Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 on the move

Ember tribe on the move this summer:

+ Trevin, Guide - just returned from SE Asia
+ Shannon, former ProtoGuide - just returned from South Africa
+ DK, former ProtoGuide - departing this week to ...
+ Italy team, end of July
+ Rachel - AZ mountains
+ KatieV - Colorado mountains

Loving those airports.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Burn

::: I went to Afghanistan to save the world. The world had other plans.

::: Traveling the World—and Raising Two Kids—in a 2003 Land Rover Defender

::: Meet the Pilot: Smart Earpiece Language Translator
Link via Ember board of director, MPM

::: "To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God's interests in other people." - Oswald Chambers

Photo: Ember decompression. May 2016.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ProtoGuide 2016

MK finished her official ProtoGuide activities and responsibilities last week. We are thrilled at her experience and it was a huge privilege to work with her over these last 4 months. As part of winding down, she's hanging with some of the Ember Board over the next few days.

Here's a quick summary of all the stuff she was involved with:
+ One day a week working with The Well in Curtis Bay, serving in all aspects of the org including the Hope Chest, women's mentoring groups, back office admin tasks and deep diving from the founder and executive director. 'Create something from nothing.'
+ One day a week serving with a local public school and being an ESL aide specifically for refugee students.
+ An afternoon a week meeting with and praying with community pastors and activists.
+ Attending the Common Ground Consultation.
+ Joined a Perspectives class with me.
+ Helping architect our Ember GCC Impact training day.
+ Working on the 24JE team.
+ Gotten to know and interact with some key people here in the DMV missions world.

We have loved having her around for a few months. She'll continue to hang with us this summer since she is part of the Ember Italy team. This has been our privilege though - when a young person like MK shows up to learn about missions, we go all in. Here's our infosheet if you know someone that might be interested.

Monday, May 23, 2016


For the past few months, Katie and some of her senior friends [and most of the Italy team] have been planning an event called 24JE, which was a 24 hour justice experience for high school students that took place last week. The event was a great success.

24 hours, meals of rice and beans, 9 different speakers interacting about topics such as human trafficking, war and refugees, foster care, homelessness, a service project in Curtis Bay Baltimore and lots of great interaction around these topics.

Put on by students for students. You could do this too.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Burn

::: The World Bank is Eliminating the Term 'Developing Country'

::: What being a flight attendant taught me about human trafficking

::: Suburbs are the New Chinatowns

::: The only ideas that really matter are the ones that get turned into realities. - Erwin McManus

Photo: Meklit, marshmallows, Nat, Katie, spaghetti, team building.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Put Young People Up Front

This is MK, leading a team building exercise for a team of young and older people. It's a good example of Ember's habit of putting young people up front. Most of the students we hang with have the character and competence to lead so not giving them those opportunities would be foolish.

Instead, I get out of the way and let them lead the charge. It requires mutual trust, lots of communication and delegating authority. Believe it or not, it gets easier the more you do it.

This past weekend, our Guides, who were all less than 21 years old, ran team building activities for 6 overseas teams with over 60 people from all age ranges. If you are leading something and are over the age of 40, you should get out of the way. You can't do it all nor should you.

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Ember GCC Impact Advance

Details from Ember Advance, this past Saturday. The 'Advance' tagline was stolen many years ago and this type of event is one of my very favorite things to do. We actually combined an existing student missions training engagement with some extended time with the Italy team to make up this year's Ember Advance. I'm thrilled with every outcome from this day.

Very few churches spend a lot of time and energy preparing their short term teams and we had the privilege of helping facilitate this training experience for our home church and their six student teams headed all over the world. This was a follow on piece to a leadership overnight that we had run in January. The concept behind the event is simple - teams spend extended time together before they actually get to the mission field and this year's time was spent on learning some global missions concepts and team building. After the training event, the Italy team did a few more things as a team.

Here are the major elements from this year.
+ GCC Impact Prayer Time - Teams spent a little bit of time praying for the other teams.
+ GCC Impact Mission Roundtable - Ember Guide Tess spoke on Context and Worldview; Tae, new missions pastor at GCC, spoke about spiritual warfare; and I used an illustration about potatoes to talk about dependency and erupting talent. I heard the first two rocked.
+ GCC Impact Team Building Exercises - A 90 minute rotation for 3 blocks of interesting, fun, and purposeful team building activities.
+ GCC Impact Lunch/Ember Debrief - While the GCC teams had lunch and team time together, our team had a fantastic debriefing conversation which will help make these events even better.
+ Italy - StrengthsFinder session - You know how I love this. It's difficult to do this with a team in less than 90 minutes but that makes for a long session.
+ Italy - Field trip to NCC - We visit National Community Church almost every year because I believe they are one of the most innovative churches in America and because it's healthy for our students to see other expressions of Church. Saturday night's message on discipleship by Heather Zempel was easily one of the best messages I have ever heard on the topic.
"Imagine a church that makes Jesus' last command their first concern."
+ Italy - dinner in DC - Talking a little bit about the concept of oikos.

Special thanks to the Ember Italy team for working and serving hard at this event. Beautiful day.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Burn

::: 1,700 years ago, the mismanagement of a migrant crisis cost Rome its empire

::: What My Three Years at Netflix Taught Me About Scaling a Startup
Link via Justin

::: Disagreeing with People from 20 Different Countries

::: All real education is the architecture of the soul. - William Bennett

Photo: May 2006, the very first Mission Advance.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

In Real Life Team Training

Ember has one of our biggest engagements coming up this weekend - we are hosting a short term student training event. We've expanded this on our side to be what we know as Ember Advance, so after the training event, our team and special guests will do some more team stuff and a field trip. These types of Mission Advance events are my absolute favorite.

If you are curious as to how and what we do for these training events, we have a limited number of spots for you to come hang with us and see it for yourself. Get in touch if you are interested.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Working - Erupting Talent: An Antidote to Toxic Charity

Working notes for an upcoming workshop. Comments and feedback welcome. Still emerging.

1. Dependency - doing something for someone that they could do for themselves
Do this enough and it becomes toxic - it doesn't help them anymore.
Interact with examples

2. Assets - something that is useful or valuable
It's easy to identify material assets
Not so easy to identify non material assets
Gifting talent skills
Interact with examples

3. Erupt
Discover -
what were you created to do?
Potential - high invitation/high challenge
Map - who do you do this with? how are they interconnected?
How - self -> serve -> systems
Missional imagination - the power of imagining

4. You could get really good at this and it would be a big value for missions.
Get good at coaching people with discovery, mapping and walking them from vision through execution.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday Burn

::: The Psychology of Packing

::: Death by GPS

::: The World's Shipping Routes

Photo: TH, Ember Guide and EmCrum. HCC Cru. May 2016.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Not Enough Youth Workers Talk About Calling

In my role with Ember, I have had lots of opportunities to give advice to young people about their future - it is always a privilege. Although I'd love to tell them to sell everything and go live in a hut [kidding], talking about calling is usually fun for me and overwhelming for them. Just last month, Dea and I had an evening conversation with an Ember peep about a specific opportunity and the trajectory of his life.

If you have students that ask you for this kind of advice, you should think about the following list of ideas. Study what the Scriptures say about this list. Think about your friends and mentors who are the most passionate and who have the highest caliber of character and how these topics have intertwined with God's call on their lives.

What are the general callings for all Jesus people?
What is the specific calling for you?
What are the gifts, talents and passions that have been forged in your heart?
Does God call you with an audible voice? What are other things God uses to give us direction?
Is there a right and wrong calling?
How granular is calling - marry right person, take the right job, buy the right pair of shoes?
Theology of place - how does God call me to a physical location?

Unfortunately, not many youth workers teach students how to navigate calling. If you have the power to change that, you should, right away.

Monday, May 02, 2016

You Still Have Time to do Team Preparation

The primary cause of failure often is lack of pre-field preparation. The whole episode becomes a colossal waste of time, and a drain on the missionaries. To this we have to add the high cost of teams junketing off to exotic places. But we have to examine our total investment in light of the returns, as well as the problems we create.
- Jim Reapsome, former editor-at-large for Evangelical Missions Quarterly. [Link]

You still have time. Don't waste the opportunity. Your kids, their parents and the people you are serving with are worth the extra time and effort you put in to training them in being a team, navigating culture and serving with passion.