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2014 September



Walking in circles

Walking in circles

Did you know that people who are blindfolded will tend to walk in circles?

No one completely understands why human beings do this. If someone is blindfolded or disoriented or even lost in unfamiliar territory, they will often veer off course in random circles, even when they think they are walking in a straight line.

Some have supposed that the phenomenon of walking in circles has something to do with being right-handed or left-handed, or perhaps something to do with having stronger or longer legs on one side or the other. But neither of these explanations has held up to scientific study.

One of the more interesting studies was conducted recently by Jan Souman of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.

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Tree of Life partnership training for oral cultures now available in 7 languages

Tree of Life - Oriya/Odia

The Tree of Life (TOL) partnership training has recently been translated into the Oriya/Odia language of East India and is now available for free download.

With the Odia translation, TOL is now available in 7 languages: English, French, Hindi, Punjabi, Marathi, Odia, Nepali.

Tree of Life was originally developed several years ago in partnership with Scriptures in Use and the Bridges Training Network South Asia. At the time, there was little partnership training material that would be appropriate for use among the grassroots oral culture churches in the villages of North India and Nepal.

TOL was developed to provide a Biblical foundation for partnership and practical principles that leaders of local village churches could apply as they worked together in evangelism and church planting, economic development, community and social development, and social justice projects. The TOL training format was designed to be easily replicated by participants in their home villages.

In the past five years, nearly 3,000 leaders have participated in TOL trainings in South Asia. Today, hundreds of oral Bible churches are working together to transform their communities through partnership.

After demonstrated success in South Asia, the Tree of Life training program is now expanding to Africa. A new translation into Amharic for Ethiopia is underway.

Visit our media library to download the Tree of Life partnership training in all available languages

To learn more about the Tree of Life partnership training, check out this article by Joe Handley of Asian Access:
Partnership Training For Oral Cultures (Orality Journal, 2014)

Archived version:




The Peloton Principle

The Peloton Principle

I recently returned from a family trip in France where I had the opportunity to take a beautiful bicycle ride. I spend time nearly every week spinning or cycling and I love the exhilarating feeling of changing pace from a slow mountain climb to a flat road sprint.

Not more than a month before our trip, the most famous cycling event in the world had just passed through the city where we were staying. It was the Tour de France – a grueling 21-day race 3,500 kilometers long, passing from sea level to mountain heights of more than 2000 meters and back down again, circling more than half the entire country of France and parts of England.

The Tour de France has run nearly every year since 1903. The race has 21 stages and there is a winner for each stage in addition to an overall winner. It takes a great deal of training, planning, teamwork, and logistical support to even complete the Tour de France – much more so to actually win.

The race can be incredibly difficult and dangerous for cyclists to navigate on their own, so the main riders usually combine to form what is called a peloton – an aerodynamic V-shaped group like a flock of birds. The peloton is a very important part of long distance racing because cyclists in a peloton can save a tremendous amount of energy by riding close together. The reduction in drag accomplished by drafting or slipstreaming together can be as much as 40% in a tight group!

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The 18th Camel

The 18th Camel

visionsynergy is an unusual type of ministry. We serve as coaches, consultants, and catalysts for missional networks. Much of our time is spent advising, equipping, and supporting other Christian leaders who are working together in various collaborative initiatives to advance the mission of Jesus around the world.

People sometimes ask, “What is the value of having an outside advisor like visionSynergy? Collaboration isn’t rocket science. Can’t groups figure these things out on their own?”

Yes, of course people can collaborate without guidance from an outside advisor. At the same time, we have found that groups often find themselves in “the desert of creativity“ – going around in circles without a clear sense of how to navigate through the inevitable challenges of working in partnership with others.

Having gained all their experience and training within individualistic organizations, leaders sometimes struggle to figure out how to facilitate large-scale collaboration across organizational boundaries.

The reality is that people are not born knowing how to tie their own shoes, much less how to lead networks and partnerships to work together effectively. Collaborative leadership requires a different set of skills than most of us acquire in the normal course of our experience.

This is where an outside advisor can provide perspective – a path through the desert of creativity to the wide blue ocean of collaboration.

There’s a story that illustrates how we as advisors help the groups we serve.

It is a story about a camel.

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