Friday, November 28, 2008


This Thanksgiving, I'm starting to understand that I'm really thankful for influence. I'm thankful that God has blessed me with the enormous responsibility and privilege to influence a few. Of course, that starts at home. What a gift and experience to be able to mold and shape two of God's most abundant blessings - my two daughters. At many times, it's overwhelming and thinking about it for too long can drive a person crazy - all of that responsibility. But it is what it is - and I'm convinced that my kids are meant for great destinys with the backdrop of an epic story and a role that only they can play. And my role as a dad, and our role as parents, is unique in the same way

I'm also thankful for D and her influence. Not only the way that she thinks, communicates and her intuition - all huge elements of direction. But I'm thankful that she is a true patron of influence. In the same way that history refers to 'patron saints' - those that intercede or advocate for others - D has been a huge advocate for those with influence - especially me. When it comes to activities, learnings or people that will sharpen our [you and me] influence, she is our biggest fan and the investment and sacrifice is always worth it. She truly sees far and away - molding the right people now to have more influence later takes seeing life through a special lens.

Finally, I'm thankful for you - the others outside of our family that have given us enormous gifts of trust. For our friends in SPACE, readers of this blog and others within our realm of community, I'm grateful for you, your willingness to listen and learn, to ask for guidance, to be open to being led, to being a part of God's great story. Like my kids, having your trust in me for guidance, advice and inspiration is huge. But believe me when I say that I trust you all the more.... trusting that you will make a mark in human history. Trusting that the future will be different because of you - for that, I'm so thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

College Currents

We've had a great time over the past weekend catching up with some of our students who have left the nest to go away to uni. Here's some currents:

- TriciaB - 08 - high school small group girls leader, involved in Cru and got connected with the Traveling Team.
- LeslieB - 05 - leading an all girls mission team to SF in the Spring.
- ESunde - 06 - serving as an RA in an international dorm, spending the Spring semester at the Sorbonne in Paris.
- MKlassen - 08 - added Urban Development to her Econ major so she can practically learn how to serve the least, connected at school with a personal discipler [sounds corny unless you are into guiding and mentoring - wait still sounds a bit corny.]

If you know any of them, you probably agree - this is going to get even more fun.

Try This - Global Orbit

Does your church have an extended piece of your community living intentionally in another part of the world?
Does your student/college ministry have two or three very mature students interested in global missions, culture and mission that have participated in some level of cultural engagement, spiritual formation and are well prepared to contribute to your community on a global scale?

If so, send these students on a global orbit.

- Two or three students - mini team.
- Two or three weeks at a specific location serving with a family/team from your community.
- Depending on logistics, two or three specific locations - meaning about 6-9 weeks total. Or more. Do a subset of your global partners. In a few years, do it again with another group of partners.
- You are sending a piece of your local community to serve and bless the part of your global community that have left home to reach those that aren't reached yet.
- Intention of students are to serve and learn as much as they can. They don't do this unless they are willing to give their lives away. This is not summer camp.
- Part of participating is within three weeks of return: a detailed written report to your leadership [pastors, elders, mission board, etc.] and presentation to your body, both about their experience, what is happening at each global site and what their intention is for the future.
- These reports should also include: what is working well and not working at all, how the local culture is important, what measurements define success.
- Check into round the world flights. Have one dedicated person at home to help with logistics issues meaning they are prepared with Skype, text messaging, direct line to a travel agency and love to be woken up in the middle of the night to hear from some young people that are experience life to the fullest.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another Core Score

In a previous life [SPACE], I felt it was important to measure two things. [And I hoped that the people that we brought on as leaders understood why these were essential.]

1 - How many people come back to serve out of their natural inclination after an experience we had provided?

2 - How many leaders returned?

Inspired by this post, I think there might need to be a third core score.
3 - Which leaders are creating leaders and how many are they creating?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Book Review - The Truth About You

The Truth About You is Marcus Buckingham's latest book. If you didn't know already, I'm a huge Marcus fan. His ideas about strengths have continually helped me try to shape more effective teams and his book The One Thing You Need to Know still stands out to me as one of the best leadership books that I have ever read. The Truth About You is a quick, short read that encapsulates more ideas about 'playing to your strengths' in a way that is concise, easily readable and multi-dimensional.

One dimension included in this book is a DVD of Marcus talking for about 20 minutes through the concepts. I made my kids sit and watch this - my ten year old mostly listened and my seven year old played Polly Pockets. Well, you can't win them all.

Another dimension included is the "ReMemo Pad" which serves as a hands-on journal for the reader to jot down reactions to every day tasks. What did you love and what did you hate and why? And what does that mean in terms of your passions, talents and strengths?

There were three ideas from the book that stood out to me:
- Push yourself within your comfort zone.
Strengths are your comfort zone - where you have the greatest capacity to learn and grow.
- Key question: What will I be paid to do?
And then ask yourself: Can I see myself doing these actual activities and How can I use my three strengths to get this job done?
- The best teams have lots of I's in them.
Lots of individuals that know their strengths and volunteer these strengths to the team.

This book seems ideally suited for a young person, perhaps a high school or college student on the verge of big life impact decisions. Most of the material will get you thinking about yourself and the life you intend to live. Although not very deep, the insights in this book also have value if you are a seasoned leader. Some of the ideas may spur you on to be more intentional with how you build teams, how you measure your work or helping a person you work with refine their calling.

[I received this book via the Thomas Nelson book review bloggers program.]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

D-Plum dot org

I had lunch with Darren Plummer yesterday. Darren is the lead pastor of Mosaic Community Church in College Park, MD [that's him on the left.] They have been in existence for about 18 months and there is some neat stuff going on there.

It was fun to share about our mutual connections and influences and Darren's got a sharp focus on the gift of diversity, reproducing the committed and growing a community in a college town. If you are in the area, you should check them out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's been about two months since I stepped down from SPACE and I'm happy to report that it's been a good time. I've certainly missed the SPACE persona - the one about responsibility and leading and a community of wonderful students. But overall, not too much has changed about that since our relationships with these people transcend a formal 'ministry.'

The past few months have also included some evaluation. I've posted a bit about that before. What I haven't written about before is our wrestling with the question of our particular local church and whether we think it's the right fit for us anymore. That is a tough question to ask - it's also tough to tell people you are even asking that question. After investing the past 11 years at GCC, the past five with SPACE and four before that with a small group of high school boyz, and now having our own personal kids who are almost old enough to be in the middle school ministry, walking away from this kind of community will never be easy. However, we'd like to think that we are committed to being fully engaged. Walking away from something you don't believe in any more would be better than just attending. If you don't believe in it, you can certainly still show up - and part of you will die in the process.

In God's really funny sense of humor, around the same time I stepped down from SPACE, I was invited, with a group of other young men, to be a part of a GCC elder intern experiment. The experiment lasts for one year and is a chance to see if serving on the elder team is a good fit for the specific young men as well as the existing team. At the end of the year, either party can choose to decline. And of course, it would be a mistake to join something like that if you don't feel called to your particular community. So on to it - I've signed up - and yes, I'm probably as surprised as you are. Instead of many good opportunities to be involved in next - an IMN cohort, pursue an MAGL [way too much work], Vision Trekk guide, start a nonprofit, volunteer efforts for a mission agency [and some of these might get done anyway], there it is. In fact, I'm pretty sure some of the missions coaching [very similar to this past weekend at Salisbury Cru] will still continue because well... that's pretty essential to me.

I suspect it will be a cool opportunity to use some of my experience, talents and passion for leadership for our community. The nice thing is that it is an experiment or trial. Other than that, I have no idea what I'm getting myself into [like what's new about that...]

What I do know is that for all of her faults, for all the things many of us hate about the sterile, irrelevant, country club idea of "church", for the crisis the American church is currently in, I still believe that the Church is worth serving, leading and sacrificing for. And for that battle - for the essence of what God intends GCC to become - I'm all in.

Salisbury Cru = Plan A

We had a great time with Salisbury Cru this past weekend. Major highlights include sharing with them at Thursday large group, doing a quick MBTI and global culture workshop on Friday evening and serving at a local soup kitchen with them on Saturday morning.

Here's a quick list of what I learned or was reminded about again:
+ Salisbury Cru knows how to worship.
+ College students are far more well versed in community impact than we think sometimes. Every person that went to the soup kitchen with us on Saturday had done something like this before.
+ Community sometimes develops best when you and your friends serve someone besides yourselves.

I also learned that sometimes, Plan A actually works out. With no plan, we broke in to a church kitchen [literally] on Saturday morning and were immediately put to work. Not only that, JMoy got connected with Salisbury Urban Ministries, which serves around 600 families every month, within 10 minutes of the university. And I think D is right - JMoy might be anointed.

We had a great time as a family too, exploring Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach and all things beach - skeeball, funnel cakes and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Photo: The team after managing to get into the church kitchen.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Try This - Party at the Laundromat

lots of quarters
washing detergent
dryer sheets
good attitudes

live band
disco ball
[you make up the rest...]

What: throw a huge party at your local laundromat. Invite those that are less fortunate to bring their clothes so that you and your team can wash them one evening at no charge to them. This might mean washing clothes of homeless people. Enjoy getting to know them and having fun while you work.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The 27 Percent

27% of the world's population is currently 15 years old and under, most of them living outside of the US. And doing things that we couldn't ever imagine the teenagers we know doing.

Things like farming to make a living or caring for numerous younger siblings because both of their parents have died or being kidnapped to fight in wars and rumors of wars or doing the unspeakable because a 200 year old family debt cannot be paid off. Doing whatever it takes to simply survive.

Instead, here in the Western world, we coddle our adolescents. We make excuses for them, we frame them in tiny stories, we believe the minimum about them. We don't think they have what it takes. We set a standard that is negative.

God, we need to be forgiven.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Salisbury This Weekend

We're off to hang with Salisbury Campus Crusade this weekend. I'm speaking at their large group on Thursday evening, doing an informal mission workshop on Friday and participating with them in some kind of service project on Saturday. Salisbury has historically been a very catalytic environment for a lot of college students that we know and it will be neat to see it first hand.

It should be a lot of fun - they are putting us up in a hotel with a pool and we'll have to go to the beach and eat Tony's Pizza. Too bad Funland is closed for the season. But at least, we'll get D near the water and sand....

[Photo via mmahaffie]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Burn

::: Flu Trends
Now I'll have enough time to stock up and food and water in my basement. Again...

::: The first malaria vaccine
Link via FP

::: IJM Institute's blog
look specifically at the "Global Neighborhood News" posts. That's fun!
Link via Ben Arment

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do You Really Like Checklists?

Transition plans suffocate a framework. If you have a program and a key leader leaves, you need a transition plan. You need something telling certain people to do certain things. Checklists that are measured and accurate.

Instead, a framework provides markers to navigate with. It's not exact nor is it always predictable. Most of the time it's contextually driven and it will usually force your team to be more engaged.

The choice is yours. And you still have time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

5 Questions about Cultural Goods

1. What does this cultural good assume about the way the world is? What part of the world is it trying to add to, build upon, or improve upon? What existing cultural goods does it rely upon for its own existence?

2. What does this cultural good assume about the way the world should be? What values drove its creators?

3. What does this cultural good make possible?

4. What does this cultural good make impossible, or at least a lot more difficult?

5. Finally, what new cultural goods are created in response? That is, now that this good is in the world, what will people go on to create that they wouldn’t have before?
From Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, Andy Crouch

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Burn

::: Competition for resources or increasing the size of the pie
We've seen an unprecedented growth in global wealth in the last two decades: there are currently 95,000 ultra-high net worth individuals in the world – people with $30 million or more of investable assets. On top of that, there are more than $60 trillion worth of investment assets in the market today, with an increasing amount of this money thinking more long-term about the big problems facing the world: energy and water scarcity, greenhouse gases, global commodity shortages, healthcare and education delivery, poverty alleviation…you name it.
Link from Seth Godin

::: The World's Youngest Leaders
Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (Feb. 21, 1980)
Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (June 8, 1972)
The DRC's President Joseph Kabila (June 4, 1971)
Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (Aug. 31, 1970)
Nauru's President Marcus Stephen (Oct. 1, 1969)
Swaziland's King Mswati III (April 19, 1968)
Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili (Dec. 21, 1967)
Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe (June 6, 1966)
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev (May 5, 1966)
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (Sept. 14, 1965
Just so you know, I'm about the same age as the president of Nauru. And up until now, I had never heard of Nauru before...

::: Find the other side of the world

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What I'm Reading

I figured out that I hadn't really read a book from March until September. That's a pretty disturbing trend since I really believe that leaders are readers. Luckily, I've been picking up a lot of books recently. Here's my reading of late:

+ The Seven Habits of Effective Families
+ Culture Making
+ Wild Goose Chase
+ Type Talk
+ The Shack
+ Three Cups of Tea
+ Uprising [again]
+ More Than Me [SPACE 2005 Brasil host GMcM is one of the authors]

Monday, November 03, 2008

Try This - Reverse Missions

What: Host a team in your local community. Put your experience, connections and network to use by playing mission host to partner team.

Once you've got some partnerships and trust going with other organizations, ministries, etc. you can pull this off. Instead of your team going, have your team host. Host homes, tour of the local sights, serving with local, indigenous ministries in your community [this might take some heavy lifting to get off the ground, but you can do it.]
The Columbia, MD plan looked something like: DC for a few days - serving with local ministry friends, NYC for a few days including visits with a few ethnic churches and serving with some friends up there.
This might actually require an even greater amount of involvement and engagement from your team than if you went somewhere. You'll also understand first hand what an enormous job it is to host teams. That's always a good experience.