D-Church Panel: Redesigning Church in the Digital Era

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Live Event hosted by Analog.

  • Thursday, April 27th at 6:30 PM
  • Scheduled for the Google Campus in Mountain View, California.
  • Panel Discussion: Redesigning Church in the Digital Era

Abstract

The modern church was born in the era of broadcasting: mass-market publishing, sound systems, radio, and television. These technologies enabled it solve certain tasks (e.g., teaching, worship music, announcing and producing events) incredibly well.  However, by making some problems much easier to solve than others, those same technologies can subtly influence what we focus on and what we ignore.

We are now entering a new era of digital communication, with greater interactivity, richness, and immediacy than could have been imagined thirty years ago.  What are the implications for learning, evangelism, discipleship, and outreach? What new problems does that enable us to solve?  Which traditional problems and solutions can be profitably revisited? Can all these changes lead us to a deeper understanding of what God truly wants the church to be?

Format

Our goal is to host an interactive panel discussion, bringing in a diverse group of thinkers and practitioners from across the country who are wrestling with how best to spread the Kingdom of God in this new era.  We have a small set of provisional questions (below) to seed the discussion, but the goal is to foster interactive Q&A to engage the audience. We want to enable all of us to use our unique contexts and skills to make the body of Christ more effective, as we face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Provisional Questions

  • Where do you hope to see the body of Christ becoming more effective?
  • What are some of the most exciting models you are currently studying or experimenting with?
  • Which tools and platforms are helping you reimagine and implement those models?
  • What are the key open questions you are hoping to find answers to in the near future?
  • Where could people plug in to learn more and participate?

About D-Church

D-church is a community of people re-imagining how the body of Christ organizes and functions in the 21st Century.  The “D” stands for the four key distinctive of D-church:

  1. Discipleship as the goal, rather than mere membership or conversion.
  2. Design thinking (as in the Stanford d.school), implying continuous, iterative improvement in our systems for making disciples.
  3. Decentralized systems (like git or the blockchain), rather than centralized hierarchies as in most modern churches and mission organizations.
  4. Digital spaces as full partners with physical space, rather than competitors or mere supplements.

We attempt to love the church as Christ does, helping her become everything He dreams for her. We invite you to join us online at the D-Church Google Group.

Honor Thy Flawed Fathers and Mothers

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Solving the “Asian Parent Problem”

http://biblehub.com/matthew/23-9.htm “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”

Over the last few years God has been putting me through a graduate course in dealing with my father issues. I still haven’t graduated, but at least I know what my thesis is. 🙂

Backstory

I never really wanted to be a leader. I just wanted to find a leader I could trust, who cared about the things I cared about, so I could define my mission as a sub-mission of theirs. Unfortunately, things never quite worked out that way.
This is not to denigrate the honorable men (no women, but that’s another story) I have served under in the context of work, ministry and family. I have been extraordinary privileged to have been by led and mentored by a succession of extraordinary men of deep integrity, from my own earthly father to Steve Jobs. People who were sincerely committed to the mission, practiced what they preached, and never abused their authority. 
And yet…
For all their strengths, those leaders all their blind spots. Areas where their behavior didn’t align with the values they genuinely believed in and communicated. Attitudes they were oblivious to that clearly hurt both individuals and the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission. 

Problem

Which is what I am here calling the Asian Parent Problem, when you don’t feel you are enabled to flourish yet you do not want it rebel. 
At first I thought the problem was mere ignorance, which I thought I could resolve by helpfully pointing out their oversights. As you can guess, that rarely went over well. What was more surprising was that didn’t deny, refute, or attack my complaint. It was more like they couldn’t even hear it. 
Next I thought it was simply my technique. Maybe if I the messenger was smoother and less confrontational, the message would be easier to accept. But when I tried to be gentle, the conversation kept slipping away, and somehow I could never help them see what I was seeing (without going back on attack). 
After that I tried silence. Maybe they were right, and these issues weren’t that important. Or I was right, and I just had to wait them out. Maybe if I left them alone, they would leave me alone, and I could live out my values in my own private bubble. 

Solution?

This led to what we could call the Asian Child Solution:
Show elders full respect and compliance in public 

Live my private life in alignment with my values, even if that means doing things that would horrify them

Ignore everything that does not neatly fit into exactly one of those spheres
And it worked. Sort of. Up to point; after which it failed catastrophically. 
Even before that, there were obvious downsides:
*lots of time and energy went into maintaining the façade

*i became what I now recognize as passive aggressive, due to buried resentment 

*deception (especially self-deception) became a skill I would unconsciously use in other contexts

*it freezes the relationship (and often our emotions) at a point in time, allowing neither growth nor intimacy
Perhaps the greatest danger, though, was the underlying premise of self-righteousness. While I initially justified my lack of accountability by the fact they “just didn’t understand,” it also made it easy to indulge in things even I knew were wrong. More than that, I ending up setting myself up as a sort of reverse-authoritarian parent, deciding what was right and wrong for them to know without their consent. 

Practices

So what’s the alternative? I can’t claim to have all the answers, as I am still very much In the midst of that journey myself. However, I’ve been through enough complete cycles to identify a few practices that can make a dramatic difference. 

1. Lean in to God’s Sovereingty. 

I know it is a cliche, but it is still foundational. For example:

Can we honor the unjust rulers He has placed over us, and pray for them?

Are we confident God will reform or remove them at the proper time of His choosing; and that until then, He calls us to submit?

Do we believe our ultimate flourishing and joy is more dependent on our own holiness than on those who control our circumstances?

Are we willing to let go of any desire God doesn’t provide a legitimate way to fulfill right now?
Ultimately, can we rejoice in the trial and praise God rather than giving way to frustration, resentment, and bitterness?
I don’t pretend this is easy, or that I always answer those questions honestly. But I have noticed the better I get at this, the easier everything else becomes. 

2. Ask God to judge you

(I bet you thought my first point was harsh. 🙂
But I am dead serious. When you are in a context where your leaders seemingly refuse to accept what is true and right, the one outside authority we can always appeal to is God. He is more than happy to judge between us. But He won’t judge my opponents until after He judges me. 
Which always gives me pause. Am I really that sure I am in the right that I am willing to put it to the ultimate test?
Frankly, I’m never am. But when I’ve refused to take the easy way out, I become so desperate for God to do something — anything! — that I am willing to invite His judgement, just to get it over with. 
I am still recovering from the time I asked God to do this, almost two years ago. And you couldn’t pay me to go through it again! But neither could you pay me to undo that request. 
God did an amazing deep cleaning in my heart and soul, which (though excruciating) was itself worth the price of admission. But beyond that, God worked in my career, church, and family to surface and address issues beyond my wildest imaginings. 
And though I am ashamed to admit it (and may need to repent of in the future) it really was delightful to see the way God perfectly disciplined those I felt had wronged me. 🙂

3. Cultivate empathy for your leaders

This is still an ongoing struggle for me. But I learned the importance of this from a coworker who was deeply frustrated with my inability to give her a “roadmap.” She kept asking for it using the same phrases for months, but nothing I did seemed to satisfy her. 
Then finally one day, in a heated conversation with a third party, she finally provided a critical detail about what she wanted. I asked a couple clarifying questions, banged it out over a weekend, and she was thrilled!
It made me curious about why she had such a hard time articulating her need in a way I could understand. I finally realized that she had been desperate for this roadmap even before I was hired. I suspect she was used to functioning with one, and felt insecure because the existing leadership wasn’t giving her what she needed. 
She had high hopes I was going to fix the problem, which were dashed when I didn’t seem to understand — and in her eyes, care. She became so focused on what she needed from me, she viewed me entirely in terms of my ability — or lack thereof — to address it. And thus was never able to gain the emotional distance necessary to look at things from my point of view, and give me what I needed from from her
That made the whole experience a huge blessing, as it helped me realize I did the exact same thing to my own bosses, pastors and parents. When they gave me what I needed to succeed at the mission they gave, we got along great. But I was not getting what I needed, and they rebuffed my attempts to remedy the situation, I would go into crisis mode. I’d start obsessing over what I needed from them, and totally lose sight of what they needed from me. 
Or how my own insecurity, rather than just their flawed behavior, was also responsible for how badly I was feeling. 
The best way out I’ve found is striving to remember that God is my boss, and this context is just my assignment from Him. If I can succeed, great. If not, I need to turn it over to Him (see point 1). And if it feels intolerable, I need to admit that the primary problem is my lack of faith, and ask Him to cleanse me (see point 2).
Only then can I step back and consider the pressures my leaders are facing, what journey God may be taking them on (even if they don’t know Him), and how I can act to further God’s purposes in the situation (even if I fail at mine or theirs).
I don’t know if this is a complete solution, but I do know I am experiencing much greater peace and joy amidst organizational dysfunction than I have in the past. I covet your prayers and welcome your insights as I continue growing in my ability to handle vertical conflict with gentleness and grace. 
In Christ,

Dr. Ernie

April 5,2017

Jim Yost on the DNA of Making Disciples

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[Jim Yost, a missionary from the Philippines associated with Cityteam International, spoke in San Jose last Saturday (January 21st) at an event hosted by The Gathering by The Bay. The following are notes from Greg Hosclaw as posted on the d-church mailing list.]

Jim freely states, that this is his model, not THE model. But it is working well with them. He wanted to step back and speak of the DNA, not so much the methods. Methods may be more culturally specific, but DNA of a believers community may be more transferrable. He also said that his church is known for studying the Word and Obeying it (newspaper people asked the members and that is what they declared).
My take away is that many times we measure the wrong things.  If someone says how do you make a cake, and you open an oven and say ‘1 cake’ that doesn’t help. That is counting the output, but we need the recipe, to count the inputs (cup of sugar, 3 cups flour, a bar of chocolate, …).
Jim’s challenge to really measure against the right things. Not the number of disciples, but the things or actions that lead to disciples!
What is the DNA you hope to have in your church or fellowship? What do you want to be known for?
And then, what actions are you checking that lead to the DNA happening?
Blessings,
Greg

Continue reading

RohAnjali Fall 2016 Prayer

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Dear God,

Teach us how to leave each other the way you love us.

Make us more like Jesus as we let go of what we want.

Help us hear your voice and obey you

so we can enjoy your abundant life.

We ask this in Jesus name.

Amen.