Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in cities

1. Daytona Beach, FL
2. New York City, NY
3. Washington, DC
4. Irvine, CA
5. Hershey, PA
6. Fairfield, CT
7. Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Grand Canyon, AZ
8. Savannah, GA
9. Winchester, VA
10. Poughkeepsie, NY

Here is the map. Sadly, all in the United States this year.

Previous years in cities: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in Books

1. The Last Lecture
2. Two Views on Women in Leadership [notes]
3. Culture Making [notes]
4. Habits of Highly Successful Families [also from 2008]
5. Axiom [notes]
6. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters [notes] ** best read book of 2009 – can’t say enough good things about it
7. Missional Renaissance
8. Fight for Your Money
9. The Blue Sweater [notes]
10. Wide Awake [notes]
11. God's Continent
12. The Monkey and The Fish [notes]
13. Church Unique - need to reread this
14. Sheet Music [ow ow]
15. The Hole In Our Gospel [notes]
16. The War of Art [notes]
17. Biblical Eldership
18. 200 Pomegrantes and An Audience of One
19. The E-Myth, revisited
20. Find Your Strongest Life [notes]
21. Built to Last
22. Jesus Loves You
23. Movements that Change the World [notes]
24. How the Mighty Fall [notes]
25. Design Thinking [still reading]
26. What The Dog Saw
27. Visioneering [still reading]
28. Primal [notes]
29. My Sisters Keeper

I have to tell you though, for all these books I read this year, my reading of the Bible was pathetic. Looking to change that in 2010, but I'm not going to publicize it, just in case...

Related: 2008, 2007.

Monday, December 28, 2009

If You Can Stand The Sadness

Did you catch this most profound scene from My Sisters Keeper?

And cue Eldredge...
"Miss that moment and you'll miss a boy's heart forever. It's not a question - it's the question, the one every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes?" Wild at Heart, p. 62

"every little girl – and every little boy – is asking one fundamental question. But they are very different questions depending on whether you are a little boy or a little girl... Little girls want to know, 'Am I lovely?'" Captivating, p. 46

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Dear Kt,

On this day, as many many before, you continue to overwhelm us. We are amazed at you, your heart for the world, your willingness to risk, your desire to do the right thing. You are growing up to be an amazing woman of God - compassionate, empathetic, resolved to make the world a better place. You dance the line between weeping at the world's tragedies and basking in the miracle of living.

Know that the great Story will require all the wit, strength and dedication you can muster as well as a deep walk hand in hand with the master Storyteller. For this, we expectantly watch, that the nations will be glad because of you.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Notes - Primal

Loved reading Mark Batterson's new book, Primal. If you know about NCC, you know about what a unique church it is and the kind of impact they are having in DC and around the world. An environment like that can only be created by dynamic leadership and Primal is a great way to get into lead pastor Mark Batterson's head.

Mark wraps the book around four main ideas - compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy - paralled with the Great Commandment, loving God with our heart [compassion], soul [wonder], mind [ curiosity], and strength [energy]. It's a fun interplay on the ideas and I enjoyed having a different frame of reference for them.

Here are some choice quotes:
+ The very first revelation of God in Genesis is that of an Artist. And the very first reaction recorded is His reaction to His creation. - God saw that it was good.
+ Quantifying and classifying always lead to demystifying. And when you demystify God, you're guilty of intellectual idolatry.
+ When we forget where we come from, we forget where we're going. And memory failure certainly puts the future of the church in jeopardy.
+ I wonder if our lack of creativity stems from a false definition of faithfulness... Faithfulness is not doing it the way it's always been done. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. Faithfulness is not defending the status quo. Faithfulness is the courage to incarnate the gospel in creative ways... Faithfulness is playing offense for the kingdom even if some Pharisees find it offensive.
+ The Aramaic word for "prayer" means to "set a trap."
+ Reformations are not born out of new discoveries. Those are often called cults. Reformations are born out of rediscovering something ancient, something primal. They are born out of primal truths rediscovered, reimagined, and radically reapplied to our lives.
+ Compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy are nouns. It's our job to turn them into verbs.

I'm lucky to see NCC as a close observer, since I'm local to DC and have some friends who are involved there. But all of us are fortunate that Mark has put some of his thoughts into book form. Pick up a copy - you won't be disappointed.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Making Friends at Urbana 09

If you know about missions and are in the US, you know about Urbana. Starting in just 6 days, it's one of the largest college aged missions conferences. I've never been but heard great things about it. This year, I've got some friends that are going that you should meet.

Dennis - youth min professor in Mexico City
Emilie - former SPACE intern
Trevin - current Ember guide
Patti - short term coord for Grace

Also, this looks like a cool place to connect if you use twitter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making It Public

Dear Sven and Tricia, if you don't impact the world with your lives, I will come and hunt you down. Love ya, TTS.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beyond Beyond

Grace wrapped up the Beyond series a few weeks ago and the planning team met last week to decompress the series. [See some of my notes here] A discussion like this centers around the idea of engagement - how do we engage our community of faith, can we influence others to influence others, what can we do to help people act upon what they have learned?

Three quick ideas from our discussion:
+ The relationship between interest, execution and momentum.
Sometimes when you generate a ton of interest, you have to give it a bit of time before people will actually commit to doing something about the idea. Momentum takes time to build - you might accidentally be trying to execute too soon.

+ The Beyond+Joyous Giving raised an amazing amount of money.
Grace takes a "Joyous Giving" offering every November to help people in and near our community during the holiday season. This year, this idea was combined with the Beyond series to help fund a few other needs with some overseas partners as well. The amount of money raised - all for external needs outside of "our ministry" - was amazing. Even in this economy, people want to be invited to join with others to take steps of faith.

+ We have to help people to either identify or to move forward in these big bucket roles in the global missions movement:
Pray | Send | Welcome | Mobilize | Go
You can probably see how this one is a big one to me. To that end, we are planning on a "Missions Launch" gathering to help people identify and go to the next level with this idea. Contact me if you might be interested.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The interns are required to, among other things, write a 'synthesis paper' during their internship. This paper is to have a core idea along with some data and experience to prove that idea. We've been tossing around some thesis statements, thought you might enjoy reading some of them. The blanks are to be filled in, but I filled them in just for fun.
The highest quality of a movement leader is ______. [adaptability, compassion, love for humanity, discipline]
Communities of faith should evolve at a faster rate of the culture they are in.
The best way to ignite a movement is with ____. [indigenous people, strong leadership, outside investments]
In the future, a missionary will look like a ____. [cultural architect, engineer, tribal elder]
Comparison of cultural impact of Christian missions vs. ____. [MTV]
Christian missions is the best vehicle to save a culture.
Technology is hurtful to the movement of Christianity.
Peer driven leadership is the most effective model for local student ministry leadership.
Leadership case study - everyone likes them okay versus some love and some hate them.
The next innovation in student missions is _____. [identification and cultivating the apostolic]
Sustainability/multiplication in a missions movement.
Glad I don't have to write this paper. It would be too long for a blog post... ;-)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wednesday Burn

:: @NickKristof on how to connect people to important causes
What would happen if aid organizations and other philanthropists embraced the dark arts of marketing spin and psychological persuasion used on Madison Avenue? We'd save millions more lives.

:: Fascinating read on Jim Collins
Read this if you want an example about hyper-measuring purpose and intensity...

:: 100 Top Global Thinkers
Lots of our favorites on here. Tons of links to articles and check out the reading lists.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Most of us will never understand migration from a personal point of view. Populations of the world have been moving - and will continue to move - at unprecedented rates. I believe in the conviction that this is one of the primary shifts God is orchestrating in world demographics.

The Ember interns and I spent a little bit of time this weekend helping with a Middle East Christmas welcoming party. Through a connection with one of the party planners, we spent a few hours helping behind the scenes for a party that was focused on recent immigrants. We didn't get a ton of time actually interacting with the guests, but we did get a short glimpse into their culture.

I loved a ton of elements from the party, including: the hosts having a police officer talk about basic laws; lots of donated goods including kids Christmas gifts and gently used clothing; creating a space for recent immigrants to connect with each other; and some middle and high school kids who served as small group hosts to shepherd the little kids through crafts, games and the works-in-almost-any-culture-for-boys video game room.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wednesday Burn

:: Must read about malaria from Gladwell
...Fred Soper, who ranks as one of the unsung heroes of the twentieth century. With DDT as his weapon, Soper almost saved the world from one of its most lethal afflictions. Had he succeeded, we would not today be writing DDT's obituary. We would view it in the same heroic light as penicillin and the polio vaccine.
And yes, I'm loving Gladwell's new book.

:: Reverse Culture Shock
and how to deal with some of it.
via @danalynbyers

:: heard at #VergeLA we don't measure our success by how many come to our meeting but how many people we influence outside our meetings
- @DJChuang

Monday, November 30, 2009


In 1995, these guys, as high school students, sought me out to lead them. I was not prepared but agreed to it anyway. 15 years later, we are still delighted watching them make an impact.

Some people tell me that emerging generations would rather the older generation do the initiating - when it comes to mentors they say, the older should do the asking. I'm not convinced. Every time I've been asked, it's been an amazing experience.

Like the widow, you seek what you have lost. Or what you want to find.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Protect Her, Defend Her

Here is my post on Chapter 5 for the Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters group blogging project.

"Why don't we have a school dance in this middle school?"
"Because we did a few years ago and found 8th grade girls in the bathroom giving head to 8th grade boys."

If you think this is vulgar, it's okay to be offended and never read my blog again. On the other hand, if you think I made this up, I wish you were sadly mistaken. As part of a blog tour on the book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, I'm posting about Chapter 5 today. Read more here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Push and Pull

I sat in on a SPACE leadership interest meeting this past Sunday morning. [For those of you that might not know, SPACE was the student ministry component I helped with from 2003 to 2008.] Bittersweet - it's fun to see them continue to move ahead and a tiny bit weird to be on an insider conversation.

This is TMurray in the center - who I've written about before. She's one of the team that took over for me - creative, administrative, inviting. Although SPACE isn't one of my labors of love anymore, I'm thrilled to see their progress. Team leader applications due before Christmas [make leaders apply, lots of lead time]; some innovative summer service projects; and an ethos that continues to push students to the nations. The longer and harder we push, eventually, they will get pulled.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Influencer Par-tay

Some of you might end up at a party like this with some of these guys. Better yet, you could probably have an influencer party of your own.

L to R: Joseph Dworak, Bethel Seminary recruiter, StrengthsFinder swami; Brad Russell, lead pastor and planter of Dulles Community Church; Perrin Rogers, pastor at The Triumphant Church; Joshua Symonette, leadership consultant, connector of megaregions; and yours truly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Notes - How The Mighty Fall

How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In - Jim Collins

Stage 1 - Hubris Born of Success
+ Neglect of a Primary Flywheel - flywheel concept
+ What Replaces Why
We're successful because we do these specific things
We're successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work.
+ Decline in Learning Orientation - the organization stops learning together

Stage 2 - Undisciplined Pursuit of More
+ Leaders who fail the process of succession set their enterprises on a path to decline.
+ Declining proportion of right people in key seats
+ Easy cash erodes cost discipline

Stage 3 - Denial of Risk and Peril
+ Waterline principle - boat, what is above and below - below isn't visible but will sink you
+ Discount the negative - explain away the data
+ Erosion of healthy team dynamics
+ Obsessive reorganizations - preoccupied with internal politics rather than external conditions

Stage 4 - Grasping for Salvation
+ The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
+ Looking for a series of silver bullets
+ Grasping for a leader-as-savior
+ Confusion and cynicism

Stage 5 - Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
+ You can be profitable and bankrupt.
+ Organizations do not die from lack of earnings. They die from lack of cash.

Well Founded Hope
"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." - learn from the decline
The right leaders feel a sense of urgency in good times and bad.
Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down, and getting up one more time, without end.
Go ahead and grade yourself.
+ What does your team or org do to learn together?
+ Can you explain what you do versus why you do it and what conditions will make you irrelevant?
+ What do you do with negative data?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Catalyst One Day - Baltimore

Huge fun having Catalyst One Day at Grace yesterday. Loved that we could be part of inspiring and resourcing leaders around the Balt/DC area and even farther.

The content of the talks was amazing - lots of great insights. Learning from Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel never gets old. Just as much fun was seeing and meeting all my friends [hey, I'm a WOO] from the Internets. This part is just as inspiring - these friends do what they do because God has called them and there is no other good reason.

Here are some of my selected notes:
+ Andy - Gaining and Sustaining Momentum
three components of sustained momentum - new, improved, improving
:: New - triggers momentum
Org momentum is often triggered by
new leadership
new direction
new product <-> program
Do we need a new leader, direction or product?
Momentum is never triggered by tweaking something old. It is triggered by introducing something new.
New does not guarantee sustained momentum. But new is an essential trigger for momentum.
:: Improved - new must be noticeable difference over the old.
If cost is an issue for something new, you are probably doing too much.
:: Improving
momentum is sustained through continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement requires systematic evaluation.
Continuous improvement requires unfiltered evaluation.
Continuous improvement requires that nothing and nobody be off limits. - everything is on the table.
Evaluation must be built into rhythm of your org.

+ Craig - Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes
3. think differently about the mission
we can't hurt someones feelings vs. we can't allow someone to hold back the mission of the church
roles -we hire for current instead of for future capacity
5. think differently about limitations
we can't because we don't vs. we can because we don't.
limitations -> innovation

+ Andy + Craig - Elder teams
: lifechurch:
14 people
5 staff
6 lay
3 pastors of other churches
can only fire him for big breaches - immorality or heresy - not for other stuff
no congregational vote
: NorthPoint
10-12 elders
Andy is permanent
elder selection team, only serve for a term
elders meet with andy once a month - their only job is to evaluate andy
church is staff run

"get the right people to the table to make the decisions"

+ Craig - Creating Personal Spiritual Momentum
1. do something to defeat your dark side
identify your dark side: my leadership dark side is ____
4. do something only you can do
You can only be the husband of your wife, the father of your children, only you can seek God on your behalf

+ Andy - Don't Be That Couch
[If you liked this talk, you should also read Erwin McManus' chapter entitled "Change Theology" from An Unstoppable Force. This talk also reminded me of Built To Last]
The Dip - Seth Godin
How The Mighty Fall - Jim Collins
Whereas programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes part of org culture - it becomes to beat up old couch that people are emotionally tied to.
We must continue to be more committed to our mission than to our programming or our model.
"If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he or she do? Why shouldn't we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?" - Only the Paranoid Survive - Andy Grove [don't you love that book title?]
Leaders must bring the underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with changes in the external environment.
Here are two of my big takeaways:
+ If you want to know your dark side, ask your wife. Or your family. With some healthy and uncomfortable discussion [and I know I'm better for it,] mine are probably: a high aversion to risk, not nearly praying enough, a tilted view of success, and a gradual lessening of deep friendships. Yup, that's going to take some soul work.
+ Evaluation for improvement. Consistent and unfiltered. Like the item above, nothing about what we do should be off limits when we talk about whether it is working or not. Very relevant for Ember since culture and context are high values of ours - we have core tenets but seek to engage those in very adaptable ways.

The twitter hashtag for the event was #catoneday. Also, take a look at one of the intern's posts about the day.

Thanks again to the Catalyst team. DC will not be the same because of yesterday.

[Related: My Catalyst West Coast 09 notes.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Burn

::: I know prostitutes now.
EmGberg, SPACE 2005 Brasil alumn, now almost done with a semester in Cochabamba, Bolivia, writes about prostitution. Read until the end.

::: The Idea Camp - Pacific Northwest
So many great elements that Charles sees in this gathering - collaboration, a posture of learning and cooperation, practitioners of transformation. Such an inspiring community. Idea Camp DC ranks as one of the top inspirations for me in 2009. If you are near Portland, you should go.

::: 5 trends for nonprofits of the future
via @cynthiaware

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

January Ember Fun

Ember is working on a small project for January - it's a guided student missions weekend. Cultural immersion, urbanization, connecting people in our network - it's the perfect kind of fun.

A core value of this type of project is "partnership," so part of our planning process includes listening to both the team we are guiding and our hosts. Much of the current breakdown in missions sustainability is due to one side dominating how a project should be executed. Think of a wealthy American team providing labor, materials and design - those scenarios equate low ownership, not much chance for indigenous leadership development and team members missing the concept of contextualization.

Another core value is "facilitate," as opposed to lead. The main task of our guides is to set up other leaders - in this case, the students own leadership team. Catalytic leadership is subtle, challenging and non-intuitive.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Uncomfortable - Urgent - Passionate

Sharon Cohn Wu from IJM spoke at Grace this past Sunday morning as another part of our Beyond series. She had some amazing things to say in her talk entitled, "The Unfamiliar Passions of God." Three of them stuck out to me:

+ We are comfortable with our perceived limitations.
+ Enormity undercuts urgency. [like in the case of 27M people enslaved today - or any other global issue we face]
+ Brutal indifference is an essential component of injustice.

Lots more could be said about her message, like the new awareness about human trafficking given to our community, the great tangible opportunities for follow up, and what people at Grace may be doing about justice around the world and how one of my friends loved that she was dressed like Trinity from The Matrix. But those three statements are plenty enough for me - and not just about social justice.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Rock What You Got

I took KT and two of her friends to see Superchick last night. Big thanks to SMfftt who got us into the show. Amazing time - the band looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage.

I've loved their music for a few years - upbeat, catchy, inspiring. But I love their attitude even more - girls together, get out of my way, lead and impact, we can change the world. Sometimes your kids need to hear that kind of stuff from other voices.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Book Notes - The Hole In Our Gospel

The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
Richard Stearns tells quite a story in his book, The Hole In Our Gospel. Most startlingly is the contrast between his career as a luxury goods CEO transitioned to the US president for World Vision. An amazing story really and through it, he weaves a clear picture of the world we live in, how something is missing in our concept of "The Gospel", and simple steps to catalyze change.

It's really a memoir of his career transition, which is a fascinating story by itself. His worldview, faith and the way God moves in Mr. Stearns and his family's life are both fascinating and challenging - fascinating because you see that it could have only worked out this way and challenging because I think most of us can relate. We can understand his comfortable life, his hesitancy in taking a leap of faith and the desperation we feel when we risk like that. Through it I'm reminded that like Mr. Stearns, God has an epic, distinct plan for each of us and that He is molding us specifically for that - the world is in it's most desperate hour and we are the only ones that can help.

Of course, I love the way Mr. Stearns has touched on some important global realities along his story - realities like AIDS, extreme poverty, hunger, the water crisis, technology, the Millennium Development goals, the wealth of the Western Church.... ok you get the picture. If you like some of the stuff that I post about, you'll enjoy the book too.

Of course, reading something like this requires you and I to do something about it. Mr. Stearns includes two triads as filters for thought and action:
+ Awareness, access, ability.
+ Time, talent and treasure.

Here are some choice quotes from the book:
The gospel means much more than the personal salvation of individuals. It means a social revolution.
What if there are children who will suffer somehow because I failed to obey God? What if my cowardice costs even one child somewhere in the world his or her life?
It's not what you believe that counts; it's what you believe enough to do.
Frankly, giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need.
Some scientists believe that one out of every two people who have ever lived have died of malaria. [What??]

We've drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium - Paul Harvey.
I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings. - William Sloane Coffin
Obedience to the Great Commission has more consistently been poisoned by affluence than by anything else. - Ralph Winter

Grace is reading through this book during our Beyond series. If you are regular around here, you would probably love this book.

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided me a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Latest Kindling

+ K&K are adjusting well to life in North Africa. After moving across the world, the team and community you find yourself in is pretty integral to your success.
+ Catalyst One Day at Grace is sold out. If you are going to be there, I would love to meet you.
+ I had breakfast with an old friend who is on his way with his family to join a church planting team in Vienna, Austria next summer. They couldn't get support from his wife's home church [think "daughter" of the church] because their destination didn't match the church's strategy. What do you do with that?
+ The Ember team is working on our first project slated for January. Very excited to tell you more as it gets some traction. Twitter played a huge part of this.
+ Best decision I made regarding the interns: making them start blogs and write in them every week.
+ Love this thought from @davegibbons: "Success should equal descending numbers (less poverty, less homelessness, less abuse, etc.), not ascending numbers (more people, more converts, more baptisms, etc.)" via
+ I'm absolutely obsessed with charity: water these days, just about following all of their staff on Twitter. Can someone I know please get a job there?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reconciling - All People and All Things

Here's my contribution to the daily email that Grace is doing as part of the Beyond series.
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time."
1 Timothy 2:1-6

God's dream is certainly the redemption of all people, but maybe His dream includes more. This isn't necessarily rocket science. God wants every person to be reconciled with Him. The redemption of every person is at the heart of who God is. Past, present, future, He has not forgotten about anyone. It's reassuring for us isn't it? Not to mention, the confidence booster of knowing that our god isn't some sort of deity who decides based on behavior or achievement.

But there is one thing in the passage that is intriguing - why are we asked to pray specifically for those "in authority"? Could those in authority have something else to do with God's dream of every person? Are we missing something? Paul is imploring us to pray for those in charge - the judges, teachers, bosses, government officials. Perhaps God knows that they have sweeping impact. Their decisions empower or oppress, free or hinder, create great environments or create hell on earth. Families, teams, corporations, communities - values are influenced by those in authority, at least at the start.

Maybe God is also interested in the reconciliation of structures and systems. A team, a corporation, a type of government. A relationship, a community, a culture. Sure, maybe not foremost, but maybe this is part of what Paul means in Colossians when he mentions Jesus wanting to "reconcile to himself all things." When we ponder the large issues facing humanity today, issues like global poverty, the AIDS crisis, modern day slavery - we've got to be concerned with the individuals certainly. But solving many of these problems require a multi-faceted view of both the individuals and the structures that coalesce to bring humanity to it's knees. Solving global poverty must involve feeding people as well as food delivery systems. Freeing modern day slaves often requires solving issues of local government and law enforcement corruption as well as follow up with released slaves. Seemingly tangential, could those systems also point to redemption? I think yes.

I think God's dream for all of humanity includes every person - people are great illustrations for reconciliation. But the redemption of all things - now that is a God sized dream.

For reflection:
Look up the term "redemptive analogy."
Could there be a story in your background that is one?
What structures or systems helped model reconciliation?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Burn

::: A Language Map of Europe
Like people groups, not limited to geopolitical borders.

::: MTV Sticky
Youth Culture, Trends and Insight

::: Teenager starts a nonprofit
Raised nearly $40,000 and she's 14.
Link via @decart

Monday, October 26, 2009

Find The Bride

Shane Bennett, missions catalyst for Frontiers, was at Grace this past Sunday, kicking off the second segment in our Beyond series [reach across the world]. He shared a fascinating paradigm for missions from Genesis 24 that he termed "Find The Bride." Fascinating in that the concepts include the servant being blessed, the bride and her family being blessed and, of course, the groom being blessed. Check out the video entitled "A Thousand Questions." He also ran a short workshop Sunday evening for those that wanted to get more involved in global missions and cross cultural experiences - incredibly practical stuff like reached vs. unreached, THUMB, and dreaming big dreams. [See AR's notes.]

I was fortunate enough to hang with Shane all afternoon giving him a quick tour of some of the monuments in DC. I'm left with more questions and reminders from our amazing conversation, like:
+ I've wanted a church to look as close as it can to a missions org, especially in the view of mobilization. Maybe that's an unfair expectation.
+ Perhaps the individual's call to a cross cultural experience needs to fold in to God's call for their local church.
+ The "problem" of lots of people hearing God's voice to start a new ministry or serve somewhere around the world is universal. And when we say "problem", it's a good one to have.
+ Regardless of where God motivates you, we still need you at your very best. Do your homework. Get some training. Find or create a solid team.
+ A tight amount of control won't help us complete the task.

Thanks again Shane - excited to watch how your investment in Grace will multiply. Find him on twitter here.

[Photo: Shane, me and AR, one of the Ember interns.]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ember's Newest Guide

Overjoyed to tell you about The Ember Cast's newest guide - @trevinhoekzema. Trev has traveled around the world spending significant time in mission environments, including England, Hungary, Cameroon and Belgium. He understands student ministry, has proven third culture leadership experience and loves to see students empowered to live big lives - all the elements we look for. During the last year of my tenure with SPACE, Trevin was one of the ones we purposely erupted from student into leader.

He's got big plans for this coming summer [I'll let him tell you about that...] and Ember will both benefit from his experience as well as enable him to execute on some of his own dreams. Welcome Trev.

If you or someone you know could use some help around the intersection of student missions, global cultures and leadership development, get in touch.

[Photo: Trev with the ladies and me - NYC, January 2008.]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

100% To The Field

Lots of people are talking about Charity:Water of late and after getting more exposed to them from The Idea Camp, I've been watching them closely too. Absolutely love their mission and vision, but even more than that, I love their audacity. If you are going to change the world, like in their case of providing clean water for EVERY person on the planet, you've got to be out of your mind.

Lots of other things to be impressed with them - their use of social media [twitter], design as a core value, and their use of technology [tracking projects real time via google earth].

But I think the biggest thing is their ability to give 100% of their donations to water well projects. Read that again - 100% to projects. Nonprofits, missions organizations, and churches: you should really be rethinking the notion of administrative costs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Burn

::: Global Poverty and That Time of the Month
I'm totally surprised that conversations about global poverty don't include the topic of menstruation. [Wow, I actually wrote that...] This article also reminds me The Girl Effect - the profound impact made on poverty, families and communities when girls are given opportunities.
Link via Steve Knight

::: Francis Chan and his gatherings
Chan's long-term plan involves building the church without having a building. Associate pastor Matt Moore says the experiment is a way to find out how the church can grow without the limits of a building.
Article also mentions Soma Communities where some partners of Ember have visited.

::: If you really want to scare us these days, forget bullets and focus on that force of evil which truly threatens to destroy the good life we share here in Walnut Hills: Bedbugs.
Bart - I can relate....

Monday, October 19, 2009

More Missions Paradigms

I'm convinced missions support paradigms don't just affect missionaries. They are insightful into how we view engagement with culture, leadership development pipelines and tolerance, or lack thereof, for innovation.

Here are three more that I've found intriguing. Granted, there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all and you probably won't agree with every piece of any of them. Nor should you. But in some cases, we need to tweak, redefine or reinvent the way we "support" those in our community that serve elsewhere.

Partnership - Old vs. New
+ Old world models of partnership orbit around dollars. New world models of partnership orbit around shared vision, shared work, shared resources, and shared strategy.
+ Old world models of partnership focus on individual undividable resources like a funding a salary for a pastor or missionary. New world models of partnership focus on universally dividable resources.

The Funding Advocate
The Bible tells us to give to those in vocational ministry, but nowhere in Scripture are the vocational workers told to go out and "raise support."

Missionaries as a Part of Church Staff
Within a mutually agreeable time frame, we will work to redefine our relationship with our active missionaries so that they will be considered as members of our church’s ministerial staff, except that they will be seconded to their various missionary organizations, other than during furloughs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Intern Field Trip to NCC

The interns and I took a field trip this weekend to the Union Station site of National Community Church, in DC. I've long been a fan of NCC - it's a vibrant and dynamic community that has a DNA of movement and innovation. Even more fun is having old friends who are part of the body there like my friend KellanD who you might remember from last May.

KellanD helps run their "In Service" ministry, which seeks to connect to the homeless population around Union Station by providing lunches on Sunday mornings and a Wednesday night dinner and gathering. As opposed to suburban-drive-by homeless experiences [I've done my share to facilitate tons of these] you see a real relational connection with the way NCC does this. One of the goals of this field trip was for the interns to see relational piece first hand.

NCC just learned of a huge change [updated - post from Batterson] in their operations earlier last week, so we got to hear Mark Batterson speak to their body in a pretty pivotal, vulnerable and exciting transition. Powerful message and fun to watch someone communicate in such transitional times.

Like Mark mentioned, leadership is not experienced in the classroom, it's experienced in transitions like this one. That advice and real time lessons in community and movement - that's a pretty good field trip.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Book Notes - Movements That Change The World

I've been reading Steve Addison's blog for years. So you might be able to imagine my excitement when I heard that he was writing a book. Movements That Change The World is the book and it's a compilation of Steve's lifetime of research in the areas of movements.

Detailing the five components that make up a movement, Steve expounds on clear examples of both modern and historical movements. He draws from a wide range of fantastic resources, including business [Built to Last], sociology [The Tipping Point], and spiritual leadership [The Shaping of Things to Come], all in the context of us both being a part of and creating new movements.

I appreciated two things from the book. First, anytime you talk about movements, you also talk about institutions and the battle between staying a movement or turning into an institution. Steve visits this topic in detail as he outlines historical movements and the lifespan of their vitality and effectiveness.

Secondly, I love the context in which Steve writes - he wants to enable movements of people to change the course of human history. As leaders, innovators and influencers, there are tons of actionable tips in this book.

PS - In addition to sending me a copy of the book, Steve was kind enough to write a guest post for a series on this blog a long time ago.

My notes are below with some commentary in [brackets].
The example of St. Patrick.

+ White-hot faith
Church history is not made by well-financed, well-resourced individuals and institutions. History is made by men and women of faith who have met with the living God.

In the next 150 years, 2158 Moravians volunteered to serve overseas. They went to the most remote, unfavorable, and neglected areas. This was something new in the expansion of Christianity: an entire Christian community - families as well as singles - devoted to world missions.

+ Commitment to a cause
Effective movements know who they are. They know their founding charism and safeguard it over time. Their methods may change, but the cause never does. A clear identity and agenda for change create a tension between the ideal promoted by a movement and current reality. Transformational change is the outcome of that tension. [If this reminds you of Built to Last, it should. Collins book is referenced quite a bit and that is a good thing.]

+ Contagious relationships
History has focused on the achievements of the leading figures of the early church. These apostles, prophets, teachers and evangelists played their part in knitting together a rapidly expanding movement, but they were the exception, not the rule. Overwhelmingly, early Christianity was not spread by "professionals" but by ordinary people whose names and deeds went unrecorded.

New religious movements fail when they become closed social networks. For continued exponential growth, a movement must maintain open relationships with outsiders, and it must also reach out into new, adjacent social networks.

Paganism is an inherently weaker faith because it accepts a variety of gods and beliefs. Only monotheism can generate the level of commitment to mobilize non-professionals in evangelism.

Judaism was also a monotheistic faith, but it never matched Christianity in reaching Gentiles. As a faith, it never fully escaped it's ethnic nature. [A concept about context and culture.]

Strength of weak ties
Growth can only continue if the movement remains a tight and open social network. [Must ask what the implications of this are to virtual social media.]

Neil (Cole) - person of peace, first domino principle. In the gospels the Samaritan woman at the well did not have a good reputation. Neither did the Garasene demoniac, but when their lives were turned around, they each became a witness to their community.

+ Rapid mobilization
Rolland Allen
- new converts immediately tell their story to those who know them
- from the beginning, evangelism is the work of those within the culture
- true doctrine results from true experience of the power of Christ rather than mere intellectual instruction. Heresies are not produced by ignorance but by the speculations of learned men.
- the church is self-supporting and provides for its own leaders and facilities

In the New Testament there is no distinction between 'clergy' and 'laity.' Every disciple of Christ is ordained for ministry.

+ Adaptive methods
Adaptive methods are just like soccer. They're simple, easy to learn, fun, contagious, adaptable, transferable and low cost.

Adaptive methods enable a movement to function in ways that suite its changing environment and its expansion into new fields. Movements that drift away from their core beliefs are always at risk, but so are movements that regard the way they currently function as sacred.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Everyone Now Read Along

One major task that the interns are going to be doing this year is, surprise!, doing a good bit of reading. You've heard it before - leaders are readers. So the goal of this component is to give them a good bit of reading about cultures, leadership, the current state of the world and all that stuff. [Yes, as self serving as it seems, my blog is required reading. But hey, you are here aren't you...]

This component also subtly takes advantage of a different kind of state of the world - how technology is connecting us. It's a level of connectedness that is unprecedented and for the interns, it means a ton of great information for free. The challenge then is to do something with that information - you know the whole given much, much will be expected. Because knowledge and awareness can be influence.

Feel free to follow along if you want. No guarantee that you are going to love all of it, but if you like this blog, you'll probably find something in there is compelling. And of course, like everything here, take what you want and use it in your context.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Notes - Find Your Strongest Life

Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham

If you've read anything by Marcus before, you know to expect clearly stated issues, compelling examples and stories, detailed analysis and measurements and, of course, well defined action steps. Find Your Strongest Life is no different - it is 100 percent Buckingham.

I most appreciated the 10 myths about the lives of women, mostly because they were surprising and because I live with three of them. They will probably surprise you as well and of course, Marcus revisits them later in the book for some actionable followup. Like did you know most kids don't want more time with their working mothers? Instead, they want their moms to have less stress. So the solution is for moms to decide how to live a strong life.

There were two other behaviors that I thought were especially useful. The first was his acronym for SIGN - Successful, Instinctive Anticipation, Growing and Learning and Needs Fulfilled. Having been used to the strengths language, these all continue to give clear and accurate terms to living a life that is generative, transformative and influencing. The second behavior was what he refers to as "Catch and Cradle" - the selection, identification and engagement of intersecting life's moments with your strengths.

Although I didn't get to the Strong Life Test - which I'm sure is very valuable - I can tell you that as a fan of Buckingham's other works, this is just as good. Strengths, talents, engagement, clarity, imbalance - classic Buckingham with a good bit of revelation into women - what man couldn't use that?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

25 Years of Inspiration from U2

I went to the U2 concert last night here in DC at Fed Ex field. Definitely one of those life list things. Amazing experience to be with 80,000 other people singing along.

The whole show reminded me of why I've been a fan of them my whole life - from finding solace in the spiritual overtones of their lyrics as a teenager [I had an album copy of The Unforgettable Fire], to being in awe of their global activism as a college student, to celebrating their innovation and reinvention over the years as a [sort of] middle aged person.

See the set list and one of my favorite moments in the show.

Thanks U2 for a lifetime, and more, of inspiration.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DC is whose parish?

I was invited to be on a team that is putting together a leadership event for DC. Working with any of them individually would be an amazing experience - these guys are each immensely talented individuals in their own right - church planters, team builders and connectors, visionaries. Working with all of them together is like living in another dimension.

I'll tell you who they are not because I'm name dropping but because I think you might be able to learn a great deal from them: @jsym, @bradrussell, @perrinrogers, and @josephdworak [those are all twitter ids by the way.]

Best part about them: even though each of them is deeply involved in their families, churches and communities, they individually and collectively see themselves as pastors to the Baltimore/DC area. You'll definitely hear more about this in the fall of 2010.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ember Cast on Ning

You might think I chose to have the Ember Cast's main web presence on Ning because I'm cheap. On the other hand, Ning allows you to build some social media components directly in to a web site - things like discussion forums, pictures and video, commenting and connecting. I've been pleasantly surprised at the level of interaction on the site already and it seems to me the days of static websites is over. Your website should have some level of community engagement as a part of it.

I and others have also wondered about asking people to join another social networking site. Between Facebook, Twitter, etc., how many of these are people really going to want to be a part of another one - along with the time they need to spend on keeping up. But I'm okay with asking people to be a part of this. Remember, Ember is a tribe - there is an inside and, consequently, an outside.

Then again, you are right, I am cheap. With the state of free web tools and global poverty, I'm hard pressed to pay for a website. And one of the guiding principles of Ember is that when we start raising support, we will give as much as we can to catalyzing students, not paying for websites.

Feel free to join if you are a regular reader of this blog. Just click "Fan" when you see that option.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Burn

::: Missions coaching tweets - #Entermission.
Granger and Rob Wegner probably do some of the best church-missions coaching out there.

::: City One Minutes
Observe 41 cities in one-minute snippets of street life. Link

::: It was the future that I could not accept.
William Kamkwamba, when looking at the empty fields of his family's farm in Malawai. He's the 14 year old who built a windmill from scrap. TED talk.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

40 for 40

For turning 40 over the weekend, I took a picture every 30 minutes on my birthday, and then some. A great weekend of celebrating, the best parts had to be family, friends and the pinata.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Posts From the Interns

The interns officially started last week and with that, their blogs came alive. Check out the posts about our first reading from AR and JTimmons. So excited to see things start.

I'm loving the opportunity to have interns - it's like a huge stamp of permission to experiment, turn on the fire hose and give them everything that people have invested in me. The big challenge, constantly for me as well, is to make sure we act.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stunning Teammates

I love this presentation from NetFlix about their internal values, culture and DNA. If you work with any kinds of teams, you should at least give it a skim [128 pages.] There is a ton in there that I think we can learn about growing teams. Some highlights for me include:

+ Exhibit a bias to action. [thinking this phrase could also be from Scott Belsky?]
+ Paradigm of professional sports team, not family. High performance, super stars.
+ Total honesty between managers and employees - no surprises about performance.
+ In procedural work, the best are 2x better than average. In creative work, the best are 10x better than average.
+ Increase talent density faster than organizational complexity grows.
+ Rapid recovery - not error prevention - is the right model for creative-inventive markets [not medicine or manufacturing, etc.] Less focus on error prevention equals less process which frees the responsible.

In the end, I think they've got it right. Great workplaces equal stunning colleagues, or stunning teammates. Everyone wants to work with fantastic people on amazing teams.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Q and A with Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, found my little blog and offered to do a short Q and A on here for your lovely readers. You might remember my notes on the book here - seriously, the book is kick butt inspiration for dreaming and working towards your dream. Check out Steve's Writing for Wednesdays series - a ton more inspiration for the creatives [in other words, all of you.]

OK - onto the questions and answers...

1 – If you could narrow down one habit of action to beat the Resistance, what would it be?
When Steven Soderbergh won his Best Directing Oscar, this is what he said in his speech: "Here's to everybody who puts in even one hour a day pursuing their art and their dream." I second this completely. Action. Doing something every day, no matter how little. Momentum and steady progress. If you think about it, one hour a day 300 days a year equals almost eight weeks of work (a work day equaling 8 hours). That's not nothing. That's for real.

2 – On the surface, your book The War of Art seems to be targeted to artists, writers, painters. But my hunch is that there is some of that within all of us - a dream to create. Share a bit about your perspective about creativity being latent in every person and how people awaken that.
You're right, Tony. My original title for WOA was "The Writer's Life." I thought the ideas would apply only to writers. My editor changed it to "War of Art," trying to expand its applicability to all artists. But once the book got out and I started getting responses, I saw that even that was way too narrow. Entrepreneurs, moms, philanthropist, you name it ... creativity is across the board in all fields of endeavor and Resistance seems to rear its ugly head in all of them. The same principles of "turning pro" or any other method of overcoming this demon seem to apply to all.

3 – What would be one piece of advice you could give to students [college, high school, even younger] who are trying to find their true calling?
That's a great question, Tony. I can only answer it for me. That activity that elicits the most Resistance ... that's the one that's our true calling. The thing that scares the living bejesus out of you, that's the one. The one we avoid the most, the one we make up the most excuses for ditching, the one we're most heavily in denial of ... that's the one.

Thanks for your insights Steve! Here's to all of us overcoming the Resistance.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catalyst One Day at Grace

So very excited that Grace is going to host Catalyst One Day in November. If you are anywhere near DC, this is a great opportunity for you and your team. It's only a single day, close enough for you to commute to and because the content is going to be top-notch, you should process this with a team.

You might remember that I went to Catalyst West in April - a fabulous experience. So I'm a fan of the Catalyst stuff - it is some of the best leadership learning available.

I'm also thrilled that we at Grace can serve leaders here in the DC area. I firmly believe part of God's purposes for Grace intersect at this point in human history, in this specific location between Baltimore and DC, with our specific suburban socioeconomic demographic, our energy with student ministry, our global reach in growing mission team leaders. Ok, that's a lot of intersections....

Check out the video with Senior Pastor Mark Norman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Notes - The Monkey and The Fish

The Monkey and The Fish : Liquid Leadership for a Third-Culture Church by Dave Gibbons

[I'm really bummed that I didn't make it to The Idea Camp for the first day to meet and learn from Dave personally.]

Expansion of the concept of third culture [for example third culture kids] into third culture leadership.

Being part of the Western cultural machine, our American churches tend to gravitate toward the gods of pragmatism, materialism and consumerism. And today, people around the world can't see anything supernatural about that. The global village is longing for something deeper. Sadly, fewer find it in a Western way of doing church.

The desire for safety stands against every noble human endeavor - Tacitus, Roman philosopher

Luke 15 - the prodigal son is Eastern [not Western] in its cultural tone.

Not one of us in the church has the answer, but I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of young, multi-generational, multi-ethnic leaders and servants who have stumbled onto something that seems to have a lot of promise in the new world we all find ourselves in. It's something we call third culture.

1st culture - dominant homogeneous culture you live in.
2nd culture - culture of those who aren't quite comfortable with the first culture and often react to the first culture's ways, maybe even rejecting their parents' home culture.
3rd culture - being able to live in both first and second culture and even adopt an entirely different culture. About adaptation, the both/and. The gift of being more cognizant of and more comfortable with the painful fusion and friction inherent
in cultural intersections.

* Xealot - nonprofit that seeks to help people living in marginalized communities

New metric - the metric of embrace
Nothing represents the soul of a culture more than her food.

McGavran popularized the homogeneous principle, it wasn't necessarily to support the church growth movement specifically but more to warn the church of its natural tendency to stay within its own culture. [related, McGavran's The Bridges of God]

Each generation must create a new language that connects with the soul and life of their community in their era. It must also create new forms not only to help carry the message, the truth, the content into a new generation but also to create a greater hunger for that message.

We need each others gifts to make the greatest difference and need to be the great expression of Christ on earth.

3 shifts: [love these shifts]
1: from consumerism to cause-ism
And don't count out the suburban young people who are ripe for the third-culture movement of compassion because they have tasted the "American Dream" and are still hungry and increasingly disillusioned with what is defined as success. [love this shift and see it - don't count them out is spot on.]
2: from pastor/teacher to pastor/social entrepreneur
3: from linear pathways to third culture rhythms
the rhythms model - you organize ministry around three intersecting spheres - Christ, cause, community

3 questions:
1: Where is Nazareth?
Where is the other side of the tracks in your city or region? Who are the marginalized or the outsiders near you?
2: What is my pain?
3: What is in my hand?

Artists: Prophets, Innovators, and Conversationalists
Businesspersons: Access, Networks, Fuel
Community-Development Specialists: The Builders

Few will have the greatness to _bend history_ itself... RFK

1. Changed language - calling the staff the support team instead of pastors - call the members the field team
2. Changed the way give to missions - Cause Investment Portfolio - people in the church choose what they give to and interact with those causes directly
3. Changed church's static web presence into social networking site - hugely dynamic
4. Became third culture multi-sites - site areas of intersection are primarily leadership development, creative resources and missional initiatives

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Ember 09-10 interns

I'm proud to introduce you to the 2009-2010 interns - AR and JT. Both of these guys came to me together last winter and started a discussion on doing a mentorship with me through their respective high schools. They wanted to learn more about global leadership, engage world cultures and be catalysts for their communities of peers. As you might have guessed, it wasn't hard for me to sign on.

Both of these guys have traveled with me before, specifically the SPACE 2008 Hungary team. You might remember that AR was baptized on that trip by yours truly. They are quality guys, not only committed to the core but understanding that with commitment comes responsibility. They are responsible for a lot and you and I are expecting really big things from them.

A consistent clear indication of emerging leaders is desire. When someone around you is paying close attention, taking detailed notes, or asking for more, you might want to take notice.

I'm excited - excited for you to get to know them a bit better soon and excited about how they are going to throw fire this year.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Idea Cast 04

Someone once told me that Jesus follows Coca Cola - what they meant was the fact that Coca Cola has an amazing distribution network, virtually in every country, but especially in the developing world. Check out ColaLife, an up and coming effort to try and open up Coca Cola's distribution channels to provide "social products" to developing populations.

Changing the game could be creating something new. Or it could be looking at something in a new way.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Idea Camping

Here's a short recap of The Idea Camp DC that me and some friends [Ember Cast friend LB; JTimmons, one of Ember's 09.10 interns; and one of Grace's Africa partnership facilitators] went to over the weekend. The best way to describe it is a group of highly innovative, creative, dedicated friends that got together to collaborate to move the Kingdom forward. The keywords are "highly innovative" and "collaborate" but the scale of those keywords is uncommon. If you and I innovate at 10 [and I'm not saying I do], the people in this room were at 700. Most of them were serial social entrepreneurs, meaning they've started *multiple* nonprofit organizations.

It was definitely a very organic unconference, there was a lot of focus on conversations, interviews and open source, meaning 'you can have what I did' and 'I will help you however I can.' All the sessions - breakouts and main - had the focus on discussion and interaction. The main sessions were always in interview format. I also appreciated seeing lots of online friends that I have never met in real life. Yes, weird. And yes, very very cool.

Here are some rough notes, links, etc that you might be interested in reading up on:
+ Charles Lee and Jeff Shinabarger - Idea to Implementation
You must nurture unrelated ideas. Idea Camp was birthed by unrelated relationships - majority of on twitter - relational equity, technology, social media. Ideas come at an incredible sacrifice. Try to invest 1 hour a day in your idea. Jeff recommends The War of Art [see my notes] and reading up on Scott Belsky. Originating an idea may limit the person who originated it. First Idea Camp was $4000 for 500 attenders. Jeff started Gift Card Giver, among other things.

+ Shannon Moriarty and Mark Horvath
the key to homelessness is the combination of "housing PLUS jobs." That should be our mantra. Latest HUD report: there is no county in us where someone earning min wage can afford median housing. Charles' idea that he is giving away - someone should invent a mobile app to aggregate social services based on a specific location.

+ Transforming New Churches
Todd Wilson
Church purchased an ice cream truck. Never better opportunity for nonprofits to partner with government. Never greater stigma of "church". Concept of planting a church and vital investment of relationships. Starting a 501c3 - community based organization [CBO] - at the same time as planting allows opening of those relationships.

+ Greg Russinger
He and Charles created Laundry Love. The economy of enough - using trashcans to give people just enough. Listening is a huge part of creativity.The beauty of lament has been lost. My question for most organizations - will you return? If you are in it, you are in it for life. [from the good samaritan - "when I return"]

+ I caught up with Jason Dukes whom I told you about many years ago. Check out Restoration Concept a for-profit venture associated with Jason's church.

+ Probably my favorite story from the event was this story from Charity:Water. [didn't want to embed the video.] The quote that gives me chills - "We will not stop until every single person on the planet has clean and safe water to drink." Yup, they are in it for life.

+ The twitter hash tag was #icdc.
I'm convinced that the next generation of leaders are going to resemble the people at Idea Camp. They are going to be innovators. They are going to be highly adaptable. They will let their ideas go, they will openly share their resources, processes, best practices. They will start something because no one else will. They will fail fast, collaborate deeply and encourage many. They will do it because the world waits and can only wait for so long.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Notes - Wide Awake

Wide Awake: The Future is Within You, Erwin McManus

The world needs you at your best. This planet is made better or worse by the people we choose to become. If you lived a diminished life, it's not only you who loses, but the world loses, and humanity loses.

...sometimes the limitations you are willing to accept establish the boundaries
of your existence.

If your dreams are supposed to be bigger than your life, then your life will always
be limited by the size of your dreams.

After all, a life well lived is the most exquisite work of art.

A person of faith must never be afraid to explore. We above all others should
be driven to question, to examine, to learn. Faith shouldn't make you less curious but insatiably curious.

Exploration is not a choice, really; it is an imperative - Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut

There are times when I face an obstacle, a challenge, a problem that seems so big it's overwhelming, and I tell myself, I only need one more solution than I have problems.

Sometimes we think that if we leave everything we know, it's going to get worse from there. But it is possible you'll never find greater contentment or joy or exhilaration until you're willing to give up what you know and what you have for what awaits and exists in the unknown.

[He has a section heading called "Liquid Metal"]

What we find in all these individuals through whom God has written biblical history
is that faith gives you the confidence to adapt to your circumstances while never
compromising your convictions.

Adaptability requires teachability. The ability to change comes from one core characteristic, and that is simply humility.

If you are a sincere follower of Christ, then you are mandated by God to be a voracious, intentional learner.

It is very likely that the life God has given you as a gift today is the very thing he will ask of you as a sacrifice tomorrow.

She [Mariah his daughter] is a kaleidoscope in a world of telescopes and microscopes.

We justify our loss of focus with the excuse that God is invisible. You can't see or hear him; it's easier to trust in the world you can see and feel. But Peter had God visible, physical, tangible, right in front of him, and even that didn't make the difference.

You thought twelve notes were limiting. Three colors, talk about having our hands tied in the creative process! Not for the artist. For them the boundaries are the parameters, not the limitations.

To live a life that takes your breath away, you have to be willing to get winded.

We are born with potential but we're not supposed to die with it. The more you develop your potential, the more potential you seem to have.

Do you believe obedience to God is in conflict with the enjoyment of life? You'll never live the life of your dreams until you believe that God is the source of all that is good.

When there's an out-of-control fire, these hot shots start strategically positioned fires because they understand the only way to stop a devestating fire is to consume it with a new fire.

[Nem 8:5-9,10 - why he says Amen and Amen]

I've seen how poverty can create a famine of the soul. Dreams become a luxury when your sleep is filled with the pangs of hunger. I have also seen how having can be the enemy of imagining. The more you have, the more you have to lose. The longer you have, the more you become depenedent on the available resources.

The highest act of human intelligence isn't memorizing facts but imagining a new future.

To imagine costs you nothing. Not to imagine could cost you everything.

God knew Adam longed for Eve when Adam himself couldn't even imagine her. Isn't it
possible that the life that your soul longs for is beyond even your imagination?
[Call to me and I will answer and tell you great and unsearchable things that
you do not know. - Jer 33:3]

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Ember Cast, Inc.

D and I have started a small company [think really small - no income, no funding, no employees...] called The Ember Cast, Inc. The idea was to have a medium for doing what we do and probably the best way to explain it is to call it a "student missions leadership tribe."

Here's some of the details:
The Ember Cast is a group of talented, passionate and experienced guides that mentor, resource and inspire the next generation in the areas of global missions, world cultures, leadership development. We exist to reignite the Jesus fire in each student and to launch them out to serve a world in need.

One Line Bio: A tribe of missional leadership guides who, based on Biblical principles, catalyze students, and those that serve them, for the future of humanity.

At this point, it's a registered business with the State of Maryland. The eventual intention is to seek non profit status for The Ember Cast at some point and then who knows what may develop from it. It's definitely in the experiment stage at this point - I've had lots of help from a lawyer friend in terms of the legal processes. We have little idea what we're doing, but that's part of the fun of it, right.... And no, I'm not quitting my day job.

You might be wondering why - there were certainly lots of organizations we could have partnered up with to do this - a local church, missions organizations, etc. But in the end, we created this because we wanted to be in charge of our constraints - we get to make the rules. And, just as important, this gives us a whole world of permission.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Idea Camp DC

I'm going to be attending part of The Idea Camp DC next weekend. In case you haven't heard about it, it's called "a collaborative movement of idea-makers." In other words, it's a bunch of missional types gathered to help each other share resources, get inspired and act. This DC gathering is focused on social justice and some of those attending definitely represent the major players on this topic in the DC area. The other very cool thing about The Idea Camp is that it's very organic - no cost, built on relational networks, practitioners from a variety of disciplines, and open-source style.

Would love to meet you face to face if you are there. For more info, check out some of the talks from the last Idea Camp gathering in early 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Idea Cast 03 allows you to do an online group chat in 45 different languages. That's right - 45. Read all about it here.

Technology is our friend and we are going to continue to see explosions in new ways to communicate, connect and inspire. You may not be interested in Facebook or Twitter or [insert next technology paradigm...] But if you truly believe that Jesus was incarnational - that God came to Earth as a human because He was trying to reach humans, instead of a fish - then maybe you should reconsider your dismissal of virtual places where people gather.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Notes - The War of Art

Well worth the read if you've ever dreamed of living out a life of your true calling.

The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

The Unlived Life
+ You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

Book 1 - Resistance
+ Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

+ Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. It's target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.

+ Are you paralyzed with fear? That's a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Book 2 - Combating Resistance

+The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps. To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it's his vocation. The amateur plays part-time, the professional full time.

+ "I write only when inspiration stirs. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp." - Somerset Maugham

Book 3 - Beyond Resistance

Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist,
an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don't do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write
a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even
destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you
and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race
one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.
It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution.
Give us what you've got.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Idea Cast 02

A lot of us have used some very lame excuses for a lack of discipline, innovation, creativity regarding 'missions.' We use phrases like 'lack of resources, 'sustainable strategy' or anything dealing with finances for not empowering and freeing people to act in how God has lead them. It's embarrassing and I'm guilty of it too.

It's time we stop short cutting momentum. What the world really needs right now is the two-fold combination of people that move with the Spirit and those same people doing their very best. I've met lots of people with a God-given dream, but I've only seen 10% of them execute well.

There are ways of doing Church in the future that don't exist now and there are people that aren't being reached by our existing expressions right now. The Spirit will move in some of us to do something new, different and unknown. After that creativity hits, it's going to take more - more hard work, more resourcing, more leading, more initiative. Not just more of all that, but it's going to require your absolute best effort.

Here are three ideas that don't traditionally fall under 'missions' and are certainly not the status quo:

+ a partnership serving homeless vets
+ the Chat program
+ funding missions through Corn Hole

Friday, August 14, 2009

Idea Cast 01

I'm resurrecting the blog. If you are still here, I owe you lunch or something.

To start, I'm going to be posting slowly. And sharing some different ways to look at things since my summer has been a big break. And big breaks make you see.

The image here is a visual resume. Tell your story and do it uniquely.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summer - or More - Siesta

Well as most of you consistent readers know, we've intentionally put ourselves in a season of rest since September. And it really has been restful. The most restful time has been this Spring, sitting around eating ice cream and watching tv while the Internets told me about the rest of you running around organizing teams, buying plane tickets, raising support and all the rest of the tasks needed to get your mission teams together. Because I'm so weird, I miss part of that. Seriously though, one big thing I learned during this Spring had to do with the capacity to have fun. That's a pretty big deal. Maybe more on that idea later. Maybe more later too on the thought that I've sat around for too long instead of getting out to change the world. Maybe.

I've watched a lot of movies and read some great books. And went to Catalyst. I've also been involved in some really fun small projects this year and those have been great. They've given me a chance to still act on my passions and strengths while still allowing this season of rest to bloom. It's been fun. The projects have included:

Vision Trekk
a weekend with Salisbury Cru
NYC Mission Weekend
facilitating the MBTI for a high school small group
speaking at UMBC Cru
informal Kenya team leader coaching

Oh.... and I almost forgot. The elder internship. It's going well overall and interesting from the perspective of communication, making decisions as a team and strategy. And... it's weighty.... More on that later.

To commemorate the start of summer, I'm taking the rest thing even further - I'm taking a break from the blog. I don't know much about details, how long, etc. I do know that the focus of this blog has been mobilizing students for mission and since I don't have too much of those kinds of projects in the pipeline at this point [except one very small one that doesn't have momentum yet], postings are going to stop, for the most part. It's totally okay to unsubscribe from my blog - don't sweat it.

When things pick back up - and I'm pretty certain they will - posting will resume. In the meantime, we are going to have a normal family summer. No foreign travel, no passports and no plans to almost-leave-children on subway platforms.

See you in a little while. And if you've got some student mission projects you need some coaching or guiding for in the fall, get in touch. Would be glad to help.