We.Are.Here. – Recap

We are here group

Yesterday we had around 80 people from all over Michiana gather to discuss ideas and action steps to make our community a better place. Collectively, we accept the responsibility of any significant and sustainable change that we expect to see.- It’s up to us; not some other organization; not the government; not some savior employer.

With facilitation help from Maximizers group and ConnectHelp volunteers, the discussions centered around topics, such as:

  • Recidivism
  • Youth Role Models
  • A Higher Bar for Education
  • Homelessness
  • Local Economy & Jobs
  • Building Stronger Marriages

Over a two hour span, each group developed some significant solutions to group-identified problems. Each group all left with action steps for the respective areas of impact. It was amazing to hear to the recap from each group. Over the next few days, we will post highlights from each of these groups.

As you read through the notes, try to think about what  your next step might be. What is your area of passion? Where can you plug in? Who do you know? What would it look like in 5 years if we all took one more step forward for the good of our communities?

We are still here. Let’s go do something about it! 

*A special thanks to the Granger Commons staff – what an amazing facility and staff! If you’re in the Michiana area, host your event here!


When we’re engaged with learning…

This Thursday we will be meeting as a community to start conversations around making a true impact in our local community. Of the several areas of focus, education is among the high priorities.

Below is a recent post from the ConnectHelp that tees up the issue of education:

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The state of the educational system is always something of a debate in the community, and reported test scores often leave the impression that there are serious issues in the schools in South Bend and Mishawaka.

In the 2012 United Way Community Needs Assessment Report, several areas of need were identified as issues in the state of education in St. Joseph County. 44% of children under five were identified as living below the poverty level, including 55% of single mothers. The graduation rate was also below 80% in both South Bend (76.9%) and Mishawaka (77.4%), while the state average is 85.7%.

It’s no secret that children who live in poverty in their early childhood years are at risk for… continue reading

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Get registered for We. Are. Here. –  a two hour collaborative event on August 29th from 11a-1p. If you are in the Michiana area and want to see a difference in our community, this luncheon is for you. Click here to register for FREE!

Comfort or courage?

As we’re getting ready for the We. Are. Here. event coming up on August 29th, the question of whether we press in or shrink back looms heavy. It’s easy to see where others could do a better job, especially in areas of social and community impact – but what are we doing to make a difference?

Below is a snippet from a recent post by Mark Meyer that challenges us to evaluate if we are living comfortable or courageous lives:

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I’m a great Monday morning quarterback. It’s easy for me to pick apart what decisions people have made or haven’t made, where they’re dropping the ball, where I see problems in my community, spout off about what won’t work, and more.

Aren’t we all?

Dr. Brene’ Brown said it well, “we can choose comfort or we can choose courage (in our lives and in our decisions)”. I can either comfortably sit in the stands of life and gripe about the decisions made on the field or I can gain the courage to get on the field and be willing to get my butt kicked. Continue reading… 

The ‘Why’ Behind We. Are. Here.

If you live in the Michiana area and lead a business, church, or any other organization, this is for you.

Watch the video, then click here to learn more.



We. Are. Here.

If anyone is responsible for making our community a better place – a model for other communities, a true city on a hill – that responsibility rests with You and Me. 

It’s up to us. We Are Here.

Reserve your seat for the Event that will harness and localize the practices shared during the Global Leadership Summit. This is chance to have a seat at the table with other leaders just like you and tackle some of the real issues in our community.

It’s not a think-tank session. It’s not a networking opportunity. It’s a real chance to be part of the change we seek.

Click here for ticket info.

We. Are. Here. postcard

The Me I Want to Be – Part 3

In a series on this book, “The Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg. We talked about times when we were exactly that person, and the reasons why it’s difficult to ‘stay’ being that person, as sin/self-interest/life busyness all pull us away from ‘center’ … last week discussed how our ‘thoughts’ play such a vital role in being our best “People who live great lives think great thoughts”.

We talked about how curious it is that we ‘know’ our thought life is critical, yet our thoughts so easily drift way from God’s best and/or “great thoughts.”

When are you most vulnerable to temptation? I once heard the acronym HALT … hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

For me, when I’ve been really focused on something, praying for it, believing it, and it not going my way … not that I doubt God is real or that he loves me, but kinda like he’s disinterested.

Ortberg says it’s when you are most dissatisfied with your life. Our souls were made for satisfaction, so when we don’t find it in the Lord, we’ll continue to seek it. The next place we search are substitutes offered by the world that seem like mere slight deviations. Part of the deception of the enemy is how subtle this can be.

Are we even aware we’re chasing soul satisfaction away from the Spirit? Therefore one of the primary benefits this group provides is “Self Awareness.” When we succumb to temptation or chase world’s satisfaction , we “step out of the flow …”

What I like about this image is that it creates a picture that is so much more than temptation avoidance and racking up good deeds – what does in the flow of the Spirit look like?

We all have a “signature” sin?

What do you think of this idea of a signature sin … that you have a pattern to your sin tendency as unique as your fingerprint? Different concept … we like to think of sin/temptation that’s ‘out there’ that ‘sneaks up on us’ and catches us unaware. This is a completely different concept.

Often our ‘sin signature’ is a morphed derivative of our gifts/talents. Do you see this in yourself? It makes sense in this way … we’re not going to be tempted by something repulsive to us.

How do you “stay in the flow” … what are your secrets? How do you step back in? What are your secrets to personal, spiritual restoration? For me, this is one of my greatest spiritual challenges … I tend to be a “penalty box” guy.

Reality: we all step out, we all fall to temptation, get distracted, chase the world’s trophy’s.

Guest post by Matt Meyer


The Me I Want to Be – Part 2

Last week we opened a series on this book The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg. We talked about times when we were exactly that person, and the reasons why it’s difficult to ‘stay’ being that person, as sin/self-interest/life busyness all pull us away from ‘center’.

So, as you consider your life, are you: Languishing ****************  or  ******************  Flourishing?


The battle to flourish begins where? We already know this don’t we … it’s Biblical!

  • Whatever is true, noble, etc. “Think about such things” …
  • Our battle is not against flesh and blood … take every thought captive.
  • Do not be afraid … Do not be anxious … do not doubt (double-mindedness)

It’s also the focus of secular self-help …

  • Zig Ziglar – do away with stinkin thinkin. Believe it … achieve it! (book from Thomas).

The consensus seems to be that those who live great lives think great thoughts. Do you believe it? Do your thoughts reflect it? Are you a cup half full or half empty person?

What do great thoughts sound like inside your head? John Ortberg says that God can change the way you think! Do you believe it?

How do we “sow” to great, faith-filled thoughts?  This is the most important question … sowing is the methodical, daily process, of making positive deposits that can begin to turn the tide towards flourishing. True for all these things:

  • Practice habit of “Awareness”. Think about what you think about .. where will it lead?
  • Practice “setting” your mind. Decide. Proactive thinking. (Rom 8:5, Col 3:2)
  • Practice generosity.
  • Practice gratitude.

Guest post by Matt Meyer

The Me I Want to Be

The Me I Want to Be

Two summers ago I led a team on a week-long mission in Nicaragua in support of a local mission organization Feed the Hungry. It was an amazing experience in so many unique ways. I remember looking back on the trip in the weeks & months following, recounting the same stories for so many friends and family. I especially remember answering a number of versions of the same question “So what did you like best?” … with the same answer:

“When I look back at myself engaged in our efforts there, I realize that for that amazing week I was the best version of me. I wish I could always be ‘that guy’ and I’m worried about returning to the guy I’ve looked at for the last 43 years.”

When I  heard John Ortberg speak about this topic at last year’s Leadership Conference, and I picked up the book and read the subtitle, I was immediately transported back to Nicaragua and those weeks following when I reflected on the best version of me.

Question: When do you remember being the very best version of you? What made it so?

When you consider this concept of the ‘me I want to be’ … what is different than your usual?

  • More generous.
  • More grateful.
  • More steadfast, hopeful, at peace … not swayed by the waves, worst case thinking.

Why does this matter?

  • Eph 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  • We are not our own handiwork, we’re God’s … he thought us up, he created us … we’re His project… to ‘settle’ out of fear, or rebel in pride, is unacceptable.

Why are we not always, and perhaps not even usually, God’s best version of us?

  • We “settle” for good (Good to Great), assume we’re on the right side of curve.
  • We don’t ever really think about it … 90% of thoughts are repeats.
  • We enjoy our pet sins too much. Keep us from God, but we assume its better.

What’s in the way? Who’s battling you for the you you want?

The me I pretend to be

  • Ever get put off with a “name-dropper” … the guy who’s trying SO hard to be “it”.
  • Ever then wonder/fear that you may have ‘blind-spots’ so obvious to everyone?
  • Orberg’s experiment: say nothing that elevates you, make you look accomplished or valued (or brags on your kids) for a week. How much left to say?

The me I think I should be

  • Destructive power of comparison game: look at others to decide what you should be.
  • Who is it, what is it, you feel guilty not being? … is it really part of your DNA?
  • The church can be the instrument of guilt in this regard … should be praying 90 min/day.

The me other people want me to be

  • Ortberg says everyone has agenda for who they want you to be. Who do you listen to?
  • Where is your spirit suffering because you’re busy trying not to disappoint?

The me I’m afraid God wants me to be

  • Most people equate spiritual maturity to following rules and/or being really good at spiritual disciplines. Do you gravitate toward the same thinking? Jesus: I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.
  • Ever feel a reluctance to really listen, really get close to God, because he might send you to … Africa?

The me that fails to be

  • Where have you given up because of failure, fear of failure, or criticism of another? Everyone starts with dreams, but they derail … what dream is still down there that is waiting for a chance?

Where have you seen Failure to Thrive around you? In your own life?


Guest post by Matt Meyer

Language in Politics – Part 2

Continuing our conversation from last week, what does it mean when we use these words?

  • Equality – in the current state, there are two views of equality
    • Of opportunity
    • Of outcome

Definition of Equality

Opportunity cannot be measured as easily as outcome. It’s incredibly easy to blur the two. You cannot have an outcome based society without coercion. The Founding Fathers did not have the goal of equal outcome; they had the goal of Freedom, which is opportunity based.

Interestingly enough, it seems that we are radically egalitarian where high achievement is possible, but radically individualistic where it is not. An example of this would be the desire to be equal in power and income (rights infringed), but not when it comes to things like sex and other orientations.

Now, in God’s economy, equality looks much different. We have distinction in male and female, but we’re all made in his image. We have different roles that yield different results, yet we’re still equal. The Ten Commandments were not written for different people to follow in different ways. Everyone was subject to the law same law in the same way, no matter status or lineage.

Examples of self-abrogation: Secularly, George Washington is a great example. He stepped down from the Presidency after two terms, although he could have secured his power for life. But the absolute best example of this is Christ. In Phillipians 2:6, Paul writes that Christ was ‘equal with God, yet he made himself nothing.’

Romans 3:10 – We’re all equal in that fact that we are sinners. None are more worthy than another – we all have the same grace. Even in the founding of our nation, the Founders knew that we were all equally selfish and subject to the corruption associated with power – which supports their beliefs in protecting the People from the government.

Next week, we will continue this conversation by looking at the word Rights. Join us at 6:30 Friday morning – 4100 Edison Lakes Parkway, Mishawaka.

Language in politics

This week, we discussed words that Americans commonly use to describe ourselves and our political process. What does it mean when we use these words?


  • used only 3 times in the Bible (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1Peter 4:16) = Noun
  • When used as an adjective – a Christian Nation, or founded on Christian principles

Think of a Christian bookstore: how do you know that a bookstore is ‘Christian?’ What makes it ‘Christian?’ What percentage of their inventory would need to be Christian-related to be deemed a Christian bookstore?

What about Amazon? They have a significant influence for Christ with their large inventory and sales of Christian material. But certainly, we would not argue that Amazon is a Christian book store!


  • What is freedom? Limited authority. Freewill within the limits of the law. Ability to think, express, and believe what won wants to believe without constraint.

Liberty – very similar to Freedom

Independence – self-sufficient, thinking for oneself, not belonging to a given association

These terms are all “from” expressions: we are free from… we are independent from… This is not how these words are used in the Biblical sense where we have a freedom to… a freedom for… It is a gift TO something.

Freedom is always bound to the giver. In the OT Bible, God is the giver of freedom and redemption. God gives them freedom – it’s not something they sought or won. In the NT Bible, mankind, in its fallen state is slaves to sin – not free (Rom 6:20). The government then had promised freedom, but they themselves were slaves.

As Christians, we are also slaves to Christ; which makes us free from sin, law, death, Satan, and man. We are free in Christ, but called to subject ourselves to the government. A Christian can live free in Christ, yet still be a slave to the power of man.

The predominant secular (non-pejorative) view defines freedom as autonomous. Every man wants autonomy – no one wants to be told what to do. That’s not the Biblical sense of freedom.

Join us next week, we’ll continue the discussion with words like Equality, Rights, and Security.

Friday morning – 6:30 am at the Mutual Bank building at Edison Lakes Parkway, Mishawaka.