Digest More Leadership Books with The Vision Room’s SUMS reMix

SUMS reMix RewiredI am a big believer that leaders must be readers. But you probably have the same problem I do – more books are calling my name than I have time to digest. Sometimes I need help in knowing which are the best, and sometimes I just wish for a summary. Either way, if you’re a leader, you need to subscribe to The Vision Room’s SUMS reMix! From their website:

That’s why, for the last two years Auxano has been bringing you SUMS: Book Summaries for Church Leaders. We have been distilling the best content just for church leaders like you, and giving you immediate and practical action steps.

Now we are taking the SUMS tool to a whole new level. Every other week you can receive, not ONE, but THREE book “summaries” all focused around solving a practical church leadership problem. It’s called SUMS Remix.

And if you want a bonus reason, this month, they’ve summarized MY book, Rewired, for leaders who want to know how to use social media to share their message. (In other words, you can read the summary and not buy my book… but I’m not officially recommending that…)

So, seriously, subscribe now. It’s $48 per year, which is the cost of about 3 books on leadership, and you’ll get summaries of 3 books every two weeks, exposing you to 78 books for leaders over the course of a year.

Subscribe to SUMS reMix

And by the way, I was NOT asked to write this, nor am I being compensated for it. I’ve been a SUMS reMix subscriber myself since it launched and I love it.

My ONE Big Resolution. Yep, Just One.

The ONE Thing
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Yep. Just one.

I plan on eating better based on what I’m learning from reading The Daniel Plan. I also want to exercise and run. Those are probably typical. I also want to read through the Bible, pray more, lead better, and date my wife like crazy, blog (almost) daily to help ministry leaders, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

But… I’m reading a really good book right now called The ONE Thing. The authors point out that there is no such thing as having right “priorities” because the word priority was never meant to be plural. It comes from an old French word that means the state of being first. And if there’s one thing that we know, it’s that there can only be one first.

So, if I could live my life for just ONE thing that would help me to discover rhythm in every other area and to develop the disciplines/habits/graces/practices that lead to a well-ordered life that brings glory to my Creator, it would be…

JESUS

Knowing Him. Following Him. Becoming Like Him. Making Him famous. Leading my family and friends to Him.

I just want to put Jesus first. Over-simplified? I hope so. But I have a hunch that if I live in step with Jesus, then the Holy Spirit will empower me to be what He wants me to be for the people around me who need me.

What ONE thing do you want to live for?

The Abiding Church: Calling Church Leaders Back to Jesus

The Abiding Church

When I first moved back to northwest Arkansas to plant a church, not everyone understood. Even quite a few church leaders wondered why the neighborhood needed another church. But Nate Sweeney embraced us and has encouraged us all along the way. I so appreciate his ministry in northwest Arkansas, and I’m excited about the release of his first book, The Abiding Church.

Nate Sweeney has walked through a plethora of leadership issues in his young life, transitioning a church from its long-standing traditions into a church that communicates the gospel clearly to a new generation, with a new name, a new leadership structure, and a new style of ministry. Though he understands how to relate to the culture, Nate’s heart is really for the church to do what it was always intended to do – abide in Jesus. 

In The Abiding Church, Nate offers encouragement, a challenge, and some practical wisdom for church leaders who need a fresh fire in their bones. He balances the idea of growth with the idea of intimacy with Jesus. Healthy churches grow, but healthy churches are more than just smarter or bigger – they’re more committed to the gospel and keep Christ at the center of their attention.

In Nate’s words to church leaders…

At the end of your life you will look back and realize you did a lot of things for God. You had good days and bad. You had victories and failures. You obeyed His word and sinned against Him. All of this should be swallowed up in a loving relationship with Him. If you’re banking on anything else then you will be greatly disappointed. If you remained in Him then you will have produced fruit. You will have allowed Him to prune you so you could grow. You will have done something that mattered because it was centered on Christ. Anything you do outside of Him will not produce lasting fruit. He wants to change you into the image of God as He spends time with you. An abiding relationship with Christ encompasses everything you need to be planted, take root, grow, and produce fruit in God’s kingdom.

Nate oozes kingdom-mindedness and love for fellow leaders, and he’s instigating a movement that might just change the world starting in Arkansas. His words are well worth reading and heeding!

 

I’m Taking the Plunge – I’m Writing a Book

WritingI’m planting a new church, we’re expecting our third child, and I’m still working on building a global community of Pastors. May as well write a book, too.

I was recently approached by an Editor with Passio, the newest imprint of Charisma House Publishing. My good friend, Artie Davis, has just completed writing on his first book, Craveable, with Passio as well as a few other authors I know. I identify strongly with Passio’s stated goal:

Aiming to reach contemporary-minded believers with books, e-books and other forms of media, the imprint will target readers who are passionate about their faith and missional living, covering topics such as revival, a deeper relationship with God and authentic faith.

I’ll be sharing more later about the title and content, but the thrust of the book will align with something very close to my heart – how believers can become influencers with the gospel in an age of rapidly developing social technologies. I want to encourage believers to embrace the technological and cultural shifts taking place around us – not in the sense of conforming to the culture, but in the sense of really living within it as salt and light.

Pray for me as I begin writing. This is a new adventure for me, and I want to make sure my mind, spirit, and family life stay healthy in the midst of embracing new opportunities. This should be fun!

Small Group Ministry versus Leading a New Kind of Tribe

Different Kind of TribeTraditional small group ministry might seem like a leap ahead of the lecture-based classroom in terms of relationship-building, but the rate of change in our surrounding culture still far outpaces the rate of change within the church. Small group ministry is changing. Again. And Rick Howerton, one of the few guys I read religiously concerning group life has written an excellent guide for embracing this change in his new book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic.

In a traditional small group environment, small groups are a new way of organizing the church, assimilating people into the church, and expanding in number outwardly. But Rick challenges our traditional approach, and even our terminology, choosing to term groups “Christian micro-communities.” It’s not that they are entirely Christian – in fact, genuine Christian micro-communities do and should include people still far from God. Though Rick doesn’t use this phrase in the book, I think he echoes what has been weighing on my heart lately – how to include people and help them to belong to a community, even before they believe.

Traditional small groups are often bound by new sets of rules and traditions. They may, perhaps, be more loosely organized than an age-graded Sunday School, but there is still plenty of paperwork, formalized leadership roles, and authority granted to leaders by assumption. But we live in a broken, and therefore untrusting culture. The majority of the people around us have been hurt, absued, and abandoned, and have a hard time granting trust and authority to leaders, which presents an obvious challenge to those who hope to facilitate life change.

One of the most helpful points of the book is the four quadrants of group life. Namely, they are: theological (discovery of biblical truth), familial (formation of friendships), restorational (healing from hurts), and missional (living adjoined to the mission of God in the world). Groups may need to be stronger in one quadrant or another at different times and for different reasons, but every group needs a balance of these four components.

I love Rick’s challenge to draw people into the group through recreation and missional ministry, rather than simply plugging church attenders into the group  through traditional means. In other words, the focus is making followers of Jesus, not members of the church. This is tough for group leaders who have seen good success doing it the old way, but knowing our culture’s history of exponential rates of change, we need to constantly have our eyes open to coming shifts.

Rick Howerton is happy to help you prepare. Just read his book.

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The Church Planting Journey Is Rather Personal

It's Personal by Brian and Amy BloyeAccording to Brian and Amy Bloye, the two toughest jobs in the world are raising kids, and raising a church. And both tasks are deeply personal.

I’m a better church planter for having read It’s Personal. It’s now one of the books I’ll be pushing at every potential church planter. Why? Several reasons.

  • Calling is key, and while many books talk about church planting models and methods, few focus on the foundation, which is what matters when the going gets tough. They Bloyes make it plain. If you’re not called, do anything else.
  • Family is first. Brian and Amy share the real story of how they’ve had to fight to keep family first by establishing healthy boundaries and limits.
  • Friends are essential, and Brian and Amy give permission for the planter to have friends. One of the leading causes of the abandonment of a fledgling plant is the emotional toil the isolation often takes on a planting family. Friends aren’t optional.
  • Staff unity matters. As a lead planter, Brian helps others to understand the need to get “mean” about the vision and to tenaciously guard that vision while seeking to develop a staff that supports the vision wholeheartedly.
  • In an increasingly celebrity-oriented culture, where the church planter is often the rock star, prayer, fasting, and real devotion to God are everything. Brian and Amy give benchmarks for measuring spiritual growth in the life of the planter.

In other words, this book is personal. I was inspired by the story of West Ridge Church. I jotted down a few ministry ideas and insights as I read. But most importantly, I was challenged to examine my own life to see how the gospel is being lived out in me.

As the Bloye’s put it, church planting is a journey. It’s God’s journey, and for those who are called, no other journey will ever satisfy the longing of the soul.

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ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story

ReWrittenA year and a half ago, I met Bruce and Heather Moore. I had somehow caught wind of their story and was so inspired that we invited them out to California to attend Saddleback’s leadership conference. Bruce had served on staff at two different suburban megachurches, but God had called he and Heather into a new ministry venture leading a dying church. Their new congregation in downtown Tampa had one year to live, and over that year, God worked a miracle through their leadership and began authoring a new story for Christ Fellowship.

Bruce and Heather are sold out for the gospel’s sake, and God keeps using them to lead others to Jesus. NavPress wisely approached them about writing a new book called ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story. I read the manuscript early on and loved the concept. I wholeheartedly endorsed it and want to do so now that the book is going to be released to the public.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

Your life matters. It matters a great deal.

Truth be told, life will never be satisfying until you know who God created you to be and exchange your story with the story God has for you. you are God’s image bearer, which means you have the potential to accomplish something great. So does every person on the face of the earth, because we are all created imago dei—in God’s image.

Imago dei is a spiritual concept that often gets overlooked. The creation account makes for great children’s Sunday school lessons but somehow never makes the leap to adulthood. it’s nice to teach a toddler that God created creepy crawly bugs, giant dinosaurs, and tossed a few million stars in the sky. But when that toddler becomes a teen or young adult, what does he or she know about living life in order to reflect God’s image? Somehow the concept gets lost in translation, and we live our lives unaware that whatever we are in life—doctor, plumber, stay-at-home mom, code writer, mail carrier—we are first and foremost designed to bear God’s image to a world that is broken.

Problem is, most of us are not living the life God created us to live. Most of us have lives that are far from perfect. We are living out stories that are different than what we had dreamed about. We all have areas of our lives that are plagued with internal disappointments, fear, or shame. The great news is that no matter where you are in life, what God desires for you is not just a better version of what you currently have but something altogether new. He designed you for a unique purpose that only you can fulfill.

That’s why your life matters

It’s the kind of book that would be awesome to use as a message series, in small groups, or to give as a gift to anyone in need of God’s grace (that’s all of us!). Bruce and Heather have given their family and their lives to seeing others transformed by the power of the gospel – to seeing stories rewritten. Now you can enjoy the fruit of their study and their labor of love.

God wants to write a new story for you, if you’ll simply embrace Him! Check out ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story today!

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