Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Never pass the buck"

Over the next couple days I'm going to be communicating out a change related to financial policy with which some of our staff may take issue. This change was initiated by those several levels up from me organizationally, and while I think the change makes sense given the information I have, there is a temptation to distance myself from it in order to engender allegiance from those I lead and work alongside.

The timing then was appropriate, and perhaps providential, for my starting in tonight on the book "First, break all the rules - What the world's greatest managers do differently". In the introduction, an interview with a very successful restaurant manager is recounted in which he shares a few helpful management tips he has picked up during his 15-year career. All of the tips were insightful; one struck a particular chord...

"And especially important: Never pass the buck. Never say, 'I think this is a crazy idea, but corporate insists.' Passing the buck may make your little world easy, but the organism as a whole, sorry, the organization as a whole, will be weakened. So in the long run, you are actually making your life worse."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Without cause, you're just another civic organization"

My friend Andy, a fellow operations leader out in Colorado, read about the "Failing Forward" awards I recently posted about. It reminded him of the quote from Erwin McManus below, taken from the blog post "The Cause Driven Church":

The early church existed with a dynamic tension: it was both expanding and consolidating—growing and unifying. The Bible tells us that the first century believers “shared everything in common” and that “the church was being added to day by day.”

This tension is illustrated by two biblical images—the body of Christ and the army of God. The body of Christ is centered on community; the army of God is centered on cause.

Healthy community flows out of a unified cause—not the other way around. Jesus called his disciples and said, “Follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” This was not an offer of community. “Follow me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to” is a statement of cause. But the neat thing is, when they came to the cause, they found community like they never knew could exist.

One danger of the American church is that we often try to offer people community without cause. Without cause, you’re just another civic organization. You don’t have life transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come to the world to seek and to save that which is lost.” The cause of Christ is accomplished by expanding the kingdom of God.

The bold emphasis was mine. Thanks for the tip, Andy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Organize victory out of mistakes

As we kicked off our "Failing Forward" awards last week at our Missional Team Leader conference, my friend and co-leader Kevin Kneeshaw shared the following quote:

Life, like war, is a series of mistakes, and he is not the best Christian nor the best general who makes the fewest false steps. He is the best who wins the most splendid victories by the retrieval of mistakes. Forget mistakes; organize victory out of mistakes.” -- Frederick William Robertson (1816-1853)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PDX Cru and the poetry slam

My assumption is that if you regularly follow my blog, you follow my friend Matt's, too. If this isn't the case, I'd encourage you to jump on the LTI (Leadership, Technology, Innovation) bandwagon! Matt has some great posts this week (both personal and ministry related) including his most recent where he put up a video highlight reel of an outreach the PDX Cru team did a few weeks ago. You can read more of the details here, but the video below just about stands on it's own. Summary: PSU students were invited to "spit [their] best Jesus poem" in 3 minutes or less.

I got to be there and watch it live. It was awesome. The talent, and honesty, of the entrants blew me away.

Facebook ad campaign and Lake Tahoe Summer Project

About a month ago I got an email from Facebook saying I had a $50 credit towards an ad campaign. I'm only the administrator for one Fb page (Lake Tahoe Summer Project), so it was pretty easy to decide how to apply the $50 credit. As 2011 Summer Project applications were set to go live on Nov 1st, I decided to see what happened if I ran an ad for the LTSP targeted towards the following group:

- Live in the United States
- Age 18-22 inclusive
- who "like" Campus Crusade for Christ
- who are in college
- who are in the class of 2012, 2013, or 2014
- who are single or in a relationship

This currently works out to 17,320 profiles. I decided to pay per impression (instead of pay per click) and see what happened. The bid was 40 cents/1000 impressions, though it looks like we're getting a better deal than that. The stats so far are below:

Getting 17 clicks for just a little over $5 bucks seems like a good deal (especially $5 free bucks). Have you done anything with Facebook ad campaigns? Seen any results? What do you think about the ad itself (above right)? It's kind of tiny, and you can't see peoples faces, but you definitely see that you'll be on a beach in Lake Tahoe under the mountains and the blue sky with lots of other people, right?

The project group picture is great, but if I had to do it again I might use this photo instead. It was taken at the 2010 LTSP, and you can follow these two distinguished staff members on twitter here and here.

Cheers to Facebook, LTSP, and staff hunt!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tuesday trip: Ops, Keynote, 100% Sent, and

I'm leaving first flight out on Tuesday morning for Indianapolis where I'll visit the home of Keynote, a ministry of Campus Crusade. I'll get to join a meeting between Keynote and our "100% Sent" team to talk especially about (AllCallings is an online tool developed to help connect people with similar interests and callings, then activate them in the mission together.) The meet-up is Tuesday night and most of Wednesday, allowing me to arrive home late on Wednesday.

As facilitator of a working group investigating how the operational effort within the US Campus Ministry can help better send our students and faculty, I was invited to go and join this meeting as a representative for USCM operations. I'm looking forward to the time as I'll get to be face to face with some prominent ministry leaders within Campus Crusade and hear what they are thinking as it relates to using digital media, technology, and the internet to accelerate our mission of seeing both "movements everywhere" and "100% Sent". Hopefully, I'll bring something to the table, too. I've got some thoughts as it relates to digital media, and specifically AllCallings, that I look forward to bouncing off those that will be present.

If you are one of my faithful readers readers, and you see this before Tuesday afternoon, post a comment with what you like about and what you think could be improved. If you've never been to the site, all the better. Take a look around and  tell me what your thoughts are as an outsider!

One thing I'm sure of: The potential to connect and equip people of similar kingdom vision is enormous. Whether or not that happens through, something similar, or entirely different, if we could move this ahead using the technology available we could see some really cool stuff happen in cities and the marketplace (among other places) related to the advancement of the gospel.

La Liberté de l'Interieur

Here is another video we showed at our Missional Team Leaders conference last week. If you took what we are trying to do in the Campus Ministry and passed it through the medium of a short French film....this might be about what it would look like:

This could not only help launch a spiritual discussion with a non-believer about the nature of reality and our human condition, but could also be a great way to present the heart, and burden, of the Great Commission to believers. The last shot in the film always gives me the chills.

For more, check out the Global Short Fim Network.

Jesus and Revelation: Not what he looked like, but who he is

Our church just started a series on Revelation a couple weeks ago. The message today was centered around Revelation 1:9-20, where John has a vision of Jesus. Clearly, John had a difficult time describing what he saw as he uses the word "like" seven times (or at least this is the way it translates in the ESV). Only metaphorical language and many similes can approximate the glory of the Son of Man.

Living in our image driven culture and era, it can be easy to fixate on the visual. But the pastor made an important point: It is not about what Jesus looked like, but about who he is. The impressive visual imagery is meant to draw us to a place of worship before the King of Glory.

The picture at left is inspired by Revelation 19. The first time I saw it was driving on I-90 through downtown Spokane. It appears as a large mural on the side of a building just north of the freeway. I've always wondered how many people notice it, and of those, how many know this is a painting of Jesus (though the title "King of Glory" painted above it probably helps). Whether you like the artistic style or not, it certainly captures an aspect of who Jesus is that we normally don't highlight.

Maybe we should.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mad Men and the glamorous facade

We finally get to watch the last two episodes of Mad Men tonight (via DVR at my in-laws). Mad Men has been my and Sam's favorite show for a while now, some of the reasons why my wife details here.

I used a clip at our conference earlier this week that demonstrated both the show's elegance and tone of underlying despair. (Without context, the scene lacks some of it's power, but if you're a fan you'll be reminded why "The Wheel" is considered one of the greatest episodes of Mad Men) The first morning at our conference, we had everyone go around the room and introduce themselves with their name, current role, and current favorite TV show (if they had one). Being the emcee, I went last and used the clip to transition to a short talk given by one of my teammates on taking the gospel to the edges of the NW.

What does a campus minister take away from the clip above? Perhaps many things, but I drew attention to the seeming perfection Don Draper had outwardly attained. A talented, attractive, and successful Creative Director on Madison Avenue with a seemingly perfect family was actually in the midst of his world beginning to fall apart.

Whether it's on campus or in the city, there are many like him that we might be reluctant to engage with as gospel messengers. The intimidation level can be high. However, sometimes this intimidating exterior is covering up a very dark and broken inside that is in need of something far deeper and more substantial than alcohol, women, and fame.

Seattle is big (and beautiful when it's not raining)

We're back in Portland now, having returned from our conference in Seattle yesterday. It's always striking how much bigger and busier Seattle feels than humble little PDX.

Here was a short HD video-pano I took out my hotel room window as the sun was setting over the Olympic mountains. If you look closely, you should be able to see I-5, Lake Union, the Space Needle, downtown Seattle skyline, UW, Husky Stadium, Lake Washington and a floating bridge, and Mt. Rainier.

If you're wondering about the hotel, it's the Hotel Deca in the U-district. It was pretty nice and met our needs well, especially as it was a short walk to the UW campus and right next to "The Ave". A little more expensive than our normal conference venues, but worth it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The First Follower

Here is another video we showed at our NW MTL conference earlier this week in Seattle, WA. As ministry leaders, we give a lot of thought to starting and building movements of Christ-followers. This video offered apropos, and humorous, principles:

Perspective cards - A review and an account

Our MTL's got to go on campus at UW this Tuesday and engage with students by starting spiritual conversations. I tried out a new resource called "Perspective" cards. These were developed by a campus staff seeking to help us better understand the worldview of students we are attempting to influence towards Christ.

(The site explaining more is here, though the resource has been developed and refined quite a bit since this site was put together)

My short review: I really liked using the Perspective cards. I had some initial trepidation about being overly centered on the cards and not paying attention to who I was talking to, but this was quickly overcome. The student I and another staff guy talked to eagerly engaged with the cards and questions once we started in. 

If you're wondering about how we struck up the conversation in the first place...

We walked up to a student eating lunch by himself in an on-campus dining center at UW. I crouched down next to him so I wouldn't be literally talking down to him, and had the following exchange:

Me: "Hi, I'm wondering if you could help me. I'm with a Christian club on campus and part of what we like to do is talk with students and find out what they believe about God and spiritual things. I have a new tool I'm trying out that could help with that and I wondered if you would be up for letting me try it out with you?

Student: "Um, maybe. How long do you think it will take?"

Me: "Well, it could be two minutes or 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have."

Student: "Okay, but I'll have to go pretty soon to meet someone for a study group."

Me: "No problem. Just say when. Mind if I sit down and we pull up an extra chair?"

Student: "No, go ahead."

Me: "So what is your name? My name is Darren and this is Jason."

Student: "I'm Tony"

Me: "What year are you, Tony?"

Tony: "A freshman."

Me: "And what are you studying?"

Tony: "Physics"

After we got to know each other a little bit more, I introduced the cards and walked through them, with Jason asking helpful clarifying questions along the way. We had a great conversation spurring off the cards, and by the time Tony had to leave I wanted to be friends with him! He had virtually no church background, describing himself as agnostic, but had given spiritual things a great deal of thought and research. His thoughtful, analytical nature was refreshing to me, and I would love to pick up where we left off someday and share how (and why) I, a former electrical engineering major with plenty of skepticism myself, believe Jesus was and is Lord and Savior.

As Tony was getting up to leave, he thanked us for talking with him and said he appreciated how we listened and dialogued with him (in contrast to some of the other Christians he said he had encountered on campus). While our goal isn't to be thanked, it is our goal to be able to share the gospel message in a manner and context so that it will be heard and not dismissed out of hand. I think the Perspective cards could be a helpful tool towards that end with other students like Tony.

[And Tony, if you ever happen to stumble upon this, l'd enjoy hearing about our conversation from your vantage point. And I'd certainly enjoy continuing our conversation.]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lt. Ronald Speirs, surrender, and leadership

I shared this clip from Band of Brothers with our NW Missional Team Leaders this morning. I related it to surrender, how we are called to die to ourselves, and how this dying brings Spirit-filled life in Christ.

Hopefully it's not too much of a stretch to make a connection to the words of the apostle Paul:

"However I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task, the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Failing Forward

I laughed so hard tonight I was crying.

We ended our Missional Team Leader conference by having our first (annual?) "Failing Forward" awards. MTL's from around the Greater Northwest shared stories of failure in ministry from four different categories: most embarrassing, lowest return on investment, most damaging to the reputation of the organization, and most detrimental to movement morale. We wanted to laugh a lot and end with some fun, but also to celebrate taking risk in getting the gospel to every student and faculty.

There were gag awards for the four categories, but also a small financial bonus towards the overall "most redemptive learning experience". Todd, the winner, learned the hard way that to build community in a movement you don't focus on community, but rather on the mission and vision; the best community often comes as people share ministry experiences together.

The two most painfully funny stories I'll call "Stapled condoms" and "Born for Battle", the latter of which could have swept all four categories if we would have allowed. Next time you see me, just ask. ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Leadership lessons from the Nike GPS app

I went for a run this morning around the U-district here in Seattle, doing a couple miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail. The attached photo captures my route.

I'm still amazed at this technology. I know the Nike GPS app isn't the only app that has these features, but it allows me to head out for a run, get verbal updates through my headphones at intervals I determine (I have it set for every mile) with my pace and distance traveled, and have a nice map of my route when I get done. You can even view your relative pace throughout the run along with a few other cool features.

Is it weird that having this app has single-handedly doubled my desire to run? Some possible reasons for this added motivation:

- I get frequent updates on how I'm doing.
- It allows me to improvise, change my route, and still provide the needed information to hit my (mileage) goals.
- I have clear metrics with which to measure success and compare for improvement or regression.

This app has some natural leadership ability!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Leadership: Directional and Relational

We heard from Keith Davy this morning on the topic of "Leading Teams in Evangelism". One of the first things he shared was a definition of leadership:

Leaders know where they are going and are able to take others with them.

Working of this definition, Keith made two observations: "...know where they are going" has a directional aspect to it, "able to take others with them" a relational aspect. Leaders need to have both directional strength and relational strength. Or, in the words of Howard Hendricks, a good leader possesses "a compass in the head and a magnet in the heart."

Foursquare brings people together

If a metric of success in my job as Operations Director is how many Foursquare check-ins and badges my Ops team accumulates, I think I will be in for a banner year.

I'm not sure what will and will not translate to campus ministry with the geo-social phenomenon, but it does seem that just knowing what each other are up to, both during the work day and after hours, has served to connect our team relationally. Plus, battling for mayorships is simultaneously ridiculous and great fun (one of which I'm going to lose to my 4sq protege during my conference in Seattle this week).

If you aren't sure what Foursquare is, the Wall Street Journal has an amusing introduction here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Missional Team Leaders

Sam and I are at a conference this week in Seattle for our fellow ministry leaders from around the Northwest. We had dinner tonight at Ivar's overlooking Lake Union towards the Space Needle and downtown. The food was really good (the Foursquare tips made this seem questionable) and the setting was great.

We had a private room for our group of 45 and after dinner we kicked off our week together by sharing stories of God at work on campus around the NW. It was overwhelming: I've heard many of the stories directly or relayed to me previously, but to hear them all at once was pretty special. I want to type them all out, but I'd be up all night and I have to get up and emcee our meeting tomorrow morning at 9 am.

For our leaders to come together like this requires a lot of time and money, as a significant challenge in our region is simply the expansive geography (Bozeman to Seattle, Anchorage to Reno, Portland to Salt Lake). However, times like tonight remind me there is simply no substitute for being face to face with friends and co-laborers. I want to grow up to be like them someday.

(I snapped this picture a few minutes ago back in the hotel lounge)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Facebook pages, video, and event promotion

Campus Crusade for Christ regional Winter Conferences have been one of my favorite things about being on staff. Lives are changed, hearts are surrendered to the Lord, and momentum is generated heading back to help reach the campus and ultimately the world. But step one is just getting people there.

For a number of years, part of promoting our regional Winter Conference was having someone produce a video that was then burned to DVD and sent out to all our campus leaders. Some people would like the videos, some thought they could be better, some didn't use them. But the bottom line was that video and other media promotion had to happen from "the center out". Everyone depended on a few people to make something good and then make the best of what they got.

As my wife says, that is "so two-thousand late".

Our conference (and most of our regional teams, events, and ministry venues) now have a Facebook page. Think how this changes things:

- We can post a video immediately with almost no distribution cost and have it shared an unlimited number of times.
- If there isn't a good video, you can add your own. With the iPhone 4 (and other new smart-phones), you've got HD video ready to go. Talk to a student that had their life changed at the conference? Record it in their dorm or at the union building and upload it in 720p to the Fb page.
- Want to get others thinking about some aspect of the conference? Write it on the wall and ask for feedback. Better yet, take a short video interviewing a few people about it.
- Make a funny video about some aspect of conference. Post it to the Fb page.
- Want to really go crazy and produce some great, high production value promo video for your campus? Well, why not make one that the whole region could benefit from and post it to the Fb page?
- Want to help build momentum for the conference? Interview people on camera that are going and have them answer why they are excited about it. Then post it to the Fb page.

This is scratching the surface of social media 101. It's time to think and brainstorm under the new paradigm of "everyone a contributor". Of course, this has application that goes far beyond a Winter Conference.

What other ideas are cooking out there to use Facebook, video, and social media to accelerate our mission of turning lost students and faculty into Christ-centered laborers? 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Momentum Part II - Worth the extra work

I'm working at a pace right now that probably can't be sustained over the long term. But like other jobs, Campus Crusade staff means seasons where you hold down the B-button and sprint. The beginning of a school year is certainly one of those times, and even though I'm not primarily on campus in my new role, it feels especially heightened this year.

There are several pretty big projects to move forward right now. Perhaps the most significant, in that it lays a foundation for the rest of the year, is our office reorganization. We need to continue to transform our office in to a place that not only has greater physical capacity, but also an environment that will attract gifted students and staff to come use their leadership and/or operational strengths to build the capacity of our region. This means moving people physically in the office, but also changing how we work, collaborate, and communicate

There are a lot things that could bring this process to a halt, but I keep reminding myself of these three things:

1. Keep things moving forward: Whether big or small, take ground each day. Whether it's building a new cabinet from Ikea or deciding on a regional budget, getting things done is paramount.
2. Manage the fear: As there are no perfect people, there are no perfect offices. We'll have issues, and I'll make mistakes, but the biggest mistake I could make right now is not to make changes.
3. People need to see and believe things are changing...for the better: I have people leading me, and nothing puts wind in my sails like a vision and direction for a better future. As we start to experience some "wins" together, we'll start to feel momentum.

There is something about momentum. You can feel it even if you might not be able to put your finger on it. People are more motivated, enthusiastic, and creative. Isn't it worth the extra effort to generate momentum?

I'm dreaming of a day where our whole region has a collective sense of momentum, as campus movements are growing, lives are being changed, and the gospel is going out from the NW to the ends of the earth.

What about you? Where would you like to get some momentum going?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Momentum Part I - Five things to move every day

I just read an article called The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed. It recounts the story of a musician who suffered brain trauma that almost eliminated his short-term memory. But, for some reason, if he begin to play a piano piece, it was like it returned.

As long as his fingers and his mind were in motion, he could play beautifully. Clive’s wife writes, “The momentum of the music carried Clive from bar to bar… He knew exactly where he was because in every phrase there is context implied, by rhythm, key, melody… When the music stopped, Clive fell through to the lost place. But for those moments he was playing he seemed normal.”

I'd been thinking about along similar lines tonight as I was looking over what I had to work on before bed. There are a variety of projects and tasks that need to be moved forward, and each one seems to be in danger of grinding to a halt if I don't move it forward. Not just halting in reality, but in my mind. It seems to be more and more true: if I stay in motion, it's very easy to stay in motion. But when time goes by and the momentum has been lost, it's very hard to get back. Perhaps brain trauma only exaggerates what is already true of us!

The article offers three suggestions to generate momentum, the third one of "work on your project every day" striking me as key. Perhaps we are all inertial beings, but I feel especially so. I have a difficult time stopping once I get started, but an even more difficult time restarting once I've stopped. Accordingly, which project or projects need work every day in order for me to generate, and preserve, momentum?

1. Time with the Lord: I've seen time and again that stringing a few days together generates momentum in my devotional life, and stringing several weeks together brings a freedom and vitality that makes walking in the Spirit a whole lot easier. Miss a few days? Suddenly it's been a couple weeks and I wonder why I feel disconnected from God.

2. Exercise: The more I run, the more I want to run. The more I get to the gym, the more I want to keep pushing ahead and go harder. There were days in college when I was training for road races where to miss a day was an actual fear. I knew that if I missed one, it would be easy to miss another.

3. Support: For my ten years on staff, raising support to fund my/our ministry has been done in bursts that have varying levels of fruitfulness. Ramping up to think about raising support takes time, and often times when the momentum was finally coming, it was time to get back to campus. Is this the right paradigm for me? Could it be that working every day, whether for 5 minutes or a couple hours, might be the better approach?

4. Work (whatever is the most challenging project of the moment): Right now, for me it might just be getting our office reorganization done. We're going from 9 full-time (and several other part-time) to 17 full-time with even more part-times. Making minor changes would be safe and easy, but ultimately would miss the opportunity to capture the momentum of a new year, new people, and new hope. More on that in my next post...

5. This blog: It so quickly goes from "I have too many ideas to get down" to "where do I even think about restarting? None of these post ideas seem like the right one to restart with." Thus, today's post!

Does that seem like to much to think about every day? Maybe. But as the article points out, it is not the duration of time that we give each project, but the frequency. Five minutes every day just might be better than trying to do two hours every other week. Keep pushing things forward and don't allow them to come to a stop.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Individual glory, team effort

We all remember Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. It's a record that will probably never be broken.

Shannon, one of our national leaders, showed us the clip below to remind us that even this greatest of individual accomplishments required an extraordinary team effort along the way:

I got chills watching this again, low resolution and all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jet boats and aircraft carriers

What's the difference between a jet boat and an aircraft carrier? Let's look at the features of each...

Jet boat
- Can go in shallow water or deep
- Can change directions quickly
- Carries a small load
- Requires little maintenance
- Has a low profile
- Crew size from one to ten; relatively simple to operate
- Moderately expensive
- Range of many miles
- Used for tourism, fishing, ferrying, policing, exploration, and racing

Aircraft carrier
- Can only go in oceans and seas
- Changes direction slowly
- Can carry 90 planes and helicopters
- Requires tons of maintenance
- One thousand feet long and over a hundred feet high
- Crew size of 5,000+; highly complex to operate
- Cost: $6 billion
- Range unlimited
- Used to fight enemies and rebuild countries

Last year I was talking to Derek, a ministry leader in the upper midwest. He compared leading a campus ministry team to driving a jet boat: ability to move fast and make adjustments very quickly. This was in contrast to being a regional leader where it feels more like piloting a warship: very slow to turn and requires a lot of people helping out to get things turned around. I remember him finishing the illustration this way: "What it's like to lead our whole ministry? I don't know, probably more like steering an aircraft carrier."

This has stuck with me as I've transitioned in to a regional and national role organizationally. There can be some challenges leading at a higher level within a large organization, complexity being one of the top. However, this complexity arises because of the large number of people and resources going after the goal, in our case helping reach every student and faculty member with the gospel.

There will be days where I'm sure I'll long for the simplicity and nimbleness of the jet boat. But there are some tasks that can only be accomplished by the aircraft carrier. If everybody on board gives their full effort to moving the carrier towards accomplishing those out, world.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New National Director School - meet the students

I love the people I get to work with on staff.

Earlier tonight I had dinner with the other new National Directors (formerly "Regional Directors"). It was a lot of fun connecting casually before really getting down to business tomorrow. There are only seven of us, so we'll get to know each other pretty well over the next few days. Here is the lineup:

- Matt and Liz: Matt was formerly the Missional Team Leader at University of Missouri. He and Liz just recently moved to Boulder, CO to be the Campus Field Ministry Directors for the Great Plains Region. Matt spoke last summer at our New Missional Team Leader training in Colorado, sharing some of the work God has done in his life. Sometimes we'll hear of crazy testimonies that we'll tell other staff "you've got to hear his/her testimony". His is one of those.

- Sheila has been at Missouri State and is, like Matt, taking on the role of Campus Field Ministry Director for the Great Plains Region (for those of you not familiar, that role typically has a male and female in the role coaching the field staff leaders of the region). She just came off helping lead the San Diego Summer Project.

- Ben is my Operations Director counterpart in the Great Lakes region. He was the Missional Team Leader for the Cleveland Metro ministry before he and his family moved to Indianapolis to join the Great Lakes Leadership Team.

- Tim is in the middle of the biggest transition of all of us. He has been the Missional Team Leader at Northwestern University but is moving out of his native Great Lakes region to take on the Campus Field Ministry Director role for the Red River region in their regional headquarters of Austin, TX. He has a seminary degree from Trinity, and was planning on pursuing a PhD, before this opportunity came up.

- Amy has been the Western US Field Coach for the Impact Movement (Campus Crusade partner ministry to African-Americans) this past year but is now returning to her native city of Portland to be the Ethnic Field Ministry Director for the Greater Northwest. Amy has been based in Orlando for the past year and just finished packing her stuff up to be shipped back to Portland two hours before we had dinner tonight.

- Me, the new Operations Director for the Greater Northwest.

We're all staying across the street from our world headquarters at Wycliffe Bible Translators where they have some nice apartments for us to stay in during our time here. (Best part: they have wifi.)

Really looking forward to learning from and interacting with these other leaders.

[Breaking news: Trae from Bridges (International Student ministry) just started ringing our doorbell at midnight. Fortunately I was still up to let him in. I guess there are eight of us now! Trae is based in Austin and is a Field Ministry Director for Bridges.]

Covey's "Speed of Trust", the Kindle, Facebook, and the GNW

I bought my first Kindle book today.

During the plane change in Denver today I got a Facebook message inviting me and some of the staff leaders in our region to join a Facebook discussion thread in our Greater Northwest staff Fb group. We would be sharing thoughts and ideas around the idea of building trust with others, with the book "Speed of Trust" by Covey as the framework.

Not having the book and wanting to jump in sooner rather than later, I sprung for the Kindle version (using the iPhone app, not the Kindle hardware). Unfortunately, it didn't download before the friendly Southwest flight attendants asked us to turn off our portable devices. But, it quickly showed up once my phone was on in Orlando. I'm curious to see what the experience is like to read a whole book on my phone. The kindle price of $12.99 is higher than the paperback cost, so there is certainly a premium on convenience.

I'm also curious to see what it is like to have a virtual book discussion with staff from our region. Will people engage? How frequently? Will they have to be prompted to share? Will sharing about building trust? Is there a better way to do this than via a Facebook discussion thread?

Personal systems update - OmniFocus and Evernote

As you read this, I'll hopefully be somewhere between Portland and Denver en route to Orlando.

There are few times in my life with as much uninterrupted time as a cross-country flight. While I'll probably need to sleep for some of it (got up at 4 AM), I should have a good chunk to get some work done. Here are two new tools in my workflow since I switched to Mac. I'll probably be using these heavily while in my narrow little workspace.

OmniFocus: I'm still in the 14-day trial period of this Cadillac of task managers, but it's likely I'll be pulling the trigger and paying the $80 (!) when the time comes. It's really slick and helps me to stay on top of all the different projects that are starting to take shape in my new role. Being someone who needs GTD in their life to function professionally, this Mac-only software is elegant and simple but can be as involved and complex as needed. The iPhone app is another $20, so I'll be out $100 by the time it's all through, but nearly all the reviews say it's worth it. From what I've experienced so far, I agree.

Evernote: I've had this one for a while but just figured out how I'm going to use it. I'm still developing my process, but so far I have notebooks for 1. Inbox (for notes on the go that I can categorize later) 2. Groups and meetings (both prep for and notes during) 3. People (that I meet/talk with regularly - again, prep and notes) 4. Projects (thoughts and prep for different projects. When they become tasks they move to OmniFocus.) and 5. Reference (it's a catch all right now, but I'm working on breaking it down to a few simple categories. The tag feature is nice, but so far I'm just using notebooks.

So there you have it. And if you're wondering why I only have six people on my list in the screenshot above...I'm still transferring stuff in. It will be a lot more populated a month from now!

One thing I love about these products: They are in the cloud but also back-up locally (though EN does it better than OF).

What do you think? Do you use these tools? If not, what do you use to manage tasks and notes?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Update: New National Director's training this week

I'll be in Orlando the rest of this week at a training for those new in their roles as Regional National Director's. (The nomenclature is still new and unfamiliar organizationally. I'm a National Director of Operations that shapes the US Campus Ministry as a whole but focuses within a particular region.) It came on the calendar relatively recently, but I'm looking forward to getting time with our national leadership in the USCM as well as other new regional/national leaders. There will only be eight of us, so probably won't be able to hide in back during meetings. ;)

Hopefully I'll be able to share some of the content and insight from our time during the event via twitter and this blog. The schedule is above.

Anything on here you want me to make sure and take good notes on?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Change: Hard even when it's good

I just made the switch from PC to Mac.

While I think in the end I think it will be a good move, it is very frustrating right now. Getting everything transferred over and realizing all the systems I had in place that were practically automated on my PC has made this painful. Even the small things like: why does my Mac print the exact same document as my PC on the same printer and yet the Mac version is too dark? I can't figure out this out.

Makes me want to go back to the old way. My HP tablet may have run hotter than the surface of the sun and taken three or four hard restarts to boot up, but at least once it got started...I knew what I was doing. When you're making changes, the comfortable and familiar counts for a lot.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Digital media and the end of college

A lot of thoughts and inputs converging lately. Here are some of the inputs:

1. Via email - I received an email last week making it clear our national leadership within the USCM understand the future of campus ministry will prominently feature digital media as a tool and platform towards evangelism and discipleship.
2. Via podcast - I listen to a podcast pretty regularly called "This week in Google", which sounds both narrow and nerdy. However, the conversations covered by the three hosts (and one weekly guest) range from the practical (tips on using Google Voice, for example) to the theoretical and futuristic. It is the latter which fascinates me and keeps me listening. I posted about one such topic (how technology allows us to learn from anyone in the world at almost any time) and it's ministry implications on my test blog a few months ago.
3. Via RSS Reader - Seth Godin posted recently about "The coming melt-down in higher education". This flows right out of #2 above. What if the college campus as we know it radically changes...or becomes obsolete?
4. Via News - The level of debt around the world is threatening to radically change financial priorities and realities for the indefinite future, from government all the way down to the individual.

And now for the thoughts:

First, the internet disrupts everything it touches. It has changed the music industry, the porn industry, the movie industry, the retail industry, the news industry, the telecommunication industry, and the travel industry... to name a few. How long until the internet disrupts the college "industry"?

Second, bubbles eventually burst. There is a lot that could be said about the reasons behind the ever-upward ratcheting of college tuition, but it is looking increasingly like there is a college "bubble". There have been tulip bubbles, stock market bubbles, a bubble, and most recently a housing bubble.  Costs can only get so high, and people leveraged so far with debt, before things collapse.  And after the collapse and disruption, things may look very different.

What if the internet is the thing that makes the college bubble finally burst? And what will "college ministry" look like in this new world? Is this new reality coming? How long until it gets here? What can we do to prepare?

Ah, if only we knew the future...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inbox Zero and GTD

[I had a request to move this post topic up in the queue. Here it is...]

For the longest time, my inbox was an ever growing "to-do" list and emails I held on to lived in an increasingly complex folder hierarchy.

Then I read "Getting Things Done" (GTD). Here is how I do things now:

When I check my email inbox (either on my phone or computer), I immediately either delete the email, respond to it, or move it to another folder.

If it is clearly junk, it gets deleted. If I'm not sure, but don't want to take the time to figure it out, I move it to a folder labeled "action". If I can respond to it quickly (2 minutes-ish), I'll likely do so immediately if I'm able. If it's going to take some time, it goes into action. If I read it and no further action is needed, I move it to a folder labeled "reference".

Those are the only three folders I have for email: inbox, action, and reference.

Many GTD systems have more folders than that. For a while, instead of "action", I had "read/review" and "respond". I found that most of the time, however, it was just an extra layer to toggle between the two folders that really were the same - they required time on my part. For me right now, one "action" folder works best. This could be different depending on the way you use email and what kind of email you get. 

The question you most often hear with this system is "what about my folders?!?" One big folder labeled "reference" scares people. It scared me, too. However, what enables you to get rid of folders is the "search" feature found in all modern email clients (Outlook, Gmail, etc.). In over a year of using this system, I have always been able to find the email I was looking for that previously would have been in a complex folder structure. Whether it be the subject, the sender or recipient, or some info within the body of the email, the search function always finds it. This does two things:

1. You no longer have to remember where you filed something
2. You no longer have to think about where you want to file a new item

Time saved on both fronts.

So there is the system. The GTD book addresses why an empty inbox is better even if you have an "action" folder that is full: you don't think about the email that needs response every time you open your inbox, rather you only think about it when you go to your action folder.

The next step is to begin moving items from your action folder (or directly from your inbox) to your calendar or task list. But that is another topic.

The underlying philosophy with email, GTD, and any good productivity system, is always being clear about the next action required. Decide what it is, then do it, delegate it, or defer it.

Now about that "do it" part. This is where the "work" part of "workflow" kicks in...

Any questions?

Upcoming posts for the end of June

You get out of your blogging rhythm and look what happens. A week goes by with no posts! Time to get back in the saddle and share what's percolating in my mind that will be developed into upcoming posts:

- There is some cool stuff going on organizationally that confirms our leaders at the national level understand the importance of Digital/Social Media. I'll share what I can about that, as well as why I think digital media could radically change the college campus as we know it in the years ahead.
- A podcast interview with a social media consultant (expert?) got my wheels turning about how social media can help us get better at training.
- The breadth and reach of our summer project venues. Plus, some things we could do to increase the number of students we are sending.
- A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a blogpost by one of our US Campus Ministry national leaders. He shared some interesting thoughts regarding leadership development that are worth attention five years later.
-Getting practical with email. Sharing why, and how, I've become a practitioner of "inbox zero".
- Some campus outreach and evangelism ideas I've had that would blend some past practices with social media.
- Why it's increasingly strategic for our campus staff to have iPhones or similar.
- Using a Winter Conference Facebook page year round to drive regional vision and momentum.
- How to initiate change as a new member on a team. (I'm not sure, but I'm trying to figure it out)
- Thoughts stemming from reading "Celebration of Discipline". Can simplicity and technology coexist?
- Why I want my peers to give me a virtual tour of their offices (btw, I haven't asked them yet). How could the ideas of virtual tours help us in ministry? (Weekly meetings, evangelism, leadership development, discipleship, etc.)

So there are a few. I'll probably go through them mostly in order, and some of them will overlap, but if there's one you want me to bump up in the queue just let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hello to the office

Seth Godin has a post today called "Goodbye to the office". I want to share more thoughts about that in the future (it is questioning the need for offices at all), but it served as a spark to share some thoughts as I transition to our regional office:

Organization: How will we arrange people and space for productivity, collaboration, momentum, efficiency, and community? When there are trade-offs, how will we decide which value wins?

Systems: How can we set things up so our desired outcomes happen as automatically as possible? Everything from having the needed office supplies and ministry resources on hand to making sure our conference planning deadlines are met.

Technology: We've got office technology that is sufficient, but quickly becoming dated. Do we continue on with a physical server or go cloud based? Do we use regional funds to buy computers for our office staff? If so, what kind? Would investing in higher speed internet save us in travel costs (video/web conference) and efficiency? What would make the most sense in helping us serve the field? For communicating and collaborating across our ten national regions?

Communication: How are we going to communicate with each other? With our field staff? Who should be communicating what? How much should we respond to the field (use methods they are comfortable with), and how much should we lead the field (help them get better at embracing new/better communication channels)?

Field support: What are the best things we could do as an operations (and office) team to help our field staff better win, build, and send? What operational issues can we help them with or even take off their plate? What training should we give, and in what format (face to face, online, etc.)?

Environment: How can we create an environment in our office where people want to come in each day? And by environment, I am speaking comprehensively: physical (office decor and feel), emotional (a place that is relationally safe and where friendships flourish), and spiritual (deepening connection with the Lord and the body of believers that is stationed in our office).

Finance: How much money do we have to work with? What investments would provide the most benefit to our field ministries?

Change: Some things will need to change just because of the number of people coming in the office (seven new in the fall joining a current office of nine). But some things might need to change that will be difficult for our current office. How fast do we change? What is the best process? Who needs to be involved in the decisions?

Lots of questions (and that is certainly not a comprehensive list), especially for a guy that hasn't been based in an office since a college summer job.

So back to Godin's post. It is thought-provoking. But I think a well-led regional headquarters can be a very powerful force for accelerating the spread of the gospel to students in the Northwest. The above list is just the foundation. After you take the time to lay a solid foundation, then you really get to start building and seeing results. That's (part of) why I'm saying "hello", rather than "goodbye", to our regional office.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Leading with social media

"Be a student, not a critic." - Andy Stanley

I heard that quote on a podcast I started listening to last summer, and I've been repeating it to myself ever since.

It's so much easier to be a critic. A student has to learn, engage, feel stupid at times, study, make decisions, ask questions. A critic doesn't need to do anything other than watch and...criticize. 

This holds true when it comes to new media technologies. I don't know anyone who has ever said "I love Twitter!" - but isn't actively using it. Similar things can be said about YouTube, Facebook, and most recently, Foursquare.

I think this short (just under ten minutes) interview with Michael Hyatt is compelling because:

- It captures a leader that overcame the inclination to be a critic and instead became a student of a new field/technology
- He is a leader that has seen his influence expand as a direct result of two often misunderstood mediums: Twitter and blogging
- His thoughts resonate as truth: leadership is influence and to influence you must communicate effectively

How Can Christian Leaders Get Started with Social Media? from Michael Hyatt on Vimeo.

I'm certainly new in this arena, but my sense is that Michael is right on.

Who would you like to see start influencing people using social media? Why?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Upgrading your personal systems

We all have work flows and personal systems we are comfortable with. They may be dated and inefficient but, gosh darn it, that's how we've always done it!

Well, maybe a late spring Saturday morning is a good time to think about upgrading one of your systems.

An example: Do you ever see those drop boxes where people can deposit their utility payments? Why are those still there? The people that use them never update their system.

I'm guilty of it. For some crazy reason, whenever I had a check to deposit at the bank, I would go in and have a teller do the transaction. Something in me didn't trust the ATM to do it right, and perhaps most importantly,  I had never used it for a deposit. After my wife made fun of me I realized it was time for a change. The next time I had a check to deposit, I went to the ATM. While I seriously almost put the deposit envelope in the wrong slot (the receipt dispenser - I'm not kidding), I successfully made the deposit and had it show up in our account the next day. Once I'd done it successfully, there was no going back to the old way. That was this year.

Isn't that how it is? We don't want to do something new - even knowing it's better and that everyone else does it - because there might be a little bit of a learning curve. We might look stupid or do it wrong. We might cause more trouble reworking things than we had bargained for (I had visions of trying to pry that envelope out of the wrong slot on the ATM and having the cops show up).

And yet...we might not only save time, but have more fun doing things that were once drudgery.

How you pay bills, manage email, remember information, store/organize stuff in your home or office, get up in the morning - any of these need a rethinking? A reset?

So here is my thought: let's not get complacent with our personal systems. Maybe this will help us keep from getting complacent in other areas of our lives, too.

Have you rebooted any of your personal systems lately?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Update: Campus Crusade at Creation NW news

I spent some time on the phone today with a staff guy that works on conference and events out of our National Conference Office in Orlando. He's getting ready for New Staff Training kicking off down at Rollins Colllege while he is simultaneously coordinating Campus Crusade being at the NE and NW Creation events. Really fun to talk to operations people that are relational, detail-oriented, visionary, and energetic. Glen is all of those.

As for news...I found out from Glen that several campus movements were launched just from contacts that were made at the Creation events in 2009 - when we weren't nearly as organized as we will be this year. We'll have a six person team at the Creation NW event (5 students and one staff member - me), most of the time interacting with high school and college students that come to our booth (which is going to be pretty cool - Glen has done some great advance work with Creation and thinking through an engaging booth for us to set up). Also, one of the students on our team will speak from the main stage each night for a minute or two, sharing a little about who we are and inviting attendees to come talk to us at our booth. That will be in front of 20,000+ people. Whoever this person turns out to be (I'm working on that now), they'll have to get used to a lot of eyes on them...and having acts like Switchfoot, David Crowder Band, and Tenth Avenue North follow on their heals.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Evangelism - Share what you love, share the gospel

Is there something you are passionate about? Gifted at? Interested in? Trained well at?

Why not begin to use this to share the gospel with people around you? Steve Douglass, the president of Campus Crusade, is really good at time management. He put together a talk he could do at college campuses to help students "get better grades and have more fun". It opened doors for the gospel while he got to talk about something he was gifted in.

A friend of mine on staff likes art. She entered in to the Portland art scene and started connecting with lots of people that don't have a relationship with God. You think she has more of a platform to share the gospel with this group as a fellow artist...or as a professional Christian worker?

Organize a tribe on your campus or in your city. Go online and connect with like-minded people. Meet up with a group that has shared interests. Offer lessons to those in your neighborhood.

Perhaps you'll soon find evangelism isn't an event, but a way of life.

Staff, are you itching for more "natural mode" evangelism? Might want to think about this as part of your own personal strategic plan. I know I'm starting to.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My context, your context - sharing "across"

Here are some questions I've asked during my time on staff:

- What do the other Winter Conferences do for their day of outreach?
- How do the other campuses in my region structure their small groups and leadership team?
- What discipleship tools are people using on my staff team?
- How do the other regional offices structure their office space?
- How are other campuses creating a culture of evangelism among their students?
- What are the other teams in my region doing for personal development?
- How are other summer projects connecting with their alumni?
- What do other campuses do for their weekly meeting?

The list could go on and on. What I've come to realize is that I'm always wanting to know what is going on "across" from me. It's often interesting to know what is going on "up" from me, with those leading me organizationally, as well as "down", with those I am coaching and leading. However, it seems the greatest benefit often comes from sharing and collaborating with those in my same place organizationally. Yet, our systems and communication channels seemingly have difficulty carrying information horizontally - between those that are working on the same projects and within the same contexts.

Not that it doesn't happen. It does. We have New Staff training trips, Missional Team Leaders conferences, Regional Director "Verticals", conference guilds, etc. All help facilitate communication and collaboration. And relationships always exist across campuses and regions that lead to ideas being shared.

But what if we could do this in "real-time"? And in a manner that doesn't mean sending group emails and involve lots of "reply-alls" or one-to-one phone calls or (often) expensive face time (travel)? There are lots of software products that could help us do this using the internet, but I remain convinced that, as a campus ministry, Facebook might the best choice to facilitate this process. Our staff are already on it, our students are definitely on it, and the lost people we are trying to reach with the gospel are certainly on there, too. Did you know Facebook is actually designed to do this sort of thing? Fb recently articulated their mission statement:

“Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections."

The emphases were mine.

So what would it look like? I'm not sure, but hopefully I'll be developing a few test cases in the coming months that I can share.

What about you? Do you feel this need, too? What do you think about Facebook helping us do this?

(Note: No, we can't spend all our time communicating and collaborating. We've got to get our respective jobs done, living and working in our context. my friend Russ writes, we can have a broader impact by tithing our time.)

Event planning: "The right information to the right people at the right time"

Everyone that does campus ministry does event planning.

Small groups, socials, leadership meetings, retreats, conferences, summer projects...all of them require us to plan for a multiple-person event with a start time, a stop time, and an event between the two. Right?

My fellow Ops director (that I mentioned in my post last Friday) is an experienced event planner. One of the things he said he enjoyed about producing events was getting "the right information to the right people at the right time". I like that. 

Having produced and attended a lot of ministry events, combining those three things can be difficult. Ever shown up at an event, found something out, and thought "I wish I would have known that before I got here!"? Me, too. Of course, I've also shown up at events that I planned myself and thought the same thing!

So I've got an event coming up next month that is taking a little planning and coordinating. What needs to be known? By whom? When? Amazing how many details pop out of those three questions. Think about those three the next time you're planning an event.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Winter Conference and March Madness "look-ins"

The Winter Conference evangelism post from last week got me thinking about another idea for the conference:

What if we did live "look-ins” on other regional conferences as a way to give vision and a sense of scale? There are 10 regional Winter Conferences in addition to the different context conferences (International students, ethnic students, etc.) around the country. Why not have our mc's interact, at times, with those from another conference that runs concurrently? Or just stream the conference sessions online and have one conference occassionaly "look -in" at the other?  Technology not for tech’s sake, but to “get the people in the room” that would ideally be there. If we could get the same number of students to meet in the middle of the country for a “mega-conference” we probably would, right? (Explo, KC '83, CM 2007, anyone?). But time and expense of travel is too much. So why not try to merge the best of both worlds…especially now that technology is making it possible? We've done this on a small scale with teams of students that are overseas during the conference, but never with a whole other conference.

And while nothing beats being physically in the same place, there still is power in knowing others are in the same place emotionally. Think of "selection Sunday" in the NCAA tournament. Part of the fun is knowing all these other peope are watching and engaging the same thing. I got to go to WSU basketball selection Sunday a few years ago (2007) when they were projected to be in the tournament for the first time in many years. It was an amazing experience. Partly from the people and energy in the room (500?), but largely from knowing the whole country was watching and that dozens of other schools were all simultaneously waiting for their name to be called. If CBS flashed a picture of the room we were in (a "look-in"), it made everyone go crazy. We felt like a part of the madness when we saw the bigger picture and realized this was going on all over the country.

Here is a clip from the next year (2008). Check out the announcement of the seeding at the 1:25 mark.

So doesn't some of this translate to our conferences? How could it impact some of the things we try to do at our conferences? Could it work? Should it work? Would it be worth the coordination required? Has this already been happening?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Learning - The Power of Operations and Systems

This morning I was on the phone with my operations counterpart for the Great Plains Region of Campus Crusade. Andy is a veteran leader, both on campus and at the regional level. I'm grateful that we're going to be connecting regularly in the months ahead so that I can learn from him and his experiences.

We talked a little about how we each came to hear God's call to serve in operations leadership. One of his big influences was Eric Swanson. Staff in the USCM have probably encountered something Eric has written at some point , as he is a visionary, strategist, leader, and author. He had a blog post back in 2005 that Andy referred me to as having helped clarify his thinking related to Ops. I think it's worth sharing:

The power of capacity is found in operations even more than strategy. When the right systems are put in place they provide the back end operations that allow multiple strategies and tactics to be more effective. Remember Moses' dilemma in Exodus 18 that he reviews in Numbers 1. He was totally exhausted yet prayed that God would multiply the Israelites a thousand times. It was his Mideanite father-in-law that advised him correctly regarding the selection, training and empowerment of leaders. No amount of talent, drive and hard work can overcome bad operational systems. Bad systems are those where even the best people are reduced to mediocrity. On the other hand good systems allow everybody to function at their maximum capacity and ability. Because Moses was freed up from much of his sun-up to sun-down responsibilities, he had time to do that which he needed to do...write the Pentatuch!

He goes on...

Good systems cause good things to happen even if no one is paying attention to them. If you have automatic withdrawal from your checking account to pay your regularly scheduled bills you understand the power of a good system. Operational systems wedge between your vision of what you want to see happen and what actually is happening. If the behaviors or outcomes are not aligned with the vision, the problem most likely lies in operational systems. Like an iceberg, the behavior is what you see on the surface but what's under the surface is what leaders need to pay attention to. Systems drive behavior. What do I mean?

You can read the rest here. He has two interesting anecdotes about two Campus Crusade leaders, one I had heard, one I had not! (Hint: both have a first name "Steve")

I love the Biblical examples. I also like how he points out that operations systems will enable our behaviors and outcomes to line up with the vision we have: reaching the campus today, the world tomorrow.

What do you think? Have you found operations to be key in achieving your vision? Personally? With your ministry?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Project and YouTube

I love summer projects.

God did some significant work in my life when I went to San Diego as a student in '97 (and again as staff in '02). I've loved getting to help lead our Lake Tahoe Summer Project in '06 and '08.

This year's LTSP staff team just showed up to prepare for the students that will be arriving in a week and a half. I wish I was there for so many reasons. I guess I'll just have to depend on YouTube for highlights. Here is the first (courtesy of Jason Larsen):

If you've been on LTSP, this certainly qualifies as entertainment. Others, I'm not so sure. :)

If you're on project right now, how could YouTube help you tell your story this summer? Could it help your supporters (and all those that gave to send students) understand the amazing things that happen on project? Show some of the lives that are changed? Involve project alumni in praying for the summer? Help students say "yes" to summer 2011?

Facebook lists - a useful but seldom used feature for campus ministry

I'm certainly not an expert on Facebook list usage. However, I want to share a few things that I'm starting to do on Facebook that I think can help me (and you) lead, share, and collaborate. As I've said before, I think we in campus ministry have good reasons to be Facebook experts!

First, what do Facebook lists do? And how do you create one? Well, here it is straight from the source:

Friend Lists provide organized groupings of your friends on Facebook. For example, you can create a Friend List for your friends that meet for weekly book club meetings. You can filter your view of each list’s stream of activity separately on the home page. Friend Lists are easy to manage and allow you to send messages and invites to these groups of people all at once. 

To create and customize your own Friend Lists, please follow these steps:
  1. Click the "Create New List" that appears beneath the filters on the left side of your home page or your Friends page. Or, click the "Create New List" button from the "All Friends" tab of the Friends page.
  2. Type the title of your list and hit enter.
  3. Add friends to the list by typing their names into the "Add to List" field or selecting them from the list.
  4. Select "Create List" to store your changes.
In addition, if you have more than two Friend Lists, you can easily add or remove friends from lists by using the drop-down menu that appears next to their names on the "All Friends" tab of the Friends page.

A few things I plan on doing with Facebook lists...

- Create lists for different working groups and teams. I've created the "USCM Operations" - for my fellow operations leaders around the country, "GNW RD's" - for those on our regional director team in the Greater Northwest, "MPD - Supporters" - for our ministry partners that give to our ministry and pray for us.
- Update my status to select groups. Not all my friends care if I'm in the office that day, but my office co-workers might. Not all my friends might care about a certain online article I read, but my fellow Ops leaders might. When you update your status, you can click on the little padlock symbol and customize who sees your update.
- Be available for online chat to select groups. Again, there might be times I'll be fine chatting with anyone, but most of the time when I'm on Facebook, I probably only want to make myself available to no one or just a select group. Lists allow you to do this. After you create lists, they will pop up on your chat menu (lower right of facebook screen) and you can toggle them "online" or "offline" individually.
- Keep tabs on status updates and activity from select groups. While I still have my default for "everyone" in my news feed (for now), I can quickly scan updates from relevant groups by hitting "friends" on the left side of the home page, then selecting the list I want to see. A great way to stay in the loop on the people you care most about.
- Send messages to select groups. I didn't even know I could do this until just now when I was reading about Facebook lists. Nice! This might actually be one of the best features. I think I'm going to spend some time updating my lists tonight. :)

If you're still reading and want to get more ideas about how to use Facebook strategically for ministry, there are some great resources at

Do you actively use Facebook lists? Any additions you would recommend to the above list?