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.