Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christianity's Real Record

This is not really on topic, but it is still very interesting. Religion, Murder and Power.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good Reading: Growth and Heart

I found these three books to be very helpful in my journey. I can easily be sidetracked by activity, so it is essential that I put concentrated effort into the development of my person.

Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (J-B Leadership Network Series)
Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (J-B Leadership Network Series) by Reggie McNeal. Reggie! - nuff said. If you ever have a chance to hear him - do it. He is winsome and real and has sage advice.

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality
Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Henry Cloud. Henry nails issues of growth for leaders (or anybody). Rarely are we stymied by our abilities - there is usually something else in the way.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash the Power of Authentic Life in Christ
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash the Power of Authentic Life in Christ by Peter Scazzero. Peter takes you on a journey involving deep positive change. As the tag line says - "It is impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good Reading: Mission & Organization

Each of these are secular offerings with huge kingdom implications. 'Starfish' is a must read - it screams of kingdom activity.

On Mission:
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. The power of decentralized organizations. Preach it!

Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution
Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble. If you are leading major change in an organization - this is a must read. I wish I had it 5 years ago!

Comanches: The History of a People
Comanches: The History of a People by T.R. Fehrenbach. The Comanches were a decentralized power that held Western advances at bay for hundreds of years. In 'Starfish' Ori and company highlight the Apache a massive movable unstoppable force . . . but it was the Comanche that took out the Apache. A very intriguing read with tons of missional implications (and bloody unpleasent historical realities as well).

Monday, November 20, 2006


A few weeks ago I was privileged to speak at the UCLA fall retreat. The most intriguing part (for me) was the final morning. With the whole group gathered, we set about on a missional experience. We spent about 30 minutes in discussion about the parable of the soils in relation to the farmer (throwing seed everywhere), the seed (potent stuff) and the soil (what really determined the results).

Then, In small groups, I had them identify every pocket of people we could think of at UCLA. Overall, we had to have about 100 listed on the board (or on the powerpoint & vpu). The final step was to gather by groups that you wanted to influence. This was an exercise in chaos, but in the end we had over 30 groups working out plans to influence a particular segment of campus. Some of the plans where awesome, and some pretty simple, but it was great to see the students (60% of which where freshman and sophomores) engage in missional thinking.

Ask John Book, the UCLA director, how the plans are unfolding.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good News/Good Deeds Network

Here are few words on Good News/Good Deeds Network from Chip Scivicque <>. I was a part of these meetings in Colorado. It was interesting to see how this shift is taking place. I believe very exciting things are afoot.


I wish every one of you could have been with us at Tango Lodge 3 weeks ago. The interaction (and food!) was great, and we all moved further down the road of understanding the "massive shift of tectonic plates" (Reggie McNeal's words) that is occurring in our world toward living out the Gospel in word and deed - "demonstration as context for presentation…from church-based leadership to apostolic leadership…from making disciples to deploying missionaries in a Kingdom movement." We also got a lot of work done re: next steps.

Reggie also encouraged us to "spread the virus" of combining the compassionate works and words of the Gospel in our ministry. I have had enough personal interaction with each of you to know that you are "infected," so this is the beginning of an informal network of infected leaders who can work together to spread the virus and help lead the USCM to make this shift wisely and well. Here's a slice of where we are and where we're going:

  • Mark Gauthier, Marc Rudder, and Keith Bubalo are looking at freeing some leaders up to give more attention to the good news/good deeds shift - more later
  • By Christmas, all the regional teams will have done the regional team exercise we proposed - discussing the direction-setting document, reading Katrina stories, and evaluating Katrina involvement from their region. The next step is asking local teams to do the same.
  • A lot of staff and regions are experimenting with good news/good deeds efforts (e.g. GPI "Stop-out" to Thailand, combining campus ministry and tsunami work; Pete Kelly and his team connecting campus ministry with rebuilding the city of New Orleans; the Red River trying a community service-oriented Winter Conference, and a number of local initiatives)
  • I have a list of things I'll be asking you to do during the spring that I believe will take only a little work but result in significant impact - I'll be in touch.
  • We'll have website or blog (or both) up in few weeks with all the good news/good deeds documents on it, stories, a way for you to post things, etc.
I'll close with an Eric Swanson observation of "the new evangelistic question." Instead of us leading with, "If you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?" it's the unbeliever asking us: "Who are you? And Why are you doing this?" (Mt. 5:16). Hope you have a great weekend, and happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rutz on Haggard

Jim Rutz has an interesting movement take on the tragic situation with Ted Haggard. It is worth a read. Jim is the kind of guy that does not shy away from sharing his feelings about the institutional church - especially in regard to hierarchy and leaders in isolation.

Here is sample.

The centerpiece of most churches today is not the "altar" but the pedestal – a slippery, invisible pedestal that elevates the pastor above the people, for better or worse.

We can blame Ted for not seeking help. But there is a much greater blame in this case, and it must be aimed at the pastor-centered church system that does not and cannot provide ongoing help and correction.

About 10 years ago, I suggested to Ted that he go whole hog and decentralize his church into a full-on house church model – which has leaders, but no clergy class. He good-naturedly said I was 20 years ahead of my time. Hmm. Perhaps I was only 10 years ahead of my time. If Ted had been in a small, high-accountability, house-church group, I think they could have kept him out of trouble.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The New Faces of Christianity

I spent part of my weekend dabbling in The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins – an pretty intriguing read.   

Here is a summary of sorts (taking from Joel News I believe).
The spread of Christianity throughout the developing world has been unprecedented. In Africa between 1900 and 2000, the number of Christians grew from 10 million to 360 million, from 10 percent of the population to 46 percent.

How is this happening? According to Jenkins, at least three factors are at work:

  1. the Bible as a living Word from God;
  2. a supernatural worldview
  3. the adaptation of the faith to the culture of the recipients. They own it.

Jenkins writes:

    While missionaries began the process of Christianization, they had little control over how or where that path might lead. As we trace the spread of Christianity across Africa and Asia from the nineteenth century onward, we see the role of grassroots means of diffusing beliefs, through migrants and travelers, across family and social networks. As it passed from community to community, the message was subtly transformed. Missionaries might introduce ideas, but these would only succeed and gain adherents if they appealed to a local audience, if they made sense in local terms. . . . Missionaries could successfully introduce the Christian framework and the texts that supported it, but once they had done so, these beliefs acquired lives of their own.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Powerful Decline

There is a sad state of affairs in the old mainline denominatioins, but at the same time, this may be the start of renewall for the masses. Growing up Lutheran, I have a special place in my heart for the old systems - as flawed as they may be. Read this.

Excerpt (in regard to the Presbyterian Church USA):

[In] 1965, when membership peaked at 4,254,597, and the church's liberals proposed a new confession. "The Confession of 1967," named for the year it was adopted, downplayed the authority of the Bible in favor of assorted social issues. By the end of 1999, membership had plummeted to 2,560,201, a 39.8 percent drop.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fireseed Anthology: A postmodern approach to ancient faith

Millie Carter started this blog as a discussion on reaching a deeply entrenched post modern culture - I especially like here description of the busy staff life.

The Fall semester rolls around and the machine keeps pumping. Two days into planning, staff member’s calendars begin to fill. Fall Retreat in October, staff conference in November, winter conference, trips to campuses around the state to give lift to ministries, staff meetings, phone calls and discipleship appointments…the list goes on. Where is the time to reach out to those who don’t know or have not experienced Christ? It is hard to find unless you call it a survey.

Under our current model of planting movements, it is my understanding that our primary method is to surface strong believing students and to coach them to lead a movement on their campus. What usually results is a glorified Bible Study with few reports of totally transformed lives from darkness to light.

At a Catalytic Training school, I head a speaker who said that Dr. Bright used to say WINBUILDSEND almost as if it was one word or one thing. Often, enhanced by our structures (randoms, Bible studies, retreats, conferences), we tend to divide the process into three separate compartments and few within our ministries experience the full transformational process.

Ouch - something must be done!

Fireseed Anthology: A postmodern approach to ancient faith

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

USCM and Leading Change

What follows is a quickie evaluation of my leadership experience over the past 4 years. It has been a fantastic ride filled with wonderful people, Godly leaders and new and challenging paradigms.

We have attempted to lead a major shift in the thinking and functioning of the US Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. The hope was to enable the orgnaization to move powerfully ahead in Asian American, African American and Hispanic contexts. Not an easy task for a 50+ year old organization that is pretty set in its ways (including the thought that we are very innovative). And we are pretty white to boot.

So – as an exercise in learning (an autopsy even), I have taken the key steps from Kotter’s leading change (remember this one) and evaluated our (my) performance. Here are the random musings (read if you care). This is by no means comprehensive, but it is a start.

1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
Well – I think this was being set in motion by the National Director (Mark Gauthier) and company and I was asked to be part of the mix. Sam Osterloh gave a wonderful talk at CSU in 2003 that really set the tone for our next steps (Cornelius and Peter from Acts 10). I felt as if we were poised for some very radical shifts (and indeed some amazing things have happened).

Unfortunately, much of what we were communicating urgently was interprited as a critique of our traditionall methodology (and I have to own this). Without intending to, the new direction was seen as a wholesale indictment of our history. We did not talk that much about the old intentionally, but in race issues, new direction can often feel very condemning of the past. My communication was not as precise as it needed to be. Much of the urgency we needed was dampened by a feeling of condemnation.

However, I think the ethnic staff felt the urgency, as well as those working in metro situations . . . .

2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
This was indeed a stumbling block. Upon entering the role, there were only 4 regional leaders within ESM and one interim – and no one east of the Mississippi. One person (Dirke Johnson) left to take a critical role with our African American leadership team (a good move for sure). The entire National Leadership Team was behind the effort, but I do not think any of us realized the complexity or the level of energy it was going to take in order to enact substantial change. There were a handful of local leaders who were already succeeding in doing what needed to be done, so this small entourage formed a bit of the guiding coalition. Looking back, I think we should have consolidated this group on a more official level and begin working from there. I think I over estimated how ‘in’ people were across the board and therefore I did not see how much opposition would be encountered.

3. Create a Vision
We initially were saying things like ‘ethnic movements everywhere no matter what it takes” - this being tied to “Spiritual Movements Everywhere so that Everyone knows someone who knows Jesus.” The goal was to get to at least an African American and International Student movement on every priority location (about 300+ new plants) while increasing our leadership capacity in the Hispanic and Asian American communities. (A side note: As of 8/1/06 there were 425+ ethnic student ministry plants).

4. Communicate the Vision
No doubt we under communicated by a 5 fold factor, but we also encountered a cluttered national agenda that focused on filling leadership roles, issues with women in leadership as well as various regional and national crisis's. The vision became simply part of information shrapnel flying around.

5. Empower Others to Act on the Vision
This is where I feel we really gained some new ground and found a number of ways to move ahead in ethnic ministries. Because of some of what we saw in the field and the determination of our African American and Korean American leaders, I found myself doing a 180 in understanding of problems and answers. A big thanks to Kim Dong Whan, Jacqueline Bland, Jim Williamson and Charles Gilmer on this. As a result of people responding to the vision, we have created at least 30 new approaches to planting and growing new movements on campuses. This is very exciting.

6. Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
The biggest short term wins were the launching of the Impact Coaching Teams (African American ministry), the Destino Summer Project in San Antonio in 04 & 06 (a rally point for the Hispanic staff), a consolidated movements everywhere focus with some teams seeing successes, and the Asian American Summer Projects and the Summit in CA (hiring Tommy Dyo!). This helped us get some traction in some new areas.

7. Consolidate Improvements and Produce Still More Change helped us to consolidate some of the gains as well as highlight was was new. We are still seeing people create new stuff (shock and awe in the Great Lakes and now being used in the Carolinas). Good stuff and the best is yet to come. I think that many of the true blue leaders around the country will be very effective at taking these fledgling efforts and making them really solid and replicable. I like to think that we are just on the cusp of what will be created.

8. Institutionalize New Approaches
This where we are now, and we will see what sticks. Hopefully we realize that this type of effort and ministry is our future and we will continue to move forward with courage, daring and creativity. I think there are some institutional approaches and habits that we will need to unlearn before we can see massive breakthrough - but I am confident it can happen.

Please add your assesment if you would like - or forward this on to a friend so they can chime in. Nothing like a little learning to grease the wheels for the next endevour!

Lead on.