Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Burn

::: 2013 internet trends
This is so good - a must read.

::: The #1 tourist destination in the world...

::: Planting 1000 churches by 2050

::: The next worlds tallest building and mass urbanization

Photo: San Xavier, Tucson, AZ.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ember X Bake Sale at The Little French Market

The Ember X team is having a little bake sale in Sunday June 9. Our team will be in front The Little French Market [get it - French...?] and this is part of old town Ellicott City's second Sunday market.

We would love to see you there - we will be there from around 10am - 3pm. If you are interested in donating a baked good, we would really appreciate that too. Just fill out this little form and someone will be in touch with you to work out specific details.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Creative Revenue Plan - Slumlord

Well, sort of, but not really.... About a year after Ember became officially official, an opportunity landed in our laps to host a good friend in our house during some weeknights. BB, parent of a student/leader/Ember Board member, who we knew really well, had an interesting career circumstance where he traveled here during the week for his job. So, for a few nights each week, he takes over the Ember international office.

The deal is a win win. For the better part of a year, he has helped creatively create some revenue for Ember, while saving money on a hotel. And he gets to see first hand how much fun the Shengs really have.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The New Suburbs

1 Greek, 1 Ethiopian, 1 Taiwanese, 4 Caucasians , 1 Chinese, and 2 mixed Caucasian/Chinese go on a missions trip...

This is the make up of the Ember X team, based in Howard County, Merryland, a suburb between DC and Baltimore. Note that the Caucasians are in a minority, Asians are in a majority and the presence of two people who are of mixed races.

These are the new suburbs. You might already know this or you may need to open your perspective to the suburbs in a different fashion. You may also have to pivot, adjust and learn again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Burn

::: World Languages Facts and Numbers
PS - You should think about learning Mandarin

::: The Suburbanization of Poverty

::: Graduation Advice We Wish We'd Been Given

::: A pastor's question: "how's my church doing". A missionary's question: "how's my city doing" #kingdom @bobrobertsjr

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Future Casting

In the spring of 2005, I created a student missions training single day event and made it a non-negotiable for all student mission team members and leaders. During the event, we created environments for teams to work together and we brought in facilitators to cover specific missions concepts. The following year, we expanded on the idea and took 70 leaders and students away for the weekend to make the experience even more intense. We called it Mission Advance. Mission Advance, in that form, continued to run for the next two years after that. Even now in that same faith community, they still run an event very similar and our Ember team has been honored to be a part of it. A personal best decision with lots of help from lots of people.

In September of 2005, a high school student took the brave initiative and took me up on an experimental leadership opportunity: a student missions leadership internship. It was a pipeline before we realized it and it created momentum and a system for identifying and catalyzing future leaders. Even now, I'm amazed at how many high caliber leaders and influencers do not think about this important concept. It is a tragic omission.

In the spring of 2006, 7 years ago this month, I bought 30 copies of Now Discover Your Strengths and gave copies to specific people and implored them to take the StrengthsFinder assessment. I funded the purchase through some leftover student missions money in an account I had freedom to use. If you haven't noticed, StrengthsFinder has recently become a staple among many leadership development people. Getting this was not my idea, I stole it from Mosaic and one of their leadership development initiatives. One of the best "catalyzing talent" decisions I've made.

Back in those days, the gaps we needed to fill in our student missions environment were: a leadership pipeline, assessment based leadership development and missions team training. My mentor Alex McManus talks about the idea of desynchronization - there are some ideas that hit people at different times and people change at desynchronized times. I submit that some of these ideas might still be ahead of their time.

What is futuristic right now for student missions? Ember is working on it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ember X Creative Revenue - Lifeguarding

Kt - our older daughter's - creative revenue plan: lifeguarding. After over 40 hours of training, she is now certified to be a lifeguard for the local community association of pools. It's popular summer job for the high school students in our community and getting through the training alone says something about commitment, tenacity and your ability to float.

This plan actually benefits more than just the revenue part of a missions experience. I've been on teams in the past where having a certified lifeguard is a huge benefit: kids, water, fun.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ember X team mtg #6

:: Skype with Teal Rapp, who gives an overview about camp, the context for Europe - how it's expensive and materialistic and how ministry is so different than in other contexts, and what does post Christian mean.
:: Talking about cultural distance, what that looks like for traveling to different global cultures and how that relates to clusters of cultures within our own culture.
:: Smores.

Thanks for praying by name for this team. Back row: Deanna, Measu, MK, Katie, Emily. Front row: Deanna, Tony, Mike, Hope, Victor. Fantastic team.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Breakfasts Around the World
Link via Chris

::: What Christian Leaders Can Learn from the Surge In Mormon Youth
Mormons expect a lot from their teenagers: They ordain their young men into the ministry at age 12, expect their young people to attend seminary every day of high school, and ask them to serve in the field upwards of two years. Needless to say, we don't.

::: Being a Releasing Pastor
From being general controller to being primary releaser.
From being the hero to being the hero maker.
From focusing on just their needs to focusing on their call.
So so good. Personally, I believe the primary challenge of the church of the future is releasing, mobilizing and catalyzing their talent.

::: Mark Batterson on jump starting creativity.

Photo: Some train station in the Netherlands, early in the morning. July 2012.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Notes - Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team : A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers and Facilitators

:: Teams
Teamwork remains the one sustainable competitive advantage that has been largely untapped.
First, because teamwork is hard to measure. Why? Because it impacts the outcome of an organization in such comprehensive and invasive ways that it's virtually impossible to isolate it as a single variable. Many executives prefer solutions that are more easily measurable and verifiable, and so they look elsewhere for their competitive advantages.
But even if the impact of teamwork were more easily measurable, executives probably would still look elsewhere. Why? Because teamwork is extremely hard to achieve. It can’t be bought, and it can’t be attained by hiring an intellectual giant from the world’s best business school. It requires levels of courage and discipline—and emotional energy—that even the most driven executives don’t always possess.

:: Trust
The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage. [<-- the money quote]

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, team work is all but impossible.
In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers' intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.

:: Discomfort and conflict
One way for a team to know if they are having enough conflict is for them to think about how an outsider to the team would feel sitting in on a team meeting. A great team will look at least a little strange to an outsider who isn't accustomed to the direct and unfiltered dialogue taking place. Like a friend invited to dinner at a close family's house, they would probably be a little taken aback, at least at first.

When a team recovers from an incident of destructive conflict, it builds confidence that it can survive such an event, which in turn builds trust.

When people self-identify and publicly declare their outlook on conflict, they become much more open to adjusting it to whatever team norms need to be established.

The leader is going to have to be ready to not only light the fuse of good conflict but to gently fan the flames for a while too.

:: Commitment
Commitment is about a group of intelligent, driven individuals buying in to a decision precisely when they don't naturally agree. In other words, it's the ability to defy a lack of consensus.

:: Accountability
Peer pressure and the distaste for letting down a colleague will motivate a team player more than any fear of authoritative punishment or rebuke.
The most important challenge of building a team where people hold one another accountable is overcoming the understandable hesitance of human beings to give one another critical feedback.
Help people realize that when they fail to provide peers with constructive feedback they are letting them down personally. By holding back, we are hurting not only the team, but also our teammates themselves.

:: Results
Results-oriented teams establish their own measurements for success.They don't allow themselves the wiggle room of subjectivity. But this is not easy, because subjectivity is attractive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creative Revenue Plan - Calligraphy

My wife Deanna's creative revenue plan: calligraphy. Wedding invitations, place cards for a sophisticated dinner, invites for fancy events, or specific art work. All done by hand.

If you are going to be the host with the most, get in touch.

Monday, May 13, 2013

This is What Trust Looks Like

The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage. - Patrick Lencioni
+ Trevin tells me [in a very constructive tone] that sometimes I talk really fast and in choosing a cross cultural tool to teach on, I should choose something that I know less about so I can teach it with more depth. And I should try to talk a little slower. Amy says, "Wow, that is some unfiltered debate." I am not offended or put off at all. In fact, I value the feedback and let it marinate in my mind for a few days. In the end, I choose a topic that I don't know that well. But I still probably talk too fast.

+ During some team building rotations, I was a floater, meaning I was off watching everyone do the work and also in charge of telling teams where to rotate to next. At the first switch, I totally screwed it up. I call Amy, who is down in the woods waiting for her next team to arrive. She says, "It doesn't matter who it is, just whatever works so that someone rotates into something they haven't done before."

+ In the fantasy world of infinite time, any time our team does a teaching or presentation, we would practice it. In reality, sometimes we don't have time. Trevin and Amy are tasked with delivering a talk to student mission trip leaders. Kristen, Trevin and I divide up workshop topics on cross cultural tools. Everyone runs with these tasks and although I feel a need to listen to at least part of their talk, I decide to not worry about it. Because I trust them. The feedback I get about all the sessions read something like this:
"Kristen did a wonderful job presenting the information."
"Trevin's was solid... needs more refining, but the message was excellent....He was well received and people were talking about for the rest of the day."
"I really enjoyed the combination of academic (definition/diagram/handout) and stories to model the process. The Circle seems like a good tool to use all-the-time!"

We put a lot of value in our guides, knowing they are talented, have lots of cross cultural experience and can relate and inspire the next generation. Probably better than all that - they are courageous.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Burn

::: What the Steamship and Landline Tell us About the Decline of Cars

::: The Most Crowded Part of the World

::: 21 of the World's Largest Unengaged-Unreached People Groups with Representatives in the US
Note NYC, Detroit and .... Rockville, Merryland

::: "I believe the missional challenge of the twenty-first century is the city. It is the new '10/40' window of this generation" -Lillestrand @pauldz

Photo: bathroom, on the train, somewhere between Bielefeld, Germany and Brussels, Belgium. July 2012.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Creative Revenue Plan - Donation Box

One of MB's creative revenue plans is this donation box. The context of this donation box is that it sits on the counter of a coffee shop that her parents own, in an affluent subdivision in Howard County called Maple Lawn. My guess is that most of the people that live in Maple Lawn aren't interested in organized religion or how Christianity might be in decline in Europe. So overall, I think it's pretty gutsy for her to put that out there in the first place.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

2013 Mission Support Metrics

The X team is exactly two months into our support raising - here are some metrics if you are involved in the same kind of thing. Creative revenue is included the notes too.

Some context:
+ This team is based in a highly affluent suburban area.
+ The project location is Southern Europe, which doesn't have the same 'mission draw' that a project might have if it were in the developing world. Hate to say it but it is true.
+ Team is mostly high school kids: 1 senior, 2 juniors, 3 freshmen, 1 6th grader, 1 college kid, 2 adults [sort of].
+ Every team member has significant overseas experience and has raised support before.

The metrics:
Target amount: $24500
Departure date: July 2
Start date: March 8
Time - we are 60 days in to the process, just about half way in terms of timeline.
Total Raised: $16980 - 69.3% of overall goal - $7520 left.
Of that total, $16054 was from support. $926 [5.4%]was from creative revenue plans.
$283 per day
105 donations = $163 / donation
55 days until departure. We need about $137/day.

We have a team bake sale scheduled. And team members continue to work their support networks and their creative revenue plans. If you feel like supporting something like this, get in touch.

Related: 2008 Mission Support Metrics

Monday, May 06, 2013

Student Missions Prep - The Tipping Point

Part of why Ember exists is to help student mission teams get ready for their missions experience. If you are like us, you know that there are lots of student mission teams that are woefully unprepared. One of our core competencies is helping prepare student teams and its always a joy to be involved.

GRACE termed their student missions preparation day The Tipping Point [which is a great book by the way] and it was our privilege to help facilitate a day like this for around 90 students and leaders broken into 9 different summer teams. GRACE has lots of mature systems when it comes to student missions and this day is part of their system.

Here's a rough outline of the day, feel free to steal what you want. If you want deeper details - get in touch. Our prep days like these are always customized and contextualized and we would love to help you.

+ Team Leader session
Trevin and Amy dived into the idea of kairos moments and how they related to the context of student mission trips and the larger context of discipling students. This was a phenomenal session and I loved both the content and their style of delivery. The content was something that leaders need but maybe didn't quite know that they need - who doesn't want to learn about helping students mark pivotal times in their journey and making significant decisions in light of those moments. Their style of delivery was Amy explaining the concepts interspersed with Trevin telling his stories of traveling around the world and how those experiences molded his missions perspective. Some of this content was taken from Building a Discipling Culture from 3DM.

+ Round Robin Prayer Rotation
Students rotating through each of the teams, praying for the summer experiences.

+ Tools of the Trade
There were three breakout sessions of 20 minutes each, based on cross cultural tools. These are simple, reproducible tools that students can use to understand another a new culture and also tools that will help them navigate the culture that they live in. Our hope is that they help prepare these students to both be an agent of change this summer on their missions trip as well as here at home. The three tools were mapmaking, person of peace and redemptive analogy, which are all concepts in our core curriculum. A great resource for this is the book Tradecraft.

+ Team Building Initiatives
The final element was team building initiatives. I've been pretty impacted by the book The Advantage and the emphasis on the idea of trust. So when we were imagining this element, I asked Amy if there was a way that we could help teams explicitly learn to trust each other. We all know that trust is earned over time and experience so doing the same thing in an afternoon was a challenge. I think the exercises helped facilitate did that, but of course, we'll know at the end of the summer.

I'm so proud of what our team did this day. Amy, Trevin, Kristen, Dustin and some other guests did a phenomenal job as well as some of our Ember X team who jumped in to help. These missions prep events are some of our most catalytic events and I'm expectant to see how these student teams throw fire this summer.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Friday Burn

::: The Payphone of the Future

::: Historical Lessons from the Decline of the German Church

::: Radical Cartography

Photo: Automatic sprinklers after camping out on the church property. Mission Advance, 2006.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Creative Revenue Plan - Car Detailing

VL's creative revenue plan: Car detailing. In fact, he's already got a pretty legit business running that he started last summer. He's got the skills, the supplies, the financial model and the network already in place.

If you've got a smooth ride that needs some cleaning, get in touch.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Post #3000

This post is the 3000th post on this blog. Hard to believe and I wanted to sort of commemorate it. It has come a long way.

I started this blog about ten years ago because it was an interesting medium back then and it seemed to be a great way to journal some cool stuff that was going on. Ten years later and it has become exactly that - an amazing journal of me and my family's journey as we hang and serve with some amazing individuals that represent the emerging generation. This thing really is for me - I search it all the time. The memories it evokes are amazing.

Of course, I'm happy to have you along for the ride too. As I documented life and catalyzing students, this blog has helped me meet some amazing people who have the same kind of mindset. Those that love students, people that are passionate about the intricacies of the world, ones that pour their lives out for others. Meeting these people, both in real life and virtually, because of this blog, has been a true privilege.