Archives for category: innovation

Robert Gelinas, lead pastor and resident jazz theologian of Colorado Community Church, uses wonderful & evocative imagery from the world of jazz (think John Coltrane and Miles Davis, not Kenny G) in Finding the Groove to help us dream of the Kingdom of God in fresh ways.  Even for non-jazz fans, Groove’s stories & quotes (e.g., Coltrane’s search for the sound of God) are engaging and helpful in composing a vibrant, jazz-shaped faith.

In Groove, Robert builds on the jazz keynotes of syncopation, improvisation, and call & response to inform and give life to our theology, ecclesiology, hermeneutics, mission, and praxis — no small task!  In many ways, Groove is a book for the church — Robert’s thoughts about ensemble community in chapter five are prophetic and powerful — but it is more than a “how-to” workbook.  Groove‘s helped me reconsider the role of tension and suffering in life and community; instead of trying to minimize those things, learning to see them, instead, as means to creativity and engaging life as it really is.

One particular passage stands out for its resonance in pastoral leadership (p.155):

In a jazz ensemble, the drummer is the timekeeper. He sits obscurely in the back, ever keeping the beat, driving the tempo, and signaling time changes. His job is to keep time in a way that sets the others free. He listens and responds to the moments and in the process keeps time for all.  He has the worst seat in the house. Think about it; as he sits in the back all he sees are the backsides of his fellow musicians.  It’s not a great place to see, but it’s a great place to serve

The essence of jazz is listening.

Even if you’ve never listened to Kind of Blue or have no idea who Billie Holiday is, I definitely recommend Finding the Groove.  Sometimes, it is precisely the act of crossing into unfamiliar territory that stirs creativity and imagination.

Part four of my ongoing series of reflections on The Idea Camp (catch up on part one, part two, part three):

I loved seeing a wide range of speakers and facilitators presenting from the main stage.  It’s not just diversity for its own sake (which can so quickly devole into tokenism).  As David Gibbons shared with us at the Camp, creativity and life come from the margins, from intersections you might not otherwise cross. When we hear the same people making the same rounds from the same book tour on the same circuit…. well, you get the idea. That’s why I appreciated William Paul Young, author of The Shack, urging the National Pastors Convention to highlight women’s voices from the main stage there (this past year, the main stage was not the most diverse bunch).

The diversity at The Idea Camp was more than just cosmetic: we heard from pastors, non-profit innovators, business leaders, men, women, young, old, people from a variety of racial & ethnic backgrounds, the tech-savvy, the well-known and the not-as-well-known.  Kudos to Charles Lee for his vision of bringing together a remarkable group of people to lead & share.

For me, as an Asian American, every conference I attend is a cross-cultural experience.  Occasionally my wife and I talk about how difficult it is to find our place in life & ministry – not quite here or there most of the time.  It was encouraging to be reminded that diversity is an important part of creativity and listening for God’s voice.

Part three of an ongoing series of reflections about my Idea Camp experience (feel free to check out part one and part two)…

After I came home from The Idea Camp, my wife commented on how completely my inner geek had been unleashed.  “I had no idea,” she said to me, shaking her head.  It’s true — I spent a good deal of the weekend bathed in the warm glow of a small army of MacBooks running TweetDeck.

I definitely experienced firsthand what Charles Lee wrote, “Social networking is more than a nice tool, it’s cultural architecture.”  For me, tech facilitated friendship.  In some cases, I was able to connect with friends who I had only known through the blogosphere; in others, I met people face to face and have since been connected online.  In both cases, the transition from online to offline friendship was pretty seamless.  Gives me some hope for facilitating online/offline friendship and community in our church.

In terms of participation, tech opened doors for people to be involved in many different ways.  As DJ Chuang observes, The Idea Camp was a great venue for connecting the online and offline worlds, “We had as many people online as in-person at the event, Q&A was interaction with both onliners and offliners, relationships initiated online came together in person, etc.”

On a personal level, it was so encouraging to gather with like-minded friends who are asking similar questions and seeking to build God’s kingdom in their local communities. Working in church ministry has an isolating effect, and sometimes it’s good to get together with people who are thinking in the same direction just to know that you’re not crazy. I heard that same refrain recently from Mike Bishop, author of What is Church?, in describing the close friendship he has built with a group of people around the country that started with the question, We’re not crazy, are we?

Round Two of my post-Idea Camp rodeo (check out part one here)…

As its name implies, The Idea Camp was all about ideas.  However, as Charles Lee says, ideas are a dime a dozen; it’s the execution of the idea that matters. (h/t: @daniwao).  I deeply appreciated that the message throughout the Camp was not about innovation for innovation’s sake but, rather, to take a hard, realistic look at what it means to generate worthy ideas, the hard work of bringing them to life, and then evaluating & reflecting on those ideas.

The Idea Camp provided ordinary people like myself unique access to innovative people & ideas.  It was great to hear some people I had heard of beforehand (including Scott Harrison of charity: water, Eugene Cho, Dave Gibbons, Jeff Shinabarger) as well as many who were previously unknown to me.  The weekend was a great glimpse “behind the curtain” of the creative process.  For me, it was less about cut & pasting someone else’s model of innovation and more about hearing stories and being encouraged to dream and act.

I loved the Idea Competition hosted at the Camp.  To me, WikiChoice (the winner of the competition) embodied the ethos and heart of what The Idea Camp is about.  WikiChoice is a great idea, born out of compassion; essentially, it’s a resource to help consumers make just choices in their purchases).  It leverages technology to promote justice (consumers will be able to find info on products & companies via the web, mobile phones, etc.).  The process of group voting (tech again) and, most importantly, sharing our gifts & talents to bring idea to life captured the spirit of collaborative action.

Even the choice to go green with schedules (the schedule was available via the web, with a few strategically placed paper hard copies at the event) was a great idea put into action.

I’ve been having a hard time writing down some coherent thoughts about The Idea Camp because it was such an incredible experience for me.  I’m still trying to wrap my head and heart around it all.  It’s a bit like herding cats.

In any case, before too much time passed, I wanted to at least begin recording some of my thoughts and impressions.  I’m going to borrow newly-hairstyled Dave Ingland‘s format and break my reflections down into separate posts.

So, here’s the first round of my post-Idea Camp rodeo (each post will be titled in the both/and spirit of The Idea Camp)…

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I loved the ethos of open-source collaboration + participation.

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Just to continue my twitter-ified summaries of my “live” blogging from The Idea Camp, here are some glimpses of the final main session…

David Ruis

Worship session with David Ruis – solo, but brought along tech team of synth, drum machine, trusty Macbook (and I’m guessing sequencers, and other music-y stuff like that).  David did an incredible job of bringing together worship, mystery, tech, and a heart for justice to the evening session.

Eugene Cho

Charles Lee interviewed Eugene Cho.  It was really interesting that, although these two influential leaders had been blog friends for awhile now, this weekend was their first face-to-face interaction!

  • Why do you blog?  Many reasons… pains him to see friends in print business, but shift in how we obtain info, how we learn things, blogging is part of that change
  • Why did you start your anti-poverty organization?
    • Born out of family life, developing compassion
    • His kids, watching poverty on TV, asked him, “Is this real?” Yes. “What are you doing about it?”
  • One Day’s Wages
    • Their family gave up one year’s wages — selling off other assets to give $100,000; encouraging people to give up one day’s wages in fight against global poverty
    • We’re not asking people to do anything we’re not willing to do
    • Over 300,000 in Facebook group — everyone might not give up one day’s wages, but there might be 500,000 hits on their website
    • Exciting because shows how world is connected
    • Your ideas and your perseverance will be tested

    Read the rest of this entry »

    This morning, started with panel discussion, Engaging Local Poverty, with Mark Horvath, David Ruis, Greg Russinger and Grace Yi.

    I came in a little bit late, but the panelists shared some really important parts of what it means to engage people (not just developing more programs):

    • The church must move from event-driven, sales-quota organization to a compassionate heart.
    • Compassionate = to suffer with.  If you’re going to live as one who is socially involved, must learn reciprocal relationships with others, learn to suffer with them.  Attitude: I’m going to invest in others, rather than swoop in and save them.
    • Attitude of have’s against the have-not’s breeds arrogance.  Mercy, not sacrifice; friendship, not condescension.
    • David Ruis:We don’t really know if we’re helping unless we’re listening
    • Mark Horvath: If every church just helped one homeless person, thousands would be helped in every city
    • Online question: If a church gets the message loud and clear and wants to start a friendship-based outreach — Greg Russinger: Takes time, listening, the monastic disciplines of attentiveness, reverence for another human being
    • Greg Russinger: Welcoming the stranger creates disequilibirum in your life. Of all the things Jesus lists in Matthew 25,welcoming the stranger most reveals your heart, including judgments, biases, etc.
    • Move away from NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude