Short-Term Missions: The Ugly

J.R. Goudeau:

Without long-standing relationships, divided by race and socioeconomics and even age, it’s very difficult for a short-term mission trip to avoid the trap of poverty tourism. The point should not, should never be, enlightenment for the privileged on the backs of the poor they came to serve. … Difficult, but not impossible.

This is a very thoughtful post backed by personal experience. I do think that short-term mission trips can be a very good thing, but those embarking on such trips should be mindful of these thoughts.

Imagining Healthcare for All

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

This real alternative is not the result of a grand strategy to reform our nation’s broken health care system. It was the fruit of a community trying to be faithful to Jesus. It started with a pastor praying in his hospital bed and some regular church folks talking about how they could share their money.

I love this. The government is going to do what it will do, and we can exert whatever influence we have over it, but we should not rely on them to do the right thing. We should be like Jesus and love our neighbors, poor and rich alike.

The 11 Ways that Consumers are Hopeless at Math

Derek Thompson:

In his book Priceless, William Poundstone explains what happened when Williams-Sonoma added a $429 breadmaker next to their $279 model: Sales of the cheaper model doubled even though practically nobody bought the $429 machine. Lesson: if you can’t sell a product, try putting something nearly identical, but twice as expensive, next to it. It’ll make the first product look like a gotta-have-it bargain. One explanation for why this tactic works is that people like stories or justifications. Since it’s terribly hard to know the true value of things, we need narratives to explain our decisions to ourselves. Price differences give us a story and a motive: The $279 breadmaker was, like, 40 percent cheaper than the other model – we got a great deal! Good story.

The rest of this list is great too. There are so many ways that we as consumers are being duped. Derek Thompson puts it this way: “We’re not stupid. Just susceptible.”

Does Google have any social skills at all?

Sam Biddle:

The idol of technology and the marvels it could yield towers over us, wearing a computer on its face, letting a phone predict its lunch, and sitting in the corner of a party looking at pictures of other people having fun. Google’s making plenty of impressive things–but are they impressive things that anyone actually wants?

Great article that gets to the heart of my feelings on Google: with every new cool thing they do, they seem just a little creepier.

Do you see this woman?

Tim Bray:

I was walking along near these parts in early evening, and a very tall very thin very young black woman suddenly materialized at my elbow: “Excuse me, hey!” I averted my face reflexively and stepped out a bit and she said “Oh my god no I don’t want anything, just do you know the nearest BART?” and then I actually looked at her and she was just this ordinary girl in a hurry but lost. I told her the way and managed a smile, even though I hated myself.

Reading this upset me because I could see myself doing the exact same thing. I attribute this to fear. Fear of what, I’m not sure, but fear keeps me from looking at people, helps me keep my distance, prevents me from getting involved.

I’m reminded of these words from 1 John 4.18:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear

My experience suggests that the opposite is also true: fear can keep love out. Why am I afraid? What am I afraid of? I don’t know, but I do know that it is my fear that causes me to judge.

I wonder if that was true of Simon, the Pharisee that Jesus visited in Luke 7.36-50. A woman shows up at the meal and begins crying and washes Jesus’ feet with her tears. Simon is quick to note that the woman is a sinner and is offended that Jesus is allowing this action to take place. Jesus takes the opportunity to tell Simon a story, but what gets me the most is the comment Jesus makes after he concludes his story.

Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?”

Simon ‘saw’ the woman the same way Tim Bray first ‘saw’ the lost girl in San Francisco and the same way I ‘see’ most strangers on the street.

Yet again, I find I have more in common with the Pharisees than Jesus. What am I so afraid of? What will happen if I actually look at the people I pass? How much love am I keeping out as I cling to my fear?

Letting love override your theology

Arni Zachariassen:

I guess everything changes when you let love override your theology. I experienced what that looks like in terms of prayer and healing yesterday. I wonder what it would look like if the same happened to all other areas of life and theology too. Things would change, I bet. They would change a lot.

Cities are Now Growing Faster Than Suburbs -- Except in Dallas, Of Course

Eric Nicholson:

So Dallasites can enjoy having walkable neighborhoods, microbreweries, bike lanes and whatever else to their heart’s content, but those things aren’t making North Texans stop moving to McKinney. Not yet, anyway. That won’t happen until those people die off and their children join the creative class. Or maybe until the coming of the environmental apocalypse. Or we run out of oil? All good options.

Disrupt Your Church's Status Quo ... Or Else?

Michael Frost:

If you want to be a different sort of person, you’ve got to remove some of those structures that have made you comfortable being what you are now. So buildings and programs and paid staff and all those sort of things, they create a crucible in which we don’t need to change or move. So, I would say, some sort of liminal experience that shatters that, like selling your building or stop paying your ministers or something that forces disequilibrium into which then one must imagine and one must rethink.

We’re currently going through a process of dreaming about the future of our church. I haven’t heard any suggestions as drastic as this, but it makes me wonder if this is the path we should be considering. Maybe not selling our building or firing our staff, but focusing less on programs that make us comfortable and more on things that upset us.

After X Years Programming

Dave Winer:

The conventional wisdom is that you “move up” into management long before you’ve been coding for 37 years. Only thing is I don’t see programming as a job, I see it as a creative act.


Dan Bouchelle:

…hospitality in the USA is a dying virtue. Sadly this is true even in the church. When we have people from other countries visit the US through MRN, these foreigners often express surprise that American Christians will take them out to eat but not invite them into their homes. Our houses have become refuges from the world instead of portals for the world into the Kingdom of God.