Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Katie and Becca

When I was 26, I was just about done with my phase of watching MTV and eating cereal for breakfast. Meet two other 26 year olds that hung with us for a few days this week - Katie, 3rd from the right and Becca, 2nd from the right. Katie is on her 20-something country, about half of those done with significant global missions perspectives. Becca just started a nonprofit to help with children, poverty and education in Liberia.

We met Katie last summer in Italy when she and a friend joined our Ember team for a week after returning from Greece checking out the refugee situation there. She told us her and Becca were connecting through DC on their way to Liberia so we naturally invited them to stay in the international Ember office. DC monument tour at night, visiting with some Ember peeps, meeting our kitchen remodel contractors. This trip to Liberia is around vision - lots of observation and dreaming to spur strategy and action.

Ember is fortunate to hang with these kinds of people - the young, energetic, passionate for the world, willing to start something from nothing. You might not be 26 but it's never too late to be the person you were meant to be.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Italy Mtg #4

One of the best and easiest tools to help build your team - the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. This is the chart for Italy 2017.

I have done this with almost every team I have led and, even more importantly, teams have referred to it when thinking about another team member. That is what you want - a tool to help you fast forward relationships so that people become brave, vulnerable, courageous and trustworthy.

Lucky for us, I think we have one ENFJ that isn't on the list.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Why We Send Students
Link


::: What Would Jesus Disrupt?
Link


::: Skateboarding, the Biggest Female Sport in Afghanistan
Link

::: Strategy is a commodity, execution is an art. - Peter F. Drucker

Photo: Ember Advance 17 team.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ember Advance 2017

A long tradition for us and our student missions efforts this past weekend: Ember Advance. I love this it so so much. This year, for the morning, our team assisted one of our clients in their student missions training efforts. This included:
A time where teams prayed for other teams.
3 rounds of workshops with missions practitioners [including world class content about: being a team that your hosts like, the Abrahamic covenant, and embracing faith versus the idol of control].
Team building with their teams.
Debriefing over lunch on how the morning went.

After that, the Ember team, which was most of the Italy team and guest EQuis, did the Myers Briggs, played some of Tess' Christian college games and went downtown to church with National Community Church. We had dinner on Barracks Row and then walked to the Capitol to see it at night.

Our big goals for Ember Advance included serving our clients with a fantastic student missions training experience and spending lots of time hanging and serving together as a team and I'm glad to say both goals were exceeded. We expect a lot from the students that are involved in this experience and each one of them made me proud as they ran team activities with confidence, humility and the end goal of building better teams.

Big thanks, like almost every year, to Amy who jumped in with lots of team building advice. She is a master at this having trained thousands over the past two decades.

In a previous life, this was called Mission Advance. I have a private, big dream to reinvent this whole thing for 2018.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Burn

::: A Pastor, an Imam and a Rabbi Sit Down at a Bar
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::: These Friends Traveled Across America for Free
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::: 10 Demographic Trends Shaping the World
Link

::: The future has many names. For the weak, it is unattainable. For the fearful, it is unknown. For the bold, it's ideal. - Victor Hugo

Photo: Not doing the hula hoop thing anymore.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Advance

Eleven years ago, we executed a student missions preparation weekend based on a few simple ideas. First, make teams travel some short distance before their actual trip. Second, give them a chance to interact with some missions practitioners. In late June of 2006, Mission Advance was born at Cape Henlopen, DE, USA. I still have the fondest memories of that weekend - sending teams to the boardwalk to serve, the sandcastle building contest, how it rained for 16 hours straight, being one of the last cars allowed to leave the eastern shore. Ah the memories.

The idea of Mission Advance [not retreat] still lives with The Ember Cast. It is one of our core distinctives - this ability and availability to facilitate a preparation weekend with student teams around some of these ideas that are still important when it comes to student missions.

We do it again this coming weekend with one of our clients. Lots of students, team building, and missions practitioners. After this kind of morning, the Ember Italy team takes a little field trip. The best thing about Ember Advance is that you could do the same thing with your teams.

Photo: Ember BOD Joyce, 3rd from the left. June 2006, Bridgeville, DE.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Support Trends - 2013-2017

Support trends for The Ember Cast's overseas teams for the past few years. Maybe this data will help some of you in the midst of raising money for your teams.

Some items to note, so far:
+ Suburban context for all of these teams.
+ Overall budget is around $31K.
+ 129 donations - $12217 - average of $94/donation.
+ 17% are electronic donations.
+ 27% is creative revenue.
+ Two teams [Poland and Italy] and budgets are rolled together for big picture percentage. Poland's costs include on the ground costs for Italy since they will be joining us.
+ Vision determines budget, hopefully not the other way around.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Friday Burn

::: A Look Inside Airbus's Epic Assembly Line
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::: Churches and Generation Z
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::: Why Do Students Get Summers Off?
Link

::: I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean. - G.K. Chesterton

Photo: Cultural mapping, DT Annapolis, March 2017.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Ember and CMP

In 2010, right after the inception of The Ember Cast, we were invited to join a group of college students at Salisbury University to serve with them during a weekend of community impact projects, which included serving at local nonprofits, being a presence in a few low income neighborhoods and missionally imagining what students could do to help their community flourish. Little did we know how long our involvement would last with some of these students. Over these past seven years, we've had the best time serving with and encouraging an incredible group of young people who have activated, initiated and started many things from nothing. They have inspired us more than they realize.

One of the things some of them started is the Community Mentoring Program - a medium whereby college students mentor elementary school kids. This mentoring includes tutoring for school, attending a local church, helping their parents and being a role model. Of course, this type of mentorship is awesome but the best part has been these leaders engaging their kids in service opportunities - kids who are being served reaching out to serve others as well. Ember has been fortunate to facilitate a few of these experiences and last weekend, we got to serve with CMP for a short while on the National Mall in DC.

A leading indicator of emerging global student leaders is their ability to start something from nothing. Find and lead volunteers, develop a budget and raise some money, build a business, start an organization, serve someone less fortunate, paint a compelling vision. These are acts of rebellion against the status quo of the future and why Ember is so attracted to these emerging global student leaders. Oh and by the way, this behavior can be taught and modeled.

Photo; Wendy and Jake, DC, April 2017.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Elevators in an Age of Higher Towers and Bigger Cities
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::: The Retail Meltdown of 2017
What's up? Travel is booming. Hotel occupancy is booming. Domestic airlines have flown more passengers each year since 2010, and last year U.S. airlines set a record, with 823 million passengers. The rise of restaurants is even more dramatic. Since 2005, sales at "food services and drinking places" have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores.
Link


::: How to be Insanely Well Connected
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::: God doesn't speak to your today from your current situation, because He's already been in your tomorrow. - Steven Furtick

Photo: Speaking of elevators.... top of the Burj Khalifa

Thursday, April 27, 2017

17 Italy Mtg #3

Concept: Contextualization
Mantra: Disciples are made on the road, not in rows. - Kim Hammond
Support Update - 25%
Task: Start conversations with strangers. Because most of us have been taught not to talk to strangers and it has made us uninteresting.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Wider Circle and Middle School Students

Last week, The Ember Cast had the honor of facilitating a service experience for the junior honor society of a local private school, our first ever school group client. We took this opportunity to work with A Wider Circle, a nonprofit based in Silver Spring, whose purpose is to break the cycle of poverty one family at a time. In the past few years, I've had a number of people mention how great A Wider Circle is, and they were all correct, I was super impressed.

A Wider Circle runs four programs: a furniture and clothing donation distribution program, a workforce development program [interviewing, resumes, free professional clothing], wrap around support [pair 4 families not in poverty to a family struggling for a support network], and neighborhood partnerships. Their typical customer is a single parent with 3 kids living on $12K a year, they serve between 20-30 clients a day, they have 60 full time staff, they partner with over 300 other nonprofits and government agencies in the DMV, and they average 200 volunteers every weekend - a huge operation.

Our time there was spent helping with the Neighbor to Neighbor program, the furniture and clothing distribution aspect of their service. Our kids did lots of work including cleaning up a pantry section, sorting boxes of books, and moving and cleaning houseware products. Although we didn't have any direct contact with their customers, our work was planting a stake in the future - we served someone we hadn't met...yet. Ember is grateful for the chance to spur on these students for a future that they shape and mold through their service and character.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Burn

::: The Pope Opened a Free Laundromat for the Homeless
Link via The Hustle
I think I met those Laundry Love guys mentioned in the article at The Idea Camp.


::: A Fully Autonomous Suitcase
Link via The Hustle [again]


::: Netflix Says English Won't Be It's Primary Viewing Language for Much Longer
Link

::: "The rate determining step of our mission is not the opportunity in front of us, but the leaders developed through us. - @dave_rhodes" via Dan Sadlier

Photo: Old souk, old Dubai.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ember Upcoming

If you are interested in what we do and how we do it, ping for more details:

+ Student service experience - local nonprofit and private school - Friday 21 April
+ Local church mobilization training - Saturday 22 April
+ College service experience - Saturday 29 April
+ College student fellowship - Thursday 11 May
+ Local church student mobilization training - Saturday 13 May

Photo: old and new Dubai.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Creative Revenue Plans - 2017

Ember believes that missionaries of the future will rely on a 'portfolio of revenue.' [credit for this term goes to Ben Arment.] In other words, they will need to actually make some money outside of personal donations. Since 2013, our summer teams have been required to dream and execute a Creative Revenue Plan - a way to make some income based on their talents and gifts. This unique income will go directly towards 10-25% of funding of their missions experience. Prayer and financial support letters are also required.

We ask students to dream up these plans by helping them assess their talents, skills and networks, and this is done as part of their application to summer teams. I'm proud to say that over $16K over revenue has been made as part of these Plans over the past 6 years and it represents students growing in skills such as pricing their product, making a pitch, dealing with customers and lots of hard work. All skills that benefit just about everyone.

This year's plans include: dog walking, landscaping, tutoring, lawn mowing, babysitting and my 2017 favorite - humor [I have no idea what that means.]

Photo: Creative Revenue, buy a Meklit summer special. summer 2015.