Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders

I’ve spent the last 10 days working my way through a new resource from Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders is set to publish on March 13, 2018. Personally, I can’t wait to pick up copies for both of the teams I serve on!

Note: discover some special pre-order offers right here.

Ferguson is the founding and lead pastor of Chicago’s Community Christian Church, a multisite missional community considered one of the most influential churches in America. Dave is also the visionary for the international church-planting movement NewThing and president of the Exponential Conference. Bird is a primary researcher and writer for Leadership Network and has collaboratively written twenty-nine books, all on subjects of church health or church innovation for leaders.

Hero Maker grabbed my attention from the first few pages. My copy is more marked up, underlined, starred and dogeared than anything I’ve read in the last 5 years. I’ve been telling everyone this is the must-read and apply book of the year!

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What’s so great about Hero Maker? For starters, the premise of this book is a powerful game-changer. Whether you are leading ten people or ten thousand, shifting from hero to hero maker maximizes your leadership and potentially extends your impact to the 4th generation.

As much as I love the premise though (and I am tremendously inspired by it), what I really appreciate is that Hero Maker includes everything you need to practically begin to apply the 5 essential practices of hero making.

The 5 essential practices of hero making?

  • Multiplication Thinking: dreaming big and strategically investing yourself in others to multiply your effort
  • Permission Giving: making yes your default response as a leader.
  • Disciple Multiplying:  investing in the work of helping others multiply apprentices.
  • Gift Activating:  releasing leaders to new opportunities as their gifts and skills grow.
  • Kingdom Building: defining success by what you release and send out.

Every chapter has what you need to understand and practically put into motion the practices that lead to generational impact. Very, very practical and application oriented, every chapter includes the tool that makes the practice work and an inspiring story of an authentic hero maker. Finally, every chapter includes a great set of discussion questions and is built to be a team resource.

As much as I like the way the 5 essential practices are presented, there are some powerful ingredients in section three that anticipate challenges and tensions that come with the practices. Ever practical, even the appendices include resources that will help shift from concept to application.

Let me say this again. Hero Maker is the must-read and apply book of year! If you have a passion for true impact, do not miss this!

Note: discover some special pre-order offers 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. 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.”

My 2017 Christmas Reading List

My 2017 Christmas Reading List

Leaders are readers. What have you read in 2017? What will you read in 2018?

My senior pastor while on staff during seminary told me you could tell when a person’s mind died by the last copyrights on their bookshelves.

I’ve always found that something to guard myself against. And so…I am a reader.

Here’s what’s on my 2017 Christmas Reading List:

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt. I am about halfway through this one and I HIGHLY recommend it. If you’ve been feeling the need for a boost of real accomplishment, this is the one. Order it now and you’ll get your copy when it publishes on January 2nd!

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. First of all, Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and gave a great interview at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit. Second, my wife Debbie could not put this book down! She loved it and has been recommending it to everyone.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson is a great biographer/story teller. Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most creative people in history. What’s not to like?

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown. I’ve read Brown’s other books and they are always a powerful read. For a groups guy…belonging might be a key idea!

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This book has been on my list for a couple years AND IT IS STILL ON THE BEST-SELLER LIST! That’s a sign. I’ll be reading it in the next 60 days.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. I think I know what you’re thinking. But, I’ve never read the Harry Potter books and I’m feeling the need for a little escape!

The Pursuit of Prime: Maximize Your Company’s Success with the Adizes Program by Ichak Adizes. Not a new book (1996) and not a best-seller, but remember, I am on the hunt for help in building a leadership pipeline and pathway in 2018.

Reading List for Christmas, 2013

Reading List for Christmas, 2014

Reading List for Christmas, 2015

My 2016 Christmas Reading List

Image by Catface27

The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders Is a Must-Add Resource

Finally had an opportunity this week to spend some time with a new resource from Bill Search. The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders is Bill’s first small group offering since Simple Small Groups was published in 2008. I loved his first book and was excited to dig into his new book. I was NOT disappointed. The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders is a great resource.

I love the clarity of The Essential Guide. It is clear from the opening paragraph of the introduction. This is a book for small group leaders who don’t have time to read a book on small groups.

I also love the fact that the 153 pages are jam packed with 60 short chapters that get right to the point on a single topic to equip small group leaders. And The Essential Guide is the definition of readable. This is not complex stuff. In fact, every action step seems doable and is very doable. “Read this chapter and try it this week” ought to be the tagline!

The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders is divided into five sections:

  • Start Your New Group: 13 short chapters on how to help a new group get off to a great start. Everything from who to invite and how to invite to pursuing no shows and sharing the load of leadership.
  • Develop Meaningful Relationships: 19 short chapters on the relational aspect of small group leadership. When you see the table of contents, you’ll realize immediately that this book was written by a group practitioner. Not a theorist, Bill does a great job including the chapter that will help leaders become more than hosts who get the house ready.
  • Focus on Growth and Transformation: 19 short chapters on helping group members actually grow and make groups about more than fellowship and connecting.
  • Cultivate a Heart for Others: 5 short chapters on a very important aspect of grouplife: serving others as a normal activity. If you’ve hoped your group leaders would add the element of others first and outward focused ministry…you will love this section.
  • Discover Biblical Foundations for Small Groups: 4 short chapters on the biblical framework for small groups and small group ministry. These will be very helpful reading assignments that will raise your leaders understanding of the biblical basis for groups and community.

I like this book! If you’re looking for a resource to hand to your leaders, The Essential Guide for Small Group Leaders really is essential. 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.”

New from James Bryan Smith: The Magnificent Story Is a Great Addition

My review copy of The Magnificent Story by James Bryan Smith arrived a few days ago and I’ve been spending some great time with it. A new book from Smith is something I can’t wait to see and regularly come back to. I read and give away a lot of books. I never part with one of these.

James Bryan Smith is Associate Professor in the Religion and Humanities Department at Friends University and the author of The Apprentice Series (The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community). A part of the Renovaré community, his writing has a Dallas Willard feel to it with a healthy dose of John Ortberg readability.

The Magnificent Story: Uncovering the Gospel of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth is anchored by a simple idea, a simple thesis:

“There is a magnificent story, which is the most important thing happening on this earth. It is our only hope as individuals, communities, countries, and a species. But for a variety of reasons the gospel message we often hear, the story often told, is shrunken and distorted. This is why we see so many frustrated, disappointed Christians. It is not that they are bad people, but they have never heard the magnificent story in its fullness (p. 13).”

Like Smith’s previous books, The Magnificent Story is a book to be experienced with a group. Every chapter is a rich experience, exploring an important element of the overall idea (the magnificent story) and is followed by a soul training exercise.  The exercise is designed to “deepen the ideas and narratives you will be learning.” A well-written set of discussion questions for each chapter are included in the built-in study guide.

Every chapter is an exploration of an underlying narrative; A false narrative told by many, if not all. And a true narrative at the essence of the magnificent story. Smith’s style is quite readable, interspersed with story and reference to illustration. And at the same time, I find myself reading paragraphs again in an attempt to squeeze every last idea from them. Most chapters end up quite marked up, underlined, and starred, because I know I’ll want to come back and revisit a number of ideas.

I like the reading pattern Smith encourages. Spend a week with each chapter, journaling your insights. Read and engage in the soul training exercise. Then come and discuss with your group.

If you’re looking for a book to hand to some of your more reflective and contemplative groups (we all have them), I highly recommend The Magnificent Story. If you can’t think of groups that have this flavor, consider starting one with this book. You will definitely find people who will savor this one.

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.”

Must-Read: Add Gospel Fluency to Your Discipleship Resource List

Spent some time over the last couple weeks with a new book from Jeff Vanderstelt. Let me tell you, if you’re trying to make more and better disciples…you’re going to want to read this one. Gospel Fluency: Speaking the Truth of Jesus into the Everyday Stuff of Life is the latest book from Vanderstelt, the visionary leader for Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches and a teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, Washington. The key for me, he is very much a practitioner and not a theorist.

What I really like about Gospel Fluency is its very basic approach in training us “to become more fluent in the gospel, so that together [we] will be able to lead others to find hope and help in Jesus in every part of [our] lives (p. 24).” In fact, like is not a strong enough word. I love that about this book.

I also like the fact that Gospel Fluency assumes the need for a primer and doesn’t assume that I know much beyond the very simplest things about the gospel, how to explain it. and certainly not how to live it. I don’t know about you, but so often I wish for resources that deliver the basics in a way that is transferable and portable.

This book is not a difficult read. Interspersed with very relatable stories, I found the toughest thing was slowing down long enough to mark a section or a quote that I know I’ll want to circle back and look over more slowly and carefully.

Gospel Fluency is packed with great nuggets, ideas and practices that will no doubt make it into my personal ministry. Too many to share well here, suffice it to say that I discovered a great set of questions, a good way of thinking about the big picture themes of the gospel, and several very memorable tools that will make their way into our group launch strategies.

If you’re looking for a resource to add to your disciple-making set, do not miss Gospel Fluency. 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.”

Add The Culture Engine to Your Personal Development List

I’ve been spending some time this month with The Culture Engine by S. Chris Edmonds. Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group and the best selling author or co-author of seven books, including his latest book, The Culture Engine, and Ken Blanchard’s Leading at a Higher Level.

I picked The Culture Engine up because this summer I plan to do a little bit of a deep dive into transforming corporate cultures and developing healthy corporate cultures.

What I discovered was The Culture Engine is a gold mine!  In addition to a very nice set of tools designed to help organizations drive results, inspire employees and transform workplaces, a very robust look at applying the same tools in an effort to transform yourself is included in chapter two.

As I’ve worked my way through the book, I found it to be an easy and inspiring read. Interwoven with great stories about how various practices have played out in the companies with which Edmonds has consulted. It’s also been a challenging read as I’ve paused at many points to work through an exercise myself (and think through how it would play in some of the churches with which I am consulting.

The most important takeaway for me was Edmonds thinking about the importance of developing an organizational constitution; “a living, breathing document that outlines clear agreements on the team or company’s purposes and the values and behaviors that all team leaders and members believe in and commit to (p. 17).”

The rest of The Culture Engine includes the work that will help you develop an organizational constitution. Clarifying your organization’s purpose, defining values in behavioral terms (where they can be observed), and planning strategies and goals for the coming year are just a few of the very valuable aspects covered and they all play into the development of an organizational constitution.

If you’re involved at all in the development or stewardship of a culture, The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace is a must read in my opinion. 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.”

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.”