Bullet Journal

I enjoy using technology – especially when it helps me work more efficiently and effectively. I have noticed that I have the tendency to jump from one task manager app to the next. The grass is always greener, apparently. As I jump back and forth, I tend to dump anything and everything into the task manager, and when I eventually make it back around to the app, it is filled with the fires of overdue tasks and projects. It’s not that I’ve forgotten to do everything – I just have a big mess of cluttered and unmanaged digital work to deal with. The set it and forget it nature of these apps can get the better of me more than I’d like to admit. Sometimes (maybe a lot of the time) I am more interested in working on the task manager than I am working on the tasks themselves.

For the last month I’ve been trying out the Bullet Journal as a way of staying a little more connected to my work. It is forcing me to be more in tune with everything and it is easier to see when I am allowing too much onto my plate at one time.

The official Bullet Journal website has some basic instructions.

This video offers a simple presentation of how to get started. It’s surprisingly fun to set up. It is simple and effective.

Smart Phones – Pavlov’s Little Box

The smart phone (so called in honor of the profit-seeking companies who were smart enough to make them) is an optimized, tested and polished call-and-response machine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use my devices with screens, especially my phone. I’m not always pleased with when and how and how often I use them, either.

(via Seth’s Blog)

Next Steps for the Open Web

I believe the next step for the open web and Twitter-like services is indie microblogging.

I am super interested in where the open web is headed in light of tools like these. This trajectory is one of the reasons I am putting more focus on my personal blog than on proprietary services. Note his linked Kickstarter for Indie Microblogging.

(via Manton)

Two Kinds of Goals We Set at BCM

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.

–Jesus (Mark 1:17)

Setting goals is a great way to move yourself or your ministry (or both) forward. As a part of a part of a 4-Day 4 Fields training I attended last summer, I was challenged set 90-day goals for my ministry to help me work toward accomplishing a much greater 3-year plan. Over the last few years I’ve made a practice of setting ministry goals each semester, but what helped me tremendously was refocusing my goal setting on the 2 highest value activities in a movement, sharing the gospel and training disciple makers. We would usually set goals in keeping with the vision and focal points of our ministry, but we would set too many goals, and often they would be about keeping the machine running smoothly – but we weren’t really making disciples.

As I rediscovered this simple little verse in the opening chapter of Mark’s gospel, I saw the profound simplicity of two major domains for goal setting as it relates to ministry and leadership.

  1. FOLLOW Jesus (Abide)
  2. FISH for Men (Make disciples)

Follow Jesus
In John 15 we are commanded to abide in Jesus and the expectation is that without abiding in him, we will lack fruit and be lopped off. That’s pretty high stakes.

Make Disciples
We are all aware of Jesus’ command to make disciples.

Because these are such critical areas, we would be wise to set goals around them. For us, each week in our meetings we are setting new goals for the coming week about how we are going to Follow Jesus and Fish for Men and we’re holding one another accountable for following through on those goals. This is critical for moving forward in both areas.

Humanity & Digital Life

In an lengthy article for NYMag, Andrew Sullivan speaks to some of the dangers of the technology we hold so closely:

Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives. And it did so with staggering swiftness. We almost forget that ten years ago, there were no smartphones, and as recently as 2011, only a third of Americans owned one. Now nearly two-thirds do. That figure reaches 85 percent when you’re only counting young adults. And 46 percent of Americans told Pew surveyors last year a simple but remarkable thing: They could not live without one. The device went from unknown to indispensable in less than a decade. The handful of spaces where it was once impossible to be connected — the airplane, the subway, the wilderness — are dwindling fast. Even hiker backpacks now come fitted with battery power for smartphones. Perhaps the only “safe space” that still exists is the shower.

Note a key point he makes deep in the article:

If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.

I’ve been reading a lot about the precarious or even dangerous position we are in with our screen-filled digital-first lives. I see it every single day on the college campus – flocks of students who are linked at the palm to their devices. I don’t question the incredible value we get from modern technology, but there are costs associated with it too.

(via NYMag)

Five Big Benefits of Blogging

Most new bloggers don’t realize the demands a blog can place on time and creativity. However, once the discipline of blogging is developed, it can benefit you in other aspects of life. Maintaining a blog practically forces you to develop routines and content plans. These routines can be mimicked in your dietary planning, workout regimens, personal discipleship, and relationships. A successful blog may not always mean more page views. Personal growth through the discipline of blogging can be success in and of itself.

In 2016 there were 4 months when I didn’t publish a single blog post. There were 2 months where I only posted one single blog post during the entire month. I published 24 posts from January-October. I published 16 posts in December and 1 post per day in January so far.

Over the course of most of 2016, I lacked discipline with my blog. It simply wasn’t a high value for me. Looking back, I can see missed opportunities personally (growing myself) and professionally (helping others grow), but I’m OK with how the year went. I am discovering the truth of the quote above. As I have shown greater discipline over the last month to publish something more regularly (at this point, daily), I’m finding it more natural to be disciplined in other areas of my life too. The final sentence is correct – page views are not my greatest measure of success – my own personal growth through the process of publishing regularly is my measure of success. I hope you’ll find what I write to be helpful. It is helpful to me just to write and publish in the first place.

(via Auxano)

How One Question Changed my Perspective on Ministry

We are hard at work trying to catalyze movement at Appalachian State and graduate movement catalysts for the rest of the world. ASU is the flagship university of Northwestern NC and one of the top-tier schools in the state. It’s our primary context for making disciples, but it is only one of 14 campuses across this corner of the state. The 18,000+ students of ASU are just one segment of the 83,000+ students in our region. We are realizing that what we do at ASU isn’t very likely to translate well to the wildly different campus cultures in our region.

  • Appalachian State University
  • Lees McRae College
  • Lenoir Rhyne University
  • Catawba Valley Community College
  • Caldwell Community College, Watauga
  • Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, Hudson
  • Wilkes Community College, Wilkes
  • Wilkes Community College, Alleghany
  • Wilkes Community College, Ashe
  • Mayland Community College, Spruce Pine
  • Mayland Community College, Newland
  • Mayland Community College, Burnsville
  • McDowell Tech Community College
  • Western Piedmont Community College

If you were counting, 11 of the 14 campuses in our region are Community Colleges, and a number of them are satellite branches of lesser-known Community Colleges. The No Campus Left team has reported that roughly 80% of the 1.2 million college students in North Carolina are Community College students – 80% of our campuses in the list above are Community Colleges.

These schools are as different from the “flagship” state school as they can be. We cannot simply port over what we do at ASU to the rest of these schools. We engage heavily in the dorms at ASU. Not only do most of these schools have no dorms, the majority also lack a student union or some other on-campus gathering space. One other key thing Community Colleges often lack is community. They are in, of, and for their local community, but they have no community of their own. The key connection points we leverage on a state school campus are non-existent on most Community College campuses.

When we made the shift from ASU BCM to BCM of the High Country, we recognized that these campuses would never have a gospel presence pop up without someone targeting them specifically. Why shouldn’t we adjust our vision and mission to include them? At first, I assumed that we would raise up a full time, (or part-time if necessary) staff to lead the new work at each new campus. While that works just fine at the state school level, it makes a lot less sense at a smaller or mid-sized Community College.

To help me get my head around more than one campus, I needed to be able to see where the unengaged campus fields were. I created a simple Google Map of all the campuses in our region, where there was little or no gospel engagement happening. A list is one thing; a map is another thing. The start icons represent the 3 residential schools and the rest are Community Colleges.

“What is it going to take to engage every campus on this map with the gospel so that there’s #NoCampusLeft without a reproducing gospel presence in our region?”

I’ve addressed this question as it relates to ASU – my primary campus. This question forced me to recalibrate my expectations of what gospel engagement and the reproducing gospel presence would look like when I broadened it to all the campuses in our region. This is the beginning of our journey on this mission. The broadening of our vision is forcing me to get outside of my perspective as a campus minister and start thinking more like a missiologist and a movement catalyst.

What would it take for you to engage other campuses around your primary target?

Simple Gospel Tool

Two and three years ago we were hardly ever sharing the gospel in our ministry. Part of the time we didn’t even notice it. Some of the time we felt guilty about it. All of the time we didn’t really know how to share the gospel succinctly, which really kept us from trying to share unless an opportunity presented itself to us on a silver platter.

This was one of the 2 keys for helping us drastically increase gospel sharing in our ministry. The following videos are 3 different representations of the same simple tool. The 3 Circles is one of the simplest, and most profound and flexible tools I’ve ever come across – that’s why it stuck for us so well.

Leading Leaders

In a recent post I shared about importance of training trainers. When we train people, we are transmitting skills. That’s the first priority. We are also training trainers. Because I had my team training with me, I was reproducing myself. They are both new to this process of training, but as they trained with me, they nailed it. We practiced together before we trained together. Had I been sick, or for some other reason unable to attend the training, they could have facilitated it without me.

Training trainers isn’t just about building a bigger training team. It is about multiplying myself and my impact. I spent an extra couple of hours with my team preparing for this training, but after we finished the training, they were even more capable of facilitating trainings and leading training teams than they were before.

It has been a paradigm shift to start thinking about what a Church Planting Movement is and how to spark movement in my context. I’ve been learning that multiplying movements require multiplying leaders at every level. That’s one of the key roles I need to fulfill. As I’ve been trying to shift from being a leader to leading leaders, one of my friends in ministry, Robby Christmas, developed this excellent and simple tool to keep up our progress in developing leaders.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 2.38.30 PM.png

MAWL, as the image shows, stands for Model, Assist, Watch, Launch. This particular version is filled in with the tools we use locally. You could replace them if they don’t fit in your ministry process. On the left, you can fill in the Planter’s name and you’ll check off the boxes as you go through the process of “MAWLing” them on each of the tools listed. By the time you have checked each box, you have a leader who is ready to be launched to restart the process themselves. Robby has included a basic outline for a 90min weekly MAWL meeting. The link above the image includes both pages.

Whether you use this particular tool or not, I would encourage you to think about your process for identifying, developing, releasing, and leading leaders. It is easy to overlook, but so critical.