Great New Resource! STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships

STIRI got to take a look at a new book by Mindy Caliguire that I think you are going to really like.  Even better, I think you’re going to figure out how to take full advantage of some very good content right away.

STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships takes what I’d call a very fresh approach to spiritual formation and comes at this topic in a way that should catch the attention of small group ministry champions.  I cracked open the book because I’ve found Mindy’s earlier contributions very helpful.  I caught myself about 25 pages in thinking, “Wait…what? and started over from the introduction!  Too good.  Packed with very helpful ideas!

Drawing from the findings of Willow Creek’s Reveal study, STIR employs a framework based on the three “believer” stages in the research; the “primary shifts that mark the transition from one stage to another.”  Taking a cue from Reveal, STIR refers to these three stages as learning together, journeying together, and following together.  One of the fresh ideas in STIR is the reminder that these shifts happen best in relationship.

In addition to keying in on the three stages, STIR also draws out the significance “two essential relational elements that are necessary for each stage of development”: direction and discernment.  To be honest, this is point that stopped me in my tracks and forced me to go back to the beginning.

  • Direction refers to “the level of structure in a relationship–how much instruction and guidance are needed to support growth.”
  • Discernment refers to “a more complex level of interaction where a person helps another by offering observations and wisdom in such a way that an individual is enabled to wisely make decisions without explicit direction or counsel.”

The essence of the concept of the two relational elements is that “there relative importance shifts as people mature, with the need for discernment increasing as the need for direction decreases.”  This is a very helpful way of understanding why the Reveal research found small group involvement essential in the early stages of spiritual growth and less important in the latter stages.

Each of the stages is given a very thorough treatment, packed with discoveries that will immediately have you thinking about the implications for the work you are doing.  There were several spots when I stopped reading and took my copy next door to show some aspect to another member of my team.

If you’re serious about building a ministry that actually develops environments and relationship where life-change happens, you’re going to want to add this book to your thinking.  STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships could be the ingredient that brings the breakthrough understanding you need in your ministry.  (By the way, at least on the day I posted this review, STIR was available for $3.99 on Kindle!)

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.”

FAQ: How Can I Get My Leaders to Attend Training?

I get a lot of questions.  Sometimes they’re very particular to a unique situation.  Most of the time the questions are on a topic that I know will help everyone.  Here’s the one I got yesterday:

How can I get my leaders to attend training?

Ever wondered that?  I think this is one of my most frequent frequently asked questions.

I’ve written several posts on the topic of leader training over the last 5 years.  You’ve probably read one or two.  Here’s what I’m thinking today.  I think there are several things to keep in mind.

5 Key Realities to Keep in Mind:

First, we live in a very fast-paced, over-committed time.  This is true for almost all of us.  I realize there are exceptions globally, but for most of us, we barely have time to lead a group, let alone attend meetings.

Second, we live in a time when almost everything is available on-demand.  Who watches a 60 minute television program in 60 minutes?  Don’t most of us DVR it and watch it in 42 minutes?

Third, we live in a time when attention spans are at an all time low.  Smart phones and tablets are changing the game in terms of capturing attention even when a meeting is planned and held.

Fourth, we live in a time when the quality of worship services and events are being compared with the church online or on TV  (no longer with the church on the other corner).

Fifth, an increasing number of churches attract attendees from across a county or region (and a decreasing number of churches attract from a small area).  Again, I know there are exceptions, but the rule for most of us is that drive times are long, even in more rural areas.

Conclusion

With me?  Can you see how these five realities contribute to the leader training conversation?  And let me quick to remind you, idealism and wishful thinking won’t change them.  They are what they are regardless of what we think will be good for small group leaders.

Here’s what we’re currently doing in the effort to develop our small group leaders:

  1. We have two centralized training events a year.  The fall event is a Saturday morning from 8:30 to noon and includes a plenary vision casting segment featuring our senior pastor and two 75 minute breakouts.  We invite small group leaders and team leaders from all areas of ministry and the breakout topics are designed to help develop leaders regardless of their ministry.  See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway and Envision, Encourage, and Equip Your Leaders with This 25 Year Old Idea.
  2. We’re asking our community leaders (our current word for a coach) to gather their leaders in a huddle at least every 8 weeks.  It’s one of the main items on their job description.  It’s also one of the commitments that we ask our small group leaders to make.  These huddles are usually in homes or restaurants and attempt to be geographically convenient for the leaders.  See also, 8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders and Coaching FAQ: What Is the Role of a Coach?
  3. We are increasingly aware of the need for training content that can be viewed on-demand.  Whether we produce the content in-house (we capture at least an audio recording of our breakouts and a video of our senior pastor’s plenary) or acquire the content from RightNow Media or Ministry Grid, we know we must be able to deliver training online and on-demand.  See also, Seen the Latest from RightNow Media and Ministry Grid Online.

Three Realities in the Hunt for Potential Small Group Leaders

How do you spot a potential small group leader?  Facial recognition software?  Identifying marks?  Some kind of spiritual profiling?

How do you know what to look for…when you’re looking for a potential small group leader?

Here are three realities in the hunt for potential small group leaders:

First, I almost never find that “desire to be a small group leader” is a very good indicator.  It can be, but too often the desire to be a leader is motivated by the wrong things.  This is the factor that has made the small group connection such a valuable leader identification tool.  Better than anyone else, potential members of groups decide very quickly who they would be willing to follow.   See also The Upside of Reluctant Leaders.

Second, current group members is a good fishing pool for new leaders, but not the best fishing pool.  While I do find potential small group leaders who are already members in a small group, that isn’t an effective prerequisite in most churches.  In most of the churches I consult with, the largest number of people with the greatest potential to lead well are not yet in a group.  See also, Small Group Leaders: Qualifications, Hoops and Lowering the Bar.

Third, potential small group leaders rarely have it all together already.  They are almost always works-in-progress.  Connected with the right coach or mentor they eventually acquire the habits they will need; they will experience the things that will allow them to care for their members in the way that will help their members grow in Christ.  But most potential small group leaders don’t come in the door that way!  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.

If these realities are true, then what can we do?

Well, before we say anything else, lets agree that these realities are true!  Yes, there are exceptions to all three.  But…these are realities.  When you’re looking for potential small group leaders, you must keep these realities in mind.

What to do?  These three realities have led me to what has become my prescription.  You can develop the strategy you need with my 5 Keys to Finding More Leaders.

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

From Here to There: The Preferred Future for Small Group Leaders

cone_slide8Yesterday’s post about the 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader prompted some good discussion about how you might help a leader move in the right direction.  Makes sense.  Especially when you consider how hard we’re working to create easy first steps into leadership that lead automatically to next steps.  See also, 6 Keys to Accelerating Small Group Ministry Growth and Impact and Teacher, Leader, Shepherd, Host: What’s in a Name?

In a sense, the 8 habits begin to define the preferred future for small group leaders.  As much as you have developed commitments that you want your leaders to keep, when you describe the preferred future, you’re really going to be describing the kind of men and women you want them to be.  See also, 8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders.

The question is, once you define the preferred future for small group leaders, how would you take the raw product of a host (who really only signed up to open their home for 6 weeks) become the kind of leader who lives their life the way I described in the 8 Habits?  It would take some thinking and some energy, and more than a little persistence…but it might not be as impossible as it sounds!

What if you took the essence of Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway and built the habits into the elements of the path?  Could you see a way to begin to sequence the development of habit?  How would you do it?  See also, Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway.

I think you’d have to start by helping your leaders develop the habit of making a daily time with God a priority.  Right?  Can you imagine a way to do that?  What would you work on next?  I think I might try to create a system-wide awareness that none of us have arrived.  In fact, I might develop a personal study that would help every leader with both habits.  Can you see it?  And what if at the end of 12 months I measured for those two habits?

See where this is going?  It’s not microwavable.  It will take thinking, energy, and persistence.  It will take tears and sweat and might even take blood (couldn’t help that one).  This is the very agony Paul endured and at the heart of why he wrote, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…(Galatians 4:19).”

If we want leaders who have these 8 habits…we will have to help them develop them.

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

8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader

I’ve written recently about the 8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders as well as how to design your group meeting for life-change; two helpful angles from which to think about building a thriving small group ministry.  But what about the habits that help create the kind of man or woman who operates as an agent of life-change?

Here are the 8 habits of a life-changing small group leader.  Life-changing small group leaders:

  1. Make time with God a daily priority.  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 NIV
  2. Follow the best example and offer a good example.  “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV
  3. Have clear priorities.  “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
  4. Put the interests of others ahead of their own.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
  5. Know they haven’t arrived.  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 NIV
  6. Clear up relationships.  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
  7. Give and receive scriptural correction.  “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 NIV
  8. Follow spiritual leadership (within scriptural limits) and make it a joy for their leaders.  “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17 NIV

Are these habits prerequisite to beginning?  Not in the least.  Instead, they become the preferred future of a life-changing small group leader.  Can you imagine a better destination?  How do you help small group leaders move in the right direction?  Help them build the habits that will take them there.  See also, From Here to There: The Preferred Future for Small Group Leaders.

Although many people have influenced my thinking, I have to acknowledge Harold Bullock and Hope Church in Fort Worth, Texas and their heart attitudes.

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

Don’t Miss This New Book from Scott Wilson: Ready, Set, Grow!

ready set growA couple years ago I was given the opportunity to help jump start a small group ministry at The Oaks Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.  One of the people I got to know there was Scott Wilson, the senior pastor of The Oaks.  Let me tell you…you’ve never met anyone with more enthusiasm than Scott.  A couple weeks ago I picked up a copy of Scott’s newest book, Ready, Set. Grow! Three Conversations That Will Bring Lasting Growth to Your Church.  Loved it!  Not only is the content very helpful, the book perfectly captures Scott’s infectious enthusiasm!

Ready, Set, Grow! recalls the three conversations that led to the dynamic growth of The Oaks Fellowship.  The format of the book is both simple and extremely readable.  In some ways it had the feel of a Patrick Lencioni book, with principles and learnings embedded in the story being told.  From my vantage point the best aspect of the book is that it’s the kind of book that a church staff could read together and really learn from.

At its essence, Ready, Set, Grow! is the story of how the leadership of The Oaks moved from being workers, to equippers to multipliers.  Scott recalls that the three conversations “revolutionized our expectations, the level of our leadership, and our hearts.”

The book is divided into three sections, each with three chapters.  Each section begins with a conversation followed by what happened during that year and the lessons learned.  The conversations centered around:

  • Conversation 1: Becoming models others would want to follow.
  • Conversation 2: Selecting the right people to pour our lives into and equipping them to serve effectively.
  • Conversation 3: Building a third generation of leaders, and in fact, changing the culture so that building multipliers becomes a core value.

In addition to recalling the conversation, each section includes what they did as a team, what they learned and what they could have done differently.  One aspect that I really found helpful (perhaps because I know them) is that each section also includes a chapter from the perspective of a key staff member who went through the experience.  Every chapter concludes with a set of questions, making Ready, Set, Grow! a very practical book to read as a team.

If you’re looking for a book to help your team grow in their leadership capability, Ready, Set, Grow! could be just the one.  My copy is marked up, highlighted and starred and I’m sure yours will be too.

Note: At least today, Ready, Set, Grow! is only $0.99 on Amazon!

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.”

Orchestrate and Evaluate Everything

We had a dropped ball last week.  A snafu that was too important to overlook.  A very important church-wide email didn’t get scheduled and consequently, when we realized the oversight…it was too late.  And the direct result of the miss was lower sign-up than we anticipated.

Ever have this happen?  Of course you do.  We all do!

Here’s the question, though.  “What do you do about it?”

I decided that we need to go back to our drawing board and actually orchestrate the way our events are planned.  We’ve done a fair job up until now.  But we need to take “remembering to do something” out of the equation.  We need to move our process to the level of orchestration.

Full Disclosure: I was prompted to think this way by something I heard on this month’s Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast.  I get a ton out of it.  It’s a monthly podcast.  It’s free.  And it is really helpful.

Talking about how they do things at North Point, Andy hammered home the idea that great organizations “orchestrate and evaluate everything.”  A great word.  You can hear the podcast right here.

In the podcast Andy referenced an idea from Michael E. Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited about building successful organizations.  Gerber wrote that orchestration is a key aspect to organizational success and is almost always overlooked.

What is orchestration?  You can see the idea clearly in a well-run fast food operation.  Every move is planned.  Every operation is carefully thought out.  Everything is documented in a manual.  Gerber wrote that

“Orchestration is the elimination of discretion or choice at the operational level of the organization.”  The E-Myth Revisited

Orchestrate and evaluate everything.

You can listen to the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast episode right here.  And you can subscribe to it right here.

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

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.”

Envision, Encourage and Equip Your Leaders with This 25 Year Old Idea

What’s your plan to inspire your small group leaders?  If they’re ever going to break out of the status quo, stay within the lines patterns of what you’ve already done, they need a regular dose of vision.

What’s your plan to care for small group leaders over the long haul?  And remember, whatever you want your small group members to experience has to happen first in the lives of your leaders.  Leaders need regular encouragement from someone a few steps ahead.

What about skill training?  What’s your plan to help raw recruits become seasoned small group leaders?  If you want a network of the kind of leaders that are much more than hosts you’ll need more than hope.  You need a plan.

A 25 Year Old Idea…that works

One of the very best ideas to come out of Carl George’s ground-breaking classic, Prepare Your Church for the Future, was the notion of notion of VHS.  Not that kind of VHS.  I’m talking about Vision Huddle and Skill; a periodic meeting that includes all three components.

Here’s how it works:

Vision: This component is a great opportunity for your senior pastor to cast vision.  Part of being the small group champion is serving as the primary vision caster for your small group leaders.  Tell life-change stories.  Connect the great accounts of God’s heart for unconnected people with life in community.  Make heroes out of small group leaders who embrace your values.

True story?  One of the best lessons I ever learned was to make sure my senior pastor was the one telling the stories.  Listen.  I am a great storyteller.  But no one has more influence and can inspire like a senior pastor who hopes to connect far beyond the usual suspects.

Huddle: Integrating an opportunity for coaches to gather their leaders for 30 to 60 minutes is a beautiful thing.  It’s always a good thing for a coach to get one on one time with a leader.  It’s even better to gather all of their leaders in one circle.  Few practices have the potential of a group of leaders talking over what’s working, what’s not working, what’s next, and how everyone can pray for them.  See also, Four Questions Every Coach Should Be Asking.

By the way, this component is also the best opportunity I’ve ever discovered for providing a kind of coaching for leaders of existing small groups.  If you’ve been at this for any length of time, you know that retroactively assigning coaches to existing leaders almost never works.  Like a bad organ transplant it is rejected nearly every time.  Is there a work-around?  Yes.  This segment can be used to group existing leaders by affinity, life-stage or geography and give them a way to experience mutual care.  See also, How to Implement Coaching for Existing Leaders.

Skill: Taking 30 minutes to teach a skill allows newer leaders to grow in their abilities and experienced leaders to pass on their best practices.  You can provide more than one breakout, even with fewer than 10 leaders.  You can provide one breakout if you have a key idea you want to emphasize (like Designing Your Meeting for Life-Change, Developing More Leaders or Using a Small Group Agreement).

If your coaches are listening and reporting what your leaders are struggling with, it will be easy to provide skill training that matters to your small group leaders.  Alternatively, simply surveying your leaders and asking “what’s the best part of your meeting?” and “what’s the worst part of your meeting?” will go a long way toward figuring out which skill training topics will make the biggest difference.

Vision. Huddle. Skill.  This is a great idea…that works.

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

5 Simple Steps for a Mid-Semester Small Group Ministry Check-Up

No matter the system or strategy you use in your small group ministry, what you do right now determines a lot.  For almost all of us, mid-October is the moment that determines whether your new groups continue to meet or just kind of fizzle and die.

Harsh…I know.  But whether you use a semester-based strategy, you’re a few weeks into a church-wide campaign, or you just launched a few new groups the old-fashioned way…there are some powerful steps you can take right now to help your newest groups survive and your seasoned groups get even stronger.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take right now:

  1. New small group leaders are never more interested in meeting with their coach than in their first few weeks on the job.  A quick phone call to check in on every new leader can yield plenty of opportunities to meet for coffee and catch up.  If what happens over a cup of coffee is equal parts coaching and caring, your coaches will have a much easier time staying connected when the leader no longer needs help with technique.  See also, Four Questions Every Coach Should Be Asking.
  2. 3 or 4 weeks into a six-week study is the time to start talking about what’s next.  If a group is beginning to click and only made a 6 week commitment (very common in church-wide campaigns), new members will begin to wonder out loud if there is anything next.  “Hey, there’s only three more weeks.  Is there anything after this study?”  Two skillful moves right now will help sustain a much larger number of new groups.  See also, 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups.
    • First, have your coaches check-in with every group leader to let them know about the next study you’ve chosen for new groups that want to continue.
    • Second, have your pastor hold up a copy of the new study and say something like, “We’ve been hearing some great stories about what’s happening in our new small groups.  We’ve chosen a follow-up study that we think you’re going to love.  You’ll find samples at the booth in the lobby.”
  3. Even seasoned leaders often fall into the trap of doing everything themselves.  The group meets at their house.  They provide the snacks.  And they facilitate every meeting.  Right now is a great time to encourage every experienced leader to identify and invite a group member or two to take a turn facilitating.  Adding at least an alternate home to meet in is another very helpful step for many groups.  And it may seem counterintuitive, but asking every member to sign up to bring snacks helps develop consistency.  See also, Skill Training: How to Develop More Leaders.
  4. A leader’s rally or training works well in the first couple weeks of November and right about now is the time to promote it and ask for RSVPs.  Depending on the number of group leaders in your system, it can be as easy as meeting for dinner or dessert in a side room of the right restaurant.  Coffee and bagels on a Saturday morning works well too.  Some version of Carl George’s VHS model (vision, huddle, skill) works well in a two hour format.  Invite your senior pastor to cast vision and inspire the troops (15 to 30 minutes).  Include time to huddle with coaches (30 to 45 minutes).  Finish with a skill training segment (30 to 60 minutes).  See also, Skill Training.
  5. Incorporating an appreciation gift into your leader training or asking your coaches to deliver a gift at their individual meetings is a great idea.  A book like Steve Gladen’s Leading Small Groups with Purpose, Bill Donahue’s Leading Life-Changing Small Groups, or Sam O’Neals Field Guide for Small Group Leaders can express your appreciation and provide the content for upcoming training.  A $10 Starbucks gift card is often just the thing.

The key?  Right now is the time to help your newest group leaders take a next step and re-energize your seasoned leaders.  Don’t miss it!

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

8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders

Whether you use a low or high bar of small group leadership, I think all of us have hope that our leaders will do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion or convene a meeting.  And…I think some of us have begun laying the foundation for a kind of leadership pathway.  See also, Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar and Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway.

Not long ago I noticed a post on Thom Rainer’s blog on the 8 Commitments for Bible Study Leaders.  As usual, it was very well thought out and extremely helpful, but it seemed to be primarily focused on the role of a Bible study teacher.  Important…but not targeted to the small group leaders many of us are identifying, recruiting and developing.

Here are the commitments I’d like my small group leaders to make:

  1. I will make my daily, living connection with Jesus Christ a priority—being in community with Him is the foundation for all community.  How will a new leader know what this means?  It will have to modeled by a coach or mentor.  Remember, whatever you want to happen at the member level will have to be experienced by the leader first.
  2. I will lead an exemplary Christian lifestyle—group members watching me will see an obedient servant of Jesus Christ growing in maturity.  How will this happen?  The expectation that this will happen outside of ministry leadership modeling servant leadership is pure fantasy.
  3. I will convene my group regularly (2 to 4 times a month).  For members of a group to truly experience what it means to have the sense of family, to grow spiritually, to have impact…being together will be the norm.  See also, The End in Mind for My Ideal Small Group.
  4. I will provide personalized care and development for each of my members, using the Spiritual Health Assessment and Spiritual Health Planner.  A level of intentionality will pervade the experience.
  5. I will assist in the identification and development of potential Life Group Leaders within my group.  This doesn’t just happen…at least very often.  It must be modeled.  It must be built in to the culture.
  6. I will maintain great communication with the Community Life team.  We are stronger together.  We work better as a team.  Everyone benefits when small group leaders acknowledge their role in the larger community.
  7. I will gather with the other Life Group Leaders in my coaching huddle for training and encouragement.  We all need to pay attention to the examples of the leaders just ahead of us.  We also need to meet the needs of the leaders just behind us.  Although it is countercultural, we need each other and we are in this together.
  8. I will attend scheduled gatherings for training and encouragement (i.e., Lead Well and the Fall Host Rally).  Again, we are all part of a larger community.  We weren’t made to stand alone.  We were made to do this together.

Here’s the key: If you want your small group leaders to do more than open their home, facilitate a discussion, or convene a meeting…you need to implement a leadership pathway and a very early step is to introduce a set of commitments.

Feel free to take these commitments and adapt them to fit your context.  As I’ve noted before, I’m sure that Carl George and Brett Eastman played a part in the origin of these 8 commitments.  I’ve been using these basic ideas for so long I can’t remember exactly where I stole them..

Two additional resources that will help you develop your own commitments are Steve Gladen’s Small Groups with Purpose and Bill Donahue’s Leading Life-Changing Small Groups.  I highly recommend them.

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