Four Core Guest Experience Behaviors to Practice

First impressions are automatic – taken in and recorded by our senses, often registered for later recall. More often than not, they make an immediate impact on our decision to participate and to return – or not. We may not agree with it or not, but the consumer mentality of the world we live in has moved full force into our church world. Our churches don’t compete with the “world” so much as the experiences of the world.

As you live your life day in and out, you are living the life of a consumer.

  • Where do you consume?
  • Where do you shop?
  • Who provides service for you?
  • Most importantly, why?

You may stop at your favorite coffee shop for a good cup of coffee – and the conversations you have with the barista and the other regulars in the shop. Your supermarket always has good value and a wide selection of the food your family likes. Clothes from a particular shop just fit better – and the sales associates are always helpful with suggestions. The point is, you have established expectations of each place and the people who work there.

Is it any different for Guests and attendees at your church?

If your goal is to create a space and an experience that will positively impact people, you must first plan and evaluate it from the perspective of its quality. You start that process by examining the daily places and routines in the offices, retail, and recreation spaces of the people you are trying to reach. The homes they live in, the offices they work in and the stores they shop in all communicate a level of expectation they have for their space.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the last time you truly had a great experience with a company as a consumer, an experience that captured your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. What about it was special? Call it “X” – that “je ne sais quoi” that makes something so special.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A by Steve Robinson

The longtime chief marketing officer for Chick-fil-A tells the inside story of how the company turned prevailing theories of fast-food marketing upside down and built one of the most successful and beloved brands in America.

During his thirty-four-year tenure at Chick-fil-A, Steve Robinson was integrally involved in the company’s steady then explosive growth from 184 stores and $100 million in annual sales in 1981 to more than 2,100 stores and more than $6.8 billion in annual sales in 2015. As a member of the marketing team and as chief marketing officer, Robinson was both a witness and participant in the company’s remarkable development into an indelible global success. Now he shares the story of Chick-fil-A’s evolution into one of the world’s most beloved, game-changing, and profitable brands. From the creation of the “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign to the decision to stay closed on Sundays to the creation of the company’s corporate purpose, Robinson provides a front-row seat to the innovative marketing, brand strategies, and programs that created a culture customers describe as “Where good meets gracious.” 

Drawing on his personal interactions with the gifted team of company leaders, restaurant operators, and Truett Cathy himself, Robinson explains the important traits that built the company’s culture and have sustained it through recession and many other challenges. He also reveals how every aspect of the company’s approach reflects an unwavering dedication to Christian values and to the individual customer experience. Written with disarming candor and revealing storytelling, Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A is the never-before-told story of a great American success.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The famous “My pleasure” response of Chick-fil-A team members arose from an experience by founder Truett Cathy in 2000. In 2003, Truett and his son Dan co-wrote the following leadership message, entitled, “My Pleasure”:

“My Pleasure” is more than just an operating standard and more than just a personal request. “My Pleasure” is an expression from the heart where team members, Operators, or staff members literally show that they want to go the extra mile – that they truly care about the other person. They have enough value in the other person to exceed expectations.

It was a transformative moment, charting a course to a place where a warm greeting would infuse every Chick-fil-A restaurant and create a culture of genuine hospitality.

As we began the journey to create an entirely new service model without the constraints of the fast-food tradition, we asked customers “What makes you feel most cared for? What made you want to come back to Chick-fil-A?”

More than 90 percent of guests answered, “When someone smiles at me, looks me in the eye, and lets me know I’m being cared for and treated with excellence. That’s above and beyond what I expect at a fast-food restaurant.”

If these were the desires of our guests, then we needed to package them in a way that made them easy for team members to remember. So we created the Core 4:

Create eye contact.

Share a smile.

Speak with an enthusiastic tone.

Stay connected to make it personal.

These were the four behaviors we wanted team members to extend whenever they were engaging a guest in a restaurant. When we packaged the request that way, it was amazing to see how teachable it was. Team members got it. The requirements were not lost among the other requirements in the quality guide.

We didn’t want to stop at “smiling and eye contact” and “my pleasure,” so we explored what we might add to take us into the second mile, and we selected three additional behaviors:

Carry eat-in meals to the table.

Check in with guests for any needs.

Carry large orders, such as Chick-fil-A trays, to the car.

These simple, proactive behaviors became our “recipe for service.” As the name implies, this recipe consists of ingredients that are as critical as the ingredients in any of our menu items.

Steve Robinson, Covert Cows and Chick-fil-A

A NEXT STEP 

It’s time for a field trip! If you are lucky enough to have a Chick-fil-A restaurant nearby, take your team to lunch. As you prepare to go, instruct the team to be on the lookout for the specific behaviors described above.

If you are not located near a Chick-fil-A, take your team to another local restaurant. As you prepare to go, instruct the team to be on the lookout for specific behaviors mentioned above that may or may not be present.

After lunch, gather your team together for a debrief session. On a chart tablet, list comments by your teams during their experience. Underline the positive ones and circle the neutral or negative ones.

After everyone has had a chance to list their comments, lead a discussion about how the experience may prove instructive for developing your own “recipe for service.” On a separate chart tablet, list the ideas of your team that might comprise your “recipe.”

Review the list, and agree on no more than five actions that you will put into practice immediately. Assign a champion to create and deliver the “recipe” to your hospitality team leaders, and work with the leaders to implement across all teams.

After a six-week period of following the “recipe,” bring all the team leaders together to evaluate, and if necessary, revise the “recipe.” Continue to follow the “recipe” for the next six months, and revisit it again at the end of that period.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 124-2, released August 2019.


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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Improve Your Ability to Connect with Others by Focusing Less on Yourself

Many, if not most, church staff leaders consider themselves good speakers. The basics are simple: leaders speak, their audience listens, and then they act on what was said.

Church leaders also know that rarely happens, and that there’s really much more to it than that. While it may be easy to speak to groups of all sizes and on many diverse topics, one critical question remains: “Are we connecting with our audience?”

To fully connect with an audience, leaders need to understand “empathy.” While you may not equate the word empathy with excellent communication skills, it actually is the secret to connecting with your audience. 

When you are able to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and try to see things from their point of view, their world, and their perspective, you will have a greater chance at both reaching and connecting with them.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond by Jay Sullivan

Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication. Do you ever feel as though your message hasn’t gotten across? Do details get lost along the way? Have tense situations ever escalated unnecessarily? Do people buy into your ideas? It all comes down to communication. We all communicate, but few of us do it well. 

From tough presentations to everyday transactions, there is no scenario that cannot be improved with better communication skills. This book presents an all-encompassing guide to improving your communication, based on the Exec|Comm philosophy: we are all better communicators when we focus less on ourselves and more on other people. More than just a list of tips, this book connects skills with scenarios and purpose to help you hear and be heard. You’ll learn the skills to deliver great presentations and clear and persuasive messages, handle difficult conversations, effectively manage, lead with authenticity and more, as you discover the secrets of true communication.

Communication affects every interaction every day. Why not learn to do it well? This book provides comprehensive guidance toward getting your message across, and getting the results you want.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

All leaders aspire to be better communicators. And most times, leaders feel that better communication starts with them. While not wrong, it would be a mistake to think that the focus needs to be on ourselves.

If we put the focus on what the other person is trying to gain from our exchange, we will do a better job communicating, because we will select more pertinent information, drill down to the desire level of detail, and make the information we are sharing more accessible to our audience.

If we want to improve our ability to connect with others, to understand them and to be understood more clearly, the easiest and most effective way to do so is to focus less on ourselves and more on the other person.

This is the single most significant differentiator we can apply to our communication skills to improve our effectiveness.

Your message to the world is, of necessity, your message connecting you to the world.

Your Content: the substance of what you want to convey.

Your Oral Communication Skills: the way you convey your substance.

Your Written Communication Skills: the way you represent yourself when you’re not physically present.

Your Interactions: the settings in which you engage your audience, whether it’s an audience of one or one hundred or one thousand.

Your Leadership: the way you set the tone and relate to others.

Jay Sullivan, Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond

A NEXT STEP

Set aside some time for personal reflection on your ability to connect with others by focusing less on yourself and more on the other person.

Using the five statements above, rate yourself on a scale of one to five, where one equals “I really need help in this area” and five equals “I am consistent in this area.”

Use the following suggestions from author Jay Sullivan to improve in each of the areas above in which you scored yourself anything less than a three.

Your Content

  • Convey a clear message
  • Tell engaging stories
  • Organize your content

Your Oral Communication Skills

  • Make the most of your body language
  • Listen to understand
  • Deliver from notes and visuals
  • Respond to questions

Your Written Communication Skills

  • Edit for clarity
  • Structure your documents
  • Create reader-friendly documents
  • Write emails that resonate

Your Interactions

  • Conduct effective meetings
  • Delegate successfully
  • Share meaningful feedback

Your Leadership

  • Lead others with inspiration and influence
  • Show vulnerability

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 129, released October 2019.


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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Encourage All Generations on Your Team to Connect Through Real Conversations

In 2020, 25 percent of the labor force will be over the age of 55 – and they’re not retiring anytime soon. These projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor indicate that not only will Baby Boomers continue to work alongside their current Generation X and Millennial colleagues, but that they will still be around when Generation Z joins the workforce.

The result? A clash of cultures that will require a new management approach.

Gone are the days when people entered the workforce as young adults, worked until their late 50s, and then moved off into retirement while younger generations took their place. Instead, the average retirement age has steadily been creeping up in recent decades as older employees – in particular, the Baby Boomers – stay in the workforce either by choice or by necessity.

Of course, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic are still reverberating across home, work, and church settings, so everything is up for grabs!

Before we dive into the discussion, here’s a brief recap of just who comprises the generational cohorts mentioned above. While there’s no set standard, the following descriptions are generally accepted:

  • Baby Boomers – born in the years 1946-1964, numbering about 76 million people
  • Generation Xers – born in the years 1965-1980, numbering about 66 million people
  • Millennials – born in the years 1981-1997, numbering just over 83 million people
  • Generation Zers – born in the years 1998-present, numbering over 80 million and still growing

THE QUICK SUMMARY – You Can’t Google It! The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work by Phyllis Weiss Haserot

Much of the learning, skills and perspective people of all ages need to succeed long-term in their careers is not found in data on the Internet, but rather in conversations and personal relationships with the people they work with.

Tech tools have trained us to search the Internet for answers to everything, but we can’t find most of the non-technical or non-data-based answers we seek there. Learning about perspectives, relationships and experiences comes best from conversations.

In most organizations there are three, four, or even five generations working together with differing expectations about how things are done and by whom. People of different generations are increasingly isolated physically, functionally, or emotionally from each other both by communication styles and media and lack of the perspective that would help them understand why people think and act as they do. You Can’t Google It! facilitates action to promote and foster cross-generational conversation in organizations on both the parts of management and the multi-generational teams that are increasingly the key to productivity, profitability and sustainability.

You Can’t Google It! is a tool to help organizations and individuals remove the stress, frustration, and negative energy that often arises from working with people of different generations, so they understand and are able to accomplish their common goals―faster and profitably. It is about the implications of different generations, and how to move towards closing that gap.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Author Phyllis Weiss Haserot pulls no punches in establishing the issue of cross-generational conversations:

  • As an established professional, do you question the work ethics of young employees and co-workers?
  • As a young professional, how do you deal with resistance to your ideas from Baby Boomers who think their experience and seniority mean they know it all?
  • Will your organization be threatened because key personnel will soon reach traditional retirement age?
  • Are you wondering how to transform intergenerational challenges into an asset for your organization?

Much of the learnings, skills, and perspectives that people of all ages need to succeed – especially in working with each other – are not found in data on the Internet but rather in conversations and personal relationships with the people they work with. The new multigenerational paradigm is meaningful cross-generational conversation.

GENgagementTM can be defined as the state of achieving harmony, mutual involvement and cooperation, flow, and ongoing absorption in work with people of different generations.

GENgagement means getting all of the generations to understand each other, their influences, and their worldview so they can work collaboratively, loyally, and productively.

It is integral to the mission of transforming workplaces into engaged and productive environments for solving problems and being great places to work. Equally important, it helps individuals and organizations develop closer rapport and loyalty bonds with clients and other external stakeholders – the bedrock of any mission-driven organization.

A satisfying and perennial recipe for GENgagement contains these ingredients as integral to the experience for all personnel:

Defining the big picture for everyone

Having a clear purpose and mission

Visioning – what achieving the mission and purpose will look like

Communicating the importance of each person’s role

Living a culture that respects the values of and promises to employees, clients, donors, alumni, etc. every day

Enabling multigenerational input to organization and and market strategy and service delivery

A sense of joy and continuing curiosity at work

Phyllis Weiss Haserot, You Can’t Google It! The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work

A NEXT STEP

Distribute the following questions from author Phyllis Haserot to your team in advance. After they have had time to read through them, gather the team for an extended conversation about each question.

  1. Help me understand your perspective on work and the marketplace outside of our organization. What factors influence your worldview, the attitude you bring to your work, and your interactions with colleagues?
  2. What would you like to see changed about how our work is done, and how can you help make it more effective? How important is hierarch to you? When is years of experience very important in your role, and when are other factors equally or more important?
  3. What is getting in the way of a more productive and satisfying working relationship? How can I as your teammate help you learn how best to work with me?
  4. What would you say are your core values? Do you think they are significantly different from my generation’s core values? How can we jointly overcome intergenerational tensions?
  5. What strategies for impact and influence at work can we learn from each other?

Use these conversations as a springboard to ongoing cross-generational conversations as a regular part of the leadership development process in your organization.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 127-3, released September 2019.


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Act Now – It’s Time to Put Yourself in Your Own Story

Information overload.

You live it every day – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. You’re more informed and connected than ever.

Yet, if you’re honest, you’re probably feeling more distracted than ever.

More lonely. More restless.

According to studies done by Barna Research:

  • 71% of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to stay up to date.
  • 36% of adults stop what they’re doing to check a text or message when it comes in.
  • 35% of adults think their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people.

Being hyperlinked changes every aspect of our lives – and often, not for the better.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Someday is Not a Day in the Week by Sam Horn

Are you:
• Working, working, working?
• Busy taking care of everyone but yourself?
• Wondering what to do with the rest of your life?
• Planning to do what makes you happy someday when you have more time, money, or freedom?

What if someday never happens? As the Buddha said, “The thing is, we think we have time.”

Sam Horn is a woman on a mission about not waiting for SOMEDAY … and this is her manifesto. Her dad’s dream was to visit all the National Parks when he retired. He worked six to seven days a week for decades. A week into his long-delayed dream, he had a stroke. Sam doesn’t want that to happen to you. She took her business on the road for a Year by the Water. During her travels, she asked people, “Do you like your life? Your job? If so, why? If not, why not?”

The surprising insights about what makes people happy or unhappy, what they’re doing about it (or not), and why…will inspire you to carve out time for what truly matters now, not later.

Life is much too precious to postpone. It’s time to put yourself in your own story. The good news is, there are “hacks” you can do right now to make your life more of what you want it to be. And you don’t have to be selfish, quit your job, or win the lottery to do them. Sam Horn offers actionable, practical advice in short, snappy chapters to show you how to get started on your best life ― now.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

According to author Sam Horn, you don’t need to quit your job, win the lottery, or walk away from your responsibilities to make your life more of what you want it to be.

There are things you can do right here, right now, to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

There are steps you can take to make your life more fulfilling.

It’s time to hack your life by tapping into proven best practices, expedite results and discover a shortcut to success.

Make your “one day” Day One.

The Ten Life Hacks are actions you can take to create a more fulfilling life, sooner, not later. Please note: These hacks are a framework, not a formula. 

LIFE HACK 1:  Evaluate Your Happiness History

LIFE HACK 2:  Generate a Today, Not Someday Dream

LIFE HACK 3:   Abdicate Outdated Beliefs and Behaviors

LIFE HACK 4:   Initiate Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

LIFE HACK 5:   Celebrate What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

LIFE HACK 6:   Affiliate with People Who Have Your Back and Front

LIFE HACK 7:   Integrate Your Passion and Profession

LIFE HACK 8:   Negotiate for What You Want, Need, and Deserve

LIFE HACK 9:    Innovate a Fresh Start

LIFE HACK 10: Relocate to Greener Pastures

Sam Horn, Someday is Not a Day in the Week

A NEXT STEP

According to author Sam Horn, the best way to make progress in making your “Someday” is to ask probing questions that prompt you to change – for good.

Listed below are sample questions for each of the ten Life Hacks listed above. Schedule at least thirty minutes a day for the next ten days, and reflect on the questions listed.

LIFE HACK 1: Evaluate Your Happiness History

Play hooky for a day.

  1. How would you spend your free day or afternoon? What would you do if the people you’re responsible for would be taken care of, and there would be no repercussions?
  2. What are three things you would not do on your day of hooky? Why?   

LIFE HACK 2: Generate a Today, Not Someday Dream

Put a date on the calendar.

  1. What would you like to experience or achieve by the end of this year? What is your Today, Not Someday dream? When will you launch it? What “do-date” did you put on your calendar?
  2. Now, start filling in the W’s … where, when, who, what, and why. Who will you discuss this with so they can help you fill in the blanks so your dream goes from vague to vividly clear?
  3. Where will you post your dream so it stays “in sight, in mind,” and you are constantly re-inspired to do what you said you wanted to do?

LIFE HACK 3: Abdicate Outdated Beliefs and Behaviors

Let it go, let it go, let it go.

  1. How do you feel when you walk into your home? Where would your home rate on the “Clutter (1) to Clean (10) Scale”? How does that affect you? Do you feel guilty, stressed, or frustrated with how things have piled up? Or do you feel proud and at peace with how well-designed, organized, and beautiful your space is?
  2. How much time do you spend cleaning, repairing, buying, renovating your stuff? Is that a source of enjoyment, a burden and chore, or something in between? Explain.
  3. Are you ready to downsize your home and/or release some belongings? How will you do that? Who else does this have an impact on? How will you negotiate this with them? What could you do with the resources that would be freed up when you have less to take care of?

LIFE HACK 4: Initiate Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

Honor the nudges, and connect the dots.

  1. Do you make room for whims? Why or why not? When was a time you honored a nudge and acted on your intuition? What happened as a result?
  2. Do you think this is a lot of hooey? Does your intellect override your instincts? Or, do you agree that if we have a sixth sense that alerts us to what’s wrong, we also have a sixth sense that alerts us to what’s right? What are your beliefs about this?
  3. How will you honor the instincts that have your best interests at heart? How will you connect the dots, act on “coincidences” that beat the odds, and align with congruent individuals and opportunities that “feel right”?

LIFE HACK 5: Celebrate What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

Get out of your head and come to your senses.

  1. When was the last time you saw something as if for the first or last time? Describe what happened and what it felt like.
  2. Do you have a busy, stressful life? What is the ongoing impact of rushing, rushing, rushing— and always feeling “an hour late and a dollar short”?
  3. Would you say you have “juice” in your camera? Do you look at the world with fresh eyes? When, where, and how will you get out of your head and come to your senses?

LIFE HACK 6: Affiliate with People Who Have Your Back and Front

Launch your ship in public.

  1. So, what is that venture you want to launch? Who has supported you, cheered you on? What have they done to help you achieve your goal and do what’s important to you?
  2. Who has cautioned you, told you (“ for your own good”) that what you want to do won’t work or isn’t a good idea? What impact has that had on you?
  3. How will you take your dream public and give others a chance to jump on your bandwagon? Will you create a vision board and/or host a Today, Not Someday party? Where did you post your vision so it stays “in sight, in mind”?

LIFE HACK 7: Integrate Your Passion and Profession

Don’t wait for work you love – create work you love.

  1. Do you love your job? Do you feel you’re adding value and contributing? How so?
  2. If you don’t find your work satisfying, why not? What talents or skills are you not having an opportunity to use or get credit for?
  3. What are your Four I’s? How could you leverage them into a paying career where you get paid to do what you’re good at? What is your next step? Will you visit crafts fairs to see how other people have turned a passion into a profession? Elaborate.

LIFE HACK 8: Negotiate for What You Want, Need, and Deserve

If you don’t ask, the answer’s always “No.”

  1. When is a time you asked for something you wanted – whether it was a promotion, project lead, or pay raise? How did you prepare? What was the result?
  2. When is a time you waited for someone to “do the right thing,” act on your behalf, or give you what you deserved? As Dr. Phil would say, “How’d that work for you?”
  3. What is a situation you’re unhappy with right now? Which of the Four A’s have you used? How will you alter the situation by using the Five P’s of Persuasion to increase the likelihood of improving this situation?   

LIFE HACK 9: Innovate a Fresh Start

Quit watering dead plants.

  1. Is the majority of your life out of your control and not to your liking? How so? Does this challenging time have a timeline? Can you “make your mind a deal it can’t refuse” so you are able to keep things in perspective?
  2. What do you currently do to maintain a positive perspective, to have something to look forward to in bleak times? How do you stay focused on what you can control?
  3. Are there dead plants you can stop watering? What can you quit that is compromising your quality of life? How can you innovate a fresh start if you are going through dark times to keep the light on in your eyes?   

LIFE HACK 10: Relocate to Greener Pastures

Come full circle.

  1. When was the last time you were in your hometown? What memories did it bring back? Did you reconnect with people that influenced you? Did it catalyze a new creative direction that could be a satisfying full-circle way to come home to who you truly are?
  2. What used to light you up but now feels like it might be a retreat or regression to “go back there”? Do you worry it’s thinking small instead of thinking big? Could it actually be you’re going “home” to who you are at your core, your best self?
  3. Do you agree that we can be “at home” wherever we are and that “home” is a mindset, not a location? Where do you feel most at home? 

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 126, released August 2019


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Manage Yourself to Achieve True and Lasting Excellence

Tom Paterson, brilliant consultant for decades and creator of the StratOp strategic system for operating and growing your organization, passed away on September 3, 2019.

As a non-profit group, Auxano has the largest team of theologically trained, pastor-experienced facilitators in the country in the process developed by Paterson. Each of our Navigators feels the impact of the tools developed by Tom Paterson in their daily work with churches across the country.

To honor the legacy of Tom Paterson on the anniversary of his passing, this excerpt from SUMS Remix 128 is based on one of Paterson’s friend and collaborator Peter Drucker’s books.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker is widely regarded as the father of modern management, offering penetrating insights into business that still resonate today. But Drucker also offers deep wisdom on how to manage our personal lives and how to become more effective leaders.

In these two classic articles from Harvard Business Review, Drucker reveals the keys to becoming your own chief executive officer as well as a better leader of others. “Managing Oneself” identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career, while “What Makes an Effective Executive” outlines the key behaviors you must adopt in order to lead. Together, they chart a powerful course to help you carve out your place in the world.


A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Tom Paterson was a long-time friend of Peter Drucker. Drucker often referred to Paterson as the “Process Practitioner.” In turn, Drucker was known as the “father of modern management.” Because of their friendship, the third excerpt of this SUMS Remix comes from Drucker’s thoughts on “Managing Oneself.”

According to Drucker, the concept of managing oneself is increasingly important as each one of us becomes solely responsible for the trajectory of our ever-longer careers.

He believed that only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and a disciplined self-knowledge could you achieve true and lasting excellence.

Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at – and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.

The only way to discover your strength is through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or twelve months later, compare the actual results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 15 to 20 years now, and every time I do it, am surprised.

Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie – and this is the most important thing to know. The method will show you what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths. It will show you where you have no strengths and cannot perform.

Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis. First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.

Second, work on improving your strengths. Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also sow the gaps in your knowledge – and those can usually be filled.

Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people – especially people with great expertise in one area – are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge.

Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself

A NEXT STEP

Work through the following blind spot exercise to discover potential blind spots in your understanding of your strengths.

  1. On a chart tablet, write a list of your strengths (up to ten), and arrange them in order of your certainty of that strength. In other words, the strength you feel best reflects you should be number one, and so on.
  2. For each strength, write down and number elements that are assumptions or uncertainties.
  3. Think about what would happen (consequences or risks) if the assumptions for each strength were wrong or untrue. Write down and number the consequences and mark their impact as high, medium, or low.
  4. Count the number of assumptions/impact per strength. Select both the strength with the lowest score (least assumptions/impact) and the one with the highest score (most assumptions/impact).
  5. Select the three strengths with the highest score, and develop ideas on how you might reduce the assumptions and impact, and therefore make them stronger.

The above exercise adapted from “75 tools for Creative Thinking.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 128, released September, 2019.


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Guiding Your Multigenerational Workplace Through Five Growth Precepts

In 2020, 25 percent of the labor force is projected to be over the age of 55 – and they’re not retiring anytime soon. These projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the US Department of Labor indicate that not only will Baby Boomers continue to work alongside their current Generation X and Millennial colleagues, but that they will still be around when Generation Z joins the workforce.

The result? A clash of cultures that will require a new management approach.

Gone are the days when people entered the workforce as young adults, worked until their late 50s, and then moved off into retirement while younger generations took their place. Instead, the average retirement age has steadily been creeping up in recent decades as older employees – in particular, the Baby Boomers – stay in the workforce either by choice or by necessity.

Before we dive into the discussion, here’s a brief recap of just who comprises the generational cohorts mentioned above. While there’s no set standard, the following descriptions are generally accepted:

  • Baby Boomers – born in the years 1946-1964, numbering about 76 million people
  • Generation Xers – born in the years 1965-1980, numbering about 66 million people
  • Millennials – born in the years 1981-1997, numbering just over 83 million people
  • Generation Zers – born in the years 1998-present, numbering over 80 million and still growing

How do you manage the workplace reality of having three or four different generations on your team?

THE QUICK SUMMARYGenerations at Work: Managing the Clash of Boomers, GenXers, and GenYers in the Workplace by Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak

Written for all who are struggling to manage a workforce with often incompatible ethics, values, and working styles, Generations at Work looks afresh at the root causes of professional conflict and offers practical guidelines for navigating multigenerational differences.

By laying bare the most common causes of conflict – including the Me Generation’s frustration with GenYers’ constant desire for feedback and the challenges facing GenXers sandwiched between these polarities – the book offers practical, spot-on guidance for managing the differences with consideration to each generation’s unique needs.

Along with the authors’ insights for managing a workforce with different ways of working, communicating, and thinking, the book offers in-depth interviews with members of each generation, tips on best practices from companies successfully bridging the generation gap, and a mentorship field guide to help you support the youngest members of your team–tools, which are the key to helping your workforce interact more positively with one another and thrive in today’s wildly divergent workplace culture.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

According to the authors of Generations at Work, today’s workplace contains the conflicting voices and views of the most age- and value-diverse workplace the world has known since our great-great-great-grandparents abandoned field and farm for factory and office. At no time in our history have so many and such different generations with such diversity been asked to work together shoulder to shoulder, side by side, and cubicle to cubicle.

While there have certainly been multiple generations employed in the same organization before, they were mainly separated from each other by the hierarchy of a manufacturing-oriented economy. Senior (older) employees – mostly white and male – worked in the head office or were top management positions in key parts of the company. Middle-aged employees tended to be in middle management or high-skill, seniority-protected trade jobs. The youngest, newest, and physically strongest were on the factory floor or endured time in specific trainee slots that would lead, over time, to middle management – at best.

Among all the groups mentioned above, contact was primarily horizontal; with people like themselves, or at best, one level up or down the chain of command. Mingling among the generations, if and when it happened at all, was significantly influenced by formality and protocol.

Today’s workplace is totally different. The old pecking order, hierarchy, and shorter work life spans that kept a given generational cohort isolated from others no longer exist or they exist in a more permeable manner.

An unfortunate outcome of this shift is the likelihood of intergenerational conflict: differences in values, views, and ways of working, talking, and thinking that set people in opposition to one another, and challenge organizational best practices.

While generational differences have existed for, well, generations, what’s different is that this new generation gap is a four-way divide. The once “natural” flow of resources, power, and responsibilities from older to younger has been dislocated by changes in life expectancy, increases in longevity and health, as well as changes in lifestyle, technology, and knowledge.

Life for every generation has become increasingly nonlinear, unpredictable, and uncharitable.

Generational differences can be a source of creative strength and a source of opportunity, or a source of stifling stress and unrelenting conflict. Understanding generational differences is critical to making them work for the organization and not against it.

Accommodate employee differences

With employee retention at or near the top of the list of organizational “must meet” measures, the most generationally friendly organizations treat their employees as they do their customers. They learn all they can about them, work to meet their specific needs, and serve them according to their unique preferences. Each generation’s icons, language, and precepts are acknowledged, and language is used that reflects generations other than those “at the top.”

Create choices

Generationally friendly companies allow the workplace to shape itself around the work being done, the customers being served, and the people who work there.  They recognize that people from a mix of generations have differing needs and preferences, and they design their human resources strategies to meet varied employee needs. “Change” is not so much the name of a training seminar or a core value listed somewhere in their mission statement as it is an assumed way of living and working.

Operate from a sophisticated management style

Generationally friendly managers don’t have time for BS, although they are tactful. They give those who report to them the big picture, with specific goals and measures, and then they turn their people loose – giving them feedback, rewards, and recognition as appropriate.

Respect competence and initiative

Generationally friendly organizations assume the best of people. They treat everyone, from the newest recruit to the most seasoned employee, as if they have great things to offer and are motivated to do their best. It is an attitude that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nourish initiative

Generationally friendly organizations are concerned and focused, on a daily basis, with making their workplaces magnets for excellence. They know that keeping their people is every bit as important in today’s economy as finding and retaining customers. Therefore, they offer lots of training, from one-on-one coaching opportunities to interactive online training to an extensive and varied menu of classroom courses. They encourage lateral movement within the organization and have broadened assignments.

Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak, Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Boomers, GenXers, and GenYers in the Workplace

A NEXT STEP

Set aside time at a future leadership team meeting to review your organizational structure in terms of the five initiatives listed above.

On five separate chart tablets, write one phrase each as listed above across the top. Draw a vertical line down the center of each chart tablet, and write the words, “Positive” and “Negative” on either side of the line.

Discuss with your team how each one of the five initiatives are demonstrated in your organization in both positive and negative terms.

After your discussion is concluded, decide how you will celebrate the positive actions and correct the negative actions.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 127-1, released September 2019.


 

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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Fight Information Overload by Going Minimal

Information overload.

You live it every day – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. You’re more informed and connected than ever.

Yet, if you’re honest, you’re probably feeling more distracted than ever.

More lonely. More restless.

According to studies done by Barna Research:

  • 71% of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to stay up to date.
  • 36% of adults stop what they’re doing to check a text or message when it comes in.
  • 35% of adults think their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people.

Being hyperlinked changes every aspect of our lives – and often, not for the better.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world.

In this timely and enlightening book, the bestselling author of Deep Work introduces a philosophy for technology use that has already improved countless lives.

Digital minimalists are all around us. They’re the calm, happy people who can hold long conversations without furtive glances at their phones. They can get lost in a good book, a woodworking project, or a leisurely morning run. They can have fun with friends and family without the obsessive urge to document the experience. They stay informed about the news of the day, but don’t feel overwhelmed by it. They don’t experience “fear of missing out” because they already know which activities provide them meaning and satisfaction.

Now, Newport gives us a name for this quiet movement, and makes a persuasive case for its urgency in our tech-saturated world. Common sense tips, like turning off notifications, or occasional rituals like observing a digital Sabbath, don’t go far enough in helping us take back control of our technological lives, and attempts to unplug completely are complicated by the demands of family, friends and work. What we need instead is a thoughtful method to decide what tools to use, for what purposes, and under what conditions.

Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. He then shares strategies for integrating these practices into your life, starting with a thirty-day “digital declutter” process that has already helped thousands feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you. This book shows the way.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

While many leaders believe in the power of digital platforms, and recognize the importance of various specific applications, a growing number of those same leaders feel as though their current relationship with technology is unsustainable – to the point that if something doesn’t change soon, they will reach a breaking point.

According to author Cal Newport, people don’t succumb to screens because they’re lazy, but instead billions of dollars have been invested to make this outcome inevitable.

It seems we have stumbled backward into a digital life we didn’t sign up for.

My research on digital minimalism has revealed the existence of a loosely organized “attention resistance movement,” made up of individuals who combine high-tech tools with disciplined operating procedures to conduct surgical strikes on popular attention economy services – dropping in to extract value, and then slipping away before the attention traps set by those companies can spring shut.

The tactics below have proved successful in shunting aside relentless efforts to capture your attention.

Delete Social Media from Your Phone

The smartphone versions of social media sites are much more adept at hijacking your attention than the versions accessed through a web browser on your laptop or desktop computer. Because you always have your phone with you, every occasion becomes an opportunity to check your feeds. If you’re going to use social media, stay far away from the mobile versions of these services, as they pose a significantly bigger risk to our time and attention. This practice suggests you remove all social media apps from your phone. You don’t have to quit these services, you just have to quit accessing them on the go.

Turn Your Devices Into Single-Purpose Computers

The sentiment that temporarily blocking features of a general-purpose computer reduces its potential is common for tools that do just that. It’s also flawed: it represents a misunderstanding of computation and productivity that benefits the large digital attention economy conglomerates much more than the individual users that they exploit. As many have discovered, the rapid switching between different applications tends to make the human’s interaction with the computer less productive in terms of the quality and quantity of what is produced. This practice of blocking might at first seem overly aggressive, but what it’s actually doing is bringing you back closer to the ideal of sing-purpose computing that’s much more compatible with our human attention systems.

Use Social Media Like a Professional

Social media professionals approach these tools differently than the average user. They seek to extract large amounts of value for their professional and (to a lesser degree) personal lives, while avoiding much of the low-value distortion these services deploy to lure users into compulsive behavior. Their disciplined professionalism, in other words, provides a great example for any digital minimalist looking to join the attention resistance. To a social media pro, the idea of endlessly surfing your feed in search of entertainment is a trap (these platforms have been designed to take more and more of your attention) – an act of being used by these services instead of using them to your own advantage.

Embrace Slow Media

To embrace news media from a mind-set of slowness requires first and foremost that you focus only on the highest-quality sources. Breaking news, for example, is almost always much lower quality than the reporting that’s possible once an event has occurred and journalists have had time to process it. Similarly, consider limiting yourself to the best of the best when it comes to selecting individual writers you follow. Another important aspect of slow news is the decisions you make regarding how and when this consumption occurs. The key to embracing Slow Media is the general commitment to maximizing the quality of what you consume and the conditions under which you consume it.

Dumb Down Your Smartphone

Declaring your freedom from you smartphone is probably the most serious step you can take toward embracing the attention resistance. Dumbing down your phone, of course, is a big decision. Convincing yourself that a dumb phone can satisfy your need so that its benefits outweigh its costs is not necessarily easy. Indeed, it might require a leap of faith – a commitment to test life without a smartphone to see what it’s really like.

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

A NEXT STEP

According to author Cal Newport, if you are exhausted by your “digital device addiction,” it’s not only possible to say, “No More,” it’s actually not that hard.

Set aside some time (without your phone!) to review the following five suggestions listed above. For each, make a Pro/Con list for what it would mean to your life if you took that action.

Review the list, and make a decision to embrace at least one of the actions for the next week.

After the week has passed, reflect on what taking that action meant to you, in terms of time gained, relationships grown, etc.

Consider another action to undertake, and follow the same suggestions.

At the end of one month’s experiments, talk with your spouse or a close colleague who would have noticed the changes in your routine and its results. What do they have to say?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 126-1, released September 2019.


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<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Pursue Hospitality in Your Home

Note: During the month of August, I will be going back to previous SUMS Remix issues relating to hospitality in the home that have not been published here on the Wednesday Weekly Reader. Why? In these crazy times, we could all use a refresher in how to be a better neighbor. I’m also posting these to support an Auxano initiative during the month of August, Building Bridges to our Neighbors.


In April 2020, as this issue of SUMS Remix was being prepared, most of the United States was under some type of mandate restricting movement. Typically called “physical distancing,” the intent is to minimize the chances of the coronavirus being spread by maintaining a distance of at least six feet when you are in public settings.

However, even if “physical distancing” (the more correct term) is required, “social interaction” is needed more now than ever before.

Efforts taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus should encourage strengthening social ties while maintaining that physical distancing.

Therefore, some of this content may not be applicable under current restrictions in your community; however, the intent is critical in moving forward as we demonstrate hospitality to our neighborhoods, in every season

According to Rosaria Butterfield,

Christians are called to live in the world but not live like the world. Christians are called to dine with sinners but not sin with sinners.

She adds,

We live in a world awash with counterfeit hospitality. Knowing the difference between the grace of God and its counterfeit is crucial to Christian living.

Hospitality shares what there is; that’s all. It’s not entertainment. It’s not supposed to be.

THE QUICK SUMMARY

When people live in community moved by the gospel and marked by the Spirit, great things happen.

They commit to one another. They grieve together, sing together, eat, pray, and play together. They love, serve, honor, encourage, and provide for each other gladly. And they live on mission together.

Hearts are healed, walls come down, and outsiders come in. No competition. No pretense. No vain conceit. Just full hearts breaking bread and giving freely.

It is nothing short of amazing.

Most of us live in a shadow of what God intended for us. Life in Community calls us into the light. Reclaiming Scripture’s stunning vision of gospel-centered community, it inspires us to live in love unbounded. Read it, live it, and join the movement: Help unleash the power of extraordinary community.


A SIMPLE SOLUTION

According to author Dustin Willis, too often we view our homes as a place of refuge rather than tools to advance the gospel. We come home from work or school or other obligations, pull in the driveway, go into the house, and lock the door behind us. The next morning we reverse that order, and repeat the pattern day after day.

Hospitality gives us the opportunity to break that cycle, and live out the gospel to those we invite into our homes.

In Romans 12:13, Paul challenges us to “pursue hospitality.” It’s not a once and done proposition; it’s an idea of continuous action.

Hospitality is the practical outworking of the gospel into the rhythm of our everyday lives. We practice hospitality when we consistently receive others into our lives and homes in the same fashion as Christ received us.

The home is the greatest environment that exists to create and cultivate community. But how do we “do it right”?

Hospitality is Not About Entertaining

We’re inviting folks into real life in a way that they get to know the real us, and feel comfortable enough to be their real selves, which leads to real community. Relax and let people see you and how God’s grace meets you in your messy life.

Hospitality is About an Open Life

Hospitality is about relational posture and attitude far more than any skill, action, or practice. It’s a heart that says, “Yes there is room in my life for you.”

Hospitality is a Community Project

Hospitality is a community endeavor. God has sovereignly placed you with the people you are around so you can team up in your efforts. Every shortcoming you have is an opportunity for God to provide through someone else.

Hospitality Can Be Planned or Spontaneous

Whether you are a Type A planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants personality, you can make hospitality a regular part of your life.

Hospitality is Powerful

Scriptural patterns of hospitality shows that genuine love leads to offering hospitality – both for those in our community and for strangers outside of our community.

Hospitality is Worth the Sacrifice

Gospel community calls us to give up the isolated view of our home. By pursuing hospitality, we grow from a self-focused, self-centered way of life and use our homes as a tool for displaying the gospel.

Dustin Willis, Life In Community: Joining Together to Display the Gospel

A NEXT STEP

As appropriate, with regard to your current shelter-in-place or government recommendations, take author Dustin Willis’  practical ideas for pursuing hospitality in your home.

What night of the week could you commit to invite someone into your home for a meal?

Do you know your neighbors’ names? What would it take for you to learn their names and something simple about them?

What would it take for you to offer them hospitality?

Who’s the new family on the block? Is there a new coworker? Could you invite them to dinner?

Hospitality is a great way to provide a tangible blessing (a warm meal) and a source of encouragement (a warm conversation) to those who are broken. Who around you is hurting?


 

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<<

August Special: When you purchase a SUMS Remix annual subscription during the month of August, you will also receive a PDF containing all seven issues of SUMS Remix that have a “hospitality in the home” theme. The PDF will be emailed to you after purchase.

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Share Your Table With Others

Note: During the month of August, I will be going back to previous SUMS Remix issues relating to hospitality in the home that have not been published here on the Wednesday Weekly Reader. Why? In these crazy times, we could all use a refresher in how to be a better neighbor. I’m also posting these to support an Auxano initiative during the month of August, Building Bridges to our Neighbors.


In the fall of 2019, the motion picture “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” starring Tom Hanks as beloved television icon Fred Rogers made its debut. Rogers was the creator, showrunner, and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968-2001.

As a musician, puppeteer, writer, and producer, Fred Rogers’ gentle demeanor brought beautiful simplicity through nurturing interactions with young children to over 30 years of viewers. His enigmatic theme song, from which the motion picture takes its title, includes the following lines, which many adults can recall:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Fred Rogers was also a Presbyterian minister, and it’s likely those lines were inspired by another story of a neighbor.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus asked the expert in law, in effect, “Who is your neighbor?”

It’s almost 2020, and the question remains, “Who is our neighbor?”

From the television neighborhoods of Beaver Cleaver and Andy Taylor, to Mr. Rogers, to Sam and Diane, to Jerry and Kramer, to Rachel and Monica and Phoebe and Chandler and Joey, to Phil and Claire, to Jack and Rebecca and Randall and Kate, it’s a question that mainly depicts an unfulfilled longing for a neighborhood that actually works.

It occurs to me that this is not a neighborhood; it is only a collection of unconnected individuals.

Philip Langdon, A Better Place to Live

Long gone are the days where kids played in the yards and streets all day “till the street lights came on” and where neighbors talked across fences or on front porches.

It seems as if the people we live closest to appear only briefly when the car leaves the garage in the morning and comes back in the evening.

It seems as if the idea of “neighborhood” has disappeared in reality if not actuality, and with it the idea of knowing for, and caring for, neighbors.

As Lance Ford and Brad Brisco write in “Next Door as in Heaven:”

What does all this neighborhood business have to do with the gospel? As Jesus followers – people of the Good News – we follow the one who said the most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We have a tremendous opportunity before us: to take notice and help resurrect rich relationship in our neighborhoods.

If anyone should “neighbor” differently, it should be us.

According to Leonard Sweet, if we really want to learn someone’s story, sitting down at the table and breaking bread together is the best way to start.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

Written for those who are trying to nurture authentic faith communities and for those who have struggled to retain their faith, The Tangible Kingdom offers theological answers and real-life stories that demonstrate how the best ancient church practices can re-emerge in today’s culture, through any church of any size.

In this remarkable book, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay “two missional leaders and church planters” outline an innovative model for creating thriving grass-roots faith communities.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You may have watched it in person in the early 80s-early 90s, or you may have binge-watched it last weekend, but there’s no doubt the sitcom “Cheers” depicted a fictional, but aspirational setting where “everybody knows your name.”

Authors Hugh Halter and Matt Smay remind us of another similar setting from the same time period, what sociologist Ray Oldenburg called “the third place.” Different from home and work (the first and second places, respectfully, “the third place” is somewhere people can relax, in good company, on a regular basis. They are places of familiarity, where people can find and make friends.

Following the concepts that Starbucks introduced at about the same time, many churches tried to make “third places” out of their programs or spaces on campus – mostly without great success.

What if we turned our thoughts and actions from church-campus based instead to a neutral, public place, or our homes?

As the authors say, “Good things just seem to happen when we share spontaneously.”

I’ve concluded that, almost without exception, relationships are formed, important dialogue and conversation begin, and powerful moments of ministry occur during spontaneous, unplanned moments while we are sharing our lives together.

What’s the big deal with food? Go through the Gospels and note how many stories include sharing food. This is a great opportunity to see something that is so often missed when we look at God’s mission in the world.

The fact that there’s almost always food around isn’t surprising, since our scriptures are written in an entirely Eastern context. In Eastern cultures, food, the home, and hospitality are the center of culture, life, and relationships. Gook, like music, is something anyone can share and enjoy with others, even if they can’t speak the same language. Food is tangible and gives you something to do when you’re socially nervous. Food relieves tension. It brings complete strangers to the same table without any instructions or barriers. Food satisfies our greatest physical need and allows people to show creativity and thoughtfulness. It invites participation and is welcome in any setting.

Furthermore, God uses the banquet table analogy to speak about heaven, salvation, and evangelism. Christ uses the phrase “bread of life” to refer to himself. God even brings back the tree of life found in Genesis and plants it right in the middle of heaven and causes it to produce a different fruit every month!

I’m not sure what definition you use for evangelism, but my favorite has to do with “changing people’s assumptions.” To me, if we can dismantle their stereotypes of Christians, we’re on our way to helping them see the Kingdom in a new light. This is why having fun, enjoying life, and celebrating people, food, art, music, recreation, and rest become so critical in seeing friends find God.

Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community

 

 

A NEXT STEP

According to authors Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, it’s normal to feel some tension related to “living out.” Living on mission can be challenging. It isn’t always immediately clear what we’re supposed to do.

For some of that tension, it’s important to remind ourselves that keeping track of the results is not our job. In fact, the only tension we should carry is the tension of responsibility.

Use the following ideas from the authors to get out of your house with the purpose of connecting someone.

  • Spend some time with a friend who is having a rough week.
  • Take your kids to a park or playground where there are other families to build relationships with.
  • Help a neighbor with a project or chore.
  • Using a hobby or personal interest, find a way to make new relationships with sojourners.
  • Invite others to join a personal or family meal.
  • Respond willingly to at least one interruption that comes along this week.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 134-2, released December 2019


 

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<<

August Special: When you purchase a SUMS Remix annual subscription during the month of August, you will also receive a PDF containing all seven issues of SUMS Remix that have a “hospitality in the home” theme. The PDF will be emailed to you after purchase.

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

How Meals Embody and Enact Our Mission

Note: During the month of August, I will be going back to previous SUMS Remix issues relating to hospitality in the home that have not been published here on the Wednesday Weekly Reader. Why? In these crazy times, we could all use a refresher in how to be a better neighbor. I’m also posting these to support an Auxano initiative during the month of August, Building Bridges to our Neighbors.


The heart of God’s purpose for humankind is relationships – first, with God Himself; then, with one another. Arguably, there is no better place to build relationships than at the table with good food and great conversation.

Len Sweet, in his book From Tablet to Table states it eloquently:

Remember God’s first command in the Bible? Eat.

Remember God’s last command in the Bible? Drink.

And everything in between is a table – a life-course meal on which is served the very bread of life and cup of salvation.

It’s time to bring back the table to our homes, to our churches, and to our neighborhoods and the world.

The table is a recurring biblical theme, one that our fast-paced, drive-through, Instant Pot culture finds unfamiliar.

What would happen if we brought back the table as a sacred object of furniture in every home, church, and community?

Are we truly hungry to accept Jesus’ invitation –  “Come and follow” – and to go wherever He leads, even if it means next door?

Especially if it means following Him next door!

What would it take for the table to return to the center of our family lives – and by extension, to those God has placed in our circle and situations?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – A Meal with Jesus: Discussing Grace, Community, and Mission Around the Table by Tim Chester

The meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook.

Tim Chester brings to light God’s purposes in the seemingly ordinary act of sharing a meal―how this everyday experience is really an opportunity for grace, community, and mission. Chester challenges contemporary understandings of hospitality as he urges us to evaluate why and who we invite to our table. Learn how you can foster grace and bless others through the rich fare being served in A Meal with Jesus.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION 

Food matters. Meals matter. Meals are full of significance.

Food connects. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends. And it connects us with people around the world.

Our relationship with food is ambiguous. Television chefs have become celebrities and cookbooks regularly appear on bestseller lists. Yet we cook less than ever before. Americans spend over $50 billion on dieting each year – $50 billion to solve the problem of food gone wrong.

American Christians spend more on dieting than on world missions. We spend more on overconsumption than we do feeding the physically and spiritually hunger of the world.

We express who we want to be through food. Guess what? Jesus did too.

How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

This is how Luke describes Jesus’ mission strategy: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” (Luke 7:34)

Jesus’ mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.

Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating with people:

Meals as Enacted Grace: In Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.

Meals as Enacted Community: In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.

Meals as Enacted Hope: In Luke 9, Jesus feeds the five thousand.

Meals as Enacted Mission: In Luke 14, Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.

Meals as Enacted Salvation: In Luke 22, we have the account of the Last Supper.

Meals as Enacted Promise: In Luke 24, the risen Christ has a meal with two disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem.

So the meals of Jesus represent something bigger. They represent a new world, a new kingdom, a new outlook. But they give that new reality substance.

They represent friendship, community, and welcome.

Tim Chester, A Meal with Jesus: Discussing Grace, Community, and Mission Around the Table

A NEXT STEP

Devote an extended period of time over several weeks to the Bible passages listed above. In your journal or digital notes, create separate pages for each of the passages.

As you spend time reading and praying through them, write down what God is revealing to you, not only in personal growth but also in practical application.

Hospitality involves welcoming, creating space, listening, paying attention, and providing. Meals slow things down. Some of us don’t like that – we like to get things done.

However, meals force you to be people-oriented instead of task-oriented. Sharing a meal is not the only way to build relationships, but it is number one on the list.

Grace, mission, and community are never enacted best through programs, but rather through the equality and acceptance experienced at the common table.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 103-3, released October 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<<

August Special: When you purchase a SUMS Remix annual subscription during the month of August, you will also receive a PDF containing all seven issues of SUMS Remix that have a “hospitality in the home” theme. The PDF will be emailed to you after purchase.

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<