hack the ministry

peers . mentors . sages . redeeming the "M” word

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There's ministry, and there's The Ministry. We always knew that. 

Now we're learning it again....

October 12, 2017—a Thursday—a network of peers, mentors and sages gather to tell stories, ask questions, and connect with others who are redeeming, reclaiming, and reframing the M word.

Like Mike, you're a talent scout

I started teaching in 1993.  I'll pretend you're Henderson and hate math - that means I'm in my 25th year.  Pick me up and drop me in a classroom and I can tell you (within about 3 minutes) if the teacher knows what heck she's doing.

How?  Because I know what teaching talent looks like.  You could say I can smell it.  My boss here at Spring Street, Louis, is a wine-expert - he can tell what's good, what's not.  How? 25 - 30 years of tasting, experimenting and trying it.

When it comes to understanding football, I turn to Ian Boyd.  I found him on Twitter.  Like Louis with wine, and me with teaching, Ian knows football.  So when he started talking about creative solutions at Oklahoma State, I paid attention.  He shows how Mike Gundy (OK State's coach) solves the scarcity problem.

What's the scarcity problem?  Simply put, it's limited resources.  As a hacker (or football coach) you have so many holes and not enough people to plug them.  Gundy's planning for the future, because he knows that his current offensive coordinator will become a head coach.  So he looks, he's a talent scout.

So are you.  John Armstrong is a talent scout.  How do I know?  He scouted me - this fall at HTM.  He got me a scholarship to Acton Institute.  Why?  Because like every other hacker, he cares and he hopes to solve the scarcity problem - for me, for himself and for Jesus.

It doesn't matter what you're trying to do - you need more (talented) people to do it.  Jesus saw talent (potential, whatever) in Samaritans, up in trees, in the open hands of widows - basically places nobody else was ever looking.

Henderson often says, "Everything you need is right in front of you."  Often true, we're still often blind.  The beautiful thing is that same Jesus widow-guy in the tree eyesight is available to us.  The question for you is: Are you putting on those magic glasses?

Coarser is better

“Is this going to be on the test?”

Even if you're done with school, you ask this question.

  • Do I have to go to that meeting?
  • How important is this?

All of these are variations of “Is this going to be on the test?”

It’s a damned important question. Because if this is going to be

  • on the test, I better pay attention.
  • if not, no biggie.

Let’s take a different tack,

what if the test is only pass/fail?

It changes the question doesn’t it. You already know it (whatever it is) will be on the test, but the test itself is pass/fail. So, you only need to know enough to pass. No A+ or C-, just pass/fail.

Turns out the coarser the grade, the more information it provides. It's counter-intuitive. How can a 77% give me less information than a P or a F? Turns out the 77% implies specificity – it sounds like I know all I need to know - when I don't.

What about the P/F?

  • Pass? I get curious. How close was I to failing? 
  • Fail? obviously I want to know how to pass.

Many moons ago I was in a math-teacher workshop (I know Nerd-ville). Our homework one evening was to take a single student’s exam and grade it. 10 problems, you (the teacher) decide how to allot the points, 100 points total.

Guess what the scores were? Same test.

  • Highest score given was a 92,
  • lowest was a 63.
  • Same test, same answers from him.
  • 30 point difference – and we were all math teachers.

Grading's a myth. Accept it and interesting possibilities open up. When people ask you how they’re doing do you give them the 77% answer or something coarser?

It’s coarser if they ask for more – what did you mean? What do you see? Etc.

Hacking the ministry involves people and excellence.

  • Just excellent and nobody following, game over.
  • Have a group but the work isn’t excellent or improving, game over (eventually).

Are you communicating with people in a coarse enough way? Do your grading conversations lead to further refinement, curiosity, depth? Or are they in the 77% variety?

I Can Give You 1000 Words.

I Can Give You 1000 Words.

That was my offer to Pastor Bruce Logue when I invited him to present at Hack The Ministry in Seattle.

When you're accustomed to speaking every week for 40 years that offer could sound like an insult.

Which is exactly why I invited Bruce to take on the 1000 Word Challenge - He's not a Diva, He's not into himself, He's not high maintenance. He loves Jesus for real.

Up until 15 years ago Bruce and Bev followed a very traditional church career path.

He had a solid congregation, He was well paid. His church didn't want him to leave but leave he did. Bruce decided that following Jesus was more interesting and ultimately more important than taking the safe path, so at the age of 58 he and his wife packed up and head for Central California to plant a new church. 

I'll leave the rest of the story for Bruce to tell but suffice it to say it has some fascinating twists and turns.

I am so honored to have Bruce and Bev as friends. They make me look good when they stand next to me

Bruce has the unique distinction of pastoring a small church that has nevertheless established an big footprint in their city of Merced

Check out what Bruce managed to communicate in just 1000 words 

He knows how to make a big deal out of very little. 

— Jim Henderson

Hack the Ministry No. 1




Gathering with this particular (some might say peculiar) group of people, in this particular place, in the context of this particular American moment … was genuinely remarkable.

The mix of peers, mentors and sages in the room generated profound, fun, deep thinking, plenty of lively questions, and refreshingly frank - reliably gracious - responses.

We’ll have more to say as folks respond in the coming days. We’ll do our best to make meaning of the experience, and communicate what we learn, where we have new questions, and what we think it all means for people who have been, and are, and hope to redeem the “M” word. 

Meanwhile, very special thanks to the passionate innovators and practitioners around The Shoe that GrowsDinner Church Collective, Ballard Homestead, and Alexa’s Cafe & Catering They pitched in to make this happen. We hope you'll seek them out — they may be able to serve you — you may be able to serve with them.