Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Notes - You Lost Me

You Lost Me - Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith. Let me just say that if the title of this book raises any interest in you, you should grab a copy and read it. There is a ton of very helpful information in here - its very dense with a ton of research. These notes are only the tip of the iceberg.

Also, thanks to Blane Young, who provided me this book free as part of a blog give away.

3 Realities
1. Teen church engagement remains robust, but many of the enthusiastic teens so common in North American churches are not growing up to be faithful young adult disciples of Christ.
2. There are different kind of dropouts, as well as faithful young adults who never drop out at all. We need to take care not to lump an entire generation together.
3. The drop out problem is, at its core, a faith development problem. It's a disciple-making problem.

Even though the childhood and early adolescent years are the time during which spiritual and moral compasses are calibrated, the experimental and experiential decade from high school to the late twenties is the time when a young person's spiritual trajectory is confirmed and clarified.

Access - unprecedented access to information, analysis, opinions, relationships and worldviews.
Alientation - unprecedented levels of disconnection from relationships and institutions.
Authority - new questions about who and what to believe and why.

All things considered, a young Christian has about 1:9 odds of losing his or her faith entirely. While this is a rare outcome, it is a very high number when you think about the estimated five million eighteen to twenty nine year old ex-Christians encompassed by this statistic.

When you have a child, you open up a grave. - Gary Kinnaman

I suggested earlier in this book that we have a mass-production approach to faith development. Taking our cues from public education, among other sectors of society, we have created a conveyor belt of development that industrializes the soul formation of young people - who eventually become adults with inch deep, mile-wide faith. The outcome is adult Christians who were not transformed by their faith as children, as teens or as young adults. [This paragraph should pain most of us.]

Youth group teens who aspired to science-related careers = 52%
Youth pastors/workers who have addressed issues of science in the past year = 1%
[Also think about the projected gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math students]

In 1960, one of out every twenty births was to unwed mothers. Now that percentage is 42%.

Jesus was in close enough contact with his disciples that he was able to shape the rough-hewn edges of their faith and ministry. Jesus knew his followers. If your churches are too large to cultivate this type of knowing, then our ministries are likely too large to disciple as Jesus did.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Preparing to Prepare

Some Ember guides and I had our first planning session to prepare for some short term missions training. This one looks similar to, from many moons ago, Mission Advance, one of my favorite experiences ever. Similar in that we will be on the move for some of the time, the experience will be focused on building teams and adaptability will be required for everyone, including our team that runs the whole show.

The majority of short term mission teams are vastly unprepared, mostly because they don't take the time to prepare to function together as a team. Fix that singular issue and you've fixed 50% of the issues.

Some of the values we are trying to deliver via this experience include adaptability, flexibility, embracing chaos and servant leadership. Oh yeah, we are going to throw in some of our favorites too.

[Related: Mission Advance 2006, 2007, 2008, NY 2009 Mission Cast, Missions Prep with Bay Area]

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Burn

::: 10 Trends That Will Shape Youth Ministry

::: The Youth Ministry Hotline Experiment

::: 9 Things Successful People Do

::: when God is DOING A LOT, you will have A LOT TO DO. just sayin. @markbatterson

::: Church Planter- look at your "LaCE" Language, Culture, Ethnicity = the fabric that weaves tapestry of any given people group or pop segment @robjacobs_

::: CSF Pair11-ACHIEVER/RESPONSIBILITY: I get things done. Sometimes because it feels so good and sometimes because I promised someone I would. @csfguy

See all the Burn posts here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Some quick tools of the trade - maybe these tips will help you - 2012 edition.

+ Action Journal from Behance. Not so much the journal per se, but the thinking behind it. In short, everything that matters is actionable.
+ Twitter - I have a list called the 150. 90% of my interactions come from this group of people, named based on Dunbars number. [Although right now its 168 or something.]
+ Most of the Google products:
+ Google Reader. Just about all web reading can be done via rss now. Not just blog posts although that makes the bulk of what I subscribe to. But did you know you can save a google search and subscribe to it via Reader? I use feeds for terms I'm interested in, like my name, 'student missions,' and other topics I want to know about. You used to be able to grab an rss feed of a twitter search, so again, use that to stay current on something. Rss something you want from craigslist too.
+ Google Docs. For just about any kind of document. Best part - real time collaboration with someone else - you can chat with someone there. Second best part - revision history. Third - use it as cloud storage for any kind of file.
+ Google Chrome. Best part - print anything to a pdf.
+ Google Voice. Calls and texts that you can route to any phone. Get the extension for Voice in Chrome.
+ Google Calendar. Our family uses multiple calendars. My wife has full edit rights on my calendars.
+ Delicious. Yes I still use this. Its Pinterest for men.
+ I used to create a new flickr account every year. I'm not sure I'm going to do this in 2013.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Deanna

Dear Deanna

As we celebrate your 42nd birthday, I am still madly in love with you. Even in the midst of some challenging health issues over the past few months, you have proved to everyone, and most importantly, yourself, that you have the tenacity, the wisdom and the perseverance to make the latest changes in your circumstances work. You are adaptable and flexible and combined with the gift of your humor, we all know that you will eventually thrive. One day, we will look back on diabetes as an experience for our growth and a step in the redemption of bigger things.

I'm grateful to journey through life with someone who is so resilient in arduous times. Our kids will look back on this one day to realize that you were committed to their best no matter the circumstances around us. In good and not so good health, you are still an example of a life that was meant to be lived, not merely endured.

We've still got a big future. Forever. Love.

Photo: With nephew Chase, February 2012.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Language diversity around the world
Link via Justin

::: Tween couples talk mostly via text and chat

::: What Hiring Mangers Really Want to Know

::: Sparking Creativity in your kids
Link via Scott Hodge

See all the Burn posts here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Student Missions Systems - GRACE

This is Carver, who is running the student missions efforts this summer for Grace, leading a gathering of parents and students interested in summer missional experiences. You might note the large crowd of both parents and students that filled this interest meeting.

There are, however, other things you should note.
+ Carver had a whole team of people that worked behind the scenes to get to this point. When you deliver a strategy for student missions to parents, you have already done a lot of work thinking about values and how destinations may meet those goals.
+ Safety is always a question parents have. The world is not safe but you do your best to make dangerous students.
+ Although this is a midpoint milestone for Carver and her lead team, this a starting milestone for these students and parents. The rest of the process includes team preparation, prayer and financial support raising, execution of the experiences and engaging students when they come back.
+ Carver frames her conversation with these parents as setting up these teams for success. Hence the process, which seems like a lot. It works well.
+ In terms of organizational culture, this is happening in the midst of a large church putting a lot of energy behind global missions for around 8 years. It doesn't happen overnight.

Disclosure: Ember is not associated with Grace Community Church although my family and I attend Grace. Grace is one of Ember's 2012 clients.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Question of Where

Lots of students I meet finish a short term cross cultural experience believing God has called them to that place. The experience was so great, the need is so large, the community was so intimate - the stars have aligned for them to commit to a season of service there. Anecdotally, everyone seems to have a story or two about people they know returning to the place where they went on their first short term experience. I'm not saying that is always right or wrong. I am saying that we do a disservice to the next generation when we don't help them critically think about this kind of calling. There are three filters to help people think through this.

1. Theology of place [not my idea - see Mel McGowan for a lot more about this]
How do the demographics, social movements, economic systems, and Christ following strategic initiatives map to your passion for this location? Understanding these terms for both where we live and where we just spent a season are critical to contextualization and should be a key to being called to a specific place. My suburbs [Howard County, MD] are filled with the teenagers of highly affluent, type A, federal government employees. There are more than 800 languages spoken in New York City. Queen Creek, AZ has a significant native Americans along with an explosion of suburban middle class caucasians.

2. Community
Lots of people come home talking about how great the community they served with was. The church community, the nonprofit community, the orphans and kids, the students. That all might be true - the community might be fantastic. But if you feel called because of a certain community of people, you should play out the scenario of what happens after those specific people leave. The missionary family that you loved hanging out with - sure, they might stay. Or their funding might run out or the grandparents get sick or they want to be closer to where their kids end up going to college. The 30 year long term missionary is almost extinct. Calling to a specific community might lead to you being the only one left. It might require you to create community.

3. Need
Need does not constitute a call. [Bob Lupton]
It may be part of a call, but it doesn't constitute one by itself. Most of us can find the needy within a 30 minute drive of our homes, meaning, we could be called to live at home. The need should be assessed in light of possible dependency issues.

Two final ideas. First, we have seen some good success when we recommend a 30 day rule: people wait 30 days after coming home from a season of service to make any major decision. Schooling, job, relationships, and especially future missions commitments. Secondly, I love this quote from Deb Hirsch. "Romantic love will get you to the mission field but sacrificial love will keep you there." Sacrificial love, the kind that keeps you in the mission field, includes a theology of place, critical thinking about community and a true assessment of needs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Burn

::: GE - How to Attract, Develop and Retain Global Talent
Link via Steve Saccone

::: Fifty years ago, Norman Borlaug led a team of scientists who created high-yield, disease-resistant wheat seeds that saved a billion people from starvation.

::: The last 50 yrs is all the proof we need to show that simply putting people in small groups will not make them disciples - @JonTyson

::: Most American churches spend 18years inoculating kids against the gospel. - @skye_jethani via Dawn Carter

See all the Burn posts here.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Personal Pep Talk

If you don't make dust, you eat dust. - Jack Macallister
First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. They they fight you. Then you win. - Ghandi
People take the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world. - Schopenhauer
Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared. - Eddie Rickenbacker
You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go. - TS Elliot via Lon

Monday, February 06, 2012

Teaching Notes - LC 5 Feb

My teaching notes from yesterday, where I spoke to Light Company, our middle school ministry. Notes pasted here below, slides here. Steal what you want, keeping in mind that middle school kids are not too young to learn missiological concepts.
intro - student missions | dteam leader way back | ember

the big idea - if you are walking with Jesus, you are a catalyst for His Kingdom
most amazing time in human history to be a jesus follower
catalyst requires you to live a heroic life - it was

lighter, firestarter, poppers
affluence, education, unique in this moment in human history, choice, optimism
more potential than any invention
in every apple there is an orchard

genesis 12
what the world looks like | global poverty | unreached people groups | urban migration
first world problems rap

2 - KNOW - filters | think
cultural distance
person of peace | lk 10

3 - DO
be a nice person - ST: guy in church who stole someones seat
get to know someone different than you
move from awareness to action
granola bars in your car - homeless ST: stalking homeless man
cupcakes for compassion
take the first step of an adventure
courage, bravery, risk, faith, adventure - this is what christianity looks like
this is the life you want to live
ending story

Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday Burn

::: A Super Bowl in London?

::: Rethinking the Oreo
Link via Dennis i think

::: 78 Shots of the Eiffel Tower
Link via Megan

::: We Didn't Hire a Youth Pastor
Lots in here about futuristic youth ministry, intergenerations and spiritual formation.

::: 3 annual reports I liked
Christian Community Church
The New Thing Network

::: 66% of the US population lives within a days drive of Baltimore! Centers of medicine, economics, and politics! @EllisPrince

See all the Burn posts here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February Kindling

+ Thanks to all of you who have asked and prayed for Deanna this past month. The short story is that she was diagnosed with diabetes and had a few other rounds of other medical specialist visits. Most of those have come back clean with the exception of maybe taking out her gall bladder in a few months. We are navigating low carb/low sugar meals.
+ Cup cakes are still endangered in our house now, just in a different way.
+ Brought on a business development expert to do some training for students involved on our summer teams for their Creative Revenue Plan. People seem to love this when I tell them about it.
+ One intern out of three has continued on from Fall to Spring. It's a busy life these high school kids live these days. Learning about global leadership isn't the status quo.
+ Applications for Fall 2012 high school interns are open. A new requirement is that students do this through school mentorship programs. In this case, a deeper commitment provides more opportunity. I realize we may have no interns in the fall. If you know someone, send them my way.
+ After sending out tons of emails to youth mission people, we are tweaking one dream project for this summer, while another one gathers momentum and the third sits idle.
+ The two youth workers I'm coaching [I use that term loosely] have got some bold stuff going on this summer - so cool to see. Will be posting some of these better practices later.
+ I'm speaking at our middle school ministry service this Sunday. My harshest critic will be my 8th grader.