Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Real Versus Fake

I thought, like most people, that the paperwork in starting and running a nonprofit would be the most difficult thing about it. Instead, I learned about the real work. The truth is, like any other business endeavor, there is the real work and there is the fake work.

The fake work is what intimidates most people. The nonprofit application. Assembling a board. Getting the IRS status. Yearly filings. Tracking financials. Receipts to donors. Using Quickbooks. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too. All of these things and types of things, they are work. They are tedious, monotonous, they require a learning curve, and they are required. But they are not difficult. They are using learning financial software, stuffing envelopes, chatting with a lawyer, lots of stamps and envelopes. They are web forms, shopping for and buying insurance, putting money in the right bucket. But they are not impossible to learn. In fact, you already have most of these skills. You have a family budget and make decisions accordingly. You buy car insurance. You write a Christmas letter and mail merge it.

The real work, that is the difficult part. Inviting people to join you. Asking them to give up time and energy. Painting a vision for making the world better. Repeating that vision thousands of times. Engaging new interested parties and re-engaging people from the past. Running a volunteer organization where no one has to do anything for a salary. Telling yourself that the effort is worth it for one more day, month, season. Pushing momentum slowly. Being intentional about a culture, teaching and modelling what you do and why you do it - person by person, team by team.

In every project we all aspire to, there is the real work and there is the fake work. If you have a vision for a nonprofit, don't let the fake work scare you. The real work will require all of your heart and soul.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Summer Send - 2018

Over the past few summers, The Ember Cast has executed a series of Summer Sends, one or two fantastic individuals each summer that we send to trusted partners. It's a best of combination: a person or small team that has the Ember DNA and is committed to growing in character, competencies and capacity, a time frame that is longer than a typical student missions experience and hosting partners that we know well and desire to invest in a future missional leader. We fell into this and now have embraced it as a core competency.

Our Summer Send this summer is BM, seated next to MK [ProtoGuide 2016, 2016Italy, 2014X, 2013X]. This summer looks slightly different as BM is going to be living in the suburbs and serving part time in a local refugee resource center [details intentionally obscure]. We are excited for this knowing that there is a ton of work with this center and BM is easy going, likes to get things done and is super friendly and always willing to help someone out. If you recently arrived to a foreign country and didn't know a soul, BM would be a great first friend.

Thanks in advance for supporting BM as our 2018 Summer Send.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Burn

::: Beyond Success, 4 Lessons in Character
Jacqueline Novogratz's 2018 commencment speech to the NYU's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Novagratz is the CEO of the Acumen Fund and her husband is Chris Andersen who runs the TED talks.

::: The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations

::: A Rule of Life for Redemptive Entrepreneurs - from Praxis Labs.

::: Forever is composed of nows. - Emily Dickinson

Photo: Paying the tolls. Italy. 2017.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Frames and Gutters

Last week, The Ember Cast also had the opportunity to work with a team of ladies headed to Caribbean for a week long cross cultural service experience [last post, busy week]. This team is serving with local hosts involved in education, kids programs and poverty alleviation, as part of their church's long standing partnership. It is always an honor to spend a little time with teams like these and share some of what we have learned about high performance cross cultural teams.

Our session included:
+ Frames for Teams
+ Personality assessment results both for individuals and teams
+ Gutterball - [going upstairs]

The statistics prove it: your team will be more effective with intentional team preparation, your team members will be more engaged when they come home, and team training is one of the best investments you can make with your time and energy. Our team doesn't have any more availability for this kind of thing for summer teams this year but we always have ideas.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cultural Navigation

One of the best skills for anyone traveling to another culture to understand is cultural navigation - simply peeling back layers of a given culture to discuss deeper meanings. It's a simple skill that we believe anyone, especially students, can learn easily and a skill that translates across all kinds of life experiences.

Our latest training session on this topic included a brave team, our 2018 cultural navigation tip sheet and some of my secret 'plants' [Kate, Audrey, Emily] inside an ethnic grocery store. Gracious thanks for this team traveling to the Middle East later this summer for their willingness to experiment with us on this one. Tip: you can use any ethnic context [store, neighborhood, restaurant, etc] to practice this.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The Future Will Have Fewer Children

::: Instagram Will Soon Let You Know Just How Much Time You Waste on It

::: Man With Golden Arm Who Donated Blood for 60 Years

::: For too many, the opposite of fear is not courage, but conformity. - Alvin Reid via Justin Long

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ember May Dinner

Our May dinner guest was Pat Hatch who coordinates all refugee and immigrant refugee for Mission to North America, which is the domestic missions/church planting organization for the Presbyterian Church of America. Pat serves as the point person for refugee and immigrant outreach efforts for over 1700 churches, spread across all 50 states.

Pat has deep experience in doing things that haven't been done before. She founded the Foreign Information Referral Network [FIRN] way back in the early 1980s and ran it for 16 years. [Incidentally, our older daughter Katie interned at FIRN for a year during high school.] She also worked for the state refugee office just prior to God calling her to refugees and the the role for MTN, which had nothing like that before she came.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

Interesting things going on in refugee ministry right now:
For the Nations, Richardson TX.
A local church in Harrisonburg VA.
Immigration Law Clinics hosted by churches. People/churches can get certified to host these clinics in their local organizations.

On Pioneering:
Came into this current role with no existing structure or model. Had to make it up as she went along. Sometimes people will tell her that they are ready but their church is not. Sadly, she hears this quite a bit and it is opportunity to pray and perhaps meet with the pastor. Obey when the Lord calls - sometimes you pioneer before your church is ready.

On Refugee Misunderstandings:
Every relevant federal government agency is involved in vetting refugees.
Question from some well meaning but misinformed church people: "You are not going to work with illegals are you?"
Pat: "I'm not going to work with anyone who has not been created in the image of God and who Jesus did not die for.

On Advice for young people:
Call me I want to talk to you one on one.

Thank you Pat for sharing your wisdom and inspiring us.

Deanna, Audrey, Hailey, Emily, Meghan, Sherrill, Kate, Sam, Pat, Mandy, K [out of frame]
[I was the only male.]

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

IG Team Meeting #12

Kids Camp thing.

+ Crafts: photos of kids on cards with tissue flowers for Mothers Day
+ Adam and Eve
+ Skit
+ Music
+ Chick Fil A [Lord I have spent so much $$ at Chick Fil A this Spring]
+ Ember Guides Hope and Nat jumping in to help.
+ Other special guests.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The War on Malaria has Entered It's Third Phase

::: Farewell From the Pineapple Fund
5104 BTC was turned into $55 million for charities, from providing clean water, open mapping, to clinical trials of MDMA as treatment for PTSD.

::: This App Delivers Leftover Food to the Hungry

::: Facial Recognition Helps Trace 3000 Missing Children in 4 Days

::: "You can do with 12 disciples what you cannot do with 12,000 consumers." - Alan Hirsch via Justin Long

Photo: Warsaw tram. July 2017.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Congrats Tess and Lindsey

Congrats to Ember Guides - Tess, on the left, and Lindsey, on the right, on graduating from Eastern University last weekend.

I first met Tess in the summer of 2013, when as a high school junior, she had returned from a missions experience in Europe with lots of energy and passion for serving in that context. Ember was a good fit for her to get involved and she's been one of our longest serving Guides, helping run the 2014 X, 2015 Prague, 2016 Italy and 2017 Italy teams. This year's team already feels a little strange without her.

Lindsey and I met through Tess - our first time hanging together was in Chinatown in Philadelphia seeing the sights after we had given a group some instructions on cultural navigation. Ah the fun of leadership. Tess and Lindsey also invested at the highest level of Ember Guides last summer when they were our Summer Send, being sent to Poland for 6 weeks to work with a church plant. I could not have imagined a better fit for them and they turned a great idea into an awesome experience.

The Ember Cast will miss you two. We will miss the way Tess can recite the Ember mantras by heart and how Lindsey looks just like Hillary Duff. But go do some amazing things in a world that desperately needs passion, beauty, and character and we will throw fire with you.

Monday, May 07, 2018

IG Team Meeting #10

+ Reviewing Ember Mantras and Core Curriculum

+ Guest speakers
We had some guest speakers, a husband and wife who had spent significant time living in a different culture. They talked about worldview and related stories from their experience living overseas. Fantastic material that was really powerful as we think about context for where we are going. And the principles here are very transferrable for really anyone as they peel back layers of culture. We are probably adding this topic in the future to our Core Curricilum.

:: Worldview - what is real
Belief - what is true
Values - what is good
Behavior - what do you do
Worldview ->belief -> values -> behavior - inner to outer

3 Major Worldviews:
:: Guilt and Innocence
Western culture, truth is pre-eminent, scientific reasoning, rational, truth determines who is right or wrong, cognitive explanations

:: Shame and Honor
Ppreserving honor at all costs, saving face, Eastern culture, identity with groups rather than individuals, honor over truth
Guilt versus Shame - important distinction

:: Fear and Power
tribal cultures, gain power versus being afraid, who is stronger, focus on spiritual, dreams and visions

:: Gen 3 - Guilt, Shame and Fear - Jesus took away all 3.
Jesus comes to people within their worldview.

Photo: Jolie and Tommy.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The 2018 Bezos Letter
Fascinating read on high standards within an organization, in other words, culture.

::: Ferrero Rocher, A Status Symbol for Immigrants

::: What Do I Really Need to Know About Speaking at Conferences?
Link [link only good in May 2018]

::: Only a self-negating artist reads his Amazon reviews and the Twitter feedback on his work. He will learn nothing and will amplify his lizard brain's certainty of his worthlessness. - Seth Godin

Photo: Italy, July 2017.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

IG Team Meeting #9

+ Video series on context

+ Mantras
We throw fire.
In every apple, there is an orchard. - Alan Hirsch
Disciples are made on the road, not in rows. - Kim Hammond
If your church is full of members, you get an occasional missionary. If your church is full of missionaries, the rest is geography. - Erwin McManus
The Gospel comes to you on its way to someone else. - Alex McManus
[more here]

+ Core Principles
Person of Peace
Cultural Distance
Redemptive Analogy
[more here]

We try to drill the Mantras and the Principles into every summer team member, knowing that these are highly reproducible missions mindsets that any student can understand and are significant skills to utilize.