On Thursday I was having lunch with a good friend here in Missoula who just happens to be one of the pastors of the PCUSA church (the denomination that our denomination broke from back in the early 70’s). I deeply respect this man and what he is trying to do with his church here in Missoula. He pastors the church that Norman Maclean’s dad (A River Runs Through It) pastored. It’s an understatement to say it has a lot of history.

He mentioned a prayer by Richard Foster that he then proceeded to quote to me. It’s an amazing prayer, especially the end:

Today, O Lord, I yield myself to You.
May Your will be my delight today.
May You have perfect sway in me.
May your love be the pattern of my living.
I surrender to You my hopes, my dreams, my ambitions.
Do with them what You will, when You will, as You will.
I place into Your loving care my family, my friends, my future.
Care for them with a care that I can never give.
I release into Your hands my need to control, my craving for
status, my fear of obscurity.

Eradicate the evil, purify the good, and establish Your Kingdom on
earth.
For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

He mentioned that the parts in bold just nail him. And they nail me too. I want to be anything but obscure. I will do anything to be important and successful at what I do. And so I will continue to echo these words by Foster…like my PCUSA friend I might just memorize this prayer!

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Bono, the Church…Three Years Later

This was an interview with Bono – he wasn’t speaking live. Several years ago Bono told Bill Hybels that he was ticked at the American Church b/c the church did not care what was happening with AIDS. “We can’t fix everything, but what we can fix we should and there’s a lot we can fix.” Since the last time he met with Bill Hybels he said that he is amazed at what the church has done. It was the sleeping giant and it got up and ran really fast. The church is in the lead and not in the rear when it comes to helping people get the everyday drugs that they need. “There is no doubt in my mind that if the church had not woken up to the issue of aids then we wouldn’t have 2million africans on retroviral medications.” In the global village, Africa is down the lane – we are neighbors.

Where the Streets Have No Name – It’s such an amazing song even though the lyric is a bit lame and it was written really quickly. He wrote it 20 years ago in Ethiopia in a feeding station. And now people here it and are changed by it. Sometimes the best work is when you don’t know what you’re even doing. Intuition is better than intellect.

There was a story of a church trying to raise $160K for a pediatric ward in a church in Malawi. One family gave the money that they had been saving for infertility drugs. Little kids had lemonade stands, yard sales, and lots of sacrificing. When they brought the offering on Christmas Eve, they had raised over $500K. The stories shared during this portion brought tears to my eyes. I can’t articulate it in these notes. “We are a church that no longer exists for ourselves. We now exist for the world. Why did it take Bono to motivate this in our church?”

Bono asked what it says that they could not get governments to find $25 billion by 2010 to help hundreds of thousands of people who live on less than $1/day. But it took seconds to find hundreds of billions of dollars when a government bailout was needed for banks. What does this say about our world?

When I’m writing a song, people don’t want magic – they want a piece of the artist. The same is true for church – people don’t want something too lofty or intellectual – they want authenticity, honesty and a piece of the pastor. We’d be so much better as the church if we stood for things instead of against things. The church tends to separate itself from people and to pick the divisive side of things. But grace puts the divisive aside and enters in because people are more important. “You should never think that any of this stuff depends on you, but you shouldn’t be surprised when it’s hard, because there’s always resistance.”

  • “I have a dream where everyone is created equal under the eyes of God. Is that just an American dream? Or an Asian dream? Or a European dream? Or is it also an African dream?”
  • “All these statistics have faces, blood running through them, sisters and brothers.”
  • “I believe that in 50 years when they look back on this moment, they will say, ‘now there were some people who said it is not okay to let a child die because of lack of immunizations or nourishment.’”

Bill Hybels then made some comments about the interview and with leadership as it pertains to supporting the poor

  • Jesus spoke very poignantly in Mt. 25 – “whatever you did for the least of these…you did for me.”
  • There’s a lot of things we have to get better at as leaders – vision casting, problem solving, leadership development, etc…but if we neglect using our leadership positions to serve the poor, we will stand accountable to Christ some day. What Bono has done is ask everybody of every faith who leads anything to do something.

Switch
These 2 brothers have 2 books, Made to Stick and Switch (which is coming out soon). This is an interview by Craig Groeschel.

Successful change comes when the leader is able to convince everyone else that change is necessary. When you find a bright spot, you study it and clone it. If this is “big problems are rarely solved with big solutions, but instead they are solved by a series of small solutions…big problems, small solutions.” You have to shrink the change.

Whatever it is that you want to change or begin, then find a way to shrink the change. As you consider the small thing that you want to do and feel yourself getting encouraged and motivated, that’s a sign that you are moving in the right direction. If you get demoralized and defeated or overwhelmed, that’s a sign that you haven’t shrunk the change small enough.

The way that you get stronger is not by avoiding failure – you actually have to work up to failure. In weight training you work up to failure. It’s the same principle in leadership – failure might be an early sign of success.

Eyewitness to Power

Served as white house advisor to 4 presidents – Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Teaches a course at Harvard on Leadership.

He shared stories and interesting snippets from the four presidents and their great leadership qualities. Some good quotes from his interview with Bill Hybels…

  • “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
  • “Not every reader is a leader. But every leader is a reader."
  • “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)
  • ”If you lack a moral compass as a person, it will not matter how much you know, you will lose as a leader.”
  • "One of the greatest dangers in leadership come from ego. You become reckless and think the rules don’t apply to you"

Bill Hybels asked him what he looks for when he goes to church…Gergen replied 3 things…

  1. Inner peace
  2. To learn something
  3. An anchor that keeps him from hubris and gives him perspective

Dave Gibbons
Thinking Forward: Third Culture Leadership
I missed this one

Andrew Rugasira
Thinking Forward: Aid vs. Trade

Andrew is a Ugandan who has seen the shortfalls and problems with simply providing the third world with aid. He instead encourages real change through trade. He is the CEO and founder of Good African Coffee.

I had to get some Starbucks this morning and that caused us to miss most of his talk and we also missed hearing Dave Gibbons.

Wess Stafford
Leveraging Your Past

Wess is the president and CEO of Compassion International

His compassion for the poor began out of his own brokenness and tragedy. He hasn’t really ever talked about this story. He wrote a book, Too Small to Ignore and His publisher told him “They won’t care what you know until they know why you care.” His story was really difficult to share – it was about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the African boarding school he attended. They were “little sinners in the hands of an angry God.” The people reading bible stories one minute were prowling around after them the next. There was no one to protect the children.

Jessica Jackley
A Leadership Case Study: the KIVA Story

She’s founder of kiva.org – very interesting website and idea. This was an interview style. She grew up in Pittsburgh in a Presbyterian Church. Kiva works with micro-finance lenders to provide them with funds to give to the poor entrepreneurs.

Here’s how KIVA works – a person needs an average of $500 – $600 to start their business. Ordinary people lend an average of $100 and then the entrepreneur repays it typically over a period of 6-9 months. The repayment rate right now on the Kiva loan is 98.5%. The person lending and the entrepreneur are both of aware of the other.

It’s been 4 years – it has evolved somewhat during that time. 7 entrepreneurs and $3000 during the beta run. Today Kiva loans almost $5 Million per month!

Harvey Carey
Against All Odds

Ephesians 4:11-16

There’s a difference between “po” and “poor.” We looked up to poor people b/c they had the “o” and the “r.” He’s the founding pastor of the Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit – it is the poorest state in the union and the poorest zip code in the US. He’s in the poorest zip code in the poorest city in the poorest state in the US.

What do you do when faced against unsurmountable odds. You’ve got to believe that God’s word is true. When the odds are against us, God can shine the most. God is getting ready to show out – this is why we have a global economic crisis.

This text is important – God gives the church leaders. They’ve been placed in the church to equip. Instead we believe that we must hire or staff people in order to do ministry. Instead we are to staff people in order to equip. Members must take ownership of the work. The way to do this is to genuinely engage them in the work – they need the opportunity to be connected or be involved.

Your biggest and most opportune time for impact is prime time – SUNDAY. They don’t know what Sunday is going to be – we don’t announce it or they won’t come! We go out on Sundays. We spend time teaching on what we’re about to do and then we go AND DO IT! They do what’s called “Urban Camping”. Everyone loves camping. Black people don’t like to go in the woods anyway! They find the crack house or the most dangerous house and they take the men in the church – no one buys drugs while that’s happening. They shut down 8 of the roughest drug houses on a Sunday.

How does this apply to your situation. The thing that cripples us most is fear. What is the cause in your city that needs your church? You can make a difference. No matter what your scenario is, God is challenging you to move beyond your comfort zone. They delivered bibles to everyone in their zip code – ON SUNDAY MORNING!

Most leaders have the “paralysis of analysis” – you think too much. We don’t see the power of God as real because we don’t create a context for the text to be real. God will provide – when are we going to believe it? Will you leave this summit saying “God has challenged me to make a difference as a leader”?

Detroit has more churches per capita than any city in the US and yet it is one of the darkest cities in the US. There’s something wrong with that.

This guy was off the hook. Seriously provoking and engaging.

Leading People to the Prodigal God

A lack of spiritual vitality is still the problem. We have all these great ideas for how to lead the church, but we don’t have the horses to do it. A few people in the church do all the work.

Diagnosis of the Problem

The Prodigal Sons

  • Prodigal originally meant reckless – not simply wayward.
  • It’s not mainly written for the younger brother – it’s written to the pharisees (the religious people – us in the church)
  • The main point of the parable is that both younger brothers and elder brothers are alienated from the Father and from the Father’s heart. Both are lost.
    • The younger doesn’t want the father, he wants the father’s money.
    • The elder doesn’t really love the father either – he wants the father’s money too.
  • When you get to the shocking ending – and it is shocking – the younger brother is in and the elder brother is out. The bad boy is saved and the good boy is lost. He’s not lost in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness. The gospel is something altogether different.
  • How does this play out in the church? Very simple, yet scary – pharisees and gospel-centered Christians will sit next to each other in church and do all the right stuff. But one will have different motivations. Pharisees will be using God to try and get things. If you really believe the gospel, then everything a rational person could ever want is already yours.
  • The source of spiritual deadness – elder brotherishness – marks of elder brotherishness –
    1. Bitterness and anger when life doesn’t go the way they want it to – b/c they believe God owes them – “how do you respond to criticism?” When elder brothers get criticized they either respond with defensiveness or it destroys them. You can’t take it. Elder brothers pray, but by and large the prayers are petitionary, but there isn’t intensity and intimacy in prayer. Elder brothers can’t forgive. You can’t stay angry and bitter at someone unless you feel superior to them.
  • Until you start repenting of the reasons you do the right things you won’t have spiritual renewal. “The main thing separating you from God is not your sins, it’s your damnable good works.” You’ve got to get to that deeper level of repentance. What you need to see in the parable is what it cost to bring the younger brother back home. It was at the expense of the elder brother – atonement was costly. The young man did not have a true elder brother – but you do.
  • Spiritual renewal is not something that you go and do – it has to start now on the spot!

Prescription

There are five things to go deeper to help your people see their need for the gospel.

  1. The Leader has got to work this into your heart. Romans 1:16 – “he who is righteous by preaching dies a thousand deaths every Saturday night.” Don’t you realize why you overwork? Don’t you realize why criticism cripples you? You have got to get this into your own life.
  2. The preacher/teacher needs to be careful to move beyond biblical principles to the gospel.
  3. Get a group of leaders together and take them through a book like prodigal god and the study guide – but not like a class – like a group to begin helping your leaders work it in their hearts.
  4. Work it into your congregation – either by filtering it down from your leaders or all at once.
  5. Pray for this to happen.

How do you know it is working?

  1. Your church will start having gracious disagreements.
  2. When you have a lot of religious people coming to you and saying “I thought I was a Christian, but I realize I am not”