Friday, October 30, 2009

Reconciling - All People and All Things

Here's my contribution to the daily email that Grace is doing as part of the Beyond series.
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time."
1 Timothy 2:1-6

God's dream is certainly the redemption of all people, but maybe His dream includes more. This isn't necessarily rocket science. God wants every person to be reconciled with Him. The redemption of every person is at the heart of who God is. Past, present, future, He has not forgotten about anyone. It's reassuring for us isn't it? Not to mention, the confidence booster of knowing that our god isn't some sort of deity who decides based on behavior or achievement.

But there is one thing in the passage that is intriguing - why are we asked to pray specifically for those "in authority"? Could those in authority have something else to do with God's dream of every person? Are we missing something? Paul is imploring us to pray for those in charge - the judges, teachers, bosses, government officials. Perhaps God knows that they have sweeping impact. Their decisions empower or oppress, free or hinder, create great environments or create hell on earth. Families, teams, corporations, communities - values are influenced by those in authority, at least at the start.

Maybe God is also interested in the reconciliation of structures and systems. A team, a corporation, a type of government. A relationship, a community, a culture. Sure, maybe not foremost, but maybe this is part of what Paul means in Colossians when he mentions Jesus wanting to "reconcile to himself all things." When we ponder the large issues facing humanity today, issues like global poverty, the AIDS crisis, modern day slavery - we've got to be concerned with the individuals certainly. But solving many of these problems require a multi-faceted view of both the individuals and the structures that coalesce to bring humanity to it's knees. Solving global poverty must involve feeding people as well as food delivery systems. Freeing modern day slaves often requires solving issues of local government and law enforcement corruption as well as follow up with released slaves. Seemingly tangential, could those systems also point to redemption? I think yes.

I think God's dream for all of humanity includes every person - people are great illustrations for reconciliation. But the redemption of all things - now that is a God sized dream.

For reflection:
Look up the term "redemptive analogy."
Could there be a story in your background that is one?
What structures or systems helped model reconciliation?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Burn

::: A Language Map of Europe
Like people groups, not limited to geopolitical borders.

::: MTV Sticky
Youth Culture, Trends and Insight

::: Teenager starts a nonprofit
Raised nearly $40,000 and she's 14.
Link via @decart

Monday, October 26, 2009

Find The Bride

Shane Bennett, missions catalyst for Frontiers, was at Grace this past Sunday, kicking off the second segment in our Beyond series [reach across the world]. He shared a fascinating paradigm for missions from Genesis 24 that he termed "Find The Bride." Fascinating in that the concepts include the servant being blessed, the bride and her family being blessed and, of course, the groom being blessed. Check out the video entitled "A Thousand Questions." He also ran a short workshop Sunday evening for those that wanted to get more involved in global missions and cross cultural experiences - incredibly practical stuff like reached vs. unreached, THUMB, and dreaming big dreams. [See AR's notes.]

I was fortunate enough to hang with Shane all afternoon giving him a quick tour of some of the monuments in DC. I'm left with more questions and reminders from our amazing conversation, like:
+ I've wanted a church to look as close as it can to a missions org, especially in the view of mobilization. Maybe that's an unfair expectation.
+ Perhaps the individual's call to a cross cultural experience needs to fold in to God's call for their local church.
+ The "problem" of lots of people hearing God's voice to start a new ministry or serve somewhere around the world is universal. And when we say "problem", it's a good one to have.
+ Regardless of where God motivates you, we still need you at your very best. Do your homework. Get some training. Find or create a solid team.
+ A tight amount of control won't help us complete the task.

Thanks again Shane - excited to watch how your investment in Grace will multiply. Find him on twitter here.

[Photo: Shane, me and AR, one of the Ember interns.]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ember's Newest Guide

Overjoyed to tell you about The Ember Cast's newest guide - @trevinhoekzema. Trev has traveled around the world spending significant time in mission environments, including England, Hungary, Cameroon and Belgium. He understands student ministry, has proven third culture leadership experience and loves to see students empowered to live big lives - all the elements we look for. During the last year of my tenure with SPACE, Trevin was one of the ones we purposely erupted from student into leader.

He's got big plans for this coming summer [I'll let him tell you about that...] and Ember will both benefit from his experience as well as enable him to execute on some of his own dreams. Welcome Trev.

If you or someone you know could use some help around the intersection of student missions, global cultures and leadership development, get in touch.

[Photo: Trev with the ladies and me - NYC, January 2008.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

100% To The Field

Lots of people are talking about Charity:Water of late and after getting more exposed to them from The Idea Camp, I've been watching them closely too. Absolutely love their mission and vision, but even more than that, I love their audacity. If you are going to change the world, like in their case of providing clean water for EVERY person on the planet, you've got to be out of your mind.

Lots of other things to be impressed with them - their use of social media [twitter], design as a core value, and their use of technology [tracking projects real time via google earth].

But I think the biggest thing is their ability to give 100% of their donations to water well projects. Read that again - 100% to projects. Nonprofits, missions organizations, and churches: you should really be rethinking the notion of administrative costs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Burn

::: Global Poverty and That Time of the Month
I'm totally surprised that conversations about global poverty don't include the topic of menstruation. [Wow, I actually wrote that...] This article also reminds me The Girl Effect - the profound impact made on poverty, families and communities when girls are given opportunities.
Link via Steve Knight

::: Francis Chan and his gatherings
Chan's long-term plan involves building the church without having a building. Associate pastor Matt Moore says the experiment is a way to find out how the church can grow without the limits of a building.
Article also mentions Soma Communities where some partners of Ember have visited.

::: If you really want to scare us these days, forget bullets and focus on that force of evil which truly threatens to destroy the good life we share here in Walnut Hills: Bedbugs.
Bart - I can relate....

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Missions Paradigms

I'm convinced missions support paradigms don't just affect missionaries. They are insightful into how we view engagement with culture, leadership development pipelines and tolerance, or lack thereof, for innovation.

Here are three more that I've found intriguing. Granted, there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all and you probably won't agree with every piece of any of them. Nor should you. But in some cases, we need to tweak, redefine or reinvent the way we "support" those in our community that serve elsewhere.

Partnership - Old vs. New
+ Old world models of partnership orbit around dollars. New world models of partnership orbit around shared vision, shared work, shared resources, and shared strategy.
+ Old world models of partnership focus on individual undividable resources like a funding a salary for a pastor or missionary. New world models of partnership focus on universally dividable resources.

The Funding Advocate
The Bible tells us to give to those in vocational ministry, but nowhere in Scripture are the vocational workers told to go out and "raise support."

Missionaries as a Part of Church Staff
Within a mutually agreeable time frame, we will work to redefine our relationship with our active missionaries so that they will be considered as members of our church’s ministerial staff, except that they will be seconded to their various missionary organizations, other than during furloughs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Intern Field Trip to NCC

The interns and I took a field trip this weekend to the Union Station site of National Community Church, in DC. I've long been a fan of NCC - it's a vibrant and dynamic community that has a DNA of movement and innovation. Even more fun is having old friends who are part of the body there like my friend KellanD who you might remember from last May.

KellanD helps run their "In Service" ministry, which seeks to connect to the homeless population around Union Station by providing lunches on Sunday mornings and a Wednesday night dinner and gathering. As opposed to suburban-drive-by homeless experiences [I've done my share to facilitate tons of these] you see a real relational connection with the way NCC does this. One of the goals of this field trip was for the interns to see relational piece first hand.

NCC just learned of a huge change [updated - post from Batterson] in their operations earlier last week, so we got to hear Mark Batterson speak to their body in a pretty pivotal, vulnerable and exciting transition. Powerful message and fun to watch someone communicate in such transitional times.

Like Mark mentioned, leadership is not experienced in the classroom, it's experienced in transitions like this one. That advice and real time lessons in community and movement - that's a pretty good field trip.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Book Notes - Movements That Change The World

I've been reading Steve Addison's blog for years. So you might be able to imagine my excitement when I heard that he was writing a book. Movements That Change The World is the book and it's a compilation of Steve's lifetime of research in the areas of movements.

Detailing the five components that make up a movement, Steve expounds on clear examples of both modern and historical movements. He draws from a wide range of fantastic resources, including business [Built to Last], sociology [The Tipping Point], and spiritual leadership [The Shaping of Things to Come], all in the context of us both being a part of and creating new movements.

I appreciated two things from the book. First, anytime you talk about movements, you also talk about institutions and the battle between staying a movement or turning into an institution. Steve visits this topic in detail as he outlines historical movements and the lifespan of their vitality and effectiveness.

Secondly, I love the context in which Steve writes - he wants to enable movements of people to change the course of human history. As leaders, innovators and influencers, there are tons of actionable tips in this book.

PS - In addition to sending me a copy of the book, Steve was kind enough to write a guest post for a series on this blog a long time ago.

My notes are below with some commentary in [brackets].
The example of St. Patrick.

+ White-hot faith
Church history is not made by well-financed, well-resourced individuals and institutions. History is made by men and women of faith who have met with the living God.

In the next 150 years, 2158 Moravians volunteered to serve overseas. They went to the most remote, unfavorable, and neglected areas. This was something new in the expansion of Christianity: an entire Christian community - families as well as singles - devoted to world missions.

+ Commitment to a cause
Effective movements know who they are. They know their founding charism and safeguard it over time. Their methods may change, but the cause never does. A clear identity and agenda for change create a tension between the ideal promoted by a movement and current reality. Transformational change is the outcome of that tension. [If this reminds you of Built to Last, it should. Collins book is referenced quite a bit and that is a good thing.]

+ Contagious relationships
History has focused on the achievements of the leading figures of the early church. These apostles, prophets, teachers and evangelists played their part in knitting together a rapidly expanding movement, but they were the exception, not the rule. Overwhelmingly, early Christianity was not spread by "professionals" but by ordinary people whose names and deeds went unrecorded.

New religious movements fail when they become closed social networks. For continued exponential growth, a movement must maintain open relationships with outsiders, and it must also reach out into new, adjacent social networks.

Paganism is an inherently weaker faith because it accepts a variety of gods and beliefs. Only monotheism can generate the level of commitment to mobilize non-professionals in evangelism.

Judaism was also a monotheistic faith, but it never matched Christianity in reaching Gentiles. As a faith, it never fully escaped it's ethnic nature. [A concept about context and culture.]

Strength of weak ties
Growth can only continue if the movement remains a tight and open social network. [Must ask what the implications of this are to virtual social media.]

Neil (Cole) - person of peace, first domino principle. In the gospels the Samaritan woman at the well did not have a good reputation. Neither did the Garasene demoniac, but when their lives were turned around, they each became a witness to their community.

+ Rapid mobilization
Rolland Allen
- new converts immediately tell their story to those who know them
- from the beginning, evangelism is the work of those within the culture
- true doctrine results from true experience of the power of Christ rather than mere intellectual instruction. Heresies are not produced by ignorance but by the speculations of learned men.
- the church is self-supporting and provides for its own leaders and facilities

In the New Testament there is no distinction between 'clergy' and 'laity.' Every disciple of Christ is ordained for ministry.

+ Adaptive methods
Adaptive methods are just like soccer. They're simple, easy to learn, fun, contagious, adaptable, transferable and low cost.

Adaptive methods enable a movement to function in ways that suite its changing environment and its expansion into new fields. Movements that drift away from their core beliefs are always at risk, but so are movements that regard the way they currently function as sacred.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Everyone Now Read Along

One major task that the interns are going to be doing this year is, surprise!, doing a good bit of reading. You've heard it before - leaders are readers. So the goal of this component is to give them a good bit of reading about cultures, leadership, the current state of the world and all that stuff. [Yes, as self serving as it seems, my blog is required reading. But hey, you are here aren't you...]

This component also subtly takes advantage of a different kind of state of the world - how technology is connecting us. It's a level of connectedness that is unprecedented and for the interns, it means a ton of great information for free. The challenge then is to do something with that information - you know the whole given much, much will be expected. Because knowledge and awareness can be influence.

Feel free to follow along if you want. No guarantee that you are going to love all of it, but if you like this blog, you'll probably find something in there is compelling. And of course, like everything here, take what you want and use it in your context.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Notes - Find Your Strongest Life

Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

If you've read anything by Marcus before, you know to expect clearly stated issues, compelling examples and stories, detailed analysis and measurements and, of course, well defined action steps. Find Your Strongest Life is no different - it is 100 percent Buckingham.

I most appreciated the 10 myths about the lives of women, mostly because they were surprising and because I live with three of them. They will probably surprise you as well and of course, Marcus revisits them later in the book for some actionable followup. Like did you know most kids don't want more time with their working mothers? Instead, they want their moms to have less stress. So the solution is for moms to decide how to live a strong life.

There were two other behaviors that I thought were especially useful. The first was his acronym for SIGN - Successful, Instinctive Anticipation, Growing and Learning and Needs Fulfilled. Having been used to the strengths language, these all continue to give clear and accurate terms to living a life that is generative, transformative and influencing. The second behavior was what he refers to as "Catch and Cradle" - the selection, identification and engagement of intersecting life's moments with your strengths.

Although I didn't get to the Strong Life Test - which I'm sure is very valuable - I can tell you that as a fan of Buckingham's other works, this is just as good. Strengths, talents, engagement, clarity, imbalance - classic Buckingham with a good bit of revelation into women - what man couldn't use that?