Archives for category: conference

Sermon 4 - Saint Exupery

With each passing day, I discover a new joy in this journey of church planting. As any planter will tell you, it’s lots and lots of work—but absolutely worth it!

I enjoy many different kinds of work, including graphic design, web editing, and freelance writing (and love that they’re part of my vocational mix) but I’m discovering that being a part of and helping to pastor Anchor City is really where my heart is. As God awakens and unleashes His dreams for each member of our amazing community, I’m filled with gratitude and wonder.

As the author of The Little Prince notes in the quote image above, pastoring at Anchor City isn’t about assigning tasks or accomplishing my 5-point vision plan: it’s standing shoulder-to-shoulder, discovering the vast, endless ocean of God’s grace.

A couple of unexpected opportunities have come up from this church planting journey, and I would truly value your prayers, friends.

  • First, my lovely wife and I will be sharing a breakout session at The Fellowship Community National Gathering on Wednesday here in San Diego. We’ll be sharing about our planting journey and what we feel it means for us to be a church for our great city.
  • Second, I’ll be part of a panel discussion at Exponential West on October 8th called “Engaging Healthy Conversations on Race Relations” alongside an incredible group of Kingdom leaders (for real, how did I end up in this group?). I hardly consider myself an expert on racial reconciliation, but I passionately believe a diverse church who reflects the joy and creativity of Jesus is a beautiful, credible witness to our divided, broken world (Revelation 7:9-10). As an Asian American, a central part of my life of faith has been Jesus’ redemption of my “neither/nor” existence into a “both/and” identity in which I can empathize with those who haven’t found a place.

“Platforms” are a funny thing. More power to those who want to, and are able to, reach large audiences through preaching, writing, or online. My lovely wife and I often say that we just want to be faithful in our little corner of the world. That’s not some kind of “holy” humility talking: as I’ve grown more comfortable in my own skin, I recognize how God has wired me as an introvert (and shy, to boot), so public speaking events (outside of our church community) are not a top priority for me. At the same time, I’m discovering how much I love and am energized by seeing life transformation happening in our Anchor City community and, through us, in our city and world.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be… It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

If there can be some kind of Kingdom impact through sharing my story, let it be so. As we seek to join God’s mission of redemption for our cities and for our world, we need each other. Maybe I’ll see you at one of these gatherings!

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As I’ve shared here before, the Idea Camp tribe has been such an important part of my life & ministry over the last couple of years. This collaborative movement of idea-makers has been a constant source of inspiration.

No, you’re not crazy if you think that it’s more important to work together for the Kingdom of God than to seek individual credit or accolades. This ethos of partnership, collaboration, and getting things done is rooted in the ethos of Charles Lee, the founder and glue behind the Idea Camp.

I’m grateful for Charles, who has been an encouraging friend and wise mentor to me (and many others)  in so many ways. I’m never surprised to see the caliber of people Charles is able to bring together. For example, check out the roster of speakers Charles has lined up for this year’s Ideation Conference in Chicago.


Today, Charles’ first book, Good Idea. Now What? hits the shelves at brick & mortar bookstores (and, of course, at various online retailers). Good Idea is filled with practical insights, both from Charles’ experience and from his vast network of social entrepreneurs — including Soledad O’Brien of CNN, Scott Harrison of charity: water, and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS.

Good Idea is written for two kinds of people. From the introduction:

1. The idea lover who is sick of just sitting on great ideas: These are individuals who recognize that their ideas may never come to pass without a strategic process and a developed skill set.

2. The idea maker who needs to refresh and reaffirm his or her understanding of the elements for implementing ideas well: No matter how experienced you may be, this book will be a good resource for sparking meaningful conversations about your ideas.

The world needs us to dream better dreams, but even more than that, to act on our convictions. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with Charles where I wasn’t encouraged, challenged, and/or inspired to action. I highly recommend Good Idea. Now What? and I’m excited to see the great ideas that get put into action as a result.

You can read a sample chapter here.

The Idea Camp tribe has been so life-giving to me over the last couple of years.  This amazing group of compassionaries has inspired, challenged, and partnered with me in ways that have changed me and compelled me towards concrete action for good — to demonstrate the reality that God has not given up on the world by becoming better expressions of God’s love for the world.

I loved being a part of #Ideation11, even if it was only for a day. While the Ideation Conference is not strictly faith-based, this gathering of amazing idea-makers, creatives, and doers from both the nonprofit and business worlds moves powerfully together for good. A huge thanks to Charles Lee and the team for bringing together such an incredible gathering.

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The Idea Camp, which has just launched a new site today!

On September 27-28, 2010, The Idea Camp will be hosting an important conversation about sex, the church, the world, and ideas for good.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m uncomfortable talking about this topic. However, it is simply too important for us, as the church, to look the other way.

I love the heart behind #ICSEX (the Twitter hashtag for this Idea Camp):

The issues related to human sexuality are too often misunderstood, ignored, or avoided in far too many churches. The Idea Camp will facilitate a safe and transparent environment of learning, sharing of insights from the respective fields of focus, and practical insights and examples of holistic care. As a faith-based conference, there will be an on-going focus on the importance of living as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to the world through tangible acts of care in this area.

During the weeks leading up to #ICSEX, different bloggers will be hosting conversations around a topic each week.  The first week has already wrapped up, and there have been many honest, challenging reflections already.  Upcoming topics will include sexual abuse, gender, and slavery.  I’m looking forward to hosting one of these discussions here at headsparks* in September.

Being part of The Idea Camp tribe has been so life-giving to me: nowhere else have I found the friendship, collaboration, and inspiration I have found from this diverse group of like-minded people.  This time, what happens in Vegas could transform the church and change the world!

One of the threads I saw running throughout The Ideation Conference (you can find other reflections here) was the importance of good storytelling.

Many (most?) nonprofits struggle to raise awareness for their work, find donors and raise support.  From organizations such as Invisible ChildrenOne Day’s Wagescharity: water, and Nuru International, it is clear that communications is not a nice touch to throw on at the end if your organization has time, but a crucial part of the work itself.

Stories that grip people’s hearts will naturally lead to participation and contribution.  And telling those stories requires a willingness to invest.

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Telling Effective Stories

charity: water consistently produces high-quality videos to communicate not only what they do, but why they do it.  Here is a recent example:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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This brilliant motiongraphic video from Nuru International was produced in-house and explains simply some of the complexities of their work:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Tell Your Story

Now, most of our organizations are not well-connected enough to have the director of Hotel Rwanda direct and Jennifer Connelly star in a promotional video pro bono for us, but similar principles can guide even the smallest teams. If you were to sit down with a friend, how would you answer the following questions in a compelling way:

Why do you believe in your work? Why should your friends & family?

One of the speakers at The Ideation mentioned that, if you can’t get your immediate family behind your idea, then maybe you need to re-think things a bit.

Via marketing maven and all-around social networking guru @decart, here are some useful tips on creating a hook for your story and engaging your members.

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Invest In Your Creatives

Among both charity: water and Invisible Children’s first hires were their creative teams (or, at the beginning, creative person).  As charity: saw the need for telling their story through videos, their creative took on the task of learning how to edit video, and they grew from that point.

At The Ideation, I met and/or connected via Twitter with many talented videographers, graphic designers and organizational consultants (as well as in-house creatives) who passionately care about people and finding ways to create a better world.  If your organization does not have the capability to produce creative content on your own, there are many who can help you out (at a reasonable cost).

In any case, organizations must be willing not only to invest financially in communicating their stories, but also in time, imagination and hard work.

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A Remarkable Gathering

Even though The Ideation was only two days, it was a whirlwind of incredible individuals and organizations committed to bringing hope, justice and good into the world.  As Brian Cooper, CEO of Glimmer of Hope, said, “It’s so rare to be in a whole roomful of people who care more about others than themselves.”

At The Ideation, I was privileged to represent Justice Ventures International — a nonprofit working to eradicate human trafficking, empower the urban poor, and ensure access to justice for the oppressed — as a board member and as part of the Pathos Ethos team — a web strategy group finding ways to partner with organizations working to love human + do good in the world.

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Some of the most life-giving set of relationships I’ve cultivated from last year sprung forth from The Idea Camp tribe.  Charles Lee, founder of The Idea Camp, has just launched The Ideation Conference — sort of a next-level approach for those involved in nonprofit + humanitarian work.  In their own words:

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