Saturday, April 30, 2005

Missionary Teams

I've added a subscription to my Bloglines feeds that is an RSS feed from the bookmarks people add in delicious under the tag 'missions.' (I have a link to it on the right sidebar.) It's pretty cool to see bookmarks that other people save under that category.

One of the sites recently saved was, "An international forum on mission in postmodernity." I found the intersting article titled Third Dimension Missionary Teams written by Steve Richardson, the CEO of Pionners.

First dimension mission teams
- a group of people who identify with one another on the basis of shared ministry calling and/or geographic and organizational affinity
- the "team" is viewed primarily as a necessary and expedient platform by which each member may accomplish his/her assigned goals within a practical framework
- Strategic cross-polination of ideas, experience, and resources is limited

Second dimension mission teams
- A Second Dimension Team, like the First, shares a common goal and geographic or organizational affinity, but to this combination a third priority is added: commitment to a common ministry strategy
- still largely dependent on outside life-support systems for their member development and nurture needs

Third dimension mission teams
- a deep interactive commitment on the part of the members to one another, to the development and health of each member
- are committed to doing the work in relationship
- are interdependently task and member focused
- takes on characteristics of a living organism. It can develop, over time, its own integrated and holistic life-support system whereby it detects its own needs and sees that they are met, be they spiritual, practical, or strategic

The article then goes on to list some significant action items on the part of mission agencies, in light of trying to build Third Dimension Teams:
1 - teams are best built within the framework of a team-centric organizational culture
2 - begin viewing the team as the primary locus of personnel development, including member care
3 - responsibility and authority must be divested to teams, within the context of an inter-dependent network. Teams must be "liberated" if they are to be truly effective
4 - leadership development, at both the team and regional levels, should be the primary concern of an agency's upper level management

It's a good article which touches on the ideas of building mission teams, growing and erupting leadership out of individuals, and how a community, not just individuals, on mission is required.

A picture of some of our Seniors that will be going on the Black Hole Experience in two weeks.

Pastoral versus Missional Leadership

Phil posts a pretty helpful chart about the differences between Pastoral and Mission Leadership.

I love the terms:
- coach and mentor
- equip and release
- cultivate the environment
- indwell the local and contextual

(Click the chart to see the post.)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Your Prayers are Secret

D and I were in a church recently and saw a box in the lobby with a sign that said 'Prayer Requests.' Not too strange. Except that the box had a padlock on it. And it was locked.

I don't get it. What would compel the leader of a community of faith to put out a box, yet have to put a lock on it? Is there only one person in the community that can get the prayers? Is he or she the only one that prays for those requests? Does the congregation even submit their requests to the box?

It's laughable because it's so absurd.

Praying to Mecca at an NYC Airport

Whether you believe it or not, the reality is that the nations are coming to our doorsteps. The image below is from the NYTimes slideshow on how cabbies in NYC spend their time waiting for fares.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

East Coast School of Urban Ministry

Somehow, I got an email newsletter from the family that runs the East Coast School of Urban Ministry. I have no idea how I got on their list, but I bet someone that reads this blog got them my contact info. Which is totally fine. Up until now, I had no idea that there was a school of urban ministry on the East Coast.

I love the way that blogging has helped me connect with so many people that are interested in the same things. Oh, and if you are the person that got us connected, thanks and leave a comment.

SPACE Missions 2005 update

Well out of the four mission trips I am involved in helping out with this summer, three of them are stalled. The one that is making progress is the one I am least involved with. Hmm. Should I take a hint?

It is more than a little discouraging. Writing about it may be a little therapy for me.

#1 - SPACE crew traveling to Brazil to work with some GCC missionaries. This trip is in a holding pattern right now waiting for our missionary hosts to finalize some things before we make a commitment. Totally understood. I don't want to push him there, because I know our goal is really to help him in whatever ways we can. The issue for me is 'how long do I wait?' I'm thinking not much longer. Slated for early August, and May is almost upon us. In other words, time is ticking.

#2 - Middle school long weekend to CMTS. A perfect trip for middle schoolers because they are doing loads of work. I had just threw out a vision for the trip to two of the leaders - the idea of talking about world religions throughout the whole weekend. I don't think middle school is too early to expose these kids to other world religions. I had confirmed a date months ago, but seemingly CMTS doesn't have us on the calendar. And the directors are out of the country for two weeks. Did I mention its almost May?

#3 - Single day movements into DC. One of my key leaders for this had to back off for some personal reasons. It was originally going to be 6 consecutive Fridays. In order for this to be what I want it to be, I'm making it 3 Saturdays, one day each in June, July and August. It will also be a jump start for students who want to be involved in summer missions for future summers. This is the key movement for this summer, because it sets up for the future. It's unfortunate.

Well, at this point, at least my family summer vacation plans are still intact. And PrayingMantis and I have something potential in the works. More updates about that later.

I know there are no coincidences.

Travel Agent recommendations

Anyone have any great travel agent recommendations? Email or comment. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Growing It

Since aerating my lawn last week, I've been thinking a lot more about this idea of organic spiritual growth, very much related to another post about spiritual growth and the farm vs. the factory.

After aerating my lawn last weekend, I spread fertilizer and grass seed. Then I put down Miracle Grow grass food. And so far this week, I've been watering the lawn every single day, and been checking to see if any new grass has sprouted. I think some of my efforts are actually working. You can see some of the really green grass in the middle of this picture.

I was also reminded tonight when the girls and I went on a walk with some friends down to the river where they live. Along the rocks were various growths of moss, grass and small little plants. Isn't that an interesting picture of growth? Some things will refuse to not grow. Some things will root anywhere.

Here is a flower from our dogwood tree.

Not too many more straws

Sorry for the lack of insight on this blog lately. Work has been all consuming for all of April. This morning I checked my outbox on my email for my day job. There was two days this month I had not sent any email - 4/2 (on a high school retreat) and 4/17. Is that ridiculous?

People at work are really starting to feel it too. This week, tensions have been high, people have been complaining, not much grace abounds there. I know I'm the most guilty.

What troubles me is that I know that the pace of my personality has changed from being 'on' all the time. I can tell that I'm not as patient, calm or kind as I usually am. Unfortunately, I am being changed by the culture of my day, which is even more madding.

That's it though, isn't it? One of our biggest struggles --
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
- Romans 12:1-2, The Msg

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

High Tech Passports - revisited

Follow up on a previous post about passports. Article today in Wired mag about revisiting the way the US is going to do passports. I for one am relieved.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Blog resource - Malaria

Today is Africa Malaria Day, which I had no idea even existed, until I read about it on Keith's blog. He's got a great set of posts highlighting the problem of Malaria, background and what we can do about it.

- Malaria kills over 1 million people each year, 90% of them in sub-Saharan Africa. That is 3 tsunamis each year....
- Insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) are shown to reduce deaths in young children by an average of 20%. Almost 20 African countries have reduced or eliminated taxes and tariffs on ITNs to make them more affordable. But they are still expensive for families at risk of malaria, who are among the poorest in the world.
- "In Africa today, malaria is understood to be both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty."

Post 1
Post 2
Post 3
Post 4
Great stuff, Keith! Thanks for helping to make us aware. Isn't the web great?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Mission lead team

I spent some time tonight with some of our up and coming mission team leaders. This is the lead team that will lead my Brazil team... if Brazil happens. If not Brazil, then they will lead a team that will go somewhere else. I'm okay if Brazil doesn't happen. It will take a bit of some thinking on our feet.
Granted, we are pretty late for this specific team for this summer. One key thing that this trip is waiting on is some positive confirmation from our host missionary. I know he wants to do it, but he is doing a bit of legwork on his part before we make the commitment. I don't want to rush him because I know our whole goal is to help him with something he is already doing. We want to encourage and assist him.
The converse would be to push him along, according to our agenda and timetable. We certainly have some milestones to meet, but if our whole motive is to assist him, that would be the wrong perspective.
Mission always clarifies.
This lead team is going to be phenomenal. I'm really excited about working with them. They bring an energy and passion to this whole thing. They work well with students, are commited to their own personal growth and desire to launch the next generation to the ends of the earth. More exciting than working personally with them, I know some students are going to be really energized and motivated by their leadership.

Article - 10 tips for the fear of flying

- Everyone has some degree of flying fear. You put yourself in a small cylindrical tube, loaded with flammable liquid, trust your life with some unseen pilot who, if media reports are to be believed, probably has a drinking problem. To make matters worse, you’ve been bombarded with graphic details of previous air fatalities.
- One out of every six adults has a fear of flying, also known as aviophobia or aerophobia? It is estimated that 35 percent of all airline crews, flight attendants and pilots, also have either a fear of heights or flying.

My favorite of the ten tips:
7. Listen to peaceful and calming music. Your mind tends to wander and hear sounds that either don’t exist or are perfectly normal flight noises.
I almost always bring a cd player, mp3 player or my computer, when I can.

I also have a tendency to get motion sick. It's a great attribute for people involved in missions. So I also wear a pair of Sea-Bands, when I remember. I don't know if there is scientific proof if they work or not. I just know that in the very back of a tour bus through the Lake District in England, my stomach was totally calm. Of course, it is possible that these things put me right to sleep... Placebo or not, it's better than feeling like you are about to barf a lung.
Full article here via Gadling.

You are a Star

Once a year, Grace collects all of their ministry leaders for a ministry celebration. Last Friday was this year's celebration with the theme of the evening being 'You are a star' - a kind of Academy Award theme. It was awesome to be in a room with about 200 other ministry leaders, people that are top tier quality leaders, shepherds and servants.
I still am amazed at the quality of investment GCC makes in their leaders. It is first class. I know not all churches do this and I know that even sometimes, not all leaders feel appreciated. But it's still a phenomenal thing.

From the liner notes of a live worship CD they gave out -- "Grace Community Church exists to launch a community of change agents for the cause of Christ into the culture of Howard County and beyond."

Friday, April 22, 2005

Pentecost blog

Pentecost blog, sign up here
This will be very fun. I will be finishing the last day of the Black Hole Experience. Cool.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

More leader

I've been lightly in the loop on an issue with another mission team I'm connected with. They recently had some changes in the leadership and due to that, there are some big issues that are not good. Namely, money and travel plans. Yup.

If you are taking a missions experience this summer, can I implore you for a minute? Please, please, please!!
- go with someone who has a history of solid experience.
- go with someone who has a connection with a local ministry there.
- go with someone you know and trust.
- do your homework and get some references.

I know there are honest mistakes, misunderstandings, communication issues, all non-intentional. And I'm not saying in this case, these didn't happen. But if you do those steps above, you will be going far in almost guaranteeing yourself a positive missions experience.

Presentation Skills

I've been in a presentation skills class the last two days. Overall, it was pretty good. Here are some of the notes that I found helpful. Of course, most of you probably speak pretty regularly. Hope you might find them good reminders.

main purpose of making a presentation
- is to relay information
** i disagree
should be to call to action
or change attitude


three types of learners
1 auditory
common expression - "let me describe this process for you"
2 visual
"let me show you how this works"
3 kinesthetic
"what are your feelings on this issue"

culture is shifting more towards visual

physical gestures - interaction
studies have shown that only 7 percent of the initial message you convey is verbal

no eye contact means:
- i'm not here
- you are not here
- lets avoid involvement

effective eye contact engages you in nonverbal conversation with the audience
cultures - specific keys on eye contact
middle eastern cultures for example

Gestures and Body Language
any kind of audible repeating noise will disturb people
avoid repetitive movement, playing with change

locations for presenter - back of room only good for narratiing video, animation or movie
when you are in the back and talking, audience gets confused between you and the front

vocal techniques
tongue twisters to warm up

pitch - change in tone of speaking
think infomercials, prof broadcaster

memorize main point for every slide - key to not using nonwords "um, ok..."

Audience Purpose and Point
elevator description - be able to describe it in an elevator ride

Opening Presentation
inspire confidence

Directions of Questions

Responding to Issues complaints
I understand how you feel
I've often felt that way
But we've found that

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Presentation Class

I've been in a presentation class today, ending tomorrow. It's actually pretty fun. Most corporate training is usually dry and mundane. This class is a nice change from the usual.
I had to pick a presentation topic, which I will be doing for the class tomorrow. Funny, the only topic that readily came to mind was, "Why the Bible Matters."
And no, that isn't what I'll be doing. Instead, my topic is, "You are a Global Catalyst."
As a side, the supposed objective for presentations is 'to give information.' Is that wrong or what?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Visiting Small Groups

I visited our two senior Dteams (small groups) tonight to go promote the Black Hole Experience. It was really fun. There is something about seeing students during the week, in their small groups, away from the church environment and on a day that is not Sunday, something that is just fun and authentic.

Honestly, I'm tired, just from driving to two different houses. When I was a Dteam leader, on some weeks, I would drive to three or four houses, picking and dropping off kids, half way across the county. It's hard to believe that I did that for four years. Of course, I didn't drag my kids around like I did tonight. (On a side note, little kids interacting with teenagers is always fun don't you think?)

But... you know as well as I do... that the effort is worth it. Whether my energy means that a kid can get together with some of his friends to talk about God and real life, or to challenge a group of graduating seniors to talk a missional weekend when they know zero details, I would choose to expend my energy every time. And I think you would too.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Students Missions Impact

All of our students that are involved in summer missions this summer desire to make an impact. They want to be involved in something that will help people right away. Something tangible, immediate and lasting. Not a bad desire at all.

I had an interesting conversation last night with a student about a related idea. I think it's a fairly common and current mindset with the students that we work with today. She desperately wants to be involved with a missions trip this summer. She applied for, and was accepted into one of the trips this summer. As the team is now getting into preparations, the exact tasks of the team while on the field were a little bit ambiguous - mostly the intention of the team is some sort of 'evangelism.' She emailed me to ask me about other potential opportunities because she is a little bit unsure of this type of missions trip, she wants to have a bigger, more immediate impact. And she is a bit uncomfortable with a whole 2 week stint in a foreign culture doing 'evangelism' (although we all should be that uncomfortable, wouldn't you say?)

I offered her the following perspectives of thinking. First, what we think may be effective and impactful might, in the long term, be pretty detrimental. Work projects that might seem to be very beneficial (putting up a church, fixing a roof, etc.) in the short term have in fact rendered indigenous, local leadership helpless and dependent upon Western funds, workers and initiative. We need to encourage our students to look at long term missions impact, not just the short term. I used the analogy of students versus adults. Adults might reach a few students, but students will ALWAYS reach way more of their peers. It's the same thing cross culturally. A mission team can do it, but most likely, its going to make a far greater impact long term if people in the host culture do it for themselves.

Secondly, we know that 'evangelism' for the sake of hearing yourself speak doesn't work anymore. People are not persuaded anymore. You can't win a debate and have someone come to follow Jesus. My bet is that her specific team is going to be doing much more than just going door to door asking people about Heaven and Hell. I told her to get some more details from her team leader, who has been to this country with these host missionaries twice. I also reminded her that mission trips never run according to plan. Flexibility is key.

Thirdly, our goal for students should always be for them to encourage the host missionaries. That primary goal should override any other goal that we have there. Once that goal or mission is understood, everything else falls in place. It's no longer about where do we go, we go to where our missionaries already are. What about the ministry activities we will be involved in? Whatever they need help with. We can't be involved in something that destroys host missionary witnesses or activities that make Americans look bad, because we have a tight coupling with our missionaries
from our own body.

I'm convinced that we have to communicate these subtle, yet very significant perspectives to students today. If we don't, we will continue to have token mission trips - trips that look good on paper, mission experiences that all 'quality' student ministries should have, we will continue to build students that are insensitive to concepts of culture and indigenous leadership, and we will continue to contribute to the statistic that 50% of all short term trips do damage to the host missions organizations.

Marbug virus in Angola

The NYTimes has an article (free sub required) on the efforts to contain and stop an outbreak of the Marbug virus in Angola. The article details the statistics to date, the symptoms of the virus (similar to Ebola, like from the movie Outbreak) and talks about government inadequacies in notification when the outbreak started.
What was interesting to me was the cultural implications of the emergency health workers versus the locals. I think its analogous to what we are trying to do from a cultural perspective. Granted, missions is never quite like containing an outbreak of a deadly diseases, but the cultural sensitivites are much the same. In this case, the safety of workers and proper disposal of infected bodies cannot accomodate any cultural sensitivities. It's an interesting extreme to a cross cultural encounter that has no alternative.

- Their efforts to curtail the outbreak turn on whether distrustful local people in this poor and isolated town of 50,000 people alert health workers to suspicious cases. So far, persuading them has not been easy. Victims who are taken to the isolation ward are never seen again; their bodies, rapidly buried for safety, cannot be honored in the traditional funerals so important in this country.

- For the people of Uíge, rampant death is now joined by the near equivalent of a space invasion: health workers encased in masks, goggles, zip-up jump suits, rubberized aprons and rubber boots as they collect corpses in the stifling heat. The garb is all white, a symbol of witchcraft here.

Adult Sunday School

From the Acts 29 church planting boot camp audio (which I posted about before)

"I didn't want to do an adult sunday school. If you do sunday school, people hang out with their friends in their sunday school classes and then they don't bring their lost friends" - Mark Driscoll, talking about the church he was envisioning

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Acts church

From the message today, part of the current series on Acts, something I never quite realized --
- The early church grew from 120 people to 5120 people in two weeks. What kind of people did this church embody for growth like that to occur? It wasn't about what they did, but who they were.

NYC memories

Help me do some research... Comment on your most memorable experience in NYC...

Before You Preach

"I used to say to Erwin just before he would get up to preach, "Give 'em heaven." Erwin would say to me as I would get up to preach. "Information educates. Passion motivates."" - Alex McManus

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I spent this morning renting, hauling and actually using an aerator. Very interesting. In the periennial struggle every spring to grow my lawn, this year we decided to try aerating it.

The idea is something like this. Take a lawn, use an aerator, and go over it like a mower. When you are done, you will have a lawn which has a bunch of poke holes in it, with clumps of dirt everywhere, looking like some kind of large waterfowl poop.

As I was aerating, I continued to think about this idea of 'spiritual environmentalist' that Erwin uses. The idea is that I'm poking a hole into something that maybe already looks okay, in order for it to grow at the next level. To stimulate growth and action, I'm deliberately almost destroying it in a way. I'm certainly changing the dynamic of my lawn. Deliberately opening up the lawn so that more 'air' can get in there. 'Air'-ate, if you will.

I think it's a pretty accurate description of what we are called to do with students. In my case, I know that the next few weeks, I'm going to be processing how to poke a series of tiny holes in the graduating Seniors, through our Black Hole Experience. I'm going to be purposely taking them away from their routine, into an environment where they might not be as safe, around people that are totally different than them. One of the weekend's goals is for them to see our world's cultures as they are, not as we think they are. In a sense, I'm 'culture'-ating, sort of. (I know its kind of corny.) Or in another sense I'm 'mission'-ating. In both cases, I want these kids to come back with a bigger picture of culture and mission. I want to open them up to the possibilities and the impact they can make on both cultures of the world and the mission Jesus has for the Church. It's my job, sort of, to poke these holes in them for one weekend, with the intent that they reach the next level of growth and action in their walk with Jesus and how He calls them to reach the nations.

I also put down some fertilizer and grass seed today. The bag says I should have some grass popping up in 7-10 days. I wonder what will happen to some of these students after 7-10 days...

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Suburban Student

When I was up in NYC last summer, I remember asking one of our missionary contacts what he thought were the top 2 skills needed to do urban church planting. He replied, "Flexibility and creativity." We continued to dialogue about the demands of church planting in an urban context, how it was never cookie-cutter, that reading a manual about it was not enough preparation, that it demanded vision, foresight and the ability to think on your feet and change direction on a dime. It was a very valuable conversation for me personally.

The Mrs and I have recently been throwing around the idea that 'hey, suburban ministry is tough too!' Don't get me wrong. This is not to say that urban ministry is not as hard as everyone says it is. Not at all.

This is to say that there are significant cultural and societal issues that make suburban ministry tougher than it looks on the surface. Along the same lines, to say that it is worth it, and that people are specifically called to ministry in the suburbs.

A few things that come to mind:
- race
(Rudy's post and the comments about this topic really contributed to our conversation)
Suburban churches are by and large ethnocentric. In our context, there is almost 0 minority. Race is an element that I address, because in the suburbs, we can grow kids that are disciples of Jesus but only ever see spirituality among white kids.
When the center of Christianity is now Timbuktu, Mali, these kids need to have the progression of exposure, processing and action on the subject of race. Certainly inner city ministry deals with race. I would submit that it is as big of a deal in the suburbs. In both cases, we cannot allow the propogation of this wrong kind of thinking to the next generation.

- wealth and prosperity
Our students have everything they ever need. They have almost everthing that they would ever want. The materialism, affluence and comfort of the suburbs can turn out mediocre followers of Christ, who never understand what it means to be in need, and what it means to suffer for the call of a disciple. How do you show a group of kids who have never been hungry what its like for the majority of kids around the world? How do kids learn about a culture that has never heard about a Bible when they have stacks of Bibles collecting dust in their homes?

- entitlement
Some of our suburban kids have a sense of entitlement. I deserve it, you owe it to me, I can do whatever I want to do. It's a pervasive attitude that challenges authority, leadership and service. Is it any wonder when we build ministries that focus on themselves? During four years of my small group ministry, I did a mere four weeks of serving someone outside the church with my students. And we wonder why they feel entitled to so much? Why they get an attitude when invite them to serve. Why being needy is a feeling they can even begin to relate to.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love what God is doing in our community. I see God moving in so many ways in light of our church move, a new church focus on community impact, and what SPACE has planned in the next few years. God has called me to the suburban student, at least for right now. And the suburban student is difficult to mobilize.


For most student teams, reentry is not a huge issue. However, for other short term and long term missions, it is huge. It's not easy to get your arms around the topic of reentry. The issues people face are as varied as the people involved. People respond totally differently. Here is one of the best narratives I have ever read on the subject.
Notice that the post deals with feelings and perspectives about the differences in:
- food
- time zones
- routine with children
- public libraries
- drivers licenses
- dining out and restaurants
- buying groceries
- the amount of choice we have here versus overseas
- compare and contrast differences in cultures
(the tendency to want to say better/worse instead of different)
- availability of electricity
- medical care
- home church
- worshipping in native tongue
- the next milestone of decisions
- the smell
(I remember the first impact of landing in the Dominican Republic - it was totally the smell.)

As I read through this list of transitional issues, it's no wonder that 50% of missionaries don't make it through the first year.

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Very cool, it generates a rap from a url

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Article - Mohler, Soul Searching

Related to my previous post about OMG...

A friend sent me a link to an article by Al Mohler (President of Southern Baptist Seminary) about Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers by Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton.

Here are some snippets from the article, including Mohler's comments as well as direct quotes from the book. I've also added my own commentary here:
- American teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their religious beliefs, and most are virtually unable to offer any serious theological understanding. is apparent that most religiously affiliated U.S. teens are not particularly interested in espousing and upholding the beliefs of their faith traditions, or that their communities of faith are failing in attempts to educate their youth, or both."
This is surprsing to me. The teenagers that I talk to in our faith community are not inarticulate at all about their beliefs. Quite the opposite. They will communicate their beliefs and understanding in specific, well thought out terms. I keep saying it, GCC is not like any other place.

- The researchers discovered that for many of these teens, the interview itself was the first time they had ever discussed a theological question with an adult.
This is serious. If we have a generation of youthworkers and youth pastors that are not engaging students in dialogue about their faith and the relevance it has to life, that is a huge problem. Are we just eating pizza and taking them to the roller rink instead? Jesus engaged His disciples in dialogue, almost constantly, about the mission and what they thought about God and what it meant for them.

- We must now look at the United States of America as missiologists once viewed nations that had never heard the gospel. Indeed, our missiological challenge may be even greater than the confrontation with paganism, for we face a succession of generations who have transformed Christianity into something that bears no resemblance to the faith revealed in the Bible. The faith "once delivered to the saints" is no longer even known, not only by American teenagers, but by most of their parents. Millions of Americans believe they are Christians, simply because they have some historic tie to a Christian denomination or identity. We now face the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity.
Remind you of a recent, great book with Barbarian in the title?
"...yet christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists. Those who choose to follow Jesus become participants in an insurrection. To claim we believe is simply not enough. The call of Jesus is one that demands action. Jesus began His public ministry with a simple invitation: 'Come, follow me.' His closing instructions to His disciples can be summarized in one word, 'Go!' A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was 'Come, and listen,' and His closing mandate would be summarized in the one word 'No!' The tribe of Jesus, above all people, should right carry the banner, 'Forward.'"

One more thing in closing. We should be engaging our students about 'theology.' But let's be clear - discussing theology for the sake of theology is a mistake. From Perspectives, theology must have the context of mission wrapped around it.

OMG - Gen Y and faith study

The Corner posts about a study titled "OMG! - How Generation Y is Redefining Faith in the iPod Era." A definite read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Leader leader leader

Well we have suffered a major set back with one of the foundational building blocks for our summer missions. Through nobody's fault, I'm down a leader.

And it's not only 1 leader. It's a significant leader. This role is fundamental to not only this summer, but to the movement and momentum for future summers.

This person got it. They understood. We were on the same page. I know I can't find another person just like them. I'm not saying that to be biased. That is the harsh reality. But I seriously doubt that I can even find someone close. Someone that understands. Someone that can see it, someone that gets it, someone that MUST do it.

You are in the same boat that I am. Finding the right leaders is difficult, almost impossible. You have to have people that love students, that love to grow, that can see the possibilities and the future, that take the initiative, that willingly shepherd kids and risk a lot to see them grow.

What a drag. I know this is worth it. The question is, can it really be done?

Resource - travel tips

From the Cecilia's Amazing Travel Tips, via Gadling.

* put all your important info (reference numbers, phone numbers, addresses of consulates, airline offices etc) onto your Hotmail. If you have a scanner you can even put scanned copies of your important documents onto Hotmail. (just compose the mail as normal and send it to yourself). If you lose your originals and your copies you can always retrieve them from your Hotmail.
* optionally: cover brand names of photo camera and other expensive gear with black sticky tape (looks like cheap brand)
* silk sleeping sheet for warm nights (silk preferred to cotton: lighter, dries faster, more comfortable in heat)
* in Indonesia: buy a sarong: to be used as beach towel, curtain, long or short skirt, sheet, table cloth
* in case of diarrhoea: slice an apple into very thin slices (with clean hands and knife!), let slices turn brown, then eat; this should relieve within 12 hours
* in case of constipation: massage your own belly with your hands and with your muscles (by flattening and bulging your belly) this sort of activates your intestines; also try this: when sitting on the toilet, bend all the way over (forward), then sit up and bend backwards as far as you can, massage your tummy, bend over again, etc. Drinking coffee or (herbal) tea can also help.
* a large fan (ventilator) on the ceiling helps against mosquitoes; they cannot fly as well in the wind it creates, so keep this in mind when selecting a hotel room in mosquito-rich areas; or better yet, use an impregnated mosquito net
* in poorer countries: buy a large plastic, woven potato bag at a local market and put your backpack in it when travelling by bus or air-plane; good protection from dust, dirt, rain (if your pack goes on top of the bus) and theft (your pack looks like somebody's harvest rather than the interesting belongings of a rich tourist)
* always carry a small box of Vaporub/Vicks cream (peppermint smell) and smear it under your nose in case you get nauseated/sick when on a bus on curvy roads or full of smelly people/animals; the result is even better if you smear it onto a bandana and bind that in front of your nose in cowboy fashion (also good against dust and sand)

Looks like a great resource for you mission team leaders going overseas.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BBC series - global migration

Interesting series about global migration that I had read about a few days ago, but only started reading tonight. Full series link.

I think its going to be a good resource for me to use with The Black Hole Experience.
- At the start of the 21st Century, one in every 35 people is an international migrant.
- At the end of 2002, 10.4 million people around the world had refugee status.
- Despite tightening its asylum laws after the 11 September attacks, the US still accounts for half of all the resettlement of refugees worldwide.
- Germany has the largest refugee population in Western Europe. In December 2002, just under a million foreign nationals were resident in Germany on humanitarian grounds.

Would you agree that for some reason, God is moving the nations of the 10/40 window to be reached easier? The question is whether we will capitalize on the opportunity.

Acts 29 church plant boot camp audio

Acts 29 church planting Feb boot camp audio.

LC retreat prayer team

You readers know that for the first time, this year's Spring Retreats had on site prayer teams. For each retreat, there was a team of people that would pray 24x7 during the whole retreat.

The LC retreat was this past weekend, and one of the guys running the prayer team sent out some stats I thought I would share:
- Number of Prayer Team Members: 14
- Number of Written Prayer Requests: 92
- Number of Verbal Prayer Requests: About 25-35
- Number of Students Who Accepted Christ: Over 30
- Number of Students Who Re-Dedicated Their Lives to Christ: Around 100


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Middle School retreat - first news

I just heard from a few kids and leaders that were involved in our Spring Light Company (middle school) retreat. You know me, I don't like to talk about numbers - its not that significant.
But what is significant, is that it represents lives that Jesus has taken hold of. That these students have been rescued from captivity, that they are now part of the revolution that Jesus started, that we have more co-laborers who will respond to how God has blessed them in order to bless others. That they will be a part of the movement that will continue to turn the world upside down.
Welcome to 32 middle school kids that dedicated their lives to following Jesus this past weekend.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Mosaic Alliance

Sweet. GCC is listed on the Mosaic Alliance directory.

Spring Break Launch followup

I guess I never really posted about the Spring Break Prayer Launch at the Mall. So I will now. We had a really light crowd show up that night, but three middle schoolers. (I only say that because, like I've said before, build into your middle schools and you inherently build into the future of your high school ministry.)

So we split the whole group up into half and had half of the SPACE crew go with each half. In the middle of our time, we switched, so the same 'navigators' had the other set of students.

The basic gist was that our SPACE crew kids had thought about how to pray for the Mall and would be guiding or navigating the other kids through how to pray strategically.

The first group stayed together and as they came to each specifically chosen place in the Mall, gathered together in a circle and prayed together, outloud, in front of the store/restaurant/area. Gutsy huh?

The second group walked through the Mall together, and one person started off praying, silently, for something specific - either people in a store, a person they saw walking or something like that. When they were done, they would gently tap another person and give them an idea of what to pray for next. Like, 'pray for the parents in Build-A-Bear.' It got termed 'Tag Prayer.' Pretty cool idea.

Similar to the last time we did this, it opened up the eyes of some of our students. They never realized how to 'see' like this and started to see the a place like the Mall could be strategic for God's movement.

Int'l Night

One of the goals SPACE has is that we are giving our students a correct vision of the world and trying to catalyze their hearts to care about it. One of my primary means of doing this, up until now, has been exposure. Exposure to cultures, ideas about the world in which we live, real facts about the world out there. This also includes making sure that our students know the certain current missions terms such as 'the 10/40 window', and 'unreached people group'. It also includes our students understanding global movements, such as information about the relatively recent migration of large masses of people moving to cities and the massive existence of poverty and slums throughout large urban areas. And on a more personal level, knowing our church's investment throughout the world, and hearing about the missionaries that GCC has sent out.

Friday night, our elementary school hosted it's first ever International Night. It was put on by the PTA and a bunch of parents, teachers and volunteers. Throughout the evening, there were cultural displays on stage in the cafeteria, while certain countries had tables set up in the gym with displays of culture, samples of food and all kinds of other stuff. Each student that came could get a 'passport' and by visiting each country, get their passport 'stamped' with a sticker. If they got all of them, they got a special 'customs prize.' What a great idea. It was pretty fun and our 7 year old had a great time. My favorite was visiting the Domnican Republic table. When I mentioned that I had spent a month there and got real sick, the couple there said, 'Yeah, you shouldn't have drunk the water.'

What I didn't realize was that there were 19 countries reprsented there, meaning that there are at least 19 different cultures that are intermixed at our local elementary school. And the majority of them were from the 10/40 window. Are the nations coming to our doorstep or what?

It made me think even more of what a vital task SPACE has, to ensure that kids realize that mix of cultures right in their neighborhoods. And that the environment that kids are in during church is so different from the environment that they actually live in, go to school in, work and play sports in.

One of the pivotal things we are doing with the Seniors for The Black Hole is an exercise in culture. International Night has given me even more motivation to try and make that exercise even more impactful.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Middle school retreat

Our middle school pastor at work --

Pray for the middle school retreat if you think of it this weekend. Yup, two in a row for a few key staff people. For middle school, a total of over 400 students, leaders, volunteers, etc. I suspect it will be as powerful as last weekend was for some precious students.

On Tap for this weekend

The wife is away at a scrapbooking weekend, should be quite fun for her. Tonight, I'm taking the girlies to International Day at K's school. That should be fun. Then dropping them off at Grannys, where they will be all weekend. I'm torn, half of me is looking forward to the break from them, the other half wishes I could spend all weekend with them. Then meeting the Mrs at the hotel for the night.
Then I have to work all day Saturday on two separate releases, which is why, even if they were here, I would be preoccupied and not fully present. Ever feel like you don't like what you have to do, but you have to do it anyway? Ditto here, especially lately. I know there is a bigger purpose with work, I know that I need to be seeing it in terms of the people, how I am relating to them, how I can encourage and challenge them to think about spiritual issues. In terms of culture, there are more people from the 10/40 window in my line of work than most I think - my whole team is comprised of Indian and Chinese people. And yet my perspective in the moments there are so far from anything like this. Whats up with that?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Newsong - Quest

I don't know much about Newsong, just some stuff I've read here and there. But I was checking out there missions section - Quest. Wow. There is the map of all their summer missions this summer, detailed info about being a potential team leader, and sections of missions education, missionary care. Lots more there.

IJM prayer gathering

This Global Prayer Gathering that IJM is hosting looks really cool. I would love to be a part of it, especially the candlelight prayer vigil at DC landmarks, and being able to pray for specific countries and needs with IJM staff. If you go, I'm sure many would love to hear all about it.


from Google Maps

Thanks a lot, Rudy!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Leading and Growing

Most of you readers that I know about are probably leaders. The variety of leaders reading here are probably varied. Some of you lead within youth ministries. You are small group leaders, youth pastors, mission team leaders. Some of you lead behind the scenes. You lead by doing what needs to get done, even when no one notices. Maybe its art, tech stuff, setup and tear down. Some of you speak, creating and crafting thoughts that spur on the movement of the Kingdom in other people. I suspect that your leadership overflows into other areas of your life as well. Besides your families, you are leaders in other aspects of your life - career, community, etc. You probably desire to grow as a leader. Growth, challenge, and learning excite you. Thats what makes you a leader.

Up to now, I haven't really found any blogs that talk about leadership. However, I would encourage you to check out Alex McManus, brother of Erwin. I posted previously about a series he is starting this week. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

no wonder


flickr quota

I found out yesterday, that even if you have reached your flickr monthly quota, you can still email your pictures and they will get uploaded.

Final retreat thoughts

One more post about the retreat.
See previous posts for some background - 1, 2, 3.

For our onsite prayer team, I brought a few things with me to help out:
- a big map of the campus (printed at kinkos on plain big paper, $6 a copy)
- a lot of index cards
- post it notes
- markers, pens
We setup a shoe box right outside the session room so people could jot down their prayer requests. When we got any of them, we would tape them up to our prayer wall. We holed up in a dressing room behind the stage in the session room, taping up a bunch of stuff. In this picture, you can see the map, some postits with prayer requests and a comprehensive list of each person on the retreat.

Each person on the prayer team also had this list so they could pray whenever they wanted to by name. There were four of us on the prayer team - 3 guys and one mom. Us three guys split the middle of the night into three shifts, 12-3, 3-6, 6-9. During that time, we were to pray for the retreat and walk the grounds, making sure kids weren't outside. I got lucky - I had 12-3 the first night and 6-9 the second night.

On another topic, the speaker, Greg Speck, was really good. Very funny, totally engaging, the kids loved him. He is also involved in student missions every summer and has been leading teams overseas since the mid 80s. The organization he works with is Royal Servants International. We talked for a few minutes about student missions, they seem to have some pretty good goals and perspective on doing missions the right way - working with local indigenous ministries, proper pre field training, specific intentional discipleship of students as a part of mission. He also mentioned that any time I wanted to come and see their pre field training, he would work it out for me. Nice. One thing I noticed about their leaders was how experienced their leaders seem. Not just college kids running this operation. They are also members of the Standards of Excellence in Short Term Mission association.

What I also appreciated about Greg was that the big invitation that he did Saturday night was not focused on emotion. It was a clear Gospel presentation and invitation, but it wasn't all about feelings, guilt or coersion. In fact, Sunday morning's message about going home included the point that "feelings don't last."

Finally, one of my guys from my NYC team can and brought a good friend and neighbor. Apparently he has been trying to get this friend to church for a long time. After the invitation on Saturday night, his friend decided to follow Jesus. I watched as my friend Ben just weeped about the significant decision that his friend just made. It's something to see high schoolers cry for their friends, isn't it?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Josiah Venture - summer strategy

I've been checking out Josiah Venture after Marc posted the highlights of an article about organic multiplication. The major highlight from the article for me was the comparison between factory and farm. Some other highlights include:
- As youth pastors commited to the cause of global youth ministry we cannot be satisfied with single versions of effective disciple making movements. (You are commited to global youth ministry, right?) Vital local youth ministries must be reproduced, and spread, effective country-wide movements must jump over national boundaries and be multiplied in other settings. How do we reproduce living things that grow and adapt, rather than just empty copies of methods and programs that worked in another setting?
- A farmer studies a life form carefully to determine the conditions needed for it to flourish and the dangers from which it must be protected. At the same time he recognizes that the growth process itself is largely out of his control.
(Every spring, I start the futile cycle of trying to grow my lawn. I'm sure I'll be thinking about this even more...)
- I am convinced that we must become expert 'fruit inspectors.' The measure of a man through whom a ministry can multiply is not his credientials, education, position, gifting, communication skills or understanding. Choose men who embody what you want to reproduce, and who are regularly bearing healthy fruit. They will impart life.
- Organic reproduction occurs naturally and spontaneously, building momentum and energy as it goes along.

As I poked around further on their site, I noticed a page about summer mission projects that youth ministries can be involved in. These ideas resonated with me as well:
Summer camps are part of a year-long strategy J.V. uses to help youth groups move toward a healthy balance of WINNING (evangelizing), BUILDING (discipling), and EQUIPPING (training) students. Regular training events throughout the year help prepare both youth leaders and their groups to be more effective at making disciples. We spend a good deal of personal time with various leaders and groups, coaching and encouraging them through individualized care.
(from a Summer Strategy page)
- We prefer either a group with a home church connection to a Josiah team member, with previous Josiah involvement, or with Sonlife training (preferably SEMP trained) and a commitment to the Sonlife strategy.
- We prefer "cross-cultural" experience prior to coming to Eastern Europe (i.e., Mexico or some other short-term trip, inner city, Indian reservation, etc.).
- The group leader must be committed to doing appropriate cross-cultural and evangelistic training prior to coming (i.e., Josiah and SEMP materials).
- All team members should understand and be involved in peer-to-peer relationships and evangelism at home.

Notice the:
- desire for a connection to the organization versus a locality that just sounds like fun
- the preference for a team to have some cross cultural experience
- the requirement to do pre-trip training
- the involvement of being on mission at home
On a slightly related note, you all know what a big fan of SEMP I am. Honestly though, I think our DC experiment this summer is going to blow SEMP away. But more on that later.

7 transformations of leadership

Alex McManus is starting a series on his blog called "7 transformations of leadership." I'm sure its going to be really good. The intro is here.

High Tech Passports

Passports are going to include a computer chip with all pertinent info of the passport holder. Brings up some interesting issus with security and safety of travellers abroad. Full story here.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Retreat thoughts

Lots of thoughts about the retreat this past weekend. Here are a few of them:
- Junior guys and the "Lagoon of Love" - talk about innovation. And I was sure they were going to get busted.
- I loved watching the freshmen on the ropes course.
- Greg Speck is a great speaker.
- High schoolers with passion for God worship more intensely than any adults could imagine.
- Being a part of the prayer team was definitely more (intangible) work than work crew.
Check out the cprrockbridge2005 tag on flickr. So far, it's just me but you never know...