Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Missions Support Metrics - 1

We are just at about 50% of our support raising for Ember 14X and we now have enough to purchase our airfare - it's a phenomenal milestone that our team has met.

I'll post some more metrics in early May, which will actually be the half way point between the time we started raising support and our departure date. So according to that timeline, we are a little ahead since we are at 50% of budget now before getting to 50% of time. The chart shows us being ahead of last year for a bit and then being a little bit behind. The two spikes both years were from a large donation from a family - very appreciative of every dollar. Yeah math details aside...

Kids who have a future as missionaries, church planters, or nonprofit leaders need to be able to to fund their ventures and support is one piece of that. Like my friend Ben Arment says, "Nonprofit is a tax strategy, not a business strategy."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ember Mantras - 3

"Leadership identification and engagement is 25% of your job." [adapted from the research of Bobby Clinton]

Most people that talk about leadership development do not spend a quarter of their time looking for and assessing emerging leaders. It came seem counter productive, too risky to spend lots of energy on, and we've already got solid leaders to invest in.

Meet the potential leaders of the emerging generation - the ones who are cause driven, the ones who doesn't wait for institutions to say yes after lots of red tape, the leaders who are ready now, those that may not know how to do it today, but have the audacity to figure it out by tomorrow.

You will never have enough leaders. Begging, stealing and borrowing them will work for a short while. Instead, identify and create them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Burn

::: The Countries Where Youth are Doing the Best and Worst

::: American Teens - Restaurants Instead of Malls

::: How Americans Die
Fascinating read - beautiful charts.

::: Jesus More Popular than Mao

::: One Thing Mark Zuckerberg Thinks Every Silicon Valley Exec Should Do
My life is so different from the person who's going to be getting Internet in two years. One of the things that we do is ask product managers to go travel to an emerging-market country to see how people who are getting on the Internet use it. They learn the most interesting things. People ask questions like, "It says here I'm supposed to put in my password — what's a password?" For us, that's a mind-boggling thing.

::: The Most Important Leadership Trait You Shun
And yet, few business people actively strive to grow in vulnerability, wanting instead to project strength and confidence to the people they lead, work with and serve. Ironically, they are limiting their potential for success. That's because it's not the smartest or most competent leaders, teammates and service providers that are the most successful ones. If that were the case, success would be much easier to predict than it is. In reality, the most successful people are those who achieve a required or minimum level of competence, and then enhance that with as much trust-inspiring vulnerability as they can.

::: If the members of UPGs living in Metro NY were collectively counted as a city, they would form the 2nd largest city in the US. - @ethneCITY

Photo: 14X, in person and remote. Columbia, Merryland, April 2014. Dup picture when originally posted. Downtown Aix. July 2013.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"The quality of a culture may be changed when 2 percent of its people have a new vision." – Robert Bellah
At a wedding this past weekend, [of some of the most missional people I know...] Emilie to my right and Leslie to the left of Deanna. Between 2003 and 2008, we traveled on teams together some 15 times, to destinations including New York City, Orlando Florida, Londrina Brasil, Yaounde Cameroon, Paris France, Vienna Austria, and Sopron Hungary among other places. I counted roughly being on 26 flights with these two.

Emilie is starting medical school in the Fall and was THE student that suggested we explore running an internship in global missions. Leslie is a social worker in Capitol Hill in DC and serves on the board of directors for The Ember Cast. Both were students that erupted into leaders in the very ministry that they grew up in and continue to live on mission right now. Countless students even today are benefiting from a student missions leadership culture that these two helped create and shape and mold.

One of the joys of my life has been seeing Emilie and Leslie grow up and sacrifice all of their being to serve humanity. We are all better because of them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ember 14X - Meeting #3

Team meeting #3, included:
- dessert at La Madeline. Yeah you know its authentic. Actually though, talk to some of the people that work there and you'll find that they are from all over the francophone world. And when we were leaving, there was a whole 10 person table of people speaking French.
- discussion about the concept of a person of peace and why they are important when dealing with the unengaged and unreached and who might some of those examples be.
- illustration of the diffusion of innovation principle and why that is important for leaders.

Unfortunately, not the greatest picture and a few of our team members weren't there.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Hook Of Mormon: Inside The Church's Online-Only Missionary Army
In what marks a new phase in the evolution of one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, which has doubled in size since the 90s, the Mormon church is doing for religion what Amazon did for stuff: embracing the web to make shopping for a new faith easy, convenient and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

::: A Rwanda Genocide Survivor
This past week marked the 20 year anniversary... this is a beautiful story.

::: You are Doing It Wrong If...
Great read on the tools of disruption today and how they drive the culture of organizations. Make sure to read the list at the bottom.

::: People don't resist change....people resist loss. - @willmancini via @ToddAdkins

Photo: Ember 14X, Columbia MD, Pleasanton, CA and Harrisonburg VA. April 2014.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Our 2014 Support Letter

Our 2014 support letter [pdf version] - having written and helped teams write these for years.... maybe I'll tell you what I really think of them one day...
It is a privilege and honor for us to work with such passionate and talented young people and it is our hope that this summer's experience launches them on a trajectory for this kind of catalytic, entrepreneurial, creative ministry in any culture and any context.

[Related: My missions support letters - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012,

Monday, April 07, 2014

Ember 14X - Mtg #2

- Finance update - we are around 11% of total funding, with 18% of that being creative revenue.
- Myers Briggs - we almost always take teams through it and then fill in the matrix together.
- Personal sharing - either how you came to being a Jesus person or a missions moment in your life - what Lencioni calls vulnerability-based trust
- Watched this video about 50 years after the Peace Child[vimeo link]

And... John joined us for a few minutes with Skype on my phone and Mander joined us for the whole time on a google hangout. Remote teams are not easy but in this case, these two are worth it.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Poverty is a Moral Problem

::: The First Year of Texting - Human Trafficking Help

::: Communication Patterns Around the World

::: How Twitter Has Changed in 12 Years

Photo: TRapp and moi, Aix, July 2013.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Perspectives Spring 2014

Fantastic time teaching and connecting at Perspectives last night. One of the best missions mobilization tools out there.

Here is some of what I found there: a guy who rents out his basement via AirBnB and gives a discount for people in ministry, the class host is an epidemiologist, one of the class attendees ran a very successful small business and sold it and is now thinking about the next phase of his life. And of course, I loved having some of our Ember tribe there and telling stories about them.

Here are the slides - as always steal or borrow what you want.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ember Mantras - 2

"Catalyst is the primary paradigm."

A catalyst is something that comes into a situation that sparks a reaction and the reaction continues after the catalyst has left. We use this paradigm for almost everything that we do - service projects, facilitating and hosting teams, missional experiences, leadership coaching and more. If you can't do it yourself after we have left, we have failed. This paradigm requires us to think critically about dependency, ensures we view a long term perspective and keeps us future and action oriented.

You will never have enough leaders. Borrowing or stealing them is not the solution. Instead, view yourself as a catalyst and perhaps leaders will erupt from those you are already working with.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Burn

::: This Flashlight is Powered by the Touch of Your Hand
Here's a little known fact: The human body, at any given moment, produces energy equivalent to a 100 watt light bulb. In that sense, we're always wasting our energy—energy that can be used to, well, power a light bulb. It's this line of thinking that led a 16 year old to invent the first flashlight powered entirely by body heat.

::: Why Snapchat is Valuable
Believe me, I've read all the stuff about how Snapchat is only around to make money off those kinds of pictures. But this is a great read in terms of helping to articulate why it's popular for other reasons.
In a digital world where everyone's flicking through headshots, images, and text without processing any of it, Snapchat asks you to stand still and pay attention to the gift that someone in your network just gave you. As a result, I watch teens choose not to open a Snap the moment they get it because they want to wait for the moment when they can appreciate whatever is behind that closed door. And when they do, I watch them tune out everything else and just concentrate on what's in front of them. Rather than serving as yet-another distraction, Snapchat invites focus.

::: Are the Suburbs Making People Live Paycheck to Paycheck?

::: The organizations that best adapt to a changing world first & foremost know what should NOT change - Jim Collins via @ToddAdkins

And today.... I celebrate following Jesus for 30 years.

Photo: dugout canoe, lifeguard shirt, not such a great swimmer... outside of Kribi, Cameroon, July 2006.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raising Missions Finances as a Leading Indicator

The first amount of support that comes in is always exciting. It's a good milestone to have.

What's even more important - who is the first one to get support in and how fast did it come in? That's what tells you who is all in, who is a sponge that is soaking up everything you can give this team, who is driven and called to see it succeed. Raising support is not the easiest thing to do and if they can do it, and do it fast, that is a significant accomplishment. This tells you who, in the words of one of my mentors, is a person that must.

In this case, it was Tess and it took 10 days for it to start coming in. Yes, that is fast. Our experiment with Tess didn't work out, but she's on Ember 14X now and as you can see, this is the right place for her and the rest of us.

Monday, March 24, 2014

14-15 ProtoGuides

Last weekend, I had lunch with the upcoming Ember ProtoGuides. This is the next iteration of ProtoGuides that start officially this coming September. It's an amazing group of ladies [all girls, the boys will come around eventually...] - one is traveling to Kenya this summer, another one started a Christian club at her high school, and the third is on my France team as well as working on a project with Appalachia Service Club this summer. I think there is at least one cross cultural missionary and/or church planter in the mix, but more on them later. For lunch, my purpose was just to listen to them - to hear what they were interested in learning, how Ember could launch them and what kinds of projects they wanted to be involved in. It was a fascinating conversation and touched on ideas such as:

+ Global Women's Rights.
+ The growth of churches or spiritual communities.
+ Experiencing and learning from different expressions of Church.
+ Connecting and building relationships with different missions-type people around the world.
+ How to plan missional experiences.
+ Sustainable community development and dependency issues like what is covered in Toxic Charity.
+ Social movements, demographics and context like what is covered in Church in the Making.

The ProtoGuide experience is at the core of what Ember does and what makes us unique. And of course, working with students like these is a huge privilege for us.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Burn

::: In the Future Your Church Won't Need Volunteers
Yet churches that increase in favour and change the future of the city are thinking differently about volunteers. The Church of the future will move from recruiting volunteers to releasing trusted rulers. Volunteers meet the needs of the church. Trusted rulers serve/fuel the dreams of the city. Trusted rulers know their identity, understand their spiritual authority and introduce life to the city. According to scripture every believer is a trusted ruler, called by God to lead the earth into life. This is the original mandate that has never been rescinded (Genesis 2). Volunteers work for the church. Trusted rulers work for the city.

::: Student Run Business Provides Low Cost Prom Dresses

::: The Biggest Nonprofit Mistake of All Time
Adam Braun, incidentally, is the brother of Scooter Braun, American talent manager.
But for years I've been troubled by something that I consider the biggest mistake in the non-profit space: that 501(c)3 companies have allowed themselves to called "non-profit."

::: We finally have a secret weapon to cut teen birth rates. It's the MTV show "16 and Pregnant"

::: What separates young leaders is less about how, more about when (ie, when to step forward, and when to be the team player) - @richlyons via ‏@JoshuaSymonette

Photo: God is calling you but not on your cell phone.... Sopron, Hungary. July 2008.