Monday, May 19, 2008

Alan Hirsch on Christianity Today

A great article in Christianity Today's Leadership Journal features Alan Hirsch explaining the ministry functions of the Apostle, Prophet and Evangelist. The article highlights some of Hirsch's main points from The Forgotten Ways.

Another great article looks at the flat leadership team of The Next Level Church in Denver. These guys have started to figure something out.

Sex Changes for Kids?

A pediatric specialist at Boston's Children's Hospital has launched a clinic for transgendered kids, offering treatments for children as young as 7. Looks like America has just found a way to sanitize the barbaric practice of castration. Pretty hard to believe. Read the article here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Emerging Structures and Self-Organization

Alan Hirsch is an absolute genius. Let me first say that if you haven't read The Forgotten Ways yet, you're missing a brain stimulus that beats a week marathon of watching 24 episodes and eating ice cream every night.

Digest this quote from Steven Johnson, recorded by Hirsch:
"Self-organization is the tendency of certain (but not all) systems operating on the edge of chaos to shift to a new state when their constituent elements generate unlikely combinations. When systems become sufficiently populated and properly interconnected, the interactions assemble themselves into a new order: proteins into cells, cells into organs, organs into organisms, organisms into societies. Simple parts networked together can undergo a metamorphosis."

Sounds a little heady, but in layman's terms, Johnson is saying that elements working together in systems have the power to undergo magnificent changes. A brain cell, for example, is useless by itself, but millions of them together can do things we have yet to even imagine.

Now, the key phrase in the above statement (in my mind) is "operating on the edge of chaos". Hirsch points out that it is at the edge of chaos where real innovation takes place. When people (complex systems) have enough interaction through informal connections and the complexity reaches a critical point, then you have the equation for spontaneous emergence of some really good stuff.

Therein lies the key ingredient for our CityFocus efforts. In order to see megacities transformed, we don't need a magic structure or a sweet new strategy. We need literally thousands upon thousands of dynamic informal connections inside a loose network that will spark the imaginations of millions.

As an important side note, I stayed in the burbs of Chicago Friday night with the parents of a good friend who is making it big as a musician in L.A. Had a blast. Mrs. Carol Wilson survived a brain aneurysm seven years ago and has some miraculous stories. This is the photo of her and her grandson. Amazing family.

Crusade Students Featured on Home Makeover Finale

300 Campus Crusade for Christ students (including 40 from Indiana University) in New Orleans as part of a Katrina Spring Break Relief Project worked for two days rebuilding a home and a church as part of the season finale of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover. The show will air this Sunday, May 18.

Check your local listing for time and station. As always, schedules are subject to change.

After the broadcast, the full episode along with out-takes and extras will be available here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

CItyFocus Summit in Chicago

At a two-day conference in Chicago with Campus Crusade for Christ talking about reaching six strategic U.S. cities:
  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Washington D.C.
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
Some good conversation going on about targeting these six strategic cities. How can CCC really go after every student in these cities and participate in citywide transformation?

Still waiting to have some radical new ideas and breakthroughs. Great view from the hotel room though.

19-year-old Elected Mayor

Pretty impressive when a 19-year-old college students gets elected mayor of a city of 38,000 in Oklahoma. You can read more about it here.

How many more college students are walking around on campus right now with dreams this big? Maybe they just need someone to come along and tell them to go for it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Televised Movement-Launching

This week I went with some of our Mexican and American team members to talk more with the General Manager of the largest Christian television company in Latin America, Enlace.

Jessica, who joined our team after graduating from a top Mexican university, helped me design a slick presentation for this meeting. I gave the presentation and watched my amazing team light up the meeting by sharing some incredible stories and testimonies. I could not have been more proud of them. You could sense the Spirit stirring in all of our hearts as we engaged in a powerful dialogue on reaching this generation of youth.

Enlace confirmed their support for covering our events and helping us advertise. But they would also like to help us connect with some other key pastors around the city, as well as to feature us on one of their programs.

In the future, we would like to develop a program that will help train students all over the country to make disciples and to transform their campuses and communities. Luis, the Mexican General Manager, also spoke about connecting us with the mother ship based out of Costa Rica. Should we have an opportunity to cast the vision of launching movements to students across Latin America and just a small percentage "get it", watch out. The ramifications of that will be felt around the world!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Funny...but Poignant

Ever laughed until you cried during your morning devotions? I just couldn't keep myself from it last week. I'm positive that you won't find this as humorous as I did in the moment, but I thought I'd share it with you nonetheless. This is a touch long, but don't worry, it's really poignant.

In Mark 6, Jesus spends an afternoon teaching over 5,000 people. As dinner time rolls around, His disciples approach Him (undoubtedly with tummies grumbling, eager to end this little conference). They encourage Jesus to send the crowd away so they can eat. Jesus responds ever so gently, "You give them something to eat!"

Flustered, they state the obvious. It would cost a small fortune to feed so many. You know the rest of the story. Jesus takes some bread and fish, and wallah!

Here's where it gets good. Jesus dismisses the crowd and sends the disciples off in the boat to the other side of the lake: "And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.

"And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them."

Did you catch that? Maybe the italics helped. This was the first time that phrase smacked me in the face. Keep this in mind: When the disciples began their nice little voyage, it was evening. Jesus sees them at about 3:00 a.m. battling against the wind. Instead of rushing out to help, he opts for a leisurely stroll right past them.

Of course, his morning walk is interrupted by the frightful screams of the disciples mistaking him for a ghost. "And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened."

What was Jesus teaching, and what was Mark trying to point out? Recall Jesus' post-resurrection journey on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24: "...they approached the village where they were going, and [Jesus] acted as though He would go farther."

Jesus teaches us so we will RESPOND. He taught the men on the road to Emmaus. Those men urged Him to stay. He taught the disciples with the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples, however, chose to battle the wind and were still surprised by the infinite power and presence of the Savior who accompanied them. Two very different responses indeed.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Kellie Pickler's Story

Kellie Pickler, small town girl gone big. And like any celebrity, she has her slew of fans and critics. She's as cute as a button and a little less sharp than a tack. You just can't help but laugh at some of the comments she makes. Just take her appearance on the show, "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" for example. I watched it twice just for a few more laughs...boy, it's funny.

But if you ever care to peer below the surface of what appears to be a simple and shallow new celebrity (and not many people do), you'll find something not real extraordinary. In fact, you'll find something that's a lot more common than we ever like to think - a heart filled with great happiness accompanied by deep personal pain inside an amazing person.

Kellie's mother abandoned her at age 2, and her father spent time in and out of prison. Kellie grew up under the care of her grandparents until just prior to appearing on American Idol. Her dad was released from prison just one week after she was eliminated from the show. Now, a few decades later, the pain from Kellie's past still rises to the surface of her bubbly care-free exterior from time to time. And understandably so...

Amidst all of the fame and newfound fortune, I wonder if anyone has really helped Kellie work through a past that still has a hold on her present. Imagine what might come through an already incredibly talented individual that has experienced the transforming power of forgiveness and surrender. Then imagine how many more people like Kellie you talk with each day.