Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Burn

::: A letter from Bill Gates
Must read including these significant concepts:
- Population growth : Reducing the number of childhood deaths actually reduces population growth.
- Agricultural innovation : Almost every country that has become wealthy started with a huge increase in farming productivity.
- Context is important : In order to convince enough families to participate in the polio campaign, you need not only dedicated teams that track down all the children but also a clear message from political, tribal, and religious leaders that the vaccine is safe and should be taken.
- Do you know what a microbicide is?
- Monte Carlo Simulations and malaria vaccines
Link via Jeff Shinabarger

::: Manga Messiah
If you don't know what manga is, you should look it up.

::: Who is Tom Peter's #1 Entrepreneur?
Wendy Koop, who started Teach for America

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Masters in Transformational Leadership in DC

Over lunch in Union Station in December, D and I got some details first hand from JVD and his wife about Bethel Seminary's Masters in Transformational Leadership. Highlights include:

- degree program specifically based around people who are serving in ministry already - meaning that it's meant to be part-time while you do what you do.
- cohort based so that you get to learn and interact with people that are likely doing different but just as cool things around DC as well.
- based at Bethel's DC sateliite campus, housed at First Baptist of Glen Arden.
- this program starts for the first time here in DC in Fall of 2009.

If you or someone you know is interested, let me know and I can put you in touch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dream the Impossible

Have you seen this series from Honda called "Dream the Impossible"? If you haven't, you should. Two of my favorites include "Failure: The Secret of Success" and "Kick Out The Ladder." [via Brian Russell]

What about you - are you willing to kick out the ladder and fail to find success?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

7,000 hours

KevGN and I have been discussing this 10,000 hour principle from Gladwell's Outliers. Here are some thoughts:

- If you do something for a vocation, you can get there in about 5 years. 40 hours a week = 2000 hours a year = about 5 years.
- This means you really need to love what you do. And that's the rub - what is it that you want to do?
- I think I've got about 7,000 hours in this student missions thing.
- I've noticed that there were a few iterations related to significant milestones of hours. At 2000 hours, then again at 5000 hours, and now at 7000 hours, there were significant redefinitions of what I do. I wonder if other people have seen that pattern as well.
- Maybe an inherent part of being an expert is being able to reinvent what you do. Picture a commitment to the core yet a flexibility and insight to the culture and environment that you find yourself in.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Burn

::: Banned airlines
From the EU and from the FAA in the US
via FP Passport

::: Plans for Atheist Bus Campaign in Italy were shot to hell.

::: The State of Church Planting in North America
Link via Ed Stetzer

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What I'm Not Going to Miss

about SPACE.... And why not missing it is probably only temporary.

: Raising support.
I'm not going to miss the every-3rd-day pattern [in the spring and summer] of entering support, sorting and watching Excel magic with subtotals. But at some point, most apostolic leaders have to raise funds for their vision. And people wiser than me have made the observation that the ability to raise funding is usually an accurate barometer to overall success.

: Defining and redefining leadership.
It was an almost constant job to communicate what makes a leader. But not because we were so far off, but rather because we were very close. Slight nudges to the trajectory of current leaders make large swings in impact 500 years later. And when you have a leadership pipeline [because all catalytic leaders have these] investments in defining and redefining don't go away.

: Arranging, logistics, scheduling and coordination.
Calendars, schedules and depending on the number of people involved, a lot of moving parts. I'm not going to miss the level of complexity, especially from 2008, but am pretty sure the movement ethos of this will be back. It will be back eventually because the Gospel moves.

: Using someone else's bankroll to front funding a few of my optimistic experiments.
Ok - this one's probably gone for good. And I will miss it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Only 46 years

Abraham Lincoln : Martin Luther King Jr. : Bono : Barrack Obama

Oh. And you and I.

These are amazing times, I'm telling you.

Photo via earmuffboy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Try These

Want to try some student mission experiments? The ideas below were things that were bouncing around my head over the years as a coordinator of student missions. Feel free to use them to help you engage students, world cultures, global missions and leadership development.

: Female only missions trip
: Intersect little kids and students
: Global orbit
: Party at a Laundromat
: Reverse Missions
: Serving the Homeless
: Leadership - Urban Plunge
: Community Icons
: Culture Exchange

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spring Project

I'm helping facilitate a weekend project in NYC for some friends who are heading up a global missions initiative at their church. The keyword is facilitate since I want others to help me do it, we as a team want to train their team to do it themselves and 'top-down' is not the concept.

Planning at Pei-Wei is a great start. Tell you more about this later.

Wednesday Burn

::: American's default faith is not Christianity
via everyone and their mother

::: Global opportunities
Some hot jobs overseas from Fast Company

::: I'll never look at Wedgwood [the ceramics and crystal company] the same way
Link via Seth Godin

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Notes - Outliers

What can you say.... Gladwell.... These notes are for me, but you are welcome to them....

+ The Matthew Effect
Those who are successful are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunites that lead to further success.
Cutoff dates - inherently favoring those closer to the date especially in physical environments and also squandering half of the population of the same kinds of opportunities.
Outlier - freak, unpredictable, rise-from-the-ashes success story.
The Talented didn't start as outliers.

+ The 10,000 hours
The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researches have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
Bill Joy, Mozart, The Beatles [by the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1200 times,] Bill Gates.
Timing of getting 10,000 hours requires kids start young if they are going to be recruited in their field by the time they are young adults - think athletics.

+ The Trouble With Geniuses
IQ tests - convergence vs divergence test
Chris Langan
Practical intelligence
middle class parenting style "concerned cultivation" - foster and assess a child's talents, opinions and skills.
entitlement redefined - "acted as though they had a right to pursue their own individual preferences and to actively manage interactions in institutional settings... appeared to be acting on their own behalf to gain advantages... made special requests of teachers and doctors to adjust procedures to accommodate their desires."

+ Three Lessons from Joe Flom
1 - The Importance of Being Jewish
2 - Demographic Luck
3 - The Garment Industry and Meaningful Work
Autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward are the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

+ Harlan, KY
"culture of honor"
Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behaviors that we cannot make sense of our world without them.

+ Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes
The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.
"mitigated speech" - any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said. linguists found six levels of mitigation in flight crew conversation.
Planes are safer when the least experienced pilot is flying, because it means the second pilot isn't going to be afraid to speak up.
Combating mitigation has become one of the great crusades in commercial aviation in the past fifteen years.
Hofstede Dimensions - 5 dimensions
Power Distance Index - attitudes toward hierarchy, how much a particular culture values and respects authority.
Western communication has what linguists call a "transmitter orientation" - responsibility of the speaker to communicate ideas clearly and unambiguously.

+ Rice Paddies and Math Tests
Chinese number counting system - the difference means that Asian children learn to count much faster than American children.
Throughout history, the people who grow rice have always worked harder than almost any other kind of farmer - working in a rice field is ten to twenty times more labor-intensive than working on an equivalent-size corn or wheat field - wet rice farming is very exacting.
Chinese proverb - "No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." - indicative of the kind of mentality.
The TIMMS exam - pre-questionnaire of about 120 questions. Compare the questionaire rankings with the math test rankings country by country - they are exactly the same. Countries where the kids are willing to concentrate and focus on answering every single question in a questionnaire are the same countries where students do the best job at solving math problems.

+ Marita's Bargain
KIPP school
achievement gap is the results of things that happen during the school year as well as what happens during summer vacation - quantitative evidence of the benefits of school in the summer - keeps the momentum going through the summer.
The only problem with school for the kids who aren't achieving is that there isn't enough of it.

:: Environments matter. Holistic, big picture, anything but random.

:: Most well prepared people are intentional - 10,000 hours. Can't get this unless you are very disciplined.

:: How are we grooming those around us for success? It is in fact not random at all.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Distance Team Preps

Here is a rough outline of some of the phone chats and topics I've been diving into with this team leader for an overseas team departing in the late Spring.

#1 - overall, partnership, will host church be doing admin, sample application, recruiting the right people, mission trips are not reform school.
#2 - support raising, who will lead with you, uniting the team, travel logistics, backwards milestones based on time line, optimal team sizes, how you will say no to those that may not be a great team fit.
#3 - more support, using the MBTI, key goals for team preps [unity and ministry skills],
#4 - outline of the first official team meeting [which happened this past weekend] - overall project goals, partner goals, brainstorm your own personal goals, tracking and emphasis on support materials getting out, response cards.

More fun with this team soon.
[Related: Team Preps - The 3rd team meetings.]

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Em!

Happy birthday Em! Never let your affection for any kind of created creature - dogs, cats, lizards, fish, hermit crabs, etc. - stop making us pay attention to Who and Why.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Blessing Your Mission Team

Leader.... In five years, I had an amazing number of people serve and bless me in some extraordinary ways.

+ The missions board got a gift certificate to a nice restaurant for me and D as a Christmas gift.
+ The student ministry paid my way cross country to a conference.
+ Right after our family returned home from being overseas with a student team, two families brought us dinner. that was a god send.
+ The oh-so many thank you notes, cards and written affirmations.
+ Being asked to write recommendation letters, to be a mentor, to give counsel or advice.
+ Offers to do some of the legwork for getting a team ready, including shuttling students to vaccination appointments, running paperwork for foreign visas or purchasing materials/supplies.
+ Helping a certain leader vindicate himself from moving violations involving church vans. [Oh wait, no one did that... ;-)]

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday Burn

::: Could text messages save languages?
Link via Andy Crouch

::: Decaffeinated Belief
A recent visitor to our church's Sunday morning gathering told me "we really enjoyed the service." At which point I felt the urge to puke.

::: Content with too small a thing
Sometimes I sit on the hill surrounded by the city in which I live thinking of the gangs, the fatherless homes, the dominance of immorality and I think to myself, "It’s all just too much."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Book Notes - Organic Community

Organic Community - Joseph Myers [recommended to me by a CA staffer]

1. Organic Order - Synchronized Life - moving from master plan to organic order
master plan - community based on programming
organic order - community based on environment
This is not a call for "come what may" leadership and ministry. There is a difference between being organic and seeking organic order.
I like small groups. I question, however, the manner in which they are promoted and structured At their best, small groups supply an organic-ordered environment for some people in some seasons of their lives to grow their sense of healthy community and belonging. At their worst, small groups deliver a manufactured environment that is promoted for all people and for every season of life.

2. Patterns - spatial observation - moving from prescriptive to descriptive

3. Participation - responsible anarchy - moving from representative to individual
people participate as individuals not as teams or groups
people participate in a decentralized, local way
people participate with the whole of their lives
people participate in a way that is congruous with the way they are asked
the aggregate of participation becomes known as the team or group acts, thinks and makes decisions

People participate as individuals. They are interested in why they - specifically - are being asked. They want to know that you have chosen them first and foremost because of who they are, not to fulfill a strategic master plan.
"Why me?" comes from a deep desire to live beyond one's self. A person wants to contribute in concrete ways, possibly in ways that only he or she could.

4. Measurement - recalculating matters - moving from bottom line to story
Are the stats on the back of a baseball card the true means of discovering the great players among the good?
Reducing living organisms to a census count demeans the way we were created.
Kennon Callahan has coined a phrase: "persons served in mission." He suggests that when we provide our congregational "counts," we remember to count "persons served in mission," not just our members, attendees and former members. Might I add that by using the words "in mission," Ken is confirming that story is the measurement tool of community. Churches don't become legendary on the community grapevine via reporting of numbers. They become legendary through the sharing of their story of mission within the community.

5. Growth - progressive evolution - moving from bankrupt to sustainable
model for growth: large-lump vs. piecemeal
pattern for maintaining growth: incremental vs. quantum leap
bankruptcy vs. sustainability
Consider these questions before you launch your next initiative:
- How much of our future will this one thing control?
- Will this one thing that I'm planning deplete all or most of our resources?
- Will this one thing I'm planning consume all or most of the community's life?
- If what I'm planning fails, will it devastate the whole?
- If what I'm planning succeeds, will it devastate the whole?

6. Power - authority - moving from positional to revolving

7. Coordination - harmonized energy - moving from cooperation to collaboration
The spirit of cooperation is a rigid spirit, one that stifles creativity and discovery.
People are not primarily looking to cooperate with our plan for their lives.
Often when people talk about "being intentional" what they mean can be summed up with words such as purpose-driven, measurable, scientific, deliberate, planned, calculated or premeditated. The problem is that all of these words are rooted in assumed control, and community cannot be controlled with intention.

8. Partners - healthy alliances - moving from accountability to edit-ability
Accountants keep records. Editors wipe away errors while keeping the voice of the author.

9. Language - future lingo - moving from noun-centric to verb-centric
Almost all Internet language describes relational activity.
Ask yourself - What am I treating as noun that really is verb?

10. Resources - mining wherewithal - moving from scarcity to abundancy
The spirit of abundancy is a celebration of possibilities.
A better question for the church might be "What can the church do to assimilate itself into people's lives?" instead of "How can we assimilate people into the church's life?"

+ My observations...
:: Loved Chapter 3 on Participation - made me think a lot about how we invite people into serving or on teams. How many times do we neglect to answer "Why me?" when we invite someone.

:: Chapter 4 on Measurement - how does this change the core score that we keep? I think it expands what we measure.

:: Chapter 5 on Growth - really different way to think about growth and control and large-lump and I really appreciate the idea that new initiatives shouldn't be the all-in-all, aside from even talking about sustainable growth. And part of that is my disposition to not want to be in charge of "all if it."


The SPACE 2008 Hungary team, at a team reunion this past weekend.
Love 'em.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Try This - All Girls Mission Trip

What: Take just the females in your ministry on a missions trip.

Focus on:
- Getting the right context/goals/partners/hosts - a unique challenge for an all girls excursion.
- Like always, the right leaders driving the bus.

- Most likely, you'll have more girls interested in missions than guys - use this to your advantage and that will change in the next 3-5 years.
- High drama = high reward
- The girl effect - empower and catalyze a teenage girl for how the world could look different and then sit back and take notes.

[This idea originally implemented by my friend Praying Mantis.]

Friday, January 02, 2009

Catalyst West Coast

Just registered on Wednesday [the early bird fees] for Catalyst West Coast. There are three of us that are going together - MPM [who you readers know about] and GKlas [whose two daughters have traveled around with me via SPACE], one of the most entrepreneurial people you will ever meet. It's going to be a blast processing with these two.

The first day of the conference is what they are calling the Origins Lab day - a workshop/breakout day. This lab day is the combination of Catalyst and Mosaic staff, Origins in the past being Mosaic's leadership conference. I'm looking forward to this the most since Origins 2005 was such a watershed experience for me personally.

Below is some of the write up from the website. Let me know if you are going to be there too.
The Event:
Catalyst West is a gathering of 3,000 next generation leaders from all over the world for three days of teaching, worship and exploration of what's possible for the church. Catalyst is a revolution of ideas: here, you'll get permission to challenge the process and think unconventionally. Join a movement of influencers who are passionate about impacting their communities, their churches and their culture for Christ.

Who is coming:
Catalyst attracts the most influential leaders from ministries, non-profits and companies. These are the do-ers, influencers and cultural architects of the future who share your desires and dreams. These are people are hungry for new information and eager to share it. Who want to be inspired, challenged and engaged. Who come together to ask questions, and seek answers and experience lasting change.