New convention scholarship grant just announced; AGRM CEO to visit Ontario and Quebec missions this week; price break reminder: 2016 Annual Convention rates increase May 10; Hawaii church uses igloos to house homeless families; health care costs vary significantly from state to state
AGRM president visits a number of Ohio missions; overflow hotel added for AGRM convention; Media Innovation Competition submission deadline extended; NAEH releases annual report on homelessness in America; recent college graduates see brighter job market
Project to measure charity work of faith-based organizations; important annual convention updates and reminders; Rescue magazine features a new look and feel; plans to ease privacy rules on addiction treatment spark debate; group predicts revenue growth for nonprofits this year
Convention registration numbers stay at record pace; call for entries begins today for Media Innovation Competition; AGRM work continues on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; pediatricians add poverty to well-visit checklist; churches more likely to fear refugees than help them
AGRM board of directors meets this week; 2016 DC Forum is “sold out”; 100 Days of Prayer for annual convention begins March 3; Facebook launches nonprofit tutorial page; high rents in Portland contribute to homelessness situation
Important release update on Same Kind of Different as Me; convention registration price goes up March 1; DC Forum registration deadline approaches; City of Seattle continues to deal with homelessness crisis; U.S. charitable giving increases, particularly online
Hotel rooms filling fast for Jacksonville convention; registration open for AGRM’s 2016 DC Forum; participants wrap up first Ripple Effect gathering; new guidelines suggest all adults be screened for depression; charitable giving expected to increase in 2016 and 2017
AGRM president connects with members again this past week; registration continues as convention program grows; Same Kind of Different as Me webinar offers up-to-date info; social media offers personal story of helping homeless woman; children in deep poverty at risk for poor health
Early-bird convention registration rate ends December 16; survey finds mental illness rising among those served by missions; AGRM working behind the scenes on Paramount movie connections; poverty can negatively affect decision making; U.S. ranks high in World Giving Index
December 7 webinar to focus on mental health issues in missions; AGRM district elections just around the corner; don’t let early-bird convention registration slip away; Los Angeles moves to use public buildings for housing; new study finds loneliness might make you sick
In Colorado, there are 54 mountains with summits that reach into the thin air above 14,000 feet. My wife, Judi, has climbed 24 of them (a few of them more than once). She’s dragged me along on 19 of those treks, through rain, sleet, hail, graupel, and snow—and occasionally some sunshine.
The first reward for many early-morning hours of extreme exertion is breaking through timberline (the point at which trees stop growing). The views are terrific, both down and up.
Looking down you can see how far you’ve climbed—a verity that the vegetation kept hidden for most of the morning. Cabins and barns have turned to mere specks. People and livestock have become imperceptible. No matter how many mountains you’ve climbed, the first question you invariably ask is, “Did we really come that far?”
Then, looking up toward the summit (which hopefully is not experiencing a massive cloud buildup), the second question comes: “Can we really make it that much farther?” The temperature will be dropping; the winds will be stiffening. The trail beneath your boots will have unstable stretches. Lightning strikes are a real possibility.
But despite the visible obstacles and latent risks, there is something about a summit that draws you up.
AGRM has covered a lot of ground in recent years, some of it steep. A few folks have fallen behind or have chosen another trail, but many more have joined our hiking party. If you take the time to turn around, you’ll have to admit that the view from where we now are is quite spectacular. We’ve come a long way. And I think we all share a sense of accomplishment. But looking down the mountain and pondering the path behind doesn’t get us to the top. The peak is the other direction. So we’re picking up our poles, cinching our hoods, and climbing on. That’s because we know that the view from the peak will be unsurpassed.
I want to use this issue of Executive Session to talk about part of the trail we’ll be on in 2016. Last month, the AGRM board gave a thumbs-up to six initiatives that AGRM will be working on in 2016. You can see all six of them on the diagram. So as not to overwhelm you with words, I’ll explain three of them in this issue of Executive Session and three in next month’s edition.
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.
As we climb together, figuring out how to serve in a pluralistic society yet staying on course with our biblical mandates, here are the verses that the AGRM staff and board will be praying over you:
So ever since we first heard about you we have kept on praying and asking God to help you understand what he wants you to do; asking him to make you wise about spiritual things; and asking that the way you live will always please the Lord and honor him, so that you will always be doing good, kind things for others, while all the time you are learning to know God better and better.
We are praying, too, that you will be filled with his mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going (up the trail) no matter what happens—always full of the joy of the Lord, and always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the Kingdom of light (Colossians 1:9–12, The Living Bible).
Wouldn’t It Be Wonderful?!
CEOs: Imagine looking forward to board meetings because:
There were never disagreements regarding board and staff roles.
The concept of policy governance was understood and embraced.
Most discussions would center on reaching strategic objectives.
The organization’s core values were employed in decision-making.
Reliable data was always used to support proposals and theories.
Consensus was easy to achieve because polarization didn’t exist.
The entire board was fully embracing its key role in fundraising.
The board’s make-up was a mosaic of the city and those served.
You could count on there being no surprises during the meeting.
And you wouldn’t need to have a meeting next month to rehash
things and try to finish what could have been done in just an hour.
AGRM can help you make this happen—with full board support! We’re pulling out all of the stops with a new, nine-month program called Ripple Effect. We’re inviting eight AGRM member missions in the Northwest District (our starting point) to participate in 2016 (and we have a couple of seats for CEOs from elsewhere in North America to audit the program). We expect the ripples to spread very quickly to other missions and other districts.
In the corporate world, a program of this kind would cost upwards of $10,000. But thanks to a generous grant from the M.J. Murdock Trust, the cost barrier for rescue missions is very easy to hurdle.
We fully believe this program will be a game changer for rescue missions—and in the coming years, rescue missions that go through Ripple Effect will be models for others in Kingdom work who want to do the right things the right way.
Click this link for more information on how to reserve your spot (if you are in the Pacific Northwest) or how to get one of the audit seats.
AGRM Membership Dues
We want to let you know in advance that there will be a small increase in AGRM membership dues in 2016. The amount is approximately 4 percent. In dollars, that is an increase of $15 on our lowest membership category (missions with yearly expense budgets under $100,000) and an increase of $170 on our highest membership category (missions with yearly expense budgets of $10 million or more). If this increase—only the second in eight years—produces some frustration on your part or will pose a hardship on your mission, don’t hesitate to call AGRM Director of Operations Stacie Hughes. We’ll see what we can do to help you out.
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.
A Reminder to Not Compare Failures to Others’ Successes
Last month, a Princeton professor tweeted an unusual version of his CV that listed all of the fellowships, grants, degree programs and publications from which he was rejected, according to an article in the Huffington Post. Johannes Haushofer, an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs, wrote this explanation as a preface to his list of failures and rejections:
Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This ‘CV of Failures’ is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.
Indeed, failure is an essential element of success, but that doesn’t make it feel any easier when it happens. A rejection can easily send you spiraling, making you forget that failure can be a stepping-stone to future triumph.
Among psychologists, education, and parenting experts, there’s a renewed interest in researching our response to failure and the way it shapes our eventual achievements. Studies show that grit, not just intelligence, can predict whether a student will have academic success, and that having a “growth mindset”—the belief that one can learn new skills and expand one’s intelligence—can influence achievement.
A Stanford psychology researcher recently found that young children’s views on their own intelligence—specifically, whether intelligence is fixed from birth or can be expanded—may be shaped by observing their parents’ reactions to the child’s failures. The study showed that if a parent reacts anxiously or negatively to a child’s poor grade instead of teaching the child that there’s something to be learned, the child is more likely to believe that intelligence is predetermined and cannot be changed.
Bottom line: If you’re feeling like a loser after a failed effort, it’s probably because you’re comparing your list of failures, which you know all about, to other people’s successes, for which you know only part of the story.
Failure is an essential element of success, but that doesn’t make it feel any easier when it happens. A rejection can easily making an individual forget that failure can be a stepping-stone to future triumph.