Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What Time Is It There?

Pulling teams of high school kids together in disturbia is hard enough. Right now, I've got three leaders spread across multiple time zones. I haven't seen one of them since January. But they are doing it - living life while dropping in to culture after culture, blessing and serving those close and far away from home. Technology now allows us to stay in touch, even when we have sent them to where they need to be.

Photo: Skype chat with ESunde and RachelJ. [Their video wasn't working...]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tony Campolo and Macro Economics

Jeremy gave me a copy of Deep Justice in a Broken World and I've been skimming it. Full review and notes coming soon. In the meantime, from Tony Campolo...
I think youth pastors are sometimes afraid and unable to recognize that there needs to be structural change in order for there to be social justice. It's not enough to work on the micro level. When youth ministers go to a third-world country, it is important for them to see the ways the political, social and economic structures on the macro level create and maintain poverty.
I find most youth workers haven't a clue as to what macro economics are all about, and how macro economic factors create the poverty in third-world countries. They don't understand why third-world peoples are angry with Americans.
Point blank, I'm not impressed with youth workers. I find that just like teenagers, they don't know what is going on in the world. Youth ministry is far too often a matter of fun and games. When I go to youth ministry conferences, I sometimes get depressed because I find that youth workers are primarily interested in techniques. They seldom want to deal with the issues. They often evade the hard-nosed facts of what's going on in the world.
As a matter of fact, I think MTV may do more to help kids become sensitive to the needs of the world than youth workers. If you're asking me who is who is more likely turning young people on to poverty issues, I'll have to say it's Bono of U2 rather than youth workers. Youth workers are pressurized into maximizing big turn outs at the youth gatherings at their churches, and that doesn't usually come by making kids sensitive to the needs of the poor and the oppressed. That's a very sad thing, indeed.
+ Reading The End of Poverty [notes] was the first thing that ever exposed me to economic structures and how they impact poverty.
+ Does this validate my fascination with MTV?
+ Even though he doesn't mean it, I think he's saying something about the system of youth ministry too.
+ If you are a youth worker, what do you think?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

World Malaria Day 2008

Today is World Malaria Day. If you are a long time reader, you know that this blog has talked about malaria a bunch of times before and you already know that it is a global issue that is totally preventable with the right kind of investment.

I'll quote Jeffrey Sachs once again:
300 million sleeping sites in Africa that need protection from malaria
anti-malaria bed net costs $5 and last five years - $1 a year
multiple kids sleep under one
total investment - $1.5B for 5 years
the most amazing bargain of our time
Two ways to make a difference right now:

+1 United Nations Foundation -
+2 Compassion and Youth Specialties -

One of the tenets of this blog is to motivate you to do something and it would be fun that if you are a part of SPACE and feel compelled enough about this issue, that you give to one of those movements linked above. It's $10 meaning that you could forgo the movies once this weekend. And in light of all the support raising you are involved in right now for your summer teams, it's a little counterintuitive. But that's the Gospel, right. If you give, leave a comment.

300 million sleeping sites. minus what SPACE does.

Oh and thinking about a career in the biological sciences? How about becoming an expert in malaria?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Europe - Death and Resurrection

From the newsletter of Jeff Fountain, director of YWAM Europe - referring to Philip Jenkins' God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis:
::: A persistent undercurrent of spirituality remains among old-stock Europeans, expressed in 'surprisingly medieval forms of devotion' such as pilgrimage, which is enjoying widespread revival as a spiritual exercise. Devotion among youth is evidenced by the 100,000 youth visiting Taizé each summer, the one million attending World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, and engagement in many new movements both Catholic and Protestant including Focolare, the Alpha movement, ProChrist, the Thomas Mass for contemporary 'doubters', Soul Survivor... and on the list goes.

::: Immigration into Europe is usually associated with Islam, but many immigrants are Christians, a major factor in the shape of tomorrow's Christianity. Not only will the high birth rate among the rapidly-expanding immigrant churches boost the Christian figures, but these new Europeans are turning Catholic, protestant and charismatic-Pentecostal churches into centres of vibrant and colourful worship and witness. Of Britain's ten largest churches, four are pastored by Africans. Europe's largest church, in Kiev, is pastored by a Nigerian.

::: In short, Islam's encounter with Europe is likely to create an ever-more adaptable form of faith that can cope with social change without compromising basic beliefs. At the same time, and contrary to expectation, Christianity is surviving amid 'Eurosecularity' and could well emerge stronger for the challenge.

::: [Phillip] Jenkins suggest that perhaps the best indicator that Christianity is
about to revive is a widespread conviction that the religion is doomed or in its closing days. After all, he reminds his readers, the Christian faith is all about death and resurrection. The quote heading the last chapter reads: "If you are the type of person who buys stocks and bonds, I'd buy Christianity. The price now is very low... it has to go up."
For more [although this issue isn't online yet] see

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Better Than Reform School

One guiding principle for SPACE summer experiences is that they are not meant [in the wise words of a well-seasoned mission pastor I heard one time] to be reform school. Meaning, we expect a certain baseline of maturity and growth for the students that are involved on our teams. That isn't to say that everyone has to be perfect, but it's not summer camp and we aren't a babysitting service. Along with a lot of praying and listening, we use student applications, small group leader opinions and employer/teacher references to make what are sometimes very difficult decisions with regard to who is in and who is not.

There are certain times when we will take on a student even though there might be some small issues - it's a bit of risk on the part of the team leadership [like the whole trip has 0 element of risk in it..] And in these cases, we explicitly raise our expectations, because sometimes, you get what you expect. We have the resources, the context and the determination to work deeper with these specific students. Most of our team leaders are student small group leaders who work with these kids every week during the school year. They see them in their home culture and have deep ties with them, many of them lasting most of the high school years. And these leaders desire the very best for their students and willingly sacrifice for them.

Most recently, I've come alongside a few leader teams that went out of their way to work with some particular students. On the surface, it means putting together a very informal growth path and executing that plan within the relationship. As opposed to a one-sided-measure-up-or-else ultimatum, this requires a commitment from both parties - the leader team and the student. The leaders commit something to the student - let us help you grow. And the student commits to the leaders - I will try my best. All with multi-faceted contexts - a summer team, a leader-student relationship, and a youth ministry.

This is why SPACE is a component of a local youth ministry.

[Side note: Find someone with a Developer Strengths Finder theme to help you with this. It is why they exist. This summer, around 50% of our leaders have this theme.]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday RocketFuel

::: Coaching Convictions
+ People are more like Acorns, not Empty Buckets.
view people as full of God-given potential, rather than as empty buckets waiting to be filled.
+ Discovery learning, not merely "downloading information," leads to genuine growth.
+ Statistics show that 70% of the time, the solution for an issue is within the person we are developing. They don't need someone to give an answer, they need help in discovering what God has already put into them.
Link to Simply Coaching [PDF] via Steve Addison

::: Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone

::: BioFuels and The World's Poor
World cereal stocks are at an all-time low, food-aid programmes have run out of money and millions face starvation. Yet wealthy countries persist with plans to use grain for petrol.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hungary Mid April Update

We had another fun meeting with the 2008 Hungary team this afternoon. Really amazing team - so talented, energetic and ready to serve. Here are a few highlights of where this team is at currently:

- Finances : About 10%
- Program : We have outlined the overall theme of the kids program. We have also identified specific elements and how they will fit together. The next step is putting some of that on paper [for example: what crafts for what days/video storyline on this day to fit with this topic, etc.]
- Travel : With 26 people, it's going to be interesting. But we have our initial lodging in Vienna booked - Vienna City Hostel.
- Various : Sending invitations to the CAI kids in advance possibly, a few souvenirs for them to take home, working on some team fundraisers like window washing and a restaurant night and our all SPACE silent auction
- I'm also working with each of the adult leaders on some bigger picture things - either helping to prepare and expand SPACE for the future and/or making some serious investments in this particular team. This is a big difference from last year and although last year's team was great, I'm much more intentional about this element for this coming summer. Tell you more about that later too, but this is one of the parts that I love.
- The biggest challenge I'm running into this summer, with this team and all of our teams, is empowering others. Giving permission and authority to others doesn't ever seem to get any easier, but you don't have a choice.

Photo: 23 of the 26 members on Hungary 2008.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Decompressing a Vacation

Well, we had a phenomenal time in Key West, it was really a lot of fun and a nice break. D's got the whole travelogue here.

In random order...
- there are 42 bridges from Key Largo to Key West.
- in real life, the blue water looks just like it does in the movies.
- people in Miami are more into cars than I expected or knew.
- a one bedroom apartment in downtown Key West costs ~$1800 a month to rent.
- Google shows 196 churches in Key West for 25,478 people. About 130 people per church.
- Key West is 90 miles from Cuba.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Supporting SPACE

Of course, every summer, we have a huge number of people that support our summer teams. None of these teams are viable without friends, family, and partners within our networks that pray for and financially support our teams.

This year, in order to make it a bit easier for those that feel led to help with finances, we have two methods for electronic giving. The first is via a PayPal account. If you give this way, it comes to our direct account - therefore this is not tax deductible. Click on the "Donate" button, which will take you to PayPal information for our personal account.

The second way is to give via our the electronic giving vendor that our church uses. Click the icon to give to one of our SPACE teams, which will take you to eGive's page for donations to Grace Community Church. After entering the appropriate donor and bank information, fill in the amount for "Short Term Missions" and specify for "SPACE Hungary - Shengs". Or you can give to any of our other teams :
2008 - Baltimore
2008 - Cameroon
2008 - England
2008 - NYC
Just fill in the appropriate team after where it says "Short Term Missions."

Thank you for supporting SPACE. Of course, you know you are supporting students getting to serve and bless in other contexts. You are also supporting the real time lab of global mission, students and leadership. Expect that your investment will certainly multiply and know that we are so, so appreciative!

RSS readers, there is some embedded java script. Or something.

[PS - We think we got all the links correct. Please double check the info before you submit and let us know if something doesn't look quite right.]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday RocketFuel

::: John Eldredge's blog
Link via Ben Arment
Starting next week, I'm growing Eldredge hair.

::: Tim Keller on Cities
+ The Grace OF the City -
God says that the city is a gift of God for humanity
+ The Grace IN the City -
4 orders in humanity - Economic, Cultural, Residential, Political/Legal
Cities - all together
Suburbs - all segregated
+ Grace FOR the City....
NYC - it's expensive... Across the Hudson River, you keep 12% more of your income. Most people are here to USE the city... Which means REVOLVING door....
You have to have the grace to care about the city instead of your name. Default of your heart is to make a name....
From the Q conference, via Scott Hodge

::: Profile of Larry Brilliant, head of
In Brilliant's view, what the planet needs today is not simply the invention of a cleaner way to generate energy or better schools in developing nations but a transformation of human consciousness. "It's a matter of human will," he says. "And that's where my optimism comes from, because I've seen awful things that were solved by the projection of a positive, and I would say loving, human will."

::: The Lord's Boot Camp
CBS does an expose on Teen Missions this coming Saturday night. I'm going to have to get a copy of this to watch.
Link via Bob Carlton
[Related: My time at Teen Missions, June 2004]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not Enough Time for Perfection

Every summer [or practically all the time depending on how you look at it], we make some mistakes. Sometimes logistics, sometimes staffing, sometimes bad decisions. I spent a little bit of time last week trying to fix a potentially bad decision, working through it with a fabulous group of leaders. Not the first time, certainly not the last.

I like to think that we have open lines of communication so that our leaders and our students are free to tell us when we have messed up. If you are a student, your leader would love to talk with you. If you are a team leader, I would love to talk with you. We won't be offended and will try to fix it as best we can. I also like to think that we are trying to learn from our mistakes too. So when we mess up, because we are learning, I will listen to my wife about the specific hotel we should stay in. [Hi D!]

But the big one here is that we shouldn't be afraid to fail. It's okay and even preferable to try something that hasn't been tried before, to pursue it when we aren't sure of the outcome, to move forward with an amount of uncertainty. What we are doing requires us to go at a certain rate of momentum and that brings a bit of ambiguity. And that is the point of where we really learn. Because the world can't afford for you and I to sit around until our plans are perfect.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Meet The Mega Region

You've undoubtedly heard of the mega-city, especially if you are a regular reader. Now, faithful reader, I introduce you to the mega-region.
Mega-regions are integrated sets of cities and their surrounding suburban hinterlands across which labor and capital can be reallocated at very low cost. The 40 that we will identify here all have economies on the scale of $100 billion or more. Similarly, the 40th largest nation in terms of GDP also has an economy of about $100 billion.
The mega-regions of today perform functions that are somewhat similar to those of the great cities of the past - massing together talent, productive capability, innovation and markets. But they do this on a far larger scale. Furthermore, while cities in the past were part of national systems, globalization has exposed them to world-wide competition. As the distribution of economic activity has gone global, the city-system has also become global - meaning that cities compete now on a global terrain. Urban mega-regions are coming to relate to the global economy in much the same way that metropolitan regions relate to national economies.
Unlike mega-cities, which are termed as such simply for the size of their populations, mega-regions are by definition places that claim large populations, large markets, significant economic capacity, substantial innovative activity, and highly skilled talent.
If we take the largest mega-regions in terms of population, the world's 10 biggest are home to roughly 666 million people or 10.5 percent of world population; the top 20 comprise close to 1.1 billion people, 17 percent of the world total; while the top 40 are home to 1.5 billion people, 23 percent of global population.
- Richard Florida, Who's Your City? : How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Before the Bridge

While driving to CT for the SPACE Winter Expedition this past January, we watched the film "The Guardian." If you've seen the movie, you know it's a modern day paradigm for rescuing the lost [So Others May Live.] Sacrifice is also one of the themes in the movie and as we drove over The Tappan Zee bridge, we discussed the question, "how much would you sacrifice for someone else? " I mentioned the story of Daniel Santos, who jumped off the bridge after a woman who tried to commit suicide, jumping 140 feet into the Hudson River. [When I told the story, I got the height of the bridge wrong.]

Just last week, two people jumped off the bridge to commit suicide, within one hour of each other. Both died at the scene.

"So far nothing has helped make it [the bridge] less alluring to would-be suicides. Four suicide hot line telephones were installed last year, on both ends of the bridge. None have been used."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Only 1 Hour?

"I tell my staff if they are not praying for an hour a day about their ministries to let me know and I will hire someone who will." – Francis Chan

Friday, April 04, 2008


D and I have been pondering our context of a "megachurch" for a long while now. Sam Metcalf's post Megachurches reminded me again of some of our thinking.

+ A megachurch is defined as a church having around 2,000 people for worship in a typical week.
+ Megachurches represent one half of one percent of all religious congregations in the United States.
+ There are 1250 megachurches out of 320,000 Christian congregations, comprising 4.5 million attendees every week.
+ Only about 30% of the North American population is within reach of the institutional/traditional/attractional church and an even smaller percentage of that would ever meaningfully connect with a megachurch. [- Alan Hirsch]

If you are a part of SPACE, the above describes your context too. With that, there are some things that we can do that other churches cannot do. This summer is a good example - over 30 leaders, over 100 students, a projected budget of over $150,000 - larger than the average church in America.

You also should know:
+ your church experience is very, very unique.
+ it's so unique that other expressions of Church may seem really odd to you, but are in fact, just as valid.
+ when you leave SPACE, you won't find another Grace Community Church. Instead, your experience in researching, finding and being involved in a new community will be enlightening, stretching and very healthy.
+ The 30% reachability threshold mentioned above is troubling. But it doesn't mean you have to accept it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday RocketFuel

::: Paris or London
via The Where Blog

::: Steve Jobs on
focus, finding talent and planning
via The Practice of Leadership

::: What Every American Should Know About the Middle East
via Kottke

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Global Poverty Tidbits

I picked up this series of articles about ending global poverty somewhere. Below are some of the interesting tidbits. If these interest you too, make sure to check out the whole series of articles.

:: In 1981, 1.5 billion people survived on less than $1 a day, according to World Bank household surveys. By 2001, that number had dropped 27 percent, to just over 1 billion. That means well over 400 million people no longer face the lethal burden of extreme poverty.

:: While humanitarian assistance has saved millions, consider this startling conclusion from a recent study by the Center for Global Development: When aid rises to 8 percent of a recipient nation's gross domestic product, it has zero effect on economic growth. Above that, it has a negative effect.

:: The world's richest 500 individuals have the same income as the poorest half-billion.

:: Change from within must be driven by brave people in the country, to assure the relevance, acceptance, and success of any assistance or reform.

:: Abolishing all barriers to trade in goods and services could increase global income by $2.8 trillion and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015, according to a 2002 World Bank statement.

:: From 1981 to 2001, 400 million people there lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. Their numbers as a share of population fell from 53 to just 8 percent. Effectively, 80 percent of the world's progress in ending abject poverty has happened in China, independent of foreign aid.

[Related - my series of notes from The End of Poverty.]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

State of Christianity - 2008

The State of Christianity, a yearly run of statistics from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. For those of you that love data, this should make your week.

See the 2008 one page report here. Below are some of the fun ones I've been tracking [although I'm missing some of the years.]

Global Population:
1900 - 1,619,625,000
1970 - 3,692,495,000
2000 - 6,070,581,000
2005 - 6,453,628,000
2006 - 6,529,426,000
2008 - 6,691,484,000

Urban dwellers
1900 - 232,695,000
1970 - 1,362,295,000
2000 - 2,878,861,000
2005 - 3,158,016,000
2006 - 3,252,255,000
2008 - 3,368,561,000

1900 - 777,475,000
1970 - 836,256,000
2000 - 990,317,000
2005 - 1,078,271,000
2006 - 1,095,879,000
2008 - 1,094,278,000

Metropolises (over 100,000 population)
1900 - 300
1970 - 2,400
2000 - 4,050
2005 - 4,500
2006 - 4,500
2008 - 4,700

Megacities (over 1 million population)
1900 - 20
1970 - 161
2000 - 402
2005 - 440
2006 - 450
2008 - 470

Urban poor
1900 - 100 million
1970 - 650 million
2000 - 1,400 million
2006 - 1,680 million
2008 - 1,790 million

Urban slumdwellers
1900 - 20 million
1970 - 260 million
2000 - 700 million
2005 - 830 million
2006 - 850 million
2008 - 910 million

Average Christian martyrs per year
1900 - 34,400
1970 - 377,000
2000 - 160,000
2005 - 169,000
2008 - 175,000

Unevangelized population
1900 - 879,672,000
1970 - 1,638,575,000
2000 - 1,722,254,000
2008 - 1,871,208,000

Unevangelized as % of world
1900 - 54.3
1970 - 44.3
2000 - 28.3
2008 - 28.0