Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller Blink introduced us to a psychologist who learned to predict whether a marriage would last based on a few minutes of observing a couple. He also told about a tennis coach who knew when a player would double-fault before the racket even made contact with the ball. His point is that often our first intuitions are right and first impressions are lasting ones. Gladwell describes the main subject of his book as “thin-slicing” our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, this is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. What follows is the first of four questions on a blink test for your church to determine if you currently have movement momentum. Over the coming days I will give you each of the four questions. Read each one to determine if you’re moving in the right direction. Don’t think too long. Just blink.
BLINK #1: Is your church more interested in quality programs or quality people?
What is the blink about your church in regards to spiritual formation? The promise that church programming alone will make your life better has been exposed. It doesn’t work. Everyday living is where spiritual development is worked out. Loving God and loving our neighbors cannot be fulfilled in a church building. Ask yourself, is your church propagating an implicit assumption that you can live out your entire spiritual journey as a part of a church-sponsored or church-operated activity? Or is the emphasis on more of the discovery of every person’s unique call and the “good work that God has prepared for them to do”? Is the emphasis at your church on recruiting and finding a person to fill every slot or that every person has a mission and we need to help them discover it?
If the blink on your church is that it is more concerned about quality programs, then there is no movement momentum. But if they are willing to kill a program and put life-on-life relationships and the development of people first, there is movementum.
This post is an excerpt from my new book with Alan Hirsch, On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church
I have been back from the 2011 Exponential Conference for a week and I have been thinking about what makes this conference so special. The production is good, but not as good as some. The speaker line-up is good, an
Every year God sends more people to COMMUNITY than the year before. Every Easter God has been kind enough to trust us with more people than the year before. This year for the first time we had more than 10,000 people that celebrated Easter at COMMUNITY. Because of personal invitations to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers we had 10,319 people attend at one of our COMMUNITY campuses on Easter weekend. The following is a graph that shows our Easter attendance every year since we started COMMUNITY.
I know numbers aren’t everything and I try to keep it in perspective. However, I also know that each of those numbers represent a person. Each one is a person who God dearly loves. And everyone of those 10,319 are people he wants to find their way back to Him.
Today we are celebrating a “first time ever” in the life of Community! This is the first time ever we have opened two locations on the same weekend. I could not be more excited! Today we will be celebrating the grand opening of two new Community locations. Why? The Bible gives us this model and research tells us that new churches and campuses are the best and most efficient way to help people find their way back to God. I am praying and asking God to do amazing things at both these grand openings. So that you can join me in that prayer, let me tell you little about these new Community sites and their campus pastors:
The Lemont Campus is a dream come true for a group of committed Christ-followers from that area. So when Dave Richa (former Community StuCo Director) heard of this opportunity to be the campus pastor and help people find their way back to God in Lemont, he could not pass it up. Thank you to the Romeoville Campus for sending Dave and so many other families to Lemont. Dave and his team have been working hard rehabilitating a facility at 102 Stephen Street in downtown Lemont, building their team and getting the word out on this new campus. God is going to do great things through Dave and this committed group of Christ followers!
The Lincoln Square Campus in Chicago is the first of three new Community sites in the city. Many individuals and families have relocated from the suburbs to Chicago to help make this campus a reality. Tammy Melchien, who has been a senior leader in many positions at Community will serve as the Campus Pastor. Tammy and her team have been busy preparing the Chappell Elementary School for the many new people who will come to church for the first time, building their launch team, praying and putting out door hangers to let the people know Community is ready to launch in Lincoln Square. God is already at work here and I’m excited to see what happens this weeks, months and years to come.
II Corinthians 9:6 tells us, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously.” This truth not only applies to people, but also to churches. I believe that one of the reasons that God has been so generous with COMMUNITY is because COMMUNITY has strived to be a generous church. For the fourth year in a row COMMUNITY set aside a weekend where everything that comes in we gave away to the “4 Teams.” We call this weekend Celebration Generosity and four offerings have been the four highest offerings in the history of COMMUNITY with this years total coming in at $533,500.00! In addition, every year we have lots and lots of people who give for the very first time. This past year we had 141 first time givers during Celebration Generosity. One of my favorite moments was this comment I received from a first time giver on my facebook who said, ” I gave at Celebration Generosity for the very first time, and it felt amazing. It actually just set the bar for spending my disposable income. It felt like so much when I gave, until I realized that I spend frivolously without even thinking about it. Thank you for the epiphany.”
This is a scene I will never forget. The gathering pictured here is our February Leadership Community at the Yellow Box. We have hundreds of COMMUNITY leaders gathered with their hands reaching out in prayer toward the launch teams of three brand new COMMUNITY locations: COMMUNITY-Chicago/Lincoln Square, COMMUNITY-Lemont and COMMUNITY-Huntley. Each of these sites are launching this spring. COMMUNITY is a church that understand that the only way to accomplish the mission of Jesus is through movement. God is on the move!
I’m not the only one who is taking the $2/Day Challenge. There are lots and lots of COMMUNITY peeps who have decided to identify with the 20% of the world that lives in poverty by eating on only $2/day this week. I am so proud of our church and the people who have entered into this discipline so that God could increase their level of compassion for others. If you participated I would love for you to leave a comment and let us know how it is going and what you are learning. Here are some of the reactions and insights I have heard from others:
- “As much as I want my comfort foods RIGHT NOW, I am grateful that I have a stocked refrigerator and pantry at the end of my week challenge. I know those in poverty do not. It puts a new perspective, and even enjoyment in eating the rice and almonds for lunch. It’s only day 2 and I am tired of my food choices. I notice this $2/challenge has me thinking a lot about myself first, before I am remembering those in poverty whom I am doing this for. I wonder, if by week end, will I be thinking of them first? Definitely, I will be praying for them more often and thinking of ways I can make a difference.”
- “My first reaction to the $2/Day Challenge was, NO WAY! I am already sacrificing a lot; I can’t do this to Family; we deserve to eat what we want. I now know that we can do this; I know I can do this, but only with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit!”
- “The other day I opened my refrigerator and I started to (believe it or not) CRY! I said to myself LOOK AT ALL THIS FOOD! If I removed half of the food from this frig it would feed several families in poverty-stricken countries.”
- “…I also realized how uncomfortable I became when my stomach rumbled throughout the day. This is a natural thing for lots of people who don’t have the luxury to grab something whenever they want. I also found out how much I missed the taste of meat. This challenge has been a real eye opener, and very difficult to stick to. I can’t even imagine how people have to live like this every day. I am soooooo thankful for what I have.”
- “I’ve learned several things so far: 1. I can live on a lot less food than I thought. 2. People who live like this all the time don’t have the benefit of knowing it is only lasting one week and how dismal that must be. 3. Tempers flare on less food. 4. Bananas are way cheaper than apples!”
- “I’m doing the $2.00 a day challenge and “challenge” is a good word for it! I’m doing it as a single person so I only had $14.00 to spend for the week. My first observation was how long it took me to pick out my $14.00 worth of food… One challenge I’ve run into in trying to stay true to the spirit of this challenge is the amount of “free food” we come into contact with here. Wednesday night at the Lemont launch meeting I had to stay clear from the food table; my women’s group that meets tonight always has snacks that I’ll need to pretend are not there and of course at the Sunday service, the free food and coffee will need to be avoided. Again, we take for granted the abundance of what we have offered to us everyday. On a positive note…my jeans are fitting a little looser!”
- “I don’t believe we had to go out and buy anything in particular to take this challenge. We had eggs, milk, canned corned beef, peanut butter, etc. My challenge has been that I have the onset of type II diabetes. This limits me to a very minimal carb intake per day. I mention this as I can imagine how difficult it must be for diabetics in these poor countries. They have to eat what they can get their hands on and can afford, so if you have something like diabetes it cannot be brought under control. Diabetics in these countries just have to have a disease like this slowly disable and finally kill them. Without medication and a proper diet, this type of diabetes will cause things like kidney failure, blindness and the like. Left unchecked and untreated these people would be sentenced to a short life span.”
- “I’m a fitness tech and I suggest green tea to many ladies because it helps boost metabolism and curb appetite. Ironic. However I couldn’t get past how much a tea bag was and how much less beans & rice I would be allowed for dinner if I had tea. <shakes head> Only a few more days. So many others don’t have that finish line. God bless.”
Today is day #4 out of 7 of the $2/Day Challenge. I told Sue this morning, “Ok, I’m sick of this.” And it’s true; while eating on this little amount everyday is doable, I’m not enjoying it. But enjoying it does not mean I’m not learning some stuff. Let me tell you a quick story about peanut butter and then a couple more lessons learned so far. I was out of town for meetings the last two days and I made the decision to stick with the $2/Day Challenge even though i was traveling and in meetings. Sue packed me $4 worth of food for the two days in a plastic jewel baggy and I stuffed it into my carry-on for the trip. The people I was meeting with ate out all three meals both days. And they at at some very nice restaurants. I was surprised that even less enjoyable than watching them eat was them feeling bad and trying to rescue me. They had good intentions, but it was weird being noticed for not having anything to eat. I’m sure there is a lesson there. I need more time to ponder. But one of the staples of my two days was a small container of peanut butter. And on the second day I lost my peanut butter. I left it in the hotel cafe and when the table got cleaned off someone threw it away. I have never missed a few tablespoons of peanut butter before. That meant that my next meal would be only the bread and no peanut butter. Ugh!!
So, here are some more lessons I have learned so far through the $2/Day Challenge?
- Food is precious. When you have only a little bit of food to live on, it becomes very important. I know that I’m using and re-using tea bags a second and third time to make sure I get everything out of them. I was really bummed when I couldn’t find my peanut butter. Food is precious to those when you have very little.
- There is stress and pressure to make the food last. This morning Sue said, “I’m not sure we are going to have enough to make it the whole week.” I could feel myself react with slight panic, “What?” It hit me that for parents in third world countries, they live with the stress and strain everyday of trying to make food last for their family. They may not be thinking a week at a time, but I’m sure they are thinking about it everyday.
If you are doing the $2/Day Challenge or have done something like this, what lessons have you learned?
I’m 48 hours into the $2/Day Challenge; this is a challenge that we gave to all of COMMUNITY in an effort to help us identify with 20% of the world that lives in extreme poverty. I think it is working.
Today I saw a Dunkin Donuts sign advertising coffee for 99 cents. Normally, if I saw that sign and wanted the coffee, I would buy it. But since that was now half of all the money I had to eat on all day – I knew I could not afford it. And forget Starbucks!
After two days on the $2/Day Challenge I have couple learnings:
First, while I am feeling grouchy, I am not going hungry. I really thought I might not get full on just $2/day. I think the reason I’m grouchy is because of how much less sugar I’m getting. It may be withdrawal.
Secondly, I am realizing that much of my eating is recreational. I eat for fun. When you have only $2/day to eat on you don’t get to do any recreational eating. You eat for survival and not for fun.
If you are also doing the $2/Day Challenge or if you have done something like this, leave me a comment and tell me your reflections or learnings.