Monday, June 29, 2015

Prague Team Meeting #7

Less than 30 days until departure and we are feeling it.

Our team meeting agenda included:
+ An intro to each of our team to Teal Rapp, director of recruiting for Christian Associates. Teal and I originally met in 2007 and have kept a fun working relationship on and off. The last two summers in Aix were part of working with him and he's the one that got us into this interesting missions experience for this summer. Teal is one of the most relational, entrepreneurial people that I know and his role of recruiting and shepherding people into potential cross cultural service fits him like a glove. That is Teal on the TV.
+ Mapping - both in calendars and looking at our physical locations.
+ More logistics planning for our actual 'program.' I can't tell you too much of this but it is a good kind of challenge as we base our plans on core values for our Camp Juice students, like having fun, spending time with each other, some fruits of the Spirit and utilizing our physical layout and structures as best we can.
+ Informally, we also talked about the discipleship square, high invitation-high challenge and the information-imitation-innovation triangle.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Majority of American Babies are Now Minorities

::: Smart Phone Addicts Make Poor Ministers
Seth Barnes has been posting a series on smart phones, mission teams and whether they should ban smart phones from the World Race. This is a great read in this series.

::: What is the Best Charitable Cause in the World and How Would You Know?

::: An organization doesn't become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. @patricklencioni

Photo: Sidamo offering - Meklit Summer Special. [Meklit is one of our 2015 Prague team members.]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

2015 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. Every summer, our teams are 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.

Here is some of the context on how this plan came about - in case you didn't notice, I was super frustrated. Combine that frustration with some of the systemic issues with missions support and the freedom to execute what we imagine with The Ember Cast, and we had the experiment known as the Creative Revenue Plan, which I think is going great.

Like every summer, I'm thrilled to see the plans that students execute. This summer includes pet sitting, lawn mowing, photography and babysitting. Not only that, our whole team was involved in a big missions training event which leveraged our skills, experience and talents, both as our team and Ember as an organization. And one of our guides leading a trip for a local church came up with a painting party for his team.

The future necessitates that missionaries continue to be smart about finances, including how they raise support, how they use their skills to create revenue and the fine balance between the two.

Monday, June 22, 2015

George and CeCe

If you are an emerging global student leader, your life might look like this in 40 years:

+ lived around the world
+ all your kids were born in different places
+ your kids and grand kids are spread across different continents
+ your extended family is a rich tapestry of different cultures
+ your kids are impacting the world for Jesus in various cultures and domains and raising solid kids
+ your grand kids have exponentially multiplied your sense of adventure

We spent lots of time with George and CeCe last week and were so blessed by their ethos and life. What a rich family legacy they have built, with intention, sacrifice and a sense of the mission of God.

Friday, June 19, 2015


One of the absolute joys of my life - officiating the wedding of these two yesterday - Jeremiah and Emilie. Emilie was my first student missions intern in 2005 and eventually contributed at the highest level as a leader, helping lead a ton of stuff and make investments that continue to affect the world today. She was the first person that truly modeled the 'emerging global student leader' - a student that was interested in global cultures, loved airports, parents who didn't mind putting them on a plane and a passion for the world that erupted in action.

In that season, her family modeled adventure, risk, and being pioneers. Her parents have also always had the healthy perspective that your kids are only yours for a little bit because the Lord has a greater purpose for them after you have helped them grow.

Godspeed Jeremiah and Emilie - we can't wait to see how you change the course of human history.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Prague Team Meeting #6

Highlights from our team meeting #6:
+ Video teaser production.
+ About 7 hours in DC together, mostly on Capitol Hill.
We visited the Barracks Row campus for National Community Church. Most everyone knows I love this church and we always take the opportunity to visit with student teams if we can. Visiting a different expression of Church is an Ember distinctive. Most of our teams, by nature of our context, have grown up in an affluent, suburban megachurch, and therefore don't always realize what a sociological anomaly they are. This doesn't serve them well if they get older and think that megachurches are the way church is everywhere in the world.
+ We also had them do a short cultural scavenger hunt around Capitol Hill. This was not only a team bonding activity, it was modeling what they will probably have to put together for Camp Juice when we get to Prague.
+ Tiny bit of logistical and programming update. More on that later.

UPDATE: Special guest Shannon Linden also joined us.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Burn

::: When You 'Literally Can't Even' Understand Your Teenager

::: The Transformation of the Mall - think Ethnic

::: Designing the Letter M for the Metro

::: The Three Most Destructive Words in the English Language

::: We all eat from trees we didn’t plant. - John Wimber via Amadeo Church

Photo: Hope, Ember guide, leading a workshop on people of peace. May 2015.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jello Night 2015

A time honored tradition around our house that ends this year after 6 7 years. The end of an era.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Leading From the Younger

There is a false paradigm of age within lots of leadership contexts. If you are older, people younger than you are expected to give you respect because you are supposed to be smarter, wiser and more experienced. You knew it a long time ago and they don't know it yet. Trust me, I'm not saying we shouldn't learn from those who have gone before us.

If you want to grow your emerging leaders, you will need to revamp that paradigm. Instead, you will have to give them opportunities to exercise authority and responsibility and influence, in some cases, giving your leaders influence over those that are older than them.

When that happens, you'll get some feedback alright. From the emerging leaders, it will be uncomfortable, strange, and full of dissonance. Ember staff give me this feedback regularly. From the smarter, wiser, and more experienced, they will love learning from those younger than them. From the just plain older, well, you should probably just ignore their feedback.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday Burn

::: The Coca Cola Leadership Program

::: All Your Clothes are Made by Exploited Workers
I am a huge Patagonia fan and have owned about 7 pieces of Patagonia outerwear since 1988. Great read about the systemic issues surrounding labor trafficking.

::: What Each MBTI Type Does If They Like You

Photo: Ember guides, top of the Lincoln Memorial steps, May 2015.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Student Mission Team Training

It is one of my personal convictions that student mission teams usually aren't prepared well enough and this conviction has overflowed into The Ember Cast becoming pretty good at helping prepare these kinds of teams. We had the privilege to help architect a training event last weekend and here's an overview of what we did and why. If you are leading a team this summer, it isn't too late to prepare your team.

On Friday evening, we sent just the team leaders into DC to do a variety of things, all while doing some cultural observation and reflection with their leadership team. The cultural observation piece was very similar to our Culture Aixchange last summer and they were asked to reflect on two team concepts: this first quote in this post and the Tuckman model of team development.

This was not an Amazing Race type of thing, instead, it was designed to make them have to make decisions together, travel together and grow together. We decompressed at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where we talked about what they did together and why and also a variety of other stuff including: theology of place, innovation in ministry, cities as mission fields, and how they can model this kind of cultural decoding for their student teams this summer. This evening was probably my favorite part of the weekend.

Saturday was with all the teams and there were three elements to Saturday - a prayer time, tradecraft sessions [which we borrowed from the Upstream Collective friends] and team building. Prayer was having each time pray for other teams, not only having them invest some time in praying but also giving them a sense of the other teams' cultural context as well as what they might be doing. Our tradecraft sessions visited the topics of person of peace, contextualization and ambassadorship. Two of the three of these are considered important enough that they are on our core curriculum - meaning that we track how students understand this before and after they serve with Ember. The third team building element was getting them moving as a team performing certain tasks - it's like team building like you know - somewhat campy and goofy tasks. But we do this so teams 'storm' before they get to the field. And lots of storming with those hula hoops.

Lots of people worked together to pull this off. My utmost thanks to Kristen Youngstrom, the Grace student missions lead this year; Leslie B [Ember Board of Director]; HopeK [ProtoGuide 2014]; and TessP [Prague 2015 leader] for running the Tradecraft workshops; the Prague team for helping with the team building activities; and Kristen, Hope, Tess, and KatieV [ProtoGuide 2015] for helping out with the Friday night leaders adventure.

More pictures here.