Friday, January 29, 2010

Some Proof

Loved catching up with TayEst, circled in the picture from November 2005. SPACE alumn who was a part of England, Hungary and Cameroon teams, we're collaborating on a possible project for the spring.

The real proof of student ministry is what happens after they graduate. In her case:
+ She's been actively engaged with Campus Crusade at Salisbury University, this year helping run their community outreach. This generation cares a lot about the world in which they live.
+ She's been involved with a church plant called Remedy Church which just launched a few weeks ago. We need more new expressions of Church that effectively contextualize the Gospel.
+ She's intentionally investing in freshmen who have already risen to influence. Real leaders create other leaders.
+ Oh, right yes she actually goes to college.

Still pondering something she said that's been stuck in my head - "those of us that grew up in SPACE know that we are fully capable of creating something from nothing" [or something to that effect.]

Whatever the medium - SPACE, The Ember Cast, or yours - these are the kinds of people we need to grow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Burn

::: Low control. High accountability.
Possible huge paradigm shift for leadership.

::: Andrew Jones on the characteristics of a movement
[hey interns... yeah...]
- They always begin on the periphery of the institutional church.
- New methods of selecting and training leaders become important. These are less institutional, more grass roots and lay oriented.
- The movement is countercultural in some ways, often because it reaches out to those who have not been valued by their society. - Consequently there will be opposition by many in the dominant culture and church.
- More flexible structures of church and mission will be needed and often emerge, different from traditional structures.

::: 5 Questions to Ask Clean Water Orgs
From Charles Lee [the ideacamp, Just4one]

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unchurched Data

Amazed at the data that JD Payne published a few weeks ago about concentrations of evangelicals in the US and Canada. It not only breaks data down by state but also by county. If you haven't at least skimmed it, you should. Really amazing data - like for instance: the county [Fairfield, CT] where Dea was raised is 2.6% evangelical [compared with Howard County at 5.8%]; New England is by far the most unchurched area in the country; and if you really want to talk strategic, move to Provo, Utah [0.6% evangelical].

Unchurched, like what this data represents, is not the same as unreached and the leaders of the future are going to understand both. Did you know, some of those leaders are in your student ministry right now?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ember Philly - Movement, Context, Symbols

Fantastic weekend in Philadelphia as the first Ember Cast engagement. Loved facilitating this kind of experience for a student small group leader at GRACE.

We spent two days and one night in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia as a cultural immersion/service project experience. This weekend was designed around a small student ministry team from a suburban church outside of Baltimore. The Ember Cast facilitated the weekend as guides as well as implementing the weekend between leaders from the student ministry, some trusted hosts and a vision for engaging students to be global leaders. This weekend represented one expression of why Ember exists - to guide students in cultural experiences so they may be catalysts for the Gospel. Emerging leaders in our global context are going to well understand how to navigate world cultures. In this weekend's case, these cultural immersions included the Chinese and homeless cultures.

Here are some of the details - as always, feel free to take what you want.


: interns and I met LT for dinner - freshly handmade noodles.
: Chinatown observation : what is common in that subculture, what is different from where I come from?
: settle for the night in a small apartment, 16 of us with one bathroom.
: serve at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission - mopping, sweeping, serving or preparing food, most time and energy spent sorting food warehouse.
: lunch at underground Chinese supermarket.
: Chinatown observation in the daylight.
: hang with Joy Fellowship - CCCNC youth ministry.
: Joy Fel hosts us on a photo scavenger hunt throughout the city.
: youth worker ideation share - why Ember, rapport with families of students, what our respective ministries look like.
: cheesesteaks for dinner.
: decompression of the weekend.
: Chris Marlow sharing about social entrepreneurship, global poverty and living an extraordinary life.
: drive home - great decompression with the interns.


: what does it infer about a community when there is a huge mass transit hub there?
: our three themes for the weekend: movement [the Gospel and God's people move], context [your context matters], symbols [what is important in this culture].
: 60% of north chinatown is unused space.
: CCCNC was started by an American college aged girl who wanted to reach the chinese
: Chinatown - most culturally immersive environment I've taken student teams to yet.
: migration - Chinese they move into Chinatown but move out as they can.
: most restaurant workers are now no longer Chinese but Hispanic.
: not just for Chinese - lots of immigrants in this part of the city.
: city actually put up physical parameters for Chinatown.

The interns did great, of course. This weekend was almost as much for them as for the student team. My goal for them was to help with really running the whole thing and to see a project like this from up close - from dream to execution to feedback. And loved that they could spend a good amount of time getting to know LT and hearing his perspective.
Two highlights I loved hearing from them:
1 - They felt like they were actually leading, especially when it came to running some of the decompression discussions and the youth leader sharing session.
2 - They understand that a major component of leadership development is the selection and identification of emerging leaders. They were already doing this all weekend by asking, "Who is getting it?"


Some amazing hosts made this happen - none of this would have worked without LT and Chinese Christian Church and Center. LT and I met via twitter [yes, believe it.] and then face to face at Idea Camp DC. We've been looking for a way to collaborate and this weekend was a great team project. Also, special thanks to Chris Marlow for sharing about HELP and for Todd Hiestand for hanging.

Here is the twitter stream - note there are a variety of people writing in here. - you'll have to find the links yourself.
tonytsheng : @ChrisMarlow dude thanks for sharing with our students - loved what you said - you've helped prep them for an extraordinary life! 10:22 AM Jan 24th
tonytsheng : Great ember weekend wow. And my dad came home from hospital. Full 2 days. 11:38 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : intense, unexpected, totally crucial conversation on the way home from Philly. God is so much bigger than we can imagine... so should we ... 11:08 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Amazing decompress with the interns on the way home. I am lucky. 11:03 PM Jan 23rd
chrismarlow : Great to meet @TonyTSheng, and share with his group! Hang with @LaurenceTom and eat cheessteaks w/ @toddhiestand! 10:58 PM Jan 23rd
laurencetom : Love @ChrisMarlow. He killed it tonight w 9mins on the clock speaking to the EmberCast team about @HELPendPOVERTY and fresh off the plane! 10:04 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Final element with @chrismarlow talking abou help. @toddheistand is in the house too. 8:21 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Ember interns leading decompress. One of the fun parts. 8:00 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : - Standing in line at Tony Luke's for a cheesesteak... this line is ridiculous! 7:14 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : @charlestlee learned from the best =) 7:11 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : got 3rd place in the photo scavenger hunt but had a philly cheesesteak, saw the Liberty bell and Independence hall... worth it. 6:36 PM Jan 23rd
charlestlee : @TonyTSheng love how ur using words like "ideation" :-) 6:30 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Youth leader ideation. Now cheesesteaks. 6:28 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Photo scav hunt around Philly with Chinese youth group telling tem I'm too old to run 2:35 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : so good @tonytsheng definitely a good call haha 1:19 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : @TrevinHoekzema delicious and you? 1:11 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : Hey @tonytsheng howd you like the beef with greens veg on rice? 1:03 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : Great lunch at "Tasty Place" in the Chinese market. Love me some rice. 1:01 PM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Lunch at underground Chinese market. 12:19 PM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : RT @TonyTSheng: Tour of Sunday breakfast rescue mission. Amazing story of migration. And crazy facility. (hope it rocks these guys) 11:23 AM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Tour of Sunday breakfast rescue mission. Amazing story of migration. And crazy facility. 11:13 AM Jan 23rd
trevinhoekzema : - organizing food shelves at a homeless kitchen in Philly @theembercast 7:55 AM Jan 23rd
tonytsheng : Sunday breakfast mission. On an early sat morning. 6:39 AM Jan 23rd
laurencetom : Now there's 16 of them crammed into a small apartment in Chinatown for the night. Can't wait to see them in the morning. 10:45 PM Jan 22nd
laurencetom : Just brought over a dozen teens from the suburbs of Maryland to walk around Philly Chinatown tonight and make cultural observations. 10:43 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : Culture activity : id common and different artifacts. 8:05 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : Dinner in china town with ember interns and @laurencetom lots of noodles 7:20 PM Jan 22nd
trevinhoekzema : Philly trip with the Dteam guys, organized by @theembercast - missions minded weekend to develop future revolutionaries. 6:03 PM Jan 22nd
laurencetom : Expecting a weekend full of opportunities w hosting mashup of @TonyTSheng of EmberCast x @ChrisMarlow of @helpendpoverty 3:17 PM Jan 22nd
tonytsheng : After a wicked am in hospital interns and I are off for first ember cast weekend 2:39 PM Jan 22nd

Thanks for reading the update. More photos here. If you or a collection of students would be interested in something like this, feel free to get in touch.

PS - My dad came home from the hospital on Saturday. Good news, thanks for praying.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Visions, Dreams and Voices

An email I sent earlier this week. Thanks for praying.

Hello friends --

Some of you might have heard by now - my dad, Frank, has been diagnosed with very advanced liver cancer. His doctor has told him the average life left for something like this is about 1 year, but of course, no one really knows. He is also currently in the hospital recovering from a bout of pneumonia. We would appreciate your prayers for all the normal stuff - wisdom for the medical staff, effectiveness
for chemo, my mother and how we will care for her, etc.

We also have two big asks:
: 1 - that Jesus would make himself clearly known to my dad - visions, dreams, voices. My dad is very distanced from Christ and probably the only way he would come to Jesus would be through a power encounter.
: 2 - that Deanna and I would be able to help our girls, KT and EM, navigate this season of life.

Thanks for praying - really appreciate all of you and your friendship on this journey.

PS - While you are thinking, throw up one more for a student missions weekend this weekend in Philly that I'm helping run.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

None of Us Are Ordinary

Three trucks, a gang of volunteers, bins for sorting supplies, donated warehouse space, a stranger who owns a surgical supply company and a huge "Hope for Haiti sign " - some friends at GRACE organizing a relief effort to help get supplies to Haiti. Most of the time, it's an ordinary person who decides that they can do the extraordinary.
What started as a casserole has turned into planes, trucks, warehouses and cases of water, infant formula, food and basic medical supplies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lots of Water, Lots of Charity

Em and her charity:water party - celebrating turning 9. She raised a good bit of money to contribute - really fun. Even more fun is watching your kids give of themselves to help others in need. I'm a proud dad.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Roundup

Of course, you know about Haiti at this point. Here's a quick roundup of stuff I've seen here and there. Hoping it will help inform you to pray, give and act, if possible.

+ Charity:water and their partners in Haiti
+ Google's crisis response page
+ Compassion Intl
+ US cell phone users raised more than $1M via texting.
+ Frontline, the young adult ministry of McLean Bible Church here in DC had a team of college students in Haiti prior to the earthquake. Thankfully all are safe.
+ Ethan Zuckerman - always a helpful resource in times like these.
+ Charles has some great resources for connected organizations.
+ 10 myths about disaster relief [found this link in my archives - thought provoking]
+ Jason posts some first hand accounts
+ Chris Andersen from TED writes: "TED has been asked by govt to help find best tech solutions for aiding Haiti. If you have suggestions, email pls RT"
+ Just got word that GRACE is putting some things in motion. The current possible plan includes a medical team later this spring or summer [we've grown a good bit of expertise with medical teams in the past few years] and immediate funding for World Relief who are on the ground.
+ We are trying to figure out what to do as a family. We don't know anyone first hand on the ground. It's going to take a bit of fact checking - make sure you check out the facts too [like the tweets about American Airlines that were rumors.]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Latest Kindling

+ Now that Urbana has come and gone, who is doing great work as a student mobilizer? And what are they doing? The proof is in what happens now.
+ Ember's January weekend is shaping up nicely. We are working with @laurencetom - an amazing cultural expert in his city. It will be fun to learn from him up close in his context.
+ I've gotten an amazing amount of perspective on local church mission strategies in the past few months. Now I need perspective on balancing institution versus movement.
+ It's been meeting time around here - on tap for 6 meetings in 7 days with church missions people, a personality assessment, lunch with elder interns, Ember intern and his teacher, and a college student planning on me providing her with God's ultimate plan for her next 80 years.
+ Em is having a birthday party at a local indoor pool this weekend, while raising money for charity:water. The dichotomy is intentional.
+ I met with an older leader the other day who honestly told me, "I don't really think about the web that much." So I have to ask, who are they really leading? PS - You are reading this on the web.

Monday, January 11, 2010


One of the honors of being a part of the elder team at GRACE for this past year: last Sunday, we ordained my very good friend @timtjones. In 2003, Tim gave me and a few others unlimited permission and authority to dream about student missions. Without that, most everything chronicled here would have never come to exist.

Tell you more about the elder thing later.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Dear Em -

On this day that you turn nine, we are again so thankful for you. You still love any and every kind of animal under the sun. And you still love a good beat and hear one that many of us can't recognize - but that's part of the fun of it, right?

This year, we've watched you grow into your role as a nurturer and encourager. We've seen you come alongside, assist others and walk with those that need a hand. For that, and for what that will do in the world, we are blessed.

Keep helping them - they need you. And to watch you help them, we need to see hope that acts.


[PS - Help Em celebrate 9 here.]

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Spring 2010 Mission Opportunities

Connecting like-minded people is an important Ember Cast value. So if you like learning about the kind of stuff that is written on the blog and I don't know you - please connect with me [twitter, linkedin, email.]

Same idea - one of the missions organizations that Ember loves has two great opportunities in the Spring of 2010. Both are centered around this idea called Serve The City - grassroots, holistic, practical serving opportunities in major centers of cities. The first is outside of Brussels, Belgium in late February 2010 and the second is in Athens, Greece in late April 2010.

If you or someone you know might be interested in either of these, feel free to get in touch.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wednesday Burn

:: Rob Bell on youth ministry
I would say the first thing youth pastors need is courage—courage to be holy men and women.

:: The Lifebook
Working through local church youth ministries, we help Christian students give the free gift of God's Word to every high school student [17.5M students] in the United States.
Found this via @carlblunt. This would be a good case study on innovation and adaptation. And who would have thought The Gideons would be behind this. But actually, it kind of makes sense.

:: The Heath Brothers
Best new blog I just found - Chip and Dan Heath, who wrote Made to Stick [which I have not read.] Their new book is called Switch - How To Change Things When Change is Hard. Loved their column in Fast Company and just watched their session last night from the Willow Leader Summit - fascinating stuff. You might not be interested in change, but you know how that saying goes, "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."

Monday, January 04, 2010

Asking For More

Ember's Philly weekend is based around a few relationships, one with friend and youth worker GM. As the lead team sat down to plan an out-of-normal-context, immersive serving experience, I was reminded of his haunting question - "What would it look like to help these students go all in?"

This is the part I love. Teenagers get this - they exist with abandon, their brains are not wired to always understand consequence, it is possible for them to be committed to the core.

The second part I love is working with someone that will even begin to ask that question of students he has been entrusted with. We sell our students short when we aren't willing to ask them for more than their best.