Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. Brian Howard on Questions every pastor and leader should answer.
  2. How to preach and captivate your congregation.
  3. Pete Wilson on Crushing narcissism.
  4. Steve Jobs and the goal of preaching. If you preach, this is gold.
  5. Ed Stetzer on Mental illness and the church. Really helpful stuff.
  6. Trevin Wax on 5 ways to avoid the drain of busyness.

The Image Toaster

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Decisive

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (kindle version) by Dan and Chip Heath.

I have a confession to make: I love the books the Heath brothers write. Made to Stick is still one of the best books I’ve ever read on preaching and it isn’t a book about preaching.

We all make decisions everyday, at work, at home. So making decisions in a timely way is something all of us could benefit from. In the book, the authors point what they call “four villains” when it comes to making decisions:

  1. We have too narrow of focus. The authors called this “spotlight thinking.” Instead of asking should I do this or that, ask how to do both, how can you widen your view. We miss important facts outside our immediate view because we won’t shift the light to see what’s around it. By doing this, you miss options.
  2. We fall into confirmation bias. We only look for information that confirms what we think. The authors pointed out that when you read reviews on Amazon or Yelp, you eyes go to reviews that confirm what you already think. By doing this, you gather self-serving information.
  3. We get caught in short-term emotion. We get stuck in decisions because our emotions get tied up in those decisions. By doing this, you are tempted to make the wrong choice.
  4. We are guilty of overconfidence. The authors write, “People think they know more than they do about how the future will unfold.” By doing this, you miss what could be.

If we aren’t careful, the “four villains” keep us from making wise choices from where to eat, who to hire, or what job to take.

Over the course of the book, the authors lay out their strategy for making better decisions, using what they call the WRAP method:

  1. Widen your options. As a leader, look for ways to wide your options, how to get more choices. Don’t settle for 2 options, how can you get more?
  2. Reality-test your assumptions. How can you get outside your head and collect information that you can trust?
  3. Attain distance before deciding. In making a decision, you must remove yourself from the equation. Asking what someone in your shoes would do, what would a new hire in your position do.
  4. Prepare to be wrong. That one is self explanatory, don’t get attached to your decisions, make them as fluid as possible. Don’t say, “never” or “always.”

Overall, this is a great read. While not as ground breaking as their other books, it’s good. I haven’t read a ton of books on how to make decisions, but would imagine this is a great place to start.

Reading 50 Books in 2011

I am halfway through 2011 (and so are the rest of you). One of my goals this year was to read 50 books, I figured since I’m halfway through the year, I’d share with you my progress in case you’ve missed some of my thoughts on these books. As I’ve said before, what I love about looking back on the reading I’ve done, I can see how God has worked in my life and shaped my thinking. So, here goes. They are in order of reading:

  1. Missional Community Life by Porterbrook Network
  2. Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon
  3. Exponential: How You and Your Friends can Start a Missional Church Movement by Dave & Jon Ferguson
  4. Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father by Dan Cruver
  5. Gospel Change by Porterbrook Network
  6. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Timothy Keller
  7. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath
  8. On the Old Testament (A Book You’ll Actually Read) by Mark Driscoll
  9. The Message of the Old Testament:  Promises Made by Mark Dever
  10. Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell & the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell
  11. Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal
  12. A Work of Heart: How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders by Reggie McNeal
  13. The Confession: A Novel by John Grisham
  14. Five Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them by Charles Stone
  15.  The Prodigal God by Tim Keller
  16. Wrestling an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and the Lessons of Grace by Greg Lucas
  17. The Drama of Scripture by Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew
  18. Speak Like a CEO by Suzanne Bates
  19. How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins
  20. Redemption: How Jesus Frees from the Idols we Worship and the Wounds we Carry by Mike Wilkerson
  21. The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan
  22. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  23. On the Verge by Dave Ferguson & Alan Hirsch

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Just read Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. After reading it, if are leading change of any kind or will at any time in the future, you need to read this book.

The Heath brothers look at the idea of an elephant and a rider to show how change happens, how it is reacted to and why it is reacted to that way. The rider represents our analytical side or analytical people. They are interested in data, the why behind change and how it will play out, the plan. The elephant is the emotional side, the feelings, the impulsiveness to a change. The elephant asks, “How will this change affect me?”

What they pointed out that was really interesting was the idea that people often react to change and the problem is not a people problem but a situation problem, an environment problem. What they showed through a variety of studies and examples is that often to make change happen, you need to change the environment that  people reside in.

One of the leadership principles that often gets overlooked that they talked about was looking for bright spots. Often leaders, especially in churches, we look for what is not working and try to change that, and that is the focus of our change. What if instead, we looked for what is working, the bright spots and look at how to replicate that. As the Heath brothers said, “Anytime you have a bright spot, your mission is to clone it.”

In the midst of change, uncertainty will arise at some point. In those moments, that is when the people in your church or organization will retreat to what they know. That is why clarity is so important. That is why you need to appeal to the head (the rider) and the heart (the elephant) to keep them on track, to keep them on the path as the writers point out.

What was probably the most helpful was the idea of scripting moves. When making a change, changing a culture, adding something to a church, tell people what is expected, what will the new world look like once the change is complete. The authors pointed out, “The details is where people get hung up and fall off track.” Ambiguity is the enemy of change. Or the flip side, “Clarity dissolves resistance.” Describe for people what your church will be like when the change is complete. Paint a picture. Tell them how you will get there, what it will feel like on the way. Sometimes, prepare them for failure or what will seem like failure. Often, change efforts use the sequence of analyze-think-change, which rarely works. Instead, use see-feel-change.

Often what trips up leaders in making changes is the herd, the crowd. If you get the crowd, you win the change because people follow the crowd, as behavior is contagious. The authors point out “We imitate the behaviors of others, whether consciously or not.”

Here are a few other things that jumped out:

  • For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.
  • What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
  • If you want people to change, you must provide crystal clear direction.
  • The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.
  • To keep the elephant motivated, people must get a sense of progress. Without progress, people will get demoralized.
  • The rider needs direction, the elephant needs motivation.

As I said, this is a book definitely worth picking up. I was able to read it on the plane the other day, so a fast read with a ton of nuggets in it.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • Tonight was a hard night to get through
  • Some nights just flow and the sermon hits on all cylinders and everyone seems engaged
  • And then other nights, usually when I am preaching through a heavy passage or text like I was tonight, it feels like trudging through snow
  • What I love about nights like tonight is that after pouring my heart and soul into a sermon, having conversations with people about how God is speaking to them and working on their hearts through the gospel
  • The night’s that often seem to be the flattest, turn out to be the most powerful in terms of what happens in the hearts and lives of people
  • Tonight definitely had a lot of theology and meat in it, because of that I listed more recommended resources than normal to help you work through a lot of what we talked about. If you are interested in more on tonight’s topic of faith, justification and works, here are some books I’d recommend:  The Future of Justification by John Piper, Dug Down Deep: Unearthing what I Believe and why it Matters by Joshua Harris, Reclaiming Christianity: A Call to Authentic Faith by A.W. Tozer, and Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols we Worship and the Wounds we Carry by Mike Wilkerson.
  • Shared some of the vision behind going to 2 services on March 26th
  • Really excited about what this is going to mean for our church and how God will allow us to reach more people
  • Working my way through a book right now that if you are leading some kind of change, you need to read
  • So excited to see my family tomorrow
  • Katie and the kids have been visiting family all this past week, can’t wait to be with them tomorrow
  • Last Sunday I preached at The Crossing, the church that is joining us
  • If you’d like to hear it, you can listen to it here
  • I preached on gospel fluency and how to share the gospel and how to let the gospel speak to the idols of your heart
  • Got the word this week, that we are officially an Acts 29 church, so excited about this
  • If you missed it this week, we shared some exciting news about our adoption and the next steps that you can read about here
  • Some moments it feels like we are right around the corner from the end and other times it feels like we are miles away
  • I know this is shorter than normal, but I’m tired and not long on words as my sermon was longer than normal tonight

Links of the Week

  1. Perry Noble nailed it on The spiritual warfare that pastors/leaders and their families often experience. This is right on.
  2. Tim Stevens on how to handle when you grow and when you don’t grow as a church. Interestingly, both can be dangerous in their own ways.
  3. Dan & Chip Heath on Why your gut is more ethical than your brain.
  4. Rick White on Addressing questions regarding gender roles. This is a great article that articulates clearly the complementarian view that I hold to.
  5. Ed Stetzer & George Barna on A church’s size and its theology. Fascinating that the larger the church, the more conservative they tend to be.

My Notes from the Leadership Summit

I went to the Leadership Summit last Thursday and Friday with some of our team from Revolution. It was by far one of, if not the best Summit I have ever been to.

In case you missed them, here are my notes from the Summit, in order.

  1. Four Lessons for Leading in a New Reality – Bill Hybels
  2. Hiring, Firing & Board Meltdowns – Panel Discussion
  3. Manage Differently NOW – Gary Hamel
  4. Four Steps to Spiritual Renewal – Tim Keller
  5. Jessica Jackley & the KIVA Story
  6. Against All Odds – Harvey Carey
  7. Third Culture Leadership – Dave Gibbons
  8. Aid vs. Trade – Andrew Rugasira
  9. Leveraging Your Past – Wess Stafford
  10. Eyewitness to Power – David Gergen
  11. Switch – Craig Groeschel Interviews Dan & Chip Heath
  12. Bono, the Church…3 Years Later
  13. The Irreducible Core of Leadership (An Interview with Tony Blair)

Switch – Craig Groeschel Interviews Dan & Chip Heath

wca speakerIn session 7 of the summit, Craig Groeschel interview Dan & Chip Heath.

They are the authors of the incredible book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, a must read for any communicator. Here are my thoughts on that book.

The words in bold are the questions that Craig Groeschel asked.

  • Think of something about yourself, ministry or business that you really think need to change
  • Most react negatively against change thinking that many people hate change
  • There are certain kinds of changes in the world that are big and happen almost effortlessly (marriage, kids)
  • Why do some changes hurt?
  • The smallest things are the most difficult things to change
  • Change is filled with conflict
  • Part of us see the need for change and want to change something, but part of us doesn’t want to change
  • We have a planning long run thinking side of the brain and the other side is the doing side
  • It is like a human riding an elephant
  • The rider has to convince the elephant that there is something worth changing
  • There are 9 major ministries, 2 are working well, 5 are marginal, 2 are failing miserable
  • Ignore the bottom and the middle 5 and go straight to the 2 that are working and find out why they are working
  • The 2 that are working show that success is possible
  • Bright spots are proof this is possible
  • Go with where God is working
  • How does someone find the bright spot and make a significant change?
  • You need to look for what is working
  • Get rid of things that are T.B.U. (True but useless)
  • “Big problems are rarely solved with big solutions, instead they are often solved by a sequence of small solutions”
  • When you become optimistic that an idea might work, that’s when you have reached the elephant and you have “shrunk the change”
  • Once you’ve made the change, how do you keep the momentum going?
  • Most of us, our elephants are skittish and lazy
  • We are tempted to leave the path and give up
  • If you are forewarned that it will become hard and that it will feel like failure, it is easier to get through it and stay on course
  • Some people have “the growth mindset” which means “with work I can accomplish_______”
  • Built into “the growth mindset” is a tolerance for failure
  • Failure may actually be an early warning sign for success
  • A lot of times in ministry, we can’t figure out why people don’t love the church the way we do. “We might not have a person problem, but a situation problem.”
  • When we make an assumption about someone, we’re attributed things to them
  • We need to ask why it is that they are holding back and not fully jumping in
  • If the path slopes downhill towards the goal will help people reach it as opposed to building a wall
  • When change occurs, there is usually a predictable pattern
  • There is a reason things work and don’t work
  • Things are built in by society to make marriages easier to do
  • If we can reverse engineer the successful changes, we can move forward in other areas

You can learn more about the Heath Brothers here and Craig Groeschel here.