Must Have Personal Growth Resource: A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald

resilient lifeA couple weeks ago I downloaded a copy of Gordon MacDonald’s A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What.  This morning I was trying to remember how I heard about it.  Was it mentioned in an article?  Did I hear someone talk about it?  Honestly…I haven’t been able to recall how I heard about it.  But I do know what prompted me to download it once I heard about it.

I downloaded a copy because one of my core convictions is that whatever I want to happen at the member level in our small groups…has to be experienced by small group leaders first.  And it just follows that in  order for small group leaders (and coaches) to be able to pass anything of significance on to their members…I will need to set the pace.  In a very real sense I will need to be able to say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV

Like everything I’ve ever read of Gordon MacDonald’s, A Resilient Life is very readable.  Might even be called an easy read.  Certainly not a difficult read, but be careful that you don’t fly through it.  Take the time to re-read passages, making sure you’ve truly digested what is there.  Packed with great insights, powerful questions, and quotable lines, you’ll get so much more out of it if you’ll take the time to really consider what it is there.

I loved many of the chapters and my digital copy is full of highlights, notes, and bookmarks.  No doubt I’ll be referring to many of these principles as I spend time with the coaches and leaders in my ministry.  If you’re looking for some great stuff to chew on, I suggest you pick up a copy (or download one) of A Resilient Life.  So good.  You won’t be sorry.

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.”

Quotebook: Dallas Willard on the Meaning of a Mature Disciple

When I heard that Dallas Willard had passed away on Wednesday, I found myself thinking about all the times I’ve written out something he said or wrote on an index card or a post-it note.  When I looked back at some of the quotes that have impacted me I found this one:

A mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do if Jesus were him.

No mention of what they know.  Only what they do and the inference that they do it because of who they have become.

Dallas Willard on the Neighborhood Initiative

I posted a review of The Art of Neighboring last week.  I believe it is a very important book, highlighting a strategy for serving our cities by simply living out the second half of the Great Commandment.  I really believe this way of living will be how the widening 60% that will never be reached by the attractional model are found.

As you may know, Dallas Willard passed away yesterday and a video I had not seen surfaced on in which Dallas shared his passion for the Neighborhood Initiative, a similar project.

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

Don’t Miss the Webinar Today at Noon Central

Thought I’d take one more quick shot to invite you to join Why Aren’t More People in Your Groups, a special webinar featuring Pete Wilson, Ron Edmondson, Ronnie Floyd and Eric Geiger.  Just 30 minutes.  You’ll want to know what they’re talking about!

Don’t Miss This: Everything Starts with You

Want the members of your groups to have a great experience?  Guess what…it starts with you.

Want the members of your groups to know what it feels like to have their leader praying for them?  It starts with you.

Want the members of your groups to know what it feels like to be known?  Want them to sense that even their kids are known?  Not tolerated but known and loved?  It starts with you.

Want them to know what it feels like to mess something up and still be forgiven and accepted?  It starts with you.

Want the members of your groups to know what it feels like to be celebrated for big wins and embraced when they suffer a loss?  It starts with you.

Everything starts with you because whatever you want the members of your groups to experience…must be experienced by your group leaders first.

Everything starts with you because if you want your leaders to be able to give their members that kind of experience…your leaders will have to have already experienced it.

Anything that you want your members to experience, anything that you want your leaders to experience, anything that you want your coaches to experience…starts with you.  See also Life Change at the Member Level and FAQ: What Is the Role of a Coach?

Want it yesterday?  Start today.

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

Skill Training: 5 Keys to Becoming a More Caring Group

How deeply do your group members care for and support each other?  Are they like the 1st century believers in Jerusalem who were of “one heart and mind” and believed that nothing they had was their own but “held everything in common?” (Acts 4)  Are they like the believers in Philippi who “looked not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of each other?” (Philippians 2).  Are they like Barnabas?  Or more like Ananias and Sapphira who chose to keep what was theirs?

Developing a caring group is counter-cultural in the 21st century.  Can you see it?  And while there are many reasons it is counter-cultural, it’s important to remember that it was counter-cultural in the 1st century too.  But it happened!

Here are 5 keys to becoming a more caring group:

  1. Caring for each other is modeled by leaders.  Beginning with Jesus who “laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself, poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him?”  Are you modeling a genuinely caring attitude?  See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.
  2. Healthy transparency and vulnerability is modeled by leaders.  Maintaining appearances and refusing to ask for help creates a barrier that is very difficult to overcome.  If you want your group members to be open about their needs…you’ll often have to go first.  See also, Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
  3. Establish commitments, values and expectations using a small group agreement.  When you start a new group, be sure you integrate the power of a small group agreement that helps group members talk about commitments, values and expectations.  Anytime you add new members, pull out a copy of the agreement and walk through it again.  Remember, genuine caring is counter-cultural and not on the radar of many group members.  See also, Skill Training: Using a Small Group Agreement.
  4. Include all four components of a healthy group into every meeting.  If all your group is doing is learning what the Bible says but not doing what the Bible says, you’re missing out on one of the most important blessings of grouplife and one of the keys to life-change.  Groups that integrate love, learn, decide and do into every meeting are much more likely to be caring groups.  See also, Skill Training: Healthy Groups Integrate Four Components into Every Meeting.
  5. Make heroes out of group members who go out of their way to be caring.  Take a hint from the Apostle Paul who affirmed the sacrifices made on a regular basis.  Most of his letters include multiple references to men and women who went above and beyond the cultural expectations of the day.

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

Top 10 Posts of April, 2013

Miss a day or two?  Here are my top 10 posts of April, 2013:

  1. Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship (September, 2012)
  2. New from Beth Moore | The Law of Love: Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy (August, 2012)
  3. Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life Change (March, 2013)
  4. 10 Commandments of Small Group Ministry (April, 2013)
  5. Skill Training: 10 Steps to Help New Members Connect (April, 2013)
  6. How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection (May, 2008)
  7. 10 Essential Small Group Leader Skills (June, 2010)
  8. Breaking: North Point Increases GroupLife Participation by Adding an Easier Next Step (November, 2012)
  9. Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups (August, 2010)
  10. What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People (June, 2012)


Don’t Miss this Great Resource: The Art of Neighboring

art of neighboringI’ve been working my way through The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door.  Written by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon, The Art of Neighboring was prompted by a joint church movement developed in Denver in response to a comment made by Arvada, Colorado mayor Bob Frie.  When asked, “How can we as churches best work together to serve the city?” Frie said,

“The majority of the issues that our city is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.”

Can you imagine being in that meeting?  What would you have said in response to the mayor?  It must have been quite a moment when after the mayor left, Pathak blurted out, “Am I the only one here who is a little embarrassed?  I mean, here we are asking the mayor how we can best serve the city, and he basically tells us that it would be great if we could just get our people to obey the second half of the Great Commandment.”

What was born of that comment was a very intentional effort that impacted a city.  Seriously…what a concept!

The Art of Neighboring is an easy read and at the same time very inspiring.  Packed with stories and great application of scripture, you’ll also find plenty of practical ideas and the learnings that underpin what could be a movement in your city too.

A study guide is included in the book, making The Art of Neighboring a resource that could be used by groups looking for ways to serve together. Each chapter of the book is supported with an accompanying set of study questions.

I have to tell you…I love The Art of Neighboring and the idea of a community of great neighbors!  I want to encourage you to check it out.  And don’t miss the website:  Very good stuff and just might impact your city!

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.”

Don’t Miss the FREE Webinar: Why Aren’t More People in Your Groups?

You want in on the latest right?  Don’t miss an important FREE webinar on Wednesday, May 8th at Noon (CST).  Here’s what I know:

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

5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People

There are a few things I know about connecting unconnected people.  And let me tell you something.  While there are definitely exceptions to just about every rule…if you can think of examples counter to these five you are thinking of exceptions.  Build your ministry off the rule and not the exception.

I’ve said many times that unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church. Loss of a job.  Divorce or separation.  A devastating diagnosis.  A child in trouble.

Here are 5 more things you need to know about connecting unconnected people:

  1. Unconnected people have different appetites and rarely respond to menu items that appeal to the core and committed.  If you’re finding it hard to connect beyond the usual suspects, you might need to take a careful look at the topics of studies you’re offering.  See also, How to Choose Curriculum That Launches Groups and Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer.
  2. Unconnected people are wary of long commitments.  When you promote a short-term study that’s 13 weeks (Financial Peace, Experiencing God, some Beth Moore studies), you need to know that unconnected people hear “lifetime commitment.”  What’s the right length?  I’ve found that 6 weeks is just about ideal.  Lyman Coleman has said many times that 6 weeks is short enough to commit to and long enough to help people begin to feel connected.  Lyman’s right.
  3. Unconnected people respond to test-drives and putting toes-in-the-water.  In addition to offering shorter short-term opportunities, making it clear that it’s “just a test-drive” helps unconnected people feel more comfortable putting their toe in the water.  If they know they can have a taste and opt out if it’s not for them, they’ll be much more likely to give it a try.  Language is so important.  The power of the right words cannot be overstated.
  4. Unconnected people connect easiest when the first step out of the auditorium is familiar.  Listen to very many new attendees at your church and you’ll often learn that just getting up the nerve to come to a weekend service was a real challenge.  I’ve talked with many who’ve told me they drove by many times before they ever pulled into the parking lot.  I’ve had a number tell me they made it to the parking lot more than once and couldn’t get out of their cars.  Want these same people to join a small group?  Better give them a way to attend an on-campus study or small group connection as their first step.  See also, How to Calm an Unconnected Person’s Second Greatest Fear.
  5. Unconnected people attend less frequently than connected people.  Have a connecting opportunity coming up?  If you want unconnected people to hear about it, you better keep in mind that promoting the event several weeks in a row is essential.  See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Weeks in a Row.

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