Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Stomach flu is done with the girls. We'll see if D or I get it. A low key game night here with the girls, we'll see if they make it to midnight or not.

Tomorrow morning is the first day of church in our new building. Pretty wild stuff.

2005 was a pretty awesome year for me in many, many aspects. I'm optimistic, I think God is going to do some fantastic stuff in 2006 and I'm overjoyed at being privileged enough to be a part of it.

Blessings to you readers and happy new year!

Girls all the time

There are girls everywhere in my life. At home, I'm surrounded by three of them - except for Calvin the dog. At work, its not quite as bad.

As for SPACE, which I always wanted to think of as this cool, edgy, manly adventure, there are girls everywhere as well. My attempts to get some guys involved in this has been rather fruitless. I used to think that if we get the high school girls, the guys will follow. Anyway...

We seem to get a good balance in both the summer mission teams and the community service launches. What seems to gravitate towards just girls is the small team of students involved in the dreaming and planning and leading. It is interesting.

To give this some larger perspective:
- in 40,000 out of 50,000 house churches in China, the Biblical 'anchor' is a woman.
- there are twice as many women missionaries in China as men.
- roughly two thirds of the current missionary force is women.

So there certainly is some precedent. For more great information on Women and Missions see this older issue of Mission Frontiers which focuses on women in missions.

Photo: Some of the girls on the SPACEcrew, January 2005

Back to this CD that is on - its actually not that bad.

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Organic Church" - book notes and applications

Here are my notes from Organic Church. Really good book, making me think about a lot of things, as you will see in the post. This is one of those posts that is mostly just for me to put some of my thoughts down on paper. For those of you involved with SPACE, I would love for you to give some thought to the ideas in this post and give me some feedback.

A few background notes here. First, I'm not a church planter, nor do I aspire to be (that I know of.) However, I'm convinced that if we are to mobilize and catalyze a group of students from a local church to impact the world, the notion of church planting should be one of the top two or three 'ministry models' that they are very familiar with. (Is the idea of a 'ministry model' even Biblical?)

Since the Lausanne Congress of 1974, a widely-accepted definition of a Christian mission has been "to form a viable indigenous church-planting movement." - from Wikipedia's definition of Christian mission

Second, some of the book talks about the need for normal people (vs. clergy) to do the actual ministry work, and the necessity to give freedom in that light. While a worthwhile idea, keep in mind that in the context of students, that has to be well thought out. In other words, students don't have a lot of the logistical freedom that adults have. There are other constraints on them (parents, mobility, other responsibilities like school, etc.) that limit them. So while its a great thing for all kinds of people to be involved in ministry in an organic church, we have to be realistic about what students can and cannot do.

Thirdly, the context of SPACE is not necessarily directly focused on planting churches of prebelievers and new disciples. It is focused on getting students out there missionally. So although the book's focus is on impacting the world in reproducible church planting movements, my perspective in reading the book is slightly different.

Two purpose statements that resonate
One church network has its purpose - "To have a church within walking distance of every person living in Las Vegas"
Another purpose - "Every Christian is a church planter, every home is a church, every church building is a training center"
at this writing, planted 800 churches in 32 states and 23 nations, in only 6 years
average size is 16 people
likes the term "organic church" vs. "house church"
Conventional church has become so complicated and difficult to pull off that only a rare person who is a professional can do it every week. When church is so complicated, its function is taken out of the hands of the common Christian and placed into the hands of a few talented professionals. This results in a passive church whose members come and act more like spectators than empowered agents of God's kingdom.
Not financially encumbered, easily planted in a variety of settings, decentralized, not dependent upon trained clergy.
The early Church did not have any buildings for the first three hundred plus years.
Thom Wolf instructs church planters today to place a three hundred year building plan in their church planting strategy.
Of course, if you can wait three hundred years, then you don't need them at all.
Buildings are not wrong or immoral. But can become an artificial life support system.
Particular church in India met outside and would roll out a rug where everyone met. After one of the services the kids were all running around playing. One parent grabbed him and sternly told him, "Stop running in church!" Our problem is not in bricks and mortar, it is in our minds.


"How long will it take to reach the world through multiplication? If any one Christian alive today were to lead just one person to Christ every year and disciple that person so that he or she would, in turn, do the same the next year, it would take only about 3 years to reach the entire world for Christ! Suddenly, world transformation seems within our grasp. If every Christian alive today were to reproduce in the same way, the world would be won to Christ in the next two to four years."
"Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction. If we fail to reproduce ourselves and pass the torch of life into the hands of the next generation, Christianity will be over within just one generation."

Jesus Plan
- practice of prayer
Prayer movement called 10:2B virus - pray every day at 10:02am - based on Luke 10:2B - send out more workers into the harvest
- pockets of people
disciples sent out in pairs to various cities, spot a receptive oikos
- power of presence
moths and cockroaches - one loves the light, one detests it
Jesus also told his disciples not to import resources into the harvest but to find all the resources they needed in the harvest itself - indigenous church, not a codependent relationship
- person of peace
1-people of receptivity
2-people of relational connections
3-people of reputation
conduit of passing of the message of the Kingdom - first domino
- people of purpose
church is born out of the harvest, found among the harvest, bent on mission to continue to reach the lost
Pray - this is something that we don't do nearly enough. It includes the leaders praying, the prayer team praying, the students praying, and most of all, me praying. The 10:02 idea, who is in with me on that?

Also related:
- gather the SPACEintern, JB and maybe others specifically to pray for the SPACE expedition in Jan
- a summer team leader prayer summit in Feb - gather the summer team leaders for dessert and to pray for the summer

The Scriptures:
Mark 4
good seed and good soil
good seed - correct genetic code in the seeds - God's message is what changes people, not stuff about his message
Training of regular discipline of reading entire books of the Bible repetitively
Life Transformation Groups read thirty chapters of the Bible each week - not religious reading, but hearing God's voice
The Scriptures are alive with God's voice
Change the SPACEinterns reading for the Spring. Currently, the reading has been a lot of good stuff - Perspectives, McManus, Eldredge, etc. - but I'm really convicted from this. The good seed is reading the Scriptures, not reading about them. And - thirty chapters a week?

In fact, this not only deals with the intern, but also me personally. So I've added the One Year Bible Blog to the top of my rss reader. I've tried for the last two years to read thru the Bible, but never made it past March or so. Good seed, good seed.

Wiping the Dust and Focus:
Mark 4
good soil - four kinds of people represented
first soil - seed never penetrates the soils hard exterior, seed is wasted
second soil - shallow receives message with great joy but no depth
third soil - thorn infested, more interested in the world, life of comfort versus life of service
fourth soil - good soil - thirty, sixty, hundredfold fruit
only one out of four soils bears fruit

accommodating bad soil in our churches
When we see people come to Christ and then slip away, we assume a responsibility that is not ours. We assume that we must be doing something wrong if so many people fall away from following Christ. We then doubt our ministry efforts and search for other ways to keep people. The results are devastating to the local church.
Because we think the number of people is a sure sign of fruitfulness and success, we do everything we can to keep people. What we end up with is an audience of consumers shopping for the best 'services.'

3000, 6000, 10000 percent return!! We must invest everything in the few who will bear fruit. Life is too short and the potential yields are too great to spend our lives babysitting fruitless people.

paradigm shift in ministry - regain the lost art of wiping the dust (bad soil) off our feet. We might consider such a thing as unloving, but this is what Jesus did. Perhaps it is the most loving thing we can do.
Jesus is the good Shepherd, lays down his life for the one sheep. He would never force himself upon those who are not interested.
Bad people make good soil - there's a lot of fertilizer in their lives.

need a sharp focus on the good soil - those who can and should be invested in - 10000 percent return

NT Discipleship Pattern:
NTDP - Thom Wolf
New Testament Discipleship Pattern
1 - received personally - internalized and transform the soul of the follower
2 - repeated easily - simple application, able to be passed on
3 - reproduced strategically - universal communication
Wolf has said in conversation that any substantive truth worth passing on should be reproducible on a napkin while one sits down at a lunch appointment

Apostle Paul's pattern as an example
- incarnational
- viral
- transformational
- universal
SPACE as a ministry component must be able to reproduced and repeated easily. Maybe not so much the large scale events (logistics) but the logic and ideas behind them can be translated to smaller scales - ie a small group of students doing something based on the same ideas. It needs to be simple.

New Converts:
I am convinced that what we do with a new convert in the first 24-48 hours after he or she is born again is of utmost importance.
Christs example - to deploy new believers immediately in ministry - force them to pray, trust in God, listen to the HS, find answers, solidify commitment, suffer for Christ's sake

The converts are the workers
We have made a terrible mistake by separating the convert from the worker. They are not two, but one.
We must somehow get our students to understand this idea, that once their friends accept Christ, they must be immersed into mission right away.

six degrees of Gods kingdom
idea of oikos - one's social web of relationships
Acts 10 - Cornelius

FF in Brazil - very cool idea
Keep this in mind, especially for all summer short term team. God was at the party before you got there.

Blog fast almost over

Greetings readers. My blog fast is almost over, but it was good for me. In the meantime, you can pick up a Firefox search engine pull down for the Bible Gateway here. (It's that thing in the upper right that allows you to search from different search engines right from the Firefox window - )

New Readers?

This post is inspired by Jeremy's virtual introductions post. Great idea. So... if are a repeat reader of this blog, or if you are new, or if you just feel like commenting and I already know you, please introduce yourself:
Why you visit this site.
The best movie you saw in 2005.
Thanks in advance for commenting and reading and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas fun

We had a great Christmas - thanks to all the well wishes from all of you readers about both K's birthday and Christmas wishes. The rest and time away from work was great for me. Our time with our GA and CT families is still going on thru this week and has been a lot of fun. Probably more posting coming soon...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Random Fri story

So last night, KN, one of the 03 guys, stopped over for a visit. You longtime readers will probably remember him. He and I meet every once in a while whenever he is home from school and talk about life, mission and impact. (In the summer of 04 he went to Kstan for a few weeks on a cross cultural trip.) We decided to go run out for a little bit and get some OJ since there are viruses all over my house. (Even though we aren't the most tidy people, we do love having people stop over whenever. So - don't you feel bad about dropping in.)

Anyway, I had to pick up the neighbors paper since they are away. So we pull into their driveway, he gets the paper on his side and hands it to me. I get out of the car, walk half way up the driveway and wind up to lob the paper on to the porch. I release. It takes a wild curve. And lands on their roof.

Light posting over the next few days, I'm taking a blog fast which I think will be good for me.

Merry Christmas to you all!!

Happy 8 to K!

Today is K's 8 year old birthday. Happy birthday! For those of you that don't know K, she is:
- really outgoing (most of the time)
- loves to sing and dance, whether it sounds good or not
- is in love with most animals - when the cicadas were here, she loved catching them, while the rest of our family was grossed out by them
- is into art, like drawing, painting, etc.
- she loves DisneyWorld, like her mum

In addition, she:
- has a high level of compassion - she talks about the homeless quite a bit
- is spiritually in tune and we never taught her that - she learns Bible verses like most people eat candy
- shares my sense of humor - if the whole room is quiet except for two people, its me and her

One of my absolute favorite experiences with K was going to Teen Missions Boot Camp in the summer of 2004. After a few miserable days and 160 mosquito bites between the two of us, I knew she knew that the world was waiting for us.

Happy Birthday K! Continue to astound us as God grows you into one of His mighty, compassionate, warrior-princesses.

Love, Dad

This is the part I LOVE

I gave some feedback to the SPACEintern the other day. Her blog is great, she details the stuff we are doing which is cool. It's also neat to see her perspective from a logistical, tactical, what-things-we-did point of view. But I implored her to add a more personal dimension - what moved you, what did you like/dislike, how is this going to change you?

Check it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

favorite 2005 posts

Since a lot of other people are doing it (and you should too because readers will like it and it will give you a good opportunity for some remberance and reflection), here is my list of favorite posts from this year.

A few things about these posts. First, none of them are summaries of any of our SPACE experiences or events or any kind of mission trip I have been involved in. If you are interested in those, check the sidebar where I keep recent writeups. Of course, most, if not all, of those experiences and their posts are definitely favorites of mine. Secondly, I've tried to limit this list of favorite posts to those that are on-topic with this blog. The posts talk about mobilization, mission, youth ministry, etc. Finally, I tried to keep it a lot shorter. Sorry.

Anyway, thanks for reading, commenting and praying. Enjoy!

Proportions and Ratios
Inviting the Team
Just Jump In
to the Class of 05
The State of the '03
From planning to designing
Ever lost a student?
Going to [undisclosed location]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

first ever SPACE winter expedition

I just sent out invites for our first ever SPACE winter expedition. What's going through my head now:
- want them to rub elbows with B and J Grap
- see what it takes to do homeless/urban ministry -
- see what it takes to do homeless/urban ministry - for the long haul
- spend time together - these are such fun kids
- build this team
- I must be crazy

If you are reading this, and you *really* want to go but didn't get the email, get in touch with me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Next Mile - Short Term Mission Debriefing

You long time readers know that I collect as much material as I can about debriefing. Bible studies, images, charts, messages, activities, etc. Looks like a bunch of mission organizations got together and put some serious investment into this thing called The Next Mile - a collection of practical tools for post-mission trip development.

I'm thinking about possibly trying to borrow one copy of their "curriculum", although I have a big dislike for that word. "Curriculum" can make lazy leaders if you let it. And with students, they *totally* know when you are using something you found, without investing and studying and owning it yourself. (But that's probably fodder for another post. )

Included in the curriculum is:
- a Goer guide, which includes "a Spiritual Journal with daily Bible readings and space to journal, record thoughts from Scripture, and write prayer requests. This helpful tool begins 14 days before departure and continues for 7 days after the conclusion of a Short-Term trip."
- a Resource CD, which contains all kinds of forms, powerpoint, etc. By the way, this is not sold separately.
- a Roadmap poster, looking at the mission trip big picture
- a Leaders Guide

In my humble estimation, if you are a team leader, a guide that you put together specifically for your team would be *worlds* better than something someone else put together, who has no idea where you are going, what your team is like, what your students' favorite candy bars are... But you already knew that...

The focus on a missional experience as part of the overall discipleship of a person is pretty key and I think its right on. I'm excited to see what looks like a lot of people put some time and energy into some debrief and post trip follow up. And having a devotional guide that continues on after participants go home - thats a GREAT idea. The first image below is of a one-time missions experience, versus the second, a missional experience as part of a lifetime of following Jesus.

HT - Brigada

Frost #5 - Adrian Plass

One more from #5 from talks from Mike Frost.

My earlier notes:
#2 notes
#5 notes

One other thing, you really have to listen to Frost recite this poem. Powerful.
When I Became a Christian, by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, Your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds teriffic, Lord, I say Amen – I think.

But , Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say Amen! – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good Book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true, he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you still want to follow me? I said, Amen! – tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You said I will need the joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say, Amen – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me,
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit.
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said, Amen! – I quit.
I’m very sorry, Lord, I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said, Forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in lonliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry,
When the nails break your body – are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn t upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again.
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Two cool NYC links

#1 - NYC ethnicity concentrations throughout the area based on 2000 census data here. HT - BoingBoing.

#2 - NYC interactive transit map using Google Maps - here.

George on Mobilization and Speaking

A vital part of missions mobilisation involves speaking at meetings in which we declare the biblical principles, present the facts and call for action.

All of us should be trying to increase our communication skills, but we also need to take the initiative in getting the invitations to speak. If you have this gift to share and speak, as a man or woman, then don't be found just sitting, especially on Sunday, just thinking about it.

Things you can do to get open doors and meetings.

1. Let people know what you have done and what is on your heart. Let them know that you are available, even for a brief testimony.

2. Win friends who in turn can pray and open doors. This means getting out there where you can meet people. Follow up on meetings with emails, letters and phone calls.

3. Take a real interest in what the church or group are doing. Try to take in their vision and ministry and communicate your oneness with them and desire to help. When the door opens, sometimes you have to push it, let them know of your desire to share your message or a message of their choice in their church or group.

4. Go out of your way to be involved in prayer meetings. We all need more time together in prayer. Praying together often leads to other relationships and opportunities.

5. Be sure you have literature and audio-visual materials with you at all time to pass on to potential partners and co-workers. Many wonderful leaders who are shakers and movers don't have a great vision for the more unreached peoples, especially the Muslims. Anything you can do to change this will make a huge difference. Most leaders give their time and effort for their own church or ministry. Rather than criticize, its better to show them how global missions can be a vital part of what they are doing and commend them on what they are already doing, however small it seems.

6. Ask God for a sense of urgency. Deal ruthlessly with any laziness, fear or lack of discipline. Learn new ways to redeem the time so that you have more time to do what you know needs to be done.

7. Learn more about releasing workers and finance through prayer and action. It will be a battle all the way, so don't get discouraged.
From George Verwer. HT - Practical Mobilization
Reminds me of my post about leaders speaking with engagement.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Church Planting fun

Now it gets good...

We get out of servie about 11:10 like normal. We are hanging around and tearing down and suddenly I notice there are a buttload of people in the theatre waiting for the movie that I think starts at 1. I start talking with one of the people and they mention that the movie starts at 11:30. What?????????????? There is NO way we are getting out of the theatre in that time. I go and tell the lead manager who tells me there has been a mix-up and it is not our fault and that they are moving the people to another theatre. She sends in one of the other managers in to do this. He gets up and and tells the people and I quote, "Folks, the church has lied to us and didn't get out of here in time. We have to move you to another theatre."
Read more here from Mad Babble from a Church Planter

Guinness... The Missional Drink

When I get old enough to drink, it will be Guinness. Read the connection between Guinness and one of the first missionaries to China, Hudson Taylor, here. HT - Missional Business.

Merry Christmas from SPACE

An email I sent out tonight - but to all our SPACE friends in the blogosphere too --

I hope this email finds you well and ready to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for SPACE and our preparation of students to share about their lives with the world. I wanted to quickly share a few highlights with you as we contemplate God's goodness to us this season:

- seeing a group of students start a touch football game with a group of homeless men in Baltimore in September
- watching some of our students serve at the Luis Palau festival in DC in pouring rain in October
- raking over 200 bags of leaves around our community during our November launch
- sending 5 small groups out to intentional bless people through mini-service projects last Friday night during our SPACE 'Orbit'

Thanks for what you are doing to advance God's kingdom, in your backyard, all over the world and with us and these precious students. Here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Blog Backup

Typepad, one of the big blog engines was down on Friday. If you really went crazy because your blog, or one that you must read, was down, maybe you should get out more. Anyway, I backed up my blog again. I used to do this way nutty re-configure your blogspot mess. Instead today I used PageSucker. HT - Tallskinnykiwi.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

ZERO responsibility

I have ZERO responsibility for the next few weeks. Ha yeah awesome.

I have no day-job work where I have to work weekends, all nighters or weekend all nighters (at least until January.) I have no insane SPACE launches where I have to be responsible for kids, their money or their permission forms. I just realized this all today. Freedom.

Ha. So we slept in. Lounged around. The girls were in pajamas until 1pm. I painted a bathroom today. And took my time. And ate ribs.

Photo: From our annual Christmas get together with the Vis's and the Bs. K is acting out The Twelve Days of Christmas on the left. DVis is jamming on the guitar.

2nd Annual Orbit

Our 2nd annual Orbit was last night. For those of you that might be new, Orbit is an experience we put together specifically so small groups within the student ministry can come and serve together on a variety of fun and unconventional mini-service projects in one evening.

The theme last night, sort of, was on gift... the idea that we are a gift to someone else by blessing them. And each segment of their Orbit (3 in total) were presented to them in little gift packages, one inside each other.

In total, we had five teams go out. I was a bit worried about how many people were really going to show up, but it was a manageable size, which was good. They all came back at a specified time and we then had a short worship set.

Here are some random notes off the top of my head:
- nursing home, spending money on strangers at the Mall, baking cookies and a dinner, serving the homeless
- the dinner was for someone at GCC who has been spending all of their time with the move, they told our team they hadn't had a homecooked meal since October
- the boys spent $37 on strangers at the Mall
- the nursing home was actually the wrong one - I forgot to re-print the directions - but it actually worked out great and our girls got some funny tips on dating (date a whole bunch at once and pick the best)

Special thanks to all the leaders that came out even when their kids didn't. They definitely made it happen. Logistically, that was easily the biggest challenge - making sure we had enough adult transportation for all the students.

Here is a quick video with some of the kids talking about what they did. Click on the image for it to play on your computer (not streamed, a 14MB wmv file)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Career Advice for Young People

A post at Creating Passionate Users asks, "What kinds of career advice would you give to young people?"
The advice I would give (with the disclaimer that Skyler will not be nominating me for any parent-of-the-year awards) is that the most important preparation skills/orientations today are:
Metacognition (thinking about thinking)
I haven't had a lot of time to think about it yet. What do you think?

UPDATE - The post appears to have been removed. But it's still an interesting topic.
UPDATE again - Looks like typepad is temporarily down.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stuffing Orbit boxes

The view from the International SPACE office tonight....

Thinking Aloud

It's our third year of SPACE. Reality is its been a pretty good fall. Two large scale experiences where we exposed about 75 students to an idea of living on mission. One more relatively large scale experience (we think...) Friday night. But I have this nagging sense of a lack of momentum in general.

I'm thinking a few things:
- I've personally been a little constrained time and energy wise.
- We haven't met with the core team like we have in years past, hardly at all this Fall. I think we have missed giving them some ownership in the ministry by neglecting those meetings. And they are more than just meetings. It's an opportunity to build community among students that really care about what SPACE can do.
- The large events are logistically difficult. We never know who is going to show, how many, enough adults there, etc. Don't get me wrong - we need to be okay with planning with some level of risk and ambiguity about plans. Just because the logistics are tough doesn't mean we shouldn't do it anyway.

For follow up:
- SPACE crew time - time to build into this team more often.
- Varied opportunities - lending themselves into different team sizes and contexts. - Grade based - maybe we need to break up SPACE experiences into grade level opportunities and focus on cycling each grade through a SPACE experience over a length of time.

Remember this is off the top of my head. Also remember, that I'm 36 years old. And remember that student ministry happens better when students are doing it and not me.

Christmas church closings

Geez, there has been an incredible amount of conversation about this topic. Andy Stanley writes:
"When I made the decision to shut things down on Christmas day I was wearing my employer hat. To open on Christmas morning would require a hundred or so people to come to work on Christmas morning. I would never do that.

Now, the readers of this blog are sophisticated enough to know that we are messing with a tradition not a Scriptural command. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus was born. The celebration of his birth began long after everyone who had any first hand information about it was dead. That's why we don't know exactly when He was born.

The way I read it, the spirituality of an individual or a group should be judged by their track record in two areas - love for one another and generosity with resources.

Bottom line, I may not be a very good Christian or pastor, but this Christmas season there are several hundred people who think I'm a good boss.

Merry Christmas."
I like the way he puts it, but maybe I'm being too simple about it.

Additionally, I think the concept of tradition versus a Scriptural mandate is an important point Andy brings up. If you lived in another culture intentionally, you would be forced to critically examine cultural traditions versus Scriptural commands in order to further spiritual growth among people in that culture, but not add to the Gospel.

And the idea that maybe "church" doesn't just happen on Sunday...

By the way, GCC is having 6 Christmas Eve services and is closed on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Family Christmas poem

Sometimes I don't know where my wife came from. Check out her Christmas poem here.

Frost #5

Notes from a series of talks by Mike Frost that Jordon had. (I think his podcast site is down right now though.) #5 out of 6 talks. Absolutely nuts.

forging missional churches - attributes:
#1 - witness and mission must emerge from local worship communities
it doesn't work in our culture right now because of our dualistic worldview
worship vs mission

dualism illustrated by our split between church and parachurch
a whole bunch of churches that do programs, etc.
missions orgs - parachurch, youth for christ, etc

mission doesn't work effectively unless people can see you worship
worship doesn't look right unless you are worshipping within a context of mission - a context of being sent out into the world

the best proof of the Gospel is a Christian community that believes it and lives it
the culture doesn't see our worshipping communities

#2 - this new mission is primarily a ministry of the laity
division between clergy and laity must end
best mission is done by ordinary christian people
is the idea of clergy in the New Testament?

#3 - mission must be contextualized
must look like the environment where it is found
Zimbabwe - I stand at the door and knock
in Z - only thieves stand at doors and knock
friends and neighbors just yell names and then come in
thieves only knock because they don't want people living there to know who they are
can't use that literal translation in Zimbabwe

#5 mission must be ecumenical
completely disregard denominational differences
mission is mission in its essence

#6 this new mision must be countercultural
not escapist
not a christian enclave
my own Christian school, church, club
we were never told that we were to escape from this world
instead told to inhabit our world
to be counter cultural in that world

idea of 'going native'
a core danger that you must risk as a missionary
walking that tightrope between jesus and the culture you live in
interact in worlds that you find disgusting but you will be Jesus in that place

not work for the faint hearted
it would be so much easiesr to be churchy and to be around people that would agree with you

team based - not alone
have people around you
mentors support accountable
so that you aren't taken over

the most difficult thing about being a christian - but the best stuff gets unleashed when we do this
God unleashed in darkness

embrace the danger
what missionary that went to Japan for the first time was up to the task?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Youth Pastor

This is my youth pastor from high school, RJones. For those you keeping track, I have served under four youth pastors and 50% of them have had the last name Jones. Hmm.

Anyway, RJones was a fantastic youth pastor. When I first met him, I had just become a Christian and the environment he created and shaped was one of fun, acceptance and growth. He was relational to the extreme, he totally loved students and students knew it.

I went to church for the first time *ever* in August of 1984, right after I had become a Christian that March and worked at a Christian boys wilderness camp all summer long - a hugely formative time for my spiritual growth. So, my first Sunday in church and youth group ever, and RJones asks me to stand up and tell everyone in youth group one thing I learned all summer. "Uh, I learned how to build a fire."

Looking back, I grew even more when I was a college student and served as a youthworker under RJones. I learned what it took to run a student ministry week-in and week-out, what is important on retreats, how to build into a team of youthworkers and how to transition the ministry that you loved to someone else. As a young married professional, he brought me on to a teaching team for an adult sunday school class. Less formative but a still great experience nonetheless.

The crux though was in 1992 when RJones asked me to lead their summer student missions program called Mission Possible, a six week long potpourri of different mission minded experiences for high school students. They already had a framework for the six week layout, but, in his words, "You can do whatever you want." We took five of the existing six and partnered with a ministry in the KY coal mines for that sixth one to make something a little new. Inner city camps, beach outreach, VBS - a fantastic summer. In fact, those six weeks were hands-down the *best* ministry experience I had ever had - up until SPACE came along.

It's been 22 years since I first met RJones and though he is now a pastor of adults, he is still creating and shaping disciples.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


K and I saw it yesterday. Fabulous. A few things off the top of my head:
- The story transformed from a good story that was read to an epic story that was seen. I enjoyed it much more as a movie. My breath was taken away more than once.
- There is an element of character development that I didn't catch in the book. You can see the transition of Peter and Edmund, from mere teenagers into valiant heros transformed by their circumstances, a prophesy and friends that believe in them. Much like Frodo, Neo and Luke. It's very, very cool.
- My favorite scene isn't in the book. Such a cool combination of Peter's smarts, crazy circumstances and direct threat of evil. The picture above is at the beginning of the scene. But most of the rest of the film is true to the book. The positive reviews you read are right.

Interesting person sat next to me in the movie. Tell you more about that at a later time.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Size by population

A map of the Earth with countries sized according to population. Note how small Canada and Australia are and how big China and Brazil are. Click for full size. HT - BoingBoing.

Frost #2

Found a set of talks that Jordon had online from Mike Frost. Here are my notes from #2. Oh man.

The church is only one of the options on the buffet of spiritual experiences and searching
you have invited these people to church a million times
they came once to keep you happy
all our eggs are in the attractional model - it is not the chief or primary way for people to meet Jesus

instead holistic, like Jesus

mission in terms of us going to them
what framework - what should we look like
the difference between two approaches to mission
attractional vs. incarnational

attractional - create a God-zone and get people to go there
we change the style, music, seating
they still don't want to come
"You have flag waving in your church? I'm coming!"

incarnational - what God did for us
He reached us with the Gospel by sending Jesus - He went
Becomes one of us
leave the church zone

Not just where Jesus would go, but what He would be doing?
Loving, healing, transforming people
It is the more difficult option

Attractional is actually easier
Easy for you to create that space
Do worship to mobilize and unleash us for what Jesus has called us

What incarnational people do, what is expected of them, requirements:
1. Embrace holy godly living as an evangelistic, missional end in itself
Church is big on holy living, not looking like the world
Culture doesn't love how holy we are.
They don't say,
"We love fundamentalist Christians."
"The church is the salt of the earth."
"They are loving, generous, hospitable."

Instead, "bigoted, judgmental, sanctimonious"
We have a heritage that says holy living is about showing people how less clean they are than us.
The NT does not say holiness is about separation
Instead, such lives that people are dying to be part of what you have
Your holy lives are supposed to be so delicious
We are supposed to be defined by how generous we are
how compassionate
how hospitable
how generous

2% of giving is offering to mission outside of our needs
Tom Sine - "We even tithe to ourselves"

We need to be a stand out community in our culture

2. We need to be a praying community
To impact to our culture, pray about:
- pray that God would raise up more evangelists and missionaries
an evangelist - not necessarily Billy Graham
someone who so naturally and normally secrete the Gospel that people are transformed
not necessarily presenters or preachers
it just seeps out of them
they are in your community - they know that they are too
most of them are kooks - they are not clean, tidy, neat
they keep you on the edge
they keep you thinking that church exists for the world, not just for us
they won't let you spend money on yourself
they keep pushing us out

the evangelists ought to be totally immersed in your culture and context
invite them to every dinner party
mission is mission - in your backyard or overseas

- pray for the success of the evangelists
for their blessing and protection

- pray for your unsaved friends and neighbors
by name
recognize that you are God's gift to them, even if they don't know them

we spend far too much time planning what happens on platforms

3. called to socialize with as many unbelievers as we possibly can
I Cor 5
context - issue of eat and drink
people would take an animal to a pagan temple
they would sell the meat
Christians - are we supporting the pagan industry
if you don't eat meat offered to idols, what is the implication of that socially
it means you can never eat at the table of a nonChristian
I can't sit down and eat together
For Paul, not a theological issue
It is a missional question - can I eat with unbelievers?
The answer is yes - do not separate yourself from your friends
Certainly, there maybe times or situations where you need to distance yourself
Still need mentors, coaches, etc. to keep you strong and accountable

Pastors, leaders:
The more involved we get in church, the less contact we have with people who don't share our faith
Why - because the wheels of a dualistic/attractional Church crank faster and faster the more you commit
sucks people to the center, while incarnation blows people out to the edges

We ought to be at every dinner party

Couldn't get Jesus on being a dissenter, heretic or revolutionary
They got Jesus on being a drunkard and a glutton
He drank and ate with all the wrong people
Jesus knew how to eat and drink with the best of them. Or the worst of them.

And when Jesus gave us something to remember Him by, it was by eating and drinking
Australia - a culture that loves to eat and drink

4. about resourcing evangelism
throw some money at evangelists, unleashing these kinds of people
some of us have the gift of making money

Jesus told the disciples that they had to be fishermen for people
When we fish, we use a rod and a hook
When they fished, they used nets
They spent the majority of time making and fixing really strong, tight nets - 80-90% of the time
Grabbing people with their nets
What are the nets? Strong relationships and friendships between Christians and nonChristians
If I choose to be the best friend that I could be, thats a strong net
Sooner or later, the web of friendships finds others and they will connect with some really good friends
And some of them are the evangelists - and the Gospel rolls right across the table

Maybe we have made it harder than it needs to be with programs, buildings, accoutrement's of church

The early church combusted before they ever had a single public building, or put anyone on staff

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wish me luck

K's first slumber party - six 8 year old girls. When this is over, I might read Wild at Heart again and spend a night in a tree.

David Crowder does handbells

Dennis has a clip on this week's video with the David Crowder band doing Christmas with handbells. Pretty funny. Don't you love people that look like they are having so much fun?

Template and Comments fixed

I think I've fixed the comments along with this new template. One thing I've learned - the "MainOrArchivePage" tag in templates can make things a bit tricky...

Celebrating 40

Fate has chosen him.
A Fellowship will protect him.
Evil will hunt him.

All the men from our couples study (and I emphasize 'men') went out tonight to celebrate one of ours turning 40. They are all 40 except for me. I'm a teenager stuck in a middle aged man. Anyway, we had a great time at Dave and Busters, hanging out, playing arcade games, giving GB a hard time and goofing around. Little did I know there is a Galaga machine there. An hour later...

These guys, and their families, are awesome. If there was ever a fellowship of the heart that I would want to be in, this is it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Template

Playing around with a new template. Comments not quite working like I want though. Thats what happens when you work all night I guess... A new template and I got to watch Revenge of the Sith one more time...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dec SPACE Orbit

Light posting lately because we are gearing up for Orbit. Orbit was an experiment we tried last year to stimulate and catalyze an environment for existing student ministry small groups to serve together. The overall picture is that we create mini projects for these small groups to come and serve, effectively sending them out for one evening, impacting the community. At the end of the night, they all return, we share, have a snack, small worship set. They see other small groups doing the same thing and they have experienced what its like to serve together. Their leaders have been enabled - they think, "I could do this with my small group myself."

One issue this year is not to have the projects be mere duplications of last year, that would be a bit boring. Some notes from last year here.

Random Wednesday

** Disney and church planting... Just so everyone knows, the Sheng's LOVE Orlando...
Al Weiss, a top-ranking Disney executive, is planting churches—doctrinally sound ones, and lots of them.
As chairman of the board for newly formed Vision USA, Mr. Weiss aims to raise $300 million over the next 10 years for aggressive church planting in 50 of the country's most influential cities. The project is well underway in Orlando, where several million dollars of grant money will help open eight to 10 churches by the end of the year. Preliminary efforts have also begun in Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Nashville, Charlotte, New York, and Washington, D.C.
More here. HT: Thunderstruck

** First the bird flu, and now an asteriod. The food and water I am saving in my basement isn't enough for this?

** Interesting article about MySpace and the networking/blogging connection, especially for young people. 20M members logged on to MySpace in October. Incidentally, a link to my MySpace. Now I feel dirty.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Random Tuesday

** Eric Swanson posts about his research from Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity.
Stark notes that there were at least two great plagues in the first three centuries (160 and 250 AD) that actually were instrumental in the nascent church’s incredible growth rate, which he estimates at 40% per decade. When the plagues came, those who were able fled the city but not the Christians. They stayed and ministered to the sick and dying--Christians and non-Christians alike. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, writing of how believers responded to the plague of 250 observes:
Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others, transferred their death to themselves and died in their stead…. The best of brothers lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and laymen winning height commendation so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.

** MMI posts about the State of the church in 2005:
- 1,400 pastors in America leave the ministry monthly.
- Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth.
- 10,000 churches in America disappeared in a five-year period.
- Only 45% of the U.S. population, attend church regularly.

** Jordon has 6 podcasts from Michael Frost, one of the authors of The Shaping of Things to Come. I've only listened to the first, but I like it so far. HT: Tallskinnykiwi

Justin Long

Justin Long, editor for Momentum Magazine, is now blogging. Good stuff on missions, technology and culture.

Monday, December 05, 2005

SEMP -> Merge

I just noticed in doing some research that Sonlife's week long high school evangelism training movement that used to be called SEMP (Students Equipped to Minister to their Peers) has now been renamed to Merge.
Merge is a week ?long experience challenging high school students to...
Merge with God's Story
We are a part of the greatest story ever told a real story of a Creator's loving pursuit of his creation and the story continues with us.
Merge with God's Way of Life
we can walk with Jesus and allow him to shape our ways. He will transform us into the people we were created to be inside and out lovers of God and others.
Merge with God's Mission
We are called to live beyond ourselves, bringing God's love and restoration into our world. With God's Spirit alive in us, we can give people a glimpse of what it is to live in the Kingdom of God.
I took a team to SEMP in Baltimore in 1999 and had a good time - and still one of my favorite memories of the Inner Harbor are seeing a student Mary grow from total fear to worthwhile risk when talking about Jesus to strangers. (My other favorite memory - of course - is getting engaged in the Inner Harbor.)

What I think SEMP missed, and am hoping Merge takes care of, is this idea of students engaging in serving. Not just going out there to talk about Jesus, which our culture isn't exactly too fond of in case you didn't notice, but of making an impact on a community and blessing some strangers. Just talking about Jesus doesn't cut it anymore.

I've sent off an email to someone at Sonlife to see what the actual difference in the two programs are, we'll see what comes of that.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Last Day at the Warehouse

Well, today marks the end of an era. You long time readers know that GCC has a separate facility just for the students - the Warehouse. And because of the impending move to a brand new building, today was the last time middle school and high school will meet in the Warehouse. After the CpR (high school) service today, a bunch of people came and tore down the bleachers with chainsaws and moved everything out. (There is another facility for the next two Sundays before the new building on January 1.)

When D and I first came to GCC in 1996, we had no intention of getting involved with students. We had already done that, for 10 years, at our old church. We were toasty fried burned out, and needed to just go to church. But once a youthworker, always one I think. We, like a lot of people, couldn't help but be impressed with what the church was investing in students. At that point, both LC and CpR were meeting in room 100 - a large classroom. A few months later, the body was asked to give a little extra to renovate a warehouse space across the parking lot - just for students. D tells me that it was $40K and the body came up with it in one month. That was enough to tell us that we should maybe check out the student ministry and see whether it was a place for us.

Too many memories for me to recount, but all of them center around an environment - not just a building - where students feel safe, where there is passionate and dynamic worship, where a community exists where they and their friends want to be. And even more to me, the building will always remind me of a place where we took some students, gave them a vision of who God is and His passion for their friends, and sent them out to change the world.

To the Warehouse and all who made it what it is, thanks for being integral in the launch.

And have no fear, GCC's new building also has space for students too, also called the Warehouse.

Photo: the Warehouse in it's 2nd of 3 configurations (stage is to the left, note the soundboard in the top center), April 2003. Click for larger view.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Eats Brains

"Go quick and see for yourselves!" the boys urged.
Their curiosity aroused, the elders of Kamur thronged immediately to the Tuan's [the word for white people] front porch. Looking up, we saw just the whites of their eyes gleaming out of the blackness. We greeted them, but they did not respond. Their eyes were riveted upon the food we were eating.
"It's true!" one of them exclaimed in words unintelligible to us. "It's true indeed! The Tuan is eating brains!"
Wondering what the excitement was all about, I lifted another forkful of macaroni to my lips.

from Peace Child

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cutting Edge Magazine

You know your elders because they eld. - John Wimber
A few days ago, I got the latest issue of Cutting Edge in the mail. Cutting Edge is the Vineyard Church Planter magazine and this was my first issue. I was definitely impressed, seems like a great magazine not just about church planting, but culture, leadership and investing into people. This months issue was on "Being Effective" with articles about Rick Warren, Getting Things Done and time balance for church planters (which was really eye-opening - work like crazy for the first 18 months, out 5 or 6 nights a week doing gathering - don't plant if you have teenagers - message prep is about an hour a week in the gathering stage.) And the magazine is free.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Extra Cashola

I got an email from our Missions Task Force asking for some ideas to spend some extra money. How often does that happen?

Here were some quick thoughts I jotted down. Maybe some of you that have some extra missions budget could think about these too. Not at all a comprehensive list, of course, and it's more like just the dreaming stage...and one of the focuses is on investment in future leaders.

A. The Origins Conference (like, of course)
approx $1000 per person

B. Strengths Finder
Provides the StrengthsFinder strengths assessment. Investment in summer team leaders.
$35 per person
(Could also be a good experiment on using this assessment for other leadership contexts within GCC.)

C. Vision Student Conference on World Evangelization
Calvary Church, Lancaster, PA, March 2006, single day conference
$50 per person (estimated cost)

D. Gifts to GCC families that hosted teams in summer 2005
$1000 to each family

E. Operation World for each summer mission team member
$15 per person

F. Summer 2006 Missions Prep Retreat
Cover all costs for food and lodging for a mini-weekend missions prep retreat. This would be a mini-weekend where all summer teams go away and do missions prep.
estimated cost $600

G. Team treat money for each summer team
$200 per team for leaders to use as they need for their teams, special dinners, team fun, etc.

H. Help defray costs for [can't talk about this one yet]
$3000 (uneducated guess)

I. Help defray costs for [same as above]

J. Help defray summer leaders financial support

World AIDS Day

Africa has been hit harder by the HIV/AIDS virus than any other region of the world. More than 17 million Africans have died from AIDS and another 25 million are infected with the HIV virus, approximately 1.9 million of whom are children.
Every day in Africa:
- HIV/AIDS kills 6,600 people
- 8,800 people are infected with the HIV virus
- 1,400 newborn babies are infected during childbirth or by their mothers' milk.
People with AIDS don't suffer alone—the disease attacks their families and communities as well. AIDS has stripped out an entire generation of parents, farmers, doctors, leaders. 12 million African children have already lost one or both parents to AIDS, and unless we take serious action now, there will be more than 18 million AIDS orphans by
the end of the decade.