Friday, August 27, 2010

The Ninth Day of Kindergarten

On Wednesday (aka, the 9th day of Kindergarten), I went to pick up Adam and Walt, as I had the previous eight days. When I got there, Ms. Malland, his teacher, came up to me and said, "We had an incident today at recess." Apparently a boy named Ethan and Adam's friend Maddux were having some sort of confrontation, and so Adam got involved and punched Ethan. Ms. Malland didn't see it happen but heard from another teacher. She said that the rule at recess is No Touching. Adam had to go to timeout, but everything was fine after that.

Adam told Mandy and I that he didn't hit Ethan, but we figured that he probably did, especially since I had just watched part of Karate Kid with him a few nights earlier (dad of the year). He also said that Ethan was being mean to Maddux. The good news is that it gave Adam and I a chance to talk about sin and forgiveness.

The other good news was that no punches were thrown yesterday. However, last night at dinner Mandy revealed more of the story. Maddux's mom emailed her yesterday and explained that Maddux is a hugger - a hugger who doesn't like to let go. So he was hugging Ethan on Wednesday and Ethan didn't really like it. Ethan was trying to get out of the hug. Adam saw this and interpreted it as his buddy Maddux being in trouble. And Adam stepped in.

So...poor Ethan got it on both ends - from the hugger and the puncher. We explained this all to Adam, which he thought was rather humorous. We also told him that no more punches need to be thrown at recess, but especially not until all the facts are known (alright, I didn't say that part).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From Community Groups to Missional Communities

Phase 3 of Community Groups at Neighborhood Church gets underway tonight. We began our first community group 14 months ago. It was a large one. Last fall we then went to two groups. We set before each group five values: Sharing life, sharing stories, sharing Scripture, sharing prayer, and sharing mission. Most weeks these groups discussed the previous Sunday's message, but we also wanted to begin developing true community. I believe that we were very successful in reaching that goal. One of the things I was most excited about was the way the kids were loved on and cared for by everyone in the group. I think we got a real taste of what community can be.

So that brings us to today. As much as I loved our community groups, I felt that they were too large. They left me wanting more, especially when it comes to the three journeys (upward, inward and outward). Many nights, just as we were beginning to go deep as a community, 7:30 would roll around and one of the kids would automatically go into meltdown mode. (In case you don't have children, that means the show is over and it's time to go home). Much of this was due to having so many in one group. The other issue centered around mission. It's great that almost everyone at NC is involved in a mission of some sort. Those folks are of course passionate about their missions, but this meant that it was often difficult to decide on a common mission.

Over the summer I've had conversations with several friends about where we're heading. One of the more helpful conversations was with Michael Stewart. He said that at Austin Stone they've helped their folks come to understand the difference between a team of missionaries and a missionary team. A team of missionaries is a group of people who all have a different mission but who come together for encouragement and prayer. On the other hand, a missionary team is a group of people who have a shared, or common, mission. That I believe has been the missing piece for me.

So in phase 3 we are centering around mission, believing that the best community we can have will be discovered through the context of mission. If you ask a person about their best experience of community, chances are that you'll hear a story about a mission trip. In order to do this we're having groups of 6-8 people.

Three couples from NC, including Mandy and I, have kindergarteners at Peabody Elementary School this year. For the next nine months we are all going to be investing a lot of hours into Peabody. This is our common mission, which makes us a missional community. And this is where I first starting putting this together. In February we had several families over who at the time were considering sending their kids to Peabody. As we were sitting around talking about our hopes and dreams, it all of a sudden hit me that this was my missional community. It didn't matter that only three of us were a part of NC. We had a common mission (public education through our neighborhood school), and the common mission was drawing us together like nothing else could.

I am very excited by what I see God doing in the lives of NC'ers. I think we're on the verge of seeing God do what only God can do, and I'm so glad that I'm on board for the ride!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Small Teams Rock

Alright, it's Friday. Sorry I couldn't think of a better title for this blog post. Hopefully the content will make up for it :)

The highlight of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for me was Terri Kelly of W.L. Gore & Associates. She talked about the culture of this organization. Her first statement drew me in:

In order to be innovative, you have to create an environment of collaboration.
For them, this environment features small teams. The associates (they're not called employees) are connected and accountable not to a boss but to one another, and those connections are the foundation for their success.

As I listened to her, I thought back to a book I read a number of years ago by Harvey Seifter about the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, a.k.a. the "conductor-less orchestra." I am all about leadership, but more than that, I'm all about team. When people feel that they are truly a part of a team, that they are able to contribute out of their passions and strengths, then the entire organization is better.

I also thought back to a quote I read many years ago by Gordon Cosby:

...the greatest impact on the world comes about by small, highly committed and disciplined communities of people focused on outward mission, inward transformation, and loving, accountable community.

To me this is a great definition of church, and it's a great lead in to some changes we're making at Neighborhood Church. I am as excited about these changes as I've been in a long time. And in the words of Ryan Seacrest, you will all find out about those changes "after the break" (and by "break" I mean the weekend). Have a nice one!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Leadership Summit

I'm headed to Willow Creek's Leadership Summit in about an hour. Mandy and I first attended this conference in 2000, about a week after we had moved to Mill Valley, CA. It was a great way to begin our new adventure there. Six years later we went again. This time it was seven months into another new adventure: Memphis. Unfortunately Mandy can't join me this year, so I'm flying solo. I have discovered that avenues for learning such as this one are key to me staying full, so I can say with confidence that I am ready to drink from the hydrant of some great leaders.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Whirlwind of Change

The last few weeks have been full of change for the Grisham family. I began my real estate classes at the beginning of July, and passed my exam a little over a week ago. Some have asked why I'm going into real estate. The answer is that I've actually been in real estate for a few years now. A year after moving to Memphis I started working in the mortgage industry. Unfortunately, just as I was getting going the housing industry was falling apart, so I got out of it. Through that, though, I caught the real estate bug, and I've been dabbling in it since that time. So it just made sense to make it a little more official and go ahead and get licensed. I hope to help my friends (and friends of my friends) buy or sell their homes, but I also plan to get more involved in the investment side of real estate. As soon as all of the paperwork goes through (a week or so), I'll begin working with Revid Realty here in Midtown.

As if that were not enough to write about, here are a few more changes. First, Mandy has gone back to teaching. We were planning on her taking one more year away from the classroom, but a job opened up at Vollentine Elementary School, which is located in the northern part of Midtown. My friend Matthew Watson is helping his church, Living Hope, plant a church in that neighborhood, and they are already official adopters of this school. God has opened several doors that have led us to take this step.

This meant that we had to find a place for Micah. Adam is starting Kindergarten next week (another BIG change), but we now needed daycare for Micah. My mom will be with him one day a week, I'll be with him another, and three days a week he'll be at Union Avenue's daycare, which, if you didn't know, is located one floor down from my office. They gave us an amazing discount, which is the only way we would have been able to enroll him there. Yet another door opened by God.

These are the stories we mustn't forget. We have to tell them to our children. We have to remind them that God is active in our lives, that He has plans for us, and when we are faithful to take them, He guides and directs our steps. After all, He is quite good at opening doors that seem to be closed!

This is a difficult transition for Mandy. She is going to miss being at home with the boys. We know that they are going to do great in school, but it's going to be hard for her. She has also been doing so much with NC and with the Peabody movement. Many of those roles are going to transition to others.

I am definitely a glass half-full kind of guy, but I know that this is going to be tricky in a lot of ways. I know that God is going to help us, and I believe that our times together as a family will be even richer.