loren Eric Swanson: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Praying Hands of Efrain's

The praying hands were originally fashioned on the top of a mountain in Hong Kong where they proportedly performed their first miracle...the quelling of a violent argument between two Chinese men. Pleading with the men did nothing to calm the anger but when the praying hands were held out the men's rancor subsided and a peace settled over them. They reconciled and soon prosperity came to their village. With such bonified and attested power, the hands were smuggled into the states where they found their way to a Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette Colorado where they were enshrined. Soon their divine attributes became well known as everyone who came to the restaurant came hungry but miraculously left feeling completely bloated. Everyone wanted to be blessed by the praying hands!

One day "The Praying Hands of Efrain's" was written and framed and all guests began praying this blessing before enjoying experiencing the miracle of arriving hungry and leaving bloated. Here is the prayer:

The Praying Hands of Efrain’s
Señor guide these hands to make the enchiladas supreme
With chicken and beans, filled with white sour cream.
Help them make the rellenos real cheesy
The costillas off-the-bone tender and not overly greasy.
The huevos rancheros (#10) with chiles so green
And nice chunks of pork trimmed ever so lean.
And Señor bless our staff as they serve our dear guests
With salsa and chips and comida Mexicana…the best
Bless Stacy and Josefina as they go about their day
And may Lalo learn English and become a waiter some day.
Señor bless our faithful customers as much as you are able
Help them know they are family who dine at our table
Help them tip generously, even more than their power
(After all we’re only paying our wait staff $2.30 an hour)
And watch over our patrons after they’ve had too many Dos Equis
Get them home safely without tickets or wreckies
And may they sleep sound filled with blessing not sorrow
And may they find their way here when they are hungry tomorrow.

New Zealand--the final days

Friday, October 28, Auckland
Flew from Wellington to Auckland at 11:00am. Sam went with Howard for lunch and afterwards to meet with the pastor of Greenlane Christian Center and I went with Roger Osbaldiston, the National Director of Crusade for NZ. I have know Roger for several years now and have always been impressed with his keen mind, enthusiasm and leadership style. Roger pulled together several staff from the various Crusade ministries—FamilyLife, Student Life AIA and we spent the afternoon talking about the concepts of “movements everywhere so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.”

Saturday, October 29, Auckland
Saturday morning we met for a day-long seminar on The Externally Focused Church at Greenlane Christian Center . Andrew Cox and Howard Webb did a good job in getting the word out and roughly 200 folks showed up, and from the hands raised, when the question was asked, the far majority were pastors and Christian leaders. I gave the first talk on “What Kind of Day is Today?” during which participants wrote on a large scroll of butcher paper events that shaped our world and the church in the past ten years and also what the next ten years look like. The point of this article is taken from a quote I like from Mission After Christendom—“Every day the church must wake up and ask itself, ‘What kind of day is today,’ for no two days are alike in her history.” It was the men of Issachar who “understood the times” and so knew what to do. Jesus rebuked the crowds for knowing how to interpret weather indicators but could not interpret the times. So it seems that a key skill all leaders need is an ability to understand…or even exegete…the times we live in, if we want to be effective. This presentation concluded with a cursory overview about the kingdom of God.

Sam took the second talk on our Externally Focused Church talk…and he was also able to squeeze in his “Grace and Truth” talk that he gave in both Christchurch and Wellington in the evening sessions. After lunch we both led elective seminars—Sam’s was on Kingdom Assignments and I talked about Evangelism and the Externally Focused Church. After the electives I spoke on “Volunteers” utilizing a film clip from The
Fighting Temptations with Cuba Gooding and Sam brought us home with a Getting Started talk.

Like the other places we have been, pastors and leader expressed that this was what they were thinking and had started to go of wanted to go in this direction. Pastor Bruce Patrick from the Baptist Tabernacle in Auckland (http://www.tabernacle.org.nz/) –one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious churches (founded by Spurgeon’s son in the 1860s) was particularly enthusiastic and represented the enthusiasm of the crowd who stayed until we finished at 5pm. Ministry is pretty easy when the wind is at your back.

Sunday, October 30, Auckland
In the paper this morning, on the front page were two stories that begged the involvement of the church in New Zealand. The first was about Bloods and Crips (Tongans and Samoan gangs) in Auckland’s Flatbush area and an article on Children’s Day that included all the stats of kids at risk. Good information, as with Nehemiah 1 can be very motivational. We hung out with Howard Webb on Sunday, doing a bit of sight seeing at Mission Bay and One Tree Hill before meeting for dinner with the Cox and Web families at a restaurant called Tony’s where most of us had racks of lamb….Now that was good. We’re grateful for this opportunity to be connected to what God is doing here down under.

Concluding thoughts
In Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland we were able to connect with around 500 folks…mostly leaders whom God is wooing to be more externally focused. New Zealand is really well positioned to be a laboratory for the world. They have a critical mass of committed, externally focused believers and have a good multi-cultured mix in their cities. They face all the pressures of our changing world. Howard (who reminds us a lot of Higgins from Magnum PI--He speaks with a lovely South African accent and seems to know a bit about everything in New Zealand) and Andrew are the right leaders for this movement. They would like us to come back at a future time for phase II. We also need to keep them in mind if we launch a second global learning community.

Quote of the trip: "I've cleared my shedule for the next 20 years so I can devote my life to churches relationally connecting to their communities. Now I shall make enquiries as to the whereabouts of a Ponsonby pie." Higgins

Thanks for the good times boys. Good on ya.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Day in Wellington

This morning I took a walk around beautiful Christchurch along a river that meanders through the city. Just a beautiful walk that took me into the heart of Christchurch. We caught a 10:30am flight from Christchurch to Wellington…the capital city of New Zealand. We stopped in for fish and chips (NZ has the very best fish and chips) on the way to The Street City Church (http://www.thestreet.org.nz/)-- a great, happening church in this city of 200K. Pastor Nick Field is doing a great job in a city center church. In the afternoon Sam and I spoke to the staff and key leaders of The Street about the Externally Focused Church for a two or three hours hours and after a short break and after checking into our hotel, came back for a "public meeting" at the church where we spoke for another couple of hours interspersing our presentation with clips from Sister Act and Chariots of fire. The response is not unlike what we experienced in Beijing and Berlin. God is working to move the church into the community and we get to watch him work. One woman came up to me and said, “This is just what we’ve been talking about for the past year so your timing is perfect.”

The young man that coordinated the media for us sent me the following link about a church in New Zealand that is becoming more missional as opposed to attractional by moving their Sunday Service to Friday nights so they could invite the community to watch New Zealand Rugby’s All Blacks Grand Slam Tour on a big screen on Sunday mornings.

This evening the media guy sent me the following story of one church that was doing things differently to reach people. It's pretty interesting.

Church services sidestep so congregation can watch rugby
Rugby is arguably one of our most popular religions and it seems at least one Tauranga church agrees.
Greerton Bible Church is scrapping its Sunday church services in favour of supporting the men in black - with the congregation due to watch the All Blacks Grand Slam Tour on a big screen instead.
The Chadwick Rd church's senior Pastor Russell Embling said the event, dubbed the Big Screen Grand Slam Tour, would replace its regular weekly service each Sunday throughout November.
"A lot of people are going to watch the All Black games on Sunday morning, so we figured if we can't beat 'em, join 'em.
"Rugby and the All Blacks are a big part of Kiwi culture, there's no denying that."
Churchgoers will instead have the option to attend a Friday night service at 7pm during November.
The Grand Slam - in which the All Blacks go head-to-head with Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland - was last attempted in 1983.
The last All Black team to beat all four sides was Graham Mourie's 1978 team.
And while the four-test tour of Britain and Ireland was a rare event for New Zealand, Mr Embling admitted cancelling a service was pretty much unheard of among churches.
"We have never done anything like this before in terms of shifting our Sunday service to make way for anything - let alone the rugby."
Despite going against the norm, it seems the 250 strong Christian congregation are fully behind Mr Embling's decision.
"Everyone is really looking forward to it and can't wait - I have had a really good response.
"It's bound to be great fun for all those who decide to come along and watch the games."
While the aim of the event was to enjoy the game as it's played out on a 4m x 5m television screen, Mr Embling has also organised some well-known rugby identities to pop in.
At 7am each Sunday, starting with the test against Wales on November 6, the congregation would also be treated to a visit from Chiefs coach Ian Foster, former-All Black Eroni Clarke and Bay of Plenty Steamers players Grant McQuoid and Hayden Reid.
All sportsmen were renowned for their passion for both rugby and faith.
"They will provide a bit of post-match analysis and they will then talk about how their faith relates to rugby or rugby career to their faith."
It's not all about rugby, though, with hundreds of the church's parishioners being treated to a fully catered breakfast, children's entertainment and spot prizes.
There will even be some half-time entertainment, he said.
Tickets for each week's event were free and were available from the Greerton Bible Church office throughout the week

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Made it to New Zealand

Sam Williams and I are in New Zealand. The great thing about flying to New Zealand is lifting off at 11:30pm in Los Angeles and arriving in Auckland twelve hours later at 8 in the morning…two days later. After clearing customs, Andrew Cox and Howard Webb (photo above) welcomed us with big smiles on their faces. Andrew and Howard work as part of Campus Crusade’s “Love Your Neighbor” campaign (http://www.loveyourneighbour.co.nz/). They’ve done a great job setting up the trip with pastors and leaders culminating with a conference in Auckland on Saturday. We were greeted with the traditional meat pie as we awaited our domestic flight to Christchurch. Looks like it will be a great trip. I may eat only meatpies on this trip.

(On a side note…and interesting note, the last time I had an authentic meatpie was in Sydney in 2000. A photographer snapped my photo and the next day my pictures eating a meatpie were on the front page of the inside section of the Australian along with a few quotations of me muttering something about meatpies containing all the nutrients a man needs to subsist and thrive since they contain both meat and potatoes. So here these Olympic athletes work a lifetime and may get a byline in the paper and I get the front page for gobbling down a meatpie. Is there no justice? The picture was passed around Australia media, was in a couple other articles and ended up being the photo for a book called, The Man Who Ate Too Much)

At the moment I’m looking out the window as we fly between the North and South Island on our way to Christchurch. The north Island looks like a huge golf course from 28,000 feet...and now that I'm over the South Island, that Island does too. Remember this is the place where Lord of the Rings was filmed so who knows if we'll need to address how to reach Hobbits through externally focused church...maybe by giving them large shoes.

We arrived at Christchurch and the boys rented a nice SUV to take us to the Holiday Inn. I believe I can smell the meat pies. Lunchtime!

Our first meeting of the day is with the church leadership of Spreydon Baptist Church (http://www.spreydon.org.nz/).

After our presentation to the leaders of Spreydon on the Externally Focused Church during the first hour, we took the second hour to learn all about their ministry from Senior Pastor Murray Robertson and the staff he assembled. One by one they went around the room and shared their passion and ministry. It was quite amazing! They are engaged in a number of externally focused efforts and have done so for many years. A couple of breakthrough ideas… A few years ago some folks in the church started a "bank" called Kingdom Resources led by John Exton (kingdomresources.org.nz). Because debt is eating many people for lunch Kingdom Resources, after screening and debt counseling, loans the money to the debtors to pay off their debt in full, charging them zero interest on their loan. The concept is based on a few key ideas that they linked together. First, many believers have money sitting idle in the bank getting 1-2% interest...money that could be used for the kingdom. Many people are trapped in high interest loans they will never be able to get out from under. In the past five years Kingdom Resources has paid $2.6m of debt for Christchurch people and, as part of the debt restructuring, work with them in budgeting, money management, saving program etc. They have 130 "budget counselors” to help these folks with budget advise, employment counseling etc. They are setting the captives free. The money is pooled from believers who want to put their money to good and godly use. Contributors put in betwe$100 and $100,000. Over the years they've only lost $36K (1.5%) through default. Even this loss was covered by a couple of women in the community. It's really about "little people helping little people."Senior Pastor, Murray Robertson says God touched his heart 20 years ago when he was walking through the slums in Manila with a team doing incarnational ministry. God was telling him that they needed to do in Christchurch what they were doing in Manila. Recently the City Council approached Spreydon Baptist and said, "Do you realize that you are the largest supplier of human services in the city? How can we help you more?"

Their efforts to help children in after-school and holiday programs is has spread to other churches so that today 1/10 of children’s centers are located in churches. Some government officials says that they want all children’s programs to be influenced by Christians. What Spreydon Baptist is doing is absolutely remarkable. They teach English to recent immigrants, they have after school and holiday care for children, they work in the art community, they have a service during the week made up mostly of folks with mental illness, and they work with the poor. As staff member Graeme Reid says, "A church with an absence of the poor is a church in poverty itself.” All of their ministries begin with one question—“What are the needs of the community?” The only “criticism” from the community is that they are a “church filled with activists” (and may their tribe increase).After the afternoon session we went for "tea" (code word for large dinner) and came back to a public meeting made up from folks for around 75 folks from the community. Lots and lots of energy. Sam gave his grace and truth talk, which was well received. I followed with my “Five characteristics of externally focused churches” PowerPoint and then Sam and I finished with some practical how-to’s. Pastor Murray is leading the charge in this part of the world and we are grateful to count him as a co-laborer.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Transforming Community Through Business

Since Wednesday I've been hanging out at China Challenge (formerly known as East Asia Challenge) with Sam Williams, Bob Swenson, Joe Thompson, Liz and Libby Crafton. Sam had a friend that graciously gave us access to his 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom house right on Newport Beach that we all stayed in. Had a great time on all accounts. Probably spent too much time at the Chart House instead of meetings but it's all good. There's no place like Newport Beach for the famous Balboa Bars. Yesterday, before leaving the China Challenge Conference I ran into Bob Norsworthy. I met Bob a couple years ago at China Challenge but after a couple minutes of talking I understood that he was working on some real cool approaches to transforming community so I asked him for a few minutes of his time...which he graciously ceded. Bob leads a ministry called...hmmm let's see now...it should be on his business card. Well, let's just go with www.repurposing.biz. No actually it is called Equip.

Bob and a few others with Equip work with groups of business leaders who meet for fifteen weeks for 4 hours / week for 12 of those weeks and for 2-3 all day sessions where they look at all the aspects of their business from a biblical perspective. This team of leaders then travel together to another country to work with Christian business owners and do a rigorous breakdown and analysis of this owner's company. Believing all segments of society need to be changed, they seek to influence all of these sectors. The best information is on the Website so I'll just share a couple of things Bob shared with me yesterday.

Everything begins with purpose. Part of what business people discover is that the purpose of business is to glorify God to create resources to advance his kingdom. During one of the sessions a top-notch graphic design company repurposed their mission to: "Captivating the hearts of children with values that glorify God." Once purpose is settled...the rest (principles, profits, products, people, process, etc. falls into place. Some outcomes include a chain of 7-11s in S. Africa stopping selling profitable lottery tickets since that contradicted their purpose. The largest kitchen remodeler in Capetown (1500 kitchens / year) is blessing the families in the townships by installing the used kitchens in homes of the poor by teaming up with churches that will maintain long term relationships. One oil company, after noticing that the truck drivers were doing nothing while gas from their tanker trucks was pumped into the underground tanks at gas stations, decided to hire / train drivers who could share their faith and plant churches in these gas stations. Very cool stuff!

Houses that Change the World by Wolfgang Simson

From Houses that Change the World by Wolfgang Simson

(Big Idea) If people are attracted to Jesus but turned off to the Church then the key is to make the church more like Jesus

[1990 Survey in Amsterdam] 100% of people interested in God…1% interested in the church

The church is a high input, low output structure.

“The core secret of followers of Christ…in doing the work of Jesus is not having sufficient academic and statistical proof before they act, but having the faithful and obedient desire to follow Christ’s word and do what he said, no matter what, when, where or who has gone before.” P. xxix

Luther changed the content of the gospel but didn’t change the structure of the worship service. P. 7

“There are more than 30K denominations in the world today. How lucky you are to be in the one that is right.” P 10

“To church the unchurched we need to unchurch the church.” P. 12

“Churches are not only a way for us to express community, they are God’s means to achieve community.” P. 19

Perhaps a church of 45 that starts looking for rental space or an overhead projector has become too big. P. 25
In 380 AD House Churches were banned. P. 53

Mission After Christendom by David Smith

I thought I'd throw in some quotes from David Smith's book. It is a "must-read" to discover how to do missions today. Incredibly insightful...

“Every day the church must wake up and ask itself, ‘What kind of day is today?’ for no two days are alike in her history.” P. ix

“It is not easy to live between paradigms at a point when the old model no longer works and the new one has not yet emerged.” P. 6 [this is the prelude to his discourse on liminality—the state between two states as when Israel was in captivity. “It is precisely in the acceptance and embrace of such painful dislocations that we may discover a new word gifted to us by the one who miraculously turns endings into surprise beginnings.” P. 35

The fading missionary paradigm in anachronistic but an attractive view of mission.

“With the end of the modern period in world history has also come the end of modern missions.” P. 5

“…mission model is fatally flawed by the concept of ‘conquering’ for Christ. The question of Jesus, “what does it profit one to gain the whole world and lose one’s soul?’ could be applied to the church; what if the church gained the whole whord and in the process lost its soul?” p. 8

“The church was the center the missions its periphery. We had the model here, the copy over there [in foreign countries] but the center of gravity has shifted.” P. 4

Christopher Columbus model for the past 500 years—Cristobol Colon…lit: ‘Christ-bearing colonizer.’ [This may be from another source]

“The first essential of leadership, the one above all others with regard to mission, is to see the vision of the reign of God being established in these frontier situations, and then to hold that before the church. All else is secondary.” P. 10

“…had the effect of hardening the distinctives between evangelism as an activity designed to make nominal western Christians into real believers and mission as the form of witness required overseas among primitive peoples lacking the blessing of a Christian civilization.” P. 20

“We no longer want you to come and teach us the Bible, we want you to come and read the Bible together with us”—from leader of Qoay people in Argentina p. 58

“As respect for the institutional church has declined reverence for Jesus has grown.” P. 59

“This movement [Christianity] has been deeply infiltrated by the spirit and toods of modernity and it continues to act as one of the leading global apologists for modernity through its publications and mission agencies.” P. 40

“Thanks to terror combined with preaching that the Indians had become Christians…”—Juan de Sepulveda p. 50

“[Peter] is making the painful discover that things he has always regarded as unchanging absolutes were in fact, in the light of Jesus Christ, culturally relevant.” [Acts 10 experience] p. 74

"In crossing cultures, the missionary teacher becomes a learner, the one who is in posession of divine revelation discovers new truth, and he who seeks the salvation of others finds himself converted all over again." p. 78

“God is the object of our faith and the subject of their search.” P. 79

[Quoting aKempis] “When Jesus is with us, all is well, and nothing seems hard but when Jesus is absent, everything is difficult. When Jesus does not speak to the heart, all other comfort is unavailing; but if Jesus speaks but a single world, we are greatly comforted.” P. 103

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Humpty Dumpty Church

I'm in Knoxville today with a good friend, Andy Rittenhouse. Andy leads Compassion Coalition (www.compassioncoalition.org) a wonderful intermediary that harnesses the compassion of 120 churches in the Knoxville area. They are a great model worth emulating of the power between linking churches with social services agencies, business and government to accomplish what may seem impossible. Recently the mayor called on Compassion Coalition (CC) to provide for the 8,000 evacuees of Katrina. They stepped up to the plate and within 24 hours were able to train thousands of volunteers for their work with evacuees.

CC is helping to change the face of the church in America. Many churches are like Humpty Dumpty--a huge head with a big mouth and itty bitty hands and feet. But the world is looking for a church with broad shoulders and big hands. CC, through its mission, "to inform, prepare and unite churches to transform lives and communities through the love of Christ," is helping to build such churches. Thanks Andy.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Little Place called...Efrain's

Possibly the highlight of the trip to Culiacan was stumbling across the original Efrain's Mexican Restaurant yesterday. If you know my family, we unanimously agree that Efrain's of Lafayette is the very best Mexican Restaurant in the world and to find the original...well it was like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls when you've been reading The Message all of your life. It was great. Here it is in all its glory. And look at the cool hats! It was like Leaky finding the jawbone of australopithicus africanus a Raider finding the Lost Ark. ¡Que suerte!

Pastors in Culiacan Mexico

Friday morning Sam Williams and I caught a 6:30am flight that nine hours later placed us in Culiacán Mexico, the capital city of the state of Sinaloa. Culiacán is a beautiful city of nearly a million located a couple hours north and inland from Mazatlán. We flew the final leg on Aero Literal, which was good. After all, who wants to fly on a virtual air line? We were invited by Pastor Beltazar Zamora, who was part of our city reaching meeting that we held in Cuernavaca earlier this summer. After settling into the Hotel San Marcos we were shuttled to the first meeting at Beltazars church. I gave an overview of externally focused churches and Sam followed by his sugerstick on Grace and Truth…that Jesus always led with grace followed by truth, not the other way around. Afterwards we went out for tortilla soup and a local specialty at a local chain called Pastelerias Panamá.

On Saturday, I gave a short talk on “Purpose” as related to what God has created us for (Ephesians 2:10), why God gives us leaders (Ephesians 4:11-12), the body (Hebrews 10:24), the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10)…to prepare us, encourage us, equip us and enable us to do the good works God prepared beforehand. The rest of the morning we worked with Agustín Garduño, from Cuernavaca in breakout sessions in discerning the needs and dreams of the city. One of the things we say is, “needs created opportunities” and Mexico is full of opportunities. This morning flying from Culiacán to Hermosillo I read in the paper that two of three Mexican children lived in poverty. Three million of them work and millions do not attend school. That is a lot of opportunity.

The conference ended at 2pm…then we went to lunch. Sinaloa has a special cut of beef, cut from the filet and the ribs. Though it looks like a flank steak or skirt steak, the meat was incredibly tasty and tender. We were told that each beeve has only two kilos of this cut. I think it was called “cabrito.” During lunch we talked with Lucano, the founding pastor of Comunidad Cristiana Church—the largest church in the city…around 1700 in three services. Lucano and his wife’s family started the church 20 years ago. He is very sharp--bi-vocational since he also owns a construction company. His son is getting his MBA from Harvard. Now here is the most interesting part…around five years ago the Lord clearly showed Lucano and the leadership of the church that their success was not to be measured inside the church but by what happens outside the church in the community. They could not bring all of the community to the church but the church could go into all of the community! They were to see the city as their church. They are engaged with the poor, with children, the disabled….they’ve serves 12,000 people through their medical clinic. If this were not enough, they also support 25 pastors who serve in the mountain regions to the tune of $100 / month. Truly this is a model, not just for Mexico but for any country. I couldn’t help but feel so thankful to be exposed to such a company of the committed.

After the late lunch we went back to the hotel to hopefully catch the end of the SC-Notre Dame Game but had to settle for Florida and LSU. But we were kept up to speed via the ticker and game updates. Looks like we missed a great day of football. At around 8:30 Sam and I wandered over to Panama’s for more tortilla soup. There we found Baltazar, his wife, and Carlos Miller. We talked for another hour or so about churches serving outside their walls. Both of the Zamoras have a heart for the city. Mrs. Zamora made an interesting observation. She assumed that since the churches that come to Mexico on mission trips always do something to serve the poor, she assumed that’s what they always do in the states! She was surprised to learn that it is only when we cross a border do we get a heart for the poor and those on the margins.

This morning Sam and I were supposed to preach in Baltazar’s church and Lucano’s church but at 8:10 I got a call from “Literal Airlines” to tell me that our flight to Guadalajara had been cancelled and if we wanted to leave town today we had to take the 9:20am flight to Hermosillo on to Phoenix and then into Denver. You might say we “left the church in the lurch” but we had to split. Sure hope they got our messages…..

Just got home a bit before 11pm. Man it has been one long day!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lessons from the Leadership Community

The second gathering of the third leadership community for externally focused churches finished up at noon today. Very powerful learning experience. Don Simmons was absolutely on the mark. Yesterday he outlined the essential components for volunteer engagement in the acrostic TAFERR.
Training—Just in time and just in place. If it’s important…train for it
Affirmation—for who they are… not for what they do. Don’t affirm for their “success” but for their presence…heck, they just showed up!
Feedback—letting people know how they are doing. “Can I offer you some feedback?” Three types of feedback

Compliments—like blowing bubbles…. “Nice job”
Critique—like throwing a baseball at someone’s head…almost always hurts and leaves a bruise
Critique—like tossing a Nerf ball…. “The next time you can….”

Volunteers are worth $37.84 / hour.
Evaluate the process—did the process work? If you take evaluations you must let people know what you are doing with it or they will stop filling them out
Honor for performance—“I noticed you did… Honor people in the way they want to be honored, not what is convenient.
Reflection—So what? / Now what? Did I make any difference? Every volunteer wants to impact some change. People quit when they feel that nobody noticed and they made no difference. Reflective question could include:
What difference do you think you made today? Don asked a non-believer in a blood drive what difference he made and the man answered, “I just saved somebody’s life.” Don linked that exchange to the redemptive power of the gospel.
What Scriptures resonate with your experience today? Can you think of a similar experience where Jesus did something similar?
What images come to your mind?

“There are burning bushes where you can see God but most people just pick the blackberries.”—Don Simmons

“I had the experience but missed the meaning.” Attributed to both TS Elliott and CS Lewis

As people reflect that start with what is seen and physical—“I learned to use a band saw” but move to spiritual and invisible.

We need to keep connecting gospel to service or people will just serve with Kiwanas.
Always answer “why” people are doing this. “My service connects to a greater purpose.” Don told the story of a woman who was snapping bushels of green beans for a missions fair but was visualizing her beans nourishing future missionaries. Two years later a couple returned to the church from Kabul, Afghanistan that were called into missions at the missions fair. The woman was able to say, “My beans did this.” We have to learn to make the connections.
One of the insights he brought to the group was the need for reflection after a serving opportunity. Don cited a study done with two groups of college students that served in an orphanage overseas. One group from Vanderbilt University had a time of reflection after the trip and the group from Occidental College was explicitly asked not to talk about the trip at all. The Vanderbilt group returned the next year and had invited many of their friends. No one from Occidental College showed up.

So what? Did I make a difference?
Now what? Would I do this again and will I make it part of my life?

This was a great insight for all of us. I found myself thinking, “Service with reflection makes the service ten times more valuable than service alone. Service without reflection diminishes service by ten. Therefore service with reflection is a hundred fold more reflective than service alone.”

Peter Morin of Faith Lutheran Golden did the devotion this morning and after a bit of Lectio Divina he shared a diagram in the form of a “Figure 8” and talked about “the journey inward” and “the journey outward.” It is a powerful concept that presents the growth / discipleship model not as a destination (ala 101, 201, 301, etc) but rather a journey. “You can start at any place because the journey inward leads outward and the journey outward leads inward.”

Our discussion yesterday afternoon was about volunteers and laborers for the harvest (Matthew 9). How do we move volunteers to become laborers? One group came up with a helpful model in the form of an hourglass—with the upper glass representing people coming into the church as volunteers but through an intentional process, being transformed into laborers in the bottom glass and then deployed into the community. Hope Church from Oakdale MN, turned the diagram on its side and came up with a model built around “Cast, Catch and Release.” It was all pretty cool.

Our host church set up a Twilight river boat cruise on the Sacramento River--really relaxing. Afterwards we went to dinner at California Fats in Old Town Sacramento. We finished up this morning with six month “Action Learning Plans” and then I took off for the airport hoping to catch the 2:05 flight to Denver since I have to leave for Mexico at 6 tomorrow morning but no such luck. The plane was full! Rats! I don't get out til after 5pm! But I just discovered for $6.95 I can get a day of Internet service. Life is good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Leadership Community Day 1

Got into Sacramento last night at 7:30 and Rich Lotterhos met me at Baggage Claim. His flight was also delayed three hours so we took the same rental car down to the Holiday Inn Express...across HWY 99 from First Baptist Church of Elk Grove--the externally focused church that is hosting the second gathering of our third Leadership Community.

Today went very well--as good a first day as we have had. We had talented and passionate teams from ten churches who came ready to learn and contribute. Rich did a great job facilitating the meeting and the WildWorks team of Michael Lagaki and Chris Kutach added a lot of value by capturing graphically and digitally what was discovered. Our "presenter"--the one who adds a bit of grist to the intellectual mill was Don Simmons of Leadership Training Network. Don gave a 4o minute presentation on ten reasons why volunteers serve. Don is a humorous, informed and probably one of the top two or three experts in the subject of mobilizing volunteers. Great stuff.

One exercise we got from Jeff Waldo from University Baptist Church in Houston. Jeff recently had a kidney transplant and could not attend this gathering but he did give us a great concept. Jeff is getting his masters from University in Houston in "Future Studies." UH is the only university in the country to offer such a degree. Futurists create "plausibility scenarios" taking six areas into account--Social, Technology, Economic, Environmental, Politics (to which Jeff adds Religion) to create the accrostic STEEPR. Like the men of Issachar, futurists seek to understand the times...an essential skill for leaders.

After a great dinner at FBEG Rich and I went and caught much of the Kings / Mavericks NBA game before returning to the hotel and finding Pappy O'Daniel pardening the Soggy Bottom Boys and hiring them to be his brain trust. Does it get better than that?

Tim Keller's "The Missional Church"

I’m sitting in seat 10-C on a 737-300, parked on the DIA tarmac… and it looks like we’ll be here for a while…another hour and a half, according to the last announcement. Seatbelt signs are off, the flight deck door is open for tours and coffee will soon be coming down the aisle. And I have 5:23 hours on my laptop battery.

I just finished reading at article by Tim Keller of Redeemer Pres in NYC on “The Missional Church.” Keller has a keen mind and great insight. He is reluctant to write more books (after Ministry of Mercy) but his articles are gems. This one is dated June 2001. I believe I picked these up when Tom Shirk and I were at Redeemer in August. After introductory paragraphs on the rise and fall of Christendom, Keller gives outlines five elements of a missional church. I’ll reproduce them here because they are worthy of contemplation.

1. Discourse in the vernacular
In “Christendom” there is little difference between the language inside and outside of the church. Documents of the early US Congress, for example, are riddled with allusions to and references from the Bible. Biblical technical terms are well-known inside and outside. In a mission church, however, terms must be explained
The missional church avoids “tribal” language, stylized prayer language, unnecessary evangelical pious “jargon,” and archaic language that seeks to set a “spiritual tone”
The missional church avoids “we-them” language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us
The missional church avoids sentimental, pompous, “inspirational” talk. Instead we engage the culture with gentle, self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates. Humility + joy = gospel irony and realism
The missional church avoids ever talking as if non-believing people are not present. If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood will find their way in or be invited
Unless all of the above is the outflow of a truly humble-bold gospel-changed heart, it is all just “marketing” and “spin.”

2. Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel
In Christendom” it is possible to simply exhort Christianized people to “do what they know they should.” There is little or no real engagement, listening, or persuasion. It is more a matter of exhortation (and often, heavy reliance on guilt). In a missional church preaching an communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about “old times”
To “enter” means to show sympathy toward and deep acquaintance with the literature, music, theater, etc. of the existing culture’s hopes, dreams, “heroic” narratives, fears.
The older culture’s story was—to be a good person, a good father / mother, son / daughter, to live a decent, merciful, good life
Now the culture’s story is—a) to be free and self-created and authentic (theme of freedom from oppression), and b) to make the world safe for everyone else to be the same (theme of inclusion of the “other; justice)
To “re-tell” means to show how only in Christ can we have freedom without slavery and embracing the “other” without injustice.

3. Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation
In “Christendom” you can afford to train people just in prayer, Bible study, evangelism—private world skills—because they are not facing radically non-Christian values in their public life—where they work, in their neighborhood, etc
In a “missional” church, the laity needs theological education to “think Christianly” about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. They need to know: a) what cultural practices are common grace and to be embraced, b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, c) what practices can be adapted / revised
In a “missional” situation, lay people renewing and transforming the culture through distinctively Christian vocations must be lifted up as real “kingdom work” and ministry along with the traditional ministry of the Word
Finally, Christians will have to use the gospel to demonstrate true, Biblical love and “tolerance” in “the public square” toward those with whom we deeply differ. This tolerance should equal or exceed that which opposing views show toward Christians. The charge of intolerance is perhaps the main “defeater” of the gospel in the non-Christian west.

4. Create Christian community, which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive
In Christendom, “fellowship” is basically just a set of nurturing relationships, support and accountability. That is necessary, of course
In a missional church however, Christian community must go beyond that to embody a “counter-culture,” showing the world how radically different a Christian society is with regard to sex, money and power
In sex. We avoid both the secular society’s idolization of sex and traditional society’s fear of sex. We also exhibit love rather than hostility or fear toward those whose seual life patterns are different
In money. We promote a radically generous commitment of time, money, relationships, and living space to social justice and the needs of the poor, the immigrant, the economically and physically weak
In power. We are committed to power-sharing and relationship-building between races and classes that are alienated outside of the Body of Christ
In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly “counter-intuitive” to American observers. It breaks their ability to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative. Only this kind of church has any chance in the non-Christian west.

5. Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level
In Christendom, when “everyone was a Christian” it was necessary (perhaps) for a church to define itself over against other churches. That is, to get an identity you had to say, “we are not like that church over there, or those Christians over here”
Today, however, it is much more illuminating and helpful for a church to define itself over against “the world”—the values of the non-Christian culture. It is very important that we not spend our time bashing anc criticizing other kinds of churches. That simply plays into the common “defeater” that Christians are all intolerant
While we have to align ourselves in denominations that share many of our distinctives, at the local level we should cooperate and reach out to and support the other congregations and churches in our local area. This will raise many thorny issues, of course, but our bias should be in the direction of cooperation.

Case Study
Let me show you how this goes beyond any “program.” These are elements that have to be present in every area of the church. So for example, what makes a small group “missional” is not necessarily one which is doing some kind of specific “evangelism” program (though that is to be recommended). Rather, 1) if its members love and talk positively about the city / neighborhood, 2) if they speak in language that is not filled with pious tribal or technical terms and phrases, nor disdainful and embattled language, 3) if in their Bible study they apply the gospel to the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture, 4) if they are obviously interested in and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically, 5) if they exhibit deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money and purity and respect with regard to the opposite sex, and show humility toward people of other races and cultures, 6) they do not bash other Christians and churches—then seekers and non-believing people from the city a) will be invited and b) will come and will stay as they explore spiritual issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional “Christianized” people.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Emmanuel Baptist Church

Yesterday John Lamb (JL) and I drove to Colorado Springs for the 10:30 service at Emmanuel Baptist Church (www.emmanuel-cs.org). Emmanual is part of a Leadership Community for Externally Focused Churches that will convene in California tomorrow for the second time. The church is led, pastored and inspired by Reverend Benjamin Reynolds and Emmanuel is doing a great job living outside themselves and becoming a church that is building the kingdom.

It was a wonderful experience of worship along with a great message by associate pastor, Cleveland A. Thompson. Pastor Thompson spoke on Samson and how Satan will take something we love to get us off track. Samson's strength was not in his hair but in his service to God (remember, the hair was part of being a Nazarite in service to God). Pastor Thompson ended his message with the two lessons his grade school teacher taught him--first, "How to spell church." Second, when doing addition...the need to "carry the one" when the column can't hold all the numbers. His teacher didn't want students to write "1" on the next column but simply to discipline themselves to remember that they had to carry the one. You can imagine how the one became "THE ONE"--the invisible God, who when added to any equation, made the difference. It was powerful. Two hours flew by.

After church we stopped by the Black-eyed Pea for some Shepherd's Pie.

Leadership Network and INC. Magazine

There were two interesting articles in INC. Magazine this month that related to Leadership Network's Leadership Communities. The first was an article entitled Ready, Set, Strategize, a story of how one consultant, Keith McFarland, is trying to revolutionize strategic planning by making it a 48-hour process rather than a six month long process. His assumptions are that "nobody has the patience to follow up on old-fashioned strategic planning." He helps enterprises draft strategic plans in just 48 hours by...
  1. Assign Homework--Ask participants to outline key opportunites and challenges before the strategyh sessions begin
  2. Stay Focused--Ban cell phones and BlackBerrys and keep breaks to a minimum.
  3. Watch the clock--Set time limits for goal-setting exercises--but refuse to adjourn meetings until a consensus is reached.
  4. Lighten up--McFarland conducts sessions barefoot, and livens proceedings by showing clips from films like Caddyshack.
  5. Keep at it--the first 48 hours are only the beginning. Strategic goasl should be revisited every 90 days.

To anyone who has been part of a Leadership Community, these certainly look familiar don't they?

The second connection between LN and INC. was a brief article on getting feedback from clients and customers via an online surveys. "You may not always like what they have to say, but at least you'll be informed." Leadership Network has found online surveys (we use Zoomerang) to get feedback from meetings and events. We may not always like what we hear but we certainly are informed to make improvements and iterations.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Quotes from October

From Sources of Power by Gary Klein

[On the Coke – Pepsi Challenge…the reason Coke created new Coke since in blind taste tests people preferred the taste of Pepsi] “No one drinks Coke blind. We transfer sensations of the Coke taste, all of the unconscious associations. We have of the brand, the image, the can and even the unmistakable red of the logo. The mistake Coke made was in attributing their loss in share to Pepsi entirely to the product…Pepsi was focusing on youth and made Michael Jackson the spokesman.” [There is also the bias of taste test sips since people on the first sip prefer the sweeter taste] p. 166

“Every human change begins with someone having an intention, taking an initiative. This could range from planning a military invasion to setting up a university, inventing electricity to electrifying a political campaign, creating a new government to investing in a new business venture. At the heart of the matter lies the question of who initiates a change, in what circumstances, for what reason, proceeding by what means toward what outcome.” Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, p. 17

“No single discipline—philosophy, psychology, history, political science—anyone can deal adequately with the phenomenon of causation because the subject lies outside as well as inside every discipline. A multidiscipline is necessary to borrow from and synthesize existing intellectual resources, and to generate new ones in the process, a discipline that can approach causation using the widest array of conceptual and empirical tools. That discipline is leadership—the X factor in historic causation.” Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, p. 22

Change and Transformation
“We must distinguish here between the verbs “change” and “transform,” using exacting definitions. To change is to substitute one thing for another, to give and take, to exchange places, to pass from one place to another. These are the kinds of changes I attribute to transactional leadership. But to transform something cuts much more profoundly. It is to cause a metamorphosis in form or structure, a change in the very condition or nature of a thing, a change into another substance, a radical change in outward form or inner character, as when a frog is transformed into a prince or a carriage maker into an auto factory. It is change of this breadth and depth that is fostered in transforming leadership.” Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, P. 24

“Leaders take the initiative in mobilizing people for participation in the processes of change, encouraging a sense of collective identity and collective efficacy, which in turn brings stronger feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy, described by Bernard Bass as an enhanced ‘sense of meaningfulness in their work and lives.’ Bu pursuing transformational change, people can transform themselves.” [emphasis Eric’s] Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, P. 27

“Virtue refers to the ‘old-fashioned’ norms of conduct—habits of action—such as chastity, sobriety, cleanliness, honesty in personal relationships, self-control…Ethics reflect modes of more formal and transactional conduct—integrity, promise keeping, trustworthiness, reciprocity, accountability—supremely expressed in the golden rule…Bill Clinton was roundly criticized for his unvirtuous conduct with a young White house intern. Still, he was found more gravely at fault—and was impeached—for lying about it. In this case the American public seemed to understand the difference between virtue and ethics.” Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, P. 28

Battle planning can be defined as constant groping for an understanding of the situation. In civilian life, too, this will be the first question a fire chief asks of his men, or a surgeon of a nurse. The next question is predictable too: what can be done to maintain or change the situation? Generals must be analysts of causation.” Transforming Leadership, James MacGregor Burns, P. 57

"We want something new and innovative that has stood the test of time." John Handy quoting management in any organization

“Old things are passing away. All things may become new. Not by magic, nor by wishful thinking, but by self-sacrifice and the will to bring them about in the name of Jesus Christ.” John R. Mott

Religious truth was not intended merely to be contemplated; it was designed to be done. Our moral and religious life is not a train of thoughts but a life of action, of constant exertion of the will.” John R. Mott

John Mott Application Questions:
What does this mean to me?
What should this mean to others through me?

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage." Lao Tzu

“On earth, we are wayfarers, always on the go. This means that we have to keep on moving forward. Therefore, be always unhappy about where you are if you want to reach what you are not. If you are pleased with what you are, you have stopped already. If you say; ‘It is enough,’ you are lost. Keep on walking, moving forward, trying for the goal. Don’t try to stop on the way, or to go back, or to deviate from it.”
-- St. Augustine: (Sermon, 169.18)

“There are burning bushes where you can see God but most people just pick the blackberries.”—Don Simmons

“I had the experience but missed the meaning.” Attributed to both TS Elliott and CS Lewis

"Know your stuff; Know who you are stuffing; Stuff it!" Advise to Don Simmons from professor.

"Candor...is a willingness to speak the unspeakable, to expose unfulfilled commitements, to air the conflicts that undermine apparent consensus. Candor means that people express their real opinions." Ram Charan, "Conquering a Culture of Indecision," Harvard Business Review, April, 2001

"This city is a cooking pot, and we are the meat." Ezekiel 11:3

"When I pick up a book, I expect the introduction to tell me what question the author intends to answer. Then I look at what is emphasized--usually in boldface or italics--to see whether the author stays focused on that question. I also appreciate it when the author explains how the book is organized, because that affects how easy it is to assimilate the information." Robert Morris, Been There, Read That, HBR October 2005, p. 22

On Missions
"Mission is less about the transportation of God from one place to another and more about the identification ofa aGod who is already there. It is almost as if being a good missionary means having really good eyesight. You see God where others don't. And then you point him out.--Rob Bell, in Life and Leadership, Volume 5, Issue 7

On Impact
"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt?"--Frederick Buechner in Life and Leadership, Volume 5, Issue 7

On Risk
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."--Mark Twain in Life and Leadership, Volume 5, Issue 7

On Simplicity
"When the solution is simple, God is answering."--Albert Einstein in Life and Leadership,Volume 5, Issue 7

On Creativity
"When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me what I did at work. I told her that I worked at the college--that my job was to teach people to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, 'You mean they forgot?'"--Howard Ikemoto in Life and Leadership, Volume 5, Issue 7

Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network

Yesterday I was in Tulsa to be with Chris and Anna Beach, directors of Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network. Cornerstone is a great Picture of how one couple with a God-given vision can impact and change the world. They are currently networking 315 churches of Tulsa. The great thing about their ministry is they really do assist churches love and serve their community (as opposed to asking churches to help them accomplish their ministry.) Among the beautiful things about their model is that people in need are connected relationally to churches and caring people in those churches.

From the Website (www.tulsacan.org)Cornerstone Assistance Network assembles partnerships and collaborations that connect and equip churches and ministries to transform lives through services that show the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.

Housed in our new Community Missions Resource Center, a 32,000-square-foot multipurpose facility, Cornerstone provides churches and ministries with more resources to better reach out and transform the lives of the thousands of hurting people in our community.
As the intermediary for the Oklahoma Faith-Based Liaison office in eastern Oklahoma, Cornerstone relies on its facilities to provide:• Space for ministry training• Collection area for donated food, clothes, furniture, appliances, and household items• Car repair space for churches to use for extensive repairs and for a backup to their own car care clinics• Computer collection and repair area to help churches establish computer labs• Conference space for ministry workshops• Storage area for donated paint and construction materials• Space for printing press operations• Kitchen, showers, lockers, and lunchroom• Parking area for donated cars• Cornerstone's Work Opportunity Center for job training opportunities

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I'm done!...well, almost done

At 3pm this afternoon, after chaining myself to a chair at the kitchen table (with a tether long enough to reach the refrigerator) for nine hours, I sent off the (close to) final draft of another book project Rick Rusaw and I have been working on since May. I then put on a pair of shorts, a T shirt, grabbed my IPod and my Nordic Walking Sticks and went for an hour and a half walk on the open space west of our house. In September, while I walked in the mornings I've been listening to downloaded books on my IPod--Freakonomics, Between the Seas, John Adams (the two previous books by David McCullough) and a book on Benjamin Franklin that I just finished yesterday called A Great Improvisation : Franklin, France, and the Birth of America by Stacy Schiff. I have no more books on my IPod so I celebrated the near completion of the book by listening to Rascal Flatts. It doesn't get better than that--85 degrees, sun shining and Rascal Flatts singing. What I wasn't prepared for was the exhilaration of finishing the most grueling part of this book. I reflect on Thomas Paine's words:

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."

Now Liz and I will go to dinner, come home, sit on the couch, hold hands, maybe make some popcorn and watch Extreme Makeover, Home Edition and Desperate Housewives. All is well in the world today.