Adam McLane http://adammclane.com changing the world one blog post at a time since 2004 Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:55:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Can You Vacate? http://adammclane.com/2014/07/09/can-vacate/ http://adammclane.com/2014/07/09/can-vacate/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:55:11 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15454 Vacation – the state of vacating. The suffix turns the verb vacate into a process, state, or condition. The verb vacate comes from the Latin vac?tus, past participle of vac?re, to be empty.  About 8 months ago I read an article by Tim Maurer about his justification of a 10-day vacation instead of a 7 day vacation. Here are his points, all of which hit […]

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Vacation – the state of vacating.

The suffix turns the verb vacate into a process, state, or condition.

The verb vacate comes from the Latin vac?tus, past participle of vac?re, to be empty. 

About 8 months ago I read an article by Tim Maurer about his justification of a 10-day vacation instead of a 7 day vacation. Here are his points, all of which hit home:

  1. A 10-Day Vacation Gives You Time to Surrender, to Capitulate, and to Truly Vacate
  2. Travel Consumes a Lesser Percentage of Your Total Vacation Time
  3. It Opens the Door to a Vacation with Multiple Stops
  4. You’re Gone Long Enough That You’re Forced to Off-Load Your Duties at Work
  5. You’re Gone Long Enough That You’re Forced to Budget Financially
  6. It Leaves Sufficient Time for the Creation of Memories Through Experienceand the Catharsis of Do-Nothing Relaxation

All of those resonated with me. All. of. them. 

So, almost on a whim, Kristen and I booked a 10-day vacation we’re jokingly calling “The Surf & Turf Vacation.” We’re leaving tomorrow to spend 5-days in Yosemite National Park, camping with my cousins Trent & Marisa and their kids. After that we’re going to spend 5-days in a tiny little California beach town called Cayucos in a beach house we found on Airbnb.

So that’s the plan.

August through November is going to be a sprint. We have lots and lots of awesome stuff to do at the Cartel and to get it all done with the right attitude the most efficient thing I can do is a good & proper vacation.

So it’s 10-days away from home. No computer. I’m locking up my iPhone in the van. No blogging. No social media-ing. No texting. No meetings or troubleshooting. We’ve got a housesitter to take care of the house, work stuff will wait, my job is to play with my kids, hang with my wife, read some fiction books… watch some movies… and vacate. (Loving that word!)

Question: How good are you at vacating?

 

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You Had Vision for Me http://adammclane.com/2014/07/08/vision/ http://adammclane.com/2014/07/08/vision/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:56:19 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15442 Last month I turned 38. What? Thirty-eight. XXXVIII. Thurdy-ate. If you know me well you know I’m not much of a personal birthday celebrator. One of the most fun things I’ve done in the past five years was learn how to hide my birth date from Facebook so I didn’t have 200 people wishing me […]

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Last month I turned 38. What? Thirty-eight. XXXVIII.

Thurdy-ate.

If you know me well you know I’m not much of a personal birthday celebrator. One of the most fun things I’ve done in the past five years was learn how to hide my birth date from Facebook so I didn’t have 200 people wishing me happy birthday. Fact is, I just don’t care about my birthday much. I celebrated this year with an appointment at the Passport Office.

Yeah, I’m 38. Big deal. Go to work.

Get on with it.

The Only Thing That Works For Me…

Adult life began for me around 20 years ago. A couple of weeks before my eighteenth birthday, Mid-May 1994, I moved out of my dad’s house in Mishawaka, Indiana and into a college dorm at Moody in Chicago with two strangers. High school graduation was three weeks away. I’d never missed school for more than a day or two in 13 years of school, but I had an opportunity to get a full-time job painting dorm rooms that’d help me pay for college so I took it. My teachers were awesome about it. I didn’t attend class the last three weeks of school and no one reported me absent. I didn’t take finals but got straight A’s.

After my first day of work I walked over to Cosmopolitan Bank & Trust on Clark Street and opened a checking account. If college were going to happen, I was going to make it happen. I opened my account with $50. On August 15th I had to write Moody a big check and the only one who was going to make that happen was me.

Two weeks later, when I got my first paycheck I saw that after taxes 40 hours per week of painting at $4.80 just wasn’t going to be enough to pay for college… so I walked around the Gold Coast for a few hours looking for another job. That afternoon I walked into a small ice cream shop on Oak Street, met the owner, and agreed that I’d start working 4 PM to close 6 days per week.

8 hours x $4.80 = $38.40 or $192 per week before taxes.

8 hours x $6.50 = $52 or $312 per week before taxes.

After taxes and $10 per week for food that meant I put away about $400 per week from June until mid-August when classes started, then I cut back from two full-time jobs to just one because of classes so I could pay my Winter school bill.

In those 12 weeks I learned some things:

  • I can make my way.
  • The only money I appreciate is money I’ve earned.
  • God may be my provider, but make no bones about it, that provision wasn’t a gift… it’s earned.
  • 80 hours of work per week isn’t bad. 96 is way better because of the overtime.

Looking back, the biggest thing I learned in that first summer as an adult was this: The only thing that works for me is hard work. 

There’s No Shame in Confidence

Twenty years later I can look back at that period with fondness. I don’t have rose-colored lenses about it. I remember how hard it was because it’s not like today is a whole lot easier. The Summer of 1994 was just the first round, a foreshadowing of what was to come. (2001-2002 was far more difficult.)

In that moment— it was exhilarating. There’s no finer feeling than walking up to a window and writing a check to pay for your education.

I remember the day I went to pay for my first semester. I woke up early, showered, and shaved. I put on a nice shirt. I was nervous. I waited in line, took my turn at the window, handed the lady my bill and my check, and I forced myself to hold it together.

She stamped my bill “paid” and handed it back to me. I put it into my checkbook, cool. Then I calmly walked over to the elevator bank, hit the button, and waited.

When the door closed on that elevator I celebrated.

I don’t mean a fist pump and a head nod. Or a tear of gratitude or a quiet prayer of thanksgiving.

I’m talking spike the football, full Richard Sherman mode

  • Don’t doubt me.
  • Don’t tell me what I can’t do.
  • Don’t tell me I don’t have what it takes.

Yes… without a doubt… I was laughing in the face of doubters. I heard the murmurs. I saw the looks. And so walking into that office and writing that check and seeing that word “paid” on my bill was proof to me. The only thing that works for me is hard work. 

In that moment I didn’t just prove people wrong, I proved something to myself. 

And I wanted to do it again. I had to. And I did… I’ve paid my own bills and earned my way since that day.

Over the years I’ve been told some people think I’m arrogant. Or a little too confident for a Christian leader. I’ve been told I can be cocky.

Well, conversely, over the years I’ve met a lot of people who are soft. The simple fact is I don’t have as much respect for someone who had stuff handed to them that I do for people who earned it. Why? Because that’s where I’ve come from. That’s my reality. Mommy and daddy didn’t write checks for me… I had to write checks for myself. I think that’s why friends like Andy Marin and I get along so well. Yup, we’ve accomplished some things. But no one gave us anything. We made it happen. Team Hustle, baby.  And when the rewards come they are just that much sweeter.

To some people titles, responsibilities, and leadership roles are given. I tip my cap to them. I know that’s the way the world works. Some people get stuff handed to them because of who their parents are or who they know. That’s just not my world. Everything that has come to me as come because of hard work. No one gave me a title or responsibility or a leadership role.

So you can look at me and say I’m arrogant or whatever. Truthfully, I’ve been called worse and probably deserved it.

I just think that people who judge me without knowing me misread confidence for arrogance. 

The Next Thirty-Eight Years

I don’t think I’ve arrived. Pfft… what does “arrive” even mean for a blue collar kid? There’s no retirement party coming or 30 years of golf in my future. Eavesdrop on a walk with Kristen and I one evening and you’ll hear how aggressive I am about what we’re doing at the Cartel. We’ve hustled to get here. And we’re going to hustle to get where we’re going.

The fact is that the first twenty years is only setting up the next 38.

The challenge for the first twenty years has been… “How do we get from here… NOTHING… onto the pathway of the vision God laid on my heart as a broke, punk seventeen year old who figured out a way to get into Bible college?

The challenge for the next season is getting other people on board. No coronations, no hand outs, no freebies… together we get there by hard work, the only thing that truly works for me.

I’m thankful for the vision God had for me.

All of the crap I went through, every hard day from there to here, makes sense.

God’s vision for my life has been so much harder, more fun, and more rewarding than I could have ever figured out on my own.

Photo Credit: Joe Dyndale via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Youth Ministry as an Advocate for Teenagers http://adammclane.com/2014/07/07/youth-ministry-advocate/ http://adammclane.com/2014/07/07/youth-ministry-advocate/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:49:45 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15436 “The administration needs to deport these families and children,” said Labrador, who appeared on the show [Meet the Press] after [DHS Security Secretary] Johnson. “I know it sounds harsh and difficult, but it’s better for the children. Send these children back in a humanitarian way. We can do it safely and efficiently.” Rep. Raul Labrador, Idaho (R) July 6th, […]

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“The administration needs to deport these families and children,” said Labrador, who appeared on the show [Meet the Press] after [DHS Security Secretary] Johnson. “I know it sounds harsh and difficult, but it’s better for the children. Send these children back in a humanitarian way. We can do it safely and efficiently.”

Rep. Raul Labrador, Idaho (R) July 6th, 2014 – Source

Right. We’re going to round up minors and deport them?

The US government predicts that 90,000 unaccompanied migrant children will cross the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2014, more than 10 times the number who crossed in 2011. Thousands more children have crossed with a parent, also an increase from previous years.

Human Rights Watch, June 25th, 2014 – Source

While the media wants to use this wave of border crossings as a political football about border security, no one seems to be asking the question, “Why are 90,000 kids risking their lives to cross the border?” (Fleeing violence? Hoping for protection as Dreamers? Better labor conditions?)

These Aren’t Numbers. These Aren’t Problems. These Are People.

I think it’s easy to get caught in the rhetoric and forget we’re talking about actual people. We all have opinions on contemporary issues like immigration. One thing I love about our country is that we’re all allowed to have an opinion, voice it, and be heard. Yet we also acknowledge that some folks, myself included, have an opinion informed not just by ideology but by relationship with people in our lives. After watching a documentary last weekend on immigration I posted on Facebook, “It’s impossible to love your neighbor and want them deported.” 

For me, immigration policy isn’t just something I can debate as a thing, like say organic food policy. Immigration effects people in my life like neighbors, classmates of my kids, people at my church, etc. I want to see a pathway to citizenship created for the people in my life who really want and need it. (At the same time, I don’t pretend it’s a simple cut & dry issue either.)

All of that was why I was so bummed out to see protestors lined up in Murietta, CA.

I watched this and wondered, “What are those kids thinking?” Some are teenagers who might have some sense that they are merely pawns in a political thing. But younger children… do they really think people hate them?

See, it’s easy to watch a news story and react. But let’s not forget that 90,000 minors crossing the border in 2014 isn’t a problem to be solved, these are real people coming here for real reasons. 

I can’t help but look at this and scream: This is a youth ministry issue! Where are my friends in this? 

Youth Ministry as an Advocate for Teenagers

As a youth worker… all of this this leads to the broader question about the nature of our work:

Do we exist as advocates for the students who attend our youth group or can youth workers see themselves in a broader sense, advocating for the teenagers in their community regardless of whether they attend youth group or not?

Youth workers tend to be very insular. We think about the best strategies for engaging teenagers on a Sunday morning. We look for small group tips and tricks. We refine our upfront teaching. We read books and blogs about our job all the time. But maybe, just maybe… our biggest problem isn’t skill development it’s that the students in our lives don’t see as caring about the things they care about? Maybe they look at our ministry and think, “That’s Good News for Adam. But that’s not Good News for me.” 

I see the protests in the CBS piece above and I also see the Christians, not covered in the news, who are on the opposite end of that. People who are bringing this out of rhetoric and into a reminder of the humanity of the situation.

Sometimes we don’t need more bible studies, camps, small groups, and worship music. Sometimes… teenagers need to see youth workers sticking their neck out to advocate for the teenagers in their community with desperate needs for compassion, grace, and a roof over their head. 

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Geek Class Rising http://adammclane.com/2014/07/02/geek-class-rising/ http://adammclane.com/2014/07/02/geek-class-rising/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 15:45:57 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15201 Sitting 5 feet from me is my 10-year old son, Paul. He’s playing Minecraft. He’s really into Minecraft. He’ll play Minecraft until he goes to school. Then he’ll play in the afternoon when he gets home from school. On December 31st, 2012 we were discussing New Years resolutions. We asked him, “What’s your resolution?” He said, […]

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Sitting 5 feet from me is my 10-year old son, Paul. He’s playing Minecraft. He’s really into Minecraft. He’ll play Minecraft until he goes to school. Then he’ll play in the afternoon when he gets home from school.

On December 31st, 2012 we were discussing New Years resolutions. We asked him, “What’s your resolution?” He said, “I’ll give up candy for a year for $50.” We were shocked. But Paul had a plan. He wouldn’t tell us what it was… but he had a plan.

On June 30th, 2013 he got $50 and I asked him if he wanted to go to Target. We drove silently to the store… then he walked straight to the video game section and picked up the card to activate his Minecraft account.

We went home, he set up his account, and he instantly knew what to do. Why? Because for the last 6 months he’d been watching YouTube videos about Minecraft.

Since then it’s been a bit of an obsession. At times it’s been a full-blown obsession. But, for the most part, it’s been a good thing.

Geek Class Rising

Paul isn’t alone. Nearly 16 million people have bought the game for PC/Mac. (see Stats) Minecraft Pocket Edition for mobile devices and tablets tops charts for both Apple & Android devices, as well. (Source)

Minecraft is huge. It’s one of those things that has become so ubiquitous among pre-teens that you might not even see it. When I have been in schools and ask younger kids, “What are you playing these days?” Minecraft is always #1. It’s funny when I mention it as the kids who play always squirm, a little, just when I say “Minecraft.

Here’s what I love about Minecraft. For most, people just geek out on the game play. They build stuff, they do missions, they explore official game play and experiment with playing on the thousands of unofficial, player-run servers that make the game infinitely expandable and ever-morphing.

But a certain subset of player are a new Geek Class rising. These are kids and adults who are building incredible new 3D worlds of their own on Minecraft. (see examples) These are players who lease their own servers, learn about IP addresses, upload Minecraft modifications (mods) via FTP, and even develop their own modifications to the game.

Comparatively, these are the same kids who used to play Leisure Suit Larry on their Commodore 64 while the rest of us were tossing crab apples at passing school buses. Just like the C64 nerds became the ones who learned to code for fun, a decade later being the ones who coded for a living for companies like Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft… the Minecraft nerds are learning to develop mods for Minecraft. In years to come these nerds will be using the skills and values of Minecraft to shape the next wave of technological advances. 

So, while it’s easy for me to brush off Minecraft as just another addictive video game, I need to constantly remind myself that while I’m not into it… Paul is. I don’t get his obsession just like my parents didn’t get mine.

And the stuff that Paul is learning as he plays countless hours of Minecraft really are his investment into the next great Geek Class Rising right before our eyes.

Other things I’ll write about Minecraft later:

  • Why is Minecraft so addicting? What is it doing to our kids brains?
  • What do parents need to know about Minecraft?
  • Is Minecraft safe for my kid?

 

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Spouses of Youth Workers http://adammclane.com/2014/07/01/spouses-of-youth-workers/ http://adammclane.com/2014/07/01/spouses-of-youth-workers/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 15:48:49 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15196 A couple weeks back I was waiting in the drive-thru at Starbucks. Yes, I know this is counter “The Starbucks Way” and using the drive-thru at Starbucks reveals my addiction to caffeine instead of my innate draw to have a local living room experience. But I digress. I was on my way to high school small groups […]

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A couple weeks back I was waiting in the drive-thru at Starbucks.

Yes, I know this is counter “The Starbucks Way” and using the drive-thru at Starbucks reveals my addiction to caffeine instead of my innate draw to have a local living room experience. But I digress. I was on my way to high school small groups and I needed drugs. OK? There, that’s the truth. I needed drugs! It was for the children’s safety. Trust me. 

So, while I waited in line… one eye on the clock ticking ever closer to my being late, yet again… and the other eye on my drug dealer taking her sweet time making chitchat with the car in front of me when all I really needed was my fix… I started to have this little thought:

The spouses of my youth ministry friends are awesome.

Here’s what I mean: I know a bunch of people in youth ministry. I mean, a bunch. People who work in churches of all shapes and sizes, big parachurch ministries, start-ups, youth ministry companies, on and on.

And here’s the simple, hard-hitting, unmistakeable truth about a lot of those who are successful: They couldn’t do it without an amazing spouse who makes them better.

While I do mean that somewhat practically, like… their spouse looks after the kids or brings home the bacon so that they can continue in youth ministry for the long haul— I also mean that there are youth ministry spouses who are amazing people outside of the practical support they bring in support of their spouse’s ministry.

Still waiting for my cup of coffee, I jotted down this note: “It’d be cool to profile youth ministry spouses on the blog.

That’s why I’m writing this small post today.

I’m curious if you think it’d be worth it to interview and write profiles of youth ministry spouses. And if so, what are some things you’d like to know about youth ministry spouses that’d be helpful to you in your ministry?

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Photos and Videos from Guatemala http://adammclane.com/2014/06/29/photos-videos-guatemala/ http://adammclane.com/2014/06/29/photos-videos-guatemala/#comments Sun, 29 Jun 2014 14:48:36 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15193 I’m back home in San Diego now, arrived very late Friday night. While my bags are unpacked I’ll still have several more days of unpacking the experience. I’m finding myself going back to the trip journal to look for updates from the team. Yup, kind of jonesing to go back already.  Over the next couple […]

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I’m back home in San Diego now, arrived very late Friday night. While my bags are unpacked I’ll still have several more days of unpacking the experience. I’m finding myself going back to the trip journal to look for updates from the team. Yup, kind of jonesing to go back already. 

Over the next couple of days I’ll finalize my photos and videos from the trip.

Photos on Flickr

Videos on YouTube

Here’s a quick video I finalized yesterday, a time-lapse of the drive from Calderas back to Guatemala City.

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Two Stories, One Story, Our Story http://adammclane.com/2014/06/28/two-stories-one-story-our-story/ http://adammclane.com/2014/06/28/two-stories-one-story-our-story/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 09:15:40 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15186 Pedro We met Pedro completely randomly. I had a stomach ache, so sitting around the church was just a reminder of the discomfort I was experiencing. Rob and Ross, my compatriots and Praying Pelican staffers, were stir crazy. We decide to go for a little walk around the lake just to see what we could […]

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Pedro

We met Pedro completely randomly.

I had a stomach ache, so sitting around the church was just a reminder of the discomfort I was experiencing. Rob and Ross, my compatriots and Praying Pelican staffers, were stir crazy. We decide to go for a little walk around the lake just to see what we could see.

Factually, in a village of 200 families there isn’t a lot to see. A couple small shops. An empty parking lot. And a small road that leads up the hill on either side of the lake to the next village. Three gringos walking around can’t exactly blend in. So our walk was predicated by stares and cautious waves hello.

We walked about 1/4 mile past where we’d been when we saw an abandoned tourist attraction, a zip line that came off the hill and through the forest, sweeping over the lake. There was also a small pavilion where we guessed they served food. But it was all abandoned, it’d clearly been a couple years since anyone had paid to use it.

On our way back towards the church we came to a grassy area, an area once developed by the zip line company but also abandoned. A horse grazed on the uncut grass while some boys played a summers long game of soccer. Near the waters edge a man sat on the edge of an abandoned pool, staring out over the lake.

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Rob and I marveled at what we saw. “It’s like a Monet” one of us said searching for words to describe what we were seeing. The windless lake cast a glassy reflection in the quiet late afternoon breeze, a million shades of green from right to left from waters edge to edge in the stillness.

While we awed at the scenery Ross made small talk with an elderly man standing at the entrance to this park, he leaned on a barbed wire fence, griping firmly as if he were holding onto a secret.

How long have you lived here?

I’m 74, I’ve lived here about 50 years.

It’s beautiful here.

Yes, it is beautiful. It’s very quiet, too. It’s always been a small village, but some people moved away after the eruption.

Is this a park? Who does it belong to?

It belongs to the man that owns the horse that is eating grass. He also owns the coffee fields on the hill. Before the eruption people came here but since he hasn’t repaired the pool or the zip line, he has more important things to do I suppose. No one comes here anymore.

Can you tell us about that day? Where were you?

I was at home. There was an earthquake and then rocks started falling from the sky, then the ash.

Was it expected?

No. We had no warning. Before the eruption, previously, there had been a warning to expect a major eruption and everyone was prepared, but it didn’t happen then. This came suddenly.

What’s different in Calderas since the eruption?

There is a lot of fear. We are all afraid that it will happen again. That never existed before the eruption, but now everyone in the village lives in fear. We are all afraid it will happen again at any moment.

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We met Kendra Monday at the airport. Like the rest of her team, she was excited to be in Guatemala with her friends and eager to somehow serve.

She fronted me. She kept me away with her humor and confidence. She’s bubbly and fun. Outgoing and quick without being brash. But I knew she was fronting me, and I was OK with it. Certainly, the team could say I was fronting them, too. I have a tendency to use my role, a camera or a question or looking busy to keep from lifting a shovel or playing with kids on the street. We all front.

On Thursday night Kendra shared her testimony at church and I cried. A room full of strangers, some who spoke her language while most didn’t, we bonded together by her story in a way only the Spirit can. Realistically, we all cried.

Bravely, she stood up and shared her story.

She shared about growing up around the church, making an early commitment to Christ, and making more serious commitment early in her teen years.

She walked in faith in mostly good times with some trials, common trials many teenagers face.

But the story turned. This spring she experienced hardships. A friend passed away. Some tough times in her family. And a dream put on hold, somewhat related to these hardships.

“I was mad at God. I did everything right, why me?”

She explained that she searched for answers but couldn’t find a purpose for the things that had happened in her life, that she couldn’t just wash it away with Sunday School answers. She wondered the things we all wonder when bits of our life splatter against the proverbial fan, “Does God care about me? Why does all of this stuff have to happen one on top of another?”

Kendra shared that she came on this trip still angry. Her anger was a front. And it was a wall that she was tearing down in front of her friends and the congregation.

She shared how God was using her time in Guatemala to help her heal from these feelings. She saw God’s love in the little church in Calderas, the love she felt from the kids, the joy.

She thanked everyone for listening to her story. But everyone in the room was blown away with thankfulness that she had shared.

Yesterday we met Pedro and we met the Kendra.

Fear is their bond.

Fear is our bond.

Fear knows no cultural boundaries or languages.

Fear transcends right to our humanity, bonding us in our need for a Comforter.

But don’t forget that bravery is their bond, too. Pedro griped the barbed wire, choking his story of fear. Kendra, too, overcame the fear of sharing her story… her real story… And in both cases just verbalizing released the grip fear had just a little.


This week I’m in Guatemala with our missions partner, Praying Pelican Missions. If you want to learn more about PPM or their work in Guatemala, fill out the form below and I’ll follow-up with you next week.

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Photo gallery from Wednesday http://adammclane.com/2014/06/26/photo-gallery-wednesday/ http://adammclane.com/2014/06/26/photo-gallery-wednesday/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 11:17:00 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15181 This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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A rant for those who are against short-term missions http://adammclane.com/2014/06/25/rant-short-term-missions/ http://adammclane.com/2014/06/25/rant-short-term-missions/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:48:27 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15157 I’m writing this post in the back of a minibus after a long day. After 10 minutes of initial chitchat the bus has fallen silent. We are en route back to the small seminary in Guatemala City from the tiny village, Caldera, a community of a couple hundred families living on a mountain meadow which […]

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I’m writing this post in the back of a minibus after a long day. After 10 minutes of initial chitchat the bus has fallen silent.

We are en route back to the small seminary in Guatemala City from the tiny village, Caldera, a community of a couple hundred families living on a mountain meadow which hangs on the downslope of an active volcano.

I’ve now had 24 hours to get to know this team from a Christian school in the Philadelphia area. For about half of them it’s their first experience outside of the United States. For the other half they’ve been on 1-2 trips. Elijah, the group leader, has traveled extensively and been a part of many mission trips.

The team is great. They have great attitides, they aren’t afraid to work, and their hearts have been well prepared for the experience before them. Obviously, that starts and ends with leadership.

A great short-term mission experience comes from a well-blended cocktail of:

  1. A trip leader who spends lots of time and energy building into students and preparing them.
  2. An organization that has done its homework, careful to craft an experience that both suits the needs of the people coming and builds the framework of a partnership with local leaders who know what to expect .
  3. You have to have partner churches/organizations who are prepared for the guests… Not just meeting their physical needs, but holding a posture of looking to give and take, as with any partnership.

The project I’m working on this week has that cocktail. I don’t know if the team senses it yet, but this is going to be a great trip.

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About Today

Today the team got started on building a small fruit stand. The current stand, basically the pastor’s front porch, is a source of income which helps him fund his ministry. The new stand is separate from the house and closer to the road.

But the team is also putting a concrete roof on the stand for a unique purpose: A volcano shelter.

A few years ago the volcano erupted, sending ash and rock into the sky. Unfortunately, the rock and ash came down on the village… Fiery rocks fell on the town then covering it in a meter of ash. Before they were evacuated people sought shelter in the church, but their thin metal roof provided little protection as hot rocks flew through the roof. So the new fruit stand will have a reinforced concrete roof in the event that there is another eruption; people will have a safe place to find refuge.

Other than that, today the team got to know the village a little by exploring and inviting families to services. We also have started to get to know our hosts both in Guatemala City and Calderas.

Ivory Towers

This afternoon I was struck by the sincerity of it all.

Sometimes I’m just too industry savvy, you know? I know youth ministry and short-term missions very well from the organizational side of things. I know about the money, the good guys and the bad. And knowing too much has a tendency to remove the magic on what happens on a short-term trip, I’m a little jaded.

But today was different. The sincerity of the students who’ve come and the host church who’ve waited for them in anticipation, cut through any jadedness I might have had.

Truth be told, there is plenty of internal and external criticism facing short-term missions.

Internally, organizations struggle with mixing the cocktail I mentioned above. It’s really and truly hard to get it right. And it takes top to bottom focus to keep it right, which takes a lot of energy, effort, and transparency. So they struggle to get it right but are acutely aware of their shortcomings. And just like I carry some jadedness… You can imagine that for trip leaders who see a new group each week, there is enough questioning and self-doubt internally without external critique.

But there is the external critique. There are lots of cynics about short-term missions, some deserved and some not. But let’s acknowledge these external voices often come from Ivory Towers, people who aren’t on the ground… Aren’t aware of the daily struggles of organizations like Praying Pelican, but only espouse their cynical, oft outdated view that short-term missions is somehow an extension of 19th century imperialism and not at the very heart of missio deo.

Those people in Ivory Towers hide their laziness and uneasiness with the actual work of Mission behind the veil of do-good pseudo-intellectualism. They’ve read a book, they’ve listened to voices they admire deconstruct or second-guess methodology outside of their expertise or pay-grade, and then they repeat these views as their own, as if they were based upon absolute fact instead of opinion…. While they themselves have not seen what they complain about with their own eyes or if they have, it was decades ago when they were a youth pastor, it’s likely been years since they’ve actually been with teenagers! (Ironically, many of these voices are planting churches… Because that’s an industry completely free of good guys and bad guys, right? Plank meet eye.)

In short, those with an Ivory Tower objection to short-term missions are, in my opinion, in desperate need to see contemporary short-term missions with their own eyes.

It’s always easy to second-guess something you refuse to participate in. To them, I simply invite them back… To experience missio deo not just on paper or in your local community, but come and walk with the larger church. Be reminded of the power of stepping outside of your experience and culture to serve the needs of the broader church. A check will never cover your presence. So stop pretending it’s the same.

Those who think short-term missions is somehow automatically pimping the poor haven’t met Tyler, a high school student who very sincerely shared his faith with Hugo. They’ve not met Rachel who seemed to re-confirm her faith in Christ tonight while sharing her testimony. And they’ve not taken the time to observe Nate, who encouraged a room full of parents tonight with his short message from Ephesians 2.

For further consideration, the flip side is that short-term missions is often the only place teenagers and young adults are empowered (and depended upon) to actually lead. I think one of the reasons short-term missions is so valuable for students is because it’s often a place they are treated like adults, where they don’t watch “the pastor show” but actually get to live out their faith. So if not on a short-term trip… Then where?

So here’s my advice: Don’t over think short-term missions. Don’t let your cynical side lead. Don’t fall into the trap of higher criticism. Instead, Partner with an organization you can trust and allow it to be what it is: Simple.

And then, when you actually have some skin in the game, let’s address your concerns.


This week I’m in Guatemala with our missions partner, Praying Pelican Missions. If you want to learn more about PPM or their work in Guatemala, fill out the form below and I’ll follow-up with you next week.

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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Nervous Energy http://adammclane.com/2014/06/23/nervous-energy/ http://adammclane.com/2014/06/23/nervous-energy/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:23:03 +0000 http://adammclane.com/?p=15132 Nervous energy. I think that’s a good description for the weirdness of a travel day for every short-term mission team, especially high schoolers. I woke up this morning thinking of the youth leaders and their checklists. At this point, the day they fly, there isn’t much left to do. Count heads, reassure parents, and check […]

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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Nervous energy. I think that’s a good description for the weirdness of a travel day for every short-term mission team, especially high schoolers.

I woke up this morning thinking of the youth leaders and their checklists. At this point, the day they fly, there isn’t much left to do. Count heads, reassure parents, and check stuff off the list.

 

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But I also think about the students. Tonight we will pick them up. They will walk out of the airport, take heir first breathes of Guatemalan air, their eyes will dash back and forth wildly. And they’ll be full of nervous energy that’ll annoy everyone and no one at the same time.

Months ago, maybe longer, they decided to go on this trip. Maybe even before it was a fully formed idea they dreamt of going on a trip with their friends to a far away place.

Other Awaits

A need to go to Other.

To acquire the taste. The call to the Other starts with a sense within themselves, a need to explore things outside of their culture and language. Until they get here the Other is a curiosity to try new things and meet new people. But Other gets an ornament hung on its tree tonight, the imaginary Other becomes real.

Even in a global society connected in milliseconds to people everywhere, there is something unexplainable inside them which demands to smell, feel, and be immersed in the Other.

Acquisition of this comes out as nervous energy. But don’t misread it. They’ve never been to Other, of course they are nervous.

They are Brave

When I think of the students coming here today I admire the bravery that is showing itself this morning as they board that plane. They are so close to Other and yet Same annoyingly demands their last-minute attention.

Mom’s are nervous, too. They force a brave smile over a morning cup. They are compelled to say things, to double check and annoy their baby. Sibling’s peck. Dad’s murmur. But it’s mom who is forced to push.

In their inexperience students misread mom’s nervous-energy-words as nagging. But mom is excited, too. Leaving her high schooler at the airport brings fear to the surface but also feels like an accomplishment. She wants them to go but wants to hold on. Compelled by nurture she gives a shovehug. She misplaces her words, “I love you and I’m proud of you.” comes out as, “Don’t lose your passport and listen to your leaders.” It’s clumsy and loving. She pushes past her tricycle memories to will her baby to go see Other.

But I can’t forget that the students we will pick up later today are brave. It might be their bravest moment.

They’ve left Same to experience Other. Some will hate it here, but are willing to try. I think learning to hate a known is far superior to hating an unknown, I can respect that.

But a few will come to Other today and never be the same. Same will never look quite like Same, again. In the smiles and football game small talk this Fall when they are back in Same they will see shadows of Other. For them, coming to Other ruins Same forever. They know that already as they hug mom one last time. They want that, they need it.

The nervous energy doesn’t bug me. It’s what we all do when we are trying to be brave, to find Other.


This week I’m in Guatemala with our missions partner, Praying Pelican Missions. If you want to learn more about PPM or their work in Guatemala, fill out the form below and I’ll follow-up with you next week.

This is original content from Adam McLane. © adam mclane

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