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Add “Drucker and Me” to Your Reading List!

drucker and meIf you’ve benefitted as much from Peter Drucker as I have, you will love Bob Buford’s new book.  Drucker & Me: What a Texas Entrepreneur Learned from the Father of Modern Management is both a fascinating read and packed with insight.  I very nearly read it in one sitting, could not put it down, and immediately decided to read parts again.  So good!

Buford’s Drucker & Me tells the story of his improbable 23 year relationship with Peter Drucker and how the hard-driving CEO of an extraordinarily successful privately owned cable television company decided to devote the second half of his life to “transform the latent energy of American Christianity into active energy.”  The author of Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance and founder of the Leadership Network, Buford recounts this story in a way that grabs attention from the opening paragraphs and never lets go.

I especially liked the way the story of Buford’s meetings with Peter Drucker highlighted the learnings that shaped transitions in his career and sense of calling.  As much as I really enjoyed Buford’s reflections about his meetings with Peter Drucker (and if you are a Drucker fan you will love them), my copy is marked up, highlighted, and bookmarked.

Drucker & Me is a goldmine.  I’ll come back to it again and again.  I’m also confident that you’ll be hearing about what I learned!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Growing Up” Is a Must Add Discipleship Resource

growing upI’ve been working my way through a new book from Robby Gallaty this week.  You may not recognize the name, but you will definitely recognize the name of Robby’s mentor.  David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brookhills and author of Radical and Follow Me writes the forward and invited Gallaty, a new follower of Jesus, into a disciple-making relationship in 2003.

Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples is just what it claims to be.  A how-to manual that lays out a pathway and then escorts you along the pathway to being a disciple who makes disciples.  You may not agree with all of Robby’s conclusions or practices, but you can’t really argue with the effectiveness of the concept.  To grow from “a handful of people meeting in intentional D groups” in 2008 to the expectation of “more than 1000 people meeting in D groups” in 2014 is no small feat and a testament to both the conviction of the leader and the replication effectiveness of the system.

Gallaty, the senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church is is committed to making disciples who make disciples.  Growing Up is really the template or the roadmap that makes it happen.

The organization of Growing Up works for me.  The first three chapters make the case for the necessity and importance of making disciples.  Chapter four provides a roadmap for personal godliness.  And the remaining chapters provide a detailed look at the six disciplines core to the D group plan.  The six disciplines in Gallaty’s plan are:

  • COMMUNICATE: Knocking on Heaven’s Door
  • LEARN: Mining for Gold
  • OBEY: Follow the Leader
  • STORE: An Eternal Investment Strategy
  • EVANGELIZE: Show and Tell
  • RENEW: H.E.A.R.ing from God

There are several aspects that really help make Growing Up a great resource.  I love the layout of the chapters on the six disciplines.  Personal stories make every concept easy to understand.  An excellent set of self-diagnostic questions are easy to see using on a regular basis.  Every chapter also includes practical exercises that make the practice very transferable.

If you’re in the business of making disciples who make disciples, Growing Up is a book that needs to be on your radar.  You need to read David Platt’s warning from the foreword though.  ”Please don’t read this book.  Instead, do it.”  I have to agree with Platt.  This is that kind of book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Amazed and Confused: A Great New Book (and Study) by Heather Zempel

amazed and confusedI might as well get this out of the way.  You are going to want your own copy of Amazed and Confused.  In my experience, it really doesn’t matter what Heather Zempel is writing about or talking about…I want to read it again or hear it again.  That’s just always been my experience.  And this time is no exception.  Beyond that, you’re going to think of small groups that really need to do this study!

Heather Zempel is the discipleship pastor at National Community Church in Washington DC where she oversees small groups, directs leadership development training and serves on the weekend teaching team.  With a background that includes a masters degree in biological engineering and a stint as a policy consultant on energy and the environment in the United States Senate, her writing and teaching is always packed with incredibly memorable examples.

Amazed and Confused: When God’s Actions Collide with Our Expectations is a fascinating look at the Old Testament book of Habakkuk.  If you find it hard to believe that an exploration of Habakkuk could be fascinating, you are not alone.  One of the more minor minor prophets, I didn’t know a lot about him or his season as a prophet when I cracked open the book.  Now?  Amazed and Confused opened my eyes to some powerful truths about God.  I think more importantly, I discovered a story that the people in our small groups need to know.

An important aspect of Amazed and Confused is that every chapter ends with a great set of small group discussion questions.  Heather’s writing style is very engaging, so group members will find themselves pulled along.  And the questions are the sort that an experienced curriculum writer would design.  Very well done!

When I opened the book, I thought what I would enjoy most about the book was the way profound truths were unveiled, illustrated with classically memorable Zempel tales (there was a doozy involving a sinkhole).  What I ended up appreciating the most?  Without a doubt, what I appreciated the most was the sense that I had just heard the story of Habakkuk from someone who knew him cover to cover.

Whether you’re just looking for a book that will encourage you personally, or you’re on the lookout for a book study that your small groups would find helpful and engaging, I highly recommend Amazed and Confused.  I loved it and I think you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. In addition, I am a small group specialist for LifeWay. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know

church leadership essentialsDownloaded a great new book this week: Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know by Greg Atkinson.  More than a great read, this book is packed with ideas you are going to want to have in your toolbox.

I have to say, I love the way this book is put together!  34 short, extremely practical chapters.  This is the kind of book that will make a fantastic “read a chapter a week and then discuss” resource.  This may be because the author got his start as a blogger–a very good one.  His very readable style makes every chapter a breeze to read.

Another thing I love about Church Leadership Essentials is the fact that this is not theory.  Atkinson is a ministry veteran (two decades of experience) and no stranger to the need for practical, real-world  leadership.

It may be just me, but I also really enjoyed the present day, ripped from the headlines, feel of every illustration.  Some books feel stale and dated when they first come out.  Not this one!  Everything about it seemed very fresh and definitely up-to-date.

My favorite aspect of the book?  I found myself shaking my head in agreement and thinking about sharing it with my team for discussion.  If you lead a team, you’ll be thinking the exact same thing.  Church Leadership Essentials will make it easy for you to process with a team (paid or volunteers).  Even better, working through the content with your team will make them stronger.

If you’re looking for a resource that can help your team take things to a new level, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Church Leadership Essentials.  Packed with great insights; I know you are going to be glad you picked it up!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New from Chris Mavity: “Your Volunteers” Packs a Powerful Punch

your volunteersI tripped across a fantastic training resource over the weekend! Your Volunteers: From Come and See to Come and Serve is a short little book that packs a big impact.  Written by Chris Mavity, Executive Director of North Coast Training, Your Volunteers is a book you’re going to want to read right away and again and again.  More to the point…you’re going to be passing this on to your staff and key volunteers because this book is a game changer.

Your Volunteers is short–just 84 pages in the Kindle version–but it is packed with great ideas!  There are a number of aspects that I really love:

First of all, Chris Mavity is not a theorist.  The principles and practices outlined in Your Volunteers are time-tested and true.  They’re in evidence at North Coast (and many of the other churches that have been trained and have adopted them).

Second, the section on environment is golden.  Although it will strike you as a no-brainer, it will give you some language that will really help you cast vision, reframe expectations, and just in general envision a new way of thinking about the kind of environment that produces volunteers.

Third, the section on volunteer operations is really way beyond ordinary.  The way Chris fleshes out the five operational skills is very, very helpful.  The five skills are recruiting, training, placing, supporting, and monitoring and I’m willing to bet that your copy will be just as marked up and highlighted as mine.

Finally, I really love the chapter-ending set of key ideas and discussion questions.  You’ll begin imagining the and planning the good conversations and clear next steps that your team is going to take from the moment you finish chapter one (on valuing your volunteers).  Seriously, seriously good stuff and very helpful.

I loved Your Volunteers!  Can’t wait to get it in the hands of my team…and I know you’ll feel the same way.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New Must-Read from Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer: Transformational Groups

transformational groupsI’ve been working my way through an important new book from Eric Geiger and Ed Stetzer this week.  Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups is the latest project in the transformational series (Transformational Church and Transformational Discipleship).  All three have been researched based and packed with insights that ought to be on your radar.

Whether you’re new to groups ministry or you’re a seasoned veteran, you’re going to want to digest the information and ideas in Transformational Groups.  And regardless of the system you use or whether your groups are off-campus or on-campus, I think you’ll find the content very helpful as you think about both the need for groups and also the obstacles that might be preventing your church from both connecting unconnected people and genuinely making disciples.

I was captured by several insights just in the first couple chapters; things I had wondered about and dismissed as outside of what I could know for sure.  The research that went into the development of this project definitely helped me come to a couple important new convictions.

My copy is pretty marked up after just one pass through the content.  In addition to many spot on research insights, I came across a number of ideas that will make it into my thinking for upcoming discussions on our groups team.  One idea in particular that I grabbed in the first few pages is that “the study what you want approach is irresponsible unless there is clear training that equips leaders for wise choices (p. 8).”  I’ve developed many “recommended study lists” but I’ve never taken the time to develop either intentional training for leaders on wisely choosing what’s next or an intentional menu that guides new groups through a core curriculum.  Great insight.  I’ll be moving on this one quickly.

There are several things to love about Transformational Groups.  First, it is research based; the result of multiple research projects over several years.  That’s important because the contribution Geiger and Stetzer make is not based on opinion or theory.

Second, I love the fact that while neither of the authors are currently in full-time local church ministry, they are grouplife advocates.  They are both “intimately involved in small group-life because we know that groups matter.”  And that’s important because they’re looking at the research through the lens of a practitioner, not theorists.

Third, Transformational Groups is much more than statistics and numbers.  Geiger and Stetzer do a very good job of unpacking their findings, making many important understandings very accessible.  Like me, I bet you’ll come away with many new insights that will begin to shape a number of important ahas about why things are the way they are.

This is an important book.  If you are looking for practical help and powerful insights that will help you and your team advance the cause of connecting unconnected people and making disciples, you won’t want to miss Transformational Groups.  I highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Reading List for Christmas, 2013

Every year I create a list of books I think you should read.  Sometimes the books I include are very purely about small group ministry, discipleship or spiritual formation.  Other times, the books I include may seem pretty far afield (innovation, design, leadership, or strategy).  You’ll just have to trust me.  I wouldn’t include a book I didn’t think would be added to your toolbox and contribute in a trajectory-altering way.

That said…here is this my 2013 Christmas Reading List:

innovations dirty little secretInnovation’s Dirty Little Secret by Larry Osborne

Very readable, this is my kind of book.  Packed with insights from the lead pastor of one of the most innovative churches in America, your copy will no doubt be as marked up, highlighted, and full of notes as mine.  If I could’ve figured out how to easily tweet more of the great lines, I would’ve been marked a spammer for sure!

Extremely practical, I found myself firing off emails to team members on my own staff with discussions we need to have and issues we need to tackle.  I loved the way just about every chapter could be the source for a great staff discussion.  With the right plan, any team could come away with plenty of actionable takeaways.

I don’t think I can write a strong enough recommendation for Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret.  What I can do is tell you that if you’re not reading this book, and actually if your team isn’t reading this book, you only have yourself to blame!  This is a great handbook for innovation and change.  I highly, highly recommend it!

You can read my review right here.

STIR

STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships by Mindy Caliguire

STIR takes what I’d call a very fresh approach to spiritual formation and comes at this topic in a way that should catch the attention of small group ministry champions.  I cracked open the book because I’ve found Mindy’s earlier contributions very helpful.  I caught myself about 25 pages in thinking, “Wait…what? and started over from the introduction!  Too good.  Packed with very helpful ideas!

Drawing from the findings of Willow Creek’s Reveal study, STIR employs a framework based on the three “believer” stages in the research; the “primary shifts that mark the transition from one stage to another.”  Taking a cue from Reveal, STIR refers to these three stages as learning together, journeying together, and following together.

You can read my review right here.

innovating discipleshipInnovating Discipleship by Will Mancini

A slim book, Innovating Discipleship is just 85 pages (when you include the appendix).  At the same time, any one of several killer concepts is worth way more than the price of this book.  If you read with an eye for game-changing insight…you’ll have no trouble uncovering a set of new questions and new insights that will spur new conversations for a long time.

In the opening pages of the book, Mancini unveils an intriguing formula: 1 + 2 + 4 + 16.  Here’s what it means: one whiteboard drawing defined by two vision decisions reals fourpaths to the future that provide sixteen super questions for limitless ministry innovation.  He has a passion for tool-making.  Innovating Discipleship is a great tool!

You can read my review right here.

influencerInfluencer by Joseph Grenny

I don’t know if you caught Joseph Grenny’s session at Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit…but his book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change ought to move straight to the top of your reading list.

Like me, you probably have a non-stop desire to figure out even better ways to influence people to get connected, to step into leadership, to become a disciple and to disciple others.  What if the learnings of this team of social scientists could help me do that?

Influencer consists of two parts.  The first part of the book focuses on the three keys that all successful influencers adhere to and that we can use for our benefit.  The second part of the book focuses on the six sources of influence.  Packed with real life examples and full of very practical application, Influencer is both an easy read and a book that is going to end up having a huge impact on the design of our strategies.

You can read my review right here.

creative confidenceCreative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley

Working my way through a great new book by Tom and David Kelley.  Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All is the latest from Tom Kelley (partner at IDEO and author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation) and David Kelley (founder of IDEO)…and it is packed with a ton of great takeaways!

Like Tom Kelley’s previous work, Creative Confidence is really a string of very compelling stories that illustrate his points and enough killer ideas to leave my copy pretty marked up, highlighted and starred.  There is some crossover between Ten Faces and Creative Confidence, but I think that’s to be expected in a book that references some of the innovative techniques and practices found in the earlier book.  Rather than finding it repetitive, I found it reinforcing and eye-opening.

You can pick up your copy right here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss Starting Small: A New Book from Ben Reed

starting smallHad a chance to preview Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint, a new book from my friend Ben Reed.  Ben is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN area.

I call Ben a whippersnapper because for someone his age to know what he knows and have the insights he has is pretty remarkable.  I wanted you to hear a little bit about why he wrote Starting Small and why you ought to buy it.

What motivated you to write Starting Small?

I realized that the problems we were facing in the ministry I led were the same ones that I was having conversations about with so many other groups folks from around the country who were wanting to start a groups ministry, or take their current one to the next level. The book was an overflow of the conversations I’ve been having for the past 6 years.

Who did you write it for?  Who do you see really benefitting from the book?

The primary audience for my book is the person who wants to help his/her small group grow, and help people take steps of faith. I think small group leaders, small group pastors, lead pastors, education directors, and small group coaches would benefit from it.

But it would also be a resource that a potential leader/apprentice could read and (hopefully) find helpful.

As an aging whippersnapper, can you give us a preview of a couple key lessons you’ve learned that will really benefit the readers of Starting Small?

One thing that I believe a lot of small group guys miss is what I call “partying monthly.” We have rhythms in so many other areas of life. At work. At home. With our hobbies. With our free time. Rhythms are the result of well-worn disciplines.

So I like to help groups start off developing a rhythm that promotes growth.

We gather weekly and party monthly.

Because, well, for one, Jesus followers tend to be pretty boring people. Which is not reflective of the beautiful God we serve! I love what the Psalmist says:

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us;

we are glad. – Psalm 126:2-3

When our mouths are filled with laughter, others are convinced that God has done great things among us. And the flip-side must also be true. If our mouths aren’t filled with laughter, people become convinced that the God we serve isn’t good. That he doesn’t take delight in loving is people. That the God we proclaim as King is ultimately boring, and eternity will be a dull, lifeless “existence.” That’s not the story I want to tell.

So “partying monthly” is a vital rhythm of small group life.

I’d also say that one thing I’ve found most helpful is strategic “start” times, instead of a constant drip of starting new groups. We launch groups around strategic times through the year, and that’s been a huge win for us.

Thanks Ben!  I’m excited for you and for all the small group leaders that are helped by your wisdom and insight!

Want to add a copy to your personal library?  You can purchase a copy right here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Latest from Jerry Bridges: True Community

true communityDownloaded True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia yesterday, the newest book from Jerry Bridges.  If you know that name, it may be that you’ve got a 35 year old copy of The Pursuit of Holiness on your bookshelf too!  Bridges is a longtime staff member of The Navigators and has written 10 books, speaks internationally, and serves with their collegiate ministry.

I bought the book because of my pursuit of a better grasp of community.  True Community was written, in part, to answer the questions: “What is biblical community?  And is there biblical basis for using the word community in our Christian context?”

At 176 pages, it’s a short read.  I haven’t finished the book, but I definitely like where it’s going!  Bridges notes in the opening pages that the first mention of koinonia (the Greek word from which we get fellowship) appears in Acts 2:42 and that fellowship is included along with teaching and prayer.  He goes on to observe that it would seem strange to include fellowship “if it meant no more than Christian social activity.”

From the opening pages, True Community is presented in a way that is both easy to read and digest.  In each of the first few chapters I found myself thinking that this is going to be something that will shape our ministry conversations in the coming days.  We’re always looking for material that will equip our small group coaches and leaders.  This book definitely will be one that ends up on our pathway for leadership development.

There is a lot to love about True Community.  Deeply biblical, Bridges has skillfully referenced scriptures that enhance understanding and will help you see community in a new light.  Packed with great quotes from other works on the topic, your copy will no doubt receive a thorough marking and highlighting.  I found myself imagining the talks I’ll be developing in the coming year to help my team grasp this important concept.

In addition, a helpful set of discussion questions is included at the end of each chapter, making True Community an excellent resource for small group study.  Whether it’s used by coaching huddles or individual groups looking for a topical study, the included questions go a long way toward making this an excellent choice.

If you’re on the hunt for a better understanding of community, I highly recommend True Community.  I’m already challenged and strengthened in my pursuit, and I’m sure you will be too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss the Latest from Will Mancini: Innovating Discipleship

innovating discipleshipHad a chance to work my way through a new book by Will Mancini.  Innovating Discipleship: Four Paths to Real Discipleship Results is a quick read only if you’re in a hurry and not really paying attention.  Mancini, the author of Church Unique and the founder of Auxano is on to a very important idea with Innovating Discipleship.  In fact, I’d say you should only read it if you’re serious about your mission.

A slim book, Innovating Discipleship is just 85 pages (when you include the appendix).  At the same time, any one of several killer concepts is worth way more than the price of this book.  If you read with an eye for game-changing insight…you’ll have no trouble uncovering a set of new questions and new insights that will spur new conversations for a long time.

In the opening pages of the book, Mancini unveils an intriguing formula: 1 + 2 + 4 + 16.  Here’s what it means: one whiteboard drawing defined by two vision decisions reals four paths to the future that provide sixteen super questions for limitless ministry innovation.  He has a passion for tool-making.  Innovating Discipleship is a great tool!

I am always on the lookout for great ways to diagnose or dissect ministry issues and challenges.  I read broadly and continually.  I scour and sift to find new and better ways of thinking about strategies and solutions.  Church Unique had such an impact on my vantage point, that when I saw the first mentions of Innovating Discipleship I knew I had to see it.  I was not disappointed!  This is great stuff.

My copy is a little bit of a mess.  Underlined.  Starred.  Dog-eared with a broken spine.  My copy looks like I’ve had it much longer than I have.  Packed with keen insights, if you’re looking for the truth about your current situation and more importantly, what and where your next steps could be…I highly recommend that you pick up your own copy of Innovating Discipleship.  You’ll be very glad you did!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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