Monday, June 30, 2014

Ember 14X - Meeting #6

Our final team meeting... This was the first meeting where we were all there face to face in real life. It's what you deal with when you work with distributed teams. Topics included:

+ final important details that are outlined in the travel doc including what not to forget [your passport and the Holy Spirit, like KYoungstrom says]
+ sharing what God has been saying to us about this trip
+ praying for the experience

We had 6 team meetings for this team and that was probably the minimum we could have had. But like most teams, I love these kids like my own. And like every time 2 days before we depart, Dea and I ask ourselves if we are crazy for doing this again.

Thanks for praying for this team, specifically for courage, initiative and be dangerous.

Friday, June 27, 2014


4 days from departure, and our funding is at 97.14%. Phenomenal. 14% of that is from creative revenue and we are about $700 away from the official target.

This year, I'm a lot more relaxed about the budget because we started this season with a good amount of funds and we made some larger estimates and $700 among a team of 11 proportions low.

And of course, we are so grateful to around 200 people that donated. I think you will get a great return on your investment. It will just take a few hundred years.

Currencies of Generosity

We tend to think that generosity is all about money. We hear "giving"
and we think about a cash gift or perhaps some other material transfer, such as in-kind donations. We think about tithing, about foundation grants, about microlending, about child sponsorship checks, about pallets of relief supplies paid for by $10 texts to the Red Cross. And generosity does include all of that.

But the truth is, generosity is deeper than money and wider than philanthropy. It is more than just writing a check or dropping your loose change in a can called Help. It isn't best measured in
transactions completed or numbers reached.

Just as there are many economic currencies around the world - dollars
and dinars, pounds and pesos, yens and yauns - so there are many 'currencies' of generosity. What are they? Well, there is the currency of giving one's time. The currency of physical energy. The currency of wisdom sharing. And that's not all. How about the currency of listening? The currency of empathy for those in pain? The currency of willingness to share one's connection and network with another? - Stephen Graves

Love this. Core to the idea of thinking about different missions support paradigms.

Friday Burn

::: Character, Competency, Chemistry and Chicken
An interview with Dee Ann Turner, VP of Talent at Chick Fil A.

::: Counter-intuitive discipleship values
Focus on a few to reach many
Dream big but build small
Group memory is greater than each individuals memory of what is learned – discipleship happens best in groups rather than as individuals
Raise up leaders before they are ready – start with the torch in their hand, don’t pass it to them later
Don't grow bigger groups, multiply more groups

::: Which Cities are Growing Faster Than Their Suburbs

::: Stephanie Kwolek, the inventor of Kevlar
Stephanie L. Kwolek, a DuPont chemist who invented the technology behind Kevlar, a virtually bulletproof fiber that has saved thousands of lives, died on Wednesday in Wilmington, Del. She was 90.

The chief executive of DuPont, Ellen Kullman, announced the death, calling Ms. Kwolek, who spent 15 years in the laboratory without a promotion before her breakthrough, “a true pioneer for women in science.”

Kevlar is probably best known for use in body armor, particularly bulletproof vests. A DuPont spokeswoman estimated that since the 1970s, 3,000 police officers have been saved from bullet wounds through the use of equipment reinforced with Kevlar, which is far stronger and lighter than steel.

Photo: National Community Church, June 2014.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2014 on the move

Here is who and what we are tracking this summer....

+ Ember 14X - of course you have heard about this.
+ John, who leads on Ember 14X and then travels for at least 9 months through Greece, Turkey, Nepal, SE Asia... He is doing some 'global recon' as to where and how he might be strategic in a specific place and season.
+ Katie and Olivia - 2 weeks in Madrid working with Mountainview Church
+ Wendy at a House on Beekman
+ Andrew who is in Philly right now but on the way to East Africa.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

14X Leaders

Love this 'leader' team. And I say leader in quotes because everyone on this year's team has lots of initiative, influence and passion and to call some leaders implies that others are not. Not totally true this year and it doesn't always happen every year.

We are farming out responsibility and authority for certain things to each person in this group. We need them to do some leading and guiding and they are not only ready for it, they long to take what they know about leadership and apply it. When creating leaders, the best thing you can do is... well... have them lead.

The two quick lessons I try to keep in mind with this kind of thing:
- Give them authority along with the responsibility.
- High invitation, high challenge.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
But now Brazilian health officials are running a pilot program using genetically modified mosquitoes to breed the population to death.

::: The "Becoming Sweetie" campaign had a lofty aim: to mobilize the world to end webcam child sex tourism.

::: Cool Kids Lose
Dating, flouting authority and surrounding yourself with good-looking friends may make you popular when you're 13, according to a study published online Wednesday. But don't believe the media hype, psychologists say. Kids who try to act cool in early adolescence are more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol, and have trouble managing friendships as they grow older. And their popularity tends to fade by the time they're 22.

::: A Super Banana
A super-enriched banana genetically engineered to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa will soon have its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday.

::: Delta Discovers there are No Giraffes in Ghana

Photo: Capitol Hill, DC. June 2014.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wendy, Amy, A House on Beekman

On Saturday, Wendy leaves for a 6 week long internship in New York City with A House on Beekman, which we are thrilled about. We visited them in January of 2013 and are so impressed with their resolve, their humility and their approach to community development.

That is Wendy on the right. Last summer, she pretty much went sight unseen to live in Queen Creek, AZ, working at Amadeo Church for the whole summer, taking my good word for it that she would love the community there, learn a ton and that Ben Cloud was a good dude. It worked out great. And this summer, after living in NYC - where she has never visited before, serving in community and experiencing how to serve kids in one of the poorest communities in the US, and learning from some of the best, it will work out great again. Thanks Wendy for trusting us and being brave.

Amy is on the left. We met her and her family in 2010 when they let us crash at their house. They just finished a season in New York and are en route back to Queen Creek. They spent lots of time at AHOB, so Wendy had the great opportunity to pick their brain about New York, the subway, bedbugs and life in the South Bronx. Easily one of the most missional families we know and always fun to spend time with them. They are the kind that agree to host an Ember team in their house first and then figure out how to take the dining room table down second.

Oh and that is Evie in the middle.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Creative Revenue Plans

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.

This summer our team made around 12% in creative revenue, which is right along our target goal for this. The plans this summer included:
+ babysitting
+ tutoring
+ job as a lifeguard
+ lawn mowing
+ making jewelry

We do this because the global leaders of the future aren't going to be as easily 100% funded by supporters. Between the global recession, cause and donor fatigue and the nonprofit space becoming more and more transparent, cross cultural leaders of the future will have less and less funding from checks in the mail. The global catalytic leader of the future is very very entrepreneurial and this is one of our best ways, so far, of helping them prepare for this reality. Every year, watching this process with students is one of my favorite experiences.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Burn

::: 10 Things Culturally Intelligent Travelers Do

::: The Hofstede Dimensions for France
6 dimensions of culture, including power avoidance, pragmatism, individualism. And compare it to another of your favorite countries.

::: The Leading Causes of Death in 1990 and Today

::: Ten Days in Kenya with No Cash and Only A Phone

Photo: Andy and Farrell, Baltimore city tour, Patterson Park pagoda. June 2014.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

StrengthsFinder Domains

I'm helping facilitate a team building gathering tonight for some people at our church centered around the StrengthsFinder assessment. It's been a while since I've something like this for Strengths.

Like most SF people, I have a master spreadsheet of everyone I know [and more] who have taken the assessment. Last night I found this spreadsheet which organizes people around the 4 domains, which is another insightful way of looking at teams.

And one of my favorite quotes about teams, which we'll use tonight as a frame:
The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage. - Patrick Lencioni

Monday, June 09, 2014

Ember Advance 2014

First.... we missed the rest of our team like crazy - MK, John, Tess, Measu.

Ember Advance is our short term missions prep overnighter where we dedicate 36 hours to bonding as a team and learning from world class practitioners about mission, context, leadership and culture. As always, steal what you want from this post.

+ Friday night.
Neighborhood tour of Fells Point, Baltimore with Andy and Farrell, who served with me for a few iterations with SPACE, like Brazil 2005, among other projects. Here's some quick points:
- physical size, population, demographic breakdown, crime rate
- view from their rooftop terrace
- neighborhood walk, pointing out significant cultural icons and historical sites
- Baltimore versus DC ethos

+ Saturday morning.
We heard from 4 global missions legends in the DMV area. Dave Shive, KM, and Dustin and Kristen Youngstrom. All were fantastic in the content of what they spoke on and their ability to connect with young people interested in cross cultural adventures.
- think about how the world has changed in the past 100 years when it comes to global cultures and connectivity.
- MH370 may have large implications for how missions will change.
- Is 53 - He bore our suffering - that is a vision that some people will want to hear
- Jesus entry into humanity didn't begin when He was born
- huge impact on people when you love elements of their culture

+ Sat aft/evening
We attended National Community Church's Barracks Row Saturday night service. If you've been around here long enough, you know that we love to visit NCC when we can because it's one of the most innovative churches in DC and innovation is something Ember highly values. We also had the privilege to have Jenilee Hurley, NCC's student pastor, talk to us for a few minutes about creativity and innovation, which was fantastic.

Ember Advance is one of the best things we do.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Friday Burn

::: The Most Attractive Cities for New Graduates
Paris, DC and... Minneapolis...?

::: Names and Ages
Fascinating read on the distribution of baby names over time.

::: 27 Myths about the Developing World

Photo: The very first Mission Advance, summer 2006.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Needing Institutions

Platinum leaders know that they need institutions. Sometimes they just make their own.
- D Michael Lindsay, View from the Top

Monday, June 02, 2014

Ember Mantras - 4

"Get the right people on the bus." - Jim Collins

What we do and who we are isn't for everyone and we are okay with that. Like Seth Godin says, "People like us do things like that." We have an internal guide to our culture which we review with everyone that joins us and we step through that before they begin. I recognize that it's my responsibility to be the primary person that shapes the culture and values of our organization. It's one of the reasons why I started Ember in the first place - with autonomy comes responsibility.