New Men’s Study from Kenny Luck | Dream: Have You Caught God’s Vision

dreamHad a chance this week to preview Dream: Have You Caught God’s Vision, a new study for men by Kenny Luck.  A well known speaker at men’s events, Kenny is the president and founder of Every Man Ministries, co-author of the best-selling Every Man, God’s Man, and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church where over 7000 men are connected to small groups.

The Dream member book is designed to lead men through an 8 session experience.  Every meeting is preceded by 4 to 5 short personal studies to be done in preparation.  The personal studies can be done individually over several days or all together.  Every week also includes a verse to remember, a core concept to reflect on, and an opportunity to respond.

The personal studies are followed by iron sharpening iron man-to-man assignments designed to be used with an accountability partner.

The group sessions that follow the personal studies are DVD-driven and feature the teaching of Kenny Luck.  An engaging speaker, the DVD segments average 20 minutes in length and will easily hold the attention of group members.  Perhaps because I’ve heard Kenny in person a number of times, I had the sense that he was talking directly to me.  I have the feeling you’ll think that too.

The member book also includes a set of questions designed to get men talking about the previous week’s personal study, as well as a simple video viewing guide that will help members remember Kenny’s main points.  A good set of group discussion questions are built in to every meeting that encourage men to talk about what they’re learning and how they’re being challenged.

Finally, a simple leader’s guide is incorporated into the member book, providing a little coaching for newer leaders.

For men’s ministries building a crowd-to-core strategy, Dream is probably most appropriate for men in the congregation who are ready to take a somewhat challenging next step.  I like Kenny’s approach and will definitely recommend Dream as an important step for many men’s groups.

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.”

Quotebook: Allocating Finite Resources

Having the discussion about next year’s budget yet?  Trying to figure out how to allocate limited dollars?  Shrinking dollars?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this great Carl George line:

“Leaders allocate the finite resources of the organization to the critical growth path.”

No one says it like Carl George.  So much to learn from one line.  Who allocates to the critical growth path?  Leaders.  Everyone else chooses based on a whim, personal preference or “what we’ve always done.”

See also Ten Ideas that Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry and Budgeting for the Preferred Future.

Stuck in a Funk? Get Your Church (or ministry) Moving

stuck in a funkHad a chance last week to preview Tony Morgan’s Stuck in a Funk: How to Get Your Church Moving Forward.    One of the most strategic thinkers I know, Tony started blogging at TonyMorganLive in April, 2005 (about two months before I launched StrategyCentral).  He’s been turning out one great concept after another ever since.

Stuck in a Funk? is more than his latest great concept.  Packed with key insights into the funk that has churches stuck, this book takes it far beyond diagnosis. My copy is now full of bookmarks and notes highlighting exercises and whiteboard discussions we’ll be having soon.

The four parts of Stuck in a Funk? focus on (1) why churches are stuck, (2) the out-of-date and out-of-touch environments, systems or tactics that underpin the stuckness, (3) the leadership changes that may be long overdue, and (4) the messages that are being conveyed Monday through Saturday. Leveraging the metaphor of a dated leisure suit, Morgan makes the point that while “the leisure suit went the way of the pet rock and the cassette player” and “disappeared because better ideas came along,” many churches are stuck in a time warp, still using systems and tactics that no longer fit the context.

While there’s great value in reading this book, the real potential is to read it with your leadership team. Making Stuck in a Funk? even more practical for teams are the Key Ideas and Discussion Questions that follow the conclusion of the book. Great stuff, this is a great resource for leaders who are ready to get out of a funk. 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.”

10 Commandments of Small Group Ministry

I’m sure there are commandments beyond these.  I could be wrong.  I frequently am.  But I believe these 10 commandments are at the very core of a small group ministry that changes communities:

  1. Connect people in season and out.  Unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church.  See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People?
  2. Don’t lose sight of the interests of anyone.  Don’t let the interests of the people who are already connected distract you from the needs of the unconnected.  And don’t let the needs of the unconnected prevent you from designing next steps for everyone. See also, Do You Know This Connection Secret? and Connecting the Gap Between Community and Congregation.
  3. Never forget the end in mind.  Far more than simply providing a place to connect people, a small group is the optimum environment for life-change.  Effective small group ministries make disciples that make disciples.  See also, Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change.
  4. Don’t set the leader bar at Jesus Jr.  To be a leader means being a step ahead (as opposed to 10 steps ahead).  See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar?
  5. Pay attention to the spiritual health of leaders.  Whatever you want to happen in the lives of group members must happen in the lives of group leaders first.  See also, Life-Change at the Member Level and The One Thing Every Small Group Pastor Must Do for Small Group Leaders.
  6. Challenge your highest capacity leaders to become leaders of leaders.  There is no doubt in my mind that every church has the people God has prepared to lead leaders.  In fact, I believe we all know who they are but have never recognized the connection between their fruitfulness and fulfillment.  See also, How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure
  7. Develop a bias toward new groups.  Few things are as deadly as the tendency to supply existing groups with new members at the expense of starting new groups.  See also, New Groups Lead to a Church OF Groups and A Bias Toward New Groups.
  8. Very few will go anywhere your senior pastor hasn’t been and isn’t going.  See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups.
  9. Be able to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  If we’re not growing, if we’re not different this year over last, if we’re not becoming more like Jesus…we can hardly expect life-change at the member level.  If we want to see life-change at the member level, the coaches in our ministries (the leaders of leaders) must see and experience our own increasing life in Christ.
  10. NEVER Settle.  The belief that you’ve found the perfect small group strategy almost always leads to protecting the status quo.  Keep your eyes on the horizon.  Just over the rise is a completely different idea that will connect the unconnected and help another generation become what God created them to be.  Don’t miss it!  See also, What’s Next in GroupLife?, A Bias Toward What’s Next and The Unexpected Twist in Saddleback’s Exponential Growth Formula.

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

Seen the Latest from RightNow Media?

Have you checked out RightNow Media yet?  With content for adult small groups, Sunday school classes, Bible studies, children’s programs, youth programs, men’s groups, women’s groups, marriage and parenting ministries, and the list goes on…it might be time to take a serious look at this resource.

If you haven’t checked it out, this short video does a great job making a pretty compelling case for making this service available to the leaders in your church.  See also, RightNow Media: A 21st Century Approach to Small Group Curriculum and RightNow Training: A 21st Century Approach to Leadership Training and Development.

Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it.

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, RightNow.org is a regular sponsor of MarkHowellLive.com. 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.”

Can I Get Your Feedback?

I’m always working to improve the experience here and would love a little feedback.  Can you give me one minute to answer 3 quick questions?

Just clink the link to the survey!

Experimenting with What COULD Come Next

What’s the most recent experiment you’ve run?  What new wrinkle have you tested lately?

I’ve written in the past about the innovations that have changed what is possible for small group ministry.  Believe me, I love the way the new ideas expand the design limits of what’s possible.  I’m just suggesting that if you’re not experimenting, if you’re not testing new ideas…you’re likely on a path to more of what you’re currently experiencing.  See also, The Unexpected Twist in Saddleback’s Exponential Growth Formula.

I love this quote from Gary Hamel’s The Future of Management:

“It is natural that human beings want to be ‘in control.’ Each of us hopes the future will unfold according to play.  Yet in a world where the present is an increasingly unreliable guide to the future, competitive success depends less on planning for what will come next and more on continuously experimenting with what could come next.  The only thing you can bank on is that the future is going to be surprising.”  p. 156, The Future of Management

So what are you testing?  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.”

Top 10 Posts of March, 2013

Miss a day?  Here are my top 10 posts of March, 2013.  Check out all the skill training posts?  I’m sensing a trend!

  1. New from Beth Moore | The Law of Love: Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy
  2. Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change
  3. Skill Training: Top 10 Ideas for a Great First Meeting
  4. Ten Essential Small Group Leader Skills
  5. How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection
  6. Breaking: North Point Increases GroupLife Participation by Adding an Easier Next Step
  7. How to Choose a Small Group System or Strategy
  8. The Meta-Church Small Group Model
  9. Could Your Group Host an Easter Party?
  10. Skill Training: Healthy Groups Integrate Four Components into Every Gathering

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

Four Questions that Evaluate Small Group Model Effectiveness

There are a number of small group models or systems.  The question is, how do you evaluate the effectiveness of a small group model or system?  Better, how do you determine whether the model you’ve chosen is the right choice for your church?

I thought about this last week when a reader disagreed with my assessment of a particular model.  And it occurred to me that what I’m calling effective might not really match your definition of effectiveness

Four questions I use to define and measure effectiveness:

First, can your model connect more adults in groups than you average in your weekend worship services?  Since I believe that the optimum environment for life-change is in a small group, I’m looking for a system that can provide connection for more adults than you have on an average weekend.  Don’t forget, average weekend adult worship attendance in most churches is only part of the total number of adults and Easter or Christmas Eve adult attendance are much better estimates of the total number of adults involved to some degree.  For any small group model or system to be effective it must be able to connect more adults in groups than attend the weekend worship servies.  See also, What Percentage of Your Adults are Actually Connected?

Second, does your model work theoretically…or in reality?  In my mind only “asterisk-free” small group systems or models can be deemed effective.  “This is a great system.  We just can’t find enough leaders*” and “We love this model! We just have more leaders than we need for the number of people interested in a group*” are both indications that the system may be theoretically effective but not in reality.  There are no problem-free systems.  Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.

Third, does your system make disciples?  Remember, connecting is only the beginning.  If your system connects people but doesn’t make disciples…you can hardly call it effective.  Potlucks without purpose are just that.  Moving from a face in the crowd to joining a group is a nice toe-in-the-water, but life-change happens when doing life together means you’re being challenged to live your life the way Jesus would if He were in your body.  Life-change happens when you’re known, cared for, forgiven, loved, challenged, prayed for, trusted, supported by and depended upon.  See also, Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship.

Fourth, does your system allow you to pay attention to the right things?  If you’re spending so much time updating next semester’s catalog, match-making prospective members with existing leaders, or reminding leaders that it really is about time for their group to birth that you don’t have time to focus on develop existing leaders, recruit new leaders and launch new groups…it might be that your system is inefficient and diverting attention from the right things.  See also, Matchmaking: Making It Easy to Find a Group, What’s the Best Way for People to Sign Up and Commit to a Group and Birthing, Splitting, and Dividing Groups vs. the Jedi Path.

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

New from Craig Groeschel | Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are

altar egoSpent some time over the weekend reviewing Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are, the newest church-wide campaign from Craig Groeschel over the weekend.  If you’re in the market for a campaign…you’re going to want to see this one.  Right on target, Altar Ego is going to be very popular.

A Cross-Cultural Topic

One of the most important aspects of this study and church-wide campaign is its cross-cultural topic.  You don’t have to be a Christian to understand the damage that labels cause.  Everyone comes pre-wired with the sense that they’re not really living up to their potential and that so many of their dreams have gone unrealized.  With just a little set-up, the invitation to “join us for a 5 week study” will be easy.

Resources

Designed to accompany a 5 week message series, this DVD-driven study is well designed.  With the video segments averaging 10 to 12 minutes, they’ll easily hold the attention of group members.  A great communicator, Groeschel’s segments are filmed in settings that help introduce the topic.

The study guide includes a number of elements that will help members dig into the topic.  A video outline is included that will help members identify the main concepts.  A well thought out set of discussion questions and group exercises help members deepen their understanding and begin to apply the teaching.  A personal study section is included each week that will help members continue to work on the topic in between sessions.

Although the study can be done without the companion hardback, members may find that the weekly reading will help solidify their understanding and further awaken their sense of who God made them to be.

Downloadable Resources

Like almost everything LifeChurch.TV does, you can download everything you need for a great church-wide experience.  What’s available?  Literally everything.  Message outlines, transcripts, message videos, banner graphics, promo videos, countdown video, artwork, bulletin templates, invite cards, and much more.  Even better?  It’s all FREE!

I’m always on the lookout for church-wide campaigns that are on cross-cultural topics, are easy-to-use, and truly just-add-water.  Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are definitely fits the bill.  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.”