Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Audio - from GMcM's visit

It always fun to expand the dimension of the blog a little bit.... So I thought some of you readers might like to hear some of the voices of our SPACE kids. The mp3 linked here is actually our team praying after hanging out with GMcM this past weekend. I tried to clean up the recording a bit but couldn't get all the noise out of it - apologies for the bad quality. But my hope is that you hear a bit of the hearts of these students. GMcM is the third person speaking, but its really hard to hear. Anyway, enjoy it if you get a chance to listen. About a 3 minute mp3 here.

Dangerous species of saturation church planters

- A church planting strategist from Uttar Pradesh told me his province has 180 million inhabitants (12 times the Netherlands and a quarter of Europe). He provides leadership to a 'small' network of 'only' 934 house churches.
- A guy from the south runs a prayer network of 300,000 intercessors who pray for the church planters.
- The Indians are also very precise with their research, which is impressive. In the past five years they planted 62,698 new churches. In 2006 they envision to train 25,000 men, 6,000 women and 30,000 children in order to reach 20,000 villages. But hey, this is just one network in the north-west. In central India they will plant 200,000 new churches by the year 2010, and in Mumbai 100,000.
Read the whole post from Marc van der Woude here. Wow.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Perspectives looking for IT help

The National Offices for the Perspectives Study Program recently relocated from Pasadena, CA to Fayetteville, AR. They are looking for a few folks with IT (MAC and PC) and web development experience to join their team as they prepare for the future of the Perspectives course both throughout the country and around the world. This would require putting together a personal support team, and at this point, they say that only US citizens need inquire. If you would like more information, call 479-587-1919 Ext. 102, or email David.Flynn(at)uscwm(dot)org
HT - Brigada

MySpace cheat sheet for parents

Good article, quick read. Link. HT - YPulse

Sunday, February 26, 2006

GMcM visit

GMcM, who along with his family was our host in Brasil this past summer, has been doing a whirlwind US tour in the past four weeks. He was in town for the past few days and we got to hang out together this afternoon, with most of the rest of my team. [LB, you were definitely missed!]

It was such a great time reconnecting and just hanging out, hearing how our good friends in Londrina are, and just to see him live. And that weird thing to see him in my house - you know when your friends are in a totally different visual context...

A few things that I gathered:
First, no matter how one feels about your church community - whether you like the music, whether the messages stirs you or not, whether the body is doing enough to reach the community, etc, etc. - pondering a friend of yours who lives intentionally in another culture and who doesn't have a church to worship with - that puts your blessing in perspective.

Secondly, when our friends come back to the states, we have to understand that they have a pretty hectic schedule. They don't have time to do it all and see everyone. It might not be possible to spend loads of time with them.

Finally, God can put some very cool friendships together.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

World Population Milestone

At 7:16 p.m. ET on Saturday, the population on Earth hit 6.5 billion people, according to projections.

- People born every minute: 261
- Population in the year 1000: 310 million
- Population in the year 1900: 1.6 billion
- Population in the year 2050: 9.0 billion
- Some six years from now, on Oct. 18, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. ET, the Earth will be home to 7 billion folks.
Full article here.

Blink - book notes

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Fascinating book. Posting my notes here mostly for my own reference point. Got a few ideas of how I should be applying them, but still cooking on that. There is some good leadership lessons in here - the issue is that they are deep.
Intro - The Statue That Didn't Look Right
statue - all these experts thought it didn't look quite right
In the first two seconds of looking - in a single glance - they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue that the team at the Getty was able to understand after fourteen months.
Blink is a book about those first two seconds.

innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. What do we tell our children? Haste makes waste. Look before you leap. Stop and think. Don't judge a book by its cover.
believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgements and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world.

three tasks of Blink:
1 - decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
2 - when should we trust our instincts and when should we be wary of them?
3 - to convince you that our snap judgements and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

Chapter 1 - The Theory of Thin Slices: How A Little Bit of Knowledge Goes a Long Way
Married couple - analysis of each second of conversation
Morse code - fists - pattern of specific individual that was tapping the code - translated to understanding where troops and armies were moving
Importance of contempt in marriage

Deciding what kind of employee a person will be by spending 15 minutes in their dorm room
alphabetized cds, clean vs messy, laundry, candles, diplomas

Thin sliced - people looking in the dorms, listening to the couples

Thin slice - doctors that get sued for malpractice
All they were using for their prediction was their analysis of the surgeons tone of voice.

Thin-slicing is not an exotic gift. It is central of what it means to be human.
'court-sense'' battlefield sense etc

Chapter 2 - The Locked Door: The Secret Life of Snap Decisions
Tennis coach could predict double fault but didn't understand why or how
idea of priming - questions on SAT test before about ethnicity
speed dating
Norman Maier test
two long ropes from the ceiling of a room that was filled with all kinds of different tools, objects, and furniture. The ropes were far enough apart that if you held the end of one rope, you couldn't get close enough to grab hold of the other rope. How many different ways can you come up with for tying the ends of those two ropes together?

Chp 3 - The Warren Harding Error
Why We Fall for Tall, Dark and Handsome Men

The Dark Side of Thin Slicing
Nissan dealership - Bob Golomb - "He assumes that everyone who walks in the door has the exact same chance of buying a car.
Regardless of looks, dress, context, etc.
classic Warren Harding error - they see someone and somehow they let the first impression they have about that person's appearance drown out every other piece of information they manage to gather in that first instant.

Taking rapid cognition seriously - acknowledging the incredible power, for good and ill, that first impressions play in our lives - requires that we take active steps to manage and control those impressions.

Chp 4 - Paul Van Ripper's Big Victory: Creating Structure for Spontaneity
Van Ripper - Marine in VietNam
called to be the enemy in Millennium Challenge 02
Napoleon - "a general never knows anything with certainty, never sees his enemy clearly, and never knows positively where he is."
Millennium Challenge was not just a battle between two armies. It was a battle between two perfectly opposed military philosophies. Blue Team had their databases and matrixes and methodologies for systematically understanding the intentions and capabilities of the enemy. Red Team was commanded by a man who looked at a long-haired, unkempt, seat of the pants commodities trader yelling and pushing and making a thousand instant decisions an hour and saw in him a soul mate.

The Structure of Spontaneity
Improv is an art form governed by a series of rules, and they want to make sure that when they're up on stage, everyone abides by those rules. Similar to basketball. Intricate, high-speed game filled with split-second, spontaneous decisions. But only possible when everyone first engages in hours of highly repetitive and structure practice.
**Spontaneity isn't random.
How good people's decisions are under the fast-moving, high-stress conditions of rapid cognition is a function of training, rules and rehearsal.
Important ideas of improv - idea of agreement - characters accept everything that happens to them. Bad improvisers block action, often with a high degree of skill. Good improvisers develop action.
If you can create the right framework, all of a sudden, engaging in this kind of fluid, effortless, spur-of-the-moment dialogue that makes for good improv theatre becomes a lot easier. This is what Van Riper understood in the Millennium Challenge. He didn't just put his team up onstage and hope and pray that funny dialogue popped into their heads. He created the conditions for successful spontaneity.

Perils of Introspection
Van Riper - once the fighting started, he didn't want introspection. No long meetings. No explanations.
He placed a lot of trust in his subordinates. One overwhelming advantage - allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turns out to be like the rule of agreement in improv - It enables rapid cognition.
Recognizing someones face
Cook County - ER department (from the show ER)
heart attack patients - drilled down to decision tree of three major decisions
Extra information sometimes is too much. Confuses the issues. What screws up doctors when they are trying to predict heart attacks is that they take too much information into account.

Two lessons:
First is that truly successful decision making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.
Second lesson is that in good decision making, frugality matters. underlying patterns - to be a successful decision maker, we have to edit.
When we thin-slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously.

Chp 5 - Kenna's Dilemma: The Right and Wrong Way to Ask People What They Want
Kenna - rock musician

Pepsi Challenge
coke vs Pepsi taste test
sip test vs at home drink whole beverage test

Chair of Death
Herman Miller Inc
Aeron chair - new design, exoskeleton

Gift of Expertise

Chp 6 - Seven Seconds in the Bronx: The Delicate Art of Mind Reading
4 cops in South Bronx
Amadou Diallo - gunned down holding a wallet

Three Fatal Mistakes

Theory of Mind Reading
Tomkins - believed that faces, even the faces of horses, held valuable clues to inner emotions and motivations.
Three thousand facial combinations that display emotion
Kato Kaelin - from OJ Simpson case - disgust, anger

temporary autism - condition of high stress
heart rate - tunnel vision
police who shoot or are fired upon

Conclusion: Listening with Your Eyes - The Lessons of Blink
1st lesson - We are often careless with our powers of rapid cognition. We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility. Taking our powers of rapid cognition seriously means we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or undermine or bias the products of our unconscious.
2nd lesson - Too often, we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn't seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles to the surface from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment in which rapid cognition takes place, then we can control rapid cognition.
Art critic who asked dealers to put a black cloth over the piece and then whip it off when they walked in.
He valued the fruits of sponteanous thinking so much that he took special steps to make sure his early impressions were as good as possible. He did not look at the power of his unconscious as a magical force. He looked at it as something he could protect and control and educate.

auditions for orchestras - now behind screens - they used to only hire men
they hear them for who they truly are


I'm single parenting this weekend - D is up in CT with the Madre. Can you say lots of eating out and video games?

Those little cherubs left a set alarm clock in my room last night - with the alarm set to go off at the time in the picture. Those stinkers. I might be getting them back tonight...

In the meantime, check out a prank BB from my Brasil team details here. It's a good one.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Scoping Out Whiskey Bottom

EmGberg, the SPACEintern, my kids and I drove around an area near us this afternoon called Whiskey Bottom. Two major reasons for us to drive through there. First, since the GCC move, we are in a lot closer proximity to this area. I think our senior high pastor would love to see some kind of community outreach/focus thing happen here. Secondly, we were trying to get an idea for maybe a shared project here if some of the Brasil kids come up this summer. Nothing came to mind for either of those right quick, but you never know. It was helpful just to drive around and see the activity of some young people outside, the number of pools [3 I think] and the local public elementary school.

Although it didn't last too long, it was fun just to hang out with those two, especially with my kids. Like I've said a lot, my kids bring an extra dimension to relationships.

Even more fun - at one point in our conversation, I asked them one of those TonySheng questions. [If you know me, you know what I mean. If you don't, its kind of hard to explain.] They both responded in ways that I would respond - it was terrifying... What does it mean when you clearly recognize yourself in the people you are trying to lead? [They are as psycho as you are??] Of course, it took a little while, since this is their Senior year...

Photo: EmGberg and the SPACEintern, and I swear my kids are on the playground behind them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

2006 Reading Checkpoint

I've read a few people saying that you should read 50 books in a year. Geez. That's a lot of books. Anyway, here is what I've read so far since Christmas.



Shaping the Spiritual Lives of Students

Messy Spirituality (actually just skimmed it)

Organic Church


Tagged - four to the seventh

Thanks to Jeremy who tagged me...

Four jobs I've had
selling camping equipment at Hermans World of Sporting Goods - in high school
bootfitter at REI - lots of fun
making copies at Kinkos - so dull
DBA team manager - current job

Four movies I can watch over and over
Remember the Titans
The Shawshank Redemption
What About Bob?

Four TV shows I love to watch
Hmm... Not a big tv watcher...
The Fresh Prince
I don't know....

Four places I've been on vacation
England and Scotland in 1995 - fabulous vacation with D
The Bahamas - our honeymoon
Hilton Head - we love Sea Pines
Disney World - like you thought I could get away with not putting that

Four favorite dishes
Tortilla Soup
Beef and Broccoli
Tereyaki Chicken
Brazilian feijoada (I think this is what it was, yumm)

Four Web sites I visit daily
Bloglines - my public subs here

Four places I'd rather be
Any beach vacation with D and the fam
Anywhere in DisneyWorld or the greater Orlando area with D and the fam
Times Square, NYC
Londrina, Brasil

Four blogs I'd like to see do this quiz
MM - BalancingKiwis
Keith - 10 years Running Blind
Praying Mantis

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BR - Compelled

Mark 1:45 - But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town.

Jeremiah 20:9 - But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

There is no heavier burden than a great potential - Charles Schulz

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SPACE's First Summer DJ

I know - sounds weird. Anyway, EmGberg has just agreed to be SPACE's first summer DJ. You might be wondering why SPACE needs a DJ.

We all know how powerful music is in the day to day life of students. So I was thinking, wouldn't it be cool to have someone [who incidentally would be a little closer to that age than me] who could pick out some music to inspire, challenge, motivate, encourage, sing along to, etc. In essence use music to assist in creating an environment conducive to risk, mission and going. A kind of soundtrack for the summer.

If you've got some music that you think would help, by all means pass it on. We'll see how this idea works. Might be really cool.

Tough Questions About Youth Missions

Rudy points us to an article titled "Tough Questions to Ask Before Your Next Missions Trip" on the Center for Youth and Family Ministry website related to Short Term Missions trips. I thought I would weigh on a little bit here about our perspective. The article is based on a June 2005 study outlining whether short term mission trips are really that effective - an important question. [See my post here about the study that this article is based upon.]

The article states a few tangible implications from the outcomes of the study, and I thought I would expound on them from SPACE's perspective.

1. When we do STM, we need to serve the work of the career missionaries and local leaders.
Here here. One of the big SPACE goals is that we work with GCC missionaries whenever possible. We take it even further - when we can, we will work with career missionaries who are connected to our body.

2. When we go, we need to develop true collaboration with those we serve.
The point I think the author is trying to get at is that it's not just about a partnership, it's also about not doing a mission trip just to do one. And that hosts are not hosting teams just because its a good thing to do. To the contrary, that the work and ministry there is vital, important and that the experience is a combination of what both parties can bring to a shared experience. I tell every missionary family, "Be honest. We want to serve you - not just be doing a missions trip just to do one."

3. When we fundraise, we need to cover not just our own costs but also raise funds for the locals.
This is a point that I disagree with - but not enough to make a big stink about it. Just enough though to think that it needs some more thought, based upon the context. We all know that when a community relies on an outside source for a given resource, whether its for finances, leadership, or whatever, it is usually a detriment. When those resources can be generated from within the community, it allows more participation, more involvement and more ownership. Once again though, I disagree on the basis that the context would need to be well thought out and studied - and then a decision could be made for covering local costs.

4. When we do STM, we need to make sure we develop effective preparation programs for before the trip, and extensive follow-up programs for when we return.
Prepping teams is one of the things that I love love love to do. And there is always more we can do with follow up after we return. Follow-up is one of the key reasons I believe that our missions efforts are so much better when they are based within the context of the local church along with mentors and leaders from the local church student ministry leading students, sharing the experience together and being involved way after they all come home.

5. Part of our preparation and debrief should address WHY those in other contexts face particular struggles.

6. We need to view STM as part of a year-round focus on developing world Christians who serve.
Great point. I haven't said this out loud very much - but one of the key indicators for the invitation only SPACE trips that we do (2004 - NYC, 2005 - Brasil) is whether these kids are involved in the SPACE Launches that occur throughout the year. It's great for a student to show a desire to serve in a particular area of the world or specific demographic or people group. But the desire to do so is much different than a student who comes out to our SPACE events year round. Our Launches give us a great opportunity to work and serve with these kids and get to know them far in advance of a summer team.

Overall, great article based on an important study in the area of short term missions effectiveness.

Monday, February 20, 2006

SPACE 2006 9th grade missions

Happy to announce that a 9th grade leader team is up and official. This team will be attending the Sonlife Merge conference, held in Baltimore on the campus of JHU. It looks to be a great week of building some experience in students about sharing their faith in their own culture.

JessWhitt and JessSutr are the two leaders that are running everything for this trip. These two gals are great and will totally make it a great week for everyone involved. Let me tell you a bit about them.

Both of them have been consistent, quality leaders with a group of middle school girls for a number of years. This past fall, both of them made the jump to high school, along with the girls they had been working with, a pretty cool transition.

JessWhitt was part of the class of 03, and was actually on my team when I went to SEMP in the summer of 2000. Those were the days. She also has a great career ahead of her in a hair salon. I hear she is a pro at dying hair - which I may take her up on later this year. Last summer, JessWhitt was also on a team of young adults from GCC that went to Uganda. Some wild stories out of that trip.

JessSutr was on the Guatemala lead team this past summer. [That is her on the left in the white.] She helped lead a large team of young adults to help out with an orphanage there, staying there for about four weeks. It was definitely not an easy trip and I believe the leaders learned a great deal about sacrifice and leading. Good but tough experience.

So two key pieces of experience that this leader team has already. First, they are in the context of their students already. As opposed to sending kids to a mission agency to get a mission experience, the students on this team will be able to process their experience within the context of leaders that know them well, will be around them all year long, and have already served, listened and mentored them. Secondly, they have cross cultural experience. As we look at the end goal of students being prepared for world wide missions, having a set of leaders take a group of students through Merge with a DNA including crossing cultures is a fabulous luxury.

The first next step is to gather some other leaders to help with this team, a next step that I will be involved with. After that, its getting the info to the kids and their parents, having kids apply, raising support, etc.

Like all the other teams this coming summer, I just about burst when I think of these leaders.

Happy Birthday to D

Happy birthday to my wife D. It's been fun watching her latest addiction to blogging, VMK, and Disney (although that one isn't new.)

More so, community, serving and loyalty to people have always been her high points. The web connection is just a different, technical aspect to those things she has always been great at.

She puts up with my crazy ideas, most of the time at least. Before SPACE came along, she mildly acknowledged plans for a chain of mini golf courses when we retired. Now, she is as committed as I am to prepare and launch students into the world. Even as we were driving out of town, we were putting together some ideas about the upcoming summer season. Of course, she didn't mind plans for her to be baking some brownies...

She's a great wife, mother and we have a ton of fun together.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weekend Update

Quick weekend update... Sorry for the silence in the past few days. Big system outage at work I had to be involved with starting Friday at 5am until Saturday at 5pm...

[Tech details for those who care: Database block corruption probably from a bad disk array. Tried to recover table by table from the DR site - except too many objects corrupted. Recovered last good database backup but missing lots of archival log files. Recovered application data via transactional dates for missing range of data. Yeah, not pretty.]

D's birthday is tomorrow and The Madre came down. We all decided to get out of town for a night so we are hanging out at a hotel, doing some swimming and outlet mall shopping.

Fun stuff this week - be praying about an important meeting on another continent... GMcM is going to be in town from Brasil this coming weekend.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Economy of Teams

This post on one of the travel blogs reminded me a bit of the dynamic of mission teams, how vitally important they are, and how someone is always out to destroy a team on a mission.

This past summer, I was able to be once again part of a great team. The team of 4 leaders and 6 students was great. The chemistry was there, we bonded well, worked together great and had very little tension over the 10 day trip. In terms of dynamics, it all flowed very smoothly. We only had to execute one intervention [some good fodder for another post.]

I know our team had an important job to do. The primary goal was to bless and encourage a family from our church that was living cross culturally. The secondary goal was to catalyze some relationships that were just starting to emerge for this family via some of their natural connections. Some of their new friends dropped by to see us, even the night before we were in the country. The whole week seemed like a reunion with old friends - relationships that grew deeper and deeper. We knew - and were told almost everyday - that we were making a big impact.

On the way home, a few of the team got upgraded to Economy Plus. The ones that didn't get upgraded were a bit of jealous - even me. A bit of tension came about because some people on the team thought that at least one person should give up their Economy Plus seat to me - team leader, old man, going back to day job, etc. So the three hours that we had left before boarding involved some underlying tension, 'the elephant in the room' and a final team discussion about the issue. All of this tension was based on a wrong belief. We all thought Economy Plus meant First Class. You know, the First Class that had better meals, a fully reclining seat and tons of room to move around.

Of course, when we got on the plane, we all realized that Economy Plus was an extra 5 inches - not what we had in mind. We all laughed at how stupid and silly the whole thing was. Or was it?

Could it be that someone, or something, will stop at nothing to tear our teams apart? Could something as trivial as 5 inches be enough to ruin the memories of a fantastic group of people that gave up their own time and comfort to travel 5000 miles to share life with a group of strangers?

I've thought often of that last flight home and even when I think of it now - I'm ticked off at the Enemy for almost ruining the last final moments of an incredible experience.

Here are a few other things I have learned:

- Be aware that our teams are first round targets.
Neo takes the red pill; Lucy steps through the wardrobe, Alladin rubs the lamp; Elisha prays that the eyes of his servant would be opened; Peter, James and John follow Jesus up to the Mount of Transfiguration. And all of them discover that there is far more going on here than meets the eye. - John Eldredge, Waking the Dead
Realize that it can be something so incredibly trivial OR something really important. Whatever the issue is, it could be secondary to your team becoming fractured. And your mission can't afford that.

- Address it, and do not ignore it.
You as the leader must deal with it. Even if you know the conversation will be difficult, take the initiative and risk and open the topic up. Don't ignore the issue, even in the last final moments of your experience. It would have been really easy for me to ignore it and let it fester among the team, especially in our final hours together. Letting it go would have left a bad end to a a really significant experience.

- Use it as a great teaching experience.
When your students remember back on it and think about how your team could work through even really bad circumstances and still make an impact on others and still grow from it, you can bet whoever or whatever is against you is going to be a little ticked too. And rightly so.

Article - Can MTV Stay Cool?

Fascinating article about MTV and its CEO, Judy McGrath here. Some snippets that I pulled, not only about MTV, but about leadership, the impact of media and youth culture.

The $7 billion-a-year operation she oversees is a collection of some of the most recognizable brands in the business, from the original MTV to Nickelodeon to VH1 to Comedy Central. Their programs are seen in 169 countries and heard in 28 languages.

The music channel may have seemed bold and experimental when it began in August, 1981. But the MTV empire today is a staple of the media Establishment and faces a slew of new threats. After all, it's the iPod era, a broadband world, and the online generation is defining for itself what is edgy and new. Ratings may be strong for many of the channels, but the original MTV isn't the must-see it was. "We watch it because it's there," says Marie McGrory, a Manhattan 10th grader. Can McGrath keep her empire cool enough and nimble enough for Marie's generation and beyond?

Studies done for Nickelodeon recently found that kids aged 8 to 14 send an average of 14.4 text messages and make 8.8 calls on their cell phones a day.

And if MTV is to stay a trendsetter, she'll have to maintain the same kind of anything-is-possible spirit she has encouraged since MTV's inception. The key, she says, is creating a space where people feel safe and unafraid to fail: "Falling flat on your face is a great motivator. So is accident." Her mantra: "The smartest thing we can do when confronted by something truly creative is to get out of the way." That's pretty much what happened when two young producers came to McGrath in the early 1990s with a new idea for a dramatic series that didn't require hiring actors or writers. McGrath was intrigued. The idea was to film seven people living in a New York City loft over several months, following the soap opera of their daily lives and dropping a soundtrack of new tunes behind it. MTV's The Real World debuted in 1992, and reality TV was born. Its 17th season is shooting now in Key West.

McGrath's hunger for fiction, movies, and music takes in the highbrow and lowbrow. One recent morning, she got up before the rest of the family in their brownstone on Manhattan's Upper West Side to read Kate Moses' Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath. Several nights before, she stayed up for Madonna's 1991 concert tour documentary Truth or Dare, even as her husband, Mike, begged her to turn the TV off and go to sleep. Whether it's rereading Samuel Beckett's novel Malone Dies or scarfing up the latest issue of US Weekly, friends say she is voracious. "[Judy] was the only person I ever worked with who knew as much about great literature as what was going on between East Coast and West Coast rappers," says former MTV executive Sara Levinson. "I always thought her intuitive appreciation of storytelling and characters was an enormous secret weapon."
HT - YSUpdate

Kawasaki's Speaking Tips

Speaking tips from Guy Kawasaki - who has a great blog. Here are some of the ones that I made an impression on me. Hopefully, they may help you too. More here.
Focus on entertaining.
Pre-circulate with the audience.
Ask for a small room.
Practice and speak all the time. My theory is that it takes giving a speech at least twenty times to get decent at it. You can give it nineteen times to your dog if you like, but it takes practice and repetition. As Jascha Heifitz said, "If I don't practice one day, I know it. If I don't practice two days, my critics know it. If I don't practice three days, everyone knows it."

A few things that hit me:
- I'm not big on dressing nice. Just ask D, haha. Its probably more important than I make it out to be.
- Pre-circulate. Great idea.
- Practice it 20 times!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Perspectives #6

I got to go to Perspectives class again tonight. The speaker was Dr. Todd Johnson, who has done this enormous work in getting research about where, who and how Christianity is growing or shrinking around the world.

Here are a few of my notes.

Genghis Khan
commanded largest land empire in human history
31 people groups
2M people

There were Tibetians following Jesus as early as the 7th century

St. Francis actually shared the Gospel with the Sultan of Egypt

The center of Christianity in 2010 will be Nigeria. (see related post here)

The Gospel insists on being translated into other cultures - contextualization

The Soviets mapped every people group on the planet in 1964 in an effort to spread Communism - they knew political boundaries would not work

Mateo Ricci - Jesuit missionary to China - great example of contextualization when he translated the Gospel of John into Chinese - but also a book that the Chinese religious would want to read

Sunday, February 12, 2006

State of Churched Christians

From a section titled "The State of Churched Christians" in Revolution by George Barna:
Regarding worship:
- Half of all believers say they do not feel they have entered into the presence of God or experienced a genuine connection with Him during the past year.
- Only one out of four churched believers says that when they worship God, they expect Him to be the primary beneficiary of their worship.
Regarding Faith-Based Conversations:
- The typical churched believer will die without leading a single person to a lifesaving knowledge of and relationship with Jesus Christ.
- At any given time, a majority of believers do not have a specific person in mind for whom they are praying for.
- Most churched Christians believe that since they are not gifted in evangelism, such outreach is not a significant responsibility of theirs.
Regarding Intetional Spiritual Growth
- Only 9 percent of all born-again adults have a biblical worldview...
- Although the typical believer contends that the Bible is accurate in what it teaches, he or she spends less time reading the Bible in a year than watching television, listening to music, reading other books and publications, or conversing about personal hobbies and leisure interests.
- When asked what constitutes success in life, few believers define success in spiritual terms.
Regarding Resource Investment
- Churched Christians give away an average of about 3 percent of their income in a typical year and feel pleased at their 'sacrificial' generosity.
- Most believers are unable to identify anything specific they have ever donated money to that they would describe as producing life-changing outcomes.
Regarding Servanthood
- The typical believer would rather give money to an organization to allow it to do good deeds in society than personally assist in alleviating the needs of disadvantaged people.
Regarding Spiritual Friendships
- The most significant influence on the choices of churched believers is neither teachings from the pulpit nor advice gleaned from fellow congregants; it is messages absorbed from the media, the law and family members.
Regarding Family Faith
- A large majority of churched believers rely upon their church, rather than their family, to train their children to become spiritual mature.
- Apart from church-based programs, the typical Christian family spends less than three hours per month in endeavors designed to jointly develop or apply their faith.

Ouch. How about some feedback here on this one. For you guys and gals working with students regularly - do you see the same thing? Are our student ministries following the same kinds of trends as outlined here? What do you think?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

DaVinci Code Strategy

Last Sunday, PastorMark talked about the authority of Scripture. It was a really good message, as most of his are. What was most interesting to me was that he framed the topic in light of the novel, and forthcoming movie, The Da Vinci Code. I haven't read the book and haven't really kept up with it at all. But from all looks, it is quite an important element of our culture right now. And will probably become more so with the movie.

Barbara Nicolosi, executive director of Act One, writes the following about Christians going to see the movie in an effort to dialogue about it:
Further, we absolutely do not need to see the film to talk about Jesus. No more than we need to see porn to talk about human sexuality. Or to read Mein Kempf to decide whether I can have an opinion about gassing Jews. Besides, it would be dignifying a really inane story. Da Vinci Code is so ridiculous in its premises, that it is giving it a false gravity to even take it seriously enough so as to argue about it. ["And tomorrow, the Christians will be offering a hermenutical exigesis of moral praxis as can be gleaned from next weeks episode of WWF Smackdown. Ahem."] Yeah, let's all find a starting point for dialogue in the notion that a secret coterie of albino monks has been mythmaking about Jesus' Divinity for 2,000 years. No, you go first.

Now, Christians being coaxed into writing anti-DVC pieces on a stupid web site (like, well, this one) are meekly accepting that they are being given "a seat at the table" in some grand cultural discussion. Duped! There is no seat folks. There is no discussion. What there is, is a few p.r. folks in Hollywood taking mondo big bucks from Sony Pictures, to deliver legions of well-meaning Christians into subsidizing a movie that makes their own Savior out to be a sham.
She continues...
ANYWAY.... here's what I think we should do. I am hereby announcing my personal "How to Respond to Da Vinci Code Strategy." And the answer is to go to the movies on May 19, 2006. Every Christian who loves Jesus, your mission, if you will accept it is to buy movie tickets. We need to bring our kids, our church groups, our youth ministry clubs, our seniors groups - and buy tickets for the homeless for after we feed them. And we all need to go to see THIS!
She raises some very good points in light of engaging the culture.

UPDATE - 2006-02-12
Theopraxis offers a great great comment here so I thought I would post it because:
1 - most readers would appreciate it
2 - haloscan (my comment provider) stores comments for only three months and the dialogue is important enough to me to be included in the post.

So here it is. Theopraxis, thanks!!
She does have some good points there. On the other hand, we have folks in our churches who are buying into some of the premises of the book, and it's causing them to question their faith.

I think we need to at least be conversant enough in the themes of the story to discuss it. That might mean reading about it on wikipedia, or it might mean seeing the movie or reading the book. The premises of the story are ludicrous - I think she's right about that. But you have to know enough about church history to know that - for the average churchgoer, I question whether that level of knowledge is present. Would the average Christian today know, for example, that Dan Brown is completely making something up when he says that the four canonical gospels were selected out of over eighty possible gospels for inclusion in the canon? I'm not sure.

This could, in fact, be a good opportunity to discuss church history in our churches - something that's hardly ever brought up. It sounds like PastorMark is taking a good approach here.
The comment is right on isn't it? I would agree - we need to at least have some knowledge of the story without necessarily supporting the movie on opening weekend. It also reminds me that part of our responsibilities involve imploring people to care about the right things, not just to believe the right things. A topic like church history can seem really academic, at least until we recognize that a huge part of our culture could believe a made up story related about how the books of the Bible were chosen. At that point, its no longer studying church history just to memorize the facts.

If you want to listen to the message from last week [the main topic being how the Gospels were chosen] here is the link. Also here is a link to the ppt notes. Both links only good until Feb 20th [extra week because of the snow.]

International Etiquette Quiz

Take it here. D and I got 7 out of 11 - we are supposedly ready to travel...
HT - STINT Leaders

Friday, February 10, 2006


D and I are going away for a night. Should be fun. Long week at work. Wish I could tell you more about it. Suffice to say R--I--F. Not me, but lots of others.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Summer SPACE Leaders 2006

Here is the big picture summary of our leaders for this summer. This includes leaders that I know are committed [or very close to committing.] By the way, tonights meeting with some freshmen leaders went great. I'm counting them in this mix because I'm pretty sure they are in.

Total number = approx 20 leaders
Average age = 23.5
Years of aggregate youth ministry experience = 70
% that have leadership experience in a cross cultural context = 60%
% from either the 03 dteam or SPACEcrew = 45%

Lots to do in mind for investing in these leaders. If you've got some ideas on how to invest in mission team leaders that specifically address the elements of leadership, initiative, creativity, innovation, or culture, I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Time to Execute

"A half-baked strategy well executed will be superior to that marvelous strategy that isn't executed very well." - Allan Gilmour, vice chairman, Ford Motor Co.
from The Rules of Business: 55 Essential Ideas to Help Smart People (and Organizations) Perform At Their Best
Tomorrow night, the SPACEintern and I meet with a few more set of leaders for one more potential summer team. At least, I think they want to do it. These leaders are for our high school freshmen class - in my opinion the most important class at this point if we want to really implement this idea of a progression of mission experiences as students get older. So, if the idea is going to work at all, this class has to do it. As much as I like all of the other trips all of our teams have done in the past three years - and they all have been phenomenal trips - this progression of mission experiences is ultimately what we are shooting for.

So hopefully after this meeting, all of our teams [except one] are executing. Of course, a lot of that still involves detailed logistical planning, fusing a group of students and leaders into one cohesive team, raising support, etc. I'll tell you more about that one other team - funny thing its the team I will be leading [like you didn't already guess that] - hopefully by the end of February.

(see more fun quotes like the above from the book discussions category of the Fast Company blog.)

Highways and Poverty

The simplest way to measure the harm caused by bad infrastructure is to look at how prices change as you move away from big cities. A bottle of Coca-Cola, for example, costs 300CFA in Yaoundé, where it is bottled. A mere 125km down the road, in the small town of Ayos, it is 315CFA, and at a smaller village 100km further on, it is 350CFA. Once you leave the main road, prices rise sharply. A Guinness that costs 350CFA in Douala will set you back 450CFA in an eastern village that can be reached only on foot.

What is true of bottled drinks is also true of more or less any other manufactured good. Soap, axe-heads and kerosene are all much more expensive in remote hamlets than in the big cities. Even lighter goods, which do not cost so much to transport, such as matches and malaria pills, are significantly dearer.

At the same time, the stuff that the poor have to sell—yams, cassava, mangoes—fetch less in the villages than they do in the towns. Yet, thanks to poor roads, it is hard and costly to get such perishable, heavy items to market. So peasant farmers are doubly squeezed by bad roads. They pay more for what they buy, and receive less for what they sell. Small wonder that the African Development Bank finds "a strong link between poverty and remoteness".

The UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development estimates that African villages with better physical infrastructure produce one-third more crops per hectare than those with poor infrastructure, enjoy wages 12% higher, and pay 14% less for fertiliser. And no country with good roads has ever suffered famine.

Where roads improve, incomes tend to rise in parallel. One study estimated that each dollar put into road maintenance in Africa would lower vehicle maintenance costs by $2-3 a year. In Cameroon, where the soil is wondrously fertile, farmers start growing cash crops as soon as nearby roads are repaired. Big commercial farmers benefit too. Along the highway to Douala lie great plantations of sugar cane, and banana trees whose fruit is wrapped in blue plastic bags, to keep at bay the birds and bugs that might mar the visual perfection demanded by European consumers.

Where roads are left to deteriorate, women bear the heaviest burden. According to the World Bank, a typical Ugandan woman carries the equivalent of a 10-litre (21-pint) jug of water for 10km every day, while her husband humps only a fifth as much. With better roads, both men and women can, if nothing else, hitch rides on lorries, thereby sparing their feet and getting their goods more swiftly to market.
FZ sent me the link to this very interesting article about the road infrastructure in Cameroon. I never realized how strong the correlation is between highways and poverty, especially in developing countries.

Read more here. (You might need to watch a web ad before the article comes up.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lausanne - YLG 06

550 younger leaders from over 100 countries will gather for six days of Christ-centered leadership development — uniting their hearts and minds around Christ and His Great Commission.
More info here. Sounds like an awesome experience of leadership development within a context of worldwide evangelism and connection. And its in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

PM and Jeremy - I just filled out recommendation forms for you two. Walking them out to the mailbox now. If you get chosen, bring me back some pictures from the top of the Petronas Towers.

Various China Facts

From Joel --
For more than 25 years China's economy has grown at a rate of around 9 percent a year, the fastest sustained growth rate for a major economy in recorded history. In that same period, 300 million Chinese have moved out of poverty, and the average Chinese person's income has quadrupled.
Mission experts estimate at least 10,000 Chinese are converting to Christianity every day! Conservative predictions indicate that China will be the second largest Christian nation by 2050.
PS - I'm Chinese...
PPS - I have no idea why I threw that in there...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl 2006

It's the beginning of the 4th quarter. The Super Bowl is the only football game I watch all season (usually.) Tonight I watched it on and off after having homemade pizza and doing our taxes - during the game not during the commercials. The whole evening is a pop culture experience, one that we shouldn't miss as we seek to engage the context we live in.

To catch up with the commercials, here is the ifilm.com link. Notice how you can cut and paste the html to play the commercials on your own blog page. Notice how they also specifically mentioned "your MySpace profile" when you click the Snag button. Looks like MySpace is here to stay for a while huh.

My favorite? Bud Light: On the Roof. Very funny.

Travel tips from college students

Fun article here about various college students advice for travel. Here are some of the ones I enjoyed.

You can never go wrong with an extra pair of underwear because it makes you feel clean even if you're not.
When traveling in countries with a lot of temples, wear flip-flops to save time taking off your shoes at the entrance.
Carry a fake wallet. In a pinch, throwing this on the ground and backing away can save you a lot of trouble. Just make sure it has enough stuff in it (random papers and a token amount of money) to make it believable long enough for you to get away.
Always drink bottled water. It is cheap insurance against getting sick. Make sure the bottle is sealed when it is brought to you. Often empty bottles are refilled with tap water to save money.
Become the culture you encounter: Dress like them, act like them, even argue like them. Try as much as you can not to be yourself. You will experience a whole new appreciation for the other culture.
Buy the things your gut tells you to because you won't regret buying it, but you will regret not buying it.
Forget what your parents taught you and talk to strangers. Some of the most rewarding experiences come from meeting new people and getting to know their way of life.
Never leave home without Pepto-Bismol and toilet paper.
Go to a place of tragedy, such as the killing fields of Cambodia, Tiananmen Square [Beijing], Robben Island in South Africa, and the War Remnants Museum in Vietnam, and ask yourself how it makes you feel as an American, as a human being.
Interact with the children and take small gifts to give to them. It will make their day or even change their life.
Do not break laws. Never assume that you will have the luxuries of the right to a fair trial, good treatment or a lawyer.
Don't deny a fellow human being his or her humanity. The world is full of impoverished children and people. If you don't feel comfortable giving homeless people money, consider buying them some food. Yes, the solution is temporary and you can't save the world. But imagine yourself in their situation.

Fun huh? Some other travel tips I have collected here and here. See the whole article here. HT - Gadling

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Don't You Love Object Lessons?

Matt 15:5-7
When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."
Sometimes, we are all that dull aren't we?

Friday, February 03, 2006

My First Book Review

My first book review, ever, is up on youthministrytv.com. Now, that review is not all that [and this post is a few days late.] But the site is a great resource. Thanks to Dennis for asking me to write a review and posting it!

Investment on Mission

JAB, FZ and I had lunch today. We ate at Ikea, which is always fun and different. It was great to see them and connect and just talk. Of course I was trying to recruit them for this summer as well. HA.

We talked a lot about their experience in New Orleans and it was so so fun to hear. Listening to people who have come back from a missions trip is difficult. In some cases, you only want to hear so much, and then it gets old. And so many times, you are listening but you still feel like you are on the outside of a cool club because the people talking have all this shared experience. On the opposite side, being the one who just came back and trying to tell your stories is also difficult. There is so much to tell, you could go on for hours and hours, and no one seems to quite understand. [I didn't feel this way with them.]

I think when you listen to these stories, you have to let people talk for as long as they want to. They oh-so-desperately *need* someone to listen to them and be captivated by their stories. They need to get it out and if you are part of their support system [a youthworker, a prayer/finance supporter, a good friend] and don't help them by letting them telling their stories part of the experience and its impact may be lost.

Generally, I just let people talk. [Over IM, I tell people, "Just keep typing."] And, of course, I'm honestly very interested in hearing their stories, because I kind of have a thing for it. But I just encourage them to keep talking. I also usually ask a lot of questions. What were the leaders like? How many people on the team? Tell me about the schedule. Questions about logistics get people to remember the experience and then the real stories start.

GCC helped with their team just a little bit financially. One other question I posed to them, which I normally wouldn't ask, but since we have led together, they are old friends, etc. is - Was the investment worth it? It is a valid question that we need to be asking. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to boil it down to a pure quantitative answer. This is not in the context of a corporate climate or a for-profit business.

I don't know what the best way to answer it. I do know that people should be asking the same question regarding SPACE. I've got a few ideas but I don't know if they make sense. In any case, asking the question is the right start.

Megachurches Today 2005

According to a groundbreaking research study just released by Leadership Network and Hartford Seminary’s Hartford Institute for Religion Research, many of the most widely held beliefs about megachurches could not be farther from the truth.

Some myths and facts from the study:
MYTH #3: There is an over-emphasis on money in the megachurches.
REALITY: The data disputes this.

MYTH #4: Megachurches exist for spectator worship and are not serious about Christianity.
REALITY: Megachurches generally have high spiritual expectations and serious orthodox beliefs.

MYTH #5: Megachurches are not deeply involved in social ministry.
REALITY: Considerable ministry is taking place at and through these churches.

MYTH #10: Megachurches grow primarily because of great programming.
REALITY: Megachurches grow because excited attendees tell their friends.

MYTH #11: The megachurch phenomenon is on the decline.
REALITY: The data suggests that many more megachurches are on the way.
Read the full text here. HT - Eric Swanson

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Superchic[k] are my

friends... How cool is that... I've been listening to this album almost non-stop for two weeks.

Send send send

JAB and FZ, who were on my Brasil leader team last summer, spent some time in NOLA over Christmas break. Love the concept that SPACE prepares and then we send them o-u-t out.
See more here.

Misc Thurs

Today was not like most nights. There was commotion on my walk home. About one block after I got off my stop I heard quick steps coming in my direction. Before I had an opportunity to turn around hands were on my back pushing me down and pulling at my neck. My gold chain.
** Great story about a mugging with a surprise and cool twist. Read the rest here. HT - DCBlogs

** Snippets from the results of The 2006 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, which gauges Americans' attitudes toward invention and innovation, specific to teenagers:
- Teens are also optimistic that new inventions and innovations can solve important global issues, such as clean water (91 percent), world hunger (89 percent), disease eradication (88 percent), pollution reduction (84 percent) and energy conservation (82 percent).
- "Perhaps more than any preceding generation, today's young people are completely comfortable with rapid technological change," Lemelson-MIT Program Director Merton Flemings said. "The rate of innovation, as reflected in U.S. patent applications, has more than doubled during their lifetime."
- More than three out of four teens (77 percent) believe they have learned problem-solving skills well while in school. They also feel prepared to work in teams (72 percent), think creatively (71 percent) and lead others (61 percent). However, they fall short when it comes to budgeting money. Only 32 percent of teens said they feel they learned that skill well while in school.
- "This year's Invention Index found that nearly half of teens view invention as a way to contribute to society and be creative. Yet we continue to fall short, particularly with respect to teenage girls, when it comes to presenting these fields as viable and attainable career options. We need to do more to make science and technology more attractive to today's youth."
HT - BoingBoing

** NYC scavenger hunts
Link. I almost had a mutiny when I sent one team to do a scavenger hunt in NYC in the summer of 2004. Boy were they mad....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

From pipe dream to actual trip

Some of you may be wondering what is our process for getting our summer teams up and running, operationally speaking. Hopefully, this may help some of you.

1. The big idea of a trip is decided to be pursued upon. [the topic of another post sometime.]

2. Approval from Director of Youth Ministries
SPACE officially is part of the youth ministry, not a part of missions. Therefore, the Director needs to know and approve all of our trips. Just so you know, there have been occurrences where a trip didn't make it past this part. And it was a very healthy and humble interchange among all involved.

3. Approval from the Missions Task Force
We then request approval from the MTF. Part of my role is to make sure they know about everything going on missions-wise in the student ministry. So I even send them info on stuff that I hear about outside of students, like college kids or student ministry leaders, etc. One of our other goals from the start was to bring some synergy to the youth ministry so that we could be more strategic for where the church was already at, had already sent people, etc.

4. Approval from the Elder team
Any financial supported GCC team must have this approval.

A few other related things:
- You know that your leaders make or break the trip. This year, my approach has been to find the right leaders even before getting approval.
- We also work in tight cooperation with the GCC accountants. Last year, we put a great process in place that worked really well.

Hopefully that might help some of you that work and serve within a local church missions context.

2006 summer mission trips - mission agencies

As I did last year, here is quick tour of some of the more well known mission agencies if you are looking to get some of your students plugged into mission experiences that are offered by some of these organizations.

My personal opinion - if you are a youth worker and have a desire to do a missions trip, you can do it! And you can do it the right way, including the oh-so important elements of partnership, connection, cultural engagement and well prepared students. Lots of help is available [if you are at your wits end, you can email me]. But if you just cannot do it, but have some students really interested, check some of these out.

Also, please please please, take the idea of checking references seriously. Get a list of people that have gone before and ask them some good questions. It will be worth it.

Christian Associates Intl - short term, many in 2006. We've got some good friends working with CAI. They seem like a good organization. I think you can find a few bloggers with them too if you look.

Baptist Mid Missions - Stamp (Seniorhigh Teen Apprenticeship Missionary Program)
Looks like filling fast at this point, but neat idea regarding denominational based mission apprenticse program.

Christar - First STOP
Three focus areas - Chinese (yah), Hindu, Muslim. Might be for college kids, but worth a look. We have some good friends with Christar as well, I like them.

Global Expeditions - the missions arm of Teen Mania has, of course, a boatload of trips. Looks like the age range starts at 11. Looks like you have to use their trip wizard here. Also looks like you can go wherever you want in the world. [Is that a good thing for a high school kid? Maybe, maybe not.]

Adventures in Missions -
Loads and loads of trips too. Never met anyone that has done one personally but heard good things about them. The owner used to have a blog that was really good, but I've since lost it.

Teen Missions -
I'm sure they have tons too. It's quite an operation down there. See my writeup of Mustard Seed Boot Camp from the summer of 2004 when K and I went. One thing is for sure, you will appreciate a lot after you are done with Boot Camp, not neccessarily a bad thing.

247 teams
Check the info page here with contact for Phil.

Check out specific bases for specific trips. The Mission Adventures deal is pretty good logistically speaking. You can bring your students and not worry about food, lodging and other details.

The Navigators US International Ministry
Check the map here. These are for college aged only.

Along the lines of something more local for East Coast folks, which have a ton of merit too - low cost, ethnic populations within our own cities, etc., here are a few of those options:

Jeremy and Matt run Chain Reaction. Dates aren't listed yet, but I had an opportunity to listen in on their leadership summit last Oct, which was a lot of fun. In terms of references, these guys are the real deal. I heard first hand about a lot of impact students had.

Merge, formerly SEMP. A few hits from search engines about this too. Put on by Sonlife, in 5 locations around the US this summer. A previous post. Also got this follow up from someone in the Sonlife office:
You are right in that some of the group expressions will differ, but here are a few examples: visiting nursing homes or homeless shelters (sharing the brokenness), serving elderly in the community (bringing restoration through caring, listening), prayer stations, experiencing the Tabernacle (building community), etc.
I'm hoping to send a team, and utilize it as a step for younger students in our missions progression.

And of course, NYC always has lots of opportunites. Once again, Jeremy is a good resource. Urban Impact is also great, especially dealing with people groups from the 10/40 window that live in the city. And NYC ministries looks good too.

Well there you have it. A quick roundup. If you know of more or have some first hand experience, would love to hear more about it. Leave a comment and I'll update the post.

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