Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Cities

1 - New Freedom, PA, USA
2 - Williamsburg, VA, USA
3 - Queen Creek, AZ, USA
4 - Page, AZ, USA
5 - Sedona, AZ, USA
6 - Ocean City, MD, USA
7 - Fairfield, CT, USA
8 - West River, MD, USA
9 - Yas Island, UAE
10 - Sir Baniyas Island, UAE
11 - Abu Dhabi, UAE
12 - New York City, NY, USA
13 - C*a, Italy
14 - Warsaw, Poland
15 - Narragansett, RI, USA
16 - Prince Frederick, MD, USA
17 - Wildwood, NJ, USA
18 - Cambridge, MD, USA

Good year for travel. Standing goal - leave the US once a year.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


Dear Katie

Finally, the end of being a teenager LOL. Remember, you are a real adult when you have a mortgage to pay. In the meantime, global gypsy life….

Really though, you have had quite the year. Finishing your first year of Uni, a summer in a foreign global city working with underprivileged kids, starting your second year of Uni. We are immensely proud of you and the person you are becoming.

Exploring this large, incredible world that is so beautiful and tragic at the same time.
Being smart about money - give away 10%, save 10% and live on the rest. Money might be a social construct but it's a terrible master and a wonderful tool.
The discipline of connecting your learning in school to how the Lord is leading you to mark human history. Curate your own education with intention and purpose.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Getting Attention
What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe they’d ignore me. Maybe they’d reply that the ideas were terrible. Maybe they’d even fire me. Unlikely, but sure. The most likely result was that I’d be embarrassed.

But I’ve been embarrassing myself for years thanks to my Dad. :)

::: Why are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?
In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

::: The Last of the Iron Lungs
But even though the last wild case of polio in the US was in 1979, it still haunts this country. “A lot of people think of polio as a disease of the past and don’t realize there are people here today that are still suffering the effects of polio.” said Brian Tiburzi, executive director of Post-Polio Health International (PHI), an advocacy group for the estimated 350,000 to 500,000 polio survivors living in the US.

::: For the last 30 years, christians have been creating churches for people who don’t like church. In the next 30, churches must start creating christians for people who don’t like christians. - @davekubiak via @DanSadlier

Photo: Prague subway stop. July 2015.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday Scheming

The holidays are when some of our tribe make the journey home so we catch up when we can. Dinner last night with Wendy, Shannon and Meghan. Wendy is working on a Masters in social work at a school in Texas and Shannon is majoring in social work with two minors in criminal justice and nonprofit management and Meghan is this year's Ember ProtoGuide.

Scheming conversation included:
The current summer 18 possibilities and associated team members and logistics
Foster care/domestic abuse safe house that Wendy is serving with
Drug rehab house that Shannon is serving with
Meghan's college potentials
How I used to tell people to keep my name out of it but no more

We are fortunate to have a front seat view to some of these people learning about the world and serving when and where they can. These visits always bring joy to the season.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Email for Fun and Futures

I know lots of people despise email these days and would rather communicate via text, tweet, Slack, or drawing on napkins. Yeah, you do you. Email is still the killer app.

Below is a list of the best email newsletters I subscribe to. Although most of them make for great reading, I've subscribed to each of them because they have proven to help me understand culture better and therefore an important source to help The Ember Cast better prepare the next generation of missional catalysts.

::: NextDraft
One of the original email newsletters that I've subscribed to for years. Excellent daily coverage.

::: Benedict Evan's newsletter
Benedict Evans is a venture capitalist who works for Andressen Horowitz and publishes a weekly newsletter about technology trends and observations. The Andressen is the guy that invented the modern day internet browser and the Horowitz wrote one of my must-read-favorite books about management and leadership.

::: Future Crunch
"Future Crunch provides intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future. We help people understand what's on the frontiers of science and technology, and what it means for humanity." They are right when they say they are optimistic - this is the kind of global news no one talks about but everyone should read.

::: Thoughts from Terry
Terry Storch is on staff with and was one of the guys behind YouVersion and BabelWithMe, among many other digital Kingdom focused initiatives. Not only are these apps pretty incredible, I won't be surprised if the ecosystem Lifechurch creates empowers a plethora of other interesting initiatives in the near future. Great weekly read on leadership thoughts from Terry and a few of these have been super thought provoking in thinking about marriage and fatherhood.

::: The Weekend Reader
The Weekend Reader is authored by Max Anderson who is a venture partner with Praxis Labs, one of the most interesting faith based accelerators around. Their tag line is 'Advancing Redemptive Entrepreneurship.' I've been following the work of Praxis Labs for a few years now - always inspiring.

::: The Weekend Briefing
Authored by lawyer Kyle Westaway, The Weekend Briefing is a "selection of articles on society & innovation." Kyle was integral to the startup of The Adventure Project, an org I've been following on and off for a few years, and has deep insight into lots of efforts of social entrepreneurs around the world.

::: The Weekly Roundup
The Weekly Roundup is one of the best missions email newsletters - it's a must read if you are interested in global missions. Justin is one of the best living missiologists around and part of his job is detailed research. This is a huge one every Friday including details about global regions, unreached people group profiles, futuristics/technology and startup culture.

::: The Culture Translator
Written specifically for parents of teenagers, a great read that highlights three items each week, with specifics about engaging students on these topics. A little overboard in trying to sell their other resources, but the noise is still worth the content.

If you end up subscribing to some of these, I'd love to hear how you like them. And of course, be intentional about this - if it's just noise, then unsubscribe.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Ten Year Futures
Link via Shane

::: For the Good of Society, Delete your Map App

::: The Future of Vigilante Disaster Relief

::: "Change is made by individuals who stop seeking deniability." - Seth Godin

Photo: Darley Park, March 2012.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mistletoe and Adolescents

The ancient Druids are said to have taken a special interest in in-between things like mistletoe, which is neither quite a plant nor quite a tree, and mist, which is neither quite rain nor quite air, and dreams, which are neither quite waking nor quite sleep. They believed that in such things as those they were able to glimpse the mystery of two worlds at once.
Adolescents can have the same glimpse by looking in the full-length mirror on back of the bathroom door. The opaque glance and the pimples. The fancy new nakedness they're all dressed up in with no place to go. The eyes full of secrets they have a strong hunch everybody is on to. The shadowed brow. Being not quite a child and not quite a grown-up either is hard work, and they look it. Living in two worlds at once is no picnic.
- Frederick Buechner

Monday, December 11, 2017

Missions Team Training for 2050

What does the world look like in 2050? And how should global leaders prepare for it? I'm not sure anyone can answer those questions but Ember is putting a stake in the ground as an attempt.

We've been outlining a leadership experience as the next iteration of mission team training. Specifically, this means looking at the ideas of vision, culture and teams all within the context of future. It would take place in a global city and last for a full weekend.

Vision - What does the future of missions look like?
Culture - How do I engage the future and teach my team to do so?
Team - How can I prepare my team for the future?

Granted, we know this is not for everyone. There are some people who don't do any training with their short term teams. This is short sighted and neglectful. Objective evidence proves that teams that do even a minimal amount of team building are better prepared for the field.

There are other people that walk their teams through various aspects of training - culture, skills, team building. You are to be commended for preparing your teams well. This is now the expected, the status quo.

There are a few people that will desire to be inspired for making their leadership better, for being better prepared for the future, for getting a glimpse of what opportunities, possibilities and challenges will be. This weekend might be for you.

This is still considered exploratory and emerging but ping if you are interested.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Languages and Learning Difficulty

::: I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor
So much for my TripAdvisor reviews.

::: What DC Could Learn from Baltimore about Food Deserts

::: If you want to win this world to Christ, you are going to have to sit in the smoking section. - Neil Cole

Photo: Poland sent team prep in DC.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Lentz on Influence

I was told by a mentor once, "If you want to live the life of the one-percent influencers, you will have to leave ninety-nine percent of things behind." That is a big call. And it's true. But if that one percent is great over good? I'm in.
- Carl Lentz, Own the Moment

Monday, December 04, 2017

Student Missions Strategy - Client Fall 2017

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.
- Machiavelli
Ember has just finished a season working with one of our valued clients in looking at their student missions strategy. It's been a fantastic experience mostly because the team has been bold in challenging the way things have always been done and I've been inspired by their example of unfiltered debate.

Thinking about student missions strategy today includes execution around: nontoxic charity, the goals and why behind the actual experiences, leadership development and making sure you involve students as one of the primary stakeholders. Change is not easy. This team did it right though and by doing so, has created enthusiastic catalysts as they tweak both old systems and explore new possibilities.

Proud of our work with them. If you need a boost for your student missions strategy, reach out.

Photo: TJ, working through a healthy and helping matrix.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Friday Burn

::: 7 Reasons not to Participate in Operation Christmas Child

::: The Unsung Role that Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline

::: The Most Important Skill for 21st Century Students

::: God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply. - Hudson Taylor

Photo: City Center Warsaw, July 2017.