Friday’s List | February 24

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

The 46 Rules of Genius by Brian K. Dodd. First of all, be sure you’re subscribed to Brian’s blog. He regularly posts some very good stuff and his weekly top 10 Leadership posts refers to lots of great writing.

The Rise of the Monk Mode Morning by Cal Newport on the Study Hacks blog. Great article and great blog. Well worth subscribing.

An Rare Interview with Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling over on Phil Cooke’s blog. I loved the Twilight Zone and this interview with Rod Serling was recorded  before his enormous success.

3 Facts to Wrestle If You Want to Grow as a Leader by Tony Morgan. I’ve always thought Tony’s writing and strategic leanings were strong. There’s a couple ideas in this post that are very, very good.

How to Handle Interruptions by Dan Reiland. When I grow up, I want to be like Dan Reiland.

5 Unfair Criticisms People Levy At Strategic Church Leaders by Carey Nieuwhof. As usual…so good!

Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. Technically…I’m re-reading this book. Very strong and helpful. You can read my review right here.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

David Allen on Getting Strategic with Personal Productivity on the Entreleadership Podcast. An excellent interview and a number of good insights into productivity.

Tim Ferris on Making the Most of Our Lives  on the EntreLeadership Podcast. Super interview. Great stuff.

Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track – and Keeping It There by Les McKeown. I’m testing out Audible for absorbing an additional book every month.

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“What would have to be true for that approach to work?” Roger Martin.

App I’m using:

I’m committed this year to increasing my effectiveness. Nozbe is a leading productivity app. First heard about it from Michael Hyatt. It’s already making a big difference.

My own post I hope you’re reading:

Is Point of View Hiding the Answer to Your Problem?  So often, we’re working under some false assumptions. This post is about the power of new perspective; new point of view.

Just added Mike Foster to GroupLife Southwest ’17!

That’s right! We’ve just added Mike Foster, author, speaker and founder of The People of the Second Chance to our program! His work has been very well received over the last several years (Freeway, Wonderlife, his new book People of the Second Chance).

Also, we rolled back prices to $124.95, but it’s only good til midnight Monday, February 20th. Hope you don’t miss a great price on the best small group ministry conference this year.

FAQ: What Is the Best Way to Connect Member Sign-Ups with Leaders?

FAQ: What Is the Best Way to Connect Member Sign-Ups with Leaders?

I get questions. I get a LOT of questions. Sometimes they come directly to me via email or a comment here on the blog. Other times they come to me via a Facebook post or some other indirect route.

Here’s a question that was asked over on the Small Group Network Facebook page:

“Question, we just launched groups at our campus with a huge turn out. We received 80 (who want to lead a group) and over 230 people who want to join a group. How do you recommend that I reach out to them?”

Here’s how I answered the question in a Facebook Live video yesterday:

First, if you had a flux capacitor and could go back in time

First, if you had a flux capacitor and could go back in time, you should change the way you’ve taken sign-ups for your small group launch (see below for what to do if you don’t have a flux capacitor).

When taking sign-ups you probably want to let two principles guide you:

The only way anyone can sign up to lead a group is if they are committed to filling their own group. This is right at the heart of Saddleback’s HOST strategy. It is also core to the “if you’d like to do the study with a couple friends” strategy. See also, HOST: What Does It Mean? and Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

Why is this important? Two important reasons: (a) You should only place members with leaders you have carefully vetted and (b) the best leaders can easily fill their own group. “I’d like to lead a group. Can you supply the members?” is an indication they are probably not the best candidate to lead.

When you take sign-ups to join a group it should always be a sign-up to attend a connecting event. Whether you are holding a Saddleback style small group connection, a GroupLink event (a la North Point), or a small group fair (common with the semester model), you definitely want to resist any suggestion that you will be matching sign-ups with a leader. See also, Distinctives of Three Types of Connecting Events.

Why is this important? When you take sign-ups to attend a connecting event (instead of sign-ups to be placed in a group), you avoid several things:

  • Spending valuable time matchmaking (finding just the right group for every member) when you should be doing other things (i.e., recruiting and developing coaches, developing small group leaders, working with your senior pastor to help them champion small group ministry, etc.).
  • Discouraging eager small group leaders when they attempt to invite the sign-ups you’ve given them (only to discover that they aren’t interested after all or don’t return the leader’s call).
  • Discouraging eager small group sign-ups when the assigned leader doesn’t follow through or match up with their expectations.

Second, here’s what I would suggest you do if you can’t go back in time and do things differently:

  1. Invite the 80 who have signed up to lead a group to a “leader briefing.” At the leader briefing teach them how to fill their own group. You might use a handout like this to train them: Skill Training: Top 10 Ways to Help Leaders Find New Members for Their Group. In addition, you should supply them with what they need to get a group started (i.e., simple invite cards that can be filled out with contact info, handouts like The ABCs of a Great Start for Your Group, etc.). See also, How We Help a HOST Get Off to a Great Start.
  2. Invite the 230 to attend a small group connection. See also, How to Launch New Groups with a Small Group Connection.

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

TestingI test things.

I test new small group strategies. I test new ways to appeal to unconnected people. I test new ways to identify potential group leaders and coaches. I test new ways to communicate with leaders.

I test things.

And I hope you do too!

Right now I am testing the potential of Facebook Live. The relatively new service from Facebook allows users to livestream video right from their phone’s camera. The video can be seen live, as it is recorded, and is also captured for viewing later.

Imagine the potential.

When I began looking into it I wondered immediately about its potential as a way of communicating with small group leaders and coaches. Then I thought about using it at our next life group connection as a way of sharing the excitement and buzz that always accompanies the first few minutes of a connection.

Can you see the potential?

Have you tried it? Tested it out?

Will you test it with me?

Why not try it out with me today? I’ll be testing it at 9:15 a.m. (PST).

A special incentive to test it

I’m even offering an incentive to test it out! Whether you’re able to join me live or watch the recorded video later TODAY you’ll hear about something special I’ve put together just for participants.

How to take part in the test

In order to be part of today’s test you need to “Like” and “Follow” my new Facebook Page. You can see in the image below where to do that on Facebook. You can do that by clicking right here.

I hope you’ll try it with me today!

I really hope you’ll check it out. Whether you’re able to join me live or you watch the recorded video later, I think you’ll see the potential to use Facebook Live in your own ministry.

And…if you see the video today you’ll get in on a nice incentive.

Image by Jonas Tana

Is Point of View Hiding the Answer to Your Problem?

Is Point of View Hiding the Answer to Your Problem?

One of my favorite quotes, so packed with insight, is that “perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”  Coined by the brilliant Alan Kay, this quote reminds us that identifying the best answer to a problem is directly related to perspective or point-of-view.

I like to say, don’t be surprised that you never see a better way of doing something if you never walk around and look at it from another angle.

When I’m on a consulting engagement, I frequently act out looking at something from another angle by physically walking around something and pointing out how different it looks from another angle.

Perspective, or point of view, is worth 80 IQ points.

This is why I often caution against simply adopting wholesale the small group ministry solutions of another, even a very successful small group ministry.

You must keep in mind that the success you observe from afar is based on circumstances and realities that aren’t true where you are.

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”  What insurmountable challenge would become a thing of the past if you only changed your perspective?

Further Reading:

10 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Ministry Strategy

10 Ideas that Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry

Supercharge Your Ministry Impact with These 5 Questions

5 Questions You Should Be Asking When Choosing a Small Group Model

6 Questions We Should All Be Asking

Image by Bored Now

Hey there, Friend, I could use your help today

First, good morning!  Or good afternoon or goodnight…depending on where in the world you are reading this email!

I could use your help today! I’m testing a couple ideas and need some feedback. Also, don’t miss a GREAT price on GroupLife Southwest ’17 registrations below!

First, I wanted to let you know I’ll be testing Facebook Live this week. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but Facebook Live’s technology allows you to easily broadcast livestream video right from your phone or computer.

I’m planning on testing Facebook Live on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. (PST). I’m going to spend a few minutes teaching on Maximizing a Church-Wide Campaign (This Fall) and then opening it up for Q&A (the way Facebook Live works makes it easy for you to ask questions).

To participate you’ll need to do 2 things:

Be sure and Like and Follow my new Facebook Page. Here’s a link to the page. Also, in the screen shot below, you can see where the Like and Follow buttons are on a Facebook page.

The other thing you might want to do is be thinking about a question you’d want to ask!

Second, I’m testing a new blog format this week. I like it…but it has a bug or two I’m working on today.

Could you play around a little with it and see what you think? I could use some feedback.

Just added Mike Foster to GroupLife Southwest ’17!

That’s right! We’ve just added Mike Foster, author, speaker and founder of The People of the Second Chance to the program at GroupLife Southwest ’17! His work has been very well received over the last several years (Freeway, Wonderlife, his new book People of the Second Chance).

Also, we rolled back prices to $124.95, but it’s only good til midnight Tuesday, February 21st (you’ll need to register with the code: 6WEEKS to get the price).

Hope you don’t miss a great price on the best small group ministry conference this year.

 

Friday’s List | February 17

fridays-listEvery Friday I post a short list of the things I’m reading, listening to, loving and wrestling with:

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

10 MAJOR CHURCH TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT by Thom Rainer (via Outreach Magazine).

7 Ways to Help Your Team Believe They Belong by Gavin Adams of TonyMorganLive.

7 Questions That Can Help You Crush A Plateau And Gain Momentum by Carey Nieuwhof. Very, very thought-provoking.

The 3-Point Process for Leadership Development by Dan Reiland. This simple plan may finally be the thing that gets me started with a leadership development group.

The Best Long Term Strategy for Church Growth by Dan Reiland. Another excellent take by Dan, this one on the importance of growing your people (which results in growing your church). Love it!

Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World by James Emery White. Listen…if you haven’t picked this one up yet, please don’t wait. Very, very important stuff.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Andy Stanley on the Life After God Podcast Rabbit Trail Alert: The Life After God podcast was mentioned in an Andy Stanley interview I mentioned last week. But…this podcast episode and really the podcast itself is very interesting and helpful if you’re trying to empathize with and understand unchurched people.

7 Types of Facebook Live Videos that Grow Your Audience, Build Your Brand and Make Money Facebook Live has tremendous potential for many of us. And while there is definitely potential for bloggers (like me), there is also great potential for training and encouraging leaders and coaches, etc.

 

Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track – and Keeping It There by Les McKeown. I’m testing out Audible for absorbing an additional book every month.

Quote I’m wrestling with:

“Imagine a world where people were skeptical of what we believed, but envious of how well we treated one another, and shocked at how well we treated them! ” Andy Stanley

App I’m using:

I’m committed this year to increasing my effectiveness. Nozbe is a leading productivity app. First heard about it from Michael Hyatt. It’s already making a big difference.

My own post I hope you’re reading:

5 Major Trends for Small Group Ministry in 2017 Although I don’t post a trend update every year, I do when I believe there are some significant developments that all of us should be aware of.

Just added Mike Foster to GroupLife Southwest ’17!

That’s right! We’ve just added Mike Foster, author, speaker and founder of The People of the Second Chance to our program! His work has been very well received over the last several years (Freeway, Wonderlife, his new book People of the Second Chance).

Also, we rolled back prices to $124.95, but it’s only good til midnight Monday, February 20th. Hope you don’t miss a great price on the best small group ministry conference this year.

 

 

A New Strategy We’re Testing

testingA New Strategy We’re Testing

We’re testing a new strategy at Canyon Ridge I thought you might want to know about.

Here’s the basic concept

The basic concept of the strategy is based on this question*:

Since our weekend message series are conceived and developed to move our congregation in a certain direction, could we identify (or create) next steps that can more naturally be promoted as the best next step (based on the content of our weekend message series)?

See where this is going?

When you think about your church’s normal plateful of events, programs, and activities and the tremendous pressure applied by every ministry owner and their constituents to promote their events, programs and activities from the stage…

I think you see where this is going. Right?

Forget the push from every ministry, program, event, and activity to promote their thing.

Sometimes it’s difficult to promote strategically important next steps naturally in the sermon or even in the announcements when what you’re promoting seems to come from left field. For instance, when you’d like to take advantage of your senior pastor’s influence by having him mention the upcoming small group connection in his message…but his message is on having an impact in the world.

Now…honestly, there is a little chicken and the egg going on here, but I think you see where I’m going.

An example of the new strategy at work:

Remember, the essence of the new strategy is to identify (or create) next steps that can more naturally be promoted as the best next step (based on the content of our weekend message series).

Two tracks to look at:

On the weekend message series track: Our current message series is called Margin and the four messages will unpack the need for financial, calendar, and relational margin. We began 2017 with a series called Impact: Be One. Have One. Our teaching team felt it made sense for the following series to be on having enough margin to include the most important things in life (that often get crowded out by a lack of financial, relational, or calendar margin).

On the providing the best next step track: At the same time, our Groups team hoped to promote a short-term on-campus strategy (that leads to off-campus groups) in order to connect unconnected people. We had planned to offer three options: Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Authentic Manhood, and Comparison Trap (for women), promote them via announcements, sermon mentions, website content and church-wide emails and generate sign-ups with a bulletin insert. We’ve done this for three years running and it’s been reasonably effective. You can find out more about this strategy right here.

Where the new idea comes in: In order to take advantage of the natural momentum of the current message series on margin, we’re highlighting a short-term on-campus study called Simplify by Bill Hybels. We’re mentioning Simplify in both our weekend messages themselves and the announcements because it is a natural next step that can be promoted out of the margin series. The original three options (i.e., Laugh Your Way, etc.) will be promoted on the back side of the bulletin insert.

Can you see it? I’ll keep you posted as we test the new idea. It feels like a good step to me.

*Note: We are always asking questions about what we’ve just finished doing, currently doing or thinking about doing next. See the further reading for some of the best questions we ask.

What do you think?  Have a question?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Further Reading:

Image by Shaun Fisher

GroupLife Southwest ’17 is 6 Weeks Away! (Don’t miss THIS price)

 

GroupLife Southwest ’17 is 6 Weeks Away!

Just Added: Mike Foster!

You may be getting tired of hearing about it. If you are…please forgive me. I just can’t let this learning opportunity and experience slip past without doing everything in my power to encourage you, persuade you, and even twist your arm a little bit to join us here in Las Vegas for GroupLife Southwest ’17.

Persuasion Alert: Take advantage of a discount code for an even better price.

What’s an EVEN BETTER price? How about $124.95? If you think that’s a good price, you can register today by entering the code: 6WEEKS (I’m only offering this price until midnight on Monday, February 20th).

Why should you come? What’s so important and so compelling about this small group ministry conference?

Reasons you should come to this conference:

Reason #1: The speaker line-up is the best at any small group ministry conference this year.

I can say that, because I’ve seen the other lineups.

Here is the lineup for GroupLife Southwest ’17:

  • Mike Foster from People of the Second Chance. Mike is a speaker, author and founder of People of the Second Chance. His latest resource, Rescue Academy, has tremendous potential to be used in leader and coach training.  He’s also published two of the most creative video-driven studies (Freeway and Wonderlife) along with his newest book, People of the Second Chance.
  • Bill Willits from North Point. Bill has been at North Point since their beginning and has been the point person for the small group ministry that has connected over 72,000! His insights alone will be worth the price of the conference.
  • Tim Cooper from North Point. You may not know Tim, but I can tell you his breakout at re:group 2016, Community for Everyone, was truly inspiring and incredibly challenging. I personally came away from his breakouts with a number of game-changing insights.
  • Chris Surratt from LifeWay. You probably recognize Chris’s name, but you may not remember his role as the Small Group Pastor for Cross Point Church (and prior to that Seacoast Community Church) and the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us (packed with the great insights that only come from a seasoned practitioner accustomed to figuring out how to connect the people you aren’t already connecting and actually make disciples).
  • Mindy Caliguire from SoulCare. Mindy Caliguire is the founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase “soul health” in the body of Christ.
  • Dave Enns from North Coast. Again, you may not recognize Dave’s name, but you probably recognize North Coast Church. Well known for their sticky church small group strategy and philosophy, they have consistently connected over 80% of their weekend adult worship attendance in small groups. And they’ve been doing it for years while they’ve become one of the largest churches in the country.
  • Hugh Halter from Forge America. Hugh is not a household name…unless you want to connect unchurched friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. I’ve heard him a number of times at conferences like Exponential. His latest book Happy Hour is packed with insights. When I was assembling the lineup, he was the first person I contacted. If you want to be effective in the 21st century, you need to be paying attention to Hugh.
  • Todd Engstrom from Austin Stone. Several years ago The Austin Stone Community Church began a transition from an ordinary, business-as-usual small group ministry (that primarily existed for insiders) to a missional community strategy, intent on becoming a force that would impact Austin. Their journey is a great story and their transition is full of lessons learned.
  • Me. In addition to hosting the conference, I’m planning to present two breakouts that I think you’ll find very helpful. In addition, I’m cooking up a special breakout for Monday night that will be a live demonstration of how a small group connection works.

Reason #2: The conference format gives you the best opportunity to learn and rub shoulders with your peers from around the country.

Sure, you can listen to podcasts, read books and blogs, and participate in a local huddle…all without leaving the comforts and confines of your office or conference room. But in order to truly benefit from the upside of cross-pollination, you need to spend time with a cross section of leaders and thinkers from other disciplines, from other models and systems.

Reason #3: Registration is such a great value! Compare with any other conference this year.

Seriously…GroupLife Southwest ’17 is priced so you can bring your team! (And by the way, many churches are bringing their team). This is a tremendous advantage when it comes to taking in the content of over 20 breakouts!

I don’t want YOU to miss this conference! And I want you to bring your team!

That’s why I’m offering a really good sale on registration.

What’s a REALLY good sale? How about $124.95? If you think that’s a good price, you can register today by entering the code: 6WEEKS (I’m only offering this price until midnight on Monday, February 20th).

Reason #4: Travel to Las Vegas is cheap (or at least affordable) from almost everywhere!

Sure, if you’re coming from Jakarta (I know you’re out there Alvi Radjagukguk) you may not have it in your budget this year. But almost everywhere else…flights and hotels are very reasonable. Want to stay on The Strip (where you can come early or stay over and catch a show and enjoy a great dinner at Emeril’s Fish House or Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill or Giada’s or Mario Batali’s, etc.) you can always find a deal.

Would you rather stay out near the conference (we’re holding GroupLife Southwest ’17 at Canyon Ridge, about 25 minutes north of The Strip and McCarran International Airport)? You can find a list of nearby hotels right here.

Reason #5: Las Vegas weather in March is legendary.

Seriously, unless you live in San Diego, our weather in March is probably better.

Still not convinced GroupLife Southwest ’17 is for you?

Here’s a link to the conference website for more information.

Don’t miss out on this conference (and especially at this price)! $124.95? If you think that’s a good price, you can register today by entering the code: 6WEEKS (I’m only offering this price until midnight on Monday, February 20th).

5 Major Trends for Small Group Ministries in 2017

5 Major Trends for Small Group Ministries in 20175 Major Trends for Small Group Ministries in 2017

“What do you see trending in small group ministry?” Might be one my most frequently asked questions. Probably because everyone wants to be in on what’s working and no one wants to be left out, still driving their daddy’s model.

So what’s trending? Here’s what I’m seeing:

A more intentional discipleship pathway

A more intentional discipleship pathway. What at least for a season took a backseat to simply connecting people in groups (and providing a Bible study in an attempt to keep spiritual growth on the rails), is more and more in the front seat. While there are still many churches offering discipleship as a stand-alone option, a growing number are reimagining and redesigning a groups’ beginning and its pathway going forward (think Rooted, developed by Mariners Church).

A number of important ministry voices have weighed in on the need for more intentionality (including Rick Howerton, Eric Geiger, Ed Stetzer, David Platt, Robbie Gallaty, and others).

A subset of this trend may be a guided curriculum pathway. Encouraged by Eric Geiger and others, more intentionality is being designed-into the study selections offered or recommended to small groups and small group leaders.

A more organic beginning

A more organic beginning. While the majority of churches continue to offer regular onramps to small group participation (church-wide campaigns, small group connections, GroupLink, semester-based groups, etc.), a growing number are leveraging a more organic method of encouraging small group participation and engagement.

While for many churches this more organic approach is primarily leveraged during the ramp-up for a church-wide campaign (i.e., Saddleback’s HOST strategy and their more recent iteration, the “if you’ve got a couple friends” strategy), a growing number are inserting the language of more organic connection into their regular communication (bulletins, announcements, sermons, website, etc.).

Three is enough

Three is enough. While it can be a part of a more organic approach, there is also a growing acceptance of the smaller is better concept. Perhaps a combination of the triad arrangement emphasized in many intentional discipleship strategies and a more organic beginning being encouraged, smaller is at least more accepted and frequently commonplace.

As an example of this trend, note Saddleback’s website description of a group:

“A small group is a group of three or more people who gather each week in a home, workplace, or online. In a group you’ll hang out, study the Word, and pray together.”

Note: Most website descriptions still refer to a small group as “8 to 12 people…”

A heart for the community (and sometimes the crowd)

A heart for the community (and sometimes the crowd). Reimagining and reengineering small groups to begin and grow in the neighborhood (as opposed to beginning and remaining safe-houses that enable small group interaction away from the fortress), is trending on many fronts. What began idealistically with missional community identification of third place meeting spaces and the development of open house strategies to create and build community in communities, has become an increasingly ordinary ministry philosophy.

While cross-cultural small group studies and church-wide campaigns are being developed and implemented with growing effectiveness, an emerging emphasis being encouraged is simply to learn to be neighborly.

Serving together is built in

Serving together is built in. Integrating serving opportunities into the ordinary fabric of small group experience is increasingly the norm. Once something only rumored to be happening in exceptional small group ministries is more and more commonly an expectation that is encouraged and resourced.

Serving together as an ordinary part of the small group experience is being resourced in a number of ways. Embedding the concept in the fabric of group launching strategies (like Mariners Church’s Rooted) is growing in practice. Establishing a budget that encourages small group engagement with local mission opportunities (as Life.Church has done) and promoting small group engagement with mission trips (as Saddleback’s P.E.A.C.E. project has done) are two more examples of intentionality. Simply providing a printed list or web-access to local partner organizations with serving opportunities is also increasingly common (see Forest Hill Church’s example).