Monday, July 21, 2014

A Cult of Failure - How Google X is Changing the World

Google X, the internet giant's top secret innovation lab to end all innovation labs, has created a culture that radically embraces failure as the secret to success.

"Failure is not precisely the goal at Google X. But in many respects it is the means. "Rapid Eval," (doing everything humanly and technologically possible to make them fall apart) is the start of the innovative process at X; it is a method that emphasizes rejecting ideas much more than affirming them. That is why it seemed to me that X--which is what those who work there usually call it--sometimes resembled a cult of failure. As Rich DeVaul, the head of Rapid Eval, says: "Why put off failing until tomorrow or next week if you can fail now?" 
Like something out of a Frank Herbert science fiction novel, the director of Google X is named Astro Teller, and his glass etched business card reads "Captain of Moonshots". As with all of Google, his leadership style is non-traditional to say the least. It is not unusual for a team meeting to concluded with the challenge of a slack line - a low tightrope - slung between trees outside the Google X offices, with Teller eventually tumbling to the ground.  He contends that brave, honest and vulnerable leadership is the key to innovative breakthrough.

When the leadership can fail in full view, "then it gives everyone permission to be more like that.” Over dinner, Teller tells me he sometimes gives a hug to people who admit mistakes or defeat in group meetings.
It seems as if Teller was inspired by the words of Feyd-Rautha, the power crazed antagonist of the sci-fi classic Dune who proposed, "Why prolong the inevitable?"

"It's way easier, and way cheaper, and way more fun to find out now that we missed than to find out years from now, with an incredible amount of additional expense and emotional investment.”
Check out the full article here. It's well worth a read.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Why Black History Month Matters to White Churches

"The church, itself, will stand under the judgement of God. Now that the mistake of the past has been made, I think that the opportunity of the future is to really go out and to transform American society, and where else is there a better place than in the institution that should serve as the moral guardian of the community. The institution that should preach brotherhood and make it a reality within it’s own body.”

                                  Martin Luther King Jr.

February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month. To most white Americans, recognizing this time is likely not a priority. However, as the Church, I believe it should be. If you didn't catch my MLK Day blog, you might want to read that first: Why MLK Day Matters to Christians

These stats give some powerful insight into the issue of racial division in the Church. (via )

    • 92.5% of American churches are racially segregated.* 
    • 80%+ of individual membership in American churches is comprised of a single, homogenous people group.* 
    • American churches are ten times more segregated than the neighborhoods where they are located.** 
    • American churches are 20 times more segregated than the public schools in their neighborhoods.**

In Revelation 7:9 John tells us that he sees people, "from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb."  Now THAT is diversity!  Shouldn't our churches look more like the heaven we are headed for?

In doing some research I stumbled across this article from a few years ago at, "Why American's Prefer Their Sundays Segregated." The author provides an interesting look at the challenges multi-ethnic churches experience, but also the blessings.
Interracial congregations often include people who probably wouldn't have become friends in any other circumstances. They are people like Dwight Pryor, a black man who grew up in segregated Mississippi seeing blacks brutalized by whites. He says he grew up disliking white people.  
Today, Pryor says he is best friends with a white member of his church, a man who grew up in Alabama during segregation in a family that hated blacks. When Pryor sees his friend on Sunday, he says he no longer sees a "they" or a "them" trying to invade his world.  
"We come to love each other," he says. "When I look into his eyes, I can see the love of Jesus Christ. He and I have become friends." He sees his brother in Christ.
My question and challenge is three fold. If you are a follower of Jesus, ask yourself: 1) "What am I missing in my personal growth when I am not celebrating life with other cultures?" 2) "What are we doing intentionally as a church in order to look more like heaven?" and 3) "How would it impact our nation if the Church promoted racial diversity, unity and reconciliation?"

There is no organization on the planet that has a greater platform, more reason or a better opportunity to further the cause of racial equality and unity. As Dr. King said, "where else is there a better place than in the institution [of the church] that should serve as the moral guardian of the community?" The world is waiting for us to lead. What in the world are we waiting for?

More resources:
Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church
Multi-Cultural Ministry: Finding your Churches Unique Rhythm
Center Church: Doing Balanced Gospel Centered Ministry in Your City

* Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith, Oxford University Press, 2001
** ibid, from the same updated study, 2007

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New You. Why not?

It’s that time of year again, when the changing of the calendar stirs a sense of hope in new beginnings. We make our resolutions, gym memberships are purchased, diets are started and Bible reading plans are made. “This is the year! I’m really going to do it this time!” But it’s also easy to get very cynical about it all. We know that in the past we’ve set goals and failed. Two weeks into the new year we’ve broken every resolution: we’re behind on our Bible reading, breaking our diet and still not made it to the gym. I saw a funny tweet the last week of December, “According to my 2013 New Year's resolution, I have 72 hours to lose 30 pounds, learn to speak Spanish and play the banjo.”

I want to encourage you to not give up hope in starting over and pursuing new possibilities, or even restarting ones you’ve attempted in the past. If there is one thing that the gospel teaches us it’s that God LOVES new beginnings! We can even see it in creation: He gives us a sunrise to start each new day and His natural calendar gives us changing seasons that display growth, life, death and rebirth. These are all pictures of the new beginning He has given us in Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 However, many of us struggle with believing that God wants to continue to give us second chances and new beginnings once we have put our faith in Christ. We know that we are forgiven of our sinful past, put what about our present sins and failures? You may remember this verse that is also used in the classic hymn, “Great is They Faithfulness.”

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

He is faithful, even when we are faithless! (2 Timothy 2:13). His grace is for today! And He wants us to know His unconditional love that compels us to begin again... again.

Patiently, gently and kindly He leads us on. Sometimes one step forward, other times two steps back. And even though this process of transformation is something that we have a part in, it's not our own efforts that make us grow. We can't take credit for the progress.  However, it is often through our choices that we position ourselves to encounter God in a way that He changes us. Just as we can put a  plant in the sunlight, but we can't make it grow, we can position ourselves in His light and it is there that we are changed. We do the possible and He does the impossible. Through His Word, His presence and His people, He transforms our lives.

In light of this truth, I want to encourage you to make a resolution. Now this is not some outrageous grand goal to accomplish something monumental that you’ve never done before. I just want to invite you to do some simple things every day that lead you to a place of encountering God. These are seven common practices, that can have profound and uncommon results.

1) Pray (Ephesians 6:18)

2) Be Thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

3) Worship with Song (Psalm 95)

4) Read God’s Word (Romans 10:17)

5) Listen For God’s Voice & Journal (John 18:37)

6) Surrender (Romans 12:1-2)

7) Seek Out Other Believers (Acts 2:42)

You most likely have done all of these at one time or another. If you think about it, this is what you do in a church service. Ever wonder why you leave feeling refreshed and encouraged? It’s because for one hour you practiced the disciplines that lead you into a transforming encounter with God. Why not seek to do this every day?

Here is a very practical suggestion for living this out. Make a list of these seven things. Look at it when you wake-up in the morning, revisit it at noontime and review it before you go to bed. Set up alerts on your phone if that is helpful. Each time you are reminded, respond to one or more of these practices. Talk to God, count your blessings, sing a song of praise, listen to God and journal, surrender your will to Him or reach out to a believing friend and share your life. As you do this, remember that the goal is not to simply check something off of your list, but to encounter the Father. When you get busy and forget this endeavor, missing a morning, a day, or a week, don’t be ashamed of starting again. This is what grace is for! The grace that saved you is the same grace that sustains you and transforms you. His grace is for today, everyday. There is literally NO condemnation for those who are in Christ! (Romans 8:1) Return to the Lord, and pick up where you left off. He’s patiently waiting and He is happy to meet you right where you are.

New year, new you... why not?

Receive His grace, encounter Him daily and be changed!

(a portion of this blog was inspired by and shamelessly somewhat plagiarized from the Antioch Dallas #drawnear27 devotional.