Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Twitter Opens $3M Tech Skills Center

::: We Have No Idea How to Help Countries Like Nepal Recover from Natural Disasters

::: The Human Trafficking Situation in Europe is Out of Control

::: What City Has More Bookstores Per Capita Than Any Other

::: "Tradition is not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the flame." - Gustav Mahler via @jr_briggs

Photo: Ember mini ProtoGuide reunion. May 2015.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 Mission Support Metrics

For those of you that might be interested in this kind of thing.... A glance at support funding metrics - this year compared to the past two years.

We are at roughly 70% with 8 weeks left to go and been raising funding for 12 weeks so far, meaning that we are a little ahead in terms of support versus time. Creative revenue is at 7% right now, but I'm expecting that percentage to go up as we get closer. We don't usually get CRP funding in hand until closer to departure.

The team has done a great job this year in raising support. I'm not too worried about raising enough support and I don't feel queasy about buying plane tickets anymore. We do still have a lot of work in terms of planning the actual experience.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Prague Mtg #5

Highlights from our team meeting #5:

+ More and more program development, including spiritual content and fun and games brainstorming. We still have a good amount of ways to go on this.
+ Review of one of the conference themes and how it will integrate with what we are doing.
+ We've started an Instagram account to help with future promotion for us - Got_Juice_2015.
+ The Best Idioms from Around the World
+ Pitch Perfect 2 as a team bonding field trip [not my idea but a pretty funny movie...]

Photo: Yes, Jacob is in there twice.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Burn

::: 10 Lessons from a Leader's Legacy
Insightful, especially #4 and #10.

::: The Art of Giving Away Members
And this quote:
When we asked Greear about his path to church leadership, he said, some key older men “held a crown up over my head and grew me into it,” he said.

::: Is Multi-Site the Last Great Idea?
Fantastic read.
Link via Dawn Nicole Baldwin

::: I Traveled Across China Photographing People With Everything They Own

Photo: Youth group staples - note the quantity of matzah. Philly, April 2015.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ProtoGuide to AZ

In 2013, Ember helped facilitate a student team from Grace, our home church, to serve and work with Amadeo Church, in Queen Creek, AZ. Amadeo's lead pastor Ben Cloud was one of my first missions friends that I met on the Internet in 2005 and this team happened to be an amazing collection of all girls.

Two years later, I'm delighted to tell you that one of those team members, Shannon Linden, is going to spend a few months serving with Amadeo in a gap semester, starting this coming September. Shannon graduates from high school in a few weeks and has a heart for service, community impact and church planting. She's also been one of our ProtoGuides this year and we have absolutely loved working with her.

The Ember Cast exist to help these kinds of relationships and experiences flourish. Combine passionate emerging global student leaders with the most adventurous, innovative and creative leaders that we know and you will get why we do what we do - we throw fire.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Ember Cast Board of Directors, May 2015

We've never had a picture before, so here it is, at our last board meeting, last Friday night.

Board meetings typically look like:
- reviewing the past [this part is mostly done with pictures and me telling some stories]
- looking at the future [usually lists]
- specific issues [this time was mostly about the board - job descriptions, open spots and opportunities for more involvement]
- interesting items to note [our big one this last time was talking about global risk]

Left to right: Leslie, Joyce, Matt - some of the biggest advocates for student missions leadership and living generous, adventure filled lives that reflect someone greater. The future will thank them.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Burn

::: An Atlas of Upward Mobility

::: The Wire Got It Backwards

::: People Stop Listening to New Music at the Age of 33

Photo: baked goods and support letters.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Missional Elders

While the nature and values of the gospel remain the same, their expression should always be changing. Stubbornness to change can lead to methodolatry and make the gospel inaccessible and undesirable to others. God and his mission are often full of surprises, so mission-focused leaders hold plans loosely and continue to ask what he desires.
We cannot respond with the seven deadly words of the church: "We've never done it that way before." We must instead embrace a posture of "Whatever you want of us - and from us - God, we will do." One of the most significant and startling lessons we can learn from church history is that movements of renewal first happen on the fringe, not in the center of expected norms. Can we join him in those surprising places that force us to trust him with ever-deepening levels of faith?
Our role as elders is to seek God and ask him to stoke the coals of kingdom imagination in our own hearts and in the hearts of those in our congregation. Imagine if elders were the ones awakening hearts and minds of people with kingdom vision by saying things like "Imagine if we joined by..." or "What if God called us as a church to.." or "I wonder if God is calling us to step out in the area of..." When guided by the Spirit and rooted in wisdom, this type of kingdom-initiated vision is contagious.
But imagination involves risk and courage, which requires permission to fail - and grace when it happens. If we are afraid of failure, our churches will never pursue new outposts for reaching new people within various cultures and contexts. To be elders committed to expressing God's mission is to lead with courage as we pursue a mission larger than ourselves.
- Eldership and the Mission of God: Equipping Teams for Faithful Church Leadership, JR Briggs and Bob Hyatt.
Fantastic read and really gives a vision of local church elders as agents of mission for their communities. Highly recommended if you are involved in any kind of local church leadership.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Hosting the Ns

In 2006, the Ns hosted a student team that I led to Yaounde Cameroon. They were the most gracious hosts and our role was to help jump start some relationships and student gatherings during our time in their city. In 2008, they hosted another team from our church, this team helping them with a leadership conference they were putting together. Again, the most gracious, humble, and culturally sensitive hosts.

Bad picture, but G is second from the left and W is all the way on the right. [Greg who helped lead in 2006 and 2008 in the middle and Terah who lead in 2008 is second from the right.] It was a pleasure to host them and two of their three kids this past weekend. And, of course, when people like us get together, the 4 day long conversation includes topics like:
+ sending churches and global missions strategies
+ their transition of ministry moving from being hands on youth workers to focusing on organizational dynamics and administration
+ psychometrics and high performance teams
+ the demand of a typical season on furlough
+ life overseas while preparing your teenagers for college in another country

I also had some great conversations with their two boys about growing up overseas, being third culture kids and the kinds of things they would love and hate if they got together with similar kids. This is info we will indirectly use for Prague. Loved our time together.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Where Should You Give to Help Nepal?

::: Production Adoption - Seth on the Diffusion of Innovation Scale
[PS I love this scale]

::: The World's Languages, in 7 maps and charts

::: Movement killer: telling someone with the apostolic gift that he/she cannot use it. @briansanders_

Photo: The Rocky Steps, Philly. April 2015.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Best of Luck Brent

That is Brent Lutz on the left, sitting on a tarp covered recliner with shaving cream all over his face. Our daughter Emily is in the center of the posse of girls on the right. A pie in the face - consider this a middle school send off.

Last Sunday was Brent's last Sunday in his position as middle school pastor at Grace - his family felt a call back to Ohio where they have deep roots. These girls, and our family, have been fortunate enough to have a middle school pastor that loved Jesus and was crazy enough to hang with middle schoolers for 3 years. His impact has been tangible and visceral.

Thanks Brent for investing in the middle schoolers of Howard County and best of luck!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Prague Team - Mtg #4

Served for a morning together at The Samaritan Women, a local human trafficking victim services organization, as a team, or as many as could come. They do a fantastic intro to the whole subject of domestic and local human trafficking and serving on their property is both a great project and gives you a great sense for their mission.

Planning lunch with most of our team where we outlined and put down some structure to the program we are going to execute. We got some juice now.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Why Some People Are So Good at Persisting
Trust me on this - click the link and read it. Nathan is fast becoming one of my favorite writers.

::: The Wirecutter's Travel Guide

::: Dan Sadlier celebrating Hope Church Roosevelt Island's First Year
Some of the Ember team had lunch with Dan in 2011. Super insightful post.

Photo: Community Garden, Salvation Army West Philadelphia. April 2015.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Young Young Adults

Pictured is the leadership team of the young adult ministry at our church - a phenomenal group of young people. I had the privilege of being with them for about 18 hours a few weeks ago for part of their spring leadership retreat. Huge privilege.

During our time together, we watched a few of the videos from the Verge Conference, best described as a gathering of future-centric church leaders. I loved the content of the talks and my role there was to help facilitate discussions with this team. Some of the concepts that we talked about included movement thinking, releasing and ordaining ordinary people to do ministry, and postures and gestures. The other idea that I walked away with was the reminder that vocabulary creates culture - the words that you use and their definitions matter and help define the ethos of your team.

Much has been said about the decline of church involvement among young people and how the American church is in crisis mode. I don't dispute any of that and certainly agree that the future of a movement of Jesus followers will see many challenges. But people like these people - who love each other incredibly through good and bad, who are bound so tightly by a sense of impacting the world for God's glory, and who are willing to break the mold of how we have done it before - yes, I'll hang with them and cheer them on.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ember Philly 15

This past weekend, I spent about 24 hours in Philadelphia with some 10th grade boys and their leaders from a local church youth ministry. Long time readers might remember that Ember has used Philadelphia as a context for a few of our cultural and leadership immersions and this weekend was a similar experience. I loved our time together with this group, I've known one of their leaders for a long time and their leader team has been with these boys for almost five years straight. Every leader here was humble, sacrificial and fun. Every student loved learning about what we were doing and was totally engaged. Dream job.

Here are some of the elements of the weekend - feel free to steal with attribution.
+ Friday night - Chinatown immersion.
I love Chinatown Philadelphia for this kind of thing. You actually see lots of Chinese people there and it feels like being immersed in a totally different culture for a short period of time.
Dinner at Chinese restaurant with peking duck and frog.
Cultural observation - what are the icons, what is the narrative of the neighborhood and what is similar and different from where you live?
Urbanization, global urban migration, gentrification, demographics.
Dinner and discussion with Ember guide Tess and her roommate from Eastern.

+ Saturday - Salvation Army West Philadelphia
We had another Ember experience with Salvation Army West Philadelphia in 2011 so I knew a little bit about what to expect. It is part community center and part church, and the local envoys there, Tony and LaVerna Lewis are a joy to work with and really are there as pastors to the community. They have a fantastic facility that has been there since 1980 right next to a senior citizens apartment complex. The projects included weeding their community garden and sorting through toy and clothing donations.
The nonprofit dillemma of not having enough resources.
Missional imagination [like using this property.]
The requirement of missional imagination for leadership for the future.
Incarnation - when someone moves in to the neighborhood. Jesus being the ultimate example of incarnation.
The tension of bringing suburban kids into an urban environment for a few hours.

+ Saturday - Rocky Stairs
You cannot talk about the context of Philadelphia effectively without referencing Rocky.

+ Saturday - Tony Lukes.
Cheesesteaks - another significant icon of Philly.

Here is hoping that this weekend was catalytic for the potential in some of these students. More pictures here.

UPDATE: One item of feedback and I'm updating it here so I don't forget: we didn't walk around the neighborhood at Sal Army with the team like we should have.