Friday, September 30, 2005

Leadership Thoughts

Thought #1 -
Organic vs Programmatic Goals
"instead of merely setting the goal of getting five new leaders for next year, we recommend a school nurture a leadership culture"

Thought #2 -
Laborer vs Follower
"the world needs more 'laborers' in the harvest, not just more followers"

Read more at this post from The Leadership Blog.

Mr in control Mom

Our time with Mum gone is going great.  I got the kids up (well sort of), got K off to school - without missing the school bus AND with her homework done.  And she even took a shower.  Except for washing her feet.  And got E off to preschool.  I must be doing well.

They are having a Friday afternoon party in the backyard with some of the neighbor kids.  And... vigiliant Dad, saw that they were trying to drink from our expensive crystal goblets and I nipped that in the bud.  HA.

Tonight, pizza and a movie maybe.  And scrubbing those feet.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mt 25 - God is ....?

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like...

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five
talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
22"The man with the two
talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
24"Then the man who had received the one
talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28" 'Take the
talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talent. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

the Master?
a Servant (number 1, 2, or 3)?
a talent?

Voices of the Faithful

Picked this up tonight - I think its going to be a good one.

Graphic - Center of Christianity

Just found this graphic, related to this article which I posted about before. Interesting huh? The center of global Christianity is now in Timbuktu, Mali.

Missional Leadership Lessons #2

Missional leaders walk the fine line between keeping their charges safe and propelling them into situations that make them grow. There are some circumstances where these two principles are in conflict. For instance, challenging your team to have lunch with a homeless person can put these two ideas in opposition. On one hand, your responsibility is the students' safety. On the other hand, you are excited about the possibility and opportunity they have - in this very moment - for the growth of their character, integrity and world view. The unknowns are great - what if something bad happens in the environment, what if the homeless person is dangerous, what if the conversation runs into a controversial discourse.

On our very first SPACE Launch, the very first experience we ever tried like this within our youth ministry, things were going great. Students were out in this park having lunch with homeless people, getting into great dialogues, starting to understand the personal aspect behind homelessness. There from the corner of the park comes a homeless man, quite a large man, wearing a T shirt and no pants. On one of our more recent launches, a student said that she felt like her view of God just expanded exponentially. The fine line - keeping them safe AND propelling them into growth.

The compelling reason behind the balance is the overwhelming desire to go and make disciples. In order for people to grow, sometimes they need to be stretched. Our desire as leaders is that we take them to places [both physically and spiritually] where their view of the world and God changes, where they experience serving out of themselves, where they see what it means to bless someone intentionally.

However, the leader must be able to assess the risk accurately and must be comfortable with the amount of risk. What are the unknowns about the locality? How about travel methods to there? What kinds of tasks will we be undertaking? What are some of the unknowns about the team?

The leader must also be able to architect the environment for growth. What are the elements of the experience that may catalyze the student to grow? What are the major principles at play with the community, the team, others they may work with, realities of life that the team may bump into? What are some dominant Biblical principles that are resonate with this experience?

Some items for followup:
- How do you teach a leader to walk this fine balance?
- What are some key experiences you have had that are similar to this? What kind of effect did it have on your own growth?
- Can we teach leaders to assess risk properly?

Photo: Some students getting ready for the ropes course at Rockbridge Young Life Camp, Spring 2005

For the first post in this series, click here.

DC festival

Our next SPACE experience is a small-invite only team to go serve at the DC Festival.  The Washington Post has a write up about it here.  The major question on the table is -- "does this type of festival work for mission and evangelism in the 21st century?"

single parent

I'm a single parent this weekend as D is flying the cuckoos nest for a long weekend going to Women of Faith with her mum and sister in law.  Should be a fun time with the girlies.  Here is what I'm thinking:
- lots of pizza delivery
- lots of watching football on TV
- both of them helping me finish hanging shower doors
- various trips to Home Depot to get the things we forgot

Actually.... haha... just kidding on the list above.  It's probably going to look a lot more like Mac and Cheese and Barbie movies.... Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

People of Peace - round 3

I've posted twice before about this people of peace idea, here and here. The original idea came from reading The Shaping of Things to Come.

Eric writes about people of peace that he has seen in their college student ministry, and lists some specifics about them. His experience has been really good for me for getting some tangible things about this idea.
- Receptive, Relational Connections, Reputation, Reborn

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

MTF was fab

Had a great time last night with the MTF.  It's not often that you talk to people about missional stuff, but to talk to a group of people that understood, that got it, and then to have them be enthralled, enthused, and pumped about it - talk about energy and momentum.  Very cool.

Three team leaders (myself, Trinidad and Guatemala) gave reviews of our trips.  I also talked a bit about the other SPACE things from the summer.  People from the MTF asked us some great questions, laughed and joked about some of the stories, asked us how else they could have helped the teams and *really* affirmed us for the work we had done this summer.  It was very, very cool.  I also highlighted a few of the things that are cooking for next summer - very fun to think about what might come to fruition then.  And I really emphasized the priority that the MTF and I must focus on for the next level of leadership development.
The MTF - they love SPACE.

Monday, September 26, 2005

MTF sharing tonight

Tonight, I get to go give the end of summer update to the Missions Task Force, the body of people at GCC that are responsible for anything and everything dealing with missions. It should be fun, they are a group of people that love what we are doing with SPACE and are huge supporters. Not to mention that a few of them have kids that have been part of some SPACE experiences.

In actuality, I'm really supposed to be a part of the Task Force. I kind of feel bad about that. I only show up to meetings when I want/need their approval for some wacky idea that I have. Literally. I think I have gone to a total of one other meeting when I wasn't on the agenda. It's really incredibly self-serving of me. So tonight I'm bringing dessert - except D is making dessert for me to bring. [As more details come in, I'm not feeling much better about it...]

They have a pretty difficult job including tasks such as:
- Performing some kind of missionary care for our families that are away, such as tracking when people come home and how people in the Body can serve our families when they come home.
- Promotion of our different mission efforts so the whole Body knows the info. Most recently, they published a really cool series of prayer cards for all the families and gave them out to the whole Body in litle photo albums. The cards look really slick. Apparently there is a graphics company in NC that specializes in prayer cards. The cards have maps, flags, all the cool stuff.
- Accepting new missionary support requests along with managing all the other budget tasks.

Anyway, I know I'm going to have fun tonight. These people love hearing stories about how we are engaging students for God's mission here and around the world.

Photo: Some students checking out the world mission map in the GCC lobby.

Follow up to 9/24 SPACE launch

Just a follow up post (mostly for my own reference) to our Launch this past weekend.

1 - Consider some kind of activity for students for when they first get there and we are getting organized. Activity centered around the topic at hand. Use the time to continue to build the environment.
2 - Middle schoolers in a thrift store. Not a fabulous idea, but it was fine.
3 - Snack for when we get home. Use this time to debrief. Could have been great to talk about the issue of hunger.
4 - 21 kids had never been to a SPACE event before. Should build on those relationships.

(Overall, it went really well. But we must always been looping back around to talk about how we can make it better, especially using the perspective of creating an environment for growth, versus an event to attract.)

Two images for locations (click for full size):

image 1 - the park next to the church

image 2 - hot dog park (football game), down the street from Helping Up

made via GoogleEarth

More locations:
- shelter and soup kitchen somewhere up Gaye Street.
- Beans and Bread

Saturday, September 24, 2005

SPACE 9/24 Launch

Great day on our SPACE Launch. The experience today was centered around serving the homeless. So we started the day by having kids make a lunch. Along with the lunch they brought, they would enter the city with two lunches. The group then split up and went to two different localities in Baltimore - Fells Point and around the corner from City Hall. My group did the latter and found a small group of homeless people staying in a little park adjacent to an old church.

The goal of lunch was for our kids to eat with some people - not just give out the food and take off. We wanted them to have a chance to sit and talk with some people, to get to know them a little bit, to see behind the stimga of homelesness. I'm pretty sure we achieved that.

After lunch, my group was making our way to the next meeting point when we drove past the other group. We turned around and met up with them - they had organized a pick up football game with some homeless people. Everyone had a blast playing touch football for about 45 minutes. I think some of the homeless guys were really blessed by our kids just hanging out.

After that, we served at a thrift store that Helping Up Mission runs. We sorted and hung clothes, did some light cleaning and stuff like that. Very cool, a great combination of total exposure to homeless people as well as working with a local, indigenous ministry that serves the homeless day in and day out.

We had a ridiculous number of kids show up - most of them who had never been on a SPACE Launch before. That was very cool. They response we got was great, they all seemed to love it. The touch football game was truly classic.

Click on the link below to hear an audioblog post while on the Launch with the SPACEintern, a student named Tricia and myself. You can also click on the pictures in this post for full sizes.
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, September 23, 2005


Those of you that know me know that I love making students do surveys.  I think its a great way to help students learn to interact with people.  Here is one of the surveys we used in DC this past summer, focusing on culture and religion.

One of the point was to get kids to interact and see how many cultures they got exposed to - right in the confines of the Mall in DC, while at the same time being unconfrontational with people.  Not trying to save people or doing your typical methods of street 'evangelism.'  (Which by the way, I've told the SPACE kids that we aren't allowed to use that word.)
1. What country are you from?
2. What tribe/people group/location?
3. Are you religious?
4. If so, what religion?
5. How does that affect you day to day?
6. Did you religious beliefs originate from your cultural upbringing?

I was just poking around the Off The Map site and saw these questions:
1. What is the difference between spirituality and religion?
2. Which spiritual person do you most admire?
3. What would you say to Christians if they would listen?
4. Has anyone ever tried to "save" you?

Read the whole page and see their recommendations for using these questions - its a total 'no strings attached' approach, which I think is right on for our culture today. Might be something to try soon.

More Mission Leader questions

I was poking around the Intrepid Travel website this morning from a post on Gadling about Intrepid group leaders.  I noted the following interesting questions they ask potential group leaders.  Fun to read these and think through them as I continue to process through leader applications for our summer trips for next summer.

My favorite questions included:
Of the places you have visited, which has had the most impact on you and why?
Entertain us with a funny incident that has happened to you on your travels!
If you were taking a group of friends on the trip of their lives where would you take them, what type of things would you include and how would you travel?
Intrepid leaders are masters in managing groups of people. From your experience working with groups (eg. as part of your employment, voluntary work or community work), tell us about the role you played in the group, and how you dealt with any conflict.
In your past career or private life have you been responsible for large sums of other people's money?
You're leading a group of 12 passengers on a 3 day trek in a remote area. One of the group falls and breaks their leg, and needs to be evacuated. The rest of the group need to continue or they will miss their connecting train and flights home. You mobile phone is not working so you can't call the Ground Manager. What would you do? How do you meet all the group's needs?
You're taking a small group of 6 on a 3 week overland trip. One of your passengers knows the region well and is constantly dominating the group with his stories and recommendations on what the group should do. By day 4 the others are either getting annoyed at his domineering behaviour or wondering who is leading the trip - you or him. How would you handle the situation?

Only 2%

Things are gearing up for tomorrow. It should be really fun and, like always, calls are coming in last minute for kids to go. And thats totally okay. Like one of my ministry friends thinks, turning away kids when you have space because they missed a sign up deadline is kind of lame.

We've got a great group of kids coming. I know most of them from other SPACE experiences. There are also a group of kids coming that I have never met, so that will be a lot of fun too.

Overall, I'm reminded of this quote that I posted last weekend, but I like it so here it is again:
"The quality of a culture may be changed when 2 percent of its people have a new vision." - Robert Bellah

Thats a pretty wild idea - that you only need to impact 2% of a whole population to change the whole culture. Whether you are a family living intentionally in an unreached city, a college student reaching out to other college kids, or a new youth pastor trying to infect a group of kids - 2% sounds like such a small milestone. Of course, it probably needs to be the right 2%... but the whole idea is intriguing and really encouraging.

I'm pretty sure we will have over 2% on Saturday. It's not just getting the 2%, it's impacting the 2% so that they go on and impact others.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

SPACEintern conversation

The SPACEintern and I went running some errands in preparation for Saturday's launch.  We had to get some food and stuff.  It was a good time, because we got to articulate some of the plan for Saturday as well as talk a little bit about the reading that she is doing for the mentorship.  Well, the reading that she is supposed to be doing.  No just kidding.  However, if you keep up with her blog, I think pretty soon you will begin to see a lot more detail on it.  I suspect she is much more into writing notes with paper and pencil. 

Here was one of the more humorous interchanges:
SPACEintern:  I go to a mentor class every other Tuesday, with all the other kids that have mentorships.
me:  Oh really?  How is that going?  How are the other mentorships going?  Are they doing a lot more work than you so far?
SPACEintern:  Well... <funny pause>  Let's just say... <another funny pause>... the other mentors are a lot different than you...
me:  <a hilarious amount of laughter that goes on for minutes>

Misc Thurs

Jason Kottke writes about a conference speaker - "[Nicholas] Negroponte also shared a story about outfitting the kids in a school in Cambodia with laptops; the kids' first English word was "Google", and from what Negroponte said, that was followed closely by "Skype". He also said the children's parents loved the laptops because at night, it was the brightest light in the house."
We shouldn't underestimate the power of technology and the impact that it has to bring cultures closer together.  We probably have more in common with other cultures than we think.  The quote also makes me think about how dominant American culture really is.  When we were in Brasil, it seemed like a lot of their pop culture was largely American.  Films were shown with Portuguese subtitles, they listened to a lot of the same music our students listened to, and they loved Nike stuff.  I actually kind of regretted it, in the sense that their movies should be in Portuguese with English subtitles.
New aggregator for missionary blogs.  Via Dennis.

One Look Reverse Dictionary
"OneLook's reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word. Just type it into the box and hit the 'Find words' button. (Keep it short to get the best results.) In most cases you'll get back a list of related terms with the best matches shown first."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Typical sights at the Sheng house

Diversion from Day Job

Yup, one of the many cupcakes from yesterday.

Doug Fields Youth Min Free Stuff

Click here.  Thanks Ian.

Missional Leadership Lessons #1

A missional experience is a great context for leadership development. With that tenet in mind, I am starting this will be a series of posts (maybe only 1) about missional leadership lessons. I'm also using this as a rough draft for some stuff for the summer of 2006.

Lesson #1 - Student mission leaders need to embrace a fluid and dynamic context.
Every experience this summer was fluid. It was constantly changing and required an embrace of being dynamic. Personally, this is rather difficult for me. I like having a plan, of knowing what lies ahead, having the details. So much for what I like. I was delayed for 4 hours flying into AZ, arriving finally at around 3.30amEST. My team was delayed by 24 hours flying from DC to Brasil. In Brasil, every single day was different. Three groups of people lived in three different locations and plans were modified based on what would work best for our overall mission - mission clarifies. Every student knew that they had to be mobile. Every leader knew that they had to support the team being mobile - they had all the emergency info, passport copies, etc with them at all times. We could be anywhere at any time, the mall, the movies, a soccer game, someone's house having tea, whatever. In a little over a week, I spent nights in SC, GA, AZ, MD and PA. That is my backpack, a good friend that I have had for over 15 years. It's symbolic of this idea - you can move quickly because things are fluid and changing, based on the mission.

Nobody usually gives us the freedom to be so dynamic. There are not many contexts that would allow you to change plans at the last minute, decide to spend a little more time here or there because of a gentle nudging of something mystical, or abandon a well-proven plan for something more engaging or creative or experimental. In many ways, fluid and dynamic situations can be a lot more fun but only when leaders embrace the unknown in the right way. Like I wrote in a post before, when circumstances are out of your control, you don't bear the responsibility for them anymore.

A few follow up ideas:
- How do we 'teach' or model this idea to future leaders?
- What are some of the best ways we as leaders can engage and embrace this concept, even when it is personally difficult? How can I grow in this area?
- Like I mentioned above, each leader had a copy of everyone's important papers, including a copy of their passport and visa, emergency contact info and medical identification and history. This ensured that our team could be split easily and quickly and that no one had to rummage around to get the right paperwork in order, in the small chance that there was an accident.
- I brought that backpack everywhere. But I realized there might be times when it was too much. From now on, I'm also going to bring a gymsack like this too. You can always pack stuff in here and put it all in your backpack, etc. (Specifically, there was a time when our luggage was at the airport and we had to lock our carry ons in the hotel. But I still needed to carry some minimal stuff and didn't have a bag.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thanks for the birthday wishes

Thanks to all of you that left birthday well wishes in comments and emails.  One more thing that is happening tonight - CUPCAKES.  Yummy.


Well, I turn 36 today.  So I'm going to celebrate by:
- putting some hair gel in my hair because I'm not bald
- going to work (well, that might not be explicitly celebrating...)
- maybe trying to convince a random stranger that I'm still in high school - just for kicks
- having hamburgers on the grill with steak fries and baked beans for dinner with the fam
- not grouting any more shower tile for now
- watching a film with D
- knowing that God continues to use us intimately in His plan for the world

Sunday, September 18, 2005

SPACE Fall 2005 prayer update

"It seems to me that the Christian life, when properly lived, is a rhythmic alternation between turning toward God in worship and running toward the world in love and with a passion for justice, between congregation and dispersal, liturgy and labor, worship and work, adoration and obedience." - Nicholas Wolterstorff

Dear SPACE friends,

Thank you so much for covering SPACE (Students Prepared to Act for Christ's Empire) with your prayers.  As we get started for this school year, here are a few short items that we would love for you to be praying about.

- Our first SPACE launch of the school year, this coming Saturday, involves an experience based around serving the homeless in downtown Baltimore.  Pray for safety, logistics and students hearts that are transformed - both by God engaging the world through them and the reality of the city that lies in their backyard.  Other launches this fall include serving with the Luis Palau festival in DC in early October and in November, doing our annual "Mulch Shuttle", the school bus that rakes neighborhood yards.

- Our first ever intern, Emilie, has already been shot into orbit.  So far, she's been involved in our leader planning and visioneering during our annual youth ministry leader retreat, she's been given a load of reading centering around missional strategy and issues (including lots from the Perspective textbook) and she's busy with tasks to support this weekend's Launch.  She brings an immense list of talents to the team including excitement and energy, the value of being a student leader, and a heart that is captivated by a generation ready to serve the world.  Pray for her growth and the impact she will make as she assists in preparing students for living on mission.  (You can also follow her mentorship real time at her blog -

- Continue to lift up our GCC missionaries who hosted SPACE summer teams this past summer - EE in Trinidad, G and M McM in Brasil, and AM in Pennsylvania.  Pray for continued impact even now, from our times of serving with these awesome laborers that are part of our family all around the world.

Thanks again for thinking about these students and how they will run toward the world in love.
- tony

Sunday message quotes

Two quotes from the message this morning.

Robert Bellah, a sociologist who teaches at the University of California, Berkley, is very interested in the influence of religion on the community.  In an interview in Psychology Today he said, "We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a new vision of a just and gentle world.  The quality of a culture may be changed when 2 percent of its people have a new vision." – John Stott

It seems to me that the Christian life, when properly lived, is a rhythmic alternation between turning toward God in worship and running toward the world in love and with a passion for justice, between congregation and dispersal, liturgy and labor, worship and work, adoration and obedience.  – Nicholas Wolterstorff


I don't know if I'm really late on this one... but this weekend, at a discount toy store, we picked up a set of Astrojax for K to play with. Think two balls on either end of a string, with one in the middle that slides to either end. This particular set also lights up. I had never seen them before, and they looked kind of cool. The idea is sort of a yo-yo and juggling. Come to find out, there are all kinds of really cool tricks you can do with them and they are pretty addicting. Comes with a CD-ROM showing you some of the tricks and it looks like there is a pretty big online community too. It could potentially be a great tool to help with a Gospel illustration maybe (three parts of the Trinity... I don't know, maybe...), but could totally be a lot of fun for some kinds of kids club, children's ministry thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


D and I shipped our kids off last night and went away for one night, just to have an extended date away... It was great fun. We stayed near an outlet mall and spent a little bit of time there this morning, where I noticed this 'cute' game... What Would Lizzie Do?... So did WWJD or WWLD come first?

Airport Fun

The last time I was in an airport, earlier this summer, one of my Brasil team members had just come through customs and threw up all over the floor. The next to last time I was in an airport (about 10 days prior to the throw up incident), the flight was overbooked and my team of 10 was delayed going out of the country for 24 hours.

I got lucky this time. I had the honor of meeting up and hanging with three pretty cool dudes at Reagan National Airport this afternoon.

From left to right, Rudy, (but for only 10 minutes before his flight out) Jeremy and Matt.

Matt, Jeremy and I had a great hanging out and talking about students, ministry, the revolution of blogging, NOLA and their current vision for their ministries. It was very, very cool. What I loved most was hearing about common themes in their ministries:
- missional
- built from natural connections
- common DNA of leaders and vision
- focusing on local, indigenous people and vision within communities
- partnerships and growth at the grassroots, organic level
- God ordaining it all

These guys are instable, on the edge, and scary. They envision something in the future, know that students are worth pouring into, and they implement and execute - instead of just sitting around talking about it. In other words, I loved hanging out with them. I suspect that our paths will cross again.

Friday, September 16, 2005

this blog in Portuguese

I know some of you (well, at least one of you) comes to this blog with WinXP running in Portuguese.  So hopefully to make it a little easier, I added a link for a translation of this blog into Portuguese (over on the right sidebar.)  Hopefully that helps.  If you haven't seen it before, Google has a whole set of language translation tools here.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Misc Thurs

For all you wondering readers, yes, the bathroom tile is sooo close to being done. Just a little more grouting... (just a little bit more seriously.) Those of you that know me know I'm not exactly Mr. Handy. But take a look at that grout would ya? I even mixed the grout myself!

Alex writes about Montreal being unreached (unreached - less than 2% Christian - see definition) - with one person in 200 knowing Jesus. Shocking on one hand, because its within North America, a place where we don't normally think things are unreached from the Church. Exhilarating on another hand because its a great context to build leaders. One of these days, I'm going to jot down my thoughts about leadership lessons from this summer - the clincher being a context of cross cultural mission.

PM has a cool blog series on sex with the title being "CASCADE."

GCC is sending the 2nd team down to NOLA - they just left tonight. More details here at

Matthew 25

I've been ruminating on the following passage for a few days now. More on why later. I have no idea what it means. Also, look up the word 'ruminiating.' It's good when it comes to the Bible.

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like...

14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Resource - Helping Children Cope with Disasters

Great resource that got linked with the Youth Specialties youthworker email today - "Helping Children Cope with Disasters: A Manual for Professionals Working with Elementary School Aged Children" -
full pdf here.

The resource was developed by the faculty at the University of Miami after Hurricane Andrew in Florida, and has some great information as well as a series of hands on activities and questionnaires to use with children post-disaster. Looks to me like the activities and questionnaires are invaluable.

Three key components that have been used in many of the interventions reported in research literature:
1. Exposure to and discussion of disaster-related events. Research suggests that repeated presentation of disaster related material helps to reduce the emotional distress following such events. This suggest that children need an opportunity to talk about their experiences in a safe, accepting environment in order to recover from the disaster.
2. Promotion of positive coping and problem solving skills. Research suggest that the development of positive strategies and problem solving skills can improve children's management of the stressors after a disaster.
3. Strengthening of children's friendships and peer support. Research has shown that children with strong emotional support from others are better able to cope and adjust in stressful situations.

Would be a good resource to have if you are going to NOLA anytime soon and one to save to your resource folder.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Found this website called PocketMod, which gives you some templates and instructions on making a foldable, paperbased, note taking, calendar, personal organizer that fits neatly in your pocket.

It caught my attention because I have come to realize that with a lot of mission experiences, a lot of time is spent in transit. (I think I wrote about this earlier but couldn't find the post.) You take the subway, you take a plane, you are lugging your baggage, etc. I know that when we have done things in NYC, for example, we probably spent the better part of an hour on the subway every day. Some of that time is great, no doubt. Kids hanging out, getting to know one another, me and my constant barrage of questions... But some of that time could maybe be better used.

Thats why PocketMod caught my attention. The goal is to try to produce a one page devotional guide that kids can read while in transit. But it would have to be easily foldable, something they could hold with one hand (while the other is holding on to the subway rails) and something that could be kept in a pocket and then pulled out or put away quickly.

PocketMod gives you some neat already built templates. It would be really cool to be able to import your own text but thats okay. And it gives you a folding guide, which is probably the most helpful for us. Maybe I will try to come up with a Word PocketMod template. That would be (kind of) fun. Oh, and the next thing, after we get it sort of working, would be to laminate the sheets for that crisp, clean feeling.

HT: BoingBoing from a few weeks ago

Monday, September 12, 2005

hit 7000

Earlier today, this blog had its 7000 visitor.  If that was you (you come from AOL, you use IE 6.0, around 3:42:10 pm), let me know via comment or email.  I will send you a little gift.  (Really, its nothing big, but kind of cool)

By the way, 7000th visit in about 1000 days of this blog being in existence.  So on average 7 hits per day.  Don't think I'm all that.  Ha.


Big clarification here.  After my trip to Brasil, I had posted some things about the trip and our time there, etc.  Some readers may have inferred that the McMs were not well supported.  That is not at all true.  Both in reality, and in my experience, the McMs have a great support system.  GCC (and this makes me really proud to say) has done a great job of supporting them and their ministry.

Some of my posts may have accidentally suggested the opposite, but those were simply a lack of accurate communication on my part. I experienced one thing, tried to write about something related, and it came out really wrong and maybe people inferred something else.  So, because of that, I have edited some posts a bit, and removed some other text and wanted to post this clarification. Alas, the double edge sword of blogging. Hopefully this post makes it clear.

All in all, it just reminds me again of what a privilege the whole trip was, and what a cool community of faith we both (us and the McMs) belong to.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Todays apostles

You don't graduate from the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Indonesia unless you have started a new church in an unreached village with twenty-five baptised converts. There are no exceptions.... the seminary's goal is to plant twenty thousand churches by the year 2015. One church in each of Indonesians twenty thousand villages. Over seven hundred churches have been planted this way and the college has started thirteen branch seminaries throughout Indonesia.
Steve writes about what apostles do today.
1 - pioneer evangelism
2 - starting new churches
3 - strengthening churches
The post is kind of old, but well worth the read.  Steve's blog is becoming one of my favorite resources.

LF from Brasil

LF, one of my team that went to Brasil, has started a blog.  Welcome her.

Crash - the movie

If this movie didn't have such bad language, there would literally be at least 25 cross cultural lessons and bad stereotypes you could extract from it and use for some kind of teaching. But be forewarned - lots of bad language and some nudity. Recommended but use discretion in light of your audience.

Sunday morning recap

Quick recap from speaking at LC.

- It was total middle school chaos.  But I loved it.
- Taping up all the kids that represented the unreached was a really good visual.
- I hope a lot of kids tell their parents, "He was about to give her a crew cut!"
- One of the students that helped out showed up with 2 minutes to spare.  I was sweating it, but I knew it was going to work out on way or another.

A lot of fun.  A great opportunity.


Sorry, had some trouble with comments and such over the weekend... should be fixed now.  Comment away!

Indigenous and contextualized

Quick post here since I have to be up in 7 hours and speak (or try to) in front of loads of middle schoolers.  Actually, I'm not doing all the speaking, I've farmed it out to a bunch of the high schoolers from the summer teams.

We met with the SPACEcrew Friday night.  It was one of those meetings for students who have shown interest in being part of the planning, dreaming, executing.  Interestingly enough, most of the kids that came last year didn't come on Friday.  Instead, it was a few who were involved last year, and a few more who just came because their friends were there.  They, in fact, had little idea what it really was.  It was a little disappointing.  Fully half of the kids there didn't really understand the purpose.

But not that much.  What we must remember is that indigenous and contextualized ministry is how things must occur.  A student who invites a friend into the movement of God makes much more of an impact than when a 36 year old begs and pleads with kids to come.  A local church in NOLA makes a bigger difference in serving the community than outsiders.  English classes with a family that lives in Brazil does more than a few IMs from someone in the States.  Our tendency is to want to manage it all, want to jump in and serve and help, to be the rescuers, the attraction, the one that can make it happen.

Even though I know them, it takes diligence and stamina to keep applying these ideas.  The natural thing to do is to bring it all back under our own leadership and influence.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"They treat you very well"

"You just walk in," said Ethel Wicker, 57, who fled the Ninth Ward in New Orleans ahead of the storm that flooded it, as she dug into a Styrofoam container of oriental chicken in the gym of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church. "They have clothing. They have drinks. They have candy. And they treat you very well."

Quote from NYT article entitled "A New Meaning for 'Organized Religion': It Helps the Needy Quickly."  HT to Stephen and the KatrinaGrace blog. 

Friday, September 09, 2005

Andy Stanley again

An optimal sized church?

Our theory is that a church should be allowed or encouraged to grow large enough to sustain a viable high school and middle school ministry. A successful student ministry requires critical mass in order to capture and keep the attention of their target audience. So the question becomes, how many adults are required to generate critical mass for a student ministry? That depends upon the demographic of a community.

If you are a twenty six year old seminary student with a couple of kids in diapers that may not sound like a great answer. But if you are a church planter with 150 people and one of your elders just informed you that her family is leaving because you don't have anything for her thirteen year old, it makes painful sense.

Parents will put up with a lot in big church if their teenagers feel connected to a student ministry.

Full post and comments here. Very interesting.

1 - Your student ministry is a huge attraction for families within the overall larger body of your community. It's not just about your students anymore. (Well, actually, it was never about your students necessarily.) So, you inherently have more responsibility, not just to minister to students, but to families. (If you are a mission team leader, you already have a natural connection with your students' families, whether you thought about it or not.)

2 - Maybe we all need to answer the question Andy asks - how many adults in your community are needed to generate critical mass for your student ministry? This critical mass can look different in the context of different communities. Notice the overall principle - contextualization. Just like in cross cultural ministry - context is important.

Its an interesting principle, especially since a lot of the discussion in the comments are things that I think people could easily say about GCC. But... healthy things grow. I could write more but I'm not going to right now.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina - help where you can

Its a weird dynamic to be in the richest nation in the world and watch NOLA happen. Sounds like its going to get a lot worse before it gets any better. I think the overall sentiment with students is one of frustration. They want to help, but there isn't seemingly much they can do. They can't fly down there. They don't have a big disposable income to give a lot. They can't exactly open their home for an evacuee. The desire is there, the means are not as easy.

GCC is sending a small team to NOLA this weekend. They are bringing a light load of supplies and will also scope the situation, in an effort to long term partner with Trinity Church in Covington. (The pastor is a guy that D and I know from our previous church way back - good guy.)

I dropped some stuff off at the church office tonight and met a lady also dropping off some stuff. She mentioned that they had only been at GCC for one month. She has a son in LC and a elementary age daughter. Both of their kids were doing stuff with the Boys/Girl Scouts and they had even more stuff to drop off later tonight. I really enjoyed meeting someone who had only been at GCC for a month, but was already pitching in and donating some stuff.

I was chatting with LB the other night and she mentioned that she had taken an hour and helped with the KatrinaPeopleFinder wiki. She felt like it was something tangible and within her means that she could do to help. (Her dad is one of the ones going this weekend. I don't wonder where she gets it from.)

We are going to do a little bit with the SPACE crew to help for NOLA on Friday night too. I can't divulge any more details, otherwise it might ruin it. But nothing huge. But its something. And, we know - we *really* know - that a group of young people, when they set their mind to it, can change the world.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Andy Stanley comments

Andy Stanley comments on a blog observation of someone that visited NorthPoint.  He is a bit sarcastic, has very thoughtful answers and even engages the readers about a question about an optimal sized church.  Make sure you read all the comments.

HT: Phil

Momentum Mag

Momentum Magazine - a online magazine to help believers passionately, quickly, and effectively reach the least-reached 27% of our world.

Katrina Grace

No, its not the name of a new baby... Pastor Mark talked on Sunday about GCC teaming up with a church just north of NOLA to help with the recovery effort.  The pastor there was actually a guy that D and I know from our old church in Silver Spring, MD.  Anyway, Stephen and his wife are the point people for the partnership and have started a blog for all the info and connections.

independence day

Today, September 7, is Independence Day in Brasil.


A short post I read about Mozambique here from a series of posts about the House Church Conference.  Some interesting items:
- After a 40 days of rain and 40 nights of rain. Half of Mozambique was destroyed by flood waters.
- The entire nation of Mozambique is coming to God.
- 53 people to his knowledge have been raised from the dead in Mozambique.

Via Andrew

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

SPACE blast off 2005-2006

We have a pool party (of all things) on Friday night with the SPACE crew kids - and some new invitees.  This is the blast off, kick off, jump start, lets roll, gentlemen start your engines, etc. time where we start things off  for the school year.  I'm pretty excited about it.  We have a big group of kids that have said they want to be involved and loads of energy and momentum left over from the summer.

Of course, one of the goals is to give these kids some kind of vision for their involvement.  And more than a vision, I think.  It is also giving them a jolt of confidence.  "You are key in another person's life.  You can make a difference.  You can contribute to something much larger than yourself.  You can lead your peers to live life missionally."  That idea is more than just vision.  It's a shared value that is not just taught or spoken.  It's a spontaneous pattern that we are trying to reproduce in these students.

Here is my post from last year's SPACE crew start up get together.
this is an audio post - click to play

Here is to the next 1000

Well this is my 1000th post!  Hard to believe.  I've been spending the last few days thinking about what I would write in this post.  And the best thing I could come up with is to chronicle some history of this blog and the connections that it has helped me make, literally all over the world.  So, here it goes.

Nov 20, 2002 - The very first post.  I had no idea what I was doing.  This was when I was a dteam leader and my guys were in the Fall semester of their senior year. I contemplated using the blog as a means to get info out to them about events, Bible studies, etc.  But I didn't because I didn't really want a lot of people reading it at that point.
Spring, 2003 - Still using it as a personal journal, keeping notes and links there but really for my own purposes and such.
Fall, 2003 - SPACE starts.  I start using the blog as a means to write follow up info and acting like people read it.
Spring, 2004 - Blogger users get gmail accounts.  Everything we hoped it would be and more.
Nov 2004 - I meet a blogger for the first time.  Will and I meet for lunch.  A little strange meeting someone you know a lot about but never met face to face.  But Will is a great guy so it was really cool.  Funny thing, now I would think nothing of meeting a blogger face to face.  (Will used to live in MD but now is in KY going to seminary)

Somewhere in here, there are other very cool connections made:
- PM and I connect from our blogs.
- Dennis and I connect via 'youth group looking' photos on Flickr. 
- Jeremy and I connect from our blogs.
- I somehow find an old friend from a previous church where we used to do ministry together and reconnect with John Mark.
- There are, of course, others.  Nels, Scott, Rodney, Amy, David T(Revolution), David T(Long Beach), Jason, Lon, Pete, Stephen, Emilyg_123 , Marc, Steve, Sivin, Lu, wow what a fun list!
Thanks to all of you that have connected!  (Tell me please if I missed you...)

April 2005 - I comment on Alex's blog.  And he comments a response back to me that speaks life into me.  I can still remember being totally captivated by his response.  First time for a blog comment to speak right into my soul.  (If you want, here is the link.)
Summer 2005 - Fly out to meet for the first time and work with PM.  I have progressed - lunch with a blogger was weird, flying across the country to meet a blogger isn't.  My good friend MM starts a blog.
Summer 2005 - Use the blog for real time updates (especially for parents) for an overseas mission team.
Fall 2005 - Two of my leader team (LB and FZ) from the mission trip set up their own blogs.  I follow college kids ( ELB and KT) as they leave home for the first time.  One of my dteam guys is in China (sort of a blog but no RSS feed).  People from where we visited this summer read and comment on our blogs.  I make my SPACE intern start one and tell her that this will be a primary medium for her and I to interact about her reading assignments (and more.)

So, thats the gist of 1000 posts.  Some really good friends across the globe.  Loads and loads of fun stories.  Connecting in a really cool medium.  And lots of dialogue as we believe the next generation is going to change the world.

Monday, September 05, 2005

LC speaking outline

I get the privilege of speaking in Light Company (our middle school ministry) this Sunday.  I say privilege because it is really true - the people that speak to our students are carefully filtered.  So privilege because I'm certainly not all that.

Also, its a real privilege because I know - for certain - that I will make an impact on these kids.  Not just from what I say, but because of what we (the SPACE crew) are doing.  We are creating a culture of mission and service.  We are engaging students to give intentionally and sacrificially.  We are shaping and molding the perceptions of middle schoolers.  We are modelling to them that it is cool to go out and serve, that speaking another language is very cool, that engaging someone from another culture is not dorky.  

We are creating a mindset that there is not a youth ministry at GCC without SPACE.  The current 8th graders have never known a Light Company without a SPACE.  They don't realize that there were a lot of middle schoolers that went through LC without "The Bus That Rakes" or that there have only ever been two LC mission trips.  That is huge.

More than ever, I see Sunday as not just a talk, but creating and shaping an environment for growth.  The worship music, the lighting, the video and pictures, the whole atmosphere, the rapport, the dreaming and praying behind the whole morning, it all comes together for an environment.  Hopefully its an environment where God draws hearts.

It will also be a fun morning because in addition to highlighting some of the high school summer team members, there will be 3 middle schoolers that will stand up and talk about their experiences this summer.  There hasn't really been an opportunity for them to talk about their trip at all this summer, and having them upfront conveys the importance of what we did to the middle school community.

Here is my very rough outline.

Intro - Gen 12 - vessel to be blessed/to bless others
Where I Went was Different - teams
How the world really looks - me
Impact on me - teams
How I Made a Difference - teams

If you are around GCC on Sunday, LC is 2nd service (9:45) at the Warehouse.  Just be forewarned, it is middle school.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Katrina PeopleFinder

Got an extra hour or two?  Can you cut and paste?  I'm thinking I'm going to do this for an hour tonight.  Help consolidate the loads of lists of people that are missing or found.  For instructions, click here.

Misc Sunday links

Dan Kimball (who wrote the book The Emerging Church) has a great post about the role of apologetics in our postmodern culture.  Very articulate with some very, very good points.  You would like it.

Phil posts about organic versus chemical growth.

Ryan posts about teaching mission strategy at Fuller, where "a strategy would be more influenced by the biblical narrative than by the latest business guru."  Cool.

1 month

1 month ago today, I was in Brasil.  One of the things I have learned is that we all come off spiritual high experiences and think irrationally.  I told the team they need to wait 1 month before thinking realistically and seriously about their future involvement with the ministry there, going back, etc.  We all make so many grandiose plans right after a profound experience like that.  It's difficult to ride the emotions yet stay to the convictions.  So to my team that reads this, you can start thinking about it again today.


When I took Perspectives, they told us many of the Moraravian missionaries would pack a coffin and fill it with their personal items - because they knew they would never come home.  Steve Addision gives a good case study about the Moravian mission movement.  Note:
- "relative lack of concern with training, finances, or structure"
- a prayer vigil that lasted for over 100 years continuously
- 2000 people being sent out in 150 years

Saturday, September 03, 2005

people of peace

Mark posts about disciple-making movements here.  I loved the way he talked about 'evangelism':
What Jesus taught his disciples is to simply ask God to lead them to the right people, so called 'people or houses of peace' who are ready to receive the Kingdom. Not everyone is ripe to be harvested, so don't force yourself or others into an artificial approach. Rather 'gossip' the gospel ("hey, listen to this") and bring God into the conversation in a low-key way by sharing a story of what happened to you or a friend of yours. If something resonates with them, they will pursue the conversation, otherwise drop it.
It also made me think a bit more about this idea of 'people of peace', which I had really only heard first from The Shaping of Things to Come.

(Related topic:  I had been posting my thoughts from the book (like here) and would have continued, except I felt really compelled to leave my copy with GMcM when we were in Brasil.  I'm sure he is going to love it.  One thing we don't totally understand is how our overseas families don't have access to a lot of church stuff we take for granted, like books.  GMcM told me that every time he comes to the US, he buys two years worth of books.)

This requires a bit more thinking.  And probably a change in the way that we relate to people around us that have yet to see the kingdom.

deep belief

"But the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.  And there is something inside me, some selfish beast of a subtle thing that doesn't like the truth at all because it carries responsibility, and if I actually believe these things I have to do something about them.  It is so, so cumbersome to believe anything." - Blue Like Jazz

Does belief always cost us something? Is there a fine line between deep and shallow belief, where the depth makes us behave differently?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Corp America donates

My company started a 2-1 match for Katrina via the Red Cross.  I'm proud to say that this morning, there were over $400,000 raised from employees and more than $800,000 in matching funds.  That is cool.  Rudy writes about Desire Street Ministries, right in NO.  The Shengs are giving a little bit to both.

student teams and disasters

When the Tsunami hit, I had a few people ask me if I thought about taking a team there to help.  No.  Same answer when it comes to New Orleans.  Now, I realize that I might be the minority when it comes to this opinion.  And I'm okay with that.

Right after the Tsunami hit, we had a team from GCC go to Southern India to help a church planter.  They had planned this trip way before the disaster.  As soon as the tsunami hit, I was secretly against them going.  If anyone asked me for my opinion, I would have told them.  I'm glad no one asked because they had a really good trip. 

There are contexts where student teams are great.  Disaster relief situations are not one of those contexts.  You will:
- Expose your kids to a lot of death, destruction, disease, etc.  Disaster environments are environments where people can barely live.  Think post traumatic syndrome. 
- Spend a lot of time and money that could otherwise be used for daily needs for people already stricken.  It is far more efficient to give that money to people and organizations that are already on the ground working the relief. 
- Probably get in the way of a lot of professional people that train all their lives for situations like this.  Those people are the professionals.

So, just in case you asked.  (Sometimes I know I should keep my mouth shut.)

Steve is going

My blog friend Steve Watson is going to NO.  He writes about preparation and the actual going.  Blessings on you Steve.

Cuba and hurricanes

less than 2 months ago, cuba was able to move 1.7 million people on short notice.
the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with.  people know ahead of time where they are to go.
they come to your door and knock, and tell you, evacuation is coming, then they come and tell you, now.  
if no electricity, they have runners who communicate from a headquarters to central locations what is to be done.  
the country's leaders go on TV and take charge. but not only the leaders are speaking. the TV weatherpeople are knowledgeable. and the population is well educated about hurricanes.
they not only evacuate. it's arranged beforehand where they will go, who has family where. not only pickup is organized, delivery of people is organized.
merely sticking them in a stadium is unthinkable. shelters all have medical personnel, from the neighborhood. they have family doctors in cuba (!), who evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know who, for example, needs insulin.
if they evacuate to a countryside high school -- a last resort -- they have dormitories there.  
they also have veterinarians and they evacuate animals. they begin evacuating immediately, and also evacuate TV sets and refrigerators, so that people aren't relucatant to leave because people might steal their stuff.
it's not throwing money at the problem.  it's not financial capital, it's social capital. the u.s. in this sense has zero social capital.
dealing with hurricanes in cuba, as compared with how it's done in the u.s., is similar to the differences in how they deal with medicine. it's not reactive; it's proactive. they act as early as possible. the u.s. doesn't have civil defense, it has civil *reaction.*

from BoingBoing and more from this article on the BBC

Pager update

Good news about my pager (I think.)  It dried out and now works.  Corporate America is overjoyed.  One of my dozens of cousins says that you can put your pager/phone in a sock with a load of clothing in the dryer for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bibles to NOLA

Thomas Nelson Publishers is donating 100,000 Bibles to NOLA and approved a matching gift for employees that donate funds. Read more from the CEO himself here.