Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Announcing Ember X

Ember is traveling with a team to Aix-en-Provence, France this coming July. The team that we have assembled is an amazing group of young people interested in global missions, leading in the future global matrix and marking human history. Our partners are a fantastic team that have been in Aix [pronounced 'X'] for a good few years seeking to bless their city as well as another team coming from Austin. The work we will be doing involves a camp the church in Aix runs for their community every summer.

You might be saying, "yeah pretty rough - a missions trip to southern France." And you might be right. But regardless of what you think, Ember is executing this project because for this summer, this is the best method for this fantastic group of young people to deeply learn from world class global leaders and apply their learning real time. This summer sends these students on a trajectory to learn, serve and lead for a confusing and foggy future that will be pluralistic, massively diverse, post modern, post Christian and culturally distant from almost every existing expression of Church in 2013. In case you haven't noticed, Ember is committed to helping students like these connect with the best global leaders we can find.

You want to change the future - watch these students and learn from them. Obviously, I'm telling you more about them and Ember X soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Matt Beach

Matt Beach found out about Ember on the internet somehow a few months ago. He left me a comment and then we started interacting over Twitter and got connected about nonprofits, catalytic leadership and stuff like that. Come to find out that we are very similar, he's been leading and teaching a church community of college students and young adults for thirteen years... in addition to working a full time job with lots of required travel while also taking care of a wife and young children.

The picture is from this past Sunday when he interviewed me via Skype with his class, talking about leadership, starting an organization, reflecting on the 3:12:120 idea and why I started Ember and what kind of impact we have made. It was a fun time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Loved connecting with Matt and all that he is doing for his faith community and those young adults, especially with his recent focus of trying to help his young people make a difference in the world, hence the theme of catalyst and catalytic leadership. Did I mention that he's been doing this for thirteen years? Maybe some of us need to be interviewing him...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Notes - Bay Area Missions Kickoff

Fabulous time with the missions people at Bay Area Comm Church on Saturday. Always appreciate Casely and his team and the way they prepare their teams for mission.

My rough talk was about the big changes in missions happening right now and three big ones that we should think about during our experiences this summer. Here are my slides - as always, steal what you want.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Burn

::: RIP Howard Hendricks, the Prof at Dallas Theological Seminary for 60 years
*Observation, Interpretation, Application.
*Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.
The measure of you as a leader is not what you do, but what others do because of what you do.
And... my pastor Mark Norman was hugely influenced by the Prof. So all you GRACE people... you are too.
* - I've used these phrases a ton of times but didn't realize where they came from until yesterday.

::: Twitter Languages Mapped in NYC

::: When Culture Turns into Policy
But I disagree with the last bullet, "Culture simply happens—it isn't created."

::: "If what I do has no consequences it doesn't make me free. It makes me meaningless." -Dick Foth @NCC

Photo: trash can, shopping mall in Londrina, Brasil

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Team Training Tools - Service Project

Take your team to do some kind of community service project. You'll learn about each other, what it is like to work together and how to communicate. You will probably even have a lot of fun and the experience will probably normalize your team a bit. [That may feel bad but it is good.]

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Happy 40-something today to my wife Deanna love of my life.

It's been a difficult few years with your health but you continue to inspire us all with your resolve to do the right things even when they are difficult and unpleasant. You give us all hope - hope that we too can persevere when the road is bleak.

You love your family well and we are blessed for it. Your mark on the future is bright as you help launch your children, continue to be patron for the next generation and keep me grounded in some sort of reality ;-).

Here's to a fabulous next 40-something year. LOVE

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Connecting the dots

Bay Area Community Church is an church we love to work with - they have a high value getting their people involved in global missions. Trevin, one of our Ember guides, recently took a part time job there and he's serving as a point person for a short term training thing we are going to do there. And their missions pastor is one of the best around, with the unique perspective of a man raised in Africa serving in suburbia on the East Coast.
I was sent a job opening at Bay Area and passed it on to Trevin.
In April 2011, I ran a short workshop talking about mission trips, how to build teams and how they change us. It was my first time working with Casely, missions pastor at Bay Area.
I met LeilaB, who introduced me to Casely, missions pastor at Bay Area Community Church. Leila, at that time, was working as Casely's executive assistant.
I attended a dinner at Dave Shive's house with a bunch of young 20 something adults where the main conversation topic was old school churches, global missions and the emerging generation. Dave is a well known missions guy around DC and Baltimore, teaching at Washington Bible College for years as well as a Perspectives instructor, also for many years.
Dave and I met at the Advancing Churches in Missions conference in November 2010. It was one of the last formal gatherings the organization would host.
I was invited to give a workshop at the ACMC conference in November of 2010, the day after I held the very first board of directors meeting for Ember. Lots of energy that weekend.
In the summer of 2010, I got an invitation on LinkedIn from Joe Steinitz, who was well connected in the global missions arena around the Baltimore/DC area. We had lots of mutual friends and had met here and there on a few occasions.

Seth Godin is right - we have moved from the industrial economy to the connection economy. Don't miss that.

[This post inspired by this post.]

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Burn

::: The cost of living around the world
Tokyo is number one.
Related - What is Middle Class in Manhattan.

::: Some people in Hong Kong live in cages

::: Top 10 reasons why our kids leave church
Link via Amy

::: Disappearing Middle Class Neighborhoods in Baltimore

::: Always take the chicken. (Advice after flying 1,000,000 miles of global trips) @RickWarren

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Not All Suburban Kids Belong with the Poor

There is this unspoken belief nowadays that to really follow Jesus, you must sell everything and move in to live with the poor. To be a real missionary, to make a real impact, to really live your faith, you should give up everything suburban, move to a rundown part of a global city and live in an abandoned building. Now don't get me wrong, there are elements of this that are true and right - incarnation, sacrifice, community, and serving others because of the One who served us. But it's not unilaterally the best for everyone. Following Jesus is much more contextual than that and this concept is dangerous when applied to everyone.

Let me tell you about a few high school boys I met last month. There is John, who is building an ATV for his senior project. Once it is built, he will program it to autonomously parallel park itself. Then there is Paul, who has three years of real experience with graphic design and 3d motion graphics, which he learned pretty much on his own. And then there is George, who was, at one time, the fastest high school senior in the nation when it came to running the mile and has a lot of interest in civil engineering. I know I talk about potential of the emerging generation all the time, but even this was a little crazy. I would bet that any of these three boys, all who have a vibrant and dynamic faith, along with all kinds of suburban young people that you and I both know, could do a myriad of things with their future. Have semi-normal successful careers, invent something amazing, invest their time, talents and money in something incredible that could benefit hundreds or thousands of people or more. You get the drift - when someone has this kind of potential, you can't predict their path. You just know it could be good.

To tell every suburban kid like this that the only way to really be in God's will is to trade all that specific and specialized talent to minister to the poor - that is plain irresponsible. Instead, we've got to help them think through vocation and calling, potential and stewardship, and living missional lives while being given much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GRACE student missions kick off

Fun to be a part of GRACE's student missions kick off this past weekend. [Disclosure: my family and I attend Grace, they are one of Ember's clients, and I serve as an adviser to the missions director.] Like I've said before - when learning from an org like this, keep in mind that they are very mature. Operating at this level requires doing these kinds of things for years and years and learning the whole time. So keep that in mind - like maybe don't use them as a baseline.

This weekend was a mandatory parents meeting, where their team outlined the opportunities, some of the strategy and connected interested parents with point people. They also gave out this great handout as well as a calendar of everything student missions related for the next 8 months.

Lots of bold thinking with this crew. That's part of the fun of it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Team Training Tools - Assessments

Take your team through some kind of personality or character or decision making assessment. You know our favorites - the Myers Briggs type indicator and StrengthsFinder. The goal is two fold - to know yourself better and to communicate at a faster, deeper level with the rest of your team.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Focus, Locations and Fires

Jesus and his disciples worked on multiple fronts at one time. They did not settle down and focus on one location. Everywhere he and his disciples went they lit fires that would spread beyond their direct control and influence. Everything Jesus did on mission was reproducible and sustainable. Moving on meant new disciples had to take responsibility to reach their community.
- Steve Addison, What Jesus Started

Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Debriefing Short Term Teams
Some good stuff from Larry McCrary and The Upstream Collective

::: How Snapchat Took Over Yale
Here's the secret sauce to Snapchat's viral growth: its group messaging functionality. When a user sends a snap to multiple friends, the recipients receive a snap indistinguishable from an individualized message. In effect, mass snaps feel personalized. This is the holy grail of messaging platforms: evoking strong emotion with minimal friction.

::: The 10 Easiest Foreign Languages to Learn

Photo: Mid day decompression, Coney Island, NY, Jan 2013.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

What We are Working On

+ 2 short term mission team prep sessions for some great local churches, spring
+ helping place a college student with one of our trusted partners, summer
+ gearing up guide(s) to help facilitate a team from Grace to Amadeo, summer
+ team of interns and guides to travel to Europe, summer
+ speaking over skype to a church ministry about catalytic leadership, spring
+ hosting two college teams for a local service leadership day with STC Baltimore
+ connecting like minded missional leaders whenever we can
+ systems and processes to support this with as little structure as needed

If this sounds busy, it is, like every 'missions' person every spring. But behind all of this, we are dreaming of how the leaders we work with are going to mark human history. That's the developer and the futuristic.

What about you?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Notes - Oscar Muriu at GRACE

Pastor Oscar Murui, lead pastor at Nairobi Chapel, spoke at Grace this past weekend. Here's some rough notes and I've added some comments that you might be interested in at the bottom.
Nairobi Chapel -
church planting vision - 300 church plants by 2020
200 in kenya
60 in african capital cities
30 outside the african continent including europe

epicenter of christianity used to be europe, and used to be the us

seismic changes
1 - global south
75% of all christians now live in underdeveloped countries
epicenter is now in africa [timbuktu]
23,000 new christians a day in africa
6,000 a day leave the church in america and europe
New Shape of World Christianity - Mark Noll
more people on sunday in church in china than in all of europe

generosity of american and europe to send missionaries to the developing world
impact of missions in s hemp

2 - maturity of churches in south hemp
go back to europe to evangelize
2005 - more missionaries being sent in global south than north
please recognize the maturity of these churches
see them as partners
not young fledgling ministries anymore
true partnerships need equal maturity *

south - familial - marriage for life, independent become same identity
north - business - goals, time limited, achiever oriented
bible - fellowship - koninia - I Cor 12

1 - the goal of the church is interdependence
each part depends on each other
when something does its own thing, its called cancer

2 - missions today must build in reciprocity
give and receive
"if it works in the west, export it to the rest"
work hard to be generous to receive
dependency - i have nothing to give

3 - mutual respect and humility
pituatary gland
smallest organ but does something unique and great
in gods economy, the smallest churches have something to learn from

1 - What he said about partnerships was powerful but I appreciated what he said about maturity the most. Partnerships should take into consideration how mature each organization is and whether they are at the same maturity level.
2 - It can be a very tricky ordeal for someone who grew up in the developing world to talk to suburban Americans about missions. It requires someone who is extremely thoughtful, wise and culturally adept. Oscar is all of that and more.
3 - Deanna and I have thought about reverse missions for many years. I've only met a handful of people that have the ability to host teams at an expert skill level. In our circles, that is the next big accomplishment. [If you seriously want to try this, get in touch. But after this summer is over...]

Related: 10 Mins with Pastor Oscar, Center of Christianity [more recent article]

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Team Training Tools - The Texts

The Short Term Missions Workbook, the book on the left, is a book we've used for many years and many teams. We just came across Deep Justice Journeys Student Journal, the book on the right, and it's impressive as well. Purchase one or the other and skim it and then walk your team through some of the chapters and exercises. Either one of them will help your team. In fact, if you buy either and don't like them, we will buy your copy from you.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Friday Burn

::: The 2013 Gates Letter - this week's must read
Combining global poverty, the MDGs, education, engineering, technology, medicine, public health and policy and a myriad of other disciplines. Whatever tangible skill you want to study, missions has a place for it.

::: The Ambivert
Ambiverts, a term coined by social scientists in the 1920s, are people who are neither extremely introverted nor extremely extroverted.

::: For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off from all human contact

::: Predicting the Future, and the odds of it

::: @lensweet - In the subtitles of a Chinese Star Wars dvd, "Jedi Council" was translated as "Presbyterian Church" (from "Found in Translation")

::: @ajsherrill - We once inhabited a society of believers tempted by doubt. Now we inhabit a society of doubters tempted by belief. #EvangelismRevisited