Book Review – A Disruptive Gospel by Mac Pier

Last fall, a number of Ottawa leaders attended the Movement Day Conference in NYC.  It was an excellent time bringing together over 3,000 international leaders.  As part of the welcome package, each participant received the book A Disruptive Gospel: Stories and Strategies for Transforming your City by Mac Pier.

This book fired my imagination for what can happen in a city.  The recent history in NYC is an example.  The book cites Tony Carnes’ research that indicates the percentage of the population in Manhattan who worship in an evangelical church has jumped from less than 1% to more than 5% in 25 years.  Pier credits a number of things for this. His big idea is:  As leaders are increasingly present to one another, God is increasingly present to the city.  He goes on to credit united prayer, effective preaching and grace to enhance the planting and growth of churches.  He notes there also has been significant effort in developing millennial leaders to ensure the future of the movement in NYC.

The book looks at movements in a number of other cities and countries from around the world.  These include Dallas, Manila, Mumbia, Chennai, Dubai, Singapore, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria, Kigali and the United Kingdom.

I was particularly struck by the discovery in the United Kingdom that there are at least 116 unity movements.  These movements are found all across the UK in nearly every major city and town. All of them birthed for mission and transformation.

Here are some of the elements that Pier suggests for a healthy city movement:

  • Everyone involved – the movement does better when it includes the majority of church leaders, Christian organizations and key Christian leaders in the cultural spheres.
  • Friendship and prayer – a healthy movement sees both of these as growing and important.
  • Mission – the city leadership must share a regular joint mission with special focus on the most vulnerable.
  • Transformational vision – people must have a vision to see their city significantly transformed culturally, socially and spiritually over the next thirty years.
  • Partnership approach – the leaders must be willing to link significantly with public, private and third sector partners.
  • Spheres focus – church leaders should enable, train, and release church members to be whole life disciples in their spheres of life and influence.

As I was reading the book I was evaluating where we are at in Ottawa.  I think we are doing well in terms of relationships and friendships. Where I think we can grow is the following:

  • I am looking for more leadership buy-in across the city.  Leaders who catch this vision and are willing to partner.  I’m encouraged to see how much buy in we have and how many leaders are now working together, but we need more.
  • More passionate, bold  and strategic prayer.  I long for God to visit and disrupt our city and for our leaders to be praying more together.
  • Creative ways to engage our younger leaders to release them into starting Kingdom focused businesses, social enterprises and churches.

If you want to get stirred up about Gospel City Movements and need some ideas on how to move that forward, pick up this book.  I recommend it.

How I manage my tasks.

I get asked from time to time how I manage the things I commit to?

Here’s my system.  It seems to work.

When I am meeting with anyone, I use a notebook and pen (fountain of course) to take notes.  I really prefer and enjoy paper and pen.

This is what I record.  Each page in my notebook is a separate meeting. Before a meeting, I write who I am meeting with, the location and the date.  If I have an agenda, then I want to make sure we get to it, I will simply list the agenda items.

During the meeting (or right after) I will make note of the following:

  • What we discussed.  I’ll try and capture the essence of what we talked about.  If I agreed to anything, I will write that.  I will always try and capture personal information.  Who is their spouse (if married), kids etc.?  Any issues they share on that front.  What they like to do for fun? What are they passionate about at the moment?
  • If we met at a coffee shop or restaurant, I’ll note who paid.  This way I can keep an accurate count of how we can share these expenses if we meet again in the future.
  • Commitments I made or the other person makes – I’ll use a ? – then write what the commitment was.

Once a week, I review my notes and scan all my meetings for the ?s.  At that point, I either do the task or post it to my task program (which happens to be Nozbe) and schedule a time when I will do the task. Then, this is fun, I tick the box.  Last thing I do (fortunately at the moment, I ask Janice to do this) is scan the whole page where I’ve written the note and attach the note to our customer relationship management (CRM) software (which happens to be Highrise).

Posting the one page into Highrise allows me to quickly scan what we talked about just before I go into another meeting in the future. Highrise has a handy app – so I can do this on my phone.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember facts like I used to, this helps me stay on top of the details.  As well, if you’ve captured personal information, it allows me to ask personal follow up questions about their family.  It communicates that I care.  Which I do.

Lastly, I put a big tick at the top of that page.  It tells me I’ve dealt with all the tasks and it has been scanned into our CRM.

That’s how I handle my commitments.  How about you?

Why I Run

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of running, but not until I turned 40 did I actually enjoy running.  I’ve always enjoyed chasing balls and playing team type sports, but the joy of running was elusive.  I knew running was good for me, but I just could not find a way to enjoy it.

Not until I went to watch my brother-in-law, Jamie, run a marathon in the Ottawa race weekend.  While waiting for him to finish, I sat in the stands and watched hundreds of people come across the finish line.  Some were finishing with a burst of speed and frenzy, others were slowing weaving and wobbling in under the watchful eyes of first aid personnel.  Some looked sweaty and exhausted while others displayed joyful celebration with a fist pump as they crossed the line.  There were all types of bodies, slim and runner-like to stocky.  Old and young, male and female.  They were accomplishing something special.  And I was sitting in the stands ……..  I didn’t want to be in the stands.  I wanted their joy, the experience of finishing a race.  That’s when I decided I’d be running next year in this race.

My next step was to find a way to train for this and was directed to the Running Room.  There I signed up for their marathon-training program.  It was a wonderful experience.  Here’s what got me to enjoy running.  They slowed me down.  Whenever I went for a run in the past, I was pushing myself to run as fast as I could, my body was not used to running and so it became very uncomfortable.  The Running Room program got me to run with others, which was fun.  The key was to run only as fast as you could while having a conversation with someone.  That is to say, you have to run so as not to get breathless and thus experience a gasping conversation.  In running slower, my body began to change.  It got more efficient and after a while I could run a bit faster without getting breathless.  The idea is that you have to run slow to run fast.  In fact, I later learned that high performing runners do a lot of training by running slow.  Anyway, it started there.  I ran my marathon the next year and finished my race.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but it was amazing too.  It’s the only marathon I’ve run to date; I prefer the half marathon distance, as I don’t have to put quite so much training in.

Here are the reasons I continue to run.

It’s efficient and cost effective.  Running is one of the most efficient forms of exercise.  For the time you put into it, you burn the most calories.  A pair of running shoes is all you need.  When I travel, I can always get out for a run.  I don’t need to find a gym.

It works well with my goal minded personality.  It’s measurable.  I try and run a couple of races each year and I can compare how well I’m doing by my finish time.  I set monthly goals for how many kms I want to run and I track them with my phone running app.  I can compare how I’m doing with my brother who also runs.  (Yes we are a bit competitive!)

It’s an important component of a healthy body.  All kinds of studies suggest running can help you live longer, provide better mental health as you age, better chances of avoiding cancer and diabetes.

It supports my other sports activities by providing a base of fitness.  I play hockey once a week most of the year and so having a baseline of fitness allows me to keep my pace up towards the end of the hour I play weekly.  I believe it reduces the chance of heart attack that we hear about with out-of-shape occasional hockey players.

It’s helped me develop some great friendships.  When I go for a run with someone we get a chance to spend uninterrupted time talking.  My current running partner is my neighbour Rob.  Running has helped us develop a great friendship.

I can do it outside.  Since growing up in southern Africa, I always have enjoyed being outside.  Running gets me outside on a regular basis.  It has helped me make friends with our Ottawa winters as I continue to run outside when the weather turns cooler.

Late fall run with Maggie and Stephen along the Rideau Canal.

It provides something for my kids to consider.  Just like any commitment to exercise and activity, your kids watch that and hopefully it lays a foundation of healthy lifestyle for them.  My kids didn’t really enjoy running as teenagers, but they’re coming around.  Maggie will often go with me now and Stephen has committed to running a half marathon with me this fall.

Ever considered running?

City Gospel Movement

As some might know, I give leadership to an organization called One Way Ministries.  Last October I had a chance to attend a conference called Movement Day in New York City.   The conference brings together leaders from around the world who have a passion and vision to reach their cities.  City Reaching (as we’ve called it in the past) has been our passion.  I’ve noticed that people are begining to use a new name, “City Gospel Movement”.

Tim Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church) has long been involved in City Gospel Movements and his church and ministry are the organizers of Movement Day.  Tim Keller’s definition of a City Gospel Movement is, “Christians and Churches coming together across racial and denominational lines in a city unified by (a) the gospel and (b) a vision to reach that city.  Which means to see the urban body of Christ grow in quality and quantity faster than the population.  That the salt and light of Christian love and truth will influence the life of that city, renewing it, improving it socially, influencing it culturally and lifting Jesus’s name so that it’s increasingly respected and honoured in that city.”

So much can be unpacked from this, but one of the things I’ve been thinking about and praying into for years is the idea of knowing the condition of the body of Christ in Ottawa.  People often ask me, “How is the church in Ottawa doing?”  My answer is, “I don’t know.”  I might be able to tell you how some individual churches are growing or seem more healthy, but overall I don’t know.

At this conference, it was reported that the evangelical churches of NYC had grown by 500% over the last 25 years.  This statistic is amazing and encouraging given all we hear about how the church is declining in North America – including Canada.  But what’s got me thinking is that someone must have collected that data in order to report how the church is doing more broadly in NYC.

So how is the church doing in Ottawa?  My prayer and desire is to see us find a way to gather that data.  We need this.  What is the level of spirituality in our city?  Are our churches growing or declining?  Are we losing our youth?  Are we planting more churches than are closing that are sustaining and reaching people for Christ?

Would you pray with me for a team who would catch this and the funding to make it happen?

Goals and Planning

One of the reasons I love this time of year is that I take some time to reflect on what I would like to achieve in the upcoming year.  It’s like standing at the tee of a new hole on a golf course, full of potential and as of yet, you’ve made no mistakes.   I admit it – I love plans and goals.

Here’s my process.  I work on a year end family newsletter.  Working on this allows me to look back and think about all that happened around me in the last year.  In doing this I’m often looking for a pic or two to add to the letter.  So I review all my pictures from the last year.  I’m amazed at how looking back on them gives me a sense of gratitude for all I was privileged to be part of and quite honestly, reminds me of a number of things I’ve forgotten already.  It’s an emotional experience.

Next, I work on a new family budget.  I review how our spending was last year, and start draft-budget for this year.  Full disclosure, I only tracked our family expenses until April in 2016.  So naturally, one of my goals this year – is to track family finances beyond April 2017.  Now I say draft budget because until Tracy has seen it and we’ve agreed together as to what our giving/spending plan is for 2017, is it’s not finalized.  In the process of budget setting, we also look at our retirement savings and see if we are tracking to some sort of plan year to year.

Next I start drafting possible goals in my journal.  More recently, I try and actually lay them open before the Lord as I sit in silence and ask him to confirm, redirect or lay other goals on my heart.

Some interesting facts about goals*:

  • People with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve than people without goals
  • The act of writing down a goal down in is a very powerful motivator
  • Writing down goals forces us to be avoid being vague
  • All motivational ‘gurus’ agree that goals should be written down
  • 92% of New Years goals fail by January 15th
  • Only 3 out of every 100 adults write down their goals down on paper
  • Sharing your goals with a close ‘confide’ is proven to increase the chances of you achieving your goal
  • Specific goals which are time-bound and measurable work best
  • In the process of achieving your goal you will be sacrificing something else

Over the last couple of years I’ve used Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever material to create my goals and track them in Evernote.  It’s very thorough.  But you don’t need all of that to create your own.  Here’s my suggestion.  Take the different parts of your life say, spiritual, financial, professional, health and intellectual.  Decide if you’re having problems, just not happy with any of them or you want to see improvement in that area.  For instance, you want to lose 10lbs.  Set a goal to lose 10lbs by a certain date.  That’s your goal.  But here is where the power is.  What changes are you going to have to implement now to achieve that.  Perhaps it’s tracking your eating every other month on something like Lose It.  Perhaps it means you’re going to have to be active 3 times a week.  Add those points to your goal.  Do this for all your goals.  Then finally share them.  And if you’re really brave, ask someone to remind you about them periodically over the year.

In my family, we go out for Dim Sum lunch in early January and we share with one another what our goals are.  I asked the kids to think about last year – share what were their highlights, how they did on their goals and what their goals are for 2017.  This year I plan to ask each of the kids to bring them in written form.  I’m not sure they are big fans of goals setting, but they love the lunch.  We also talk about vacation plans and what big rocks as a family we want to drop into our schedule before they fill up too quickly.  I try and ask them about their goal progress periodically during the year.

My goals this year?  Well they’ll include reading a certain amount of books, losing some weight, running a couple of races, weekend get aways with Tracy, speaking publicly more about One Way Ministries and writing a blog once a week.

What are your goals?

* source:  http://www.goalband.co.uk/goal-achievement-facts.html

2016 Family Review

As has been our tradition over the last few years, we wanted to provide you an update to some of the happenings around the Peterkins homestead in 2016.

Let’s start with the kids.

Maggie now in grade 10 and having just turned 16, went out on her birthday and acquired her G1.  Now Dad gets to start her off driving in the same neighbourhood as her brothers did.

Maggie has been attending Carleton Place High School.  Unfortunately for Mom and Dad, that happens to be outside of our school zone, so that means driving her each morning to her bus stop a few minutes away and then planning for something similar at the end of each day.  Perhaps we just as excited that she might be able to start driving to school soon!!

At school, Maggie has enjoyed her studies and playing basketball and volleyball for the junior school teams.  She was voted MVP for her basketball team.  Dad and Maggie have also been playing in a family volleyball league on Tuesday nights.  Dad’s trying not to embarrass her too much!!

Maggie continues to enjoy Echo Camp hitting all the dates that she can – spring, fall and summer.  She’s made a good group of friends from there.  We are thankful for the great ministry there.

Also, Maggie was part of a youth missions team to Belize from our local church – without her parents.  She was able to go back to the same village that Stephen and Ben had been at a few years ago.  She loved the experience and cannot wait to go back.

Benjamin completed his grade 12 at Sacred Heart High School.  As of this Christmas, he has just completed his first term at Trent University.  His studies are business/computer science – we think
he’ll decide as he moves along.   Ben spent last summer working two jobs, one at Menchies serving some great tasting “froyo” and second on Saturday morning selling eggs at a local farmers market.  Ben also enjoys helping out on the soundboard at Chapel Ridge our local church.

Stephen finished off his third year’s studies at Queen’s University.  He spent his summer working with an engineering firm in Kingston called Transformix.  Maggie likes to remind him that it was through a contact from her basketball team that he was able to apply for the job.  Stephen has just finished a work term and spent the fall working in Ottawa with Shopify – a job he landed without Maggie’s help!!  The company conveniently provided a subsidized apartment downtown.  He really enjoyed the experience and it was nice for us to have him close by.   Also, our family has enjoyed getting to know Stephen’s girlfriend – Mackenzie who is fortunately also studying at Queens.

This year we celebrated a number of significant birthdays and anniversaries.  Birthdays – Maggie – 16, Ben -18, Stephen – 21, Tracy 50.  Anniversary – Mark and Tracy – 25 years.

As we think about 2016 we realize we were fortunate to be able to travel to a number of different locations this year – mostly for work.  We traveled in March to New Orleans for a training conference on marriage, to Chicago for a leadership conference in August, a couple of times just out of town with a group we lead with One Way.  In addition, Tracy traveled to Guatemala with Vicki (our sister-in-law) to help out at an orphanage.  While Mark had a trip to Florida in February for some facilitator training (conveniently absent during the biggest snow storm of the year!!) and a trip to New York City with a work team.  As a family we had trips to Philadelphia, Florida and Canada’s Wonderland.

This year has been a challenge for Tracy in that she has been nursing a nagging rotator cuff injury.  It seems to be improving slowly.  Along with her half time with One Way, Tracy also took on some part-time work working for a friend who runs an online auction website called Auctria.

We really do enjoy our cottage on the Rideau.  We find it a wonderful spot to connect with and enjoy our family and friends.  Also, we continue to enjoy the traditions of our families – Greek Easter (complete with a whole lamb roasted on a spit), cousins long weekend on the Rideau (always with fireworks) , Labour Day weekend softball tourney (including campfires and karaoke).

On Mark’s front, he continues to give leadership to One Way Ministries.  He’s been spending more of that time in an area that’s newer to him – that being fund raising.  It’s a wonderful team that we get to work with there.  Mark is still enjoying playing hockey weekly, running and working out at the gym and a bit of golf.  A highlight was again spending a couple of days with brothers John and Thanos in Watertown playing a round of golf in mid October.  This year as in last, we were the only ones on the course so we got to take our time and hunt for golf balls without any pressure – mostly ours that were lost.

Blessings to your family from ours for 2017.