Carver Project Wash-U, April 5

carver conversation-23

Photo courtesy of my friend Neil Das

Carver is a faculty group at Washington University in St. Louis whose aim is “to cultivate Christian leaders at the intersection of the university, the church and society.”  My GFM staff member there George Stulac is on the Carver leadership team and was instrumental in assembling the faculty members that are a part of the project.  This year their spring event focused on the arts, culture and the mission of the church.   Click here to read more about the panel – John Hendrix, professor of art at Wash-U interviewed Sho Baraka, Sara Groves and Mako Fujimura.  Check out a few other Carver events while you’re there including last year’s conversation with Tim Keller.

Generative Practice and the Church

There were two ideas that made an impression on me throughout the night.  Mako spoke about the difference between the church as a machine and the church as a body of persons capable of generative practice.  “Jesus didn’t come to build a machine.  Instead of a body of gifted people making and redeeming culture, the church risks becoming mere commerce masquerading as orthodoxy.”

carver conversation-25

Thanks for the pics Neil!

Sho Baraka affirmed that “music is the only way our emerging adults are going to see the connection between beauty and justice – sermons aren’t going to do it.”  He talked about how vital it is for the church to let artists speak with full voice.  All three agreed that the commercial pressures of the church on generative practice  severely limit the impact artists can make.

Books, books, books.

Culture Care – Mako Fujimura

culture care

What Money Can’t Buy – Michael Sandel

what money can't buy

The Locust Effect – Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros


locust effect

The other idea that stuck with me came from Sara Groves sharing about her project Floodplain.  Plagued with a paralzying bout of depression her work had been sidelined for some time.  She drew insights for her life as an artist from the lives of immigrant families living in floodplains- people trying to gather enough resources to move to a place of safety and sustainability.  “These people amazed me because this was not just a temporary situation.  They had to live there under the threat of further flooding without any immediate hope for rescue or opportunity.”

Maybe Christians need to rethink things like natural disaster and how to respond.  What would it look like for artists to arrive at ground zero and give shape to recovery efforts?  How could art play a role in remaking life and culture where devastation is compounded by poverty?  In the words of Gary Haugen founder of the International Justice Mission, “How will the church continue to develop the object permanence required to sustain the mission of Jesus to the needy?”  Will the church live close enough to the needs it’s called in Jesus’ name to help meet?


Some hearts are built on a floodplain
Keeping one eye on the sky for rain
You work for the ground that gets washed away
When you live closer
Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of I don’t know
Closer to that’s the way it goes
Some hearts are built on a floodplain
And it’s easy to sigh on a high bluff
Look down and ask when you’ve had enough
Will you have the sense to come on up
Or will you stay closer
Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees
Some hearts live here
Oh the river it rushes to madness
And the water it spreads like sadness
And there’s no high ground
And there’s no high ground
Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees
Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of I don’t know
Closer to Lord please send a boat
Some hearts are built here



Piano upstairs! Seriously?


Longing for revival, we catalyze movements that call every corner of every campus to follow Jesus.     – The 2030 Calling

When I worked for Christ Community Church now and then we’d get an urgent email from Steve Yost our worship pastor calling all hands on deck to the sanctuary for a piano hoisting.  The stage would need to be reset after an event.  The piano would either need to go up to the stage or down to the floor.  A Steinway Model C for example weighs in at 882 lbs.  Steve is a remarkably buff guy for a worship leader of his vintage, but no match for a Steinway.  Many hands make few hernias.

Eight, I think.  That was the bare minimum of (pastor-calibur) cross-fit bodies required to lift the piano from the floor to the stage 30 inches above.  When you think about a group of Graduate Faculty Staff trying to get a grip on The 2030 Calling, picture 8 pastors lifting a piano.  Like a piano, 2030 is stubbornly large with no convenient lifting handles.  No matter how good you are with ropes and moving dollies you’re not going to levitate a piano all by yourself.  Graduate and Faculty Ministries staff with InterVarsity are working in teams to get a grip on where our movement is headed over the next decade.  The regional leadership team I serve on, the area team I lead, we’re all asking, “Where do we begin?  How do we lift this beast?”

So why does 2030 weigh so much?

It’s long –  2030 is over a decade away.

It’s big – an endomorph!  What could happen by 2030:

  • 2,500 campuses across the U.S.
  • 725, 000 disciples sent (core participants)
  • 12,000,000 lives reached
  • 4,000,000 partners praying
  • 67,000 multiplying small groups

Three major initiatives:

  1. Become a thriving organization of thriving people.
  2. Mobilize partners, like our alumni base, to expand ministry.
  3. Plant new work exponentially.

Ten strategies (for some reason, I’ll list 9 here).

  1. Develop a culture of thriving, diverse movement leaders.
  2. Ensure staff are fully funded.
  3. Develop a ministry “playbook” (common set of effective strategies)
  4. Innovative technology and business platforms for staff to run on.
  5. Invite more creative collaboration from other organizations.
  6. Share our best training to equip co-laborers.
  7. Send Co-Laborers into the mission.
  8. Accelerate proven planting programs to start new work
  9. Plant at traditionally underserved institutions

I could keep going- the original vision document is over 50 pages!  If you’d like to see a smaller version let me recommend you read the Strategic Plan Summary 2018-2022.  It’s a three page summary of where the 2030 Calling will hopefully take us in the the first four years.

2030 first 4 years

Graduate Faculty Ministries have been working on how to lift the 2030 Calling piano for about a year now!  In my next post I’d like to talk about the first four handles we’ve found:  1- Planting new work, 2- Adding staff, 3- Evangelism and 4- Ministry Partnership Development.

Thanks for reading, praying and partnering with me.

tims signature small

Lord, we need your revival in our own lives. We are tremendously grateful for what you have done in and through InterVarsity already. We acknowledge that often your activity is in spite of ourselves, by your grace. Please forgive us. We long for you to transform us, individually and organizationally. We rejoice that you have saved us and called us and used us. We once again say, “Yes, Jesus!”, for the good of students and faculty and ministry partners. We know this is for our good, as well. We trust you, and we will obey you. Amen!