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Add “Generational IQ” to Your Must Read List

generational iqI’ve spent some time with a new book from Haydn Shaw the last couple weeks. If you’re trying to reach Millennials, Generational IQ is a book you’re going to want to add to your stack. Shaw has researched and helped clients regarding generational differences for over twenty years. He is also the author of Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together  and FranklinCovey’s bestselling workshops Leading Across Generations and Working Across Generations.

Generational IQ is packed with great insights and well reasoned analysis of the research that most of us have been reading. At the same time, this is a very readable book and well-written. My copy is marked up, underlined, starred with several dogeared pages with ideas I don’t want to forget.

You’ll appreciate the way the book is organized. It begins with a section that teases out how when you were born shapes your relationship with God. A chapter each on Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials and covers what shaped each generation, their strengths and temptations. As a resource, this section is very helpful and will get a lot of use.

The middle section is where I spent the most time. These four chapters provide both insight and coaching into four of the concerns that many of us have about reaching (or parenting) Millennials.

  • “What do I say to friends who claim, ‘I’m spiritual but not religious'”?
  • When will my twentysomething move out of the basement?
  • How do I reach my twentysomething who is drifting away from God?
  • What do I do when my kid is putting off marriage but not sex?

Like the first section, I really like the way these chapters are organized. There is a well-reasoned analysis of the underlying issues but there is also some excellent coaching on how we ought to respond. I can definitely see Generational IQ as a resource that will get a lot of use by staff and key volunteers tasked with developing a strategy that will reach Millennials.

The third section provides several key insights from the church perspective. If you’re wondering why Millennials aren’t coming to your church or how to help the other three generations understand the issues that are barriers for them, you’ll want to read this section carefully. You’ll also want to put this book in the hands of your church’s leadership. These understandings should be shaping our responses.

Generational IQ is a very helpful read. I know I’ll come back to it repeatedly as we shape strategy and I’m confident you’ll feel the same way. I loved it and I know 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. 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.”

Thinking Thursday: Tony Salvador: The listening bias

tony salvador

Listening to both customers and colleagues to gather insights and information is a key ability that successful people possess. Tony Salvador shares some strategies for being a better listener : to lose preconceptions, to be vulnerable and open to new ideas, and to not be afraid to hear what we’d rather not hear.

Can’t see the video? You can watch it right here.

Every week I choose a video that I think you need to see and believe will inspire some new thinking. You can find the rest of the collection right here.

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Quotebook: Capturing Imagination

MichaelFrostMichael Frost spoke about the need to tell a better story in a main session at Exponential West.  So good!

In his introduction he said “if you want to change the world, if you want to change people, tell them a different story.”

Doesn’t that ring true to you?

Since I’m always trying to figure out how to help people who are far from God take a step in the right direction, I was captivated by a quote Frost used from author Garrett Green’s Imagining God:

“God conquers not by force, but by capturing the imagination of his fallen human creatures.”

7 Things You Must Do TO and FOR Your Small Group Leaders

small group leadersCan I let you in on a little corner of reality? Small group leaders are no different than the rest of us. A few of them (maybe 5 to 10%) are self-starters and have the internal wiring to take the right steps to grow on their own. The other 90-95% of all small group leaders need someone to develop and disciple them.

This is a very important concept to understand because whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your small groups must happen in the lives of your leaders first. No life-change in the leader, no life-change in the member.

Bottom line? If your leaders aren’t being developed and discipled, you cannot expect much to happen in the lives of the members of their groups.

Ready for another dose of reality? If you have coaches in place, this is what you need them do. If you don’t have coaches in place…developing and discipling your small group leaders is your job.

I’ve been saying for quite a while now that the primary role of a small group coach is to do to and for (and with) your small group leaders whatever you want your leaders to do to and for (and with) their members. What I haven’t said very specifically is what must be done to and for your leaders. See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciple Leaders.

Here is what I believe must be done to and for small group leaders.

Things you must do TO and FOR your small group leaders:

  1. Offer encouragement and guidance, both unsolicited and upon request, from the very beginning. This is about technique and it’s what most of us would refer to as coaching. It is the tip of the iceberg, but it is where you need to begin in most cases. See also, How Much of Coaching Is about Technique.
  2. Get to know your leaders. Ask the right questions. Proactively listen. Lean in. It takes about three months for most leaders to learn everything they’re ever going to need to know about technique. If you want to develop and disciple them, you have to know them and they have to know you.
  3. Give them a sense of family. Make getting to know them and their family a priority. Remember, a small group leader cannot give away what they have not received. If you want your groups to develop a sense of family, your leaders need to have already experienced it.
  4. Pray for them. First, ask them how you can pray for them. Second, stop what you are doing and pray for them right then. Third, remember to follow up and ask them about their prayer request.
  5. Help them identify their spiritual next steps. A key role that must be played by someone (whether that is you or a coach) is the same one Paul played with Timothy. The “follow me as I follow Christ” role is really played by someone who is known, not a distant role model. See also, Equip Your Leaders to Help Members Plan to Grow.
  6. Help them take their spiritual next steps. In order for a leader to become more than a good facilitator they need to be able to help group members take spiritual next steps. To do that well, leaders need to have experienced genuine and loving accountability.
  7. Model for them what they need to do TO and FOR their members. The right coach is really a role model for group leaders. You know you have the right men and women as coaches when they already have the habits you want your leaders to build. See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.

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5 Symptoms of a Healthy Small Group Ministry

SymptomsIs your small group ministry healthy?

How can you tell if your small group ministry is healthy? Is there a set of symptoms or indicators of health?

I think there is. Just like a doctor can look at your blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse to determine the health of your heart, there are a few important symptoms that can indicate small group ministry health. Here are 5 that I think are important.

5 symptoms of a healthy small group ministry

  1. An increasing total number of groups. Healthy small group ministries increase the total number of groups on an annual basis. When the total number of groups remains the same (or decreases) year over year it is an indication that you are simply satisfying the usual suspects. It also indicates that you are not opening up enough new seats to connect unconnected people. Taking a snapshot at a set time twice a year will tell you whether you are sustaining the new groups you launch. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members to Existing Groups vs Start New Groups.
  2. An increasing total number of adults in groups. Healthy small group ministries also increase the total number of adults in groups on an annual basis. Tracking the total number of groups is an important measure of health. Tracking the total number of adults in groups is well worth the time and energy required to take an accurate snapshot.
  3. An increasing percentage connected. Your percentage connected (number of adults in groups divided by the average number of adults in worship) is an important indicator to watch. If you believe that the optimal environment for life-change is a circle, your percentage connected is ultimately what determines whether you’re gaining ground or losing ground. For example, your average adult attendance in worship climbs by 10%, you might still be losing ground in terms of percentage connected even if you add 10 new groups and 100 more people in groups. See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?
  4. A decreasing average age of groups. If you are starting new groups (and sustaining the new groups you launch) on a regular basis, the average age of your groups (when did your group begin meeting?) should be decreasing. If the average age of your groups is increasing or remaining the same, it is an indication that you are not succeeding at launching enough new groups (and sometimes allowing zombie groups to die). See also, Can You Tell If Your Group Might be a Zombie?
  5. An increasing percentage of group leaders actively connecting with a coach. If whatever you want to happen in the lives of group members has to happen first in the lives of your leaders, increasing the percentage of your group leaders who are actively being discipled and developed by a coach is essential. This is a very serious indicator if you want to make disciples. If this percentage is not increasing, you can be sure that your small group ministry will not be healthy. See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.

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

Image by Yann

Take a Look at 40 Days of God’s Kingdom

40 days of Gods Kingdom

What do you know about the Kingdom of God? Not a foreign concept to most of us, right? But what about the members of your congregation? Considering the number of times Jesus referred to the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of the Heavens), isn’t it something that you might want to share with your church?

Chip Ingram recently commented that “few concepts are as misunderstood or completely ignored as the ‘Kingdom of God.'” After previewing 40 Days of God’s Kingdom Ingram wrote that “thanks to Pastor Rick Stinton, you can grasp the most central message of the Bible.”

40 Days of God’s Kingdom is a new church-wide campaign from Rick Stinton, Senior Pastor of New Hope Kailua in Kailua, Hawaii. Stinton received his Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary and has served churches in Canada and the U.S.

DVD-driven, this is a 7 session study that features the practical and insightful teaching of Rick Stinton. The video segments average 20 to 25 minutes and are fairly straightforward. Biblical truth served up simply and easy to follow.

The study guide is also very practically designed and easy to use. Every session begins with a “Kingdom Quiz” based on the reading assignment from the book by the same title. Also included in the study guide is an outline for the DVD teaching and a thoughtfully written discussion guide. Every session wraps up with a personal action plan and an opportunity to pray together.

Like many church-wide campaigns, 40 Days of God’s Kingdom also includes a book to be read along with the study. According to Bruce Waltke, Professor Emeritus in Old Testament Studies at Regent College, the book is “Comprehensive yet concise. Clear and creative. Insightful and inspiring.” I agree with Professor Waltke. At about 90 pages, I found it both an easy read and one that will help the reader absorb more deeply the powerful truths of life in the Kingdom.”

To make it easy and affordable to use 40 Days of God’s Kingdom as a church-wide campaign special pricing is available (making it affordable) and a complete set of sermon outlines and transcripts are available for purchase.

If you’re looking for a way to help your members grasp the important concept of the Kingdom of God, 40 Days of God’s Kingdom is the best study I know of. They’ll come away with much more than a better understanding, though. Once your congregation begins to live the Kingdom of God, they’ll understand why it would be worth selling everything to acquire.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 40 Days of God’s Kingdom is an advertiser on my blog and has paid a fee for this review. 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: On Being a Friend of Sinners

hugh halterEvery time I listen to Hugh Halter or read his writing I am more persuaded that what he is saying is very important. In a breakout at Exponential yesterday talking about his new book he said this:

“We think you have to condemn or condone. Jesus would tell us, ‘I don’t want you to do either. I want you to be a friend of sinners.'”

Hugh Halter’s newest book is called Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgement. I’ve been profoundly impacted by his previous writing and have no doubt you’ll be hearing about this one.

Quotebook: Why Are You Developing Leaders?

mac-lakeI don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to find and develop more leaders. I heard Mac Lake say this today at Exponential West:

“When I ask why people want to develop more leaders, the most common answers are that they don’t have enough leaders or they need more leaders. Those are actually the wrong answers. The right answer is ‘because I see potential in the person in front of me.'”

Mac Lake is the Visionary Architect for The Launch Network, a church planting network based out of West Ridge Church in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. His role is to network with churches and planters to establish healthy church starts across the U.S. and the world. Their goal is to plant 1000 churches in the next 10 years. He is a leadership development genius and blogs at

5 Secrets of Building Ministry Momentum

momentumMomentum. Few of us have it. All of us want it.

How do you generate momentum? And how do you build and sustain momentum once you have it?

I believe there are some secrets to building momentum. I also believe that none of these secrets are easy to do. If they were, everyone would have momentum.

And yet…these secrets are not impossible to master. They are a challenge. But not because they are difficult. They are a challenge because they require keener insight and greater courage and discipline than most of us ordinarily have.

With insight, courage and discipline mastering these secrets is quite obvious and imminently doable.

Here are 5 secrets of building ministry momentum

  1. Identify one experience that everyone needs. This is where keen insight is required. I often say that you’ve chosen the right church-wide campaign when you can legitimately say, “We’ll still be talking about what happened in the fall of 2015 ten years from now.” If you can’t say that about the campaign you’re considering…you’ve probably not identified the one experience that everyone needs. Another line I often use is that “you don’t want to get to November and wish you had been part of a group that is using the study.” Can you see how these two statements might form a test for whether you’ve chosen the right campaign? See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.
  2. Choose the optimum window to offer the experience. This secret requires both insight and courage. In my experience, while the source of momentum may be somewhat of a mystery, the reasons for a lack of momentum are abundantly clear. There is a right window to offer every experience. You know what it is. I know what it is. When the right season is interrupted by an event or program that could (and should) be held some other time…that other event or program needs to be relocated. And that takes both insight and courage. See also, When Is the Best Time to Launch a Church-Wide Campaign.
  3. Narrow your focus to the experience you’ve chosen. This is an enormously important secret. If you want to build momentum, eliminating all other competing events and programs is essential. I know, eliminating is a very strong word. The key really is this. If you want to create momentum you need to put a laser focus on the experience you have already declared is the one experience that everyone needs. This is not the time to promote everything equally. This is the time to focus the spotlight on the one thing you’ve chosen. See also, 10 Principles for Building a Thriving Small Group Ministry.
  4. Make the offer irresistible. Everything matters. The way you talk about the experience in your weekend service (announcements). The way your senior pastor refers to it in the sermon. The insert in the bulletin. The website. The church-wide email. The newsletter. Everything must ring true and ring loudly. Make it affordable (free if you can). Provide incentives for everyone who invites a friend (make it even more affordable). Ask everyone to consider donating a little extra so the resources can be free to everyone who cannot afford to participate. Everything you are doing must feel like a can’t afford to miss this opportunity. See also, Budgeting for the Preferred Future.
  5. Make the first step obvious and easy. This secret may feel like a no-brainer. But trust me…so many of us are NOT doing this. The first step MUST be totally obvious. Sign-up? You shouldn’t have to figure it out. You shouldn’t have to hope. Or wonder. How you sign-up should be TOTALLY obvious. Where you sign-up should be TOTALLY obvious. And it should be EASY. If you have to be psychic (I usually say Carnac the Magnificent) to figure out how to sign up…it is not easy. See also, How Would You Rate the First Steps Out of Your Auditorium?

Image by Evelyn Berg

5 Ways to Blow Up Your Small Group Ministry

explosivesYou’ve worked hard to build your small group ministry. It’s humming along; firing on all cylinders. And at just about any moment there are a few things that can blow up most of what you’ve worked hard to accomplish.

What are they?

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Changing your small group model. Regardless of your motivation for changing your small group model, when you tinker with the familiar you run the risk of upsetting the apple cart. Doesn’t mean you can’t switch from a semester model to an ongoing model or from sermon-based to free-market. It does mean that every change ought to be wisely evaluated and made with adequate care. It also means that model changes require what may feel like over communication and extravagant advance notice. See also, 5 Toxic Small Group Ministry Moves.
  2. Retroactively assigning coaches to all of your experienced group leaders. This may be the most common way small group ministries get blown up. Providing every small group leader a coach may seem like the wise thing to do but retroactively assigning coaches to experienced leaders is almost always rejected like a bad organ transplant. Your intentions may be good. You may simply want to provide adequate care to every leader but it will rarely be interpreted that way. It almost always feels like the result of a lack of trust or a desire to control. See also, 5 Things I Wish I Had Known about Small Group Coaches.
  3. Adding reporting requirements that feel intrusive or unnecessary. What feels reasonable to senior pastors and executive pastors can easily feel excessive to group leaders and invasive to group members. Here’s a tip: Before you begin asking group leaders to report anything, ask yourself how you will use the data they report. If there is no legitimate reason to collect it, don’t ask for it. FAQ: What Does a Coach Need to Know from a Small Group Leader.
  4. Mandating participation in a church-wide study. What may seem like a reasonable expectation to your senior pastor can feel like a major imposition to some group leaders (and members). While the chosen study may seem an obvious choice to church leaders, it will sometimes be perceived as an intrusion by group leaders (and members). Especially when every group is expected to set aside what they are currently studying (and may have been planning to study for months), something well beyond adequate advance notice is required and only sensitive encouragement will be received. See also, 5 Keys to Getting Everyone Involved in a Church-Wide Campaign.
  5. Requiring small group leaders to do something they didn’t sign up to do. Strategies that make it easy to begin leading a group (i.e., the HOST strategy and the Small Group Connection) are excellent ways to grow the number of groups in your small group ministry. At the same time, expecting new leaders who simply meet low bar requirements to accept high bar expectations (i.e., attending training meetings, meeting with a coach, etc.) often leads to quick exits as a leader. Equally, expecting new leaders who simply said “yes” to opening their home or facilitating a discussion to truly shepherd or disciple their members is an expectation that can lead to the early demise of the leader and the group. See also, How to Help a HOST Become a Small Group Leader.

Image by Jeremy Brooks

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