Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Elder Intern Update

It's been about 18 months since I and 3 other "young" men started an elder internship process at GRACE, so it's time for a quick update. Overall, it's been a very positive experience. I've learned a good deal about perspective, the culture of a team, and decision making. And what a heavy responsibility being an elder is - really, that's been one of the biggest insights.

You should also know, especially if you are a GRACE person, that the 4 interns have been fully engaged for these 18 months. This has not been a 'you sit and watch' process, rather, we've had every opportunity to voice opinions and interact with decisions - which has been great. A few weeks ago, we presented some quick observations about elder life. The following weekend was a mini retreat and the whole team revisited roles, responsibilities, team culture and tasking. Moving forward, we are working to refine those concepts. The official internship will continue to last through the next few months as we try to close out on these latest refinements. There is then an elder confirmation process, if we choose to move on. And all of this takes place under the context of a group of men that really strive to do this in community - that's a pretty cool dynamic.

Passing leadership to the next generation is messy. More on this later....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Notes - Switch

My prediction: this is the best book I will read this year.

Switch is an amazingly relevant book because, as you must know, change is constant. In fact, what will likely happen is that we will experience an increase in the rate of change as we get older and life continues. Switch has some great guidance for navigating change - individually as well as in the contexts of groups. This book helps us think about change both conceptually and in the details of execution - it is a great balance of the strategic and tactical.

And if you are a regular around here - you are some kind of leader, youth worker or change agent. The very nature of a worldview based on Jesus is rooted in change. And in the realm of students, our goal should be to erupt a tribe of revolutionaries. That goal doesn't come easily and requires us to be guiding how and why our students should change.

So, onto the notes. Some of them might be a tad cryptic unless you have read the book, but I think you will be able to pick up important concepts either way. [I've starred some of the ones that stuck out to me.]

++ Intro
Three surprises about change:
1 - What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.
2 - What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
3 - If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear direction.

Rider - rational, right brained, rider on top of the Elephant
Elephant - needs direction, hard to stop once it has momentum, emotional.

++ Direct The Rider
+ Find the Bright Spots
Ask, "What is working and how can we do more of it?" instead of the typical, "What is broken and how do we fix it?" [sound like StrengthsFinder stuff to you too?]
If you are a manager, ask yourself: "What is the ratio of the time I spend solving problems to the time I spend scaling successes?"
- reducing child malnutrition in Vietnam
+ Script the Critical Moves
Decision Paralysis
The more choices the Rider is offered, the more exhausted the Rider gets. Have you ever noticed that shopping is a lot more tiring than other kinds of light activity? Now you know - it's all those choices. This is important, because we encounter excess choices all around us.
- Brazilian railroad with 4 rules for investments
- Child abusers - scripting detailed instructions for behavior and interaction
- revitalization of Howard, SD due to high schoolers
Clarity dissolves resistance.
+ Point to the Destination
SMART goals are better for steady-state situations than for change situations because the assumptions underlying them are that the goals are worthwhile. SMART goals presume the emotion; they don't generate it.[*]
Destination postcards do double duty: They show the Rider where you're headed, and they show the Elephant why the journey is worthwhile.

++ Motivate the Elephant
+ Find The Feeling
actually see-feel-change versus analyze-think-change [Alan Hirsch says something like this here .]
It can sometimes be challenging though, to distinguish why people don't support your change. Is it because they don't understand or because they're not enthused? Do you need an Elephant appeal or a Rider appeal. The answer isn't always obvious, even to experts.
+ Shrink The Change
- car wash frequent customer stamps
- maids and whether they think they are exercising or not
If you are leading a change effort, you better start looking for those first two stamps [car wash] to put on your team's cards. Rather than focusing solely on what's new and different about the change to come, make an effort to remind people what's already been conquered.
A business cliche commands us to 'raise the bar' But that's exactly the wrong instinct if you want to motivate a reluctant Elephant. You need to lower the bar. Picture taking a high-jump bar and lowering it so far that it can be stepped over.
When you engineer early successes, what you're really doing is engineering hope. Hope is precious to a change effort. It's Elephant fuel. [*]
+ Grow Your People
When people make choices, they tend to rely on one of two basic models of decision making: the consequences model or the identity model.
Consequences - costs/benefits - purely rational data.
Identity model - Who am I? What kind of situation is this? What would someone like me do in this situation?
Because identities are central to the way people make decisions, any change effort that violates someone's identity is likely doomed to failure. (That's why it's so clumsy when people instinctively reach for incentives to change other people's behavior.) So the question is this: How can you make your change a matter of identity rather than a matter of consequences?
When you think about the people whose behavior needs to change, ask yourself whether they would agree with this statement: "I aspire to be the kind of person who would make this change."
To create and sustain change, you've got to act more like a coach and less like a scorekeeper. [*]
[rational data and results vs. a growth mindset]
You can shrink the change or grow your people, or both.

++ Shape the Path
+ Tweak the Environment
+ Build Habits
Action triggers - preload the decision - create instant habits
The hard question for a leader is not how to form habits but which habits to encourage. [*]
The habit should serve the mission.
A good change leader never thinks, "Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people." A change leader thinks, "How can I set up a situation that brings out the good in these people?" [*]
+ Rally the Herd
In a fancy dinner situation, our antennae work great, because someone at the table knows what to do, and we can just copy that person. But sometimes in times of change, nobody knows how to behave, and that can lead to problems.
- groups fail to respond as well as individuals
Peer pressure might be better termed as peer perception.
In this entire book, you might not find a single statement that is so rigorously supported by empirical research as this one: You are doing things because you see your peers do them.
The Elephant constantly looks to the herd for cues about how to behave.
It's clear that we imitate the behaviors of others, whether consciously or not. We are especially keen to see what they're doing when in the situation is unfamiliar or ambiguous. And change situations are by definition, unfamiliar! So if you want to change things you have to pay close attention to social signals, because they can either guarantee a change effort or doom it.
- designated driver
- Tanzanian sugar daddys
- limiting workweeks of medical residents
Change was coming into conflict with culture, and let's face it, a new rule is not match for a culture. [*]
free space - small scale meetings where reformers can gather and ready themselves for collective action without being observed by members of the dominant group.
If you want to change the culture of your organization, you've got to get the reformers together. They need a free space. They need time to coordinate outside of the gaze of the resisters.
Counter intuitively, you've got to let your organization have an identity conflict. For a time, at least, you've got to permit an 'us versus them' struggle to take place. Think of it as organizational molting.

Awesome read. If you are involved in leading, managing, or helping people make things better, get a copy.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Burn

::: Irony about Jesus and culture
I think Jesus wants to lead us past terse reactions to being confronted with other cultures. I think Jesus wants his Church to transcend even the slightest hint of ethnocentrism.

::: Plywood People - Fundraising
Very cool idea for those of you that are doing some fundraising for mission teams.
Link via jeff shinabarger

::: Detailed Definition for a Church Planting Movement
This definition includes leadership, discipleship, ministry, breadth, depth, and time. Less than 100 churches, regardless of generations, do not constitute a CPM. More than 100 churches, but not at least 3 generations deep, is not a CPM. It has to happen within two years or it does not qualify. The two years can count from the initiation of the work, or count back from a given point in time. If counting back, 3 new generations must be demonstrated. If the work is not locally initiated, locally led, and obedience-based, and ministry-producing it is not a CPM.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Intern Field Trip - The Bridge

The interns and I visited The Bridge this past weekend. Jumaine Jones and I met originally in Oct, 2007 and I had been meaning to drop in ever since then. Really fun to see the Majestic theater and to worship with their community.

Downtown Silver Spring is always interesting to me - I remember it when I was a kid, I worked there in the mid 90s and lots of urban revitalization going on there now. In light of the redevelopment and the move from suburban to more urban, it's fun to watch a community like The Bridge grow there.

The interns also got a quick few minutes to chat with Jumaine about ministry, church planting and their future. This is one of the objectives of the internship - exposure to different expressions of the Church.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Student Missions Advice on Twitter

I tried an experiment on Twitter last Friday where I tweeted snips of advice for student missions. Tagged as #studentmissionsadvice, I intended to update 3-4 times an hour with little snippets of advice, ranging from global concepts to strategy to mundane details.

What actually happened was that a whole group of people jumped in to also offer their advice. All of them are people that I think the world of - either having worked with them on SPACE or Ember or people that I have connected with about student missions. All in all, a lot of fun. Sorry if you got inundated with my updates - if you work with students, hopefully you got at least a few that were helpful.

Here is the whole collection - with links to resources and people you should know:
TonyTSheng: I'm tweeting today about #studentmissionsadvice. Should be fun - feel free to jump in. 8:37
TonyTSheng: Get a passport. #studentmissionsadvice 8:37
leslitab: Hand sanitizer. #studentmissionsadvice (via @tonytsheng) 8:47
TonyTSheng: RT @leslitab: Hand sanitizer. #studentmissionsadvice // you made me a believer! =) 8:51
FlexibleDreams: @TonyTSheng Try the "local food" before you leave. #studentmissionsadvice 8:57
TonyTSheng: RT @FlexibleDreams: @TonyTSheng Try the "local food" before you leave. #studentmissionsadvice // great tip!! i'm getting hungry! 9:05
JoyceElizabeth: @TonyTSheng Be adaptable - plans change #studentmissionsadvice 9:06
TonyTSheng: RT @JoyceElizabeth: @TonyTSheng Be adaptable - plans change #studentmissionsadvice // we all love plan A don't we.... 9:14
TonyTSheng: Think in these roles: learner, trader, storyteller [http://www.urbana.org/articles/the-learner-servant-storyteller-posture] #studentmissionsadvice 9:16
erinobrien: @TonyTSheng Nothing is wrong, it is just different. #studentmissionadvance 9:25
TonyTSheng: RT @erinobrien: @TonyTSheng Nothing is wrong, it is just different. #studentmissionsadvice // nonintuitive but oh so important! 9:27
leslitab: De-brief, de-brief, de-brief. A lot. Learn to tell the story. http://ow.ly/1orqc (via @sethbarnes) #studentmissionsadvice via @tonytsheng 9:32
FlexibleDreams: @TonyTSheng Pointing, with a jaw dropped look of shock on your face, is rude in any country. #studentmissionsadvice 9:42
TonyTSheng: RT @leslitab: De-brief. A lot. Learn to tell the story. http://ow.ly/1orqc (via @sethbarnes) #studentmissionsadvice // seths info is gold. 9:50
TonyTSheng: RT @FlexibleDreams: Pointing, with a jaw dropped look of shock on your face, is rude in any country. #studentmissionsadvice // self ldrshp 9:53
The world is going to be urban [via @alex_mcmanus] #studentmissionsadvice 9:54
TonyTSheng: RT @BrianJRussell: though probably going w/a desire to impct/chnge, open your heart to be more impcted/chnged urself #studentmissionsadvice 10:11
TonyTSheng: Concept: cultural distance [via @alanhirsch and ralph winter] #studentmissionsadvice 10:30
TonyTSheng: The world is going to be brown and yellow [via @alex_mcmanus] http://bit.ly/beko5U [link via @BobbyGWald] #studentmissionsadvice 11:00
Get some tangible skills from college. Or marry someone that has them. ;-) #studentmissionsadvice 11:23
TonyTSheng: Get a world map or globe. Have fun with it. #studentmissionsadvice 11:46
TonyTSheng: Concept: extreme poverty and the ladder of economic development. http://bit.ly/d5YOfz [link to ppt] #studentmissionsadvice 12:11
TonyTSheng: Id pockets of internationals in your community and find out how they got there. #studentmissionsadvice 12:51
TonyTSheng: Experiment with ethnic food. #studentmissionsadvice 1:09
leslitab: Ride public transportation in every city you visit, and have students navigate together. #studentmissionsadvice via @tonytsheng 1:10
boSEEcah: Journal, journal, journal! #studentmissionsadvice @tonytsheng 1:12
TonyTSheng: RT @leslitab: Ride public transport in every city u visit, have students navigate 2gether. #studentmissionsadvice // loads of fun stories! 1:13
TonyTSheng: RT @boSEEcah: Journal, journal, journal! #studentmissionsadvice // love it! 1:14
TonyTSheng: Carry ziploc bags. One with toilet paper. #studentmissionsadvice 1:29
colleensamantha: @tonytsheng Be FLEXIBLE!!! #studentmissionsadvice 1:30
erinobrien: @tonytsheng Pepto Bismol!!!! #studentmissionsadvice 1:31
TonyTSheng: RT @colleensamantha: @tonytsheng Be FLEXIBLE!!! #studentmissionsadvice // agility and staying nimble love it! 1:32
TonyTSheng: RT @erinobrien: @tonytsheng Pepto Bismol!!!! #studentmissionsadvice // yes we are all friends here 1:32
TonyTSheng: RT @erinobrien: @Tonytsheng Pack for at least 24 hours in your carry on in case your luggage gets lost #studentmissionsadvice // great tip!
leslitab: Defer to your host no matter where you are; they'll be there long after you. #studentmissionsadvice via @tonytsheng 1:36
FlexibleDreams: @TonyTSheng Baby wipes are good for so many things. #studentmissionsadvice 1:36
TonyTSheng: RT @JoyceElizabeth: @TonyTSheng Pray pray and pray some more #studentmissionsadvice // yes!! 1:37
TonyTSheng: RT @leslitab: Defer to your host no matter where you are; they'll be there long after you. #studentmissionsadvice // sooo true 1:38
TonyTSheng: RT @FlexibleDreams: @TonyTSheng Baby wipes are good for so many things. #studentmissionsadvice // learn from the moms!! 1:39
TonyTSheng: RT @JoyceElizabeth: @TonyTSheng Always be willing to have significant conversations #studentmissionsadvice // part of why you are there 1:41
TonyTSheng: Concept: global youth distribution. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/qanda.htm #studentmissionsadvice 1:55
TonyTSheng: Christianity is moving south and east. http://www.thetravelingteam.org/node/408 #studentmissionsadvice 2:10
TonyTSheng: Learn basic words in another language. #studentmissionsadvice 2:27
TonyTSheng: RT @robwegner: Christianity is moving south & east. / This is why @gccwired is in India! Go where God is at work! #studentmissionsadvice 2:32
TrevinHoekzema: know at least a brief history about the culture you are reaching out to #studentmissionsadvice 2:34
TonyTSheng: RT @TrevinHoekzema: know at least a brief history about the culture you are reaching out to #studentmissionsadvice // context and culture! 2:37
TonyTSheng: RT @gulia3: hash through expectations before hand-then get rid of them-God usually has something even better. #studentmissionsadvice 2:45
TonyTSheng: Take the Myers Briggs personality test with your team. Discuss the results. #studentmissionsadvice 2:53
TonyTSheng: Concept: redemptive analogy. http://www.internetevangelismday.com/redemptive-parallel.php #studentmissionsadvice 3:12
TonyTSheng: RT @JoyceElizabeth: @TonyTSheng Also recommend Strengthsfinder 2.0!! #studentmissionsadvice 3:25
TonyTSheng: Scan and email yourself your passport, medical id card and visa forms. #studentmissionsadvice 3:47
JoyceElizabeth @TonyTSheng PS password protect that file when you e-mail it!! #studentmissionsadvice
TonyTSheng: Practice telling your Gospel story in 2 minutes. #studentmissionsadvice 4:07
TonyTSheng: RT @JoyceElizabeth @TonyTSheng Don't be afraid to ask questions #studentmissionsadvice 4:16
TonyTSheng: Concept: the person of peace. http://www.kncsb.org/resources/PersonsofPeace.pdf #studentmissionsadvice 4:27
TonyTSheng: Sensitive stomach like me? - BRAT diet. Get motion sick like me? Sea bands. #studentmissionsadvice 4:45

[Related: Expert Mission Trip Advice]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Burn

::: IKEA takes over Paris subway systems.
via @danalbyers

::: Complexity and Pastoral
The move from simplicity to complexity and apostolic to pastoral.
[JD Payne's blog is really good stuff.]

::: Action Summit to End Malaria
April 21 in DC. Thinking about taking Kt to this - are you going?

Monday, March 15, 2010

After Reading Forbes

Forbes just listed the county that I live in as the third richest in the United States. Um... I think they mean world. Three words describe the teenagers where I live: suburban, affluent, potential.

We live in the suburbs - it's not the city and it's not the farm. It's green grass, subdivisions, school buses. It's the mall, driving versus public transit, and being intentional about getting to know your neighbor across the cul-de-sac.

It's affluent - look at how much people make, then take another look and see how much they spend. Teenagers have the latest in personal electronics, access to their parents high end luxury cars, and live in big homes with lots of unused stuff. True story - I've seen more iPhones owned by middle schoolers than my colleagues in the IT business.

It screams potential. They've got money; parents who have created environments to empower them; a mindset to find, access and engage the right resources; GT classes, career internships; technology and the know how to use it. Best of all, they've got the initiative and hope. They think they know that the best kind of life is one that is poured out for others. At least, most of them have a sense of that.

All we have to do is set them on fire and cast them out. Simple, right?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: The Shelter Box
A 110 pound box that supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.
Link via Mountain Hardware

::: Teens and tech survey from lifechurch.tv
An average of 11 hours a week on the internet. [What, that's it?]

::: Go Corps
The GoCorps is a partnership of eight leading mission organizations committed to equipping and sending a new generation of cross cultural message bearers to bring the gospel to those with no access to the gospel.

::: Significant work
@bcmddavid: RT @pastorjdgreear: 1662 Unengaged People Groups. Hud. Taylor: there are 3 stages in any significant work of God: impossible-difficult-done.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Networked Interns

The interns and I worked through a section of The Forgotten Ways last night. It's great material but a bit heavy for a high school kid - they've already read through small parts of it. I'm glad that we read through it together - outloud, stopping for questions and explanations with them highlighting lots of examples from this year.

Last night we worked through a section on organic systems and network theory - that's valuable because the leader of the future is going to understand the balance of movement and institution and some of that will come from understanding how networks of ideas, things and people work.

Some bullets from a section in chapter 7:
+ The organization must be adaptable and responsive to changing conditions, while preserving overall cohesion and unity of purpose.
+ The organization must cultivate equity, autonomy, and individual opportunity.
+ The organization's governing structure must distribute power and function to the lowest level possible.
I can't tell which part I love more. That the interns are reading this or that the interns are embodying this.

See more of their reading here.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Latest Kindling

I'm tired of taking care of the dying. While we are navigating a new reality, it's going to be back to mobilizing the living very, very soon.

+ I connected a church in DC with a mission org's local on-the-ground team in an urban center in Europe. Honored to be a fly on the wall reading the content about connections and context there. Small world - two of the people realized that they had actually met before.
+ One of the intern's synthesis paper contained content about global migration, the 10-40 window, people groups and stuff from Alan Hirsch, Ralph Winter, and the Joshua Project - it's like an Ember Cast thesis. Wow, I might be out of a job.
+ Having conversations with a college aged guy who had his heart on Haiti even before the earthquake hit. I'm working with him on some support raising, cultural expectations and defining success for his mission trip. Some of you know RyanB, SPACE intern TriciaB's brother. Always fun to see family members catalyze each other.
+ Helping throw a list of ideas together for a student who is pursuing a gap year. Like anytime someone suggests skipping or delaying college, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of this list.
+ Spring time = summer mission support letters. Two camps of people - the ones with envelopes and the ones with imagination.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Both Of Them

Seven years ago today, D's dad passed away. Our kids no longer have grandfathers - and the span of time from late February to early March will be difficult for a while. But we are hopeful and not orphaned.

Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the Lord — and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Ps 68