Monday, January 14, 2013

The Coming 'Senior Tsunami.'
...and what it can mean to your church.

God is never surprised.  There are so many pressing social problems and rising ministry needs: we are in the middle of a recession, giving is down, loans are impossible to get.  While we see ministry opportunities left and right, there are seemingly few dollars to fund them.  But I guess that's where creativity steps in.

There's another wave (more like a tsunami) about to hit in full force. And on the surface it would seem to just add to our overstretched ministry budgets.  

10,000 Boomers hit retirement age each day!  These seniors come from all walks of life... the poor, middle class, and wealthy. A disproportionate number of them have substantial savings and assets and we are about to see a great transfer of this wealth to the next generation and to the causes they believe in.

Boomers have dramatically altered every age trend they entered and retirement will be no different.  In fact, as a group they hate the word "retirement."  They see this phase of life not as perpetual R&R, but as a time to focus on unfinished dreams.  There is tremendous potential to empower them in the legacy calling of their life.  The answer to all those pressing social problems just might be the full empowerment of this 'senior tsunami.'

Another idea that Boomers dislike is that of a "retirement home" or "retirement community."  But here's an idea.  What if retirement communities were more like "dream centers" or "dream incubators" for those unfinished dreams?

How big is the need for for senior housing?  Here's a snapshot of the need for independent living and assisted living communities in the U.S. ... the emerging need is unbelievable... so big in fact, one would almost say it is impossible to meet.

To meet demand the current supply would have to double every year!  The good news is that this represents a great opportunity for churches which are perfectly suited to provide the ministry component of a sound plan, and become the beneficiary of the right kind of business-as-mission partnership.

We found a very experienced, kingdom-minded business group that has a far-reaching missional vision and one of the best models for a church and business partnership that we have seen.  The plan calls for 5 acres or more of unused land (on or off premises) and requires no capital investment by the church!  Click here to learn more.  ... but just for a moment... think of the potential for your church, for ministry... for your own legacy dreams.

The vision for this dynamic business/ministry partnership is to change the way senior care is done.  As evidenced in so many biblical examples, we believe God has something far different in mind then is typically offered to our aging population. We envision senior care that is honoring, inspiring, and empowering, one that gives seniors a time to focus on what 
could be the greatest period in their lives -- time mending family relations, looking back to document their story, and looking ahead to unfinished dreams. This can be a time for mentoring others and imparting wisdom leadership to the people and initiatives that matter 

That's the kind of dynamic community I'd like to live in myself! about you?

"Here I am today, eighty-five years old!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  Now give me this mountain that the LORD promised me that day." -- Caleb to Joshua (Joshua 14:11-12) 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Institutions Don't Have Conversations.

Social media is fast becoming the center stage in media communications. Institutions will never win in this Conversation Age because institutions do not have conversations ... people do.   And as tech tools empower people to focus on those conversations that really matter to them, communication they judge to be even slightly irrelevant may never even appear on their radar.

Could this be a better long term plan?  Click on diagram to view larger.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Starting Fires.

We all know what starts fires:  Rapid oxidation of dry material in the process of combustion which produces an explosive, spreading effect of heat and light...something we call Fire.

Metaphorically, fire is human passion, hopes, and dreams.  Scriptures tell us that 'the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.'  It was said of Jesus, "a smoldering wick he will not snuff out" and people who encountered him said, "did our hearts not burn within us as He talked with us along the way..."  Our encounters with others should fan the flame that God himself put in them.

The other day as my wife and I were taking our grand daughter to her class we were telling her (as we often do) how God made her so unique and that she was a dream of God long before she was born.  We talked about the special gifts He gave her to match the dreams he also gave her.  As we moved on to another subject, she interrupted us to say, "Tell me more about me."  Coming from this innocent six-year old we laughed, but sensed that her "Papa God" (as she calls him) also delighted in her desire as much as we did.

A movement of Firestarters in our future?
He put that desire in her, as he did with every person created in His image. It is the desire above all else to know who we are and be affirmed in our identity, value, and purpose to God and our place in the world.  That desire was put there by God to draw us to Him and motivate us, even compel us to seek our God-given purpose in life. Desire with a purpose of its own--to draw us out of the comfortable nest of dreamless normality.  A heart with wings...divine evidence we were meant to fly.

How is dreamfire kindled, how does it spread? Fire needs air to breath. But is there enough air in the rooms of our lives?  When we need air, we look for a park or cafe, not a stuffy lecture hall.  Where is the open space and the open time for deep and meaningful talk, the kind that fans the flames of true purpose.  Small talk like small groups are not an end unto themselves.  Dream conversations change things, they shake things up, they disrupt with creative destruction... they wake us up from our deep sleep, and lead us out into the lives we were meant to live.

It is interesting that there is a much slower oxidation process in metal... (no fire) ... it's called rust... which reminds me of where we don't want to end up.    I prefer fire.

Kindle the flames, awaken the dreams... in you and everyone you meet.   Start a Fire.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ever wish you knew what to do with 'wet blankets'

The easiest thing to do is come up with ways that a new idea won't work, and I guess that's why there's no shortage of people volunteering to do just that.  Great advice from Seth Godin this morning...

Turning the tables on critical trolls

How to deal with the colleague/board member/voter who is quick to criticize whatever you're proposing? It can't work/it's been done before/it's never been done before/you can't do it/we don't have the time/money/skills...  So easy to be right when everyone else is wrong, so easy to be confident when someone else is putting themselves on the line.

I start with this:  Do we agree that there's a problem?  Do we agree that we need to take action, that something needs to be done, that there's an opportunity here?

If we don't agree on that, then don't waste time listening to my solution. Let's spend more time deciding if there's a problem or opportunity here. Once we agree on that, then the response seems simple: "What do you think we should do?"

To get Seth's daily posts, go here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Creating Our Way To A 'Be Fruitful & Multiply' Economy.

How strong is your desire to inspire real answers in your community?

Solutions start with problems, it is so basic we miss it. Scaled up, economic hard times are opportunities for a leap forward by societies willing to cultivate true creativity. We are endowed with a very powerful, universal drive to create fruitfulness. That sentence reveals the how: Create.

I am convinced that the failure of so many of the economic solutions coming out of Washington today is not so much that they are big-government solutions rather than local or that they are 'progressive' solutions rather than conservative. To me, the strategic failure of these solutions are that they do not inspire meaningful creativity and imagination.

I have long been fascinated by demonstrations of creative fruitfulness generated from simple seed investments such as Micro-lending, Community loan funds, Pay-it-Forward school projects, and Tenfold Challenges. I wonder how much of the way out of our current difficulties would be found in local communities helping locate the creative impulse in all of us while we inspire each other to 'create' our own way out of economic paralysis.

Adopting just one idea from the vast creative arsenal available to us: What if we challenged young people with small seed investments to create Tenfold returns? The scenario goes like this: A challenge is made, sometimes by a church or school, to take a seed cash amount and double or triple it or create a tenfold return. That return is usually earmarked to fund some community project, but could just as easily fund that young person to expand a business idea or fund their continued education. A portion could also go to fund two other youth entrepreneurs, and so goes the multiplication. In practice, some (but not all) take the challenge, and those that do almost always meet their goal and create the multiplying effect, but also discover great things about themselves in the process.

Think about it from your perspective (or for the young people in your family or community)... if someone were to make an offer of giving you $10 and challenging you to turn it into $100 in 30 days, could you do it and would you accept the challenge?

Would you accept a $100 to $1,000 challenge in 90 days?
Or, a $1,000 to $10,000 challenge in 6 months?
How about $10,000 to $100,000 in a year?

How many new businesses could be started in your own community? How many lives would be changed? Could your community become a model for others? What stories could your church create?

These thoughts are challenging, but then again we are already living in challenging times. Maybe a little community conversation and imaginative thinking would be well worth it... and maybe, just maybe it might be the beginning of our own economic stimulus, and a recovery of much more than we first imagined.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

attractional / incarnational

A chart I recently made for the Our Town neighborhood strategy to roughly compare the two paradigms. It's not meant to be definitive, just a conversation starter containing broad generalities.

we've known and lived with for a long time, the methods are old and tired. Incarnational, though new (at least to the church) and very promising, in this approach we're all babes...not even toddlers. We're still crawling around, imagining what it would be like to even stand and walk out into the world in this way.

The point is, when it comes to effectively reaching and transforming our cities, attractional strategies are no longer a simple and easy solution. However, they do work (and work well) when they're a sub component of a larger, synergistic, well-planned cityreaching approach which is thoroughly incarnational withreach.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Finding Your Strategic Missional Mix

I created this to diagram four postures a church can have toward a community, which can become four components of their strategic mix. Obviously, I strongly advocate incarnational withreach strategies. But, there is a place for the other three. Community service is a must, and even some attractional strategies need to be part of the whole. However if not done very carefully and thoughtfully, church-centric branding and event or program-focused media will not only be ineffective, it can even undermine the other, more effective components of strategy.

...feel free to use this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday AM Breakthroughs!

Why don't more sermons move people like a Steve Jobs keynote address at MacWorld? Are we really leveraging that brief window of opportunity we have with our audience for the greatest and most immediate life-changing, and world-transforming result? If you want to move your audience, and help them move their world, you might want to take some cues from the ace of the keynote talk, Steve Jobs.

Here is a useful powerpoint I found to help wake up your audience...with one caveat: if at all possible use Apple's Keynote, not Powerpoint.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

7 Summers...what would you do?

A few of us have begun the dreaming, planning, and development process for 7 Summers (see video and article). But, the first step in any good plan is to frame the questions. Here are a few of mine (please post or email me your ideas):

1. Can we identify the best catalysts for change... strengthening of family and neighborhood, dream incubators, dream teams, youth cells and empowering networks, business support, school and community partnerships?

2. How do we create the support structure in the church for this kind of vision?

3. How could parents and mentors be motivated to play their key part?

4. Are there many adults whose own calling and dreams would be fulfilled in this kind of movement?

5. What kinds of dialog, brainstorming, and planning models would facilitate rapid development and implementation?

6. How do we engage children and youth themselves into the imagining and planning process early and give this enough force to drive action?

7. How do we enlarge the online conversation and idea-generating process?

8. How can we REALLY get churches to work together in our cities... please don't say it can't be done, what is it going to take?

Watch the 7 Summers video.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Where were you in '64?

I had fun creating this for the 7 Summers article. Not exactly accurate to their real ages (but all are Boomers). Can you ID them all first time through? Where were you in 1964 (I just entered high school, I was 14...and it was a very good year).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Summer In The City!

If aliens had a way to scan our world and measure human activity, which season would be the most active? I think it's obviously the summer. I don't have any hard data, but also I imagine compared to other seasons, volunteer activity for most community groups is also much higher in the summer. Summer is the time people come outdoors, engage in many community activities, and seem to be most open to meeting new people, engaging in conversations.

So why is this not the best season for reaching deep into our cities? Why do we traditionally think of things slowing down in the summer, when from a connection perspective we get more active? Could we be operating with some upside-down thinking. Maybe with a little creativity, a whole world of opportunity awaits us. Maybe the way to turn it right side up is to switch gears, from outreach thinking to withreach thinking. Maybe.

We're working on some withreach ideas specific to summer (I'll post some soon), but email or call if you'd like to discuss them or collaborate on some ideas of your own. Let's see what we can do to change the way we think about "summer."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Redeeming Dreams From Brothels

I recently read on a mission blog, a quote of Ralph Winter: “You can’t make “a business” out of rescuing child prostitutes in Thailand, or by setting up medical clinics in the midst of extreme poverty around the world.”

...I wonder. Recently, I watched the movie, Born Into Brothels, in which a development worker, who worked with prostitutes in the red-light district of Calcutta, was drawn to reach out to their children. She was also a photographer and she had the idea of giving each of the kids inexpensive cameras and asking them to interpret their world through that medium. It worked wonders not only in creating deep relationships but the end of the story was this: she got many of them into higher education and out of the brothels by showcasing their photography... and assisting them in selling prints of their own work…which completely funded their empowerment. You've no doubt heard other stories of similar kinds of highly-creative approaches.

I wonder what is possible if we reimagined problems with a little more spirit-led creativity. Entrepreneurs focus on hidden value opportunities. As spiritual entrepreneurs, those value opportunities are the God-given treasures of identity, dreams, and purpose contained within. Our part of this empowerment opportunity might be to provide the marketing and distribution channels for those “products” of our Father’s dreams. Could this self-fund community development and mercy missions?

Rent the documentary. Check out their website: kids-with-cameras ... Get inspired. ... Watch this clip...

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Community Dreams Campaign

Here's a sneak peak at a local community project we're working on (in our own backyard). The idea is to facilitate people's dream discovery-nurture-act (DNA) process through a community / church sponsored web site. A full media campaign would promote it and drive traffic to the web site where there would be online helps to guide someone (specifically children and youth) into writing and posting their dreams.

My hopes is that this would be a forerunner of a complete Dream Center (dream coaching, life coaching, career and business incubator, mentoring, after-school programs, and community arts programs). ...stay tuned.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Community of Dreams Overview

Well, it's finally out, the first draft of the Community of Dreams Overview, which even as a 22-page document, only provides a sweeping big-picture of the overall cityreaching vision and the 'Five Synergies' (or paradigms for planning) which we believe form a powerful incarnational withreach approach to cityreaching and transformation.

You can download a free preview (PDF) here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

7 Summers to Change the World (free video)

Watch this 1-minute video with a few of your colleagues. Discuss what you've seen work. Create your own think tank group... imagine what could work if we did not limit ourselves because of time, money, or traditions. Then drop me an email. I'll post your thoughts and ideas.

Post a comment on YouTube (it helps spread the word). Download the HD version (from our site) to show your group. Share it freely...pass it around... it's yours, for the cause (please just keep intact).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Incarnational Church Planting Project

Great video on incarnational church planting, in this case 'urban' incarnational church planting in Denver. If for planting, why not for exisitng churches? If for urban, why not for suburban and rural? In any case, it really is exciting to see young people becoming so active in missional church planting, and incarnational mission.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Honoring Teachers, Schools, and Towns

A Tribute To Teachers. Thousands of communities will take time out during May to honor the teachers in their communities. It wouldn't take much creativity for a community-minded church to program a special emphasis / theme-campaign as a withreach opportunity... having the potential to create many new relationships, cultural bridges, and a high-profile catalyst for transformation. September would be another good time, oh and don't forget private schools and homeschool "teachers."

For ideas, just Google "teacher's day," but here's a few: click... here, here, or here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back Office Work

Over the last few weeks there's been a lot of new projects rolling out of production. Many of these projects were the result of specific client requests. Many times these new media campaigns never make it to our website, so I thought I'd post a few here. They should be self explanatory...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Easter in the era of "whatever"

In a recent brainstorm with some 20-30 year olds, we sought to rethink a familiar challenge, one that usually goes like this... When Easter rolls around the churches in America face a major dilemma: One one hand, Easter is probably the most effective time of the year to raise their profile (fishing when the fishing is good). On the other hand, the US population who still have favorable memories or understand the meaning of Easter is a diminishing audience. Though it remains one of the best times of the year to build awareness (and attendance) we searched for a way that also speaks with relevance to this growing sector. We had these goals for it: 1) it had to connect to an authentic felt need, and 2) do it in a clear and simple way, and 3) be seen as coming from real, unpretentious, caring people.

This led to the development of the Don't Change A Thing campaign.
Here are a few examples (the rest can be found on the Breakthrough site). I will be posting more ads and photos here and would love your feedback on them.

Don't Change A Thing. ... If It Changes Who You Really Are.
... and some suggested reverse side text:
Everyday we encounter pressures to conform, to approach life-change as an outside-in acquisition of principles and social norms, rather than an inside-out process of becoming our true selves. The Bible contrasts a life of conforming with a life that's transforming. It speaks of regeneration, renewal of our minds, and being reborn. But the fact is, it's far easier to cave in to expectations. It takes courage to live out of your true heart and follow the dreams you were meant to fulfill. If you're looking for people who will treasure the real you and support you in your journey, we'd like to be that people. A new day is dawning, and we can begin this Easter to resurrect the life we were meant to live... lives not meant to conform to the world, but transform it!
I've posted a few of these in the: Portfolio, but ideas for other target audiences (by way of their photo representation on the cover) could go in many interesting directions. Where would you want to go?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Idea Starters

I'm working on some new campaign ideas...sure love to get some advance feedback (here or by email). These pieces are part of an ongoing development for use in engaging a community (families, kids, youth) to awaken God-given dreams and begin conversations and dream-coaching relationships. Do they spark ideas in you?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Holy Ground Cafe

I took a seat in our local cafe the other day across from these gentlemen, one black, one white. I snapped a picture while they were deep in conversation. And just for a moment I thought, this is holy ground, the kind of place Jesus would hang out...nuetral ground at the cross roads of culture and although there is a kind of informal protocol, it's without pretense or agenda. How many places like this exist in our communities, do we know whre they are?

Ray Oldenburg, in his book Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories About the "Great Good Places" at the Heart of Our Communities, explores the contribution of cafes like this. I found one comment on the book interesting:

"Dr. Oldenburg helped me to understand that when good citizens of a community find places to spend pleasurable hours with one another for no specific or obvious purpose, there is purpose to such association. One of these places is, of course, our cafe environment. We provide an informal public gathering place which is not and can not be supplied by any other agency in the society."

Oldenburg positions "third places" beside home and work. I wonder... Knowing that the church is people (we have to keep reminding ourselves), what would have to change to make the church qualify as a third place? How could we create these wonderful, highly-engaging 'front porches' in our community?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Do we do discipleship the way Jesus did?

I'm currently working on a long-term development plan for a discipleship ministry. In the process of thinking through key directions, I feel God challenging me to examine our whole approach to discipleship, generally asking... why we don't disciple people the way Jesus did. I have been in ministry for over 30 years, but I have been stopped in my tracks over this, and I'm having a difficult time identifying any present day examples of discipling as Jesus did. Most church-based discipleship is classroom oriented. Even those more relational, one-on-one approaches are still quite formal, didactic, cognitive, or curriculum-based. Some mission-based approaches add experiential components, but could they be proposed across the board and effectively applied to all Christians in all walks of life?

I have four questions:

1) What were the essential qualities in the way Jesus discipled others?

2) Do you know of good, present-day examples/models in use?

3) Could we suggest a truly biblical model for today based on the clear example of Jesus in the four Gospels?

4) Is there any justification for our wholesale abandonment of Christ's own example?

For me this is not simply an academic exercise, since I am working on a plan that could impact the direction of a ministry. So I do hope there are some good answers to be found.

Here's one way to get at it... What if we first took what might be seen as the basics of good mentoring: 1) provide essentials and key principles, 2) dramatize and demonstrate in real life, 3) commission them to do it on their own, 4) provide evaluation, support, affirmation, and guidance to perfect, internalize, and integrate with personal life and calling.

And if we would say that the core ingredient of the enduring disciple was loving God (with a whole heart), then what could the discipleship process look like? Would the process look like anything we presently see? And how would you provide experiences that impart an authentic, enduring love of God?