Summer Reading Plan: A Fruitful Life

FruitfulLife

Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

I had the chance to ask Eric a little more about this new project:

Jenni: What is A Fruitful Life all about?

Eric: According to Jesus, we have unlimited capacity to influence others spiritually. No matter what we’ve experienced or what we regret or where we are from, in Christ’s Kingdom we can become fruitful – transformed and transforming the lives of others.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.

Jenni: In working with leaders, I often help them find their place to make a difference. What are some of the insights you share that can help people find their niche?

Eric: Sometimes we make simple things complicated. Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hearing God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoiding distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing. I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series. When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

Jenni: What makes this project different from others?

Eric: Like you, I am fascinated by creativity and innovation, so it was important to me to share this message in a unique, fun, and helpful way. By teaming with the Snippet App, we are offering something that is far more interactive than a paperback and much more than an e-book. Each Snippet in this series includes videos and other discoverables, plus the ability to interact with each other.

Jenni: You mentioned to me that you have a special offer for those who frequent my blog.

Eric: I do! I appreciate your leadership and your message to the world so much!

10 people in your audience will win the entire series. Here’s how: download for free A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be and be sure to check out the last chapter on how to become a winner of the next four snippets in the series.

Jenni: Thanks so much! Congratulations on this project!

More on Eric:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.

Summer Reading Plan: What Life Are You Waiting For?

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This week’s summer reading is Pastor Pete Hise’s new book, What Life Are You Waiting For?

What Life Are You Waiting For Book Promo from Quest Community Church on Vimeo.

Pete is one of those guys who lives what he teaches.  His belief in the life-changing power of God will compel you and challenge you to take the transformational adventure that he believes God has called you to.  This book will push you to ask tough questions, grapple with unresolved heart issues and, most importantly, compel you to ‘push play’ on life.

what-life-book-shadow

If you’re interested in winning a copy, share with us in the comments one adventure you’re taking this summer.

Happy Monday!

 

Summer Reading Plan

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Hi everyone!

I hope your summer is off to a great start.  I love this time of year… the end of the school year, the start of vacations.  My instagram feed is full of pictures of beaches and big smiles.

For the summer months here on the blog, I’ve decided to take a little vacation too.  I’m still getting settled in my new place plus I’m feverishly working on my next book manuscript.  With all of that going on, I’m not posting anything terribly inspiring or original. Sorry about that!

So there’s my plan:

Every week throughout the summer I’m going to feature a book and do a book giveaway.

Summer is a great time to rejuvenate, so let’s rejuvenate our minds with some great reading!

We’ll kick off with one my favorite leadership books, The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day: Revitalize Your Spirit and Empower Your Leadership. I read it almost every year.  It’s structured in devotional style so it’s easy to absorb in small doses.  Perfect for your summer schedule!

21Minutes

In the comments, share what you’re learning about leadership right now.  I’ll randomly select a winner this Friday, June 13th.

Monday Inspiration

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I’m just wrapping up Shelene Bryan’s book Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes

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Since I made my recent jump, I’m quite interested in hearing how others have jumped too.

Shelene’s book is equally convicting and inspiring.

Here are a couple of quotes I enjoyed:

“An attitude and lifestyle of giving can make life truly thrilling.”

“Some of the most amazing things God wants to do in our lives as Christians involve giving Him permission to take us on uncomfortable journeys.”

“Jumping is an act of your will to use your God-given gifts to affect others.”

“You don’t always immediately feel good about obeying God.  How many times have I let my feelings get in the way of an incredible journey that God wanted to take me on?”

Want to love… skip… jump… with us too? 

Be sure to check out the book website to learn more about Shelene and her story.

Also check out all the work she is doing through her organization Skip1.org – amazing stuff!

I have a copy of the book to giveaway! Leave a comment telling us about a time that God asked you to jump.  I’ll select the winner on Wednesday, June 4th. 

Happy Monday everyone!

Disrupted

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Today I sit at the table of my breakfast nook in my new home on the west coast.  The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming outside the big bay window that overlooks my back patio.

It sounds lovely doesn’t it?

That is a typical morning here in my new world.

But nothing feels typical about it yet.  While I’m here my husband is back in Nashville selling, purging and packing our home as he prepares to join me.

It’s been 11 weeks since I left.  11 weeks of living with just a few furnishings here.  11 weeks of living apart from my husband and Mick… don’t forget Mick, the border collie, who is more child than pet.  It will still be several more weeks before Merlyn, Mick and a truckload of our stuff arrives, but at least the end is in sight.

Or is it?

I like to believe that once they get here, everything will feel normal.  But there really is no normal anymore.

Everything is disrupted.  Family, friends, home, routine, sense of purpose… all of it.

But don’t misunderstand… it’s not all bad.  In fact, most of it’s been really good.  It’s just stretching and different.

In one week, our dream home will be sold.  I expected to live there for 20+ years.  I assumed we’d host parties, throw showers and entertain friends for years to come.

Disrupted.

I was reading this morning N.T. Wright’s thoughts on Mark chapter 1 when Jesus called the disciples to follow him.  Wright described how significant it was for the disciples to leave behind their way of life.  It was counter-cultural to leave family or change career.

Wright explains,

“Jesus was now calling them to trust the good news that their God was doing something new.  To get in on the act, they had to cut loose from other ties and trust him and his message.  That wasn’t easy then and isn’t easy now.  But it’s what Peter, Andrew, James and John did, and it’s what all Christians are called to do today, tomorrow, and on into God’s future.”

Disrupted.

Let me be clear… Nothing about my current disruption is comfortable.  I don’t share because I believe I deserve a pat on the back. Quite the contrary.  Most days I’m embarrassed by how hard it is to let go of what is known and comfortable and to trust that God’s calling is greater than my plans could ever be.

But each day I’m learning to be more comfortable with disrupted.

God says “come” and the only reasonable response is to follow. 

The Connection Question

“How did I do?”

or

Did I connect?”

Which question do you more commonly ask yourself after you speak, teach, lead a meeting, talk to your staff? 

A good leader is always evaluating… always seeking feedback to improve.

But those two questions above nuance a distinction that is critical in our motives for seeking feedback.

The first question is about you.

The second question is about them.

Just this past Sunday, I was hosting the services at one of our campuses.  This was the first time I hosted at this campus and I was very attentive to my “performance” (I use quotes because I don’t love that word but it’s accurate for the context).  My first reaction was to get feedback on how I “did”.  Did I do okay?  Did I say all the right things?  Did I cover the correct content?

For the first few moments the stream of thought was all about me and how I performed.

And then… conviction.   My questions were all wrong.  Yes, I needed to evaluate my performance but my evaluation needed to be about how I impacted those I was communicating with.  Did I connect with them?  Did they feel heard and understood?  Did they receive good information?  Were they inspired?  Did I help them see a glimpse of Jesus today?

Is the connection question your first thought when evaluating yourself as a communicator? 

 

Do You Know What They Need?

“Leaders appear when awareness meets need.”

“A person who knows what a group actually needs must be more aware than those in need.”

Deepak Chopra

Road

Do you know what your group needs? 

You family, your staff, your congregation, your customer, you small group bible study, your friend going through a crisis… do you know what they need?

Leaders must wake up every day asking, “what does the group of people I’m responsible for need?”  Not, “what do they need from me?”  Rather, “what do they need, period.  And then how can I help lead them there?”

There have been a number of seasons in my leadership where I have lost sight of this question.  I drifted into doing what I’d always done.  I became less engaged with this question and as a result I quit leading.  Afterall, it’s pretty difficult to lead if you don’t know where you need to go.

Great leaders always know what the group needs before the group knows they need it.  Great leaders anticipate.  They see the future and they plan for it.

So today, stop yourself.  Before you make another move, pause and consider the question:

What do they need?

Turning Off the Critic

Another Sunday in the books. Four services, thousands of attendees, hundreds of volunteers, even a dozen commitments for Christ, and yet I couldn’t shake this gnawing sense of dissatisfaction. In fact, this aching feeling was becoming common every Sunday night as I drove home tired and spent. For all the effort and all the good, it still felt not quite good enough. For all of our great planning and preparation there were still problems. For all of our good communication, volunteers still didn’t always show up. For all of our backup measures, systems still failed in the moments they mattered most.

Rather than see the good that was happening in our ministry, all that wasn’t working was exceedingly overwhelming me. A critical eye consumed me.

Continue reading at Sunday Magazine…

Align Your Stars

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Every organization has them.

S T A R S

The employees that shine a little brighter than others.  They’re gifted.  They’re tenacious.  They do whatever it takes.  They believe in the vision.  They are problem-solvers and idea-generators.  They outrun the rest of the pack.  They’re growing.  They’re leading.

As a leader,  it’s your job to align your stars.  You must position them to shine.

Stars only burn brightly when they are in the right seat, empowered to lean into their strengths and develop their gifts.

If a star gets bored and lacks a challenge, or if a star gets frustrated by roadblocks in organizational bureaucracy, they will either burn out or move on.

A star won’t stay where it can’t shine.

What are you doing to align the stars in your organization?

*Original photo source

20′s Church

Long, late night conversations around the kitchen island.

We did this frequently.  Sometimes it was just recapping the day, sometimes it was boys, dating and that whole mess, other times it was our shared passion for the future of the church.

But one of those late night conversations sparked an idea…

Heather was living with Merlyn and I last summer during her internship at Cross Point.  (Btw, it’s the craziest thing to have a 20 year old living in your home and trying to figure out whether to be a parent or a friend.  I suspect I was a little of both.)

If you haven’t met Heather yet, you will soon.  This girl is a dreamer.  She’s not afraid of dreaming audacious dreams but more than that she’s not afraid to actually make them happen.  She has a way… a tenacity about her that is both inspiring and scary in all the right ways.

This summer Heather and Taylor (another intern from Cross Point’s Summer 2013 crop) are embarking on an adventure.

Heather

Hear what Heather has to share about her love for the church, her generation and her Summer 2014 project:

Just like the majority of pastor’s kids, I was raised by the church. I was taught by it, I was hurt by it, I was cared for by it, I was betrayed by it, I was loved by it. Unlike many pastor’s kids, though, my journey doesn’t stop there. I’m not finished with the church. I’ve seen the damage it can do, but I’ve also seen the life it can create, and I see the latter happening far more often than the former, despite what media and society tells us. The church is one of my biggest passions, not only for how much good I see in it, but for how much potential I believe it has. As a church we have done a lot of really great work, but if we are going to bring “up there down here”, we have a lot of work to do and we need to be working harder than ever to do so.

As a 21-year-old college student, I look around at my classmates and those in my generation and see so much potential for change in the church, but a lack of knowledge as to how to take advantage of that potential. According to a study done by the Barna Group, six out of ten 20-somethings who were “spiritually active” in their teens stop going to church in their 20′s. They found that “only one-fifth of 20-somethings (20%) have maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experiences.” As David Kinnamen says, “You’ve lost us”. This generation is driven. We are motivated. We want to be challenged. We are searching for answers that aren’t as black and white as “yes” or “no”. We are a generation of world-changers, and yet there are relatively so few left of us in the church.

My point is not to criticize our churches because that has been done before and, quite frankly, I don’t think it does anything. Rather, I want to share with you a journey I am embarking on with the goal of sharing with the world all the good the church is doing in decreasing those sobering statistics and reaching out to what has been called the “Invisible Generation”.

In a little over a month, I, along with my friend, Taylor, will be touring the country and visiting over 20 different churches to explore how they are effectively reaching out to the 20-something generation. Through research we’ve conducted over the past nine months we’ve discovered several common themes that our generation seems to really be seeking out, and we are excited to see what those churches are doing with them! Throughout the summer we will be posting videos, pictures, and blog posts and we would love for you to join us as we explore how the church is reaching a generation no one seems to be able to figure out how to reach.

Will you join me in praying for them, encouraging them and then listening to them as the help us understand how to reach the 20-something generation?