Month: October 2016

Mission trips have gotten a lot of criticism. Some of that criticism is deserved: there are mission trip volunteers who focus on tourism instead of service; there are organizations that make poor use of the volunteers who come to serve with them. But these criticisms seem to rest on a single set of questions: are short term mission trips the most efficient ways for a group (or individual) to offer material assistance to a community? Could that week be spent for efficiently? Could the money used for the trip be spent more efficiently? The answers to those questions depend…
In the early-ish days of blogging, it was normal to have a blogroll: a list of links to other (often more popular) blogs that the author was interested in. The blogroll would sit calmly in the sidebar and let readers browse their way to other blogs and other authors, discovering fresh ideas and insights. Now, nobody maintains a blogroll. The best hope you have of finding someone else is to follow a link in the body of a post or in a comment or in a link dump. Around here, they also show up in link posts that I share…
Every year I go back, I see visible, meaningful progress. The first year, they showed us a newly purchased piece of land where a high school was to be built. In 2014, there was a foundation with rebar sticking up out of it. In 2015, there was a beautiful new building filled with eagerly learning 7th graders. This year, there were 8th graders, a new library, and the foundation of a second building. This is what it means to be in it for the long haul, to see our paltry offering as part of a bigger picture. Ministry Matters: On Haiti…
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek is one of those books that appears again and again on lists of leadership books that everyone should read. And before I get to the review, I want to point out two shortcomings that I often find in books in the leadership genre. First, many leadership books could fit in the space of a few blog posts or newsletter articles. Second, they often reduce complex historical figures and events to bullet point lessons in leadership. They are, in short, often bloated and reductive. And while…
One of my pet peeves is the marketing tactic I call ‘free-not-free.’ For example, a nonprofit consulting firm or software company might offer a ‘free’ white paper with research and advice on fundraising, social media, web design, or a dozen other subjects. All you have to do is enter your contact information in the little form. What you expect is cutting edge research and professional advice on a real problem. And maybe a welcome email and the occasional update from that company. At most, a weekly newsletter. What you actually get is a nice infographic or booklet of information you…
In the early-ish days of blogging, it was normal to have a blogroll: a list of links to other (often more popular) blogs that the author was interested in. The blogroll would sit calmly in the sidebar and let readers browse their way to other blogs and other authors, discovering fresh ideas and insights. Now, nobody maintains a blogroll. The best hope you have of finding someone else is to follow a link in the body of a post or in a comment or in a link dump. Around here, they also show up in link posts that I share…
The reason that I seek to purge my heart of the world’s idols is so that I can be radically hospitable to all people. I believe that Jesus’ call to take up my cross and follow him means to renounce my comfort and status to walk with the world’s crucified. Christian holiness as modeled by Jesus has the goal of solidarity, not sanctimony. So inclusivity does not amount to a sort of vapid tolerance of sin. I yearn to be liberated from all of my sin, not because I’m putting on a show of piety for a perfectionist God,…
In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day (or Columbus Day), I link to this comic from The Oatmeal. It includes this great statement: Bartolomé de las Casas started out a lot like Columbus. He was a wealthy adventurer who traveled to the New World, where he owned a large plantation with many slaves. Unlike Columbus, however, de las Casas underwent a radical transformation in his life. After witnessing the violent atrocities committed against the natives, he gave up his land, freed his slaves, became a priest, and spent the rest of his life fighting the brutal colonization of the New World……
Sometime around 1739, the founders of London’s Foundling Hospital were the first people in the modern age to use the word ‘philanthropy’ to mean the project of forming “a voluntary enterprise of private persons, moved by ‘an Inclination to promote Publick Good.’”1Robert A. Gross, “Giving in America: From Charity to Philanthropy” in Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in American History, edited by Lawrence J. Friedman and Mark D. McGarvie (New York: Cambridge, 2002), 37 This is what philanthropy means in the modern world: private wealth used for public good. The ‘public good’ that the creators of the Foundling Hospital had…

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