Thursday, November 26, 2009

thanksgiving peeps

"It is therefore recommended... to set apart , for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor..." SAMUEL ADAMS: FIRST OFFICIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION:

In Belgium I had the chance to explain where Thanksgiving comes from, and why we celebrate it. Apparently there were no pilgrims and Native Americans there...

2009 will be remembered for a year when I discovered how grateful I am for a new level of living life in community through joy and sorrow.
So, today I am grateful for...
people who make me laugh.
people who challenge me to think differently, to continue to grow.
people who can cry in front of me.
people who when I cry, still listen to my words through my tears.
people who remind me to do the right thing.
people who love my family, like their family.
people who are consistent amd faithful.
people who forgive me when i hurt them.
people who trust me with their truth.
people who make me feel enough to cry.
new and old (not chronologically speaking) people.

This year, I think I discovered at a new level that I am a “people who needs people.”
Thanks friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Producing a Global Leadership Summit

Jarrett, Willow Creek Conference Manager, Gary, Exec VP Intl WCA, Johan and Karin Klein, the heart of the Belgium Summit

So people have asked what do I do when I produce a Summit.I thought I’d write some of it out…

I arrived in Belgium on Wednesday and meet a couple who had been pleading Willow Creek to bring the Summit to Brussels for about a decade. This couple, Johan and Karin, lead a small house church of 20 people. They are passionate about leading Belgium to Christ and use events like the Summit to challenge and mobilize the churches in their cities.

This is Brussels second year of the Summit. Last year they had Joe Horness, formerly a worship leader at Willow producing (read: big shoes) and this year, because Willow thought they still needed a little coaching they sent me.
I will work with them, to deliver this (Summit) baby. It is like a baby… because it takes months to get here… and then in a few short hours of labor and delivery it is here… and then the real work begins. It's also a little like delivering a baby because we are strangers to one another, for the most part, but we have to get to know one another quickly, they have to trust my experience and I have to get to know them quickly, and know when to "push" (tee hee pardon the pun).

Belgium is a spiritually dark country.
2% of the population consider themselves proestant and 7% Catholic. This compares with 78% of Americans who consider themselves Christian.
The summit is 6 sessions on video tape of teaching focused at mobilizing church leaders to make a difference in their community and world.
The six sessions
Friday night
1 Bill Hybels- senior pastor Willow Creek Church - practical advice for managing the church during an economical crises. financial, HR and personal health guidelines
2 Tim Keller- pastor of a NY church- a message on the prodigal son analogy Jesus used. Tells the story in a way that I've never heard it. A great challenge to the stale church.
3 John Ortberg- my favorite teaching pastor and my favorite talk ever. What prevents us from leading to our full potential.
4 Gary Hamel- business scholar and believer. Is the church changing as fast as the rest of the world? We must if we are going to reach people.
5 Bono- Three years ago Bono and Bill Hybels sat down and Bono challenged the sleeping church because it wasn't doing enough about global poverty and health crises. This year they sat back down again and reviewed how the church has made a diffference. Stories were shared from churches around the world who are doing something....
6 Harvey Carey- Detroit (black baptist) preacher who took a 50% paycut to move from NYC to Detroit to pastor a church there. Kick in the pants talk on what we CAN do in our communities. His church does things like... when you come on Sunday we go out and pray for people in the community right then. Every house, ring the doorbell, pray for people kind of stuff. Or an overnight camp out in front of the drug houses in the neighborhood. They've shut down or moved 8 out of their neighborhood.

We have 6 sessions, music, creative elements, announcements, french, dutch and english translations for each session etc. to fit in to Friday night and Saturday.
Thursday we spent the day reviewing the plans for each of the six sessions.
What is the best flow of the session, what songs should we sing, when should the worship leader speak, is the energy of the music right for the moment... Friday night after work... Saturday morning after a late night, or after a lunch break...
If we do this, does it mean we can't do that? Should we start early or on time? Is there enough time for a dinner break? How long does that take?
When should the tech team and band/vocals arrive for rehearsal? How should they prioritize their rehearsal time? Run soundchecks. If they dont get to everything before we open doors to the conference in the morning, can we add another rehearsal during a break?
The band/vocals/tech team had 12 people drawn from 8 different churches in the area. They dont know one another well, but have had a couple of rehearsals together. Who is in charge here? Problem solve when things dont go according to plan. We plan, God laughs. When the technical director is laid up for 4 days and now can't come, help figure out how we are going to do it without him. Who is most capable in what roles (strangers to me and one another) and how can we roll up our sleeves and get it done. Encouraging and coaching all along the way, knowing that 1. they dont do this level of programming week in and week out like we do and 2. that they need to be equipped to do all of this in their own way themselves next year. Watching constantly for who has the right mix of gifts for leadership next year.
Remembering I am an American woman and a stranger with all the baggage that goes with that.
Remembering that because I am from Willow (which is like the Mother ship ) if i suggest something, in most cases all energy and effort will be given to that rather than it just being an idea or a discussion. It's too much power in some cases.
Always keeping the values of team work and serving and excellence (the best with what we have) in mind.
Doing all of this where English is the second or third language.

And then there are the technical aspects.
For this conference that's 4 vocalists, 5 musicians, 2 lighting rigs, 2 dvd players playing simultaneously in case of a failure, 2 facilitators, a mime, some late additions of video/programming elements projected on to 2 large screens in a funky shaped room, none of which was really set up or in the room when we got there.

We set everything up on Thursday, make sure it all works, then decide at every moment of the conference what will be heard, seen and how the lighting will affect each moment.
Should it be dark while we're singing, how dark? Should it be a little lighter during the messages so people can take notes? How light? In a rented room where house lighting is funky i.e. everytime you change the lighting up or down, half the lights do this major twinkling thing which is distracting so is the lighting change worth doing or not?
Oh and the mime, with props on saturday morning. How will we clear the musicians off the stage and transition to her mime quickly. Is a mime appropriate in Belgium?
What can we minimize on stage so that she is the focus, with physical stage transitions and lighting? Oh and there's a video clip at the end of her mime. let's decide if we want to have sound, or not for the mime clip, since it's a mime, afterall.
Oh and your trumpet teacher who is not a believe is coming to play Amazing Grace… where and when makes the most sense?
Get them up and running in rehearsal and leave the room to go print something downstairs and come back and of course, there’s something wrong with sound and we’ve screeched to a halrt. And now rehearsal is running late and it's time to open doors now... whats the greater value, rehearsal or open doors? The answer… preparation for when the most people are in the seats… so we apologize for opening late, offer people a cup of coffee and continue to get ready.

These kinds of decisions are made all the time. Competing values is what we call them. There's a value to everything and a cost. Keep the big idea in mind... weigh the costs vs. the benefit and make a decision, communicate the why because it's really just a choice. All the time choices. There's rarely a right or wrong in my world. A producer looks at the big picture and makes the decisions.

Facilitation. Because we are in Belgium, the conference videos are in English with both French and Dutch subtitles on the screen.
Oh, the subtitles are at different positions every talk, so let's think through how we need to test/adjust the screen each time so that the best image is projected for this session.
We have a French and a Dutch translator who do all the announcements. What should they bother to say and when is it too much talking? They also spend time following each session pointing the attendees to a list of questions in their conference notebook and give them time to discuss what they have heard. How much time should this take each session? What should the facilitators say to spark discussion but not repreach the message. Is this more of a personal time of reflection or a team discussion time? What should the lighting in the room be during this moment? What is the mood at the end of the message, is it upbeat- go change your world, or reflective, challenging, introspective and how does that affect the tone of the facilitation. Oh, and what do the 20 or so English speaking people do while the French and Dutch facilitation is going one, how about side screeen announcements for them, ok what's the script? Oh, so the event managers dont like the french or dutch subtitles for two or the sessions, ok, how will we distribute a couple of hundred headsets to people who speak two different languages for those sessions, get them back and charged and back out. Does the translation system work this morning? Oh, the Dutch translator is late, hmmm what shall we do? Oh, and when those lights are on it creates a buzz in the translation systems for the Dutch speaking people. Who can solve this and how quickly?

This is... what I did.

It's event management, volunteer coordination and decision making all the time.
I absolutely love it. I make mistakes every time and learn more every time.
This was my eleventh Summit to produce. Nine at home, 1 in Honduras last year and then Belgium. In most ways, this one was easier primarily because it's my second time doing it so I felt like I better understood what was expected of me and how I fit in and, speaking of understanding… the people i worked with spoke more English so that helped me to be more engaged in the moment and decision making.

I absolutely believe in the content of the conference, in equipping leaders to see their potential and do more with it, this kind of teaching and resources which are so prevalent in the States is so much harder to get there. And, a lot of pastors have teaching and shepherding gifts but may not have a lot of training in team building, equipping and mobilizing volunteers or business management. So any way we can help them is a good good thing.

But, personally my favorite part of producing a Global Summit is the opportunity to work with an individual team on the ground in a new place, the 1:1 conversations, listening to their ideas, why things matter to them, talking through how one thing affects another and reaching, in most cases, a decision together, and occasionally in some cases- making an unpopular call from the gut, for the greater good. I love thinking through every detail, juggling alot at one time, watching people use their gifts to build the church around the world.

On the way to the airport Karin said, “we used to be Sunday Christians but then we heard Bill Hybels talk about the mission and importance of a vision and then we knew we must do something.” Today, just a few years later she and her husband and a small network of Belgium believers are making a difference equipping church leaders through events like the Summit. It's really incredible.

I am unbelievably grateful to my family and team for the opportunity to go and serve and have front row seat.
Every trip I come home realizing how fortunate I am to serve with my team week in and week out at such a resourced church. And the question always remains, are we doing the best w3 can with what WE have…

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Global Leadership Summit - Belgium

The longer you are in the trenches the easier it is to mistake the edge of your rut for the horizon. - Gary Hamel
Wondering how to put the past few days in to words and phrases. I am so grateful for this opportunity, to be here, to learn and to serve and to expand my own horizon.

I will remember this place because of the joy of Johan, who deeply cared while smiling his way through every detail, because of Karin who has instincts and passion for the Belgiums people WAY beyond the 20 people in her home church, for Audri who is a humble, calm, work horse who I would want in any trench with me, for Daniel, the young Belgium producer who answered a last minute call and served with excellence beyond what I could expect, for the reminder of what a priviledge it is to be here when others like Jeroen are too sick to come, for young beautiful Jemima- a sensitive capital A storyteller, for Yo who is tender and in pain and still serving every moment, for the warmth of young love, for Peter the drummer who is also a sound guy and a guitarist and the list could go on, for Henri and Janet who were sensitive and bright in their translation,for a great arrangement of More Love, More Power and getting to sing You are My Hiding Place again, for David, for yet another coooool bass player, the grin of a percussionist, the young piano player who worships at the keys, for Rebekkah who led with passion and authenticity and whose “L” is most present on the platform, for Joke (pronounced Yoko) for the beauty of her flowers, for a team who understand we are better when we all contribute, for kindness, for crummy internet, sandwiches, sleeping in a bunk bed with Molly, for parking tickets and mostly for a community that understands that church is not about a building and longs for its community to know Christ.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paris Nov 17th 2009

We spent the morning doing a historical Paris walking tour courtesy of a Rick Steves podcast.

Notre Dame... wow. Caught the end of mass there... can't get over thinking about what the peasant people of Paris thought of God in light of the hard work put in to building this place and the enormity and grandeur of it... it's seriously gorgeous. Got to see the one origial Rose stained glass... from the thirteenth century. Speechless...

Shakespeare Books- loved it! The description outside says the books are stored like chapters in a book... so true. Utter delightful chaos.

The Latin Quarter. Fabulous! Want to come back and eat my way through it... at night with live music it must be one of the coolest places here.

Last stop today, the Eiffel tower. It's just one of those things you gotta see... and we spent an hour or so with her. Beautiful.

We've spent a bit of time this trip discussing function vs. fashion. All pics posted of me will be from the ankle up by order of Molly. Wish i had an example but I"m still taking pics with the monster cam and have no working card reader for it.

Food today... we are definately in a rut. Crepes and frites and Pasta Carbonara and Frites. I know... ridiculous!

Didn't get to everything we thought we might while we're here, but I'm savoring time with Molly here and what we are getting to see. We're currently in our room, both journaling, listening to the new John Mayer release.
Loving life today and so grateful for the opportunity we have had to be here.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Paris Nov 16 09

Arrived in Paris this morning, seem to be managing the travel ok.
Having some issues with the card reader and the "good" camera, so here's a favorite from the day from the back up cam.

At a glance, here is Paris, to me, today.

Loud, cars have the right of way- not pedestrians, motor bikes/scooters everywhere I WANT ONE but would be afraid to drive it here.

Smoking is only allowed outside so the sidewalks are full of smokers, it is the first and last place in my life that I’ll ever consider smoking because it just seems cool. (note to my mother- I’m not going to do it). It’s just that it feels very movie like and foreign, and I dont mind it here.

People seem more involved in conversation here... which frustrates me because we can't really take part because I didn’t study the language before coming.
Very frustrated with myself on this particular point.

Well dressed french men, and few pretty french women, so far.
People wear a lot of black and 2/3 of the women wear a coat with leggings tucked in boots. (Knew I should have bought those new black flat boots….)
And there are WAY more men than women on the street.
Men wear pink here, and for the most part, with black it’s working for them.
And that completes our fashion update for the night.

We walked a lot today. I think this is the best way to see a city intimately.
We stumbled across the Arc du Triumph in our neighborhood. Wandered around Montmarte.

Food… let’s see pasta with prosciutto, frites. Crepe. Steak and frites. Currently staring at a palmier and a chocolate macaroon that I hope Molly will eat so I don’t. Food comes fast here. I like that.
But I feel lame every time I don’t stick around to drink coffee following the meal. Perhaps instead of smoking I should take up coffee?

Found a Starbucks or 2... in Paris!

We traveled a short distance on the train with 4 British women, we affectionately are calling the Spice Girls.
We tried to stand close so we could hear them talk about Dancing with the Stars and the latest celebrity gossip. They were adorable.

Decided not to over program this trip.
I can be a commando, take no prisoners, have a plan, see everything sort of traveler.
This trip, trying to be more loose, in the moment with Molly and take things as they come.
Her favorite movie has always been Moulin Rouge, so since we’re here we went to the show tonight.
Well… as I twittered… it’s not for everyone.
She and I politely laughed our way through it trying to imagine describing it in detail to Abby who would think she’d want to go, but would have hated it.
Did I mention they had miniature horses? And, lovely… I have the “can can” song playing in my head, it's not exactly a lullaby... and that’s about all I’m going to say about that! Oh except… Molly drank her first champagne tonight and I was there. That was fun!

Our hotel, the Monceau Elysses is adorable.
We are in a loft type room with two single beds on the top floor.
It’s adorable with Victoria’s Secret pink striped wall paper!
She and I are facing one another now, typing on our laptops and one of us simply must set the example and go to bed!
It’s nearly 1am Tuesday, now.

The first 24 hours

Wow... first European travel experience!
Up Sunday morning at 2:15 at the airport by 3:30 then on a plane for a 6am flight to Chicago (where I tried to stay awake, somewhat unsuccessfully)
We had a lengthy lay-over in Chicago and it is one of my favorite places in the world (so far) so Molly and I took the train into town for a quick trip to some favorite spots. The American Girl store on Michigan Ave, Giordano's Pizza, couple of cab rides, Millenium park, then back to the airport. As you can see, my ongoing fascination with "the bean" continues.
It was a whirlwind trip!
This is my favorite pic from the day...

Then on another plane for an 8 hour flight to Paris. I found myself absolutely unnerved flying over the water- a wee bit freaked, so I forced myself to sleep for that part of the flight, rather than watch all the different things available on a personal screen in front of me, or the multitude of french vocab/historylessons I should have been listening to.
But we made it!
We rode the subway to our hotel, took a quick walk to the Arc du Triumph, had lunch at a bistro- had trouble knowing what to order.... again, should have spent time with my French lessons but split some great pasta and then to our hotel, the cutest thing ever for a long nap! That's 24 hours.

Posting things from here is s l o w so I will likely only do a couple pics a day for our travel blog. I will post more at my facebook page.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting Ready...

In 48 hours I'll be leaving for Europe.

I'm getting the opportunity to produce another Global Leadership Summit, this time, in Brussels, Belgium.
So, what does that mean?
That means that I'll be arriving in Brussels on Wednesday, greeted by Johan and Karin Klein, the Summit event managers.
Yes, it will be one of those... name on a placard sort of meetings, but in a European train station!
Yes, I'm excited.
I'm excited to be part of something way beyond me.
I'm excited to have a tiny role in helping to equip church leaders around the world.
And, I'm excited to be challenged.
Every week at home, my work is creative and different and challenging, but this is different because I hit the ground running and have to build relationships quickly, learn to think and communicate in a new culture, problem solve, coach and encourage and most of all serve.
First in, last out, wits about me- balance mission with relationship, serve.

But what do I do????
I'll be working with a Belgium creative team on several worship sets for the conference. We'll be working together to create moments where community in a somewhat divided country can happen and where the Arts can be an instrument used by the Holy Spirit to challenge and encourage.

And because I'm a tecky at heart, I'm also anxious to work with the the technical team who move in to a rented space, with all the challenges that go along. For example, last year the screen arrived about 30 minutes before the first session so we used the wall for the morning sessions.

And, this year I'll be more involved with the facilitators of each session. Following the Summit sessions, two facilitators "unpack" the session, in two languages! with the conference attenders. So, knowing the content of the six sessions, the culture of the audience, and sensing the room are critical.

Last year, I had the chance to do this in Honduras and still maintain some relationships from my time there. It changed how I view the world and the "C"hurch. I cannot wait to join the team in Brussels!

And... this year, my daughter Molly is traveling with me.
We leave Sunday morning and arrive Monday in Paris for two nights there.
If our internet connections are good we'll keep our travel journal here.