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.