Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Not Enough Youth Workers Talk About Calling

In my role with Ember, I have had lots of opportunities to give advice to young people about their future - it is always a privilege. Although I'd love to tell them to sell everything and go live in a hut [kidding], talking about calling is usually fun for me and overwhelming for them. Just last month, Dea and I had an evening conversation with an Ember peep about a specific opportunity and the trajectory of his life.

If you have students that ask you for this kind of advice, you should think about the following list of ideas. Study what the Scriptures say about this list. Think about your friends and mentors who are the most passionate and who have the highest caliber of character and how these topics have intertwined with God's call on their lives.

What are the general callings for all Jesus people?
What is the specific calling for you?
What are the gifts, talents and passions that have been forged in your heart?
Does God call you with an audible voice? What are other things God uses to give us direction?
Is there a right and wrong calling?
How granular is calling - marry right person, take the right job, buy the right pair of shoes?
Theology of place - how does God call me to a physical location?

Unfortunately, not many youth workers teach students how to navigate calling. If you have the power to change that, you should, right away.

Monday, May 02, 2016

You Still Have Time to do Team Preparation

The primary cause of failure often is lack of pre-field preparation. The whole episode becomes a colossal waste of time, and a drain on the missionaries. To this we have to add the high cost of teams junketing off to exotic places. But we have to examine our total investment in light of the returns, as well as the problems we create.
- Jim Reapsome, former editor-at-large for Evangelical Missions Quarterly. [Link]

You still have time. Don't waste the opportunity. Your kids, their parents and the people you are serving with are worth the extra time and effort you put in to training them in being a team, navigating culture and serving with passion.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Singapore is Taking the Smart City to a Whole New Level
Now Singapore may soon be known for something else: the most extensive effort to collect data on daily living ever attempted in a city.

::: Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers
Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.

::: Trinity Grace Church, NYC, celebrates 10 years.

::: The best test of any discipling process is the quantity and quality of leaders it develops. - @dave_rhodes

Photo: Team training - gutterball. May 2012.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Building Impossibilities

Ember is gearing up for a team training engagement and of course, the Italy team was suitable enough to experiment on. The actual team building activity in question was not exactly totally planned out so that made it even funner for this team... sort of. In this case, the actual task might have been close to impossible.

Teams don't always have to have tasks that can be accomplished. They may, in fact, learn more from a task that will never be possible. Pressure and frustration are valuable tools in the right hands and cause creates community [A McManus].

Monday, April 25, 2016

2016 Italy #3

Experimental team building activity
The Journey of a Refugee, Lesvos, Greece [YouTube]
Asset Based Community Development
Telling Your Story
Ember mantras

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Recruitment: The Final Desperate Act of a Dying Church
Recruitment is actually a subtraction strategy. It doesn’t add anything to the kingdom. It simply takes from it. It is a strategy that uses the kingdom for its own good rather than contributing to the kingdom.

::: Don't Look Now But Twitter has Momentum with the Youth

::: Instagram is Ruining Vacation

::: Think long because God thinks generationally. @willmancini

Photo: NYC, April 2016.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

24 Hour Justice Experience for Students

Most of our 2016 Italy team is helping put together a 24 hour justice experience, specifically for high school students, through our home church, Grace. There will be elements of teaching, worship, and a community service project, all centered around the idea of justice. If you are or know of a high school student that might be interested in something like this, reach out or have them sign up here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Italy #2

+ Practicing Italian with Tess
+ Support status
+ Ember mantras
+ Worldview:
define, examples, real life examples, where do you see this in the Scriptures.
+ Plausibility Structures
define, examples, how do these play out in the interactions Jesus had.
+ Special guest Lindsey

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Burn

::: What Africa Will Look Like in 100 Years.

::: For the Poor, Geography Matters

::: America Has the Fewest 16-Year-Old Drivers Since the 1960s
By the way, this is not true at the Sheng household. Our kids are trying to get out as fast as they can.

::: ‏Be creative. To reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things that no one is doing. @craiggroeschel

Photo: Team leader city movement decompression. Philly, January 2016.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Funding for 2020

In late 2015, I started dreaming about 2016. And if you know the futuristics, it always ends a lot further down the line. Vision usually requires some amount of funding so part of Ember's 2016 strategic plan was for me to try to raise some money as we dreamed now until 2020.

This Spring, I've set a personal goal to try to raise some funding for the next 4 years for The Ember Cast. This funding will go towards some interesting initiatives for our emerging global student leaders. This includes some training, some leadership experiences, support for past Guides and helping fund Guide Grants - projects our Guides dream up.

One benchmark of leadership is the ability to raise support [think nonfinancial] and funding. Every summer, I raise some money for Ember summer teams and I've been happy when we have raised enough, which I think is the right attitude. But this year, I'd like to see just what that upper bound might be.

Although this post isn't a plea for support, if this is your kind of thing, feel free to reach out. If you are a long time reader, you'll probably get a support packet. Design of this funding letter done by Katie, Ember spawn.

Monday, April 11, 2016

CG Brunch

A few of our Ember peeps spent 4 days last week at a thing called the CG Consultation. Our conversation included their learning on topics such as:
- how cultural distance not taken seriously can be a big hindrance.
- insider movements.
- you must be able to reproduce what you do in order for it to move to a movement.
- how important the first follower is [see this TED talk]
- calling demons out of people by name.

Love being able to dig deep into what some of our Ember tribe is learning.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Charity Water Puts Google and VR to Good Use

::: 11 Characteristics of a Spiritual Entrepreneur
I love this post, natch.

::: What is the World's Loneliest City?

Photo: Most of the Italy team at Perspectives. We are having fun even though it doesn't look like it.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Proud Dad Moment

Allow me to be a proud dad for a moment... Katie is a senior in high school and the path to planning next year has been a little bumpy - life with teenagers, whatever. She didn't really want to go to school next year and most of you readers knew about her candidate weekend about a month ago to a school in the Middle East. At the end of last week, we found out that she got accepted along with a very, very generous financial package. All that to say that we are very proud of her, not just for what she has accomplished but because she has paved the way for one of many paths that will help her be everything the Lord wants her to be.

I absolutely love this paragraph from the acceptance letter and if you know Katie, you know how it fits her:
Surrounded by extraordinary students like yourself and working closely with world-class faculty, you will flourish as a scholar and develop the full range of your exceptional talent. In a vibrant city at an emerging crossroads of the world, with unparalleled opportunity for cross-cultural exploration and international study, you will equip yourself for leadership in a global age.

Emerging crossroads of the world, cross cultural exploration, international study, leadership in a global age - sounds like The Ember Cast. For better or worse, that's the kind of children we grew.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Friday Burn

::: D.C. now has more children. Here's where they're living.
Ever since 2011, the increase of children living in the city has outpaced the growth of the adult population.

::: Have We Been Celebrating the Wrong Thing About Toms
TOMS has invested in the futures of thousands of men and women by offering job skills training. They've also initiated health training, including skilled birth attendant training. A company that cares about training and long-term empowerment of those it employs is to be celebrated.

::: Turns out 'post-Christian' Seattle is fertile ground for new church starts.
"Seattle is a site for fresh life,"James explains. "Losing its power takes the church to a place it hasn't been since before Constantine. I think that's really hopeful."

::: The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. - Mother Theresa

Photo: Cultural observation, Ember style. Philly, January 2016.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Perspectives - Lesson 11

I'm teaching Lesson 11 at the Perspectives class next week in Columbia, Merryland and if you've been here a while you know that I think it's one of the best resources for global cross cultural people. If you have never been but want to sit in on a class, you can be one of my guests next week. It's Monday night from 7-9:30 at Bridgeway Community Church. Get in touch if you want to go - I'll have a few other guests too.