Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Catching Up with the Global Church

::: Doctor hacks his iPhone to detect parasites

::: Should Britain let go of London?

::: The goal is NOT to turn Kampala into Chicago. The goal is to help both Kampala and Chicago to look more like the New Jerusalem. @NoelCCDA @Fikkert

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Skype call earlir this week talking between Aix-en-Provence, France, Columbia, Merryland and Austin, Texas. Some of the players for Ember X include Jim - camp coordinator, Mark and his wife Alice - logistics for short term teams, Teal - our good friend who is bringing a team from Austin. He and his family lived in Aix for 5 years while he was the executive pastor of ICCP. And moi. Loved the overall spirit of everyone on the call - gracious, thankful, on mission for helping those distanced from Jesus.

Amazing conversation that included past background in missions, status of where teams are at now and a quick review of some documents outlining the schedule and overall theme for camp. Lots more drilling into details soon since this was a quick call to put faces to names.

In the meantime, the clear goal for Summer Kids Camp 2013 - An Aixtraordinary Journey: "To create an unforgettable memory of Jesus for children and their parents."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Announcing 2013 Wendy AZ

Ember is delighted to help facilitate our good friend Wendy serving with Amadeo Church in Queen Creek AZ this summer for 6 weeks. Wendy has been the ring leader with a community of college students at Salisbury Uni who have a consistent presence among different community impact projects near campus. and we've worked with her 5 or 6 different times through various missions/service/leadership events and weekends. She's the kind of global leader you want to hang around - funny, compassionate and convinced that she should serve others because she has been served.

We are expectant to hear some great stories about Wendy and Amadeo - both are going to bless each other like crazy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ember TSW

Ember partnered with Serve the City Baltimore last Saturday and hosted a few teams for a service day at The Samartians Women, which is an organization that serves women recovering from trauma. Located in Catonsville, they have a large property that is used for a residential program, an urban farm, and a vocational program. Our teams spent some time helping with various landscaping projects, cleaning up part of their vineyard, getting part of their urban farm ready for crops, and seeding plants in the greenhouse. The farm is a pretty significant piece for TSW: what they grow gets contributed to help the food desert in Baltimore [a new term for me] and the farm is also a piece in their culinary arts program, helping give recovery victims tangible skills. It's a good example of helping move people from self to service to systems.

Our coordinator at TSW did a great job of outlining human trafficking at a very high level. It seems like lots of people within Ember's circles know about the prevalence of human trafficking, what you may not know is that the Balt/DC area is a hot bed for it. Three things help contribute to this: an airport, an interstate and a seaport.

During lunch, we had a few Ember guides share about their global leadership experience. Trevin shared about context and persons of peace, including stories of his time in Ghana and South Africa. Leslie [who is also a board member] shared about the concept of who has the power and expertise in service relationships - sometimes you come in with the power and don't know it. Both talks were short and to the point, interactive and, I believe, well received, given the kinds of questions. Another reason why these teams we hosted were awesome. This is one of Ember's sweet spots.

The most fun I had all day was connecting with people we've worked with in the past. I felt like it would have been great to have meetings with so many of these people all day and I actually did that, mostly getting people to wheelbarrow stuff with me and talking while we did it. You call it talking, I call it working. Developer, futuristic, woo and wheelbarrows. Kristen, Wendy, Sam, Brooke, Carolyn, Alex : Ember X, Mt St Marys, Salisbury - throwing fire.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Global Cities of the Super Rich

::: 4 Lessons to Learn For Every Missional Leader

::: America's Fastest and Slowest Growing Cities

::: ‏Too many churches are more concerned about keeping their traditions than they are about reaching their grandchildren. @jdgreear

Photo: Plane bathroom selfie. 2006, I think.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ember and Serve the City Baltimore this Saturday

Ember is partnering with Serve the City Baltimore this coming Saturday for their March service day. STC days are always great fun and Ember is honored to host two college student teams this coming weekend. We'll do some light facilitation around global mission concepts while helping STC with one of their projects. Dan, the director, has become a good friend and has a very Ember-like background that includes church planting in a global city overseas.

These STC days also seem to be a great environment to attract, and therefore, meet some emerging global leaders. We've been fortunate to work alongside some amazing young people as a result of some of these days. This Saturday will be along the same lines too as some of the people we know in these college teams are pretty amazing.

Ember X is also serving together Saturday - our first collective team project. If you've got some time on Saturday, a desire to serve Baltimore with some of your energy and want to meet some fantastic global leaders, get in touch.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Notes - Tradecraft

A few years ago, I outlined some training notes for future student missionaries called The Global Leader Guide. Instead, I should have just waited for Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission written by Larry McCrary and some of his friends at The Upstream Collective. Many of the concepts in the book are right on target with ideas that Ember believes students should be exposed to and taught - its wonderful to see it all put together. I think Tradecraft may become essential for us.

Some of the these concepts include:
::: people of peace
Jesus did not send out the 70 with a mission to find a partcular few who would be persons of peace, per se. He had sent them out to represent the Kingdom and proclaim its message, which would inevitably lead them to those whom God had prepared, immediate or not.

Now, the person might well be a person of high reputation, as were Cornelius, Lydia, the Ethiopian enuch and others. But consider the demon-possessed slave girl with the spirit of divination, or the Gerasenes man among the tombs with an unclean spirit. No one was able to bind him anymore. But everyone knew of him. He was a person of reputation, and he manifested himself to be a person of peace. [Expanding on the idea that persons of peace have a reputation but it might not need be a good one.]
::: indigenous
Model - Assist - Watch - Leave
::: mapping
Mapping is an invaluable skill for all ministries... As you study the city, you come to understand its people. This is the first step in incarnation - putting yourself in the shoes of those to whom you want to minister....Ideally your map would have at least three layers: geographic, social and spiritual.
::: exegeting culture
Andrew Jones, missionary, blogger, and global nontraditional church guru, has often said that his job is to 'throw parties and tell stories.' Thom Wolf taught that the missionary's role is to retell people's stories back to them in light of the gospel. This is very good missionary tradecraft indeed: find out what people are talking about, and show them how it all relates to the Most High God.
: contextualization
For the sake of mission, contextualization means adjusting how we communicate the gospel so that people do not need to join a new culture in order to hear and understand the message.

One final thought - the Following the Spirit chapter was very thought provoking for me. It's a chapter devoted to missions strategy and makes the case for following the Holy Spirit, especially at the beginning of trying to define a strategy for a church or organization. I really appreciated the chapter, especially since I've been involved in a lot of this recently. I wish the chapter gave more structure to this idea, but that's the exact problem they are writing about. Sometimes we want exact directions when it's a lot more 'mystical' than that.

Thanks Larry and Upstream for writing this book.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

My 2013 Creative Revenue Plan(s)

Ember believes that missionaries of the future will rely on a 'portfolio of revenue.' [credit for this term goes to Ben Arment.] In other words, they will need to actually make some money outside of personal donations. As part of this summer, our team is required to dream and execute a Creative Revenue Plan - a way to make some income based on their talents and gifts. This unique income will go directly towards the funding of their missions experience. Prayer and financial support letters are also required.

My 2013 plan is as follows:
+ I will offer a single Myers Briggs Type Indicator workshop. This workshop can be for individuals, couples, families or teams of up to 10 people. The MBTI is a well known personality test that organizes people into 16 different personality types, based on the temperaments of 4 domains. In this highly interactive session, we will cover individuals and their types as well as how the types interact in your specific context, including your organizations goals, structure and culture.
+ The workshop will last for 2 hours and must be within 60 miles of the 21044 zip code. I will come to your location.
+ Rates are as follows: $40 per person for 1-5 people, $30 per person for 6-10 people. Payments are to be paid to The Ember Cast, Inc. All of this goes directly to support The Ember 2013 X team.
+ I will provide all handouts for you and your team.
+ Participants will take the test in advance - the session will only interact with people who have completed the test.
+ Although I'm not officially certified as an MBTI practitioner, I've walked hundreds of people through this personality assessment in over 20 years of working with the test. It's one of my favorite things to do with teams. The test you will take is not official, but will still score with a high degree of accuracy.

My Plan B, which has been executing for quite some time now, is that I have a guy that stays at my house during most work weeks. He likes to make a very nice contribution to Ember and it's a win/win because he saves on hotel charges and gets a tax deduction while Ember gets some very generous funding.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Is the future of church planting bi-vocational?
Great article on both the traditional full time planter as well as embracing new bi-vocational roles.

::: Is National Community Church's Mark Batterson the Most Innovative Pastor in America?
Great read on NCC.

::: Chris Tomlin - the most sung artist on the planet
For perspective, consider Tomlin's musical success against one secular counterpart. In 2012, Katy Perry's record sales dwarfed Tomlin's, but Billboard reported her songs were played 1.4 million times on the radio. Using CCLI's low-end calculation, Tomlin's songs were played 3.12 million times in churches.

::: Doctor Who 'Cured' Baby With HIV Is Former Christian Missionary
Not just a great story, but a great example of vocation and calling.

::: Micro loans can lead to organ trafficking.

::: Talk doesn't cook rice. - Chinese Proverb @revtrev

Photo: the audience at a recent student missions kick off gathering. via Terahgram.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Missions Support Letter

For those of you that might be interested... here's our 2013 support letter [pdf version]
Europe is a part of the world that has been and remains close to our hearts. In addition to the charm and history, we are captivated by the challenge and future of missional leadership in Western cultures and a big part of this is represented by Europe: post modern, post Christian and post evangelical. What happens in Europe foreshadows what happens in the US – unless the next generation of missional leaders thinks with innovation, risks with creativity and acts with boldness.

[Related: My missions support letters - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Many missionaries employ a methodology that relies strictly on a one-to-one proclamation of the gospel. The thinking, of course, is that a decision to follow Christ is personal and individual. However , as tribally-connected people, we are limited in our capacity to process major life decisions on our own. Tribal people do much of their thinking in community.
- Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ember X Team Meeting #1

First Ember X team meeting this past weekend, except two of our great team were missing. Love this team.

Our meeting included talking about the 7 better behaviors from the Short Term Missions Workbook, looking at maps, talking about support raising and getting ready to execute everyone's Creative Revenue Plans [very excited to tell you more about these later...]

Here are some rough notes, as always, steal what you want.

[Related: 2012AZ team mtg #1, 2010AZ mtg #3, 2008Hungary mtg #3, 2007Hungary mtg #3, 2006Cameroon mtg #3, 2005Brasil mtg #1]

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Burn

::: I don't want a big tree. But I don't want a small tree either. I want an orchard.
Mike Breen on success versus faithfulness.

::: Who Owns Leadership Development?

::: B environment merits B effort
Managers who complain about slacking staff without examining their work environment are deluded. Being a slacker is not an innate human quality, it's a product of the habitat.

::: 28 learnings from a month of online fundraising
Really insightful stuff from DJ as he transitions and looks at appropriate fundraising

Photo: Never, ever, wing it. Instead, have a plan A and B, or more. [This was not the case here either.]

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Team Training Tools - Tuckman

High performance teams go through the following stages, outlined by Bruce Tuckman: forming, storming, norming, performing. As a team leader, it's pretty vital for you to understand this cycle. Your team will go through it. You get to choose whether they do it before you get to the mission field or when you get there.

Photo: Vienna, Austria, Hungary 2008.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Announcing Grace AZ 2013

I'm very proud to announce the Grace AZ 2013 missions experience that Ember is involved with. When we first imagined The Ember Cast, one of the reasons for its existence would be the connecting of various like minded people in order to share resources and collaborate for better practices, all in an effort to mobilize more students for missional leadership. The Grace AZ experience is a good representation of this desire becoming a reality.

This project is a collaboration between two organizations that are our friends - Ben Cloud from Amadeo Church and the Love Moves student missions team at Grace. Ember's responsibilities include helping with the diverse and various tasks when putting an experience together like this - tasks such as helping form the vision of the team, facilitating partnerships between organizations, and staffing leadership. I'm also delighted to tell you that Emily Swinburne, one of our very capable Ember guides, will be our guide for this team, working with two leaders from Grace. You might remember Emily being with us in AZ in 2010.

Lots of fun for us to help execute this project. Side note - this team is all girls. Eventually, the boys will catch up...

Related: 2005AZ, 2010AZ, 2012AZ

Friday, March 01, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Why I Left World Vision for Finance
This week's must read on calling, vocation and theology of place.

::: Leaders and the Questions They Ask
My favorites:
4. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
10. How do you help a new employee understand the culture of your organization?
19. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Link via Leslie

::: The reality for practically all denominations is that the time has come when the M.Div model of leadership is no longer tenable
If the North American church is to become a missionary movement in our culture, it will need a leadership that is not primarily shaped by executive, administrative and expert roles. These leaders will need to become more like Abbot and Abbesses; men and women whose vocation is cultivating local movements of God's people.

::: Lessons on Leading
So good.
1) Great leadership is measured not by the number of people a leader manages, but by the number of people that leader inspires.
5) The more you give, the more you give.
Leaders recognize that we should feel 60% mastery and 40% stretch in our jobs at any given time

::: Literacy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn. - Alvin Tofler @johnsonwhitney

Photo: The back row of Ember guides.