Previous month:
February 2012
Next month:
April 2012

Posts from March 2012

On having a bender and what else we might learn from Kony2012

So Jason Biggs appears to be the first serious contender for a Jason-Russell-style naked-meltdown parody. I expect more people will follow Jason's example and there might even be some niche products and T-shirts on their way.

Ring-tone, anyone?

I chose not to blog the Kony2012 uber-trending event. Sorry if you were expecting me to jump on the wagon. I was quite busy at the time, driving through Eastern Europe and negotiating with corrupt border officials so I didn't have much energy or time for it.

And besides that, there are so many organizations out there LIVING among the global poor rather than talking about them, pursuing economic and spiritual possibilities rather than military solutions, and spending MOST of their budget on impacting vulnerable people rather than salarying themselves to create cool videos. So I decided to let it go.

Actually, the whole trending thing made me roll my eyeballs. It was like a day at the races, watching how fast and how high this thing could go, as if success became the all-encompassing reality and measurement criteria. Is philanthro-tainment a word?

However, I WAS tempted to send $10 to Invisible Children if Jason Russell would put his pants back on!

Jason Russell Kony Poster

On the other hand, the Kony2012 became a social media event and it would be just downright disrespectful for me not to acknowledge that Jason Russel launched the most viral video EVER!. 55 million in 4 days! That's something! 80+ million views total. That blows us all out of the park. Well done, Jason. Perseverance rewarded!

And not only that but it was a wonderful and marvelous thing that the most viral video in history was not about anything trivial like mating mutant cockroaches or elephant excretions but instead was about a real need in a real place that called for righteous anger and justice. Well done, planet earth for responding!

But the project has not gone according to plan, as you know, and there are a few lessons here for the rest of us who are launching and leading social enterprises.


1. Keep Bender's Private.

A lot of great leaders have benders, also known as emotional meltdowns, or as Jason Russell's case, a "reactive psychotic episode". It's not the end of the world. But if you feel a bender coming on, and you have the luxury of choosing your location, let yourself go in a somewhat private space. Or even better, go to a retreat center and have your meltdown in front of some trained counselors and supportive empathizers where you can wave your privates around and shout at the devil in a secure environment.

2. Prepare for Ridiculous Success.

It's not always failure that kills a social enterprise. Sometimes it's too much success, too soon. Learn to put the brakes on, install limits on your project, don't be afraid of stopping the machinery once your target is reached. You should also have a RIDICULOUSLY SUCCESSFUL strategy which includes what to do if your project greatly exceeds expectations, where the excess funds will go and how you will fulfill all obligations (millions of action packs??) in case the response is exponentially swollen above what you originally planned for. You might not achieve anything like ridiculous success but at least you will be prepared for it if it comes your way.

3. Focus on Facts, not Feelings

We all want to move people, somewhere deep in their bowels, with the essential importance and great eminence of our cause, but if we have to choose between presenting accurate facts and portraying moving stories in which the underlying reality might be somewhat dubious or at least untested, go for the facts every time! People want to give intelligently and they need the info. Beware of manipulating your givers through "emotional pornography" which can lead to Giver's Regret the morning after.

4. Shield Your Celebrities.

If you are lucky enough to have some well-known celebrities take on your cause, make sure they will come out looking better than they did when they entered your world. This involves marrying the campaign with the celebrity and ensuring they are a good match for each other. If there is potential conflict, don't let them go further. Their celebrity-ness is in your hands and you need to deal with it sensitively. They DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS. They are too busy looking good so you have to do it for them.

5. Filter your Funders

Funders are privileged to partner with you in your worthy cause. Filter them carefully. Find out what other causes and projects exist in their portfolio before you accept their money for BOTH YOUR SAKES!. It's better to get a smaller chunk of funding from the right organization than it is to get big dollars from foundations and trusts that have embarrassing bedfellows or a jarringly different philosophy than you.

6. Lean on Local Knowledge

It's hard to appreciate the nuances of a far-off situation when you are living in a suburb in San Diego. There is no substitute for living with the locals ON LOCATION. There is much dumb-tax to be paid by those who choose to comment or act by remote. Much dumb-tax indeed!

How about you? Did you learn anything from Kony2012? Feel a bender coming on?

Coptic Pope Shenouda III Dies

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Shenouda III has passed away at the age of 88. He was greatly loved and respected. I saw pictures of him on walls all over Cairo.

Pope shenoudaiii

I have a lot of respect for the Egyptian Orthodox church. It's one of the oldest churches in the world and has so much to offer other streams of the Christian faith. While in Egypt last year, I got myself a Coptic cross tattoo as a way of identifying with the plight of the Coptic Christians in Egypt and a sign of respect.

coptic cross tattoo in cairo egypt

I heard Pope Shenouda speak at the large prayer gathering in Cairo that happened on 11.11.11 as a response to the recent violence. Some of us felt he should have been more embracing of the evangelical wing of the church and so we were disappointed when he banned their leaders from speaking from the platform. I hope the next Pope will be a little more ecumenical and not too frightened of the Protestants but at the same time I hope the Protestants will be considerate of their older brother in the faith, especially in the lands where the Orthodox have been holding the light for so many centuries.

See the video I shot of the the prayer gathering.

Archbishop Rowan Williams stepping down

Archbishop Rowan WIllams has announced that he will step down from his position by the end of December 2012 and that he has accepted the position of Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge.


As I mentioned last September, Rowan Williams has been a huge source of encouragement and balanced wisdom for the fresh expressions movement, emerging church and alt. worship churches, as well as paving a way forward for a "mixed economy" of church. He will be sorely missed.

Back home again

Just got home last night after a whirlwind journey through 6 countries - Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria and Germany. I will put down some thoughts soon but I am looking forward to a bit of rest right now and also need to build a floor for our yurt because the weather is getting colder.

The yurt got flooded last week during a long storm so the family had to move out into another building - and everyone is still there. All the more reason to build a platform and floor and get us away from the damp.

Sisters, skin-color, and sustainability in church planting

Church planting is a man's world, baby! The sisters have moved on to more holistic missional enterprise. Multi-ethnic churches are only part of the solution. Africa must move beyond a handout-mentality and embrace a more sustainable way of doing ministry if it is to be a global player in missions.

6a00d8341c5bb353ef010536e505da970c pi

Efrem Smith's response to my blog post got me thinking and out of respect to Efrem, and to get a few things off my chest, I have posted some thoughts here.

A little intro: A lot of people resonated with my post "12 Reasons Not to Plant a Church in 2012, even if it was a little . .  well . . . provocative and sensational. A few days ago it was translated into French [thanks].

And some people didn't like it at all. Thats OK.

The most well-thought out response was by Efrem Smith, church planter and a speaker at Exponential. I tried a few times to leave a comment on his blog but was unsuccessful. So instead I will just give some quick response to his objections which he called "My Take on, 9 Reasons Not to Plant a Church in 2012"


One, the advice on church planting begins with C. Peter Wagner’s outdated principles on church planting. If this is where we are beginning, not only should we not plant churches this year, we should stop completely. Planting churches doesn’t begin with what C. Peter Wagner says, it begins with what Scripture says. For example, “How does the book of Acts speak to whether we should plant churches or not?”


Efrem, I agree that we should start with the Scriptures but the impact of C.Peter Wagner on the church planting movement seems obvious to me. Pick up a few books on church planting or read some articles and you will see his influence.

'This is why a leading missiologist like C.Peter Wagner can say, "Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven." Tim Keller, Why Plant Churches, PDF

Continue reading "Sisters, skin-color, and sustainability in church planting" »

Shipping the truck from Bremerhaven

Its been a crazy week. Lots of stories. i arrived safely in Bremerhaven and am handing the truck over to Sefco Export to send it off.

Thanks to those of you who sent gifts to help this happen. Not all has come in yet but there is plenty of time.

Talk more soon.


UPDATE, June 2012: Shipping the truck to NZ was a lot more complicated than we thought. Hoegh Autoliners WAY overcharged us and are still trying to get extra charges from us. Crazy. Details at Jonesberries.