5 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Design Your Life

Your divine design, as expressed in Ephesians 2:10, is more knowable than you realize. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance, that you should walk in them.

With the right tools, courageous dialogue, and an experienced guide, you can accelerate progress in articulating your life vision and aligning your life vocation.

Auxano Founder Will Mancini and pastor Dave Rhodes have developed those tools: Younique, a life-long process of discovering and living out your unique life call.

Once you read through this “appetizer,” read more about how you can and should know your Life Younique: your God-given identity and your God inspired dreams. Then, you can discern and design the practical next steps to get there.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

At last, a book that shows you how to build – design – a life you can thrive in, at any age or stage.

Designers create worlds and solve problems using design thinking.

In Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

As you look around your office, home, or the coffee shop where you are reading this, you will realize that everything surrounding you was designed by someone. And every design started with a problem.

The same process that created the things around you can be applied to designing something far more important – your life.

Like the unique lamps or furniture, a well-designed life will have a look and feel all of its own. You can use design thinking to create a life that is meaningful, joyful, and fulfilling.

You never finish designing your life – life is a joyous and never-ending design project of building your way forward.

A well-designed life is a life that makes sense. It’s a life in which who you are, what you believe, and wheat you do all line up together.

A well-designed life is a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know your self better, and of achievements and satisfactions.

A well-designed life isn’t a noun – it’s a verb. Just keep building your way forward. Design isn’t just a technique to address problems and projects – it’s a way of living.

Good design always releases the best of what was already there and waiting to be found and revealed.

Life design revolves around five simple things you need to do:

  1. Be curious – there’s something interesting about everything. Endless curiosity is the key to a well-designed life. Nothing is boring to everyone.
  2. Try stuff – With a bias to action, there is no more being stuck – no more worrying, analyzing, pondering, or solving your way through life.
  3. Reframe problems – Reframing is a change in perspective, and almost any design problem can use a perspective switch.
  4. Know it’s a process – Awareness of the process means you don’t get frustrated or lost, and you don’t ever give up.
  5. Ask for help – Radical collaboration means that you aren’t alone in the process.

You can apply some of the five mindsets virtually anywhere, on any given day. The opportunities to live into being curious or to try stuff are endless.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Designing Your Life

A NEXT STEP

Write the five mindset phrases above, each to a single journal page. On a weekly basis, work through the following steps.

Be Curious – choose a new or new-to-you topic which you have just heard about in terms of your ministry area. Reflect on the following questions:

  • What would someone who is interested in this want to know?
  • How does it work?
  • How did it used to be done?
  • What is the most interesting thing about it?
  • What do I need to learn more about?

Try Stuff – choose a new ministry topic or event in the near future. Reflect on the following questions:

  • How can we try this – even on a small scale – this week?
  • What would we like to know more about?
  • How do I go about finding out?
  • What will we learn when we expand the scale?

Reframe problems – choose a recent ministry event that has concluded. Reflect on the following questions:

  • What perspective am I viewing the event from?
  • How can I change to a completely different perspective and view the event?
  • What other perspectives could other people have about the event?
  • In describing the event from other perspectives, what new information did I learn that will be helpful the next time?

Know it’s a process – choose a ministry idea that someone on your team has talked about but not yet implemented. Reflect on the following questions:

  • List all the steps leading up to, and following after, the idea.
  • What would happen if you didn’t think more than one step ahead?
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen? What would you do?
  • What’s the best thing that can happen? What will you do?

Ask for help – identify a ministry action or event that you have been thinking about, but is not yet public. Find a peer you can talk to about your ideas, using these questions:

  • Describe the idea in five minutes, then ask for five minutes of feedback.
  • List the individuals and/or groups that would be involved in launching this idea. Are you connected to, and in conversation with, all of them?
  • Keep an “ask-for-help” journal, and right down questions you want help on. Each week, identify people who can help you, and ask them for help.

By keeping the mindsets as an active orientation in your daily life, you will soon see how they can help you continually design your life.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 80-1, issued November 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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

> >Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

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Understanding the Seven Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle

Discipleship is a process that begins after conversion and continues throughout a believer’s life. Discipleship calls for our undivided attention and commitment to follow the commands of our Lord. Discipleship is not an option for any church or believer. Christ mandated it in the Great Commission. To disciple others is to obey our Lord’s command; to do otherwise is to disobey Him.

It becomes easy for every church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of things to do. And most church leaders are very good at doing things. As a result, administration of programs replaces actual disciple making practices. As you look ahead to the next year, slow down and refresh your conviction for disciplemaking by looking to the Master himself.

How does a Jesus-centric disciplemaking conviction rescue you from a “program management” culture? Have you resigned to herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Disciplemaker’s Handbook, by Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick

Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?

If making disciples of Jesus is the greatest cause on earth, how should we equip people to do it? This handbook is a practical guide for how to embrace the discipleship lifestyle – being a disciple of Jesus and how to make other disciples of Jesus.

Whether you are a parent who wants to disciple your children, a small group leader who wants to disciple those in your group, or a church leader who wants to disciple future leaders, the seven key elements in this handbook form a framework for understanding discipleship that can be applied in countless situations. In addition, there are questions provided in each section to help you think through how to apply the material to your disciple making efforts.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Auxano Founder Will Mancini recently recalled a conversation with Robert Coleman, author of “The Master Plan of Evangelism.” Coleman’s comment was “ The disciples were not surprised by the Great Commission.” He was clarifying that the mission to make disciples was not a new idea of a novel thought. It was what the twelve had seen modeled in every nook and cranny of life. Furthermore, every act, every event, every word of our Savior had a multiplication intent. And as a ministry leader you are reading this today, called by God and leading ministry, because his intent translated to impact.

So stop your “doing” that just “does.” Focus, prioritize and practice-until-you-master the kind of “doing” that multiplies

These seven elements are simply a framework we’ve found helpful in summarizing Jesus’ disciplemaking method, helpful for personal discipleship and teaching in a local church context.

Relationships – The central impulse for explaining Jesus’ mission to others and to make disciples is love. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he have his one and only Son.” By his example, Jesus showed us that disciple making is the development of genuine life-on-life relationships motivated by Jesus-style love.

Jesus – Jesus drew people to himself. He was unabashed and clear in speaking the truth. He is the centerpiece and the focus of all discipleship. We are not discipling people into a program; we are introducing them to a person. The mission of Jesus was to give himself in love for the sake of others so that people would know him, reassure him, and promote him and his message to others.

Intentionality – Jesus had a strategy. He had a plan, a road map for making disciples, what Dr. Robert Coleman calls The Master Plan. Jesus guided, coached, and developed his disciples into disciple makers and released them, commissioning them to disciple others as Jesus had discipled them. Their disciple-making work changed the world.

Bible – The Word of God is the training manual that Jesus relied upon in his ministry and provided for all discipleship and teaching. As the author of the Scriptures, Jesus has provided its contents, in both the Old and New Testaments, to give us his teaching, his correction, and his training on the important matters of life and godliness.

Spirit – Jesus’ life and ministry were fueled by the Holy Spirit. After living for thirty years in obscurity, Jesus began formally making disciples after the Spirit descended upon him when he was baptized. From that point forward, he remained in a constant state of openness to the Spirit.

Journey – Jesus led his disciples on a journey, inviting them to learn by walking with him and watching him. Though it is a disjointed growth story, it begins with his invitation to come and see and culminates with the Great Commission, where they are sent to go and multiply.

Multiply – Jesus’ master plan was to make disciples who were like him in their message and their methods, and then to multiply them by sending them out to disciple others as they had been discipled by him. Jesus teaches us to make disciples who make disciples until the end of time.

Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciplemaker’s Handbook

A NEXT STEP

Set aside one morning or afternoon for a personal retreat. Go someplace that is out of the office and life giving. Allow yourself time to unplug and reflect on the questions around each of the seven elements of discipleship. Journal your responses to each question below.

Relationships

  • Why is a commitment to relationships so important in disciple making? Are you willing to make the relationship with the person(s) you are discipline a priority?
  • Why is a church community important in discipling relationships?

Jesus

  • In what ways does a person’s understanding of Jesus and his gospel impact the kind of disciple they become?

Intentionality

  • What is intentionality and why is it important in discipleship?
  • For the discipling relationship you want, what special knowledge and skills do you need?

Bible

  • In what way is Jesus central to personally knowing the Bible?

Spirit

  • How do we stifle or work against the Spirit?
  • How do we encourage the work of the Spirit?

Journey

  • Why is it important to know and understand the basic discipleship journey?

Multiply

  • In what way is discipleship the ongoing need of all Christians and the core mission of the church?

After this time of reflection and prayer, what would God have you to do as a result? Identify one to two next steps in your personal disciple-making journey to act on in the next seven days. After walking this road for a season, lead others from your team to do the same.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 77-1, released October 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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

How Are You Using Social Media to Tell a Bigger Story?

Communication today is real-time, all the time. Thanks to the continuing innovations in technology and the rapid rate of adaption, events that occur around the world – or across the street – are now capable of being seen by millions of individuals. And it’s not just the “viewing” that is important – it’s what effect those views have on the individual watching them.

The social media platforms that exist today, as well as those which are being developed and will be the next big thing, can have a far-reaching impact on the ministries of your church.

Are you taking advantage of them? Or, do you feel like they take advantage of you? Is social media creating communication traction? Or is it becoming a constant distraction?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Trending Up, edited by Mark Forrester

Every church has a story that can change the course of people’s lives but how do you share that story beyond your four walls?

Throughout these pages, you’ll find simple strategies for creating powerful content that can connect your church to the people who need the life-changing story of Christ. Leading church communications specialists break down complex social media themes, providing accessible, practical answers to questions that all churches face, such as:

  • What should I be posting based on my goals?
  • How do I use social media as a tool to foster community?
  • How do I get the people I’m trying to reach with social media?

With this book, your church will be ready to reach one of the biggest missions fields today: the billions of active users on social media. Topics include:

  • Why Social Media?
  • Content Strategy
  • Story: Your Church’s Story & God’s Story
  • Connecting with Your Church
  • Reaching Your Community

The book includes recommended books, websites, blogs, and other tools to help you develop your social media presence.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The power of story to captivate people and move them to action has been used by leaders for thousands of years. From the earliest oral traditions passed from generation to generation to cat memes that have a lifespan only as long as it takes to view them, stories can be a powerful communication tool.

The platform of social media can take the power of story and communicate it instantly to hundreds or thousands of people. With it, you can connect with people at work, at home, in the car, at the store – literally almost anywhere.

However, that same platform can turn off hundreds or thousands of people if it is not used in a way that aligns with the rest of your church’s story.

Your social media strategy should fit into everything your church communicates, which means it must fit into a bigger story.

The best way to bring social media into a bigger story is to use it to help tell the three bigger stories already happening around you: your church’s bigger story, your community’s bigger story, and God’s bigger story. Identifying each one is the first step in understanding how social media can complement – and not compete with – everything you do.

Connect to Your Church’s Bigger Story

There’s a good chance your church has boiled down its work into one simple mission statement. Everything you do as an organization – from program and marketing to human resources – should fit into this concise statement. That includes social media.

Every picture and video, post, and reply is aimed at furthering your mission,

Connect to Your Community’s Bigger Story

If you look long and hard at the community you live in, there’s a good chance you’ll see groups of people gathered around certain ideas. Your community is crawling with bigger stories.

Knowing your city’s DNA can help you use your social media efforts to tell your community’s bigger story. Find one or two of those stories and engage your social media efforts to tell it.

Connect to God’s Bigger Story

If your church incorporates Christian doctrine into everything you do, why shouldn’t you include social media? If we meet, pray, and serve because the Bible tells us to, may Scripture offers direction can be guided as well.

It might seem a bit trite, but the more you can connect your social media strategy to the words God has given us through Scripture, the better. Simply put, obeying God’s bigger story can help your social media to tell a bigger story.

Mark Forrester, Editor, Trending Up

A NEXT STEP

Make a chart tablet sheet for each of the three “bigger stories” listed above. Draw a vertical line down the middle of each chart tablet under the title.

In a team meeting, ask your team to review each of the three chart tablets and list social media actions that you are currently doing for that topic. Complete each of the three chart tablets in a similar manner.

Next, evaluate the lists. Are these actions effective? How do you know? How are you measuring effectiveness? Is there something you could be doing, but are not, to make the action more effective? If so, assign responsibility for someone on the team to ensure that is done.

Next, ask your team to review each of the three chart tablets and list social media actions that you should be doing for that topic. Complete each of the three chart tablets in a similar manner.

On another chart tablet, pull out the actions you should be doing, and group them under similar headings. For example, all actions under “Instagram” will be written under that heading. After you have grouped the actions by category, discuss as a team which are the most important for you to accomplish first.

Pull out the top three items, and assign responsibility, a timeline, and checkpoints for each. At a future meeting, discuss the status of each.

After the top three have been accomplished, measure their effectiveness, and review with the team how they need to be revised, left as is, or scrapped.

Follow the same process with all items on the list, three at a time, until all have been implemented.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 78-1, issued October 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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

> >Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

 

Pursue Clarity in Your Daily Life

How can we equip everyone who calls our church home to live with a deep sense of purpose?

God created you with one-of-a-kind potential and placed you on earth for a specific purpose. Due to the busyness of life, you’ve likely never identified your unique calling in a way that brings life-changing clarity. Most haven’t and like a distinct echo, the promise of a vision-guided life remains illusive, drowning under the demands of life.

Your divine design—God’s design for your life—is more knowable than you realize. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has prepared in advance, that you should walk in them. With the right tools, you can discover your life vision and align your life vocation. You can and should know your Life Younique—your God-given identity and your God-inspired dreams. Most importantly, you can discern and design the practical next steps to get there.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visioneering, by Andy Stanley

Everybody ends up somewhere in life.
Wouldn’t you like to end up somewhere on purpose?

What breaks your heart?
What keeps you up at night?
What could be that should be?

Andy Stanley believes these questions are breadcrumbs that lead to the discovery of personal vision. With down-to-earth practicality, Andy extracts principles from the story of Nehemiah to help you discover your purpose in life.

Visioneering includes helpful exercises and time-tested ideas for visionary decision-making, personal growth, and leadership at home and at work. Catch a glimpse of God’s incredible vision for your life, relationships, and business—and discover the passion to follow it.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

What is clarity really about? How can pursuing clarity help us discover our purpose in life?

The concept of clarity means being free from anything that obscures, blocs, pollutes, or darkens. If you have clarity, you see things simply in an understandable and precise way.

Clarity will help you make your life direction unquestionable.

Honoring God involves discovering his picture or vision of what our lives could and should be. Glorifying God involves discovering what we could and should accomplish.

We were created and re-created with his purposes in mind. And until we discover his purpose – and follow through – there will always be a hole in our soul.

As Christians, we do not have the right to take our talents, abilities, experiences, opportunities, and education and run off in any direction we please. We lost that right at Calvary. But then, why would we dream of such a thing? God has a vision for your life. What could possibly be more fulfilling than that?

At the same time, we have no right to live visionless lives either. If God – think about it – if God has a vision for what you are to do with your allotment of years, you had better get on with it. What a tragedy to miss it. Missing out on God’s plan for our lives must be the greatest tragedy this side of eternity.

Your uniqueness and individuality will reach its pinnacle in the context of your pursuit of God’s plan for your life. Manmade visions all begin to look alike after a while. Unless you discover God’s unique vision for your future, your life may very well be a rerun.

Andy Stanley, Visioneering

A NEXT STEP

Andy Stanly, in “Visioneering,” says that “Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.” To further develop this thought, he wants you to realize how vision weaves four things into the fabric of our daily lives.

Reflect on each of the areas below.

Passion – vision is always accompanied by strong emotion; the clearer the vision, the stronger the emotion. How is your vision being expressed in powerful and compelling emotions?

Motivation – vision provides motivation. In what areas of your life is vision providing motivation on a regular basis?

Direction – vision sets a direction for our lives. How is your vision prioritizing your values and providing direction to your life?

Purpose – vision gives you a reason to get up and show up. How is your vision providing purpose in your daily life?

Network with 2-3 other staff members who live in close geographic proximity. Ask them these questions around their calling and process together how God might call you into greater collaboration together to reach your community for Christ.

Except taken from SUMS Remix 75-3, issued September, 2018


 

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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How Leaders Can Make Thoughtful, Confident Decisions

Leaders must learn how to make the future in the midst of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is hard to even think about the future if you are overwhelmed by the present, but that is exactly the time when foresight can be most practical. Looking to distant possibilities can provide new insight for the present.

Some leaders will judge too soon and draw simplistic conclusions while others will decide too late and pay a price for their lack of courage or inaction. Some will be overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness while others will become cynical and question everything around them.

Leaders need not be overwhelmed by the volatile world around them. They must have the skills to take advantage of those opportunities, as well as the agility to sidestep the dangers.

Leadership is more preparation than planning. Planning relies on predictability. But preparation helps leaders stay clear amid uncertainty. Planning assumes continuity; preparation equips leaders to be flexible enough to seize opportunity.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Problem Solved, by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn

It can be messy and overwhelming to figure out how to solve thorny problems. Where do you start? How do you know where to look for information and evaluate its quality and bias? How can you feel confident that you are making a careful and thoroughly researched decision?

Whether you are deciding between colleges, navigating a career decision, helping your aging parents find the right housing, or expanding your business, Problem Solved will show you how to use the powerful Area Method to make complex personal and professional decisions with confidence and conviction.

Einhorn’s Area Method coaches you to make smarter, better decisions because it:

  • Recognizes that research is a fundamental part of decision-making and breaks down the process into a series of easy-to-follow steps.
  • Solves for problematic mental shortcuts such as bias, judgment, and assumptions.
  • Builds in strategic stops that help you chunk your learning, stay focused, and make your work, work for you.
  • Provides a flexible and repeatable process that acts as a feedback loop.Life is filled with uncertainty, but that uncertainty needn’t hobble us. Problem Solvedoffers a proactive way to work with, and work through, ambiguity to make thoughtful, confident decisions despite our uncertain and volatile world.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Leaders must learn to navigate the space between deciding too soon, or deciding too late, and lean toward action.

Careful reflection is critical in the decision-making process, so you don’t judge too prematurely and risk judging incorrectly.

On the opposite side, deciding too late is the classic mistake of those who love to study but have trouble getting around to deciding what to do with their research results.

Leaders need to lean toward action and not just lean back and ponder the dilemma they face.

One way to do that is to have a process that will help you and your team with an intentional decision-making process.

Decision-making is about ideas, but ideas aren’t enough. There is an important gap between having ideas and making good decisions about what to do with those ideas. Use the AREA Method to help navigate the decision process.

The first “A” stands for “Absolute,” which refers to primary, uninfluenced information from the sources at the center of your research and decision-making process.

The “R” stands for “Relative,” and refers to the perspectives of outsider around your research. It is secondary information, or information that has been filtered through sources connected to your subject.

The “E” stands for “Exploration” and “Exploitation,” and they are the twin engines of creativity – one is about expanding your research and the other is about depth. Exploration asks you to listen to other peoples’ perspectives by developing sources and interviewing. Exploitation asks you to focus inward, on you as the decision-maker, to examine how you process information, examining and challenging your own assumptions and judgment.

The second “A” stands for “Analysis,” and synthesized all of these perspectives, processing and interpreting the information you’ve collected.

Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, Problem Solved

A NEXT STEP

Work through the AREA decision-making process outlined above with your team by choosing a decision you are facing. Discuss the questions below, writing answers to each area on a separate chart tablet.

A – Absolute

  • What are the critical entities involved in this decision?
  • Who are the critical people at these entities? What is their involvement and impact?
  • What does it mean as it relates to your decision?

R – Relative

  • What information is available from outside sources concerning the factors of your decision?
  • Does the emerging story explain why and how these factors will affect your decision?
  • What are the source’s incentives or biases? How are they reflected in the stories told by the source?

E – Exploration

  • What kind of answers do I need to make the decision?
  • What do I want to find out and why?
  • How do I expect to use the information I gather?

E – Exploitation

  • How might you display your decisions “big picture” and or details?
  • Can you connect your new information to existing knowledge in a chart, table, or graph?
  • Can you craft questions that you still need answered?

A – Analysis

  • What could cause the decision to fail?
  • What actions might you take if one or several of the events that could cause failure begin to play out?
  • At what point might you need to reevaluate the decision?

By following the AREA Method, your team will be able to better articulate your path to success. The thoughtful, confident decisions, anchored in research, will help you articulate the what, why, and the how of your decision-making in ways that resonate with others.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 76-2, issued September 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 “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

 

Lessons From a Professional Kitchen: Excellence is the Result of a Series of Intentional Elements of Service

The dining experience at a four-star restaurant provides excellent lessons for hospitality in the church.

With one son who is the general manager of a restaurant that is part of a national restaurant chain and another who is the food services manager for a conference center, I have a serious interest in all things food. My waistline also shows that, but that’s another story.

During a visit to my older son’s house I was perusing his bookshelf and took a look at “On the Line“, about the famous New York restaurant Le Bernardin and Executive Chef Eric Ripert. It’s a well-written and beautifully photographed look at the inner workings of the world-famous restaurant.

It’s also full of great lessons for churches that want to have world-class Guest Experiences.

Your church will not be serving exquisite meals that diners pay big bucks for – but your church can learn that the meal is only a part of the total dining experience.

The Dining Experience

One of the things that diners remark upon after eating at Le Bernardin is that the service is almost invisible. By the end of the meal, you’ve been helped by as many as seven people, but you can’t quite identify them. Although friendly and available, they work out of your field of attention so that you can focus on the food, and companions, in front of you.

While it might seem effortless, it’s a rigorous ballet that requires training and focus. The men and women juggle a plethora of details in their heads while projecting an air of gracious calm.

We have to perform to give you an illusion of effortless perfection. For you to have the right food in front of you at the right time, excellent and at the right temperature, and obviously having clean china – all those little details you’d never think of are vital

– Eric Ripert

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – On the Line, by Eric Ripert

Take one top New York restaurant, add danger, drama, and dialogue, toss in their best recipes, and you have a cooking classic.

How does a 4-star restaurant stay on top for more than two decades? In On the Line, chef Eric Ripert takes readers behind the scenes at Le Bernardin, one of just three New York City restaurants to earn three Michelin stars. Any fan of gourmet dining who ever stole a peek behind a restaurant kitchen’s swinging doors will love this unique insider’s account, with its interviews, inventory checklists, and fly-on-the-wall dialogue that bring the business of haute cuisine to life.

From the sudden death of Le Bernardin’s founding chef, Gilbert Le Coze, to Ripert’s stressful but triumphant takeover of the kitchen at age 29, the story has plenty of drama. But as Chef Ripert and writer Christine Muhlke reveal, every day is an adventure in a perfectionistic restaurant kitchen. Foodies will love reading about the inner workings of a top restaurant, from how a kitchen is organized to the real cost of the food and the fierce discipline and organization it takes to achieve culinary perfection on the plate almost 150,000 times a year.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The most visible part of a dining experience is the food placed on the table in front of the diner. However, that meal represents many people doing many different tasks, some hours ahead of the mealtime.

Excellence happens best when it’s not seen at all. Your meal should be relaxed and gracious, but it’s hard to imagine the military precision with which the dining room is run.

Excellence doesn’t happen by accident but instead is the result of a series of intentional elements of service.

The center of attention in a four-star restaurant may be the food, but it’s the service before, during, and after that creates the experience.

At Le Bernardin in New York City, the service is as much the creation of Executive Chef Eric Ripert as is his exquisite dishes. Along with the restaurant’s founder Maguy Le Coze, Ripert has created the elements of service that keep Le Bernardin at the top of its class.

Hiring– while they prefer staff with a two- or three- star background, they have been known to go with their gut instinct and hire the people they like, those that have the demeanor and willingness to please.

Training– the standard of perseverance and constant training is set at the top and carried throughout the organization. General manager David Mancini and Maître d’ Ben Chekroun want each hire to know what goes into every other job on the floor. The constant cross training that goes on enables the entire staff from the captains to the busboys to operate in a seamless, fluid manner.

Knowledge– The level of service expected by customers at Le Bernardin is matched and exceeded by the knowledge the staff constantly pursues. From the technical side (knowing the menu by heart, how each serving is prepared, the correct place settings, etc.) to the human aspect (learning to watch guests for clues, anticipating their needs), the staff is always learning.

Attitude– over the years the atmosphere has become less formal, but Le Bernardin’s staff will provide what you are looking for: to celebrate, to eat, to do business, to entertain the family. Their goal is for you to enjoy the experience and leave happy with a smile.

The Sixth Sense– Chekroun says that the ability to read a guest is the key to providing four-star service. “You can tell if someone is used to a four-star restaurant or it’s their first time. It’s our job to put them at ease no matter the situation. Intuition is very important on the floor – before a guest can ask “Where’s my waiter?” you must be there.”

Teamwork– At Le Bernardin, service is like the proverbial chain – a weak link will compromise the whole thing. Anyone on the chain, from the time you make a reservation till the moment you leave, can ruin the experience. It’s all about functioning as a team; even though the service is broken into sections, that’s merely strategic. The entire team is expected to understand the ebb and flow of the service and step in before needed.

Presentation– The hallmark of the food at Le Bernardin is the exquisite simplicity of the food, which calls for adding the final touch at the table. The sauces for the meal are served at the table, which provides several advantages: warmer service, better flavors, and eye-catching presentations.

Eric Ripert, On The Line

A NEXT STEP

Let’s step away from the elegance of Le Bernardin and visit your church. Is it too big a jump to imagine that your hospitality needs to have the same elements of service as a four-star restaurant?

List the seven elements of service noted above, each on a chart tablet page.

After reading the description for each one, brainstorm with your team how that element of service applies to your hospitality ministry.

For each of the seven elements, write one or more actions that your hospitality teams are currently doing that are working well. Ask the question “Is this good enough, or can we do better?” List the responses on the appropriate page.

Now go back to the seven elements, this time looking for areas that are either a total miss or sorely lacking. Ask the question “How can we make this better?” List the responses on the appropriate page.

Finally, review all of the actions you have listed. Circle the top three your team wants to pursue in each category, and assign responsibility and timelines for each.

In ninety days, reconvene your team, bring out the chart tablets, and update progress and results for each of the actions circled.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 73-2, 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 Learn from 78 Books in a Year!

Today is a very special day – the 100th issue of SUMS Remix is being shipped to subscribers!

 

Allow me a moment to set the stage…

Contrary to popular predictions, the increased use of e-books and audio books has not diminished the reading of print books. According to Pew Research, about 67% of Americans have read a print book in the last year. Additional research shows that Americans as a group read an average of 12 books per year.

We want leaders like you to be above average in every way, and we want to give you the incentive to do that.

As a leader, you like to read. But with the pace of life, it’s hard to cover all of the bases when great new content is always coming at the speed of light. Now you can get the best book excerpt tool ever created. And it’s just for church leaders!

It’s called SUMS Remix.

Here is how we do it: We take a practical problem that church leaders face like, “Key leaders only think about their ministry area and not the entire organization.” We answer it by introducing you to a big idea from three books through a short excerpt from each, and then dial in on a specific solution to accompany each excerpt.

Therefore, you digest books through the lens of practical daily challenges. The sum total in one year is 78 book excerpts with 78 solutions, delivered every other week to your inbox.

Want to see what SUMS Remix looks like? Download this free sample used in the paragraph above.

The cost? Just $48 per year!

Subscribe today!

I’ve got to give a shout out to the SUMS Remix Team: Bryan Rose is our first-line reviewer, providing tweaks to the original draft. Andrea Kandler is our amazing grammar and style editor, making sure the words make sense. And Creative Director James Bethany turns the words and images into the sharp-looking final product readers have come to expect over the last four years.

What an awesome team!

Each issue of these 100 SUMS Remix has delivered:

  • Content that solves the challenges you face every day
  • More information in less time to find the best solutions
  • More credibility as well-read leader

Imagine receiving all of this, designed in a PDF that can be read in about 10 minutes, delivered straight to your inbox – every other week! Subscribe today to receive this amazing ministry tool.

SUMS Remix will revolutionize your leadership reading habits, provide immediate Go Ahead actions you can implement today, and give you readily accessible help in solving challenges you face every week.

Oh, and it will probably spur you to buy several of the books we excerpt – at least enough to keep you reading more than the “average” American!

Here’s to issue #101 – and beyond!


 

Today we may be celebrating the 100th issue of SUMS Remix, but I’ve been working ahead on the next eight issues through the end of the year – future issues that are being researched, written, and designed right now for you! Subscribe now to be a part of SUMS Remix!