Starting Monday, January 10, and ending on Sunday, January 16, COMMUNITY attenders were challenged this weekend to eat on less than $2 a day. 20% of the world lives in poverty and nearly half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. That two dollars a day is for food, housing, school, transportation, medical emergencies, and all other expenses. The $2 a Day Challenge invites you to experience a little of what life is like by eating on less than two dollars a day for one week. To download a sample menu and suggested food items, click here.
Sue and I decided that the boys and i would take on this challenge. Over the next week I will update you here on this blog on how it is going and if I am learning anything from this experience or just feeling very hungry and cranky.
The first learning is that when you only have $2/day for food you are more concerned about having enough than you are about how it tastes and “recreational eating.” So that we could get the most for our money Sue and her friend Mary went out to Aldi’s and did some shopping for the week. Below is $40 of the $56 worth of food that we will be eating this week.
In my post yesterday I featured the compelling story of Blake Mycoskie and TOM shoes. After hearing him at the Leadership Summit this past year I was very impressed with his vision and company; so I thought I would pass this along to others through my blog. However, sometimes the comments on my blog are more insightful than the posts. That is definitely the case yesterday when David Stupay, who is doing development work in Tanzania and a part of COMMUNITY posted an honest and candid critique of how Mycoskie and TOM may be an example of how helping hurts.
Dave – This may not be as great of an idea as it is marketed to be. While they are doing good by putting shoes on the feet of needy children in impoverished countries, this type of aid does more harm than good.
The shoes are distributed in 24 countries, are only made in 3 countries. That means that 21 of the countries where the gifted shoes are delivered receive no economic benefit from the distribution of free shoes, and local shoe merchants and manufacturers (or potential manufacturers) are actually discouraged from doing business in these countries.
It is easiest to see the hit to local merchants that distribute shoes in impoverished countries. As COMMUNITY participated in the Stuff for the Poor shoe drive, you know that used shoes are often shipped from the US and other Western countries to Africa and other parts of the developing world. This is big business for the shippers, brokers, and the local merchants. Local shoe stores in developing countries generate solid cash flow and above average profit margins. When shoes are distributed in communities for free from TOMS and other programs, these local merchants miss out on much needed sales opportunities. While not all the children that receive donated shoes from TOMS could afford to buy shoes from these local merchants, a hit even as low as 10% of their customer base would be enough to put many of these small merchants out of business.
An even greater impact of this type of program is that it discourages manufacturing in developing countries. Manufacturing is the reason that SE Asia has been able to lift so many people out of poverty in a way that Africa has not. Africa has yet to see strong manufacturing based economies emerge, thereby leaving many of their people in extreme poverty. Ideas like this discourage investors and entrepreneurs from competing in this arena, and contribute to the poverty trap in Africa. TOMS is a direct threat to manufacturers that are currently, or are considering in the future, competing in the African shoe market. What developing countries really need are local manufacturing companies that create low cost products for sale in developing countries. This would create assembly, management, distribution, and sales positions for shoes, and would develop an economy that isn’t dependent upon foreign aid.
Blake Mycoskie, 34, who calls himself the Chief Shoe Giver, created a business model that lets him give back. For one pair of Toms shoes purchased, the company gives one pair away — from the Gulf Coast to Argentina to Ethiopia. They have now given away more than 1 million shoes. As we continue to challenge every person to engage in the Jesus mission, this is a great example of a business with a mission.
This series reminds me once again why we do what we do at COMMUNITY. Last week, as a part of our Exponential Impact series we asked people to respond by filling out this card writing out an area of their life they want to surrender. The answers were varied, often intense and very sincere. However, the one card that definitely caught my eye is the one that you see pictured here. The person simply wrote, “I want to find my way back.” I love it! This is just one more example of how we are accomplishing our mission: “helping people find their way back to God.”
The core competency of any movement is apprenticeship. Since I believe that Jesus came to start a movement this is very important so let me say it again: the core competency of any movement is apprenticeship. The very first action that Jesus took when catalyzing his movement was to recruit twelve apprentices. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) He was calling them into an apprenticeship and giving them instructions that they would do the same with others. 2,000 years later the Jesus movement has reached billions of people, transformed societies and continues to move forward into eternity. It is through apprenticeships that people are empowered to impact their world and have the potential for exponential impact.
If you are like me and want to be a part of Jesus’ missional movement first and foremost we must apprentice with him. Just like those first followers, we must walk alongside Jesus and be guided and mentored by him everyday. But secondly we must follow his example and learn how to apprentice others into the movement. So, who is it that God is asking you to bring alongside you as an apprentice? Is it a friend? A neighbor? Someone in your church? Somebody in your neighborhood or maybe somebody at work?
When we started COMMUNITY, we started with a handful of friends. Not only were we Jesus’ apprentices but we each went out on the mission and found an apprentice. That’s our story at Community; just a handful of friends who came together with a willingness to risk anything and everything. And over the years God has allowed us to be a part of and contribute to his ongoing movement in amazing ways! Community has nine locations that impact thousands with three more sites starting next year. NewThing has ninety churches and sites reaching tens of thousands of people with the expectation of doubling in the next year.
If you want to see movement remember this: The core competency of any movement is apprenticeship.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” That favorite quote of mine from Helen Keller is exactly how I would like to live my life! The picture is from a hike I took up to Pulpit Rock in Norway. That felt both daring and adventuresome. But in the middle of the of regular 9-5, paying the bills and getting the kids to all their activities life often feels more a familiar merry go round that will not let me off. You know what I mean? I want life to be a courageous quest, but my things-to-do list keeps getting in the way. But this week has felt a little different. Everyday at 8 am I get a text (I guess I don’t know who exactly it comes from) and it dares me to do something for the mission of Jesus I would not normally do.
On Monday I was dared to spend 15 minutes in uninterrupted prayer and my usual rhythm of Bible reading and journaling took a new turn during this extra time of quiet as God brought several people to mind that he wanted me to contact. It turned out that some of them needed to hear from me and I never would have known it. On Tuesday I was dared to share a dream of mine. The day flew by and was coming to a close and I still had not shared a dream with anyone. Then about 8 o’clock it hit me, I could post it right here on my blog and can share it with several hundreds friends. If you are interested, check it out HERE. On Wednesday I was dared to replace one meal with prayer. I skipped dinner. I was cranky. It didn’t feel very adventuresome; I mostly felt hungry. But I have a hunch that fasting is something that God wants me to try more often. More to come… On Thursday I was dared to invite someone new out to coffee. But I have no extra time. I did it anyway. I’m glad I did. In fact, I’m really looking forward to it. Friday, I was challenged to not do something I might do if Jesus was with me. That is a good dare on any day!
And that simple text over the last few days has brought some adventure into the what might have been a business as usual week. If you want your life to be described as “a daring adventure” then sign up to get the daily dare.
When someone suggested that during our series, Exponential Impact that we should issue "daily dares" that challenge people to live on mission I couldn't help but thinK of the movie, A Christmas Story. I was laughing to myself thinking about us issuing to the whole church a "triple dog dare." And that is exactly what we have done; we are challenging people to a 50 day adventure filled with daily dares!
My dream is that COMMUNITY would be a church where 100% of the people are contributing to the mission of Jesus. Over the last couple years we have set a standard for each of our campuses to grow their campuses in the 3 C's (celebrating, connecting and contributing) according to the following metrics:
10% of their attendance in baptisms
15% increase in number of people celebrating
75% of people connecting in small groups
50% of people contributing through serving.
There are two problems with the last standard of "50% of people contributing through serving." First, we are saying that it is acceptable for someone to be a follower of Jesus and not be engaged in the mission of Jesus. This incongruence is not acceptable. Enough said. Secondly, we have primarily been measuring contributing only in terms of serving opportunities that are a part of COMMUNITY programs. Obviously, service in the mission of Jesus can (and should) happen both within and outside of COMMUNITY programming. There are people being called into mission in their workplace; community; school and every sphere of life.
My dream is that in the next two years that every COMMUNITY campus could say that the number of people engaged in serving the mission of Jesus would be 100% of their weekend celebration attendance. There you have it – my daring dream!
There is a lot of talk about "people from different religions getting along" and at the same time "reaching the world", but my friend Bob Roberts is one of the only people on the planet who has an understanding of how to make both those happen. For years Bob has been traveling the world interacting with people from a variety of backgrounds and faiths and now he has pulled together some of those connections in a one of kind conference experience called Global Faith Forum. The Evangelical Church says we want to reach the world, but do we really understand the world? At the Global Faith Forum they are moving from a conversation about other faiths, to a conversation with other faiths. A conversation that allows all of us to hear from leaders with different faiths, different worldviews and different ideas that shape the way we communicate in the 21st century. It is a unique gathering of Muslim, Jews and Christians will allow all of us to gain first hand insights and understanding from one another.