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Marketing to Millennials: If You Want to Connect Millennials…a Must Read

marketing to millennials 2Figured out how to connect Millennials yet?  If you’re like me, you have way more questions than answers.  Determined to begin assembling a better understanding of the Millennial generation I picked up a copy of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever, a highly rated 2011 marketing book by Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton.  This is a great find and a must read!

Fromm co-authored a report called “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation, based on a comprehensive research study conducted by Barkley, The Boston Consulting Group and Service Management Group.  The findings from that research are the foundations for this book.

The book reveals the eight attitudes shared by most Millennials, fascinating insights that reveal six distinct Millennial segments, as well as the new rules for engaging them successfully.

Every chapter includes a case study (or two) that will help you see how major retailers are using a better understanding of Millennials to engage and market to this very large demographic slice.  An easy to read summary provides a synopsis of every chapter’s key takeaways.

This is a fascinating and eye-opening book.  My copy is marked up.  I came away with many ideas that will make their way into our strategies to engage Millennials.  If you’ve been trying to figure out how to reach and connect the Millennial generation, I really do believe this is a must read book.  If you’re not thinking about this already…you better get started!  You can pick up your copy of Marketing to Millennials 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 will receive an affiliate commission. I am also the 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.”

The Rise of the Nones: A Must Read

The rise of the nones 2Worked my way through The Rise of the Nones this week.  New from James Emery White, the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church, this is a must read in my opinion.  White is an insightful observer of culture and culture shifts and the implications of this particular shift ought to be a front burner conversation for all of us.  This is why I included The Rise of the Nones on my 2014 Summer Reading List.

The title refers to the dramatic increase in the percentage of Americans indicating “none” when asked about their religion (A 2012 Pew Forum study titled “Nones on the Rise” indicates that one in five Americans (19.3%) claim no religious identity at all (up from 15% in 2008 and 8% in 1990)).  As White points out, “the ‘nones’ are now the fastest growing religious group in America.”

The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated  is divided into two parts.  The first part “will give you the cultural analysis needed to understand the who, what and why of the rise of the nones.”  Part two “is an overview of the new mentality and approach that is needed to connect” with the nones and “not only reach them for Christ but involved them in the life of the church.”

The Rise of the Nones is packed with insights.  There is so much here that will play a part in how our ministry approach must be retooled if we want to reach this growing demographic.  My copy is pretty marked up as I noticed one insight after another that needs to inform our approach.  For example, White notes from the ARIS study, “the largest group, the religiously indifferent, ‘neither care to practice religion or oppose it.  They are simply not invested in religion either way.’”

Along with being jam packed with insights, every chapter includes a set of questions that can be used by groups seeking a better understanding of the implications.

I can see The Rise of the Nones being read by church staffs as well as ministry teams within a staff.  In all honesty, I don’t think these findings can be ignored.  This book ought to be next up on your reading list.  It will probably alarm you…but it will also prompt you to set in motion a plan to reach this rapidly growing demographic slice.  I came away with many valuable insights that will shape the way my ministry operates.  I think The Rise of the Nones will have that influence on you 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 will receive an affiliate commission. I am also the 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.”

Here’s My 2014 Summer Reading List

Every summer I create a list of books I think you should read.  Sometimes the books I include are strictly 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.

Here’s my 2014 summer reading list.

the rise of the nonesThe Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated by James Emery White.  The dramatic rise of the demographic slice who check the box next to the word “none” on religious surveys has been noted and studied by Barna, LifeWay and others.  James Emery White is an insightful observer of culture and culture shifts and the implications of this particular shift ought to be a front burner conversation for all of us.

You can read my full review right here, but if you want to pick up a copy and read along, you can do that right here.

marketing to millennialsMarketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever by Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton.  This is a fascinating and eye-opening book.  If you’ve been trying to figure out how to reach and connect the Millennial generation, this is a must read book.  If you’re not thinking about this already…you better get started!

Based on original research, “the book reveals the eight attitudes shared by most Millennials, as well as the new rules for engaging them successfully.”  I am a little more than halfway through the book and my copy is very marked up.  Lots of insights that will help shape some new strategies.

You can read my full review right here, but if you want to pick up a copy and read along, you can do that right here.

your volunteersYour Volunteers: From Come and See to Come and Serve by Chris Mavity.  This is a very helpful 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!

You can read the rest of my review right here.

transformational groupsTransformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger.  This is an important book and if you’ve not yet read it, you need to spend some time with it this summer.  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 have made it into a number of discussions on our groups team.

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.  You can read my full review right here.

soul keepingSoul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile now.  Most of what John writes is on my reading list before it publishes.  Soul Keeping is no exception.  I read the first chapter online and can’t wait to get my hands on the copy that is in the mail.

Profoundly influenced by his relationship with Dallas Willard, John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping is sure to be one of the highlights of my summer.  I loved this paragraph from the introduction:

“Dallas once wrote about a tiny child who crept into his father’s bedroom to sleep. In the dark, knowing his father was present was enough to take away his sense of aloneness. “Is your face turned toward me, Father?” he would ask. “yes,” his father replied. “My face is turned toward you.” only then could the child go to sleep.

Over the years I sought Dallas’s wisdom to help me understand the human soul, and in this book I will share what I have learned. But I did not really just want to know about any soul. I wanted to know that my soul is not alone. I wanted to know that a face is turned toward it.

That’s the journey we will take together.”

I’ll be posting a full review soon, but if you want to pick up a copy and read along, you can do that 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 will receive an affiliate commission. I am also the 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.”

Leading Missional Communities: A Must-Read Resource

leading missional communities croppedSpent some time with the newest book from Mike Breen and the 3DM team this week.  Leading Missional Communities was released last fall and is the fourth and final book of their current series (includes Building a Discipling Culture, Multiplying Missional Leaders, and Leading Kingdom Movements).  I really like the way the ideas of Building a Discipling Culture and Multiplying Missional Leaders are integrated into the fabric of Leading Missional Communities.  These books are clearly part of a larger tapestry.

Taking the concept far beyond launching, Leading Missional Communities is designed to explain “how to lead [missional communities] well so they become a reproducing hotbed for discipleship and mission in churches.”  Part one builds on a collection of four foundational principles:

  • MCs are Communities of Discipleship (building a discipling culture at the core).
  • MCs are Communities of Good News (embodying and proclaiming the gospel).
  • MCs find the Person of Peace (noticing where God is already at work).
  • MC is cultivating a commitment to the organized and the organic elements of the community’s life together

Part two gets right into the nitty gritty about leading a missional community.  Covering important aspects like vision and prayer as well as growing and multiplying, there is the distinct feel of walking side by side with a wise and knowledgeable guide.  The examples given are so helpful.  There truly is the sense that this is not theory, but recollection of actual events.

Part three digs into some very practical tips about life in missional communities.  The top ten reasons missional communities fail as well as the answers to many frequently asked questions provide a great overview of some of the biggest challenges (what to do about children, what about pastoral care, how do we handle conflict, etc.).

The appendices are packed with a ton of great material.  More about building a discipling culture, how to start a pilot missional community, what to do about existing or current programs, and a lengthy treatment of missional communities and church planting are included and really adds to the value of the resource.

As we slip further into the 21st century I am more convinced every day that we are rapidly approaching the time when it will be much easier to say “come on over to my house” or “meet me at Starbucks or the pub” than “come with me to church.”  Leading Missional Communities is a must read if you want to be prepared for what’s coming.  I highly recommend this book and this series.

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. I am also the 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 This Resource: Autopsy of a Deceased Church

autopsy of a deceased churchHad an opportunity this week to spend some time with Autopsy of a Deceased Church,  Thom Rainer’s latest book.  Prior to his work as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, he led The Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period.

Thom Rainer is a very respected researcher and a keen observer of church health.  He’s also the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches and Simple Church.

Using the format of last year’s best-seller I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church is a very easy read with a powerful message.  With an estimated 100,000 churches showing the signs of decline toward death, this is a book that’s going to help more than a few pastors and church leaders.

There are several things to love about Autopsy of a Deceased Church.  First, it is the kind of book that can be passed out to staff and key leaders that they will actually read.  Just 102 pages, it is easy reading.

Second, it is packed with insight and will grab the attention of teams from the opening pages.  Many of the symptoms identified will  keep church leaders up at night.  Some of what Rainer points out will finally cause some to act and their action will be just in time.

Third, each chapter includes a set of provocative questions that should get the attention of teams.  I can imagine the discussions these questions will produce!  Along with the set of questions, every chapter includes a prayer commitment.

If you’re committed to the health of your church, Autopsy of a Deceased Church is a book you’ll want to pick up.  I can see it having a very strong impact on the kinds of church leaders who truly care enough about their church to act on wise counsel.

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. I am also the 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.”

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.”
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