February 27, 2009

When Small, Short and Plain is Good

I just saw this article entitled Brevity in Church Solutions Magazine by my friend Bob Adams. After some recent meetings with church leaders I was reminded that this simple wisdom can easily be overlooked:

“When it comes to effective communication, small beats large; short beats long; and plain beats complex. Sometimes, visual beats them all.

The above quote, from Dr. Frank Lutz’s book, “Words that Work,” is an appropriate challenge for every leader. Good leaders communicate. They may use the written word, spoken word, or visuals instead of words, but good leaders communicate.

How are you doing in your communication? Are your words simple, to the point and memorable? Are your words consistent with your actions? Can the reader or listener visualize your intent?

Or, are no words at all the best path to take? We live in a society almost overwhelmed by the visual image – and we ask for more! Sometimes, a visual image is the best “word” we can use.

Communication – written, spoken or visual – is just a tool that you, as a leader, have at your disposal. But what a powerful tool. Communicate concisely with passion, purpose and persuasiveness, and you’ll be well on the path to becoming a great leader.”

February 26, 2009

Groeschel on Thinking Different: Culture, Programming, & Mission

Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch.tv delivered a phenomenal leadership message today at the Catalyst One Day. I am posting notes from it here because the principles are so pertinent to the ongoing work we do each day with our Auxano clients as we walk the Vision Pathway. I want to thank Josh Brickey for posting these notes so quickly on his blog:

Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes- Craig Groeschel

1) Think differently about your church culture

Wrong Mindset: Our People won’t ______. (you fill in the blank). We tend to blame it on the people.

Mind shift: We haven’t led them to _____. (you fill in the blank). It’s not a people problem, it’s a leadership problem. We have to lead them to do what God’s called us to do.

2) Think differently about programming

Wrong Mindset: We have to do more to reach more. From Craig’s experience, the true spiritual impact decreased as the number of programs increased.

Mind shift: We can reach more by doing less. We do the things that we are passionate about and what God has uniquely called us to do. The only way to reach the people that no one else is reaching is to do the things that no one else is doing. What do you need to stop doing that you’re doing right now?

3) Think differently about the mission

In most churches, we really don’t believe in what we say that God’s called us to do. If we did, we’d do things differently. Elevate the mission and apply it relationally.

Wrong Mindset: We can’t hurt someone’s feelings. We often put people’s feelings above the mission.

Mind shift: We can’t allow someone to hold back the mission of the church. Do not hire and recruit for today and not for tomorrow. It will hard to do, but it’s the right thing. Some of you need to step into the pain and make the decision.

4) Think differently about people leaving the church

Wrong mindset: We can’t let anyone leave. When a church is insecure, people will feel it.

Mind Shift: We can grow when people leave. You love the long term gain enough to endure the short term pain. Create a culture that allows and empowers people to leave on good terms. LifeChurch tells their congregation “If you are not growing here, or if you’re not using your gifts here, go visit churches this month to see if you can do so there.”

5) Think differently about limitations

Wrong mindset: We can’t because we don’t. We say we don’t have the right budget, right worship leader, right stuff.

Mind Shift: We can because we don’t. Your greatest creativity and breakthroughs can come from our limitations. (Illustration: If I told a church that you need to come up with $100,000 by next Thursday, most would not be able to do it. But…what if your child was going to die by next Thursday if you didn’t have the cure. The cure costs $100,000. You would find a way to make it happen). God often guides by what he doesn’t provide. If you have the very thing that you want, you may not see what God wants you to see. Innovation is born out of limitation.


1) Find somone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think. Most want to learn what they do-not what they think.

2) Identify one wrong mindset and ask God to renew your mind with truth.

3) Identify one painful decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to make the decision no matter what the short term pain.

February 23, 2009

Blue Ocean Churches

I am getting ready to speak tomorrow at the ChurchPlanters.com conference. Ben Arment will be there, Catalyst’s Innovation and Experience Director. I like the way Ben thinks and his recent post on Blue Ocean Churches, reminds me why. But before diving into his snippet let me remind you where the Blue Ocean idea comes from. Red ocean is where the sharks compete for the same prey. Blue ocean is non-competitive space. In fact, this business book is so compelling, that Vince Antonucci, said is was his primary reference to church planters before discovering Church Unique.

Here’s Ben’s entry:

Occasionally, I get e-mails from people who think Catalyst is part of North Point Community Church. They ask about ourvideo venues, our assimilation process, even how Andy is doing. “Fine,” I tell them. “He’s in a good mood today.”

What’s interesting is only three of us attend NP. A few go to 12Stone. And a fairly good number attend All Souls Church down in the city. I’ve never been, but I hear All Souls is the anti-programming church. Overhead projectors, white sheets of paper with announcements on them, stiff liturgy… A surprising choice for staffers at the most programming-rich organization in ministry.I guess it’s like working at an ice-cream parlor. You don’t go home after a long day of work, sit down in front of the TV… and eat ice cream.

Got me thinking about Blue Ocean churches. I really believe you can only have so many churches in one community that successfully reach families with 2.5 kids, SUVs and a golf club membership. If your church is #4 or #5 in this genre of church-making, you’re better off finding a new sociographic to reach or you’ll continue to struggle year after year after year… after year.Do the opposite. Drop the rock band and intelligent lighting. Forget the climbing wall for kids and the KidStuf knock-off. Go with the opposite attributes and set apart your church for a new kind of community.

It will be surprisingly refreshing for a large number of people.

February 21, 2009

Exponential Releases Free Leadership Tool

My friend and kingdom master-mind, Todd Wilson of the Exponential Network, has done leaders a favor by filtering and aggregating the best “nuggets of gold” from the blogs of top thinkers and leaders.

The name of the E-book which is the first of a multi-part project is Leadership Learning from Bloggers.

Contributions are from:

Ben Arment

Mark Batterson

Chris Elrod

Dave Ferguson

Mike Foster

Seth Godin

Craig Groeschel

Alan Hirsch

Scott Hodge

Michael Hyatt

Gary Lamb

Brad Lomenick

Shawn Lovejoy

Will Mancini

Tony Morgan

Perry Noble

Bob Roberts, Jr.

Ed Stetzer

Tim Stevens

Tullian Tchividjian

Jud Wilhite

Jared Wilson

February 18, 2009

A New Word is Born Every 98 Min.

I don't usually read airline magazines, but I saw this factoid on the airline mag. of the person sitting next to me. A new word is birthed every 98 minutes! Fifteen new words every day- can you imagine that?  I also read recently that there are 5 times more words in the English language since Shakespeare's time.  As I reflected on this, I thought of several new words I heard in just one week:

1) Growteau: a cross between growth and plateau when speaking of church growth.  A pastor at the Church Solutions conference stated that their children's ministry grew from 600 to 900 – growth.  But during the same time the frequency of attendance has dropped by almost 1 sunday per month – plateau.

2) Bromance: although this has been alive in pop culture, I heard a worship pastor refer to his feelings for his senior pastor with this term- carrying the tone of deep mutual respect.  Remember that "brother" was a widely used biblical metaphor! 

3) 100Xer: A term coined by the Leadership Network and Half Time teams last week as we discussed the missional core of the organization. A 100Xer is a leader with the capacity for a hundredfold yield in kingdom fruitfulness based on Jesus teaching in the gospels. 

4) Makeunder: (Verses the makeover.) Just read this with regard to the benefits of wearing less make-up: "The makeunder applies to those who require longer than an hour to put on their face; women who blow out sockets styling their hair; the ladies whose clothes are so loud they should come with earplugs." "Confidence, maturity and security also tend to go hand-in-hand with a pared down look that favors simplicity over excess."  Review Journal

What are some new words that you have either created or heard?

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