Monday, December 21, 2009

Axiom: Chapters 21 & 22--The Three C’s & Never Say Someone’s No for Them

These chapters are great practical applications of some important principles. The 3 C grid is important and a key to personal and corporate success. It is important to note the order Hybels uses. Take the C’s out of order and you get another couple of C’s—complications and chaos!

It is also important to examine our own lives with this grid—How’s my character? Note one of Hybels’ checkpoints for character—“one who credits the efforts of others when a victory is won.”

Is my competency staying ahead of my job or ministry demands? We should always be worth more than we are getting paid.

Last, how well do I click with those in my workplace? Would they want to sit next to me on an 8 hour plane flight or spend a week vacationing with me?

If we are exhibiting the 3 C’s in our lives, it is much easier to attract and keep people around us who excel in all 3 too.

Chapter 22 is a great lesson. Hybels words it better than most of us have heard it—“All they can say is no.” His version is much better—“Never say someone’s no for them.” He does a great job of describing our thought process—“This would be the best option. Now, let’s come up with a list of why we can never have that option!” Willow Creek has been built on expecting the best option to become available and then watching God make it happen. Kind of like expecting the impossible. That’s a principle everyone could benefit from.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Axiom Chapter 19 & 20

Chapter 19—Institutionalize Key Values
This chapter emphasizes the need to make sure you are always communicating the values that make our church who we are. Life-giving, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, Team Ministry, Excellence, and Have Fun. Do we communicate them in our lives, our actions, they way we lead our teams, the way we do life? Do those we lead not only know these values, do they know we know them?
We also think the idea of tying Christ-like values to certain calendar days is brilliant. Let’s think of some ways to utilize this idea in our church.

Chapter 20—This Is Church
These are the moments we have to be on our toes to catch. These type moments are the reason we exist and the reason we do what we do. This is why it is so important to walk slowly through the crowd. Make real connections and stay real with people. Be the type of person that, no matter how busy or “big” you become, people feel comfortable coming to you with a request like the grandfather at the baptism. Bill Hybels is about as big as it gets in the church world, yet this chapter highlights his desire and ability to be touched and touchable.

Real ministry is the anti-thesis to the rock star mentality that permeates our culture. Real church is about transformed lives. It is about finding the wonder in each other. God did church on purpose—He wants us to find Him in the midst of each other. Ever find yourself getting tired of “church”? Hybels gives us a key to making sure that doesn’t happen—go find “church” in the lives of those we serve.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chapter 17—Only God
This chapter does a great job of emphasizing our understanding that no matter how talented we think we are, how hard we think we are working, how smart we think we are, and how effectively our ideas are reaching our community, it is only God who makes it happen. What we do is important, and doing it in excellence is important. Doing it with a sold-out attitude of servanthood is important. But the most important fact to remember is that unless our God comes alongside us with His blessing, everything we do is in vain.

As long as we remember that without Him we can do nothing we will avoid the “rock-star” mentality of self-promotion that seems to be prevalent in our culture, even among Christians. Only God can save, heal, and deliver. Only God can take our music, our teaching, and our serving and use it to transform lives. There will always be people more talented than we are, smarter than we are, better speakers and musicians than we are—but when we give our best to our God for His purposes He will always amaze us with the results.
An “Only God” lifestyle will make sure you are always able to be blown away by our amazing God.

Chapter 18—Plus-side and Minus-side
Watch your reaction when you read this chapter. Don’t get defensive and reactionary. It is a challenging look at some practical issues that will help us not only in our church, but with our businesses and our households. Too often we fall into the trap of “doing our job” instead of “adding value.” We can do both—in fact, if we keep adding value at the forefront of our minds while doing our jobs, then our jobs will never become mundane or unfulfilling. Every task becomes an opportunity to be intentional, strategic, others-focused and Kingdom-minded (ISOK). So instead of an administrative task being something that just has to be done, we start to think like God thinks. Nothing He does is ordinary—no just get it done stuff. Everything means something and has a greater purpose.

Additionally, this chapter underscores the need to make sure, especially church staff members, that we are intentionally doing things to grow our church each day. We must build it into our daily calendar. One reason we do not have formal offices at CAML is we want staff members out in the community instead of sequestered in an office somewhere. Make it a habit to interact with your community every day. All of us--whether we are church staff, business owners, employees, or homemakers—are first and foremost ambassadors of Christ and His Kingdom. Keeping that mindset will make sure we are always Plus-side.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Axiom Chapter 16

Axiom—6 x 6

We’re going to do more blogging on this chapter in a few weeks because we are trying this as a staff right now. The concept is great—giving yourself “permission” to focus on some important projects for a concentrated amount of time. If we made this a regular habit we would become more effective and feel better about ourselves. Sometimes we get caught in “work” mode—working hard but not feeling like we have accomplished much. This axiom, if incorporated into our habits, assures that we regularly feel like we have accomplished or finished something.

One thing we are noticing in our experiment with this, is the constant encroachment of the “daily routine” seeking to divert our promised attention from the 6 to the daily. Once again, letting the urgent set our calendars for us. Staying focused may be the biggest challenge we face.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Axiom Chapter 15

Axiom Chapter 15—Incrementalism

Hybels once again does a great job of sharing a very important principle with us. It is almost a continuation from last week’s chapter about keeping the heat turned up. We are all challenged with the “ebb and flow” of passion. One week we are ready to change the world and tackle the toughest devils and the next week we just want to make sure our kids are doing well in school. Then the next week we just don’t understand how anyone has time to change the world. And we incrementally drift away from the very thing that made our lives so exciting and fulfilling. Soon we are able to discount the value of our time, talent and resources and our effectiveness and influence are shrinking.

Incrementalism turns growing vibrant churches into maintenance mode churches that are just trying to keep what they have instead of aggressively moving forward and taking more territory and touching more lives. As Hybels explains so accurately, that is the road to a dying church since natural attrition is about 10%. His explanation of that also makes it easier to not take it personally when someone doesn’t choose to make CAML their church or if someone leaves CAML. As Chris Hodges says, “Don’t focus on the few you will lose. Concentrate on the thousands you will change.”

Let’s hear your comments this week on ways you have found to overcome incrementalism and keep the passion for changing our city and our world alive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Turn Up the Heat

Axiom Chapter 14

I really like the statement at the end of the 3rd paragraph: “Whatever the value, if its alive and well in a local church today, it is not by accident. Its only there because of intentional, committed, dedicated effort.”
Whether it is our church, our personal lives or our business, we must be intentional about our values. For instance, in our church, if we are not intentional about thinking big church-big influence strategy we will quickly slip into doing good things that have little impact. We receive offerings very rarely for a couple of reasons—to remove the misperception of being all about money and to make our offerings have huge impact. If we begin asking people to constantly give to “good” projects, we will lesson the impact on the “God” projects that create lasting influence.
We must stay committed to those things we value. That means when other things are demanding our attention, time, talent and resources that we remain committed to the values and vision. Being dedicated means we do not have the option of letting our values or vision slide while we give our attention to other things (beware the squeaking wheel). At Lockheed, when we said a machine was dedicated to a certain process that meant the use of that machine was that process only. Even if someone had an extremely urgent project that needed to be done, we did not do it on the dedicated machines because, in the long run, the whole process would suffer. Don’t fall for the trap of letting urgency determine priority.
Lastly, it takes effort to keep our values and vision hot. I have noticed that being wild, barbarian church planters does not get easier. The challenges are different but they do not get easier. It takes effort, intentional effort, to make sure everything we are doing is infused with God’s presence and not just something we have become good at doing. It takes intentional prayer, Bible reading, being around like-minded people, and seeking God’s face. Otherwise, we slip into a program driven church with a maintenance mindset instead of being the Wild Barbarian Church Planters that were so attractive to those looking for a place to see their lives transformed.
Examine yourself. Are you still a wild barbarian or have you settled into just doing what you do? Be intentional, committed and dedicated to put some effort into turning up the heat this week!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Axiom Chapter 13

Vision Leaks

Nehemiah teaches us that vision should be re-visited every 25 days or so. If not, we get vision drift—thinking we are on target while we are actually moving further away from it. It is so important to know where we are going, in our marriage, our money, our business, and our ministry. The Word teaches us that we perish for a lack of knowledge. The word perish means several things in this application—languish, wander, flounder, or die—none of them good! Vision is knowledge, it is the defining of where we are going, the target, the goal. It starts with first steps—what we can see—and enlarges as we move forward. That is why it must be continually and consistently revisited and updated—it grows as we move toward it. If our vision is not growing, and does not require me to connect with others to accomplish it, then it is not a God vision. We keep ourselves, and those we are leading, from wandering when we make sure the vision is clear, consistent, and constantly updated.

I love the questions Hybels gives us in the last paragraph. What a powerful tool for leading in vision!
How full is your vision bucket these days?
Do you sense progress around here toward our vision?
Which part of our church’s vision is most meaningful to you?

Use these with yourself and your team and we will always be moving forward and defining new opportunities in our vision.