Friday, December 17, 2010

141. Prophets, Incarnational Ministry, and Bono

This interview between Bono and Bill Hybels is an excellent example of how someone gifted as a prophet gravitates towards incarnational forms of ministry. Prophets call out the gap and identify with the values and pathos of God. It is interesting to note what Bono's favorite verse is, along with hos language about being annoyed and feeling like it is his job to call attention to the deficiencies in the churches posture and actions towards the poor and aids victims. Bono is a high profile prophet, and while he would probably not describe himself as such, his prophetic gifting is running wild in his music, his ministry to the poor, and his voice to, and against, the church. 

140. Bricollage, Bricoleur's and apostolic ministry

I started a curbside recycling business about 3 years ago, and one of the items I collect on my routes is aluminum cans. It is the only item I am able to sell to a local vendor and make money from it. So, about every two weeks, I go to Jones Recycling, the local metal salvage shop and sell my aluminum. Well, there is a dude that works there named David, and he has this uncanny ability to make and craft new things out of used technology parts. He takes random electronics or computer parts and assembles them together to make something meaningful and useful. This is the latest work of art he has built. It is a "briefcase"  laptop/desktop computer.

There is a word that describes this kind of talent and mojo to work with whatever makes itself available and assemble seemingly unrelated components into meaningful expressions, tools, technology etc. The French call it bricollage, and it is where we get our word collage from. Some people have a knack for seeing unique combination's of existing materials within reach and make useful, valuable creations of them. Those who engage in this often undervalued practice of bricollage are called bricoleurs. It is somewhat similar to the concept of entrepreneur, but differs in that rather than exploiting and taking advantage of opportunities to make money, they exploit the inherent potential in existing objects and materials, and find new potential and value oin those objects by combining them with other materials. IT is so cool to know there is a word out there that describes something you are good at. David is a natural bricoleur, and if you are able to get in touch with him, he just might sell this elaborate, recycled piece of technology.

I cant help but make application here to apostolic ministry. When you start a new community form scratch, you are engaging in bricollage. The assembling of seemingly unrelated part into meaningful expressions is exactly what forming a new community around the gospel is about. Genuine apostolic ministry works with what is present, what makes itself available at the time and works towards helping those parts assemble and mobilize into meaningful expressions.

In order to engage in bricollage you have to see value in every part. It not only requires imagination, although this is essential to the art of bricollage. It also requires an eye for beauty and usefulness. Every person brings something to the table. A bricoleur is someone who is able to see that value and creatively merge it with other parts for collective meaning and action.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

139. Michael Frost on what it means to be Missional

My good friend Nathan Capps sent this to me the other day and I just got around to watching it. It is quite motivational. Michael Frost unpacks what it means to be missional for him. I have to say though, as Michael has somewhat of a prophetic tone to his writings and gifting, his outlook on what it means to be missional is also flavored by a prophetic leaning. When I say prophetic, I mean that impulse that seeks to deepen our thoughts and actions in God, and thus leading us take on a very incarnational impulse. Either way, he hammers home the need for us to align ourselves with the missional God of scripture.

Here is his talk at Dallas Theological Seminary during the World Evangelization Conference.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

138. Grading APEST Content

I have been doing some research on the topic of "vocabularies of organization" (an interesting topic, I highly recommend diving into it.). As usual, I ran across some related material that fascinated me. There is something called The Jaccard Metric that helps analyze similarities between data sets. Dats sets can include computer code, statistics, guessed it....words and vocabularies. So for example, if you have a text, you can measure other texts by how similar or disimilar they are in terms of vocabulary, and even concepts. The Jaccard Metric helps you discover the "distance" between the documents. That is, it helps you gauge, or grade the semantic, linguistic or conceptual distance between the standard text and other chosen texts.

Well, as I was thinking the other day about the APEST ministry matrix, I was struck by the lack of literature available for the apostolic and prophetic functions. Then as I thought about it some more, I realized that the further you move back from the Teaching ministry, the less material you can find. In other words, there is a plethora of material out there about the teaching/preaching ministry, but when you move backwards from the Teacher gifting to the Shepherd/Pastor gifting, there seems to be a bit less. It gets even less when you move back to the evangelism category, and then it gets even worse with the prophetic and the apostolic. The apostolic is by far the most bankrupt of all the gifts when it comes to literature and material to explain it, train people, and explore the conceptual and pragmatic issues surrounding that kind of entrepreneurial, pioneering ministry. I diagram it like this.

The "distance", as Jaccard would phrase it, between the amount of literature available for the S-T vocations and the A-P functions is astounding. The deficit of material out there when it comes to the apostolic vocation is quite slim. How can we go for literally centuries and not have accumulated significant texts that dive into the apostolic function? It is really bizarre when you think about it. Any suggestions as to why this is the case? Let me hear from ya.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

137. "Lost in the forest" .... Bruce Mau talks about entrepreneurship, design, innovation and changing the city

I just recently discovered Bruce Mau and boy, is he a gold mine for missional thinkers. He is especially pertinent to a missional-incarnational venture that enters in a new area with the gospel and is looking to make a difference. If I were in the business of being on mission and making a difference in the city, I would find everything this guy puts out there, and soak it up.

Are you lost or on a picnic????

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

136. "The Tyranny of Structure-lessness"

Since I am on a roll with the whole structure and organization piece, are several excerpts from a  chapter in controversial book, but insightful nonetheless about group dynamics and structure. The book Radical Feminism was written to bolster and guide the feminist movement. This particular social movement had some pretty strong reactions to hierarchy, authority and power. There are some pretty obvious parallels with some of the folks who gravitate towards a more organic, simple church environment. Jo Freeman, in her chapter "The Tyranny of Structurelessness" (download PDF copy here), while speaking specifically to the feminist movement, has some insightful things to say to those who are over reacting to organization and structure and go to an extreme of saying they do not want any organization or structure at all.

"If the movement is to move beyond these elementary stages [of structurelessness] it will have to disabuse itself of some of its prejudices about organization and structure." p. 286

"...the idea of structurelessness does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones...Thus 'structurelessness' becomes a way of masking power...As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is curtailed to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion." p. 286-287

"If the movement continues to deliberately not select who shall exercise power, it does not thereby abolish power. All it does is abdicate the right to demand that those who do exercise power and influence be responsible for it. If the movement continues to keep power as diffuse as possible because it knows it can not demand responsibility from those who have it, it does prevent any group or person from totally dominating. But it simultaneously insures that the movement is as ineffective as possible." p. 297

Those who have seen or experienced overly bureaucratized, authoritarian, or legalistic forms of organization and leadership need a time to detox and heal, but structure is neutral, not demonic.It is interesting that a refusal to put some level of structure in groups actually conceals the existing power relations in the group. Alliances form and people who are not included in the phone calls, the house visits and conversations that eventually contribute to the direction of the group are oblivious to the process of how the group is being shaped by people in the group. A formal process for making decisions, identifying people who make decisions helps hold those people accountable and also helps people know what the process is so they can either contribute to the process or opt out. Either way, putting the structure out there for people to see opens up the leadership t the group, but also allows people in the group to lead in healthy, accountable ways. The question is not whether or not you will have organization. The question is, will you operate off of purely informal structure or a blending of formal and informal. There are liabilities with each approach, but we have to know the liabilities if we are going to be able to negotiate them and avoid them when possible. We are all familiar with the liabilities of too much structure. But "structurelessness" is a myth. There will be structure. The question is, will it be formal or purely informal. To ensure everyone has the opportunity to exercise power, ironically, you need a formal structure, even though that very kind of structure can evolve in ways that disallow people to exercise power in the group. It is what Berg and Smith call a paradox.

It is interesting that Freeman notes that the thing that can pull a group out of this conundrum is adopting a task, or as we would say, a mission. Mission is the organizing principle of the church, which means you organize not for organization sake, but to accomplish the mission. If the structure impedes you from accomplishing the mission, you use another structure, or scale down on the existing one. Once again, mission comes to the fore as a healthy check on features that by themselves can become oppressive and paralyzing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

135 Three prophets weigh in on social justice, economics, politics and courage

I have to admit, I love Cornell West!!!! He is so well read and so insightful. But what I really love about him, is that he is so down to earth and in touch with reality. He may visit the ivory tower, but he is quick to jump out of that tower and redeploy his understanding towards the margins. These three people do exactly what prophets are supposed to do....provoke empathy for the margins, unveil unjust structures, and move us towards a hopeful imagination, and therefore actions. This video is quite a display of prophetic discourse.

Watch the full episode. See more Bill Moyers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

134. New Frontiers

I ran across this video from Levi's on you tube. It points us to the frontiers that are all around us.

It takes a missional impulse to move into the frontiers that are all around us. What is your frontier?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

133. Thawing out the "organic freeze."

I know when we first transitioned into meeting in homes it was a bit awkward. We all had the weird feel going on because all of us were used to doing church the conventional way. One of things that developed over time was what I call the "organic freeze." This is when no one wants to take the initiative in the group for fear of being "the leader" or imposing their agenda on the group. That was a phase we all sort of unknowingly went through. In other words, we did not know we were going through it at the time, and it only is apparent in hind sight.

I have run a cross what I consider a goldmine of a book on group dynamics called Paradoxes of Group Life. This is just one of the jewels in the book as it relates to power in groups. "One develops power as one empowers others. Taking the power that is available and using it often creates a vacuum, because it is experienced as depriving others of a sacred commodity. As a result, power taking is resisted. Individuals often refuse to accept or exercise the power that is available to them in a group simply to avoid the accusation of having stolen it form someone else or having gained it at others expense. Yet the very avoidance of taking and using the available power makes individuals in a group, and ultimately the group as a whole, feel powerless. The feelings of powerlessness create an even greater wish for power, making it even harder for anyone to seize it, because the feeling of deprivation is correspondingly larger, and the resistance grows. On the other hand, if one takes the available power and uses it to empower others, the total amount of group and individual power increases. Taking power when it is dangerous to do so and then acting to empower others defuses the terror and breaks the cycle…So the work of those who have or create power is to create the conditions in which others can move toward their own empowerment." This is so valuable to people who are "frozen" in the organic mode of "no leadership equals no hierarchy." Power is a deep topic, but I think these guys shed some important light on the nature of group dynamics, leadership and taking the initiative. I have found that in groups where people have experienced spiritual abuse, heavy handed, authoritarian leadership styles, that going through a period of totally egalitarian interactions where no one has an agenda for the group and no one dares to impose any kind of structure can be a good thing. But staying in that mode is way too detrimental to the life of the group. If you are not careful, your time together as a group will end up looking like a Quaker meeting. Everyone being silent, looking at each other until someone is supposedly "prompted" by something or someone."

I healthy scripture to move a group in this phase is I Peter 4:10-11. 
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

132. Network Gatherings

We had another Network Gathering last night. Once a month both of our house churches come together to meet as a larger group. We talked a while back about what we thought those larger gatherings should facilitate. Here is a list of things we came up with.

1. Social Networking: Because we gather typically as groups of 8-15 weekly, we need that larger social time to hang out and socialize. A group of 8-15 people does not have enough "resources" to address every need in the community.
2. Comradery: Getting together in a larger setting gives you the feeling that you are part of something bigger, that you are not alone in this.
3. Cross Pollinating: We need to be exposed to what is going on in the other house church(es) so we can learn from them and their journeys.
4. Synergy: Sort of like comradery, but we can feed off each others highs and momentum. It is sort the transfer of energy between us. This will most often happens when we tell stories of what God is doing in us and our house churches.
5. Momentum: This is sort of like synergy, but momentum is really a product of synergy. When you feel energized, it gives you the capacity to move forward at a greater speed and force than before.
6. Celebration: We like to sing as a larger community, and singing in a group of 12 sometimes just isn't an uplifting experience.
7. Raising Vision: Casting Vision is a time when we raise our awareness of what God can do through us. Not necessarily trying to get people to follow a particular pathway or do a particular ministry, but more fundamental, but raising our awareness of God presence, his power, and his provision.

Grant did an awesome job of challenging us to make "God room" and look to do things that could only happen if God was a part of it. This led into a discussion of faith, uncertainty, trust and confidence. We all listened to a song by the old school group, A Capella that sang Ephesians 3:20-21. It was stirring for me as I thought about how God has done so many amazing things in my life personally, and in the lives of people and churches that I have been around. He is the God of the now, the present, and his power is available to us.

The cool thing was we all wrote down some things we would like to see God do through us and our church in the city here. It was so cool to hear what was stirring around in every ones hearts. This was a mile marker for us I think because we put things out on the table that we are basically feeling called to do. We all speak out of our giftings and passions, so while we were talking about this kind of thing, I got to see a little deeper into the giftings that are present in each of the people who shared.

We capped it off by watching a video with the song "God of this city" playing in the back ground Grant went around town and took pictures of peoples houses in the group, their street signs, starbucks, the public square, APSU etc. It raised my vision and reminded me that God can use anyone, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Here is the song.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

131. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 3

This is Part 3 guessed it, a 3 part post on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 1, Part 2)The 4th generation is in the Great Commission too, but it is cloaked. It is contained a sort of circular flow of returning to Jesus as the archetypal paradigm and authority for discipleship.Jesus is the 1st generation, the eleven disciples are the 2nd generation. The 3rd Generation is the Nations(ethnic groups), The key to the fourth generation in the great commission is in the phrase "teaching THEM to obey all things I have commanded you." The 4th Generation is the disciples that will be made from those disciples in the different ethnic groups. If the 12 are to teach their disciples to do all things Jesus commanded the 12 to do, this will include the command to go and make disciples. So the 12 are commanded to go and make disciples, then those disciples are taught to do what the 12 do, which is to make disciples, and that is the fourth generation. It is a bit circular, so here is a diagram to help you out.

130. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three part post on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 1, Part 3)As I was reading today in John, I noticed Jesus using the concept of the 4th generation in John 17:20-21 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Jesus uses the 4th generation concept. I guess it would make sense to see it in Jesus first, then in his disciples, but I never hear it from this angle. It is always 2 Tim 2:2. Pretty cool eh? Paul is not the only one to use the 4th generation principle. Maybe he gets it from Jesus via Peter and James Gal 1:18-19, or direct revelation, or apostolic intuition???? Either way you spin it, Jesus had a global vision, a multiplication movement strategy with the 12. It is not just a Paul thing.

129. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 1

This is the first of a three part series on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 2, Part 3)I sat around recently and doodled in my moleskine about the concept of the fourth generation discussed in II Timothy 2:2. Paul mentions 4 generations there.

As I reflected on what makes a fourth generation of disciples possible, I became increasingly aware why the fourth generation is considered by most people to be the true test of whether you have a movement taking place. The crux of a movement is exactly that, movement. However, you can see movement in the relationship between the first and second generation. There is undoubtedly movement taking place between Paul and Timothy. however, the goal is an exponential movement, that is, movement that keeps going. Sustainable movement that is able to keep going beyond the first generation and second generation.

It is tempting to think the third generation is a sign of movement, but the third generation is deceiving for a couple reasons.

1. The first generation can still have a hand in influencing the third generation by triangulating the relationship. The first generation can influence the third generation by influencing the second generation. In this sense, the third generation is still in the orbit of the first generation, which means that movement has not really spread beyond the first generation yet. Functionally, the third generation can still be dependent on the first generation's leadership and influence. The second generation is essentially the middle man at this phase of multiplication.

2. The second generation disciple can be a charismatic person, which means they can easily gather a group of people around them. Discipleship is taking place, but it is not necessarily because the first generation has made a disciple that will be able to make another disciple, who will be able to make another disciple. If I disciple a charismatic person, they will eventually attract someone to themselves and disciple them. The discipleship process will be contained in the third generation and go no further.


The true test is whether the people who are being discipled by that charismatic person are able to make disciples as well. Its true that a charismatic person can attract another charismatic person, and the chain reaction can go on and on. This is why Paultells Timothy to commit what he has hear from him to faithful "men" (anthropos in the Greek signifying male and female), plural, more than one person.

The fourth generation disciple is a sign that a multiplication movement is taking place because the first generation has no direct hand in the fourth generation. It implies the second or third generation has developed the capacity to make disciples as well. There are two degrees of separation between he first and the second, thus pointing to the quality and effectiveness of the disciple making taking place among and between the second and third generation. To put it another way, the first disciple can make disciples who make disciples. But the real test is whether or not that second disciple can make disciples that make disciples. Because of the triangulation factor or the charismatic factor, the fourth generation is the acid test of whether or not there is a multiplication movement taking place. True imitation takes place when the second disciple is able to imitate the process of making a disciple that makes a disciple. So in essence, what we have is a second generation disciple making third generation disciples, and the process keeps going.

What this points us to is the critical dynamics of the initial discipling relationship. The quality, simplicity, sticky-ness, and reproducibility of the process, content and relationship of this initial relationship is what sets the DNA of a multiplication movement. If discipleship is about imitation, then the initial relationship is crucial to the potential for a multiplication movement to happen. 

It is interesting that Paul tells Timothy to transfer the things he has heard Paul say in front of many witnesses. In other words, the stuff that is to be transmitted is stuff that was originally shared in a larger setting with many people. Timothy is to pass on the things that Paul spoke in front of many witnesses. This implies that the content of what Paul said was able to be absorbed by many people. It was not esoteric or lofty. It was , Reproducible, Sticky and Simple, what we call here at Ikon a RSS Feed. The process and the content of your strategy for discipleship needs have these three qualities. Other wise, it will not be able to travel to the fourth generation.

Movement is not the same as multiplication. A multiplication movement is what Paul is aiming at in II Timothy 2:2. The capacity to make three generations of disciples is exceptional indeed, but you want the second generation to be able to imitate this process, and you want them to imitate it in a way that their disciples can imitate it as well. We at Ikon are using the tools and processes of 3DM to help us build a discipling culture. You might want to check them out. They have over 20 years experience in using tools that are reproducible, sticky and simple. Most of all, they have a lot of wisdom as to the process of making disciples as well.

128. Discipleship and II Timothy 2:1-2

The concept of the fourth generation in disciple making is a simple, yet profound principle. It is one of those ideas that is often passed over because of its relative simplicity. But the texts that teach us about the concept of the fourth generation have a lot of meat nestled within them. The most classic text on the concept of the fourth generation is II Timothy 2:1-2. 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

Before we get into the mechanics of disciple making and the fourth generation, I think it is important to notice that Paul leads into the concept of disciple making by encouraging Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This is a critical point to digest because when you start talking about training people to be followers of Jesus Christ, or even use the word discipleship in some circles, it can sometimes conjure up experiences of spiritual abuse, control and manipulation, or just flat out driven personalities who see the concept of multiplication as a way to increase their bragging rights on how much they have been able to "produce" through their discipling efforts. Paul leads into a discussion about disciple making with a word on grace because disciple making is has to be rooted in a healthy understanding of our role in the disciple making process. We do not produce fruit in other people, we do not transform them, we are not the source. the grace of Jesus Christ is the transforming power, we are merely the conduit, the sign and the one who points to the source of power. We are merely a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

This has real implications for discipling relationships and the way we disciple people. When we are weak on grace, we are hard on people. Steve Cockrham with 3DM is fond of saying that you have to calibrate "invitation and challenge" in the discipleship process. This means you have to invite people into relationship, a process that gives them the tools to do what you are challenging them to do. From a theological standpoint, this means modeling the invitation that God gives us through Jesus to enter into Covenant with him to those we are discipling. This is a grace filled invitation that is filled with patience, forgiveness and love. The dynamic of challenge is a part of the equation, but it is in tandem and commensurate with the level of grace and invitation we extend to those we are discipling.

Richard Rohr says that whatever doesn't get transformed, gets transmitted. If discipleship is primarily about imitation, then our capacity to internalize and demonstrate the grace of Jesus Christ in our own lives first will go a long way in shaping the kind of discipling culture you will build through your discipling relationships.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

127. Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, Josh Harris and APEST

What's Next for Francis Chan? A Conversation with Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

I don't usually blog about high profile people, but I couldn't help but put my two cents in on this one. I heard about this discussion between Driscoll, Chan and Harris a while back, but I just stumbled on it tonight on the internet. As I listened to Chan, I resonated with several things he said about the poor, suffering, being motivated by love....but I also heard Driscoll looking for some balance in approach to poverty vs. wealth, simplicity vs. complexity etc. What seemed odd to me is that they both looked on what Chan was doing as though it was sort of ....odd.

There is a deeper, underlying impulse going on here that I think could bring clarity to the pathway Francis Chan has chosen. After spending a significant amount of time studying Ephesians 4, I have come to the conclusion that everyone is gifted with all five of the APEST giftings, but each person has each of these giftings in different measures. That is, each person has a primary, secondary tertiary etc. In my opinion, after hearing Francis Chan speak and reading some of his writings, Chan is gifted as a prophet, with some obvious teaching gifting thrown in the mix. I don't know the guy well enough to know which is primary and which is secondary etc., but it is clear that he is extremely God focused, he calls people to a higher standard, he energizes the community and often talks about his experiences of encountering God in dramatic ways. He is unique in this way, but not so unique that he is all by himself. There are countless other people in the body who have this same thing going on, they just do not share the same platform and exposure as Chan.

When Harris started the session, he responded to a comment Driscoll made by saying "It the whole King dynamic." This is, I assume, he is describing Driscoll from the typology that I have heard Driscoll use of describing leaders with the one of the metaphors of Prophet, Priest or King. Honestly, I struggle with this because the way I have heard it explained, it sounds like a recycled version of the "E-Myth" book. It sounds good at first (to some), but for me it just muddies the waters at precisely the point we need clarity on functions in the body. It is short and sweet, but Jesus did not give the church a three-fold ministry, he gave it a five-fold ministry.

We have a five-fold description of the functions people play in the body in Ephesians 4. If we would stick with the scriptural template of APEST, then it wouldn't be so bizarre that Chan is distancing himself from the established community and diving into a highly incarnational form of ministry. He is a prophet, and this is one of the things prophets do naturally. They help the church become incarnational by incarnating the values of God in tangible, concrete, often dramatic ways. If we understood the Ephesians 4 ministry matrix, we would be able to see how natural it is for Chan to be going in this direction, and instead of questioning the trajectory of his ministry and trying to some how align it with other well traveled trajectories, we can celebrate it and learn from it, be inspired by it and empower it.

This interview is a classic case where a thorough understanding of APEST would helps us appreciate and affirm what we see happening in a high profile, obviously very prophetic teacher, in stead of scratching heads and thinking something is amiss. What is amiss, I would say, is that the church had a very limited leadership structure for Chan to occupy....pastor/teacher....and all this time, in Chans own words...he knew something wasn't right. Its not that the whole church isn't right. What isn't right is the narrow, pastor/teacher leadership structure that forces prophets like Chan into a one size fits all mold of preaching to the established church instead being on the frontier and doing what they do best in the frontier. Praise God Chan has the courage to step out and follow the calling and gifting that Jesus gave him when He ascended on high and gave gifts to men. Chan is modeling to us that we have to have integrity in our gifting and calling. He is an inspiration and encouragement to me, as I too had to leave the pastor/teacher monarchy and move out into the frontier to follow my calling to function apostolically. (Although, it would be nice to do that with the same access to resources that Chan has. Just being honest =)

I am doing some writing with Alan Hirsch and Mike Breen on this very topic of APEST and we hope to broaden the churches vision of the inherent, Jesus-given giftings in the body that provide the focus and trajectories for ministry expressions. It is my hope that this material will help alleviate some of the confusion and contention that naturally surfaces when we try to retro-fit an existing five-fold dynamic in the body into a two-fold leadership/organizational/ministry structure.

Friday, September 24, 2010

126. Innovation and Mission

I decided to hop on the TED website this morning because it has been a long while since I was stirred up by that web site. As always, I was not disappointed. This video of where new ideas come from by Steven Johnson is totally worth listening to.

But it has an application to those of us who are trying to innovate new ways of being on mission. He bemoans the fact that most innovative ideas are shrouded in the myth of what some call the "eureka moment." That is, the lone individual off by themselves having a stroke of genius or an epiphany. These great ideas are actually a result of that person being a part of what he calls a "liquid network." They do not originate in isolation, but often over extended periods of time, in spaces or environments that foster connections between varying people with varying perspectives. In other words, the lone innovator is a myth. It happens in the context of a community of people who are trying to innovate themselves. Sharing failures, new insights, and genuinely communicating about what we have encountered fuels the innovation process. This is important to know because we often think we come with the idea, then stop thinking and implement the idea. In actuality, the original idea may just be one idea of a long string of other ideas that unfold along the way and help enrich, extend and evolve the original idea. Innovation is a process, which means one big idea is not enough. You have to pull back from the process of innovating, keep brainstorming, keep ideation going, if your idea is going to be all it can be.

We have been experimenting with a way of being on mission in Ikon called The Harvest Network, and quite honestly, we have not had enough times of pulling back and re-engaging the idea with different people in creative spaces. This video has stirred me up to re-engage that process again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

125. Rob Bell and Resurrection

It is hard to find good messages on the resurrection that apply to life in the present. while Rob Bell is controversial to some, he is spot on here with the resurrection.

Friday, September 03, 2010

124. The Christus Victor Model of Atonement

I have always been fascinated by the logic, mechanics, and operative dynamics of the atonement. It is one thing to expereince the atonement, it is another ting to explain it. I think the power of the story of Jesus is that it does create an atoning experience, even if you can not explain it. But the teacher side of me likes to explain things. I like to distill it, look into the iner dynamics and get a tighter grasp on what things mean, ow they operate etc.

The movie Gran Torino is probably one of the first movies that I have seen that accurately depicts a Christus Victor model of the death of Jesus. Trailer Here.      Ending Here    It really makes me wonder of Clint Eastwood is aiming at this idea. If he is not, then he does an amazing job of unintentionally illustrating it.

I was on Mark Willis's web site today and saw this video.

I love this video because it depicts Jesus as holding back the forces, and ultimately absorbing their mortal blow, in order to free the girl from those powers. We need to recover this understanding of the atonement, especially as we are entering/already in a post-Christian culture that no longer has guilt as a primary reference point in their relationship with God. The starting point is not going to be guilt in a post-Christian culture. It is going to be shame, and the individuals experience of a world gone to hell. The powers are just as powerful, and just as lively now as the were when Paul wrote Romans. We have to learn how to understand, and explain, the Christus Victor model of the atonement.

Monday, August 30, 2010

123. 3DM Learning Community

Came back recently from a 3DM Learning Community. It was so refreshing to see, and be a part of, a ministry that is dedicated to disciple making. We received some much needed encouragement, and to use their language, we received some well calibrated "invitation" and "challenge" as well.

For the most part, Ikon has been on an island for about 3 years. That is, we have not actively been a part of a network or church planting organization. We really needed, but could not find a good fit for what we are doing and how we are doing it. Most church planting organizations I ran across when we first got into starting Ikon had a set model of church planting that they had honed and perfected, and wanted you to sort of fit that mold going into your plant. That is all well and good. I get the whole money and investment logic and how it relates to training etc. The thing is, we were not wanting to do a plant in the conventional way, so we were sort of forced to move out from under the canopy of an organized network and launch out on our own. The learning curve was significant, and we have been experimenting, sometimes re-inventing the wheel in some areas, but we are truly practitioners in the most rawest sense of the term. Form follows failure is a phrase I have clung to during these past three and a half years, but it is great to benefit from others who have failed along the way so you do not have to fail needlessly.

Hind sight, I wish we would have known about 3DM, or some one like them back then. It has been a lonely, but adventurous journey going it alone. I do not recommend it, but sometimes you have to move forward even when things are not ideal.We were faced with a choice to move forward, or to franchise our calling into a pre-existing model of church planting. So we chose to move out into the frontier and begin the journey. We have been in the school of hard knocks, adhocracy, improvisations, and experiential learning. We can tell you a lot of ways not to do things, and a lot of ways to do things. The point for us though, is that we have lived into our calling. I feel like the Lord has honored us for this and has given us a season of refreshing and renewed energy through our partnership with 3DM.

One of the metaphors that surfaced during the learning community in our group was of pregnancy. We feel like we have been stuck in the second trimester for a while, and we are waiting to give birth. We are hoping the experiences with 3DM and the training they offer in areas of disciple making and missional communities will "induce labor" for us. Lets have a baby!!!!!!

Monday, August 09, 2010

122. The Mission from Mt. Carmel

We recently had the Mt. Carmel Church of Christ come down to Clarksville and do their mission trip with us. They were such an adaptive group. The reason I loved them so much was that the number of people able to come on the trip steadily dwindled down to ta total of 5 people, bu they still came! Through out the week I was consistently reminded of the power of small.

Here is a video that Gary and Michelle Ford put together to archive the experience.

2010 College Mission Trip from Gary Ford II on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

121. An Apostolic Commercial

I saw this commercial last night while watching America's Got talent, which by the way, is the coolest summer show ever.

Anyways, as I was watching this commercial, I thought of how the concept of first can be both sequential OR level of importance. I think most people who misunderstand apostolic ministry see it as being first in the area of importance. Apostolic ministry is primarily first as a matter of sequence, and any level of of priority it gets in relation to the other giftings is derived from this element. It's placing among the logical sequence of movements makes it first. Apostolic ministry is significant because of it's sequential order in the beginning of movements, not because it is important all by it's lonesome.

One of the metaphors Paul uses to describe apostolic ministry in I Corinthians 3 bears this out. Paul compares apostolic ministry to a "master builder", which in Greekreek is the word "arche-tekton". It is a compound word that merges two meanings. Arche means origin, or first on site. Tekton is the term used to describe Jesus's father, a builder, craftsmen, or designer. Apostles are the designers, or craftsmen who are first on site. They begin the project. In this sense, they are more significant than the roofers. However, apostolic ministry is about laying foundations, not building the entire house. They get the project moving and hand it over to the community. In other words, if we use this commercial as out cue, they tip over the large train and start the chain reaction of disciple making and community formation. .

Monday, June 28, 2010

120. Continuous Breakthrough

Attended a 3D Ministries "taster" event this past week with my good buddy Jason Gayton. All I have to say is.....WOW!!! There is nothing like it anywhere. They specialize in helping people build a discipling culture in their community. Met a lot of really cool folks, but best of all, I got exposed to some really good theology and practical tools for discipleship.

Here is a video from their web site.

More to come from 3DM in the future!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

119. Oscar Romero....a stream in a dry desert

Oscar Romero is one of my favorite poets. As I work on some of the organizational infrastructure for The Harvest Network this week, I am reminded of this stirring piece of writ by Oscar. He speaks to my soul, and rejuvenates my passion for apostolic ministry.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Monday, June 14, 2010

118. Lurkers and Community

Not everyone who comes among your community is ready to jump in to what you are about and where you are headed. Some people "lurk", that is, they sort of hang around periodically, absorb impressions and observations about the vibe of the community. If you are into community architecting, then this is an important principle to keep in mind. The idea is that you need to have environments that people can be anonymous in. They are not confronted with issues of being "in" or "out" of the community. They need to be able to observe and poke around with no strings attached, no pressure. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay wrote a book called The Tangible Kingdom with the subtitle Creating Incarnational Community. This book hits indirectly at this concept. If you are looking at cultivating environments like this, you need to do it incarnationally, that is, you need to create social environments that are in sync with the cultural rhythms and spaces of your context. The idea behind incarnational community is that people get to have an up close experience of authentic Christian community in real life and space. It is not an artificial environment constructed by church staff or worship teams on your own turf where you get to manipulate the atmosphere. No, incarnational community is about hanging out and doing things, fun things, adventurous things, right where people are, on their turf and on their terms. It is about getting in step with the places and activities that people are already moving in and centering around.

Them mistake we have made in the past about Christian community is that it has to take place around a bible study, sermon, worship service or some official Christian practice.  Jesus is in us, and if this is true, we will incarnate his presence in our every day lives. So what do you naturally like doing? Do it in community and involve other people in it. Not to proselyte folks, but to enjoy life, letting Jesus spill out while you do it. Some things we have been doing at Ikon on this level have been periodic softball games, softball leagues, kickball leagues, camping trips, dinner nights. Not a whole lot of imagination here, but it has become an intentional way to hang out with folks and meet new people.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

117. Apostolic Ministry and Suffering

I can remember the first time I read Kraftchick's chapter Death in Us, Life in You: The Apostolic Medium. The bombs were just going off left and right about the nature of apostolic ministry and how it is intimately linked and patterned after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ever since then I have had a deep appreciation for people who are going through difficulties related to apostolic ministry. I often wonder about the super apostles of today who have so much glamor and success but have no stories of suffering or hardship. Paul is often mistaken as a masochist of sorts because of his interpretation of authentic apostolic ministry being characterized by suffering. But isn't suffering an inherently foundational element of pioneering work? All pioneers suffer because they move out form under the canopy of the institution and plow new ground. Paul is no masochist. He is what Schon would call a "reflective practitioner." Paul interpreted his experience as an apostle through the pattern and master story of the gospel. I sometimes meet people who I know are in the midst of apostolic types of ministry and they can come off as a bit weird, unsociable, and sometimes a bit needy or insecure. Chalk it up to personality or whatever you like, but I think this is what being on the frontier can do to you. It is a place where your strengths are tested. The challenge of the frontier always transcends the strengths of the apostle. It is no wonder Paul writes so convincingly about weakness. He experienced it and, as he looked out from his experience onto the canvas of the gospel he saw a mirror of his own experience in the narrative themes of the gospel. Suffering and weakness go with the territory of apostolic ministry.

I ran across this diagram today while perusing a used book store in Nashville. Paul talks about suffering and prayer in Romans 8:26. It reminded me of the contextual nature of Paul's discourse in Romans 8. Paul is not just waxing eloquently at the climax of his treatise. He is pouring out some real life experience here. The idea is that at some point the depth of your experience transcends the available language to express it. Paul says that it is at this point in time that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you.

To all of you pioneers out there who are wrestling with the challenges of the frontier, this post is a reminder that the Spirit intercedes for you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


FWUAS8WY783Z It seems odd that technorati would want you to put a private code onto a public blog to verify your blog, but they do. So here it is.

Friday, May 21, 2010

116. Tokbox A Free Tool to Send Video Email Messages

My good friend Jason Gayton introduced me to Tokbox today. It is such a cool little tool to send a short video through email. ever gotten those boring update emails from folks? Or maybe you just get tired of reading emails. This tool allows you to record yourself and send it through email No typing on your end and no boring emails on their end. It is a great personal touch to communication.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

115. Innovation: The Apple or Google Way?

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a technology junky. I asked him what was new in the technology world and he told me google is doing their session this week, sort of a state of the union for google. I was immediately interested

We eventually got into a discussion of comparing apple and google and how they innovate. The following are some the high points that flowed out of this discussion for me.

1. Apple gets a product 100% complete before they drop it into the market. Steve Jobs gets up and announces the new thing, and bam! It hits the market and is ready for consumption. If they talk about it, it is ready to be consumed. No forecasting about what is in the future. The trick for apple is to get better and better on existing products or to pioneer an entirely new product. Google, on the other hand, drops a beta into the world. It is an unfinished product, with all kinds of improvements needed to make it a success.

2. Apple innovates entirely in secret. It is pioneered in a closed system and done in behind closed doors. This assumes a high level of understanding of the market and the consumers. Google still pioneers, but it only comes up with the prototype. The users actually help google finish the product by their use and feedback. Google listens to the people as they are innovating and refining the product.It is an open system, crowd sourcing if you like. The clear and present example of their cell phone technology that allows the user to customize the phone, It is hacker friendly and essentially says to the user "You know best what you want your phone to look like and do." Google listens, Apple speaks.

3. Apple rarely has failures, but they have a very limited product line compared to google. Google has more failures than Apple, but they have a lot more diversity in their scope of innovation. In fact, here is an interesting blog post about some of google's failed products that were introduced to the public, but did not make it into the survivor list of google products.

These are two very different approaches to innovation. The point here is that google is not afraid to put an incomplete product out there and ask people to help them improve it. They are saying "We don't know what will work best until you tell us." They are telling us that they want to listen. There is a lot of risk out there too when you do this. Some products don't fly, they don't even crawl. And failure is very public in this model. However, they have made incredibly successful products as well, like google books and gmail.

Apostolic ministry, if it is going to engage new cultural contexts with the gospel is going to have to embrace innovative forms of mission. The question is, what kind of innovation? I think apostolic ministry should look more like google than apple. It should not be about "better" innovation, but "beta" innovation. I will let you run with the analogy here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

114. A Mamoth Cultural Exegete

This is the first time I have heard Barry Taylor, and all I have to say is wow. This is the kind of guy you want to kidnap and make him tell you everything he knows. This video is so jam packed with nuggets, I am not even going to try and unpack it or tease you with one. You just have to listen. I got this from Home Brewed Christianity .

This definitely relates to the apostolic because as custodians of the DNA of the church and the gospel, apostolic ministry is tasked with embedding the gospel into diverse cultural contexts. This guy does a masterful job of dissecting the culture and showing how magic, and religion surface in the gap between technology and our understanding of how technology does what it does. This is an amazing insight and quite useful as we continue to reflect on how the gospel can be perceived in a democratized-techno-self culture.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

113. Replicating DNA

This video shows the replication of DNA, which a foundational metaphor when it comes to planting the gospel and starting movements.

It is interesting to observe that there is a real process taking place here. Replicating DNA does not happen by accident. There are some insights here about embedding missional DNA into a community. It takes processes, and this implies structure. However, the trick is to find structures that are simple and reproducible. DNA has found a way to do an extremely complex task in an efficient way. Alan Hirsch in his book The Forgotten Ways talks about mDNA, or missional DNA. He identifies 6 elements which, when they come together, create the environment for a viral Jesus movement to take place.

 When you finally catch on that Jesus came to start a movement, and not just an institution, this kind of thinking becomes vital to what it means to be missional. Alan has done so much to helps reawaken the missional imagination of the church here in the West.

112. Life Shapes

Spent this past week around 3D Ministries, a really cool organization based out of South Carolina. Mike Breen is sort of the architect of the organization. They specialize in missional tools, beginning with the foundational capacity to build a discipling culture. He has developed some material called Life Shapes to help in this process. It is quite brilliant actually.

The Circle—Choosing to Learn from Life

Identifying the events in our lives that affect our emotions and actions and that represent opportunity for learning and growth.

The Semi Circle—Living in Rhythm with Life
A process that helps us identify rhythms and patterns of work, rest, fruitfulness and abiding in our lives. Recognizing these patterns will prevent us from becoming overstretched.

The Triangle—Balancing the Relationships of Life
Three areas of life that Jesus modeled to maintain a balanced lifestyle:
   • Up—developing intimacy with Him
   • In—building the Church community
   • Out—reaching the unchurched 

The Square—Defining the Priorities of Life
Four stages of team development modeled by Jesus. These are the stages that result in any team striving to reach maturity, fruitfulness and multiplication.

The Pentagon—Knowing Your Role in Life
Five key roles (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, pastor) that each of us are designed to fill. Put together, they make up the church identified in Ephesians.

The Hexagon—Praying As a Way of Life
Six petitions of prayer modeled by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Learning to apply this prayer to your daily requests will strengthen and renew the prayer life of your church. 

The Heptagon—Practicing the Principles of a Vital Life
 Seven principles of growth that apply to all living things, including God's people. The anagram "MRS GREN" can help you learn how to grow a healthy church. (Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition)

The Octagon—Living a Mission-Minded Life
Eight evangelistic strategies for a comprehensive outreach approach. This model will help you discover the Person of Peace and how to process works from God's perspective. 

 My wife and I are going to attending one of their "taster" events in Lexington KY in June. You ought to check it out. I hear that there is nothing like this anywhere.

111. Alan Hirsch and Missional Logic

This is a great session with Alan Hirsch breaking down the logic of missional engagement at Q Ideas Conference.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

110. Apostolic boldly go where no one has gone before

I have been trying to think of a song that fits with the essence of apostolic ministry. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this by accident as I was searching youtube videos for "adventure". How much closer can you get to an accurate theme song than the original Star Trek monologue? Ok, so its not a song. But it sort of is...I guess. There is music in the back ground, so in my book that brings it close enough to qualifying.

Apostolic ministry is aground breaking, pioneering form of ministry. It is characterized by an affinity with the frontier. I thought it was interesting that Kirk says their mission is for 5 years. This is sort of the point in time that the apostolic itch, if it has not already set in, begins to move you out of your comfortable settings and forces you to adjust your life. Star Trek and the apostolic, I would have never thought of the two in the same sentence. But now that I think about, it is spok on :-)

109. Dwell, Dig and Discover

If there is anything that I have learned along the way in life, it's that I typically do not know as much as I initially think I do. Life is complex, and so are people. This means organizations and communities are bound to share in this complexity. In fact, most communities are quite complex with a host of intersecting relational and organizational dynamics. Varying interest are always floating around and do not always broadcast themselves in readily perceivable forms. Politics are an inescapable factor of all communities, even if it is down played or simply unacknowledged. Interests are tied to resources, and when there are conflicting interests, there will almost always be politics.

When you think about it, the role of a consultant can initially seem quite arrogant. Who are you to go into an environment you have never experienced before and give advice about what they should do? The consultant is often seen as the answer man. Indeed, to claim to be a consultant implies some sort of expertise or in depth knowledge of a particular field.

Yet a consultant can only be effective at giving advice if they truly understand what is going on. They have to have some inkling of where the community is, how they see reality, how they understand their dilemma, and especially how they understand themselves. Sure, you can walk in with some degree of intuitiveness and emotional intelligence and pinpoint some surface level issues in a community. But the value of a consultant is not just in their ability to identify things that are out of sync. A consultant must be able to discover the root issues, the foundational dynamics at work in a community that are not only impeding the organizations development, but also the institutional dynamics that end up concealing and even deceiving those within the organization from seeing the real issues at work right under their noses.

One of the benefits of a consultant is a fresh pair of eyes. They are, as Thom Wolfe says, the "essential outsider". They ideally do not have a stake in the power plays, politics and personality conflicts that seem to so effectively paralyze the human capital in an organization. However, as any outsider worth their while will tell you that there is always more to a situation than meets the eye. The first thing a consultant should do is literally get a panoramic view of the situation. This not only includes a horizontal look at all the personalities and organizational dynamics, but also the vertical sections of the situation. The vertical side of the equation includes the hidden ideological and theological assumptions that make up the clients worldview. You have to dig in order to find this. There is some what of an intuitive side to this, but it is also an analytical process of probing and drilling down into peoples ways of seeing. It involves the art of drawing out peoples hidden expectations, frustrations and assumptions

The first role of a consultant is that of learner. Every community is unique and has its own set of challenges that have been selectively chiseled out by their own people and context. The art of asking questions, drawing out the hidden assumptions and paradigms is an art that has to be learned. The discovery phase is not about discovering solutions. It is about discovering the obstacles, the challenges, the deficits, the incongruities in a community, along with their strengths, inherent capacities and untapped resources. Consultants are explorers who go deep into the heart of the organization and mine it not only for faulty foundations, but also for the precious jewels of human, social and systems capital. It is this dual nature of the dig and discovery that gives the consultant a prophetic tone in their relationship with their clients. They unearth what is really going on in the world of the community. Dwell, dig and discover are interrelated activities that reinforce one another. They go hand in hand and form the essential foundation of the consulting process. Another way of saying it could be Engage and Excavate.

Next, we will look at Digest, Distill and Define.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

108. Consulting

I used to think that consulting was the same thing as coaching. There is actually a big difference between the two. I am finding that I thrive in the consulting role more than I do in the coaching role, although I end up doing more coaching than consulting these days.

After finding myself in a consulting role several times this year with various organizations, I began to reflect on the process of consulting I would go through. The following is what I came up with.


The next few posts I will sort of put some meat on these concepts as they relate to my experience with consulting. [Pic taken from here.]

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

107. Entrepreneurial Intelligence

99 Percent is a great resource for apostolic folks because it is all about the start up.

Ever thought about the fact that entrepreneurial people possess their own sort of intelligence? This short talk highlights 8 aspects of what some people are calling SEQ, or, Social Entrepreneurship Intelligence.

I love the concept of being "asset Based".Basically what she is saying is that entrepreneurial people have a lot of faith and do not mind pressing forward even though there appears to be no solution or resource ahead. They are creative in accumulating and generating resources for sure. But there is another side to this kind of intelligence. There is a kind of intuition that thrives in the unknown, ambiguous, uncertain realm of the frontier. Operating on the fringe is not for everyone. Entrepreneurs thrive on the periphery, on the outer limits of the frontier. It takes a certain kind of intelligence to trek the wide open spaces of unexplored territories. Entrepreneurial Intelligence.....quite a concept.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

106. Keep Inspiring Me

Ran across this really cool site. It is a good break from the tons of information on the web. Very creative and, as the site says, inspiring.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

105. Ideas for missional Comunities to Cultivate Relationships in their Neighborhoods

This list of ideas has been copiled by some 20 people who have been added to a Google Wave I started.  The purpose of the wave is to brainstorm on creative ideas to build relationships in your neighborhood. I am listing them here for your enjoyment. There have been a lot of really cool contributions to this list by some very thoughtful folks.

  • Host a National Night Out
  • Facilitate a neighborhood yard sale
  • Pass out 9 volt batteries for people to replace in their smoke detector
  • Host a back yard theater and show a movie
  • Prayer Walk your neighborhood at least twice a month
  • Drop off a nice bottle of wine to your neighbor with a note "Love to get to know you guys sometime. Call and well enjoy this bottle together." (ripped from Hugh Halter in Tangible Kingdom)
  • Pass out fliers offering free gardening or landscaping help
  • Organize a play station/X Box/Wii tournament for the kids in the neighborhood. (If someone has the Beatles Rock Band kit you can even get the adults to play on that!)
  • Assemble "doggie bags" with items that homeless people need like food and hygiene products and pass out to those in your community as the need arises or you encounter them.
  • Shoot a video of your neighbors responding to the questions "What things do you like about this neighborhood?" and "What things would you like to change in the neighborhood?"
  • During the Christmas season, facilitate a Christmas carolling event, inviting your neighbors to participate with hot chocolate and cider at the end.
  • Host a front yard/backyard concert with a bring your own meat for the grill.
  • Bake some chocolate chip cookies and take them next door....still warm and chewy.
  • Take your office to the nearest coffee shop you can find.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch group and volunteer to be the block captain.
  • Ask your neighbors if they would like you to stop by once a month to pick up items they may want to give to the local food shelf. Used shoes can also be collected and sent to this organization that has many local drop-off sites nationally:
  • Create a "spiritual map" "spiritual map" of your city - and invite other missions-minded people in a process of 1- Discover, 2- Inspiration and 3- Incarnation.
  • Host a party on your front yard during Halloween and serve "Hallo-weeners" (hot dogs) to all who stop by.
  • Host a ground hog day party on your front yard. Fix different kinds of soup for folks to try out. 
 If you would like to contribute to the list of ideas, leave a comment and I will add it to the final list. I plan to get the word out about this list after the summer is over. Hopefully it will be helpful to some folks who are wanting to engage their local neighborhood in a meaningful way.

104. Group Multiplication

Our group here just had its first multiplication. It is quite a milestone as we have been a this thing for about 3 1/2 years. Needless to say, it has been quite a learning experience. I wanted to share the options we entertained as a group for how we were going to approach multiplying the group. They conveniently fell into a list of L's.

Launch. This option revolves around someone in the group feeling called to launch out away from the group and start another group from scratch, say two to three people. I would like to say that this is ideal, but that is my apostolic side coming out.No one in our group felt this calling, so we moved on to another option.

Like. This is when you mutliply based on existing chemistry between people in the group. This is a viable option, but it is a bit inward focused. We all did not like this idea as it lent itself to clicks and had the smell of bening self-centered. Not toally, but it smells that way.

Little Ones. This did play a factor in our multiplication process. Kids are a part of the community, and we try to include them in our discussions and factor them in to our decisions. Because we have a large number of kids in the group, we did not want one group to have all the kids and the other group to have none. Part of the reason for our multiplication was logistical issues like space. So to put all the kids in one group would create the same dilemma all over again.We wanted to make sure the kid factor was evenly distributed and did not duplicate some of our logistical issues.

List. This is where you pass around a sheet of pare with three lists on them. Group #1, Group #2, and "I'll Go Where I'm Needed." this is similar to the "like" option, but it does have a twist that allows people the somewhat anonymous option of saying, it doesn't matter.  I know some folks who use this option and sometimes it works well. But it does seem to leave out a discussion about mission.

Leanings. This has to do with giftings and passions. We also listed off everyone's giftings from APEST typology to see what each multiplication options looked like and how the gifts would be distributed in each scenario.

Location. The other option was to multiply based on geography. We ended up doing it this way, but the kid factor was  apart of this discussion. We multiplied the groups into a North Ikon and a South Ikon. We use these descriptors for communication purposes, as in our email lists etc. But there is no branding going on here. It is more in house language for distinction. Sort of the private face of the communities as opposed to the public face. there was some mission strategy involved here as we see ourselves being sent into our neighborhoods and 3rd places. When our groups begin to saturate the city, we will be strategically located to for community engagement. The location piece also vibed with our Leanings and Little one's. It turned out to be a great deal. But it did not come without much discussion and dissecting. Needless to say, some have more tolerance for dissecting than others ;-)

That being said, we are not opposed to the other models of multiplication. One thing we made sure to do was to draw this process out and approach it from as many angles as possible. It took us about a month to go through it all. We wanted to hit it from all sides because eventually each group need to revisit this process. It was sort of a foundational moment for us when it comes to multiplying a group. 

I must say that I ma quite giddy about all of this and that I can't wait to see how the two groups take on a life of their own and begin to flourish in their giftings and callings. Our goal is a movement of multiplying disciples, leaders and churches. We are learning how to do this hands on, and it is quite an adventure. We are going to be drilling down deeper into multiplying on a disciple level, and not just a group level as well. This summer we plan to blitz some neighborhoods with prayer walking, and community engagement.  Who knows what God is preparing for us!