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)