Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm Selling Out...

I just switched over to TypePad to meet my blogging needs. I have a new blog and new web address:

I will still keep this blog active for a little bit, but my new TypePad blog enables you to easily subscribe to my blog via email. Just scroll down to the bottom left, type in your email into the box, and you will receive an email when a new post comes out.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Sound Waves...

Shane Deike wrote a great post on kingdom expansion. He named listening to God as one of the most important parts of being a disciple of Jesus. 

I completely agree with that, as my life definitely reflected that. Before I learned what it meant to listen to the Spirit, there was mounds and mounds of carnality, and a small pile of spirituality. After I learned what it meant to 'walk in the Spirit,' I began to see dramatic life transformation.

The challenge I have sensed in leading post-modern college students is the different answers they would give to the question: 'what does it mean to listen to the Holy Spirit?' Many would not include reading the Bible as the primary way. Combine that with so many people coming from broken homes, broken families, and a string of broken relationships, and there is really a dramatic lack of foundation. 

I remember a talk from a while back from Mark McCloskey. He shared that all of the disciples knew the OT; knew in the sense of the 'cover to cover' type of knowledge, not just the 'I know of' type knowledge. When they 'heard' from the Spirit, it was out of a deep base of scripture. 

I don't believe that a person can hear from the Lord apart from a connection to the Word. The Corinthians are a great example. They had every spiritual gift, God had set them up as a church with the tools to flourish, yet their lack of a deep scriptural base left them immature and struggling with sin. 

We can as an organization empower more people as they sense the Spirit's leading. This goes along with my tirade about honoring failure and risk and courage more, but I think the underlying challenge we are facing is a dependence on skill and a fear of failure. 

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Reflecting on the Blogference

I'm still mulling over what I learned/liked/etc about the blogference. Here's what I have so far:

  • The platform, or means, of communication is extremely important. Even if it's great content, but in a platform that hinders communication, the content does not get appreciated. I really liked how easy and non-committal the blogference platform was. Many people were able to casually observe the conference without having to fully commit. 
  • So often we focus on the results part of what we do, which is great. But often we neglect to enjoy the process of what we do. I was really pleased to think about what kinds of discussions and thoughts people had as they read the various posts and comments. Personally, I have seen how valuable it is to observe and learn how other people think; it always sharpens my own thought processes. 
  • Blogging forces me to communicate honestly and succinctly. Wow, if I could be known as a person who communicates like that all the time, that would be amazing. I've noticed in my daily interactions a desire to be more of both. That's cool!
I know there's more, but the most exciting thing for me was knowing that learning and thinking were taking place about the faith/future paradigm. Hopefully as we all spur each other on to lead others in this manner, we will see significant and meaningful transformation happen all around us. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blog-Ference Day 5--What Did You Think?

It's the final day of the blogference, and I wanted to leave by inviting you to share your thoughts.

I'm really curious what you thought about the content, the format, the discussion, and anything else. 

I'm so excited to see how we as an organization can leverage our size and scale in new ways through online platforms such as these. It's amazing to think that we can honestly dialogue with staff all over the world through something so basic as a blog. 

Outside of being challenged by the content, I hope that this has given you a positive taste of blogs, that will hopefully inspire you to either begin one yourself, or follow a couple more frequently.

As I mentioned in the Facebook message, we will be launching a blog where the hosts can share posts related to the theme of Leading Change after the blogference ends. I'm hoping to host another blogference in 3-6 months to continue to spur on the online conversation. 

Thanks again for participating. Please share your comments!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blog-Ference Day 3--Faith that Combats Fear and Hopelessness

Hebrews 11:1-Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων.

I'm sure all of us are familiar with Hebrews 11:1. Today I wanted to look intensely at the original language of the verse, and draw out the ways that we can fight hope fatigue and our natural desire to lead out of the Present/Self/Known.

The three words highlighted in red are the nouns of the verse. πίστις is faith or belief, and the rest of the nouns, the sentence, and even the rest of the chapter attempt to explain this one word. The other two words in red are absolutely vital to narrowing down the meaning of 'faith' that Paul seeks to communicate to his audience. 

ὑπόστασις--this word, translated in the NIV as a phrase "being sure," and as a word in the ASV as "assurance," literally means 'that which lies beneath.' Colloquially, you could say 'the thing beneath the thing.' It's also translated throughout other Greek texts as 'subject matter,' 'foundation,' or my favorite: 'the real nature of a thing, essence.' 

ἔλεγχος--this word, translated in the NIV as the word 'certain' and in the ASV as 'conviction,' was a word used most often in court. It's best translated as 'proof.' Not general evidence that many lawyers use, but that which compels the jury to decide guilt or innocence. 

Here is a translation that I would offer of the Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is real life actions that come from hope, convincing proof of unseen realities."

So, from the original language, FAITH is not abstract at all but rooted in the tangible, the seen, the present. 

Here's the main point I want to make today:  LEADING BY FAITH MEANS LEADING OUT OF HOPE!!!!!

When I think about words that those whom I lead would use to describe me, I don't believe many would use the word 'hopeful.' Passionate, convicted, focused perhaps, but not dominantly hopeful. 

When I think about words that I would use to describe the campus ministry, hopeful would not be in my top 5.

Here are 3 reasons why I don't lead dominantly out of hope, and 3 things I believe our organization could change that would lead to stronger culture of hope with CCC.

  1. Being hopeful requires me to lead out of future realities that have yet to be given. I'm fearful of letting people down, and making promises that I know only God can keep. 
  2. Being hopeful requires that I trust more in Jesus than myself. It means a day to day schedule that has appointments and tasks that scare me more than make me feel good about myself. 
  3. Being hopeful costs me my reputation in front of others. Especially leading students who are 'all about authenticity, and keeping it real,' that culture subversively kills hope, since communicating a belief in things not seen can often times be perceived as 'fake.' 
  1. Break free from wrapping up our 'organizational hope' in strategies. Most of my hope fatigue towards CCC comes from hoping in strategies that change every couple years. From the various comments yesterday, it seems we are all tired of changing strategies and longing for a deeper level of commitment. 
  2. Bond and facilitate connections over 'failure' more. It's really brutal to maintain hope in a heavy performance-orientated environment. I actually love our commitment to performance in the sense of being committed to reaching as many lost students as we can. But without honoring failure, courage, innovation as much as strategy and success, the positive and redemptive side of our performance culture gets lost in the shuffle. 
  3. Seek to grow trust between each level; campus to region, region to national. With so many new and easy ways to communicate personally via the web (blogs, video-casts, Skype, etc), I believe we could easily come up with ways to have more personal relationships with RD's and National leaders. Ken Cochrum wrote a great post on means of communication. It was interesting that email came out on the bottom; yet that is the main way our RD's and National leaders communicate. 
I would love your comments on this one, as I really desire to learn how to lead more out of hope. 

What are some ways you communicate hope to others? When have you experienced hope in someone? What was it about them that made you feel hopeful?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blog-Ference Day 3--Fear and Hope

Here are some great comments from yesterday’s discussion. Once again I wanted to use our dialogue as a spring-board into today’s discussion.

I saw foundationless change. I saw leaders trying to be innovative and make changes, try new things, but get no where due to having no foundation to build on. In other words nothing was constant or sacred (including the principles needed to build anything).--Ken

I lead out of the present, self, known because it is much easier and it does not leave me looking foolish.—Josh Payne

For me, it's FEAR - fear of losing control, fear of pain and discomfort, fear of loneliness even, b/c the majority of the people won't get it or get you as you live in that space that is different from theirs.—Wix

I'm also concerned when I hear about "rapid reproduction," this sense that risky faith-filled ministry produces more sexy, crazy results.Aaron

It seems like the root issue keeping most all of us from leading out of the Future/Faith/Unknown is fear. Foundationless change can also be seen as a fear and lack of confidence that our plans are of the Lord in spite of the not working or happening perfectly. Josh touched on our fear of looking foolish—we all experience the expectation that as staff we are ‘supposed to know’ how to do everything well. Wix shared all the experiential consequences of leading in this manner, emphasizing how costly it is.

I also see hope as a major part of why we do or do not lead out of the Faith/Future. Walter Brueggemann, in his book The Prophetic Imagination, defines hope as this: Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion…hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.

I fear that with so many different strategies rolling out every couple years, that we have hope fatigue. I sense that we have been doing so many things okay to below average, rather than a few things well, that many of us do not have something to point to that ‘proves’ so to speak that it’s worthwhile to hope. Personally, hoping in something that does not end up coming to being is extremely discouraging. It’s so easy for me to blame myself for a lack of faith/spiritual fervor/etc, question whether or not God really wants to work on campus, and wonder if being on staff is truly where it’s at. Especially when we have a culture that honors ‘success,’ I can easily start to believe I’m on the outside and not doing something right.

I would also go back to Brueggemann’s quote that emphasizes the subversive-ness of hope. It’s extremely hard to admit that what we have been seeking after things that are ‘just okay’ or ‘good but not great.’ Hope can be threatening—to ourselves and to others, as it opens up the possibility for God to work outside of the current structures/processes/etc that are set in place.

To bridge this gap between where we started as Campus Crusade and where we find ourselves now, I believe we need to look for ways to combat fear and foster hope, especially to staff on the field.

To start the discussion, I would ask these questions of you: 

Would those whom you lead describe you as hopeful? How do you communicate/reflect hope in your current ministry context? Do you have hope fatigue? What is the major cause of it for you?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blog-Ference Day 2--Challenging the Status Quo

Thanks everyone for your comments yesterday. If you are just joining this dialogue, my basic premise is this: The cultural and spiritual climate on campuses throughout the country have changed to the degree that our 'old' ways of doing things no longer have the efficacy they once did. Instead of forging new paths by faith, we as an organization have in many ways 'dug in our heels,' and have sought to fight problems by doing more (more money, people, time sent in to do the job). 

My argument is that to truly see new paths forged in the campus ministry, we must begin to dethrone old paradigms and models, empower more staff on the field to lead courageously and boldly, and 'honor' as an organization apostolic characteristics such as faith, courage, freedom, innovation more at every level. 

Yesterday I highlighted the vision that Dr. Bright launched--one where as an organization we led dominantly out of faith, and dominantly towards the future. 

Today, I want to show where I believe we stand presently, and what obstacles we face in reclaiming the apostolic identity that Dr. Bright gave us. 

THIS IS NOT A CALL TO THROW EVERYTHING AWAY; NOR TO SAY THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING RIGHT NOW IS BAD. Instead, it's a call to re-embed into the center of our roles the very things that caused us as an organization to grow. 

I wanted to start by posting bits from each of the comments from yesterday to lead into today's content.

Our EV seems to be, present- self. Campus Ministry tends towards doing what we've always done. We change the outward face of it.—Alisha

Should we cling to their model of initiative and faith?Dave Goffeney

I guess I mean to say that sometimes making decision in the known rather than unknown can be good. One might call it wisdom. But what I think you're working against here is comfort, not wisdom.Aaron

I don't know how to make that shift again. Is it all Holy Spirit? Don't think so, but it seems the National Team is really trying to get some of this back with the Way Forward.—DJ

But ultimately what it comes down to in my head is.... is this structural change ultimately going to effect heart change by removing something like the weekly meeting? Or will the structural change just be structural--Jen Ip

Leading in light of the future requires a sacrifice of the present ordering of things: we have a finite amount of resources (staff, student leaders, time, energy, money), and simply cannot maintain the present at 100% capacity and still lead in light of the future. A huge part of our job as staff is to wisely sacrifice parts of the present in light of the future. Near-sighted leadership is a silent killer of many movements (sounds a little Confucian, but it's true).

Here is the leadership base that I believe we as an organization are leading out of IN PRACTICE. You'll notice that the circle is placed over Self, the Present, and the Known. I would say as an organization we lead more out of our self than out of faith, more out of the present than the future, and more out of the known than the unknown. Like Aaron and Dave brought up, there is tons of wisdom in doing what is known. We have an obligation to steward our resources as best as possible, and that often means not re-inventing the wheel every week. 

The problem does not lie in repeating models, processes, and structures in my estimation. The biggest problem I see is that the success of past models, processes, and structures have pierced our organizational conscience to the point where we believe THEY are what causes growth and transformation. As a result, we have shied away from being staff who truly lead dominantly out of faith and the future, since we have co-opted ourselves to protect the status quo that was so successful and prominent. 

I believe we are stuck with this circle for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons why as I have observed:

*Flesh-driven performance: A desire to replicate past models, regardless of effectiveness, to please those in power above us. How many summer projects have you been on that don’t use Ocean City’s model? From those projects, how many of those places actually have the same environment and context that would warrant duplicating the model?

*An embedded culture that primarily honors ministry ‘success.’ How many times have you seen or heard about a ministry that is living out of faith but ‘failing’ miserably? Particularly from the National sphere of our organization (emails from National leaders, Connection magazine that we get each month, CSU, etc). We can look right to Chili’s Story challenge to see the dominant culture of success. I’ve yet to see someone win for saying, "Our movement has stepped out in faith like never before yet we have not seen any fruit to date."

*Emphasis on skill/role based development rather than capacity/character based development: Mark McCloskey has written extensively on this issue. Basically the idea is that we still consider development as primarily acquiring skills rather growing our capacity to love and lead students from the core of our being. Look at our 'development' binder that we give. I would guess it's 80% skill based. 

*Organizational culture that does not aggressively seek or facilitate learning opportunities outside of CCC. Nearly every resource we have is developed from within. The advantage of this is obviously alignment: I get that. However, whenever staff seek learning opportunities outside of CCC, it’s always on their own time and their own dime (that’s the last time I will rhyme. It just worked). Because of that, it’s hard for us to grow in our intellectual flexibility. It was almost 4 years on staff before I attended a spiritual conference other than a CCC one. Although the conference was okay, the experience of being around different-minded ministry leaders was beneficial beyond what could even be quantified. Yet I paid out of my own pocket and it was on top of the already 5 or 6 CCC conferences I had been to that year.

Again, let me reiterate that this is not an indictment solely on our National Leadership. At every level, and in every role, we are accountable to leading in this manner. 

Why I'm so excited about this blogference is that it gives a platform outside of the traditional ones to actually discuss these issues in a way that will cause transformation at various levels. These obstacles can be overcome; tomorrow I will delve into practical and transformational ways to reverse this trend. 

Okay I would really love your feedback on this one. Do you lead out of Self, Present, and Known more than Faith, Future, and the Unknown? Why? What keeps you from sacrificing parts of the present in light of the future?