Friday, February 29, 2008

Did Paul Like the Suburbs?

All ambitious missionary movements are, or soon become, urban. If the goal is to "make disciples of all nations," missionaries need to go where there are many potential converts, which is precisely what Paul did. His missionary journeys took him to major cities such as Antioch, Corinth, and Athens, with only occasional visits to smaller communities such as Iconium and Laodicea. No mention is made of him preaching in the countryside.
- Rodney Stark, Cities of God

Lots more meaty info here about the spread of early Christianity among an urban context. For instance - population density of Antioch around 117/acre, compared to Chicago 21; SF 23; NY 37; Manhattan 100.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday RocketFuel

::: What MBTI is your favorite candidate?
John McCain - ESTP
Barack Obama - ENFP
Hillary Clinton - ESTJ

::: African Aid from the US and the EU
U.S. economic aid to sub-Saharan Africa increased from $2.1 billion to $5.4 billion between 2000 and 2005. But EU countries gave $21.9 billion to Africa in 2006, and the United Kindgom alone gave $5.2 billion -- with an economy one-sixth of the size of the U.S. economy.

::: Gen Y Speaks up at NASA
About creativity, innovation, social networking, and the engagement of those under 30 with regard to NASA's mission. Make sure to check out the very well done PowerPoint as well.
Link via YPulse

Book 123 Meme

I got tagged via Chris and Ben for this meme. Like them, I hardly ever do these things either. But because we just hung out a few weeks ago face to face and because they are cool....

Here are the rules:
* Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
* Find page 123
* Count down five sentences
* Post the next three sentences
* Tag five people
"Are these people for real?" we asked ourselves. Time and time again, the answer was a resounding, albeit surprising, "Yes, they are."
Wanting to help is the fuel that drives a catalyst's ability to connect people.
- The Starfish and The Spider
[Related: posts on this blog with the word 'catalyst']

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pray for Some Names

Would you say a quick prayer as you read this? This is the 2008 Hungary team, so far. One or two more names later this week, but we would love for you to be thinking of us real quick. [I'll be updating this post when the team is final.]
the Shengs, Kevin, Keely, Erin, Leslie, Emilie, Rachel, Tricia, Elly, Gwen, Lexi, Andrea, Andrew, John, Taylor, Michelle, Lindsey, Jenny, Sven

Monday, February 25, 2008

Leader Share - Risk

SPACE believes two things about risk. Number one - the leaders of tomorrow have to be willing to sacrifice and risk in order for mankind to have a chance. Number two - many times, we learn to truly walk with Jesus when we are way out on a limb.

From MichelleK’s SPACE 2008 Leader Application [posted here with permission]:

Q: Describe the riskiest - but not necessarily successful - endeavor you have ever attempted. [Question taken from the IMN]

A: So this one time I had a crazy leader called Tony….We were in this foreign city called Vienna after a two-hour bus ride from Sopron, and he handed us bus passes and told us to join a group of adults and follow them wherever they were serving. I attached my self to a group of people that I had never met before and spent an hour or so traversing the city with hopes of finding the movie theater we were supposed to clean. We found it, and I tried as hard as I could to make myself useful. I ended up getting into some pretty cool conversations with missionaries. Long story short, I managed to meet up with my team at the end of the day for some good story swapping on the Danube. … And that’s about as risky as it gets for me thus far.
And Michelle says thus far...... haha...

Photo: MichelleK's team in Vienna, Austria, August 2007. She is 5th from the right in the red.

Friday, February 22, 2008

But Wait, There's More - SPACE Seniors 08

We've never treated graduating seniors the same from year to year. Some years, we invite some of them to be leaders. Other years, we send them off into the cold, harsh world. This year, for those that have invested into SPACE, we are giving them some pretty wild opportunities.

The summer after graduation is a chaotic summer. It's the last summer at home with family and friends, financial pressure for college is large and the whole summer is an emotional roller coaster. And just for kicks, SPACE throws in some cool opportunities. We've tried to be very upfront about all the issues these students need to think about - with their families. The last summer before college is, historically for us, a much more difficult summer for commitments from just graduated seniors.

We are providing these opportunities because we believe the best way to get leaders is to grow them ourselves. Therefore, because some of these students understand SPACE as well as we do, they are prime candidates for more leadership. These students are ones that have traveled with us multiple years, understand risk and initiative and ones we trust with the future of the world.

Therefore, we've invited these well invested Seniors into leadership for this summer. All of these are leadership-based, meaning not just participation but requiring a certain level of responsibility, initiative and hard work. The four options are:
1 - England
2 - Hungary with my team
3 - Cameroon
4 - Options 2 and 3 above - Hungary ends Aug 2 with a decompression in Europe, meeting up with the Cam team who will be arriving in Europe from DC, and then continuing on to Cameroon. [At least, that's the "plan']

Option #4 is for the crazy ones. Three and a half weeks, two continents, four countries, a myriad of world cultures and serving with some incredible hosts. This is the one where other crazy people have said, "I would do that," while normative humans told me I was a nutcase for planning it.

Sure, it's your last summer at home. Yup, college starts in a few weeks. Correct, your life will never be the same again. But you have your whole world ahead of you...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Taking Back The Future

Let me introduce you to ErinMoy and Kenzie. ErinMoy [left] was actually on the first ever SPACE missions team - middle school in 2004 and both of them were on the NYC 2007 team last summer. In 2008-2009, according to the current plan [which you know can change in an instant, you do know that right?], they will be next iteration of SPACE interns - and the experiments will continue... In 2508, who knows.

Internships are one of the best ways we can ensure that there is a pipeline of leadership and investment. And a key characteristic about all of our interns is that none of them had to be sought out - they all identified themselves and initiated opportunity. Tell you much more about these two later. In the meantime, how are your most catalytic leaders getting your attention?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday D!

Go wish my wife a happy birthday. I'm taking the day off so we can go out and play in the snow. Just kidding. If you know her, you know that snow is probably her least favorite thing in the world.

If you know about her and snow, you also know that she's dedicated, responsible and holds the Sheng household together in many, many ways. This year, God has also chosen to use her in even more ways outside of our home to impact, influence and lead so that the future will be different. That's been a ton of fun to watch.


Photo: Us and the elephant from the Natural History Museum, DC.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday RocketFuel

::: Mobilizing | Student | Mission - Blog Reader Quiz
How many of these do you find counter-intuitive to who you are and what you do?
Comment away!

::: Engineering Challenges for the Future
My personal favorites are "provide access to clean water", "restore and improve urban infrastructure" and "make solar energy economical."

::: Hints About a Person of Peace [from Luke 10]

Monday, February 18, 2008

1 More - Hungary 2008

Oh.... and one other team for this year.... In addition to the 2008 summer teams, I'm also taking a team back to Hungary again this summer, once again to serve with Christian Associates International. I didn't really post that in the official announcement because this team is a bit different than all the other teams.

This team is targeted for students that have a deep interest in world cultures, global missions and perhaps a cross cultural career. At least, in theory. Practically speaking, this team will get a chance to serve and interact first hand with some dear friends who have decided to leave everything in order that humanity could be different. They have literally left the 99 to go after the 1. This team gets shaped by sharing in that experience, at least for a few days.

We have a lot of work. Unlike last year, this year we will be running the whole show. It's a fun challenge but also a bit daunting. So we have already begun to prepare, firstly by inviting some very talented and passionate leaders, because *everything* rises and falls on leadership, and don't try to kid yourself otherwise. Tell you more about these leaders soon. The rest of the team should be final by the end of February.

If you are a leader, there are some opportunities you should be creating that are more exclusive, ones designed specifically so that you can directly invest in the best and brightest. And I say that knowing that all of our 2008 teams are going to be incredible. Most of you know that I have a lot of fun in brainstorming, dreaming and empowering our teams to go out and serve. But at the core, I'm a futuristic developer, molding and shaping people for the future. And this team experience represents what I must do and what I do best.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Exponential Times

We are living in exponential times. Pay attention graduating Seniors... And well, the rest of you too most likely....
+ 3.3 M college graduates in China in 2006
+ 100% of 2006 college graduates in India know English.
+ More than 50% of 21 year olds in the US have created content on the Web.
+ Years it took to reach a market audience of 50M, via:
radio – 38
television – 13
the internet – 4
+ 540,000 words in the English language.
+ 3000 books are published every day.
+ By 2010, technical information will double every 72 hours.
+ 2B children
+ One in 3 never completes 5th grade.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

1 Year Ago

One year ago yesterday, job 1.3 was set in motion. That was the day, flying home from Humana with the fam, waiting for our flight in Orlando airport, that I got the call for the interview.

It's been a good, good, good year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday RocketFuel

::: Free Bed Nets and Malaria
Results from a new survey by the World Health Organization on free bed nets.
In Ethiopia, deaths of children from malaria dropped more than 50 percent. In Rwanda, they dropped more than 60 percent in only two months.
via Defeating Global Poverty

::: Need to get some ideation - take a hot shower
Right before you take your shower, think about something you want to write or a subject you'd like to write about. As you shower, just let the idea roll around in your head. A hot shower naturally helps your body produce DHEA, so you'll find that your brain/mind makes synapse connections in this environment.
- Tim Sanders

::: Morning Brief
- FP Passport - the blog from the editors of Foreign Policy, does a Morning Brief post every weekday. Essential for those of you that have the world on your heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

SPACE 2008 Summer Teams

::: 9th grade
This team will be serving in inner city Baltimore with Chain Reaction [], a local youth mission host and partner of SPACE. Your time will be spent serving via community impact projects with local, indigenous ministry partners that are serving Baltimore for the long term. Projects include community acts of service, prayer walks, and light work projects.

Dates: July 6 – July 12
Estimated cost: $350
Team leaders: JGuy and freshmen guys Dteam [female leaders are TBD]

::: 10th grade
This team will be serving in New Orleans, as part of the KatrinaGrace partnership. Ministry tasks include light home improvement, cleanup and repair as well as relational encouragement and presence.

Dates: June 27 – July 6
Estimated cost: $450
Team leaders: AlecL and other 10th grade Dteam leader team.

::: 11th grade
Option A – Manchester, England, Europe.
Your team will be serving in Manchester, England with church planter Kirk Crager and his team. [Kirk is JBourque’s nephew.] Kirk and his team are planning multiple outreach events this coming summer, anchored by a community music and arts festival. Your team will be assisting via random acts of kindness in the community, assisting with small music and drama outreaches and helping with the community music and arts festival. You will also be a key catalyst for helping encourage a Christ following community in the very pluralistic and multicultural community that is Manchester.
Rough Dates: August 3 – August 11
Estimated cost: $2700
Team leaders: JBourque, others TBD

Option B – Yaounde, Cameroon, Africa.
Your team will serve and encourage G and Wendy N, a family that is supported via GCC, and continue momentum that was started by a SPACE team in 2006. You will assist with all facets of a national leadership conference for people serving within the Ns mission organization, which may include tasks related to child care, student ministry, and/or hospitality. You will also have opportunities to build relationships with Cameroonian high school students as you serve side by side with them. You will also make an impact as you encourage the continuation of the first high school small groups in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.
Rough Dates: August 1 – August 15
Estimated cost: $2700
Team leaders: ErinOb, TMurray, GMurach, JCaroselli, JWhittington

::: Hungary
A team will be traveling to Hungary from July 22 - August 4, serving with Christian Associates International, helping with their kids ministry during their staff conference. This is a repeat from a team that went in the summer of 2007.

::: Middle School - Charm City Church::: Middle School - Charm City Church, Baltimore - July 10-12
A small team will serve with Charm City Church, being involved in kids ministry, strategic neighborhood prayer walks and other community impact projects. Cost is $35. Sign up by May 25.

For all teams:
Download your application from,
look in the upper right hand corner.
Your app and deposit are due on Feb 23.

Humana 2.08 - Unreasonable

The team and I had a great time in Orlando, attending Humana 2.08. Lots to process and lots more to do.

::: My Notes
Alex McManus
We are created to explore, risk and move into the future.

At NASA, there is a memorial to astronauts who have died. Most of the squares are empty, waiting to be filled.

We are called to point to a world that none of us know yet.

Sarah Conner Chronicles - "Taking Back the Future"

In communication, the listener is sovereign.

What is God saying to us through unreached artists, musicians, etc?

The Spirit is speaking prophetically but that isn't limited to people inside the Church.

Being intentional is the most natural when you know the Gospel.

I'm convinced that the Holy Spirit is in a subwoofer.
Gerardo Marti
Christianity is a missionary religion. That is why we engage culture. It is inevitable that we meet people that are different from ourselves.

Genesis 11 - expansion of ethnicities based on Babel
Genesis 12 - God intends to bless them ALL

Church must move from therapy to inspiration.

Jesus discipleship process - Mark 5 - sends the healed man back to his home - was a region of 200 miles and 10 cities
Discipleship is simulateanously
- coming to Jesus
- being sent out
Luke 10 - the 70 are given the same edict as the 12

We must recover the word "apostle"

Jesus doesn't think about leadership as maximum control, He thinks of it as maximum opportunity.

Catalytic leadership - John 20:21
Key question - How will this multiply?

Instead of reading the Bible for personal direction or information, we should read it with the filter of "I have responsibility for other people." Some of the Scriptures just don't make sense outside of a leadership lens.

We don't need to teach people to be creative. We need to give them permission.

To create a culture of creativity:
- what stories are you telling
- mentor people to be creative
- what do you reward
Brian Russell
The framework for all passages of Scripture: mission, holiness[character], community

Matthew 18 - the cliched passage about church discipline
Jesus says to treat them like a tax collector or sinner - the lost, exactly who Jesus came for.
Dean Sharp
Meaningful things must survive honesty.
The West doesn't teach people how to fail well.
Thorsten Moritz
Churches cannot afford to exist as hierarchical institutions
::: Random Thoughts
+ The format was very discussion based. It looked like:
12 minutes from the speaker
5-7 minutes of discussion based on a question the speaker left you with.
At certain times, there would be a "decompression", with half of the room interacting with 2 or 3 of the speakers on one side, while the other half interacted with some other speakers, and then we would switch. Decompressions were a huge hit and made the whole time much more interactive.

+ On Friday, we drove from Ocoee to Daytona Beach, hung out there for an hour or so, and drove to Downtown Disney for lunch. We left there right for the airport and then flew home. Amazing day. Yes I went in the water. No, not all the way. Yes, MPM went all the way in.

+ I spent the first hour trying to gauge how my team was responding to the conference, since it was a little difficult to explain exactly what it was. By lunch, they were hooked. Our team decompression on Thursday evening was packed.

+ Ever seen three Ideations ideate? It's like ice hockey.

+ We watched the SPACE shuttle launch on the large screen. Well sort of. Right before it launched, we ran out to see it from outside, but it was too hazy.

+ The team set a lot in motion for Mission Advance. Tell you more about that later.

+ I got to hang with Chris Marsden and Ben Boles, as well as spend a lot of time with my good friends MMM and K. It's always great seeing them and they are an anchor point for SPACE, the Shengs and that part of the world.

+ What I loved most was hearing how inspired my team was. More than information, we left with motivation. The world will be different because of what happens next.

[Related: Humana 2007 notes.]

Friday, February 01, 2008

Traveling and Humana 2.08

The blog will be a tad silent over the next 10 days or so. Here is what is on the agenda of this particular student ministry global catalyst.

+ Disconnecting from the world with the fam this weekend.

+ Speaking at my second GCC Leadership Development Program workshop, "Leading in the Global Matrix" on Monday evening. If you are around and interested, I can sneak you in.

+ Flying to Orlando on Tuesday afternoon through Friday evening to attend Humana 2.08 with a team of people from SPACE. Should be a very exciting time of learning, processing and connecting. Although I won't be updating this blog, I will be updating Twitter. You can see the updates in the sidebar on the left or at this link. I did this a few weeks ago while in NYC and really just had a ball with it. The 140 character limit is a great catalyst for creatively summarizing what you are doing and why. Expect to see some more detailed reflections next week. [Related: Humana 2.0 2007]

+ Summer 08 plans get published next Sunday, 2/10. Some are going to be amazed and some are going to think we are out of our mind.