Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mission and Leadership in the Church

The "We" We Want To Be
By John Ortberg, article from “Leadership” (

…Assessment of spiritual health is one at a congregational level. It’s a good thing to discuss the spiritual formation of individuals. What is badly needed alongside of that is a thoughtful, concrete way of discerning and addressing the spiritual formation of congregations. We are not just a collection of bobble-headed saints. P1

The presence of the Spirit is best detected by the fruit of the Spirit…With vitality comes the willingness to try to walk, even if it means falling. How strong is the impulse for new ventures in our church? How willing are people to take ministry risks? To trust? To forgive? Do we celebrate first steps and fall-downs and getting back up as ardently as parents who are delighted to see their little rug-rats go upright? P3

On Vision and Mission (as quoted by Dallas Willard in Ortberg article)
Vision is fundamental to the health of your church…

(W) It all begins with a vision…But it is not a vision of what they’re going to do. It is not a vision of a preferred future. It is not a vision of human activity. It is a vision of what already is. It is a vision of God, and how good he is, and how wonderful it is to be alive and a friend of such a Being.

Out of this vision flows a desire to do good things for such a God. And sometimes these activities may lead to results that look quite remarkable or impressive. And then other people may gather, and some decide they’d like to be involved in such activities because it might give them a sense of significance. People begin to pay more attention to what they are doing than to the reality of God.

At this point the mission replaces the vision as the dominant feature in peoples’ consciousness. Once this happens, descent is inevitable. For now people are living under the tyranny of Producing Impressive Results.

The number one “vision problem” with churches today is not (as widely held) leaders who “lack a vision”. The real problem is when our primary focus shifts from who God is (a vision that alone can lead to “the peace of Christ reigning in our hearts”) to what we are doing.

How do you diagnose the mission-replacing-vision sickness?

People in leadership feel constant pressure and inadequacy.
Goals, numbers, and techniques replace the goodness of God as the most frequent topics of thought and conversation. Leaders view themselves as constantly having to motivate and hype and whip up enthusiasm in the church for doing and giving. You will sometimes hear people say “vision leaks”; a more accurate state is that “mission leaks” when it has replaced the vision of God as people’s dominant inner reality. People’s sense of esteem or excitement depends on “how church is going”. A church’s identity gets rooted in its success.

This drift from vision to mission is inevitable, though not irresistible. The only cure is to diagnose it, and to rediscover the beauty of the vision of God. Of course, that begins with the leadership. The vision of God is not a tool leaders can use to get the church to function better. It is freedom from the need to perform for the whole church—beginning with the leaders. P3-4

Catching Waves
“Leadership” interview with Francis Chan (

Q: What role did your elders play [in helping the church to discover the Holy Spirit]?
Chan: It started when a few of our leaders began studying the role of the elders in the Scriptures. They said, “You know, our elder meetings are more like business meetings. We discuss how much we should pay to repave the parking lot. But in the Bible the role of elders has much more to do with shepherding, teaching, and prayer.” So we made a shift. We had the staff do more of the business work, and the elders started studying the Scriptures to see where the Lord wanted to lead the church spiritually. P2

Chan: …That’s another thing we’ve been convicted about. We realized that a church our size should have 50 or 60 elders, and we are in the process of training a bunch more right now.

We had neglected that because we thought it would be impossible to make a decision with 60 people in a room. It’s hard enough with ten. But then we realized we were talking about two different things—shepherding and decision making. We are appointing more elders to shepherd the congregation, but some decision making will be reserved for a smaller team—six or eight of us. P3

We Need Silence

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls. -Mother Teresa

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Apartment

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


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Sarah here, joining Adam on his (now our!) blog.

We wanted to share some pictures of our "Honeymoon Suite," my sister Rebecca's name for our small green tent that was sheltered with a plastic tarp on Norway Island in the Seranac Lake Region of the Adirondacks.

We did a lot of hiking (climbing Mount Ampersand and Mount Marcy) and, yes, we couldn't escape the canoeing, given that we were staying on an island and all! We got some good bike trips in and even some campstove island cooking!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Same Kind of Different As Me

Sarah and I read the book "Same Kind of Different As Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore during our honeymoon and on the road back to Wichita. It was a stirring and moving story of two lives, a rich art dealer from Texas and a homeless drifter, that intersected and became best friends. It's a story of love, pursuit, grace, persistence, and compassion, and at the same time loss. It was one of my favorite after finishing it and I highly recommend it to everybody. It definitely challenges your thinking when it comes to homelessness and mercy for the less fortunate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Moonlight Madness 50 Mile Run

Last Friday night I traveled to Tulsa with Tony Clark, Wichita Ultrarunner who is quite accomplished and leading his own fundraiser 224 mile run across Kansas in September for wounded veterans, to run the Tulsa’s (TATUR, Tulsa Area Trail and Ultra Runners) first ever Moonlight Madness 50 mile run on paved bike and running trails. The run started at exactly midnight on Friday night. Each loop was 10.3 miles so the total was actually 51.5 miles. The loops were run clockwise three times and counter-clockwise twice. The loops were almost totally flat minus about 2 miles but the “hills” weren’t really that big of a deal – and I’m from Kansas!!

It was a hot and humid and still night in Tulsa. I doubt the temperature ever got below 80 degrees before sunrise. I finished the first loop pretty fast, 1:43. The second loop was quite a bit slower – I added an ice bandana around my neck to keep me cool for the rest of the way. The second loop including a couple minutes of resupplying at the end was about 2:00. Loop 3 and 4 were pretty much identical as I came in about exactly at 2 hours and then jumped in a horse trough filled with ice water to cool down my core temperature for a few minutes and then left by 2:10. I left loop 4, which was about 41.2 miles at 8:10 am (which was also the elapsed time as well) and set off for the final lap. By this time the sun had come up, but clouds covered it and the breeze picked up and the mist and rain began, thankfully. The whole night I wanted to finish under 10 hours and with and hour and 50 minutes left to finish the last loop, I knew it’d be tough but I was determined to give it my best effort.

I had run with a couple different people throughout the night. One was the Tulsa Triathalon Club’s president who had never done a stand-alone marathon and certainly not an ultramarathons, but finished the whole race 10 minutes a head of me. The other guy I ran with for 20 or more miles but I never knew his name until close to the end (Sam, I think). He was a former youth pastor at a Southern Baptist Church. The last 10 miles we were joined by Sam’s pastor who paced us almost to the end (but he couldn’t keep up the last 3 miles because we were running too fast!). He was really encouraging and friendly!

Anyway, during this loop we really hurried. We passed a lot of people! Towards the end of the loop it started raining hard and it was so refreshing. With about 3.1 miles left we only had like 27 or less minutes to finish under 10 hours so we pushed and ran hard! 9 minutes miles the last several miles and the last mile I flew – finished in 9:59:13. Out of 90 male finishers I finished 17th. Only 4 female finishers finished ahead of me. Overall there were 130 finishers out of about 180 starters so I heard.

Race Results:

Video and article Tulsa area:

The course was really well organized and put on and a lot of fun. Definitely something I’d love to do again. My first non-trail ultra. (I must admit how much I liked it!) I never even turned on my head lamp once and only carried it the first loop.

Moonlight Madness website: