Get the Word Out!

November 30, 2005

As you may know, I’m teaching a course on applied ecclesiology on Thursday nights in the Spring quarter at Bethel Seminary.  I need at least 9 people to register or the class will get dropped.  "Evangelical Ecclesiology" is an oxymoron.  We need to challenge our young leaders to rethink how we ought to BE and DO church in our emerging North American context.  And if this class gets dropped, the opportunity for students at Bethel to have the space and time to struggle through what it means to be church will go into dormancy. 

I’m calling all y’all to help get the word out.  If you know any Bethel Seminary students (or if you are one) tell them about this class! If you know any Luther Seminary students (or if you are one), take advantage of the Consorium and register! 

If you are local to the Twin Cities, and blog, please help get the word out!

People who care about ecclesiology, UNITE!

Check out for more information.

Job News

November 29, 2005

A while back, I told you about my search for a 2nd job.  I want a 2nd job so that I can divert money in the Missio Dei budget from my salary into other stuff.  Most of the budget is from funds I’ve raised, and it is short term funding, and has been decreasing for almost a year now. 

I thought about getting a job in the neighborhood–at a coffee shop or something.  Getting a simple local job sounds really appealing to me, but unfortunately, my wife and I own a home (which we share with 5 other people), and I need to make more money than I can get at a coffee shop or restaurant.  And there really aren’t many other types of jobs available in the West Bank.

For the past month or so, I’ve been pursuing a really good opportunity at Bethel Seminary: the position of executive assitant to the Vice President of Operations and Dean of the Center for Transformational Leadership.  The job pays well (about $14/hr) and has full benefits, but is only 24 hours a week.  The job would give me the opportunity to work with a group of people I already know and love.  It would also give me the ability to have a role in giving shape to the future of the Seminary.  It would have also given me a good opportunit to learn from the VP/Dean, who is a very strong and visionary leader (although I don’t agree with him on lots of things, I have a good deal of respect for Dr. Bourgond).  Since one of my long term goals is to help shape future leaders, and encourage them to rethink leadership and the nature of the Church, I thought it would be a great foot in the door.  I’m already slotted to begin doing adjunct teaching there this Spring, and this role would have given me even more influence at the Seminary. 

I was moving full speed ahead with the job at the Seminary (I even bought a really nice suit for my interview).  Until this morning, I was one of several people (thinned down from over a dozen applicants) being considered.  And I’d say my chances were dang good.  But now I’ve taken myself out of consideration for that position. So what happened?

About 3 weeks ago, I was approached
by the Twin Cities Metro Director for InterVarsity, Mark Paulson.  He proposed that I come
on staff at InterVarsity and start a West Bank chapter.  Since Missio Dei, is committed to ministering on the West
Bank, and since I respect the ministry of InterVarsity very much, I have been
trying to find ways to work with them on ministry projects on the West Bank
(there is virtually no campus ministry activity among West Bank students). Their proposal came as a surprise, since they don?t
want me merely to come on staff; they want me to start a West Bank chapter that is co-affiliated with InterVarsity and Missio Dei. They are willing to let the line between parachurch and church
get fuzzy so that this ministry can be an authentic expression of Missio Dei.

They don’t even care if we call the ministry "InterVarsity!"  Working with InterVarsity would allow me to focus more energy on the West Bank, and in a way that complements the ministry of
Missio Dei.  It would give us connections with the student population, opening up new possibilities for ministry. 

Since working with InterVarsity will require me to be a fundraiser (something I
dislike immensely), I had initially decided to turn them down.  But as we’ve prayed about it at Missio Dei, and as I’ve discussed it with folks, I realize two things: 1) I really get more excited about the possibility of working with InterVarsity as time goes by and 2) that my commitment to Missio Dei and the West Bank trumps any other job possibilities.  I’m beginging to feel like this was something God orchestrated.  And while I’m not looking forward to raising money, I take some comfort in the reality that fund raising for a campus ministry is MUCH EASIER than fund raising for a church.  InterVarsity is well known and well-respected.  I think I am up to the challenge.   

Yes, I know

November 29, 2005

I realize that I change the look of my blog a lot.  It isn’t that I’m pickier than the average bear.  My problem isn’t that I’m indecisive; it is that I usually jump before looking.  In other words, I’m the sort of guy who assumes that the light is going to be green until I receive sensory imput to contradict me.  Because of this human tendency of mine (in StrengthsFinder terms, I am an Activator).  So, when I get an idea that is worthy, I act upon it.  And often, as I visit my own blog, I think to myself "I think I can make it look better."

I’d like to hear your thoughts on how my site could be better.  Do you like the new banner?  It is a picture of yours truly with a background picture of Riverside Plaza (on the West Bank of Minneapolis).

* * *
UPDATE: I’ve changed the look yet again! Ryan mentioned how long it took to load up the old banner (read comments), so I’ve simplified things a bit…my whims have struck again!

7 Deadly Sins of Blogging

November 22, 2005

From time to time, someone will ask me for blogging advice.  I realize that my blog isn’t exactly masterful, but I’d like to think it is well-conceived and well-constructed.  Today I ran across an article titled "the Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging." I suggest you take a peak.  And if you could be so kind, would you help me out by telling me if I am a violator of any of these deadly sins? Thanks.

The Global Aids Crisis

November 22, 2005

This aids quiz by World Vision does a great job of showing just how immense the aids crisis has become.

The Decade of Fantasy

November 21, 2005

In the mid-to-late 90s I sold suits for a living.  I had a co-worker named Steve.  Steve was in his late 40s.  Steve’s great passion was film.  Steve and I would spend hours talking about film.  Once we had a coversation that sounded something like this:

"No, seriously Steve," I said.  "Now that the computer animation is sophisticated enough, I’ll bet there will be a revival of fantasy films.  It’s just a matter of time."

"It isn’t gonna happen, Mark," Steve replied.  "It is just too difficult to do fantasy in film, and there isn’t a large enough audience to pay the high prices required for the film to break even."

Steve’s perspective sounds quite silly to us today, but before the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or Shrek (which all came out in 2001) graced the silver screen, his prediction may have been pretty reasonable. 

Certainly, the advancement of computer generated images has been a key factor in the recent onslaught of fantasy films.  But I think there is more to it than that. 

Read more

A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 10: Focus on Direction, Not Condition

November 21, 2005

It is healthier to focus on where God is leading, rather than on your current condition.  Leaders that focus on a vision of the future instead of the current shortcomings of the church are able to move forward in faithfulness. Leaders encourage stagnation when they only can see the current condition of the church.  Leaders lead.  Leaders who don’t have a direction in which to lead, lead the congregation in circles. 

A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 9: Focus on System, Not Symptom

November 20, 2005

Peter Steinke writes:

When we focus on symptom, we are preoccupied with its cause or relief.  At the same time we are not attentive to the system–the structure, patterns, and processes–behind the symptom.

Symptoms can act as scapegoats within a church–once the symptom is identified and remedied, the church assumes that everything is ok.  But often there are underlying systemic problems which give rise to the symptom.

A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 8: Focus on Integrity, Not Unity

November 19, 2005

Often, leaders play the role of peace-keepers.  They respond to conflict and crisis with techniques aimed at relieving the conflict and crisis.  When our ultimate goal is unity, it is easy to accomodate and cajole.  We maneuver and manipulate the congregation into a place free from conflict.  An emphasis on inegrity, however, gets at the idea of unity, but a unity that is firmly planted in the truth.  Peter Steinke writes, "being committed to the truth [this isn't necessarily the same as doctrine] is far more powerful than any technique."

A Systems Approach to Leadership, pt 7: Focus on Challenge, Not Comfort

November 18, 2005

There is no growth without anxiety.  Spiritual growth depends upon our faithful response to struggle and anxiety–as we face obstacles, we must either give in to our anxiety and yield to the obstacle or to depend upon Jesus.  The person who always chooses the most comfortable, anxiety-free, options in life doesn’t grow in wisdom.  The road of comfort is the path to status quo.  Peter Steinke writes:

Whatever [leaders] do that does not increase the group’s internal wisdom is an inferior approach.  For if people are protected from threat, they become immune deficient, never to become wiser and always to be vulnerable to the newest virus.

This doesn’t mean that leaders should be jerks.  There are alot of bullying leaders in the church who keep their congregations in fear.  This doesn’t cause growth, because such leaders make all the choices for the congregation; the people are largely robbed from having a faith of their own.

Good leaders, like good therapists, often raise the appropriate level of anxiety by raising the right questions.  Questions invite people into a place of proactive anxiety.  They challenge.  Good leaders raise the right sort of challenging questions to help the congregation to move forward in faith.  They try to keep struggle away from the congregation.

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