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Don’t Miss Perry Noble’s Latest: The Most Excellent Way to Lead

the most excellent wayI spent some time this week with The Most Excellent Way to Lead, a new book from Perry Noble. Noble is the senior and founding pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. The church averages 35,000 people during weekend services at multiple campuses throughout the state. If you’re not familiar with Perry Noble, in addition to being a pastor, he is one of the most engaging speakers I’ve ever heard and an author of books like Overwhelmed and Unleash (Overwhelmed was developed into a very powerful DVD-driven study).

If you didn’t catch it from the title, The Most Excellent Way to Lead is based on 1 Corinthians 13. Often referred to as “the love chapter,” Noble points out in the introduction that while these verses are commonly used  in wedding ceremonies or as advice for newlyweds, chapter 13 is “primarily a chapter on how to lead, not how to have a great marriage.”

The Most Excellent Way to Lead: Discover the Heart of Great Leadership is a very good read. If you’ve ever heard Perry speak, you’ll easily recognize his voice right away in the book. Definitely a speaker that grabs attention and holds onto it, his writing has a very similar quality. Packed with stories that you can just hear him telling, it is a page-turner and an easy read.

In addition to being an easy read, The Most Excellent Way to Lead is also very practical and would be a great book to read with a team. Ever chapter concludes with two sets of questions (one to ask yourself and another to ask your team). I can definitely see this book being used by many to disciple and develop leaders and coaches.

If you want to become a better leader or to grow in your leadership capability, you’ll want to devour The Most Excellent Way to Lead. Perry Noble is a leader God is using in an amazing way and this book offers many great insights into the process God used to make a great leader. Don’t miss this one! I loved it 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. 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.”

quote marksInspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Pablo Picasso

4 Things Small Group Pastors Should Never Settle For

settlingHave you settled? I think we’re all familiar with the idea of settling for something less than we’ve hoped for or settling for something less than we deserve.

But have you ever examined your small group ministry for signs of settling?

I believe there are some things we should never settle for.

4 Things Small Group Pastors Should Never Settle For

  1. Belonging without Becoming. In order for a group to truly be the optimum environment for life-change, something far beyond mere connection must take place. Unless we have some other plan for making disciples (and I believe the search for or the creation of an additional thing that makes disciples is almost always ineffective), the group must offer both belonging and becoming. If we’re not doing the right things TO and FOR our leaders and equipping them to design their group meetings for life-change we’ve settled.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
  2. A static percentage connected. Every congregation has people that have a natural bent for community and connection. They will end up in groups despite ineffective small group strategies. They will end up in groups even when there is no system or strategy. Connecting beyond the usual suspects requires intentionality and effort. When your small group ministry struggles to increase the percentage connected beyond those with a natural bent, it is often a result of settling for what happens without intentionality and effort. See also, What Is Your Urgency Level for Connecting People? and 5 Symptoms of Healthy Small Group Ministries.
  3. Knowing without Becoming. In the sense of balancing the purposes, small groups naturally gravitate toward fellowship and discipleship and struggle with worship, ministry and evangelism. To be clear, few groups do much more together than gather to be together and learn something from a study they are studying. We’ve settled for imbalance when we’ve done nothing to help rebalance the purposes. See also, Balancing the Purposes.
  4. Hosts or facilitators but not leaders. It is not any great challenge to find people willing to open up their home and invite a few friends or even welcome in a group assembled by the church. It’s not much of a challenge to find people willing to facilitate a discussion (or at a minimum, watch a DVD and read the questions out loud). Finding the number of leaders needed to truly care for the members of their group is never easy. Once you conclude that life-change happens best in circles and it becomes your ambition to connect everyone in groups, developing and discipling leaders becomes an essential and never-ending activity. If you only launch groups when you have leaders in place (as opposed to hosts or facilitators), you’ve often settled for what can be found or discovered as opposed to developed or discipled. See also, How to Help a HOST Become a Small Group Leader and 4 Obsessions of Extraordinary Small Group Pastors.

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

Image by Kerry Lannert

Are We There Yet?

are we there yetAre we there yet?

I’m positive we’ve all asked the question. As children. From the back seat. On a road trip with our parents.

Many of us have answered the question. As parents. From the front seat. On a road trip with our children.

Are we there yet?

The Question

Have you ever been asked the question as a small group pastor? Or maybe asked it as a senior pastor? In a way, it is kind of a preferred future question. Can you see it?

I had a conversation last Sunday that had echoes of the “are we there yet?” conversation.

A groups guy from a church in another state was in town and dropped by Canyon Ridge on Sunday. It was great to catch up. After a few minutes, he said, “I need to ask the key question.”

“What’s the question?”

“What’s your percentage connected?”

Now admittedly, it’s not the exact same question. But can you see how it is related?

And it is a key question, don’t you think? After all–if we’re truly in the business of connecting men and women in groups where they can grow in Christ, love one another and further the work of the Kingdom–wouldn’t we keep track of this very important number?)

The Answer

Here’s what I said:

“We had a very high percentage connected in the fall. We started 85 new groups at our connection events and over 350 people picked up Host Kits so they could “do the study with a couple friends.” And we sold just under 5500 copies of the study guide.

“And then when the dust cleared we had added over 100 new groups and connected another 1000 to groups.

“And that puts us in the range of 60% of our average adult weekend worship attendance in groups. Not bad for a 4 year run. Another 3 or 4 years and we’ll be pushing the 100% threshold.

The Truth

The truth is, arriving at the preferred future of more than 100% of your average adult weekend worship attendance in groups is something that happens in waves over multiple years. It can’t be done in a single move or a couple tries.

If you wan’t to arrive at this preferred future you must commit to the long run. I’ve written about this several times. You can read about Saddleback’s commitment to the long run right here:

I hope you can make the commitment to the long run! When you arrive at this preferred future is truly a destination worth the journey!

Image by Brandon

Books that Have Shaped My Thinking

booksI read continually. I can’t remember the last time there hasn’t been a stack of books on the bedside table and another in my office. One of my early mentors told me you could tell when someone’s brain died by the copyrights dates on his library shelves. I believed him.

Still, not every book truly shapes my thinking. Some I simply skim. Some I never finish. And some I read again and again.

There have been a number of books that create an indelible mark on my brain. They shape my thinking.

I’ve been thinking about which books have made the biggest difference in my thinking.

For now, these are the lists:

Thinking Strategically

Leadership

Productivity

The Changing Western Culture

Spiritual Formation

Image by Sam Greenhalgh

What Can I “Require” of My Small Group Leaders?

leader requirementsI get a lot of questions. Most I just answer with a quick email and a link to one of my almost 1900 articles.

Some questions are fairly common, truly a frequently asked question, and they end up as blog posts.

“What can I require of my small group leaders?” is that kind of question.

What Can I “Require” of My Small Group Leaders?

That’s a good question, don’t you think? You may have wondered the very same thing. You may have a small group leader “job description” and wonder whether you’re asking your leaders to do the right things. You may also be wondering if what you’re asking them to do is unreasonable.

I think the answer to the question, “What can I require of my small group leaders?” depends on who your leaders are and what you want them to become.

Who Your Leaders Are

I’ve written before that I want to make it as easy as possible for people to step into leadership and nearly automatic that they step onto a leader development conveyor belt. Should the job description of the new leader be the same as the job description of the veteran? Or could what you expect of your leaders depend on where they are on the leader development conveyor belt?

Example #1: In our last church-wide campaign (Transformed) over 350 people heard our invitation to do the study with a couple friends and picked up a Host Kit at Group Central. We said, “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with, we want to help you, We’ve made it easy and affordable and you can do it.”

What did we require of them?

  • They had to fill out a form giving us their name, best email, best phone, and they had the option to indicate the type of group they would be hosting (by the way, that was the only mention of “group” in the invitation or the form).
  • They were sent a series of emails with tips, ideas, and information designed to help them (and those they invited) have a great experience.
  • They were invited to the Host Rally.

Can you see that filling out the simple form was the only requirement?

Why were the requirements so minimal? We wanted to make it as easy as possible for as many as possible to step into leadership and nearly automatic that they step onto a leader development conveyor belt.

Opening and reading our regular emails encouraged them to step onto the leader development conveyor belt. Attending the Host Rally encouraged them to stay on the conveyor belt.

As the Transformed campaign unfolded these new hosts (and their members) learned about a study we were recommending if they wanted to continue. They could see it at Group Central. If they chose to continue they were assigned a coach. At that point it became the coach’s responsibility to begin to do TO and FOR the host the things we want our leaders to do TO and FOR their members.

Can you see there could be the essence of a job description shift at that point?

Example #2: In preparation for our last church-wide campaign (Transformed) our existing leaders were invited to attend a leader briefing the first weekend of June (to hear about the September launch of Transformed). We had good attendance (about 40% of our existing leaders). We recorded the preview and made portions of it available for replay and then emailed the link to the video to the leaders who did not attend the briefing.

Were our leaders required to attend the briefing? No. They were invited.

Existing leaders are connected to a coach and responsive to requests for information about their group. In order to remain in our system they are required to have a certain level of responsiveness. We don’t keep unresponsive groups in our system.

Example #3: As the Transformed campaign ramped up, existing leaders (of groups in our system) were invited to pick up their DVD and leader packet at Group Central, which was prominently placed on our campus. Only existing leaders (of groups in our system) were allowed to pick up the DVD and leader packet at Group Central. “Leaders” of groups that were not in our system were required to complete a simple form to rejoin the system and receive their DVD and packet.

Completing the form and rejoining the system renewed our ability to send them the series of emails with tips, ideas, and information designed to help them (and those they invited) have a great experience.

Why did we make it that simple? We want to make it as easy as possible to begin and nearly automatic that they step onto our leader development conveyor belt.

What You Want Them to Become

The answer to the question, “What can I require of my small group leaders?” depends on who your leaders are and what you want them to become.

Can you see that what you want them to become is not really about requirements?

Requirements have more to do with what you want them to be.

I believe we have a better chance of keeping them on the leader development conveyor belt if we focus on doing the right things TO and FOR our leaders.

Conclusion

Can you see that I really believe we need to focus less on what we require and more on what we will do TO and FOR the leaders of groups? Focusing on requirements is the wrong angle. Focusing on development results in leaders who will do the right things TO and FOR their members.

Further Reading:

Image by thinkpublic

Saddleback’s Not-So-Secret Strategy of Launching New Groups in Waves

waveWhat is Saddleback’s not-so-secret strategy of launching new groups in waves? I think you already know what it is, but before I reveal the mystery, I just want to point out several features of the strategy:

First, the strategy really does launch groups in waves. This is significant because if you want to reach the point where you have more adults in groups than you do at your weekend service(s), you must understand that you cannot get from 25% of adults in groups to 100% or more by starting a new group every now and then. You must start them fast enough to more than just replace the groups that run their course and come to an end.

Second, they’ve been using this strategy on at least an annual basis for many years. This is an important understanding. Launching new groups in a wave once (or even once in a while) will not get it done. Launching new groups in waves comes with the knowledge that only a certain percentage of the new groups will continue to meet beyond the launching study (for example, 40 Days of Purpose or Transformed). This really is a wash, rinse and repeat strategy that must be applied regularly to succeed to the level we are talking about.

Third, they’ve consistently tweaked the strategy to optimize less-than-ideal outcomes. They’ve fine-tuned everything from when they begin promoting the upcoming series, to when to hold the series, to who can be a leader, to how they recruit leaders, and how they encourage and develop leaders. Although they’ve been using this strategy on at least an annual basis for many years, they really never done it exactly the same way twice. Every time Saddleback uses the strategy they are evaluating and looking for ways to optimize what worked, problems that could be solved minimized, or opportunities that were missed.

Of course, you know the strategy they use is an annual church-wide campaign. When it’s done well, it launches groups in waves.

It is the reason Saddleback has way more than 100% of their average adult weekend worship attendance in groups (they had as high as about 140%).

Want to learn how to use the church-wide campaign strategy in a way that will help you launch waves of new groups every year?

My new short course, How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign is designed to help you learn how to use this game-changing strategy.

If you’d like to learn how to use the church-wide campaign strategy in a whole new way, I’d love to teach you how to do it!

Click here for more information about How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

What if you could start 10 times as many new groups-

Image by Michael Dawes

Don’t Miss Wonderlife: The Latest Study from Mike Foster and SecondChance.org

wonderlifeI’ve spent some time with a new resource from Mike Foster and the folks at SecondChance.org this week. I think Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here is something you’re going to want to add to your recommended list.

Wonderlife “takes people on an authentic journey through their not-so-perfect stories to find their sacred calling.” Based on the principles of Psalm 139, the small group workbook, DVD and weekend series can easily be used as a church-wide campaign. The journey is wrapped around four lifemarks:

  • I believe my story matters
  • I am unashamed of what I love and care about
  • I am honest about my obstacles and opportunities
  • I am fully present for my life

“Living the wonderlife means who you say you are will never overshadow who God says you are. In scripture, Jesus always tells us who we are before He tells us what to do. God says, ‘You are mine. You are my beloved.’ And that’s enough if you let it be (from the introduction).”

Wonderlife is similar to Freeway, their previous project, in that it is just about as creative a resource as anything I’ve ever seen and unlike any other curriculum.

The video segments are available free online or can be purchased as a DVD. At about 10 minutes in length, they’re easy on the attention span. Featuring Mike Foster’s conversational style, they feel like you’re in the room with a friend who has a story to tell.

The workbook is very creative. Prepare for each session with a series of wonderfully creative exercises designed to help you understand yourself in a new and different way. The group discussion questions are well written and along with the video segment will generate a great discussion.

Wonderlife covers the kind of topic that makes an easy invite for friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. Although it is designed to generate a fairly personal discussion, it comes at it from such an exploratory angle, it ends up being fun and engaging at the same time.

If you’re looking for a study that makes for a great outreach opportunity, take a look at Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here. I think you’ll like what you find. I loved this study 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. 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.”

Dilbert on Problems and Solutions

Sometimes you need to laugh…

problems and solutions

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign

15124103663_4624ed4a14_bYesterday was a great start to the launch of my newest short course: How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign. Lot’s of interest. And lot’s of questions!

You may have questions and just not had time yet to ask them.

Here are the most frequently asked questions (and the answers!):

I can’t watch the live sessions. Will they be available for me to watch later?  Absolutely! All 4 sessions will be recorded and available for viewing or download at your convenience on my password-protected site.

Can I share the video content with my team? Definitely. Your purchase gives you the right to share the recorded video sessions (as well as the other supporting documents and helps) with your team. However, because there are limited openings for the live sessions, only the recorded sessions will be able to be shared with your team.

Will How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign be available later?  Like my other short courses, this one will be available later…but the special price of $39.95 increases to $49.95 on April 8th.

I live in another country. Can I take advantage of How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign? Every session will be a web-based video call and every session will be recorded and uploaded the same day to my password protected site. If the session is live at a time you can join, you should be able to join no matter where you are. If it’s not convenient for you to join live, you can watch the recording later that same day (or early the next day depending on where you are in the world!).

We’ve failed in our previous attempts to plan and launch a successful church-wide campaign. Why should we try again? A well planned and well executed church-wide campaign is the best way to launch a wave of new small groups. It is a powerful way to help your whole congregation get on the same page. And perhaps most importantly, a church-wide campaign can be a powerful ingredient in revitalizing the spiritual vitality of your congregation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.07.41 AMI don’t have a Paypal account. Can I pay with my debit or credit card? Absolutely. When you click the Buy Now button you’ll see the form to the left. Click the link at the bottom of the form that says “Pay with a debit or credit card or Paypal Credit.”

Can I pay for the course with a check? You can pay for the course with a check but enrollment is limited to the first 50 sign-ups. If you need to pay by check, Email Me  to arrange payment.

Do you have a question I haven’t answered?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Click here to take a look at How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

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