Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tired of Tribes?

Too bad. Here are some more thoughts from the book. Some really thought provoking stuff, especially when applied to a church/ministry start up. Not all things apply, but plenty do.

Your Micromovement (Can you envision your church as a micromovement?)

Movements take connected people and make change.

The key elements in creating a micromovement consist of five things to do and six principles:

1. Publish a manifesto – it’s a mantra and a motto and a way of looking at the world. It unites your tribe members and gives them a structure.

2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.

3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another – great leaders figure out how to make these interactions happen.

4. Realize that money is not the point of a movement.

5. Track your progress – do it publicly and create pathways for your followers to contribute to that progress.


1. Transparency really is your only option

2. Your movement needs to be bigger than you

3. Movements that grow, thrive – everyday they get better and more powerful.

4. Movements are made most clear when compared to the status quo or to movements that work to push the other direction.

5. Exclude outsiders – who isn’t part of your movement matters almost as much as who is.

6. Tearing others down is never as helpful to a movement as building your followers up.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Random Thoughts

  • I have really been into Oasis lately. I have them in concert on my DVR. "Morning Glory" may be in my top ten favorite songs right now.
  • Did you know that Stan Musial is third on the all time list of extra base hits? Only Barry Bonds and Henry Aaron have more. He is so underrated. Sports Illustrated did a story on him a few years ago and called him the most underrated player in baseball history. As far as living ball players, only three can claim to have been better.
  • I really got into the World Football Challenge. I am leaning on getting a English Premier league team jersey. Toss up between Chelsea and Liverpool. While in Wales recently I saw a bunch of Man U jerseys (or as I believe they are called, "kits" which includes the shorts, I think).
  • I love Wilco, but their new release isn't blowing me away (despite the good reviews). But, two of the songs on it are as good as anything they have done: "One Wing" and "Bull Black Nova" are both worthy of immediate downloads. I do like "Wilco (the song)" in spite of its silly title. "You Never Know" is good as well. The rest of the release is kind of blah to me. I hope it grows on me, but it hasn't yet.
  • Loved my trip to Wales. While there I had Cornish pasties (rhymes with nasties), a meal in a Somalian restaurant (some kind of lamb stew that was fantastic), Jamaican bar-b-q, authentic Turkish food (Lahmacun, sort of a flat bread pizza) and some sort of Chilean chicken. It was a great trip that took about 4 days for jet lag to catch up with me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

One of the Truest Nuggets from Tribes

This little nugget from Seth Godin's book, Tribes, really resonated with me. I have seen this played out over the course of several jobs/ministry opportunities. It is something that I keep in mind whenever I am in a leadership position.

The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest thing is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate.

Reacting is what your body does when you take the wrong kind of medicine. Reacting is intuitive and instinctive and usually dangerous. Managers react.

Responding is much better alternative. You respond to external stimuli with thoughtful action. Response is always better than reaction.

But both pale in comparison to initiative. Initiating is really and truly difficult, and that’s what leaders do. They see something others are ignoring and they jump on it. They cause the events that others have to react to. They make change.
Initiative is such an astonishingly successful tool: because it’s rare.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Simply Christian - Thoughts on Jesus (finale)

Jesus: Rescue and Renewal (part 3)
The First Easter
Resurrection isn’t a fancy way of saying “going to heaven when you die.” It’s a way of talking about being bodily alive again after a period of being bodily dead. Resurrection is a second-stage postmortem life: “life after ‘life after death.” If Jesus’ resurrection “proves” anything about what happens to people after they die, it is that. The NT states it this way: “If Jesus has been raised, that means that God’s new world, God’s kingdom, has indeed arrived; and that means we have a job to do. The world must hear what the God of Israel, the creator God, has achieved through his messiah.

Eastern Orthodox churches have always emphasized, when Jesus rose again God’s whole new creation emerged from the tomb, introduction a world full of new potential and possibility. Indeed, precisely because part of that new possibility is for human beings themselves to be revived and renewed, the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t leave us as passive, helpless spectators. We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet…and commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world.
If it was the case that Israel’s vocation was to be the people through whom the one God would rescue his beloved creation; if it is the case that Jesus believed himself, as God’s messiah, to be bearing Israel’s vocation in himself; and if it really is true that in going to his death he took upon himself, and in some sense exhausted, the full weight of the world’s evil – then clearly there is indeed a task waiting to be done…Something has happened in and through Jesus as a result of which the world is a different place, a place where heaven and earth have been joined forever. God’s future has arrived in the present.

Jesus and “Divinity”
From the earliest days of Christianity we find an astonishing shift, for which again nothing in Jewish traditions of the time had prepared Jesus’ followers. They remained firmly within Jewish monotheism; and yet they said, from very early on, that Jesus was indeed divine.
Once we remind ourselves that humans were made in God’s image, that this is not a category mistake, but the ultimate fulfillment of the purpose of creation itself.
Somehow, Jesus both prayed to the Father and took upon himself a role which, in the ancient prophecies was reserved for YHWH – that of rescuing Israel and the world. He was obedient to the Father, simultaneously doing what only God can do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Simply Christian - Thoughts on Jesus (part 2)

Jesus: Rescue and Renewal (part 2)
Temple, Supper and Cross
Jesus chose the Passover for its symbolism of the rescue and deliverance of God. The freedom did not come in the form of an attack on the Roman garrison, but at the temple itself. Declaring it corrupt, he performed one of his greatest symbolic actions, overturning tables and, for a short but potent time, preventing the normal business (the continual offering of sacrifices). This was no mere cleanup operation, but a sign that the Temple itself was under divine judgment. God was going to destroy the city and the temple, and would vindicate not the Jewish nation as a whole, but Jesus himself and his followers.

God was about to act to bring in the kingdom, but in a way that none of Jesus’ followers had anticipated. The real enemy, after all, was not Rome, but the powers of evil.
Jesus spoke of the Passover bread as his own body that would be given on behalf of his friends, as he went out to take on himself the weight of evil so that they wouldn’t have to bear it themselves.

His death would do what the Temple, with its sacrificial system, had pointed toward but had never actually accomplished. In meeting the fate which was rushing toward him, he would be the place where heaven and earth met, as he hung suspended between the two. He would be the place where God’s future arrived in the present, with the kingdom of God celebrating its triumph over the kingdoms of the world by refusing to join in their spiral of violence. He would act out, finally, his own interpretation of the ancient prophecies which spoke to him of a suffering Messiah. The death of Jesus of Nazareth as the king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel’s destiny, the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns. Christianity is based on the belief that it was and is the latter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Simply Christian - Thoughts on Jesus

Jesus: Rescue and Renewal (part 1)
Jesus had gone about Palestine announcing that now, at last, God’s kingdom was arriving. The message that the ancient prophecies were coming true, that Israel’s story was reaching its destination at last, that God himself was on the move once more and was about to rescue his people and put the world to rights.

The messiah was thought to be YHWH’s anointed, the king in waiting. Those who were expecting a messiah were expecting him to fight the battle against Israel’s enemies – specifically, the Romans. He would rebuild, or at least cleanse and restore, the Temple. He would bring Israel’s long history to its climax, reestablishing the monarchy as in the days of David and Solomon. He would be God’s representative to Israel, and Israel’s representative to God. We see someone who tried to mold himself into this exact image in the person of Simeon ben Kosiba. Central to his aim was to rebuild the temple and thereby place himself in the long line: David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Judas Maccabeus, Herod…all kings of the Jews, all Temple builders or temple restorers. For that to happen, he would have to fight the ultimate battle against the pagan forces.

So, why did Jesus’ followers hail him as Messiah? He had led no military uprising, nor did it look as though he would do so. He did not always act like this kind of messiah, but did point to various signs that he was some kind of messiah (even pointing out that John was the Elijah to come who would pave the way for the messiah). But nobody in this period supposed that that Messiah would have to suffer, let alone die. Indeed, that was the very opposite of normal expectations. The messiah was supposed to be leading the triumphant fight against Israel’s enemies, not dying at their hands. (This points out the disciples’ disbelief at Jesus’ pronouncements of his suffering and death.)

Jesus seems to have combined the idea of the Servant as messiah but would also be a sufferer. As Jesus’ studied the scripture, he allowed his study to shape his sense of what he had to do. His task, he believed, was to bring the great story of Israel to its decisive climax. The long range plan of God the creator – to rescue the world from evil and to put everything to rights at last – was going to come true in him. His death, which at one level could rightly be seen as an enormous miscarriage of justice, would also be the moment when, as the prophet Isaiah had said, Jesus would be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53.5). God’s plan to rescue the world from evil would be put into effect by evil doing its worst to the Servant – that is, to Jesus himself – and thereby exhausting its power.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gospel Intentionality

I've seen this a couple of places but I really liked it and hope for this in the campus ministry/mission we are involved in:

Steve Timmis posted a series of Tweets on this: Living ordinary life with gospel intentionality means …

… buying from local shops.
… frequenting a local coffee shop or pub.
… playing for a local sports team.
… always tipping generously in local restaurants.
… being the kind of neighbor everyone wants to have as a neighbor.
… volunteering at a local charity shop along with a couple of others from church.
… doing ordinary things in community.
… opening your home to, and sharing your food with others.
… walking the same route to work at the same time or catching the same train each day.
… we do EVERYTHING for the sake of the gospel!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yet More from Tribes


In other words, if everyone could do it, they would, and it wouldn’t be worth much.

It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.

It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.

It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.

It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.


An organization needs people who aren’t just willing to follow, but are eager to follow. Folks who do nothing but mindlessly follow instructions let you down in two ways. First, they’re not going to do the local leadership required when the tribe members interact.

Second, they’re not going to do a very good job of recruiting new members to your tribe. That’s because evangelism requires leadership. Leading someone toward giving up one worldview and embracing yours isn’t easy and it’s not always comfortable. It’s the microleaders in the trenches and their enthusiastic followers who make the difference.

Tribes are increasingly voluntary. No one is forced to work for your firm or attend your services. People have a choice of which music to listen to and which movies to watch. So great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders do not water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could be.

Good Quote

This is from Michael Bird, from his book Introducing Paul:
“Our churches, some American ones in particular, need to spend less time telling non-Christians how to cope with being ‘left behind’ and start teaching Christians that to know Christ means to have fellowship with his sufferings and to be conformed to his death (Phil. 3:10)! For one day the prosperity bubble will burst and the lawless one will be revealed” (p. 118).

HT: Craig Blomberg

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another Positive

Something good came out of Michael Jackson's death/memorial service. I got to introduce my daughter to the greatness of Weird Al Yankovic.

Unable to embed "Fat", but it is here: "Fat"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Few Michael Jackson Thoughts...

Saw a retrospective on Michael Jackson's music on some music video channel tonight. Made me remember something. Michael Jackson hasn't really been relevant for me for over 20 years. Off of the "Bad" album, I really only liked "The Way You Make Me Feel." I liked the "Thriller" videos much better than the music. (I was too cool to own Thriller, my brother bought it). But I did remember how much I loved the album "Off the Wall." "Rock with You", "Don't Stop til You Get Enough", "Off the Wall," "Got Me Working Day and Night", now those were the Michael Jackson songs I liked. I think I did the splits and ripped my pants at a homecoming dance to "Don't Stop..."
I got creeped out by the face changes from Thriller to Bad that I just lost all interest. That's my pop culture minute for the day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More (again) on Simply Christian

One of the areas where I really enjoy Wright is when he discusses Jesus, the Kingdom and Jesus' role within the history of God's dealing with Israel. His book, The Challenge of Jesus is one of my favorite books. Here are some of his thoughts that I pulled from his chapter on "Jesus and the Kingdom" from Simply Christian.

Jesus and the Coming of God’s Kingdom
Christianity is about something that happened. Something that happened to Jesus of Nazareth. Something that happened through Jesus of Nazareth. Christianity is not about a new moral teaching. We need to insist that we find in Jesus’ teaching within a larger framework: the story of things that happened through which the world was changed.
We are invited – summoned actually – to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven.

What Can We Know About Jesus?
In Jesus of Nazareth heaven and earth have come together once and for all. The place where God’s space and our space intersect and interlock is no longer the Temple in Jerusalem. It is Jesus himself. This chapter also had some good stuff on the reliability of the gospels and our information about Jesus' resurrection.

The Kingdom of God
“The kingdom of God is at hand.” This announcement was the center of Jesus’ public proclamation. He was addressing the world we described at the end of the previous chapter, the world in which the Jewish people were anxious for their God to rescue them from pagan oppression and put the world to rights – in other words, to become king fully and finally.
What did he mean? The prophet Isaiah, in line with several Psalms and other biblical passages, had spoken of God’s coming kingdom as the time when
a) God’s promises and purposes would be fulfilled,
b) Israel would be rescued from pagan oppression,
c) evil (particularly the evil of oppressive empires) would be judged, and
d) God would usher in a new reign of justice and peace.
To speak of God’s kingdom arriving in the present was to summon up that entire narrative, and to declare that it was reaching its climax. God’s future was breaking in to the present. Heaven was arriving on earth.
Jesus believed that the ancient prophecies were being fulfilled. He believed that Israel’s God was doing a new thing; renewing and reconstituting Israel in a radical way…It wasn’t a matter of the God of Israel simply fighting off the wicked pagans and vindicating his own people. It was more devastating. It was about God judging not only the pagans but also Israel…God was issuing a fresh challenge to Israel, echoing back to his promises to Abraham: Israel is indeed the light of the world, but its present policies have been putting that light under a bucket.

Jesus’ healings were not just for the sake of it. Nor was it just a way of attracting people to listen to his message. Rather, the healing was a dramatic sign of the message itself. God, the world’s creator, was at work through him, to do what he had promised, to open blind eyes and deaf ears, to rescue people, to turn everything right side up.

What did Jesus intend by it all? What did he think would happen next? Why did he walk into trouble in this way? And why, after his own violent death, did anyone take him seriously any longer, let alone suppose that he was the living embodiment of the one true God?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thoughts from Tribes that May Relate to Ministry

Too many organizations care about numbers, not fans. They care about hits or turnstile clicks or media mentions. What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and interconnection that true fans deliver. Instead of always being on the hunt for one more set of eyeballs, true leaders have figured out that the real win is in turning a casual fan into a true one.

Fans demand is generosity and bravery.

What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism.

When someone criticizes without a well thought-out critique, by refusing to reveal the basis for his criticism, he’s being a coward, because there’s no way to challenge his opinion. It is a badge of honor to receive criticism. The lesson here is this: if you write a boring book, there’d be no criticism. No conversation.

If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing.

How can I create something that critics will criticize?