Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in cities

1 - NY, NY, USA
2 - Fairfield, CT, USA*
3 - Annapolis, MD, USA
4 - Durham, NC, USA
5 - Cocoa Beach, FL, USA
6 - Orlando, FL, USA
7 - Lake Anna, FL, USA
8 - Aix-en-Provence, France
9 - Marseille, France
10 - Queen Creek, AZ, USA
11 - Virginia Beach, VA, USA
12 - Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

The map is below. Travel this year was a lot of fun.
* multiple times

View 2013 in cities in a larger map

[2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in cities]

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in Books

Western Christians in Global Mission, Paul Borthwick
The Catalyst Leader, Brad Lomenick
Renegade, Vince Antonucci
Tradecraft : For the Church on Mission, Larry McCrary [Notes]
Overcoming Five Dysfunctions of a Team Field Guide, Patrick Leincoini [Notes]
The Meeting of the Waters: 7 Global Currents That Will Propel the Future Church, Fritz Lang
Creating a Missional Culture, JR Woodward
Multipliers, Liz Wiseman
Strengths Based Leadership, Tom Rath
David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
All In, Mark Batterson
Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are not for Sale, Rachel Lloyd
Shark Tales, Barbara Corcoran
The Sending Church, Pat Hood
Youth Ministry in a Post Christian World, Brock Morgan [Notes]
The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau [Notes]
Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker, April Diaz [Notes]
What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Rob Bell

[2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 in books]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sweet 16

Dear Katie

On this, your 16th birthday, we still marvel at your sense of wonder, adventure and possibility. The world is your stage and you know no limit to the possibilities that life has, even the ones maybe not even offered to you yet. For this large view of adventure, we admire you. Granted, you could plan ahead a little bit, but you'll agree I've been telling you that too much lately. ;-)

In any case, we are infinitely proud of the young person you are becoming. You love those around you unselfishly and give your time and attention to them. You have pursued both individual interests like volleyball and music while still devoting some of your energy to those less fortunate around you, like Allied Bowling and Special Friends. And in all of it, you have kept one of the abiding principles of our family and faith in your head and heart - that you are blessed to be a blessing to others.

Ever since you were a little toddler, we have known that you would have the perspective of abundance, optimism and expanding borders. We have seen it more even this year. As your biggest cheerleaders, it excites us. As your parents, it's daunting to think about you leaving our nest but we know that's the role of parents. But in either case, the world needs you at your best. Happy 16th birthday - we love you and are continually inspired by your life and heart.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Facebook Tracks Global Urban Migration

::: How Charity Water Won Over the Tech World

::: Bill Gates as a Secret Santa

::: Ronnie Smith, Libya.

::: Are the Millenium Development Goals Too Low a Bar?

::: Homeless Resumes on Billboards

::: I want to be famous in my home - @MarkBatterson

Photo: train station, Brussels, Belgium. June 2012.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Women in Ministry Leadership - What I've Learned

In early 2009, during my time serving as an 'elder intern' at our local church, I attended a meeting with our church's elder team and a small group of women whom requested the church leadership revisit the position of women in leadership. So when the internet blew up a few weeks ago around this topic, I certainly was interested [here is a good summary] . If this topic doesn't interest you, you should spend your time somewhere else. But if you are interested, certainly read on...

Here is what I've learned about the topic and all the credit for it goes to my pastor Mark Norman for walking myself and the elder team at that time through this. Most of this was gleaned at this specific sit down meeting although there was lots of background discussion before this. As you can imagine, it's a big topic.

1 - The New Testament office of elder or pastor relates to a very very small subset of people. This is irrespective of gender. Meaning that even among men, the ones who are elder qualified or desire to be an elder or lead at that level is very small. Now of course, lots of people lead without the official title or role or office. Like John Wimber used to say, "You know your elders because they eld."

2 - Each person must decide for themselves how important the issue of women in leadership is with regard to the church home they choose. Is it a negotiable or a non-negotiable?

3 - Each person must study the Bible for themselves. There are lots of good, God-loving people that fall on both sides of the discussion and we probably won't really know the real answer in this lifetime. I can still vividly remember one of our church leaders articulating that perhaps he didn't like the decision either, but he was firmly convicted about what the Scriptures taught.

4 - Your leadership team must be able to articulate your position and how you arrived at it. If you cannot or will not do this, you won't have much credibility with the emerging generation.

Some other resources that I've found helpful:
Book Notes - Two Views on Women in Ministry
Can Men and Women Lead Together
The Theological Journey of a Female Pastor, Heather Zempel, one of the pastors at National Community Church
Evangelicals and Gender Equality, from Bill and Lynne Hybels.

And this final paragraph, from the book Two Views on Women in Ministry, is valuable to continue to work towards, I think...
Once you have decided as best as you understand it, what Scripture does permit women to do, can any reasonably objective observer of your church and your ministry quickly recognize you are bending over backwards to encourage and nurture women in these roles? If not, then you can't possibly be obeying Scripture adequately, even on your interpretation of it. Interestingly, over the years, I have had a number of outspoken egalitarian women, some of them well known in evangelical circles, confide in me privately and tell me that if complementarians would just do this much consistently, they could live with the remaining areas of disagreement and even stop lobbying for further privilege.

Monday, December 16, 2013

If it is perfect

If it is perfect, it will be difficult to reproduce.*

In fact, you can do what I do.

1. Give yourself permission, like Seth Godin says.

2. Take responsibility for someone or some place.

3. See the world as different cultures. Note the differences and why.
This could mean a lot of time in different countries or a lot of time in different subcultures in your city or region.

4. Read a lot.
Use an RSS reader like feedly. Again, hardly any cost especially since information today is just about free.

5. Post your thoughts, reflections and what you are learning.
Blogger, tumblr, facebook, twitter. [And I don't mean all of them. Just one.] They all cost nothing except some of your time. One of the reasons I've used blogger for the past 10 years is that if I can do it, most people can as well.

* In conversation with Zak Eltzroth.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Burn

::: New Life Christian Church runs the nZone, an 83,000-square-foot athletic training facility, as a nonprofit organization.

::: Entrepreneurship is a Spectrum

:::61 Languages are Found on Twitter - Here is their popularity

::: Camden, NJ, America's Most Desperate Town

::: Derek Snook and In Every Story Labor Services.
"People spend so much time trying to start programs to help the poor, and the reality is that probably one of the best programs we could start would be a bus system that runs on time."

::: Six Ways Millenials are Shaping the Church

::: Your lack of clarity on your great gift to the world is sabotaging you. - @BenArment

Photo: Sheng girls, good morning Paris. France, July 2013.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Book Notes - Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker

Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker by April Diaz.
+ 3 current overarching characteristics of national youth culture and the specific ways they played out in our local context:
1 - We live in a coffeehouse culture. More 'attractive' youth ministry doesn't work like it used to.
- Bigger isn't better. Relational closeness and depth is far more effective (even if it's fabricated intimacy from social media connections.)
- Relational boldness and challenging our students' faith are priorities.
2 - Family systems value education and college resume building more than church involvement.
- The church doesn't dictate involvement. Students select what they will achieve and what will better their future success.
- 'If you build it, they will come' doesn't work unless it adds explicit value to their lives.
- If the church can respond to the culture through service hours and leadership development, this will add value to the students' resume building. This will speak to the real and felt needs of students.
3 - Focus activities or eliminate programming because students are too busy to gather more than once per week.
- Asking students to meet as a youth group during the week is complicated.
- Retreats are mini-monastic experiences for students.
- Local and global experiences are priceless.

+ We articulated our goal as missional life together, while creating age-appropriate experiences that would prepare teenagers for the next season of their lives and engagement with the whole church community.
- Thinking about initiatives, not programs.
- Altering the 5:1 ratio, with five adults investing in every teenager, not just one adult ministering to five teenagers.
- Customizing the development of our juniors and seniors to more intentionally prepare them for life after high school.

+ In the big picture, the role we envisioned for our Student Integration Pastor was to contribute to and collaborate with the broader church for meaningful, intentional and mutual ways of integrating teenagers into the life of the church.
- third culture person
- intergenerational approach
- collaborative and big picture
- highly relational, not programmatic and segmented
- champion for teenagers

Our lead pastor, Dave Gibbons, frequently says we are a church for the "next" generation...

+ Fuller Youth Institute asked youth workers who'd participated in past Sticky Faith Cohorts to share about the mistakes they had made in leading change. The common responses were:
- Timing of the change - when change happens is just as important as what changes are proposed.
- Initiating too much change too soon - This can feel like whiplash if people aren't prepared to enter the change.
- Experimenting on the margins more - Instead of making changes that affect everyone right away, experiment by implementing changes within smaller groups before increasing the impact.
- Pushing for change too fast or not fast enough.

+ Two years later...
- a high school specific gathering on the first three Sundays of the month and then the students would attend the main service on the last Sunday of the month.
- giving our leaders permission - actually a mandate - to focus on the few. Traditional models of ministry pour the most resource investment (time, financial, energy) into the largest events or programs.
- The whole point of having a Student Integration Pastor is to debunk the notion that a paid youth ministry professional and volunteer team are the primary people who can care for and walk with teenagers in their faith journeys and only through innovative youth ministry programming.
Loved tracking with Newsong Church for a few years on and off and I think they are definitely on to something here. The characteristics about national youth culture are right on, especially the one about students being so busy and tracking activities that will help with college. It's all the more powerful if you are in an affluent, suburban, achievement focused context - hello Howard County... And one more point about those characteristics, I've noticed these changes in fairly recent years, and they are subtle but contextually important. Even in a short 10 years, the students I led back then weren't even close to being as busy as they are today. So I'm making that observation as a youth worker and as a parent. These facts must inform how you disciple students.

Great short read that will get you thinking about the way your church interacts with your students.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Coursera Class - The Age of Sustainable Development

Just kidding. I'm not really going back to school. But in January, I am taking a course called The Age of Sustainable Development, offered through Columbia University and Coursera. It looks like a great course in some of the stuff we love to learn about, like economic development, the MDGS, poverty and disease and urbanization.

Two other things which are going to make this great. First, it's taught by Jeffrey Sachs. He's had a lot of influence on me and Ember so to take this from him is a fantastic opportunity. And secondly, taking a class via Coursera should be a cool experience, and this will be my first MOOC. Higher education is in the midst of disruption so I'm excited to experience what college might look like in the near future.

This class is free. Let me know if you end up taking it too.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Meet the Families of 2030

::: What Leaders Won't Do
But the one thing that amazes me more than what leaders will do for their enterprises, is what they so often won’t do – endure emotional discomfort at work.
Lencioni is almost always on the mark.

::: Your Help is Hurting
Solid interview with Pete Greer from Hope International

::: How the Internet is Killing the World's Languages

Photo: Hope, ProtoGuide but not gang member, and moi. Baltimore, November 2013.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Book Notes - The $100 Startup

This blueprint to freedom is fully customizable and highly actionable.

Follow your passion model
Low startup cost
At least $50,000 in income
No special skills
Full financial disclosure
Fewer than five employees

passion and what others care about collide

Skill Transformation
To succeed in a business project, it helps to think carefully about all the skills you have that could be helpful to others and particularly about the combination of those skills.

The Magic Formula
(Passion or skill) + (problem + marketplace) = opportunity

Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

No one values a $15-an-hour consultant, so do not underprice your service. Since you probably won't have forty hours of billable work every week, charge at least $100 an hour or a comparable fixed rate for the benefit you provide.

When I asked our group of unexpected entrepreneurs about the follow-your-passion model, I frequently heard a nuanced answer. Almost no one said, "Yes! You should always follow your passion wherever it leads." Similarly, almost no one dismissed the idea out of hand. The nuance comes from the idea that passion plus good business sense creates an actual business.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. - John Le Carre

The decision making matrix
Impact, Effort, Profitability, Vision

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. - Peter F. Drucker

Understand that what we want and what we say we want are not always the same thing.
Most of us like to buy, but we don't usually like to be sold.
Provide a nudge.

A good launch blends strategy with tactics. Strategy refers to why questions such as story, offer and long-term plan. Tactics refer to how questions such as timing, price and specific path.

When you're presented with an opportunity, don't just think about its merits or how busy you are. Instead, think about how it makes you feel. If you feel only so-so about it, turn it down and move on. But if the opportunity would be exciting and meaningful - so much so that you can say "hell yeah" when you think about it- find a way to say yes. [Derek Sivers]

The One Page Promotion Plan
Daily - maintain a regular social media presence, monitor 1 or 2 key metrics.
Weekly - ask for help or joint promotions from colleagues, maintain regular communications with prospects and customers
Monthly - connect with existing customers to make sure they are happy [is there anything else i can do for you?], prepare for an upcoming event, contest or product launch.

There is nothing wrong with having a hobby, but if you're operating a business, the primary goal is to make money.

The average business can improve its odds of success greatly by getting paid in more than one way and at more than one time.

Remind people that profit is the difference between revenue and expense. This makes you look smart. - Scott Adams

Easy growth option including adding a service to a product-based business (or vice versa), deploying a creative series of upsells and cross-sells, and making a few key tweaks.

I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, man. - Jay-Z

A business that is scalable is both teachable and valuable. If you ever want to sell your business, you'll need to build teams and reduce owner dependency.
Absolutely loved this book. It really contributes to some of the ideas that we've been pondering about missions the past few years, ideas such as:
1 - You need a portfolio of income.
2 - The global recession is making nonprofit support harder and harder to come by. It is not impossible but it has become much more difficult.
3 - Calling, vocation, skills and your network all inform each other when it comes to income.
4 - A tangible skill may get you to the mission field with more legitimacy than a degree in religion.

Lots more good stuff in the book about actually starting a business.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Missions Foci

Focus has been the en vogue trend in global missions for the past few years. Nothing inherently bad about teaming up with someone you trust and concentrating on momentum together for the long haul. Various implementations around this idea includes focusing on specific demographics [peoplegroups], physical areas of the world or causes [PEACE plan] All the big churches are doing it. Leadership Network cites this as one of the important strategies for the future.

In some cases, the move to focus has been a response to the shotgun approach to missions - having too many superficial relationships scattered all over the globe. The issues coming out of that have included how do we care for so many and how do we decide about allocating resources to these that are scattered. You can spend lots of attention and energy on being focused - that might be the right thing to fix the symptom of being too scattered if that really is your problem.

Or, starting with the end in mind, perhaps the real issue isn't focusing on one of those things above. Maybe what we need is focusing on creating more missionaries - we clearly do not have enough. Unpacking this includes talking about lots of stuff, like leadership development, ensuring character and competence, vocation and calling, and the role of sending churches and agencies. But before all of that, focusing on one might cost you the other.