Leaders Know How to Make Simplicity Clearer

Many leaders spend their lives driving decisions, directing resources, and deploying people without the vantage point of substantial clarity.

If clarity is so beneficial, why do we find it in short supply with most leaders? Every leader must contend with clarity gaps and complexity factors. To make matters worse, the two biggest contributors to clarity and complexity in any organization are failure and success. But all is not lost; you can lead with consistent clarity.

Being clear as a leader means being simple, understandable, and exact. The leader helps others see and understand reality better.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Why Simple Wins, by Lisa Bodell

Imagine what you could do with the time you spend writing emails every day. Complexity is killing companies’ ability to innovate and adapt, and simplicity is fast becoming the competitive advantage of our time. Why Simple Wins helps leaders and their teams move beyond the feelings of frustration and futility that come with so much unproductive work in today’s corporate world to create a corporate culture where valuable, essential, meaningful work is the norm. By learning how to eliminate redundancies, communicate with clarity, and make simplification a habit, individuals and companies can begin to recognize which activities are time-sucks and which create lasting value. Lisa Bodell’s simplification method has several unique principles: Simplification is a skill that’s available to us all, yet very few leaders use it. Simplification is the right thing to do–for our customers, for our company, and for each other. Operating with simplification as our core business model will make it easier to be respectful of each other’s time. Simplification drives culture, and culture in turn drives employee engagement, customer relations, and overall productivity.

This book is inspired by Bodell’s passion for eliminating barriers to innovation and productivity. In it, she explains why change and innovation are so hard to achieve–and it’s not what you might expect. The reality is this: we spend our days drowning in mundane tasks like meetings, emails, and reports. These are often self-created complexities that prevent us from getting to the meaningful work that truly matters. Using simple stories and techniques, Why Simple Wins shows that by using simplicity as an operating principle, we can eliminate the busy work that puts a chokehold on us every day, and instead spend time on the work that we value.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Finding clarity requires navigating a tunnel of chaos, the point where deeper confusion and complexity are experienced first, before clarity can emerge. The tunnel of chaos make take hours, days, or months and it may involve much time in prayer, conversation, questioning, reflection, confession, and challenge, all with a spirit of relentless transparency.

The resolve to navigate this tunnel of chaos cannot be overestimated. The danger lies in the fact that there are two kings of simplicity. The first is meaningless simplicity, where the leader marches in place to a simplicity that is trite and valueless. Meaningless simplicity causes many leaders to give in and copy what someone else is doing.

On the other hand, getting to the other side of complexity finds you in a place of life redefined and rereleased. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Many leaders can get stuck in between, bogged down in complexity. These leaders don’t feel stuck, because they are living with a lot of good ministry – but it is good ministry that is the enemy of the best that the church ultimately can become. 

It’s time to make simplicity clearer; and complexity too.

Something that’s properly simplified is:

As minimal as possible: Simple things reduce the number of steps, pages, features, functions, sign-offs, requirements, and other hurdles required to get something accomplished. There’s nothing extra, but at the same time, there’s enough to get the job done.

As understandable as possible: Simple things are defined by clear, straightforward language. They are comprehensible to someone who doesn’t already have expertise in the subject at hand. Simple things could easily be replicated by a novice – even if they often require some common sense.

As repeatable as possible: Simple things can be scaled or replicated. They aren’t one-offs. They aren’t customized. It should be easy for someone to do them over and over again.

As accessible as possible: Simple things are made available and transparent to as many audiences as possible. Outsiders can make use of them with as few gatekeepers as possible.

Complexity, then, is the lack of these four elements. It’s a process, product, communication, or procedure that isn’t minimal, understandable, repeatable, and accessible as possible.

Lisa Bodell, Why Simple Wins

A NEXT STEP

Albert Einstein believed that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” And therein lies the problem that many organizations face when they remove too much information in the effort to make things simpler: the remaining information becomes useless.

The trick is striking an appropriate balance between details (complexity) on one hand, and the need to simplify on the other.

To help develop that balance, follow the outline below developed by Why Simple Wins author Lisa Bodell to help make simplification happen.

  1. Awareness – the journey to simplification begins with recognizing the toll taken by complexity. To help develop this awareness, choose a ministry event or activity that you feel has become complicated. On a chart tablet, list the name of the activity with your team, and then write down items that you team can identify that cause this complication.
  2. Identification – once aware of the complexity, write down items that your team can identify that cause this complication.
  3. Prioritization – use a “time versus value” equation to evaluate the opportunities you identified in the previous step. List which complications impede your progress the most, which problems will be hardest to eliminate, and those in which you can get the most traction toward simplifying.
  4. Execution – once the opportunities are identified, execute them by moving forward in real time.
  5. Habit Formation – simplification is never finished – it has to become a part of the way you operate

Gather your team and take 10 minutes to decide on one ministry or area that needs simplification. Next, using the above filters, spend 80 minutes discussing and then commit to three simplification steps in the next 14 days. Repeat throughout each ministry or program, as needed.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 74-1, 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 “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<<

 

 

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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<<

Learn to Develop the Art of Mis-en-Place

Despite how it may feel, competition for the spiritual attention and Sunday attendance of today’s family is not with the growing church down the road. Church leadership must redirect energy from being “bigger and better” than other churches, and instead see those places that provide “WOW! Experiences” as the real points of comparison among first time guests.

While that may seem like an impossible to achieve negative, this present reality can also be turned into a positive. Churches must start LEARNING from those top-notch places and their leaders.

Eating out at one-of-a-kind experiences has never been more popular or accessible. Celebrity chefs and buzz-creating restaurants are literally popping up in cities across the country, large and small. In the world of hospitality, the culinary segment has unique applications to the Guest Experience ministries of a church. The dining experience at a four-star restaurant provides excellent lessons for welcoming ministries in your church.

With recommendations from one son who is a general manager for a national restaurant chain and another who is the chef at a conference center, today’s post, along with two more to follow, explores the food industry. In it we will focus on a behind-the-scenes look at the importance of hospitality from some of the best restaurants in the country.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Work Clean, by Dan Charnas

The first organizational book inspired by the culinary world, taking mise-en-place outside the kitchen.

Every day, chefs across the globe churn out enormous amounts of high-quality work with efficiency using a system called mise-en-place―a French culinary term that means “putting in place” and signifies an entire lifestyle of readiness and engagement. In “Work Clean,” Dan Charnas reveals how to apply mise-en-place outside the kitchen, in any kind of work.

Culled from dozens of interviews with culinary professionals and executives, including world-renowned chefs like Thomas Keller and Alfred Portale, this essential guide offers a simple system to focus your actions and accomplish your work. Charnas spells out the 10 major principles of mise-en-place for chefs and non chefs alike: (1) planning is prime; (2) arranging spaces and perfecting movements; (3) cleaning as you go; (4) making first moves; (5) finishing actions; (6) slowing down to speed up; (7) call and callback; (8) open ears and eyes; (9) inspect and correct; (10) total utilization.

This journey into the world of chefs and cooks shows you how each principle works in the kitchen, office, home, and virtually any other setting.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Develop the art of mise-en-place

Every day, chefs across the globe put out enormous amounts of high quality work with efficiency using a system called mise-en-place – a French culinary term that means “putting in place” and signifies an entire lifestyle of readiness and engagement.

For the culinary student, it is usually the beginning point of their career. But it is a beginning point that is repeated every day of their career – it’s the first thing they will do at the start of each day’s work.

Mise-en-place means far more than simply assembling all the ingredients, pots and pans, plates, and serving pieces needed for a particular period. Mise-en-place is also a state of mind. Someone who has truly grasped the concept is able to keep many tasks in mind simultaneously, weighing and assigning each its proper value and priority. This assures that the chef has anticipated and prepared for every situation that could logically occur during a service period.

Mise-en-place as a simple guide to focusing your actions and accomplishing your work is a necessary first step on the way to an exceptional guest experience.

Mise-en-place comprises three central values: preparation, process, and presence. When practiced by great chefs, these three mundane words become profound. The byproduct of these values may be wealth or productivity, but the true goal is excellence.

Preparation

Chefs commit to a life where preparation is central, not an add-on or an afterthought. To become a chef is to accept the fact that you will always have to think ahead, and to be a chef means that thinking and preparation are as integral to the job as cooking. For the chef, cooking comes second. Cooking can’t happen without prep coming first.

Embracing preparation also means jettisoning the notion that prep work is somehow menial, beneath us. Your preparation – and its intellectual cousin, planning – thus becomes a kind of spiritual practice: humble, tireless, and nonnegotiable.

Process

Preparation and planning along are not enough to create excellence. Chefs must also execute that prepared plan in an excellent way. They insure excellent execution by tenacious pursuit of the best process to do just about everything.

A commitment to process doesn’t mean following tedious procedures and guidelines for their own sake. It’s not about turning humans into hyper-efficient robots. Process is, quite the contrary, about becoming a high-functioning human being and being happier for it.

Excellence arises from refining good process – how can I do this better or easier, or with less waste? It’s a job, like preparation, that never ends.

Presence

Chefs commit to being present in ways from the mundane to the sublime.

After months and years of repeated prep and process, the cook acquires a deeper kind of presence – becoming one with the work, and the work becoming kind of meditation. “Kitchen awareness” demands that one not only be “with” the work, but also “with” your comrades and their work at the same time.

This kind of awareness isn’t scatteredness. It is, quite the contrary, something closer to what the Eastern traditions call mindfulness.

Presence in all its forms – getting there, staying there, being focused, being open, and cultivating boundaries – helps us adjust our preparation and process as the circumstances shift around us.

Dan Charnas, Work Clean – What Great Chefs Can Teach Us About Organization

A NEXT STEP

The three values listed above – preparation, process, and presence- aren’t ideals to admire and applaud. They must be practiced – and can be, by anyone, anywhere.

To apply the values listed above to your hospitality ministry, begin by creating three chart tablets, writing the values above, one word per page.

Read the descriptions listed for each value.

In a discussion with your team, walk through your guest experience from beginning to end, and list each action on the appropriate page. If it fits on more than one page, put it on the page it makes most sense, or is strongest.

Review the lists with your team.

  • What’s missing? Write it in, and assign it to a leader, along with a timeline, for development.
  • What needs to be made stronger? Write it in, and assign it to a leader, along with a timeline, for strengthening.
  • What’s unnecessary? Remove it from the list, and your regular activities.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 73-1, released 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<<

 

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

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

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

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

We’ll be friendlier.

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

But why settle for good?

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

  1. Place
  2. Process
  3. People

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

The catch?

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

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

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

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

The PLACE where you welcome Guests

THE QUICK SUMMARYOne Little Spark, by Marty Sklar

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

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

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

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marty Sklar, One Little Spark

A NEXT STEP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

It’s all in the details.

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


 

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

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

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

How to Understand Gen Z’s Spiritual Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

The Quick Summary – James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

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

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

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

A SIMPLE SOLUTION –

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

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

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

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

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

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z

A NEXT STEP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

 

How to Understand GenZ’s Unique Personality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Stillman and Jonah Stillman, Gen Z @ Work

A NEXT STEP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Leaders Lead with Character

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

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

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

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Integrity, by Henry Cloud

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

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

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

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead with Character

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

In short, integrity is about character.

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

Character = the ability to meet the demands of reality.

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

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

The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust)

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Cloud, Integrity

A NEXT STEP

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

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

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

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

The gap is our need and opportunity for growth.

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

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


 

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

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

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<