Tuesday, May 31, 2005

TSOTTC - book notes - Chapter 1 - Revolution

I'm going to start posting some of my notes and personal responses
from The Shaping of Things to Come. Feel free to chime in.

- Christendom is the name given to the sacral culture that has dominated European society from around the eleventh century until the end of the twentieth. Its sources go back to the time when Constantine came to the throne of the Roman Empire and granted Christians complete worship and even favored Christianity, thereby undermining all other religions in the empire. In virtually an instant, Christianity moved from being a marginalized, subversive and persecuted movement secretly gathering in houses and catacombs to being the favored religion in the empire.
Everything changed! The emperor had changed from being the principal persecutor of the Christianity to being the chief sponsor of the church. With the Edict of Milan, the age of the missional-apostolic church had come to an end.
And while the Christendom story no longer defines Western culture, it still remains the primary definer of the church’s self-understanding in almost every Western nation, including and perhaps especially the United States.
- Overall, Christianity moved from being a dynamic, revolutionary, social and spiritual movement to being a religious institution with its attendant structures, priesthood and sacraments.
- Christology determines missiology and missiology determines ecclesiology.
Whereas Christendom has unraveled because of its seduction by Western culture, the emerging missional church must see itself as being able to interact meaningfully with
culture without ever being beguiled by it. This is the classic task of the cross-cultural missionary: to engage culture without compromising the gospel. We cannot emphasize this enough. In fact, the whole tenor of this book will be to call
post-Christendom to see itself again as a missionary movement rather than as an institution.

Some pretty good quotes huh? A few things strike me. Firstly, that when Christianity was made 'legal', it was the death of the revolution. It makes me think of some of the legislative battles Christians have been fighting for lately. Does legislation solve the problem at the core? Isn't that the same kind of thing that happened in 313?

Secondly, that the call of the Church is to be a missionary movement. This fact was so evident to me from Perspectives. It was a fundamental truth that I had to take and do something about. That was one of the primary motives behind SPACE - that the next generation of Jesus followers could not do church the same way, that we needed to mold the students of today into becoming leaders of a movement tomorrow that will not settle for a culture of Christianity that says its okay to believe but not follow.

Even MTV considers 'indigenous'

Most of you readers know that I am a big proponent of the term 'indigenous' when it comes to missions. We must be helping to erupt indigenous communities of faith. Much more on that later, as I started reading The Shaping of Things to Come this past weekend.

In the meantime, check out the article titled "World Tour", a great read on how MTV is expanding internationally by focusing on local, indigenous culture.

Here is a snippet:
Until recently, MTV International's formula has been to race into unchartered markets and be the first to plant a flag, through channels with broad regional appeal, like MTV Latin America and MTV Asia. Now it wants to turbocharge the strategy by expanding in a dozen key markets with more MTV Networks brands, like Nickelodeon, across a range of technologies, like cable, satellite, even over cell phones. "We just finished another plan ... and international is in the DNA of every sentence," says MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath, who runs the business day-to-day for Freston. The key to pulling off the strategy, though, is sticking with the winning approach of mixing universal youth sensibilities with local tastes. All that helps MTV avoid coming across as a cultural imperialist. One example is the hit U.S. show, "Pimp My Ride." In Germany, it's "Pimp My Bicycle." MTV Indonesia airs regular "calls to prayer" for its Muslim audience. Every outpost, which gets it own local stylized spin on the MTV logo, offers a window into that society. On MTV India, "you get a sense of the colorful street culture," says Bill Roedy, president of MTV International. "MTV Japan—a sense of technology edginess; MTV Italy—style and elegance."

Photo: A picture of a police officer saluting some soldiers in a Memorial Day parade, Fairfield, CT, Memorial Day 2005.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Misc Links

UN World Food Programme's Interactive Hunger Map via Stephen

2005 risks in global filmmaking map via BoingBoing

Both probably great resources dealing with the day to day realities around the world.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mem Day

Spending Memorial Day weekend until Tuesday in CT at my mother in law's house. Very low key, getting lots of sleep, hanging with the fam. Saw Episode III. Like whoa. Maybe some posting later.

One of the funniest moments - girls singing "supercalifragelisticexpealidocious", along with other Disney showtunes, in the car ride up. Traveling together with your family, sometimes its magical.

Photo: K with one of the animals at the theaters showing Madagascar.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Tonight is our Senior Night at CpR, the Friday night outreach our ministry does. This evening, they will have a slide show, an epic drama and some other stuff to celebrate the Seniors. Unfortunately, I will be out of town. Graduation time - what an exciting time to be alive.

I remember when I graduated. It was a time filled with extremes - fear and excitement, the unknown versus the known, feeling like you are ready to be done with your friends and family yet knowing you will miss them.

When I watched my Dteam graduate in 2003, I wrote most of them a letter upon graduation. I'm cheap and didn't feel like buying cards. But even more than that, I could write whatever I wanted to in a letter. I have to admit, I thought it was a great idea. In fact, I still do. Anyway, as I was loking over some of those letters, here are some things I implored them to do as they went to create the future:

- Attend an Urbana conference
A paragon of college missions mobilization
- Serve in an inner city ministry
Because by the year 2050, over 60% of the world will live in an urban setting.
- Mentor someone younger
Like yours truly did for you. Ha.
- Serve in a children's ministry
- Go on an overseas missions trip
- Continue to help lead worship somewhere
For those musically gifted
- Model Biblical athletics
For those that were athletic
- Take the Perspectives class

Photo: One of the class of 2003 with my E. Feb, 2003.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Interview with McLaren

Q: I'm going to put you on the spot and ask for your thoughts about some conservative Christian organizations, like the Parents Television Council, seeking to pressure the government into censoring television programming. Is this going to work or will it backfire?

A: I think the Christian community is making an extremely dangerous mistake with this. The mistake is we are going from dissatisfaction to legislation and missing the middle step of persuasion. Now you would think, from our beliefs from the Gospels, that God isn't just interested in us being focused on the law, but he actually wants to change our hearts. That’s my understanding of how the Kingdom of God works, but we (the church) don't seem to understand that.
So our first move when we're unhappy about something is to get laws passed about it. To me that is pure Colonialism, Colonialism says change the world, by controlling other people against their will. The work of persuasion would be much harder, and it requires us to change our rhetoric 180 degrees. You can't, you don't, influence people you identify as the other side of the culture war. The language of the culture war is the language of "strength on our side" to dominate the other side....

Read the whole interview here. (via Sivin) I know there is this huge hoopla right now about the emerging church, etc., which I'm not going to get into. You could certainly google it and find a lot. I do believe he is onto something with this quote though. One of our goals must be to change what people care about, whether it is bad tv or music, how much the world is in need or who Jesus really is. Rules will never motivate.

A friend of mine mentioned a few months ago that in the current world where the Church is marginalized, where it is persecuted, where it is poor and destitute, seems to be where it is thriving. The Church is not thriving in places where she is seeking to legislate, where she seeking to make things safe, where she is purusing her own gain.

Photo: Times Square a few weekends ago, at midnight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Missions Team Preps 2005

One of the principles about SPACE from the beginning was that we would make sure that students that went out on mission teams were well prepared. It is vitally important that kids on these summer teams understand, to a degree, what the world looks like, understand a bit about navigating in another culture, are not so ethnocentric when they land in the field.

I've put together a half day of pre-trip training that will occur on June 4th for all of our team members. The big picture is training and discussion in:
- culture - what is it like to live in another culture
- your story - developing a testimony
- the world's current condition - current state of the world in missions, etc.

There will also be a time where the teams can take care of whatever they need to. We will provide lunch and then right after lunch do some team building exercises. A friend of mine who has experience in wilderness, adventure, camping ministries is going to come and do some team building stuff. Should be fun and I'm excited that he is serving in this way.

We did the same series of prep meetings last year, but spread them out over a few weeks. I think schedule-wise, this might be easier. One of these years, it would be fun to take all the kids away for a pre-mission retreat.

Last year, we also did the Myers Briggs test and The Hardy Personality with all the teams. I've done MB a lot with teams before and I think it's always useful. I don't think we will be able to fit it in this time though.

Of course, there are some people that think my prep is overkill. They would rather just have students essentially show up. Maybe that is why 75% of our short term trips do damage to host missionary reputations overseas?

UPDATE: We are going to do some kind of team testing after all. Either Myers Briggs, or something similar. One of the leaders from the NYC team last year offered to come and help run something like this. So four workshops, lunch and fun team building.

Photo: Our junior girls waiting for a ride on the Love Cruise, Rockbridge Young Life Camp, Spring Retreat, April 2005.

The Cultural "Signs of the Times"

Some snippets from a post from Barbara Nicolosi:

1. Columbine and Hollywood – Was this our fault? – 2 issues of the WGA magazine dedicated to the debate.
2. 9/11 – One year later issue – from WGA Pres: “This was PARTLY our fault. What have we been putting out there?”
3. “Exhausted with unbelief…” Gen X and Y coming of Age – rejecting the Sexual Revolution (Eternal Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Garden State, Hitch)
4. Music video – 7 of 10 hottest directors from music video – Daily Variety noted that they stand out for their ability to convey meaning through images – not what things look like, but what they mean.
5. LOTR – 1 billion – despite all the producers efforts, the movie was powered by its Christian constituency
6. The Passion of the Christ – biggest indie ever. Biggest 3rd world movie ever. For ten years we Christians in Hollywood have been trying to subtlely put Christian worldview in movies. Then, TPOTC hits and now we are hearing from the industry, "the audience wants overt religion, guys!" We have been very assiduously traiing our students NOT to write that kind of thing. Good grief.
7. 14 pilots this season supernatural elements. 6 Good Samaritan reality shows. Joan of Arcadia was huge – until it moved away from pushing the supernatural edge.
8. The People of God pouring into Hollywood and the Arts. Terrible anger about all the ugliness in the Church arts in the last few decades. Ardent desire to have a new renaissance.
9. Me, interviewed by Inside Edition, "Christian is the new gay."

AND more

b) Truth has authority. If we are ignored in the mainstream, it is because we quibble. We dance around. We refuse to commit. We qualify. We say things like, “In my opinion” and “it may be” and “some might conclude” and “perhaps it may seem”. These words are the death of authority. The people of today are starved for a voice of authority.
A good soundbite is one which has substance and style. From a Catholic standpoint, a soundbite is true (if it is authoritative) and beautiful (if it is memorable).
This is a 24 hour sound-bite culture. We have to take the microphone that is offered to us and do the best we can with it.
“About ssm: Kids need a mommy and a daddy.”
“About abortion: I don’t think violence solves anything.”
“About euthanasia: Suffering is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”
“The way you lose your humanity is by denying someone else theirs.”

What I love about reading her is that she's got a great grip on the culture that we live in. We cannot continue to ignore our culture and make an impact.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

My Missions Support Letter

Here is my personal support letter. The original is written up and printed out of Word. I tried to use the same kind of text wrapping around photos like you can do in a blog post. The easiest way to do that was to create transparent tables and then have text or a photo in alternating cells along the same row. Yeah. What can I say, I can be lazy. Actually though, I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out. First time I've ever put graphics in a support letter.

Up to now, I've not really worried at all about the finances. But as I thought about some of the numbers, I'm getting a bit worried now. I have 25 people on my list. Each team member costs about $2K. Realistically, we have about 6 weeks. Hmm.... Anyway, we will see what happens. On the flip side, I've never heard of anyone cancelling because they didn't have enough money. Is that because in many churches, anything to do with missions is believed to be inherently good? The teams go whether they raise enough or not? That's probably a topic for another post.

Here is the letter, pretty much as it would look if you got it in the mail. And, if you feel like making a contribution, get in touch via email or comment.

Thanks so much for your ongoing support of my involvement with students over the many years. I'm exhilarated to continue to report to you that this generation of students is excited to be on mission and working with them is one of the thrills of life.
SPACE (Students Prepared to Act for Christ's Empire), the missional component of GCC's youth ministries continues to gain momentum. This summer has us overseeing three student teams, all three of which are going to serve GCC missionaries – two overseas and one in PA. We also have an entry level series of day missional excursions into Washington DC.

For my role, I will be actively taking part in three experiences this summer:
- July 10-13 - Working and serving with a youth pastor friend in AZ. I will be leading some devotionals for his students and staff and working alongside them as they execute a community outreach program. The long range potential could be a missional partnership between our two student ministries.
- July 15-17 - Leading a team of middle school students to serve and encourage at CMTS ministries, a GCC supported ministry near Lancaster, PA, which provides automobile and other technical services to missionaries all around the globe.

- July 29-Aug 8 - Leading a team of 10 high school students and leaders to serve and encourage a GCC family living in Londrina, Brazil, working with college students. Our primary goal is to participate in a culture exchange, helping the McM's jump start some of their college ministry and relationships. Reading the McM's write about 'how deeply honored' they feel to be hosting a team helps to clarify one of our goals – sending students to serve with GCC families already placed strategically around the world.

Your prayer and financial support is crucial for these summer projects to be a success. My estimated costs for this summer are around $2000 per person, mostly to fund the Brazil trip. If the Lord leads, your support would be greatly appreciated and can be made to Grace Community Church. Thanks for being a partner in this ministry and for joining with me to shape a movement of students that long for a world to know Jesus.

Images: graduating GCC Seniors on a weekend missions trip to NYC, Londrina Brazil, K(7) and E(4)

Related: Historical Mission Support Letters [2007, 2006, 2005]

Crunch Mode

Important article here about crunch mode, some background and long existing research and what it means for knowledge workers of today. Corporate America, you should really listen.


Last night, I went to a memorial service. This one was a little more unique though. It was for the mother in law of our pastor. It's always interesting to see families and how they relate to the death of a loved one. The other interesting to me was that my pastor is not just a pastor. He doesn't simply fill the office, position, job or title. He is a devoted Jesus follower who also just happens to be a pastor.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Calling Asian American Youth Workers

DJ is looking for you. Be part of an Asian American Youthworkers Forum. Sounds really fun, and I would definitely be interested, except the majority of kids I minister to are white. Not that that's bad.

Weekend - more setup

The best thing that happened to me this weekend was my work schedule got cancelled. When I felt like I was at the end of my rope, God intervened. It was, finally, not more than I could bear.

A lot of this weekend was more set up for the summer. This included some PR at both middle and high school services this morning, consisting of me giving a quick announcement. It's not an ideal situation because it makes going to church hard on the family. Yet, the lack of a presence and information about these trips with students is also a reason why we could get more kids involved.
Also had a meeting tonight with a group of core kids for the DC mission days. Good group, lots more than I expected, I loved it. Got some kids that haven't been involved with SPACE before. It is as much about building this DC experiment as well as setting up for the next school year as well as building into some key kids for the next few summers.

The Brazil team now has four leaders and two students signed up. It is a viable team.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Pieces of a talk that are floating around in my head... Based on a true story...

I help out around here, I'm not sure if you could call it a job. It isn't really. But it is fun, I think out of all the people that do help here, and there are a lot, I think I've got the best gig.

One of the things I did recently as part of what I do around here is take a group of kids to NYC. The overall goal was to expose them to the city. But not only expose them - but expose them to make them change. My personal goal is to make kids change the way they think about the world. To force you to change what you think about the things that you care about and how it relates to the world around you.

We were travelling in a subway tunnel, about 19 of us. We got to one of the parts in the tunnel where it just smelled bad. It's thick, it makes you squint and sometimes makes your eyes tear up a bit. It's that really really thick smell of urine. Subways, buses stations, empty buildings, parking garages. It's the city.

As we were moving through the tunnel, some of the kids who had never been to the city before started talking about how gross it was. And make no mistake, it is gross.

I decided to stop the group right then and there, right in the smell. Right in the thick of it. What fun - lets stop so we can fully take in the smell. No not really.

What I wanted them to see, no even more than see, but to feel, I wanted them to feel the sense of living in that condition. Not just walking through the smell, but living that smell day in and day out. No shower, no clean clothes, no purfume.

We stopped and talked for a few minutes. "People live like this everyday." "Homelessness is huge in the city." "This smell is a constant for millions of people around the world."

Those facts, maybe some of them understood, maybe some of them didn't. Facts inform. After we started moving again, and this part kills me, one of the kids actually apologized to me for talking about how bad the smell was. She actually felt bad about thinking and feeling and talking that way. I actually felt bad about her feeling bad.

I venture that the weekend was a significant moment in her life. My hope,and I think it's coming to pass, is that she changed what she believed about this world. She has come to see a world that is hungry for Jesus, that she is part of a movement that is bigger than any church or Bible study. She has come to care about something much different than what the suburbs lull her into, or what the media says she should look like.

What a great job - taking groups of kids and making them stop and smell the way a quality NYC subway smells like.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Perhaps a new definition of ministry?

"Our songs are about connecting at a very personal level, and if there is one person leaving a U2 show thinking it wasn't something special, we failed." - The Edge

Inviting the Team

Now that my mission team actually has a viable destination, I just finished putting together the info packets to the potential team members. Last night, E and I drove around the county visiting dropping off the packets to potential team members.

[ Sidebar 1: I used to firmly believe in the rule of having a parents meeting for every mission experience. If you take kids somewhere, you should get the parents together so they can ask questions, see you face to face, etc. I'm not sure I believe that anymore. I had some of the best interaction with parents that I have ever had before. Maybe instead of parents meetings, it should be the kind of thing I did last night - personal invitations, short, light, fun, allowing one on one questions and feedback. ]

I have a few spots open on this team and am thinking about who else might be a great fit to come along with us. A few parameters come to mind:

1 - A learner
I want to bring students that are learners. I would love a team of people that are willing to grow, to understand another culture, to see another manifestation of the Kingdom in another country.

2 - A servant
I know that going to another country is going to be hard work. It will require people that will serve not only one another, but people that are willing to serve someone they have never met, or serve for a purpose that they will never see.

[ Sidebar 2: In 1994, I took a team to the Dominican Republic for 25 days. I got really sick. Reading the CDC site for Brazil reminded me of my condition. I want to do this again? How much am I willing to serve and sacrifice, like I'm calling these kids to do? ]

3 - A student that can attract others
Transformation is what I'm after. These students that come along to this are hopefully going to be changed. Changed by what they see of God working in another country, changed by living in another culture, changed by serving and encouraging others. Even moreso, I'm looking for these kids to come home and catalyze change in others. They are the change agents that God will use among their peers. The more that they can attract others to the mission that they have been exposed to, the better.

Photo: K dressed up in traditional African garb, as part of Teen Missions Mustard Seed Boot camp, summer of 2004.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Institution of Church

LOS ANGELES - When the Rev. Alan Meenan took over as senior pastor at the nationally prominent Hollywood First Presbyterian Church, it had been losing members for 20 years.
Now, hundreds of new worshipers are flocking to an alternative service staged by the church at a nearby nightclub that offers live rock music and a casual atmosphere that doesn't frown on flip-flops and nose piercings.
The service, called Contemporary Urban Experience, has bolstered membership at one of the most storied Presbyterian congregations in the country. But it has also created a deep rift between old and new members that threatens to tear the conservative church apart.

Another real world example of the church as an institution and not a movement.

Read the whole article here. (Free reg required.) Via Thunderstruck.

Getting It

I've been pondering over the past few days how we could have made more impact during this weekend's Experience. One question I asked the intern was, "Did we do everything that we could have done?" Her first response was that we did a lot of stuff and that the students really didn't have any downtime. The perspective I wanted her to think about was not so much doing stuff, but creating and shaping an environment for growth. Not so much about what we do, but who we become.

A little while ago, I got a text page that said,
"[name] gets it. She really does."

For one person to get it, for one person to have changed what they care about, to become a person that MUST, it is all worth it.

Photo:E eating an ice cream cone. Some good friends in our growth group dropped a bucket of ice cream and some ice creams cones the other night, just to surprise us. Is that cool or what? We, of course, partook.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Opportunities in Banda Ache

Joel writes, "I realize that many of you are people who could pack up NOW and go and/or know others who want to. There is a real strategic opportunity to fill positions in a newly created NGO by the local gov't. We are working on getting people in these positions that could open up numerous doors of opportunity for the gospel."
Contact Joel.

- 3 project analysts
- 2 spatial planning experts
- 2 project appraisal/evaluation experts
- 1 supply/logistics expert
- 1 road engineer
- 1 water supply engineer
- 1 water resource expert
- 1 housing specialist
- 3 land management specialists
- 2 project managers
- 1 education expert
- 1 health expert
- 4 capacity-building specialists
- 1 legal and judiciary expert
- 1 security expert
- 1 project manager
- 1 economist
- 1 agriculture expert
- 1 fishery expert
- 1 environment expert
- 1 donor relations expert
- 1 report writer
- 3 transparency experts

SPACE 2005 - The Black Hole Experience

I have just returned from a weekend experience in New York City with a group of 17 our graduating Seniors, on a weekend focusing on service, mission and culture. There is, of course, lots of details I could write about. Instead, I will try to hit the high points. (all images are clickable)

The three themes of the trip were:
- the city is strategic
- see the present clearly
- create the future

Friday night we arrived, traveled via subway from Queens to Manhattan, checked into the Central Park Hostel and did a culture activity in Times Square. The group was broken into smaller groups and given a pad of paper which had some spaces to write on the front, and a world map on the back. The gist was to find someone from another culture and have them tell you 2 common phrases in their native tongue. After that, they would point to where they were from on the world map. You should have seen the looks on their faces when I gave them the instructions. Classic. In 30 minutes we all met again and they all did really well. Most of them had some great interchanges with other cultures. To close, I stressed the idea of being a learner, that people love to talk about their cultures if they feel that you are really interested in learning. We didn't get to bed until 2am.

Saturday's activities centered around serving with Urban Impact. We arrived at their African Friendship Center and broke into groups. Groups did stuff including passing out soccer clinic and English class flyers, sorting and filling out response cards for English class participants, light cleaning and some painting. It was a little less than I thought we would be involved in, but still pretty meaningful. If nothing else, we had a presence in the neighborhood and helped them get some very tangible things done. The two staffers were both headed back to India in a few weeks. One of them worked with Word Made Flesh mission, working with under age prostitutes.

We broke for lunch and then went and hung out at a local park. If all plans go south, park ministry always seems to be great. We had prepped the kids to bring some toys for kids, so they had bubbles, punching balls, jump ropes, etc. Some of our guys played basketball with some of the locals. Our guys had some guts to play, even though they got stomped 15-0.

After resting at the hostel for a bit, we decided to try to go up the Empire State Building. But the wait was 90 minutes. So instead we got dinner. After that, we went to Ground Zero. I had brought a page of questions about some of the topics from the weekend and wanted the students to do some thinking/journaling about those questions. I don't think that worked out to well. Some of them were very emotional about 9/11. And they all were really tired. We hung out a little more in Times Square and then got back to the hostel by midnight.

Sunday morning, we did breakfast sandwiches from a local deli and ate them in Central Park. Then it was the subway out to Queens and driving home. I had wanted to do some kind of sendoff thing, but 1-the worship leader was totally fried and 2-it would have never worked on its own, and 3-we were already late getting home.

Some interesting observations:
- It was a huge privilege for me to providing this experience for three girls who had never been to NYC (or DC or ridden a subway) before. Seeing the way to responded to a place and culture that they had never been to before, what a great way to spend a weekend. Photo - One of the aforementioned girls, with a subway clown. This was one out of five or six things that made her weekend.

- NYC 7 day metro cards are $23 not $13. This means we were $9 over budget per person right from the start. Yikes. We made up for it Saturday night when all 18 of us ate pizza for dinner for $89.

- We should have prayed more. Not in the sense of praying to pray, but asking God to come and bless our efforts.

- You never know how mission trips are really going to go. Plans with hosts can go awry in a second. Have a backup plan, and park outreach always seems to work, is easy to do and builds a presence for the local ministry.

- This was our first event with our intern, E. She did great. On the ride home, she asked me, "Do you think they got the big picture?" She is an emerging leader that totally gets "it" and will bring the Kingdom - she is one to watch. That is E on the left, with Leslie, who is on the Brazil lead team.

- Did we do some transformation? This weekend was not just about having fun, although it was tons of fun. The ultimate goal was to transform each one of these students into a Christ follower that has just calibrated their worldview and is ready to create the future. I don't know if we really transformed them. We certainly gave them a lot of think about and some great memories to hold on to. Transformation... maybe...

Pentecost Grid

Spent the weekend in NYC with some graduating Seniors (more about that later.) I thought I would share two images for reflection...

The Empire State Building - 1/10 of the people in the US can be seen from the top.

Crossroads of the world. The nations are coming to NYC.

May Jesus followers all over the world be renewed with an apostolic passion this day. More grid bloggers found on Bob's post.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Departure and emotion

I leave in about an hour for The Black Hole Experience. It's hard to believe, that finally, an idea is coming to fruition. Pray for us if you remember. 19 students and leaders.
Three themes:
- cities are strategic
- see the present clearly
- create the future

I have a swell of emotions. First, I'm incredibly nervous and anxious. That's just me. Between feeling like I'm going to throw up and feeling exhilirated, it's the standard. Secondly, I'm going to miss my family. Even though I'm just going for the weekend, it's difficult. I had lunch with K today and even though it was fun, it didn't make it easier. Call me a softie, that would be okay.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


"Direct them to 'iMosaic.org' to enlist in this new kind of movement for a new kind of human." - Alex McManus

Origins 2005 bloggers

You long time readers know what a profound impact the Origins conference had on me. Quite a few bloggers are posting from the conference or posting their notes after the sessions. Thought I would try to round them up for you:

David@revolution from Revolution, Long Beach
DavidT also from Long Beach
Joe Dwoark from Bethel Seminary
Steve Watson from Denver
Max Wilkins from Florida

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Viva La Brazil

I'm way excited to say that our trip to Brazil is a go. I've been in contact with a GCC family in Brazil, and they want us to come, even if an intended ministry plan doesn't work out. No guarantees in ministry right? I'll be posting much more about the interchange at a later time - lots of very cool interfacing happening here.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Anticipating this week

I've got a really cool week this week. I'm excited to tell you guys, because I get the sense that not only are you thinking and praying about it, but that your pulse runs a little higher reading about this stuff too.

- LC trip planning. Meeting with some leaders Tuesday night to talk about getting started with promotion, parents meeting and actual pieces of the trip.
- DC/Brazil. Meeting with some other leaders Wednesday night to go over the same pieces for both of these trips.
- The Black Hole. This weekend. Like whoa.

If you are like me, it's not only loads of fun to plan these mission experiences for students, it's almost more energizing to work with these younger, red hot, fired up leaders.

Photo: my kids and some of the neighborhood kids having a picnic on the island in our court.

Potpourri - May 9

- God's iPod, via Jonny

- McLaren all over the blog. Probably start here at tallskinnykiwi.
I've been having an offline discussion with a good friend over some of these topics brought up by the new book too. Interesting, although I haven't read it.

- Fusion conferences. I love Orlando in the winter. Hmm...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Prom 05

These are the days of Prom here in Howard County. For some of you, thinking about your high school prom might trigger great memories of fancy outfits, great prom dances, best friends forever and of course, their best motives. For the other 90%...

Well, thats not really fair is it? I, actually, never went to a Prom. But I do know how memorable it can be for a student and their parents. This afternoon, I was over across the street taking a picture of a high school senior and his mom, right before he was to depart for the night of magic.

Prom is an inherent part of the culture of high school. It's important as youthworkers we don't forget that.

Photo: A picture I pulled from flickr under the tag "prom." Hilarious, huh?

SPACE 2005 Summer Missions - Middle School

Today was a fun day having a photographer friend who also helps in our youth ministry take some pictures of the girls. We ended up at an awesome azelea farm, the flowers were almost in full bloom. A perfect day.

Below is the text for the info packet for the middle school trip. I don't think there are any GCC middle schoolers that read this...yet.
Photograph: The photographer, on the right, shooting a shot through the bushes of the girls, on the left.

Come and join other students from LC and impact more than yourself. LC will be going on a service oriented weekend to work and serve Christian Missionary Technical Services, a GCC supported missions support organization located in Bernsville, PA. (www.cmtsministries.org)
CMTS serves missionaries around the world in three unique ways:
- A furlough loaner car program that provides transportation for missionaries for short term.
- A car purchase program that provides a buying service for used vehicles and procurement.
- By purchase or donation, of hospital, kitchen, office and shop equipment, and other specially needed items and assistance in the shipment of these goods overseas.

While at CMTS, you will be serving them in a variety of tangible ways, which may include:
- washing and detailing cars and trucks
- landscaping and general yard work
- painting and cleaning
This is not a retreat, but a significant opportunity to bless one of our own missionaries on our way as we impact the world.

Specific Dates
Departure Friday July 15 - 9am
Return Sunday July 17 - 3pm
Transportation via cars and church van.

Lead Team

Dorm style rooms on the property of CMTS.

Packing List
Bible and notebook
modest clothing
modest swimsuit
bathroom stuff
beach towel
closed toe shoes
work gloves
water bottle
sleeping bags

What Next?
1. Fill out and turn in your SPACE 2005 summer missions application by June 1st.
2. Include a $30 fee payable to Grace Community Church.
3. Plan to attend a mandatory team prep meeting on June 4 from 10am-3pm. (Location is still being determined.)

Tony Sheng

Friday, May 06, 2005

Confirmed trip #1

For those of you following my saga of summer mission trips planning... I just confirmed our middle school trip. Very good news. It is probably the most vital for building in a missional DNA into our students. Woot.

Time off from the day job

I've had the past two days off from the day job. It's been great, after literally only having two days off during all of April. Ridiculous. Corporate America makes us no promises and I don't know why so many of us forget that so easily. Maybe it's because of a bi-weekly paycheck that we come to count on. Anyway, it's been a good time off, just not long enough.

I've been doing a lot of preparation for next weekend, The Black Hole. As always, there is a slight logistical detail that needs to be worked out. I'll be spending the upcoming days putting some finishing touches on some notes for our big segment activities, putting together a small reading/devotional guide, and organizing our food and snacks that we will be bringing.

I'm also doing quite a bit of legwork for one of our teams for this summer. Specifically, uh, my team. I've made some good contacts, but I still feel like we are so far away from definite plans.

Yesterday, E and I had to run an errand in the city, sort of. Silver Spring, MD, is right on the outskirt of Washington DC. We had lunch in a little deli that had been there for over 30 years. There is such energy in cities, so hustle and bustle, such a mix of people and motivations. The picture here is a suburban preschooler awed at the city.

My friend SH

This is my friend SH. I have known him for a long time, maybe 6 or 7 years, since he was in high school. In fact, he has three brothers and I know all of them pretty well too. We just reconnected tonight at a sort of reunion night for a youth ministry program I used to work with.

He will be going to Argentina in a few weeks with The Navigators on a missions trip. He also went to Argentina last summer, and this summer, they are heading back to the exact same place.

They were there for 6 or 8 weeks last year. At the end of their trip, as they were loading their stuff to go to the airport, a person that had been reaching out to all summer accepted the call to follow Jesus. The only person that summer.
They have some knowledge that now there is a cluster of 6 or so people following Jesus in that location.

We typically break up mission people into three categories: goer, sender, prayer. SH is not only a goer. You've all seen people that talk about their instable ideas - their faces light up, they can't quite explain it, they start to get sweaty... SH has got that about a certain idea about being on mission. He has, you can tell, stayed up late nights thinking about it in his head. He sometimes thinks hes a bit off, a little crazy, telling himself it will never work. Maybe we need to start telling ourselves that its not enough to just send goers. Maybe our paradigms need to shift to be building more than goers.

I don't know what we would call it, or how we would add another category to the three. (Do we even really need these categories of people?) What I do know is that we need people who are so passionate for Jesus, that they are constantly creating and molding new ideas for being on mission. We need people that initiate, not only moving on an idea to go to another country, but that execute from the slightest hint of the Spirit moving from dream and vision to tangible process and relationship. Maybe we have told people for far too long that going is simply enough. Made the mistake of believing that a body and proximity is enough for the Gospel to become unleashed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ogilvy's law

I just read a little blurb here about Ogilvy's Law, which I had never heard of before.

David Ogilvy gets my vote as the greatest advertising mind of the 20th century. The founder of Ogilvy & Mather--now part of WPP left a rich legacy of ideas in his books, my favorite being Ogilvy on Advertising. Ogilvy wrote that whenever someone was appointed to head an office of O&M, he would give the manager a Russian nesting doll. These dolls open in the middle to reveal a smaller doll, which opens in the middle to reveal a yet smaller doll...and so on. Inside the smallest doll would be a note from Ogilvy. It read: "If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants."

That's a really intersting perspective isn't it? It is so easy to think of our ministries as, well, 'ours.' What I'm learning to see, and call people to, is that our vision is bigger than just about us. We should be calling people to a movement that will way outlast us. Something that will go on for generations, an endeavor that will last decades after us. Thats why I, and most probably you, love working with young people.

Picture:A team of students helping out at Laurel Pregnancy Center, Laurel, MD, in January of 2004.


Don't you just love that world 'Potpourri?'

- Youth Specialties President Mark Oestreicher now has a blog.
- Interactive Mult-Lingual Demo
Type in a phrase and pick an accent and the computer will speak it back to you.
via the YSUpdate

- Origins Experience, next week. I wish I was going. Possible blog updates from Alex McManus.

- International Students Inc

- World Christian Conference
Good list of mission agencies. Looks like the conference also had a children's track talking about missions and culture. Cool.

- Article from CT about Third Culture Kids. (from 2001 though)

- new direction for Barna - specifically check out what he says about "Josiah Corps" (tip Simon)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Feeding mission teams

Most of you that work regularly with high schoolers know that they can eat and eat and eat. One of the finer details I concentrate on with student mission teams is the detail of food. Food is one of those background details. When the food is great or even just enough, no one notices. If the food is terrible or kids are hungry, you will hear about it.

The food situation must depend on the context of your mission team. If you are overseas, kids might go hungry and that is the fact of life in that culture. It can, of course, be a great learning experience. I still remember the cooked chicken feet from my time in the Dominican Republic. How thankful I was when I came home, and yet I still remember those images fondly.

I also remember hearing about a mission team working in Africa that would routinely throw away extra food every day. They couldn't give it to the local people because that would create an unhealthy dependency, yet they couldn't eat it all either. It seems to me that their students missed a great opportunity to engage the local culture in the medium of food. I'm not sure, but I wonder how much food they ate was African, not to mention the fact it seems like they were fat and happy on a continent not known for having plenty of food. Our intention and implementation of being learners of the culture is extremely important.

As I was prepping for food for The Black Hole Experience, I thought about some principles of food I try to follow for trips in the US:
- If you can, plan on almost 4 meals a day. Kids will eat and eat and eat. Their metabolisms run faster, they burn it quicker.
- Late night snack is the 4th meal.
- Some kids are picky. Just let them deal with it themselves. When they get hungry enough, they will eat.
- Food is an extension of your efforts in leading and shepherding them. Taking care of food, whether you are doing it yourself or finding someone to do it, is part of your job as a leader.
- Don't provide just junk food. Cookies and brownies aren't going to cut it. Look to provide some fresh fruit, granola bars, peanuts, food that will burn slower and give off energy.
- Have kids bring their own water bottle.
- Buy in bulk. It is a wise way to spend the money that isn't yours.

Breakfast and snacks for the BHE. Cereal, granola bars, peanut packs, OJ boxes, chex mix, chips, muffin mixes.

Pray for these seniors

Here is a list of the Seniors going on the Black Hole. If you would pray, at least once or twice before May 13, that would be awesome.
Pray that they would have a transformative weekend, that they would be so impacted by Jesus and His longing for the world.

Willie Matthew Leslie Lynn Jacob Katie Lacie Jonathan Sonja Matt Mike Michelle Amanda Marcie Dennis

Monday, May 02, 2005

SPACE May 2005 Prayer Update

Church leaders invest too much time answering this question: how do we keep new followers from falling away from the church? Church leaders should instead ask: how do we develop people who MUST? Having a sense of "must-ness" is not about social conformity [i.e. reinforcing acceptable patterns of going to worship services, giving money to the church, attending a small group, etc]. "Must-ness" comes from an internal motivation inspired by a Jesus like understanding of God's activity in the world.
He calls his followers of both the first and twenty-first centuries to give their lives with him to something greater than themselves. When any person hears Jesus' call and recognizes the intrinsic beauty of what Jesus is doing, he will run with red-hot passion and join swords with anyone and everyone who hears as he does.
- Alex McManus

Hi SPACE prayer team,
Thanks so much for thinking about SPACE (Students Prepared to Act for Christ's Empire), the missions and service arm of GCC's youth ministry.

As you know, we are endeavoring to plan and execute multiple missional experiences in the next few months. Your praying partnership is fundamental as we seek to cultivate, grow and provide fertile and rich spiritual environments.

Please pray for these as you remember:
* May 13-15 : A weekend for the graduating Seniors focused on mission, culture and the future at a surprise location. Titled "The Black Hole Experience," I know it will be transformative for catalyzing some of these students into being Christ-followers that must.
* Decision : We need to finalize this week on a decision for a mission trip for our core leader students.
* Logistics : Pray for final plans involving an entry level experience for high schoolers which involves three full missional days in Washington DC spaced out over the summer.
* Logistics : Pray for our final plans for a middle school weekend serving with a missions technical service organization in the middle of July. This weekend will
also include exposing our students to world religions.

Join us in celebrating:
* Praise for LB, AB and FZ, three emerging college leaders, that are helping on the lead teams for some of our trips this summer.
* Praise for good progress for a trip for current 11th graders going to Trinidad to serve and encourage a GCC missionary and his family there.
* Praise for a potential opportunity for me to spend a few days working with a youth pastor in Phoenix on a community outreach project with his students.

Thanks once again for your partnership with us in this endeavor. I gladly raise and join my sword with yours.

Picture below: One of the leaders written about above, giving a talk about Jesus at one of our local shopping centers, from February 2004.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Giving - missions and mission

Tim writes a great post about how much money is really given (or in this case, not given) to missions. I get embarassed reading statistics like this. And it reminds me of the first time I heard the statistic during Perspectives that there are 800 churches in America for every 1 unreached people group. I'm sometimes honestly ashamed to be a part of 'Western Christianity.'

A few quotes from some research in his post:
- Globally, one-tenth of one percent (ten cents per hundred dollars) of all Christian income went to global foreign missions
- Though Christians number only 33% of the world population, they receive 53% of the entire world’s annual income—and spend 98% of it on themselves.
- In light of the neglect of the church's core mission, as judged by percentage of giving to missions, it's time to call Christian stewardship to new standards.

Granted, we can certainly be too focused on the cause of global missions. In far too many cases, communities of faith have focused solely on overseas missions and neglected the lost in their own communities, disengaging from the context and culture they inhabit daily. But I think some of these ideas can help frame the concept of a group of people on mission, bonded together by (as one of the quotes says) "the Church's core mission."

I totally agree with what Tim says and his references to the email he got. There is something wrong with our concept of stewardship. I would go further and state that it's not only limited with our investment in overseas missions. Our idea of stewardship is lost because in many circumstances, we have forgotten what it is to be the Church of Jesus Christ and that we exist for God who has an epic mission.

Whether it's overseas or Hollywood or our own backyard, all these localities of investment, stewarding and engagment should be redefined for the Church of 2005. Because the God of mission has a church in the world. Because we are told that we are blessed to bless others. Because we are promised that those who lose thier lives will find them.

ethnic church planting in LA?

Anybody have any contact info for organizations in the LA area that are involved in people group specific church planting and evangelism, outreach specifically to unreached people groups in LA, or something of that nature?
Email me or leave a comment. Thanks!