Remembering My Father, Celebrating Book Lover’s Day

Thursday August 9 would have been my father’s 91st birthday.

It’s also Book Lover’s Day.

Those two seemingly incongruent circumstances actually have a powerful connection for me.

After suffering a major stroke on February 10, 2012, my father passed away on February 25. By the time I was able to get back to Tennessee to see him, he had lost motor functions and speech capacity. Over the few days I was there, the slow but steady decline continued.

I had last seen him during the Christmas holidays. While there, I spent some time alone at home with him. After suffering a series of strokes over the past several years, he could no longer read – but the legacy of his reading lines the bookshelves all over my boyhood home. In the quiet hours when everyone was asleep, I scanned the shelves and remembered hearing him talk about this book or that one. I pulled a few off the shelf, and opening them, was instantly transported back in time to a conversation about the subject, or to memories of the event itself.

I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He insisted my mother take my brother and me to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.

Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful my father instilled in me.

Tomorrow it will be Book Lover’s Day – not an official holiday but one I eagerly celebrate. Book reading is a great hobby. It’s an important one, too. Employers look for it on resumes. Reading is educational, informative, and relaxing. It makes us both smarter and happier people.

Book Lovers Day is a great day to celebrate. Just grab an interesting book, find a quiet, cozy place, and crack open the cover. Celebrating Book Lovers Day in August is pleasurable on the deck, under a shady tree, poolside, or in a cozy hammock. If you fall asleep while reading, that’s okay. It’s all part of the relaxing benefits of being a book lover.

I’m also celebrating this Book Lover’s Day as a part of my vocation – Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader at Auxano. My role requires me to read – a lot – and then write book summaries, Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs about what I’m reading. During a recent consultation with a client, I was able to pull a half-dozen book titles off the top of my head when asked for recommendations on books about Guest Experiences. That’s part of the benefit of reading!

I love my job!

Here’s an example:


I call these my SUMS Remix Book Towers. These towers contain 299 books, representing 100 issues, one published every two weeks over the last four years. The format of SUMS Remix is simple: one problem statement faced by church leaders, 3 brief excepts from books that provide a solution to the problem, and 3 ready-to-use applications for leaders to try out immediately. (Click on the link above to purchase an annual subscription.)

With a two-week production cycle, and a two-week preparation phase, at any given time I’m working on 4 SUMS Remix issues, which means there are 12 books on my front burner.

And that’s just for SUMS Remix reading…

Then there’s current reading for Auxano social media (Tweets and Facebook posts), preparation for Guest Experience training and consultations, other writing projects, and believe it or not, reading just for the pleasure of reading.

So, on Book Lover’s Day, and in memory of my father, I’m trying to emulate Thomas Edison, who believed that voracious reading was the key to self-improvement. He read books on a remarkable range of subjects to address his endless queries. As Edison noted, “I didn’t read a few books, I read the library.”

If you want to know more about my dad, here is the eulogy I gave at his funeral. After the funeral, while my sons and I were moving some things around his gas station, I discovered one reason I am so passionate about guest services. And read this post to find out why readers are leaders.

How are you celebrating Book Lover’s Day?


Saying Goodbye to Granny

Betty Jeanne Howerton Adams


The dates above are important – they are the bookends of my mother’s life. They mark a beginning and an end of her physical existence.

But her life was lived out in the dash.

Today will be filled with dozens of these stories. Family and friends are gathering from near and far to celebrate her life. In those stories, Betty will be known by many different names.

Of course I knew her first as Momma. My earliest memories are of soft, soothing words, and a loving touch. That’s natural for a child.

But in the last few months of her life, as my brother and I prepared for the sale of our home place and all the “treasures” inside, I discovered more about her – a life seldom spoken of, but one that was rich in adventures and a person known by many names.

In particular, I discovered pictures from the 1940s and 1950s that I believe have not been seen by anyone in the family for over 65 years. Pictures that tell more of the story of the life of Betty as we knew her.

  • Born a few years before the Great Depression, Betty grew up with a brother and a sister in northeastern Missouri.
  • Her father (and later her brother) were involved in construction and car dealerships and other things mechanical. That becomes important later.
  • A few images of Betty Jeanne and friends in her senior year of high school in Kirksville, MO speak to mischievous teenager.
  • A love of music lead to college at what was known as Northeast Missouri Teacher’s College after high school.
  • During those post-WWII boom years, her time in college included football games and homecoming parades and band concerts and musical productions.
  • Fresh with a music education degree, she headed out in 1950 to begin several years of teaching in Missouri and Iowa.
  • Always the youngest teacher, and often the only female on the faculty, her bright eyes and big smile among a table full of dour, unsmiling men invites speculation as to how her classes went.
  • In the fall of 1953, along with several of her teacher girlfriends, they went to a teacher’s convention in Florida. The images show happy friends in the surf, on the beach… and then a young man from Tennessee began appearing in the picture.
  • That week at the beach led to “courting” by mail, a couple of visits to Missouri, and then a proposal and a ring.
  • At a small ceremony in Bowling Green, Missouri, H.D. Adams and Betty began their married life in January 1954.
  • “Doc” Adams was a WWII veteran who returned home to help his father for a few years, taking care of the livestock on the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson.
  • In 1949, he and his brother built and opened a Gulf gasoline station on the family property in Green Hill, TN – about halfway between Nashville and Lebanon on Highway 70.
  • As Doc and Betty began their family, first Ray and then Bob appeared within the first few years of marriage.
  • As the owner of his own business, Doc was busy six days a week, but his wife and family were close by – their home was only about 100 feet from the gas station. Images of those mid-50s to early 60s show lots of boys running around the gas station, out in the garden with their dad, and always nearby – Momma.
  • When the boys began school at Mt. Juliet, attending the same school as their dad (and in one case, having one of the same teachers), Miss Betty appeared on the scene as a “room mother” for both the boys.
  • School friends of both boys, from first grade through twelfth grade, were the beneficiaries of cupcakes and cookies and picnic lunches and more, as she began to expand her cooking abilities.
  • Always active in church, Miss Betty taught dozens of children over the years in different classes.
  • After the boys’ high school graduations, they both attended Tennessee Tech. For the next few years, it was not unusual for food from cakes for a few to full meals for 50 to make the trip from Mt. Juliet to Cookeville.
  • In 1981, Bob and Anita started their family, and Granny became the family name Betty was known as for the rest of her life.
  • Over the next few years, six grandchildren spent time from a few days to a few weeks with Granny and Grandpa. Adventures included working at the gas station, playing around the yard, cooking, exploring the house, and various trips in and around Mt. Juliet.
  • As retirement neared for Doc, Betty became more and more involved in civic groups, including the American Heart Association and National Cancer Society.
  • She had also begun working with longtime friends the Moss’ in their greenhouse, arranging and delivering flowers.
  • The churches, especially the various music programs, were an important part of her life. Somewhere in this time period a new name appeared – Sarge.
  • Whatever mental picture friends and family have when they hear the name, they are probably right. In her golden years, it seems the Missouri “Show Me” characteristics appeared full force, and she was always ready to give people a piece of her mind – but with a smile.
  • Retirement meant a lot of travel – around the U.S. visiting places, family, and friends. Closer travel meant driving – and she was always the chauffeur.
  • In 2011, Doc suffered a series of strokes, which eventually took his life in early 2012. Betty was resolute to stay in the house she called home since 1954, but after about a year, she moved to an assisted living facility in Mt. Juliet. Sarge was the nameplate on her door, but even then her demeanor had slowly begun to change.
  • After a couple of years, Granny made the big move, to live in an assisted living home near Ray in Lenoir City
  • In her final months, Granny had retreated into her memories, mostly of growing up in Novelty, MO. No longer concerned with everyone else’s going on’s, she was content to sit in her chair and watch the birds.

On July 15, she slipped away peacefully at the hospital in Knoxville.

Many family and friends picture her telling heaven what to do.

Respectfully, I disagree.

I think she was finally in a place where she was speechless… and then she began to sing.

Creating an EXCEPTIONAL Guest Experience, Part 1: The PLACE Where You Welcome Guests

At Auxano, we’ve walked with more than 500 churches through a process called the Guest Perspective Evaluation. And when they’re done, they all ask, “What’s next?”

Amazingly, most church leaders don’t actually have a plan they can use to improve their Guest Experience!

Ask them about their strategy and you’ll discover it boils down to this:

We’ll be friendlier.

It’s understandable. Church leaders are too busy on the weekend to actually understand what Guests see – and experience – to really know how to make things better. After all, your church is “friendly,” right? And that is all you need to have a good Guest Experience.

But why settle for good?

An exceptional Guest Experience ministry doesn’t have to be complicated. We recommend you execute on just three things:

  1. Place
  2. Process
  3. People

Focusing on these three things will allow you to welcome first time Guests, welcome back returning Guests, and create a culture of hospitality within your church that extends your ministry beyond your walls.

The catch?

Each of these three elements shares one requirement: paying attention to details.

It’s impossible to have an exceptional Guest Experience unless you pay attention to details.

This is such an important principle that we are devoting two issues of SUMS Remix to this concept. What is SUMS Remix? It’s one of the other great parts of my job: a “book summary” published every two weeks, with each issue listing excerpts from three books addressing a challenging problem leaders face.

For the first issue, we will look at the three components of an EXCEPTIONAL Guest Experience, with lessons from the world leader in Guest Experience – the Disney organization. The second issue will highlight lessons from another area of hospitality – the pro chef’s kitchen – on how churches can provide an EXCEPTIONAL Guest Experience.

The PLACE where you welcome Guests

THE QUICK SUMMARYOne Little Spark, by Marty Sklar

We’ve all read about the experts: the artists, the scientists, the engineers-that special group of people known as Imagineers for The Walt Disney Company. But who are they? How did they join the team? What is it like to spend a day in their shoes?

Disney Legend Marty Sklar wants to give back to fans and answer these burning questions. When Marty was president of Walt Disney Imagineering, he created a list of principles and ideals for the team, aptly named Mickey’s Ten Commandments. Using this code of standards as his organizational flow, Marty provides readers with insights and advice from himself and dozens of hands-on Imagineers from around the globe. It’s a true insider’s look like no other!

Note: This issue of SUMS Remix was already in production when I learned of the passing of Marty Sklar on Thursday, 7/27/17. Read more about Marty here.


Walt Disney had long dreamed of a place where people could be immersed in the stories and films his studio was producing. He began planning that place – which would become known as Disneyland – in the 1940s.

Even a genius like Walt Disney knew he could not create such a place by himself. In 1952, he began to assemble a team to help realize his dream. Beginning with some of his most trusted animators and art directors, they approached the creation of Disneyland in the same way as they would in an art project.

Since the people who designed and built Disneyland came from the animation side of the business, they treated its settings as integral and important parts of the park from the very first. Disneyland was going to be a living movie that its guests would experience by moving through it. And, as in animated films, to make that vision come to life, the audience had to have the opportunity to become totally immersed in the experience.

How does “Place” deliver an exceptional experience? The better question is, how does it not?

Walt Disney realized that a visit to an amusement park could be like a theatrical experience – in a word, a show. Walt saw that the Guests’ sense of progressing through a narrative, of living out a story told visually, could link together the great variety of attractions he envisioned for his new kind of park. While traveling through their stories, Guests would encounter, and even interact with, their favorite Disney characters, and who would be transformed, as if by magic, from their two-dimensional film existence into this special three-dimensional story world.

Marty Sklar, who retired from the Disney organization in 2009, led the planning and creative development of nine Disney parks around the world. Part of the Disney team since 1955, Sklar has a unique perspective on the ideation and creation of the magic of place, and the importance of attention to details all along the journey.

For me, these principles have formed the standard the Imagineers have used to create the Disney park experiences around the world. When we followed them closely, we created magic.

Know your audience – Identify the prime audience for your attraction or show before you begin design

Wear your Guests’ shoes – Insist that your team members experience your creation just the way Guests do

Organize the flow of people and ideas – Make sure there is a logic and sequence in our stories and the way Guests experience them

Create a wienie (visual magnet) – Create visual “targets” that will lead Guests clearly and logically through your facility

Communicate with visual literacy – Make good use of color, shape form, texture – all the nonverbal ways of communication

Avoid overload – create turn-ons – Resist the temptation to overload your audience with too much information and too many objects

Tell one story at a time – Stick to the story line; good stories are clear, logical, and consistent

Avoid contradictions – maintain identity – Details in design or content that contradict one another confuse an audience about your story or the time period it takes place in

For every once of treatment, provide a ton of treat – Walt Disney said you can educate people, but don’t tell them you’re doing it. Make it fun!

Keep it up! (Maintain it) – In a Disney park or resort, everything must work. Poor maintenance is poor show!

Marty Sklar, One Little Spark


As designers, the Imagineers create spaces – guided experiences that take place in carefully structured environments, allowing the Guests to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste in new ways. In effect, Imagineers transform a space into a story place.

Ultimately, the Imagineers gave Guests a place to play, something Walt believed that adults needed as much as children. The design of the Imagineers gives power to the Guests’ imagination, to transcend their everyday routine. Walt Disney insisted that Guests should “feel better because of” their experiences in Disney theme parks, thus establishing the art of the show.

For the Imagineers, that meant considering everything within and relating to the parks as design elements. To build effective story environments and assure Guest comfort, the designers realized that they always had to assume the Guests’ position and point of view, and just as Walt did, to take the Guests’ interests to heart and defend them when others didn’t think it mattered.

It is up to the designers to provide Guests with the appropriate sensory information that makes each story environment convincing. This means that design considerations go beyond the attractions themselves to the service and operations staff, transportation, restaurants, shops, rest rooms – even the trash cans.

Initially, the Imagineers used the knowledge gained from their experience in films, but they soon found that their Guests themselves would teach them what they most needed to know about theme park design and operation.

When designers see Guests in their natural states of behavior, they gain a better understanding of the space and time Guests need in a story environment.

Using “Mickey’s Ten Commandments” list above as a guide, work with your team to evaluate your current “Place.”

Write the Ten Commandments phrases down the left side of a chart tablet. Next, draw two columns on the remaining space. Label the first column with a “+” and the second column with a “-“.

Using each of the Ten Commandment phrases, walk through your current environments, listing the ones that are working in the “+” column and the ones that are not working in the “-“ column.

After finishing your work, create an action plan to improve the environments in the “-“ column. Be sure to include a timeline and leader responsible for the work.

Are you expecting Guests this weekend? Beyond a simple “yes” or “no,” the extent to which you answer this question will go a long way in determining if your first-time Guests become second-time guests.

It’s all in the details.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 72-1, issued August 2017.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt there.


>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How to Understand Gen Z’s Spiritual Perspective

Born between 1995 and 2012, at 72.8 million strong, Gen Zers are making their presence known. It is the generation that is now collectively under the age of 25. They’re radically different from the Millennials, yet no one seems to have been talking much about them until recently.

While there has been a great deal of conversation about “fixing” the Millennial generation, we are in danger of missing the next generation as they step into the workplace – and leadership roles at our churches.

As a group, on one hand they have been notorious about dropping out from your church. On they other hand, they make up a significant part of both your ministry participants and prospects.

They are also beginning to step into very visible leadership roles in your church.

So what does Gen Z look like, and what does that mean for your church?

The Quick Summary – James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

Move over Boomers, Xers, and Millennials; there’s a new generation–making up more than 25 percent of the US population–that represents a seismic cultural shift. Born approximately between 1993 and 2012, Generation Z is the first truly post-Christian generation, and they are poised to challenge every church to rethink its role in light of a rapidly changing culture.

From the award-winning author of The Rise of the Nones comes this enlightening introduction to the youngest generation. James Emery White explains who this generation is, how it came to be, and the impact it is likely to have on the nation and the faith. Then he reintroduces us to the ancient countercultural model of the early church, arguing that this is the model Christian leaders must adopt and adapt if we are to reach members of Generation Z with the gospel. He helps readers rethink evangelistic and apologetic methods, cultivate a culture of invitation, and communicate with this connected generation where they are.

Pastors, ministry leaders, youth workers, and parents will find this an essential and hopeful resource.


Research from various sources confirms that younger generations, especially Gen Z, are interested in spiritual matters – it’s just religion they are rejecting.

In beautiful and surprising ways, Gen Zers are searching for God on earth, not some trendy program your church has to offer. In effect, your challenge is not just to reach a younger generation, but instead to create a more fuller expression of Jesus lived out in your church.

The most defining characteristic of Generation Z is that it is arguably the first generation in the West (certainly in the U.S.) that will have been raised in a post-Christian context. As a result, it is the first post-Christian generation.

Perhaps the most defining mark of members of Generation Z, in terms of their spiritual lives, is their spiritual illiteracy. This is, of course, the defining mark of the post-Christian world. They do not know what the Bible says. They do now know the basics of Christian belief or theology. They do not know what the cross is about. They do not know what it means to worship. But their spiritual illiteracy is deeper than that. They are more than post-Christian. They don’t even have a memory of the gospel.

We have to become cultural missionaries and act according to that identity. I think we all know what a good missionary would do if dropped into the darkest recesses of the Amazon basin to reach an unreached people group. They would learn the language, try to understand the customs and rituals, and work to translate the Scriptures, particularly the message of the gospel, into the indigenous language. When it comes to worship, they would incorporate the musical styles and instruments of the people. They might even attempt to dress more like them. In short, they would try to build every cultural bridge they could into the world of that unreached people group in order to bring Christ to bear.

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z


Author James Emery White poses some excellent questions for you to consider as you contemplate reaching Gen Z. Take time in your next team meeting to review the questions below.

Why is it that what would be so natural, so obvious, so clear to do so in the missiological setting described above is so resisted in the West?

Do you or does your church approach your community with a truly missiological mindset, the same way you would if you were in a new country?

What’s the average age of staff members and attenders at your church? Are you comfortable with that? If not, what can you do this year to start changing that?

We live in a world that is more open than ever to spiritual things. Not defined religion, but spirituality in general. How do you see this manifested in the world? What might it mean for the church and its mission to reach people?

Every generation must translate the gospel into its unique setting without transforming the message itself. If an average non-attender from Generation Z were to sit in your service this Sunday, would the experience make any sense to them? If not, how can you work to translate elements of the service so that the service connects with them without compromising the truth it contains?

When it comes to outreach in your church, are you honestly willing to do whatever it takes to reach the next generation? Are you willing to lose those who can’t see that it’s not about them?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 70-2, released July 2017.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.


>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<


It’s Highly Possible that You’ve Already Had Your Next Best Idea

Most of us attach the word “audit” to “IRS” and the word association isn’t pleasant.

The general definition of an audit is an evaluation of a person, organization, system, process, enterprise, project or product.

The term most commonly refers to audits in accounting, internal auditing, and government auditing, but similar concepts also exist in project management, quality management, water management, and energy conservation. (from Wikipedia)

Debra Kaye, writing in Red Thread Thinking, wants to give new meaning to the word audit by attaching it to your ideas instead of your tax returns.

There’s plenty of information, products, materials, and technology that can be looked at in a fresh way, modified somehow, and used again.

We’ve all experienced deja vu – looking at an unfamiliar situation and feeling – almost knowing – that you’ve seen it before.

It’s time to flip that phrase.

William Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine and author of Practically Radical, writes that it’s time for the best leaders to demonstrate a capacity for vuja de’. It’s looking at a familiar situation (say, being a leader in ChurchWorld for decades, or designing and delivering a weekly worship experience for years) as if you’ve never seen it before, and with that fresh line of sight, developing a distinctive point of view on the future.

You can’t do big things anymore if you are content with doing things a little better than everyone else, or a little differently from how you’ve done them in the past.

It’s time to look at your organization and your calling as if you are seeing them for the first time.

We all have ideas that never went anywhere. It’s time to unearth old notes from previous development projects. Are there innovations or ventures that you started to work on and then abandoned for some reason?

It’s time for an “idea audit” to see what’s in the back of your hard drive, filing cabinet or closet. When you reassess what’s already there you can uncover what’s worth revisiting.

What should you be looking for in an idea audit? Most organizations and innovators have or can find hidden assets in their past ideas and efforts, including:

  • Existing old technologies that have accessible benefits that can be enhanced and revealed to new constituents
  • Underleveraged technologies or products that could be valued in categories that were not previously considered or by new or niche groups of consumers
  • Unreleased products or too quickly discarded product concepts that could be potential winners, but that went astray because the going-in insight or platform wasn’t properly tweaked
  • Undervalued distribution networks that can be reawakened with partners who want to be where you are
  • Consumer perceptions and sluggish brand equity that can be refreshed to awaken new revenue

In short, open your eyes fresh and look anew.

Look at your resources – every false start, tool, prototype, note, gadget, materials, formula, recipe, or report available – from a different perspective.

Maybe it’s even time for a little Vuja De’.

Most artists look for something fresh to paint; frankly I find that quite boring. For me it is much more exciting to find fresh meaning in something familiar. – Andrew Wyeth


inspired by:

 Red Thread Thinking, by Debra Kaye with Karen Kelly

Practically Radical, by William C. Taylor


How to Understand GenZ’s Unique Personality

How can you be more effective about reaching and leading the generation after the Millennials?

Born between 1995 and 2012, at 72.8 million strong, Gen Zers are making their presence known. It is the generation that is now collectively under the age of 25. They’re radically different from the Millennials, yet no one seems to have been talking much about them until recently.

While there has been a great deal of conversation about “fixing” the Millennial generation, we are in danger of missing the next generation as they step into the workplace – and leadership roles at our churches.

As a group, on one hand they have been notorious about dropping out from your church. On they other hand, they make up a significant part of both your ministry participants and prospects.

They are also beginning to step into very visible leadership roles in your church.

So what does Gen Z look like, and what does that mean for your church?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – David Stillman and Jonah Stillman, Gen Z @ Work

A generations expert and author of When Generations Collide and The M-Factor teams up with his 17-year-old son to introduce the next influential demographic group to join the workforce—Generation Z—in this essential study, the first on the subject.

Based on the first national studies of Gen Z’s workplace attitudes; interviews with hundreds of CEOs, celebrities, and thought leaders on generational issues; cutting-edge case studies; and insights from Gen Zers themselves, Gen Z @ Work offers the knowledge today’s leaders need to get ahead of the next gaps in the workplace and how best to recruit, retain, motivate, and manage Gen Zers. Ahead of the curve, Gen Z @ Work is the first comprehensive, serious look at what the next generation of workers looks like, and what that means for the rest of us.


In order to begin to understand Gen Z, you first need to put them into perspective with the rest of the population at large:


Then, there is the conundrum of what to call them. Words matter, and once attached, are hard to change. Each of the generations prior to Gen Z were named, and for various reasons, Gen Z seems to be the one most favored.

But don’t be mistaken – Gen Z is not a “label” to be applied to the millions of individuals born between 1995 and 2012, all with very unique differences. It’s a name – but it represents some very interesting characteristics.

A new generation is starting to hit our workforce, yet no one seems to be talking about it. Until now.

In order to pioneer a dialogue about what they will be like in the workplace, here are seven key traits of Gen Z

Phigital: Gen Z is the first generation born into a world where every physical aspect (people and places) has a digital equivalent.

Hyper-Custom: Gen Z has always worked hard at identifying and customizing their own brand for the world to know. Their ability to customize everything has created an expectation that there is an intimate understanding of their behaviors and desires.

Realistic: Growing up during the aftermath of 9/11, with terrorism part of everyday life, as well as living through a severe recession early on, has created a very pragmatic mindset when it comes to planning and preparing for the future.

FOMO: Gen Z suffers from an intense fear of missing out on anything. The good news is that they will stay on top of all trends and competition. The bad news is that Gen Z will always worry that they aren’t moving ahead fast enough and in the right direction.

Weconomists: From Uber to Airbnb, Gen Z has only known a world with a shared economy. Gen Z will push the workplace to break down internal and external silos to leverage the collective in new convenient and cost-effective ways.

DIY: Gen Z is the do-it-yourself generation. Having grown up on YouTube, which can teach them how to do just about anything, Gen Z believes that they can do just about anything themselves.

Driven: With parents who drilled into them that participation is not a real reward and that there are winners and losers, a recession that pulled the rug out from their predecessors, and a rate of change that is hard to keep up with, it is no wonder that Gen Z is one driven generation.

David Stillman and Jonah Stillman, Gen Z @ Work


If you want to know more about Gen Z in your church, start at the source. Even with the wide range of ages, it would be informative to sit down with a group of Gen Zers and have a dialogue with them:

  • What do they like to do with free time?
  • Who is their favorite celebrity?
  • What kind of music and entertainment do they regularly listen to?
  • What brands do they like the best?
  • What apps do they use most on their phones?
  • What colleges do they want to go to, if at all?
  • What is most important to them right now?

Another goldmine of information on Gen Zers? Teachers! Take a few teachers out to lunch and ask them:

  • What do they see happening with this generation, as they become young adults and leaders in the world?
  • What were their biggest struggles in working with Gen Z?
  • What gaps do they see in current societal needs that Gen Zers may struggle with?
  • For those teachers who have been around awhile, what were the biggest differences between Gen Z and Millennials (born 1980-1994)?

Finally, take a look at the list of seven traits above. Which is most important to you in terms of ministry with Gen Z? Share that with your team and encourage them to be on the lookout for Gen Zers who have this trait, and how it can be used in your churches ministry.

On the flip side, take a look at the list again, looking for the least important trait. Recognizing that it may be important to others, dialogue with your team how this trait can be strengthened with the Gen Zers you minister with.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #70-1, released July 2017.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.


>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Leaders Lead with Character

While the phrase “natural born leader” is often used, there’s really not scientific support for this phenomenon. In reality anyone could become a leader and everyone should grow as a leader.

To become a leader is to become a learner. Leadership is not a natural gifting but a set of abilities, and like any other skill set it is to be learned and improved.

Those who have chosen to take on or accept a leadership role must own their personal responsibility for developing their leadership ability.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Integrity, by Henry Cloud

Integrity—more than simple honesty, it’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

In Integrity, Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity, and how people with integrity.

Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t, but instead is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.


A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead with Character

Most people view integrity as an aspect of honesty. Integrity is adherence to code of ethics or set of values. It also involves how well our actions match our beliefs. It suggests a wholeness or coherence in our philosophies and values, in our public and private statements, and in our actions across a variety of situations.

In short, integrity is about character.

Character has components to it, or traits, and areas of functioning where it operates. Those contexts are the real places where our personhood and reality interface and results occur, either positive or negative.

Character = the ability to meet the demands of reality.

What I have tried to do is take aspects of character and put them into functions that tend to be different from each other, and therefore discrete, and at the same time, related to each other, and therefore integrated. If we have that combination, then we can focus on specific aspects of our makeup and, at the same time, be focusing on all of our makeup and getting it working together.

Let’s look at what those aspects of character are:

The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust)

The ability to be oriented toward the truth (which leads to finding and operating in reality)

The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well (which leads to reaching goals, profits, or the mission)

The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative (which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them)

The ability to be oriented toward growth (which leads to increase)

The ability to be transcendent (which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture of oneself)

Henry Cloud, Integrity


Riders in London’s Underground (subway) are very familiar with the audible and visible warning to “mind the gap.” It’s a phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

Maybe a more familiar use comes from the immortal wisdom of Rocky Balboa, when asked about what attracted him to his future wife, Adrian: “She’s got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”

We all have gaps, especially when it comes to our character. Do not take this as a weakness, but instead think of it as chance to improve.

Look at the list of character traits above, and list them on a chart tablet. On a scale of “1” (I have little ability in this area) to “5” (I am very confident in this ability), assign yourself a number for each character trait.

The gap is our need and opportunity for growth.

For each character trait you scored between a 1 and 3, list actions you can take to advance the development of that trait to become a 4 or 5.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 69-2, issued June 2017.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.


>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<