Friday, November 30, 2007

SPACE's evolution - Mission and Leadership (4 of 4)

After doing this SPACE thing for a year or two, we became convinced that it was not about missions trips. If this effort was really going to help students transform the world, we needed to think differently about two fundamental things.

First, we started thinking about mission and not missions. Instead of focusing on mission trips, overseas or domestic, GCC missionaries or not, we needed to think much broader. We needed to concentrate on catalyzing students to serve mankind. The impact of our students in the next 500 years would be void if all we did was tend to next summer's destinations.

We also needed to re-engineer the paradigm of leadership. Although experienced, proven leaders were vital, we needed these same leaders to be ones that would empower, push and forge new leaders out of the very students that were in their charge.

Two quotes from Neil Cole helped frame a new perspective on leadership:
+ "Jesus also told his disciples not to import resources into the harvest but to find all the resources they needed in the harvest itself."
+ "The best leaders are not those who win the most followers, but those who create other leaders."

The future looks bright because of a new understanding of mission and leadership. Oh... and students.

Photo: Old church, young people. The 2007 Hungary team, Vienna, Austria.

[Related: SPACE's evolution #1 - The Real World, #2 - Culture, #3 - Progression and Partnership and The 3 Essential Questions]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SPACE's evolution - Progression into Partnership (3 of 4)

Progression was an important idea. We didn't want our teams to contribute to the statistic that most mission trips do damage to their local hosts. Therefore, it was important to give students experience in serving and relating in their own culture before sending them to a foreign one. We would progress them both in physical proximity as well as cultural distance.

As a global missions launching pad, GCC already had significant friends around the world. Partnerships were very deep since most of these cross cultural workers came from within our own community. The most logical step was to take advantage of these extended GCC families. We would also reduce the unknown, have local hosts that understood us and our context, and have partners that we could trust. Overseas teams therefore, when we could, would work with GCC families.

Progression stretches students. We would deepen students view of the world by introducing them to friends they never knew they had.

Photo: A shared community service project; the second overseas SPACE team; Londrina, Brasil, summer 2005.
[Related: SPACE's evolution #1 - The Real World and #2 - Culture]

My Senior Superlative

in 1987....

yup, it's true.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday RocketFuel

::: China's last cave dwellers

::: The 2007-2008 UN Human Development Index, released earlier this week.
Fast indices include:
- Life expectancy at birth(years)
- Adult literacy rate(% ages 15 and older)
- Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrollment ratio(%)
- GDP per capita (PPP US$)

Some familiar countries and where they are on the index - out of 177 (Sierra Leone at the bottom):
Cameroon - 144
Trinidad - 59
Brasil - 70
Dominican Republic - 79
France - 10
Hungary - 36
Germany - 22
USA - 12

Most of you readers should spend a few minutes tinkering around with this.
[Related: The UN Millennium Development Goals.]

::: Sleep, kids and long term cognitive abilities
Link via Marko
"Would you let your daughter ride in a car without a seat belt? You have to think of sleep the same way."

SPACE's evolution - Culture (2 of 4)

If we were to engage the real world out there with our students, culture would be important. We needed to help them grow with tools and experiences for truly engaging culture. We would help them understand and perceive words, stories, legends, food, and music with more depth so that they could decode any culture.

We had work to do at home too. With phenomenal energy in Sunday morning student gatherings and weekly small groups, we began to broker opportunities for students to be out in the community and impact where they live. These became known as "Launches", one day service opportunities that focused on serving the communities we lived in. Not only did we serve some people in need, our students saw their own culture with more clarity than ever.

People serving in other cultures know they need to decode context. Our task included helping students learn how to engage culture, both at home and abroad.

Photo: The 2nd SPACE Launch - leaf raking in the community.
[Related: SPACE's evolution - #1 - The Real World, #3 - Progression into Partnership]

Monday, November 26, 2007

SPACE's evolution - The Real World (1 of 4)

In 2003, I realized for the first time what the world really looked like. And I had no idea. At the age of 33, I heard about concepts in global Christianity that I had never heard of before.

Some of these concepts included:
- What it means to be unreached.
- The 10/40 window.
- How there could be a ratio of around 800 churches in America for every one unreached people group in the world.
- How Europe was losing both population and faith in Jesus.
- The disparity of investment in those already reached versus the unreached.
- What it means to really engage culture.

Even more striking, I knew that most of the Christian high school students in America had no idea about many of these subjects. The majority of our youth workers had no idea either.

I was on a mission to change that. Certainly not every high school student in America. Probably not every student in our youth ministry. But one would be enough.

Next: SPACE's evolution - Culture
[Related: A Global Missions Primer.]

Monday RocketFuel

::: Culture, Environment Effecting Visual Perception
What you see will largely depend on where you live in the world.
Link via LindseyK

::: Spontaneous baptisms at Willow Creek
You read that right - Willow Creek. This summer in Hungary, I met a guy who interned there doing really innovative, missional stuff with their young adults. He is now planting a church with CAI in Munich. Willow's taken their hits, but they are still in the game.

::: Google cares about culture
India - ("Bollywood is everywhere … Cricket is king …").
Israel - "When you are offered a deal, you can say yes or you can say no. But never, never be arrogant."
China - "Baidu knows more [about China] than Google"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Few Minutes of Thanks

I've been on a computer fast for a few days in light of the holiday, but now I'm sort of back and it feels good. Dennis tagged me a few days ago in his post about Thanksgiving, so here is a quick list of things that I'm thankful for this year.

- My family. My wife D and my kids are just amazing people. Most of the time, I don't see the lives they lead with enough perspective. Thanksgiving and parent-teacher conferences are good catalysts.

- My job. I've been at a new job since March and it's been going great. I could say lots of drama about being delivered from the old one, but I'm not going to.

- SPACE. It's really an honor and privilege to be involved with students and friends all over the world.

- Our puppy was pretty sick last week but is doing much better now. It's really nice to have her all better.

Related: The idea of a threshold of gratitude that PastorMark spoke about at GCC this past Sunday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blog Birthday and Books

Today is my blog's 5th birthday. That's right, Mobilizing Students for Mission has existed for 5 years.... isn't that amazing??!? This blog includes a little over 1900 posts, a little over 37,000 hits, averaging around 1000 hits per month and around 1500 comments.

This blog has been a great experience and has been an integral outlet for my thinking and interaction on all things regarding engaging students and mission. And it's been a ton of fun. But most of all, the interaction with you readers has been the best part. So to celebrate five years, I'm doing a book giveaway. Giveaway as in free. Yup, totally free.

Here are the books I'm giving away. Most of them I got free or at a very big discount price. Or I stole them from a pastor. [kidding, sort of.] Most of them are slightly used, with some lines or paragraphs underlined. But all are definitely still able to be read. Here is the list of what is up for grabs:
Planting Churches Cross Culturally
God on Mute - Ryan Imel
Off Road Disciplines - Chris Marsden
The Christian Husband
Execution - Dennis Poulette
The Big Idea - Ben Boles
Outflow - ESunde
Whistle While You Work
Messy Spirituality - Rodney Olsen
Into The Wild
The MultiSite Revolution
How The Irish Saved Civilization - EmGberg

Here is how this will work.
- Only one book per person.
- Leave a comment with which book you want. I will then confirm with you via email and get your mailing address, etc. I will mail these books anywhere in the world, if you are local, I will drive them to your house.
- Wait for your book to arrive and enjoy.

This is my gift to you readers. Thanks for being a part of this blog and thanks for what you are doing in your own contexts to make a difference for humanity.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Organic Leaves

SPACE continues to evolve and change and this year is no different. Probably the most symbolic is our - with no better way to describe it - leaf launch. During our first year, we ran with the idea of renting a school bus, driving around the community and raking people's yards - with the hope of attracting attention and having lots of kids be able to serve people that couldn't do that kind of yard work on their own. [For those of you outside the mid-atlantic part of the US, raking up leaves is a pretty big deal in the Fall.] We did this in November of 2004 and 2005 and it was a ton of fun. [And it wasn't my original idea, I picked it up somewhere along the way.]

Last year, we decided to skip it, but I can't remember why. Well, this year we resurrected it, sort of. Instead of a big production with a school bus, we wanted to make it much more organic - with students leading smaller raking teams, serving people they knew needed help and inviting their friends to be a part of it. I wanted to change the emphasis to be on students and having them organize themselves organically. Dependency is also part of the long term view - when you live a missional lifestyle, you aren't depending on a school bus, or anything else, to get you to where you need to go or who to impact.

Much smaller in scale, they raked three homes - two for active duty families serving overseas and one that was kind of random. Smaller in quantity but larger in momentum. Sometimes, the adults are the ones with dependency issues.

Photo: On the front porch. We sort of knew the people that lived there...

Friday, November 16, 2007

SPACE Book Club #3

From the entries on Intimacy from Soul Cravings --

Some lives can be explained only by the maddening effect of love. #7.

If your soul is disconnected from it's source, it will die. #8.

Film - The Constant Gardener/E.T./A.I. #8.

Undying love has a history of premature death. #9.

If love is such a profound emotion, why do we love everything and anything? #10.

God is not passive, for love is never passive, but always passionate; and passion always leads to action. #11

While our brains may deny it, our hearts know it: love is proof of God. #15

When we live outside of healthy community, we not only lose others but we lose ourselves. #17

More powerful than any data or doctrine, love is the proof of God our souls long for. #20
My absolute favorite is the fifth one. We act because we are passionate about those He is passionate for.

Friday RocketFuel

::: Stopping future pandemics by figuring out how viruses spread from bushmeat to humans.

::: Getting a South African drivers license
It is helpful to learn South Africa’s extensive and sometimes charming traffic code, which sometimes rates children between 6 and 13 as one-third of a passenger and includes a road sign that depicts a stick-figure man astride an ostrich.
Link via Freakonomics

::: The Most Eligible World Leaders

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The XO

I have been in the market for a new or used laptop every since I left job 1.2. So when I read that the XO had come out, the thought of buying one had crossed my mind. Just as cool, the only way to buy one is if you donate another one to a child in a developing part of the world - Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda or Mongolia. Last night, D convinced me.

Built in wireless, rugged and waterproof, small and compact, it sounds like it would be a great companion both at home and while traveling. And the technology behind it sounds pretty cool - mesh networking, exponential battery ability, built in video camera and two mode lcd screen...

This is one of the occurrences of 'put your money where your mouth is'. As a family, we say we believe that we need to act for a world that is less fortunate, that we are to be a blessing because have been blessed, that my experience in Cameroon makes living here different. Values and beliefs are only as good as their actions.
"OLPC [the organization behind the XO] is not, at heart, a technology program, nor is the XO a product in any conventional sense of the word. OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end—an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community."
So I just put my order in.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book Review - Deadly Viper Character Assassins

Ethur was kind of enough to send me a copy of Deadly Viper Character Assassins a few weeks ago. This book occupies two extremes. One on hand, it's really fun to read. The images, graphics and overall design of the book are really cool and slick. The writing is witty, energetic and engaging. I read it in less than an hour and some of the stories had me laughing out loud.

On the opposite extreme, this book deals with some very sobering topics related to how you and I can torpedo our leadership and influence quickly. This is an honest book written by influential leaders that shoots straight.

Here are some snippets that stood out to me:

:: On Character Creep --
We are saying there is an inefficiency in the market place because the market place doesn't properly value this characteristic of character. And all we're doing is taking advantage of that mispricing in the market and trying to make money off of it. We don't approach our investment from a moralistic standpoint, but we believe that the world and the market place doesn't fully understand the value of character. Really at the heart of it is that being good wins. - Dan Cooper, from Rox River Financial describing their strategy of investing into companies where the integrity of the CEO is strategically valued.
Marcus Buckingham - If he doesn't feel like talking to someone, his assistant isn't allowed to lie. "He is unavailable," is okay to say, "he is on the phone," is not okay to say.
:: On Lying --
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything - Mark Twain
We travel with a buddy or family member.
If we don't travel with someone, we then stay at the homes of friends who live in the cities we're visiting.
Find yourself a good friend and give them 100% access.
:: On Emotions --
...we need to funnel our emotions toward things that really matter. If we're truly going to rock the world, we need to stop wasting so much juice on stupid, trivial stuff. Some of us need to grow up and stop acting like junior high wieners and stop thinking everything is about us.

- Refrain from reading attacks on ourselves whether it be in blogs, forums or letters.
- If we are getting frustrated or irritated, call a Coca-Cola break
- Be the Duck - let it roll off your back
- When we are really ticked or irritated, we go to a movie.
- We do not use email to handle relationally-sensitive subjects or issues.
- Remind ourselves that if we crush or destroy someone in the organization, they will cease to contribute to the organization.
- Be fast to forgive
:: On Work and Rest --
Fast Company theme - Balance is bunk
You must lead yourself.
Day off each week.
What fills you up, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Baseball game, reading, evening schedule as well as who [what relationships you keep] fill you up.
Push the limit but not beyond the limit. Furious work = furious rest - Louie Giglio
:: On Sexuality --
Most people in leadership will get the opportunity to hop into the sack with someone inappropriately.
When we are on a business trip, we leave our homes on the latest flight possible and come back home on the earliest flight possible. We don't hang out.
Sexuality is powerful and mysterious. We must honestly respect its influence in our lives.
:: On Materialism --
Junky Car Club
The danger of drawing personal value from your stuff.
If you think for one split second that your possessions will define you as a significant leader, think again.
:: On Pride --
The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we would become - Charles Du Bois
Overall, a fun and important read that highlights some character assassins and encourages putting together plans to beat them.

Related - The Deadly Viper blog

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Am I Need

As you might have imagined, SPACE makes lots of new friends every summer, and this summer was no exception. One of our new friends, SDoyle, was in town this weekend, in town from Brussels, Belgium. He is a church planter with CAI, assisting in an expression of church called The Well. [Some of you might remember the stats on Brussels - mix of French and Flemish, 150,000 people, a third are immigrants, hq of the EU.] We first met at Connect in Hungary when a bunch of our team realized this S's wife graduated from the same high school some of our kids went to and that her hometown is indeed Ellicott City.

We saw S Friday night when he stopped over to hang out at one of the CpR Fridays and a few us got coffee with him on Saturday morning. I've said this from the beginning of SPACE - SPACE only exists as one component of the student ministry and only because our students are of such high quality. It was neat for one of our SPACE friends to see a bigger picture of GCC and her students.

S is also really involved in an international movement called Serve The City, an offshoot of CAI that focuses on serving the marginalized and needy in a specific city. The idea is to serve those who need it, not because they are a spiritual project, but because they are human. I anticipate that one of these years, a SPACE team will assist with a Serve The City. Think of Mission Advance, but seven days long, dozens of service projects, hundreds of workers, and thousands being helped.

The embedded video below is entitled "I Am I Need" and was from one of the STCs in Brussels. The church of the future is a community based on cause.

Photo: EllyK, TriciaB, MichelleK and SDoyle. And my kids in the background...

Friday, November 09, 2007


In February, I'm traveling with a team to attend Humana2.08. It's difficult to explain exactly what the conference is, and that is okay.
A national convergence
Of creative kingdom entrepreneurs, catalysts, Church planters, pastors, visionaries, professionals, missionaries and activists

A living translation
Of the immigrant gospel from western christianity present to global humanity future

A leadership matrix
Like no other
I'm most excited about traveling and processing with this team of people - MPM, our logistics coordinator [Trinidad 2005]; JBourq [LA 2006 and NYC 2007]; TriciaB and EllyK, our orbiters [DC 2006, Cameroon 2006, Hungary 2007]; TMurray [DC 2006 and England 2007 and been on numerous middle school mission summers]; and ESunde, our 2005-2006 intern [Cameroon 2006 and Hungary 2007]. And, all the more reason, it's in Orlando. Let me know if you are going to be there.

This is not an experience that will give us a methodology or three steps to try or a program to implement. I'm almost sure that we won't have immediate action items. Instead, it's going to inspire, compel, and impassion us. Again. Because you and I don't need more information or knowledge. What we need is to be reminded why we must.

: My Humana 2.0 - 2007 post
: One of Leslie's posts from the session on Creativity, Humana 2007
: Thoughts after Origins 2004 - 6 weeks later

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Being Abroad Is Not Enough

Some interesting quotes from the article "The Foreign Legions", via WorldHum:
The number of students going abroad may be growing — to about 6 percent of American college students, not counting those who don’t get course credit — but their profile has not changed. The latest figures available from the Institute of International Education, for 2004-5, indicate that 83 percent of participants were white; 10 years earlier, 86 percent were white.
There is a consensus today, much like the one about science and math studies after the launch of Sputnik 50 years ago, that globally fluent graduates are essential to American competitiveness. International exposure, whether study, volunteer work or internship, has become a must-have credential.
And for a generation whose life is calibrated by a multicolored spiral daily planner, just being abroad is not enough.
Not all students are prepared to cope with the challenges that arise from being immersed in a foreign society. "There are students who aren’t ready to separate themselves from American culture and language," says Eric Singer, dean of international studies at Goucher College, in Baltimore, which has begun requiring students to earn at least three credits abroad. "They don’t want to be challenged about language, food, sports or what have you," he says.
Not to blow our own horn here, but SPACE could actually give you a huge advantage as a high school student *applying* to college.

Imagine an overseas, cross cultural experience, doing something worthy with long term, local, indigenous impact, in the context of a well prepared team, expert team leaders and careful, well connected, expert mission hosts. Elements of this experience also include pre-field cross cultural training, post field processing and re-entry, and being a part of a community of friends with the cause of making a difference for humanity's sake, even after you return home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday RocketFuel

::: Hollywood Status Quo?
"...would they have crawled into a hole of protecting the status quo or would they be forging a new, exciting, optimistic future through force of will and creativity?" - Marc Andreessen on the Writers Guild strike
Forging an optimistic future or protecting the status quo - what about you and your future?

::: 100 Questions To Turn You from a Teacher into a Learner
from Steve Argue
Related - The Viable Missionary: Learner, Trader, Storyteller
[one of the foundational texts from the Perspectives class.]

::: Water as evil
"Jews see water, sea as dark and evil. Look at Noah, Jonah, Moses and the sea as the dark chaos of creation. In order to bring the message of hope Paul must go through the dark and evil sea."
- N.T. Wright, via Jordon
This gives me a new dimension in thinking about those Biblical stories where water is involved. And it reminds me of Cameroon too.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Plans To Give A Future

I've been involved in a few meetings and conversations already about summer 08. It's been fun to dream. In more than one of these conversations, people have commented on my "I've got this plan for you," tendency. It's a bit like Jeremiah 29:11, except I'm not God - one slight detail.

It's important that we have some kind of plan, progression, and movement for the people that we serve - whether you are a Developer or not. As leaders, we must be moving people towards something. Whether it's personal growth, larger impact and more responsibility, or being able to lead in ambiguity, none of that occurs unless we see the path marked for them and implore them to get there.

How are you helping those you serve with move?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Your First Podcast?

K did her first podcast this past week with some friends for her "tech-a-nology" class. Are these nine year olds what you would call early adopters? I think I was 35 when I did my first podcast....

Listen to it here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday RocketFuel

::: Seth Godin on college admissions.
"Here's the amazing part: According to The Chosen, an exhaustive study of college admissions, there's no measurable difference between the outcomes of education with the most exclusive schools and the next few tiers. Graduates don't end up happier. They don't end up with better paying jobs. They don't end up richer or even healthier. The whole thing is a sham (which costs a quarter of a million dollars a person at the top end)."
Related fact - college debt is the number one reason why young people who desire to go to the mission field cannot.

::: McLean Bible Church's Future Leaders Program
One year long, full time, you get compensation, housing and benefits.

how many people across the planet will give a dollar, and then we’ll give it away to the poorest communities in the world.
via Alan Hirsch

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Spirit of Collaboration

SAdams, Organizational Partnering Catalyst for Christian Associates, crashed at the international SPACE office earlier this week. He's been doing an East Coast tour building and strengthening relationships between CAI and churches and other like-minded organizations, including meeting some of the GCC MTF. S and I first connected when we were working out logistics for our Hungary 2007 team to serve at Connect, their annual staff conference. He's also been doing fun Shengri-La stuff, like going Ghosting; dinner at the Inner Harbor; and conversations that included processing this summer, leadership development, the apostolic and staffing a surf shack in Uruguay [Besides a focus on Europe, CAI is also doing a bit in Latin America.] If I was going to be a full time cross cultural worker, CAI would be on the very short list of organizations I would be applying to.

Collaboration is a big thing that S is working on for possibilities between churches and CAI and it could look something like:
: Short Term
- Serve the City teams - addressing practical needs in a city, particularly those of the poor and marginalized
- Discovery trips - exposure to the emerging culture of Europe, learning about the development of postmodernism and its implications for ministry
- Exploration teams - exploring new cities for potential church planting through demographic research, strategic contacts, and prayerwalking [I would *love* to take students on something like this.]
- Extension teams - extending the impact of an existing missional initiative or church through special projects, outreach events, training, etc.

: Cross Training
- leadership exchanges for training in spiritual formation, leadership development, impacting the city, church planting and more
- idea exchanges and dialogues on innovative missional practices
- mentoring, coaching and interning of emerging leaders

If you are interested in learning more about those opportunities in Europe or high impact churches in Europe's urban centers, email or comment and I can put you in direct contact with S. I don't have first dibs on the surf shack. Yet.

Photo: iChatting with his kids.