Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ingredients of a Good Catalyst for Movements #5: A Sticky Potential

A Good Catalyst Has “Sticky” Potential.

In the breakthrough book TheTipping Point, Malcom Gladwell introduced an idea that was so descriptive and helpful that it “stuck” with us. He called it the “Stickiness Factor”. His terminology became sticky itself. There are more and more books using the language. Larry Osbourne has a book called Sticky Church, and I have referenced the Heath Brothers book Made to Stick; each is influenced by Gladwell’s sticky terminology.

The stickiness factor has to do with the memorable quality of the idea, product or method that is spread in a movement. When the idea is so intriguing that it sticks with people—they can’t forget about it—a movement can happen. This is, pardon the pun, the glue that makes a movement come together. If the idea itself is not such that people want to tell others about it, then you cannot start a movement. You can sell products, ideas and even ministries with advertising and mass media promotion, but that is not a movement. In order to ignite a true movement, the idea itself must spread from one person to another and only sticky ideas can do that.

Chip and Dan Heath’s book on this very subject called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and OthersDie pays due homage to Gladwell for applying the word “sticky” in this way. They go on to examine all the traits necessary to make an idea stick; some of them (simplicity, surprise, importance) are already included in my own six characteristics of apostolic genius, but they also add three others that I think are worth mentioning.

  1. Concreteness: an idea can be solid to people when we make it clear, using concrete images that relate to life experience, so that it is understood and believed in instantly.
  2. Emotions: people must feel something for the idea or it will not land very deep in their memories.
  3. Stories: people remember stories, not facts.

The reality is you do not need an assessment tool to discover whether something is sticky or not. All you have to do is examine the way you feel about it. If it doesn’t stick to you it probably won’t stick to someone else. That said there are some things that are sticky only to certain tribes of people. But if you’re the one motivated enough to create something in a specific field and it doesn’t stick with you it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Of course the ultimate test of an idea’s stickiness is its spread or lack thereof. It really is easy to find out if it is sticky or not; just hand it off and see what happens.

Within Church Multiplication Associates’ history we have invented many viral methods and ideas. We found that the ones that were truly sticky we did not need to publish or produce in any formal manner. They were passed along verbally (usually diagramed on a napkin). In fact, we will not even publish an idea until we have seen it already going viral first. When we do see something truly sticky that is spreading on its own, then we will begin to think of ways to publish it and accelerate the process.

The movie Pay It Forward is a good story of a sticky idea that spawns a movement. It is the story of a middle school boy who is challenged by his sociology teacher to come up with an idea that can change the world. He does. His idea is called paying it forward. It works using all the basic movement principles listed here. One person helps someone else, but it has to be something important. Then the one helped, instead of paying it back, pay’s it forward by doing something really big for three other people. Those three in turn pay it forward to three others as well, and a movement is catalyzed by a simple, memorable idea that is a significant idea spread in small packages using natural pathways. The important thing that makes the idea viral is that you have to do something really big for the other people, something they couldn’t do for themselves. That is what makes the idea ‘sticky.” If it were just a little thing, like helping a lady across the street or holding the door open for someone else, it would be acknowledged and then quickly forgotten—it wouldn’t be sticky. 

Having a sticky church is not enough to ignite a movement. Even if the church is healthy and enjoyable enough that people want to tell their friends about it all they can do is bring their friends to the church. Stickiness alone is not enough; the church must also have the other attributes mentioned in these blog posts if you want to release a movement. That said, it is a good thing if your church is so good people can’t help but tell their friends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ingredients of a Good Catalyst for Movements #4: A Significant Principle

A Good Catalyst is Significant.

It is certainly not enough to have a simple process packaged in a surprising and small way, if indeed what you are passing on is of little to no value. After you have fiercely scrutinized your ideas to the core, if that core is potent than you have a significant principle.

From my point of view, what we are spreading must be important although importance is given less value in the increasing literature on viral marketing. Some write about the spread of Hush Puppy shoes popularity,[i] or an innovative vegetable peeler,[ii] but those are fads, not a movement. A movement does more than change your footwear; it moves you to do something or be something. It asks more of you than to just buy a product, but to buy in to an idea. It lasts longer than a fad and it leaves behind a lasting mark on society. This can be a good mark or a bad one. The Nazi Youth movement in Germany was not a good thing, but it was a movement that left a mark on history.

The difference between a fad and a movement is in the way it changes people and leaves a mark on the world. A fad, like a Hula Hoop, simply comes and then goes away. Today it is seen in nostalgic footage edited to reminisce about the good old days. Yes, you can still find a Hula Hoop in some places, but you are not likely to see a commercial for it today because so few are interested in buying one—the fad is over. “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.”

If you drop a stone the size of your palm into a small, calm pond you will see the water ripple outward until they stop at the shore. Within a few minutes all the energy is absorbed and the reaction is gone…the pond is unchanged. That is like a fad. If you drop a tablet of Chlorine the same size and weight of the stone, you will also see the same ripples come and go, but there will also be a chemical chain reaction that will cleanse the water over the hours. That is what a movement is like; it creates a chain reaction that changes things.

Many ask me if the organic church movement is just a fad. It is my belief that if we see lives transformed than it will not be a fad. If we just see Christians meeting in homes and doing the same thing they previously did in church buildings—or more significantly still not doing the things they didn’t do before—than we will be a short-lived fad. The key is: do we change lives? Are people so moved and changed that they cannot go back to the old way? Ultimately, it is not the missiologists, theologians or even the statisticians that determine whether or not you are a movement…it is the historians of the future. Simply doing church in a home rather than a cathedral is not enough of a significant principle to incite a movement, only a fad. Hopefully we are passing on transformative ideas and methods that will birth a movement and not just a fad.

While there are plenty of good ideas in the kingdom of God, I have personally found that the most transformative has always been the Scripture itself. How could we miss that? When we devise a simple process that involves a small group that lets the Word of God speak for itself, then it is something that not only can spread, but is worthy of spreading. I have found, working on these things for two decades now, that this is not hard to do at all. The Scriptures are given to spread. We simply need to place our faith in them rather than in our own ideas. Later on this blog I will present a couple examples of how the Scriptures can be the significant principle that speaks for itself as a catalyst.

The truth is if we have the truth, we have the most significant principle of all. As I pointed out in my earlier work, Organic Church, Sir Walter Moberly, a non-Christian educator, once said to us as Christians: “If one tenth of what you believe is true, you ought to be ten times more excited than you are.”[iii] We should ask why we are not seeing more movements. I suppose the answer would be that we are not letting out the most significant part of our faith—God’s revealed word!

[i] Gladwell, The Tipping Point, pp. 3-5
[iii] Cole, Organic Church, p. xxviii, quote is from Sir Walter Moberly in his work Crisis in the University

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ingredients of a Good Catalyst for Movements #3: A Surprising Proposition

A Good Catalyst is Surprising.

There is a problem with the status quo. Even when you read the words “status quo” you felt some disdain, didn’t you? Status quo doesn’t stimulate any excitement or creativity. It is the curse word of the new millennium.

The Gospel is all about transformation—change. The Christian life and the status quo are opposites. If I read my Bible correctly, any life that stays the same is not Christian. Nevertheless, so much of the religious world values “not rocking the boat” and maintaining the status quo. We, of all people, should be the ones who not only embrace change—but bring it with us wherever we go. Our reputation, however, is the opposite of that. “Religion” says, Godin in Tribes, “at its worst reinforces the status quo, often at the expense of our faith.” [p. 81]

To incite movements we must acknowledge the spot we’re in and then set off on an alternative course. At the risk of the obvious: to stay put is to not move. We cannot be a movement and remain in the status quo.

We must present an alternative that is surprising enough to capture the curiosity of others. In Made to Stick, Heath and Heath say, “We need to violate people’s expectations. We need to be counterintuitive…we must generate interest and curiosity…by systematically ‘opening gaps’ in their knowledge—and then filling those gaps.” [p. 16] Christianity is an invitation to launch on a mysterious journey from which we will never return. Our message should be memorable because it is not what was expected. When someone finds an unusual solution to a dreaded problem it is hard to forget. In fact, it becomes hard to keep to yourself.

The Gospel is a solution to death, not just eternal death, but a life slowly dying because of inescapable sin day after day. Freedom from the captivity of sin is Good News worth telling. And it is a surprising proposition that we are set free from death because a perfect proxy, sent from a loving God, died in our place and then rose from the dead! How could we not want to tell people this powerful and surprising idea?

It is a sin to present the Gospel in a boring way. Everything about the Good News is surprising, transforming and should incite movement. The Gospel is not an invitation to walk down an aisle or a sawdust trail; it is an invitation to the adventure of a lifetime! It is an introduction to a journey that will end with great significance and a life lived well. It is an invitation to an intimate relationship with an eternal God who adopts you as his beloved Son or Daughter! The Gospel presents the opportunity to have Christ’s intimate presence at all times and in all circumstances. The greatest surprise in all of life is called a mystery by the apostle Paul: it is Christ in you the hope of glory. Who can resist that?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ingredients of a Good Catalyst for Movements #2: A Small Pattern

A Good Catalyst Starts Small.

I am a big thinker. Some people assume that because I do church in a small way that I am opposed to big things, and that is vastly untrue. I will not satisfied until the whole world is changed and you can’t do that in a single church, but you can with many small ones. But the way to effect the global is to start with the microscopic.

Seth Godin boldly declares, “Small is the new big.” Contrary to the way we usually think, the way to big is really to go small. Of course this is counter intuitive. So often we try to make something grow bigger and end up doing less than we could. Jesus used the parable of leaven to show the effect of a small thing on a massive scale. He also often referred to the smallest known seed as having huge potential for earth shaking results (Matt. 17:20).

In his hugely successful book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference, Malcom Gladwell identifies three characteristics necessary for an epidemic-type spread of a trend, idea or even a virus itself: “one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment” (he calls that moment the “tipping point”).[p. 9] He devotes an entire section of his book to “the law of the few,” in which he cites example after example of how huge epidemic-type movements began with very few people. In fact, that is only how they begin.

Not every small thing is powerful. It matters what is within the small package. A grain of sand and a grain of wheat are both small. One has the God-given potential to eventually feed the hungry world. The other can be the catalyst to create a blister or a pearl—but only one.

Before we can change the world we must be able to change a single life. But we must change a life in such a way that the same life is able to do it all over again with someone else. That is best done in small ways that eventually affect the global. When you are looking to spread an idea virus by coordinating larger groups to do so, the whole process breaks down. But if it is as simple and small as one life to another, the virus can spread easily and each person carries the contagion.

A tiny microscopic virus is bringing an entire continent made up of dozens of nations to its knees in Africa—AIDS. This virus is passed on person to person in a very predictable manner but it spreads almost unhindered. It spreads because those infected have an internal motivation to continue doing what spreads the virus. In combating the virus we are not just trying to figure out a way to stop the virus itself but to stop the behaviors that spread it, and that is the hardest part, because it is against the natural drive in the people.

Why is small so big? Small does not cost a lot. Small is easy to reproduce. Small is more easily changed and exchanged. Small is mobile. Small is harder to stop. Small is intimate. Small is simple. Small infiltrates easier. Small is something people think they can do. Big does not do any of these things. We can change the world much quicker by becoming much smaller in our strategy.

In his book, Unleashing the Idea Virus, Godin even warns of moving from small to big too fast. [pp. 180-183] If you outgrow the viral nature of your idea too quickly you can corrupt the very things that make it contagious in the first place. You can shift from a viral approach to a more conventional means before that infamous “tipping point” occurs and lose everything in the process. Do not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10), and do not be in too big of a hurry to get past them.

Ingredients of a Good Catalyst for Movements #1: A Simple Process

A Good Catalyst is Simple.

Simple things reproduce. Complex ones break down and do not get passed on. You simply cannot have something pass on from one person to another and then another and so on if it is complicated. The more complicated an idea is the more people will feel like they are incapable of mastering it and will therefore not be empowered to tell it to others for fear of getting it wrong. There is a reason so many old Beetles are still driving around town 40 or 50 years after leaving the assembly line...they are simple so they do not break down and are easily repaired. In fact you may pay the same for one today that your grandfather paid off the show room floor. They have no power steering, power windows...power; but they keep on going.

In the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath, they also start with this most fundamental characteristic. Simplicity is not just about being able to pass something on. There is more to it than that. There is something very powerful about the editing process that creates a simple and yet potent thing. It is not just about what is excluded, but about what you deem so significant that it is included, that makes an idea potently simple. The Heath brothers say, “To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short is not the mission—sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound.” [p. 16] This process of relentlessly prioritizing solidifies something so important that it cannot be ignored. Seth Godin also articulates this in Tribes when he says, “The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on.” [p. 79] Antoine de Saint Exupery, best known as the author of The Little Prince, once said: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Sanity is knowing what to fight for. Insanity is fighting for everything. Cowardice is not fighting for anything. Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are worth even losing a fight over. Some things are worth dying for. I’m convinced that you are ready to lead when you are able to know the things that are worth dying for, and the things not worth fighting over. You will find that after you have lived enough to know these things that your message will be received by more people—your authority increases as you realize that this is what you know to be true and all else is secondary.

I recently had breakfast with a leader in our movement that was frustrated that others were less capable of casting the vision for the city-reaching ministry he started. He did not have a problem recruiting people to the vision, in fact he could do that too well (in my opinion). But others could not internalize the vision and pass it on to their friends as if it were their own. I asked him what it was that kept him from associating with a given church or ministry. What are you willing to risk offense for? What are you willing to be hated for? When you ask these questions you are chipping off excess marble to reveal the masterpiece that lies within the hard rock. When you get down to the rock bottom of you can state things with a bold clarity that others will not only understand, but relate to and be able in turn to verbalize themselves.

Coming up with a vision is easy. Releasing a movement is more of a challenge. A vision does not sell itself and become a movement unless it is something people can buy into and then sell as well. If you cast your vision you may get followers and draw a crowd to your work. But a movement is much more. In a movement it is not your vision; it is a vision all want to spread, because they have come to own it themselves—it is as much theirs as it is yours.

To get there you can’t just add more attractive things to the vision, in fact, quite the opposite—you have to cut out attractive things. When you can cut everything out but the most important core you have something simple and profound at the same time. Package this idea in something so simple anyone can do it in a memorable way and you have a catalyst of a movement. It’s that easy, and that hard. It’s easy to describe this, but hard to pull off. Most of us need to learn the hard lessons of valuing the editing process more than we value our own ideas. We have a vested interest in the components that are less valuable. We tend to want to slide some of our own cherished things in the mix and then the whole idea gets more complex, less powerful and does not spread. So the scrutinizing process also involves objectivity that is often at your own expense. That’s what makes it hard.

Jesus is the King and He is the one who has given us the message of our movement. And it is remarkably simple, so simple a toddler can understand it and buy in. The Gospel is profound enough that theologians spend their lives trying to work it all out. Nevertheless, it is simple.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Six Qualities of a Good Catalyst to Ignite and Accelerate Movements

What a catalyst does is it maintains its own integrity as it interacts with other properties increasing their rate of effectiveness without losing its own potency or integrity. In other words a catalyst accelerates a natural occurrence, without being consumed by that process. The art of designing catalytic ideas and methods is basically my role in our movement. I am an architect of ideas with catalytic elements to fuel the acceleration of Jesus movements everywhere. 

Through trial and error over the past 20 years, I have found that there are six ingredients of a good catalyst that ignites and accelerates movements. 
  1.  A Simple Process
  2. A Small Pattern
  3. A Surprising Proposition 
  4. A Significant Principle
  5. A Sticky Potential
  6. A Spreading Pathway 
  In the next few blog posts I will elaborate on each one. This is all content drawn from my book Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church

Third Post on Catalysts from Church 3.0: What is a Catalyst of Movements?

When I was a teenager we used to reshape and repair our own surfboards. We would apply the resin to the fiberglass and add a catalyst, which caused the resin to harden in minutes. You had to be real careful that you were ready to add this ingredient because once you did it would be too late to correct anything—it worked too fast. The truth is, the resin would harden anyway, but the catalyst accelerated the process. What a catalyst does is it maintains its own integrity as it interacts with the other properties increasing their rate of effectiveness without losing its own potency. In other words a catalyst accelerates a natural occurrence, without being consumed by that process. 

The art of designing catalytic ideas and methods is basically my role in our movement. I am an architect of ideas with catalytic elements to fuel the acceleration of Jesus movements everywhere.

I have found through years of trial and error that there are six characteristics of catalysts that spark movements. By catalyst, I mean an idea, a product, or a practice that catches on and spreads in a viral manner so that it suddenly blossoms into a movement, which is when that something is spreading from one person to another. 

This spontaneity is why the apostle him/herself cannot be the actual catalyst as much as the engineer of it. Internet marketing expert Seth Godin remarks his book Tribes, “There’s a difference between telling people what to do and inciting a movement. The movement happens when people talk to one another, when ideas spread within the community, and most of all, when peer support leads people to do what they always knew was the right thing.” He goes on to say, “Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate. They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.”[p.23] The tools, methods or strategies that enable people to connect together and pass on memorable ideas are the catalysts I am talking about.

With Church 2.0, we evaluated a church’s success by how many people attended and how much money they left there. Because Church 3.0 is a movement, success is not measured by how many people come but by how many go! We want to measure the church’s sending capacity more than its seating capacity. We ask: Is the message, the method and the mission spreading from one person to the next and then on to the one after that? For such a release to happen apostolic genius must be involved, engineering good catalysts that can ignite a movement.

The reason I call these ideas and tools “catalysts” is that the method may not actually be the cause of the spread, only the thing that accelerates it. I firmly believe that it is only the Spirit and Word of God that carries any true spiritual movement. Because we all have these potent catalytic properties, the potential of a movement is within each of us. Jesus understood this concept and even spoke of it when he used the analogy of leaven. Leaven is a catalyst when added to dough that causes it to rise (Luke 13:20-21). Only a small amount of the catalyst is needed because it maintains its own property and multiplies its influence without losing its own integrity.

A Life Transformation Group (LTG) is a great example of what I am describing here. It is 2-3 people that meet once a week and hold each other accountable to Scripture reading throughout the week, confession of sin and prayer for lost friends and family. The LTG doesn't change a life it only accelerates the things that do: divine truth (seed) in good soil (confession of sin) with a look toward other's transformation (apostolic mission). The system is designed so that it doesn't require oversight, or policing in any way. It maintains its own integrity as it reproduces to multiple generations. That is a catalyst for movement, and LTGs are found all over the world in multitudes of languages. Simple, reproducible and profound in what it brings together. You can find out more about LTGs in Search & Rescue (also titled Ordinary Hero).

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Gift of Apostle Catalyzes Movement

Taking his cue from Brafman and Beckstrom,’s The Starfish and the Spider, Hirsch in The Forgotten Ways Handbook, describes the apostle as the catalyst of apostolic movements. While this is right it is not just the apostle’s personal presence that is the actual catalyst within an apostolic movement. A catalyst maintains its own integrity as it interacts with the other properties to increase their effectiveness without losing its own potency. The influence of the gifted apostle can start a catalytic reaction, but the apostle him/herself does not spread with the movement. For example, as Paul matured in his apostolic gift he traveled less, not more, staying in one place for extended times. By doing this, he let others carry the work in all directions farther than he could ever go—and his influence spread exponentially, and much further than his earlier missionary trips. This idea is elaborated on more fully in the book Journeys to Significance.

It is the influence of the apostle that sparks the movement and gives it the wings it needs to fly throughout a region or people group. Paul even wrote a letter to a church that started under his influence (as its apostle) even though the people had never even met him (Col. 2:1). Paul’s foundation was laid without his physical presence being necessary. Hirsch does understand this as he describes the apostle as one who initiates vision and ideas, then steps back.

More than any other gift, the apostle delights most when disciples carry the work on to others, and all he or she does is designed with this in mind. The New Testament describes the apostle as a foundation layer (Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:9-13; Romans 15:20), which means he or she lays the principles down that will allow the missional DNA to carry throughout the development of the church. It is especially important to understand this quality at this time, when so many people claim apostolic authority, but in fact they expect everyone to be drawn to and directed by him or her. A foundation does not cast a shadow. It is not the most noticed part of a building, in fact it is usually ignored. That is often the response to a true apostle (1 Cor. 4:9-13). Not looking to be the center of attention, the true apostle wants others to be the messenger of the movement. For this reason, I believe that part of the apostolic genius is not so much the apostle’s own hands-on ministry, as it is his or her ability to get others to spread the message. It is not the apostle as a person, but the influence that is the true catalyst of a movement. Granted, it is near impossible to separate the two. 

Every pastor should be haunted by the words of Philippians 2:12-13 which says,  
"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." 
It is not just letting God work from within his people rather than from the pulpit that is haunting, but the idea that a church can be more obedient in the leaders absence than in his presence that is alarming. When we scan the terrain of American Christianity where churches are built upon charismatic personalities that struggle with succession when that leader falls, dies or moves on we realize that much has been built on something other than an apostolic foundation.

In these coming blog posts, taken from my book Church 3.0,  I want to describe some elements of apostolic genius that are the foundation of movements. I will present some of the sociological principles that reinforce the ideas that I have come to believe are necessary to catalyze movements. 

Please do keep in mind that I’m not presenting these ideas on this blog like some slick Madison Ave. attempt to create “buzz.” If indeed these ideas are sound than we should see ways that Jesus displayed the apostolic genius that would spread so rapidly and I am convinced that we do. We can see some of the ways Jesus Himself showed His apostolic genius by looking at how and why He initiated baptism and communion in His movement, because I believe these practices and ideas as well as some others are indeed the mark of true apostolic genius. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shifting from Drawing in Converts to Catalyzing Movements

In the beginning of his seminal work, The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch asks a profound question:, “How many Christians were on the planet in 100 A.D.?” He then asks, "How many were on the planet just before the reign of Constantine in 310 A.D.?" The answer is a lesson for us all.

In 100 A.D. there were as low as twenty-five thousand Christians.
In 310 A.D. there were twenty-million followers of Christ.[1]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ went from 0 to 10 percent of the world’s population in just a little over two hundred years. Then he asks the question that the rest of the book addresses, “How did they do that?”

A movement such as this is not about making converts; it is about transforming people into active followers of Christ and messengers of the Gospel. For too long we have had a different view of how to expand Christianity. Whether we take people to church services or crusades in a stadium, we have been trying to convert people from unbelief to belief. In the past we have been more concerned with getting people saved, but I am not content with that mission alone. I also want to have them sent. I believe that simply getting people to convert is a short-sighted goal unworthy of the Gospel. 

We simply must put more stock in the Gospel and understand that it carries enough power within to change someone from the inside out, forever. That change is in itself potent. Instead of trying to get people out of the world and into the church, we need to get people out of the church and into the world. As long as they are Jesus people, they will be fine in the world. Even Jesus did not try to take people out of the world (John 17:15), and Paul saw such an endeavor as foolish (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Evangelism is not enough; we need to release movements. The word evangelism derives from two words: good news and messenger. It is not just about converts, it is about igniting new messengers of the good news. 

For the next few blog posts I will be addressing the shift we need to make from making converts to releasing movements. The content will be drawn from my book Church 3.0.

[1] Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, p. 18

Monday, March 5, 2012

Common Questions: A day in the life

I recently put a blog entry up about a common question I get asked. It had to do with my reading and writing habits. Another question I get asked frequently is what a normal day looks like for me. Why do people ask me this? I don't know, but I answer it fairly frequently. Just three days ago I was asked it again. At the risk of appearing ego-centric, I want to answer this question. I guess now I can just point them to this blog. If this is not of interest to you you can stop reading at this point and find something more interesting.

Well, normal is not very normal for me. I travel quite a bit (about 150,000 air miles every year). So I will just assume that the question is: When I am home, without any special events going on, what does a typical day look like? Here is what a typical day in my "normal" life looks like:

Dana gets up before me. She's a school teacher in LA and is usually out of the house before 6:30 with a 45 min drive in traffic to start her day. I talk about a missional life...she lives one (no joke). I get up shortly after her most days (depending on my jetlag). I let the dog out, get dressed and head out the door between 7-8 AM, though sometimes I watch Sports Center and check the top stories of CNN before I go. I usually hit a cafe and have a 4 shot 16 oz latte (no sugar or flavoring) and a light breakfast. When I am being good I walk to the cafe (about 3 miles round trip). Today I drove.

Three things I try to do every day (not in any particular order):

I read the paper. I get the LA Times because it has better international coverage than the local papers and that is important to me. I remember people asking President Reagan which part of the paper he reads first. He chose the funny pages first. Not me. I have found the comics these days have run out of original ideas so I don't read them at all. I start with the front page. Then the local stuff. I scan the  Business section just to keep up with what's going on there. I save the best for last: I like to read the Calendar (entertainment) section and the Sports page last. I must confess, I am more interested in the Sports page during the Lakers season than the rest of the year. I look for articles that interest me and I just scan the rest. Most who know me know that I am very interested in cinema so I read reviews and keep up on what's going on in "the business". I grew up in and around Hollywood (my dad was in the business of making movies and TV shows) so it is part of who I am. In fact, my family originally owned the land that is now called Hollywood, that's how tied in I am to the entertainment world.

I read my Bible. I read 20-30 chapters a week and try to read entire books of the Bible repetitively. I've been practicing this for over twenty years and it is the third smartest decision I ever made. #1 was choosing to follow Jesus. #2 was asking Dana to marry me. #3 was choosing to read large quantities of Scripture repetitively. I would say that having my kids would rank up there but the truth is they were not all an intentional plan on our part. But I thank God for the gift that they are every day!!!!

I journal. I have kept a daily journal since 1990. I do not journal for other people, I just record what is going on in my own soul and life for my own sake. I seriously doubt much of it is interesting at all. I rarely go back and read the entries, I think it is just a time for me to reflect on my own journey every day. When I do go back and read entries it is helpful and maybe one day soon I will take a weekend and read through them. I find that the best authors do keep journals, so if you are an aspiring writer I would suggest you start here. I also keep a sketchbook because the best artists do that, but I am way more regular in my journal than my sketchbook. I've filled dozens of journals in the past 10 years (avg 3-4/yr) and only three sketchbooks. I find that I like to write my entries in leather bound journals, in script...old school. Occasionally I will sketch in them, but I prefer lined paper in my journals so I do not draw in them often. Every day I write out the day of the week, the date and the city I am in. I may simply record what I did the day before. I may record a dream I had the night before. I may write out a prayer or observation from my devotional. Sometimes I write out my experiences or the feelings I am struggling through. A lot of times I just vent and leave it at that. Once it is on paper it is out of my system and that is always a relief.

It is wise to study the world, the Word and yourself and that is what those three daily disciplines are about.

I have a few other things I do regularly, though not necessarily daily.

I blog. But I do that when I am not under a pressing deadline for a book project. To be honest, if I've got nothing good to blog about I don't feel the pressure to post anything. As many of you can attest to, sometimes I do blog even when I have nothing good to say. This entry likely demonstrates as much. Sorry about that.

I write. At least once a year I am working on a book project. This year I have two. It usually takes me 3-4 months to write a book (well it actually takes all the years of my life to that point, but that's a whole other subject). I am also working on some fiction which is a new thing for me and it is on my own time, so that is taking longer to get done (2 years so far on one project). I wish I was the kind of writer that Steven King is. He goes up to his office and writes a certain amount every day in the morning. I am not that kind of artist. I need a deadline to be more creative, and that's always been true of me in any artistic medium. When I am flowing on a project I can't just stop either, I need to have a large block of time to devote to the writing.

I can journal or blog anywhere, but when I write a book I have to be in a new location. Its a weird quirky thing about me. If I try to write a new book in a location where I wrote a previous one I end up thinking about the other book and it distracts my creativity. Once the bulk of the work is put down, however, I can do additions and edits in my office just fine. To write a book, I need to isolate for hours and even days at a time, so a writing retreat is usually needed. Since I already travel a lot I try to keep it to 3 days of solid writing and that usually gets a bulk of the work done so that I can do the rest from home. I always think I will get a lot of writing done when I travel but that never seems to happen. When I am speaking or training it takes all the creative energy out of me so that I have nothing left for writing when I travel. The only exception is on the outbound flight to a place while I am fresh, I sometimes can write in that situation.

I have meetings. I have a discipleship meeting (Life Transformation Group) every week for about an hour. I coach a few church planters each month (1/mo meeting for each). I usually am coaching about 3-4 church planters at a time this way, though I am a mentor to many more than that. I have an APEST team meeting (Apostle, Prophet Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher) about once a month that is an all day and evening meeting without an agenda–except to pray and listen and talk about what seems important to us all (I have had this practice for at least 15 years now). Oh, and we have fun together...that's an important ingredient to any good leadership team. Often people come to town to visit as well and there are always some of those meetings in any given month. I have a church family that meets one night a week in my home, though they get together for lots of other things throughout the week as well.

I do chores. Whatever needs to get done: Run to the bank, pick up dry cleaning, do my laundry, fix something around the house that I have procrastinated on for too long. I pick up the dog crap, rake leaves, water the yard, take out the trash. Sometimes I put dishes away, sort the mail and clean kitty litter...just the usual stuff that life is made of.

I read. My reading practices are in another post, so I'll try to not repeat it. Suffice it to say I have many friends who are authors and they send me manuscripts prior to publication. So a lot of times I am reading books in that way. I also purchase and read about 5-10 books pertinent to whatever topic I am writing on each year. Beyond that I read a novel or three each year and read whatever is getting the buzz at the time. I also scan and read a few magazines quarterly.

Time management. I have a simple time management system. I put appointments in my calendar with an electronic alert. I use an iPhone. When I am in the midst of a busy season with many demands I use a post-it-note (2"/4") with lines to write a list of things that need to get done. I prioritize them and put a due date on each. I check things off and cross them out when they are done. I carry it with me and stick it in prominent view. I find that this works better than an app on my phone because it is tangible and visible when I need it. It's not complicated but simple and, in a way, elegant. It works.

I usually meet up with Dana for dinner in the afternoon. On occasion we may do some shopping together after dinner. Afterward we head home, relax and go to bed fairly early. Friday night is date night for Dana and I when I am in town. We are pretty religious about keeping that. Dana and I have been married for 29 years at the time of this posting. I love my life and my wife and am grateful every day. Thanks Jesus!

That's pretty much a typical day in my life. For those who didn't ask and don't give a rip...sorry about this. Please disregard.