12 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Tipping Point

Geoffrey Canada, who started the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, gave a fascinating interview. His whole motivation is about changing the odds. He was totally passionate that there should be no part of a city where, when people manage to move on out, it is celebrated as a major achievement.

I wasn’t convinced that I was going to get much out of this interview, but as the weeks have gone on, I have probably referred to this session most. This is post 1 of 2 about his session. That probably tells you that I got more out of it than I realised!


Geoffrey was passionate about the young people in the neighbourhood that he grew up in, he was passionate about giving them a chance. He observed that all their badness comes down to the fact that they are contaminated with negative messages, of all varieties. The culture is contaminated, their lives are contaminated, their automatic reactions are contaminated, and everything about it is contaminated. They don’t understand right from wrong, so they make bad choices, because they don’t think they have choices.

He decided that, instead of going in and saving a kid or two, he wanted to pick a block and try to change the culture. He wanted to contaminate the culture with positive messages of hope and a future. He decided that there has to come a tipping point where any given kid is, against all the odds, receiving more positive messages that negative ones, allowing them to know right from wrong and make good choices.

He studied, and decided that, in order to pull that off, he would need 65–70% of their entire messages to be positive instead of negative. That would tip the balance in favour of the kids.

There are a lot of languages in Nigeria, well over 500 in fact. And there are a lot of mother-tongue (MT) Bible Translation projects going on. I have very close contact with only four of them, but I wondered what the tipping point would be in order to get MT Scriptures used in the churches in those areas. How many times do we need to pass on the message that MT Scripture has the most impact on people’s lives? What percentage of the Bible readings or sermons or songs needs to be MT before people see the value in it? And then make use of it all the time?

I don’t want to see so much time spent on translation work, or literacy work, or training, etc., only to have Bibles sit unused in boxes. I firmly believe that MT Scripture is the foundation for evangelism, church growth, personal growth and community transformation.

What would the tipping point be, to get the whole community involved in the project?

What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every church?

What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every home?

What would the tipping point be, to get all sermons preached in the mother tongue?

Not theoretical questions, but real issues in the projects I am involved in. I am sure it works all over the world. I’d love to know that some of the tipping points have been in other projects.

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