Thursday, October 27, 2016

Perspectives Discussion Sample

Always fun teaching at Perspectives. Even though some people think it might only have 10 years of life left [old bald white men, no succession plan, what does learning look like in 2016], it is still one of the best mediums to expose people to a big world.

Some interesting and intruiging questions from the class last night:

+ Going to another culture means being a gracious guest, but sometimes, we get really sick for days. What do we do about that?
+ Are there unreached people groups in Europe?
+ Where is the line between understanding a culture and making sometimes wrong assumptions about that culture and how do we be smarter about this?
+ What do we do about young people who say they are interested in Jesus but not interested in church and how does that relate to a post Christian culture?

Lots of classes will be held in Merryland in the Spring, registration is now open. Of course, I'm a big fan.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ember Board of Director Notes - October 2016

Rough high level notes from the October 2016 Board of Directors meeting for The Ember Cast. I will never tire of saying how grateful I am to this group of people for their experience, guidance and encouragement for what we do with students.

+ Financials
Goal of meeting with a CPA before 1 January. The short term goal is to set up QuickBook accounts to make sense instead of how it is done now. Long term goal would be a solid financial system in place.

+ Disaster planning for summer experiences
The Board and I spent a lot of time interacting this spring over a 'global security plan' for the Italy team. The process of putting together this plan was extremely valuable and this will be a standard document for all future summer experiences. We will also encourage this type of planning when coaching other student mission leaders. Hopefully, it never gets executed.

+ Board members meeting with ProtoGuides
Starting with our last ProtoGuide, setting meetings between the ProtoGuide and members of the Board is a good thing. They get to pick their brain, potentially hear and see about the life and ministry of a Board member and the Board member gets to know them and hear how Ember is helping them.

+ Intentional Staff get togethers
We need some kind of name for this but even with a weekly Staff email [I wrote about this here], and even though our Staff is project centric, it would be good for everyone to understand who is who and what are they doing. This idea came from Matt, who got it here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Redefining Global Cities

::: Move Over, Millennials.
Here comes Gen Z.

::: The Passing of Thailand's King

::: Disciples are much cheaper to develop than consumer Christians. A little more time is needed but much less money. @HughHalter

Photo: side view, Forcey Christian School's chapel service earlier this week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Out and About - Fall 2016

I have the following speaking engagements coming up and would love to connect with you if you are at any of these:

+ Tuesday March 25, Perspectives, Lesson 10, Forcey Bible Church, Silver Spring, MD.
+ Sunday November 6, Maryland Orphan Sunday, Grace Comm Church, Fulton, MD.
+ Sunday November 20, Perspectives, Lesson 12, Univ of DE, Newark, DE.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Billions of people buying tickets and investing countless hours on something of absolutely no significance.
Seth on spectator sports. I would email this post to everyone all over the world, especially during football season, if I could.

::: Thank God for innovation. Thank God for creativity ... Spontaneity is our friend in the church. - Brian Houston
You may be shocked to hear we don't sing 'Shout to the Lord' anymore at Hillsong Church. It's not 1993. If you come all the way to Australia and you hope to hear 'Shout to the Lord,' your chances are slight. We don't even sing 'Oceans' much anymore.

::: Wifi airport passwords around the world on one map.

::: We are kept from our true goal not by obstacles but by a clear line to a lesser goal - @willmancini

Photo: Hillsong Conference Sydney 2016. We definitely did not sing 'Shout to the Lord.'

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Notes - Growing Young

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin.
Great read if you are in any kind of church or faith based nonprofit leadership including pastoral staff, campus staff, elder teams, or board of directors.
Almost weekly, someone at Fuller Theological Seminary quotes this powerful axiom from beloved senior trustee Max De Pree: "The first job of a leader is to define reality." The unfortunate reality is that most churches are not growing, and they aren't getting any younger.

All around the country, these hundreds of "bright spot" congregations are effectively loving and serving young people. Some of them quietly, and without flash. Others with great magnetism and fanfare. We call these churches that grow young because
1. They are engaging young people ages 15 to 29;
2. They are growing - spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and sometimes also numerically.

By keychain leaders, we mean pastoral and congregational leaders who are
* acutely aware of the keys on their keychain; and
* intentional about entrusting and empowering all generations, including teenagers and emerging adults, with their own set of keys.
[Keychain leaders - great illustration.]

The 'priesthood of all believers' doesn't mean leaders are absent.

If we are going to empathize with today's young people, we have to explore these questions. They are often what keeps today's teenagers and emerging adults awake at night.
Who am I?
Where do I fit?
What difference do I make?

As today's young people seek a more coherent sense of identity, the stress that formerly hit them in college, or even after college, now begins in middle school (or younger).
[Profoundly true. If you don't believe it, offer to housesit a high school junior or senior for a few days during the school year.]

Moralistic therapeutic deism still threatens to distract young people from Jesus.
Moralistic - equtate faith with being a good, moral person.
Therapeutic - faith becomes a means of feeling better about themselves.
Deistic - God exists, but this God is not involved in human affairs with any regularity.

Warm is the new cool.
* The chapter entitled "Fuel a Warm Community" is totally worth the price of the book.
See this article

Create both on-ramps and road trips. [Metaphors for increasing levels of commitment to community.]

Churches growing young prioritze young people not just for the sake of making young people happy but because the whole church benefits. One pastor of over 40 years put it like this: "Everybody rises when you focus on children and teens." Adults in another church reflected, "Young people are like salt. When they're included, they make everything taste better."

Myth: Good leaders and programs automatically lead to priority.
[Written about making young people a priority, but this could be said about a lot of other things too.]

Wise neighbors help young people discover their calling.
Churches that grow young people provide this vocational guidance by helping teenagers and emerging adults locate themselves and their work in light of a grand narrative.

Experiment on the margins.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Being a Curator

The mindset that makes your missions experience great or just average is the mindset of being a curator. This is infinitely more than just a 'leader' or a 'tour guide' or a 'chaperone' although you can use those titles, except for the last one. Instead, you become an anthropologist, a futurist and a talk show host all at once.

You help your students understand the past and present - why does this group of people function like it does, what are the predominant values of this city, what elements of the past inform why people act this way in the present.

You envision a path for the future - what do my students learn from this and how does that affect their behavior 5 or 50 years from now, what latent dreams and passions are erupted out of this experience, you say to them, "You know, you could do this too."

You ask a lot of pointed, intentional questions that form a bridge between where your students are, where they could be and how hosts, co-workers and people with the same calling help your students get there. You've done a lot of research on the people you are working with before you landed in-country, so that you can have an intelligent discussion with them about what they actually do. You interject, stop here and there to chat about this or that, keep a running list of notes in your pocket for discussion later.

Most mission experiences are good - people get there and back, they serve somebody and the students are exposed to another culture. Being a curator takes this experience and turns it into a time when your students learned to peel back elements of a culture and deduce significance, they envisioned a future that was bigger than themselves, and they heard deep stories of calling from people they worked side by side with.

Curation is catalytic leadership at its best. You know, you could do this too.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Friday Burn

::: The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 114 million from 2012 to 2013.

::: Why the Best Leaders Want Their Superstar Employees to Leave

::: The Church in Iran has become the fast growing in the world.
It's a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran's tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.

:::‏ 53% of the world speaks 2 or more languages. - @DavidLivermore

Photo: morning team meeting, Catania Italy, July 2016.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

SparkBizLive - Scott Harrison from Charity: Water

The Shengs have been huge fans of charity: water for a number of years now so when I saw a event here in DC to hear founder Scott Harrison speak, I signed up immediately. The event was hosted by Inc. Magazine and Capital One as part of their SparkBizLive series and was last Monday night. Held at the great Capital View at 400, which overlooks Union Station, it was a perfect DC October evening.

When I got there, I was able to try out the new charity: water virtual reality headset which was cool. Free food and drinks and then Scott was interviewed by Jon Fine, the executive editor for Inc Magazine. Some of my notes:
CW was a digital charity from the start - no mass mailing or paper marketing.
The numbers can't humanize people - need to tell your stories instead. The water problem is too big in numbers for people to get. 'You numb out.'
Never paid for marketing officially.
Stories that share.
The 'giving back' language is not quite the right message.
Giving of your time is not enough. Bad excuse. You must also give money sacrificially. His family of 4 live in a 900 square foot apartment in NYC to live below their means on purpose.
The Well - their fund/account for paying for overhead. Distinct and totally separate from public well projects. 115 currently families fund The Well.
3 year commitment with 6 levels high touch donors treating them like investors, return on their money, get to see people get their children involved with generosity.
What is next if you fix the water problem: Grow the community of generosity for what is next.
Current trend is to have your nonprofit finish a task and put itself out of business. Scott doesn't necessarily buy into that idea.
'Do not be afraid of work that has no end.'
Favorite charities right now: Invisible children although they now have a skeleton crew.
'You offer people the opportunity to make their money greater than who they are'
Institutional givers - 'I have heard it is hell.'
Invited himself to speak to Twitter's staff when they were only 20 people. Getting speaking engagements can help your org at the beginning but you have to tell the stories.
I also hung out with Erika, wife of long time friend Joshua and some of her friends in the social entrepreneurship world. Erika runs Pulchritude, Sarah runs Kicheko Goods and Meagan runs Ethic Goods.

Most profound moment of the night: During the Q&A, a lady spoke about her starting a nonprofit for the water crisis in a country in Africa and her coming to the end of funding and having to raise more money or shut it down. Scott said, "Email me tonight and I'll make a donation." Jon Fine then added, "Yes email me and I'll donate too."

Thanks charity: water for continuing to always inspire all of us.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Made on the road

Disciples are made on the road, not in rows. - Kim Hammond
When you design a leadership development event or strategy, it is tempting to center it around the idea of people sitting down to learn content. This is the primary paradigm of learning for most of us - it is what most of us default to. Unfortunately, it isn't that successful. Just look at the quantity of events that are called 'leadership retreats.' And you know what 'retreat' means, right?

The sentence above is one of Ember's mantras and helps us stay centered around the idea that most people learn best by doing. You start with the concepts that you want people to experience and you build the road trip from that. It is more work than just getting a speaker and chairs but far, far more rewarding.

You can do this too.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Icebreakers Are Terrible. They Also, Unfortunately, Work Really Well.

::: 5 Tips That Will Make You a Better Communicator

::: What Is Wrong with Western Missionaries?

::: The dangers of life are infinite, and among them is safety. - Johann von Goethe

Photo: The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Future Casting from 2016

From my experiences this summer, here are some ideas as you think about engaging your students for their global future.

You can pretty much travel to any global city and experience a microcosm of another culture. Go to Chinatown in Philly, Little Italy in NYC, the east end of London, Ashleigh in Sydney or any number of other combinations. The key is going to that 'global city' - a city that is important enough in the world economy to warrant lots of people wanting to be there. You'll probably see lots of examples of the world's biggest problems there like homelessness or food security or poverty and you'll also almost be guaranteed of the opportunity to experience another ethnicity there as well. This is fantastic for your students.

Every refugee has a smart phone. It is literally priority number one. The future is governed by connectivity - connectivity across language, cultures, and physical location. In the midst of the largest movement of people in history, individuals are tied together via technology more so than ever in the past. Our Italy team still connects with some of the people we met overseas and the same goes for teams in years past - they remain connected through the power of the Internet. For those youth leaders who have a constant no smart phone policy, you may want to refine this. Certainly there are times when smart phones are a distraction but we have moved into an age, many years ago, where being connected is the constant. Help your students navigate this so they can powerfully use connectivity.

If what they say is true about the demographic growth of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, then us Western Americans are going to have a steep learning curve when it comes to hospitality. Want to impact the future, teach your students how to be gracious hosts.

Picture: front row, UMBC Cru.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Burn

::: To Get to Harvard, Go to Haiti
Richard Weissbourd, a child psychologist and Harvard lecturer who has studied the admissions process in the interest of reforming it, recalled speaking with wealthy parents who had bought an orphanage in Botswana so their children could have a project to write and talk about. He later became aware of other parents who had bought an AIDS clinic in a similarly poor country for the same reason.

::: 10 Tips for International Relocation

::: Why You Shouldn't Give Up on Traveling in an Age of Fear

::: For a leader, it's not what you can do but what you can duplicate. - ‏@willmancini

Photo: Catania and the Med, from Mount Etna

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finding Potential

After spending the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, I’ve come to believe that leadership has nothing to do with position, salary, or number of direct reports. I believe a leader is anyone who holds her or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.
- Brene Brown via Mitchel

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer 2016 Travel Hacking

Not everyone has the ability or the desire to travel like we did this summer. But if you have the desire, I am a huge fan of 'travel hacking.' Simply put, it is the art of maximizing credit card points to earn points that can be applied to travel. If I can do this, anyone can. Here are two real life examples from this summer.

+ Australia
Outbound flight - BWI-OAK [not direct but 1 stop in HOU, same plane]
Transferred 43,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to Southwest account. I already had about 3,000 points from some travel for work. Bought 9,000 points for $192.50 plus I paid for $50 for early bird confirmation and the fees were $22.40. Overall cost - 55,000 points.
4 tickets = $66.22/person

SFO<->SYD roundtrip flight
Transferred 280,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to United account. Fees were $409.44 plus I bought travel insurance for $90.32.
4 tickets = $124.94/person

Inbound flight - SFO-BWI [1 stop in PHL]
I had about 80,000 American Airlines points and used all of them. Fees were $22.40 and $60 for travel insurance. Most of these points were on the Citi AA card and for a few years, I had put automatic payments for smart phones and Internet on this card. I've since started using the Chase Ink for these fees since it's 5x points at least right now.
4 tickets = $22.10/person

Total flight cost:
335,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points
80,000 American Airline points
$846.40 - $211/person

In addition, when I read about the the IHG index card sweepstakes, our family wrote 94 index cards. We received around 60,000 IHG points from this sweepstakes and was able to book two hotels in San Francisco on the outbound as well as the inbound for $0 except the $46 in postage for the contest. Lodging in SFO is extremely expensive so this was totally worth it, even if no one got any sleep all night long in the hotel on the way back to Merryland. Thanks jet lag.

+ United Arab Emirates
Direct round trip on Emirates. IAD<->DXB. 90,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal brought the fare down to $1097. Two tickets = $548/person.

So if you really want to travel, you too can do this. Most of this, as you can tell, was done with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink cards both of which are great cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve was just released a few weeks ago and I'm not sure about that one yet. But between those two other cards, a good bit of time and some intentional planning, you can save a huge chunk on airfare, anywhere around the world.