8 Weeks in Long Beach!

Yesterday marked 8 weeks since we moved our family across the country to Long Beach, CA. The time here has certainly flown by.

I traveled to Long Beach 2 weeks before we moved, having called to set appointments to see 70 different houses. Of those 70, I was able to set appointments to see 15 of them in 3 days. And I had to do it on my own – as Kelly had to stay in NC with the kids. Talk about trust! If a house was a good candidate, I would FaceTime with her to walk her through it. This resulted in a top 5 list. I applied for all 5 and then flew back to NC to finish packing and close on our house. Just 7 days before we moved, the Lord answered our prayers. He gave us the house he wanted us to rent! It is the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, in the perfect part of town for our family. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been so keenly aware of needing the Lord to provide something as in this situation. We had plane tickets purchased, a moving truck reserved, and a move out date for our old house. It was real. God was faithful.

Our connecting flight from Charlotte to Phoenix was Emily and Silas’ first experience on a plane. Overall they did pretty well. It was a long 4 hours, but it wasn’t bad at all. Ask me some other time about how I left 2 of our suitcases in the security check line… The 3.5 hour layover in Phoenix started to wear on us. Missed naps and uncomfortable arrangements add up. We were still hanging in there, though.

The 1 hour flight from Phoenix to Long Beach was 4x shorter than the first flight but 4x more difficult. Silas was inconsolable. We couldn’t pass him lap to lap due to a certain restriction, and we were policed by an overly stiff flight attendant.

But then we landed and walked down the stairs from the plan to the tarmac and walked into the airport. We made a quick exit into the late afternoon breeze and setting sun. It was amazingly refreshing – and then we were met by our whole team! It was such a beautiful and unexpected welcome!

It took us 8 minutes to drive to our new home – which Kelly had never even seen (as I didn’t even FaceTime her when I first saw it). We fell in love with the house and knew immediately it was exactly what we had hoped for!

My dad drove our 26′ moving truck pulling our SUV by himself all the way from NC to Long Beach over 4 days and after some tough delays on the last day, he made it around 10pm that first night.

It had taken us 2 full days of packing to load the truck, and in subzero windchill the whole time. The local crew from Bridges Church that helped us unload got everything in the house in 27 minutes!

From that moment until now has been 8 weeks of settling in. We have had about as soft of a landing as we could hope for. The Lord has been so gracious to us.

Below are a few pictures of our life and ministry in SoCal so far. It is such a joy to be in the place where God has called us.

If you’d like to receive additional updates about our work in ministry, you can sign up for that here. If you would like to give to support us as we work to establish 500 missionary teams across California towards No Place Left, you can do that here.

Gospel Conversations

We know it when we see it. The approach of a Luke 10 Entry Team. A gospel conversation. It isn’t the only thing we do or care about, but we do it all the time and care deeply about it. And we celebrate the heck out of it when we see it or hear stories of it!

We want to see and hear of thousands of gospel conversations happening in our communities all around us!

Anna and a new believer approaching a student on campus.

Anna and a new believer approaching another student on campus!

A couple of new believers sharing the gospel with a student in the Union.

Same new believers, sharing with another student.

One of our guys sharing with another student.

A new believer and an existing believer sharing with another student.

Celebrate!

I’ve never been all that good at celebrating. For better or for worse, I don’t dwell. Not long back I heard someone say that what we celebrate gets replicated. Similarly, I heard someone else say we get what we count. I can’t remember where it was that I heard those things, but they got me thinking.

One thing we have been working to build into our culture is a habit of broadly sharing the gospel. It occurred to me – what if we counted gospel shares and celebrated each one?  For a while, I kept track of our gospel shares (among other info) in a pocket notebook and everyone reported it all directly to me. It didn’t take long for that to become difficult to maintain or keep up to date.

Each week in our campus church we would celebrate what we’ve been seeing Jesus do during a time we called Stories from the Harvest. Each week I would write the updated numbers on the board to celebrate as we told the stories behind the numbers to keep everyone up to date – this way we could celebrate the quantities and the quality.

Towards the end of our first semester sharing the gospel more broadly, I knew I couldn’t keep track of everything myself without slowing the whole process down tremendously. We had to do something different. Because everyone was reporting to me, it felt like they were engaged in my mission, not their own.

How could we give away ownership of the mission and still celebrate it well?

I decided to put together a simple Google Form that automatically filled in a connected Google Sheet. Here’s what the form looks like:

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With a little bit of web-magic we have the total number of gospel shares displayed on an unlisted page on our ministry’s website. This is what we see:

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In between these two things is the spreadsheet that gets auto-populated with the information shared through the form. It is dead simple. The timestamp is recorded automatically and the other two items are the required options on the form. The next image is the cumulative info from the form – no one else sees this. The web-magic (talk to my web guy – I couldn’t do it myself) totals out column B and displays it on the website as you saw above.

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We give the link to the form and the link to the report to our students so that we can all share and celebrate as we go. One simple way to access either one is by bookmarking them in our phone browsers so that they just pop up:

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To make it even quicker, some will turn the form into an “app” by tapping the share sheet like this:

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You add it to the home screen like this:

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Then you get this simple “app” which loads the website with the form and it is always at the ready:

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The whole point is making it simple to track gospel shares. The point isn’t that I know everything all the time. The point is that we can all celebrate better when we do the work of stewarding our work.

This process won’t be right for everyone, but I would encourage you to consider what it is you want to replicate and how you can better count it and celebrate it. I wrote a little about clarifying important metrics here. I hope this is helpful to you – let me know what works best for you!

Give it Away

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My first step into the world of movements started with a single tweet. One of my key influences connected me with a new key influencer. He saw something I needed to see and sent it to me. The tweets turned into a Skype call which followed with a second Skype call for a simple training. The ball was rolling and it hasn’t stopped yet. It hasn’t cost me a penny. In fact, I’ve been invested in a great deal. But it changed the course of my life and I can’t go back.

Because we have freely received, we give it all away.

The picture above is one of my alumni/friends/Timothys – Jonny. He is training the leadership team of a collegiate church east of Montreal in Quebec during a short visit. I love training, but I love to see people I have trained become trainers even more. I received it all freely. So I’m passing it along to as many people as I can. And now Jonny is too. We’re praying that those he trained will do the same.

What we do is free. But it will cost you your life.

If you’re interested in simple, reproducing disciple making training, email me

We Need You (Why I Write)

Notebooks

I find that one of the best ways to sift through my own experiences in making disciples in a collegiate context is through writing. Most often I write in notebooks. Writing for a public like this forces me to consider outside readers. My notebooks are for me. This blog is for me and for you.

I write to focus my thoughts. I write to pull back the curtain a bit so that other leaders in a similar position can learn with me and hopefully avoid paying some of the “idiot tax” that I’ve paid over the years. There’s “learning curve,” and then there’s “idiot tax.” Learning curve is necessary and unavoidable. Idiot tax is completely unnecessary.

For a while I thought I shouldn’t publish anything since I’m not a veteran or an expert. Then I realized I ought to write more exactly because I’m NOT a veteran or an expert. I’m learning as I go. Wouldn’t the best time to share what I’m learning be right in the middle of learning it rather than down the road?

I write because we need you. We need your voice and what you are learning. Over the years my ministry might have been more fruitful if I could have listened in on what what other leaders like me were learning.

A couple of guys who are way smarter than me helped me realize that I ought to write more often. Have a look here and here.

Collegiate Ministry is the Edge

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At any gathering of people, from a high school assembly to the General Assembly at the UN, from a conference to a rehearsal at the orchestra, the really interesting conversations and actions almost always happen around the edges.

Change almost always starts at the edges and moves toward the center.

This blog from Seth Godin makes me think immediately of collegiate ministry. I see it as the edge of mainstream ministry. It is where some exciting innovations of modern ministry are happening and where the next wave of catalytic leaders are right now.

Personality Assessments

INTP

I/S 

Input – Learner – Intellection – Maximizer – Connectedness

Creative 

Green

These letters and words describe my personality based on five different personality assessments. The most valuable aspect of these personality assessments is the vocabulary they provide. They put words around the things I know are true about myself but could never articulate. They help my team understand why I think and act the way I do. They also help me understand my team better. My favorites are Strengths Finder 2.0 and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It will cost you around 2 hours and $10-$20 to take one or two of these assessments, but the payoff is tremendous. 

Our One Thing

If you can only do one thing well, what should that one thing be? Answering this question is a good path to simplicity and your most critical activity. The word “priority” can only ever truly be singular. It is impossible to have more than one thing that is “most important.”

At BCM, we made a conscious decision to prioritize disciple making. If we could only do one thing and do it well, we decided that disciple making must be the priority.

Engaged Alienation

Tonight I’ve started reading Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. His words are giving voice to a conviction I haven’t always been sure how to articulate. 

“But while we are a Kingdom First people, we are not a Kingdom Only people. Jesus told us to seek both the kingdom of God “and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). We pursue justice and mercy and well-being for those around us, including the social and political arenas.” (8)

As I shared last night, I am thankful that I serve a king and not an Empire, but I can’t disengage from the culture God has called me to. None of us can. This is what it means to seek the welfare of the city we have been called to.