Monday, February 29, 2016

How About the Bad Guys

The past few years has seen a favorable trend in the nonprofit and church world - the trend of tracking what kind of impact these organizations are making in their communities. Are people being helped, are lives being improved, are we doing good things instead of just existing? Metrics include high school graduation rates, poverty in our communities, healthy marriages and the like. Most are calling it a new kind of scoreboard - instead of tracking giving or attendance or growth, we should count these other kinds of things.

There is another type of score that isn't talked about and that is whether the 'bad guys' in your community look out for you and your people. [You can translate 'bad guys' however you want.] They help your visitors when they get lost. They are friendly to you and your teams. They consider you a friend. They know their community is better because you are there. And if you don't have any bad guys in the community you work in, you'll have to figure that out yourself. But this could be considered a leading indicator. When bad guys start to look out for you and your people, maybe you are on the verge of something.

This is an important indicator. It's subtle, obscure, and hard to measure. Here are some examples of it playing out in real life. 1, 2, 3, 4.

* Special thanks to Leslie B, Ember board of director, for spurring on some of these thoughts.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Burn

::: The US's Dirtiest Organizations

::: 7 Reasons to Speak Without Using Notes

::: Fly KLM and purposely lose something.
Link via j_zimms
Update - apparently this was a public relations exercise and is not true.

::: When they tell me I'm too old to do something, I attempt it immediately. - Pablo Picasso

Photo: The Superstitions.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding the Next

Two weeks ago, I sent a flurry of invitations for what I thought would be our big 2016 summer project. And a short week later, we had to cancel it due to circumstances out of our control. Not exactly as we had planned.

Most of the 2015 Prague team came to me with a desire to do something again this summer and that kind of opportunity is thrilling. That team was so good and the characters that make it up are amazing people. So we are pivoting and have landed on a pretty good opportunity - tell you more about that later.

Finding a plan B or C or D can be difficult work. You might not have the interest or the passion or the grit to dig into another option. But before you give up, consider your responsibility and the stewardship of the students that have been placed under your leadership.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Being Served Who Serve

Eight years ago, a high school student that had traveled around a little bit with us started school at a university on the eastern shore of Merryland. She hit the ground running and within a few weeks, she had gathered a group of students interested in their community just off campus with it's share of interesting issues including poverty, homelessness, child welfare and development. This group of students was not only interested, they acted. Every week they were involved with some kind of community development activity and it was consistent.

In fact, it's been consistent just about this whole eight years. Leaders have graduated, new students have joined and their involvement in community projects has pivoted and been clarified. For the past two years or so, this arc of student involvement has morphed into a mentor program, with college students being big brothers or big sisters with elementary school aged kids in a specific neighborhood. I've loved watching this for the better part of a decade. It proves out lots of questions that students have - can I make an impact while in school, will I have enough time, can I start something like this myself. Yes, yes yes.

This mentorship thing comes to Baltimore in early March as a partnership between The Ember Cast and Serve The City Baltimore for the second time in two years. We'll host a little service project in the city, encourage these amazing student leaders and take lots of notes on how they do it.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Deanna!

Most of our friends have heard me talk about how amazing 2015 was for me personally and all of it was due to this lady. None of our most significant experiences would have even come close to working out without her support.

It's her pattern of life that's been woven into the DNA of our family - you are blessed to be a blessing to someone else - and she models it better than anyone else.

Happy Birthday Deanna. May this year be an even more incredible year of you multiplying your blessing to others. Love.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Today's Teens _____ Less Than You Did

::: Inside the Mosquito Factory
Link via NextDraft

::: 7 Practices to Make Much Better Team Decisions

::: Great leaders understand there is a difference between being asked a question and being questioned. @AndyStanley

Photo: Rosas Fresh Pizza, Philly, Jan 2016.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Antidote to Resignation

One of the most poisonous of all Satan’s whispers is simply, "Things will never change." That lie kills expectation, trapping our heart forever in the present. To keep desire alive and flourishing, we must renew our vision for what lies ahead. Things will not always be like this. Jesus has promised to "make all things new." Eye has not seen, ear has not heard all that God has in store for his lovers, which does not mean "we have no clue so don’t even try to imagine," but rather, you cannot outdream God. Desire is kept alive by imagination, the antidote to resignation. We will need imagination, which is to say, we will need hope.
- John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance

Monday, February 15, 2016

ProtoGuides and Founders

MK and I had a little meet and greet with staff at one of the great organizations that will host her for one day a week for the next few months as part of her ProtoGuide experience. I'm thrilled at this partnership working out because I know both parties are going to gain from this. MK is absolutely going to sponge up everything this organization does and why. And they are going to get a passionate young person that loves everyone, serves whenever she can and will work harder than most anyone else at whatever will help the org move forward. Those indeed are pretty big wins. But the bigger win is that MK gets to work alongside someone who started something from nothing.

Some of the common current thinking among church and nonprofit leaders these days is "don't start something new - you should spend your precious and limited time and energy with organizations that already exist." That's great thinking if you are over the age of 40. The Ember Cast, instead, prides itself on resource emerging global student leaders who will do the exact opposite - spend their lives doing something no one is doing to reach people no one is reaching [Craig Groeschel.] To resource these emerging global student leaders, we introduce them to people who have created something from nothing, who have birthed initiatives from the bottom of their soul, who have put a vision on the altar and asked the Lord to either bless it or kill it, who have felt a calling so clearly that every one of their senses point to it, who have sacrificed their lives so that others may live.

Clearly we don't have enough courageous people or people that can lead others or people that can start something from nothing. If our ProtoGuides become more courageous, better leaders or people that can erupt something from God's call on their soul, then we have truly accomplished something. In the meantime, the world awaits.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Burn

::: How to Snapchat Like the Teens
Fascinating article not just about technology but about teenage culture. Must read if you work with students.

::: Over 8B Red Envelops Were Sent Over WeChat During Chinese New Year

::: In the future, church planters will choose to work in the marketplace

::: Reimaging The Bible

Photo: 1st Ember 2016 Staff dinner and meeting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spring 2016 - Sending Tess

Today, I'm thrilled to announce that The Ember Cast sends Tess to represent us at a leadership conference hosted by a global church planting and missions organization. Tess will be in Portugal for this over a long weekend in March. This specific process of sending Tess includes her excellent leadership as one of our Guides and some financial investment. We don't just send anyone.

I badly wanted to be involved in this weekend - southern Europe for 4 days talking about leadership among global church planters - what's not to love, but it wasn't going to work out. Instead the very act of skipping it and sending someone else embodies the premier challenge facing churches and nonprofit organizations in the near term: the ability to empower and release the emerging generation while coaching and mentoring them in calling, vocation and leadership.

As an organization and personally as well as as a family, our proudest moments are when we are involved in sending someone to do something that utilizes their gifts, talents and resources. It's the epitome of one of our mantras - We throw fire - and represents our best at being catalytic leaders. Tess is incredible and we look forward to both her investment in this conference as well as a sharpening of her competencies as a global leader.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Summer 2016 - The First Send

I first met Rachel in the fall of 2010 when she was a freshman at a college on the eastern shore of Merryland and was part of a merry band of students involved consistently every week with various community impact organizations. I was impressed by her heart, her grace, and her acting on the right things even after being so new in her faith. And she was uproariously funny.

Today, I'm thrilled to announce our first summer send for The Ember Cast - Ember sends Rachel to Amadeo Church in Queen Creek, AZ. This summer, she will be their staff social worker, helping to integrate and connect various ministries under Amadeo's leadership and resourcing those ministries to serve the Queen Creek community at large.

Rachel is in the middle of getting a graduate degree in social work and her responsibilities this summer will touch multiple social work domains including working with such initiatives like:
a food pantry that serves up to 50,000 meals a year, a pregnancy center, a coffee shop, a homeless outreach, visual and musical art classes as well as physical exercising opportunities like zumba and stretching classes, a suicide support group, a human trafficking relief organization and numerous families within Amadeo that have adopted and/or foster kids. As you can tell, lots of opportunities for a social worker to jump in and help while also quite a playground for someone to dream and forge the future.

Thanks in advance for your support. The Ember Cast exists for people like Rachel.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Friday Burn

::: 3.57 degrees of separation

::: Let's Kill All the Mosquitoes

::: Tiny Houses Giving Seattle's Homeless A Place to Live

::: Vision transfers through people not paper. -@WillMancini

Photo: Ember Staff, Chinatown, Philly. Jan 2016.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

ProtoGuide 2016 Reading List

The reading list. If you know other young people that read Hirsch, Tyson, or Addison, I would love to know whom and why. We begin next Monday.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Positive Trend of January Church Leadership Gatherings

An interesting thing filled up part of my social media feeds these past few weeks - something that I hadn't quite noticed this time in years past. And that interesting thing was church leadership gatherings. More than ever, I noticed lots of churches gathering their leaders together for encouragement, vision and development. Very exciting!

I was involved in this exact thing last weekend with a church outside of Phoenix. My own church had this type of gathering this weekend although I didn't attend it this year and they do it every year at the end of January - I even helped run it in 2011. Two churches I track and look up to had theirs this past weekend. It's a phenomenal thing to see happening and this focus on leadership development was one of the very integral things that drew us to our home church.

If you are a leader in a church [paid or volunteer] but don't get invested in like this every year, you should ask why not. If you are in charge of a church but don't do this kind of thing every year for the people that serve with you, you should change that. Like it or not, you are the one, or should be the one, that defines and shapes how your leaders grow. Leadership development is one of the key things that makes or breaks a faith community.