Monday, February 26, 2018

IG Team Meeting #1

Sam, Emily, Deanna, TM, Niall, Jolie, Meghan.
[Remote - Shannon, Andrew]

Our first team meeting for the Ember 2018 IG team. Two of our team are remote and there is a possibility of one or two more joining in the next few weeks. Great fun including:
+ Support letter overview - make it not suck.
+ Creative Revenue Plans.
+ Schedule - 15 or so meetings over the next few months including some serving together. Half of our team will be out of the country in late June to early July so we are adjusting that.
+ "The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage. "- Patrick Lencioni
+ Hearing about some dreams for the future [this is a question on our Ember application]

I'm thrilled about this team - they are full of passion and action. I'm excited for us to travel and learn together and to impact someone somehow during this whole project. This team brings a new level of energy to The Ember Cast.

The future requires some of us to start new, adapted, innovative structures for missions - global missions won't bear the friction of the status quo. I'm marking history by telling you that some of this team will be the ones to start these new structures. You heard it here first.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Burn

::: Billy Graham, from one of his grandkids
Best one I read.

::: The Longest Walk on Earth

::: Recovering from Jet Lag

::: The church in America is overprogrammed and underdiscipled. - Will Mancini

Photo: Ember Guides, SSDC. Feb 2018.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Happy happy Deanna

One of the most difficult years in recent times. But you have been faithful, steadfast, and relentless. Your hope has not wavered and you have been a deep optimist. People know that Jesus walks with you.

Here is to a better year. Happy birthday. Thanks for letting me win at mini golf.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ember February Staff Dinner

We have started a new experiment this year as part of some Ember staff development: a monthly staff dinner with special guests. The goal of this is to gather our staff to hear from some of the most creative, missionally imaginative and innovative people we know.

This months guest was Trevin Hoekzema, our very first Ember guide way back in the day. He's currently in a pastoral residency program at Bay Area Comm Church, which allows him to get a seminary degree while being mentored by BACC's staff. He's working on the Masters in Global Leadership at Fuller which is the only seminary degree most readers of this blog should look at.

Some highlights of our conversation:
Redirected Christmas time efforts to come alongside some local ministries doing better work than previous efforts.
Deep engagement for short term mission leaders and team members.
Organized first ever short term missions one day conference [Edge]

FutureCasting Missions - what is present or future now but something we don't know about:
Discipleship making movements
Discovery Bible Study
Fuller emphasizes spiritual formation more important than knowledge
'Guide on the side not the sage on the stage'
The West will no longer lead the missions movement

Advice for students:
Talk to every missionary you can
Always eat the chicken feet

Left to right:
Terah, boutique houseware artisan entrepreneur
Trevin [sorry for the bad picture]
Emily, Ember spawn
Hailey, Ember 2018-2019 ProtoGuide
Sherrill, almost published author and illustrator
Gary, attorney
Deanna, Ember creative director
Mandy, The Well in Curtis Bay

Monday, February 12, 2018

Ember SSDC

The Ember Cast facilitated a serving-learning-culture experience this past weekend with some students and their leaders from our home church. Great time with a great group. Highlights included a cultural navigation exercise in downtown Silver Spring; serving with A Wider Circle, one of the best local nonprofits dedicated to alleviating poverty in our area; and attending a service at National Community Church in DC.

A few quick observations from our weekend:
+ Downtown Silver Spring has experienced a recent redevelopment effort that has transformed the area. [I worked there for about 3 years before the redevelopment.] The new library is stunning and a community hub. Our suburban kids seldom go to the library where they live, but it was packed when we checked it out.
+ Sometimes when you serve with orgs that are in the business of sorting and redistributing supplies like housewares, clothing or furniture, you sometimes only see the sorting part of that work. A Wider Circle is great because you serve on both sides - the sorting as well as clients coming in to choose what they want to take home. We were told there were 21 clients served the day we were there.
+ Mark Batterson gave a State of the Church talk this weekend and it was one of the most powerful messages I have heard of late. NCC's mantras are so innovative and out of the box and I love attending a service with students who have only seen one expression of Church for most of their lives.

This kind of thing is not too difficult to do with students and the impact of this kind of learning can be incredible. In other words, you could do this with your students too and it would probably have an enormous effect.

Special thanks to Ember guides this weekend, Em and Meghan.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday Burn

::: Every One of the World’s Big Economies Is Now Growing

::: The Status of Global Christianity 2018 in the Context from 1900-2050

::: The 25 Most Popular Icebreaker Questions

::: Culture is not a territory to be won, but a resource to be stewarded. - Makoto Fujimura

Photo: Ember guides, The Lincoln. May 2015.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Kingdom Is Like

This time 10 years ago, I was coming up on my fifth year of helping coordinate student missions at our home church. This included responsibilities for setting up partnerships, building teams, recruiting and training leaders and overseeing budgets. Our budget for that last year was $150K spread over 6 teams of 98 people in total, 3 teams of which were international with one team being gone for 4 weeks. I personally lead a team of 26 to Hungary and managed to meet another team of 18 in Paris and hang together for 2 days. [Logistical suicide - I loved it] And this was all on top of having a day job and a young family. It was a ridiculous, gargantuan amount of work, easily a part time job that took 15-20 hours a week sustained over months. The picture on the left gives you a little insight.

Over that season of five years, there was probably $500K of support, probably close to 400 students and leaders going on over 20 short term experiences. I had spent about a month away from home over the course of one of those years. Don't get me wrong - it was a fantastic, flourishing, lets-go-all-in season of ministry. Our family was uniquely marked for eternity by that season - we would not be who we are without it. I'm overwhelmingly grateful for it.

Contrast this to the last five years: 5 teams of 12 or less, about $135K in total, 10 or so interns over the past 5 years so far, a core list of about 20 Ember Guides.

The Kingdom is like a mustard seed, it is like yeast in flour, it is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls. Bigger is not always better.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Friday Burn

::: How Do We Ensure the SDGs Aren’t Just An Exercise?
After messing around in this field for decades, what I’ve come away with is that the most practical, effective way to end poverty is to create new markets that are scalable and allow people who are poor to be the major players (buyers and sellers). It turns out that multinational corporations are the most skilled at creating new markets and have had the best results.

::: Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready

::: The World's Fastest Shrinking Countries

::: A church should not simply have a missions department. It should wholly exist to be a mission. - Tim Keller

Photo: Chinatown. Jan 2016.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

A Weeknd

From time to time, The Ember Cast is invited to facilitate a culture or service or leadership experience for student groups. We are currently planning one of these experiences for a high school student group. The vision for this one is to integrate ideas of team, cultural navigation, serving in the suburbs and varied expressions of Church. We're excited to engage some students in these concepts that are at the pulse of what we do.

It is never too early for a middle or high school student to learn some of these ideas - how to peel back elements of a culture or what is the best thing I can give my team or what does poverty look like in the suburbs. The barrier to this kind of learning is almost never maturity - students this age are fully capable of getting it. Instead, in today's youth culture, the barrier is availability. The single biggest challenge to students learning these things is their busyness.

Ember's time with students groups like this is a huge honor and privilege. We don't take it for granted and know that there's lots of Kingdom potential in one single weekend.