Archive for May, 2011
Rick Elias was a passenger on US Airways flight 1549 which crashed into the Hudson river. He recently spoke at a TED talk and shared some life changing things that happened in coming so close to death and then having another chance. One of the things he took away from the event is that he would collect bad wines. In other words he was tired of collecting wines for some future event. He said from now on…”if the wine is ready and the person is there I’m opening it.”
Our lives can change in a moment…an accident can happen, a person can move, a country can enter a revolution, a job can be lost….and we can find ourselves with a good “wine” and no one to share it with. Or even worse we can leave the good wine behind and no one will ever enjoy it. So enough waiting. We can all make excuses for why we wait to share, for why we wait to love, for why we wait to connect. But life can change in a moment…and we may lose the chance. None of us will face our final moments and wish we’d followed more rules, obeyed more policies. None of us will wish we had been more fearful….but we will regret not taking risks, we will regret not being the husband, father, son, daughter, wife, follower, leader, friend that we could have been.
What would happen to our families…our churches…our teams…our cities if we would start collecting bad wines…because we’re constantly sharing the best we have with everyone we meet?
Creativity. Passion. Christ-centered. Prayer. Check it out…
ht: 24/7 prayer
With the different wiring and issues facing the mission-oriented person (MOP) and the business-oriented person (BOP), there are several options for how to be about business as mission (BAM). The first option is to determine that one type of individual and resulting strategy is categorically right and the other is always wrong. There are a host of issues that make this a poor choice, so let’s put this choice aside for now. Second would be to allow that both have merit and each MOP or BOP should find his or her own way. I have seen cases where this has and is happening, but often with poor results. A third option would be for the church to come alongside the MOP or BOP person and resulting proposed strategy and speak into the conversation, process and strategy. This is, I am convinced, a super healthy way to move forward.
If mission belongs to the church, then BAM is a tool or strategy for the church to use. The church is uniquely positioned to be able to work with the MOP to bring some BOP(s) into a collaborative relationship to be able to speak into strategy and process. On the other side of the scale, the church can bring MOP(s) into a consultative relationship with the BOP person being sent out to provide balance and perspective.
The church that is seeking to take rightful ownership of the commission of Christ can as a healthy body help in addressing strategy in a range of areas including resourcing whether it be expertise, legal counsel, capital fund-raising, business plans, missional living coaching, etc. The church is key in seeing the gospel go forward. If she takes ownership of this responsibility, then she should also prepare to work in a range of ways and strategies including BAM.
As this happens, there will be a slew of new questions to address. At the base level, the church will do well to look to answer the question about her role both if and in BAM as a strategy for her people to reach out to those to whom they have been sent.
There is a rising interest and practice in the use of business to do mission. With this comes both new opportunities and new challenges. As I have been involved in this some over the years in a couple different iterations, I thought it would be helpful to begin writing on the topic here from time to time. Following are some revised notes from a chat I facilitated last month with Skybridge Community. The follow-up post will deal with the church’s role in business as mission. While this would not normally be a first post on BAM stuff without laying more groundwork, I have promised to get this up for use by a church I am currently in consultation with on the topic. Of course, we can always go backward in the future…blogs are fluid!
There is, I believe, a distinct difference between mission-oriented people (MOP) that are seeking to use business and business-oriented people (BOP) that are seeking to be on mission. When the MOP speaks of business as mission (BAM), they are usually talking about a platform. For the BOP, when speaking about the business aspect of BAM, they are usually thinking more in terms of a profitable, self-sustaining business model. Both of these have value. At the same time, both wirings come with some difficulties (more on this another time).
Most people will be able to self-identify quickly as being either a MOP or a BOP. Some natural ways to determine this would deal with whether someone is more comfortable developing a business plan or a ministry plan. Are they more comfortable interpreting financial statements or exegeting culture? Is reading business books and magazines more or less desirable than reading Christian literature? Does their conversation tend toward business or church models? Generally, a person will lean in one direction or the other.
The mission-oriented person (MOP) and the business-oriented person (BOP) will naturally have different questions and face different challenges.
Common questions and challenges for the MOP:
- What are opportunities to fund the mission effort?
- How can I get into meaningful relationships with non-believing nationals?
- How do I gain experience / credibility in business?
- How should I pursue / maintain excellence / professionalism?
- How much time do I have to spend on business type activities?
Common questions and challenges for the BOP:
- Where can I find good workers and legal structure to expand my business or outsource parts of my current business?
- What job / business model exists or is possible that fits my giftings and context?
- How do I balance work and mission?
- How can I practically be about the mission?
- How can I fully engage culture / be a learner?
Next BAM post: BAM and church
They have their own narrative. Regardless of which narrative they’re in…Hybels, Warren, Piper, Bell, Driscoll, Hirsch, Frost…they’re all being shaped by someone. Over the years I’ve noticed that there are very few if any missionaries speaking into their narratives. In the past this was largely impossible because those of us living overseas rarely spend time in the US. Conferences would he held, events attended and we were never to be seen. But all of this has changed….sort of.
Over the last few years more and more of us living overseas have started blogging….and a new tribe has been born. In many ways we’ve started our own narrative. Most of the overseas bloggers are more forward thinking and missional in practice. The great thing has been our ability to connect with each other. I for one usually feel like a misfit in my organization due to my relational/missional approach to life and ministry but among this tribe I feel at home….I experience community in this new tribe. I’ve not only learned alot from reading the blogs but also received alot of encouragement. But could we do more…could we build our tribe and influence the US narrative at the same time?
Some would say it’s not our role to influence the US church. They would argue that it’s the job of the seminaries, the conferences, denominational leadership. I would say this argument is flawed because it reduces mission to a theory…one not being practiced by those teaching about mission. So if we believe that the US church being on mission is necessary for our work…and if we believe that what we do on a daily basis can actually help the US church engage their world better as well….then it’s up to us to not only engage our local narratives with the gospel…but it’s also up to us to engage the US narrative with missional living.
We’re writing our blogs…but are they reading them.? We’re reading our blogs….but are we reading theirs? Are our blogs too focused on missions….too branded for them to see the connection? How else can we help shape the narrative? We can’t complain that we’re left out of the conversation if we’re not actively trying to participate in theirs. On the field we leave our comfort zones, learn the language and enter into their 3rd places in order to have a voice and exercise influence. The same goes for the US pastoral narrative….we need to leave our comfort zones, learn their language and enter their 3rd places …only then will we have a voice and will be able to influence. So the big question is…how do speak into their narrative?
Since my time on the recent JetSet with Upstream, I have been reflecting on a number of things. One of those key things is the reign of God (a key theme of the second half of Isaiah) and the ways in which that is demonstrated. Frost shared three ways according to Wright in which the reign of God is visible here on earth and added a fourth. The four were:
Now what? Because the gospel is Christ-centered, I have been working through the gospels over the last weeks with these four evidences of the reign of God here on earth as a filter. I have been asking the question where did Jesus effect justice; restore relationships; create or call attention to beauty; and/or display the presence of the supernatural?
A reflective exercise, this is something I need to continue. First because it is vital for me. Really! It is the gospel in me. Second, because it is the clearer formulation for me to “be prepared to give the reason for the hope that [I] have” to the world around me. This is the living story that is changing my life. It is the dynamic story I need to tell well to others. It is the story that is written for all time and is unfolding today in my community.