Catalyst 2011 Highlights

In our staff meeting this week, the National Community Church team reviewed some of our personal highlights from Catalyst 2011: Be Present. There's some good stuff in here that I thought was worth sharing. Most of these are my paraphrase of someone else's paraphrase of a speaker.

  • Being present often means being broken before God with and for people.
  • Coupling “Jesus is sufficient” with fear.
  • Are you welcoming people into your church the way you would welcome them into your home?
  • Confidence in who God has created me to be and what He has created me to do.
  • It’s okay not to be typical. -Bob Goff
  • Are we really seeking God’s presence or are we seeking his hand? -Francis Chan
  • The best I’m going to be is a redeemed sinner. -Cornel West
  • Jesus’ prayers were heard because of his reverence for God. -Francis Chan
  • Katie Davis is a child herself but is a mother of fourteen. Her faith is simple yet so profound. She loves her Jesus and follows as she goes.
  • Being present means dwelling with Him. -Francis Chan
  • Opportunity is attracted to excellence. -Dave Ramsey
  • Nothing is moved unless it’s shoved. -Dave Ramsey
  • Pay attention to the people who are willing to pour out what they have. -Andy Stanley
  • The never-ending line of people in need is not a problem to solve but a tension to manage. -Andy Stanley
  • You can’t be there for everyone, but go long with the people the Lord puts on your heart.  -Andy Stanley
  • It’s almost like there’s a thin place every year at Catalyst where the Holy Spirit is present and at work.
  • Inconsistency yields mediocrity. -Jim Collins
  • Define your 20 miles. -Jim Collins
  • Don’t be alone when you’re doing anything. -Andy Stanley
  • When is the last time you’ve wept for the people in your life who are hurting?
  • Know when to stop and when to push forward. -Jim Collins
  • Even though some mercy ministries aren’t completely merciful, sometimes it’s more convenient to do them anyway. Be truly merciful even when it’s inconvenient. -Robert Lupton
  • Interruptions are divine interventions. -Priscilla Shirer
  • Call out of people what you want to see in them. Call out of your ministry what you want to see in it. -Priscilla Shirer
  • Innovation and creativity are nothing without discipline. God created the world in all of its facets over a period of time. -Jim Collins
  • We have the fullness of God’s glory revealed to us through Christ, and we still don’t think it’s enough.  Moses did so much, and he only got to see the backside of God. -Judah Smith
  • If brokenness and humility don’t have a place in our worship, God won’t have a place in our worship. -David Platt

Thanks to Mike, Steph, Chris, Juliet, Jennifer, Sarah, Matt, Andy, Heather, Christina, Jeremy, Joel, Dave, Maegan, Amanda, Amanda, Emily, Jason, and Kurtis for sharing their hearts and to Pastor Mark for opening up the dialogue.

Hope you found these helpful.  If you want to take a look at what the speakers said, I've got notes from the main sessions and labs.

What are you about?

It's a simple question really, although one that might be difficult to answer:  What are you about?  What defines you?  What is unique about you?  What makes you who you are?

Jamie asked this question of herself on her blog, which got me thinking about what I'm about.

I'm about Jesus, and I'm about helping others follow him.

I'm about my wife.

I'm about the Church and more specifically my church.

I'm about community.

I'm about cities. I live in DC, and my last three trips have been to Seattle, New York City, and Addis Ababa.

I'm about food. I especially love Chicago pizza, hot dogs and beef sandwiches, and if you grill meat I'll like it.

I'm about leadership, learning to lead myself and others well.

I'm about too much TV.

I'm about receiving grace and trying to get better at giving it.

I'm about reading and writing.

I'm about social media.

I'm about driving.

I'm about generosity.

I'm about being stressed and agitated but trying to change that.

I'm about my friends.

I'm about Sabbath.

I'm about poker.

I'm about competition and winning.

I'm about thinking and challenging and stretching my mind (and yours).

I'm about serving the vulnerable, because that's what Jesus is about.

I'm about integrity.

I'm trying to be about joy and intentionality.

I'm about theology.

I'm becoming about artistic expression and travel.

I used to be about politics.

I'm about exercise (sometimes).

What are you about?  Leave a comment below or better yet, write your own post and link back to mine.  I'll be sure to swing by your blog and check it out.

Photo by Flickr User gfpeck

Health and Wealth Gospel

Three NCC pastors’ cars are in the driveway this morning…

Hanging with Some Folks from Beza – Ethiopia Day 5

Post written at the end of the fifth day of the trip, August 17

Whew! Long day.

I was up at 6:20 AM for early morning prayer with the Beza staff and didn’t get home from dinner until 11 PM.

I’m having trouble trying to pick a highlight for today. It was a great day focused on continuing to build the relationship between NCC and Beza. For me this included…

  • Having breakfast with Dr. Betta, the head of Beza International Ministries and an incredible man with an incredible story.
  • Giving a homily at Beza’s staff prayer service.
  • Visiting one of Beza’s small groups. In fact, it was the same one I went to last year when I was here.
  • Eating an incredible hamburger for lunch.
  • Walking through the back streets of Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa.
  • Buying furniture.

Okay, so those last three weren’t really about relationship building so much as fun.

Tomorrow we head out to a camp near Debrezayit with the Change boys. I expect spending two and a half days living with the boys will be both challenging and rewarding. We’ll likely be writing some reflections each day while we are there, but it is less likely that we’ll actually be able to post them until we get back.

Until then, ciao!

Our Leaders Love our City

I love the small group leaders at National Community Church.  They’re passionate individuals who are making a difference in our city.

For the past few semesters we’ve had a group called Living in the Tension led by Jill Carmichael and Carmel Pryor that’s focused not just on study but also on service.  Right now they’re gearing up for their second HIV/AIDS related event.

They’re screening The Other City to raise awareness about the epidemic that is HIV/AIDS in Washington DC.  You might be surprised to learn that somewhere between 3-5% of the population of DC has HIV/AIDS, rivaling some African countries.

They’re also actively working to combat the epidemic by offering free HIV/AIDS testing.

They’ll be at Harriet Tubman Elementary School (3101 13th St. NW DC) starting at 8 PM this Saturday.  Come on by and check it out.  Questions about the event?  Take a look at their Facebook page.

Dr. Bill Donahue – Developing Leaders – NCC Spring 2011 Leadership Summit

At NCC we have three leadership summits each year.  They’re 3-4 hour events for our small group and ministry leaders where we cast vision, provide training, worship, and celebrate wins.  We typically produce them entirely in-house, but this year we decided to bring in some outside voices who could speak to our leaders in a fresh way.

For our spring summit we brought in Dr. Bill Donahue, former head of group life for Willow Creek Community Church and the Willow Creek Assocation.  Dr. Donahue has a BA from Princeton, an MA from Dallas Seminary, and a PhD from the University of North Texas.  Prior to joining the ministry he worked for Proctor and Gamble and PNC Bank.

He spoke to our leaders on the need to raise up others into leadership.  Here are my unedited notes from his talk:

There is a crying need for ongoing leadership.  It’s not an arrogant thing or we need to be the leaders, but it seems that God has prioritized leadership/shepherding.

But what happens is, people begin to say, wow, this is hard.  So I began to brainstorm, what keeps leaders from sharing their leadership.


What begins to happen if I give up control?  If I give up control, it might stop working.  There’s fear of a loss of control, sometimes that’s for right reasons and sometimes it’s a control issue.  There’s a risk there.  But if anyone should have held onto control was Jesus, but he passed it on even though he knew they were going to bumble around a bit.

If I give away leadership, what if they’re better than me.  It’s an insecurity issue.  I love John 14:12 – Greater things than this will you do because I go.  Think about that for a moment.  Greater things? Than Jesus? Dead-raising, it doesn’t have to be a long list.  Maybe it’s greater in scope.  Maybe Jesus is like a boulder dropped into a lake.  He made a huge impact, but we’re the ripples that reach the shore.

Ego gets in the way.   John Vanye – Community is the place where ego comes to die.  You have John the Baptist, he must increase, but I must decrease.  It is fun to be in the spotlight.  I played football at Princeton, not very well, injured most of the time.  My training regimen of late nights and beer probably didn’t help.  Sometimes when you want to shine, you end up failing in front of a lot of people.  And then you don’t want to step back out.  So you ask someone, and they don’t want to step back out because of insecurity.

Sometimes you think you don’t have anything to teach.  But Gerald May says how you view yourself really has very little to do with who you are.  It’s God who makes you adequate

Fear of failure, what if I pick the wrong person?

A sense of short supply or shortsightedness.  I’d pick somebody, but I don’t see anyone around.  I don’t think that’s true, but there’s this perception that they’re just not ready yet.

A plain old unwillingness, we say, there are people out there, but they just aren’t willing to step up.

The list could go on, but there are afew things that hold us back.

When the how doesn’t work or the what isn’t clear, I can come back to the why.  Why do we share leadership?

There’s a pattern of it in Scripture.  Jethro tells Moses in Exodus 18 to setup a leadership structure to allow others to share in the responsibility.  There’s Elijah and Elisha.  Jesus chose the twelve to be with him and send them out.  The twelve raised up people to serve the widows.

It’s essential for the health of any community.  When leadership resides in a lone person, there’s danger to it.  We’re weak and broken people, and we can mess up.  David Gergen when reflecting on the four presidents he served under said that a leader with character without capacity is weak but a leader with capacity without character is dangerous.

It shifts a focus off the few to the many.  It’s a flatter church, a flatter organization.  Heirarchy can have a role in places, but it’s dangerous if it’s very narrow.

If you begin to share leadership in your culture, this is not an assistant.  An apprentice does what you do.  An assistant does what you don’t want to do.  It takes away that hierarchical you’re helping me get my leadership done to I’m helping you get your leadership done.

Go back to one of your first leadership experiences.  Doesn’t have to be church.  What was the first time you were in a leadership role and you were conscious of it.  How did that feel to you?  How did it go?

One of the things that I do when someone has some hesitancy to step into leadership is go back to when I was there, when I wasn’t sure I would do well or when I failed.

Identifying and engaging emerging leaders is work and skill.

What are you looking for?

A learner, someone who wants to grow.  Every now and again I’ll ask someone to be a leader, and they’re like, it’s about time.  Suddenly we have a lot more hesitancy about their leadership.  This versus someone who is hesitant and unsure.  Don’t worry about the person who says no the first time.  They could be the next Moses.  It might not be the right time.  They might not be ready yet.  You need the courage to grow in your leadership to make another ask.  How many asks was that?  One?  You’re done?  Pray, stay connected, you’ll see another opportunity to ask.

Where do you find leaders?  I really don’t know.  I would look for leaders and not find them.  I’m not good at looking for leaders.  People are easy.  I can find them.  If you’re looking for a leader, it may be hard to find one.

But if you’re looking for some people who might be open to leading, you can find them.  I don’t even ask them to lead.  I just ask them to help me, maybe help me brainstorm some ideas.  It’s not hidden necessarily, but it is a bit subtle and subterranean.  This person may find some joy in beginning to help lead.  Can you help me?  We will plan together.

The first time I saw a leader when I hadn’t seen one was a really quiet guy in one of our groups.  Whenever he spoke, everyone would listen.  He had great insights.  But I didn’t think “leader.”  We had coffee and he told me he sometimes thought about the group.  I broached the subject of “leader,” and he withdrew.  I went to promise keepers with some guys, and he was one of them.  We started a mens group, but there was no “leader.”  But suddenly Steve was asking probing questions, directing the group to pray.  What I realized was it’s about getting alongside of people in a process.

Some of you may have great discernment gifts and can figure this out easier, but me and I think a lot of others do it by trial and error.  Some people may need a bolder ask.  Maybe that guy doesn’t need to be in three softball leagues.

Invite people into a relationship, not a role.  Join me, let’s do something together.

You’re looking for people who are willing to learn, not people who see autonomy as the ultimate goal.  Becoming autonomous is not the ultimate goal.  The Bible says that interdependence is when you’ve arrived.  When the hand needs the eye.  You don’t want people who feel like they’re all of it.

Love – When I’ve worked with people, the first thing, especially in a group, is I want the apprentice or the aspiring leader, even if they don’t know it, is give them someone to love.  Henry Nouwen says service is love.  The main problem of service is to be the way without being in the way.  I there are skills to be learned, they are primarily to serve getting out of the way.

Learn – Give them something to learn.  Ask them to stay five minutes after the group and to give me feedback on my leadership.  Then when they start to lead, I’ll give them feedback.  Experience plus feedback is the best way to learn.

Lead – Give them time to lead.  It’s okay if they fail.  Learn to give leadership away.  Don’t hold it tight  Early on in the apprenticing process is to give them the value of passing things on.  Say to them: Hey, why don’t you start praying about a shared leadership experience?  Who can you pass things on to?

I want to ask you a couple of questions.  We’ve been talking about government shutdown in our culture.  We don’t have to worry about shutdown, except… but we’ll come to that.  We have a great policy manual in Scripture.  We know our values.

Jesus says to his followers that the harvest is there, we need laborers.  So pray, beseech, ask, the Lord of the harvest to go out.  God will create in you a Romans 16 legacy where Paul describes his ministry relationships: Pheobe, a deacon; Priscilla and Aquilla, who risked their lives for Paul; Appenitus, the first follower of Christ in Asia; Mary who worked for your benefit; Adronicus and Judica who were in prison with him…

It’s not a prideful thing.  It’s just that one day you get to write a Romans 16 list.  It’s not a prideful thing.  My impact is limited by the number of people I can touch and invest in.

Henrietta Meers started a Bible study at 6 AM on UCLA’s campus, some people on her Romans 16 list: Bill Brighton, Campus Crusade for Christ; Senate Chaplain Halverson; Billy Graham

All In Discipleship

The theme of this year’s Leadership Retreat was All In.  I challenged leaders to go “all in” with discipleship.  Check out this video to learn more about a major NCC small group initiative for 2011.

Catalyst 2010 Liveblog

I’m back in Atlanta with the NCC team for Catalyst. Last time I was here was two years ago for the same conference. It was a great experience and some of the things I learned there really stuck with me.

The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility.Jim Collins

If you’re ever looking at someone else’s situation with envy, think about what it took for them to get thereSteven Furtick pastored a church of thousands in his twenties, but he was stepping out in faith to minister to guys in his dorm in college, guys who weren’t open to faith, guys who he didn’t have a lot in common with, long before God ever gave him a big church.  He served in hard and obscure ways before serving in the spotlight.

Some ministries have It, and some ministries don’t.  You’ve got to want It badly.  You’ve got to strive after It, and pray for It, and yearn for It, if you want to have a ministry that is on fire. –Craig Groeschel

I’m looking forward to what God has to teach me at Catalyst this year.  I’ll be blogging (hopefully liveblogging) my session notes and possibly some other thoughts.  You can also follow the action at Catablog and Catalyst Backstage.

One caveat about my notes, they’re usually pretty unfiltered.  I mostly write down what the speaker says, even if I disagree.  Of course, there’s the possibility that I misinterpret or misrecord what they say, so maybe double check my facts before getting too upset about something.

National Community Church Protege Welcome Video

We have a year-long ministry immersion program at NCC called the Protege Program. People volunteer a year of their time to work on staff at NCC. Our third class of Proteges just started a couple of weeks ago, and we wanted to give a warm welcome to those who are making such a sacrifice to be serve with us. To that end, we put together a welcome video to introduce them to the church and the staff.

A note to any potential viewers from TED: This video is intentionally full of inside jokes and is not my most polished nor well prepared presentation.  However, it does show my ability to deliver an engaging monologue, even with little preparation.  I had been given some basic ideas and cues but otherwise ad-libbed this.

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God acts when His people have faith, and sometimes we have to act on that faith.

I’m believing that God will provide NCC with a new building where we can serve Him, and earlier today Rachel and I took a step of faith and made a small donation to help pay for the property that NCC wants to buy. It wasn’t much, but it was an expression of faith that God will come through.

Why did we do it? Why did we do it today? Because I’m believing that this will happen tomorrow. Again, I could be wrong. I could be completely wrong. God could have totally different plans, but tomorrow I finish seven days of circling and praying for that property, and just like he did at Jericho, I believe that on the seventh day, God will move.

Why am I writing this post? I’ll look foolish if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, and even more foolish if it doesn’t happen at all. But that doesn’t matter. It only matters that God is glorified. It’s also my way of (reverently, respectfully, and humbly) putting God on the spot. I’ve done what I believe He’s asked me to do, and now I’m believing that He will do his part.