Wednesday, September 30, 2009

25 Years of Inspiration from U2

I went to the U2 concert last night here in DC at Fed Ex field. Definitely one of those life list things. Amazing experience to be with 80,000 other people singing along.

The whole show reminded me of why I've been a fan of them my whole life - from finding solace in the spiritual overtones of their lyrics as a teenager [I had an album copy of The Unforgettable Fire], to being in awe of their global activism as a college student, to celebrating their innovation and reinvention over the years as a [sort of] middle aged person.

See the set list and one of my favorite moments in the show.

Thanks U2 for a lifetime, and more, of inspiration.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DC is whose parish?

I was invited to be on a team that is putting together a leadership event for DC. Working with any of them individually would be an amazing experience - these guys are each immensely talented individuals in their own right - church planters, team builders and connectors, visionaries. Working with all of them together is like living in another dimension.

I'll tell you who they are not because I'm name dropping but because I think you might be able to learn a great deal from them: @jsym, @bradrussell, @perrinrogers, and @josephdworak [those are all twitter ids by the way.]

Best part about them: even though each of them is deeply involved in their families, churches and communities, they individually and collectively see themselves as pastors to the Baltimore/DC area. You'll definitely hear more about this in the fall of 2010.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ember Cast on Ning

You might think I chose to have the Ember Cast's main web presence on Ning because I'm cheap. On the other hand, Ning allows you to build some social media components directly in to a web site - things like discussion forums, pictures and video, commenting and connecting. I've been pleasantly surprised at the level of interaction on the site already and it seems to me the days of static websites is over. Your website should have some level of community engagement as a part of it.

I and others have also wondered about asking people to join another social networking site. Between Facebook, Twitter, etc., how many of these are people really going to want to be a part of another one - along with the time they need to spend on keeping up. But I'm okay with asking people to be a part of this. Remember, Ember is a tribe - there is an inside and, consequently, an outside.

Then again, you are right, I am cheap. With the state of free web tools and global poverty, I'm hard pressed to pay for a website. And one of the guiding principles of Ember is that when we start raising support, we will give as much as we can to catalyzing students, not paying for websites.

Feel free to join if you are a regular reader of this blog. Just click "Fan" when you see that option.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Burn

::: Missions coaching tweets - #Entermission.
Granger and Rob Wegner probably do some of the best church-missions coaching out there.

::: City One Minutes
Observe 41 cities in one-minute snippets of street life. Link

::: It was the future that I could not accept.
William Kamkwamba, when looking at the empty fields of his family's farm in Malawai. He's the 14 year old who built a windmill from scrap. TED talk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

40 for 40

For turning 40 over the weekend, I took a picture every 30 minutes on my birthday, and then some. A great weekend of celebrating, the best parts had to be family, friends and the pinata.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Posts From the Interns

The interns officially started last week and with that, their blogs came alive. Check out the posts about our first reading from AR and JTimmons. So excited to see things start.

I'm loving the opportunity to have interns - it's like a huge stamp of permission to experiment, turn on the fire hose and give them everything that people have invested in me. The big challenge, constantly for me as well, is to make sure we act.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stunning Teammates

I love this presentation from NetFlix about their internal values, culture and DNA. If you work with any kinds of teams, you should at least give it a skim [128 pages.] There is a ton in there that I think we can learn about growing teams. Some highlights for me include:

+ Exhibit a bias to action. [thinking this phrase could also be from Scott Belsky?]
+ Paradigm of professional sports team, not family. High performance, super stars.
+ Total honesty between managers and employees - no surprises about performance.
+ In procedural work, the best are 2x better than average. In creative work, the best are 10x better than average.
+ Increase talent density faster than organizational complexity grows.
+ Rapid recovery - not error prevention - is the right model for creative-inventive markets [not medicine or manufacturing, etc.] Less focus on error prevention equals less process which frees the responsible.

In the end, I think they've got it right. Great workplaces equal stunning colleagues, or stunning teammates. Everyone wants to work with fantastic people on amazing teams.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Q and A with Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, found my little blog and offered to do a short Q and A on here for your lovely readers. You might remember my notes on the book here - seriously, the book is kick butt inspiration for dreaming and working towards your dream. Check out Steve's Writing for Wednesdays series - a ton more inspiration for the creatives [in other words, all of you.]

OK - onto the questions and answers...

1 – If you could narrow down one habit of action to beat the Resistance, what would it be?
When Steven Soderbergh won his Best Directing Oscar, this is what he said in his speech: "Here's to everybody who puts in even one hour a day pursuing their art and their dream." I second this completely. Action. Doing something every day, no matter how little. Momentum and steady progress. If you think about it, one hour a day 300 days a year equals almost eight weeks of work (a work day equaling 8 hours). That's not nothing. That's for real.

2 – On the surface, your book The War of Art seems to be targeted to artists, writers, painters. But my hunch is that there is some of that within all of us - a dream to create. Share a bit about your perspective about creativity being latent in every person and how people awaken that.
You're right, Tony. My original title for WOA was "The Writer's Life." I thought the ideas would apply only to writers. My editor changed it to "War of Art," trying to expand its applicability to all artists. But once the book got out and I started getting responses, I saw that even that was way too narrow. Entrepreneurs, moms, philanthropist, you name it ... creativity is across the board in all fields of endeavor and Resistance seems to rear its ugly head in all of them. The same principles of "turning pro" or any other method of overcoming this demon seem to apply to all.

3 – What would be one piece of advice you could give to students [college, high school, even younger] who are trying to find their true calling?
That's a great question, Tony. I can only answer it for me. That activity that elicits the most Resistance ... that's the one that's our true calling. The thing that scares the living bejesus out of you, that's the one. The one we avoid the most, the one we make up the most excuses for ditching, the one we're most heavily in denial of ... that's the one.

Thanks for your insights Steve! Here's to all of us overcoming the Resistance.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catalyst One Day at Grace

So very excited that Grace is going to host Catalyst One Day in November. If you are anywhere near DC, this is a great opportunity for you and your team. It's only a single day, close enough for you to commute to and because the content is going to be top-notch, you should process this with a team.

You might remember that I went to Catalyst West in April - a fabulous experience. So I'm a fan of the Catalyst stuff - it is some of the best leadership learning available.

I'm also thrilled that we at Grace can serve leaders here in the DC area. I firmly believe part of God's purposes for Grace intersect at this point in human history, in this specific location between Baltimore and DC, with our specific suburban socioeconomic demographic, our energy with student ministry, our global reach in growing mission team leaders. Ok, that's a lot of intersections....

Check out the video with Senior Pastor Mark Norman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Notes - The Monkey and The Fish

The Monkey and The Fish : Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church by Dave Gibbons

[I'm really bummed that I didn't make it to The Idea Camp for the first day to meet and learn from Dave personally.]

Expansion of the concept of third culture [for example third culture kids] into third culture leadership.

Being part of the Western cultural machine, our American churches tend to gravitate toward the gods of pragmatism, materialism and consumerism. And today, people around the world can't see anything supernatural about that. The global village is longing for something deeper. Sadly, fewer find it in a Western way of doing church.

The desire for safety stands against every noble human endeavor - Tacitus, Roman philosopher

Luke 15 - the prodigal son is Eastern [not Western] in its cultural tone.

Not one of us in the church has the answer, but I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of young, multi-generational, multi-ethnic leaders and servants who have stumbled onto something that seems to have a lot of promise in the new world we all find ourselves in. It's something we call third culture.

1st culture - dominant homogeneous culture you live in.
2nd culture - culture of those who aren't quite comfortable with the first culture and often react to the first culture's ways, maybe even rejecting their parents' home culture.
3rd culture - being able to live in both first and second culture and even adopt an entirely different culture. About adaptation, the both/and. The gift of being more cognizant of and more comfortable with the painful fusion and friction inherent
in cultural intersections.

* Xealot - nonprofit that seeks to help people living in marginalized communities

New metric - the metric of embrace
Nothing represents the soul of a culture more than her food.

McGavran popularized the homogeneous principle, it wasn't necessarily to support the church growth movement specifically but more to warn the church of its natural tendency to stay within its own culture. [related, McGavran's The Bridges of God]

Each generation must create a new language that connects with the soul and life of their community in their era. It must also create new forms not only to help carry the message, the truth, the content into a new generation but also to create a greater hunger for that message.

We need each others gifts to make the greatest difference and need to be the great expression of Christ on earth.

3 shifts: [love these shifts]
1: from consumerism to cause-ism
And don't count out the suburban young people who are ripe for the third-culture movement of compassion because they have tasted the "American Dream" and are still hungry and increasingly disillusioned with what is defined as success. [love this shift and see it - don't count them out is spot on.]
2: from pastor/teacher to pastor/social entrepreneur
3: from linear pathways to third culture rhythms
the rhythms model - you organize ministry around three intersecting spheres - Christ, cause, community

3 questions:
1: Where is Nazareth?
Where is the other side of the tracks in your city or region? Who are the marginalized or the outsiders near you?
2: What is my pain?
3: What is in my hand?

Artists: Prophets, Innovators, and Conversationalists
Businesspersons: Access, Networks, Fuel
Community-Development Specialists: The Builders

Few will have the greatness to _bend history_ itself... RFK

1. Changed language - calling the staff the support team instead of pastors - call the members the field team
2. Changed the way give to missions - Cause Investment Portfolio - people in the church choose what they give to and interact with those causes directly
3. Changed church's static web presence into social networking site - hugely dynamic
4. Became third culture multi-sites - site areas of intersection are primarily leadership development, creative resources and missional initiatives

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Ember 09-10 interns

I'm proud to introduce you to the 2009-2010 interns - AR and JT. Both of these guys came to me together last winter and started a discussion on doing a mentorship with me through their respective high schools. They wanted to learn more about global leadership, engage world cultures and be catalysts for their communities of peers. As you might have guessed, it wasn't hard for me to sign on.

Both of these guys have traveled with me before, specifically the SPACE 2008 Hungary team. You might remember that AR was baptized on that trip by yours truly. They are quality guys, not only committed to the core but understanding that with commitment comes responsibility. They are responsible for a lot and you and I are expecting really big things from them.

A consistent clear indication of emerging leaders is desire. When someone around you is paying close attention, taking detailed notes, or asking for more, you might want to take notice.

I'm excited - excited for you to get to know them a bit better soon and excited about how they are going to throw fire this year.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Idea Cast 04

Someone once told me that Jesus follows Coca Cola - what they meant was the fact that Coca Cola has an amazing distribution network, virtually in every country, but especially in the developing world. Check out ColaLife, an up and coming effort to try and open up Coca Cola's distribution channels to provide "social products" to developing populations.

Changing the game could be creating something new. Or it could be looking at something in a new way.