Must-Read: Add 4 Chair Discipling to Your Disciple-Making Resource List

I spent some time this week with 4 Chair Discipling: Growing a Movement of Disciple-Makers by Dann Spader. Published in 2014, this one began hitting my radar a couple years ago, but is just now making it onto my reading stack (one of the books on my 2017 Summer Reading List).

Dann Spader is the founder of Sonlife Ministries, a training organization that trains, coaches and mentors leaders, providing a fresh encounter with Jesus as our model for making and multiplying disciples. Spader is currently serving as a training consultant for Southeast Christian Church in Louisville KY, helping them develop their disciple-making strategy.

4 Chair Discipling looks at the life of Christ through the lens of a new person who wants to become a Christ-follower (p. 143).” I really like the way Spader looks carefully at the sequential steps Jesus took with his closest followers. So helpful, a chronological examination is eye-opening in terms of understanding Jesus’ model.

The essence of Jesus’ model or strategy is outlined in “four challenges He posed to His followers: ‘come and see’ (John 1:39), ‘follow me’ (John 1:43), ‘follow me and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:39), and ‘go and bear much fruit’ (John 15:16) (p. 13).”

Spader provides a very readable examination of Jesus’ model. I’d probably call it a page-turner if it weren’t also packed with insights that demand reflection. My copy is marked and highlighted extensively (so I can circle back and think more about these implications and applications).

Well-organized, 4 Chair Discipling offers a very clear example (and numerous personal illustrations) of how Jesus’ model can be applied in the 21st century. Like me, I think you’ll come away with a number of unforgettable insights.

The book also includes two important chapters on the sticking points and barriers between “chairs.” Further, the appendices provide a helpful overview of how to build a disciple-making ministry.

If you’re looking for a fresh understanding of how to make disciples the way Jesus did, 4 Chair Discipling is a must-read. 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 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.”

Don’t Miss The Disciple Maker’s Handbook! A Great Addition

Worked my way through a new book by Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick. The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: Seven Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle is Harrington’s latest contribution to the relational disciple-making conversation.

Harrington is the lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church in Franklin, TN, and also the founder of Discipleship.org (along with Todd Wilson of Exponential).

Although I found The Disciple Maker’s Handbook to be easy to read, there were many sections that I re-read to make sure I took in everything intended. My copy is pretty marked up, as there is a lot here that will come in handy again and again.

A brief introduction sets up part one of the book which makes a compelling case for disciple making as the priority of the Church. The aim of the book “is to help you understand what Jesus did and how he did it–and how you can emulate his commitment to reach people and make disciples (p. 13).”

“The Disciple Maker’s Handbook includes some key tools:

  • A simple, clear picture of what it means to be a disciple and make disciples
  • A practical model for disciple making that you could use right away
  • The seven elements of disciple making taken from the life of Jesus
  • Inspiration and real-life stories to help you apply these teachings
  • An explicit invitation to join the discipleship-first revolution
  • An appendix with key insights for pastors and leaders (p. 14)”

I found part two particularly helpful with its detailed look at the seven elements of a discipleship lifestyle. Harrington presents a simple model that is very transferable and could easily be incorporated into most churches and most ministries.

Most helpful to me was Harrington’s emphasis on a relational disciple making model. By carefully observing Jesus’ own method, we learn that “disciple making is a relational process, one build on trust.”

I came away with many practical applications and an excellent overview of a very transferable model and method. The Disciple Maker’s Handbook is a must-read and 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 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.”

Don’t Miss Exponential Groups! (New from Allen White)

exponential groupsThere’s a new book on the small group scene you should know about. Allen White’s, Exponential Groups: Unleashing Your Church’s Potential is a great addition to my recommended list for both small group pastors and senior pastors trying to figure out small group ministry.

Although I always include a disclosure when I review a book, Exponential Groups deserves a special disclosure. Far more than an acquaintance, Allen is a friend of mine as well as a co-conspirator in the great laboratory of small group strategy. His experience places him on a very short list as very few people have his deep experience in helping small group ministries grow exponentially.

One of the reasons I like this book is that the author is a genuine practitioner. The strategies he details are not theory. They’re also far more than recollections of instances when a wild experiment worked. Exponential Groups offers a well-written account of the strategies that have helped over 1500 churches grow their small group ministries exponentially.

In addition to benefitting from Allen’s experience, you’ll also find the organization of the book very helpful. Taking the reader logically from beginning to end-in-mind, you’ll both appreciate his expertise and come to appreciate the wry tone that finds its way into many of the sections. Again, this is not theory. These are the wise words of a very seasoned practitioner.

An aspect I think you’ll find particularly helpful is that Exponential Groups lays its strategies and tactics out in a step-by-step manner. As I see it, there are no missing elements or logic leaps. And it really does feel like you’ve scored an uninterrupted conversation with a legitimate expert who knows how to explain things in a language you actually understand.

I’m sent a lot of books in hopes that I’ll review them here (and maybe help promote them). Very few make it from the stack to my recommended list. Exponential Groups is on the short list of small group ministry books that I’ll recommend this year. If you’re small group ministry is stuck or needs to grow exponentially, don’t miss this 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 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.”

MUST-Read: Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World

Meet Generation ZGot my hands on a copy of Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World a couple days ago. Honestly…couldn’t put it down. The newest book by James Emery White, the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church,  Meet Generation Z takes an important look at the generation that follows the Millennials (born approximately 1995 to 2010).

Along with the writing of Ed Stetzer, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, I’ve found what James Emery White writes to fall in the must-read category. Typically, if it’s important to know where culture is going, how it will affect the Church and what might be done to impact culture…you’ve got to read James Emery White.

Meet Generation Z doesn’t disappoint. As always, referencing a rich array of sociologists, demographic researchers, and historians, White links together a fascinating set of observations to paint a picture of Generation Z. He doesn’t stop there, however, but includes an equally compelling analysis of “the model Christian leaders must adopt and adapt if we are to reach members of Generation Z with the gospel (from the cover).”

“Generation Z will come to typify the new reality of a post-Christian world. As the first truly post-Christian generation, and numerically the largest, Generation Z will be the most influential religious force in the West and the heart of the missional challenge facing the Christian church (p. 11).”

Part One of Meet Generation Z establishes some important understandings necessary to fully grasp the generational moment. Chapter 1 provides an updated look at the research White referenced in his award-winning 2014 book, The Rise of the Nones. We meet Generation Z in chapters 2 and 3, providing insightful understandings with 5 key characteristics and a look into the impact of a generation being raised by the generation most likely to be a none.

If possible, Part Two is more important. Moving beyond understanding the generation and the impact they will have, White takes a look at the ideas and practices that will engage a post-Christian culture. He finds his thesis beginning in a line from John Stott,

“If the church realistically accepted His standards and values…and lived by them, it would be the alternative society he always intended it to be, and would offer the world an authentic Christian counter-culture.” John Stott, Christian Counter-Culture

Part Two wrestles with culture and what it means to be counter-cultural, the importance of finding your voice (and what to do when you find your voice), as well as rethinking evangelism and apologetics for a post-Christian culture. Against the backdrop of everything preceding it, chapter 8 details an important set of decisions that must be made in order “to be effective at reaching not only the unchurched but also the unchurched nones, and, even at this early stage, Generation Z (p. 145).”

Meet Generation Z concludes with a fascinating set of Appendices reflecting “three talks delivered at Mecklenburg Community Church that reflect issues related to reaching Generation Z. The first is an example of how to address a controversial issue–in this case, gay marriage. The second explores the world of the occult (and our culture’s fascination with it) by mapping out the spiritual world. And the third is an example of how one might build an apologetic bridge for the sake of pre-evangelism using science (p. 12).”

If you want to understand the emerging post-Christian culture and see it through the eyes of the largest generation, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World is must-read. Put off wrestling with this content at the risk of ineffectiveness and irrelevance.

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.”

The Most Important Book I’ve Read This Year: The 4 Disciplines of Execution

4-disciplinesI’ve been working my way through The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney over the last few weeks. Can I tell you something? This book, the ideas and practices in this book, truly have game-changing qualities. You need to drop what you’re doing and order it right now.

I really think, whether you lead a team (or are leading up to make things happen), reading and applying the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution ought to be on your daily to do list. Just set time in your schedule and get it going.

Why am I so high on this one? Here’s the bottom line: All of us are working hard to get from where we are to the preferred future we’ve identified. Right? Most of us have done the hard work of identifying the problems and organizational junk cluttering our present and we’ve at least begun teasing out the shape of the preferred future. We might have even begun charting a course and laying out the first few milestones we need to reach. And what’s standing in the way? Actually doing the things that will get us from where we are to where we need to go.

Applying the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution will help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Period.

Broken into three sections, the book lays out very practically an overview, how to install 4DX with your team, and how to install 4DX with your organization. If you’ll dig in, I promise you your copy will be just as marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared as mine. There is real gold in here!

The essence of the book? It really is as simple as 4 disciplines:

  1. Focus on the wildly important: Discipline 1 is the discipline of focus. You choose 1 (or at most 2) “extremely important goals” and focus on them instead of trying to improve everything at one. This will take resolve and determination. But it will change the game.
  2. Act on the lead measures: This is the discipline of leverage. By focusing on the lead measures, the actions that have the greatest impact on achieving the goals you’ve identified, you will see progress in the right direction.
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard: This is the discipline of engagement. “People play differently when they are keeping score.”
  4. Create a cadence of accountability: This is the discipline of accountability. “The cadence of accountability is a rhythm of regular and frequent meetings of any team that owns a wildly important goal.”

If you are like most of us, you are already thinking about the goals you’ve identified (or that have been handed to you). You may have taken multiple runs at achieving the goals. And it may be a single goal or a long list of goals. But heres what I can tell you. I think digging in to the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution will finally make a difference. I hope you’ll take this step today.

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.”

Do NOT Miss Designed to Lead: The Latest from Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

designed-to-leadSpent some time this week with Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development, a new book from Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. If Geiger’s name sounds familiar it’s because he is the co-author (with Thom Rainer) of best-seller Simple Church, one of the most influential ministry books in the last decade. If you’re unfamiliar with Peck it’s because he is Lead Pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church (where Matt Carter is Pastor of Preaching and Vision). Can I begin by saying, “these two might know a thing or two about leadership development and the church?”

I love the thesis of Designed to Lead: “The center of leadership development must be the Church–meaning, that the leaders who will ultimately transform communities and change the world come from the Church (p. 4).” Far beyond developing an inspiring thesis, the authors do an excellent job of both laying the theological foundation and delivering “a framework for developing leaders in your church.”

Like several of Geiger’s previous books, Designed to Lead is organized in a very logical and understandable way. Making the argument that “churches that consistently produce leaders have strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders (from the cover),” Designed to Lead illustrates convincingly demonstrates the why and the what. Most importantly (to me), the book is made complete with numerous examples of implementable constructs.

If you’re looking for help in building a leadership development pipeline, the chapter on discipleship and leadership development is easily worth the price of the book. At the same time, the chapter on pipelines and pathways will definitely end up not only underlined, starred, annotated, and dog-eared…but also end up in what you practice.

Finally, I’ve made a single pass through Designed to Lead and can see that just like Simple Church made it into church-growth lingo, the constructs here will provide a better way of thinking about leadership development and the Church’s role, your church’s role, in transforming your community.

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.”

Mike Foster’s People of the Second Chance Is a MUST-READ

people-of-the-second-chanceSpent some time this week with the newest resource from Mike Foster. Very powerful and one you definitely will want to take a look at yourself. Not exactly sure how I should say this, but People of the Second Chance: A Guide to Bringing Life-Saving Love to the World feels like Bob Goff’s Love Does, only more motivating.

I love it that Bob Goff wrote the forward and had a lot of fun imagining these two hanging out together.

This snippet from the forward will tell you what you need to know:

“This isn’t a self-help book about just being happy; it’s about being aware of the beauty of becoming whole. It’s not about finding meaning in our lives by looking perfect; instead, it’s about realizing that we are perfectly loved and allowing this to give our lives meaning. This is a book for messed-up overcomers, for religious rebels, for the broken but resilient. It’s not about taking a knee in the end zone when you win; it’s about taking both when you don’t.”

People of the Second Chance is an easy read in one sense and a very challenging one in another. Filled with very personal stories and written in a rhythm that immediately pulls you in, this is a special book. And at the same time, it pulls you steadily toward action; not the need for action…personal action.

My recurring thought as I read People of the Second Chance was that this will provoke a powerful conversation in small groups, ministry teams and book clubs. I’ve already suggested that including a few discussion questions for each chapter would make it even more accessible, but I really think that the content itself will grab readers hard enough to naturally compel dynamic conversations.

I love this book! If you’re looking for a great book suggestion for groups, do your groups a favor and add  People of the Second Chance to your recommended list!

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.”

Patrick Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player is a Must-Read

the-ideal-team-playerI spent some time with Patrick Lencioni’s newest book this week. Like every one of Lencioni’s books, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues is a great read. Like virtually all of his books (with the exception of The Advantage), The Idea Team Player is part fable (a very compelling and imaginative story about a businessman) and part model and practice (and very transferable).

Having heard him at this year’s Global Leadership Summit I knew I needed to dig deeper into the ideas he presented there (Virtually everything he talked about felt like indispensable information and tools we needed to know about). At the essence of The Idea Team Player is a “powerful framework that will help you identify, hire and develop ideal team players in any kind of organization.”

Trust me….this has real application for much of what we do (both from a paid staff  hiring standpoint and also from a volunteer recruiting standpoint).

While the fable portion of The Ideal Team Player is a page-turner and a very easy read, it also contains many insights that will prompt you to highlight, star or dog-ear pages. The fable also makes thinking about the model or framework presented in the second part of the book very understandable (and as a result, applicable).

The “model” section of the book includes several key components. First, Lencioni spends a few pages carefully defining the three essential virtues of the idea team player (humble, hungry, and people smart). A quick review of these virtues will help you more easily grasp the model.

Second, the model section offers a drawing, a visual way of seeing how the three essential virtues interconnect to produce ideal team players. With the visual, you’ll also come away with a helpful framework to think about the potential damage caused by a player with only one or two of the virtues.

Finally, Lencioni hits a home run in the application section of the model. Far beyond simply developing eyes to see the model clearly, the application section will be a toolbox all of will want to have at our disposal. Clearly not an afterthought, these applications will definitely end up being used by many.

The four applications presented are:

  1. Hiring
  2. Assessing current employees
  3. Developing employees who lack one or more of the virtues
  4. Embedding the model in an organization’s culture

If you do any hiring or recruiting, The Ideal Team Player is a must-read. I have no doubt this framework will quickly make it into our set of hiring and recruiting practices.

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.”

Add Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters to Your Leadership Training

intentional livingI’ve been making my way through John Maxwell’s latest book these last couple weeks. Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters wasn’t on my radar when the summer began, but a few things Maxwell said at the Global Leadership Summit prompted me to think this book might be required reading for small group pastors and coaches.

Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters might be required reading for small group pastors and coaches.

Can I tell you why I think that? It’s simple, really. One of the main takeaways from Intentional Living is the philosophy and the playbook for adding value to others. Can you see why that might be important for a small group pastor or coach? That’s right. Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first. And adding value is shorthand for doing just that.

Intentional Living is literally packed with great takeaways that will help you and your ministry today. Your role, no matter what it is, at its foundational level is almost certainly about adding value to the people you serve. You may be unfamiliar with the term adding value, but it is at the very essence of what it means to serve others in the way that Jesus did.

Like every John Maxwell book I’ve ever read, it is full of great one-liners and personal stories. Also like every one of his books, Intentional Living is full of very practical takeaways; practices you can begin to put into place as you read the book. I came away with many, many great ideas and a few that have already moved from good intentions to intentional living. I know you will benefit that way too.

Every chapter also includes an intentional assignment, an exercise that can be a practical next step. I loved it because I could see it would help me. I also recognized immediately the potential for this book to become a resource we could take every member of our groups team through (staff, coaches, and leaders).

If you’re looking for leadership development ideas, I highly recommend Intentional Living. This is very powerful book and 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 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.”

Review: Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

smarter faster betterI’ve been working my way through Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive In Life and Business, the newest book from Charles Duhigg. In 2012, If his name sounds familiar, Duhigg’s The Power of Habit spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller list. He’s also had a couple of interviews I’ve passed on to you on the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast and also the Catalyst Podcast.

Like The Power of Habit, Smarter Faster Better, is a very fascinating and engaging read. Duhigg’s style and format has a Malcolm Gladwell feel; his ideas are drawn from the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as “the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.”

The structure of the book hinges on eight key productivity concepts that explain why some people and companies get so much done:

  • Motivation
  • Teams
  • Focus
  • Goal Setting
  • Managing Others
  • Decision Making
  • Innovation
  • Absorbing Data

Packed with true stories and “scientific discoveries that explain that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.”

Smarter Faster Better is both a page turner and a book that will frequently cause you to turn down page corners to be read again later. My copy is very marked up and dog-eared, starred and underlined, pages littered with notes in the margins.

If you’re looking for a book to throw into your summer reading stack, don’t miss Smarter Faster Better. If your job is like mine, if you never seem to be finished with a project or a process at the end of a cay, the takeaways can easily be applied to build productivity.

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.”