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Quotebook: Tim Keller on Community

I love this line from Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God:

You can’t live the Christian life without a band of Christian friends, without a family of believers in which you find a place.”

Keller’s line is found as summary of a quote from C.S. Lewis on the importance of community in knowing each other.  You can read the C.S. Lewis quote right here.

May we be always about the formation of more and better community.

How to Make Disciples in Small Groups

light at the endI don’t know about you, but I’m determined to build a thriving small group ministry that makes disciples.  That is the light at the end of the tunnel for me.  It is the end in mind.  It’s not just to connect unconnected people.  That’s important, but only a beginning.  My objective is to make disciples.  And I suspect–since you are still along on this journey with me–that is your objective too!  See also, How to Build a Thriving Small Group Ministry and 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People.

And if your objective is to make disciples…you must know what it is you are trying to make (i.e., What is a disciple?).  Once you know that little detail, you will be able to lay out a path that leads to that preferred future.

With me?

And to that end, I love this paragraph from Dallas Willard.  In my mind it informs what it is that I need to do in laying out the path.

As a disciple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learning from him how to live in the kingdom of God. This is the crucial idea. That means how to live within the range of God’s effective will, his life flowing through mine. Another important way of putting this is to say that I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live life if he were I (emphasis mine) I am not necessarily learning to do everything he did, but I am learning how to do everything I do in the manner in which he did all that he did.  How to Be a Disciple

Still with me?  This sets up a fairly clear understanding of the things that will have to be true about a small group ministry that will make disciples.

  1. It defines what I must do as I develop coaches.  I will need do to and for my coaches the things that will help them learn to live their lives as Jesus would live their lives.  See also, The Most Important Contribution of a Small Group Pastor.
  2. It defines what our coaches must do to and for the leaders they are discipling.  See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciple Leaders.
  3. It defines what our small group leaders must do to and for the members they are discipling.  See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.

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

Quotebook: The Job of a Change Agent

I have often joked that I want my title to be The Disruptor of the Status Quo.  It’s not really a joke, but so far I’ve not succeeded in getting the title officially.

I love this paragraph from a Bill Taylor article on HBR:

The job of the change agent is not just to surface high-minded ideas. It is to summon a sense of urgency inside and outside the organization, and to turn that urgency into action. It’s one thing for leaders to use fresh eyes to devise a new line of sight into the future. It’s quite another to muster the rank-and-file commitment to turn a compelling vision into a game-changing performance. My friend and Fast Company cofounder Alan Webber puts it well. Progress, he likes to say, is a math formula. It only happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change. That’s why the third principle of change is for leaders to encourage a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, to persuade their colleagues that business as usual is the ultimate risk, not a safe harbor from the storms of disruption.

You can read the whole article right here.  It would be a great way to prepare for the changes that must come.

Quotebook: Trade-Offs and the Pursuit of More

Looking for a way to have it all?  Whether we’re talking about ministry or life, many people look for opportunities to have it all or to do everything.  Wise leaders, essentialists, understand that “strategy is about making trade-offs.”  See also, Could This Strategic Misstep Be Limiting Your Ministry Impact?

I loved these lines from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:

“It’s easy to see why it’s tempting to deny the reality of trade-offs.  After all, by definition, a trade-off involves two things we want.  Do you want more pay or more vacation time?…A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “Which problem do I want? (Pg. 55, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)”

Quotebook: Steve Jobs on Change

I love this line from the 2005 Stanford commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs:

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Only an enduring small group pastor makes it to the finish line.  And only the constant learner can look in the mirror and know when a change is in the wind.

Quotebook: The Problem with Isolation

Even after almost three decades of promoting small group ministry and writing about why we need community, I am still amazed and saddened that so many live in a kind of isolation.  There is profound wisdom in this quote from Basil, an early church father.

“When we live our lives in isolation, what we have is unavailable and what we lack is unprocurable.” Basil

Two Great Questions for Self Awareness

I read an article over the weekend by Bill Taylor over on the HBR Blog and came away with two great questions for personal reflection and self awareness.  Taylor is the co-founder of the Fast Company magazine and the author of two of my favorite books (Practically Radical and Mavericks at Work).  I’ve discovered more great insights in his writing than almost anyone else.

There were a number of great ideas in the article, but a line from John Wooden caught my eye:

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Here are the two questions (to help you keep on learning):

I guess I’m a collector of questions and I love these two.  I thought you might too!

Quotebook: Making Choices Deliberately

essentialismI’m reading a powerful new book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  This paragraph caught my attention in the first few minutes and I immediately thought about our many discussions about the intentional design of next steps.  I also thought about the buffet vs plated meal challenge that faces many, many churches.

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default.  Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.  In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making the execution of those things almost effortless (p. 7, Essentialism).”

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.”

Quotebook: Self-Awareness

How aware are you of your own tendencies?  Are you aware of those times when your own preconceived ideas and certainties serve as a blockade to anything unfamiliar or different?  I love this line from Ed Catmull, current president of Pixar.

“There is nothing quite as effective, when it comes to shutting down alternative viewpoints, as being convinced that you are right.”  Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.

When I read this and allow it to penetrate my own prejudices I remember my own resistance to ideas like the small group connection, video curriculum and the HOST strategy.

Quotebook: Protecting the New

I have said for many years that I want my title to be “Disruptor of the Status Quo.”  If you know me…you know how perfect that would be.  And it would make perfect sense that my copy of Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc. is one marked up, underlined, bookmarked and starred book (except that my copy is on my phone using the Kindle app).

One of the ideas that grabbed my attention by the throat was the practice at Pixar of providing protection for new ideas.  Think about how critical it might be to protect new ideas where you work.  This is a quote worth writing out on a post-it and keeping where you can’t miss it:

“Whether it’s the kernel of a movie idea or a fledgling internship program, the new needs protection.  Business-as-usual does not.  Managers do not need to work hard to protect established ideas or ways of doing business.  The system is tilted to favor the incumbent.  The challenger needs support to find its footing.  And protection of the new–of the future, not the past–must be a conscious effort.”  Ed Catmull, Creativity Inc.

See also, The Futility of the Mainstream, Beware the Lure of the Status Quo and Purpose or Pain: Two Antidotes for the Status Quo.

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