise. Students minister best to other students. A youthworker will only be able to reach a few with his or her direct ministry.
- Hollywood is a powerful force in our society.