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.