Friday, December 16, 2005


I snagged this off Marc van der Woude's blog a few months back. I believe this is good insight on the kingdom and control. Often I fear that I am leading in a very control oriented organization that limits the free movement of the spirit. By that I do not mean that there are bad people in the organization, but that the very nature of leading something big and structured can limit us in our ability to hear and quickly respond to the Spirit. The effects of being large are incredible, but the hazards loom large as well. When the Spirit says to a leader . . ."jump, move, change, go" there can be the self imposed trap of organizational realities.

This surfaced a few weeks ago when one gifted leader in our organization wanted to run new evangelistic leadership training program in a new city (with students from other schools). However, another very gifted and talented leader is "in charge" of that city. This is complicated by the fact that these leaders do not know each other and they think a bit differently about how to get the job done. Whatever leader number one does gets handed off (or dropped, or left) for the the leader that remains in the city. So now (because of our system) both these leaders need to burn some energy to work out what needs to take place - if anything at all. No one is "wrong" but the system can easily generate more work in coordination than in actually getting to the work of the mission.

I am not sure what to do about this - because, like most of us, I enjoy an amount of organization and control - and yet at the same time I long for the Spirit to move us in wild, effective and uncontrolled ways.

Here is what Mark said about his journey:

When I was a leader in student ministry, in my early twenties, I exercised control, strongly pushing my well-meant reformation plans, and hurting people in the process. Then God moved me out of this ministry, and led me in a 'desert period' which involved breaking down selfish ambitions and motives, and a first-hand experience with controlling leadership in my work situation. Not very pleasant, but surely worthwhile to experience it from the other end of the spectrum. Then God led me in period of spiritual renewal, inner healing and new freedom. These are some principles that helped me over the years:

1. The realization that, as Winkie Pratney puts it, "God is God and I am not." Christ builds His church, not me. I just submit to Him and do what He tells me to do. So there's really nothing I have to accomplish for Him, He is very well able to handle his own work, and I can live out of grace.

2. The Body of Christ is organic and carries life. The only thing we have to do is acknowledge this and bless/release godly life and connections. It's very similar to gardening work: developing an eye for life and hidden potential, watering and fertilizing the soil, pruning to increase fruit. Never turn the Body into an organization, it's the fastest receipt to kill life.

3. The focus of any ministry should be to release others into their calling and destiny. This is very different from expecting others to serve our agenda or stage performance. People we serve/invest in, should always experience grace and space to make their own decisions, and find their own track with God, also when that contradicts our direct personal interests.

4. Working in teams instead of on our own. Good teamwork by nature is interdependent, and doesn't give much space for control, as we always have to communicate and be accountable.

5. Don't hold tightly to any program or agenda, but allow and expect the Holy Spirit to change and inspire on the way. This is no excuse for bad planning, just a continual realization that God's ways and plans are higher than ours, and that we better make sure we're on His page.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Orleans Road Trip

I spent part of last week in New Orleans with my good friend Rick Amos. Rick is coordinating the ongoing relief efforts of the Campus Ministry with Campus Crusade. He is doing a great job in a very chaotic setting. You can pray for Mouse and Kevin - two young leaders on the ground making a huge difference.

So far over 2800 students and volunteers from over 100 universities and 15 churches have worked over 8000 workdays in the region. In Pass Christian they have cleaned out over 500 homes, schools and churches. In New Orleans we helped to distribute 35,000 meals and 7,000 evangelistic pieces. Pretty amazing.

All that said, there is still a ton of work to be done and a ton of work available. Rick and his team have made connections with Desire Stree Ministries to figure out some next steps. Desire Street has a good understanding of the current situation and they are there for the long haul (as well as many others).

So this Spring there is the real possiblility of sending thousands of students a week to NO during Spring Break. One idea on the table is to recruit broadly from universities so hundreds of pre-believers will show up and be a part of the mix. Pray for Rick and Pete & Chanin Kelly, Robyn Eads and the whole RedRiver leadership team as they figure this out.

All this to say - if you have anyway to leverage some students to get down to NO - DO IT! This is a fantastic opportunity for good words and good deeds. You can see all the opportunities here: (having some link probs).

Monday, December 05, 2005

Percentage Doesn't Matter

Often times when talking about launching movements in ethnic contexts, people will mention how small the student population is for that ethnicity on their campus. Conventional wisdom would have us think that this would make a great difference in our ability to launch a spiritual movement. Oh how the conventional can fool us.

The reality is that any pocket (regardless of size) has the potential to make a great impact on the greater whole. The key issue is surfacing the spiritual leadership and unleashing it.

On larger campuses students in minority cultures are easily identifiable and already organized. With relatively little effort, spiritual leadership can be identified in these groups. Scott Crocker would routinely begin launching Impact movements by initiating a conversation with the first black student he could have a conversation with. More than likely, a member of the minority group will know what is taking place on that campus for the entire group. Who are the key leaders? Who are the spiritual leaders? Is there anything spiritually going on? Scott would simply introduce himself as a minister and begin decoding the campus through information gathered from this initial contact.

A small minority culture can result in much less work with more results. If God would allow us to surface a key leader, this group is easily reached very quickly . . . And at the same time can jump into launching in other categories. If there are only 50 black students a campus and there is a radical missional student among them, it will not be long before the entire population hears about Jesus – and even greater things will happen.

Kevin Lillistrand (Regional Director in the Great Lakes) has recently helped me see how the send component is forceful apologetic for our ethnic audiences. In other words, they may represent a small slice of the population, but a simple movement can produce an abundance of fruit for the kingdom and may be relatively easy to get to. Like Baylor (bastion of black hope) - there are only about 500 (or less) African American students, but Impact has a significant presents among the entire school – but Baylor is not even among the top 100 schools as far as ethnic population. If we find the right leader, this can be an easy great commission win.
And just for kicks . . .check out our Impact Staff Alma Maters (# of staff). Most of these schools do not have a huge ethnic student population. Penn? Wheaton? Baylor? St. Cloud State?

  • Baylor University (2)
  • BOCES Nursing School
  • Central Michigan University (2)
  • Cleveland State University
  • Daemen College
  • Duke University
  • East Carolina University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Florida State University
  • Hampton University
  • Howard University
  • Indiana University
  • James Madison University
  • Loyola University-Chicago
  • North Carolina A&T University (2)
  • North Carolina State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University (2)
  • San Diego State University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Syracuse University
  • The College of William & Mary
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Maine
  • University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
  • University of North Carolina (3)
  • University of Oregon!! (3)
  • University of Pennsylvania (4)
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of South Carolina-Upstate
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Technological University
  • Wayne State University
  • Wheaton College