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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.”

humility“Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to point out the contributions of others and slow to seek attention for their own. They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually. It is no great surprise, then, that humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.” The Ideal Team Player

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5 Tiny Plan Alterations that Lead to Completely Different Destinations

destinations5 Tiny Plan Alterations that Lead to Completely Different Destinations

Have you ever noticed that you only have to miss one turn to end up at an completely different destination? Happened to me most recently in London’s Harrods department store.

I don’t know whose idea it was to go to Harrods to shop for toys for our grandkids…but we went. And in the middle of our endless exploration of the toy section of this massive store…I needed to use the restroom.

“Excuse me…where’s the closest restroom?” I said to the clerk.

“Go through these next two sections and when you get to the hmm hmm turn right and then right again at the first hallway,” she said pointing in the direction.

“I’m sorry. What?”

“Go through these next two sections and when you get to the hmm hmm turn right and then right again at the first hallway.”

“Ohhkaaay…I’ll give it a try.” And I did find one eventually. Just not the one right after the “hmm hmm.”

Seriously, have you ever noticed that you only have to miss one turn to end up in an completely different destination?

Have you ever noticed that tiny plan alterations lead to completely different destinations?

I regularly get emails from  readers trying to figure out what went wrong in their church-wide campaign (or small group connection, identifying, recruiting and developing coaches, etc.). Maybe you’ve emailed me.

A little detective work almost always reveals the #1 reason strategies don’t work: Tiny plan alterations lead to completely different outcomes.

The #1 reason strategies don’t work: Tiny plan alterations lead to completely different destinations.

Here are five examples:

  1. Instead of spending three weekends exclusively recruiting hosts for your church-wide campaign and then three more weekends recruiting sign-ups for your small group connection…recruit hosts and sign-ups for the connection on the same weekends. What could be the harm, right? Actually, if you want to recruit the largest number of hosts you must segregate the host ask weekends from the member sign-up weekends. Once you begin talking about “being in a group” vs “inviting a couple friends to do the study” you’ve recruited your last host. See also, Top 10 Reasons Church-Wide Campaigns Miss the Mark.
  2. Instead of sticking with the pure small group connection strategy (that guides new groups to choose leaders from amongst themselves), allow leaders of existing small groups that need a few new members to attend the connection and use it as a fishing pool. Disastrous! Instead of starting new groups (which is an essential activity if you want to build a thriving small group ministry) you end up simply propping up dying groups that have never learned to fish for themselves. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups.
  3. Instead of the hand-to-hand combat of recruiting busy, high-capacity leaders as potential coaches, simply announce that you need a few coaches and then accept those who are willing to serve. Again…disastrous! Settling for warm and willing when you only need hot and qualified (high capacity and passionate about groups) leads to a completely different coaching structure. It is one of the main reasons attempts to build effective coaching structures #fail. See also, 5 Assumptions that Set Small Group Coaching Up to #Fail.
  4. Instead of making the host ask (or the member ask) within your senior pastor’s message, simply include the ask in the list of your announcements. This little plan alteration has led to more train wrecks than I can remember. Never allow your senior pastor to delegate this essential activity. See also, How to Make the HOST Ask.
  5. Instead of scheduling the host ask (or the member ask) on weekends your senior pastor is preaching, make the ask on the weekends you’ve scheduled a visiting missionary or student-led Sunday. Please don’t miss the significance of who makes the ask. Your senior pastor is almost always the most influential person in your church. Substituting anyone else to make the ask always leads to a different destination. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.

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How’s Your Small Group Model Working in Today’s Shifting Culture?

shifting cultureHow’s Your Small Group Model Working in Today’s Shifting Culture?

Thought about that question?

What’s your reaction to the question?

I know there will be different opinions about this, but I believe we must pay attention to the culture (And by the way, paying attention is a lot different than paying homage to the culture). This is why I recently posted The Future of Small Group Ministry and Are You Preparing for the Future of Small Group Ministry?

Like the the men of Issachar “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32 NIV),” we need to understand the times and determine what to do. Clearly there are major shifts under way in the culture (views on marriage, truth, morality, biblical illiteracy, etc.).

The question today is how’s your small group model working in light of today’s shifting culture?

Maybe an earlier question might be, “How might the shifting culture affect the effectiveness of the small group ministry model we use?”

Do you have a reaction to that question? If you do, please leave a comment!

Here are 5 ways the shifting culture might affect the effectiveness of your model:

  1. Depending on how you choose new small group leaders, it may become increasingly unlikely that new leaders will come factory equipped with biblical knowledge. Biblical knowledge may have to be an after-market install.
  2. How you describe the kinds of groups you offer may need to be revisited. Questions like, “Who can join a couples group?” and “How will we offer community to everyone?” will need to be answered.
  3. How you train small group leaders will need to be evaluated. Training leaders to facilitate dynamic discussions is very different than equipping them to care for group members with a different worldview.
  4. The primary entry point may need to be evaluated. Once you have connected the most likely to connect (which has already happened in many instances) you may need to find new ways to connect beyond the usual suspects.
  5. As average attenders attend weekend services less frequently, it becomes increasingly more important that deeper connection happens elsewhere (and not just on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.).

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

Further Reading:

Image by Kat

Today Only! These Mini-Courses Are 25% Off

Happy Labor Day Sale!

Sorry! Times up! You can find out about my regularly priced mini-courses right here:

  • How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry launches this Thursday and is my newest 4 session mini-course that will take you through what I believe are four essential steps.  This course is based on my most requested and most popular workshop, it draws more positive comments and rave reviews than anything else I talk about. (Full course description right here).
  • How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign: No other strategy for launching new groups is as powerful as the Church-Wide Campaign strategy. This mini-course will teach you how to recruit way more leaders than you ever thought possible, launch more groups than ever before, connectWAY beyond the usual suspects, and recruit and train the coaches you need in order to sustain the new groups you launch. (Full course description right here).
  • Building an Effective Coaching Structure is not easy…but you can do it. There is no substitute for doing it the right way. Conferences and seminars are great…but can be an expensive proposition when you’re talking about sending a team. Why not take advantage of step-by-step training from the comfort of your home or office? (Full course description right here).
  • Basic Training for New Small Group Coaches is a follow-up course to Building an Effective Coaching Structure (BECS). Where BECS teaches you how to identify, recruit and deploy coaches, it doesn’t equip you to train the new coaches you recruit for their very first assignment. I designed Basic Training for New Small Group Coaches to be used two ways. You can take advantage of my trainings and teach them to your new coaches. OR, you can simply offer the link and password to your new coaches and allow me to train them! (Full course description right here).


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.”

doing what we can do“We should never let what we cannot do keep us from doing what we can do.” Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters, p. 6

Image by Michael Bentley

What Are You Trying to Produce?

produce assembly lineOne of the questions I ask all the time is, “What do we want people to do?” Another is, “What do we want people to become?” The correct answers to these questions are not generalizations (i.e., fully devoted followers, disciples, etc.). The correct answers are very specific and defined.

Think about these two questions. Can you see that they are both about next steps? Can you see also they are both about outcomes and products?

When we think in advance about what we want people to do we are more likely to design the program, event, or message with that next step in mind. When we think in advance about what we want people to become we are more likely to design the program, event, or message with that outcome in mind.

Thinking in advance about outcomes and products is at the very heart of designing effective next steps and first steps. When we take the time to thoughtfully determine these two things in advance (i.e., “What do we want people to do?” and, “What do we want people to become?”), we dramatically increase our chances of succeeding, of actually arriving at the preferred future we dream of for our ministry and for the people we are leading.

Can you see that asking these questions in advance actually helps clarify what a win will be for the program, event or message we are planning? That’s right. Determining and declaring on the front end the outcomes and products you desire will not only help you plan the program, event or message, it will enable you to know whether you are winning.

I love this quote from Mike Bonem’s Leading from the Second Chair:

“I am convinced that the reason for so much burnout, lack of commitment, and low performance in our churches among staff and members is directly related to the failure to declare the results we are after.  We don’t know when we are winning.”

Would you like to decrease burnout, lack of commitment, and low performance? Spend more time determining in advance what you want people to do and what you want people to become. Be specific. Define the next step you want people to take and what you want them to become. And then design the event, program or message with that outcome, with that product in mind.

Further Reading:

How Discipleship Really Happens

missional communityHow Discipleship Really Happens

Ever buckle down and come up with your firm opinion about how discipleship really happens? Four years ago I put my thoughts together in an article called Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship. That title wasn’t a misprint or a mistake. They really were 10 things I needed to know.

In some ways the article was prescient. Over the last several years I’ve found myself more than once cautioning against what I believe are misunderstandings of how discipleship happens and how disciples are made.

A few days ago I had a comment on an article I wrote a couple years ago. In 10 of the Most Overused Small Group Ministry Buzzwords I listed 10 of the phrases that I think are used in a way that betrays a misunderstanding of an underlying truth. For example, the first buzzword I list is the phrase “disciples who make disciples.” Ever used that phrase? I included the phrase because as I understand the meaning of that word, you’re probably not actually a disciple if you’re not making disciples.

Another buzzword that I included in my list two years ago was “missional community.” Why include it? Because the way it was being used betrayed a misunderstanding of an underlying truth. Missional community was never used in its origin to describe the size of the group or convey that the group met somewhere in the community. Instead, missional community was used in its origin to describe the function and primary activity of a group.

I love a paragraph from The End of Discipleship As We Know It, a recent article by Hugh Halter:

“From my experience, the best leadership development happens in a missional community. A missional community is a group of friends who intentionally band together around a certain mission, who live in close proximity and who rhythm their lives together around kingdom life.”

That, to me, is the actual meaning of missional community. Not the size of a group or where it meets. Instead, it’s about the purpose of a group and the way they “rhythm their lives.”

That is also how I think virtually all small groups should function. Not just those groups that desire to go further or are ready to go further.

Why? Because it is how discipleship really happens. Just like Jesus taught His disciples to do everything He did. He didn’t use a classroom approach. He spent time with them and taught them by observation and practice how to do effortlessly what He would do if He were them.

Further Reading:

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Pssst. I’m Launching a Small Group Ministry Conference

grouplifePssst. I’m Launching a Small Group Ministry Conference

That’s right. I’m launching a small group ministry conference in Las Vegas. And I could use a little help.

Here are the details:

March 27th and 28th, 2017 (Las Vegas has great weather in March).

The conference is for small group ministry point leaders (paid and unpaid). It will also be a great experience for key ministry volunteers (i.e., coaches and other high capacity leaders).

I’ve already lined up 6 great speakers you are going to love:

  1. Bill Willits: Executive Director of Ministry Environments for North Point Ministries
  2. Tim Cooper: Leader Training and Resources team for North Point Ministries
  3. Chris Surratt: Discipleship and Small Group Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources
  4. Dave Enns: Lead Pastor Small Groups Ministry, North Coast Church
  5. Hugh Halter: U.S. Director of Forge
  6. Todd Engstrom: Executive Pastor of Ministries at The Austin Stone Community Church

I’m still working out the pricing but it will be in the same range as re:group or the Lobby.

The website will go live on 9/15/16.

Here’s where you come in:

I’d love to hear from you about the conference. You could help me with a little information.

First, would you email me and let me know you’re interested.

Second, in the email would you tell me which small group ministry speakers you’d like to hear from and what topics you’d like to learn about?

Thanks for your help!

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