Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Poverty Rates by State
Link Also see DC stats.

::: Global Idea Shortage
via Travis Mason

::: New country ? The first thing you should buy

::: Fav Tweets
+ @mwbuckingham : Great managers don't create a play book and plug players in. They go the other way, from the players to the plays.
+ @willmancini : "The most important people at our church are the next 100 to come" - Todd Wagner

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Andrew Jones in Merryland

Tonight - come meet and greet Andrew Jones [tallskinnykiwi] and his family and learn of his latest adventures. Long time readers know what kind of resource his blog has been for me and our little band of students for years and years now. Trust me, it will be well worth your time.

Contact me for details.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Missionaries IRL

I love the fact that every year for interns is always very different. 2006 included ESunde planning a missions weekend for her class. In 2008, Tricia and Elly and some others attended Humana with me as well as saw first hand the planning for a team of 26 to Europe. Last year, John and Andrew met a bunch of local people doing some amazing things here in our area.

This year is starting off with at least two opportunities for the interns to sit down with some people that serve overseas long term - you know real live missionaries - in real life! The chance to do this doesn't happen everyday so I'm excited for these conversations. Donna and Ryan are sponges and are going to soak up as much as they can.

Funny thing - the 'missionary call' doesn't grow on us the longer we do this. Not to say that someday it wouldn't happen, but we don’t feel a call to leave our current home. The longer we do this, though, the more passionate we get about catalyzing suburban, highly brilliant, truly inspiring high school students to care about the world. Part of that is working hard to help them meet fantastic people like these because time with real missionaries help make new ones.

Tell you more about these gatherings soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010



Contact: Tony Sheng
The Ember Cast


The Ember Cast, a global student leadership tribe, is pleased to announce it's Board of Directors for the 2010-2011 term.

Leslie Brettschneider
Gregory Klassen
Matthew Maloy
Joyce Sabin
Dale Swinburne
Tony Sheng

Bios and more info will be published on The Ember Cast website in the near future.

About The Ember Cast
The Ember Cast is a group of talented, passionate and experienced guides that mentor, resource and inspire the next generation in the areas of global missions, world cultures, and leadership development. We exist to reignite the Jesus fire in each student and to launch them out to serve a world in need. We throw fire. The Ember Cast is a 501C3 nonprofit.

A PDF version of this press release can be found here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Interactive - Success of The Millennium Development Goals

::: The Talent Gap in education
Top performing nations recruit 100% of their teachers from the top third of classes.

::: Blowing up your block party
So much in here to be contextualized for blessing a community.
Link via Joey Shaw

::: Some Fav Tweets
+ @JesseGiglio : Good leaders create protagonists out of others.
+ @_Matt_Carter : You can always count on ministry to do at least one thing: provoke radical insecurity. -@darrinpatrick
+ @alanhirsch : Stop hitting your head against the wall and look for the loose brick ~ Mark Goulston. Advice for changing systems.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Intern Blogs

Ever year that I work with interns, I ask them to do a good bit of reading. I also ask them to write - to keep a blog - so I can gauge their understanding. But really, that's only part of the reason. The other part is that they are indirectly creating a journal of their experience - just like this blog is a journal for me and you. Even more important, I'm hoping they are learning about communication. Whatever your idea, goal or win, you've got to be able to share it. Being able to write clearly is a critical skill for the leader of the future. Say what you want about blogs being dead, but I'm still a fan of the medium. Here are their blogs:


Add them to your reader and I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting on the Bus

I've spent a good bit of time in the past few months thinking about a Board of Directors for The Ember Cast. It's one of the stipulations of our 501C3 status - and rightly so. I don't want to have sole responsibility and authority with other people's money. Even though you probably trust me - which I totally appreciate - I want other people to help have oversight over this area. Also, quite selfishly, it's a way for me to continue to work on a shared project with people I admire and for me to have wise people speak into my life.

So I've invited 5 other people to join the Board of Directors for one year. I'm thrilled that all of them have accepted - we are currently scheduling our first two meetings for the rest of 2010 [one of those is an ice cream gathering =) ]. Tell you about these people soon.

Jim Collins' principle of "First Who... then What." drove a lot of my thinking about this Board. First, get the right people on the bus. Then get them in the right seats. Then you can decide on where to drive the bus. I don't know much about Boards, but these 5 people, I'm pretty sure, are the right people on the bus.

Check out the Good to Great diagnostic tool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: The World's Largest Megacities
Probably not any news to you readers here, but hey... Also, Dhaka is the fastest growing megacity right now.
Also, check out this interactive urban growth map

::: Why We're Teaching 'The Wire' at Harvard
We developed a course at Harvard drawing on the show's portrayal of fundamental sociological principles connected to urban inequality.
Link via EthanZ
Never watched it, but this makes me want to.

::: Seven Themes of Fruitfulness
Results from discussions with 300 practitioners from 34 mission agencies distilling some best practices.
Link via

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Still Fearing It

"Courage is fear that has said its prayers." - Karl Barth
It's one thing to tell people to face their fears. It's another to ride your very first roller coaster at the age of 40. Yes, it was a kids coaster. Yes, I absolutely screamed my head off in terror.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long View Podcast

Justin Long is a long time friend of this blog. Those of you that have been here for a while have probably seen his comments, reposts of his and resources he has provided. He's one of the most active missions mobilizers around today and has some great insight into the idea of 'swarming' for mobilization. Think 'tribe' on speed.

He interviewed me for a podcast series he's doing - really loved chatting with him about student missions, transitioning out of SPACE and how Ember came to be, and the dream of students marking the future. It's 20 minutes - hopefully you'll find that it's not all rambling. Excited to see who else Justin interviews as part of this series.

[Related: Justin's contributions on this blog]

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010-2011 Interns

So proud to introduce you to the 2010-2011 Ember interns, DKnox and RyanAyl - Donna on the left, Ryan in the green. They are both in their senior year in high school, been a part of lots of missions initiatives in the past few years and have a passion that is uncommon. Part of their internship is based on current global missions issues while another part that they are interested in is the idea of catalyzing a community of their peers. Both Donna and Ryan were on our AZ team this past summer.

Ryan was actually on the very first SPACE missions experience way back in 2004, so so long ago - I think even back then he felt responsible for the world. I first met Donna in the summer of 2008 when she served on a SPACE Baltimore team [Ryan is in this picture too]. Little did I know that her uncle and I were part of a youth ministry way back when we were high school students. Funny small world. Amazing people - we are going to have a very good year. Excited to share their journey with you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Summer 2010 Listening - Di

I had lunch with Di Dinnis - she was on the World Race in 2009 and before that served in the student ministry at GRACE. She's now getting ready for another WR of sorts - she's traveling with a WR team for 4 months as a squad leader. Di will help them prep for the first part of their race and then turn over leadership. She will then return to the team in month 8 and help them start to debrief their trip. You read that right - they start debriefing 3 months before they come home.

I've heard nothing but great things about all the stuff Adventures in Missions [who run The World Race] does and lunch with Di continued to confirm this. Stuff like:
+ Choosing World Race teams includes: 3 days of observing people in various team building initiatives including immediate evaluation; MBTI, StrengthsFinder and personality test results; asking God to reveal the right combination of people and teams.
+ World Race teams have a feedback session every single night on how to better their team - based on the combination of trust and vulnerability and grace filled conversations. One principle they live by is to 'vent up.'
+ Ask God and then life happens. While on the field, everyone gets some time every day to 'ask God' about what they should be doing with that time and the freedom to execute on it.
+ Most team members have to take a blogging seminar during training camp.

Teams and preparation are two vital pieces of preparing young people to make a difference. Not only does Adventures seem to be a great model on how to prepare people and teams, we would all be better if we followed their posture of an organization that is constantly learning how to do it even better.

+ Best debriefing resources from Seth Barnes, pres of Adventures
+ Seth's recap of what some WR alumni are doing now ]

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday Burn

::: Operation World, 2010 edition
Available in October - a must have resource.

::: Impacting a City - Portland
Heard about this originally at Catalyst West 2009. Check out some of the results, two years later.

::: Working with Futurists
Brad has a series of posts [more coming] discussing church leadership and futurists.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Summer 2010 Listening - Taylor

Hardly any of us can land on a different planet - say perhaps where all the people there have purple skin - and gauge their response. It's kind of like the time I arrived in the Dominican Republic to a group of elementary school kids chanting the phrase "Chino, chino, chino!" over and over - and then laughing uproariously. My hosts explained, "You are probably the first Asian they have ever seen." Oh, thanks for the clarification.

We listened to Tayest tell us about her recent opportunity that was similar. Her trip to Zimbabwe included traveling to a village where no white skinned people had ever visited. Using a digital camera to show people their faces for the first time. Showing the Jesus film in a native tongue. Running a kids school program for 800 kids. Sex ed class for teenage girls with 15 minutes notice. Giving kids pencils and them not knowing what they were for.

You probably can guess this - Taylor doesn't have purple skin. In fact, her skin is white - suburban white, she would probably say. Up until a little while, she had a worldview that was about the same - centered around nice yards, getting a good education and making a good life for yourself. Something changed in there though and the next few summers found her traipsing the world giving herself to bigger things. It might have been a new awareness of the world, the Ghost marking her heart, friends that promised to not live ordinary lives anymore. Whatever it was, we are better for it.

You might not be able to land on a different planet. Then again, you might.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Summer 2010 Listening - Trevin

Ember guide Trevin traveled to South Africa for 6 weeks this summer. He's had an incredible trajectory, starting in 2006 when he was on one of our teams serving in DC for a week. The subsequent summers were England+Hungary, Hungary+Cameroon and, last summer, Belgium, where he connected with some people planning World Cup festivities for 2010 in South Africa. Intersect that with his interest in international community development and his love for soccer and he initiated some plans that he executed this summer.

Some of Trevin's time was spent with an org called Keep Them Safe which used the opportunity of the World Cup to gather and create momentum for the community via sports, the arts, culture and entrepreneurship. Trevin visited and helped local teams with this org in a different spots within South Africa including locations and around Cape Town and Pretoria. Although all of his stories are great ones, I loved hearing how he concentrated on observing and identifying local, indigenous leadership with Keep Them Safe. He embodies two key characteristics of leaders: they identify other leaders and they contextualize.

Plenty more stories and pictures on his blog - make sure to read the one about the bread of life.

Lots of people dream, some people initiate, even fewer execute. Finding the ones that do all three is arduous and joyous. Empowering and releasing them is even something else - let's continue. The world is desperate for them.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Burn

Lots of Burn, since I’ve been away. If I don’t say myself, this is a pretty great list.

::: On the Ground, Pakistan
Chris Anderson [from TED] and Jacqueline Novogratz and their first hand accounts on Pakistan. See and They make the short list for that question, "If you had to bet humanity's future on someone..."

::: TEDxChange - focused on the Millennium Development Goals
If you don’t know about the MDGs, you should do a little reading about them.Link

::: Where do people live in a borderless world?

::: The most isolated man on the planet

::: Expat raising kids in China
Lots of great stuff in here about parenting, culture and this big statement on global perspective:
Over the next 20 years, some 400 million people -- more than the entire population of the United States -- will move from the countryside to China's fast growing cities.
Read that sentence again - then grow your appetite for Chinese food.

::: Respecting the early adopter

::: World population maps by latitude and longitude
Check out the other stuff about maps via the menu on the left sidebar. Amazing stuff.

::: Almost Christian
Must read : Kenda Dean on faith and teenagers.
I get nervous when people think, "Oh, if we make teenagers go to church, they will be safe." I'm not convinced that Christ calls us to be safe. If you want teenagers to be safe–is a religion based on a guy who died on a cross out of divine love for others really the place to go?
The CNN article
Responses 1 and 2

::: The Global Cities Index

::: Bill Gates and Latrines

::: How panhandlers use free credit cards
Maybe not quite what you would have thought...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sept Kindling

+ Ember is now an IRS approved 501(c)3 nonprofit. You can find our determination letter here. If you are looking for a great way to invest in global student leaders, get in touch. And I mean invest.
+ Over the past few months, I've thought a lot about the board of directors that Ember should have - and having a board will certainly be a learning experience. Made 5 invitations and all accepted. First, the right people on the bus.
+ Got two interns for this coming school year. Ryan and Donna - both from the AZ team. We start in mid Sept.
+ Had lunch with Ben Cloud [AZ host] last weekend. Still lots of momentum going on - especially at San Clemente. Picture some unchurched demanding that their community group start up earlier than scheduled - so they started it, themselves.
+ Doing a one hour workshop in November at a missions conference for local DMV churches. Would love to meet you if you are there.
+ Laying plans for some college students doing some demographic and on-the-ground research while blessing people. Hands on lab for them to see themselves as missionaries to their community.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hello Sept Ember

We had an amazing summer - definitely ranked as one of the best summers of my life, after probably the worst few months earlier this year. Thanks for still being here - some of the highlights:

+ Ember AZ
+ Niagara Falls with the fam. And... I got on a boat. You know me and boats - be proud of me, I overcame a fear, at least for an hour.
+ An 8 hour drive with our 12 year old, listening to her talk about Jesus, church, leadership and reaching this culture for greater things.
+ 2 weeks of listening to so many amazing people loving the whole world. Tell you some of those stories later.
+ The whole summer was a really rich time with our kids - even though we weren't totally together all summer, feel like as a family, we are really well connected right now.

Exciting stuff happening this Fall too - let's go.