Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Characteristics of Dynamic Movements

Ed Stetzer posted a good interview with Steve Addison, director of Church Resource Ministries (CRM) Australia and author Movements that Change the World. I've posted Steve's answer to what characterizes dynamic movements below:

The five characteristics are: white-hot faith, commitment to a cause, contagious relationships, rapid mobilization and adaptive methods.

White-hot faith is the engine room of a dynamic movement. The apostle Paul was not converted by clever arguments but through a powerful encounter with Christ on the Damascus Road. We would not have had the Reformation without Martin Luther's struggle with the question of, "How can a holy God forgive a sinner like me?"

The secret of Jesus' life and ministry was his relationship of loving obedience to the Father and dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit. He drew his disciples into the same relationship and sent them out with no other resources.

A white-hot faith provides the motivation, energy and legitimacy to go change the world.

Next is commitment to a cause. For good or for evil, history is made by people committed to a common purpose. Nothing changes unless people care deeply and are willing take action. Jesus had high expectations of his followers. So high, that some of them walked away.

John Wesley was the founder of the Methodist movement. On one occasion he visited Bristol. When he arrived there were 900 people in the local Society. When he left 143 of them had been removed for various reasons: among them wife-beating, smuggling, and drunkenness. Wesley led a disciplined movement that changed the world.

The third characteristic of movements is contagious relationships. We are all just six handshakes away from everyone on the planet. Ideas, like viruses, spread from person to person and from group to group. In the age of the internet, contagious relationships are still the most important form of communication.

The most responsive people to the gospel are those who have recently seen someone in their world come to faith.

Whenever we see the Christian faith expanding exponentially, it's traveling across networks of preexisting relationships. We tend to focus on building quality relationships with a few. Jesus focused on connecting broadly and then through one responsive person, reaching households and villages. That's how we see the gospel spreading in Acts.

The fourth characteristic is rapid mobilization. Movements don't abolish the clergy, they just ordain everyone for ministry. What did Jesus do? He went after ordinary people and trained them on-the-job. His lecture on the nature of faith was conducted on a sinking boat in the midst of a storm. There was theological content integrated with life and ministry. Jesus grew leaders and released them to go and change the world.

You don't get dramatic expansion of a movement if everyone is a paid professional. If anyone is paid, they are paid to pioneer new fields and mobilize others. Whether they are in New York or New Delhi, that's what missionaries do.

The last characteristic is adaptive methods. The best illustration of an adaptive method I can think of is the game of soccer. Soccer is the world's game played by hundreds of millions and watched by billions. Why? I think it's because you can drop a ball at the feet of a three year old and she can start playing. It may take a lifetime of practice to master the game, but only an instant to begin enjoying it. Try doing that with American or Australian football.

Adaptive methods are simple, flexible and transferable. That's one reason why Jesus taught by telling stories. A good story, like the prodigal son, can be told by anyone to anyone, even across the boundaries of culture and time.

Movements are unchanging when it comes to their core message and beliefs. At the same time they are willing to change everything else to get that message out and get the job done. Unfortunately we have churches that are unwilling to change their methods, but quite happy to change the heart of the gospel. They have the worst of both worlds and the fruit is clear to see.

Where are the current examples of dynamic movements today?

The exciting news is they are mostly in the developing world--Africa, Asia, Latin America. These are also the regions of greatest population growth. Today, over 90% of new Christians will come from these regions. Expect that trend to continue.

In the US I've been encouraged by leaders such as Neil Cole, Bob Roberts, Ralph Moore, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, and Jimmy Seibert who emphasize multiplication of disciples, workers and churches rather than just growth. A growing band of leaders are seeing the church as a movement.

The whole missional/emerging discussion has helped unfreeze us all in our understanding of church. If that is combined with a commitment to the Gospel and a passion to multiply disciples it could be quite fruitful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Engagement Story (E Day, Phase 5: The Celebration)

After the excitement of the proposal, we proceeded back to the limo. Jessi made sure to show off her ring to the driver. Thankfully, though we had never looked at rings or even spoke about them, Jessi absolutely loved hers. What a blessing for me to see her exhilaration!

With the surprise almost fully complete, we drove back to the restaurant for our private dinner. After enjoying the meal and a few more pictures, our wonderful photographer Sarah headed home, and I set the stage for one last surprise.

I convinced Jessi that our ride had come to pick us up, so we scurried out the door after thanking Stephanie, the Operations Manager, for playing a pivotal role in our fun evening. We passed in front of the gelato store next door and Jessi’s eye caught a few friends inside. By now she was prepared for all my charades, so she knew right away that I had asked a group of our friends to come and celebrate with us.

While the ladies encircled Jessi to relive the evening, I summarized it for the guys. With the last hoorah out of the way, exhaustion set in. I felt like I had just completed a 4-hour workout, but what a joy to experience it all!

Thanks for the dozens of comments on Facebook and Twitter and for joining in our happiness!

Return to Phase 4 (The Proposal), Phase 3 (The Day), Phase 2 (The Win), or Phase 1 (The Registration).

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Engagement Story (E Day, Phase 4: The Proposal)

Forgive me for leaving you hangin’ on the last post! We left the story in the back of the limousine on the romantic evening Jessi thought she had won. I assumed she had no clue that I might have had a hand in rigging the whole thing. The truth was about to come out.

We had spoken the day before about her uneasiness taking pictures while we were just dating. We talked through the issue then, but I could see it hadn’t been completely resolved. It didn’t help the matter when during one of our stops a young woman asked if we were taking engagement pictures. Yikes! I kind of chuckled given what was coming, but I knew Jessi wasn’t doing well. So I asked her to open up with me when we climbed back into the limo.

After finally relenting, she shared the hidden story from the past few days. Some of her friends had become suspicious of this romantic “giveaway”, so they took it upon themselves to give the matter a closer look. They examined the email I had sent Jessi along with the registration site. They even looked up the phone number of the Bisetti’s manager who had called to ensure she was from Colorado. The kicker is, after their investigation, they came to the conclusion that the prize was indeed legitimate! Their suggestion that I might try to pull of an engagement like this was flattering to me but hard for Jessi because she allowed herself to dream for a moment. But after getting her hopes up by the idea, she had to resign herself to an evening of pictures and dinner with no proposal (wink).

With my new knowledge of the situation, I decided to call an audible. I had planned to propose at dinner but now found it more advantageous to propose while taking pictures in the foothills. Better to celebrate the rest of the night than try to change her emotional state. After all, who could beat the beauty of the Rocky Mountains at sunset!

I carefully tipped off the photographer and limo driver of the change in plans. They searched for the perfect spot and waited for the sun to drop just below the mountains for the perfect lighting. At the next stop I brought along the little pink bag with the ring inside. Fortuitously, two weeks earlier I had purchased Jessi earrings that came in a little black box which I placed in the same little pink bag. We decided to exchange the black pearls for white, so she assumed the bag carried her new earrings. Of course, I had explained to her earlier that I would give her the earrings during her special night.

We walked toward the beautiful lake, and Jessi took her place on a big rock. But prior to receiving her earrings, I wanted to read a poem. I had written the first half of it after waking up in the middle of the night thinking about her, even before we started officially dating. The second half I had composed just prior to coming to Colorado.

As I neared the end of the poem, I pulled the little black box from the bag. She giggled with delight and said, “My earrings!” I smiled and replied, “Before you get your earrings, I have one more line to the poem.” At this point I struggled to keep my composure. Early on in our relationship we both agreed we would reserve the word “love” for a true commitment. I would never say it until I had a ring on her finger.

As I read those last three words, “I love you,” she struggled to figure out what was happening. By the time I had finished saying her full name, she was in tears. The game was up. I opened the box, took a knee, and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. I’m sure she had no idea what exactly I asked, but through her tears, she exclaimed, “YES!!!”

Click her to view pictures of the moment.

View Phase 5.

Return to Phase 3, Phase 2, or Phase 1.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Engagement Story (E Day, Phase 3: The Day)

The fun only increased during the week as Jessi told almost everyone she knew about the amazing prize she’d won. And, of course, I encouraged all of my friends to ask her about it too (so sly). I just loved seeing her excitement as she recounted the story in disbelief.

When the day of the event actually arrived, I awoke at 5:00 a.m. preoccupied with the details of the day. I still had to pay the limousine company, coordinate pickup with the photographer, and invite people to the after party. And Jessi couldn’t know about any of it.

I met Jessi at the conference at 9:00 and hung around through lunch. Right after that I bolted for the limo company. I spoke with the driver to explain the setup for the evening. He needed to know the flow and how to work with the photographer. I then called the photographer to let her know where to meet the driver prior to them picking us up. With that done, I headed back to change clothes and get everything ready. Time was getting tight, and my head hurt from scrutinizing every minutiae of the plan. My main concern laid with keeping the proposal a surprise and praying Jessi would feel incredibly special during the night.

A few months ago, Jessi had mentioned she would like me to speak with her friends if I ever planned on proposing. I knew that tipping them off too early would risk spoiling any surprise (no offense ladies). So, one hour before we jumped in the limo, I started calling like crazy. I also called some of our friends at the conference and told them about the proposal and after party. The plan was now in full swing.

Jessi and I hopped in the limo right at 6:00, and away we went. In the back of a luxurious vehicle with a gorgeous woman on our way to shoot some fun photos, I couldn’t have been better. So far, I thought Jessi had never even entertained the notion that I might be behind this whole ordeal. I was about to learn otherwise.

Click here to view Phase 4.

Return to Phase 2 or Phase 1.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Engagement Story (E Day, Phase 2: The Win)

It was one thing to manufacture an email about a giveaway but quite another to coordinate how she would win. To prevent any cracks in the credibility of the story I decided to invite the restaurant’s management in on the gig. Stephanie, the Operations Manager, agreed to play the role of the prize patrol.

I first made contact with Stephanie one month prior to lay out the plan. After numerous conversations (she was super helpful and really sweet), she was prepared to call Jessi on Monday to deliver the exciting news.

At the time, Jessi was traveling by car from Minnesota to Colorado with some friends. Spotty cell phone service prevented Stephanie from speaking directly with her that afternoon, so she left a message instead, revealing only that she had good news. Jessi sent me a text message an hour later saying, “I think I won the dinner at that Italian restaurant!!!!”

I was on the edge of my seat and tried to measure my excitement with hers when I replied. I gently encouraged her to call back. Later that evening she spoke with Stephanie and relayed the drama to me. Indeed she had won! I put extra effort into sounding gleefully surprised. But I had to suppress genuine surprise when she herself recommended Thursday for the evening affair (I already had everything set up for that very day.) I paused as if to think for a moment and promptly agreed. Phase 2…a resounding success!

Click here to view Phase 3.

Return to Phase 1.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Engagement Story (E Day, Phase 1: Registration)

Operation “E Day”

The Vision: One evening that would capture her heart forever and let her know how incredibly special she is.

The Mission: Create the perfect plan to shock her socks off and leave her head reeling in delight.

Introduction and Background: Jessi and I met two years ago in Fort Collins, CO at the Campus Crusade for Christ staff conference. We reconnected last fall over Facebook and began communicating daily. We have been dating "officially" since January 2nd of this year, at which time I flew up to her home state of Minnesota to make my intentions clear. She agreed to hold my hand as I went through vigorous training to become an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Neither one of us knew the challenges nor the joy that laid ahead.

Over the course of the next seven months we shared our lives through constant letters, packages, phone calls, text messages, emails, and numerous visits halfway across the country. As we both sought the Lord daily and deepened our relationship, I came to the realization that I didn't want to spend another day apart from this wonderful woman. And so enters the story you're about to read.

Two months of planning and scheming would come to fruition over the course of one week. The main effort of the operation, to include the proposal, would occur on Thursday, July 23rd. Phase 1 began the previous Friday.

Registration

Having registered for the VIP Club on Bisetti's Ristorante website, I received a confirmation email from the family-owned Colorado business. With the utmost attention to detail, I manipulated their email to announce a “30th Anniversary Giveaway”. This newly crafted prize package would include a limousine ride around Fort Collins, CO, a professional photographer to capture the memories, and a romantic dinner in the exclusive “cubby” for two at the restaurant.

Satisfied with my fabrication, I forwarded the email to Jessi with the subtle suggestion that she register. To ensure my appearance of innocence, I emailed a link for a legitimate offer from another Fort Collins restaurant.

Inside the forwarded email I inserted a link to a simple registration page I had created. In order to make the site look authentic, I borrowed the logo from the restaurant and dropped it in. I also created a whole new account using their name to lend more credibility to the deal. The registration system emailed me as soon as she took the bait and registered. Phase 1 complete!

Click here to view Phase 2.


Acknowledgement: The idea that would evolve into “E Day” originated from another love struck Campus Crusade for Christ staff member. Oscar Avalos had his girlfriend believing she had won a dinner for two at the Cheesecake Factory in Denver, CO. He treated her to her “free” dinner and then popped the question in a great spot not far from the restaurant. I just took Oscar’s ingenious plan and expounded upon it.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

She Said, "YES!"

And that's what made it a magical evening! Of course, I like to think that planning the fake giveaway complete with a limousine ride, personal photographer, and a romantic private dinner for two didn't hurt any either. (She makes surprises so much fun!)

Just over a week ago (I know...I've been kicking myself for not posting this earlier), Jessi Frascht made me the most blessed man on the planet. Coming soon...all the juicy details of our engagement story (it really is juicy) and more about this amazing woman that I will soon call my wife.

Catching all those garters over the years is finally paying off.

Read the story here.