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, DK 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.]