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.

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John Piper on Don’t waste your weaknesses in 2014.

Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness. But I am calling you to give attention and effort in finding your weaknesses and maximizing their God-given purpose. The Bible tells us what that purpose is in 2 Corinthians 12:8–10. Paul had been given a “thorn in the flesh” which was one instance of a “weakness.” Why?

The top 30 blogs Christian leaders need to read.

Zach Nielsen on How to avoid mission drift in 2014.

New pastors and/or church planters have extremely high aspirations for maintaining the purity of their church’s mission. All those churches they used to work for got too messy, complicated, and unfocused. “This church won’t be that way!” they vow to themselves and other leaders.

A gut level, honest struggle every Christian leader has.

One of the most difficult aspects of Christian leadership is keeping your relationship with God fresh and alive.

Ed Stetzer on What evangelicals can learn from TIME naming the Pope the person of the year.

The immediate evangelical responses to the TIME story were interesting to watch: some evangelicals said appreciative things about the Pope’s actions, only to be criticized by other evangelicals for compromising, some took the time to point out all the ways they disagreed with Catholicism, and others just said nothing.

Dan Reiland on 4 questions every young leader should be asking.

The leader in trouble is not the one who doesn’t have all the answers; it is the one who doesn’t know the right questions.

Tim Brister on How to create a disciple making plan in 2014.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

Mike Anderson on How to plan your ideal week.

The more responsibility I take on, the more my life feels out of control. One good way to help bring some order to my calendar is planning an ideal week. I try to keep it simple.

15 Quotes from Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

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Every Saturday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail (kindle version) by Larry Osborne.

This book was fantastic. Instead of a full blown review, here are 15 quotes that jumped out to me:

  1. What is the dirty little secret of innovation? It’s simply this: most innovations fail.
  2. The success of people is not found in their ability to avoid failure. It’s found in their ability to minimize the impact of failure.
  3. Innovation is birthed out of answering these two questions: What frustrates me most? What’s broken most?
  4. Organizational innovation is often ignited by our deepest personal frustrations.
  5. The kind of mission statement that keeps an organization focused and accelerates innovation doesn’t just happen.
  6. A mission statement needs to be ruthlessly honest. It should reflect your organization’s passionate pursuit, not merely your wishful thinking, your marketing slogans, or a spirit of political correctness.
  7. Many leaders confuse mission with marketing.
  8. A mission statement should be aimed at insiders. Its purpose is to tell those on the inside of the organization where the bull’s-eye lies.
  9. The purpose of a mission statement is to tell everyone on the inside what we’re aiming at. It’s supposed to let them know what’s most important.
  10. To impact the daily decisions of an organization, a mission statement must be easily remembered and repeated ad nauseam – and then repeated again.
  11. When your mission statement is an honest reflection of your passion, is widely known, and is broadly accepted, it will not only help you get where you want to go; it will accelerate innovation.
  12. God’s will has three components: a what, a when, and a how. Each is equally important. Two out of three won’t cut it. Miss out on any of the three and you’ll end up in the weeds.
  13. It’s not always the best idea that succeeds. It’s the combination of a great idea, proper timing, and excellent execution that brings success.
  14. You can’t lead if you can’t live with low-level frustration.
  15. The important question is not, “Does this fail to help us fulfill our mission?” The important question is, “Does this keep us from fulfilling our mission?”

Creating a Personal/Family Mission Statement

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Yesterday, I talked about how to create a lasting, worthwhile legacy as a man and family. Many people took the next step of “creating a personal/family mission statement.” This can be a daunting, overwhelming task.

Katie and I went through this practice last year. To help us, we each reach through Patrick Lencioni’s book Three Questions for a Frantic FamilyYou can read my review of the book here.

You need to know this up front:

  • This process is incredibly freeing.
  • There is no right or wrong mission statement. It is your life, your family, you get to define it. So don’t compare to others.
  • Lastly, future generations are affected by this statement. This will define how you spend your time, your money, who you are friends with, where you will worship Jesus, etc. Your grandkids will feel the affect of this statement and if you don’t have one.

Why do this?

If you don’t do this, your family and you personally wander around aimlessly. How do you make a decision when both options seem good? Without a mission statement you guess and hope you are right. With a mission statement, decisions become easier. You are also able to evaluate things more clearly.

Let’s get started.

Start by listing all the things that describe your family. Not what you hope your family or life is, but what you really are. What is important to you? What matters most? What things will you fight til the death on? This list should be exhaustive. You are listing everything you can think of.

Now, start paring it down. Are there words that mean the same thing or can be combined? You are looking for about 5 words to describe your family or you personally. You want it to be short enough to fit on a T-shirt so you remember it.

Now that you have your statement comes a great addition that Lencioni calls “The rallying cry.” This is what you is the most important thing for your family to accomplish in the next 2-6 months. Maybe it is debt, a health issue, a learning issue for a child, your marriage. It is, outside of the normal things your family does, the one thing you have to do in the next 2-6 months for your family to go to the next level. Accomplishing this, would mean a whole new ballgame for your family.

One you have your “Rallying cry” what do you need to do to accomplish this? List all the things it will take.

Got it.

Okay, now share it with a close friend or two. This can be incredibly scary. Ask them to listen as you read it and give feedback. Are the words you used to describe your family, what your family is? Do they see a different value system than you do? You want to pick close friends for this.

Once you feel confident, put the mission statement and the rallying cry in a place where you will see it on a regular basis to remind you and keep you on track.

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The Mission of Revolution (Through the Eyes of a Monk)

Revolution exists to help people find their way back to God. The other day Katie pointed this out me:

“Considering “good old sin” in the sense that the ancient monks understood it, exposes the vast difference between their worldview and our own. These days, when someone commits an atrocity, we tend to sigh and say, “That’s human nature.” But our attitude would seem wrong-headed to the desert monks, who understood human beings to be part of the creation that God called good, special in that they are made in the image of God. Sin, then, is an abberation, not natural to us at all. This is why Gregory of Nyssa speaks so often of “[returning] to the grace of that image which was established in you from the beginning.” Gregory, in fact, saw it as our lifelong task to find out what part of the divine image God has chosen to reveal in us. Like the other early monks, he suggests that we can best do this by realistically dteremining how God has made us – what our primary faults and temptations are, as well as our gifts – not that we might better “know ourselves” or in modern parlance, “feel good about ourselves,” but in order that we might become instruments of divine grace for other people, and eventually return to God.” – Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

What Vision Does

Andy Stanley in his book Making Vision Stick he lays out what vision does. Specifically he says, vision answers two questions:  What is the problem or need that your vision addresses? What will happen if those needs or problems continue to go unaddressed?

At Revolution, our vision is “to help people find their way back to God.” This addresses the problem that people are far from God and in need of a relationship with him. For us, we want to make it hard to get to hell from Tucson. When Jesus went into heaven he told his disciples to reach the planet. We are starting with our series, building a movement of people who want to see people far from God find their way back to God.

To many visions in churches deal with things that can’t be measured. They will say things like “We exist to bring glory to God by doing x, y & z.” Sounds great, sounds biblical, does not solve a problem and you can’t figure out if it is working.

I remember being at a church and someone asked me what the church exists for. I had no idea. I know what we said, but as I looked at what we did, what we preached on and how the church was structured, we gave the message that something else was important. We talked about evangelism but didn’t baptize anybody. We talked about community, but we had 0 small groups.

The other problem that churches run into is that their vision can’t stand alone. If you have to explain your vision past your statement, that is a problem. You should be able to say what it is that you exist for and that should be enough, it should answer questions, not raise them. The reason is, your vision is your rallying cry, it is what will draw people together, the common thread that you are all working towards. When people ask your volunteers, what is this church all about? They should be able to give a one sentence answer.

(I’ll talk about Revolution’s strategy next week:  the 3 Dots)

Vision

One of the things that jumped out to me while reading It was this whole idea of vision. This is one thing that churches do not do a good job of, equally, pastors do not do a good job of framing a vision.

Craig Groeschel said, “When it comes to vision it needs to be simple, memorable, portable, quantifiable.”

Most churches point to the great commission using words like glorifying God, reaching people, loving people, loving God. These are important, biblical. The problem is it does not meet the 4 things I listed above.

I remember working in churches who had a vision, mission, purpose, strategic and discipleship statement. This is problematic in that it is too much to remember. They are usually all right, good, and biblical. You just can’t remember it.

So the question might be, how do you figure out a vision? What is God calling you to? A few questions to help answer that question:

  1. What can we do better than anyone else? (who is at your church, ages, life stage, backgrounds, etc.)
  2. What do you talk about more than anything else? As a pastor, there is one message that comes out no matter what you talk about. (Gary Lamb has a great post about that here)
  3. If you could do just one thing as a church, what would that be?
  4. What do you want your church to be known for?

I have been thinking a lot about this recently as I am getting ready for our next series Becoming… where we will walk through why Revolution exists. I want us to be razor sharp in our focus and be clear about what we are about.

In a few weeks, I’ll share some other thoughts on vision (what we are about at Revolution and how to stay on track).