Man, Movement, Machine, & Monuments

Miranda and I got to hang out with some friends who are missionaries a few weeks ago. Trey and Leigh Anne are some of the coolest people I know. Anyway, during our time together, Trey and I had a great conversation and he said something I wanted to share with you. I’ve caught myself sharing it in a few conversations since then already. (That means it’s something I really latched on to.) I can’t remember where he got the info, but I know it’s not original to him either. Anyway, here it is:

The changes that take place in most organizations over time can be defined by these stages:

1. A Man on a Mission – is how things get started.

2. A Movement – is formed as this man and his mission attract/involve other people who are passionate about the same things.

3. A Machine – is built as the movement grows. The loose organization of people decides to be strategic in planning and sets standards for how they will operate.

4. A Monument – is ultimately formed as people begin to expect certain behaviors/services from the machine. Unfortunately, machines break. Many times (if leadership is not careful and intentional) the maintenance of the machine begins to take precedence over the original mission. Financial resources which originally were intended for the mission are spent to support the machine. (85% of the average church budget is spent inwardly.)

In Trey’s description, he also said that the man who shared these ideas with him made it his goal to never become a machine. A movement of many men on mission can become a revolution, but a machine. . . .

These are ideas worth passing along. What do you guys think?

My First Memory of God

I’ve been doing a project for my family – scanning pictures from mom’s old trunk. In among the pictures I found an article that mom had saved – It’s an article I wrote almost 15 years ago – Dec 1994. It was the first time I remember realizing that my parents couldn’t do anything. It was the first time I remember praying for God to do something to help us. Anyway, I typed it up here ’cause it brought back such memories for me.

Wagon It was a cold winter night in New Mexico and the wipers were frantically pushing the snow from the windshield. I was 10 years old and my family had been skiing in Colorado. We were headed back home through New Mexico when the storm hit us. The same snow that had brought joy in skiing, was now the icy villain which threatened our very lives. We were caught in a “white out.” So-called because the intensity of the snowfall had blinded us. Dad was unfamiliar with the road. Did it drop off on one side to a cliff? Were we even on the road? All of these thoughts ran through our minds. I decided to hide from my fears by sleeping in the back of the old station wagon with my younger brother and sister. It was hopeless. I was too scared. Mom and dad just drove. The usual boring adult conversation that had always made it’s way to the back seats had stopped. There was nothing but silence, except for the sound of the tires packing the snow underneath the car. That awful pounding sound the rang with the rhythm of the car.

Finally, dad decided to just quit driving. We no longer had to fear falling off a cliff or hear that awful sound. Now it was only the possibility of being stranded. There was still no conversation, except for the desperate prayers that mom and dad were silently sending up to God. Even at my age, my prayer was the same as theirs, “Help!” I only wished I could have had the innocence of my younger brother and sister who were asleep in the back, but I was older and wiser and understood what there was to be afraid of. Ignorance for them wasn’t a bad thing though.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on dad’s window. It was an older man who offered to let us come stay in his house for the night. With no other real options, dad agreed and we very carefully followed his tail lights to a tiny little cabin. We met his wife and began talking to him. It turned out that he was a Methodist missionary on an Indian reservation there in New Mexico. His wife made jewelry out of rocks that she cut and polished. As a 10 year old I was most impressed by the machine that cut the rocks. That night in a tiny little cabin in a stranger’s house, we slept safe and warm.

To this day, I don’t know that missionary’s name, but then again, I do. His name is Jesus, because he let God work through him. He had given my family one of the greatest gifts that anyone could have ever given us. He made us feel safe in the midst of turmoil. He gave what he had to help us. I wonder if we could learn something from the example of this humble missionary? I wonder if he learned it from another humble missionary – maybe one who came to earth?

Anyway, that’s the article I wrote. Hope it was helpful.

Another Culture given the Gospel

I’m so glad that there are Christians all over the world who are trying to interpret the Gospel message to all sorts of cultures. I just discovered a new version of the Bible that’s written in the “Manga” format. For those of you who aren’t familiar – Manga is that Japanese animation that fills complete sections of your local bookstore.

I ordered a copy of the Manga Bible to use with the students in our church. It’s an interesting way to consider the scriptures and in general, it’s pretty accurate to the original. (There is certainly some creative license used, too.) Anyway, I just think it’s cool that like Jesus, the Gospel message is becoming more and more incarnate in different cultures.

Pretty cool animation of David and Goliath on the cover, huh?