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.