Wednesday, November 30, 2016

9 Years and Counting

Vienna airport on the left, Philadelphia on the right. 9 seems long when watching your children and short when watching human history.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ember 2016 Thanksgiving

My new tradition that I started last Thanksgiving weekend [2015] - go over the year end financials for Ember. There is no better way for me to practice the discipline of thinking thankful than to look at all the names that have supported Ember in the past year. You are probably on this list too. I'm so grateful for you.

There were around 228 donations for just under $30K. Most of our money was spent on Ember Italy, which was just over $25K. We also invested around $2100 in funding Ember extended leadership, which this year included Guides involved in: a leadership conference in Portugal, a 3 day intensive lecture series about comparative religions, 6 weeks in Central Asia building relationships with college students and 2 weeks in South Africa. This leadership fund also paid a stipend and costs for one of our ProtoGuides.

This budget reflects our priorities which reflects our heartbeat for why Ember exists. None of it could happen without our supporters and I love this Thanksgiving habit more and more ever year.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Half or Full Story of Redemption

Because worldview is holistic, we answer the most elemental questions of life radically differently depending on whether we are living out of half the story or the full story of God’s redemption. If we are living out of half the story, we miss that sin entered the world through Satan’s temptation of humankind; we were not born sinful. Under half the story, the aim of missions is to convert strangers into Christians so we see them in heaven when we are all dead. Not surprisingly, such a missional vision has not captured the heart of a generation. The Bible begins on earth and ends on earth, but if we are living out of half the story, we spend an inordinate amount of time focused on getting off the planet.
- Jon Tyson, A Creative Minority: Influencing Culture Through Redemptive Participation

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Building Mission into Your Church Plants DNA
Great read by Dan Hyun, who was the host for last weekend's Ethnos conference in Baltimore.

::: Hard to Learn Skills that Pay Off for the Rest of Your Life

::: The Community Chlorine Maker

::: Success is never owned, only rented. And the rent is due everyday. - @BishopBronner

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Maturity in Your Mission Teams Processes

Some of you might be freaking out already because it's NovEmber and the church down the street already has all their summer missions experiences planned out. You have no idea what you are doing next summer much less next month and lots of people are already asking so they can do their 'proper' planning.

The churches and organizations that are able to announce summer plans in NovEmber are good examples of maturity. Just like the definition, it means that their planning process has grown up and they have spent some time growing it up. By and large, they have found ways to repeat these things:
1 - A tested application process for both students and leaders.
2 - They keep in touch with their overseas partners year round and more than just about summer teams. They are probably true sending churches that have great interaction with their people on the field.
3 - A leadership pipeline that has a good amount of people primed and ready to commit to lead a summer team.

Don't worry though - it is only NovEmber. You have some time, but you should probably get on it. As you get things in order for this summer, concentrate on making those items above repeatable and you'll be able to get things moving faster for next year.

Here are three great churches who have 2017 set - 1, 2, 3.

Monday, November 14, 2016

#Ethnos2016 - Race and the Church

At the last minute, Deanna and I decided to join Ember Guide Amy in attending Ethnos 2016, which was a conference hosted by Freedom Church in Baltimore. The theme of the conference was "Race and the Church" and it seemed like it could not have been more appropriately timed although the gathering had been months in the planning. I loved the posture of the gathering - everyone was there to learn deeply, to listen to those different from themselves and the Gospel was present - we are not perfect but in our imperfection, God has saved us and joins us to work on messy things like race.

Our good friend Jeremy Del Rio was also one of the speakers and he's been a huge fan of our student missions efforts over 15 years now [1, 2, 3] - always good to see Jeremy.

There were around maybe 300-400 people there, mostly church and faith based nonprofit leaders. Lots of ethnic diversity which was awesome - this is one of the capstone defining demographics of the DC/Balt area. Lots of exciting church planting activity in Baltimore which is super interesting too.

Some selected notes - all paraphrased:
Lower East NYC - immigrant core, front line of gentrification, there is a factor of 38 in economic difference - low salary $10K, top salary $380K in the same community.
Luke 4 - proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the prisoner, sight to the blind
Help me be an answer to someone's prayer today
Kind of prayers we can be answers to - lament, healing, repentance, prophetic
Jeremy Del Rio

Justice is the character of God reflected in His creation especially His people whereby they do what is right and fair and good in all relationships.
The problem of evil works itself out inside the character of God.
No way to get justice right until we get God right.
God is not just because He has to be.
A contracted understanding of God will lead to a contracted understanding of justice.
Real Jesus followers love conviction - they embrace the discipline of the Lord.
South Africa - had a truth and reconciliation committee for post apartheid communities to really heal.
Justice is part of repentance.
Evidence of a repentant heart turns to the poor.
When was the last time you talked about church discipline in the context of justice.
Escapist gospel - disengages the world.
Thabiti Anyabwile
[He spoke at two sessions and his talks were both a huge survey-wide run through the Scriptures on the idea of justice. Really well done.]

Being 'color blind' is a different level of engagement as really seeing ethnic differences. If you don't see what race a person is, you might not really being seeing them.
As an Asian American, I am constantly on the outside, but no one thinks that about Asians.
Race is a social construct.
Stranger danger has caused our children to grow up with a lack of relationships with anyone that is different than us. Deals with healthy versus unhealthy fears.
The Church needs to be back in the public square - one example is influence in public policy.
The US has systematized racism - not random, unpredictable but there are systems and structures to it.
Jenny Yang
[Jenny had a ton of valuable insights - highly recommend attending her stuff in the future. These were all from a panel discussion on race]

We have not recognized that our churches have discipled people into racism.
Relinquish your passive approach to friendship.
[From the panel discussion too but I don't remember who said these statements]

Baltimore has a ton of issues right now and most of the nation is not looking to emulate us. What if the Lord worked something together in this city to show the rest of the world how to truly get along as Christ followers unified in our diversity and really impact our city. - Ethnos Host Dan Hyun
I am a huge fan of cities - global urban migration is one of the most unique things happening in human history right now and missiologically speaking, cities are a big deal. But I've never been a huge fan of Baltimore for various reasons. But what Dan said in that closing statement, man, I could get behind that.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Why are Immigrants More Entrepreneurial

::: Self Driving Mercedes Cars Will be Programmed to Save the Driver

::: Man in Dubai Pays $9M for a license plate
We were witness to this - plates are a big deal.

::: ‏The future belongs to a different kind of person w a different kind of mind: artists, inventors & storytellers. - Daniel Pink via @STORYgathering

Photo: Ember guides - Trevin and Wendy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Book Notes - Designing Your Life

From time to time, I'm asked to meet with various young, competent, high capacity leaders who are in the midst of some kind of transition dealing with their calling, vocation and talent. These meetings are almost always with people I know pretty well and I've already got a lot of respect for them - their character, competencies and accomplishments are already super impressive to me. So I love these meetings but go into them usually feeling inadequate, not super sure on how I can actually help them.

This book, Designing Your Life, is exactly what I needed for this kind of thing. Now, if you ask to meet with me, I'll just give you a copy. Kidding. Trust me, if you want to design your life, and you should, the stuff in the book is gold. For these kinds of meetings in the future, we'll go through some of this together and I guarantee, these people will get a ton of insight into what energizes them, what they are passionate about and how to design a life that erupts all of their talent.
Dysfunctional Belief - If you are successful, you will be happy.
Reframe - True happiness comes from designing a life that works for you.

DB - It's too late.
Reframe - It's never too late to design a life you love.

Reframing is one of the most important mind-sets of a designer. Many great innovations get started in a reframe. In design thinking we always say, "Don't start with the problem, start with the people, start with empathy."

The reframe for the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" is this: "Who or what do you want to grow into?"

Designers don't think their way forward. Designers build their way forward.

...So we're not very passionate about finding your passion. We believe that people actually need to take time to develop a passion. And the research shows that, for most people, passion comes after they try something, discover they like it, and develop mastery - not before. To put it more succinctly: passion is the result of a good life design, not the cause.

Deciding which problems to work on may be one of the most important decisions you make, because people can lose years (or a lifetime) working on the wrong problem.

The gravity problem - not real problems. In life design, if it's not actionable, it's not a problem. It's a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag (so to speak), but, like gravity, it's not a problem that can be solved.

DB - I'm stuck.
Reframe - I'm never stuck, because I can always generate a lot of ideas.

DB - I have to find the one right idea.
Reframe - I need a lot of ideas so that I can explore any number of possibilities for my future.

The truth is that all of us have more than one life in us. When we aks our students, "How many lifetimes' worth of living are there in you?" the average answer is 3-4. And if you accept this idea - that there are multiple great designs for your life though you'll still only get to live one - it is rather liberating. There is no one idea for your life.
Designers learn to have lots of wild ideas because they know that the number one enemy of creativity is judgement.

You choose better when you have lots of good ideas to choose from.
You never choose your first solution to any problem.

DB - I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan and then execute it.
Reframe - There are multiple great lives (and plans) within me and I get to choose which one to build my way forward to next.

Building is thinking.

The standard model [of getting a job] fails so much of the time because it is a model based on the mistaken idea that your perfect job is out there waiting for you.

DB - You should focus on your need to find a job
Reframe - You should focus on the hiring manager's need to find the right person.

DB - My dream job is out there waiting.
Reframe - You design your dream job through a process of actively seeking and co-creating it.

Network is more noun than verb. The point is not to "do" network-ing, the goal is to participate in the network.

...the most important reframe when you are designing your career is this: you are never looking for a job, you are looking for an offer.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Compasses and Maps

Many thanks for those attending my workshop yesterday at Maryland Orphan Sunday. I had a blast sharing some of what we have learned about helping young people change the world. Also loved being able to have two of our Ember guides to share a bit of their story too. Here's the summary outline with additional resources, which I forgot to show, at the bottom.

Maps, Compasses and Other Paradigms for Young People to Mark Human History
A workshop discussing paradigms of thinking and acting for young people interested in global service, changing the world and marking human history.

+ Compass v Map
+ Risk v Safety
+ Intention v Random
+ Something is not always better than nothing [this is false, stop doing things because you think this is true...]
+ Trevin and Wendy
+ Addl Resources
Dream Year by Ben Arment
Born for This by Chris Guillebeau
Designing Your Life, Burnett and Evans

Friday, November 04, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Neocities and Neodistricts
A framework for building cities of the future. Fascinating read.

::: AuthaGraph
The world mapped in substantially proper sizes

::: Languages of NYC
Most Frequently Spoken Language at Home, Excluding English and Spanish, by 2014 Census Tract

::: Most leaders are trying to figure out the right strategy. The best leaders are obsessed with empowering the right people. - ‏@craiggroeschel

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Ember Pitch

+ PreEmber
2003-2008 - SPACE
Internship, Cultural Distance, Progression

+ Why Does Ember Exist
Emerging global student leaders
Parents, pastors, coaches

+ What Do We Do
Team training
Summer experiences - world class global leaders and innovators.
Learning service experiences
Coaching, Consulting, Speaking

+ How Do We Do It
Guides - project centric based engagements
World class innovators
Core curriculum
Toxic Charity
Creative Revenue/Bi-vocational

+ Financial Model
$1500/year in business costs - $1000 insurance, $500 global security intelligence
Summer projects - usually self sustaining
3 monthly donors
Other revenue - speaking, coaching, event based fees for team training and service learning
Financially resource Ember tribe - Guide Grants, Extended Leadership