Tag Archives: church

unity through diversity

yesterday at my church, the worship pastor preached on the idea of unity through diversity (based on 1 corinthians 12:12-20). it was probably about the best sermon i’ve heard in the last six months (partially, to be sure, because the preacher is really an artist, not an orator or expositor; so it had a wonderfully different feel from most sermons i hear). (you can hear the sermon here.)

in the middle of the sermon, he used this video (viewed over 10 million times on youtube, so you have likely already seen it!) as a way of talking about the difference between unity in diversity and unity through diversity. anyhow, i just found myself totally suppressing tears while watching it. what a great metaphor for what the church is invited, called, created to be.

photo in need of a caption

i’ve been so busy after the nywc that i haven’t had a chance to write a thoughtful post. at this point, i think i’ll wait until after thanksgiving. but that shouldn’t stop us from having a little caption fun!

yup, i grabbed this from the fail blog (and cropped it). but it was just crying out to me: “please, marko, make me into a photo in need of a caption!”

far be it from me to deny such a desperate cry.


ah, thanksgiving week (or maybe just a photo that doesn’t elicit as many responses)… not a lot to pick from yet. but here are the few that rose to the top like little dots of turkey grease in my homemade gravy:

“Behold I stand at the door and knock… what gives?” (God’s rarely seen letter to the church in Springfield.)
marko: wait… matt… were these two captions, or one? i think i like the 2nd half better if i think of it as a caption by itself.

When someone suggested that First Church make visitor-friendly signs for its exterior doors on the east side of the building, it was a long, difficult road, but after 8 intense trustee meetings, 3 deacon meetings, 4 elder meetings, 2 church splits, and a new pastor, First Church is ready to face its next major church decision.
marko: that’s some funny stuff right there. gonna be tough to beat.

“Please disregard this message if you do not know how to read.”

and the winner is…

matt’s revelation-like reference was a very close contender; but i’m gonna give it to tim’s long-winded, convoluted mess. really, it’s just too close to the kind of reality that could create a sign like this. :)

tim, i raise a leftover turkey leg in your honor!

photo in need of a caption

ok, i’ve had two somewhat serious post this week so far; so let’s mix it up with a caption contest! yee-ha! this one is on its knees, just pleading and begging for all your funny and snarky caption ideas. i’ll list ‘contenders’ in the post later today, and pick a winner by the end of tomorrow (thurs).


Posted every year on Youth Sunday…

Patty J
St. Matthew the Apathetic launches its new membership campaign

“Explanations are for when you get home and your wife has questions about the sermon. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.”

Like sex, movies, and Shakespeare, First Baptist realized too much talking can ruin the experience.

Andrew Seely
(not shown – sign below)
“please see note nailed to our front door”

Mark Riddle’s latest Book title.
note from marko: while very insider-ish, this one is drop-dead hilarious, and will be very hard to beat!

Aaron E Elmore
Let people figure out how to handle the snakes on their own…

The people of Explanatia were appalled at the church’s blatant discrimination.

and the winner is…
holy cow — i suck. between cramming to get stuff done before leaving town, then flying to north carolina, i spaced on picking a winner. contenders, please accept my apologies! were it not for calvin calling me out on a tweet, i may have forgotten about this for days more. and, for that, calvin gets 2nd place!

i thought gman’s comment was going to be impossible to beat; but othy’s late entry slipped past into first!

The people of Explanatia were appalled at the church’s blatant discrimination.

connecting haitian pastors and american churches

adventures in missions has some very cool stuff brewing along the lines of a meaningful connecting between american and haitian churches. but, for now, here’s a wonderful video from our first trip to haiti (with the youth ministry advance team: haiti), talking about the strength and movement of god stirring in the haitian church.

pastor christian prays for our team in haiti

one of the many moving moments of our haiti trip was this one. we’d spent some time with pastor christian, a 74 year-old wise and humble pastor of 11 churches totaling 10,000 people. later in our trip, he hosted a pastors meeting for us attended by 260 pastors, representing about 1000 churches. this is the cross-denominational group adventures in missions is hoping to work with for hosting groups and developing church partnerships. but this moment, when we asked him to pray for us, and he started singing… well… i just started weeping. you won’t be able to understand the translation, but it’s hardly the point.

my current blogroll

i try to re-post my blogroll about every six months, but it’s been more than that since the last time; so here we go!

here’s what i’ve got in my bloglines these days. i try to keep it paired down — i just don’t have time to read hundreds of blogs every day. but these are the ones i look at at least once a day. there are dozens of others – particularly youth ministry blogs – that i check in on from time to time, but aren’t listed here.

the categories are somewhat arbitrary – they’re just what work for me!

Youth ministry (this is a tough category for me, because there are SO many wonderful youth ministry blogs. i read dozens and dozens more than this on an occasional basis. but these are the handful i find the most thoughtful and challenging, or, frankly, are just friends of mine in youth ministry that i want to stay current with.)
chris folmsbee
mark riddle
mike king
fuller youth institute blog
fuller youth institute articles
josh griffin
ypulse (ypulse isn’t a youth ministry blog, actually. it’s the blog of anastasia goodstein, who has her finger on the pulse of youth culture and marketing like no other. i have this in my ‘youth ministry’ category because i always find things that make me think about youth ministry.)

junior high summit (these are the peeps i meet with once a year for the ‘jh pastors summit’ – they’re buddies of mine, and i welcome their thinking about young teen ministry to push and pull my own thoughts.)
jason raitz
kurt johnston
johnny scott
sean meade
brooklyn lindsey

scot mcknight
seth barnes
tash mcgill
think christian
naked pastor
asbo jesus
cathleen falsani
lanny donoho
dave gibbons

emerging church
zach lind
jonny baker
lilly lewin
emergent village
steven shields / faithmaps
mark scandrette
doug pagitt
andrew jones
tony jones
dan kimball

Journey (my church)
brian berry (the high school pastor, and ys one day team member)
josh treece (the former middle school guy)
todd tolson (the discipleship guy, and long-ago middle school pastor)
ian and christina robertson (christina is our middle school pastor, ian is a co-worker of mine at ys)
riptide blog (the middle school ministry, of which i am a volunteer)
ed noble (teaching pastor, and friend of 20 years)
rod kaya (worship dude)
encounter blog (high school ministry blog, more important to me now that my daughter is in the group)

ys staff (current and former)
renee altson (former ys staffer — but still part of the ys staff family)
mindi godfrey (former ys staffer, but still a good friend)
12 films in 12 months (ian robertson’s short film experiment)
alex roller (alex hasn’t actually worked at ys for a while — but i still think of him as part of us.)
adam mclane
ys blog
carrie clausen (carrie’s blog, pic this day, is a photo blog)
mark matlock

humor and oddities
the wittenburg blog
stuff christians like
passive aggressive notes
fail blog
mcsweeney’s lists
new math
dwight schrute

david crowder
matt maher

bob carlton
mark dowds
paul chambers
indexed (the pithy little 3×5 thoughts of jessica hagy)
max (max, my son, isn’t posting often, but they’re fun when he does.)

junior high pastors summit notes, part 3

each year, for the past 8 or so, about 20 middle school ministry specialists from around north america have gathered for a few days of fun and discussion. this year’s participants were: myself, Corrie Boyle (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI), Kurt Brandemihl (Sunset Presbyterian Church, Portland OR), Jeff Buell (McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX), April Diaz (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA), Ken Elben (Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN), Heather Flies (Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN), Andy Jack (Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, IL), Mark Janzen (Willingdon Church, Burnaby, BC), Kurt Johnston (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Brooklyn Lindsey (Highland Park Church, Lakeland, FL), Sean Meade (Stuck in the Middle, Andover, KS), Alan Mercer (Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS), Jason Raitz (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL), Alan Ramsey (Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, Knoxville, TN), Ken Rawson (First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS), Nate Rice (Forest Home Ministries, Forest Falls, CA), Christina Robertson (Journey Community Church, La Mesa, CA), Johnny Scott (Jr High Believe, Oronogo, MO), Nate Severson (Hillcrest Covenant Church, Prairie Village, KS), Phil Shinners (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA), and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL).

for the past few years, we’ve invited a guest to join us for a half day, to present some stuff that would become discussion fodder for the rest of our time. we’ve had chap clark, scot mcknight, an adolescent brain specialist, and christian smith.

this year, our guest was dave gibbons, pastor of newsong church in irvine, CA, and author of the monkey and the fish. we talked about third culture, adaptability, leadership, fringes and vortexes, and a variety of other stuff.

i’ll be posting edited notes from our discussions here in a series of posts. our hope is that these discussions will be helpful to others also…

part 3 is our post-dave brainstorm of topics we might want to explore further, and our responses to the validity of the third-culture ideas dave presented:


Brainstorm possible discussion topics for the rest of our time:

1. Rather than trying to “get” kids to be third-culture, there may already be a pre-disposition to be third-culture, how do we cultivate this in our students rather than trying.
2. Is there validity in talking about third-culture in MS ministry at all?
3. Role of parents and kids and the third-culture.
4. Education and exposure – what does this look like and how do we convince parents/boards etc… to do a vision trip and see the value in this?
5. Personal leadership – how do/can we live out third-culture?
6. Middle leadership – how do we lead within an organization that is not third-culture? How do we affirm others who may not get third-culture or may not do what we think is important?
7. Re-writing the metrics. What are the metrics of measurement in a third culture MS student?
8. Transitioning to third-culture. How do we kill old churches and old ministries or can they be transitioned?
9. What are some of our swirling vortex’ and/or what are some of the things on the fringe that we need to be fueling?
10. Who are the marginalized in MS ministry?
11. What does it mean to “see” our kids in the way he meant it?
12. Pain: How do we figure out how to include our own pain as well as help our leaders know how this plays into ministry? Also, what are the places where spiritual transformation takes place (community, life altering experiences, victory & success, and pain & failure). We have not done much in seeing pain as a spiritual formation opportunity.
13. R&D (research and development) – what would it look like to have an R&D department built into our ministry?
14. 70%/30% – How do we really do what we say we are about?

Responses on the validity of this topic:

Phil: When Dave talks about loving others that are not like us, I was thinking that we have a long way to go in the world because it seems that non-believers do this so much better than we do. We actually are in the hole and need to catch up in valuing other cultures before we can show others what this might look like.

Nate S: We do a bunch of stuff in New Orleans and we see the opposite and are affirmed that the church is doing so much.

Phil: a practical example is my daughter’s kindergarten class who seem to genuinely love on each other even though they are of different races.

Alan M: But is your daughter’s class really third-culture or is this just people loving people who are like us in every way except skin color?

Phil: Yes, but even having a person of a different skin color in my home is a big step. This is all so new to me.

Brook: Context has a lot to do with how well you receive this and how valid it is. To me it seems so right on and something others have been saying for so long and being bashed for it. He seems to put it in a palatable way.

Mark J: In our context, we have ministries for different languages and such, but our main service does not reflect these ministries and the people they work with.

Kurt J: I certainly came here with a bit of resistance. When you come from a place where you feel like things are going well and you’re doing well, you are a bit resistant to the new ideas. Is the question and conversation valid – YES! But I feel like maybe the conversation might not be as big as I thought it was. This is really a lot more about the both/and and honoring the old as well as the new than I originally thought.

Ken R: Is this really just ministry to the marginalized?

Kurt J: I don’t think so

MarkO: It seems like this is more about fluidity and adaptivity and change not ministry to the marginalized

Scott: Isn’t this really just the next wave of what we have always been doing? i.e. the next wave of how the church will adapt to the culture and the needs it finds much like the seeker model did years ago.

Alan R:
I feel like this is a simple call to live the Gospel out in a new way to a new world. A simple understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

MarkO: One thing I think Dave was trying to get at was that for the past 50 years we have been so focused on the individual component of our faith. We may all agree on the fact that we went somewhat too far on this. Recently, people are starting see their identity connected more to the world, and to their local community (glocal). People in China are as much my brothers as the church down the road as much as the people in my own local church. There seems to be a lot of implications for us in MS if this is true.

Johnny: I felt like this was a Christian worldview appendix to “The World is Flat.” The church has the opportunity to be the vehicle to help jhigh students to be more glocal and we are missing it. Other places like schools, facebook, media are getting this and are helping and we are not doing what we can.

MarkO: I think the average 23 year old sees themselves more as a citizen of the world than a nation or national org (like a denomination). But I like the both/and because it really is both

Ken E: Because of the pain I have gone through this year, after reading this book, I am wondering if maybe I went through all this so I can minister to others in our economic reality and the pain others will feel in the years to come. I think this is a very valid form of where the church should go in the future. We need to help people think more outside the box. I am not sure how the church in America will survive unless we do something. If our junior high students can understand this, I think it will impact the world.

next up: considering our own leadership…

junior high pastors summit notes, part 2

each year, for the past 8 or so, about 20 middle school ministry specialists from around north america have gathered for a few days of fun and discussion. this year’s participants were: myself, Corrie Boyle (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI), Kurt Brandemihl (Sunset Presbyterian Church, Portland OR), Jeff Buell (McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX), April Diaz (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA), Ken Elben (Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN), Heather Flies (Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN), Andy Jack (Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, IL), Mark Janzen (Willingdon Church, Burnaby, BC), Kurt Johnston (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Brooklyn Lindsey (Highland Park Church, Lakeland, FL), Sean Meade (Stuck in the Middle, Andover, KS), Alan Mercer (Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS), Jason Raitz (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL), Alan Ramsey (Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, Knoxville, TN), Ken Rawson (First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS), Nate Rice (Forest Home Ministries, Forest Falls, CA), Christina Robertson (Journey Community Church, La Mesa, CA), Johnny Scott (Jr High Believe, Oronogo, MO), Nate Severson (Hillcrest Covenant Church, Prairie Village, KS), Phil Shinners (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA), and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL).

for the past few years, we’ve invited a guest to join us for a half day, to present some stuff that would become discussion fodder for the rest of our time. we’ve had chap clark, scot mcknight, an adolescent brain specialist, and christian smith.

this year, our guest was dave gibbons, pastor of newsong church in irvine, CA, and author of the monkey and the fish. we talked about third culture, adaptability, leadership, fringes and vortexes, and a variety of other stuff.

i’ll be posting edited notes from our discussions here in a series of posts. our hope is that these discussions will be helpful to others also…

click here for part one.
part 2 is the questions we asked dave in response to his talk (as well as his responses):


Scott: Is it too late? Are we really heading toward disaster in the next generation?

Dave: America seems to be out of touch. But the current economic crisis “scarcity brings clarity” is cause for hope. This is a big deal and we have a shot if we are really willing to change. We need to honor the past and move to the future. In order to do this though, we need to be willing to sacrifice everything we have to get there.

Kurt J: You have talked about the fringe people. The bigger your church the bigger the vortex. The danger is bigger because we can survive longer with our head in the sand. It takes more people to change things. On one hand I think we are doing it right and well, but you’d be an idiot to get comfortable in your current reality. What are your thoughts on this dilemma?

Dave: Are churches willing to be a hybrid? To use what we have with what we see coming? Bless and affirm, but launch new things. Maybe with new churches rather than within your own. Can you create fringe movements within your own church? Create community within community. The other choice is for the church to die. Are we willing to create a “sunset clause”? Churches tend to decline after ten to fifteen years because the culture changes around them. Are we willing to change or die?

Kurt J: How many are willing to do this?

Dave: Less than 1%, but those who know this are willing to do it in a second. Don’t argue about forms. Forms change. Are we really willing to lay it all down for the kingdom of God? Let’s get our pioneering spirit back.

Scott: What does that look like?

Dave: A church in Seattle decided to die and they joined a new emerging church and took on all the brand and name of this new young church. They were wise enough to see that they were declining in numbers and were not able to do it, so they gave it all up.

What would it look like if we were really willing to die to our forms?

Christina: Are you saying they will die if they don’t choose to die? Is it inevitable?

Dave: History says the influence dies. Is the church willing to recognize this? Remember though, that there is a place for many of these churches. There needs to be “retirement homes” for people.

MarkO: When you are intentional about paying attention to the fringe, what does that do to the vortex?

Dave: Bigger the vortex, the harder it is to move it. How much do you value the innovative edge? The bigger and older you get, the more center focused you become and the harder it is to focus on the fringe. Connect with people in your community – artists etc… You must think about doing this cross culturally. Go to places that are unfamiliar. Places where you don’t know the lay of the land or the language. It helps you become more fluid. Keeps you sharp.

Kurt B: What would you say to us where we are not the leadership team? We don’t always have the ability to change the organization from the middle of the leadership structure of the church.

Dave: You have to remember to affirm the leadership. Get the blessing of the church, but try to focus on the radical things you need to do. Create different metrics in terms of what your measurements are. Create an ethos that is actually a blessing not reactionary. Otherwise you are hurting and debilitating the structure of the church. If you’re reactionary, you tend to be too extreme. Kids need to know how to grow up in a place and adapt and live within the system and be fluid within the environment but raise up radical movements.

It’s okay to be big, but it’s overrated. Bless, affirm and create a culture that is adaptable. Help people go out or stay in. Do you have a Pauline calling? One where you are “all things to all men,” or do you have a calling where you are more homogeneous.

MarkO: In YM our history is to influence the influencers. Because of the splintering of youth culture, these kids do not exist any more. It might be really easy for that to quickly become a commodifying of people again. When you talk about the artist in Bankok, it seems like we are using him.

Dave: The old success model says that “I can do this rather than using the people God wants to use.” You must also keep in mind the culture. In Thailand, things are more “kingly” and Boyd, the artist is almost divine. This is not America.

Kurt J: Mark, would you say that there is no longer the stereotypical influencer that influences everyone, but there is still an influencer in every sub-culture?

MarkO: Absolutely, but I still struggle with the implications of this. Am I being utilitarian to use that kid for my benefit?

Scott: Isn’t that wise also?

MarkO: I’m not saying it does not work or even that it’s wrong. It makes sense, but it comes with a new set of pitfalls and traps that we have not had to deal with before. If I don’t recognize these pitfalls, my own faults and weaknesses would tend to use these kids.

In MS, we also know that you can’t really tell who the influencers are because they change every month.

Brook: There is also the accident effect. I was an accident. I was not an influencer, but my youth pastor was being faithful and here I am. As some level we just trust God.

Dave: We are not looking for the influencers. I look for people who have “that something” about them. I may not know they are great influencers.

One thing that is key in this discussion. When we apply business leadership principles, we look for “A” leaders and they are really rare. What we ended up looking for were people who could lead 50 or 100. What we were also then convicted of was that we needed to be doing both/and. There are some who can lead millions and some who can lead hundreds. We must do both.

Marko: Can we talk more about pain?

Dave: Your pain directs you and will be your guide. My life direction comes from my childhood when my parents were divorced. I have a passion for people like women and children because they are really the ones who are serving.

Looking at your pain connects you to humanity. People relate to your pain, not your strengths. Pain is your guide, your teacher, your leader. This is standard thought outside of America.

Jesus and the Via Delarosa – we talk about passion and ask students to talk about getting passionate about their faith. We need to be speaking more about pain and the gift of pain that leads to resurrection. Without pain you don’t have depth of understanding of grace. You need a “blackdrop” for grace to flourish.

MarkO: What relationship with pain do we want with leaders we are looking for?

Dave: They need to embrace pain. If you are on the forefront of spiritual activity, you must embrace pain.

MarkO: Isn’t it more than that?

Dave: Yes, you need to move beyond it and use it as a launching pad for ministry. Embrace your pain, it helps you.

Heather: The reflection is important. We need people who can speak hope and restoration. It does not define me but it shapes me.

Jason: Do most of the big “L” leaders you are around talk about pain?

Dave: In America, “no.” We need a both/and. We need to talk about and lead from strength etc…, but we also need to talk from pain.

If you want to reach the masses, you must reach the marginalized.

How do we utilize pain in our process?

Alan R: But that takes a lot of time.

Dave: How many people in your church really feel like they are seen? Quote: “learn to walk slowly through a crowd.” When you are a big-shot you walk fast through a crowd. How many in your congregation feel like you see them? How many feel like someone can look into their soul?

Bob Bhiel talked about: What’s your 70 and what’s your 30? Your primary thing will be your 70% and the other things are your 30%. Where do you spend your time and money? My 70% was weekend program. What I was articulating was leadership development and yet this was really more the 30% in reality. Are we really doing what we say? What if I put my 70% on leadership development? My church would look very different and that was really scary. Now, instead of spending 20 hours a week on my sermon, I must spend 5. Now I spend more time with people and affirm them. I am investing in the next generation.

What would it look like if we did not keep the incestual education system in our church and started really collaborating with other churches and were The Church? If we really think we are going to impact the world our time and resources must change.

I need people coming into my inner sanctum, not only inviting them to my program.

Scott: But you must also teach this because you have limits. Can people see souls if their souls have not been seen?

Dave: Yes, you must multiply and teach this and model it. Maybe people can see fragments without being seen.

You do this as a journey in a group. It’s a mosaic. This is a value orientation. It’s messy, it’s space and it’s listening. We need to change our focus. We are typically focused on production and efficiency. When we really start to listen and create space for learning we grow and really become more impactful. If you don’t have time to really do something that you value, then something is wrong.

Some helps and assessments for us:
Robert Clinton – “making of a leader” – he has the timeline factor. Write down all the people, places, and in your life. You’ll find the pain in your life. The pain piece speaks volumes about who you are.

The other assessment you need is the “energy metrics”
• Who energizes you?
• Who de-energizes you?
• What energizes you?
• What de-energizes you?

When you are feeling drained you are spending too much time with de-energizing people doing de-energizing things.

I need to hang out with people that are not like me – that de-energize me because it pushes me. But do I also spend time with people like me to energize me.

House Matrix: Draw a picture of a house when you were ten years old. Who was in the house and where in the house were they? This will tell you a lot about how you deal with conflict etc… Take a look at the year of a ten year old.

This is HUGE because when you are ten years old so much about you is formed.

Define Third-Culture: Adaptation – painful adaptation – second commandment – love your neighbor! Why did Jesus tell the story of the Good Samaritan? Our neighbor is really more about loving someone you hate, not loving someone that is like you? It’s a Nelson Mandela coming out of prison and saying “let’s love the one who beats us and imprisons us.” We gravitate toward someone who is like us and someone we are comfortable with. Jesus moved toward the outcast. Someone that was not like Him. John 5 – Samaritan woman. John 1 – contextualization – the Son of God became flesh, painful adaptation. John 5 – Jesus only did what He saw his father doing. He did what His father was doing no matter what he

Kurt J: Why not say “uncomfortable adaptation” rather than painful?

Dave: It might depend on the person. For you maybe things are just uncomfortable with you, but for many it may be really painful

Scott: Does it have to be people that look different than you?

Dave: NO – it’s not about skin color, it must be social-economical, and radically different that you.

MarkO: You are not talking third-culture as social scientists might use it (like a second generation immigrant).

Dave: No, we have tried to redefine it.

Phil: What are some of the things churches are doing right in terms of third culture?

Dave: They have incorporated systems that help to manage the church better. There is a process that helps them to assess where their church is. They have a heart for the world and the lost. Sometimes is way too simple, but at least it’s there. They want to give to the lost and the least. They have helped fuel the missional movement.

Ken R:
How can I help my MS kids have a third culture point of view? I have some fear for the ramification of what the church might do if I tried this, but it’s more about trying to figure out what a 7th grader can do. How do we get kids to really engage third culture in their school?

Dave: It depends on your location: Education and exposure – experiential model. Take them to a culture and help them exegete the culture. When you walk into the city can you really know them by what you observe? Teach our kids how to read a city. Teach them skills that will help them analyze. Again, it’s a both/and. Help them learn these skills without taking them out of what they know.

Take them on vision trips. They might not really need to “do missions.” Our main purpose is to see what God is doing and learn from the people we see and encounter.

Have them read. Or watch something like “The man who planted trees” from PBS. The issue was not about occupation, but calling.

Maybe also “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” This captures the ethos of the role of the minster in the church.

“In the Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen is the best book on leadership.

Help students work their muscles to adapt to other cultures. Take them to nursing homes and things that take them outside of their comfort zone that help them see things other than themselves.

Films: Crash, Slumdog Millionaire

How do we take one step further with our students? Who are the marginalized and minimized in the area?

Scott: Once again, if the parents are the primary influencers, we may have some ability to communicate, but if they go back to a home…

Kurt B: How are artists “the message”?

Dave: They are primarily communicating leading thought and reality. They typically lead the way through culture moves. It’s not saying that you can’t be the message when you are not an artist; rather let the artists out of their departments and into the real structure of who we are and where we are going. From a cultural perspective, the artists are real innovators.

Our job is to platform those who can really do what we are talking about.

Kurt J: This was played out at “Believe” this year. Our kids resonated with the art and drama and could have done without the message.

Dave: It is an intersection of both. Americans are infatuated with the Word. Asian proverb – “The purpose of a fish trap is to catch a fish; once the fish is caught the trap is forgotten. The purpose of a rabbit trap is to catch a rabbit. Once the rabbit is caught the trap is forgotten. The purpose of a word is to capture an idea. Once the idea is caught, the word is forgotten.”

Nate S: What would it really look like for us to create a sunset clause?

Dave: I need to be willing to die to myself. I need to think about succession. The buildings I build are not that important. I need to think about the urgency of now as well as what will take place in the future. Where are we integrating our resources and is it the right place?

April: Can you talk about your kids and what you do with them?

Dave: My role as a dad is to see my children. Fathers often do not see their kids. I study my kids and who they interact with. I almost see them as a science project and I want to understand their world. I want to do a sort of blessing with my kids.

Informal: Hang out and do what they want and engage in what they like.

Formal: When they are around 7, I start to ask them to think about where they might want to go in the world. When they are 12 or 13 we go to that place and we do whatever they want to do. I write them a letter on the trip of everything I see in them. When we get home I give the letter to the kid and ask them to read it. I give them a gift to remember the trip by.

I want my kids to know that I know who they are.

What if you could do this in your church and every kid in your church is seen by someone.

Kurt J: Shoot some holes in some stuff that we are doing that need to be evaluated. For example “numbers” when we think about 30%

Dave: I don’t think it’s flawed thinking. It may not be a bad model, but the cautionary piece is in terms of your resource allocation, is this the best use of the resources you have? The problem is most see the mega-church as the model and it is replicated in areas and ways where it is not the best use of the resources.

I want to affirm the smaller churches that are not the mega-church and who have a small amount of people.

Brook: Where are you seeing this in the secular world?

Dave: All over the place. You need to affirm your own unique culture, but you also need to adapt to another style and culture.

Heather: How can I best minister to my kids of divorced homes?

Dave: There needs to be a sense that this is another home for kids. A place of health. We need to take the time to invest in these kids. Take them into our own home. Love on them and help them get a picture of a healthy home. Help to see them when no one else is seeing them.

Kurt B: how do we avoid sin when we adventure out into culture and whatever messiness that we run into as we adapt?

Dave: This is not the answer, but I have a group of people I talk with every day. It’s not an accountability group, but we share everything with one another. When we have a group that we can’t let down, we can endure a lot.

Andy J: You started today talking about the recession and the quote from Rodney Stark. What do you see the church’s major role in the next ten years?

Dave: This is the most excited time of ministry ever. You are living in a major crisis. This is a global crisis. No one knows what to do. Our opportunity is to be the message. Not just speak the message. The key is to be a purveyor of hope by lifestyle. This comes from being in close proximity to others. Ask “what do you need?” Not “here’s how I can help!” When you put yourself in a position of listening and learning you are helping them and blessing them. People are looking for value orientation.

Be communicators through the loving and serving components. You can create a new matrix of evaluation. You need to rethink and retool how you evaluate.
• Are you more hopeful?
• Are you more joyful?
• Do you have more belief in God in the midst of disaster than you did?

Evangelism has moved to a lifestyle and modeling thing rather than a proclamation model.

MarkO: One of the things I’m struggling with is how to teach adaptability to kids who can’t think abstractly.

Brook: Maybe the question is more “what are we doing to hinder the adaptability they already have?”

Jeff: How do we rather adapt to where they are and the sweet spot of the pain they are already in and sharing about?

Dave: Your role is about planting seeds. You don’t see the full maturation. But what you plant now will become fruit sometime down the road. They may never give you credit.

Additional Reading Material:
“Post American World” – Zakrkaria Fareed
“The End of All Poverty” – Jeffery Sacks

You are the church of the future and NOW. What’s great about your role is “the child shall lead us.” In some things the children are more mature than we are. It is so cool that they can flow the way they do and they become what you compliment. They can do so much and are poised to do so much.

When you are a “mature Christian” you are concerned with the next generation and are investing in them. Deitrich Bonhoeffer really states this well. Most in our church don’t follow this or believe this, but we trumpet it and continue to speak this out loud.

next up: part 3, our brainstorm of topics we might want to explore further, and our reflections on the validity of the third-culture concept…

the monkey and the fish

monkeyandthefish1The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church, by Dave Gibbons

here’s a little back story before i get to the actual book review: i’d known about this dave gibbons guy for a while, but mostly because i’m friends with the youth pastor at his church (april diaz). i spend enough time with enough youth pastors to have an internal divining rod for when there’s a rare, exceptional senior pastor (especially when it comes to believing in and supporting the youth worker). and from my interactions with april, dave gibbons is clearly one of those rare, exceptional senior pastors.

when i finished the rough draft of my book, youth ministry 3.0, i gave an unedited copy to april. she sent me the single most encouraging email i received from my early readers; and it was loaded with stuff about how the book put into words stuff their church was trying to do. she’d had others on the church leadership team read it, and she was the first to challenge me with the idea that there might need to be a “church 3.0” version of the book developed. then, dave gibbons spoke at our youth workers convention in toronto last fall, and i pre-arranged for he and i to spend some time together. i’m sure many have this feeling when they meet dave, but it was one of those meetings where i felt i was talking with someone on the same journey as me, in terms of thinking about the church (and, really, i felt like dave was a few steps in front of me, to say the least). in that meeting, i decided to mention the idea of dave co-authoring a church leader version of ym3.0 with me, and we’ve had a couple more discussions about it since. who knows if that will happen or not, but i came to dave’s new book with all of that in mind.

also, dave is the “special guest” at an invitation-only gathering of seasoned middle school ministry pastors i bring together every year, when we meet a little over a week from now. so those of us attending that event all agreed to read this book.

it’s funny: april had written me, a year ago, saying that she found herself saying “yes!” through much of my book; and that’s exactly how i felt while reading dave’s. in fact, it was an almost surreal experience. as i wrote in a post the other day, there were so many moments, while reading it, that i felt like i was reading a parallel book to youth ministry 3.0. i had that sense (and i told dave this, in an email) that i was driving down a city street and, at the intersections, noticing another vehicle on a parallel streets traveling the same direction and speed.

the book is about church leadership in a global culture, on the surface. but, really, it’s about living christianly, in any cultural context, and in any time. because, at its core, the monkey and the fish is about the values of jesus, and how we can embody them (specifically as churches, and more broadly as “the church”). it’s a quick read, and very accessible. full of great stories from real-life attempts, successes and failures. it’s an honest book, revealing some of the author’s own failures and short-comings. parts of it are almost a spiritual memoir, as dave shares intimate struggles and personal context.

but what i liked most about the book is that the very form of the flow was reflective of the book’s points. in other words: it wasn’t linear and full of how-to’s. dave refers a few times to bruce lee’s suggestion that we become like water; and this book itself is fluid. this will likely frustrate some readers. it actually started to frustrate me, until i realized what was going on — then i sat back and enjoyed the ride!

i had a few minor gripes with the book:
– i think it’s a sexy but weak title, and the opening illustration it refers to doesn’t play a significant role in the book
– i wished dave would give us a clearer explanation of “third culture” from the start (and, while i think i “got it” as i read on, i wasn’t sure about the earliest definition)
– there were times when i wasn’t sure if dave was writing to church leaders (as the subtitle and “leadership network series” would imply) or a general christian audience.

but those were minor, as i said. and overall, i think this is a stellar book, by a brilliant outside-the-box pastor who is doing seriously innovative stuff around the world. i’m stoked about more interactions with him, and about whatever books he’ll write in the future.

finding jesus on facebook

interesting article in the new york times about how people are using facebook and podcasts to find churches. nothing earth-shattering or overly insightful, but worth a quick read.

here are a couple ‘graphs:

It is not just from the pulpit that churches are finding new ways to attract younger worshipers. Some have created profiles or groups on Facebook or MySpace, as well as on specifically Christian networking Web sites, like MyChurch.org, to encourage young people to stay connected to Jesus. Larger, wealthier churches build and maintain their own sites, offering video clips and podcasts of sermons, blogs, church ads and the ability to donate electronically.

Those seeking a place to worship say they use the online tools to preview a church. At one service, Mr. Searcy asked how many first-time attendees had listened to a podcast before deciding to try out the Journey — half the audience raised their hands.

(ht to ypulse)