District conferences in full swing: five held this week; AGRM work at Pine Ridge grows as first Safe House opens; important deadlines and reminders about AGRM events and activities; Internet addiction may signal other mental health problems; food insecurity in America declines, but many still hungry
Annual Snapshot Survey provides some of AGRM’s most-requested info; fall District Conferences begin next week; AGRM president speaks at European Association of Urban Missions; new board game raises awareness about homelessness; middle class incomes experience fastest growth rate on record
CEO Summit focuses on the future of rescue ministry; AGRM’s annual Snapshot Survey to be held September 29; ikmprovements made to individual and mission profiles; Seattle’s mayor names cabinet-level director of homelessness; study finds most adults with depression go untreated
We can still get you into AGRM's CEO Summit; fall District Conferences offer strong regional connections; attend a pre-release screening of I’m Not Ashamed; Olympic athletes' leftovers become meals for homeless people; volunteering later in life may benefit mental health
Paramount okays SKODAM screening at CEO Summit; fall District Conferences offer strong regional connections; London City Mission to host Worldwide Forum next year; three cities to house 100 homeless youth in 100 days; Canada’s child and family homelessness mirrors U.S.
CEO Summit will connect mission CEOs with major ministry leaders; convention resource page provides ways to share the event back home; AGRM monitors U.S. House tax reform plan; police release man suspected of homeless killings in San Diego; women more likely to face poverty after retirement than men
CEO Summit will address greatest concerns; Ripple Effect dates set for 2017; California Senate Bill 1146 has far-reaching implications; Anchorage could pay homeless residents to clean up their camps AAP says teen checkups should include suicide risk screening
Another AGRM convention is in the books; watch videos from last week’s event in Jacksonville; researchers strive to change the language of addiction; study provides a more accurate picture of unemployment; health issues become problematic for homeless people at a younger age
Important updates on health care law and new overtime rules; AGRM’s annual convention in full gear next week; opportunities to experience the convention virtually; U.S. adult smoking rate drops 15 percent; young adults increasingly likely to live with parents
Convention program continues to grow; scholarships add more people to an already full event; AGRM president signs letter concerning religious hiring; college students pushed out of foster care and into homelessness; NYC reports record number of both homeless people and billionaires
If nothing else, the 2016 U.S. presidential-nomination proceedings have certainly been entertaining. (Some would use the word alarming.) I have been fascinated by many of the headlines, particularly those from last week. The banners that grabbed my attention talked about huge division—one source used the phrase “major split”—in the ranks of evangelicals over who should be chosen for the top spot on the Republican ticket.
It’s as if the media still expects all evangelicals to have the same perspective on politics. We all know that many evangelicals today don’t even have the same perspective on matters of theology, let alone on who would make a good presidential candidate. But what I think is causing such confusion in the minds of reporters and pundits this go-round is that nothing is following the predictable patterns of the past.
Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the Moral Majority founder, is endorsing Donald Trump—and even said (to the surprise of many) that “The Donald” reminds him of his late father. Meanwhile, I have numerous Facebook friends who are aghast, pointing out (ad nauseam) that Trump is a thrice-married, adulterous casino operator who says he has never sought forgiveness for his sins.
Then there are the endless (expected) articles from evangelicals who are pushing “Christian identity politics,” praying that the next Commander in Chief can wrestle America back from the grip of the Evil One. But they are being rebuffed by plenty of evangelical bloggers who say that Rubio and Cruz are wrongly trying to run for president of a “Christian America” that no longer exists (if it ever did), and they won’t vote for either candidate.
Meanwhile, the “Christians for Bernie Sanders” website keeps getting hits from an increasing number of evangelicals—and they are not all Millennials. Indeed, there is political division in the evangelical world, the likes of which has not been seen in any previous election cycle.
With that being the case, there are just two things I want to say in this issue of Executive Session. The first is this: Because of the work you do and whose help you need to do it, and because you are the embodiment of your mission in the minds of so many supporters and stakeholders, let ’em all have to guess where your political allegiances lie. I just heard from a rescue mission CEO back East who suspects that his impulsive repost of a link suggesting that a certain unconventional candidate was the logical choice for followers of Jesus just got him unfriended by a major donor. Ouch.
Even those of you who live and work in “red” Middle America need to be especially cognizant of the fact that it’s not just the country that’s pluralistic; the evangelical world is also becoming pluralistic—and very sensitive.
Two guys sitting in the stands—one has a Packers shirt on and the other is wearing a Vikings jersey—can endure each other’s good-natured ribbing because they are unified by their love for the much bigger game of football. You have to wonder if the bigger objectives of the Great Commission can actually unify Christians with different political preferences these days. Say the wrong thing about a certain candidate and you can lose a friend—and they probably won’t tell you, they’ll just start to ignore you.
Most of you have learned how to successfully skate in the arena of politics when you’re on slippery (and sometimes thin) ice with governors and mayors and city council members and those in your continuums of care. Following the strategy Jesus chose for his team of disciples to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” should still be a worn page in your playbook—even when you are playing other Christians.
Surprisingly, in many circles it’s now more acceptable to talk about the gospel than it is to talk about politics. But that’s a good thing, because that’s what we should be doing anyway! Jesus didn’t dialogue much about politics, but he did have plenty to say about the work and will of His Father. I guess you could say that 2016 politics is constraining us to keep first things first.
The second thing I want to suggest certainly applies to politics, but it also has broader application. Here it is: It’s never a good idea to get out ahead of Jesus and assume our enthusiastic efforts to put in place (or in office) what (who) we believe is right for our ministry (country) is in line with His perfect plan.
In John 6, the miracle of feeding the 5,000 turned out to be an epiphany that promptly and passionately spread throughout the hillside throng. In verses 14 and 15, it says, “Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, ‘This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.”
Whether motivated by passion or panic, for us to write what seems to be the appropriate lines for Jesus’ leading role in our story is more than presumptuous. It’s also profane. His part is already in print; we simply have to be about His work, telling His story, and declaring His values. To say this another way, we should never project our plans on Him—whether it be in national politics, ministry strategies and tactics, organizational mergers and acquisitions, or whatever—believing that they are holy imperatives because (in our opinion) they are surely what Jesus would wish for, and they work well in our timelines.
We want to see His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. What we don’t want to see are the footprints of Jesus, walking away from us, up the mountainside and out of sight.
Blessed are those with a political perspective that promotes the Beatitudes. And blessed are those with the patience to let things come to pass in His time.
The next three weeks for me include the following:
The AGRM board meeting in Reno, Nevada, with orientation for five new board members.
An invitation for me to address the 100-member board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in Washington, D.C., and explain in detail the work of rescue missions today and what we see coming at us on the streets (and from the halls of government).
The AGRM DC Forum, followed by an invitation to address the Washington, D.C., Rotary Club.
Your prayers for my schedule (including everything mentioned above) are always appreciated.
I’d love to see you in Washington AGRM’s 2016 DC Forum provides a great opportunity to influence government in the proper way, to make your voice heard on the issues without being seen as political. You still have time to register and get a flight. Rhett Butler has put together a great program, including a first-ever meeting at HUD. Here is what the event is all about, what we will be doing, and how to sign up.
An Annual Convention price break is about to disappear On March 1, the fee for our big annual event goes up a bit. Have your team members get their registrations in this week to save money. Our registration numbers are keeping pace with last year’s record number. There are many reasons not to wait too long to sign up. Here is how to do that.
Ripple EffectTM Overseer: Ed Morgan
In an attempt to get to the heart of where many rescue missions (of every age and size) eventually experience frustrations and sometimes-serious setbacks, AGRM has just launched a new nine-month program for key board members and CEOs. Called Ripple Effect, this very thorough program will utilize two, two-day performance acceleration events, webinars, coaches (who will make “house calls”), mentors, books, articles, document preparation and alignment assignments, and more.
Ripple Effect will not be a program where participants contemplate theory, but one where they produce relevant documents and take numerous action steps, all bringing significant advancements on multiple levels. Participating missions will even sign a commitment to governance excellence upon completion of the program. The ultimate achievement of Ripple Effect will be an association with members whose boards are unified, focused, and doing the right things the right way—and influencing those around them and those coming behind to do the same. See the ad below for some realistic outcomes. Click this link for the full description.
Pine Ridge Sanctuaries Overseer: Selena Hayle
For three years, AGRM has been leading an effort to coordinate various ministry endeavors on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the second-poorest society in the Western Hemisphere (behind Haiti). There has been a lot of time spent on relationship restoration and trust building, plus identifying which methods can work and which service providers will be accepted in this unique setting. The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council is now embracing the work that AGRM is doing. As one Lakota man put it, “[You] have been a strong wind on the prairie.” But now we need to go to the next level.
The year 2015 has seen an epidemic of abuse and more than 200 youth suicide attempts, with about one in 10 being successful. Everyone on the reservation realizes that there is an urgency to rethink current programs and get help from outside organizations with experience. With the help of member missions in the area, we want to expedite the opening of two safe houses for women on the reservation and to see the launch of a youth safe house with a 24-hour suicide prevention-counseling program. We also want our work here to call national attention (and particularly to leaders in Washington, D.C.) to the plight of the poor on Indian reservations all over the U.S.
Mental Health/Respite Strategies Overseer: Brooks Ann McKinney
Some of our member missions report that as many as 70 percent of the guests they see during an evening intake have mental health disorders of one kind or another. Far too many admit that they don’t have procedures in place to identify and divert these people to an enhanced needs assessment unit. Moreover, they do not have trained personnel available who can recognize particular disorders. Just as many admit that they do not have relationships with medical facilities and treatment centers to which they can make referrals. One CEO told me, “We put them in chapel and then through the dinner line like everyone else, but I wish we could do something more.” At AGRM we want to start having regular conversations about what “something more” looks like. We want to start building a framework and a network for recognizing and referring—and ultimately getting the proper treatment—for those entering our missions with mental health disorders. I heard one person say, “I want all of our guests to hear a clear gospel presentation, but it’s hard to make a guy sit through chapel when he’s convinced he’s the Antichrist.”
Along those same lines, we want to start talking about respite care and what missions might be able to offer in this area. A CEO recently took me on a tour of his city and showed me a tarp under which a man was living and self-treating infections from an amputation. He showed me a doorway where a woman was recovering from double bypass surgery. From site to site it was the same story. That CEO now has 28 respite-care beds at his mission to allow people to recover in quiet, sanitary conditions and get regular, proper treatment. Mental health and respite care will be woven into a lot of our member services in 2016, and even sooner. On December 7, we will have a webinar for members on this subject. Mark your calendar. More details will be out by mid-November.
Next month I’ll explain our initiatives related to Outcomes/Reach Data, SKODAM + one, and National Civic Pluralism Policy. I think you’ll like where we’re going.
I just drove away from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and an all-day meeting of 15 influential leaders of the Oglala Lakota Nation. While sitting beside and across from Native Americans including Wilbur Between Lodges, Paul Iron Cloud, Rebecca Chief Eagle, Doyle Pipe On Head, and Duane Shot With Arrow, the ideas flowed and the excitement rose.
I recently sketched out a conjectural map. It’s how I envision every city’s Mission District. By "Mission District," I mean that conceptual community throughout the city—in reality, it doesn’t have to be contiguous—where intensive programs and services outlined in Matthew 25:34–36 are offered, or from where they emanate.
Very few issues have dogged traditional rescue missions in recent years more than Housing First. Looking only at the schematics, one might assume a sole reason why: Housing First steps around the conventional continuum of care, taking homeless individuals straight from the street and putting them into government-run or government-subsidized apartments.
Earlier this month, in Part 1, I pointed out that homelessness has worked its way into the everyday vocabulary of rescue mission leaders. It’s front and center on the stage we’re viewing. But as history has shown us, at some point, we are going to rotate past homelessness to the next big thing. So what might we be moving toward?
The primary assignment of an association is to be prophetic. Unquestionably, producing relevant resources and advocating on members’ behalf are essential tasks. And setting a spiritual tone for everyone connected is a fundamental charge. But prophecy is job one.
It’s a typical suburban church building in a typical suburban neighborhood. It sits on a sometimes-busy street lined with ranch-style houses. But what’s going on these days at Redemption Church in Olathe, Kansas, is far from typical.
My brother traveled to Schopfloch, Germany, to explore the hamlet of our ancestors. His tour of the medieval town brought him to the Lutheran church cemetery. When he couldn’t find any headstones for Eshelman—our family name before colonial relatives Americanized it—he asked the vicar where they might be. Gesturing like a song leader with fidgety fingers, he said, “Sie sind pulver in der brise.” Translation: They are powder in the breeze.
For this last Executive Session of the year, I decided to give you a present you can re-gift and stick under your board chair’s Christmas tree. It’s something I hope is not needed anytime soon (especially for your sake). And unfortunately, it’s something he or she might not want to accept from you at the time it is needed. My present is six “don’ts” wrapped in advice gleaned from 30 years of experience in association management.
The midday sun was intense and the midtown sidewalks were crowded. Smartly dressed office workers wove their way through the onslaught of oncoming humanity in search of a quick sandwich and a brief respite from daily duties. Atop a milk crate near a crosswalk, head and shoulders above all the passersby, stood a wild-haired man in a dark wool blazer, dress shirt, and clashing tie. Sweat poured down his face as he waved a closed Bible.
Earlier this month, Willow Creek Association held its annual Global Leadership Summit. An estimated 160,000 church and ministry leaders attended via satellite linkup in various cities. Several antidotes and one-liners from keynote speakers hit their mark with me.
This issue of "Executive Session" is coming to you from a Starbucks located on Alpine Shadows View in Colorado Springs. The landscape outside the window is as black as the Grande Americano I’m sipping. Just a few blocks away, the recent Waldo Canyon fire did some of its heaviest neighborhood damage.
The month of March has been a blur of distant airline terminals, littered city streets, and a whole lot of unfamiliar faces. I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home. That’s never fun, but it comes with the job.
But the lessons I learn on the road are particularly powerful. For this issue of Executive Session, I thought I would take a different course and share two special experiences from my March travels abroad—and the thoughts God impressed upon me.
Every night on my homeward commute, I notice more and more houses adorned with colorful blinking bulbs. With Thanksgiving now a memory but Christmas looming large, there seems to be a scramble in the neighborhoods to illuminate lawns and brighten spirits. Despite the lights and the abundance of public festivities, psychologists tell us that the end-of-year holidays yield the most depressing days of the year for far too many people.
Nebuchadnezzar II excelled at grandiose expressions of anger, beauty, and pride. He was the unassailable king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire who destroyed Israel’s first majestic temple, built the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and set up a nine-story image of gold on the Plain of Dura, commanding everyone to worship it.
No one can deny that we live in changing (and contentious) times.
In this issue of Executive Session, I discuss the need for leaders to change with the times, or face the possibility of being replaced. Incidentally, this topic is something that will be on the table during the AGRM CEO Summit, held next month in Colorado Springs. Also in this issue of the newsletter is a list of the CEOs who have already signed up for this important event
North America is not the rest of the world, and when we compare our missions to those in other countries, it is obvious that there are many differences. But this doesn't mean we can't learn from other nations---especially from places that have already experienced cultural shifts that are most certainly coming our way...
With millions of people across North America falling victim to abuse, getting caught in the grip of addiction, and finding themselves on the streets, the problems of those in need can be overwhelming. Fortunately, God—knowing our energy and our empathy have limits—called us to a specific community to reach out to certain individuals.
The Scriptures speak of the untamable tongue, which some use to praise God and others to spread corruption. This is a truth we experience every day in a continent saturated by strong and loudly voiced opinions.
Meaningful giving at Christmastime sometimes gets lost in frantic shopping trips, stressful schedules, and commercial holiday hype.With so great a need and so many people demanding of your time and energy, it may be extra challenging to experience this aspect of holiday joy.
U.S. Median Household Income Increases for Third Consecutive Year
Map Shows How Your State Compares to the National Average
Real median household income in the U.S. showed a statistically significant increase between 2014–2015 reports the U.S. Census Bureau.
The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with reliable and timely demographic, social, economic, and housing data for the country, states, congressional districts, counties, places, and other localities every year. It has an annual sample size of about 3.54 million addresses across the United States and Puerto Rico and includes both housing units and group quarters (e.g., nursing homes and prisons).
The 2015 U.S. median household income was $55,775, 3.8 percent higher than the 2014 median. This was the third consecutive year with a statistically significant increase in the national median household income. State income estimates from the 2015 ACS ranged from $75,847 in Maryland to $40,593 in Mississippi. Median household income was lower than the U.S. median in 26 states and higher than the U.S. median in 18 states.