Archive for October, 2010

Lessons from Rework

Since I got a Kindle for my birthday I’ve been tearing through a number of books. One helpful, quick read was Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It was on my radar for a while, but Josh Reich’s recommendation pushed me over the edge.

Rework feels like you’re reading a series of blog posts — each chapter is short, straightforward and filled with helpful ideas related to leadership, management, and productivity. Not everything translated to church leadership, but much of it did. Additionally, with Fried and Hansson working in a small business environment, there was much that fit well with our current small-but-growing size dynamic.

Here were some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible?” This is so true, especially for churches. It’s easy to be discontent and see the greener grass.
  • “Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
  • “What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.” This reminds me of the Principle of the Path.
  • “When you want something bad enough, you make the time–regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough…Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen.”
  • “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” This seems to be very true with vision. Clear vision makes decision making much easier.
  • “Don’t use the idea of a startup as a crutch. Instead start with an actual business…Actual businesses don’t mask deep problems by saying, ‘It’s OK, we’re a startup.’ Act like an actual business and you’ll have a much better shot at succeeding.” This principle is something I am trying to reinforce with the church planters I coach.
  • “Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.”
  • “You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once.”
  • “Whenever you can, swap ‘Let’s think about it’ for ‘Let’s decide on it.’ Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.” I’m finding that as our church grows in complexity, it’s increasingly important to make decisions quickly or else the ‘let’s think about it’ pile grows way too big.
  • “The menus at failing restaurants offer too many dishes.” This is why we have fought to keep our ministry very simple. We do Sunday and community groups.
  • “The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.” This is why our ministry is built around the gospel as declared in God’s word. It won’t change. The core needs of human hearts won’t change.
  • “It’s unfortunate that meetings are typically scheduled like TV shows. You set aside thirty minutes or an hour because that’s how scheduling software works. Too bad. If it only takes seven minutes to accomplish a meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you should spend. Don’t stretch seven into thirty.”
  • “When you stick with your current customers come hell or high water, you wind up cutting yourself off from new ones. Your product or service becomes so tailored to your current customers that it stops appealing to fresh blood. And that’s how your company starts to die.” There’s lots of tension here, but I think there’s an interesting principle at work here, especially for church leadership. As Andy Stanley says, “Will your church focus on reaching people or keeping people?”
  • “Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth. It’s hard, but you have to be patient. You have to grind it out.”
  • “When something goes wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You’ll be better off if it’s you. Otherwise, you create an opportunity for rumors, hearsay, and false information to spread.”
  • “Remember that negative reactions [to change] are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones.”
  • “The decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas, interesting policies, or worthwhile experiments by assuming that whatever you decide now needs to work for years on end.” This is why I believe firmly in the “Brett Favre Principle” or the “for now” principle. The only constant in organizational life is change.

Which of these stand out to you? Any that you strongly agree or disagree with?



Remembering 2 Births, 2 Years Ago

Two years ago was a pretty crazy time in the life of the Simmons family and of Second Mile Church.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 was our first of three monthly Preview Worship Gatherings at ASU Poly. Our faithful launch team of 60 was inviting friends, preparing to serve, and excited about this big step for our new church. We had a set-up run through scheduled for Saturday night, the 25th.

On Friday the 24th our trailer arrived from Portable Church Industries, filled with most of the equipment we would need in order to conduct this public gathering. By the way, I would never try to plant a church without using PCI. It was one of the best investments we made.

Sandwiched in the middle of all of this was the birth of my second child, Caitlin. She was due on October 20th, so we had figured that we’d have plenty of time to get her home, get settled, and get ready for the church gathering — after all, most second children come early. But not Caitlin. By the time the weekend came, we were still waiting for her. I started making backup plans in case I’d have to miss the first gathering, and it was a pretty wild time.

My wife, Molly, woke up on Saturday and knew that Caitlin was coming. We waited as long as made sense and then, as I was preparing to drive the trailer over to ASU, Molly said it was time to go. So I dropped the trailer off, handed the keys to John Kronwald and said, “We’re gonna go have a baby. Hope to see you tomorrow.”

Caitlin was born around 10:25pm Saturday night in good health with no complications. The next morning I woke up, went down to the hospital cafeteria to pray and run through my sermon notes, and then headed off to our first gathering.

It was a memorable Sunday. Joel Buckingham led worship. JT Trottier shared his “God Story.” Charlie Jolly read the Scripture. I taught on “Jesus’ Prayer for Glory” as part of our Jesus’ Prayer for His Church series. 177 people showed up.

But the most memorable part of the morning was probably the 100 dozen donuts that were delivered. That’s right. 100 dozen (apparently our order for 100 donuts got lost in translation).

After the gathering, I headed back to the hospital, introduced Abby to her little sister, and spent the day resting and rejoicing with Molly.

Two years later, I’m amazed at all that God has done. My little girl is two, and our little church has grown significantly. What an incredible blessing.

Happy birthday Caitlin!


1 Comment

What We Really Need is Poverty

Another good quote from A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (by Paul Miller):

We don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; we just need to be poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit makes room for his Spirit. It creates a God-shaped hole in our hearts and offers us a new way to relate to others.

, ,

1 Comment

What I Learned at the Seattle A29 Boot Camp

Last week I spent a fun couple of days in Seattle for the Acts29 National Bootcamp. It was packed with lots of teaching (almost too much), many great conversations, and the opportunity to help assess a number of potential church planters. Here are a number of the key lessons from this experience that might be worth sharing:

  • “Your calling as a church planter / leader is mostly tested in your emotional life” (Darrin Patrick).
  • “Whatever meaningful help people receive they will use to help others” (Tim Lane). This is why helping people with the gospel in the context of the local church is so effective. If people are helped, they will help others.
  • “You don’t really know how somebody is growing as a disciple until you pray with them” (Jeff Vanderstelt).
  • “GL + RR + GC = MI” (Patrick). In other words, Gospeled Life (owning sin but basking in acceptance) + Relational Rent (paying relational price with people) + Gospel Clarity (articulating the gospel) = Missional Impact.
  • “If thou dost call me to resign / What most I prize never was mine / I only yield Thee what is Thine / Thy will be done” (from the song “My God, My Father”)
  • “Most marriages are not set up for a 50-year run. The most important day of your marriage isn’t your wedding day — it’s your last day” (Mark Driscoll)
  • “When you stop repenting, you stop calling others to repent” (Driscoll)
  • “Men shouldn’t make their wives carry their curse” (Driscoll). Here he was talking about the need for men to provide for their families rather than make their wives carry the toil and burden of provision.
  • “Jesus isn’t to blame for the church’s sin, but he takes responsibility for it. That’s what it means to be the head of the family” (Driscoll).
  • “Is your wife flourishing?” (Driscoll)

Another significant lesson for me was that men who want to plant healthy, gospel-centered churches would be wise to spend time IN a healthy, gospel-centered church first. I met a number of men who were in bad church situations and had a vision for something different — but they’ve never seen it first hand. As a result, they really don’t know what it looks like to participate in a healthy church, let alone lead one. This made me so thankful for the amazing years I was able to spend at East Valley Bible Church participating in ministry and serving alongside healthy, godly leaders. I can’t imagine what church planting and leadership would be like without those men and without that experience.

Which of those lessons stand out to you? Any of them need clarification?

, ,