Dilbert on Trust vs Suspicion

Sometimes you just need to laugh:

high levels of trust

Making Critical Strategic Choices

If you’ve been following the conversation here for any length of time, you know that I am always intrigued by great questions.  Working my way through Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works right now and discovered a great question/concept over the weekend.  I knew I had to share this with you.  See also, Supercharge Your Ministry Impact with These 5 Questions.

Here’s the setup: When you’re trying to effectively communicate strategy at all levels within your organization, the challenge “is to find simple, clear, and compelling ways to do so.”  Obvious, right?  Not rocket science.  But doing it well…that is the trick.

Here’s the concept: “Ask, ‘What are the critical strategic choices that everyone in the organization should know and understand?” (Pg. 142)

The illustration from Playing to Win: “At P&G (Proctor and Gamble), it boiled down to three themes that would enable the company to win, in the places and ways it had chosen, regardless of the details of individual differences between businesses (here are there critical strategic choices):

  1. Make the consumer the boss, 
  2. Win the consumer value equation,
  3. Win the two mot important moments of truth (i.e., when the customer encounters the product in the store for the first time and when he or she first uses it at home).

Need a ministry example?  How about Craig Groeschel’s statement that “We will do anything short of sin to introduce people to God.”  Or how about “If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you need to do things no one else is doing.”

Can you see the application for your organization?  What if your team spent some time figuring out the critical strategic choices and then a way to say it that’s simple, clear and compelling?

What do you think?  How would you articulate your themes?  Have a question?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Skill Training: Healthy Groups Integrate Four Components into Every Gathering

How do you answer the question, “What does your group do?”

Probably the most common answers would be, “Our group…

  • meets to discuss their pastor’s last message
  • works their way through a book of the Bible
  • always has a DVD-driven study
  • eats a meal together twice a month
  • chooses a service project to do together
  • etc.

Healthy Groups Integrate Four Components into Every Gathering

One of the many helpful insights that Carl George introduced with the Meta Church model is that four components are present at every gathering in healthy groups.  These components are love, learn, decide and do.  The balance between the components are determined by the purpose or function of the group (for example, a small group that focuses on Bible study might be 20% love, 70% learn, 5% decide, and 5% do, while a serving group might be 20% love, 10% learn, 5% decide, and 65% do).

The key to the insight is that for a group to be healthy, all four components must be present.

Remember, designing your group for life-change is much more than simply choosing the best activity or study.  The way you spend your time together is a key element.  If you want your group to be healthy, all four of these components must be present.  See also, Skill Training: Design Your Group for Life-Change.

Four Simple Steps for Healthy Groups

  1. Identify the function of your group (is it a Bible study, a service team, a prayer group, etc.)
  2. Determine the current percentage of time the group currently spends on loving, learning, deciding, and doing.
  3. Discuss the four components and determine the ideal percentages given the function of your group.
  4. Implement a plan to ensure that all four components are present

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

Quotebook: What Disciples Learn

I was working my way through an article by Dallas Willard and was stopped in my tracks by this:

“As a disciple I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life if he were I.  I am not necessarily learning to do everything he did, of course; but I am learning how to do everything I do in the manner and from the source from which he did all that he did.”  Dallas Willard, Living a Transformed Life Adequate to Our Calling

What do you think?  How does that line up with your course description?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

How Do You Best Utilize Gifted Teachers in a Church OF Small Groups?

How do you best utilize gifted teachers in a church of small groups?  That was the question recently over in the Small Group Ministry Practitioners Facebook group.  See also, A Church WITH Groups vs a Church OF Groups: What’s the Difference?

That’s my paraphrase.  The actual question was:

How do you best utilize people with teaching gifts in a church of small groups? My small group director and I were just talking about this, in light of the fact that we recently lost a gifted teacher because there was no place (i.e. Sunday School) for her to use her teaching gifts on a regular basis. Thoughts?

Before I even get into it, let me say that there was a great discussion about it in the Small Group Ministry Practitioners group.  Quite a few very insightful comments.  I chimed in a little, but need to give a more organized response.

Here’s my take:

First of all, we’d need to have a shared understanding of the terms “teaching gifts” and “gifted teacher.”  Since teaching is included in everyone’s list of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4) we probably all are using the term in a similar fashion.  Whether one has a teaching gift or is a gifted teacher has less to do with self-assessment and more to do with the observations of others and fruit.  I’ve known many who think of themselves as gifted teachers who aren’t and a number who would never think of themselves as a teacher (gifted or otherwise) and clearly communicate God’s word whenever they open their mouths.

Second, the optimum environment for life-change is in a small group.  In the words of Andy Stanley, “At the end of the day, circles are better than rows.”  Does that mean there’s no place for teaching?  Absolutely not.  It might mean there are fewer opportunities for people who like to invite listeners to pull up a chair and enjoy a smaller version of the weekend service.  But it doesn’t mean there’s no place for gifted teachers.  See also, Quotebook: Life-Change, Circles and Rows and Andy Stanley on Creating a Culture That’s All About Circles.

Third, there are many ways people with teaching gifts can be used in a church of small groups.

  • As small group leaders who introduce the topic each week, setting up group members with a good understanding of the background and key concept of the study (much like the teaching portion on a DVD).
  • As part of a team that provides video teaching to introduce the small group topic each week.
  • Master teachers for the large group segment of an on-campus women’s or men’s study (followed by small group segment led by table leaders).
  • As master teachers for small group leader training.
  • As up-front communicators for the large-group component of the short-term on campus options that North Point is using as a first step out of the auditorium.

Can you utilize gifted teachers in a church of small groups?  Absolutely.  How do you best utilize them?  Wisely.  Gifted is in the eye of the beholder.  The proof is in teaching that transforms (as opposed to informs).  And if there was ever a time to insist on faithful, available and teachable as pre-qualifiers…it might be on this issue.

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

New from Andy Stanley: Christian: It’s Not What You Think

christianHad a chance this week to review Andy Stanley’s newest DVD-driven study, Christian: It’s Not What You Think.  Wow!  So good.  Based on a series that North Point did about this time last year, this 8 week series will be a great study for many groups.

Stanley’s central idea is that the words used today to describe Christians often bear no resemblance to what Jesus wanted His followers to be known for.  If you’re at all like me, you’ll find yourself shaking your head in agreement and recognizing the disparities in the same moment.  Compelling and convicting.

The DVD segments are excerpts from Stanley’s messages and average 15 minutes in length.  Just about right for most attention spans.  The teaching on this topic is very compelling and crystal clear.  Right out of the New Testament, Stanley is a spell-binding communicator as he takes some of the most familiar passages and puts small group members right in the front row for the conversation.

The Participant’s Guide includes everything you need to unpack the profound set of ideas that form the basis of this series:

  • A well-designed discussion starter helps the group take a first look at the topic.
  • A video overview and a section for taking notes enables a look ahead at the teaching to come and a place to jot down key ideas.
  • A great set of discussion questions that will help group members dig deep into the content.
  • Mileposts keep your members focused on the central truths.
  • Moving Forward and Changing Your Mind provide direction for next steps.
  • 5 short devotional segments help set up the next session.

You’ll find a leader’s guide on the DVD along with a selection of promotional resources (bulletin inserts, postcard templates, poster and powerpoint slide), but take it from me, the teaching is presented so clearly there really is none needed.  The selected passages that form the basis for the study will be eye-opening for many group members who have never really wrestled with these ideas.

Back when this series was being given at North Point, I downloaded these messages and listened to them multiple times.  I shared it with many of my friends.  When I saw that they’d taken the content and created an 8 week small group curriculum, I was so excited for you!  This is a powerful study.  Your small group members need this content.  I love Christian 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 will receive an affiliate commission. In addition, I am 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.”

What Does Small Group Coaching Look Like in Your Preferred Future?

coaching preferred futureIf you’ve been following the conversation here, you know that we’re always talking about the preferred future.  Always.  Right?  Don’t believe me?  Look at all the articles that have preferred future in the title!

We ask, what will the leaders be like in the preferred future in order to provide group members the experience they need?  What must the coaches be like in the preferred future in order to deliver the right experience to group leaders?

Why?  We’re looking ahead to the preferred future because knowing where you are going gives definition to the path that leads to there.

Andy Stanley said, “Path, not intent, determines destination.”  Another way of looking at the same equation would be to say, “Once you know the destination, the path that leads to there becomes increasingly clear.

The picture in the upper left of this post is from some work that we did this week clarifying the preferred future for coaching in our system.

Here are the unrefined characteristics that we noted:

  • There is a span of care of 1 to 10 up and down (in other words, coaches will have up to 10 people they’re caring for and coaches will be cared for by someone who has no more than 10 in their huddle).
  • Coaches have a high-level commitment to Canyon Ridge (CRCC) and grouplife.
  • Coaches should be identifying coaching candidates and replicating themselves.
  • Coaches will have regular and individual contact with their huddle (up and down).
  • Coaches need to be becoming a God-first man or woman and modeling a God-first life.
  • Coaches will make sure their huddle feels connected, cared for, and urged to grow.
  • Etc.

Will it be easy to get there?  Nope.  Does it look a little daunting?  Yep.  Is that the reason so many small group ministries give up?  Absolutely.  But guess what.  Whatever you want to happen in the lives of your members must happen first in the lives of your leaders.  And…your leaders never have that experience without a coach or mentor modeling it for them.

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

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Could Your Group Host an Easter Party?

I’ve been saying for a number of years that in post-Christian America it becomes more likely every day that the easier first step is “come on over.”  Although research still is cited that indicates a significant percentage of people will attend if you invite them to come to a service, we are clearly in a different era now than we were just 10 years ago (see Connecting the Widening 60% (Who Are Unreachable by the Attractional Model).

So…what now?  Is there an easier invite than, “Come with me to one of our Easter services?”

I believe that there is.  I believe the easier invite is, “Come on over!  We’re having our friends over for an Easter party.  We’re having our own Easter egg hunt.  We’re having a great meal.  And we’re watching the Saddleback Easter service online (or fill in the blank with your own online service or the flavor that matches your persuasion).”

Here’s a video that Saddleback is using to spread the idea.  Just imagine if half of their over 6000 small groups acted on the idea?  What if half of your groups acted on the idea?

Here’s a video that Saddleback has just posted for their small group hosts:

Can’t see the video?  You can watch it right here.  Saddleback is providing a little extra help right here.

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

Essential Ingredient #1: Infused with God’s Word

I recently posted a list of 10 key ingredients for life-change.  Are these the only 10?  Probably not.  But I can tell you this…I really do believe there are essential ingredients if you want life-change to occur and you’d be off target if you thought these were optional ingredients.

Is there an order of priority?  Is there a recipe or a mix (like 10% this and 13% that)?  I don’t know.  But I do know this.  You’re not ending up with life-change if you omit the Bible.  You’re not ending up with life-change if your meetings aren’t infused with God’s word.

The Bible as an essential ingredient:

I’m sure of that.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible is an essential ingredient.

Does that mean that groups that use only the Bible (no study guide or DVD) have a lock on infusion?  No.  Your meetings can be just as infused if you’re using a flavor of the month DVD-driven study with scripture built-in.  By the way, the fact that you’re working your way through a book of the Bible shouldn’t necessarily be confused with a meeting that is infused with God’s word.  In my mind, infusion means that when you leave the study you’re stepping in the direction of being more like Jesus (as opposed to simply knowing more about Jesus).

Does that mean that groups that only meet to share a meal and fellowship can’t be infused with God’s word?  Nope.  A wise and skillful leader can easily integrate plenty of biblical references, principles, encouragement and challenge, all in the middle of a meal.

Is there value in reading a book together (perhaps the latest Francis Chan or Matt Chandler or Craig Groeschel)?  Sure.  But what produces life-change is when biblical truth moves from the print on the page to the daily life of the member.  Life-change happens when biblical truth moves from information to transformation.

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

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