Meet My New Discipleship Community

I’ve been super excited about a new discipleship community I’ve discovered this year. Imagine, deeper community even during a pandemic!

Let me describe some of what I’m experiencing and observations I’ve made. I hope that it will help all of us think more intentionally about our disciple-making and the communities we want to see flourish.

First, one of the interesting things about the community is that it is free to join, but it’s not without “cost”. It takes some effort. This didn’t put me off. I understood the goal: a common base of knowledge, understanding, commitment, etc. And, members are very willing to help and offer a lot of opportunities to get me where I need to be.

This represents one of the most important values I see; intentional discipleship is woven into the fabric of the community. It’s personal, but not individualistic. That is, there is a great emphasis on personal growth and learning, but with a lot of community support. It’s freely offered to me. But, I also understand the clear expectation that I will also mentor others, even when I’m new and just getting the hang of things.

Community connection is nearly always available, not just at set times in the week. This takes the form of informal networks that they are completely open to the public, not private conversations. I can drop by, ask a quick question, or just listen to conversations of others. I often learn a lot by just hearing what others are struggling with. Sometimes I have something to offer as well. I can make these a regular part of my life, or not.

The community has regular scheduled meetings, usually 2-3 times a week, facilitated by a member of the group. Some of these are general meetings where people share what’s going on and can ask questions. Others meetings have a theme that might be of interest to the group. A person who is more of an expert will prepare a presentation and answer questions. In both the formal and informal meetings, if I have a question and someone doesn’t know the answer, they will almost always be able to connect me with someone who might; it’s just part of the ethos of the thing.

And the goal isn’t just service to the group; I’m encouraged to explore ways serve others in the surrounding community. Some members specialize in this kind of service and develop expertise that is a big help in extreme situations.

In a kind of counter-cultural posture, this is an all volunteer community. There is no paid “staff” and little commercial incentive or exterior organizations that drive things and make it all feel like commerce. The “celebrities” who gain some attention might have a YouTube channel, but that’s about as glitzy as it gets. And it’s because they serve some need or help their subscribers in some valuable way.

Finally, the community has a global awareness and intentionality. Some people put a lot of effort into reaching out over great distances. Members form groups so that others in different regions can connect intentionally on a regular basis to check in and to maintain a way to stay connected over a long-distance. They feel it’s important to be connected so everyone can feel safe and cared-for when life is kind of crazy.

This community motivates me, encourages me, and helps me to grow. It provides value to my life. Being a part takes initiative, effort, and learning on my own so I can really grow and be deeply connected. But I’ve found that it is worth it.

It’s not a church.

But I think my church can learn a lot from them.

It’s the amateur “ham” radio community.

Hams have figured out how to sustain a broad and varied community across the globe that is completely voluntary, non-commercial, service-oriented, and highly mentoring-focused. The only requirement is that you get an FCC license, and there’s help for that. You can grab a cheap handheld radio and connect any time with others, listen in on informative radio “nets” and be part of a local club.  You can go deeper with radio gear that will reach around the world. There is no pressure, but lots of encouragement.

It prompts me to ask of my own church; how are we doing?

Does any of this sound good, intriguing, perhaps missing in some way in your own church community?

I’m thinking of ways to apply what I see and experience as a new ham radio operator in my life of faith and disciple-making as I pray and seek God’s Kingdom to be revealed on earth among all peoples.

I’m interested to know what you think. Please comment and connect!

Icons made by catkuro from

Icons made by Freepik from
Icons made by Freepik from

Virtual Reality view of a Yanomamö Shabano

I’ve resurrected some VR shots I made way back in 2005. This was from one of our pre-production trips to Venezuela for the filming of “Yai Wanonabalewä – The Enemy God” – a feature film we made in partnership with the Yanomamö people in that region. You can watch the film HERE.

Unfortunately, my personal WordPress account won’t allow for a real embed here, so you have to click on the link. But it’s worth it!

[ALSO, there are two sections, just look for the little “hotspot” behind the crew.]

This was in pre-digital VR days, when I was shooting on real film! I used a Canon T70 SLR with a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens. 10 frames were stitched together using QuickTime VR software. Now, I’m playing with these old panoramas using current tech.

My “Best Kit” for Mobile Production

I was prepping last week for a short trip to Asia. As I was sorting gear, I thought I’d write a bit here about what I chose to take, and why. Here’s the layout.

mobile gear layout 2

One of the things I’ll be doing on this trip is introducing co-workers to opportunities to use mobile devices and simple gear to create compelling content for their varied audiences. I decided to bring some examples of gear from what I’ve collected over the years.

I want to over the key technical needs for video, audio, lights, and mounting a mobile as a camera. I also want a kit that will fit in a small camera bag that will then slip into my normal carry-on. I’m thinking one-person-band like many of us in the mojo world.

full rig vert 2

Full Rig: I am thinking of mostly run-and-gun shooting, with lots of handheld shots, easily transported, but also something I can set down for a longer shot, like an interview or event, if needed. Of course, I might often choose to strip this down to a few pieces for even more mobility.

My kit ended up being mix-and-match from different manufacturers, but I’ll explain why I chose what I did and spec some models if you want to check them out for yourself. I’m not sponsored by anyone and this is all stuff I’ve picked up over the last few years. There may be some new options that you can also check out based on this list. Create your own “ideal kit.”


Basemanfrotto tripod: When I want to set this all down for either a steady shot or just between shots, a nice small tripod is essential. I’m using a Manfrotto Pixi Mini tripod for this one. It’s beautifully designed, very compact and solid. The best part for me is how it feels when I fold the legs and handhold it as a support. It also has quick, one-button leveling. It’s not as infinitely flexible as something like a Gorillapod, but it’s a neater package. If I know I’m going to need to mount my camera on a tree branch or light post, I’d bring my Gorillapod.

shoulderpod handle

Phone Mount: For traditional (horizontal) video production, I really like this mash-up. I’m using a Shoulderpod H1 handle, topped by a Movo PR-1 smartphone grip rig. You can see that I’m also using the Shoulderpod short plate arm when I want to have a mic and light mounted to the rig. I love the Shoulderpod gear. It’s elegant and very high quality. The feel of this handle is great by itself and reminds me of my film shooting days with Aaton cameras and their famous wooden grip. Of course, Shoulderpod also makes a nice grip for a phone as well and it comes as a kit with this handle. But their clamp (at least the original model I have) is missing one important feature – a cold shoe. If I want to go really compact, with just a phone and a small movo grip topshotgun mic, the Movo clamp has a convenient cold shoe to let me just mount the mic (or anything else) up top, and I’m ready to go. With a Shoulderpod and other clamps, I have to add an arm. So, kudos to Movo for adding the shoe, and a handy bubble level. Maybe it’s not as pretty, but I’ll take it. (Movo’s handle, on the other hand, is a short little thing that’s harder to hold. Go figure; mix it up.)

rode videomicroAudio: For on-the-go news and documentary filmmaking, or for capturing b-roll shots, I want a good external microphone. This one is Rode’s Videomicro mini shotgun mic (with their SC7 cable to make compatible with a smartphone.) It’s a big improvement on the phone’s mics and well worth the investment. I can mount it on the phone clamp or on an extension arm, cage, etc. Connecting the mic to a phone like my Google Pixel 2 requires adding a 3.5mm to USB-C dongle. That’s becoming more common. I also add a Rode SC6 adaptor. I audio connections horizlike to monitor audio while I’m filming, especially for interviews. The SC6 lets me connect two mics – like a shotgun and an Aputure A.lav microphone (shown in the gear layout) or two lavalier mics. Plus, I can monitor through its headphone jack.



aputure led light

Lights: I generally shoot with existing light unless I’m making a scripted, narrative film. But having a small LED light can be very helpful as a supplement for news and doc shoots. This Aputure AL-M9 is small, rechargeable, color-accurate, and dimmable. Their color correcting gels are pretty lame, but, oh well. I would bring a larger LED panel if I’m really trying to light something and so more color adjustment.

sirui tele lensCase and Lens: For a compact and really solid kit, I really like the Moment photo case. They make them for some of the higher-end phones. I don’t like to mess with clip-on lenses if I’m trying to travel small. Again, I’m cheating here by using a Moment case with a Sirui lens. (I’m killing my product endorsement opportunities here, I know!) When I got my Moment case for the Pixel 2, I also ordered the Moment 2x tele lens. That first version from Moment was really pitched as an ‘art’ lens because it was so soft at the edges. (Their new version looks really sweet and they’ve re-engineered the lens for much better image quality, so it’s worth checking out.)  But, when I needed a tele lens, Sirui had a 60mm (2x) tele lens that looks great and mounts on the Moment case. If you are looking today, I think either lens is a good choice – with Sirui being a more budget-friendly option. I carry the tele lens most of the time and not always a wide angle because the Pixel 2 is pretty wide already. This is still for the world of single-lens phones; the add-on lenses do interesting things with more recent multi-lens cameras, so check them out.

There you have it – my running rig. I build it up and down as I need it. And it fits easily in a small camera bag.

This is what’s in my closet and carry-on for simple but effective shooting. I bet there are things you may like and recommend. What say you?

Periodic Table of Instructional Design –

Periodic Table of Instructional Design – a Fun and helpful infographic #onlineeducation #instructionaldesign

I spend part of my time now teaching and developing online courses. This handy infographic gives dos and don’ts related to everything from learner interactions to behind-the-scenes technical considerations.


My dramatic feature script, “Sand Devils”

(Post-Fest Update: My “Sand Devils” screenplay was Runner-Up in the Finals. Thanks!)

My dramatic feature screenplay, “Sand Devils” is now a Finalist at the 2016 Nashville Film Festival. I’m really grateful to know this redemptive story, set among Dinka refugees in Sudan, is touching some hearts. They had over 1600 entries in total this year, so I feel very honored to be among the 8 dramatic feature screenplay finalists.

NFF 2016 logo