Previous month:
July 2012
Next month:
September 2012

How Church Planters can get a Free App for their Start-Up

There are many, many different ways to start a church and do ministry.  Every situation is different.

Because it takes all different flavors of churches to reach all different flavors of people.

Take our start-up, for example.  Our church has no paid staff right now.  We're doing that on purpose.

Our Church has No Paid Staff.

Having no paid staff means people like me (the pastor) work regular jobs and side projects to support their family.

For almost a year, that's what my wife and I have been doing.  And we're happy to do it, because it frees up our church plant to direct every dollar donated toward start-up costs.

As we focus our funds toward creating a positive presence in our region, we are seeking intentional pathways into the lives of people who don't always like going to church.

One pathway is smartphones

  • In the 18-24 demographic, two out of every three American adults own a smartphone.
  • 46% of all adults in America own a smartphone.

A pathway toward entering their world of iPhones and Androids is through an App.  In 2012, an estimated 42 MILLION Apps are downloaded every single day.

If we want to reach the people no one else are reaching, we have to do the things no one else are doing. 

In this case, we wanted to create and make available a free Life Church Michigan App prior to our launch. 

A church App creates:

  • instant credibility with the people we are trying to reach
  • puts our unique identity on their phone
  • and allows for instant communication of all things Life Church.

After researching all the possibilities, I found a way to create and offer an App for our church plant for free.

Let me say those last two words again: For.  Free.

Seriously, church planters can get a free App for their start-up. 

No ads, no hidden catches, and no mediocrity. 

In fact, if you are leading any kind of church, you are welcome to grab this free offer. 

How Church Leaders can get a Free App for their Church

I'd be happy to share with you how to create and publish a free App for your church through a new email subscription I'm offering for leaders.  It's a freebie side project that God placed on my heart a while back to offer under-the-radar ministry tips plus updates on my new book coming out soon (Its about how to use the Rules of Comedy in Leadership.  I think you'll like it.)

The first email comes out this Sunday night.  In it, I'll share how to create, publish, and easily update your new App.  

Your new smartphone App can be ready in under an hour, doesn't require a computer genius, and won't cost your ministry a dime.  Plus it will be available for both iPhone users and Android users.  Seriously.

Simply sign up for my new email (no info will be shared with any third parties and no spamming, promise) and you'll learn how to get a free, promise-it-doesn't-stink App for your church.  

I think you'll get a kick out of this new email.  It's a freebie that will help get you fired up in ministry and leadership.

Make sure you sign up by this Sunday night...  That's when the first email will go out with the App info.

And while you're at it, maybe give us a Like on our new Facebook page.  Thanks!


Where We Get Stuff

Church_plantingWhen you are starting something from nothing, you pinch pennies and search for the absolute best value for your buck.  

The aim is for your newly planted church to take root and bear fruit.

We're planting a church right now.  This isn't my first rodeo - I planted a church in Ohio seven years ago and have jumped through the hoops before.  

Over time, I've discovered where to get stuff online and just recently figured out how to create a free app for our church plant.  For what its worth, here's some free tips.


Where We Get Stuff

  • Group Imaging - We order all our signage from these guys.  They do great work on-time.
  • Dropbox - Sync everything online and always have access to any document.  Free + easy.
  • Evernote - My friend Ken hooked me on Evernote.  Keeps me organized when I'm inspired.
  • Typepad - I know you can blog for free at Wordpress, but I don't have time to learn the logistical code crud.  I've stuck with Typepad since 2005 and love the ease of creating and publishing posts minus the hassle.
  • OvernightPrints - They do good work fast.  Prime example: I ordered 15,000 postcards on a Friday.  They arrived in-hand the following Wednesday.  Unbelievable.
  • Clover - Our church website is through Clover.  They have tons of beautiful designs to choose from, they're all super easy to update and Clover is fast, fast, fast with set-up.

There's also a way for church planters to get a free App for their church plant.

Yes, free.  

No pop-ads, no hidden fees, no mediocrity.

I'll share how tomorrow.

VIDEO: Are You Kidding?!?!?!


Last weekend I was invited to speak 
at Heritage Church as part of their parenting series, Are You Kidding?!?!?! 

Best.  Series.  Name.  Ever.

Just as tv's first blended family, The Brady Bunch, brought us wacky hijinks, so also this message unpacks the mixed blessings of blending a family together through divorce, remarriage, or adoption.



In this video you will learn:

  • God's love is given, not earned
  • What movie I took my first-date-ever to in high school
  • Which Bible character surprisingly grew up in a blended family
  • What the Roman adoption system was like 2,000 years ago
  • How my family has personally been touched by divorce and adoption
  • Practical tips on living in a blended family



This coming weekend I'll be officiating a wedding for two of our Lifers who are getting married in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (when you look at a map, it's our state's Middle Finger), and then speaking at Genesis Church in Petoskey, Michigan.

I'd love to have you join us for our first monthly worship service - It All Begins Sep 16th!


Help Me Name My New Book


Last week I shared the exciting news that I signed a book contract and shipped off the manuscript to the editors.  

I'm really excited about this new project... even though I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing as a first-time author.

What's the book about?

In a nut-shell, this is a book that shares how to use the rules of comedy in leadership.


There are rules of comedy?

722925_height370_width560Yes, there is a method to the madness of making people laugh.  You see, years before I entered full-time ministry, I trained and performed improv-comedy in Chicago.  My teachers included a then-unknown Tina Fey (see pic left).

Over the years I've practiced layering the rules of comedy over my leadership.  I've discovered that the same principles used to create comedy projects ranging from Saturday Night Live sketches to The Colbert Report to movies like Tommy Boy can also be applied to leading organizations.


Wow, cool!  Who is this book aimed at?

Obviously I am passionate about the local church, so I'll be gearing the writing toward ministry leaders.  

However, I've discovered that this book will also add a layer of insights for all types of leaders.  

If you are seeking to influence any tribe, the rules of comedy will enhance your leadership capacity!

How can we help?


The original genesis of this project was a blog series I did called, Improv*ing Your Leadership.  But my publisher doesn't like that name.

I need something that grabs people's attention and makes them want to flip to the back cover's description.  

That's where you come in.



Help me name my book (please!).  

Picture 2I've set up a new Facebook page
where you can share all the different titles you can dream up.  

There's even a couple quotes from the book to help inspire you.

I'm looking for something catchy and fun that sums up the big idea: Using the Rules of Comedy in Leadership. 

Go ahead.  Give it a shot. 

Go to our new Facebook page, suggest some names, and give our Page a Like to help spread the word.  The more friends we get involved with trying to name this thing, the better.

Thank you in advance for your help!  I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's ideas. 


Complete Notes and Observations from Day Two


That's completes Day Two.  Thanks for following this blog today.  

If you liked what you saw, you might want to subscribe via RSS or email.

Come back on Monday - I'd love to share with you about a new book I'm writing 
(and need your help with).

Hybels2012-polaroidNOTES - Bill Hybels, vision guru

  • Lights are dimming in the auditorium.  International signal for, "Get your behind in here!"
  • "The world is ready for a fresh conversation about Jesus" - John Ortberg
  • Michelle Rhee: "I would much rather deal with ANGER than APATHY."
  • Everyone wins when a leader gets better.

Is it just me or does Bill Hybels sound ever-so-slightly like a hoarse Kermit the Frog?

  •  Matthew 16:18 - Jesus is building the Church and will not allow it to be defeated.
  • "The local church is the hope of the world" has 251 million hits on Google.  Most internet posts disagree with that quote.
  • First 18 years of Bill's life, he had one quote to sum up the Church: "Hopeless."
  • "Our church was so hopeless in my view that I wanted to protect people from coming to it.  I didn't want to do any further damage to people's view of the Church."
  • Next phase of Bill's life: "Hopeful."  Heard there was once a community of people totally devoted to God, they were brothers and sisters, took the masks off, prayed bold prayers.  The church rocked with the power of God.  People outside the church heard and wanted to join in. 
  • It’s one thing to see a vision and another to be seized by one.
  • Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.  Vision causes people to sacrifice joyfully.  Vision puts a bounce in your step when you might be dragging.  Proverbs 29:18.
  • Next phase of Bill's life: "The local church is the hope of the world."  Because the Message of Jesus Christ is the only one that can change the earth, and God has made the Church the steward of that Message, the local church is the hope of the world.
  • If every church reaches their redemptive potential, the light of Christ shines.
  • New Question: Will the local church, the hope of the world, be able to sustain itself until the end of time?  This brings us back to Matthew 16:18...
  • Don't you realize this is the ONLY thing Jesus is directing until He returns?  He's full-time focused on the building of His Church worldwide.  
  • When Jesus taps you on the shoulder and invites you on the journey of building the hope of the world, how do you say No?  "Don't be that guy; you'll regret it forever."

Photo (1)

That's completes Day Two.  Thanks for following this blog today.  

If you liked what you saw, you might want to subscribe via RSS or email.

Come back on Monday - I'd love to share with you about a new book I'm writing
(and need your help with).




Whew!  This event has absolutely flown by - - are we at the final talk already?

Quick break, then a final slam-dunk message from Bill Hybels.


Faculty_geoffrey_canada NOTES - Geoffrey Canada, CEO of Harlem Children's Zone

  • Where despair rules, young people have no concept of God; only violence, sex, and drugs.
  • "Contaminate" with positive values to show what normalcy can look like.
  • Change the neighborhood block by block with a sense of purpose and hope.  Harlem is a big place: can we do one block?  People doubted at first, "One block, so what?"  By the third block, people believed it could be possible to transform Harlem.
  • Too often we ask, what is shortest period of time for least amount of money to change a child?  This question doesn't make any sense!  If you raise a child, there is no time in that child's life that you can't be a great parent!
  • "Donate to help fix a child's cavity, helps them study?"  No - What decent human being that could provide dental help wouldn't help a child?!  Providing these services is NOT exceptional in our country; we should be doing this!!
  • Tipping Point = reach 65-75% of a population with positive message over a negative message; changes a community!
  • "I'm gonna save a few kids."  NO!  Let's save ALL the kids!!

Failure makes you want to hide and scale down the vision.  

Going out and saying, "I failed.  I'm going to go back and try TWICE as hard" is harder to do!

  • "I believe in redemption; I believe that people can get better!"
  • The donor feels like the customer who is always right, tries telling you what to do.  There's a line where the gift actually detracts from your work.
  • Compassion and urgency have increased for him over the years.  
  • "We can't do it."  But I see us put another rover on Mars?  As Americans, we have not really put our focus on this and made it a core mission.
  • Succession Planning: CEO of American Express had a succession plan on Day One.  Plan in place on how the company will survive; not a personality cult.  Amex has 2-3 people who know they're in line for succession.  Concept is to think intentionally about your replacement in a timely manner.  "I need to leave this organization when it's on it's way UP."
  • People have fought for what is right, never saw progress during their lifetimes ...But still fought for the right cause.  We are but a moment in a path towards victory.
  • It's easy to have faith when everything's going great.  The real test of faith is when you're faced with something that only your faith will keep your belief in God.



"I'm not afraid of death, because I know the One who conquered it." - Bill Hybels


Faculty_john_ortbergNOTES - John Ortberg, pastor & author

Random Trivia: I was at John Ortberg's final Sunday at Willow Creek in July 2003.

  • Why is there a San Jose?  Because a man named Joseph was impacted by a Man named Jesus.
  • Why is there a Sacramento?  Because a Man named Jesus had a meal, a sacrament.

"Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries.

If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?" - Jerislav Pelikan, Jesus Across the Centuries


  • Too often we argue about Christianity, instead of marvel at Him.
  • Jesus gave the world its biggest movement.
  • Colossians 3:11 - Christ is all and in all.  He brings together opposites. 
  • Historical reality = poverty-stricken, crucified carpenter.
  • Jesus changed how we think about history.  Ancients thought of existence as cycles; events were dated by rulers (Year One of the Rule of Augustus).
  • By the 6th Century, a monk proposed a new calendar, based NOT on the founding of Rome, but on the birth of a carpenter.  Based on idea that life is not a random cycle, but has meaning based on this Jewish carpenter.  
  • Jesus lived and died.  And Caesar never knew of His existence.  2,000 years later, we name our kids Peter, Paul, and Mary and we give our dogs names like Caesar and Nero!
  • A.D. = Every ruler who ever reigned must be dated in reference to the life of Jesus.
  • Jesus shaped how we express compassion.  Beautiful/noble/strong were admired.  Weak/marginal were not valued in ancient world.  1.4 million boys for every 1 million girls; babies were killed by gender (source: Rodney Stark).  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me."  Christians were the first to take in orphan children.
  • Widows were fined by Rome for surviving past their husbands; considered a drag on the economy.  They were taken in by the Church.  Jesus began a revolution in the view of the status of women.
  • 1st three centuries of the Church, there were two epidemics that wiped out a THIRD of city populations.  Created such a panic in Roman Empire that on first onset of the disease, they were thrown out as dirt to avert the spread of contagions.  People in the strange community called the Church went out and brought them in, even at risk of their own health, because Jesus loved lepers, touched crippled, served the lowest.
  • Fourth Century - 1st hospital arises from Jesus-follower Benedict.  At Geneva Convention, the Red Cross was recognized.  Hospitals are named Good Shepherd or St. Anthony.  All touched by Jesus.
  • The Jesus Movement shaped education.  Schools not for girls or slaves.  Odd community called the Church knew that Jesus taught EVERYONE.  Last command of Jesus: "Teach EVERYONE."  
  • By fourth century, monastic communities were only institutions in Europe for preservation of texts, both religious and pagan.  Then churches began building schools.  Then universities: Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale.  92% of all colleges/universities started in America before Civil War originated to glorify God.
  • American public funding for mass education in 18th Century was called the Ole Deluder Satan Act.  Because God wants ALL people to learn, not learning was an act of the devil.
  • Science as an organized, sustained industry that arose only once in human history, in Christian Europe.  Clocks invented so monks knew when to pray.  Glasses arose from monks; champagne too.
  • Alphabet of the Slavs is called syrillic.  No written alphabet.  So a follower of Jesus created a written language for them.
  • No other book translated even a fifth as much as the Bible.  No other subject of art more venerated than Jesus.  
  • The Jesus Movement changed political theory (Mark 12:17).  Ancient world assumed the state had the franchise on religion.  No "state church," just perogative of the ruler.  Jesus says, "No, there's another Realm."  Historically, the Church follows Jesus the worst when it has a lot of political power than when it doesn't.
  • Jesus changed how we think about human rights and dignity.  Declaration of Independence: "self-evidence" of a Creator.  Where did that come from?  
  • Nobody in ancient world said, "I love Zeus."  Jesus brought a new way of thinking about God: love.
  • Jesus said that God is like a Father filled with unquenchable love for every human on earth.  Galatians 3:28 - "you are all one in Christ Jesus."
  • Abolition movements and rise of status of women are led by Jesus followers.
  • Jesus taught to love your enemies.  Not a human idea.  Ancient world: love your friends, HARM your enemies.  Ghengis Khan: "What is best in life is to CRUSH your enemies..."  Jesus: "What is best in life is to turn your other cheek, love your enemy..."
  • Nero would slaughter followers of Jesus as human torches to light gladiator games.  Went on for three centuries.  Response?  No dreams of revenge or revolt.  They simply LOVED.
  • Jesus inspired Tolstoy who inspired Ghandi.  
  • Martin Luther King went off-script: "I have a dream!"  It was not a secular dream; it was inspired by Jesus' life.
  • "The power of Jesus has a subversive way of refusing to stay submerged." 
  • Jesus is the hinge of history, greatest teacher, greatest mind, King of kings, greatest ever.  Not who WAS this man; who IS this Man?
  • The Call of the Carpenter remains today.  Will you devote yourself to that Man and the expanded vision of His Kingdom?  The crucified carpenter of Nazareth is the Hope of the nations and Savior of the world!


Dude, John Ortberg just PREACHED it.  Wow.  You should order a DVD of that talk.  Amazing.  Great message for non-believers; rooted in history and science.  Humble delivery.  Amazing.



...and we're back!  Had a great lunch with my family. Love my kids.

Ate at Culver's; HAD to have dessert!  Peanut Butter Cup shake.  Mmmm.


Faculty_mario_vegaNOTES - Mario Vega, pastor of El Salvador church of 73,000

1 Samuel 15:34-16:1 takes place 1,000 BC.  Age of Iron was coming to an end.  People groups of the Middle East were transitioning to powerful monarchies.  

Israel still governed by tribal chiefs ruling over small territories.  This fragmentation made Israel weak in face of enemies.  There had been no clear leader to rally the kingdom into one people.  Israel had relied exclusively on God for protection.  But they decided to become a monarchy with a mighty army.  This paved the way for Saul to become the 1st king of Israel.

Samuel was proud of Saul in his role as king, but on one occasion Saul deliberately ignored the instructions of the Lord, stealing cattle and then lying about it.  God: "To walk in integrity is better than many riches."  This failure disqualified Saul in God's eyes.

Was God too harsh?  There are defining moments in the life of a man that reveal his internal character.  There are certain actions that people of integrity REFUSE to engage in.  

Saul's response = he grew violent and profane.  Led to mass murder of temple priests.  Uncontrollable ambition leads him to try murdering his own son and pursuing David obsessively.  Those that open the door to moral failure allow for more failures to come.  

Saul had now shown the world his lack of character.  Very painful for Samuel to witness.  Brought Samuel to an ethical crossroads: had to choose between love for God and love for his friend, Saul.  Loyalty to values vs. loyalty to Saul.  The moral failure of a leader will challenge the integrity of the followers as well.  As leaders, we are not only responsible for our own actions, but also for that of those that we influence.

Samuel determined to remain firm in doing what was right.  This is the reason why Samuel never again saw Saul's face.

  • The heart finds comfort with every new step of integrity.
  • Every right decision a leader makes will increase his influence.
  • As the years pass by, they will reveal justice and integrity in your leadership.



Faculty_pranitha_timothyNOTES - Pranitha Timothy, Director of Aftercare for International Justice Mission in India

  •  Pranitha has personally freed over 4,000 slaves over the past 10 years.
  • "Leaders lead out of who they are on the inside.  This is why God is so eager to remake us on the inside."
  • God spoke Isaiah 42:1-7 into her heart.
  • Soon after surgery for brain tumor.  Was benign, but lost ability to swallow, hearing in right ear, and was now mute.  Two years later, she regained a feeble voice.  Amazing.  Her constant pain (15 years later) constantly reminds her that she needs God and that His grace is sufficient.
  • "Growing up, I hated Christ."  Angry youth; expelled from college.  In her coldness and brokenness, she discovered that Jesus Christ was the answer to the darkness engulfing her life.  "Come to Me, broken as you are..."  This helps her understand the lives of slaves.
  • We are called to serve.  "I am no hero, I am simply called to serve a God who is already at work."  God goes before us, into the places of darkness, and makes the paths straight.  "I can do nothing without God."
  • This life belongs to God."The proper source of strength is not willful strength, but willful remembrance that my life belongs to God."  
  • "My husband and daughters are safer in God's hands than they are in mine."
  • God is good.  Even when what we see in the world is hard, broken, and painful.  "We believe in a God who is absolutely good to the core."
  • God hears the cries of the oppressed. 



Today is cruising right along at the Global Leadership Summit.

This morning's news via ESPN on the Dwight Howard trade is insane.  Kobe is zealous for Ring #6 to match Jordan (even though Kobe is in no way like Michael Jordan), so he robs another Magic player (remember when they grabbed Shaq back in the day?) to assemble his Avengers.  

Like the three-peat Bulls, there is an out-there Rodman in Metta World Peace, but the championship heart is missing.  These guys haven't played together and are not fans of each other (can anyone say "Steve Nash?!").  Yet here we are with the new Lakers.  * sigh *

We'll be live blogging in a few moments.  



William-L-UryDr. William Ury of Harvard on Getting to Yes: Negotiating Conflict

  • Negotiation is simply back-and-forth communication.
  • Daily we negotiate with family, kids, parents, colleagues, board, congregation, vendors, governments, etc.
  • Shared Decision Making = Negotiation.
  • Conflict isn't necessarily bad.  Competition creates business.  Democracy allows different views.  Can we deal with conflict in an honest way or through destruction?
  • Greatest obstacle to successful negotiation: Ourselves.  We are the biggest barrier.  It's a natural human tendency to react (act without thinking).  
  • "When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret!"
  • The REPLY key is a horrible invention!  REPLY ALL is even worse!
  • There is great power in NOT reacting.
  • Focus on the people - they are human beings, not enemies (listen twice as much as you talk).  
    How can you change someone's mind if you don't know where there mind is at?  
    You're trying to change the game from adversaries to being fellow humans at a table talking.  In a negotiation, to listen costs you nothing but means everything to the other person. 
  • Focus on their interests/needs.  Address the underlying aspirations.  In negotiation we need to go to the balcony to get a broader view of the stage.   Always ask, "Why?  Why do you need that?"
  • Develop multiple options; be creative with options.  Are there many ways of doing this?  
    Example: Israel and Egypt (Dr. Ury helped negotiate at Camp David).  Looked behind the issues.  Egypt: This is about sovereignty. Israel: Our underlying need is security.  Creative solution: Demilitiarize Sinai.  Israel gets land buffer for security; Egypt gets land back.
  • Ensure objective criteria and a fair process.  This is a question of will and ego.   
    Example: 2 companies wanted to merge.  Made sense on paper, but which CEO becomes CEO of combined company?  Fair solution: older CEO became CEO and agreed to mandatory retirement age.   No one has to "give-in," just differ to a fair alternative.
  • BATNA - Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  This is a positive alternative you have before walking into a negotiation.

 Ok, break time.  Back at Noon.


"Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion in people" - Bill Hybels


Faculty_patrick_lencioniNOTES - Patrick Lencioni, author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick is an ENFP.  I have a similar personality profile!

  • "People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed."
  • What Makes Southwest Airlines Great: Building a Healthy Organization
  • Organizational Health is the single greatest competitive advantage in business.  It is virtually FREE and accessible, yet remains virtually UNTAPPED.  Too many leaders think its BENEATH them.
  • 2 Requirements for Success: 

SMART - strategy, marketing, finance, tech.  Only half the equation, but gets 98% of the focus

HEALTHY - minimal politics and confusion, high morale, high productivity, low turn-over.

  •  Churches focus on theology, sermons, etc. but neglect HEALTH!


4 Disciplines You Need to Master:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team at the top (behaviorially aligned)
  2. Create clarity (intellectually aligned).  

    Great example: Dunder Mifflin's HORRIBLE company vision statement!  

The-office_1348_1Dunder Mifflin Incorporated provides its customers quality office and information technology products, furniture, printing values and the expertise required for making informed buying decisions. We provide out products and services with a dedication to the highest degree of integrity and quality of customer satisfaction, developing long-term professional relationships with employees that develop pride, creating a stable working environment and company spirit. 


Sadly, too many church's have vision statements like Dunder Mifflin's.  We've intentionally kept our vision at Life Church simple and clear: Reach the Lost at Any Cost!  Our Life Code shares our behavior.

"All things to all people" = "nothing to no one"

6 critical questions to create clarity (this affects your org's behavior) 

  • Why do we exist?
  • How do we behave?  
    A client wrote to Southwest complaining.  Southwest's 3 word response to her: We'll Miss You.If someone asks you to violate a core value, you must be willing to lose their business.  Don't sell you soul to compromise a core value!  You know you have a core value if you're willing to be punished for it!
  • What do we do?
  • How will we succeed?  Strategy should be accessible to EVERYONE in your org.  Strategic anchors make decision-making easy.  Southwest's 3 anchors: Make fanatical fans, turn-around planes, keep fares low.  These 3 simple strategies EMPOWER workers to make fast decisions, making customers happy!
  • What is most important, right now?
  • Who must do what?

"Leaders must OVERCOMMUNICATE things.  Your people must hear something SEVEN TIMES before it begins to sink in."


This guy is an ENTERTAINING speaker: "I just forgot where I was.  No, I mean, I know I'm at Willow Creek, just where I'm at in my talk.  I mean, I did take an Ambien last night..."



Welcome back, everyone!  Since we last talked, the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard, its raining hard like Noah outside, and the complimentary coffee at our site has, wait for it, Coldstone Creamery coffee creamer!!!  Oh Willow Creek, is there nothing you do not think of?

I'll be live blogging all day - - hit REFRESH each time you come back for the very latest leadership notes.  And if you have any questions, hit me up in the Comments section below.  Thanks!

Complete Notes and Observations from Day One


Thanks for visiting this live blog.  Make sure you hit REFRESH throughout the day.


Faculty_craig_groeschelNOTES - Craig Groeschel, pastor and author

  •  Bridging the Generation Gap
  • There's too much tension in the ministry world today.
  • Older generation: Don't resent, fear, or judge the next generation.  BELIEVE in them because they need you!
  • God values maturity; if you're not dead, you're not done!
  • Innovative idea for multi-site came from a 75-year-old pastor.
  • Don't just delegate tasks (creates followers), delegate authority (creates leaders).
  • Be yourself!  Younger generation says that authenticity trumps cool!
  • Become a spiritual father - - Psalm 71:18
  • Honor publicly results in influence privately.
  • Mark 6:4-6 - - lack of honor and faith limits everything.  Honor builds up, dishonor tears down.  Honor believes the best, dishonor assumes the worst.  Dishonor is a lack of love.
  • "Well, when you're honorable, I'll show you honor."  NO!  Respect is earned BUT honor is given!!


That's completes Day One.  Thanks for following this blog today.  

If you liked what you saw, you might want to subscribe via RSS or email.

We'll be back tomorrow with Day Two live blogging.   Good night!




Carly Fiorina just took the stage - - spoke at the Summit a few years back about her book, Tough Choices.  She spent 5 years listed by Fortune Magazine as most powerful female executive in the world.

She's sharing her personal story - a mega-church was last place she thought she'd find herself speaking at. - praying with Bill Hybels prior to that interview calmed her.  She had viewed God as a massive super-CEO of the universe (deism) who wasn't intimately involved in our lives.  She saw virgin birth, resurrection, etc as powerful allegories, but not historical fact.

Hybels kept checking in with her over the following year: "His persistence kept me pondering the contours of faith."  Realized that the hallmarks of science such as quarks and protons are signs of the miraculous.  Proof that God knows all in detail, not in broad strokes.  

Father died.  Then in February 2009, she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.  Chemo, radiation, yet peace did not leave her; she did not fear death.  She realized that cancer had brought blessings in a profound way.  This all paled in comparison later to her daughter's death from inner demons.  This all led to her husband telling Carly that he had lost his faith.  

A few days before Fathers' Day, he discovered in the garage a long-forgotten box of handwritten letters from his daughter.  God used these to answer his prayers.

"Life is measured in love and contribution and moments of grace.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

Wow, what a classy, personal message.



Gungor is playing.  I think Mr. Gungor looks like a human muppet.  

Like if Animal were real but was a really nice guy and learned to play the banjo. 



Break before today's final speaker, Craig Groeschel.

Thought I'd take a minute to thank this site's host, Phil Owen.  He's a case-study in being Kingdom-minded: the guy tracks me down online after hearing we're starting a new church in this region.  We meet up for coffee, he asks to hear our story, and just oozes with compassion and encouragement.  

What I love about Phil is that even though he's been pastoring in this region for nearly a decade, he is not territorial or competitive or worried about "that new church coming to town."  In fact, Phil is cheering on our efforts, offering to help and share resources where he can.  Wow!  

I truly believe that God blesses leaders who are humble, generous and open-handed.  Phil is that kind of leader and I appreciate his friendship.  I can't wait to see what God does in our region through the efforts of not just one church, but many cheering each other on.


If you live in the U.S., you have won the lottery of life.  Now, what are you going to do with it (your freedom, wealth, security)? - Sheryl Wudunn



Faculty_marc_kielburgerNOTES - Marc Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children

  • "I told the guy I work for a non-profit.  He said, 'Oh, you work for Chrysler?'"
  • "Communication & alignment.  Communication & alignment.  Communication & alignment." 
  • Harvard Leadership Study: Leaders undercommunicate by a factor of TEN.

This guy is speaking so fast, bouncing out of his chair... love his passion, but holy smokes, let us take a breath, Speedy Gonzalez!

  • Gift + Issue = Better World
  • Look for young people who have empathy.  When you communicate empathy, you create passion.
  • Show, not Tell.  Shameless idealism!
  • One billion young people between ages of 12-18.  One billion.  This is the future.  First generation that could end poverty in one lifetime.  But they don't turn 18 and develop a social conscience...  



"Trust your curiousity.  Don't worry about having the next question, wait for the next question to come to you." - Jim Collins

Kevin Olusola is cello-boxing; he's part of the dynamic acapella group, Pentatonix.  They just released an EP over on iTunes that you should totally go get.

"You can have all the talent in the world - but if you're not humble, people won't listen." - Kevin Olusola



Back from lunch.  A tasty concoction from Quizno's.  That place always reminds me of the singing squirrel-pirate commercials they had about ten years ago.  I miss those squirrel-pirates.

While we're waiting for the next speaker, here's a quick update on my new book.

I've actually had a couple people come up to me and say, "Hey, how's the book coming along?"  Which is cool, because that means the word is trickling out.

My response: "I really have no idea what I'm doing."  The manuscript is in my editor's hands and we're entering the period of edits, re-writes, and other important sounding literary terms.  But I really have no idea what I'm doing; I've never written a book before.

I'll actually have a better update for you all on Monday.  Be sure to tune into it as I need your help with something.  You can also sign up for the freshest of fresh updates here:

Ok, one last restroom break and then back to live-blogging the Global Leadership Summit.



If you're just joining in, the good news is the quest has been accomplished: we have Monkees tickets!

Now we're blogging leadership notes.

Ok, off to lunch.  Seacrest Out.




NOTES from Jim Collins
Author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, Built to Last, and Great by Choice

  • 2 Teams Race to Antarctica: 34 days separated the teams' arrivals.  Entirety of Team 2 died on way back.  Why do some enterprises thrive in uncertainty and chaos when facing forces outside their control while others do not?
  • Turns out that the differences in leadership behaviors matter.
  • What were those differences?  
  • Level 5 Leader (Humility combined with Will)
  • Fanatic Discipline: 20 Mile March every single day, regardless of conditions.  Applies to marriage too!  Consistent, consecutive performance.  Biggest levers of change have consistent approach.  Mediocrity's signature is chronic inconsistency.
  • Empirical Creativity: Eskimoes tell you not to use ponies, use dogs.  Calibrated cannonballs work!  Blend creativity and discipline for innovation.  Creativity is natural; discipline is not.
  • Productive Paranoia: The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive!  Translate your paranoia into buffers before times are tough.  ...So that you can be strong when people need you most.  
  • SMeC Recipe - Specific, Methodical, and Consistent.  The greatest danger is not failure, the greatest danger is to become successful without knowing why you became successful.
  • Follow your recipe with discipline and extend your reach when you stimulate progress.
  • The Twist: What is the role of luck/bad events/providence/miracle?   You didn't cause it, creates big consequence, it was a surprise.  
  • Result of cancer = new mantra: "Life is about people, and time with people you love."  Getting a high return on a twist in life.
  • "What is my responsibility in the midst of this unexpected event?"  How to use a bad event as a defining moment that deepens purpose.  It is the height of your responsibility not to squander it.
  • Greatness is not a result of circumstance; it is a conscious result of choice.
  • Great friends say, "I am always here for you.  You are never really alone."





Q&A with Condoleezza Rice (moderated by Bill Hybels)

  • Bill loves Condi's phrase over the years for pushy people: "With all due respect..."  How often did she come up with that?
  • Condi: "I actually like debate; don't mind verbal-combat.  As long as you're being respectful for their position, they will respect yours."
  • Most dangerous leader Condi encountered?  Leader of Sudan.  Why?  When somebody is as brutal toward his own people, its a proxy for something else.
  • On politics within a leadership team: Can't be a Shrinking Violet.  Tough, big personalities under stress = people become more of who they really are.  Keep civil relations.  Remind people what we're trying to do together.  Never allow it to become personal.  Get away together.  
  • Sometimes its less the people themselves; its people at a lower level around them egging them on.
  • Policy dispute?  Don't play the Resignation Card unless you're prepared to follow through.
  • When you're in position of authority, you need truth-tellers around you.
  • Before you share private stories of people in authority, ask their permission.  Keeps the trust.

Bill just told Condi she is imminantly qualified to be president of the U.S. with her vision and experience.  What is role of faith in not pursuing politics? (Great question!)

  • "I know I love policy; I don't love politics."  Need a different DNA.
  • Calling is key.  Feels called to public service, doesn't have to be through elective office.
  • Condi's expectations when going to church: quiet time with God, a message that make her leave thinking, "I never thought of it that way," that is biblically-grounded.  
  • John Ortberg is her pastor.  




LIVE NOTES: Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State

  • "I will give you the answer to the question.  No, not THAT question."  Condi is awesome!
  • 3 Big Shocks: 

1.  9/11 - physical security is never the same; Afghanistan War worse than War of 1812
2.  Global Financial Shock - we have to rethink economic prosperity
3.  Arab Spring - authoritarianism is never stable.  Chelcheska Moment starts with just one person yelling, "Liar!"  What protects dictator from the crowd breaks down.  All that's left in between is anger, and anger is hard to create reform.  Reform killed by revolution; revolutions are difficult to control.

  •  Those who govern you have to ask for that right - this is democracy, but not freedom.
  • Democracy is institutionalization of freedoms.
  • With rights come responsibility.  This is what makes the freedom of democracy stable.
  • "My ancestors were, in the Consitution, 3/5ths of a man.  It's taken us a long time to get our democracy to this place."
  • Democracy cannot mean the tyranny of the minority - leads to instability.  The strong cannot exploit the weak.  This is not just the work of government - - they cannot put into the heart of every person the understanding/belief that there should be no weak links.
  • In democracy, every life is worthy.  There are no kings/queens/permanent stations in life (would lead to instability).  If every life is worthy, every life is capable of greatness.  We have an obligation to have the opportunity provided.
  • "We are equals before God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ... How can anyone be more worthy than anyone?  No matter the depth of our sin, our Lord Jesus Christ died for each and every one of us."
  • The Church, when it goes out into the world, has a responsibility to act like every life is worthy.  The Church delivers COMPASSION - - this is something no government can deliver; only the Church!
  • Want to give compassion to an AIDS orphan or trafficked individual?  Give them the opportunity for education.
  • With education, it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you're going.
  • Jesus called disciples from ORDINARY people to LEAD and HELP people.  Can we be asked to do anything less?
  • Biggest Quality of a Leader?  Irrepressible Optimist - nobody wants to follow a sour-puss!  How to stay optimisitic in difficult times?  Keep perspective!
  • Imagine leading in World War II.  1946 - Communism on the rise.  1948 - Berlin crisis splits Germany.  1949 - Soviet Union explodes nuclear weapon.  1950 - Korean War breaks out.  Today's headlines and history's judgments are rarely in line.  Helps keep perspective.
  • Out of struggle comes victory.  After Friday, there would be Sunday.
  • Lincoln: You are driven to your knees when you have no place else to go.
  • Romans 5 helped Condi Rice over the years on world stage - "we glory also in our sufferings..."
  • What seems impossible now seems inevitable in retrospect.

Wow, Condoleezza Rice's life story is absolutely remarkable.  I had no idea what she endured and went through.

  • Don't accept the world as it is, work for the world as it should be.

Seriously, I am super-impressed with Dr. Rice.  Her talk makes me want to watch her earlier speeches over the years.  



Here's my view:


That's Phil releasing us to use the restrooms.  See, I told you he had movie star looks.

Waiting for Condi Rice to speak... (keep hitting REFRESH for live updates).

In the meantime, yes, you can breathe easy.  I did get awesome tickets for The Monkees tour in November.  I've been a Monkees fan for YEARS (been to four live concerts!).  Michael Nesmith joining Micky and Peter?  Hasn't happened since 1969.  Gonna be good.

Ok, David Gergen is introing Condi Rice.  

I love Gergen.  Just saying his last name makes me smile.  Try it: Gergen.

And he rocks the comb-over like no one else on CNN.



"Don't assign board members with low emotional intelligence to have tough conversations with a senior pastor.  These are delicate conversations."  --- Truth!

  • Leaders, don't paint the picture of "there" until you build the case for why you can't stay "here."
  • When is the vision MOST vulnerable?  Not at beginning (people energized!) or at end (burst of energy released); it's in the middle (keep people motivated, focused).
  • When have I been most vulnerable over the course of my leadership?  Not in the first 15 years; you're running on pure adrenaline.  
  • In the middle 15 years, you learn you are not invincible: mistakes catch up, betrayals from "friends," can't see finish line yet, play Hindsight Game.  God protects you during the middle years and CARRIES you in the middle 15 years.
  • Bill can see the Finish Line now.  Feels growing surge of excitement to finish well.  Still wants to see Lost people get Found.  Believes Willow has untapped horsepower.  Determined to leave Willow totally debt-free.
  • "Our worst days of leadership are still better than just being an onlooker."
  • Savor every day you get the privilege to lead.


Bill is wrapping up and getting choked up.  

Next speaker: Condoleezza Rice.  Excited to hear from Mitt Romney's pick for VP.

Just kidding.  We all know Romney will pick a Chick-Fil-A sandwich for VP.

Ok, again kidding.  It's ok to laugh a little, regardless of your political party!



Transition Plan for Willow Creek

  • Planning Phase - everything needs to surface: whose job is this?  Timeframe?  How will church honor the pastor who has given their life to this church?  
  • Willow's timeframe = 5-10 years
  • Phase 2: Find Internal Candidate to succeed Hybels
  • Phase 3: Can't find internal?  Go external.
  • Phase 4: Actual transition itself.  Successor identified, increase their responsibility, decrease Bill's over 18 month period.



Bill Hybels on Succession Planning

  • Bill doesn't like the term, "mega-church."

Are we about to get some big news on Willow's succession plan?



Screen-Shot-2012-08-09-at-10.17.01-AMNOTES - Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek

  • "Everyone wins when a leader gets better...  Leaders humble themselves to learn from whomever they can"
  • Luke 8 = 75% rejection ratio of gospel seed planting.  The seed-rejection ratio is high.
  • "Instead of complaining about how few trees there are now, maybe I should plant more seeds!"
  • Bill Hybels hates cats.  Shares awesome story of how a guy can live right next door to freakin' Willow Creek Church and not realize they are a church! (He thought they were a college campus).
  • "Whether you like it or not, your whole organization takes its seed-sowing cues from YOU."
  • Leaders: Stay Curious and Stay Experimental!  Auto-pilot leads to entropy.

Observation: Bill's shirt blends in with the background.  It's like we're looking at a Hybels floating head on our video screen.  Cool.

  • Self-leadership = YOU are the most difficult person you will ever lead!


Work Habits of a Leader

  • Leaders assume TIME is valuable.  Nope.  ENERGY and ability to ENERGIZE OTHERS is most valuable.
  • Conserve energy; disregard second-tier activities.

Bill is talking about finding energy bursts.  Can't we just get him a Red Bull or something?

Bill is talking about 6x6 leadership.  Cool concept, but you know some of the "discernment" blogs are going to use that to tie Bill to Revelation's 666.

  • God hasn't called you to move stuff around; He's called you to move the organization ahead.
  • Leadership matters.




Guess who got amazing seats for the Monkees concert in Philly?!

Bill Hybels was saying something about Thanksgiving turkeys as Ticketmaster confirmed my quest's success.  Amazeballs!  I may share more about the Monkees later, but now to some live blogging from the Global Leadership Summit.



Welcome back - remember to hit 'refresh' throughout the day for updates.

Ok, arrived safe and sound at our venue - New Covenant Church in Clio, Michigan.  Their senior pastor, Phil, hooked me up with comp tickets.  Phil is a great guy and is pretty much the handsomest pastor I've ever met.  Thanks for the tix, Phil!

Now I need to settle in and prepare for the Summit to begin while also trying to grab Monkees tickets.  You see, Michael Nesmith hasn't toured with the Monkees since 1969, so this is a big deal in Monkee-land.

My wife has been dragged to three different Monkee concerts over the years.  Amber has a love-hate relationship with the Monkees: she loves to hate them.  She's not excited about my quest, but since the concert is exactly one week after my birthday, it makes for a great birthday/Christmas present.

Crossing fingers that I can get tickets while also absorbing Bill Hybels' wisdom.  Wish me luck.


The original plan today was to live blog notes, observations, and general silliness throughout today's Global Leadership Summit.

The idea is that you can check back here throughout the day, hit refresh, and get the latest.

412532_508529765830736_6104118_oThen The Monkees announced a tour yesterday with tickets going on sale today at 10am.

Right.  When.  Hybels.  Speaks.

And so today's live blog becomes a quest for leadership wisdom... and Monkees tickets.

Enjoy the updates!

Inside a Converge Church Planting Assessment

IMG_6379We are proud that our start-up is part of Converge Worldwide's church advancement movement.

Dr. Ed Stetzer calls Converge “one of the leading church planting organizations in the United States.” 

Converge is a movement of about 1,200 churches with a strong reproducing church-planting focus.  Over the past 20 years, Converge has doubled the size of their network solely through church start-ups!

Amber and I spent a week in Chicago a while back being assessed by 15 Converge pastors and some Fortune 500 psychoanalysts -- personality profiles, stress-enducing-simulations, 360-degree interviews, the works.  It was awesome.

I know many church planters read this blog and I wanted to provide an assessment of our assessment.  Perhaps Converge is a network you might explore partnering with.

"We have to go back in order to go forward."

That was the realization my wife and I came to when Converge decided to fly us out to Chicago for a week-long assessment.

You see, I love Chicago.  Old Town.  Logan Square.  Wicker Park.  It was the campus of my college years, live theater days, and the launching pad of married life.  Before we could move forward toward a new chapter in our lives, we had to go back to where our story began.

The setting was a historic old church building nestled in Wrigleyville, now home to Missio Dei:
IMG_6438 IMG_6441 IMG_6442 IMG_6436

The assessment process was intense: we were interviewed extensively, wrote dissertation-length papers on our histories, undertook several psychological tests, presented a number of up-front messages followed by Q&A's, and simulated real-world church start-up situations. 

I say "we" because my wife had to be independently assessed too:  Amber went through the evangelism simulation solo.  She had to submit to tough psychological testing and group exercises.  This was the first church planting assessment I've been a part of that actually tested the wife too!

There was even a written pop quiz on the Bible that was tougher than any test I ever took in seminary.  
After each 12-hour day, we would return to our hotel in the evening absolutely spent.

Having gone through two church planting assessments with our Ohio plant and
having served as an Assessor with Acts 29, I can tell you that Converge's approach is exhaustive, gospel-centered, thorough, and yet deeply caring to the individual.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, 
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
- Heraclitus

Along the way, experienced leadership vet Marlan Mincks shared several messages that really spoke to my heart.  I had never heard of Marlan before, but holy smokes, the man drips with humble wisdom.  My hands were scribbling notes quickly from Marlan's talks:

IMG_6429 IMG_6430

Marlan's talks really helped Amber and I fully understand and find peace about some past experiences in ministry.  We had been walking around wounded and carrying a great deal of unworthiness that was fueled by the Enemy's whispers.  Marlan spoke truth wrapped in grace into our hearts, helping us see through the gospel's prism that we were guilt-free.  Further, I felt freed from the trappings of expectations and performance that so many pastors are often weighed down by. 

What spoke most to me was when Marlan shared his personal story of being misunderstood by a pocket of fellow Christians and the dismissive rejection that followed.  The pain in his eyes reflecting that season of his life was genuine.  

Hearing the other side of that season in Marlan's life was healing to me: he moved forward with God's calling on his life to plant a church that, years later, has reaped great fruit.  Folks from his former ministry have even sought him out to repent and reconcile.  Years later, Marlan has been witness to the gospel's healing touch in many relationships.

This meant a lot to me.  The gospel truly is the power of God.  Marlan's story gives me hope.  There is meaning in the woundedness and sanctification borne from scars.  Marlan helped me realize that our experiences are used for God's glory as we lead with a limp.  The gift of my journey is that I have a deeper compassion now as a pastor and will have a better capacity to understand the dynamics of deep loss in situations such as sudden divorce, life crises, and death.  

When God has an impossible task, He takes an impossible man, and crushes him.  The crushing is a blessing.

God used Marlan to breathe redemption into our lives: when Jesus frees a slave from suffering, that is biblical redemption.  I am deeply thankful for Marlan's words and wisdom.

Converge is completely thorough, and Converge deeply cares.

Psych 101

Since Amber and I are learning-nuts, we really enjoyed another feature of Converge Assessments: the detailed unpacking of your psychological evaluations.  I've taken tests like DISC and StrengthFinders before, but to have two Fortune 500 shrinks actually sit down and explain in great detail what your profile means and how it impacts not only your ministry but your marriage was invaluable.  Amber and I both felt empowered with new relational tools for life.

In the end, Converge endorsed us for launching Life Church, saying in part:

(Jonathan Herron) is a person of high integrity, has a strong ally in his spouse, has a deep commitment to reaching the lost, is self-assured and evokes a confident image, is calm in the storm of his circumstances which projects faith, is a learner and seeks wise input to navigate difficult situations.

I appreciate Converge's final assessment report because its impartial, exhaustive, and predictive of future performance.  Converge offered us a generous matching grant and continues to coach, pray, and cheer us on.  I even invited two of our assessors to serve on Life's Board of Directors. 

Moving forward, I am a sold-out fan of Converge.  
You can't plant alone, and Converge ensures you are equipped and cared for.

I'm excited to contribute toward the movement in the years ahead and pray for God's Hand to continue guiding Converge's explosive growth.


We'd love to have you join us -  It All Begins Sep 16th!


Announcement: I Signed a Book Contract!

330852_open_book2012 has been an amazing year of redemption for our family.

A new baby.  A new baby church.  And now a book deal.

I'm excited to announce that I signed my first book contract last week.

Every Writer's Dream

I've always quietly dreamed of writing a book, but honestly felt intimidated by the process.

The combination of not knowing the book-writing ropes and the fear of rejection paralyzed me with inaction.

I did the opposite of what a writer is supposed to do:

  • I didn't write a manuscript.  
  • I didn't try to get an agent (I still don't have one).  
  • And I don't have a major online platform.

So to be in this position is like a dream come true, truly a privilege I don't take for granted!

I mean, isn't this every writer's dream - - to have this opportunity without stumbling over hurdles?


What's the secret?

Strong blog content.  An opportunity came on my radar and a series of blog posts I had been working on created the spark.

And here's the deal: I've already finished writing the book!
You may have noticed that my blogging/tweeting slowed over the summer.  This allowed me to concentrate on completing the first draft of my manuscript, which has now been shipped off to the editors.  There will be rewrites over the next several weeks before we lock the manuscript later this Fall and set a release date timeline.


What's the new book about?

Great question.  Born out of 16 years of experience, this new book combines two of my great passions in life and will be very practical for leaders.  I'm really proud of how its shaping up.

I'll share more specifics tomorrow Monday and roll out a special fun, book-themed Twitter account for you soon.

I'll also be sharing additional details through a new email list as well as seeking your input as this journey progresses.  
I've never released a book nationally before and have a lot to learn.  I'm so thankful to be working with my new publishing team.  Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!