Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Cities

My favorite end of the year post..... And this year, good lord. 2015 was the best year of my life and I'm sad to see it end. It was a fantastic year driven by lots of significant moments and the travel was mostly just a sidebar to the amazing experiences with the people I love. Thank you 2015.

1 - Charleston, SC, USA.
2 - Reykjavik, Iceland.
3 - Fairfield, CT, USA.
4 - Nyack, NY, USA.
5 - Deep Creek Lake, MD, USA.
6 - Philadelphia, PA, USA.
7 - Seattle, WA, USA.
8 - Indianapolis, IN, USA.
9 - Prague, Czech Republic.
10 - London, England.
11 - Virginia Beach, VA, USA.
12 - Nashville, TN, USA.

[2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in cities]

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Books

Not Impossible
The Martian [the movie is as good as the book]
My Share of the Task
Eldership and the Mission of God [note]
Team of Teams
Gaining by Losing [notes]
Let My People Go Surfing [from a recommendation from Marko]
Charity for All
Delivering Happiness
Redeeming Sex [this deserves a re-read to take notes]
League of Denial [this could change American culture as we know it]
Small Cloud Rising
H3 Leadership [notes]

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy 18th!

Dear Katie

Well, this is your 18th birthday, which mostly means that you could be rid of your parents' unreasonable rules if you really wanted to. I write that as mostly a joke - we know that you have such a strong belief in living a life of passion and that you don't waste time or energy on something you don't believe in. That makes some things super fun around our house. =)

We are immensely proud of the person you have become. You have given your whole heart to important things, using your gifts and talents and voice to serve those that don't have as much. That's a sign of true passion - one that uses longings not just for their own gain but to sacrifice for others. It is also a foretelling of the One who was passionate to the end, the One that we celebrate this time of year.

Around 18 years ago or so, we hoped our kids would be like what Psalm 127 details. And it has come to fruition - you are a heritage from the Lord and a reward from Him. And like an arrow in the hands of a warrior, fly straight and true for the Lord's purposes.

Love DAD

Monday, December 21, 2015

Welcoming back Shannon

Shannon is on the left here and we had a little Ember contingent welcome her back from Arizona as we planned for a little leadership outing. By all accounts, her time with Amadeo was incredible. She hugely blessed their community and her time there was significant in her journey as well. Every person we have sent there has had a similar experience.

During her welcome back, we had her walk through a few simple decompression exercises that we've used with great success:
+ your trip summarized on a 3x5 index card.
+ your trip summarized in 20 seconds, 2 minutes, and 20 minutes [this one is just an outline]
+ a list of people you met and want to continue to remember, and why.
Great fun for me was hearing some of our guides suggest the 3rd one when I didn't exactly have one more planned - they get it!

Shannon's holy discontent has become more clarified from her time at Amadeo - to build discipling cultures. Watch this one...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Incredible Growth of the Bible in Iran

::: Two Super Reads on our Most Influential Churches
Hillsong NYC
Mosaic LA

Photo: 2008 summer team numbers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Planning for 2020

I've been working on a 2016 strategic plan for The Ember Cast here and there over the past few weeks. It's a thrilling experience - 2015 was a phenomenal year for us as an organization and I'm excited to see what 2016 will bring. There are already a few awesome engagements we have committed to.

I've toyed with strategic plans before but this is the first year that I've actually put a lot of this down on paper. The intention of putting it on paper has made me think clearly about what Ember will do this year and what Ember won't do. It's been a fun exercise and, of course, is subject to Board feedback and approval.

Depending on how rebellious you are, you might think running your own organization is total power and undiluted freedom. It might be that, but with freedom and power comes responsibility - responsibility to do what you created your organization to do. Execution requires intention.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Well's Annual Christmas Toy Store

This is the before view of the annual discount toy store hosted by The Well in Curtis Bay. As part of the Christmas season, we served there as a family this past Saturday. I've been continually impressed by Mandy and her team at The Well - they've hosted two service experiences for us so far, and Saturday's toy store was no exception.

If you've read either Toxic Charity or When Helping Hurts but need to see it in real life, The Well has lots of good examples. The toy store is a textbook example - it is a discount store, people don't get the toys for free. They register their information, which includes their children and ages, pay for the toys, get assigned a personal shopper and go shopping. Once they have their toys, they get them gift wrapped. It's an annual tradition eight years running now and this year, when we got there 2 hours before it opened, there were already 15 people in line. They also have a small set of people that help out with preschool to middle school kids in case parents don't want to shop with them.

Lots of different church teams were there too to help out and I loved meeting some of those leaders - these are the like-minded people you want to hang with. My favorite part of the day was walking around the neighborhood with a local pastor - that story is for another day.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Most Instagrammed Places in the World

::: Smartphones and Refugees

::: The 9 Guidelines for the Design of London Tube Stations

::: A scared world needs a fearless church. - A W Tozer via Chad McCallum

Photo: Hungarian keyboard, summer 2007.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Challenges to Movement Pioneers

When Bill trains movement pioneers, he reads out a list of challenges they will face, based on actual experiences over the years. He asks, "Which of these would prevent you from fulfilling your calling?"
1. My spouse decided to call it quits and go home.
2. My parents ordered me to return to my home country.
3. No local school is available for my children.
4. My financial support base is cut by 25 percent.
5. My financial support base is cut by 50 percent.
6. I am diagnosed with a serious degenerative disease.
7. My sending agency collapses.
8. I have to give up home country citizenship in order to do ministry.
9. I am publicly discovered in sin and dismissed by my agency.
12. My organization supervisor and I strongly disagree on strategy.
15. One of my children is discovered to have leukemia.
16. My spouse dies.
17. One of my children dies.
18. One of my coworkers is killed because of his or her ministry.
19. Someone from my agency that I sent to the field is killed.
20. The first believe from my people group is martyred.
24. I am offered the pastorate of a large congregation in my home country.
From Pioneering Movements - Leadership that Multiples Disciples and Churches by Steve Addison. I've subscribed to Steve's blog for many years - the blog and all his books are excellent reads.

Related: Movements Move

Monday, December 07, 2015


Last week, our older daughter Katie, gave some public testimony at a public hearing for the Howard County State Delegation. [You might have seen this on Facebook.] She testified in favor of legislation that would make it easier for local authorities to inspect county "massage parlors" engaged in suspected forced prostitution and human trafficking.

You may not like the system, but that doesn't mean you just sit around doing nothing.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday Burn

::: How Demographics Rule the Global Economy
Best read of the week if you are interested in understanding how the world looks.

::: The Most Popular US TV Shows Around the World

::: Why Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Should Use Their Money for Fundraising

::: 5 Ways Freelance Creatives Make Unpaid Time Off Work

Photo: Prague tram, July 2015.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Post 3416

In late 2002, I started an experiment with a thing called Blogger. 13 years, some 3400 posts and 2700 comments later, this blog is one of my most treasured tools. Some of my posts have been to tell you what we have learned, some of them have been about what could be possible and some of them have been just for me.

No matter who you are or what you do, you must be able to communicate your ideas. Writing it down for yourself or your friends or the public forces you to focus and frame the idea, to get the words right, to send it off into the world. That's why I believe that blogs are still one of the most valuable tools for leaders. It's why I make all our ProtoGuides write one and why lots of blogs are on their reading list.

It's never been technically easier to get your ideas out to the world and writing my blog hasn't cost me a dime. Quite the opposite, it's helped me connect with like-minded missions leadership catalysts all over the world and given me lots of other related benefits by being in those relationships. That value has been priceless.

So, happy 13th!

Photo: Not sure what they are laughing at.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

New Traditions

It seems fitting to write end of the year donor receipts at the end of Thanksgiving weekend. I personally do the receipts which I still think is an important task of the founder and executive director of a [fledgling] nonprofit. How else could you grasp the scope and depth of the people who have donated to your organization?

Besides 3 or 4 regular/semi-regular donors and some institutional giving, this year, we had just over 170 donations for just over $22,000. The grand total was around $27K and around 9% was spent on overhead such as marketing, insurance and other business expenses [but don't get caught in the Overhead Myth]. Obviously 2015 Prague was the bulk of that spending, which was around $25K. We invested around $350 in our network of leaders doing things outside of The Ember Cast. We spent $41 on copies. Tools of the trade include Quick Books, Excel, Word and MailMerge.

I believe I have a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Notes - Gaining By Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send - JD Greear

Fantastic read and I've always been impressed about Summit Church and their incredibly audacious plan around church planting, global missions and church multi site campuses. I was sold by the subtitle of this book and loved reading how Summit believes it to be true.
At our church, we simplify these two questions [what skill, where and how can I do it] into a single statement: Whatever you are good at, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.

What happens during the week establishes the difference between a disciple and an attender. And in our post-Christian age, the weekend is becoming less effective for reaching truly unreached people. Few and few lost people are moseying their way into our weekend services. Thus, equipping disciples to reproduce outside the church, during the week, is becoming vastly more important than having a great weekend show. As our society becomes more and more post-Christian, training members to 'go' will be far more effective than inviting the community to 'come.'

I devour books written by pastors and church leaders who understand how unbelievers think, even when I disagree with some of their applications. "Eat the fish and spit out the bones," I often tell our staff.

Luke goes out his way to show that the biggest advances of the gospel happen through ordinary people. Of all the miracles in Acts, 39 of 40 were done outside of the church. We need to expect that kind of ratio today, too. In our post-Christian age, fewer and fewer people casually “make their way” into churches. The de-churched are becoming the unchurched, who view Christianity the way you or I might view Islam. I wouldn’t meander my way into a mosque, even if their music was awesome or if their Imam was an engaging speaker doing a helpful series on “relationships.” We can’t expect cutting edge music and entertaining speakers to continue doing the trick. People in our day will increasingly have to be reached outside the walls of the church, and that means individual believers living filled with the Spirit is more important than ever.

Furthermore, it seems to me that a lot of missional ministry advocates have overstated the case against attractional ministry. I agree with them that our culture has changed and that people don't flock to city-wide revival services the way they did in the 1950s. But dare we underestimate the drawing, converting power of a Spirit-filled preacher of the gospel? When a preacher of God's Word 'lifts-up' the beauties of Christ, should we really be surprised when the community throngs to hear him?

The bottom line? Faithful ministries pursue both width and depth, because neither is really possible without the other. Depth in the gospel leads to width in the mission.

We must challenge our people to be leaders. Today we end every service with the benediction, "Summit Church, you are sent."

We must empower our people to be leaders.
...if the majority of what Jesus wants to do he wants to do in the community, it shouldn't surprise us that he puts his best vision into the hearts of the people who live and work there for the majority of their hours each week.
Thus, one of our primary responsibilities as church leaders is to help God's people uncover these ideas and to encourage them….
Ministries we own
Ministries we bless
Ministries we catalyze
We believe the great potential for ministry multiplication lies in this last category and each staff member is responsible to facilitate this where they can. We have as a goal the catalyzation of at least one hundred community-blessing ministries out of our church. We might be instrumental in getting them started, but we want them quickly to become 501C-3s with budgets and leadership boards of their own.

Church plants are like teenagers - they only want your money and affirmation and then for you to stay out of their way.

Making more and better disciples ought to be the goal of - and justification for the existence of - every ministry.

Every dollar you spend getting your members engaged in overseas missions will return to you fourfold. When believers see with their own eyes what God is doing around the world, their hearts open, and so do their pocketbooks.

David Garrison, who served for many years as church planting catalyzer for the Asian world, talks about the 'heresy of sequentialism.' Sequentialism is separating into components what really ought to be embraced all at once…. Global missions is part of God's essential recipe for discipleship, not something you get only in Christianity 401. It ought to be present in the first bite.

No blessing that God gives his people is separated from the responsibility to become a blessing to the nations. For example, at the Summit church, we build a global missions thrust into the first stages of our family ministries. Psalm 127 teaches us that our kids are given to us 'like arrows in the hands of a warrior' and (to use the words of Jim Elliot), what are arrows for but to be pulled back on the bowstring of faith to be launched into God's global battle? We quit doing 'baby dedications' and now hold 'parent commissionings', in which parents covenant with the church to raise up their children for the mission of God and to release them freely into that mission whenever and wherever God calls them. I make the parents promise 'If God calls my child one day to a difficult mission field, I promise not to stand in the way, but to bless and encourage my child to follow God." We don't need to dedicate a baby - the baby already belongs to God. It is the parents who need to dedicate themselves to raise up a child for the mission of God.

We challenge our high school students to serve for one month for one summer on one of our global mission teams, and we encourage all students to give one entire summer of their college career to serve in one of our mission projects around the world.

We encourage each small group to adopt both a city service-evangelism project and an international missionary.

I am not against a designated 'missions pastor.' We have a few of them, actually. But their jobs are primarily to catalyze the other pastors to lead them in global mission through their ministries. Our missions pastors should not do missions for the church; they should catalyze missions in the church. Big difference. They should not be leading in missions as much as creating opportunities for others to lead in missions.

Multicultural diversity is in the very DNA of the gospel, and a Spirit filled church will naturally drift toward this diversification. We see this reflected in how the gospel has spread down through history: Christianity has roughly 20 percent of its followers in Africa, 20 percent in Asia, 20 percent in Europe, 20 percent in NA and 20 percent in SA. Every other major religion has at least 80 percent of its followers concentrated on one continent. Christianity, statistically speaking, has no dominant culture. It is the most diverse movement in history.

Our church has asked God to allow us to plant 1,000 churches and bless 1,000 cities by 2050. We want to send out 5000 people as part of those church planting teams. We have started a pastor training school that will train pastors and church leaders. We have asked God to let us baptize 50,000 people in the Raleigh-Durham area. We have asked him to let us be part of major awakenings in Muslim and European nations. Each year we try to give away more money and send out more leaders than we feel we can afford. Only when our giving scares us do we know we are getting close to target.

Every time we send people out from our church, they leave gaps. It’s painful to think about sometimes. More than once, I have had to force myself to literally open my hands to God. Opened in surrender. Opened as a sign that I must take my hands off of one of the most precious earthly things to me—my church. Open as an offering of praise to Jesus’ worthiness and faith in his promise. Open in the belief that God builds his kingdom not as we hold on, but as we let go.

The slightest glimpse of what 'can be' creates more willingness to change than any sermons we can preach. If you want a ministry filled with people coming up with mission ideas faster than you can facilitate them, give people a glimpse of what can be and help them feel what God wants it to be.

Gospel-saturated people become visionaries. The gospel shows us the compassion of God for the world and his willingness to change it. The gospel is the single greatest catalyst for innovation in mission.

Those that know him well say that Jack Welch’s (the legendary CEO of G.E.) greatest gifting was his ability to spot and raise up leaders. An impressive number of CEOs came from G.E. Welch gave away some good leaders, but the leadership culture he created attracted many to replace the ones he “sent.” He knew that multiplication was greater than addition. And that is what we desire as a church, because the greatest ministry power happens not as we add to our numbers, but as we empower and release people into the world It happens when we open our hands to God and say, “We don’t want to be a group of people gathered around a leader, but to be a leadership factory.”

'The deader your gospel the flashier your package' Vance Havner

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Notes - H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle - Brad Lomenick

Great read by one of the current day leadership sages, Brad Lomenick. Great read and I loved the perspective from someone who has worked with some of the most effective leaders of our day.
Let your team manage up more than you manage down

Start a "Better than I do" List. Leaders need to be reminded often that they aren’t the only ones who are good at what they do. Keep a running list of people who do what you do better than you do. Whenever you find yourself reading too many of your own press clippings, spend some time reviewing this list to regain perspective. This has the added benefit of giving you a contact list where you can find people to learn from.

Reward Those Who Push Back - Healthy organizations incentivize moderate levels of dissent.

When I walked into the green room and encountered the Hillsong United band after their first set, I was nearly knocked off my feet. The band members were huddled together around a tiny television with a closed-loop feed of the first speakers. Then they watched the second presentation. Then, the third. Many of them had Moleskine pads, and were furiously scribbling notes. No one was talking. No one was checking text messages.

One of the great memories I have of a Catalyst Conference is a panel discussion with Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, and Erwin McManus during the first ever conference in 2000. Erwin said something profound, and John immediately looked down at Linda, his longtime assistant in the front row, and made a motion as if he was writing, indicating he wanted his Moleskine notebook to capture what Erwin had just said. In front of two thousand young leaders, John demonstrated his desire to learn. Andy Stanley made a great comment later on, and satirically asked John, “Are you going to take notes on my answers as well?”

But as I learned while working at Catalyst, creativity is not completely inborn. It’s not just the musician sitting on the rooftop, dreaming up new lyrics about the color of the sky at noontime. It is the man in the third third of his life, taking a college course to learn more about his field. It is the CEO who schedules a lunch with a local graphic designer to talk about trends in logo design. It is the team of accountants who train themselves to use a revolutionary computer program before anyone else in their market does. The key to innovation is intentionality.

You are the chief, but not the only, vision caster. When you hire new team members, don’t hire only staff executers. Stack your roster with some dreamers too. They’ll take the vision you’re placing in front of them and will run with it. Make sure to ask questions designed to reveal how much time they spend dreaming each day.

MURDER, WHEN APPROPRIATE. This habit must be handled with care. Don’t complete a project for completion’s sake. You’ll often realize that an idea should be killed while you’re still attempting to execute. When this becomes clear, murder it and move on. However, if you find dead bodies lying all over the floor, you should evaluate your creative process to determine why so many of the ideas your team is generating are unsustainable.

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided me a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Peeps I Meet

Some of the peeps I have met this NovEmber. I'm inspired by them.

: S - trying to start some kind of missions nonprofit in the Middle East.
: N - landed in NYC and trying to get involved in some kind of outreach or fellowship there.
: S - works with his wife shepherding a group of young adults.
: M - spent time working with the Peace Corp in Peru, where she saw an attempt of the OLPC program that didn't work very well. It wasn't a total waste though because she said lots of those kids took the computers apart and learned a bit of engineering that way. I talk a bit about OLPC in my talk teaching Perspectives and owned one in the past.
: A - spent time in northern Uganda where she saw families sell their malaria bed nets so their kids could eat.
: H - moved with his family to Tunisia for a year.
: M - works a part time job so she can spend more time working and serving with college students who are here from other countries.
: H - has a background in industrial design and wants to serve the less fortunate with her husband who is an engineer hopefully using both of their sets of skills together.

Photo: Blackfriars Millenium Pier, London, July 2015.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Paris Emergency Medical Crews had Practiced for a Mass Shooting Just Hours Before the Attacks
During Friday's exercise, trauma specialists used a centralized dispatch system to set priorities and direct victims to the ER best equipped to treat their injuries. Ambulance services made sure they were ready to roll, and hospitals verified that surgeons and staff could be quickly summoned to treat arriving victims. "We tested every link in the chain," Raux said. Because Paris emergency physicians work 24-hour shifts, virtually every ER doctor on duty in the city Friday night had already taken part in the exercise earlier that day.

::: Transportation Emerges as Crucial to Escaping Poverty
In a large, continuing study of upward mobility based at Harvard, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder.

::: 4 Years Ago, Facebook didn't Exist in Burma. Now it's the Country's Most Important Source of Information.

::: Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts. - Thomas Aquinas

Photo: Dinner before Perspectives earlier this week. Matt Maloy, left, Ember board of director. Trevin Hoekzema, right, local community outreach coordinator/Ember guide, Bay Area Comm Church. Lures, Crownsville, MD.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NovEmber #4

I had four speaking engagements all in the month of November and I never do that much public speaking. I'm glad they are over but each one of them was a lot of fun and I loved meeting people at each one of the talks. This is from the last one, earlier this week, a Perspectives class at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg. Loved meeting Greg CLC's missions pastor and they had nearly 70 people at their class, which is huge. Their global missions team just set up Go Grants, a way to help fund people who sense a need and want to do something about it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NovEmber #3

Teaching at Perspectives last night at Bay Area Community Church outside of Annapolis, MD. Bay Area is a fantastic church and has a great missions pastor who grew up in the developing world - amazing paradigm of a suburban church with a global leader who grew up in Ghana.

Love the opportunity to show off some of our Ember tribe. Up front with me sharing for a few minutes is most of the 2015 Prague team and one of our illustrious board of directors. This is why we do what we do.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Burn

:::The Scientist
Read this please.
In 2004 at Burning Man, a yearly gathering in the Nevada desert, someone erected a 30 foot wooden pole with a dancing platform on top. Dozens of people failed to climb the pole. And then there's another who gives it his try. He doesn't look like someone who could climb it. And as he's trying, suspicions are confirmed. He's terrible and looks like he's about to fail. He hugs the pole the whole time as he squirms and inches his way up. With sheer determination he reaches the top of that platform. Who was he? Elon Musk.

:::: The Migration Towards Europe

::: Classic Bob Lupton

::: In the Christendom world, speaking was leading. In post-Christendom world leading is multidimensional:apostolic-realtional-adaptive @todbol via @RobJacobs_

Photo: Dog, laptops, prepping for a talk. In the spirit of Steve Jobs, we try to practice 1 hour for every minute of speaking.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NovEmber #2

Sharing during a breakout about the pivotal roles of young people. Co-presented with older daughter Katie who shared lots of specifics about orphan and foster care while I tried to inspire people to action.

That's Measu and Hope from when they raised money for a water well when they were 15, before their illustrious careers as ProtoGuides.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Ember Balt 7

One of the concepts that doesn't get taught enough when executing community impact projects is the concept of community assets. What assets does the community already has have? What are the talents and giftings of people in that community that could be activated? What expertise do they have and what can they do for themselves? Asking this question and taking to heart the answers separates the managers from the leaders - you either are just providing hirelings or you are engaging in the art of catalytic leadership.

The Ember Cast hosted a team from Towson Cru this weekend along with some of Emily's high school friends for a little project at The Well at Curtis Bay this past Saturday. We've loved the story and ethos of The Well and our last project last March was so fun, we knew this one would be good too. The Well hosted an artisan boutique giving people in the community an opportunity to sell their merchandise. This was, in founder and executive director Mandy's own words, an experiment and you know how we love experiments. Lots of great stuff was for sale at the boutique and it was a great opportunity for people in the community to connect.

This kind of thing was a great example of community assets. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for those of us in the suburbs to default to the thinking that people in less affluent communities don't have initiative, leadership, or tangible skills. This mindset continues to propagate when those of us that set up this kinds of projects don't teach the concept of asset based community development.

So next time you take students on a service project, ask the people that live there about their community assets, and listen. Even better, teach your kids to ask and listen too.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Extreme Poverty Could Cease to Exist in 15 Years

::: All 300 Languages Spoken in American Homes and the Number of People Who Speak Them

::: US Becoming Less Religious

::: Asian Americans Young Influencers List

::: MBTI Star Wars Style

::: "An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong" - Julie Andrews

Photo: The Well in Curtis Bay, Spring 2015. Ember returns tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

NovEmber #1

Before speaking to some youth leaders last night at Grace. That's terahgram and Kevin up front - some of the most phenomenal student pastor type people around.

During my talk, one of the leaders reminded me of the time I prayed over and anointed a team in an airport terminal with hand sanitiser.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Where Apostolic Leaders Thrive

From Sam Metcalf's Beyond the Local Church. I knew this book would be good after reading his blog for years.

1. The church in its apostolic, missionary form is just as equally "church" as the church in its local parish form. God never designed or intended either to do the work of the other.
2. The evidence from history is abundant that whenever these two structures work cooperatively and interdependently, the Christian movement thrives and moves forward. When one structure dominates or attempts to control the other, the movement suffers.
3. Apostolic leaders thrive best in structures uniquely designed for the fulfillment of their calling, and these leaders must have access to these structures in order to reach their God-given potential. When pastoral or denominational leaders mistakenly assume that such apostolic structures have no validity or are subject to their control, everyone loses.

I've never really understood point #1 with such detail before and all 3 of these points have massive implications for The Ember Cast.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Burn

:::: I Went to Change the World and Failed

::: Cash Strapped Missionaries Get a New Calling

::: 6 Rules for Great Story Telling

::: Mapping New York's Microdistricts
Link via kottke

::: Unused creativity is dangerous. - Brené Brown

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Architecting It

There are things you need to intentionally architect. And yes, I am using the word architect as a verb.

There are great ideas and there are mediocre ideas. But it's not so much about the idea, it is about the execution. Along the way to executing, you should expand your idea so that you have architected an idea model. An idea is great, an idea model helps you adjust and contextualize. Credit for this term and idea goes to Ben Arment and his book Dream Year.

Whether you like it or not, you won't be able to execute your idea or idea model by yourself. You will need a team of people. This structure should also be intentionally designed. You'll need your people - the people that will jump in and work in your passion. You also might need a team of advisers or directors. And you'll probably need a team of people to help you with the business end of things - budget, legal help, staffing. All of these teams will need to be designed.

Finally, you might need to architect your life. Your schedule. Your free time. Your career. Your finances. Your hobbies. Your patterns, rituals, and routines. Your values and non-negotiables. I'm not saying you cannot be spontaneous but clarity and thoughtfulness around what's important to you allows margin to do the things you love when the opportunity presents itself.

Great ideas, teams, visions and enterprises do not build themselves. They are built with intention and design, step by step, brick by brick.

Monday, October 26, 2015

That Far In Advance?

If you think it might be too early to start planning student missions for 2016 and believe that anyone who does is insane, well... Ember has a client [our home church] that already has trips, dates and important milestones on the calendar. Sick I know.

Having this far reaching calendar is a result of hard work and intention, certainly. This is also the result of having a very mature student missions process. This doesn't happen unless you want it to and it doesn't happen in an hour. It takes work to get here.

But you can get here too. Determine to get better at identifying and recruiting leaders. Get better at forming healthy partnerships with organizations in other cultures. Assume that you have students that are ready to travel and serve and learn and decide that your student ministry will be vital to helping them prepare for this kind of life.

Photo: Ember Prague 2015 reunion dinner.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Most Disruptive Technology is in Your House

::: Where Syrian Refugees are in the US

::: Not Enough Customers
Solving the “content” issue does not automatically solve the “distribution” issue.

::: "An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can't get it wrong" - Julie Andrews

Photo: Sean and Carolyn [Ember 2012 intern]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"When I was in high school, just a few months ago…"

This is Shannon Linden, on the platform at Amadeo Church, outside of Phoenix, where she taught last Sunday during all 3 morning services. For those of you that might not know, Ben Cloud started Amadeo 9 years ago. Prior to that, he was a youth pastor that was an expert and hosting and sending students from and to the ends of the earth when I met him and I'm proud to say that we met each other on the Internet. The Ember Cast has partnered with Amadeo multiple times and we were thrilled that Shannon engaged with Amadeo for a gap semester experience.

Some of you might cringe at the thought of an eighteen year old teaching on a Sunday morning. Others of you might disagree with having a female in the front. Still others might despise both facts. This post [or blog for that matter] is not for you.

Shannon was one of our ProtoGuides last year and she's got a fantastic heart for the future of the Church and an iron will and commitment that helps keep her moving in Kingdom directions. We are thrilled at her direction and trajectory - the Kingdom will be rich because of her efforts over a lifetime. Ember will continue to resource Shannon the best that we can, like many of the emerging global leaders that we work with.

I'm infinitely grateful for places like Amadeo and leaders like Ben Cloud. Communities that host young people like this are rare. It is not an easy task to host a young person for a season, give them solid teaching and modeling about discipleship, putting them to work in significant and meaningful venues, and letting them stretch and contribute to your local and global efforts. Opening your pulpit to them is unheard of. At press time, you can find her talk on the sidebar on the right of this page.

We love you Amadeo Church. Thanks for taking such good care of Shannon and throwing fire with her.

Update: Here is the permalink to the message.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Upcoming Ember Activities

Here is what is happening in NovEmber - would love to have you be a part or stop in to say hi.

+ Tuesday 3 Nov - private leadership event [but maybe I can sneak you in.]
+ Saturday 7 Nov - Ember is hosting a group of college kids for a service learning project in East Baltimore.
+ Sunday 8 Nov - I'm facilitating a breakout entitled, "The Pivotal Role of High School, College and Young Adults" at Maryland Orphan Sunday. More info and register here.
+ Monday 16 Nov and Tuesday 17 Nov - Teaching Lesson 12 at two Perspectives classes in the DMV.

Congrats to Ember guide John Timmons who tied the knot over the weekend!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Burn

::: How the Polio Surge in Nigeria Helped Stop Ebola
Within 24 hours of Ebola’s arrival in the country, says Desmond-Hellman, "the polio emergency operations center was turned into an Ebola emergency operations center. Those assets, those trained people, that infrastructure, that ability to understand what an epidemic is, to do contract tracing, all the things they needed to do—they immediately stamped out Ebola... The scope of it would have been so much worse."

::: 5 Ways To Identify a White Hot Passion in Leaders

::: Tips to Organize a Great Conference
From 99u.

::: The great instrument of moral good is the imagination - Percy Bysshe Shelley via Mike Metzger

Photo: Prague team decompression, Tower Bridge, London.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Summer Team Improvements

Hopefully, we are getting more and more skilled at this student missions thing. The end goal isn't just that we get good at it but that we are getting better at launching the leaders that have been entrusted to us.

To that end, here's a few observations about our summer teams and areas that we are growing in:
+ Leadership identification and recruiting
Instead of just bringing someone on for a big project [like help lead this summer team], we are asking that they come hang with us for a day or two before we engage them for something larger. This should seem like a no brainer, but a few years ago, I brought on a leader without this and it was a mistake. Watch someone lead before you give them something huge.

+ Logistics
Overseas travel with teams is never straightforward. We've had a great luck with our travel agent and tried to be smarter about traveling by giving our teams plenty of time and laying out all the options for logistics before making a decision. It always takes longer.

+ Creative revenue
These creative revenue plans get better and better each summer and I'm convinced that the students that have gone through this experience are better prepared for both the conventional and the nonprofit world.

+ Vision drives budget
Raising money has never been more difficult and yet there is an element of this that is integral to faith. So hopefully we are more about God's vision than a budget being primary. Easy to say, hard to do. This is also obviously something that gets visited all through the year.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Like Arrows

No blessing that God gives his people is separated from the responsibility to become a blessing to the nations. For example, at the Summit church, we build a global missions thrust into the first stages of our family ministries. Psalm 127 teaches us that our kids are given to us 'like arrows in the hands of a warrior' and (to use the words of Jim Elliot), what are arrows for but to be pulled back on the bowstring of faith to be launched into God's global battle? We quit doing 'baby dedications' and now hold 'parent commissionings', in which parents covenant with the church to raise up their children for the mission of God and to release them freely into that mission whenever and wherever God calls them. I make the parents promise 'If God calls my child one day to a difficult mission field, I promise not to stand in the way, but to bless and encourage my child to follow God.' We don't need to dedicate a baby - the baby already belongs to God. It is the parents who need to dedicate themselves to raise up a child for the mission of God. - JD Greear, Gaining by Losing - Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send
In less than a year, our oldest will be out of the house and reading this paragraph [from an excellent book I might add] had a visceral effect on me. If you think it was difficult to make that promise when they were young, you are in for an awakening when they are 17.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday Burn

::: Extreme Poverty Drops
...the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty hasn’t doubled or remained the same. It has fallen by more than half, from 35 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 2011 (the most recent year for which figures are available from the World Bank).
Link via Katie [Ember spawn]

::: 8 Cities That Will Show You What the Future Looks Like
Check out the turbine highway structure in Dubai.

::: The Ikea-backed Company Making Flat-pack Refugee Shelters
Each shelter takes between four and eight hours to assemble, and includes solar panels that can power LED lights or charge mobile phones. They are built to last for three years. Components are manufactured in northern Europe and China, and flat-packed in Gdansk, Poland.

::: The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. - E M Bounds

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A Team Is Not A Group of People Who Just Work Together

I was invited to facilitate a Myers Briggs session with a short term team last week and like always, it was a ton of fun. This team is traveling soon and it's always a privilege to help a team with their preparation.

You'll see that the whole team are 'J's - they all love color coded calendars and fully well expect a detailed schedule that will be executed like clockwork. Well, except when plan A morphs into plan B, C and D. I only know this because it's happened to me countless times... But that's part of the fun of it. Like all people that travel overseas, they are planning to be flexible [as much as that is an oxymoron] and hopefully, that works.

Simon Sinek says, "A team is not a group of people who just work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other," and the MBTI is one of the best tools to help fast forward relationships on your teams. When you know your team better, you trust them faster, easier, and more deeply.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Nashville - Trips with Dad - 2015 #3

At the end of 2014, I decided to be a little more intentional about time with my kids, culminating in a decision to take each one of my kids [and my wife] on a trip, just the two of us, in 2015. This was the third of these, a trip with Emily our younger daughter, to Nashville, TN for a long weekend.

The highlight of the weekend was seeing the Taylor Swift show on Saturday night. I am unashamed about being a Taylor fan and had high expectations for the show and Taylor did not disappoint. I don't think you can help but be inspired by her - she is using her intention, talents and gifting to architect an amazing experience for her fans and you can tell that she is having the best time doing it. An amazing entertainer. We should all strive to use our talents like she uses hers.

Here are some other random travel notes:
+ The city is booming. Part of why, from our previous visit in 2014.
+ We didn't have time to visit a church but I have a short list. Nashville also seems to be an epicenter for a lot going on with global missions - churches, leaders, communities.
+ Not only an epicenter for global missions, but my friend Ben Arment relocated his STORY conference here too this year. I would have loved to attend but it was a few days after we left.
+ The Opryland hotel is something to do once but probably not worth it after that.
+ I cashed in some miles for the flights which helped with the budget.
+ We took advantage of meeting a mutual friend at Belmont University as well as getting a little tour from her [Hi Haile!]. Our older daughter is thinking about Belmont for school and it was fun to see it in person. I was impressed with the campus and the ethos of the student community there.
+ There is live music everywhere. Any restaurant in the airport, of course in the clubs downtown, and in the McDonalds around the corner from our hotel.
+ Union Station is an old train station converted into a hotel - the lobby is worth a visit.
+ We drove out of the city a little bit to see the blood moon but there was too much cloud cover.

Trips with Dad 2015 has been a phenomenal success. I feel super fortunate to have been able to have adventures with each of my girls individually and the time together has been a blast.

Friday, October 02, 2015

GCC Young Adults - Sent

I was on the Grace Young Adult retreat a few weeks ago and we love that tribe of people. The theme of the retreat was 'Sent' and I was asked to do a little breakout session that centered around 3 unique things about the world today and 3 mantras The Ember Cast uses for missions mobilization.

Here are my notes. They are a little obscure, as all good PowerPoints should be - feel free to use them as you wish but please do let me know if you do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hello SeptEmber

Today, I'm officially back from my Ember sabbatical and it's good to be back. I've taken off about 6 weeks at the end of the summer for the past few years or so and it is one of the healthiest things I do. This year was the same although I didn't unplug as much as I have in years past. All the same though, it was good. It included: a family beach trip to VA Beach, seeing a few concerts [I absolutely love live music], catching up on lots of good reading, the first day of school for the girls, celebrating turning 46 years old with a family photo shoot, and a weekend in Nashville with my younger daughter. 2015 - the best year of my life.

I'm excited for what projects The Ember Cast will be involved with next and like the rest of 2015, we will use all of our intention and resources to do our best to catalyze emerging leaders to throw fire.

Friday, August 21, 2015

See You in SeptEmber

For the past three years, I have taken a full stop break in the Fall from The Ember Cast - a sabbatical that lasts about 6 weeks. It is one of the healthiest things I do - it gives me some breathing room to rest and relax, it slows the pace so our kids get a good start to the school year and helps me recover and re-energize. The only Ember related thing I will do in the next 6 weeks is have dinner with the Ember Prague team as part a follow up after our 30 days post trip. Other than that, I'll try to be a regular person that works a single full time job and has evenings and weekends off. Weird.

Over the past few years, as a family, we have come to embrace the bivocational model of ministry more and more. But keep it in perspective, Ember is not a faith community or a church plant and I'm not a pastor - those would be much, much more challenging. There are lots of you though that have set up your lives in the same way. You may not call yourself bivocational, but you spend a lot of your free time, money and energy serving and leading others, whether through a local nonprofit or a church ministry or a community development organization. If you spend more than an average of 10 hours a week doing this all year long, I cannot implore you enough to think about a consistent, intentional season of rest every year.

My sabbatical starts this weekend. See you in late SeptEmber.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The 10 Spot

In 2005, 10 years ago this summer, I got on a plane with a team of students and traveled to Brasil for 10 days. Little did I know what this trip would begin, a season where we dedicated an enormous amount of time, money and energy to developing student mission leaders. [Although some of this started in 2004, 2005 was an international team.] Except for 2009, I have done this every summer since. It has been an huge task and has required a good amount of sacrifice but the benefits have been incredible - these experiences have done more for my soul than almost anything else in my life. In many ways, I feel like I was made for this.

Here are some big picture metrics - back of the napkin style:
9 teams, 114 people, average team size of 12.
13 countries. I have never led an adult team, by the way.
Collectively raised around $245,000.
71 team prep meetings and 5 team prep overnighters [Mission Advance]. 350 hours of team preparation.
94 days on the field. 8904 hours of serving.

As best as I can gather, 85% of these students are still engaged in Christian missional leadership. I'm not saying there is cause and effect here - just because a student goes on one of these doesn't mean that they will grow in their leadership. But we do track that statistic and if any of these numbers matter, it is that one.

From SPACE to The Ember Cast, thank you to the many, many friends, co-conspirators and student missions patrons that have journeyed with us. If you've sent an encouraging email, prayed for a student or a team, donated money, liked or read a post, retweeted or made a favorite, showed up at a bake sale or made a meal or encouraged a team or student, etc, the list could go on and on - we are forever grateful and none of this would be possible without you. You have marked the course of human history and the future is indebted to you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Prague Random

Random stuff posted mostly for me - last post about Prague for a while.

+ Prague is cheap - London is expensive, almost exact opposites. For the second summer in a row, I've used the Chase Sapphire card for anything I can because there are no foreign transaction fees. I did, however, have to pay about $50 in foreign ATM fees. Even though Prague is cheap, not everyone takes credit cards unlike other parts of Europe that I have been to. So you have to be prepared with a good amount of cash on hand. Especially when buying lunch for a ton of students.

+ The night we spent with Andrew and Debbie Jones was also the night we met the owner of Sir Toby's hostel, who also happens to run a series of hostels in Prague and one in Accra, Ghana. He is a serial entrepreneur and uses revenue from his businesses to help fund missional stuff all over the globe. He left that night for Accra to spend some time looking into a public sanitation initiative.

+ The students we hung with use Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Snapchat continues to be a messaging platform for a lot of kids. I don't know why. I actually used Facebook Messenger while away because it was easier to use than anything else to connect with people overseas. Three of our team, including me, had overseas data plans for our phones.

+ The Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square are packed with tourists. I never felt unsafe in any of those parts of the city.

+ The Prague metro is super easy to use.

+ Security at Heathrow was a hot mess. I had my whole carry on bag inspected which I don't normally get bent out of shape about. But it took forever. While I was getting that done, our team was together outside a store when some random guy dropped a suitcase next to them and walked away. They got security right away.

+ Our hotel in London was in East London, right next to a large Mosque. Budget cost, teeny rooms but more than adequate. Easy walk to Tower Bridge and a great ethnically diverse neighborhood. This is what global cities look like.

+ Lots of our kids had a little insecurity about being the same age as the kids they were 'leading.' In actuality, teams like this have a certain 'gravity' that attracts others. Roles don't matter but this gravity does.

+ The emerging generation wants 'programming' that is organic.

+ In December, when we got the invite to help run Camp Juice, Emily said, "Wow, The Ember Cast will be a real missions organization after this!" Fake it until you make it, Ember spawn.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Myth of Calling

::: America more Post-Christian than 2 Years Ago

::: The Challenge of Planting a Church in NYC

::: A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension - Oliver Wendell Holmes via Alan Hirsch

Photo: Prague Castle.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ember's 30 Day Rule

Most stories you hear about how long term missionaries and calling have something to do with a short term trip. There is nothing inherently bad about that - that is part of why we run these summer experiences. We do think, though, that sometimes the emotion of returning can reduce clarity for direction and calling. And that is why we have the 30 day rule. Put simply, it says that you don't make any harsh decisions within 30 days of returning from your experience.

My kids keep helping me add to this rule every year. Last year, it was to spend some significant purposeful time praying about what you learned in these 30 days. This year, they said if you are doing cocaine, it is okay to stop that right now. Thanks guys. In terms of our Prague team, it would be easy to come home and tell your parents that you are packing up all your stuff to go live with the Jones' on their truck. Or that you are going to skip college to go be a church planter with Christian Associates. Or that working at a hostel in Europe is more missional than high school. None of those things are bad. But there can be a certain amount of emotion wrapped in those decisions. A decision is not good if it is based on pure emotion.

Wait 30 days and let the emotion die down. If it is a true calling from the Lord, it will burn in your soul with even more urgency after the 30 days are up. The statistics do not lie - we need more missionaries. But we need them making good, clear decisions.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ember Prague Wrap

What an experience. The Lord really provided because it could have been a huge train wreck but instead was an amazing time with a whole group of amazing students. Here's some highlights - this is a long post.

::: The Jones
Loved our time being able to see Andrew and Debbie again - they have both had a huge impact on my perspective of missions, leadership and the emerging generation. Being able to have them share with a group of Camp Juice kids was so great. Love their family. Our students talked about a lot of this for the rest of the week.

::: Cultural scavenger hunt and Bless Day
Two really useful tools in Ember's tool set - the cultural scavenger hunt and Bless Day. The big lesson with the cultural scavenger hunt is how you apply it - what are the observations you made about the culture and how would you interpret those if you were to try to plant the Gospel in that culture? The big lesson with Bless Day, at least for this one, is the idea of missional imagination - what can you imagine you could do with the resources that you have that might move people to the Kingdom?

I alluded to this story in an earlier post too, but on Bless Day, one of the teams ran into a homeless man and asked him if they could buy him lunch. They went to a Czech restaurant and sat down to eat. In the middle of their meal, as they were getting acquainted even with the language barrier, he pulled out his identification card and it turned out to be his birthday. They sang him happy birthday [in English in a Czech restaurant in Prague...] and then later took him out to get his favorite gelato. Beautiful story.

::: The Camp Juice kids
Loved all of these kids really. They were all really good friends before we arrived but they wholeheartedly embraced and loved our team - funny that I had met some of them in 2007 and 2008. In the end, everyone became a community - an interesting mix but a community that loved each other and had some great experiences contributing to something larger than just themselves. Alex McManus is right - cause creates community.

There is something special and unique about this group too - their families are directly involved in the missionary endeavor, most of them leading church plants in cross cultural contexts. They've lived unconventional lives and they show it. They are third culture kids with a pedigree of leadership, risk and adventure. I think Camp Juice has made a turn in ethos and I'm excited to see where that leads this community.

::: The Last Day
Our last day was spent hanging at the hotel and then going to dinner at KFC. After that, the Ember team presented paper plate awards to everyone. If you've been around various camps, you know paper plate awards are kind of goofy and ...campy. The comments back to us about the paper plate awards that we gave out were that they were so thoughtful and fit each person really well and really encouraged the person getting the award. Part of being a catalyst is erupting the good out of the people you know.

Later that night, we had a worship time and took communion together. Our main worship leader was Olivia Rapp, who is a phenomenal worship leader. During Summit, we didn't have a guitar so her and Madi used a ukulele and it was great. For the last worship time, Olivia teamed up with Jacob and Molly and they seriously led us. Communion together was beautiful.

My team was originally going to end the week with paper plate awards but I implored them about what we have seen this community do and become. It was no longer a gathering of missionary kids to have fun - it was now kids who could see a bigger picture about serving their world and closing our time together the right way could be significant. I'm glad we decided to do this - a sense of vision can be catalytic.

::: Financials
Our overall budget was right at $26,000, which was for a team of 9 for 13 days. Most of the expenses were in Prague, and we built in 2 days on the way home being spent in London for debriefing. I almost always build in time for decompression because it is that important. I'm still closing the financials but we will be a bit over in expenses. I'm not worried though - Ember started the summer with a good amount of reserves in our savings and we were prepared to go over a bit. I probably wouldn't do London again in the future - it's a glorious global city but super expensive.

Make no mistake, $26K is a ton of money. We all should be asking ourselves every single summer whether spending this bulk of money in 13 days is the right thing to do. My only other guidance is that we take the long view of answering this question - was it the right thing to do if you ask this 15 years in the future?

::: The Ember team
Loved this team - one of the best teams I've been with. Each person was a ton of fun and went out of their way to care for each other and become a team. When it came to the Camp Juice kids, they engaged them, did their best to become friends [which wasn't hard] and helped grow this gathering into a tribe. I miss each one of them and could have spent one more week with them. Maybe.

I have also added each one of them to an Ember Staff list that I update weekly. On most teams, you have one or two kids that can operate at a Staff level. I'm proud to say that everyone one of these students could be an Ember Guide.

Thanks to many of you for your support for this project and this team.

Photos here.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday Burn

::: What We Are Learning About the Teenage Brain
That's because adolescents are literally biologically programmed to push against the status quo that adults have created and imagine a world that could be, and not just learn the world as it is. That’s why we need to see adolescents as the hope for the future.

::: Taylor Swift's On Stage Guests and Increased Hype

::: Jon Stewart - Superboss
Excellent read from Dan
Superbosses are exceptionally adept at developing talent because they share particular character traits and adopt a set of common practices that, taken together, are both rare and extraordinarily effective. They are unusually intense and passionate—eating, sleeping, and breathing their businesses and inspiring others to do the same. They create impossibly high work standards that push protégés to their limits. They are geniuses at motivation, inspiring people to do more than they ever thought possible. Remarkably, they can be intimately involved in the detailed work their people are doing, while at the same time lavish responsibility on inexperienced protégés, taking risks with them that seem foolish to outsiders. They encourage the creation of strong, emotional bonds and loyalties between protégés as well as between protégés and themselves.

::: When filtering good criticism from bad, ask how much it cost the person to give you feedback. @JonAcuff via Dawn

Photo: London, Ember Prague team, July 2015.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Worship at Camp Juice

Worship at Camp Juice - our last gathering at midnight the last night. Three students architected the worship set and when I say architected, I mean they designed the environment to be a powerful gathering with their old and new friends worshipping something bigger than themselves. If you have students that can do this, you should let them.

Candles and glow sticks - we took communion together as a symbol that Jesus wants to change the world in us and with us.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Best Decompression Exercise

One of the best exercises we make teams work through when decompressing is the exercise to write down a 20 second, 2 minute and 20 minute response to the question, "How was your trip?" [The 20 minute response is just an outline.] People coming home get this question all the time - from friends, family, supporters, leaders. Unfortunately, most people that ask this question only have the attention span for the 20 second answer.

[Also, this was not my original idea. I stole it from a mentor that I had in college.]

Every once in a while, someone will listen for 2 minutes. And once in a blue moon, a leader, foundation, missions org or church missions committee will want to hear the 20 minute response. Walking teams through this exercise sets the expectation that most people only hear the 20 second response and that future missions leaders need to be able to articulate their experience clearly.

If you lead teams, this is highly recommended. If you are involved in missions mobilization, you probably meet with people when they come home. The best thing you can do is to let them talk. For 20, 40, 60, 90 minutes. If you help support student missions, try to pay attention for 2 minutes instead of 20 seconds.

Here's my 20 second answer:
We helped run a little gathering for some students in the city of Prague. Most of these students
are from families that have chosen to live cross culturally intentionally so it is a pretty unique community of kids that know and love each other. We got to do some pretty interesting things with regard to culture and serving in the city of Prague and it went super well. Will be fun to see what happens with this community of students in the future.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Monday Guest

To my right is Nicole Barnes and her husband John. Nicole helped me lead a team in 2006 to Cameroon, which was a fantastic experience, and also helped cultivate a passion for medicine in her. 9 years later, she is living in London with her husband. She shared a bit of her journey with our team tonight as the final evening of our time here in this great city.

Decompression has gone well. Flying home tomorrow.

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Debriefing and decompression in London because we do it in a neutral location and because this process in your students missions experience is a non-negotiable. If you skip this, you should find another line of work.

We are down a few in this picture - KatieV flew all the way home today to catch a flight for her family vacation. KatieS was resting after being up most of the night for our last night of Camp Juice.