Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shift Sessions 1 and 2

So I've been liveblogging the first two sessions of the Willow Creek student ministries Shift conference and they both have been pretty good. [I'm off of work for a while since resigning.] Here are some of the highlights and links.

Session 1 - Culture - Darren Whitehead
: cultural freeze - when immigrants leave their home country and settle in a new country and then they recreate their culture in another country. Even though they had never gone back, their host culture has changed. The culture they had recreated in the US was frozen - 30 years of nonrelevance. Could this be what unchurched people feel like when they come to our churches?
: less leader generated to more user generated content in your student ministries - let the students create it and own it. [I feel like we do this pretty well - student led, leader guided]
: less imitation to more imagination - totally

2 - Evangelism - Donald Miller
[I don't even like putting that word on my blog.]
: when a culture becomes so insular that it only reacts with itself - it becomes goofy - it creates its own rules, goofy feeds on being insular
: After seeing a really good movie, many of us feel great and clear headed. I understand what life is now about, my positions, where I fit. We live in a culture where story is declining [Dan Pink's book again and John Eldredge _Waking the Dead_ writes about this a lot too.] Erosion of values has brought the erosion of story.
: Big part of evangelism - inviting people to a better story.
: Acts 17 - Paul doesn't care that they are making fun of him - he just stays - because he gets his real validation from God - I don't care what they think about me, I care about *them* - freedom to serve and reach out and relate - God has validated us - not about being validated by other humans
: Every story needs a redeemer.

Be sure to read the comments on the posts too - some pretty good interaction from other youth workers that are involved in either the virtual or the live conference.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Willow Creek - Shift Now Conference

Here is that blogger thing I was talking about. Jeremy kindly recommended me to be a guest blogger for the Willow Creek Student Ministries Shift Now conference that is happening later this week. I'll be blogging over on the ShiftNow blog for two of the sessions on Wednesday morning [Session 1: Culture and Session 2: Evangelism.] while I watch the sessions live over a private webcast. There will be other guest bloggers updating over there as well. Should be fun. Also, Jeremy will be speaking on Friday on Activism. I will update this post if public links for the conference become available. Also, here is the list of guest bloggers - looks like a group of cool guys.

I Resigned Today

Well, here is some more big news. Before I get into that, thanks to everyone who responded and prayed after the last big news update - the one about my dad and our puppy. I really should have updated before now, but anyway. With regards to my dad, he is doing great. He had colon surgery in late November and then has been on chemo since then. He's almost done with that and has not been having many side effects at all. And our puppy Phoebe is doing great as well. You would never know she had a kidney issue. Maybe that healing ceremony worked...

On to the next news - I just resigned from my job - literally like 20 minutes ago [talk about breaking news over blogs huh?]. After 12 years of working within the Information Technology division of a large telecommunications company, I have recently accepted a position at a technical services company. I'll be doing the same kind of work in information technology, specifically database administration and engineering. I'm really looking forward to the job and employer change although I know it's going to certainly change some things. For starters, I'm looking forward to: having weekends again [I've worked an average of 24 weekends for each of the past three calendar years], returning to the hands-on database engineering I used to do instead of "managing" the work, and a change in scenery.

I do realize that there are going to be adjustments that have to be made. I'm going to have to get to know a whole group of new colleagues. I anticipate that technically I am going to have to dig deep, learn fast and provide value right from the start. Our daily schedule will change a bit. Things could potentially change with SPACE as well. It's a bit nerve wracking - it's been a *long* time since I've had to start a new job. But it is the right thing to do. You know, deep change or slow death.

In the meantime, I'm taking some of my vacation time between now and my last day here, D and I are getting away this weekend, working on SPACE stuff for this summer, got a neat blogger opportunity I will tell you about later this week and other stuff to keep me busy. Very excited - I've been waiting for this for quite a while now.

Now everybody at once, deep exhale.

Friday, February 23, 2007

2 from Humana 2.0

I know I've said I'm going to write more... and I am... For now, here are two things that struck me during Humana 2.0.

::: 1 - I'm not such a good friend.

::: 2 - What we are trying to do via SPACE cannot get bogged down by SPACE. [Pretty meta-physical huh?]

I will expand on these a bit more soon. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday Potpourri

::: 75% of short term mission trips are done poorly via Seth
I think SPACE is on the right page here regarding leadership [strong experienced cross cultural leadership], partnership [overseas teams with GCC families], and training [Mission Advance].

::: Germany's World Cup baby boom
Related - worldwide birthrates
both links via Kottke

::: A Perspective on Missionary Furloughs [valuable comments too]

::: MosaicLA Youtube videos via Eric Bryant and Lon

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shengs have more


The girls giving their mom a card that plays the song "Girls Night Out"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Birthday D!

Happy Birthday to D!

For those of you that might not know - D coined the name SPACE. In many ways, SPACE embodies her as well as me - Developer in students, Belief in what Jesus said, Responsibility in what we need to do because of it.

Anyway, go wish her a happy birthday.

Guess where we are in the photo? Disney World!

Happy birthday love!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Year of the Pig

Happy Chinese New Year readers! We are still in CT until tomorrow and getting some Chinese food sometime today. Enjoy the beginning of the year of the Pig!

Photo: Chinese new year in Beijing via Chris Verrill

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Potpourri

::: A Church Door with No Handles via Jordon

::: Only two options - slow death or deep change from Ron Martoia

::: Living on $2 a day in the American suburbs from the Suburban Christian

[PS - I've still got more to write about Humana 2.0. We are doing some traveling this weekend to hang out with the Madre, perhaps then.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

To Reach

While at Humana 2.0, I met a couple who had just returned from eastern Africa, having spent a little bit of time in one of the countries at the epicenter of some of humanities greatest crises. This couple were in their early 30s and had two children, both under 5 and intentionally moved to this unreached, closed country - for the rest of their lives. After selling virtually everything, all they owned was in eight suitcases. Through some health-related circumstances, they ended up coming home much earlier than intended.

While in the country, they:
- were one of ten Christian families in a city of almost 2M people.
- had electricity and water about 50% of the time.
- went to this locality because of a pull towards an unreached people group, a people group that have been untouched by the Gospel for literally thousands of years.
- had a member of the government's secret police follow them around and randomly pop in.

You can find quite a bit of church planting among the unchurched [blogsearch] and it is vital and needed. But the unreached - that is an altogether different reality. Although both are important, we need to keep a clear distinction between unchurched and unreached.

After sharing about my role with students, they shared two things in the context of not forgetting that one of our biggest impacts could be serving our missionary friends:
- handwritten notes are gold: write big so they can hang it on their wall.
- the candy bar you bring from the States: it has not been in transit for two years and they will love it.

Ah Florida

Did I ever mention someone in our family likes animals?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Humana 2.0 summary

It was a pretty amazing time. Not just the speakers, but the friends that I went with, the old and new friends I met face to face and the whole atmosphere of the event.

::: Some Rough Notes
Alex McManus - Humanity in the 21st Century: Where and When Are We?
Characters in Scripture acted on - dreams, visions, impregnated, intuition - instead we are now overly dependent on rationality
Instead of what you are saying, what are you doing that requires explanation?
People don't change simultaneously in sync - there are those that get it but are unwilling to go.
Innovation is always desynchronized with the perceived present

Gerardo Marti - Idols and Avatars: How Leaders Manifest Spiritual Movements
The future of evangelicalism is assured but do we want to base the future of Christianity on the megachurch - less than 1% of churches today?
bureaucratization of the sacred
weary of churches only concerned with Sundays
Idol - concrete expression of communal worship
Luke 10 - the 70 were dependent upon strangers inviting them into their houses - do strangers welcome you into their lives? Can you survive outside the Christian bubble?
Avatar - physical embodiment of the divine
The future of Christianity is dependent on each person moving out and being an avatar of social change

David Arcos - Creative Sweat
unchurched people don't understand what we are saying
fierce imagination
creativity is the essence of our soul
3 points to unleashing more creativity
- clarity
Adam innovated to name all the animals from nothing
- space
reactive to reflective - savoring the moments of life - crockpot: need space for ideas to cook
- audacity
challenge convention - dig inside yourself

passion - you may not love it enough to create
love is the greatest motivator for creativity - it must be done
Most people live an imitative life - we are supposed to live an original life
Art is a matter of life and death for our friends

Alex McManus - Humanity in the 21st Century: Who and What Are We?
aged of connectedness - Acts - book about motion - not the book of Deeds but the book of Acts - book of Immigrants

the Gospel is moving - overcoming hurdles - culture to culture - expansion
The Gospel comes to us on the way to someone else - it is not about us and for us

Thorsten #5
[I was totally disconnected during this one - long story...
But it was something about house churches.]

Erwin Mcmanus - Leadership in the Mosaic Future
We've stopped speaking to humans. We've trained ourselves to speak to Christians.
The question is not what kind of church - the question is what kind of future are you creating.
Not about a successful church that has no effect on history. It's about becoming that kind of transformation agent in culture.

The human imagination is the most powerful instrument God has given us.
We are so fragmented we can't even make friends.

Not a Revolution [reference to Barna] - this is a disullsion. It isn't a revolution until things change.
Intimacy - Meaning - Destiny - every great film or story has all three themes.

We have given so much credence to Bible knowledge, we give a pass on character.
["Step Up" - message on the stage floor - Alex's subversive message to 'not tank.']
The danger is that we reach a level of influence where we are afraid to risk everything.
We experience God most profoundly when taking risks that matter.
Creativity needs boundaries. Boundaries are the friends of creativity. People with limited resources are extraordinarily creative.
[Erwin refers to Mosaic as "She". That is cool.]

Story of Dave Auda - will fight tooth and nail if he doesn't agree but once Erwin decides, will work even harder to implement so that it will be successful and that you would never know he was against it - be your leader's best implementor

The key to leadership is not that you know what you are doing. The key to leadership is knowing that you will prevail.
ps - read that last line again a few more times.

::: New and Old Friends
Old friends first time face to face:
Sam and Rachel - planting a Mosaic church in England
Stephen and Elizabeth - youth pastors in Chattanooga
Dale Swinburne - the Strengthsfinder Swami

I also met what seemed to be a different species of human - church planters, missionaries, etc. In our first round of 'speed dating', I met:
- a lead pastor who planted a church in Iowa, after serving a ten year stint in Bangladesh
- a couple who had spent around four months in the heart of the 10/40 window, amazing story which I'm going to tell you more about
- a retired pastor/missionary who had been in Japan for a while before and after planting [just a few] churches
- some guys getting ready to plant a church in Seattle
- Ted Law, serving a community in Houston

And of course, going to the conference with my old friends BalancingKiwis and LeslitaB.

I'll be posting more thoughts in the next few days.

Photo: Alex McManus, via Ted Law

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Back to MD on Monday

I'm posting incognito from a hotel lobby in Orlando - one I sort of snuck in to... I've got lots to tell you about - both from Humana 2.0 and from a pretty amazing family vacation. Hope you guys in the north are enjoying the snow. It was 65 degrees here today - a little too nippy for our shorts and sandals.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We Love Orlando

Leaving for the airport in about two hours are very looking forward to all of it - the combination of a conference, spending time with some good friends who live in Orlando, the time at Disney with the girlies and watching LB's life plans fall into perfect order...

Will be posting some notes from Humana 2.0 at some point although web access will be limited - and that is a good thing for me right now.

Read about my trip to Orlando last year [I told you we love it there.]

What is far from perfect is our situation with our Uncle Dave in LA. If you've been keeping up with D's blog, his is very ill. I'm torn between having fun and feeling for our family on the West Coast. Life moves fast - sometimes too fast.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Some Scales

Alan Hirsch writes about the M Scale - a scale developed by missiologist Ralph Winter to try and assess just how far a people group is from a meaningful engagement with the gospel:
* m0-m1 - Those with some concept of Christianity who speak the same language, have similar interests, probably the same nationality, and are from a similar class grouping as you or your church. Most of your friends would probably fit into this bracket.
* m1–m2 - Here we go to the average non-Christian in our context: A person who has little real awareness of, or interest in, Christianity but is suspicious about the church (they have heard bad things). These people might be politically correct, socially aware, and open to spirituality. This category might also include those previously offended by a bad experience of church or Christians...
* m2-m3 - People in this group who have absolutely no idea about Christianity. They might be part of some ethnic group with different religious impulses or some fringy sub-culture.
* m3-m4 - This group might be inhabited by ethnic and religious groupings like Muslims or Jews. The fact that they are in the West might ameliorate some of the distance, but just about everything else gets in the way of a meaningful dialogue. They are highly resistant to the gospel.
One of our major strategies for SPACE is the idea of progression. As a student gets older, they progress through mission experiences. The experiences progress in both culture and geography - and both aspects are key.

Two examples from last summer:
- Middle school - Working at CMTS helping with serving missionaries around the world : m0.
- 10th grade - Serving in DC with Food and Friends : m1
- SPACE team - Pygmy village in Cameroon - m2 or m3.

I first learned of this idea in Perspectives and believe that it's a pretty foundational principle that students need to be exposed to.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

2007 Adult and Family Mission Trips

Rumor on the street says that the Grace Missions Task Force is going to reveal some pretty cool summer mission opportunities for adults and families this coming Sunday. I've heard that its on the order of seven or eight possibilities. I would love to be able to reveal the SPACE trips this Sunday too, but we aren't quite ready. Soon hopefully though.

I'm excited to see the level of response to these opportunities. We are now operating at a higher level regarding missions with students certainly. I think with this coming summer, the same will happen with adults. I can remember back to the summer of 2003 when there were no summer teams and the idea of some cohesive, progressive, strategic mission expansion was not on anyone's mind. I can also remember Erwin McManus saying that within 13 months, Mosaic had sent 50% of their community out on mission experiences.

If the info for these trips is available on the web after Sunday, I will update this post with a link.