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.