Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in cities

1. Fairfield, CT, USA
2. Cambridge, MD, USA
3. Newport, RI, USA
4. Brussels, Belgium, Europe
5. Leiden, The Netherlands, Europe
6. Bielefeld, Germany, Europe
7. Queen Creek, AZ, USA
8. Winchester, VA, USA
9. Orlando, FL, USA
10. Rehoboth Beach, DE, USA

Pretty good year, because it was over 10 and at least once out of the country.

Here's the map.

[Related: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.]

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 in books

The Advantage [notes]
I Will Teach You to be Rich [notes]
Flickering Pixels [notes]
You Lost Me [notes]
Deep and Wide [notes]
Missional Moves
Multiplying Missional Leaders
Organizational Genius [notes]

I'm sure there is more in here, but it seems like it was a light year for reading.

[Related: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in books]

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Happy 15th birthday to our Katie. We are so proud to be your parents and you continue to amaze us with your dreams, passions and how you structure your life to serve those around you.

Probably one of the best commentaries on your life is what one of your friends from school told me recently : "When I'm around her, I feel bad, because she's like the best person I know. She gets good grades, she's so kind and friendly and she always goes out of her way to help people."

Love - DAD

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Burn

::: The Global Religious Landscape
Roughly one in six people around the globe have no religious affiliation at all.
Link via Alex McManus

::: Evolution of the earth's economic center of gravity
See the first chart

::: Why do we wait to train leaders
On average, corporate managers first get leadership training 10 years after they begin supervising people

Photo: NYC, Jan 2008. Emilie [intern 2006], me, Tricia [intern 2008]

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Christmas Gifts for Your Emerging Global Leader

If you are looking for some last minute gifts for the emerging global student leader in your life, here are a few suggestions. What, you still have 5 days...

:: A copy of Operation World. The best guide to understand spiritual movements on a per geopolitical country basis. You can buy it new, but not in your typical Christian bookstore [who shops at those anyway.] You can give an old copy too, but since these things have info that changes with time, well, you know.

:: A headlamp. So that they can do stuff in the dark and have their hands free. I know, most people think these are for dorks. But seriously, they are great. I have a Black Diamond Icon head lamp, which has a set of 4 LED bulbs as well as a spotlight and a built in battery meter. [No, its not overkill.]

:: A cheap, small digital camera. One that can be shoved into a pocket and dragged around the world. Better if it has replaceable batteries [versus batteries that must be charged - especially if you take it overseas.] I have a Canon Powershot something or other that I bought off of Craigslist. It does a ton of stuff that I love, including low light, HD video, panoramas, high speed burst and multiple shots on self timer.

:: A micro dry stuff sack. Great to throw your small electronics and wallet in just in case you stuck somewhere outside in torrential rain. Use it on a missions trip or in Harry Potter land in July.

:: A good journal. Moleskin has these cool city-based journals, which include all kinds of reference materials for specific global cities - DC, Paris, London, etc.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


My wife grew up in Fairfield, CT, probably 20 minutes down the road from Newtown. Both of her parents were public school teachers, my mother in law most recently teaching [she's now retired] in a town called Trumbull, which was the next town over from Newtown. My brother in law and his family live about 10 minutes from the school where the shootings happened. We've been tracking it like everyone else.

Clive Calver was the president of World Relief, based on Baltimore, from 2001 to 2005, and his family attended GRACE when he wasn't traveling. He since left World Relief to become the senior pastor at Walnut Hill Community Church, in Bethel, CT, down the street from Newtown.

In an area of the country that is certainly un-churched, post-churched or de-churched, Walnut Hill has launched 4 new campuses in the past 2 years. Now that they find themselves at the epicenter of the Sandy Hook shootings, I'd bet some money on Clive and his staff. We're tracking that too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sneak Peek

New intern coming on board in January. Our whole Ember staff [board of directors and bi vocational guides] are super excited.

I created the domain and set up the WordPress installation around 4pm one day. This was what was up the next morning.

The next generation won't necessarily wait for you to pave the way for them to impact, lead and influence. That fact is a good thing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Burn

::: So, you wanna be a missionary.
[Related - The Creative Revenue Plan]

::: 2012's Fastest Growing and Shrinking Cities
Interested in learning you some Mandarin?

::: Ping Pong for a cause
I met Diallo in Sept of 2011 at M.

::: Valencia Spain - vision report.
History, Demographics, Culture, Spiritual Climate, Conclusions.
Most of you regular readers would love this.

::: We are equipped to disciple people into our church culture, we are not equipped to teach them how to be a disciple within culture. #Qrenewal - @KeithWaara

::: If we properly understand 'institution' then we realize that the NT Church has always been an institution. #mythoughtsfromQ #Qrenewal - @guywasko

Photo: Missional guides, post-SPACE, pre-Ember. NYC. March 2009.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Recent Practices of the Trade

or maybe not so recent...

- Slant away from curriculum. Steal lots of pieces from lots of places but nothing is ever canned or completely reused. It is always recreated and contextualized.
- Be careful about evening meetings.
- Mark important things in books. Read all the way through the book and then go back through typing in notes.
- Always have an elec copy of your passport in your email
- Always pack a pair of clean underwear in your carry on
- Clarify the win when someone comes on board.
- Decompress with the team right after the project.
- Performance feedback to individuals within 24 hours.
- Catalyst is the primary paradigm
- Steal everything you can. Google chrome allows you to print stuff to a pdf and save it in google drive, all right from your browser. I have a BetterPractices folder for these kinds of docs.
- Make google reader your source for information. Yes you can read blogs with it. You can also create a feed for a search term and subscribe to that. Looking for something on craigslist - click RSS at the bottom and then subscribe to that.
- Been really happy with dreamhost hosting the ember site. Easy to create new domains, like blogs for the interns, and easy to install wordpress for them. If i started over, i would buy a domain, install wordpress on there and blog away.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Notes - Organizing Genius

Organizing Genius - The Secrets of Creative Collaboration by Warren Bennis

1. Greatness starts with superb people.

2. Great Groups and great leaders create each other.

3. Every Great Group has a great leader.

4. The leaders of Great Groups love talent and know where to find it.

5. Great Groups are full of talented people who can work together.

6. Great Groups think they are on a mission from God.

7. Every Great Group is an island - but an island with a bridge to the mainland.

8. Great Groups see themselves as winning underdogs.

9. Great Groups always have an enemy.

10. People in Great Groups have blinders on.

11. Great Groups are optimistic, not realistic,

12. In Great Groups, the right person has the right job.

13. The leaders of Great Groups give them what they need and free them from the rest.

14. Great Groups ship.

15. Great work is its own reward.

I read this book because of a tip from Ben Arment. When he says read it, I do it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ember Internships - 3 Tips for Mentoring

In the past 9 years, I have worked with a select group of students that we have deemed interns. The idea actually came from a high school student, but we loved it so much, it's now one of Ember's core offerings. We've had pretty good luck with most of them, but there have been a few of them that have the very best of intentions, but over the course of time, didn't engage with the process. Here's three things that have made the others successful - maybe this contextualize to your situation when it comes to mentoring the next generation.

1 - Identify the starters and sponges.
There are students that are starting things that have the same affinity as to what you are doing. Like you, they are interested in music, arts, landscape architecture. There are also students that are paying close attention to what you are doing. And I mean, very close attention. Find students in either groups of these and engage them at a deeper level. In our case, not every student is interested in global leadership. We find them at very specific circumstances - a service project is a good example in our case.

2 - Meet them where they are, but stretch them.
They make the commitment to be stretched. But sometimes, between school, sports, youth group activities, volunteer work, and being a part of a family, the internship is the last on the list. We've tried to be more adaptable on our end in terms of scheduling, availability and flexibility, while not losing sight of the end goal: they want to grow. This aspect of scheduling has been one of the most difficult - it is what our students live in today. Personal growth doesn't always depend on being at a specific event. Instead, find ways to foster your goal as a developer while helping them be successful at it.

3 - Have fun with them.
The interns I have worked with have been a blast. They put up with my lame jokes and are able to roll with our very dynamic plans - we never know what will happen for the internship too far in advance and plans are always moving [I kind of like it that way.] But we always have a great time together.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Burn

::: China's Copycat Cities
... a full-scale, no-expense-spared replica of the White House stands outside Hangzhou, while less exacting copies of the U.S. Capitol, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Sydney Opera House can be found in the village of Huaxi in Jiangsu province and elsewhere...
Link via NextDraft

::: Christian Technology Entrepreneurs
Link via rudy

::: What I Wish Someone Told Me About Vision from leaders of Fastest Growing Churches
My favorites:
+ The bigger you get the better your Sunday morning experience is. That draws spectators
+ ... more time Christians spend in church, it seems the farther they move away from God's original intention­­– to reach the lost.
+ I truly believe that the same vision that attacts some also repels others.

::: How to Live with Introverts
In the Sheng house, we call them strong 'I's.

Photo: Ember board of director, spawn, intern. Pen Lucy, Oct 2012.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

When It Comes Together

Summer 2008 - Paris France. One team left Hungary earlier that morning. Another team left Washington, DC the night before. Both teams met in a hotel in Paris, saw the sights, had meals together, caught up and prayed for what some of them had done and what others would do. The next morning, the Hungary team would continue on home to DC, while the Cameroon team would begin their adventure finishing the trek from DC to Paris to Yaounde. And there was a brave four that continued from Hungary to Cameroon.

This logistical mishmash was brought to you by yours truly. When I envisioned it months before, I was captivated by the idea of God's people being on the move, a rendezvous of teenage world changers in the city of lights, a synergy and momentum with one team finishing a project well and helping energize another team at their beginning. And the chance for a brave few to live on mission for 3.5 weeks on 2 different continents. And to worship together that one evening half way across the world.

Like Hannibal says, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Constantly On the Move

Matthew records that Jesus' ministry touched 'all' 175 towns and villages of Galilee. To reach them all Jesus could rarely have stayed in one place for more than a few days; he would have been constantly on the move. By the end of his ministry, most of Galilee's 200,000 people would either have met Jesus or have known someone who had.
- Steve Addison, What Jesus Started

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Fall Intern wrapup

When we bring on interns [and we really need to call them something else], we make them write a blog. Say what you will about the medium of blogs in the age of facebook and twitter – I still think it's an amazing medium, which is why you are reading this. I'm always interested to see what they are thinking about the readings and our various experiences – blog posts are the perfect medium for that. And what they may not realize until much later is that the blog is a great journal for their season with Ember.

DK has just finished the Fall with us and it's been a great semester of various experiences and content. Here's some of her posts that show both some of the stuff she's been involved with and what she's been learning.

Shifting of Christianity
The American church
Being a catalyst
European vision
Serve the City Baltimore

Monday, December 03, 2012

DecEmber Kindling

+ Very excited about 2013. Ember has some great opportunities if all the plans come together.
+ Two dream projects for this summer - one is almost finalized and is a collaboration between some of my favorite people. These projects are going.
+ We are also booked to do some missions team training - one specific for mission team leaders and one for whole teams. That is always so much fun.
+ DecEmber marks the 12th month of diabetes for my wife Deanna. It's been a long year but we are all proud of her resolve.
+ Overjoyed to tell you that DK has signed on for another semester with her internship with Ember and we bring on a new intern in January. Intern isn't the best name because we treat them like the catalysts that they are.
+ Went to a ministry pitch gathering yesterday for a good friend who is going on full time staff with a church. The financial model is that he raise X months of salary and the church brings him on 25% every 6 months. Thoughtful and intriguing.
+ I had coffee with Mike Hall a few weeks ago. Mike and I connected because he was at Dream Year DC too although we didn't meet that weekend. He's seeing his dream of being a motivational youth speaker come to fruition and he's recently published a second leadership book for students.
+ Heard of a college/young adult missions agency that reenacts a city urban environment for their week long training camp, characters included. That is certainly admirable. But why not just do a week in a real city?
+ Snapchat - lets call it what it is. It is for dirty pictures.
+ I paid a guy to hang icicle lights on my house. It's easier than falling off a roof.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Christianity in Europe Will Lose Ground in 2013

::: Deliver a Talk without Notes

::: New England Revival?

::: Jeff Bezos attended 60 investor meetings to start Amazon
Missionaries and church planters could take some notes from this.

::: Jack Uldrichs 2013 Predictions
If you are a futuristic, you will love this guy. If not, you'll probably hate it.

Photo: Ember Pen Lucy, TH leading a decompression about context.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Question

Here's the question: If you left your leaders by themselves, would they know what to do?
- Mike Breen, Multiplying Missional Leaders

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ember Core Curriculum - Nov 2012

Here's a draft list of our latest Core Curriculum that we attempt at walking students through - picture this list as topics that could and/or should get visited during a missions experience that Ember facilitates. This is of course within the context of mission, leadership and world cultures. There is larger set of topics within our internship, since there is more time and interaction.

1 - contextualization

2 - indigenous

3 - cultural distance

4 - person of peace

5 - redemptive analogy

6 - universal anthropological constant

7 - ethnography

8 - toxic charity

9 - creative revenue

1 - I just put these onto a document. We already used most of them in different experiences here and there but now they are on one central place.
2 - I stole #6 from this post that I read today.

Like always, steal what you want.

[Related: Missions Concepts Baseline ]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief - Coney Island

Coney Island Gospel Assembly Church in Brooklyn, NY, is one of the epicenters for the distribution of supplies and food for Hurricane Sandy Relief. When you approach the church, you'll find it's parking lot filled with pallets of supplies - bottled water, boxed clothing, boxes of pantry supplies. On the street in front of the parking lot, you'll see a makeshift medical clinic fashioned out of a shipping container and you'll see hundreds of volunteers involved in all kinds of activities in and out of the church. Since my family and I were in southern CT for Thanksgiving, my daughters and I decided to volunteer for a few short hours at Coney Island.

My long ministry internet and real life friend Jeremy Del Rio connected me with CIGA. Jeremy and his family have been involved in ministry and community development in the Lower East side for decades [they just had a 25 year ministry gala celebration earlier this year] and have a deep hand in coordinating the relief efforts after Sandy.

We served for just a few hours, not very long in the overall scheme of things. There ended up being two church groups there, just off the church property, serving hot meals to residents and relief workers [including an Americorps team], so we jumped in and did that for a while. The team we were with was a church team from Louisiana and they planned to be at Coney Island for a year and they cooked a mean ham. The other team showed up a little while later with about 40 volunteers, all kinds of supplies and 3 gas grills to cook hot dogs. There seemed to be plenty of people to help. The girls and I then decided to head out but to say hi to Pastor Connie, pastor of CIGA, before we left. She actually put us back to work in the parking lot, restacking a few pallets of pantry supplies. The supplies had been stacked too high so boxes on the bottom were busted - we instead put the broken boxes on the top. This took us about an hour or so.

If you know me pretty well or read this blog for a while, you know that I'm pretty skeptical about the impact a normal person can make in the context of disaster relief situations. Skilled professionals are utilized best while unskilled people, with the best of intentions, can just get in the way both physically and systematically. Dependency and sustainability issues can arise when the disaster evolves into community development. Teams that help in disasters need solid exit strategies so local leadership can lead. My kids asked the same kinds of questions about our time there.

We have been blessed to bless others. So if you've got some time, go serve for a short season, with someone who is local and understands the context, and take your kids with you. We also had late lunch in one of my favorite global cities.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not Everyone Does This

"There are no strangers, just friends you haven't met yet." If you are familiar with the StrengthsFinder assessment, you know that this is one of the identifying statements for WOO - Winning Others Over. WOO is one of my top 5 talents according to the assessment and I think it's pretty spot on.

I think my older daughter is a WOO too, because the other night she was talking about this phrase and how 'everyone likes to make new friends, right?' Uh no, haha, not really.

And there's the point. You are unique. Not everyone thinks like you or behaves like you. What you are great at is what someone else is probably just mediocre at. What is generative for you is not for someone else. We need you at your best, which starts with you knowing yourself.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ember Exists For

You know those kids you meet sometimes who have such amazing passion for the world and the initiative to do something about it? They start things, they connect others, they re-imagine the future. They are rare.

Sometimes we get lucky and find them, these emerging global student leaders. We found another recently and I'm telling you more about them soon. Ember exists for them.

Take my word for it, be hopeful for the next generation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Global Gateways that Connect America to the World

::: A Soccer Ball that Lasts Forever

::: How Pixar gets its culture
Because of #3, I wrote a short doc called Ember Culture Orientation that I will go over with new staff

::: If you have not executed well, your leader is not "micro-managing" you. He is "leading" you. @RealEricGeiger

::: Leadership has nothing to do with title or rank. As soon as people volunteer to follow you, you are a leader. @simonsinek

Photo: Vienna, Austria. July 2008.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Character and Competency

So think about the average leader in your community.

+ Character: Are their lives characterized by grace? Peace? Love? Transformation? Patience? Humility? A deep relationship with the Father? A love of the scriptures? Can they submit? Do they see the world through the eyes of the Kingdom and not the prevailing culture? (Obviously there's a lot more to character, but you get the idea.)

+ Competency: Can they disciple people well who can then disciple others? Can they do mission well and see their everyday lives, not just events, as a mission field? Can they hear the voice of their Father and respond with action imbued with his authority and power? When they pray, do things happen as they did for Jesus? Can they read and teach scripture well? (Again, Jesus was able to do many things, this is but a short summary.)

These are Kingdom questions. And if you think through this filter, you'll see why I make the point that if you make disciples, you will always get the church, but if you're really about building a church, you won't always get disciples.
- Mike Breen, Multiplying Missional Leaders

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

GRACE student missions refinements

GRACE church is continuing to refine their student missions ethos and Ember is thrilled to continue to learn with them. They have the fortunate circumstance of having very mature and capable leadership and since they have been doing this thing for a while, experience that helps mold mature processes. [Disclosure: my family and I attend GRACE and I was the student missions coordinator a number of years ago. I also serve as an adviser to the Global Missions Director at GRACE.]

For this coming summer, they've outlined five different expressions related to student missions: local, domestic, international, leadership development, and exploratory. I love the way these are outlined because it reflects a lot of wisdom and experience about cultural distance, how to grow leaders, and the vital position of innovating past what you already do.

Not everyone can or should organize their student missions initiatives like this. But learn from these guys - at least be intentional about developing student leaders and pushing yourself and your team out of the current box.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Connecting in Cameroon

This is Todd and Gilles, somewhere in Cameroon, as a result of one short email and many years of friendship. Todd and I originally met when I took some interns to meet and hear a talk given by Steve Addison, a blogger I have followed for many years.

Gilles and I met when he proposed a missions idea to the now-disbanded Missions Task Force at GRACE church, way back in 2004. Gilles and his family have since hosted two teams
I've been involved with.

I love sending email introductions so when Todd told me he would be in Yaounde, I immediately thought about Gilles. 2 weeks later, they send me this picture. I absolutely love connecting global people like this. It's not always intuitive and straightforward, so it's a habit of thinking about who can be connected. So... who can you connect? And who can I connect you to?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Original Glory

I daresay we've heard a bit about original sin, but not nearly enough about original glory, which comes before sin and is deeper to our nature. We were crowned with glory and honor. Why does a woman long to be beautiful? Why does a man hope to be found brave? Because we remember, if only faintly, that we were once more than we are now. The reason you doubt there could be a glory to your life is because that glory has been the object of a long and brutal war.
- John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Burn

::: The diffusion of innovation curve is moving
We now live in a society with more people more willing to change more often. And that means your customers are restless, and more likely to walk away if you don't treat them the way nerds want to be treated.
If Seth is right, this is HUGE.

::: Biolite stoves - NYC after Sandy

::: Four African girls have created a pee powered generator

::: Sometimes u gotta make the decision to put ur passion ahead of ur comfort. - @b_rewster

Photo: Ember guides and spawn. Darley Park, Baltimore, MD. March 2012.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Ember Vocabulary

Loved catching up with Dan Sadlier. Dan and I originally met at M in 2011 where he spent some time talking to our team about urban ministry and true urban and suburban partnerships all within the context of student ministry. Dan truly gets it when it comes to catalytic leadership.

Our conversation included topics and terms like: indigenous, context, multi-cultural, gentrification, reproduction, funding, bi-vocational ministry leaders, insurance for church planters, and the city parish model. Lots of ideas Ember loves because Dan and his family are on a journey to plant a church in New York City.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Self - Serve - Systems - Capacity

In November of 2009, Rob Wegner was gracious enough to connect with me over the phone and share some of what Granger was doing with their global strategy. I've tracked with them ever since and always been impressed with their culture, strategy and way they measure success. Not to mention their new normal.

Back then, Rob sent me a prototype diagram of their idea for mission/missions and how it relates to the ideas of dependency, paternalism and toxic charity. This image to the right is what they just published in the book Missional Moves.

The points under Mission Building:
What is God doing?
Who is involved?
What are the assets?
What are the gaps?

The points under Demonstration Farming:

Think through the diagram deep enough and you'll find that it gives some great filters and perspective on doing mission and trying not to create bad dependencies with the people you are trying to serve. Even as an computer engineer living in the suburbs, I love the farm example. Farmers can't grow the seed but they can do their best to create an environment for growth.

At Ember, we've thought a lot about the spectrum of "self -> service -> systems." We've also thought about how do to best teach this to students, how to get them involved in thinking about systems and what filters we can use to determine projects that fit this paradigm. Maybe the last piece of that spectrum is 'capacity.'

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

NovEmber Kindling

+ I dreamed about an Ember team of people helping out in NYC. The timing wasn't quite right though. And you know how I love NYC. The opportunity I had in mind had the right elements of something students can do with little preparation and starting something from nothing. It was not necessarily disaster-recovery related - most of the time, that kind of work is for experts.
+ As an experiment for myself, I blogged every week day in October. Remember, in 2005, when we used to do that?
+ Volleyball season is over for our 9th grader. She had a great season and is relishing getting back 2 hours a day.
+ I'm trying to organize some gatherings for missions people in the DMV on a more consistent basis. If you are local and interested in this and I haven't talked to you about this, would you let me know please? I've got lots of people on my list that need to connect.
+ Ember is getting ready to choose a marketing company to do some work. I might be placing too much weight on the name of firms.
+ Are you listening to these talks by Seth Godin?
+ Did you see how Shaun King used Amazon Prime to get diapers delivered to a homeless youth shelter hit by Sandy?
+ Dea and I went to the installation service for our friend Perrin Rogers becoming lead pastor of the Triumphant Church. What a significant, amazing event.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Navigating the Details of Mentorship
Link, from one of the founders of Praxis Labs. A great short read.
[related - Praxis Labs culmination night]

::: Communities are Social Networks

::: Innovation and Missions
Always great from Seth

::: 7 Apps to Play with The World Banks Open Data

::: Say what you want about religion, but NYC churches are leading the way in #sandy relief efforts. @lanewood

::: Sometimes we get so focused on people's commitment to "our church" that we forget to encourage them in their commitment to Christ @maclake

Photo: Ember Board of Director, Matt Maloy, working the mower. Baltimore, Oct 2012.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ember Pen Lucy

Last Saturday, Ember collaborated with the Educators for Justice Society at Mt St Marys with STC Baltimore and the Pen Lucy Action Network to facilitate a service/leadership day in Baltimore. The specifics for this day were spent helping clean up a vacant lot in the neighborhood of Pen Lucy. The bigger picture was helping move the lot one step closer to a refurbishment into a landscaped, public gathering place.

This particular Saturday, the STC Baltimore Fall Service day, had four other projects going on around the city: the Baltimore Free Store, Second Chance, The Creative Alliance and The Maryland Food Bank. We helped clear the lot of trash and debris, mowed the grass and finished putting up a split rail fence. This was Phase 1.

PLAN came about from Faith Fellowship Church Faith Christian Fellowship, [edit - I got the wrong name] which has been committed to Christian community development for their neighborhood. They've implemented a series of interesting community development ministries, such as tutoring, recovery programs, sports leagues and adult GED classes.

It's always fun for us to work alongside local community activists, global student leaders and others who are interested in serving those less fortunate. Better yet when we help people go from self to service to systems.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Speaking Notes - HCC Cru

Loved speaking to Cru at Howard Community College last week. Carlos, the volunteer staff person, was involved on a SPACE team long ago and it was great to see the community he has helped pioneer. Worship was authentic and passionate and there was an ethos in the community that communicated encouragement and belonging. What Carlos has done is not an easy task.

My notes from speaking below - like always, steal whatever works.
One big idea
Two things you can do

1 - The big idea - in every apple there is an orchard - Not my original idea, I stole this
But when Jesus enters a life, there is a transformation - redemption, regeneration, sanctification, all the big words
In essence they all mean that you are capable of change. In you and others.
you change and you are an agent of change
redemptive activities
your vocation your ministry your family life your thought life your talents, skills, network
Matthew 28

so because you believe that - and if you don't, you should. You will later tonight, I think. two things you can do - handles per se.
concepts that if you understand them correctly, will give you some meaningful tools to engage the world around you.

A - context
lets play a game - one volunteer
tell me how you traveled here tonight to get here
starting from the parking lot
who did you see
which way did you go
peoples accents, what ethnicity are you, where were you born - lady in CT from NZ
surrounding - industry - interplay between people like teams - culture at large
Paul Acts 17

B - influencers
who knows who - social capital
story - TJ - you know who is a youth leader
facebook twitter linkedin
Jesus - person of peace - Matt 10
Fatima - Brasil 2005

closing story - Gabriella in Brussels

Monday, October 29, 2012

Notes - Ember's Oct BOD Meeting

As always, Ember board of directors are a huge encouragement to me. These folks give a good amount of time, energy and attention to encouraging, challenging and stretching me so that we do the same for the next generation. There are students out there that will be impacted by this team of people and will never even know who they are.

We held a board meeting last Friday night and here are some items of interest that I thought would be fun to share:

+ We are working in a connection economy as opposed to an industrial economy. As an organization, we have lots of relational equity in the sphere of student missions. See more from Seth Godin here.
+ Our momentum is growing slow and steady. We continue to make the pool of possible student missions people larger a little bit at a time here and there. I've tried to concentrate a little more of my time building new relationships to see if there are more students we can serve.
+ In the last three years, we have had around $27K in income and spent about $25K on student missions projects.
+ AZ2012 was a significant prototype and model for us in terms of student mission experiences. Think of it as 50% leadership lab and 50% missions experience, with an ethos of Jesus is already working in this place [versus us having to 'bring Jesus here.'] This ethos also translates into a calmer day by day schedule.
+ Trust as the bond for cohesive teams. For everything we do with teams, like assemble guide teams for projects or mission teams and for helping prepare other teams, building trust is priority #1.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Burn

::: The Top 10 Most Livable Cities in Africa

::: Never Say No to Networking

::: 7 Manhattan Hotel Rooms for $150

::: Charity:Water's 2011 Annual Report

Photo: Homeless alcove, Palace of Justice, Brussels, Belgium, 2012.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maps Maps Maps

... an integral part of what we do - helping preparing people and teams to be global leaders. Observing, navigating and interpreting - the global cultures, the movement of humanity, and who does what and where. Maps - learn to read them. But even better, learn to make them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unlike Frankenstein, He is Quite Real

The monster of dependency will ask us how much we can pay rather than how much we can build capacity. He will want you to focus on the condition of your stuff - resources, money, people - rather than the condition of your heart. He will ask you what you can continue to give rather than what you will leave behind, the work that will last, even when you are no longer there. He asks what you will do for the people rather than what you can do with them.
- Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder, Missional Moves

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Serve The City International Forum

From November 18-20 in Antwerp, Belgium, connect with key leaders and staff of Serve the City International.
In 2005, 72 volunteers spent a week serving the poor in Brussels, Belgium. There was city-wide publicity, great projects, and inspiring moments. But no thought of starting an organization, much less a global movement. Now, in 2012 Serve the City is starting or active in more than 72 cities - and you are a part of it!
More info here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ember Board - Reviewing the Wins

Ember's board of directors are an amazing group of individuals, well accomplished in their careers, families and hobbies and I'm incredibly fortunate to have such a group of missions patrons around myself and Ember. I meet with the Board twice a year officially, while spending time with them here and there outside of those meetings. The Board also hears from me just about every week in the form of a weekly status email.

I think that if you volunteer your time and energy to be a 'board member,' the person running the organization should overcommunicate. Overcommunicating means that the sender thinks they are sending too much while the receiver thinks they are receiving just enough.

I've been prepping for our meeting later this week, which includes reviewing our wins in order to share them. We've got a good list from this past season of Ember and when I say we, you blog reader, are included. It's a list to be proud of.

Ember Darley Park
Praxis Pitch Night
GCC Missions Prep
Brussels [although not officially an Ember project, but helps build our expertise]
Fall 2012 Intern

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Do Prom On Purpose

::: 14 Clever Travel Hacks

::: Making Yourself a CEO
Great article on being in charge, but even greater stuff on the idea of unfiltered debate.
Link[there is a bit of language in this post]

::: Oscar Muriu on 5 Changes to the Global Church

::: "The bold adventurer succeeds the best." -Ovid via @StoryChicago

Photo: Ember guides and friends at Perspectives, World Relief hq, Baltimore MD, Oct 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

STC Baltimore - Oct 27

October 27 is a Fall Service Day hosted by Serve the City Baltimore. Ember will be there helping facilitate a service leadership day for a group of college students we are working with. Should be lots of fun and we'll be facilitating probably around concepts like context, urbanization and serving through systems. If you have some high school students that might be interested in being a part, get in touch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Notes - Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley
If you've been around my blog for a while, you know I love the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast - this book is along those lines. It's a great read for church leaders but just as much for anyone trying to lead any kind of team or organization. At the core, it's a book about church world, as the subtitle alludes to. So the main premise is:
Acts 15:19 - It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
I love that statement. Years ago I printed it and hung it in my study. I look at it every day. I believe James' statement should be the benchmark by which all decisions are made in the local church.
But there is a ton more in here. Here's what hit me, but if you are a church leader, you should read the whole thing.

+ On organizational innovation over time:
One of the fundamental realities of organizational life is that systems fossilize with time.

+ On measuring the success of your church:
Are we moving or simply meeting?
Are we making a measurable difference in our local communities or simply conducting services?
Are we organized around a mission or are we organized around an antiquated ministry model inherited from a previous generation?
Are we allocation resources as if Jesus is the hope of the world or are the squeaky wheels of church culture driving our budgeting decisions?
Are we ekklesia [Greek term translate church throughout the NT - assembly of people called out for a specific purpose] or have we settled for kirche [Germanic term meaning house of the lord]?

+ On fairness when you are in charge:
I've worked in churches that tried to be fair. Eventually fairness became an excuse for non-engagement. The quest for consistency became an excuse not to help.... The better approach is to do for one what you wish you could do for everyone, knowing that everyone is not going to be treated the same way.

+ On the tension of policies:
We are inconsistent and at times unfair. Not on purpose. We just find that clinging to grace and truth creates tension. Tension we believe that should not be resolved, but managed. Do we have guidelines for benevolence and things of that nature? Of course. But they are guidelines. Not hard and fast rules. We have virtually no policies and lots and lots of conversations.

+ On growing leaders:
We put people into leadership roles too early, on purpose. We operate under the assumption that adults learn on a need-to-know-basis. The sooner they discover what they don't know, the sooner they will be interested in learning what they need to know.

+ On doctrine versus ministry practices:
Our doctrinal statement is conservative. Our approach to ministry is not.

+ On church culture:
It's a shame that so many churches are married to a designed-by-Christians-for-Christians-only culture.

+ North Point's Five Faith Catalysts:
Practical Teaching
Private Disciplines
Personal Ministry
Providential Relationships
Pivotal Circumstances

+ On leadership development:
I've been asked that question long enough to know that most people who ask it are looking for a program, a curriculum, or a series of classes. We have rejected that approach to spiritual formation from the very beginning. We don't believe classes create mature believers. Classes create smart believers. That's different. We have a menu of class options for those who want further theological education. But as you know, theological education and spiritual maturity can be mutually exclusive. They don't have to be. But they can be. So we have never approached spiritual formation as a cognitive exercise.

+ On too much responsibility too fast:
Since personal ministry is an integral component to spiritual growth, we are committed to involving as many people as possible, as young as possible, as soon as possible. Sometimes too young and too soon! But we intentionally err on the side of too fast rather than too slow. We don't wait until people feel 'prepared' or 'fully equipped.'

+ On training people:
One reason we are able to get people involved quickly is our approach to leadership development. Our entire leadership development model revolves around apprenticing rather than traditional classroom training.

+ On environments:
As I am constantly reminding our leaders, the sermon begins in the parking lot. By the time I stand up to deliver what is traditionally the message, everybody in our audience has already received a dozen or more messages.

+ On continuous improvement:
Time in erodes awareness of.

+ On presenters versus content creators versus group facilitators:
If your system depends on your staff and volunteers being proficient in two or three of these disciplines, you are always going to get mediocre results.... You need a system that allows engaging presenters to present, skilled content creators to create content and relationally savvy group leaders to facilitate groups.

+ On staffing:
Never assign a task that is gift-dependent to a staffing position.

+ On standards:
Our rule of thumb is that while it's acceptable to depart from the template on purpose, its' not okay to drift from the template by accident.

+ On preaching versus leading:
People ask me all the time how I handle the pressure of running a large, multi-faceted organization. I always chuckle. I would love to take a year and only run a large, multi-faceted organization. Compared to the pressure and stress of standing up thirty weekends a ear and facing a highly educated, successful group of congregants, some of who have been listening to me for seventeen years, the organization part of what I do is stress-free.

+ On generational models of church:
You don't have the luxury of babysitting the previous generation's approach to doing church. There's no time for that. Besides, you've only got one life to give to invest in this glorious cause.

+ On speaking to visitors:
When people are convinced you want something FOR them rather than something FROM them, they are less likely to be offended when you challenge them... When you get to those unusual verses and narratives, acknowledge them as just that: unusual. Hard to believe. As a general rule, say what you suspect unbelievers are thinking.

+ On change:
The catalyst for introducing and facilitating change in the local church is a God-honoring, mouthwatering, unambiguously clear vision.

+ On execution:
Marry your mission. Date your model. Fall in love with your vision. Stay mildly infatuated with your approach.

+ On leaders:
Teaching leaders leadership will result in better leaders. Teaching leadership to pastors, preachers and teachers results in pastors, preachers and teachers who've taken a leadership course.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

DC GO Blitz Week

DC Metro Church is in the middle of DC GO Blitz Week, a week of serving with partners throughout the city. The form might give some of you some inspiration and good ideas in terms of service projects in your city, how to sign people up and what it looks like in another context. Link will probably expire soon.

via LynnB

Monday, October 15, 2012

Transition to High School and I Should Apologize

Six weeks ago, our older daughter started high school. [And our younger one started middle school, for that matter.] It is in this transition that I fully understand that before having a high schooler in my home, I did not fully understand high school students. In that light, I may have to apologize to some former students that I know. I'll explain that in a second.

Our daughter Kt is a great student. She's always done very well at school and been very self directed. This year she's in 3 gifted and talented classes and she is playing on the freshman volleyball team. It makes for a very busy student. With those activities, her involvement at church, namely the weekly small groups called Dteams, and the every other week Friday night outreach gatherings, have been hit or miss. She simply doesn't have the time or the energy, between lots of schoolwork, volleyball practice every day and games every Tuesday and Thursday. As parents, we are trying to help her navigate this and unfortunately, church activities have to take the hit. Volleyball season is only September and October so things will change in a few weeks.

I say all this to explain that now, I understand the very busy, very packed schedule of a high school student. Certainly not all of them are this busy and I bet there are some that are even busier. But now I know and before I didn't.

In fact, before, I used to be pretty tough on kids that couldn't make it to church activities. They were 'apathetic' or 'fallen away' or 'too busy to choose the right things.' I think back now and I'm laughing at myself. What a turd. So if you were in my Dteam and were busy with these kinds of things and were not in fact fallen away, I apologize. And I applaud you for being commited to the right things, even in the midst of a very busy life. For in fact, maybe that is part of the true cost of discipleship - not giving up your potential while keep a commitment to Jesus in the renewal of all things - including high school academics, sports and life.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Burn

::: High Inequality US Metro Areas Compared to Countries

::: Demographic Breakdown of Rennes, France
Link via PaulDZ

::: One-fifth of the U.S. public and a third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today.

::: 13 things your hotel desk clerk won't tell you

Things have changed. It's getting harder to find a young man who's passion is to build and oversee a megachurch. - @JonTyson via @nigelpaul_com

Photo: Grace's middle school Sunday morning, Sept 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

We Are Missionaries... Tonight

From Ben Boles, who was part of our Ember Impact Coaching process in Fall 2011. If you like what he wrote, get in touch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Catalyst As the Primary Paradigm

I know the term 'catalyst' is probably way overused these days. But the longer we are involved with students and mission, the more the term makes sense to me. In light of all that we are learning about aid, development, indigenous leaders, and all that kind of stuff - and in the context of the current explosion in short term missions, the paradigm continues to be extremely valuable and our primary role.

We aren't the only ones that 'bring God to a given place.' There is something redemptive in a specific context already. Teams, individuals and hosts already have God ordained talents and skills. They have the potential to change the world and that potential doesn't depend on us.

Sometimes, our interns even get it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Graceful Capacity

From Multiplying Missional Leaders by Mike Breen:
3 crucial aspects of missional leadership:
1 - Leaders are allowed to hear from the Lord themselves about a vision and are given the authority and the power to do something with that vision.
2 - They have the grace to lead at least 20-50 people into mission together.
3 - They are radically committed disciples, with both the character and competency of Jesus, so they are actively discipling others.
I think it's interesting that the capacity of a leader is described. As I look at the landscape of our Ember guides, I'm proud to say that I think each one of them could do #2. I'm impressed. And humbled.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Help One Now - Haiti Blogger Team

I first met Chris Marlow in Philly in early 2010 when he hung out and graciously spoke with some students during an Ember experience. Chris has got the great combination of a passion for the marginalized and the resolve to execute. I've since watched from afar as his organization, Help One Now, has done some great things to serve those less fortunate.

Just as important, Chris has been a leading voice helping all of us understand the role of charity, so as not to create unhealthy dependencies with those we serve, but to help them in the best possible ways.

Chris and his Help One Now team are in Haiti starting today for a week. I'll be following along with his team's blogs this week. I know I'm going to learn some stuff - you might too.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Bay Area CC Visit

We visited Bay Area Community Church this am just for fun.

Loved the grand theme of the whole place - from building architecture all the way to written and verbal communication. It's all water.

We need all kinds of churches for all kinds of people and my kids have fully embraced this idea - they love to visit other communities of faith because they think it's 'fun.'

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Information -> Imitation -> Innovation

::: I feel like I am writing to you from the future. The world of post-Christian Europe is very different from the world I grew up in, but it’s hard to explain.
Link via The Upstream Collective

::: US State Matching Game

Photo: Ember guides and AH - dinner and discovery.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Societies of World Changers

On the left is AHons, a college sophomore at a small private college here in Maryland. She runs the "Educators for Justice" society at her college campus and invited Trevin to come and speak to them about his recent global experiences.

A few other Ember peeps went along since this was a possible entry point for us to facilitate something for these group of college kids who are, obviously, already interested in concepts like wealth, poverty, aid and development, and charity. So some of our time with AHons before the gathering was in discovery - her community's values, goals and context.

Trevin did a great job with his talk and a few of the students had intriguing questions like, "How do you build sustainability into a missions vocation," and "Do most people that do this follow the model of work-for-a-time and serve-for-a-time?" These questions should, in fact, inform us about this emerging generation. For starters, they are intent about making a difference in the world.

These emerging global student leaders are all around us. Sometimes there are 'societies' of them. Other times, we have to dig for them. But they are there. And Ember exists for them.

Monday, October 01, 2012

October Kindling

+ The transition for our family to having a high schooler and a middle schooler has been interesting. But everyone is doing well overall. I might unpack this later.
+ Both girls went on our church's youth retreat this past weekend. It was a combined middle/high school retreat which they don't always do.
+ I've always been amazed at the logistics it takes to run something like that - think 6 buses and hundreds of volunteers.
+ CStolte, Ember 2011-2012 intern, helped out in our Ems 6th grade girls cabin. Love that.
+ Trevin is speaking tonight at Mt Saint Mary's University to their Educators for Social Justice club. Who knew there was such a club? I'm going along for the ride.
+ Our intern is doing the work. This past month has been focused on some missions concepts that she's reading and reflecting on.
+ Some Ember peeps are hitting Perspectives next week in Baltimore. Love taking people to drop in and listen to some of those classes. Everything changes after taking that class.
+ Had lunch last week with DanP from Serve the City Baltimore and Ember guide Amy. Dan is a fabulous leader who spent time in London on a church planting team before coming back to his hometown to run STC. We had a great conversation about student missions, culture and leadership.
+ I'm speaking at Cru at Howard Community College later this month. Stop by if you are around.
+ I'm futuristically trying to imagine summer 2013. Excited already.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Millennials Will Save the Cities and Destroy the Country

::: Three Symptoms of a Vulnerable Team

::: How to Run Your Meetings Like Apple and Google

Photo: ICF Leiden decorates even the bathrooms.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bi-Vocational Ember Guides

Congrats to one of our Ember guides, Trevin Hoekzema, who has landed a gig as a missions administrator at Bay Area Community Church outside of Annapolis. I've got the utmost respect for Bay Area's missions pastor, Casely Essamuah, who Trevin will directly report to.

Ember has had a very informal relationship with Bay Area and we love their global awareness and focus. They've got a great view on what the world looks like, lots of good efforts in getting a large church involved and have some significant investments in multiplication efforts outside their church.

Bi-vocational ministry is a significant strategy for Ember. Trevin, like all of our guides, fits into this and we are excited at what he brings to Bay Area as well as how his experiences there will help Ember catalyze the future.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Student to Leader to Influencer

This is a photo of Lynn from May 2005 when she was a 'normal' suburban high school kid. I love the symbolism behind this photo - it represents a team of students going outside themselves in serving some kids, creating something from almost nothing [a playground puppet show] and, like Mike Breen calls it, a kairos moment - for both these students and for me. At this moment in time, I realized, again, the passion of the next generation.

Since this shot, Lynn helped us lead some student missions efforts as well as traveling on her own adventures during college. She has since finished school and become an elementary school teacher in Northern Virginia. Lord willing, Ember will help her with a little cross cultural project next year that is in her imagination right now. Her context is her new church - urban; intern-generational; racially and economically diverse, and full of young adults who want mark history.

Ember continues to be honored at being stewards of the amazing people we get to work with. Not everyone transitions from a student to a leader to an influencer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Forty Three

My wife got me a card with the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme that said, "It's not the years, it's the mileage." So true. Here's to another year friends.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vision Team Prep - Team 1006

I spent about an hour late one evening last week with 3 people who comprise a missions vision team headed to East Asia [vague details on purpose] early next month. From my experience observing global strategies and reading vision reports, vision teams function best when they are prepared slightly differently than your normal missions trip [although we all know there is no normal missions experience.] Vision teams are responsible for communicating how a partnership will work, what teams going can expect, determining how the partnership will be successful, and being advocates and liaisons for their overseas hosts - no big deal right.

We centered around three paradigms for their team.
1 - be a mapmaker - the mapmaker role gives you clarity for understanding context.
2 - empower the indigenous - how can the whole partnership empower the people best to reach their culture.
3 - find the people of peace - the best influencers.

These fun topics, and more, also came up:
Perspectives was a major catalyst - growing a heart for the world.
Sending versus going.
Relational versus task oriented missions experience.
Toxic Charity.
Travel logistics - like always scan an image of your passport and then email it to yourself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Burn

::: Which US Cities are Most and Least Racially Diverse

::: Why Mormons are Growing Faster than Evangelicals

::: African Migrants Calling Maine Home

Photo: Matt Maloy, one of Ember's board of directors, Arizona 2012.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Teaching Notes - LC - Sept 2

My teaching notes from speaking at Light Company [our middle school ministry] on Sept 2nd. Slides are here. Steal what you want. Note that I borrowed the theme from the book of the same name. I always always always consider it a great privilege to speak to students.
Love Does

A simple phrase. Also the title of a book that I read a few months ago. It accurately captures the essence of a few pieces of us.
Start of school - pattern of thoughts and behaviors that have the ability to change everything

Context of a loving God - He does something
You can't love bbq and not do something about it

When we think of the word love - we think of this.
** cat and cow
** dog

Think about it in terms of Scriptures - Luke 15
who am I in the story
who is God in the story

the lost sheep
** dorothy

the lost coin
** josh - restore

the lost son

worldview - the way you see the world

** isabella - bru
even a person far from God knows that you Love Does

** africa stop hunger now event - this is not normal

do you love ?
move towards someone
baby step

** rachel beckwith

Related: Speaking at LC, Feb 5.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Notes - The Advantage

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

For the past few months or so, I've been encouraging a lot of people that I meet with about the importance of organizational structure. Yes of course the character and capacity of the people on your team is important. But almost just as important is that you have an organizational structure that allows you to do what you want to do. I know this sounds obvious. Like one of my favorite mantras of Mosaic : Structure must submit to Spirit. This book took this idea to task.

The second large idea that hit me from this book deals with the value of trust. Specifically, I have been on teams in the past where the issue of trust was obvious - members of this team don't trust one another. That's certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. What hit me even more was reminders of specific times when I've been on a team and have withheld trusting another team member. That's a very personal flaw that I should have fixed.

Anyway, on to the notes. Most of you readers would really enjoy this book.
Build a Cohesive Team : Build Trust - Master Conflict - Achieve Commitment - Embrace Accountability
Create Clarity
Overcommunicate Clarity
Reinforce Clarity

Teams: A good way to understand a working group is to think of it like a golf team, where players go off and play on their own and then get together and add up their scores at the end of the day. A real team is more like a basketball team, one that plays together simultaneously, in an interactive, mutually dependent, and often interchangeable way.
I like to say that teamwork is not a virtue. It is a choice - and a strategic one. That means leaders who choose to operate as a real team willingly accept the work and the sacrifices that are necessary for any group that wants to reap the benefits of true teamwork.
A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieve a common objective for their organization.
When it comes to discussions and decision making, there are two critical ways that members of effective teams must communicate: advocacy and inquiry.
When more than eight or nine people are on a team, members tend to advocate a heck of a lot more than they inquire.... When a team is small, members are more likely to use much of their time asking questions and seeking clarity, confident that they'll be able to regain the floor and share their ideas or opinions when necessary.
The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust.
- personal histories, profiling [mbti], fundamental attribution error.
When team members trust one another, when they know that everyone on the team is capable of admitting when they don't have the right answer, and when they're willing to acknowledge when someone else's idea is better than theirs, the fear of conflict and the discomfort it entails is greatly diminished. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best posssible answer.
As critical as conflict is, it's important to understand that different people, different families, and different cultures participate in conflict in different ways.
When people fail to be honest with one another about an issue they disagree on, their disagreement around that issue festers and ferments over time until it transforms into frustration around that person.
When team members get used to choosing the latter option - withholding their opinions - frustration inevitably sets in. Essentially, they're deciding to tolerate their colleague rather than trust him.
... It's important to remember that the reluctance to engage in conflict is not always a problem of conflict per se. In many cases, and perhaps in most of them, the real problem goes back to a lack of trust.
... the more comfortable a leader is holding people on a team accountable, the less likely she is to be asked to do so. The less likely she is to confront people, the more she'll be called on to do it by subordinates who aren't willing to do her dirty work for her.
6 questions for organizational clarity
why do we exist
how do we behave
what do we do
how will we succeed
what is most important, right now
who must do what
The only way for people to embrace a message is to hear it over a period of time, in a variety of different situations, and preferably from different people. That's why great leaders see themselves as Chief Reminding Officers as much as anything else. Their top two priorities are to set the direction of the organization and then to ensure that people are reminded of it on a regular basis.
The point of leadership is not to keep the leader entertained, but to mobilize people around what is most important. When that calls for repetition and reinforcement, which it almost does, a good leader relishes that responsibility.
Providing employees with a means of communicating upward to their leaders is important in any organization. However, it's not the panacea it's often presented to be. That's because noncohesive leadership teams that have not aligned themselves around common answers to critical questions are not in a position to respond adequately to employee input and requests. In fact, getting more input from employees often only exacerbates frustration in an organization when that input cannot be digested and used.
Great organizations, unlike countries, are never run like a democracy.
Keeping a relatively strong performer who is not a cultural fit creates a variety of problems. Most important of all, it sends a loud and clear message to employees that the organization isn't all that serious about what it says it believes.... When leaders take the difficult step of letting a strong performer go because of a values mismatch, they not only send a powerful message about their commitment to their values, they also usually find that the performance of the remaining employees improves because they are no longer being stifled by the behavior of their former colleague.

Four types of meetings:
admin - daily check in - 5-10 mins
tactical - weekly staff - 45-90 mins
strategic - ad hoc topical - 2-4 hours
developmental - quarterly off site review - 1-2 days

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fall 12 Ember intern

In 2006, Emilie was part of the first iteration of an internship structure - she was our first ever intern for SPACE. It was her original idea - that she receive public high school credit for learning and doing stuff about global cultures and missional leadership. That idea has continued on with Ember as well and what was a great idea surrounding one specific student became a better idea - the internship is a significant leadership pipeline. We think so highly of it, it's become a core offering. The best leaders for your initiative in the future are the ones in it right now.

As opposed to some 'internships', we try to shy away from busy work. We don't have a lot of busy work in the first place anyway - we don't do mailings or put on fundraiser dinners or that kind of stuff - maybe we should. Instead, we want our interns doing what we do. They, like the rest of us, are tasked with being catalysts. By design, it is both content and experience driven - interns do a good amount of reading and reflecting on that reading as well as helping lead Ember experiences.

DK is our Fall 12 intern. She traveled with us to AZ this past summer and was involved in a missions prep event last Spring. We're thrilled to work with her this semester.

Photo: Deanna Knox, 2nd from the right on the bottom row. Grace student missions prep, April 2012.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Burn

::: 7 roles of a board of directors

::: Upstream publishes Tradecraft
The most underdeveloped basic Christian skills are those related to missionary thinking and practice.
This is going to be good.

::: Third Places Important in the Developing World too
Link via Mel McGowan

Photo: Brussels, Belgium tram map.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Ember's End of Summer Gathering

Ember's end of summer gathering was a few weeks ago and we try to do this every summer if we can. It's a time when we try to gather whoever is around to talk about what kinds of missions adventures they were a part of over the summer. It's always filled with amazing young people and it's always an evening that is way too short. This summer's crowd included people that went to Argentina, Ghana, Belgium + The Netherlands + Germany [that was me], China, Baltimore and New Orleans. Fantastic group of people.

Below are some of the missions concepts that were brought up. Like we always say, show a high school student the way the world really looks and maybe they can make some significant decisions for a career to make a difference.

Unreached people groups - europe
Urban migration – china
Underground churches and leadership development – china
Cultures that are task vs relationship driven – argentina
Economic ladder via farming – ghana
Yield in crops, subsistence vs mechanized farming – ghana
The explosion of the early church and the church in china – china
Serve with people who are already doing something – Baltimore
Every person was asked What is next?
The Jesus film - china

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Hello SeptEmber

+ I took 3 weeks off this summer from the day job, meaning my vacation balance went into the negative. The 3 weeks were a week in Orlando with the fam, a week in Brussels with a team from Grace and a week in Queen Creek AZ with Ember. Sometimes, it all works out.
+ This summer was 13,000 air miles [which is a lot for me], 6 flights, 7 trains, lots of cars.
+ Funest summer of my life - I loved every moment.
+ DK is our Ember intern for the fall - her missions reading started yesterday.
+ We hosted an end of summer Ember gathering and just like always, it was too short and filled with amazing people. Will post some notes from that later.
+ Our kids spent a week without us this summer, which is not that unusual. Kt was in Baltimore for a week. Em was at Camp Sandy Cove. Both had great experiences.
+ Kt had a great time in Baltimore with STC Baltimore. One of her items of feedback was that she wanted to not only serve with her leaders but to really know their story and be taught by them. I think this is a universal desire and our mission trips should seek to meet this need.
+ Ember has some small projects lined up for the Fall. Every year is unpredictable but true to form, some cool opportunities are possible.
+ New website - Would love to hear your feedback. My favorite - the pictures.

Friday, July 20, 2012

BRU and AZ favorites

Click to enlaaaaaaaarge.

Also, I'm starting my annual blog sabbatical a little early. It's been a bit crazy since I returned. I'm also writing a report about our time in Europe, contact me if you would like a copy. See you in September.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

AZ 2012 wrap up

Here's a few insights I'm reminded of as I think about our week with Amadeo:

- We need all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. If you've followed along for a while, you know Amadeo is 6 years old, pretty organic and very community impact focused. Ben is an amazing leader - highly creative, willing to risk, sold out to serve his community, pioneering and has a great deal of missional imagination. Our experience focused on two goals - helping catalyze some spiritual movement in their community and giving some students an experience to learn from Ben. This experience fulfilled both fantastically.
- Ben has created a culture of prayer in his community. Just like in 2010, it's inspiring.
- Unlike many mission teams I have led, it didn't seem like we spent all of our time in 'ministry.' Instead, it was a very laid back schedule, which seems odd for a 'missions trip.' Ember is moving in this meaning that these summer experiences look less like normal mission trips and more like leadership labs. That is a good tension we are moving towards.
- Distributed mission teams can work but it takes more concentration on logistics. In this case, ORapp's flights lined up well with ours including being in the same terminal. For minors that are flying to meet us, we should be more careful rather than leave it to chance. [Ask our daughter K about the guy she sat next to on the flight home - he had just been released from jail.] In the even more collaborative future, this will become standard. And I loved being able to do this together with a great missionary family.
- Amadeo and Ember have benefited from the value of long term relationships - the time span on this one is 7 years and counting. Excited to see what's next.
- From a conversation with Zak and Kat about another ministry they dropped in on a few weeks ago as part of their nationwide tour: Your 'ministry activities' must be simple and reproducible enough so that a person who works a normal job can do it.

More pictures of our time here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

AZ - Redemptive Analogies Session

On Monday evening in AZ, I facilitated a short discussion on redemptive analogies with the Amadeo youth group. In case you were interested, here's some links:

Children of Men
I am Legend
Wide Awake, Katy Perry

Remember, a redemptive analogy is a story that is parallel to the Gospel and is well known in the culture. Today, our predominant media is film, and with students, a case could be made that it's youtube.