Thursday, May 31, 2007

SPACE 2007 Presents

The Axis - a talent and variety stage - is an opportunity for you to show your support for the summer SPACE mission teams. Come out and experience the artistry, creativity and fun that our summer teams embody and support them via being at the show, performing an act [music, skit, short film, dance, etc.] or making a donation to a SPACE team. Friday June 22 at the Warehouse - 8200 Old Columbia Road, Fulton, MD. The first act opens at 7.15, light refreshments will be served and guests of all ages are more than welcome.

I, nor SPACE, have never been involved in anything even closely resembling this. So you can imagine what kind of fun we are going to have with it. AND, it is a neat way to gather community [with a cause] around our summer teams and gather momentum and support [both moral and financial]. AND, it's doing something missions-wise that I think is pretty creative and innovative. If you are anywhere near Columbia, MD, we would love to see you. Contact me via email or comments if you need more details.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Community of the Unsophisticated

"Regardless, what's really important about the work of Smith [studies of experimental economics] and his peers is that it demonstrates that people who can be, as he calls them, 'naive, unsophisticated agents,' can coordinate themselves to achieve complex, mutually beneficial ends even if they're not really sure, at the start, what those ends are or what it will take to accomplish them. As individuals, they don't know where they're going. But as part of a market, they're suddenly able to get there, and fast." - James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds
If this is true, we aren't giving enough credit to our teams, small groups and communities.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stretch Every Year

"Stretch goals" were a term used in job 1.2 of certain things we would stretch for but not necessarily achieve. On the contrary, our dreams and visions should inherently be ones that stretch us and be consistent with the ideas of risk, adventure and taking whatever we are doing to the next level.

Here is how SPACE has stretched me and us, in the past four years:

2004 - combining all summer student mission teams under one idea
2005 - combining movements of students with GCC's intentionally placed families around the world
2006 - Mission Advance as a weekend context for preparing students, sending a high school team to deep, dark Africa
2007 - The Axis [tell you more about this one soon], two overseas teams, a 10% increase in operating budget.

Am I queasy? Yes.
Is that any different from June of the last three years? No.

Friday, May 25, 2007


What leader from a feature film most reminds you of you?

[Stolen from the M page because I like this question so much...]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hungary Team Meeting #3

We had team meeting #3 this past weekend, where most of the team went to eat at Old Europe - a German restaurant in DC. For this team, meeting #3 is the one where the team started to gel, to mold, mesh and become collectively one. You can see people stop being formal and start being friends, to ask probing, deeper questions and start thinking about others instead of just themselves.

Two other elements that were important for this meeting. First, about an hour car ride each way. Best use of time which also is the second element - the Myers Briggs test. One of the best ways to gel a team together. And, of course, we chart it out together.

Not to mention, the riveting and engaging older woman who played all kinds of fun songs on the piano, including all the songs from "The Sound of Music." And she sang the words. And she was blind. [No, I'm not kidding.]

Photo: Where our team fits on the MBTI scale.

Getting Started with Mission Team Preps
Cameroon 2006 Meeting #3
Brasil 2005 Meeting #3 [I think it was #3]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When [Not If] People Quit

I had a difficult conversation this past weekend when someone quit on one of my teams - and not just one of the SPACE teams but my personal Hungary team. Now, let me just say for the record - I have had *tons* of people quit on me over the years. Seriously. Five or six people quit under my leadership on job 1.2. My Dteam certainly had guys decide not to come back because we were studying the Bible or because they didn't like the way it was run or because we as a group were too high on the compassion scale [haha kidding...] I think there have been instances where people have quit on a SPACE team before. And if not, well, here is a first but certainly not a last.

Get this - if you are in charge or leading something, eventually, people will quit under your direction. Campus team, job supervisor, Bible study leader, whatever. Team members, customers, clients, partners, bosses.

Let's be realistic about it. Not everyone will get along with everyone else. Not everyone understands or cares to understand. Some might be in it just for the ride - the sooner they wake up, the better for everyone involved. If their heart isn't in it, they are going to be fluff weight anyway and will eventually bog you down.

You and I are doing this for those who stay. For the ones that are sold out. The committed to the core. The ones that know we will prevail. The ones that stay awake at night knowing the world is going to be marked because of us.

Monday, May 21, 2007


SPACE started in the Fall of 2003 as a pilot idea. Most of us were actually okay if the whole thing didn't last past one school year. This summer marks our fourth summer in resourcing, catalyzing and mobilizing students and below is a sample of some of the sketchy ideas we have toyed with. I'm pretty sure a lot of people are glad we didn't execute on some of these ideas:

1. Sending a team somewhere overseas that didn't have the full approval/blessing of the director of youth ministries.
Relevant point in the dialog: "You know, they kidnap people in that country..."
[Instead, we found another option that had people on the ground that we knew well.]

2. Driving empty strollers around the Mall to celebrate Sanctity of Life Sunday.
[Instead, we took a team of students to volunteer at a pregnancy crisis center.]

3. Kicking off two team members from an overseas team who decided to start dating after they had both been accepted on the team but before the team got to the field.
[Instead, we sat them down and gave them very clear guidelines, which they followed until a dog bit one of them - extenuating circumstance but hey it was a missions trip...]

4. Saying no - to risk, to people we had never met face to face, to taking students literally and figuratively to a place where they had never been before.
[Instead, we said yes with good reason to opportunities that were strategically with friends of like mind.]

Photo: The first SPACE team ever - middle school team serving at CMTS, Bernville, PA. [A DC team and a NYC team were later that summer.]

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Potpourri

::: Two principles of leadership from the dudes
The 20% discomfort factor [link]
Refusing to delegate period or refusing to delegate not only tasks but authority [link]

::: Robert Webber planned his own funeral
Webber wrote The Younger Evangelicals among other things. [Related: some good quotes from the book]

::: Species explosion
Already this year researchers have announced the discovery of a bunch of new species: 6 types of bats, 15 soft corals, thousands of mollusks and 20 sharks and rays, to name a few.
Link via Does this reflect something about innovation?

::: Newspring Church gave a house away on Mother's Day.

Offices, Proximity and Trust

"Unfortunately, the word trust is used - and misused - so often that it has lost some of its impact and begins to sound like motherhood and apple pie. That is why it is important to be specific about what is meant by trust. In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers' intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable with one another." - Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, quoted in The Big Idea.
Proximity builds trust - which is why Community Christian Church's office is designed like it is.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Big 5 - The End of Poverty

From The End of Poverty, Dr. Sachs outlines the Big 5 technologies that are transferable and could be invested in to get parts of Africa on to the first rung of the economic ladder.

:: Agricultural inputs
fertilizers, water harvesting, small-scale irrigations, improved seeds, storage facilities
[My friend Dean is helping purchase and run - with the eventual turn over - a banana plantation in Malawi.]
Think about studying landscape architecture, civil engineering, agriculture/plant science, biology...

:: Investments in basic health
antimalarial tools [like bednets,] treatment of HIV/AIDS, skilled birth, sexual and reproductive health services

:: Investments in education
vocational training in farming, computer literacy
training in infrastructure maintenance such as electrical, diesel generator, water harvesting, carpentry
[The goal is to know these well enough to be able to train others.]

:: Power, transport and communications services
Power services - electricity - off grid generator - provided for water well pumps, milling grain or other food processing, refrigeration, carpentry, charges for household batteries
Transportation services - getting harvest to market, emergency medical care, shuttling resources back and forth
Communication services - shared village mobile phones connect with the outside world, web connectivity for education, connection and information

:: Safe drinking water and sanitation
protected springs, bore wells, rainwater harvesting storage tank pumping station

If you are in high school or college and you really want to impact the world, then, here is my advice:
Learn one of these technologies. And I mean really learn it - everything about it, how to apply it practically, in a variety of settings, and in the most remote environments you can think of.
Practice your skills repeatedly.
Go to Africa to really practice.
And come back and tell us all about it.

[Related: Notes from Chapters 1, 2, 3, Malaria, 10, and Reith Lecture 1.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Every year our momentum gets bigger and bigger. I don't think it's just about quantity - rather it is about direction and weight. Here is a sample:

:: ELB, who has served with SPACE as a middle school trip leader as well as a student participant, went to the Dominican Republic during Spring Break. And... not on a missions trip, but with a group of students that just wanted to serve an orphanage - not related to a church at all. I would call that mission on multiple levels. She is on the leader team for the NYC team this coming summer.

:: LAC and her mum are going to Uganda this summer. She got in touch asking if I knew anything about the org they were going with. They have definitely done their legwork in terms of finding a reputable place to go with. She wasn't part of SPACE as a student but got connected as the Ghost started to spur her to think and act about Africa.

:: JAB, one of my leader team from Brasil, is going to Costa Rica for an internship this summer. Very much like a missions trip, he will be traveling around the country, going to language school, working on urban planning and community revitalization projects, living with a Costa Rican host family and showing people why Americans are likable after all.

:: His better half [and they are getting married in March], FZ, also one of my leader team from Brasil, is graduating from UofMD and then going to Cairo with IV Urban Trek. Some details about her trip:
- Your cell phone and wallet get locked up in a church where your team preps and debriefs in LA.
- You are allowed to bring $30.
- All your clothing for six weeks must fit into carry on luggage. Your luggage that gets checked in holds clothing that you give away.

Weighty momentum won't be able to be stopped given enough time, even if we wanted to stop it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer 2007 Leadership Score

Below are the percentages of leaders serving this summer that have been a part of a SPACE experience in the past. We consider this measurement an important one to track - one we consider a "core" score.

Baltimore [9th grade] - 3/7 42%
NYC [10th grade] - 5/6 - 83%
England [11th grade] - 2/4 - 50%
Hungary [various] - 5/6 - 83%
total - 15/23 - 65%

This ratio is important to measure because it gives us a feel for how experienced our leaders are, how well we know our leadership team in general, and the-oh-so-subjective criteria of 'Do they get it?' If they have done something with SPACE in the past, that criteria is probably yes.

[Related: Fall 2006 core score]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Planning for Mission Advance 2007

This week, D and I have been doing some thinking and planning for Mission Advance. Yes, that same project that last year seemed to invite total chaos and constant rain, yes that one there. But we feel good about it this year. Well, better about it this year. It is the right thing to do and we've made it an element of all summer teams for this year, starting from the time the trips have been made public.

We've also been talking a lot about reinvention, innovation and change for SPACE, not because we want to change it, but because it almost has to. And to that end, Mission Advance is going to be quite different this year. Changing something is difficult but we have to get to the point where we are willing to risk what we have already achieved. It was new last year and good. It might be better this year. Or not. But we will give it a go. I'm excited to tell you more soon.
Mission Advance is a weekend where we take all of our collective summer teams away for the weekend together. The weekend's primary goals are to focus teams on working together, getting to know one another, and going through some informal missions and cultural training. Of course, the bigger picture is that we are architecting an experience based on movement [because the Gospel moves], teams [we do it together] and risk [because we don't always know for sure].
[Related: September thoughts after last summer and Mission Advance 2006]

Thursday Potpourri

::: A mini van with 400 HP
Link via Metacool

::: How messy is your desk?
People who keep messy desks actually spend less time looking for things than people with neat desks. And you know what? Common sense backs this up. If you’re a busy person, and a lot of stuff is coming across your desk—how can you possibly keep a pristine, neat desk if you’re not spending a significant amount of time processing paper that could otherwise have been safely ignored if you had a messy desk. You can’t be extremely neat and organized unless you put a lot of resources into it. And you know what, it's the second law of thermodynamics: Entropy increases. Whatever you do, the more productive you are, the more mess you create. And the only way to deal with that is to spend a lot of energy to get rid of the mess. -- An interview with Dave Freedman, author of A Perfect Mess.
I think this is good news for the International SPACE office.

::: Eliminating email overload and tripling productivity in 24 hours.
PDF from ChangeThis. At Job 1.2, I averaged 50 emails a day, most of it noise. It was on the verge of unscalable.

::: Bill Gates - America's Greatest Missionary?
Link via Bob Roberts

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Culture and Career Notes

"Culture fit is more of a key determinate of success or failure in a company than actual experience or ability. It's one thing to tune into the superficial tenets of a culture, but it's another to really understand the culture." -- When You Don't Fit In at a New Firm from CareerJournal
We had an offsite team party today at work to celebrate my two months with the company. No I'm kidding. But I'm ecstatic to report that the new job is still going great, at least from my point of view. I hope that my new supervisors feel the same way haha... I'm still learning something new pretty much every day, which is a really good thing for a career in technology, not to mention being fun. I also feel like I have connected well with my new colleagues and believe that my skills at doing this can be wholly credited to some of my extracurricular activities *ahem* SPACE.

Sure, I learned tons and gained great skills from my other professional experiences. But when it came to actually engaging the specific culture in my new job [and you do know that every environment has a culture], lessons we have tried to impart to students were very practical for me as well. Lessons like being a learner instead of thinking you know it all; identifying key elements, stories and legends of a culture; and how important it is to at least try key elements of a culture like music, food and language [well, maybe not so much that last one...]

A few short examples:
::: My new friend R spent 30 years working for the government. His personal email hints of Oakland and Pittsburgh and he takes the sports pages of the paper to McDonalds every day. His car has a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a Nimbus 2000." In other words, he loves baseball and Harry Potter and can tell you long, varied and rich stories about a career working for the federal government.

::: Every person has a mini-whiteboard outside their cube. It is used for information - when are you going to be out or late, emergency contact info, etc. When I first arrived, my cube didn't have a whiteboard and I had to wait a few weeks while mine was on order. The most innocuous object can be significant in a specific context.

::: My new friend B, who sits next to me and is training me is really involved at Covenant Life church, Josh Harris' church. It's too bad - not that he goes to that church - but that I'm working so closely with someone who has the same belief system. I mean, that is a good thing. Er, sort of...

::: It's amazing what you can learn about people when you ride in a car with them for a few minutes.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hope and Action DVD

Our [secret/covert] couples group watched the first part of this tonight. It's pretty good if you had a group of people that needed to be introduced to Africa and the AIDS crisis. It's produced by Willow Creek and features Bill and Lynn Hybels. It comes with a little discussion guide which has some good questions.

For those interested in more, of course, The End of Poverty.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hanging with the McN's

Our Hungary team had a great time hanging with K and B McN and their kids tonight - real live missionaries! Since they are one of the families that will be at the CAI conference we are serving at this summer, we invited them to our team meeting to meet some of the team and tell us what the conference is like from their perspective - one part vacation, one part great worship and teaching experiences, one part reconnecting with good friends who share the same mindset and experiences that you haven't seen for a year. It was a very fun time of hanging with them. The McNs are also the original way we imagined this trip in the first place since they are a GCC supported family, having been a part of Grace before the mission field.

Two my favorite stories from tonight: From K - how an In and Out Burger t-shirt reaches across the globe. From B - looking out over the city they just moved to and thinking, "God, my only purpose for moving here is to see the Kingdom advanced."

If in 500 years, we have one person from SPACE live like that, it will all have been worth it.

And the Sheng children were great little babysitters tonight.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Mission Handbook

"The singular one-volume source of information on North American missions today." Of course, you should also be asking, "What is the future of North American missions?" That answer isn't in this post.

But according to this book:

Number of Missions Organizations: 37
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 190

Number of Missions Organizations: 137
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 1509

Number of Missions Organizations: 34
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 328

Number of Missions Organizations: 59
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 286

Number of Missions Organizations: 11
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 32

Number of Missions Organizations: 1
Number of Missionaries in the Country: 0

Try it here yourself:
[RSS readers - click to post to see]

Friday, May 04, 2007

Support Letter Stuffing

Matt, our logistics coordinator, threw this idea out to our leader teams and they have totally run with it - me included. Host a mission support letter stuffing party. It ensures your letters get out while you have some fun with your team.

Photo: TH, EllyK and GM at a recent Hungary team letter stuffing par-tay.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday Potpourri

::: Cities Where People Walk the Fastest
1. Singapore; 10.55s
2. Copenhagen (Denmark); 10.82s
3. Madrid (Spain); 10.89s
4. Guangzhou (China): 10.94s
5. Dublin (Ireland); 11.03s
6. Curitiba (Brazil); 11.13s
7. Berlin (Germany); 11.16s
8. New York (USA); 12.00s
9. Utrecht (Holland); 12.04s
10. Vienna (Austria); 12.06s
Time in seconds to cover 60ft (0.02km)
link via

::: Rick Warren on giving back
PDL money scared him to death, so in 2002 he and his wife made 5 decisions: 1) Don't change lifestyle at all. 2) Stopped taking salary from church. 3) Gave the church everything back that it ever paid in salary. 4) Set up three foundations. Acts of Mercy (funds AIDS ministry because AIDS is leprosy of 21st century); Equipping Leaders; Global PEACE Fund. 5) Became reverse tithers: give 90% and live off 10%. Why? Every time we give it breaks the back of materialism over our lives. God made PDL a success because God knew what Rick would do with the money.
link via Jeremy Del Rio

::: The new new careers
It's a new twist on a very old concept. When cholera and yellow fever spread during the 18th century, "medical geographers" drew maps to show infected areas but had no way of knowing where an epidemic would strike next. Tatem [the mapper] pulls data from NASA satellites to plot a picture of rainfall, temperature, vegetation, and other variables in regions where malaria has struck. He correlates it with infection rates and hospital reports to create a map of the disease and its projected spread.
Description of a disease mapper. Link via Dan Pink.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Than A Missions Story

Kt's class was doing a unit on Africa a few weeks ago and so I dragged NLind in with me to talk to them a little bit about Cameroon and Uganda. We had a great time telling some fun stories and showing pictures and passing around some of our souvenirs [the drums, Cameroonian and Ugandian money, jewlery box, necklaces] I even had D snag the :: oh so cool wood carving of the country of Cameroon that I cannot get hung at GCC but I'm not bitter :: from the GCC conference room so I could bring that in to show the kids.

The main point the teacher wanted was the idea of how geography has shaped the culture, which is really a fascinating subject when it comes to Africa. I think she also specified something so that the talk wouldn't turn religious. And we totally kept religion out of it, except for the one time NLind said the "M" word....

Telling the stories are important. And the stories, if we really think about them, are much more than about a missions trip, a destination or some project. Our stories are about humanity.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Origins 2007

One day, I'm going to take a whole mess of people to Origins... In the meantime, Eric Bryant has write ups 1, 2 and 3 and Josh Griffin has some good notes on one of the sessions on character.

I've already been pretty fortunate this year in terms of being invested in - having been at Humana 2.0 in January and then virtually at Shift in March. In fact, in late March, between some time off of work and processing both conferences, I felt like the balance between listening and doing was not enough on the doing side. [Does it feel like there are conferences going on all year long these days?] If I could pick only one, it would be Origins. There is just something about that LA vibe.

[Related: My Origins 2004 processing, right before the first summer of SPACE.]

Evangelism Detox

from the Center for Missional Research