Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Teenagers today are the best behaved generation on record.

::: Cities of Opportunity
Global cities, ranked by opportunity.

::: Baby boomers - time to invest in that 22 year old.
Better inves

::: If you want to die a successful American, it helps to be born abroad.

Photo: Most of the Ember 14X team, Union Station, Washington DC. May 2014.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ember Advance - Tentative Schedule

Ember Advance is our first ever overnight missions prep experience and I'm excited to see it fly. We've done similar things before but never with this set of people and resources. I dream about this every year and every year, it gets better. Certainly the concepts matter a great deal. But what is even better are the people our students are going to meet throughout the weekend.

Feel free to steal what you want from this rough schedule. Even better if you understand the intentions and concepts behind each element.

Fri night
- neighborhood mapping in Baltimore - the Bs
- the Gospel narrative - the Ys

- brunch
- hearing from some missions legends - DS and KM
- Kids Week prep
- visiting one of my favorite churches in DC
- dinner and more

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mission Support Letters - Disruption Needed

Remember when mission support letters looked like this? And... I'm not trying to be mean... this is the result of a simple google image search. And I've certainly written my share of letters that look like that too.

I've said for a while now that missions support letters need to be disrupted. They are a really crass way of trying to engage your friends and family for support and they minimize your relationships with a tri fold brochure that usually isn't very compelling. However, this year, may mark a turning point. Here are two [1, 2]fantastic examples of letters from this year's round of support. Granted you don't always have to create something fantastic, but maybe you should...

Take aways:
+ Both of these took around 10-15 hours to create. Our new benchmark will be making our students spend this kind of time on these.
+ They both focused on something more than just the individual experience.
+ Both Trevin and Katie have grown up around this kind of stuff so pushing it further was pretty reasonable for them.
+ I'm not saying that you cannot raise a good amount of money if the letter you write doesn't look like this.

PS - I have a whole Google doc folder dedicated to mission support letters.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Burn

::: NY Times Media Innovation Report
Huge report that came out last week.

::: The Emerging Global Web
This is a must read. I haven't read all of it yet either.

::: Every Country's Most Valuable Exports

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ember 14X - Meeting #5

Disciples are made on the road, not in rows. - Kim Hammond

+ Union Station - one of the oldest transportation hubs in DC. People are on the move.
+ The statue of Christopher Columbus. Our hope is that Ember 14X gives you the inspiration to be a pioneer like Columbus.
+ Ebenezers Coffee Shop - creative revenue and expanding the idea model of missions.

Monday, May 19, 2014

It Has Only Been Six Years

In the summer of 2008, John and Drew, as 15 year olds, accepted my crazy proposition - join me for an experience serving international church planters and their families in the beautiful context of Sopron, Hungary, a little vacation village outside of Vienna Austria. One year later, they were Ember's first leadership experiments, helping create and shape the ethos for a global student leadership internship we now call ProtoGuides.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, May 2014, six years after the first experience together, they both have just finished college and being embarking on a fantastic future. Drew was just commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with the US Army, spending the summer traveling through the east and south of Africa. Drew will report to active duty later this year in Georgia. John starts a year long travel adventure, first giving his leadership gifts to an Ember team going to France and then through Greece and Turkey to start with, all as part of some 'global missional scoping', as he calls it.

It took 10 years for Christopher Nolan to finish Inception. We - you and I - are to be proud of what these two have accomplished in six. Hold on for the rest of it - we are in the for long haul.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Burn

::: The Most Common Languages by US State
PS - I took German all through high school....

::: Inc Magazine talks about Beats
Beats controls some 70 percent of the headphones market, thanks to lightning-fast marketing and a smart grasp of pop culture.

::: Facebook Uses StrengthsFinder

::: An Interview with Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, on his leadership research.
Innovation never occurs in the CEO suite; it always occurs in the margins of the organization.

Photo: Emily saying something profound to John. Vienna, Austria. July 2008.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2014 Mission Support Metrics - 2

Here's an updated graph in terms of our funding for this year so far compared to last year. Looks like we might just make it.

We are roughly just over the 50% in time mark, with about 71% raised so that is good news. Our team has worked real hard to make this funding happen and creative revenue plans are being executed to about 7% of the total.

In other news, I bought plane tickets yesterday spending about $11K without feeling like I was going to throw up. Most other years, that process has me real queasy. In other words, you can overcome the fear.

Monday, May 12, 2014

ProtoGuide 2014 ends

Loved being a part of the Intern/Mentor reception at Hammond High a few weeks ago. Every year that I go, I'm always amazed at the talent of high school kids in our county and the types of internships they work at.

Ember is so fortunate for this program, for it lets kids study something really deeply outside of a normal class or outline. And in our case, we've tried our very best to make it experiential and contextualized to topics the students are interested in. And it's a win for us too because these kids keep us young and we love having their help for our various projects.

And we do love the name: ProtoGuide.

Photo: Terah, Tessa, Measu, me. [Tessa, who is on the Ember 14X team, interned with Terah at Grace Community Church.]

Friday, May 09, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Why Muslims Are Becoming the Best Evangelists
So much in here. Take a good read.

::: Incomes Jumped $60K when a Nonprofit Taught People to Write Apps

::: 15 Minutes before a Presentation

::: A Case for Shorter Sermons

Photo: Some of the Ember tribe, Perspectives class, April 2014.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Notes - Grace Comm Church Student Ministry Leaders

Loved hanging with student ministry leaders from our church.... Here are the slides - as always, steal what you want.

Ps fixing these fonts later.
7:29pm - Link to pdf with better fonts.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Dream Year Pitch Night - Annapolis

On August 11, I'm helping host a gathering in Annapolis called a Dream Year Pitch Night. The idea is centered around a new book called Dream Year, written by my friend and author Ben Arment. Dream Year outlines proven, actionable steps to launch a dream into a sustainable business and is a phenomenal resource for anyone out there starting something from nothing. I actually went to a Dream Year weekend retreat when I first started The Ember Cast so I'm a fan and a customer haha.

I know there are lots of you out there that have some kind of dream - write a book, launch a nonprofit, start a faith community, raise funds to help those less fortunate. If this resonates with you, please get in touch. I'd love to have you at this event - you'll be inspired by the dreamers around you, you receive some actionable steps to get your dream out of your head and into reality, and you'll get the kick in the pants you need to execute your dream.

I'll have lots of Ember friends joining me for this - would love for you to join me too. Find more info at

Monday, May 05, 2014

Ember 14X - Meeting #4

We are fortunate enough to have one of the Kids Week family members here in DC right now.... so Sarah joined us for our meeting and we did 60 minutes of interview-style pick her brain. Everything from population density, vocations in Aix, the spiritual climate, and the history of Kids Week.

Our questions included:
- population and density of Aix
- any bad areas of the city
- how is the city laid out
- the city in your own words
- being a Jesus follower in Aix
- the vision and mission of your church there
- history and vision for Kids Week
- how could we prepare best for it

This is a resource that most teams don't have - someone who is indigenous to the local culture that you are traveling to and available for you to interact with. If you have someone or can find someone like this, capitalize on the opportunity. Welcome them, don't waste their time and make sure you ask the right questions.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Global Poverty is on the Decline but Almost No One Believes it.

::: System D: Entrepreneurship

::: How to say Hello in 21 Different Languages

::: The Deadliest Animal in the World

Photo: intern mentor reception. April 2014. tell you more about this later.