Monday, June 10, 2019

Country 22

+ Croatia.
+ This is on the coast, overlooking Novi Vindolski.
+ Standing goal to get out of the USA every year - worked every year since 2005 except for 2010.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Burn

:::A Summer of Hell is Coming to US Airports

::: A US Missions Agency and Spain's Technology Hub

::: There are Two Types of Airport People

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Visiting Church of the City New York

We finally got to go to church in New York City this past weekend. I've long been fascinated with churches in this city - the most influential and strategic city in the world seems to be experiencing a resurgence in new churches lately. Katie has been there all semester but this was the first weekend where it fit for us to be in the city on a Sunday morning.

I was thrilled that we were able to attend Church of the City New York. I've followed Jon Tyson's work for a while now and no one has thought more deeply about spiritual formation in a place like New York: achievement oriented, fast paced, affluent, postmodern, post Christian, and pluralistic. Sure we say that about the suburbs but it's not even close. Unfortunately, Jon wasn't speaking but his Chief of Staff delivered a phenomenal talk on the topic of being an ambassador. And like I expected and appreciated, it spoke to this specific context and this specific city.

Other interesting observations:
+ They meet in 2 schools for 4 gatherings on Sundays - 2 at one school in the morning and then another 2 at another school in the evening. Portable church.
+ Before the time for the offering, they have a responsive reading focused on generosity and blessing. They don't pass out baskets but give time for people to donate electronically.
+ There was a few minutes at the beginning of the service when someone shared a personal story of their experience in trying to live out 'Kingdom Values' [their current sermon series.] Really makes the community feel connected.

And this quote from the talk:
When the modern world says to us aloud, "You may be religious when you are alone," it adds under its breath, "and I will see to it that you never are alone." To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow's end or the Greek calends.
- C. S. Lewis

I try to read everything Jon Tyson has written. My other church on the short wish list was Hope Roosevelt run by my friends Dan and Amanda Sadlier but the timing didn't quite work out right.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Burn

::: McDonald's Serves as Mini US Embassies

::: Gladwell on How School Shootings Catch On
Link via The Weekend Reader

::: Crossing Cultures - The First 90 Days

Photo: McDonalds, Vienna, Austria. July 2007.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Loren Cunningham

Founder of Youth With A Mission, started in 1960, which now has about 20,000 staff across 171 countries. Loren travels to 30 or 40 countries every year and has visited every country in the world.

Ember has lots of YWAM friends and of course we run into YWAMers all the time. What a gift to the world Loren is.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Remembering Sabika Sheikh
The most powerful thing I have read in a long time.

::: Algorithms, Human Rights Abuse and Justice

::: Micromobility Will Transform Cities

Photo: Ramadan July 2014, Aix-en-Provence.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Cultural Navigation in Chinatown

If you've followed along here for any length of time, you know that Ember highly values pre-field team training for any and all kinds of mission teams. The odds, statistics and anecdotes are true - the better your team is prepared, the better your experience. Leaders that ignore this step probably shouldn't be leading these teams.

Last night, some of our guides walked a short term team through navigating some areas of culture, specifically food, people and architecture. A lot of helping people understand culture is modeling how to be observant. Observe first, then interpret and then futurecast. It was a perfect night in Chinatown DC.

Remember, it's not too late to try to get your team ready.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Ember Cast Sabbatical Year [Or Longer]

Later this year, Deanna and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, I will turn 50 years old and both our kids will be living overseas. In light of especially the last point, The Ember Cast will enter in to a sabbatical year [or longer] starting sometime this summer. We will shutdown all operations and put Ember into pause - I don't think it is a full stop but we are leaving room for that possibility too. This is not spur of the moment or a reaction - in fact, plans for this have been in motion since the summer of 2018.

I started thinking about this last summer because I wanted to give room for Deanna and I starting to be empty nesters. It's a good time to take a break from the rhythm of working a day job and a passion project during nights and weekends. We also knew there would be some personal travel next year - an anniversary trip for the two of us and possibly visiting Emily on her gap year and celebrating Katie finishing university [I know, it seems like she just started.] We are also taking a 3 week family trip this June with some Ember Summer Sends joining us for the last few days of that.

I also remembered my old pastor saying that most people in their 50s are spiritually coasting. And I had lunch with a sage who gave me wise counsel on turning 50 and implored us to dream about the idea of legacy. And I was reminded of Isaiah 49:6 - it is too small a thing... So the Ember break gives us time to think really deeply about what we want to give ourselves to for the next season of our lives. I'm excited for both the break and the opportunity to consider big, audacious dreams for the Lord.

Special thanks to the Ember Board for their 9 years in this with me and helping navigate a new season. In the meantime, we have some good things to finish in the next few months.

Monday, April 29, 2019

GP Team Mtg #1

Our GP Summer Sends and I just started reading Underground Church. It's a good read but not for everyone. But these ladies are ready to think about the intersection of leadership, cross cultural service and different expressions of Church.

Highlights from reading 1 included:
+ metaphors for disciples, including sheep, missionaries and apostles.
+ prevailing frameworks for Church: a hospital, a school, an incubator
+ the nothingness of starting something new might be the essence of discipleship

Remember, young people are more than capable of engaging with this kind of material. In fact, many of them long for the opportunity.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Inside the Secret Team Dinners that Have Built the San Antonio Spurs' Dynasty

::: Facebook AI Powered Maps Help Vaccination Campaigns
Link via Justin Long's Weekly Roundup

::: The Pool - Charity: Water Engaging Tech Equity for Their Employees
...founders and paper billionaires from Uber, WeWork and Casper have pledged at least 1 percent of their shares to the new program, which Charity: water is calling The Pool. That all but guarantees that the organization’s 78 employees will share in the spoils from some of the most hotly anticipated initial public offerings in the history of Wall Street.
Link via Kyle Westaway's Weekend Briefing

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Creative Revenue - Commissioned Art Work

The Ember Cast believes that missionaries of the future will rely on a 'portfolio of revenue.' [credit for this term goes to Ben Arment.] In other words, they will need to actually make some money outside of personal donations. Since 2013, our summer teams have been required to dream and execute a Creative Revenue Plan - a way to make some income based on their talents and gifts. This unique income will go directly towards 10-25% of funding of their missions experience. Prayer and financial support letters are also required.

We ask students to dream up these plans by helping them assess their talents, skills and networks, and this is done as part of their application to summer teams. I'm proud to say that over $23K of revenue has been made as part of these Plans over the past 9 years and it represents students growing in skills such as pricing their product, making a pitch, dealing with customers and lots of hard work. All skills that benefit just about everyone.

If you need some commissioned art, like you have a picture or photo but want it drawn by a super talented artist, one of our Summer Sends is doing this exact thing. Contact me and I will put you in touch with Kate - all revenue will go towards her efforts for travel to Greece and Poland this summer. See more of her work here.

Photo: Kate's birthday gift to her mom, who is also an artist.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Ember Founder - Freelancer Not Entrepreneur

When I started The Ember Cast, I had grand dreams of multiplying lots of leaders. It was like that Faberge shampoo commercial from the 80s: "And they told two friends...and they told two friends..." When Ember started, you could not be in the missional, missions, church planting conversation without understanding multiplication [versus addition] and therefore including something about multiplication in your strategy. I dreamed that Ember would reproduce like rabbits. We were going to throw fire across the world!

Except it didn't work. Every student that worked with us only stayed with us for a season. When that season finished, they went on to do greater, even more amazing things. John attended a missions school in Mozambique, Drew worked with a bunch of water filtration projects in Kenya, Shannon discipled high school girls and women in prison, Trevin became one of the brainchild behind one of the East Coast's most potent short term missions sending churches, Tess moved to Philly to teach in the city, Hope dug into recovery for victims of human trafficking, DKnox serves on a college campus. A few of our tribe have returned to join us for short summer teams and we have loved that.

In 2013, I listened to a series of podcasts by Seth Godin called Startup School. One of the first topics was the question of 'freelancer versus entrepreneur' and this 22 minute talk reframed the unintentional organizational design of The Ember Cast. Freelancers get paid when they work and are not focused on scale, while entrepreneurs are organized for growth and build companies that grow the work. That distinction put Ember into clarity for me - I was a freelancer. I wanted to be focused on the work of mentoring global leaders. I wanted to be intimately involved in every project Ember was engaged in. Whether it was ProtoGuides, a culture learning weekend, a short term team training event or a summer team, I wanted to craft each one of those projects. The clarity with this understanding brought great freedom. Nonprofit and charity work must scale but like Jan Chipchase says, it must be a 'meaningful sense of scale.' For my involvement with Ember, right now, it means more freelancer than entrepreneur.

The effort you are trying to pioneer might be dealing with the same thing right now. You might be dreaming of multiplication but still find the extreme joy in being an artisan in your craft. You love the idea of becoming worldwide even though your discipline is your accomplishment. Maybe it's time to forget growth and be clear that your job is to hone your gift. That bigger might not be better. That your tribe needs you doing what you do.

See more on this idea here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Spring Break

Flying south for a few days. We are doing some thinking about empty nesting, limits and legacy. Grateful for a wise mentor to speak some timely advice into our lives.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Burn

::: By the End of this Century, the Global Population will Start to Shrink
A very big deal, but I won't be around to help you worry about it.

::: Mosaic LA - Here to Stay
Mosaic has an opportunity to purchase their gathering space in Hollywood. Here's part of a letter Erwin McManus wrote:
When my family moved to Los Angeles over 25 years ago, we came with the conviction that Los Angeles was the epicenter of human creativity. Creativity is the unique economy of Hollywood, and in the same way that Los Angeles inhales the world’s talent and beauty, it can exhale the gospel.
This exact vision was what captivated me in 2004 about Mosaic and Erwin's leadership.

::: The State of Social Entrepreneurship - 2019
Link via Andrew Jones

Picture: Perspectives, Lancaster Bible College, April 2019.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Bible Translation Mini Lesson

Last week, I took some of our Ember team to join me when I taught at a local Perspectives class. Perspectives continues to be one of the best mobilization tools around although it perhaps needs a bit updating and has limited reach. The real reason I take Ember people there is to help students of the class reimagine what cross cultural service with the emerging generation might look like. I'm really just showing off some of Ember's fruits.

Before the class, we grabbed a quick dinner with my old friend JMM. We worked together on staff at Camp Hemlock way back in the late 1980s. He's currently Director of Operations for the American Bible Society and has been a key resource in using technology to help speed up Bible translation all around the world. JMM's second oldest son is also currently on the World Race Gap Year, which is the same thing our Emily is going to do starting this September, so she was able to ask him a few questions about that too. We got a mini lesson in the current status of Bible translation, which was super informative, facts such as:

So many translations and versions in English but most languages have one.
Around 7100 languages. 2200 are questionable or dying. Total needing translation ~4900. Translation complete or underway - ~3300. Translations needed to start - ~1500
Indigenous churches can't really grow healthy unless there is the Bible in the mother tongue.
AI/Machine Learning can help translation - not just computers learning but even helping advise translators: "You translated this word two different ways, is that what you meant?"
Technology can help with other tools besides just translation efforts - typesetting, layout, etc - formatting Adobe InDesign in hours versus days so that the document is ready to print.

Thanks JMM for hanging with us!

Friday, April 05, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Is God Working in Iceland?

::: An 8th Grader Joins Social Media and Discovers That Her Mom Had Been Posting About Her For Her Entire Life

::: The Most Post Christian Cities in America, 2017

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

2019 Summer Sends

Periodically, The Ember Cast will execute what we call Summer Sends, sending a handful of older students that have worked with us in the past to serve with some of our trusted partners. Summer Sends represent somewhat of a progression - older students, usually a bit longer in duration than a summer team, and more autonomy. We are thrilled to announce that we are executing a Summer Send for 2019.

Ember is not running a summer team this year. Instead, the Sheng's are doing some personal travel since Emily is graduating from high school. We did the same when Katie finished by spending an amazing 3 weeks in Australia. This summer, the plan is to spend 3 weeks in a specific part of Europe.

Our Summer Sends are 4 students and they will join the Sheng's for a few days in Greece, serving with some Ember partners. After those days, 3 Summer Sends will continue on to Poland for about another 9 or 10 days while 3 of the Shengs and one Summer Send flies back to Merryland [take a wild guess on which Sheng is not flying back to Merryland...]

Thanks in advance for your support for this project.

[Reminder - we don't publish dates or locations on social media but can communicate privately.]

Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water, on a Reddit AMA

::: Scientists Have Discovered a Shape that Blocks All Sound

::: Revolution Annapolis Wipes Out Nearly $2M of Medical Debt

Photo: Hanging with the Metzgers, Affordable Annapolis Lab Night #3. [Tell you more about this later]

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Iceland Travel Notes - 2019

My daughters and I spent a long weekend in Iceland last weekend - long time readers may remember when I took my older daughter Katie there in 2015. Here are some travel notes in case you are thinking about going and of course, you should go. Iceland is like no other place on earth and it's easy to get to, the people are friendly and you can get in a good adventure [but if you are me, not too much.]
+ You can not be overprepared for winter in Iceland so make sure you dress for it. Late March is just about when winter ends but for us, it was temps near freezing and blizzard conditions every day that we were there. There was a high wind warning one afternoon meaning lots of snow and recommendations that no one travels.
+ When we went the last time, I had no idea so I rented the cheapest car I could, a Toyota Yaris. We were lucky to make it home alive. This time, I rented a Toyota Land Cruiser because I knew I wanted something with 4 wheel drive and I knew we were going to drive quite a bit. I rented from ISAK 4X4 because I had seen their vehicles on Chris Burkard's Under An Arctic Sky short film. These guys even give you a rescue kit including a big shovel.
+ We spent one day and night around Laugarvatn, staying at the Laugarvatn Hostel, which is a family owned and run property. They've got deep ties to the area and gave us lots of local context. The geothermal pools at the Fontana are worth it and this is also very close to Gulfoss and Geysir. We stopped at the Kerid Crater on the way to the south coast but it was snowing madly and we couldn't see any of the crater colors. We had dinner at the Efstidalur restaurant, a farm property transformed into a hotel and restaurant.
+ We spent two nights at Hostel Skógafoss, close enough to the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, and literally right next to the Skogafoss waterfall. It was, believe it or not, snowing our whole time there so we got recommendations not to drive very far but instead stop at the Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara Beach, the black sand beach, and Dyrhólaey, the southern-most spot in Iceland with a lighthouse high up on the hill. Getting to the lighthouse is a somewhat steep drive up a gravel road - 4WD recommended.
+ Had we more time and better weather, we would have driven up to Jökulsárlón Glacier, at least a 3 hour drive from Skogafoss and would have tried to stay on the eastern side of Vik.
+ Loftstofan is a Baptist church right in Reykjavik and a church that is not interested in the status quo. Interestingly enough, they have some partnerships with a handful of churches here in the DMV as well as being intentional about multiplication and church planting. The first church planters sent out from them land in Iceland this coming weekend. I've followed their work these past few years so it was fun to meet Gunnar face to face.

Grateful to spend a few days traveling with my kids.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019


Over the past 10 years or so, I have spoken at UMBC Cru a handful of times. It's a funny intersection for me since I actually went to school there. I got a graduate degree from there and was there from 1991-1993, but was never involved in any campus ministry. The Cru gatherings are actually in the same Engineering building that I spent lots of time in which is both weird and funny.

I've always loved the community of students there. Very down to earth and unpretentious, but clearly pursuing a journey of faith and wanting to change their campus and the world for the better. I was asked to speak on ethnic diversity, the specific topics being the Biblical basis for diversity, appreciating diversity and stewarding privilege well. I hoping the talk was well received and I got some very kind comments after the talk.

Not 12 hours later, news of the New Zealand mosque shootings made their way around the world. Lord help us.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Burn

::: What I Gave My Kid Instead of a Smartphone

::: Take a Picture of a Spreadsheet and MS Excel Will Now Import It

::: Soft Robotics

Photo: Cru UMBC.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ember March Dinner

Special guest Nat Blessing, 2nd from the left, who was with us for 2015Prague and 2016Italy. Last summer, she was doing medical cross cultural stuff in Honduras. Our first Ember alum as a monthly dinner guest. First in hopefully a long, long line.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Emily WRGY T Shirts

Emily is selling some t shirts to help raise funding for her Gap Year. One day left - order here. Thanks in advance for supporting her!

Friday, March 08, 2019

Friday Burn

::: How to be Successful

::: The Difference Between People Who Move Abroad and Those Who Don't

::: Donations to Charity Plummeted Last Year, Except from the Super Rich

Photo: Todd Ahrend.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Self -> Serve -> Scale

[We've talked about Self->Serve->Systems with lots of Ember people in the past few years. It's not quite a complete thought and after sharing it with a workshop this past weekend, I think Self->Serve->Scale makes the idea more complete. This is what I would have said if I had thought of it in time. The idea of 'Scale' has also come up in a few recent conversations related to this topic and this excellent article, Scale or Bail, continues to make an impression.]

When the affluent serve the less fortunate, there are lots of dynamics at play, many that we need to take care with. We need to specifically be careful of doing something for someone else that they could do for themselves. This premise - that we should never do something for someone that they could do for themselves - is well outlined in two fantastic books, When Helping Hurts, and Toxic Charity. The image here represents a progression from Self to Serve to Scale and portrays one mental model which might help us think through some of these ideas.

Everyone of us starts out only thinking about self. At some point in our journey, for most of us here at this conference, we move from thinking about only ourselves to thinking about someone else - we want to serve someone less fortunate. This is, of course, a good thing.

But there are lots of us that stop at that point, when there may be one more step to go. We continue to serve when we really should think about scale. What do I mean when I say scale? It means the ability to grow and multiply your efforts. Take a simple idea and use it to affect a ton of people. If our great passions and actions stop at serving, we might be serving at the same soup kitchen for the next 10 years. If we scale something, we could be helping hundreds, thousands, that same community as well as many others.

You can only scale when you get the people you are serving involved. Your service project will never grow and multiply if you are doing for them what they could be doing for themselves. Not only will you stagnate the growth of your passion, you'll cripple those less fortunate than you. Scaling requires you to listen, it requires you to think about the assets in the people you serve, it requires you to uncover talent.

I'd like to highlight two quick examples of this. The first one is outlined in Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton. Dr. Lupton spent thirty some years working in the inner city in Atlanta. At his church, they had a food pantry and he suggested a slight tweak to it - turning it into a food cooperative. Instead of hand outs, they actually now had members and a small monthly income. They used this income to employ food buyers, who were actually from the community they were serving. Now they had insiders who bought food the less fortunate actually wanted to eat. People started sharing recipes, they started throwing community dinner parties. At one point, someone suggested the idea of starting a restaurant with all their culinary skills and passions, and they eventually did it. The restaurant is still in existence today. Someone had to think about scale as part of this whole project though - when they need a commercial kitchen, someone helped to find it. When they needed seed funding, someone helped write a grant. Lots of thinking about assets and talents.

The second example comes from the world of housing and construction. New Story Charity has a vision to end global homelessness. Last summer, they unveiled a solution to use a 3D concrete printer to print a home in less than 24 hours and at less than $4K. Scaling means they do this for a whole community, not just one house. Scaling also means that they have developed a robust pattern for partnership with locals as well as a people-centric design process - thinking about local culture and involving those they serve in the design stage. The vision of New Story is not building homes - it is ending global homelessness. In their own words: "One billion people live without a basic human need: shelter. Linear improvements will never reach this market. We need a quantum leap in affordability, speed, and quality to reach families exponentially faster."

This is an experimental mental model that we talk about with Ember kids and I'm optimistically expectant - one day soon, one of our Ember kids is going to make this happen and I will be thrilled. So come on Ember peeps, no pressure. Actually just kidding. Lots of pressure - the world needs you.

In the meantime, self to serve to scale. Dig in and take your passion past just serving. Scale it to really change the world.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Souls 2019

The team at Bay Area Community Church killed it on Saturday with their Souls Missions conference - truly an inspiring time. Love their missions team there and their lead pastor Greg St. Cyr drives that church to be more and more globally focused as time goes on. Some selected notes and commentary below.

Also, if you attended my workshop, thanks for being there! I had a great time with both my sessions. Here are my slides.

Todd Ahrend - The Traveling Team
* TTS - Todd was a phenomenal speaker, he spoke three times and his talks all flowed together and his content was excellent. World class speaker also in terms of his technical speaking ability. Some people may not like what he has to say.

The mission of God - once you see it woven through all the Bible, you won't be able to unsee it.
'Live close to my family' - almost a badge of honor for American Christians.
1600 times - peoples blessed through you
John Stott - the most important Bible verse is Gen 12:1-4
Kansas State - 'family' - football games, in the family but not in the game - similar to missions today
'All, peoples, nations, tribes, earth, languages' - read through the Bible marking those
Gen 12 - Jude - the plot of the Bible

**Is 49:6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

The Missionary Mall - Utah
Parents there were thrilled that their kids were going on a mission - buy whatever you want!
Mormons gives 2 years, Christians give excuses.

'What countries would you ask God to send them to?' You would think we were asking to send them to the moon - if you asked Christian parents this about their kids.

Savings, safety, my kids - what we value and everyone else does too so no one holds us accountable
We want the blessing of salvation without the responsibility of the nations.

I used to think God was interested in reaching as many people as possible. Now, I think that he is interested in reaching first and foremost a community from every people group.

I drive past seven churches in 20 minutes when I go to my church. My wife and I traveled some 1500 miles in the Gulf countries and didn't pass one.

Unreached - less than 2%,
Unengaged - all zeros across the board
Top 5 countries in need: India, India, India, India, China.

Movements - 1000 or more baptized believers within 10 years.
610AD - 1890: 0 movements
1890 - 1999: 13
2000- today: 70
More Muslims coming to Jesus in the last 19 years than in the last 1400 years combined.
Our missions methods
The Bible in their native tongue
Extremism makes some question their identity
Quran in their native language

A little lady in a nice church in Iowa told me she didn't want to bring that evil book into her house. I told her that I have 6 kids and 5 Qurans in my house but no television. The television will bring evil faster in to your house than anything else.

: Greg St. Cyr - Leading the Church to Reach the Nations
* TTS - Greg is the real deal. Incredible husband, father, pastor and leader.

First short term missions trip to Poland - 'Greg, you were made for this.'
8 years in Poland
Been 25 years as lead pastor at BACC
15 years in, mentor said to him, "See yourself as a missionary leading a thousand missionaries.'

'If Jesus comes again, I don't want to be in seminary.'
Learn to love maps, globes and hourglasses.
BACC has divided the world into 17 regions and wants to be in every one of those.

A short term missions trip is a fast track to discipleship.

Lots of quotes from John Mott.
Foundation: Christ's supremacy and the nations
Get a world map and globe, learn to persevere in private prayer
Theology of nations
Get a STM to go with you
Educational plan for congregation which includes preaching an annual series on God's heart for the nations
Continually cast a God-size vision for the nations
Designate a faith percentage of offering to missions while growing a culture of generosity
Implement a leadership pathway designed to equip future global missionaries, focusing especially on young people
Prayerfully initiate a partnership with a global missionary who shares church's vision and doctrine with the goal of discerning whether this is one of God's global partners.
Draft a global missions policy manual for elder approval

After his wife complimented him, Greg said, "Mary Kaye, you are the best."

: Michele Rollins and Amy French - STM leader training
* TTS - This team has developed an incredible process around supporting and training team leaders and a comprehensive manual for this. Really impressive. There is such clarity in vision that starts from the church's overall vision that informs how they do global work.

Role of the leader - disciple your team through a cross cultural experience
Not about a single moment or team
Supporting a God given purpose in another city

Shift - doing ministry yourself to equipping your team
Want to give authority and autonomy to our leaders
God puts perfect teams together.

BACC focuses on church planting among 1 - unreached, 2 - needy, 3 - urban - intentionally broad, let the Spirit guide them into partnerships.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Best Spiritual Formation

The UNDERGROUND is not a cell strategy, where we quickly reproduce the same thing or mobilize all our leaders in the same ministry. Our microchurches are unique expressions of the church that are as different as the people who start them. For that reason, each of them represents a new entity - breaking into new space with mission - as well as the formation of a new disciple (at the very least) in the form of the person who leads. Starting and leading churches is what disciples do, and they are formed in doing so. We want people to start unique microchurches because it ushers in the kingdom, not only in the world, but increasingly in them too. You see, microchurches are how we make disciples, in part because that is the core work of the microchurch and in part because we think that nothing forms a person spiritually like taking the step to start and sustain a church. The best discipleship comes through trying to plant, lead, and grow the church. That is kingdom expansion at its finest, God taking more and more ground, even in our own lives.
- Underground Church, Brian Sanders

Monday, February 25, 2019

In Homage

Em - wrist. Katie - upper arm. Cherry blossoms, in honor of my mother in law, who was known to family and friends as Cherry. Remember, parenting is contextual.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Three Hopeful Signs in Ending Poverty

::: Five Tips for Better Fundraising

::: The Weekly Email

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Happy D

A few weeks ago, Deanna told Emily, our 18 year old, "Hey, you are 18. You can do whatever you want!" This has been the spirit around our house this year as Emily has weighed options for next year, and more and more these past few years with both our kids - freedom, responsibility, flying further and farther. That ethos has been led by Deanna, modeled in both word and deed.

Happy birthday Deanna! May this year bring a closer walk with Jesus and helping those around you fly further and farther! Let's you and I doing some flying too.


Monday, February 18, 2019

A Hospital for Sinners and a School for Students

The prevailing framework for the North American church today is almost entirely focused on the health and development of the people who attend it. Even attractional churches, which make evangelism central to their ministry, still see the visitor as a sinner to be rehabilitated or as a mind whose ignorance needs to be dispelled. We have perhaps overemphasized the idea that the church is a hospital for sinners. Because we have overestimated the power of the intellectual to do spiritual rehabilitation, we also operate a lot like a school, operating under the assumption that everything that is wrong with us can be taught out of us. Under these assumptions, the church is made up of its people, who are sick and unhealthy. Its leaders are the experts who offer a treatment plan, followed by helpful advice, educating us on how to stay healthy. The infrastructure is centripetal, drawing people inward. The leaders - the experts - are primarily focused on gathering, educating, and meeting the needs of those who are wounded and unwell so they can be healthy again.
- Brian Sanders, Underground Church

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Burn

::: The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures

::: The Gates Annual Letter
Required reading. This year includes education, toilets, young people, and mobile phones.

::: Instagram for Prisons

Monday, February 11, 2019

Ember February Dinner

Once a month, The Ember Cast hosts a dinner with a select group of students and a special guest who are some of the most creative and innovative in the global missions/nonprofit space. The intention of this dinner is for our students to learn, interact and be inspired by these amazing individuals who have created something incredible from nothing.

Our guest this weekend was Dave Shive, who taught at Washington Bible College for over 15 years and also taught Perspectives for over 30 years, probably over 1200 classes and countless students. He is one of the missions patriarchs of the DMV.
+ Background:
Insight from taking Perspectives:
God did not become a missionary God He was a missionary god.
God is missional by nature

Usually a trip a year but slowing down now.
Last five years - SE Asia doing leadership development

A few years ago, visited friend doing work among the Roma, Roma Bible Union.

+ Most interesting right now:
Movements of people. Spawned by discovery bible studies
653 right now
Disciple someone before they start to follow Jesus.

Bible translation
1500 languages still lack NT

+ Execution from dream:
This kind of thing all through Church and missions history
Moravians - Zizendorf
Cameroon Townsend
Donald McGavern
Ralph winter
Recent former student example - Malaysian guy started by being a food critic - sky is the limit in missions right now - any career path, then started a trivia game

+ Advice for young people:
1 - Develop people skills, ability to deal with conflict - most missionaries can't deal with their team

2 - Learn how to really pray
The two are tied together

3 - Read Missionary biographies

Don't doubt what God can do with one person.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Friday Burn

::: Four Models of Church that are Thriving

::: Is this a deep water problem or a big wave problem?
Classic Seth Godin. So good.

::: The Michael J. Fox Foundation Gets Results

Thursday, February 07, 2019

The Souls Conference at Bay Area Comm Church

Bay Area Community Church is hosting the Souls missions conference on March 2 and I would love for you to join me there. BACC has been a global missions powerhouse for many years: they send hundreds of people to around 9 global partners every year, they've executed church plants and campuses through spinning off the Sent Network, their former missions pastor grew up in the developing world, and they've put together some of the best leadership training material for team leaders.

It will be a great day of equipping and connecting and Ember will be there with a small team of students. Would love to see you if you are interested in this kind of thing. Ping for more details or register here.