Friday, February 27, 2009

Florida in the Winter

The title of this post makes me sound like an old retired fart huh. Instead, Florida in the winter has found itself to be an epicenter of growth. I don't venture to Florida every single winter, but it's been pretty close lately [2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.] The number one reason is because I'm fairly serious about my own growth and development. [The number two reason is to combine it with some family time - you know WDW, etc.]

If you are serious about your leadership, you will seek out environments and catalysts for your own growth. It can be books that you read, conferences that you attend, resources on the Internet, or relationships that sharpen you. But in the end, leaders are learners and they hold themselves exclusively responsible for their own development. Your personal growth is not up to your pastor, church, company, boss or mentor.

I'm fortunate - our family has an almost unlimited go-for-it policy when it comes to leadership growth experiences. We fund it, make time for it, expect it and although it makes for juggling and saying no to other things, it's almost always worth it.

In the end, no one looks out for your growth but you. Oh, and you can be confident that if you are intentional about your own development, that gets noticed too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now We Know

Probably like you, I've had some really fun interactions with old, and I mean OLD, relationships via social media. Like getting in touch with friends from elementary school over Facebook - meaning I haven't seen them in [gulp] 30 years. Surreal.

The other set of interesting interactions have been with former students in youth ministries that I was involved in. It's been a lot of fun to be back in touch, to see what they are up to and to see pictures of them, their interests and their families. But most interesting to me is the fact that now we know.

Now we know whether our efforts were successful or not. Some cases will be cause for great celebration, others not so much. This kind of relevant data begs an opportunity for change and improvement. If we still influence students, it's not too late to change - you now have proof. And of course, sometimes we still must, as the Russian proverb says, "Pray to God, but keep rowing to shore."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Burn

::: Are we about to eliminate AIDS?
So if everyone with HIV were on therapy, there would be little or no transmission. Once all these people had died, of whatever cause, the virus would be gone for good.

::: Drug giant pledges cheap medicine for the world's poor
In a major change of strategy, the new head of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, has told the Guardian he will slash prices on all medicines in the poorest countries, give back profits to be spent on hospitals and clinics and – most ground-breaking of all – share knowledge about potential drugs that are currently protected by patents.
Link via Ethan Zimmerman

::: Billions of Earths
There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy.
What are the implications of that for influence, culture and leadership?

::: The ONE Sermon Challenge
From The One Campaign, an online collection of sermons [from various "religions"] related to global poverty and preventable disease.

Monday, February 16, 2009


If you are a regular reader here, I owe you. I owe you for your time and for your attention. But even more, I owe you for your heart in this. Your investment here, even if it's just reading, is a big deal. So thanks. Thanks for being a part of it - the fight for the future.

If you are a regular and I don't know who you are, let me encourage you to leave a comment [or drop an email.] Would love to know who you are. Because we do this together. If I do know you, for fun, you can leave a comment too.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Some enterprising people at Grace have started a social networking site for people in our church. If you are a part of Grace, click here to join. D and I have been bouncing some related thoughts around, like:

+ How much social media can ordinary people maintain?
+ What's the fine balance between a culture that is becoming more tribal and maintaining these kinds of affinity groups online?
+ Should our efforts in creating community move people away from open sets to closed sets? [ie - come join my social network which inherently separates you from all your other friends that I don't know - facebook to a church site]
+ The definition of friend is going to sway based on the context. On this site, aren't they all my friends?

All that to say, I think it's a cool idea and it will be fun to see how much momentum it gets. The site is built on, which is a platform that allows you to build your own social network site, based on whatever interest you choose. Long time readers might remember M, also built on, which is the latest creation from Marc Andressen, who created the first internet browser in the early 90s. [Yes, I used it.]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mission Hothouse

Of course, this is a draft....

The [name of some cool org or something] Hothouse is a one year mentorship focused on the concepts of global missions, world cultures and leadership development. Other core concepts include risk, multiplication, experimentation, long term perspective, catalytic behavior and the utilization of technology. The mentorship's goal is to spawn and multiply a community of high impact leaders from students who burn for the world.

Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of the mentorship, interns will have:
+ been well informed and equally inspired with regard to major issues surrounding global missions.
+ understood social dynamics as they relate to culture, worldviews and belief systems.
+ participated in a number of learning experiments involving creating community and mobilizing peers.
+ experimented with the art of catalytic leadership.
+ on site experiences with some of the leading practitioners for missional ministry in the Washington DC context.
+ gained an even greater passion for the world.

+ reading assignments will be done virtually.
+ small group discussions once every two weeks.
+ inherent use of technology include blogs, social networking sites, video chat venues.
+ one on site experiential experience once a month.
+ selected field observation assignments.
+ The context will be in the suburban Washington, DC area, with access to a myriad of suburban and urban ministry resources. Time requirements are estimated to be 30 hours per month.

Reading List:
Selected passages, The Bible
An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus
Waking the Dead, John Eldredge
The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch
Selected blogs on missiology, leadership development and global issues.
Welcoming input on this.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Burn

::: Texting as a part of youth church
Watching live stats roll in from a youth min using txtg for 1st time in a svc--over 90% participation. Wave of future - @dawnnicole

::: Innovation - Pipelines, Criteria and Mentors
From an even bigger perspective, whatever you are trying to change in the culture requires a pipeline.

::: What does creativity mean?
via Dan Pink

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

21st Century Prayer Walking

+ Strasbourg, France.
+ Google Earth.
+ Basic demographic information.
+ Identify locations of elementary schools; universities; houses of worship; occult establishments; areas of concentrations of immigrants; third spaces like parks, cafes, etc.
+ GPS unit, camera, geotagging.
+ Lots of walking.

Do you know your community even half this well?
Link via Mark van der Woude

Monday, February 09, 2009

Latest Kindling

A quick recap of what's up around here:

+ Our plans for the NYC weekend are shaping up. There has been a slight change of context - the majority of the team we are facilitating is not going on overseas teams later this year, so this ends up being kind of their mission experience, instead of a prep weekend. Not quite the same thing, but still going to be a cool weekend.
+ We are taking the Megabus to NYC. We got tickets for $9 per person on the way up and $18 per person on the way back. A seat in the front, please.
+ Last week, I met with two high school juniors that were on my SPACE Hungary 2008 team last summer. The purpose of our meeting was to outline a mentorship structure for their senior year next year. Very similar to what ESunde did her senior year, these guys will be getting school credit for external projects in the area of global Christian missions. Um, yeah, they go to public high schools.
+ Speaking of ESunde, she is in Paris for the semester.
+ LeslieB is running an all female missions trip to San Francisco later. She is doing this experiment.
+ I'll be doing some urban migration for the next few months. Jacksonville later this month, New York in March and Los Angeles in April. Well, maybe not JAX, that would be southern migration.

Friday, February 06, 2009

From Monday to Sunday

Of all the things cultures conserve most carefully - of all that they are most committed to cultivating - among the most important are ritual and time. For several thousand years, in the midst of a bewildering variety of geographic locations and civilizations - even as their own language and cultural practices changed in myriad ways - the Jews have never forgotten which day is the sabbath. The observance of the sabbath is written into the Ten Commandments as the story of creation itself and was sustained in Jesus' time, as it is now, as a profoundly countercultural act with little or no support from the surrounding society. And yet, within a few years of Jesus' death, we have clear evidence (from Luke, Paul, and John in the biblical canon, and from writers like Ignatius just a few decades later) of a group of largely or exclusively Jewish believers, living within sight of the temple no less, who have shifted their primary day of worship from the seventh to the first.
To grasp the cultural significance of this, imagine leaving the United States for a decade or so and returning to find that while the wider society continued to get up on Monday and go to work and school, a substantial number of churches left their buildings dark on Sunday and gathered for worship on Monday instead - perhaps getting up before dawn to do so, perhaps gathering after the work day was done, perhaps skipping work altogether - and, for good measure, now called Monday, "the Lord's day." You would conclude that something absolutely extraordinary must have happened - or at least that they believed something extraordinary had happened.
- Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday Burn

::: Quote of the month
"Give me a lever and a place to stand, and I can move the Earth." – attributed to the Greek mathematician Archimedes via @ellmcgirt [Fast Company senior writer - note the '@' sign refers to a twitter feed.]

::: The 2009 World Watch List
Which countries have the most religious oppression and persecution.
Link via @CTmagazine [Christianity Today on twitter]

::: The leadership of the emerging Church is not a perpetually 29-year-old blond male with a goatee.
Link via Lon

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

This Funeral Makes Me Mad

I'm going a funeral later today and, not that you are ever truly happy about going to one, but I'm angry.

I'm angry because the message of the redemption of mankind that so many of us try to live is not getting through. It is irrelevant to a whole generation of people in our world. And it was a complete miss to this young girl's reality. This ought to make all of us mad enough to act.

So whatever it is that we [you and I] do, whether it's guiding or coaching, or funding and sending, or coercing others to risk so they can grow, whatever it is, we better make damn sure that we are engaging those younger than us. For however passionate we are, it needs to burn in their hearts all the more.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Book Notes - Two Views on

Women In Ministry - Belleville, Blomberg, Keener and Schreiner.

Three quick things before the notes [which are not very detailed.]
1 - If this topic interests you, this is the book to read.
2 - I realize this is quite a controversial topic.
3 - You'll have to come to your own conclusions.

1. Egalitarian - Belleville
+ Male-Female Relationship - Gen 1-3
+ Gen 3:16 - gender dysfunction
+ women in leadership - gifting for ministry
women prophets - Miriam, Deborah, etc
a ministry that was exclusively female was that of mourning
women singled out as patrons of house churches in the NT
Jesus didn't have women in the 12 but had them in the 70. Knew that change could only go so deep at first.
I Tim 3:2 - husband of one wife - requirement for being an elder
... knowledge of the mores of a Greek city like Ephesus sheds important light. Greek married women simply were not prone to multiple marriages of illicit unions, while Greek men were. In fact, extramarital affairs were par for the Greek male but not tolerated for Greek women. Also, the divorce rate among Greek men rivaled ours today.

I Tim 2:12 - permit a women to teach or to have authority over a man
Paul had a corrective stance - false teachers - alarming scenario - congregational contention.
Suggesting that women were disrupting worship.

teaching in the NT was an activity not an office, every believer was called to do this, not merely church leaders.
Discussion about head versus source.
Jesus core of 12 were twelve _Jewish_ men. If one used the argument that women cannot be elders because Jesus didn't have women in the 12, what about non Jewish men?

order of creation - what about:
John the Baptist before Jesus
Jesus appearing to Mary before Peter
language of hierarchy does not appear in Paul's language

2. Complementarian - Blomberg
Jesus - inner core of three closest followers. Then come the 12. The come larger group - only in there were women.
...One can argue that to have a woman as Jesus' twelve closest followers would have proved too provocative in his world to gain any adherents for his movement and thus relegate this restriction on women to a merely cultural phenomenon. But in light of all the ways just surveyed that Jesus was willing to scandalize his society, is this argument really credible?

I Tim 2:12
exercise authority
the word 'teach' is used throughout the NT, the word normally translated 'exercise authority' is found nowhere else in Scripture and is quite rare in Greek literature more generally.
'authoritative teaching' connected to I Tim 3 - overseers and deacons. Only in his instructions for elders must candidates be 'able to teach' and only in his instructions for deacons do women appear.

male headship based upon order of creation - Adam first and then Eve.

++ Huge quote from the book:
Once you have decided as best as you understand it, what Scripture does permit women to do, can any reasonably objective observer of your church and your ministry quickly recognize you are bending over backwards to encourage and nurture women in these roles? If not, then you can't possibly be obeying Scripture adequately, even on your interpretation of it. Interestingly, over the years, I have had a number of outspoken egalitarian women, some of them well known in evangelical circles, confide in me privately and tell me that if complementarians would just do this much consistently, they could live with the remaining areas of disagreement and even stop lobbying for further privilege.

++ One final note - Ed Stetzer states that churches should make sure they have wrestled with this issue and have clear communications regarding it. He also cites research that says that "sixty-five percent of all of the younger unchurched said [knowing that the church did not endorse the ordination of women as pastors] would negatively impact their decision about getting involved."

Yeah.... go get the book.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Seven Years Later

In the middle of March, I'm traveling to New York City with a small team to facilitate some mission team training. The connection is via some friends who work with Christian Associates and it's a real privilege to help out in this kind of manner.

Our goals include the normal team preparation - helping the team learn to communicate clearly, see something different from the familiar, build a team identity, etc. We are also eager to help each person see their unique role on the team and for each person to experience valid but different expressions of Church. Overall though, this weekend serves to help jump start this team so they can continue to prepare well for their summer experience. For each segment of the weekend, we are providing some followup material to the leaders involved. This context requires leaders that understand not only the specific elements of leading teams in other cultures, it also requires leaders that understand how to be catalytic - how to give it away.

I'm delighted that KevGN and his wife KeelyN are on the team - you'll remember them from serving with the SPACE 08 Hungary team this past summer. Also joining me are JAB and FB - long time readers will remember them from the SPACE 05 Brasil team, before they were married. Each one of them has served in a leadership capacity in other cultures, they understand serving and they are super excited to be a catalyst for this team. It's plain awesome to serve with these four, whom I've worked with on separate occasions, but now all together at once. Extra bonus - Kev and Andy were in my small group when they were high school students.

Kev, Andy and I traveled to NYC with some other students in the summer of 2002, serving with a YWAM base. Seven years later, it gets even better.

Photo: Kev, me and Andy, NYC, 2002.