Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Meeting Kyle Goen

Kyle Goen and I first met on.... the Internet. We connected right before I spent a few days in Brussels and unfortunately we missed each other there. Earlier this year, we had collaborated a little bit on a potential project but that kind of fell through too. But I was ecstatic to meet him for a quick coffee chat last weekend in Nashville. He and his family just moved back there after living in Brussels for 3 years. Kyle is currently in charge of sending initiatives for LifePoint Church just south of Nashville as well as working this concept out with The Upstream Collective. Obviously, I'm a big fan of meeting Internet friends in cities you visit.

Here's some great wisdom from our short time together.
+ You can leverage your American-ness when you move overseas but only for a limited time. Get Jesus in there fast.

+ Sending is a mindset.
Sending also doesn't always look like you sending someone out. The paradigm of sending and support is changing fast because the landscape of missions is changing fast. [Obviously, Kyle has a ton of experience on this. See this for more.]

+ Everything is an experiment. The Gospel is worth the risk.
This is one of LifePoint's favorite mantras - this is a church of 3000 people with a lead pastor who has been there 20 years. They have two sending hubs - Brussels and Bangkok - that look like international sites but are in actuality hubs for reproduction, training and mobilization. Both of them were started as experiments and now are flourishing.

Great to meet Kyle face to face, although our conversation was too short.

Monday, April 28, 2014

3 Days in Nashville

We spent 3 days in Nashville over the weekend, a new city to us as a family, and had a blast. Our older daughter was there for a school band trip so the other 3 of us decided to make a road trip out of it. We were in town at the same time as the Q conference and I thought their write up about why they chose Nashville this year was pretty instructive, as far as strategic cities go:
In 2013, Nashville was on the top end of many lists. Forbes ranks it number three as the next big boom town. A recent Gallup poll ranked Nashville in the top five regions for job growth. This country start-up town was also recently listed as one of the "5 best places to go in 2013" by Conde Nast Traveler. Infamous as "Music City," with more than 180 recording studios and 5,000 working musicians it comes as no surprise that Rolling Stone called Nashville "the nation's best music scene.

Music may be the reason people go to Nashville, but it's not the only reason they stay. In the 1990's the renovation of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, downtown Nashville Public Library, the Bridgestone Arena and LP Field began an urban renewal of the city. In 2001, Mayor Karl Dean was elected and then re-elected in 2011 because of his determination to make neighborhoods safer and bring higher quality jobs to Nashville. The city's unemployment rate is currently below the national average and its job growth has been predicted to rise 18 percent within the next few years. His efforts to revitalize the city have not gone unnoticed, as titled in a recent article by the NY Times,"Nashville's Latest Big Hit Could Be the City Itself."
Besides the normal tourist stuff, we also visited with good family friends Sean and Kari. Sean works in the music industry and Kari has a horse - both were topics they taught us a ton about. I also had the great fortune of having breakfast with Kyle Goen. Tell you more about him later this week.

3 days was not enough.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Missions Support Metrics - 1

We are just at about 50% of our support raising for Ember 14X and we now have enough to purchase our airfare - it's a phenomenal milestone that our team has met.

I'll post some more metrics in early May, which will actually be the half way point between the time we started raising support and our departure date. So according to that timeline, we are a little ahead since we are at 50% of budget now before getting to 50% of time. The chart shows us being ahead of last year for a bit and then being a little bit behind. The two spikes both years were from a large donation from a family - very appreciative of every dollar. Yeah math details aside...

Kids who have a future as missionaries, church planters, or nonprofit leaders need to be able to to fund their ventures and support is one piece of that. Like my friend Ben Arment says, "Nonprofit is a tax strategy, not a business strategy."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ember Mantras - 3

"Leadership identification and engagement is 25% of your job." [adapted from the research of Bobby Clinton]

Most people that talk about leadership development do not spend a quarter of their time looking for and assessing emerging leaders. It came seem counter productive, too risky to spend lots of energy on, and we've already got solid leaders to invest in.

Meet the potential leaders of the emerging generation - the ones who are cause driven, the ones who doesn't wait for institutions to say yes after lots of red tape, the leaders who are ready now, those that may not know how to do it today, but have the audacity to figure it out by tomorrow.

You will never have enough leaders. Begging, stealing and borrowing them will work for a short while. Instead, identify and create them.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Burn

::: The Countries Where Youth are Doing the Best and Worst

::: American Teens - Restaurants Instead of Malls

::: How Americans Die
Fascinating read - beautiful charts.

::: Jesus More Popular than Mao

::: One Thing Mark Zuckerberg Thinks Every Silicon Valley Exec Should Do
My life is so different from the person who's going to be getting Internet in two years. One of the things that we do is ask product managers to go travel to an emerging-market country to see how people who are getting on the Internet use it. They learn the most interesting things. People ask questions like, "It says here I'm supposed to put in my password — what's a password?" For us, that's a mind-boggling thing.

::: The Most Important Leadership Trait You Shun
And yet, few business people actively strive to grow in vulnerability, wanting instead to project strength and confidence to the people they lead, work with and serve. Ironically, they are limiting their potential for success. That's because it's not the smartest or most competent leaders, teammates and service providers that are the most successful ones. If that were the case, success would be much easier to predict than it is. In reality, the most successful people are those who achieve a required or minimum level of competence, and then enhance that with as much trust-inspiring vulnerability as they can.

::: If the members of UPGs living in Metro NY were collectively counted as a city, they would form the 2nd largest city in the US. - @ethneCITY

Photo: 14X, in person and remote. Columbia, Merryland, April 2014. Dup picture when originally posted. Downtown Aix. July 2013.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"The quality of a culture may be changed when 2 percent of its people have a new vision." – Robert Bellah
At a wedding this past weekend, [of some of the most missional people I know...] Emilie to my right and Leslie to the left of Deanna. Between 2003 and 2008, we traveled on teams together some 15 times, to destinations including New York City, Orlando Florida, Londrina Brasil, Yaounde Cameroon, Paris France, Vienna Austria, and Sopron Hungary among other places. I counted roughly being on 26 flights with these two.

Emilie is starting medical school in the Fall and was THE student that suggested we explore running an internship in global missions. Leslie is a social worker in Capitol Hill in DC and serves on the board of directors for The Ember Cast. Both were students that erupted into leaders in the very ministry that they grew up in and continue to live on mission right now. Countless students even today are benefiting from a student missions leadership culture that these two helped create and shape and mold.

One of the joys of my life has been seeing Emilie and Leslie grow up and sacrifice all of their being to serve humanity. We are all better because of them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ember 14X - Meeting #3

Team meeting #3, included:
- dessert at La Madeline. Yeah you know its authentic. Actually though, talk to some of the people that work there and you'll find that they are from all over the francophone world. And when we were leaving, there was a whole 10 person table of people speaking French.
- discussion about the concept of a person of peace and why they are important when dealing with the unengaged and unreached and who might some of those examples be.
- illustration of the diffusion of innovation principle and why that is important for leaders.

Unfortunately, not the greatest picture and a few of our team members weren't there.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Hook Of Mormon: Inside The Church's Online-Only Missionary Army
In what marks a new phase in the evolution of one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, which has doubled in size since the 90s, the Mormon church is doing for religion what Amazon did for stuff: embracing the web to make shopping for a new faith easy, convenient and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

::: A Rwanda Genocide Survivor
This past week marked the 20 year anniversary... this is a beautiful story.

::: You are Doing It Wrong If...
Great read on the tools of disruption today and how they drive the culture of organizations. Make sure to read the list at the bottom.

::: People don't resist change....people resist loss. - @willmancini via @ToddAdkins

Photo: Ember 14X, Columbia MD, Pleasanton, CA and Harrisonburg VA. April 2014.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Our 2014 Support Letter

Our 2014 support letter [pdf version] - having written and helped teams write these for years.... maybe I'll tell you what I really think of them one day...
It is a privilege and honor for us to work with such passionate and talented young people and it is our hope that this summer's experience launches them on a trajectory for this kind of catalytic, entrepreneurial, creative ministry in any culture and any context.

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

Monday, April 07, 2014

Ember 14X - Mtg #2

- Finance update - we are around 11% of total funding, with 18% of that being creative revenue.
- Myers Briggs - we almost always take teams through it and then fill in the matrix together.
- Personal sharing - either how you came to being a Jesus person or a missions moment in your life - what Lencioni calls vulnerability-based trust
- Watched this video about 50 years after the Peace Child[vimeo link]

And... John joined us for a few minutes with Skype on my phone and MK joined us for the whole time on a google hangout. Remote teams are not easy but in this case, these two are worth it.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Poverty is a Moral Problem

::: The First Year of Texting - Human Trafficking Help

::: Communication Patterns Around the World

::: How Twitter Has Changed in 12 Years

Photo: TRapp and moi, Aix, July 2013.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Perspectives Spring 2014

Fantastic time teaching and connecting at Perspectives last night. One of the best missions mobilization tools out there.

Here is some of what I found there: a guy who rents out his basement via AirBnB and gives a discount for people in ministry, the class host is an epidemiologist, one of the class attendees ran a very successful small business and sold it and is now thinking about the next phase of his life. And of course, I loved having some of our Ember tribe there and telling stories about them.

Here are the slides - as always steal or borrow what you want.