Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Burn

::: Predicting the Future - Look at Today's 14 year olds

::: Andy Stanley does not know of a high profile leader in ministry that has not been in counseling

::: The Theil's 20 under 20

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Middle School Missionaries

Ember's been invited to do a little teaching about missions at a summer camp in June - you've probably seen some of the details. I'm really excited about this opportunity for multiple reasons: it's working with my friend Chris Marsden, Trevin and I are doing this together, and you know how the Sheng's love Orlando.

All those things are great but the core of this is the middle school kids that will be attending that week at camp. For too long, we've decided that middle school kids don't own the Kingdom, that they are too young to make a difference, that God will use them but not right now maybe in just a few years, that a middle schooler wouldn't be able to understand concepts we would teach to preparing missionaries.

Well, we aren't putting up with any of that this summer.

Image: Programming/scheduling ideas on a board - idea from Catalyst. On a map - idea from me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mobilizing from the Sofa

Ember celebrates a few bright spots this week with some amazing college students leaving the comforts of home to immerse themselves in other cultures and contribute to God's purposes around the world. I'm amazed at their courage, their ability to adapt and their willingness to change in light of these experiences. And these people were like this before they met us.

And of course, I would love to be traveling with them too. Some of my favorite experiences have been newly seeing a context through the eyes of someone else - watching a high school kid see the Grand Canyon for the first time, climbing the
Arc de Triomphe
with my family, watching my daughter swim in the Danube.

Sometimes, mobilizing is traveling with some of your favorite people, helping them process, engage and learn from amazing experiences. Other times, it's watching expectantly from your international office as those same favorite people blaze their own trail of adventure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Supporting Ember This Summer

For those of you that might be interested in supporting some emerging global student leaders.... my 2011 support letter... sort of...

Dear Ember Tribe --

I'm delighted to give you a quick update about all things Ember - thank you again for your encouragement, support and investment in our efforts to connect and resource emerging global student leaders on their way to marking human history. Ember exists to reignite the Jesus fire in each student and to launch them out to serve a world in need and I'm always thrilled at your involvement with us.

2011 got off to a slow start in terms of work that actually stimulated student missions, but we've had some fun projects this spring, including two short term mission prep sessions [for a past Ember intern and his team going to Mozambique and for Bay Area Community Church's short term summer teams]; identifying and recruiting three high school interns for Fall 2011; and continuing to connect with like-minded allies of student missions.

Here are some upcoming projects in the works for which your prayers are coveted:
+ Ember has been invited to assist in teaching about the future of missions at Lake Aurora Christian Camp outside of Orlando at the end of June. The audience will primarily be middle schoolers and at least two of our team will attend. We are also supplementing this teaching with videos from some of our favorite people around the world, helping us teach about global realities and missional perspectives.
+ Potentially facilitating an inner city immersion for a team of college freshmen at the end of July, working with Serve the City Baltimore.
+ Some of our guides, board of directors and interns will be attending a conference hosted by The International Mentoring Network in Detroit at the end of September.
+ We've been asked to facilitate a leadership weekend in NYC this fall for student leaders from Salisbury University. This is a team we have worked with in the past and this group of students has an amazing history of initiating and sustaining community impact initiatives.

We estimate that our expenses for these next projects will be about $2000. If you feel led to support us financially, know that your support would be so appreciated and would go a long way in terms of empowering current and future global student leaders that are resolute about throwing fire.

There are two quick ways to send in support if you are so led:
1 - A check payable to The Ember Cast, Inc. You can send it to [get in touch with me]
2 - A bank transfer: routing code: [get in touch with me]
[3 - If you are local and want to give a donation, I will come to you with a cup of coffee.]
All your donations are tax deductible, you can expect a receipt within two weeks and we will never sell your information. And if you have a specific project you would like to fund, notate that as well.

Thank you again for joining with us. Throwing fire with you,


[Related: Mission Support Letters: 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Burn

::: You Version Creator - One of Fast Company's Most Creative

::: 10 Reasons Not to Join a Board

::: Poor People - increasingly found in middle-income countries and in fragile states

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 on the move - part 3

These three have traveled with me here and there in the past.
Caroline - raising support to spend a year in Australia learning to be a midwife in the developing world. She was also on the very first student missions experience I architected for SPACE.

Michelle - a few more months in South Africa.

Tayest - traveling to Kenya with We Are Kenya. Incidentally, We Are Kenya is a NPO started by a group of people from GRACE. Tay is also contributing to our little video project - more on that later.

[part 2]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why I'm Going to Dream Year DC

Ok and one more... I'm attending the Dream Year Weekend in DC in early June. I've been reading Ben Arment's blog for years, starting when he had just planted History Church in a suburb of DC and then when he worked for Catalyst and now as he does his own creative projects. He's got stunning posts about leadership, teams and leveraging your gifts and talents. You should probably subscribe to his blog.

My wife gave me a requirement that before I started Ember, I take a business class. I ignored that which you know is a mistake =) But I'm pretty sure the Dream Year Weekend is a far better substitute [read through the Process.]

We are rubbing shoulders with probably the most entrepreneurial generation in history and their kingdom size dreams have the potential to do amazing things. I'm hopeful that I'll be learning some very practical stuff about bringing ideas to fruition and translating some of that to others.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

M 2011

To accelerate the spread of an apostolic ethos among future-oriented, Christ-following leaders like you.
Ember is taking a little team to this. Tell you more about it later. Would love to see you if you are there.

[Related: Humana2008, Humana2007]

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 on the move - part 2

K&K&R - K, part of the 03, who I met in 1999, and his wife K and now their daughter R, are on the way back from North Africa later this summer. Mission is not only overseas.

Julia, also part of the 03, is helping lead a second team from Common Ground Church in Fredericksburg, VA, to Haiti. Big time intention on sustainability and partnership - they are working with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission, specifically the Neighbors Project.

My good friend Ben Cloud is working with Upper Bann Vineyard Church in North Ireland for a week this summer, taking a group of students to help them with some of their community impact ministry. Ben planted Amadeo Church in Queen Creek, Arizona in 2006. Before that, he had been cultivated partnerships with students all over the world - both in sending and hosting.
[This was the one I wished we could have pulled off this summer. Remind me not to think small again.]

[Part 1]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Burn

::: A USB PC for $25

::: 10 complaints about American tourists
Very funny.

::: Shaun King - The Leadership Lesson from OBL
Your living room or office would be a more functional global command center than the one we see Osama in. Your technology is more advanced, your television is bigger, your remote is better, your wires are better organized :-)

::: Marko writes to his niece - who is going into professional youth ministry

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2011 on the move - part 1

Part of the Ember tribe that is on the move this summer [I'm posting about this in parts...]

Jenny - serving in Quito Ecuador with an orphanage as part of a summer university service trip.
Andrew [Ember guide] - Nairobi Kenya with First Love ministries via Duke Engage
Ethan - five weeks in Sweden with Campus Crusade
John [Ember guide ] Mozambique with Iris Ministries.

Honored to hang with these types of people. They are on the move because God moves.

[Part 2]
[Related: 2010 on the move]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

B to the

Ben is one of those long haul youth pastors - he's in it for a long time and knows that, perhaps, the fruit of his labor isn't going to be realized for 10-15 years down the road. Some catalytic reactions move slow and deep.

We chatted last night about indigenous student leadership, his family's cultural transition from Florida to Ohio, and what might be some good ideas to help prep a student team in the works to tornado ravaged Alabama.

Ben is the kind of leader Ember exists to connect and resource. Globally minded, passionate about the emerging generation, willing to lead his students into crossing another culture to make Jesus known.

Monday, May 09, 2011

One Simple Lever

Trevin and I spent some time working together this past Saturday. He's our first guide and as someone who is half my age, I rely on his perspective a good bit when it comes to engaging the emerging generation.

On this afternoon, we worked to clarify who and what an Ember guide is, nailed down some logistics for two possible Ember field trips in June and September and outlined core better practices we would like to share with others. Oh and we worked on some Chick Fil A and D's awesome guac.

Ember's fantastical board of directors is really interested in growth - their belief, like mine, is that there are emerging global leaders that are high school aged right now and engaging them is a simple lever that has the potential to change the world. Growth means finding more resources to help us pull that lever but we probably don't have an unlimited amount of time.

Yeah, you would like working with the team I work with too.

Photo: Trevin on the right, Kt my 13 year old on the left.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Burn

A huge amount of stuff sitting in my Reader from a while ago. Enjoy.

::: 114 of the 184 best-paid athletes in the world play soccer

::: Bob Roberts [] notes from Q Portland.
My favorite line : "Serve not to convert but because converted."
The balance between social justice and evangelism is a tension to be managed, not a problem to be solved. [see Andy Stanley podcast]

::: Praxis Labs
Developed in collaboration with Q, Praxis is a mentorship-driven accelerator program for social entrepreneurs & innovators compelled by their faith to advance the common good.
Tons to learn here. Like:
+ Sustainable enterprise or donor model
+ Focus on measurable impact
+ Our Fellows are natural leaders who balance vision and execution.
Also, check out their A list of mentors.

:::: Justin on Generational Future of Missions
Long post - but I'm sure you'll get something valuable from it. Lots of futuristic stuff in here so you will either love it or hate it.

::: Effectiveness of Short Term Missions
What makes a difference, according to virtually all studies, is pre-trip training, on-site mentoring and follow-up after the trip. But researchers found post-trip follow-up by team leaders, usually from churches, schools or mission agencies, falls short.
Another missions cottage industry = facilitating post trip decompression.

::: 200 million minutes per day
Spent on Angry Birds. Wow - that's way worse than football in the Fall...
Link via Mark Riddle

::: Marcus Buckingham's Three Favorite Books
So much more in here like leadership versus managers, why the Tipping Point is so good, and chess versus checkers when you are in charge.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Imagine Alternative Structures

All humans have at least a touch of what I call the maker instinct, but most leaders have a serious dose since they must make and remake the organizations they lead. The best leaders have always been tinkerers who imagine alternative structures and love to play around with them to see what new things they can create.
- Bob Johansen, Leaders Make The Future

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Future Missions Pastor

Last weekend, I watched Casely teach on being a good guest. Born in Ghana, married to Angela who is Ugandan, I heard him deftly address subtle yet significant concepts of crossing cultures. Stuff like how cultures interpret power, are you going to a time-controlled or interaction-controlled context, and the difference between the initiative of those with a self-help value versus a birthright value. Stuff that you and I - who were born and raised here in America - think we know. I was a little shocked because I thought I knew this stuff. You probably think you do too.

Casely represents the future of American mission pastors. In the future that's presenting right now, Christianity booms in the global south. Suburbs are exponentially getting diverse. The context for 'missions' is becoming a varied mix of global+local. An emerging generation natively understands diversity, inclusion and community. This is the future where our churches need a kind of leadership that deeply understands the developing world, has a pulse on the way the globe really looks and is able to walk their communities through deep engagement of being a good guest.

There's a handful of missions pastors whose work I know is phenomenal. But global Christianity isn't orbiting around America. So I'm hopeful that more and more Caselys take on this kind of leadership for their communities of faith.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

May Kindling

+ This summer looks a lot different and low key than previous ones. Some different kind of projects that are still at the core of getting students moving. But I get this strange sense that something is brewing.
+ Collaborating with one of Ember's biggest fans, Chris, to put some of our better practices
and favorite people doing some video teaching for one of his student ministry venues.
+ Also working with a small group of college kids for something probably local, urban and catalytic.
+ Dropped in on a Perspectives class last night. For all the great content that the class gives, there needs to be some kind of follow up on discerning God's call, what's next in training [taking the class doesn't mean you know everything about missions], and why teams function on the mission field exponentially times better than individuals. [maybe future post]
+ Short term missions team preparation could be a cottage industry.
+ Since it's May, I'm supposed to tell you that if you haven't done any team gatherings to help prepare your summer missions team, you are shirking your leadership responsibility. Email me for more abuse. And some help.
+ Last May was probably one of the worst months of my life. My mother was in major meltdown and I was grieving a loss of the life I had known. This May is much, much different. Better.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Missions Prep with Bay Area Comm Church

Short term mission teams are notoriously unprepared. This, however, is starting to change, especially among church based teams. I had the privilege to join Bay Area Community Church for their short term missions team 'one day prep retreat' over the weekend. Really fun time, here's some content and observations.

+ Sessions included the Biblical Basis for Missions, How Short Term Teams Fit in with the Task Remaining, How to Travel as a Gracious Guest, Staying Healthy on the Field, and Bay Area Logistics.
+ The first two sessions were led by two of the local ACMC guys, Dave and Joe.
+ My session was How to Make the Most of your Missions Trip, which included tips on before, during and after. See the notes here.
+ About 60 people, all ages. 1 team of college/high school students going to El Salvador this summer. The host there was a Bay Area member who moved there long term after going there on a short term team. Other teams included Poland, India and Mexico. Another team going to Ghana, but they weren't there today.
+ Bay Area has medical evacuation covered in their missions insurance policy.
+ They had a great resource table for missions books and every person got a copy of The Short Term Missions Workbook [you know how much I love that one right?]
+ Casely Essamuah is the missions pastor there. He was at Park Street Church in Boston for a number of years, before coming here. He's originally from Ghana and his wife is Ugandan and works as a medical doctor for the state government. He is the archtype of the Western American church missions pastor of the future [another post]. Here are some gems throughout the day from him:
- On time versus human interaction focused cultures: "Take off your watch the whole time you are in Africa, except for the last day, because on that day, we have to get to the airport on time."
- Home Depot is a cultural icon in America. It represents a can-do spirit.
- Do you know the independence date of the countries you are going to?
- On recent revolutions in the middle east: "How does a country that has a siesta every day do revolution?"
- On learning another language: "You can learn a lot of language if you practice on google for 5 mins every day for a week."
- On if you are left handed and traveling to a middle eastern country: "Depending on where you are going, you might need to learn to be right handed for 2 weeks".
+ At the very end of the day, Casely had everyone find out where their shirt was made from and we went around the room and told everyone what country. People would then respond with "God bless ." Amazing list of countries and incredible perspective.

Bay Area has done this type of thing the last 3 or 4 years for their summer short term teams. It requires a lot of work but the investment is worth it. [Related, but not really, check out the Sent Network, a separate but affiliated org they started focused on church planting.]