Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in cities

1. Chincoteague Island, VA, USA
2. Philadelphia, PA, USA
3. Cambridge, MD, USA
4. Fairfield, CT, USA*
5. Atlantic City, NJ, USA
6. St. Leonard, MD, USA
7. Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA
8. Queen Creek, Phoenix, Gilbert, Grand Canyon, AZ, USA
9. Niagara Falls, ON, CA
10. Salisbury, MD, USA
11. Kent Narrows, MD, USA

* multiple times

Here is the map. Yes, made it out of the US once [even though it was Canada...] And saw the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls in one summer.

Previous years in cities: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

PS - 2010 in pictures

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in books

1. The Bible [chronological daily bible - got about 8 months through it but still sort of reading...]
2. Switch [notes]
3. Untamed
4. Forces for Good [notes]
5. Linchpin
6. Teen 2.0
7. Uncharitable [notes]
8. Blue Ocean Strategy
9. Nurtureshock
10. Making Ideas Happen [notes]

[Related: 2009, 2008, 2007.]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Notes - Making Ideas Happen

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
Phenomenal read - you should read this. Ton of great stuff in here for personal productivity and team leadership. I gave an Action Journal [based on the Action Method] as a gift to a few people.

Making Ideas Happen = Ideas + Organization + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability

Creativity * Organization = Impact

Project Management:
A relentless bias toward action pushes ideas forward.
Stuff that is actionable must be made personal.
Taking and organizing extensive notes aren't worth the effort.
Use design-centric systems to stay organized.
Organize in the context of projects, not location.

Action Steps
Start each with a verb.
Capture them everywhere.
An unowned action step will never be taken.
Treat managerial action steps differently.
Foster an action-oriented culture.
Attraction breeds loyalty.

Set up your backburner.
Create a backburner ritual.

References obstruct your bias toward action.
Use a chronological pile or file.
Feel the flow of references - question it, label it, file it.

"Creators Immediacy" - an instinct to take care of every problem and operational task, no matter how large or small, as soon as it comes up.

Killing ideas - Disney's three rooms.
1 - rampant idea generation.
2 - idea aggregation resulting in a story board.
3 - the sweat box - critical review without restraint.

Measure Meetings with Action
Don't just meet because it's Monday.
End with a review of actions captured.
Call out nonactionable meetings.
Conduct standing meetings
Don't call meetings out of your own insecurity.
Don't stick to round numbers [don't schedule for a full hour like scheduling software defaults to.]
Always measure with Action Steps.
[Oh so many people should read this section.]

* Godin's 6 month MBA.
"I can say that Godin's MBA program likely serves as a better foundation and stronger impetus for entrepreneurial success than any other top MBA program."

"Done Walls" - literally gather up the records of completed projects and then decorate certain walls with these artifacts.

"Insecurity Work" - stuff that you do that has no intended outcome, does not move the ball forward in any way and is quick enough that you can do it multiple times a day without realizing how much time is being wasted.

"Committal Benefits" - when you publicly commit yourself and take on risk to make an idea happen - represents the increased likelihood of others to take a risk of their own to support your projects.

"Respect-Based Self Marketing" - amassing a group of followers on the web - people choose to follow you and your work because they respect you or something you have done. Once they choose to follow you, they have invited you to push information and updates to them. [so true]

Leadership development is experiential. Through trial and error, good times and bad, we gradually become better leaders - but only if we are self-aware enough to notice when and why we falter.

Engage Initiators
Building a team of enthusiastic and talented people is one of the greatest challenges for leaders. A resume gives little indication of a candidates true mettle. Rather than focusing exclusively on an individuals experience, truly effective managers instead measure a prospective employee’s ability to take initiative.
When you stumble across an Initiator - someone who has passion, generates ideas and tends to take action - recognize your good fortune. Nothing will assist your ideas more than a team of people who possess real initiative.
[Like Rework "Starters"]

IDEO 'T' people - the long horizontal line represents breadth of experience while the tall vertical line represents a depth of experience in one particular area.

Consensus can often lead to a lackluster outcome.
Teams should not strive for complete consensus at the outset of a project. After all, consensus-driven teams run the risk of settling on what offends no one and satisfies no one. Early and complete consensus is comfortable but almost always unremarkable. Leaders of creative teams should identify and highlight the noteworthy, memorable solutions at both ends of the spectrum that, in all likelihood, are not agreeable to all [sacred extremes]

While conflict is never pleasant, as leaders we must acknowledge that conflict provides a precious opportunity to judge the leadership capability of others.

Admired leaders use conflict in two ways. The first is to evaluate the reasoning and patience of their partners and superiors. The second way leaders use conflict is to build confidence and earn their teams' respect.

"Leadership is most effective through the art of storytelling." - Steffen Landauer

Appreciations - having just shared a story/idea/presentation, you go around and ask people to comment on the elements they most appreciated. The exchange of appreciations is meant to help you build upon your strengths with the underlying assumption that a creative craft is made extraordinary through developing your strengths rather than obsessing over your weaknesses. "It is strange that, in our culture, we are trained to look for weaknesses. When I work with people, they are often surprised when I point out the wonderful crucial details - the parts that are alive."
Appreciations are not about being polite. They are about pointing out what is alive.

Hot spots = very similar bright spots in Switch

As you lead others in creative pursuits, you are your greatest liability. Self-leadership is about awareness, tolerance and not letting your own natural tendencies limit your potential.

Benefits of Failure
What external conditions may explain the failure?
What internal factors may have compromised your judgment?
Are there any gems in the unintended outcome?

Contrarianism - the act of purposely thinking against the grain when approaching problems and brainstorming new ideas. Contrarians are willing to manage (if not embrace) the uncertainties and risks inherent in thinking differently. And by questioning the norms, they are bound to either find better approaches or to feel more confidence in the old ways of doing things.
Don't rever someone based on age.
Reconsider your approach to mentoring. Instead of just above, look around and below you as well.
Distinguish past accomplishments from present knowledge.
Aspire to better practices, not the best.

You have a responsibility to make your ideas sustainable. For an idea to thrive over time, it must be treated as an enterprise.
"Entrepreneurs are not the ones with the best ideas. They're just the ones willing to jump off a cliff without the answers." - Andrew Weinreich

Please take yourself and your creative pursuits seriously. Your ideas must be treated with respect because their importance truly does extend beyond your own interests. Every living person benefits from a world that is enriched with ideas made whole - ideas that are made to happen through your passion, commitment, self-awareness, and informed pursuit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Random

+ We had a great Christmas - lots of fun, lots of family who are still in town, been a great time so far. Celebrated Kt's birthday - she finally got that cell phone - it only took 4 years of nagging.
+ That's Em - at the sight of a chocolate fountain for Kts bday party a few weeks ago.
+ I'm tracking #NOLA2010 - a small team of young adults from Grace in NOLA this week. They left the evening of Christmas day - you probably know most of them.
+ Humbled by 4 end of the year donations to Ember this week. Helps us pay for some pretty integral operations stuff so we can unleash some global leaders.
+ January is already looking significant.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Dear Kt --

Welcome to being a teenager. You now have a good and legitimate excuse for all that trouble you give your mother and I. Really though - it hasn't been too bad. Just don't push your luck...

It's been another thrilling year watching you grow up and mature and become a lovely woman of God. You've done well in getting used to middle school, loved your spotlight leaders and girls and done a great job in school.

Most thrilling is watching you engage a world in need with the passion and conviction of people dedicated to transforming human history. This year it included things like attending a malaria summit for research, serving on the Ember AZ team and a persuasive speech to your peers about changing the perception of the homeless. When I was your age, Space Invaders occupied all of my passion. [show you that later...]

Please continue to make us marvel at your life.


Friday, December 17, 2010

In Search Of

Interning for the Ember Cast was a truly eye-opening experience. We live in a fast-paced world where the manner in which the Gospel is advanced is changing daily. Innovation and adaptability are key components to propelling the Jesus movement forward, and these are precisely some of the tools that I gleaned from being an Ember Cast intern. Unique perspectives, coupled with practical applications made the internship an unforgettable experience.
- ARotolo, Ember 2010 intern
Always always on the lookout for students like these...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: The Future of Youth Ministry
Marko is writing a series of posts from a discussion on the future of youth ministry. Episode 2 has some instigators alright. I like it.

::: Six Megathemes from 2010
You've probably seen this make the rounds. Scathing, like #6:
The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.

::: Seth on retreats
Note the first sentence - which is why we called it Mission Advance. [But we stole that idea from Mosaic first.]

::: Brad's advice for those over 55
And you know some people's brains don't think according to their age...

::: World Map Visualized by Facebook

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Snippet - The DecEmber Update

If you want to read the whole thing, let me know. Would be happy to send it to you.
"When a great adventure is offered, you don't refuse it." - Amelia Earhart [quoted by Chris Guillebeau here]

Dear friends --

Yes, almost every week lately I feel like life has offered us quite an adventure. And this year has been full of it with regards to The Ember Cast, our latest endeavor when it comes to student missions leadership. This year included a weekend immersion in both Chinese and homeless culture in Philadelphia; a week long hands on experience in church planting and community impact in Queen Creek, AZ; and coming alongside some college students devoted to serving the marginalized in Salisbury, MD. Even more thrilling is working with some amazing emerging global leaders: John and Andrew in the Ember internship last Spring; Donna, Ryan and Emily this summer; Trevin as our first Ember guide; and Taylor at Salisbury. The real adventure is probably more centered around people like these - high school and college students, Biblically based, and passionate about impacting the future of humanity for the better. Helping people like them is why Ember exists. [More details about 2010 will be included in our annual report - coming soon.]

We've accomplished some interesting things in terms of the organization as well: a bank account; raised 100% of the required funding to support the AZ team; and approval from the IRS to act as a 501C3 - all things that are mostly out of the realm of my formal training as a database engineer. But that's part of the fun of the adventure right? And I've found an amazing group of co-conspirators in the Board of Directors that has been assembled to assist with the leadership of Ember.

Our immediate next step is to raise some additional funding for some more operational issues. These primarily include some accounting/finance software and purchasing insurance - some of the necessary elements of any business I've learned. To that end, it's indirectly helping us identify and resource emerging global leaders.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Strengths - APEST

More than any other organization or movement on this planet, the church should be a safe haven and incubator for audacity.
- Steven Furtick

Similar to the Strengths is the APEST profile. Read up on it if you've never heard of it - it's good. If you like the Myers Briggs and Strengths, you will like this. Picture adding a spiritual leadership development to both of those other assessments. Like the others, even better if you take it as a team.

My APEST results are shepherd + apostolic. Shepherd meaning one who nurtures and protects, creates environments for change, and has a vision for others growth. Apostolic is one who is sent, uncomfortable with the status quo, pioneers new endeavors and needing to sense movement and change. Sound familiar?

In other words, I will want to spend all of the budget you want to hold on to. I could probably talk for a few hours about developing people and projects for them to grow. I will love to meet someone who is innovating something from old to new. Talk about maintaining existing processes and systems and I'll start playing with my cell phone. Change too slowly and I have to get some fresh air.

PS - If you absolutely love that quote above, I want to talk to you.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: The Global Soap Project
The Global Soap Project recovers and recycles soap from American hotels and facilitates a process by which it is sanitized, melted and remolded into new bars, then distributed to refugee camps in Africa.
Link via Brad

::: Cross Cultural Workers dot com
Link. Just like it says - here's a quick summary from Seth Barnes.

::: Twitter usage
Link. 8% of online Americans use Twitter. And other stuff from the Pew Internet report on twitter. Via @DanielDecker
What does this mean when we talk about twitter? And what does it tell us about this 8%?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Strengths - Teams

If you map out the strengths of the people you work or serve closely with, you'll probably discover some interesting things. I've got a big spreadsheet of people that I know closely and their strengths - I've been tracking this for a few years. Not only that, but if I've read your blog or follow you on twitter or read a book you've written, and you've published your top 5 somewhere, you are probably on my spreadsheet too. It's one of the subtle ways I stalk you.

Past clusters of people I've worked with seem to gravitate towards Developer, Adaptability [which I posted about yesterday] and Belief. These all make sense - those teams were in the business of helping mold students as part of cross cultural experiences - you can probably see how people with those talents would gravitate towards that.

Not only does the task of a team potentially attract specific talents, it may be that the specific leader also attracts those talents. It might also be true that a leader is able to build a team that reflects his or her strength set. We know this to be true in other venues as well - for instance, students in a youth ministry reflect their youth pastor, like it or not.

It's a proven metric for leadership - how well does a leader attract followers. The next level is whether this leader attract followers that can build on his strengths as well as creating teams that build on the organization's collective strengths.

This post is from a series of posts about what I've learned most recently from the Strengths Finder assessment. Part 1, 2, 3.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Strengths - We Need Adaptability

The current rate of change in our world is fast. And it's only going to get faster. That's why I love the adaptability talent - people with this talent are not thrown off when there is too much change. Unlike the rest of us who violently resist change, people with this talent thrive when things are dynamic. That's why we need them - they help the rest of us get what needs to get done in the midst of lots of chaos.

Most student mission projects I have been involved in never execute they way they have been planned. A phrase we sometimes toss around is 'plan D', meaning that our original plan is so far off. In situations like these, we lean on those with adaptability to tell us it's going to be okay, to laugh in the midst of lots of change and to force us to keep moving forward in the midst of chaos like when you lock the keys in the van with it running.

The successful leaders of the future are catalytic. They also are either highly adaptable or they have built teams that keep winning while change happens at outrageous rates.

This post is from a series of posts about what I've learned most recently from the Strengths Finder assessment. Part 1, 2, 3.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Strengths - The Likes

I sat in on a StrengthsFinder coaching session that my friend Dale Swinburne ran last week. It was a ton of fun and I'm grateful to Dale for giving away such valuable expertise to a ministry leadership team. In light of that, this week I'll be writing a series of posts that deal with some of the things I think are most valuable when it comes to the StrengthsFinder assessment.

If you don't have any exposure to the StrengthsFinder assessment, the best way to read up on it is to get one of the books and take the assessment. Read up on the descriptions of your top 5, underline the sentences that resonate with you and share the results with someone you are close with. Have someone you work with take it as well and then read up on their talents. Then come back and check out some of these posts.

First, here are my top 5. Developer, Futuristic, Arranger, Positivity and Woo. What matters most in terms of mine are the first 2 - Developer and Futuristic. Developer is almost always on. Futuristic gives my Developer talent a little tweak - I'm happy thinking up projects for people but overjoyed when those projects deal with a specific future that we are changing together.

One of the ideas about strengths theory is that we are looking for someone that isn't quite like us to get something accomplished. In the area of student missions, I'm almost always interested in people with these talents:
+ Ideation - I'm convinced that we need different paradigms of ministry in the future so these people are essential to that end. Tell them what you are trying to do or achieve and start taking notes on their ideas. TerahM came up with 10 ideas for leadership mixers after 5 minutes of talking about the Leadership Collective.
+ Includer - By nature, the Gospel is extending, reaching and inviting and Includers do this all the time. By nature, the rest of us want our groups to be static and therefore comfortable, while Includers are the exact opposite.
+ Strategic - When you plan before you execute, have someone with Strategic think it through.
+ Empathy - When it's on, it's red hot on. I need at least one person around with
empathy because I have zero of it.
+ Activator - These people move us from a meeting talking about something to actually getting out there and doing it.
+ Adaptability - One of my favorites - I'll talk about this one more tomorrow.

This post is from a series of posts about what I've learned most recently from the Strengths Finder assessment. Part 1, 2, 3.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Book Notes - The Next Christians

The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America by Gabe Lyons

1 - A Fading Reality
What does mission look like in America in the twenty-first century?
How should the message of the Gospel for forward?
What does it mean to be a Christian in a world that is disenchanted with our movement?

2 - The New Normal
Pluralistic - pluralism rather than Christianity now marks America's public square.
Postmodern - Stan Grenz - "a questioning, and even rejection, of the Enlightenment project and the foundation assumptions upon which it was built, namely, that knowledge is certain, objective and inherently good. Consequently it marks the end of a single worldview. Postmodernism resist unified, all-encompassing and universally valid explanations."

3 - A Parody of Ourselves
Separatists - Insiders, Culture Warriors, Evangelizers
Cultural - Blenders, Philanthropists
I've observed a new generation of Christians who feel empowered. Restorers exhibit the mindset, humility, and commitment that seem destined to rejuvenate the momentum of the faith. They have a peculiar way of thinking, being, and doing that is radically different from previous generations. Telling others about Jesus is important, but conversation isn't their only motive. Their mission is to infuse the world with beauty, grace, justice and love.
They are purposeful about their careers and generous with their time and possession. They don't separate from the world or blend in; rather, they thoughtfully engage. Fully aware of the seachange under way, they are optimistic that God is on the move - doing something unique in our time. They posses a way of following Jesus that is radically different from the others I've described. and they carry the most hope for the future credibility of the entire Christian movement in the West.

4 - Relearning Restoration
"When the Christian faith is not only felt, but thought, it was practical results which may be inconvenient." - TS Eliot

5 - Provoked not Offended
story of Jamie - TWLOHA
Engagement over Condemnation
Grace over Judgement
Courage over Comfort
IJM - Gary Haugen
Faithfulness over Reputation
Mike Foster

Chp 6 - Creators not Critics
Culture that Celebrates Beauty
Culture that Affirms Goodness
Culture that Tells the Truth
Culture that Serves

Chp 7 - Called not Employed
7 channels of cultural influence: media, education, arts and entertainment, business, government, social sector, church
Sajan George - nyc education
Jon Passavant - Model Home Project [Katrina]
Scott Harrison - charity:water

Chp 8 - Grounded not Distracted
Immersed in Scripture (Instead of Entertainment)
Observing the Sabbath (Instead of Being Productive)
Fasting for Simplicity (Instead of Consuming)
Choosing Embodiment (Instead of Being Divided)
Shane Hipps
Kevin Kelly
Postured by Prayer (Instead of Power)

Chp 9 - In Community, not Alone

Chp 10 - Countercultural, not Relevant
Portland OR - Season of Service

Chp 11 - The Next Big Shift
Luke 4:8-19

Also, check out a video interview on ABC News with the author.

Great read. Loved the part about the restorers compared to other segments of Christianity. I find that most of the circles I'm in these days are these kinds of people and that's a great thing. Loved the other subtitle on the cover, "How a New Generation is Restoring Faith". That is the truth.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Buy this satellite
Owners of a communication satellite went bankrupt so these people are trying to buy it to serve internet to people who don't current have access.

::: Throw them in the deep end
Love this post from Seth Barnes

::: Complexity requires a healthy team
A no-brainer, but this caught my eye: "Are you a healthy enough organization to take on tons of complexity?"
CoachShef on multi-site

::: Adding your nonprofit to Jumo
More about Jumo here. Old school missions orgs - take note. Your world almost doesn't exist anymore.

About - Dec 2010

Tony Sheng is the principal catalyst behind The Ember Cast - a group of talented, passionate and experienced guides that mentor, resource and inspire the next generation in the areas of global missions, world cultures, and leadership development - we throw fire. His experience includes various student ministry volunteer roles, five years of serving as the coordinator for student missions for a church, church elder board experience, and various missions mobilization related projects. He is proudest about mentoring a core group of students that are impacting humanity and continues to mentor a handful of high school students each year.

He is also a technology professional and lives in Columbia, MD, USA with his wife and two daughters. He would be overjoyed to talk with you about The Ember Cast, student missions mobilization and helping you erupt global leaders from the students in your midst.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Latest Kindling

+ World AIDS day today. Have some time to kill during lunch? Read the UN AIDS report for 2010. Some great news but ending the pandemic is not over yet.
+ Still on an emotional high from Ember Salisbury Cast. Wow.
+ Speaking of Salisbury, Kt our 12 year old gave all of her report card and recent babysitting earnings to Halo ministries when we were there. As parents, you can only teach so much about gratitude. If you've done it right, your kids will eventually give past your own comfort level.
+ Lunch yesterday with the ACMC northeast reps - and The Munich Group. We talked a ton missions leadership and mobilization efforts and the backdrop of intergenerational leadership. So much potential. Unleashing and living with chaos are not easy.
+ KellanD [here and here] is running point for a NC church with regard to homeless stuff. Kellan has got tons of experience in this arena - excited to see how it goes. AR [Ember 2010 intern] is jumping into that as well.
+ Speaking of Andrew, he's pursuing some opportunities with Duke Engage for this summer.
+ A local church around the corner has 3 congregations meeting in their building. A Spanish speaking 'economically humble' community, an 'second generation Asian' community, and their own. Having lunch with them next week to see if Ember can help with their student missions.
+ Ember might be hosting an invitation-only gathering of emerging global leaders in early January. Well, Ember hosts it by barging in on MichelleK and her parents. Michelle is spending the Spring 2011 semester in South Africa and her dad is on the Ember board. Chicken or the egg?
+ Landing on the speaker list for Leadership Collective this week. Hopefully, it's a list of people within GRACE that people know but don't know.
+ Ember was given a large gift a few weeks specifically for the purpose of some startup business operations costs. And hey, if you need an end of the year tax deduction and love unleashing students to change the world...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perspectives - Spring 2011

The Perspectives class is coming to Columbia/Fulton and GRACE is hosting it. If some of this stuff on this blog is interesting to you, you should probably take the class.

In case you don't know, my involvement with student missions largely hinged on the content in this class - specifically that high school kids needed to experience some of the concepts outlined in this class and were not. SPACE, and consequently Ember, were started out of a response to this class. Seven years after I took Perspectives, there's a small group of co-conspirators that understood some of the class's ideas and they are making their mark.

Anyway. Here is the outline for the Spring - some fantastic speakers with worlds of knowledge. If you are on the fence, you should lean towards signing up.

[Update: Sign up here.]

Course Overview & Registration : January 03, 2011 : Joseph Steinitz
The Living God is a Missionary God : January 10, 2011 : Matthew Ellison
The Story of His Glory : January 17, 2011 : Bruce Heckman
Your Kingdom Come : January 24, 2011 : Charlie
Mandate for the Nations : January 31, 2011 : James Rhodes
Unleashing the Gospel : February 07, 2011 : Dave Shive
The Expansion of the World Christian Movement : February 14, 2011 : Francis Patt
Eras of Mission History/Pioneers of the Movement : February 21, 2011 : K.
Cold Weather Shelter [week off] : February 28, 2011
The Task Remaining : March 07, 2011 : Charlie Klepadlo
How Shall They Hear? : March 14, 2011 : Virgil Amos
Building Bridges of Love : March 21, 2011 : David Shenk
Christian Community Development : March 28, 2011 : Jan Bean
Pioneer Church Planting : April 04, 2011 : Keith Swartley
The spontaneous Multiplication of Churches : April 11, 2011 : Paul McAlister
World Christian Partnership : April 18, 2011 : Dave Shive
Celebration Class : April 25, 2011 : Susan Patt

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Most Extraordinary

The most extraordinary thing in all the world is an ordinary man, and an ordinary woman, and their ordinary children.
- G.K. Chesterton [quote posted by Blaine Hogan]
picture from Sept 2010.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Notes - Uncharitable

Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential by Dan Pallotta

The First Error - Constraints on Compensation: Charity and Self-Deprivation Are Not the Same Thing
+ pay scale for people that work in the NPO space should be competitive with for profit businesses.
The Second Error - Prohibition on Risk: Punishing Courage, Rewarding Timidity
+ donations are tied to specific programs which don’t allow the NPO to innovate, stifling future growth.
The Third Error - Discouragement of Long Term Vision: The Need for Immediate Gratification Institutionalizes Suffering
+ donations can't sit - they need to be used right away as opposed to earning capital
The Fourth Error - Discouragement of Paid Advertising: If You Don't Advertise Here, Your Competition Will
+ the big machine of advertising, design, ad campaigns, etc. for charities is seen as bad
The Fifth Error - Prohibition on Investment Return: The Limits of No Return, and a Stock Market for Charity
+ stigma of investing in the future

If we have the courage to be true to our most daring ideas, the ideology will have to surrender to their magnificence and our determination to make them real.

Harvard Business School's interest in social entrepreneurship led them to commission a case study on our methods in 2002. On a functional level, the events broke with tradition in three ways. They lasted days instead of hours; they required participants to raise a mandatory minimum of contributions that ranged from $1000 to $10,000, depending on the event; and they were marketed to a mass audience using funding levels and methods that previously were largely the domain of big consumer brands. On an emotional and philosophical level, the events asked people to do the most they could do, instead of the least. Tens of thousands of people responded. It was like a coming out for their humanity.
From 1994 to 2002:
+ 556M in total donor contributions
+ netted $305M, after all expenses, for direct charitable service
+ The company produced seventy-nine large-scale multi-day events, each with an average of 2,279 walkers or riders, each traveling anywhere from sixty miles on foot to six hundred miles by bicycle.
+ A total of 180,043 people rode or walked.
+ Tens of thousands of people volunteered for days on end as crew members on the roads and campsites of the events.
+ Approximately 7.4M individual donations were made to the events.
+ The average participant raised $3039 from his or her friends and family.

Methods and Controversy
+ For-profit structure, for-profit sector compensation philosophy
+ The most you can do [asked of the participants]
+ Paid, professional advertising and marketing
+ Brand building
+ Desegregation of causes
+ Taking risks [trying new markets or revenue streams]

Great read, but skimmed a lot of it. It's definitely thick with a ton of information in it. The author hits on the 'Puritan work ethic' quite a bunch, which I could have done without. But his overall points are very intriguing and are worth thinking about. The end section on his company and their Methods and the Controversy surround the methods makes the book well worth the read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Booth Street Conversations

In the morning:
A little boy said to Rachel, "Can I tell you a secret? I'm scared to live here. It's dangerous. At night I hear gunshots."

In the afternoon:
After hearing about a church going into their community to run a kids camp, Rachel asked me, "Do you think I could do something like that at Booth Street?"

Yes, Rachel you can. Yes you can.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reading The Forgotten Ways in 1 Day

If you've been here for a while, you know I'm a big fan of The Forgotten Ways. Lots of great content in there and when I consider how we form global leaders of the future, this book is at the top of the list.

I will admit that it is some pretty heavy stuff - it can be quite cerebral and has some big words. So when I've asked high school students to read it, they get bogged down in it. What works better seems to be when we read it together - interacting over the material. The best question seems to be, "When you have you seen this?"

So for Ember Salisbury Cast, our team read it together, as much as we could. Here's the 24 hour summary - you certainly could have spent hours on each point, instead we spent 10-15 minutes on them, if that. It was fantastic - I think we got through everything but the last two.
+ fringe:
all great missionary movements begin at the fringes of the church p.30
+ cultural distance: p. 57
+ tribalization of western culture:
On one occasion some youth ministry specialists I work with identified in an hour fifty easily discernible youth subcultures alone. Each of them takes their subcultural identity with utmost seriousness, and hence any missional response to them must as well. p. 61
+ organic structure p. 77
+ TS Eliot
The great proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief. p. 101
+ action learning discipleship
At Forge, we have built the entire system around this concept of action-learning discipleship. Our twin aims are to develop missionaries to the west and to develop a distinctly pioneering/missional mode of leadership. p. 124
+ missional impulse
A genuine missional impulse is a sending rather than an attractional one. The NT pattern of mission is centrifugal rather than centripetal. And this cannot be emphasized more highly. When Jesus likens the kingdom of God to seeds being sown, he is not kidding. p. 130
+ incarnational lifestyle
presence, proximity, powerlessness, proclamation p. 132
+ church follows mission
Start with mission and its likely that the Church will be found. Mission Shaped Church, p. 143
+ apostolic web of meaning
+ APEST leadership p. 175
+ movement lifecycles p. 192

[Related: Alan and Deb Hirsch speaking to one of our student teams, July 2008]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ember Salisbury Cast

Amazing 24 hours spent with the Salisbury Uni Campus Crusade team over the weekend. We didn't just reach a goal, we experienced a win. Here's some details and reflections from our time. Warning - long post ahead. Don’t feel bad about skimming or stealing what will work for you.

If you've tracked this project from dream to execution, you know that TayEst is the point person - a college student, totally sold out to both local community impact and global mission, an alumn of SPACE - the local church student missions component I used to be a part of. Loved, loved, loved working with her on this. We already started dreaming of the next step. [Developers....]

Friday night was used to expose students to some of the core core principles we were thinking about for this weekend over an ice cream party. See the pic. The overall goal of the weekend was a tangible report to give to future ministries about what we learned about the community today - a gift to the future. While we did that, we would learn first hand about context, learning postures and engaging the place where we live. See the win sheet for more details.

Saturday morning was a very lightly planned few hours where students would go into the community to serve, engage but mostly listen. We used a thing we call the Matchbox - some tangible tools to help us engage. This was very organic, very experimental. No, I have never done something like this before.

My specific team went to a location called Booth Street, a community of underprivileged and government subsidized homes. While there, we invited a bunch of kids to hang at the park with us while we played football, basketball and had fun. Not a huge group of kids. Booth Street was chosen by the Salisbury team because they already had some students who have a presence there - a weekly kids camp that they run there every Monday afternoon. Becky knew most of these families and their kids names. Oh - Becky and Tayest who run this started this initiative on their own. Right, that's the kind of college student we are dealing with.

All teams met at a local park for lunch and for a quick decompress. Stories included a ton of students engaging the homeless, students not realizing how poverty was all around campus, meeting some homeless that lived in a tent enclave who told them that they were fine and to go help someone else, and seeing the community through new filters. Right there, according to our sheet, that's the win.

The whole team split into two for the afternoon, one team working at Joseph House, another team - the one I was on - worked at Halo ministries. Halo has a ton of stuff going on but the core is a women and children shelter. We sorted through a bunch of donated canned food and some of the guys demo'd some old furniture as well as building some partitions for the shelter area. Amazing story of how they fell into this massive space.

We also heard from Celeste, the executive director. You would never see the visionary in her from the outside but on the inside, she's the executor of dreams and visions for this place. Loved hearing about that - those are the kinds of people the future needs.

We finished the day with more snacks and another recap/decompression. In the next few weeks, Tayest and I will chronicle what the teams found from this day and package it up for someone in the future - church planter, community activist, campus catalyst. [Will make that available when it's ready.] That's our small gift to the future. Ember's big gift to the future is, hopefully, the eruption of some of these students into an amazing trajectory that serves a great world in need. And thanks to those of you that prayed for us on Friday - you are throwing fire with us.

More images here. [Related: Ember Philly Cast, January 2010]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Say A Quick One

Would appreciate quick prayers for our Ember Salisbury Cast weekend coming tonight. Specifically pray for:

+ safe travels and being wise as we serve in areas in the community
+ God to really lead us as we listen to the community
+ A vision for the future for some of these high school and college kids.
+ For Dea, who isn't totally feeling great.

Had some fun opportunities open up this week for Saturday, which is always pretty wild. There is something about these kids at Salisbury - God is granting them favor. Excited to join them in it for a little while.

Thanks for praying!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Become an early adopter
Link via MMI

::: Tony Morgan's notes on Leading Change by John Kotter
"One bad succession decision at the top of an organization can undermine a decade of hard work."
"Successful transformation is 70 to 90 percent leadership and only 10 to 30 percent management."
"With a strong emphasis on management but not leadership, bureaucracy and an inward focus take over."
"A good rule of thumb in a major change effort is: Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo."
"Two types of individuals should be avoided at all costs when putting together a guiding coalition. The first have egos that fill up a room, leaving no space for anybody else. The second are what I call snakes, people who create enough mistrust to kill teamwork."
"Sometimes the only way to change a culture is to change key people."
"Highly controlling organizations often destroy leadership by not allowing people to blossom, test themselves, and grow."
"The best-performing firms I know that operate in highly competitive industries have executives who spend most of their time leading, not managing, and employees who are empowered with the authority to manage their work groups."
Part 1 and 2

::: What does a family look like?
And the implications for student pastors?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Whoever can no longer desire the impossible will be able to achieve nothing more than the all-too-probable.
- Martin Buber as quoted in The Forgotten Ways

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Week 45

Four things happened last week. I'm still in awe. And I'm probably writing this down so I remember.

1 - I officially declined a leadership opportunity. I'd been serving in this realm in a temporary status for about two years and although it's a great opportunity, it's not quite in my sweet spot. I'm being obscure on purpose but those of you close to us probably can guess what this is. Suffice to say that after I gave the official word, there was a huge sense of relief. Maybe tell you more one day.

2 - The very day I declined, somehow my name made an internet list. I will be the first to tell you that the other people on this list are amazing - many of them inspire me and I almost always click all the links when this thing comes out every month. So I'm humbled and flattered to be thought of in the same manner. Making the list was not about the arrival somewhere. In the context of this particular day, it was confirmation about my earlier decision.

3 - I met with the Ember board for our first official meeting. As you might imagine, I don't know much about running boards. What I do know is that I value each one of these board members as friends and co-conspirators. What I had no idea about was how much each of them believe in Ember and the challenge they would put forth to really run this thing so we could serve more and more students. Their vision scared and awakened me. We throw fire.

4 - Finally, attending and sharing at the ACMC conference. The combination of sharing what we learned, interacting with some friends about the material, and being at a conference which really was implicitly about the future - all of it was so generative for me.

And so.... this week?

Monday, November 15, 2010

ACMC 2010 DMV conference

Had a great time at the Advancing Churches for Missions Commitment [ACMC] DC/MD/VA conference on Saturday. Our little group that went consisted of Leslie - Ember board member, Joyce - Ember board member, Robyn - college student/trying-to-figure-out-life, and my 12 year old daughter Kt.

There were some really great sessions and George Verwer, founder of OM, was ridiculous in the two plenary sessions. Ridiculous in terms of very engaging and lots of really good information. I thought my breakout went really well and I had a great time doing it.

Met some interesting people as well as caught up with some old friends doing neat stuff. The quick list:
MBoorman - new youth pastor at Barcroft Bible - they have 6 languages in their congregation
DH - old friend who runs NavYouth, been running open mic nights to connect with students who are musicians, now going to try an experiment with music studios.
Dave Shive - former prof at Washington Bible College, now works for ACMC full time, in his mid 60s but probably has a higher Millennial score than I do. His session on passing the missions leadership baton from the older generation to the younger generation was fantastic - see the notes below.

The demographic was, sorry to be blunt, old. As far as I could tell, there was 2 or 3 people involved with students there. I saw one middle or high school kid - mine. All of this is unfortunate because I think any high school or college kid interested in global leadership would have had a lot of fun at the conference. Next time, Ember focuses on recruiting a whole bunch of students to attend.

Finally, I know they conference organizers had some trouble putting this thing together - last minute issues and cancellations and all that. But it really was a fun day so my thanks to them for their efforts and for inviting me to run a breakout.

My notes to follow - enjoy.

+ George Verwer - Plenary 1
Any missions event in 2010 should start with Thanksgiving. We are making progress.

Acts 13
1. church - the local church
the church is in a credibility crisis
2. worship
3. Holy Spirit
4. Sent
5. Prayer
6. Preached
social concern + proclamation come together
Luis Palau - new kind of evangelistic outreach [related]
7. Helper
George has had 55 personal assistants - all do it for one year and live with him as family, all young men. All 55 are still walking closely with Jesus.

+ Dave Shive - Passing the Baton to the Next Generation lf Church Missions Leadership
'missions activist' - love that term he used
passing the baton has a backdrop of precision

older gen needs to decide if they trust younger gen to create new structures or to micromanage them
older gen needs to decide whether to pass it on, what exactly they are going to pass on, how do they pass it on.

responsibility rests on older gen - form of church is irrelevant to Dave - as a 60 year old, he doesn't need his needs met by a church

10 problems
1. maturation - spiritual growth is important in this discussion - love and maturity between generations
2. alienation - goal is not to alienate
3. stereotypes
young are lazy
old are stuffy
from the audience - a youth pastor and his wife - a lot of this is also based on our expectations of people - they rise or fall to what we expect of them - very very true.
4. change - change is essential - technology also makes us aware of the change faster
5. changing interests
6. control
7. departures - kids leaving the faith/church
8. faith loss - younger people have less loyalty to institutions
9. gender - large issue for men - feminization of the Church
missions used to be the brave thing to do
70% of boys will leave church in their teens and twenties
10. old age - we all die

+ George - plenary II
top 10 impossible countries
1. North Korea
2. Tibet
3. Afghanistan
4. Iran
5. Iraq
6. Saudi Arabia
7. Yemen - Socotra - not one believer on the island of about 50,000
8. Libya
9. Tunisia - few hundred believers
10. Somalia/Turkmenestan

Christianization of America is a greater priority than the evangelization of the nations.

Top Trends
1. most church growth in history
2. house church movement - alpha course, G12 colombia
3. emerging missions
new range of sending countries - from anywhere to anywhere
4. partnership
5. rapid shift to holistic ministry
6. business as missions
7. explosion in short term missions
8. explosion of technology in missions

"I've never had a boring day since my conversion"

[Related: ACMC conf notes - 2004, 2003]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taking Back The Future

Here are my breakout "Taking Back The Future: Transforming Students into Cross Cultural Workers" notes for the Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment DC/MD/VA conference tomorrow. If you download them, make sure you open up the notes section in powerpoint [sorry hahaha] so you can see some of the actual stuff I'm talking about instead of just pretty pictures about some phenomenal people. If you are reading this today and want to attend, I'm pretty sure there is still room. If you are going, please stop by to say hi.

[Update: had to update the slides, if you download it, make sure it's version 9]

I've included a list of resources on the last slide - here's the list with some links. As always, with anything and everything you find on this blog, feel free to take, steal or borrow what works in your context.

The Forgotten Ways - Alan Hirsch
An Unstoppable Force - Erwin McManus
Waking the Dead - John Eldredge
Movements That Changed The World - Steve Addison [blog]
Rob Wegner
Alex McManus
Bob Roberts
Swerve -
Andrew Jones
Ben Arment

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Rob Wegner at AND
Link. Make sure to check out this graphic about Granger's attractional and missional combination - it will make your head spin, in a good way.

::: Google and Endangered Languages

::: A Sugar and Salt Solution for Haiti's Cholera Epidemic
Link via Becky Straw

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Salisbury Win Sheet

You reach a goal, you experience a win.
- Andy Stanley

Here's the link to our "win sheet" for the Ember Salisbury Cast coming up in a few weeks. As always, with everything on this blog, feel free to steal whatever works best for you. Just remember to contextualize it. =)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Book Notes - Forces for Good

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High Impact Nonprofits, Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

12 orgs after thousands of interviews of npo execs.
America's Second Harvest
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
City Year
Environmental Defense Fund
Habitat for Humanity
The Heritage Foundation
National Council of La Raza
Share Our Strength
Teach for America
Youthbuild USA

++ Chapter 1 - The 6 practices of high impact nonprofits
1. Advocate and Serve
High impact orgs don't just focus on doing one thing well. They may start out providing great programs but eventually they realize that they cannot achieve systemic change through service delivery alone. So they add policy advocacy to access government resources or to change legislation, thus expanding their impact.
2. Make Markets Work
No longer content to rely on traditional notes of charity or to see the private sector as the enemy, great nonprofits find ways to work with markets and help business 'do well while doing good.'
3. Inspire Evangelists
Great nonprofits see volunteers as much more than a source of free labor or membership dues. They create meaningful ways to engage individuals in emotional experiences that help them connect to the group's mission and core values.
4. Nurture Nonprofit Networks
High impact organizations help the competition succeed, building networks of nonprofit allies and devoting remarkable time and energy to advancing their larger field. They freely share wealth, expertise, talent and power with their peers, not because they are saints, but because it's in their self interest to do so.
5. Master the Art of Adaptation
All the orgs in this book are exceptionally adaptive, modifying their tactics as needed to increase their success.
6. Share Leadership
They distribute leadership throughout their organization and their nonprofit network - empowering others to lead. And they cultivate a strong second-in-command, build enduring executive teams with long tenure and develop highly engaged boards in order to have more impact.

++ Chapter 2 - Advocate *and* Serve
Five Principles for Successful Policy Change
1. Balance Pragmatism with Idealism
They would rather win than be right. They strike a balance between achieving results and maintaining their integrity.
2. Practice Principled Bipartisanship
3. Preserve credibility and Integrity
4. Hire Policy Experience
5. Find Funding for Advocacy

+ Policy advocacy is a powerful force for social change.
High impact nonprofits understand that they cannot achieve maximum results without advocating for policy reform or without accessing the power and resources of government.
+ The best nonprofits both advocate and serve.
Ultimately the two activities reinforce each other.
+ Don't be afraid to jump into the political fray.
+ It's never too late to advocate.

++ Chapter 3 - Make Markets Work
Env Defense Fund and McDonalds' trash issue
Env Defense and FedEx packaging more env friendly and revolutionizing company's truck fleet
Cap and Trade - a market for trading pollution permits

These nonprofits don't seek to act like a business so much as leverage the power of business.

It's hard to change the world without changing business.
There are three ways to harness market forces:
1 - work with business to change corporate practices and make companies more socially responsible.
2 - partner with business to access more resources for their cause
3 - some orgs run their own businesses to generate earned income

++ Chapter 4 - Inspire Evangelists
"I was more interested in building a movement than an organization. The key ingredient of a movement is abandon - you don't hold back. It takes passion, commitment, dedication." - Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity

top cultivation events - transform volunteers into evangelists:
City Year - serve-a-thons - one-day local volunteer events for thousands
Share Our Strength - Great American bake sale
TFA - TFA week

High impact groups are particularly strategic about identifying, converting and cultivating powerful individuals or super-evangelists.

For the social entrepreneur, the solution is to make the network not as a tool for information or resources but as a community defined by a common set of values. The community itself becomes the agent of change - Joel Poolny, dean of Yale School of Mgt.

++ Chapter 5 - Nurture Nonprofit Networks
Adopt a network mind-set
Share Knowledge
Develop leadership
Work in Coalitions

Networks are the future [references to Wikipedia, open source software and The Starfish and the Spider.]

++ Chapter 6 - Master the Art of Adaptation
The Cycle of Adaptation
Adaptive capacity is one term used to describe this phenomenon - and high impact nonprofits have it in abundance.
"It is one thing to deliver a program ... [and another] to know where and how to change programs and strategies so that the organization is delivering on its mission. For an organization to be more than the sum of its programs, it needs the ability to ask, listen, reflect and adapt." - High Performance Nonprofit Organizations - Christine Letts

"The limits to innovation have less to do with creativity and more to do with management systems." - Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators

We observed that 'staying close to the customer,' to borrow a business phrase, is the most common impetus for adaptation.

- listen to the environment
experiment and innovate
evaluate and learn what works
modify programs

- what not to do
Many nonprofits fail to find this delicate balance - they are either so freewheeling that their cultures are more chaotic than creative, or they are so structured that they become hidden bound and paralyzed. But high-impact nonprofits are able to work with this tension.

++ Chapter 7 - Share Leadership
These CEOs take the Level 5 leadership concept one step further. They not only put the interests of their organizations ahead of their personal egos, they often put their overall cause ahead of their organization’s interests.

++ Chapter 8 - Sustaining Impact
People - develop a people strategy and invest heavily in top performers. First what, then who. All the orgs we studied are guided first and foremost by their mission, and this purpose is the primary reason a person will take the job. [opposite of Collins - First who then what]
Capital - find the right sources of funding
Infrastructure - invest in overhead, despite the pressure to look lean

Great read. Not that Ember is even close to being some of this, but here's a few ideas that are percolating:
1 - Policy change [chapter 2] reminds me of global missions strategy.
2 - Love the stuff about leadership and adaptability. Knowing that it's an art and not a science.
3 - What kinds of businesses are out there that align with something like Ember?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Latest Kindling

Hello Nov Ember! Got a few crazy weeks up ahead - but all very generative.

+ Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment DMV conference in 2 weeks - would love to meet you if you are going to be there.
+ Ember's board of directors meets officially for the first time next week. Praying for summer 2011 is on the agenda.
+ Very much looking forward to Ember Salisbury Cast. I'm sure the students there are still amazing as last time.
+ A leadership event proposal I helped write was accepted - the Leadership Collective - scheduled for late January 2011. I am almost sure I bit off more than I can chew. Learning by doing.
+ Had to make some adjustments with the interns - both of them are overwhelmed with senior year, jobs, college apps, their small groups and Friday night youth ministry outreach leadership opportunities. It's a lesson in contextualization - I'm not going to pull them out of where they are already making an impact to 'teach' them about leading.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: The core competency of any movement is apprenticeship

::: Rob Fairbanks apologizes for all Americans
But this is funny....
Youtube Link

::: Today
A video about children and mission, shown at Capetown.
Youtube Link via Andrew Jones

@rickwarren : "I don't dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living." Steven Spielberg
@alanhirsch : An apostolic movement is its own R+D department
@jontyson : The priesthood of all believers is the most neglected doctrine in the church. Everyone is a priest. Everyone has a parish.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

You Don't Hold Back

"I was more interested in building a movement than an organization. The key ingredient of a movement is abandon - you don't hold back. It takes passion, commitment, dedication."
- Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, as quoted in Forces for Good

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Tracking Some Global Leadership

So Capetown came to a close - sounded like a pretty amazing experience and I loved being able to read a ton about it. So thankful for the technology to be able to do that.

You might imagine that I was most interested in the topic of global leadership [see this post - related to this advance paper.] Kind of a no-brainer - if we are going to have successful teams, mission organizations, churches, nonprofits, social enterprises, etc., the people that lead them are going to have to be solid. And since 99% of all leaders are not born, someone somewhere has to intentionally do the difficult work to cultivate and grow them.

I was disappointed in the CapeTown session for only reviewing the current gaps in leadership. Granted I wasn't there so I might be wrong on this but it didn't seem like there was any focus on the bright spots of people developing global leaders with positive results.

In light of that, here's a few global leadership initiatives that I'm tracking:
Leadership XP
Christian Associates
Fuller MAGL
National Community Church Proteges
Mosaic proteges
Acumen Fund Global Fellows
[Tracking mostly meaning that I've got google reader searches turned on for them...]

One BIG caveat to these - most of them have a big Western American context. What kind of global leadership movements are you watching?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The proof might be in ...

the leaders that aren't leading yet.

Fun conversations this week with Tayest [SPACE alumni] and Trevin [our first Ember guide.] It's one thing to traipse the world engaging different cultures, serving and encouraging people and being involved on mission. It's a completely different level to empower and help others into doing the same kinds of things - start with lots of dreaming, listening, encouraging and connecting. It also requires movement thinking and catalytic leadership - like finding ways to jump start indigenous initiative. Complex, nonlinear and oh so exciting and generative. Something like this tweet:
@trevinhoekzema : spent an hour on the phone with AR, talking, catching up, dreaming... #Duke is doing an amazing this with its Engage program.

Ember hits Salisbury in November working on a community project based on demographic data - so privileged to work with these two catalytic leaders. Even more fun than working with them - we do this for leaders that aren't leading yet. They are out there, on the brink of being engaged and sometimes they need a bright spot like Tayest and Trevin to kick them into the future.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: How to Take on A Passion Project When You Have a Job
Great article - it seems lots of people I know are doing this.

::: Charity:water's 2009 annual report
Great example of how you present lots and lots of data.

:::How to Buy a Round-the-World Plane Ticket

::: The DIY Foreign Aid Revolution
A must read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know an extraordinary God.
- Jim Elliot

stolen from Ashley

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Antidote - Generate - Collective - Upstream

I just submitted a proposal for a leadership event at GRACE slated for early 2011. We'll see if it really flies or not but I'm excited about the potential. Even though the Christian conference space is way over-saturated, there is almost always value in gathering leaders when we facilitate them connecting and inspiring each other. Hopefully this event creates an environment to do that with a lot of context as a backdrop. Tell you more about it if it gets wings.

Some other ideas that have framed this:
+ always, always, always bring in an ideator [TMurray...]
+ distributed - one speaker to a passive audience doesn’t work anymore.
+ interactive - note that Capetown 2010 broke 5000 people into table groups of 6.
+ The TED commandments
+ how to organize the room
+ the producer versus the artist
+ no wired microphone, a handheld microphone or a podium microphone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Ember Board

The Ember Cast Board of Directors gathered for the first time last Friday night - a very informal ice cream party with families.

Intentions on my part: ice cream because we like to have fun; families because I want board members to know the context of other members; informal because this is quite a collection of world changers and I wanted them to get to know each other. I like driving this bus.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tracking #capetown2010 - 2

Another post highlighting some interesting and cool stuff coming out of Capetown 2010.

+ Capetown got hacked - Link

+ Who got invited to Capetown - representative of the global church - Link

+ Cities
[See my notes from one of the advance papers here.]
People are moving into the cities faster than the church is moving into the city.
Churches in the city need to:
Extremely patient with charges of cultural insensitivity – as they have more cultures involved and more potential criticism. Churches outside of a city don’t have to deal with that conflict.
Show people how their work links to their faith as they live and work in the same city. Too often we disciple by bringing people into the context of the church and outside of the work place.
Constantly open to disorder and change.
Intensely evangelistic and famous for its concern for justice.
Attentive to the arts.
Co-operative with other churches and denominations – you’ll never reach the city without partnership.
[Yes, this is quite different from the operating culture of my suburban church.]

We're witnessing big numbers of diaspora churches – reaching out to their peoples but also preaching the gospel to their host nation. [Diaspora churches - faith communities of migrant peoples outside of their natural country.]

Juan Pablo Bongartra (Argentina) shares on development in Buenos Aires through increasing unity between the churches. Now implementing a plan to:
- Shepherd the City – a brother or sister is now in charge of each of the 12,000 blocks in the city – to develop a personal relationship and prayer – at the moment in over 6,000 blocks! [and you think we dream big...]
The above notes from Chris Kidd

+ Leadership
[See my notes from one of the advance papers here.]

+ Why is there such a shortage of Christ-centred leaders?: so-called "leadership training programmes" don’t really prepare people to lead in the real world, people have credentials but they can’t lead.
+ Too many of our leaders today are not Christ-like
+ We are doing a poor job of leadership development through our existing programs today!
+ The quest for significance – a fractured spirituality is widespread.
+ We have a leadership problem:
Christ-like leadership is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Providing opportunities for leaders to grow is critical to a healthy, vibrant, transformational, multiplying Church.
We must be wise stewards of the resources available because the future of the Church is at stake.
Commit to becoming a more Christ-like leader
Release and enable others, and intentionally find, use and promote the very best in leadership development resources.
The above notes from Chris Kidd [again - tons of great notes]

[Post update:
I would have loved to have seen some follow up to this paper with some examples/case studies of orgs/people that are doing a good job with global leadership missions development.]

+ Deanna recommends watching this video from IJM India on the global slave issue
Be prepared - it's powerful. And sickening.

@krishk : Why do we have to chose between prioritising evangelism or justice: we don't chose between priorities of bible study or prayer #capetown2010

@ChrisHeuertz : Boom. Hilarious... just heard someone say the Lausanne meetings are basically Urbana for adults. Damn.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: DC's definitive guide to bedbugs
Link via Leslitab
The lesson for global leaders who are on the move - put all your clothing and luggage in your dryer right when you get home.

::: The middle class is disappearing because technology is rendering middle-class skills obsolete.
Very intriguing article.

::: The World's Fastest Growing Cities
and ones in decline.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tracking #capetown2010 - 1

I'm tracking the Lausanne Congress - you should be too. In case you aren't, here are some tidbits that I found interesting. [And actually, what would make for an even more interesting post would be some followup with the advance papers I posted about last week. I'm planning on another one of these 'tracking' posts later - hopefully that will include some follow up.]

There are many more stories to share...but not on a public website like this. But I have heard many remarkable things about the Gospel reaching dark lands and transforming people. Unfortunately we cannot openly discuss these things for security reasons and for the sake of brothers and sisters living in these countries. But what is happening around the world is truly amazing. I will simply say this--be encouraged, Christ is building his church and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it.

+ People wearing blue nametags cannot be photographed - these are people working in closed countries. For something as big as this, and the effort to broadcast this over the Web, I'm glad to see there are measures like this. [PS - Orgs that support people working in closed countries should take some good notes about how this is done.]

+ The congress is taking more bandwidth than The World Cup Link

+ Table groups - all delegates are conversing in table groups of 5 or 6 people. Like most Christian conferences, the move is to more interaction.

+ The new edition of Operation World was released on Monday evening.

+ Is the conference is a colossal waste of money, brains and time? Link

+ 2040 scenario – no single ethnic majority in the United States. Need to track this down.
+ Lon Anderson: not just about sending workers, but equally about receiving missionary workers. Who will come to America and help us, esp. with the growing immigrant community? A trend of reciprocal mission.
+ Leif Anderson on immigrants: Rome received Paul, who was an immigrant, as a leader. Most immigrants coming to the United States are coming from places where christianity is on fire. Think about what it means to receive these people as the Roman church received Paul—as a leader. Might we not find an Apostle Paul today among them? Or perhaps 100 Pauls? Perhaps 1,000 Pauls?
+ The number of people who have no access to Christ, Christianity or the Gospel is presently increasing by an estimated 19 million per year. The reason is simple: not enough people are working among these groups to make a sustainable difference in the long run.
The above from Justin

+ Forty percent of the participants are in their 20s-40s, one-third are women, 1200 are missionaries/church leaders, 1200 are pastors/denominational workers, 1200 are scholars/academics, and 600 are in the marketplace. From JD Payne

+ Some of interesting tweets:
@LigonDuncan : What does the West need to say to the Global South about globalization? Humbly - "Don't do what we did." (Os Guinness)
@LigonDuncan : "Globalization is the greatest challenge to, and opportunity for, the Gospel since the age of the Apostles." (Os Guinness)
@krishk : more Iranians have come to christ in the last 30 years than in the last 1300 years before that.
@RedeemerCTC : Archbishop Robert Duncan: "The average Anglican is now a woman, an African, a mother, and under the age of 20"
@lifeofjenn : RT @lcwe: Rich Stearns "The American Dream is a nightmare for the rest of the world."
@RedeemerCTC : There are more Arabs on Facebook than read newspapers
@RedeemerCTC : "There are more mobile phones in India than toilets"
@robhoskins : Europe is the prodigal son having sold its soul to a materialistic secular world- Stefan Gustaavson

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


You've heard this a lot before - context and culture are important. All of us know this in our heads - it's hard to make an impact if you don't have a good understanding of what is going on in the environment, the person, the community. But some of us keep telling high school kids that they can change the world and yet we neglect teaching them how to understand context. We are inspiring them but not giving them the right tools. Farmers with the wrong kind of seed.

Been re-reading a research report from a missions agency's vision team. The report is a gold mine on how to discover things in a city and community and getting a pulse on the movement of Christianity there. Model gathering this kind of data with your students and you've given them an innumerable gift.

Here is a rough outline of the report I'm looking at:
1. Leading churches in YYY.
2. The history of YYY.
3. YYY’s demographics
4. YYY’s spiritual climate
5. Religious History.
6. Emerging culture in YYY.
7. Infrastructure of YYY.
8. Potential Church planting locations
Granted, this isn't the only way to do it, but it's a good one. Oh - in November, Ember tries getting info for #3, #4, and #7. Students are along for the ride, but if you understand this post, you know it's more than that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

When I Was Your Age

When I was your age, we weren't thinking about people with unclean water.
- Craig Groeschel, Catalyst 2010.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lausanne Friday : Cities

From the paper Urban Realities: What is God's Global Urban Mission? :

: What is a city and cities in the Scriptures
Today, a city is defined almost exclusively in terms of population size. Larger population centers are called 'cities,' smaller ones 'towns,' and the smallest are 'villages.' We must not impose our current usage on the biblical term, however. The main Hebrew word for city means any human settlement surrounded by some fortification or wall. Most ancient cities numbered only about 1,000-3,000 in population. 'City' in the Bible meant not so much population size as density. The word translated 'compact' meant to be closely intertwined and joined. In a fortified city, the people lived close to one another in tightly compacted houses and streets. In fact, most ancient cities were estimated to be five to ten acres, with 240 residents per acre. By comparison, contemporary Manhattan in New York City houses only 105 residents per acre.

When we finally come to the early church, we see God's redemptive mission no longer centers on any particular city such as Jerusalem, or on Babylon. All the cities of the world become crucial. In Acts 17, Paul goes to Athens, the intellectual center of the Greco-Roman world. In Acts 18, he travels to Corinth, one of the commercial centers of the empire. In Acts 19, he arrives in Ephesus, perhaps the Roman world's religious center as the hub of many pagan cults and particularly of the imperial cult, with three temples for emperor worship. By the end of Acts, Paul makes it to Rome, the empire's power capital, the military and political center of that world. John Stott concludes: "It seems to have been Paul's deliberate policy to move purposefully from one strategic city-centre to the next."

: Why cities:
+ If the gospel is unfolded at the urban center, you reach the region and the society.
+ Cities are culturally crucial. In the village, someone might win its one or two lawyers to Christ, but winning the legal profession requires going to the city with the law schools, the law journal publishers, and so on.
+ Cities are globally crucial. In the village, someone can win only the single people group living there, but spreading the gospel to ten or twenty new national groups/languages at once requires going to the city, where they can all be reached through the one lingua franca of the place.
+ Cities are personally crucial. By this I mean that cities are disturbing places. The countryside and the village are marked by stability and residents are more set in their ways. Because of the diversity and intensity of the cities, urbanites are much more open to new ideas; such as the gospel! Because they are surrounded by so many people like and unlike themselves, and are so much more mobile, urbanites are far more open to change/conversion than any other kind of resident.
+ World cities are becoming more and more economically and culturally powerful; Cities are the seats of multinational corporations and international economic, social, and technological networks. The technology/communication revolution means that the culture and values of global cities are now being transmitted around the globe to every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Kids in Iowa or even Mexico are becoming more like young adults in Los Angeles and New York City than they are like adults in their own locales. The coming world order will be a global, multicultural, urban order.
+ The millions of newcomers in burgeoning cities have characteristics that make them far more open to the Christian faith than they were before arriving.

: The urban church in practice
However, there is a great barrier to urban mission that is not in the cities themselves nor in urban residents, but in the church. The sensibilities of most evangelical churches and leaders are often non or even anti-urban. Many ministry methods have been forged outside of urban areas and then simply imported, with little thought to the unnecessary barriers this erects between urban dwellers and the gospel.
+ Effective urban church leaders must be far more educated and aware of the views and sensitivities of different ethnic groups, classes, races, and religions. Urbanites know how often members of two different racial groups can use the identical word to mean very different things. Consequently, they are very circumspect and careful when approaching issues that racial groups see very differently.
+ Traditional evangelical ministries tend to give believers relatively little help in understanding how they can maintain their Christian practice outside the walls of the church while still participating in the world of the arts and theatre, business and finance, scholarship and learning, and government and public policy. Away from big cities, it may be more possible to live one's life in compartments, with Christian discipleship largely consisting of activities done in the evenings or on the weekend. That doesn't work in cities, where people live most of their lives in the careers or the long work-hours of their jobs.
+ Most evangelical churches are middle-class in their corporate culture. People value privacy, safety, homogeneity, sentimentality, space, order, and control. In contrast, the city is filled with ironic, edgy, diversity-loving people who have a much higher tolerance for ambiguity and disorder.

: Two tipping points
+ The gospel movement tipping point. A church planting project becomes a movement when the ecosystem elements are all in place and most of the churches have the vitality, leaders, and mindset to plant another church within five to six years of their own beginnings. When the tipping point is reached, a self-sustaining movement begins. Enough new believers, leaders, congregations, and ministries are being naturally produced for the movement to grow without any single command-and control center. The body of Christ in the city funds itself, produces its own leaders, and conducts its own training. A sufficient number of dynamic leaders is always rising up. The number of Christians and churches doubles every seven to ten years. How many churches must be reached for this to occur? While it is impossible to give a number that would hold for every city and culture, all the elements in the ecosystem must be in place and very strong.
+ The city tipping point.
That is the moment when the number of gospel-shaped Christians in a city becomes so large that Christian influence on the civic and social life of the city;and on the very culture is recognizable and acknowledged. For example, neighborhoods stay largely the same if new types of residents (richer, poorer, or culturally different from the rest) comprise less than 5 percent of the population. Some prison ministers report that if more than 10% of the inmates become Christians, it changes the corporate culture of the prison. The relationships between prisoners, between prisoners and guards—;all change. Likewise, when the number of new residents reaches somewhere between 5 and 20 percent, depending on the culture, the whole neighborhood ethos shifts. In New York City, some groups have a palpable effect on the way life is lived, when their numbers reach at least 5 to 15 percent and when the members are active in public life.

: For students:
+ Spend some time in a city. Weekends, summers, etc. Get to know the smells and sounds of a city. Get really good at urban navigation.
+ Do some research with regard to on the ground ministries in a city. Meet some people doing innovative, creative urban ministry. Take detailed notes on the organizational culture of an urban ministry and compare it with the ministry culture you currently serve in. [See UYWI, Jeremy Del Rio]
+ Read The Tipping Point.

This post is part of a series of posts about Cape Town 2010 highlighting what I think are some important concepts that students interested in missions should be aware of.