Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Dream Session #4

In the spring of 2013, after having served in the global missions arena at my church for over 10 years, I was released from all responsibilities. This was after five years with student teams, two years with a team to redefine the vision and three years as an advisor to the director of global missions. In what might be content for another post, I know I'm not the best team player - I can be highly cynical, sarcastic when I think I'm being funny and sometimes like to do things my way. The release was because I didn't quite share 100% enthusiasm for the vision and strategy, which was and is accurate.

In a suburban, affluent, faith community of over 2000 people that was seeking to better engage the world, my experience, talents and gifts were irrelevant? It was in pondering that question that I noticed an undercurrent of bitterness that started to affect my emotions as I thought about church world and missions and leadership. It was not healthy and I thought about therapy more than a few times.

About a year later, our high school pastor asked me if I would be willing to help some student mission teams again. There were some tactical needs - help with team training and investing in some leaders. I was delighted and it was where I could help without getting into issues about vision and strategy. Two weeks later, for completely unrelated reasons, our director of global missions was terminated.

Second from the right is Kristen. She is one of our guides and we've worked on a few projects together including 2012Belgium and I'm proud to tell you that this year, she is the point leader for Grace's student mission teams. She is a fantastic leader and I'm thrilled about Ember working on retainer with her and her teams.

In the economy of the Kingdom, sometimes things have to die to be reborn. Seeds die before they grow. Winter is cold and dark so that Spring can bloom. The Gospel means that sometimes, life comes from death.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Biggest Barrier to College Students Going to the Mission Field
This is a fantastic read that should be required for global missions pastors and people that work with students. Hint - it is not debt.
Link via Julianna


::: 2015 Bible Minded Cities
If you are looking to start something from scratch related to missional imagination, you should seriously consider the column of cities on the right.
Link


::: Are You as Passport Expert?
Link


::: 3 Simple Forcing Functions That Will Multiply Your Productivity
These are super good.
Link


::: Can You Name These Cities By their Subway Maps?
Link


::: 8 Reasons Full Time Pastors go Bivocational
Link


::: A Teenager's View on Social Media - 2015
Link

::: Good leaders get decisions. Great leaders get committments. @RobJacobs_

Photo: JTimmons, Bandol, France. July 2014.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

25 Years at Grace - Thanks Mark Norman

This past weekend, we at Grace celebrated Mark Norman's 25th year of being lead pastor there. Those of you in church world know that a milestone like that is just an incredible feat and Mark himself would tell you that this achievement is by the grace of God. That is the kind of leader he is.

I've been privileged to serve under him on a variety of projects since the mid 90s when we first came to Grace. Here's a few things I've learned from him that I'm extremely grateful for:

+ When we first came to Grace, they would gather ministry leaders once a month for a thing called Leadership Community. It was a vital part of Mark's responsibility and he would spend an hour every month pouring into leaders from every spectrum of the church. This was like no other church our family had been a part of - there was an intentional leadership pipeline and the lead pastor took responsible for it.

+ When I was invited to join the elder team for a season, one of the desired behaviors was what Mark called a "Pan Body" perspective - the ability and desire to see and act for the faith community as a whole. This is an uncommon skill but one that can be cultivated.

+ The elders have a mantra that says, "Never say no for someone else." Applicable to every leadership experience I have had but I saw it in play lots when working with that team.

+ On women in leadership - see here.

+ When Mark took me out to lunch a few times, he would pay and say, "It is all His money anyway." When sitting in a meeting to talk about missions, he mentioned at least once that there were people who would start their own initiatives and they were people that needed to pioneer something. Mark doesn't shy away from innovation and welcomes the fact that the Kingdom is bigger than his church.

+ Finally, if you know him, you know about the "Freedom Box." I led one of his kids in a high school small group for 4 years. I know all of his other kids and their spouses pretty well and they are some of the most tremendous people that I know. The Freedom Box, and more importantly, the balance of freedom and responsibility that parents are entrusted to teach to their kids, well, they did it phenomenally well. All that I learned about ministry pales in comparison to the example that Mark is as a father. That is a priceless gift to me.

Thanks Mark for 25 years at Grace. Here is to the future - the best is yet to come.

Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 Dream Session #3

Mander and Katie, chatting about internships, nonprofits, education, kids ministry, refugees, urban migration. You know, the usual stuff that 11th grade girls talk about.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Watch Google Translate Decipher Foreign Signs in Real Time
Link
[Related: Ember spawn uses Google Translate]


::: Cultural Intelligence in an Age of Terrorism
Link


::: NOLA Finds Homes for All It's Homeless Vets
Link


::: Compassion Intl Delivers on Promise for Schools in Haiti
Link


::: Jesus' dining experiences became a lifestyle around which he formed a school of disciples - Len Sweet via @fitchest

Photo: Mary, who was our shot lady, and her calendar with money from around the world. Sadly, she is now retired.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 Dream Session #1

With some of our ProtoGuides and Guides... talking about emerging possibilities and what sounds exciting and fits into why Ember does what we do.

So very excited about 2015.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thank You, Board of Director, Greg Klassen

In 2009, when I was toying with the idea of starting a nonprofit, I knew I needed someone who had actually started and ran a business, or preferably, multiple businesses. Having had a career in technology and always working for a business, but never starting something like this from scratch, I knew I had no idea what I was doing. And looking back now, that is quite the understatement.

After starting The Ember Cast, I invited Greg Klassen the join the Board of Directors. Greg's two daughters had traveled with us pre-Ember and through our interactions, I had nothing but the highest level of respect for him and his family. Greg and his wife Vicki were two of the most ardent supporters for student missions our church community had ever seen and Greg had started and ran multiple technology companies. My respect for him grew even more after getting to know him even better through his board activities with Ember.

Seasons change and there will be times when board members want or need to be invested in different things. As of last week, Greg has decided to step down from the Ember board. I am incredibly grateful for the 5 years of service Greg has devoted to Ember. Some of his accomplishments include:
+ Seed funding at the very beginning to get some of our operations systems and budget in order.
+ Strong enthusiasm for Ember purchasing Directors and Officers insurance and getting us connected with a local insurance agent. Insurance issues were lost on me and because of his enthusiasm for this, I am much more serious about insurance. I still strongly counsel other nonprofit leaders to purchase this insurance.
+ Multiple conversations with me about working on the business not just in it.
+ Making me think long and hard about the 'unique business proposition' - what makes us unique and why we exist.

I'm immensely grateful for Greg's investment in my life, not only as a business founder but as a father and husband. Thank you Greg - you have marked human history.

Photo: Catalyst West Conference, April 2009, Orange County, CA.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Happy 14th to Emily

Dear Em --

Happy 14th birthday! You've had a great year and we are so proud of the person you are becoming. We've watched you take initiative and influence seriously this year and it's been a joy to see. You've served others in a few key areas this year and surrounded yourself with some good friends. For us as parents, that is thrilling.

The biggest example of that was in Aix this summer, where we pushed you to stick at it even when you weren't feeling well. Of course, later we found out you had mono. At least you got your blood drawn for the first time ever in another country.

Keep growing and making the right choices and pushing yourself to influence others in the right things. And make that dog obey me.

Love.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Seating Chart for Hell Airlines
Link via Kottke


::: 6 Reasons You Are Losing High Capacity Volunteers
Link


::: Each MBTI's New Years Resolution
Link

Photo: Paris, summer 2008.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Strengths That Bind

On the last day of 2014, we finally were able to execute on an idea that my wife has had for a few years - having our extended family take the StrengthsFinder assessment. If you've been around here for long, you know how much I love the tool and it's ability to fast forward relationships, help make teams better and actualize leadership.

Now we know a lot more about why my family does what they do. Like the value of getting along to my sister in law Stef and her husband [they both have Harmony] and how my mother in law Cheryl spent decades in the field of education [Developer and Empathy], and why my brother in law Doug researches everything in fine detail [Maximizer].

You also might know that I have a large graph of everyone that I know who has taken the assessment listing their top 5 [and even people I don't know...] The picture here is a piece of it. Sometime last year, I re-arranged it based on the 4 domains - sometimes when working with teams, this perspective can help.

Talking about your talents and strengths might be a great way to start the new year with people you are close to or work with.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Dream Months

I'm absolutely thrilled about 2015. From a personal point of view, I've got lots of dreams for this year that I'm excited about making happen. It's the same with Ember, I'm at the edge of my seat about the experiences and people God might bring to us this year.

Typically, January and February are our 'see what sticks' time. This year, I'm calling it something different unofficially. It is our 'Dream Time.' We will ask our guides to dream a little, to do some missional imagination, see who is interested in what out there and ask God for some clarity and to walk ahead of us.

Excited to tell you more soon.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Friday Burn

Happy 2015!!

::: When Other Cultures Celebrate New Years
Link


::: Genius Ways to Manage Email
Link


::: God isn't Dead in Gotham
Fantastic read about Tim Keller and Redeemer Pres in NYC
Link via Rudy


::: The most useful members of a church are usually those who would be doing harm if they were not doing good - Spurgeon via JD Greear

Photo: Family NYE StrengthsFinder session.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in cities

One of my favorite end of year posts, the year in cities. This year was a great year of travel, both personally and with The Ember Cast. And I'm still on track for getting out of the country once a year since 2005, except for 2009.
1 - Cambridge, MD, USA
2 - National Harbor, MD, USA
3 - Fairfield, CT, USA
4 - Knoxville, TN, USA
5 - Nashville, TN, USA
6 - Lexington, VA, USA
7 - Henderson, NC, USA
8 - San Antonio, TX, USA
9 - Richmond, VA, USA
10 - Aix-en-Provence, France
11 - Sanary sur Mer, France
12 - Marseille, France
13 - Virginia Beach, VA, USA
14 - Lake Anna, VA, USA
15 - Vernon, CT, USA
16 - Danvers, MA, USA



[2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in cities]

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 in Books

Pretty great list of books that I read this year. Hope you enjoy some of the notes.

Sacred Roots
The Hard Thing About the Hard Things
Dream Year
The Happiness of Pursuit
Creativity Inc
The Power of Habit
What We Talk About When We Talk About God
Makers of Fire*
You and Me Forever*
My Share of the Task*
Zero to One*
The Artisan Soul*
Mission Drift
Leaders Eat Last

* Either still reading or should go and take some notes.

[2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 in books]

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 in Posts

Some of my favorite posts this past year - events and thoughts on student missions that marked both Ember and our family.

Why We Exist 2014

ProtoGuides 2014 Finish

Ember Advance 2014

Sending Katie and Olivia [#4th most read post]

At the Gate [#5 most read post]

97.14%

Ember 2014X Wrap

Ember Baltimore 4

What Pavillion Vendome Means to Me

Catalyst Next DC Notes

[2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in posts.]