Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Concepts Baseline

Part of our 2012 application process is going to include questions in a section called Missions Baseline [or something like that.] Essentially, we want to measure how well our students are understanding important missions concepts. A fantastic idea that was Trevins because it's one gauge to measure what we do.

Here's the initial list of questions:
Describe the term 'contextualization' and give a real life example.
Give the name of a redemptive analogy in our culture.
Give a definition of cultural distance and a real life example from your high school or college campus.
What is a person of peace and do you know one?
What is the relationship between social justice and evangelism?

Like I've said before, these are powerful concepts that students in our culture can understand and make use of.

UPDATE 2012-05-20 - We are calling this our Summer PreAssessment.

Monday, November 28, 2011

2012 in dreams

Ember is looking at trying to facilitate two or three or four experiences this summer. Yes, it seems like we are biting off more than we can chew. But that's okay, I believe in big goals.
1 - indigenous leadership development in a developing country
2 - urban suburban partnership
3 - church planting
4 - local [in terms of physical distance for us] service and nonprofit orgs [and not really a full experience]
5 - [one off project - tell you more about this later]

The caveat here is that each one of these is still developing. I'm almost sure all of these won't fly but I'm dreaming here...

I'm sharing these as dream projects because I believe that if you are engaged with the emerging generation and the changing landscape of global missions, these four ideas need to be on your radar too: contextual, indigenous leadership development; cities and urbanization [yeah, you don't want me to go on about this]; church planting; and serving near where you live with orgs already making an impact. More on these later.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Burn

::: Leading Change
85% of people who sign up to change aren't ready for change.

::: Starting Something New
Fantastic list from Brad

::: 5 Myths About Young Adult Church Dropouts

See all the Burn posts here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beginning to Multiply

Part of an email [shared with permission] from one of our guides at Ember Ocean City. Chaos, reproduction, and visualizing the future.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Missions Preps - It Is Not too Early

Although we have got some ideas for 2012, we do know that all of them will involve preparing our student teams as best we can. It's a non-negotiable based on our experience and the statistics about both long and short term mission projects. One of our mantras is that 'we help form strong teams.'

John, Ember 2010 intern, is one of our guides who has signed up to return this coming spring and summer to help teams prep. He's served on a few different cross cultural experiences and loves to see when teams get 'it.'

If you have some involvement with a student missions team, I daresay it's not too early to start thinking about how to set them up for success. Lord knows, lots of other things can torpedo them. Ember would love to help you although I anticipate our availability for prepping student teams will fill quickly this year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Burn

::: A Drug with a Self Destruct Switch
... a drug that creates a kind of viral self-destruct switch. In years to come it could be used to eradicate diseases from HIV to the common cold. "Forget the flu shot," wrote Men's Health. "How about a flu cure?"

::: MegaChurches Flying High for Now
... for younger church leaders who value mission, social activism, and innovation, the thought of maintaining the mega-institutions built by their parents generation may prove to be a tough sell. No matter what happens, the next 10-15 years are going to be critical ones for the future of the American megachurch movement.

::: Nigerias Plastic Bottle House

See all the Burn posts here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Hosting Team Example

Sometimes, hosting teams is more trouble than its worth. But movement thinking has you hosting teams as well as sending them - it's multi-directional.

A clear example from EmberPhilly11:
- a checklist the group can take with them while they work.
- one person dedicated to the group from your team who knows what they are doing.
- clear descriptions of the work.
- what kind of person works best on this type of work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

#EmberPhilly11 Wrap Up

Had a great time in Philadelphia this past weekend with a team of college students that Ember hosted. Here's some of the details that might interest you.

:: Schedule
Fri night - Chinatown, including cultural awareness, dinner and hearing from LT about the background of this context.
Sat 1 - Salvation Army in West Philly, urban garden, organizing a toy room to get ready for donations, various other cleaning projects
Sat 2 - Philadelphia Access Center, South Philly, various cleaning and organizing projects
Sat eve - free time while some of us went to the ER with a student who hit his head pretty hard and then started throwing up. Obviously, this was not plan A. Cat scan was clean, he was fine but with a slight concussion.
Sun - church at CCCNC where LT spoke on Luke chapter 2.
Lodging at Chaomunix Mansion Youth Hostel.

:: Observations
+ Such a privilege to work with this team. TayEst is replicating students that live the Gospel in both word and deed. This team doesn't have to be convinced about community impact, most of them are involved in two community projects every week. They already get it. It's beautiful.
+ This team already spends a lot of time in direct interaction with recipients of community impact programs. Instead, this weekend, they got to see a lot of the other side of the nonprofit world. Cleaning, organizing, and other kinds of activities that need to get done but isn't necessarily seen by program participants. This perspective wasn't intentional in our planning but worked out great anyway.
+ We could have spent hours pushing around concepts like poverty, power, dependency, sustainability, etc. with this team [see what I mean.] Instead, we bagged most of that because of the ER trip. Insight from Dea: maybe God said it was good enough for today.
+ It's difficult to host teams. Both of these organizations did it really well.
+ Loved the model of the church engagement initiative at PAC, which starts first and foremost with a community needs assessment. So many times, we are guilty of forcing our talents and skills on hosts/partners/communities. Especially when it comes to overseas short term teams.

+ Our guides were, as usual, fantastic, and a first experience for Amy as a guide.
+ I brought my family on this one - they love this kind of stuff and it's my job as a dad to expose my kids to this kind of thing. We also brought one of Kt's friends along for the first time. Mir had a great weekend.
+ Ben joined us too as part of the youth missions coaching we are doing together. Very fun to have him with us for all of it.
+ Here's a few items for continual improvement that we may have to systematize: prepping our guides better, involving the actual team's leaders more as the experience goes on, having a room to gather in. We also need a experience closeout checklist, I think.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Burn - #emberphilly11

#Emberphilly11 edition. Like always, guides get special reading.

::: Conquistador, a native, or an immigrant.

::: Rural, urban and suburban poor

::: If instead of asking ourselves What would Jesus do? we asked, What did Jesus do?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Prepping Philly

Putting together some final touches for Ember Philly 11 coming this weekend. Various items include:
+ guides Deanna and Amy and one of our interns, CS
+ first pick for some cultural immersion - Tasty Place restaurant
+ Ben joins us as part of his youth pastor missions apprenticeship
+ working with two community service orgs in the city - looking forward to learning a lot from both of them
+ tangential teaching material, tried and true, The Forgotten Ways
+ visiting LT's church on Sunday

Monday, November 07, 2011

NovEmber Kindling

+ Very excited to work with TayEst and her team again this coming weekend in Philly. Our upcoming weekend includes cultural immersion, learning from community impact orgs and hopefully some Chinese food. Excited to watch some leadership transition over the next few months.
+ Been working to facilitate and handoff a beginning service project for 7th-9th graders for a church around the corner. The biggest challenge for some student ministries getting into community service is purely logistical. Christianity is a movement and therefore requires us to move.
+ Putting on my recruiter hat for the next 8 weeks to get the best emerging leaders we know to run some stuff for us. More about 2012 projects soon.
+ Did you see Andrew Jones' presentation on resourcing missional entrepreneurs?
+ Doing some rethinking about the high school internship. I love it conceptually, but I know we can tweak to make it even better.
+ My 13 year old told me a few months ago that our church's growth plan should include church planting.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Burn

::: A "Light Shield" That Can Repel Mosquitos

::: A Shoe for the Visually Impaired

::: 20 Presentation Secrets
via Ramit

::: 30-50
"The latest cultural trends are almost always the children of ideas crafted around 30-50 years ago." - Mark Sayers

See all the Burn posts here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Missions Support - The Creative Revenue Plan

In the Spring of 2008, my team wanted to reinvent a fabulous idea for some creative funding to support some summer student missions teams: the tried and true Silent Auction. We were going to do this one better though: combine it with an ice cream par-tay. And even better than that, we were going to crowdsource it by engaging a faith community of 2000 families, inviting them to be a part of it by contributing their talents - products and services they could contribute to help fund student teams.

You know the idea - someone has a product or service they donate to the cause. Whomever buys the product or service ends up donating the costs to the org/team/whatever. For example, I own a car washing business. I donate two car washing packages to the org. Whomever buys those two packages ends up donating the price to the org while I wash those cars, potentially earning more business and helping fund those students with my talents in the process.

Due to a specific financial policy from the HigherUps, we were actually not able to crowdsource it to the whole congregation. Instead, we ended up with a mediocre event and raised a few hundred dollars and continued to miss engaging thousands of families with incredible cross cultural projects the students in their very own church were doing. But no, I'm not bitter.

I still believe in the core of the idea - that we all have gifts and talents that can be donated for the better of someone else. Combine that with the latest fundraising developments, like the missions support letter in desperate need of being tweaked; and donor, cause and nonprofit fatigue; and you have a slight shift in how Ember is approaching missions support for 2012. It's called the Creative Revenue Plan.

Each participant on our summer teams is going to be required to come up with the Plan - a way that they can use their talents and gifts to help supplement their student missions support, anywhere from 10-25%. Gifts, talents, products, services: here's some that have been thrown out already: babysitting, powerwashing, homemade jewerly, and throwing a LAN party. This plan also gets documented in support letters so that the potential support team realizes the level of commitment and initiative that our student missionaries are going to exercise. I don't know how well it will go but here's hoping.

This is another vital step in preparing our emerging global leaders to lead. You know that the skills of establishing rapport with a potential customer, the ability to pull others to help you accomplish a project, the challenge of selling your skills - those are amazing things to learn about. The sooner a young person gets those experiences, the better. Not only for their missions team but for their future and for the future they lead in.