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Dilbert on the Purpose of Dashboards

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Earlybird’s Closing Tomorrow! How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry

Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry

The earlybird rate ended Friday

How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry

Coming to the conclusion that you might need a new design for your small group ministry?  Concerned that there may be something (or a collection of factors) preventing you from taking your small group ministry where you need to go?

You’re Invited!

I want to invite you to join me for my new 4 session mini-course: How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry.  Much more than an update, this mini-course is based on my most requested and most popular workshop, it draws more positive comments and rave reviews than anything else I talk about.

Here’s what you’ll gain:

  • An accurate diagnosis of your current situation (limiting factors, barriers, untapped resources and advantages)
  • The tools that will help you identify future opportunities with the most upside.
  • Resources that help you craft a preferred future that will help your ministry move in the right direction
  • The strategies that will help you move in the direction of your preferred future and stay on course.

What’s Included:

  1. Four 75 minute sessions (60 minutes of content + 15 minutes Q&A)
  2. Downloadable outlines (allowing you to capture every detail)
  3. Each session is packed with actionable takeaways
  4. All sessions are downloadable to share with your team
  5. Password-protected site with additional supporting resources.
  6. 100% money back guarantee.  If you’re not completely satisfied…I’ll refund your money.
  7. Take advantage of my earlybird pricing at $39.95 (Regular pricing: $49.95)
  8. Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  9. Questions?  Email Me for information.

When, Where and Other Details:

  • The first session is on Thursday, September 8th at 11:00 a.m. pacific.
  • Sessions 2 thru 4 are on September 15th, September 22nd and September 29th..
  • Regular pricing: $49.95
  • Take advantage of a 20% discount ($39.95) through August 26th.
  • Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  • Questions?  Email Me for information.

Registration Options (pulldown)



uphill“Everything worthwhile is uphill. People have uphill hopes and downhill habits.” John Maxwell

Test-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water

toes in the waterTest-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water

Buying without trying is down.

Contracts and long commitments are out.

File these under #ThingsYouMustKeepInMind

Test-Drives, Taste Tests, and Toes-in-the-Water are in.

Question: How does this affect you and me?

I think it ought to affect us in two ways:

First, it ought to reshape our thinking about the importance of offering test-drives, taste-tests and toes-in-the-water. Think about it. Virtually everything is now available to be experienced now and purchased later.

You can listen to the song before you buy on iTunes. You can read a portion of the book on Amazon. You can arrange a test-drive of just about any car you’d like to drive. You can ask for a taste at the ice cream store or the brewery. Many clothing and shoe manufacturers now offer free shipping and free returns to entice you to try on their product.

If we want to connect unconnected people we should be offering test-drives, taste-tests and toes-in-the-water. Most of what we are offering feels like something you buy before you try (which is a very antiquated sales strategy). How long ago did that pass into history in just about every other arena?

Second, it ought to reshape our thinking about the length of commitment we’re asking for. Think about it. Renting is on the rise. Services like Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix and Hulu make it increasingly common to pay for access rather than purchase.

When we plan small group connecting events we should keep in mind that long commitments are out. If we want to help unconnected people take a step to join a group we should be offering baby steps.

Note: Baby steps must be designed with babies in mind. What is a baby step to a baby is a very important thing to understand. What we think is a baby step is often seen as a giant step by the babies themselves. And their perspective is the only perspective that matters.

Further Reading:

Image by Christine Rondeau

How Foggy Is What’s Next for Your Small Group Ministry?

foggyHow Foggy Is What’s Next for Your Small Group Ministry?

Do you know where you’re going? Can you see it clearly? Or is the road ahead kind of foggy?

I’m often asked, “How do you determine what’s next for your small group ministry?”

Here’s how I think about what’s next:

First, I begin with a honest evaluation of how it is going right now.

I am convinced that Andy Stanley is right when he says, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” These are the facts and they are undisputed.

Why start there? Easy. Before I plan what’s next I need to think about how it is actually going right now (i.e., is our current strategy or plan working?). It’s important to look at what you are doing through the lens of “is what we are doing actually working?”

If you care about where you are going you must begin with an honest appraisal of how well or poorly your strategy is working.

Second, I look again and again at the preferred future we have identified.

We talk about our preferred future many ways, but it always includes the following:

  • We want to have more adults in groups than we have attend a worship service on the weekend.
  • We must focus on making disciples as we connect unconnected people.
  • We want to make as easy as possible for people to step into leadership and nearly automatic that they step onto a leader development conveyor belt.

There are certainly other aspects to our preferred future, but these are preeminent. When these are truly preeminent, we are forced to view our current results through the lens of “is what we are doing actually working?”

Third, I determine which aspects of our preferred future could be attained next.

This is important and it is often overlooked. While connecting more adults in groups is certainly an aspect of our preferred future, it is not the only one.

  • We should be determining what we can do in the short term to make more and better disciples.
  • We should be determining what we can do in the short term to make it easier to step into leadership and more automatic that new leaders step onto a leader development conveyor belt.

I refer to this as keeping one eye on the preferred future and the other eye on the next milestone. Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged.

How are you determining what’s next for your small group ministry?

Can you see it? Are you seeing your preferred future clearly enough? Are you honestly evaluating how it’s going right now? Are you determining aspects that are attainable in the short term?

Further Reading:

Image by Emma Story

Redeemed: Grace to Live Every Day Better than Before

redeemedI spent some time this week with a new study from Angela Thomas-Pharr and LifeWay that I think you may want to take a look at. Redeemed: Grace to Live Every Day Better Than Before explores the practical side of redemption and what it means to experience the grace to live every day better than before.

DVD-driven, Redeemed is a 7 session study featuring the teaching of Angela Thomas-Pharr. Angela is a Bible teacher, national speaker, and best-selling author of books and Bible studies. Each video segment is about 35 minutes in length and carried off well by Thomas’ spunky southern accent and vibe.

The Bible study book includes several of the normal ingredients. A video-viewing guide (to help members keep up with the teaching on the video), discussion questions (found in the Leader Guide portion of the member book), and daily homework (a 40 days of prayer experience). The discussion questions are written to help members wrestle with what they’re learning. The daily homework is designed to take members deeply into the Book of Psalms and pray consistently for 40 days.

If you’re looking for a Bible study that will help your members develop their prayer life and experience the kind of genuine change God wants for all of us, Redeemed is a study you ought to take a look at. Although this topic may not attract everyone, those who do participate will have the kind of life-changing experience they need to have to truly become the people God made them to be.

4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

essentials of execution4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

And…we’re off. We’re now two weekends into our fall launch.

The way our strategy is designed we will focus exclusively on casting vision for the series (Finding Your Way Back to God) and recruiting hosts for the first three weekends. By hosts, we mean people who respond to the specially designed ask: “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with… (i.e., the study that goes along with the series).” See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Three Weekends in a Row and Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

So far, our results are underwhelming. We saw improvement in the second weekend as we tightened up the ask (both our service host and teaching pastor pulled closer to the script) and more effectively cast vision for the series (the ‘why’). But there remains room for further improvement.

And we will continue to tweak and massage the launch until we work it into the right language, the right feel.

Which brings me to a short, but critical, explanation of the ingredients that go into a well executed small group launch.

4 Essentials of Execution:

  1. Plan. The best planning clarifies the win, makes clear what you are trying to do and removes the guesswork. Paint the bullseye before you shoot the arrow. For me, planning includes writing the script for the specific lines I want our communicators to us.
  2. Rehearse. Just prior to pulling the trigger it is a good idea to remind all players about their lines. Ideally, this is not improv. You think about this nearly year-round. Many of the other players (i.e., your senior pastor, your communication director, etc.) only think about a small group launch or church-wide campaign when it is rolling.
  3. Evaluate. Every move should be evaluated immediately (i.e., if you have two services you should be evaluating immediately after the first service). “How close was that to the script?” “Was that really what we planned?” “What were the results from that ‘ask’?” Remember, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” If you don’t like the results from the first service…don’t assume the results were a fluke. They were generated by the execution of your design (or a deviation from the design).
  4. Adjust. If the results you achieve are not what you hoped for or expect, you must adjust what you are doing. As Albert Einstein shrewdly noted, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again and expect different results.” If you want different results, you must adjust the execution of your strategy.

We have our third move next weekend. I’ll keep you posted as we adjust (in hopes of a greater response, so we can connect a larger number of unconnected people).

Further Reading:

Image by Jeff Archer

How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry (My Next Mini-Course)

Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group MinistryHow to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry

Coming to the conclusion that you might need a new design for your small group ministry?  Concerned that there may be something (or a collection of factors) preventing you from taking your small group ministry where you need to go?

You’re Invited!

I want to invite you to join me for my new 4 session mini-course: How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry.  Much more than an update, this mini-course is based on my most requested and most popular workshop, it draws more positive comments and rave reviews than anything else I talk about.

Here’s what you’ll gain:

  • An accurate diagnosis of your current situation (limiting factors, barriers, untapped resources and advantages)
  • The tools that will help you identify future opportunities with the most upside.
  • Resources that help you craft a preferred future that will help your ministry move in the right direction
  • The strategies that will help you move in the direction of your preferred future and stay on course.

What’s Included:

  1. Four 75 minute sessions (60 minutes of content + 15 minutes Q&A)
  2. Downloadable outlines (allowing you to capture every detail)
  3. Each session is packed with actionable takeaways
  4. All sessions are downloadable to share with your team
  5. Password-protected site with additional supporting resources.
  6. 100% money back guarantee.  If you’re not completely satisfied…I’ll refund your money.
  7. Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  8. Questions?  Email Me for information.

When, Where and Other Details:

  • The first session is on Thursday, September 8th at 11:00 a.m. pacific.
  • Sessions 2 thru 4 are on September 15th, September 22nd and September 29th..
  • Regular pricing: $49.95
  • Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  • Questions?  Email Me for information.

Registration Options (pulldown)



What If Narrowing Your Focus Is THE Missing Piece?

narrow white noiseI’ve suggested MANY times that the most important ministry book you could read is Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. In fact, I’ve suggested it so many times that I’m actually disappointed in you if you haven’t read it multiple times. It is the best explanation for the way to do effective ministry. I really do believe that.

Which leads me to today’s post.

Have you ever wondered if there actually was a single most important missing piece to your strategy?

Think about this Andy Stanley line:

“Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.”

Is that phrase locked squarely in your mind?

Now think about this, what if you have everything right in your design except one thing? Could that one thing cause your results to still miss the mark? To keep you from achieving the win that you’ve clarified?

What do you think? Could getting everything right except one thing cause you to miss the mark?

Spoiler Alert: I believe your design only has to miss one thing in order to significantly alter your results.

That’s right. If your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing…only one element of the design needs to be off.

8 Key Design Elements to a Successful Church-Wide Campaign:

For example, if I were to list the major design elements to a successful church-wide campaign, the list would include the following:

  1. The topic (or specific study chosen).
  2. The timing of the weekend message series.
  3. Isolating a single message for each weekend in the weeks leading up to the campaign.
  4. The senior pastor’s involvement as champion in promoting the campaign.
  5. The message series that leads up to the campaign.
  6. A clear distinction between the host ask and the group member ask.
  7. Connecting every new group leader with a coach.
  8. Choosing the follow up study in advance and promoting it skillfully to new group leaders and members.

What if you only missed one design element?

I believe you only have to miss one design element to end up with significantly reduced results.

Choose the wrong topic, you’re toast because the topic determines who will say yes to hosting and who say yes to joining a groups.

Chose the wrong timing for the series and clearly your results will be different.

Choose the wrong person to champion the campaign (anyone other than the senior pastor) and your results wlll be significantly reduced.

Choose the wrong message series leading up to the campaign and your host and member asks will seem forced.

Fail to differentiate between the host ask and the member ask and you will severely compromise the number of hosts you recruit.

Fail to connect every new leader with a coach or fail to choose the right follow up series and you will sustain far fewer new groups.

Note: For most of my readers, especially those who have completed How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign, this is all old news.

Special Note: Fail to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective and the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

The Most Overlooked Design Element?

I believe the most overlooked design element is the failure to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective. When too many things, too many options, are being promoted at the same time, the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

When you attempt to promote more than one thing at a time, your people hear noise. They do not hear options. They hear noise.

If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you must narrow the focus to the single message you want them to hear. When you don’t do that, it is a design problem Your design problem.

P.S. If you haven’t read Seven Practices of Effective Ministry you can order it right here (and join the smart set).

Further Reading:

Image by Andrew Kimmel

How Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

fall leavesHow Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

Fall. I don’t know about you, but here in Las Vegas I’m looking forward to fall. Temperatures begin to cool off (we’ll soon have daytime temps under 100!) and the plans we’ve made for our fall ministry season will be in full swing!

If your church is like most churches, the fall ministry season is an important part of your annual strategy. As school begins and summer vacations come to an end there is often an attendance bump. In some communities the end of summer and the beginning of fall is accompanied by the largest number of new attendees as new residents begin to look for a church.

If your church is like my church, your fall ministry season hasn’t kicked off yet, but it’s just about to begin. Here at Canyon Ridge we’re one week in to a six week onramp to our fall groups launch.

We’re definitely close enough to the fall to see how it’s shaping up and make a few last minute tweaks to our strategy.

How Does Your Fall Ministry Season Look from Here?

Are you ready? Do your plans look like they’re going to produce?

Or do you think you might need a slight adjustment?

If you think you might need a little help or a few ideas that might help your fall ministry season, here are a few articles:

Can I help you?

I regularly coach churches on preparing for church-wide campaigns and growth initiatives. While I am sometimes available for an onsite consultation, I can also schedule a series of video conference calls to guide your team through the process.  Email Me for more information.

Image by Eren

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