Five years ago Jon and I wrote, Exponential: How You And Your Friends Can Start A Missional Church Movement to share in simple, back-of-a-napkin instructions how God had worked through COMMUNITY and NewThing to grow an amazing church and catalyze a movement of reproducing churches! I’m excited to announce that Zondervan is now publishing Exponential in a German edition! Thanks to the leadership of Luthar Krauss on January 18-23, 2016 I will be in Schwabisch Gmund and then Dussledorf, Germany for the public release of the German edition of the book and to teach church leaders in two consecutive conferences on Exponential. While this is the first time the book has been officially published in a language other than English, I have had church leaders and church planters send me copies that they have translated on their own into several languages including Russian, Albanian and Spanish. This caused me to reflect and ask, “Why does the interest in a book we wrote five years ago continue to grow both domestically and globally?” A few thoughts came to mind…
Exponential principles are simple. The consistent compliment I get from people who read Exponential is something like this, “Thanks for making challenging topics so simple and for making me believe I could do it.” Throughout the book we take complex issues like leadership development, artist development, multi-site, church planting and network creation and spell it out in simple and reproducible language. To make the point, we illustrate each of these ideas by showing how they can be explained literally on the back-of-a-napkin.
Exponential principles translate into any context. The reason they translate into any context is not a testament to the authors but where the authors got the content. Everything in Exponential is based on Jesus vision for a church that was founded on movemental ideals. Everything in Exponential is based on how Jesus apprenticed his first followers and the example we see in the early church.
Exponential principles are being used around the world. I’ve seen the principles of Exponential used by church leaders in contexts as diverse as South Korea, Kenya, United Kingdom, Belarus, Philippines, South Africa, Australia and more. What we thought was God’s unique work in Chicagoland has proved to be how God works around the world.
If you haven’t read Exponential or you would like a copies for your team, you can get it HERE.
The publication date of the book was set for February 24th, 2015 – and that meant there was much to do in the delivery phase of this new book. I had intentionally chosen to wait several years to write this “Finding Your Way Back To God” until I felt like the book could get the kind of marketing horsepower behind it that an important topic like this deserved. When we got the news from the mother company, Random House in New York that they were excited about the project and would get behind it and support our publisher WaterBrook Multnomah we agreed it was time to write the book.
Jon and I both created new websites to create a platform for marketing this new book. Jimi Allen and Chris Rudd of Bureau Gravity led the way in this creative effort. In addition, they created this landing page that you see to your left. The landing page would serve as the first stop for anything someone wanted to know about the “Finding Your Way Back To God” book. It included links to free samples, endorsements, free church resources and more!
While we were working on websites our publisher was creating an “advance reader copy” (ARC) of the book for us to distribute to influencers and potential endorsers. For about five months whenever I spoke to a group of church leaders the ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” would accompany me as a handout. Here is my buddy, Ed Stetzer, who you see holding an ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” was kind enough to invite me to Church Planting Leadership Fellowship. This is a gathering of the most influential church planting leaders in the country. I got to talk about movement-making and tell the Community Christian Church and NewThing story. At the end of my talk Ed gave a plug for our new book designed to help people find their way back to God – which he explained as the motivation behind all that we do!
Another one of the groups that received our free ARC of “Finding Your Way Back To God” were leaders of our NewThing tribe. Here are Rob Wegner and Brian Phipps poking some fun at us by pretending like it was a shocking “tell all” book. I kept telling our team, “it doesn’t matter if you write a book if nobody reads it.” So, with that in mind, Jon, myself and WaterBrook Multnomah did all we could to prepare for the delivery of this new book.
Two weeks ago in the café of the Yellow Box I had my very last conversation with Chad Cooke. It was Sunday night before the 5 pm service and we talked about basketball, faith, his girl friend Emily and the not-for-profit Charleston Hope he worked with during the Christmas season. Those were all things he loved. We talked so long I was late getting into church. I always enjoyed talking to Chad.
It was the next Tuesday before Christmas that he was playing basketball with his brother, David and friends at LifeTime Fitness where he suddenly collapsed and died. Chad was 20 years old. Chad packed more into those 20 years than most do in a lifetime.
This past Sunday I challenged people at COMMUNITY to live “questionable lives”; meaning that we should live lives so different than others that it makes them curious and ask questions about us. Our lives should evoke questions like, “Why do you serve like that?”, “Why do you love like that?”, “Why are the quality of your relationships so good?”, “Why are you so generous with your time and money?” and so on. I used Chad as a very positive example of someone who lived a questionable life.
Steve Cochran, the morning host on WGN radio attends the Yellow Box campus of COMMUNITY in Naperville and is friends with the Cooke family. Yesterday he paid a brilliant tribute to Chad that is really worth listening to: Remembering Chad Cooke. Cochran explained to his audience how Chad lived a life far different than most 20 year old men. It’s understandable in situations like this to exaggerate the goodness of a life to make for a good and honorable tribute. However, in Chad’s case the stories are no exaggeration. He was a college student that challenged pastors to join him on a mission trip to Haiti. Rather than entertaining himself, he gave of his time and raised funds for Charleston Hope to make sure kid in local under-resourced neighborhoods had presents at Christmas time. After walking on and making the College of Charleston basketball team he consistently invited his teammates to the church where he was a leader. His teammates referred to him as a “man of God.” Chad would regularly have lunch with a special needs student that others ignored just to make sure he felt included. Like so many, I loved Chad, was saddened by his death but inspired by his life. Chad makes me want to live a more questionable life!