Finished a great book this weekend – Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. HSM has been in a continual state of change the past several years – starting with the change in leadership to the opening of the Refinery student building to now the promotion of some of our key players up into church leadership. Saddleback was built on change, and it is showing no signs of stopping. Anyhow – the book, right?

I absolutely loved Chip and Dan Heath’s previous book, Made to Stick, and this is another of that same incredible caliber. Switch is all about the elephant and the rider – how different forces within each of us interact with each other to push toward or resist change. The book offeres great practical insight, clear direction and tons of exampls to lead and influence significant change. A couple great chapters in particular gave me some insight into why people leave when others stay, how to frame change so it is attainable and letting bright spots lead your change efforts. Brilliant stuff, perfect for what I’m leading us through in our ministry these days. So good.

JG

Over the holiday weekend I read through Pure Scum: The Left-out, the Right-brained and the Grace of God by Michael Sares. It is the story of a pastor who followed God’s wandering path for years through the birth and death of Five Iron Frenzy and the birth of a church called Scum of the Earth. Mike’s story is one of encouragement and solace for those taking the long way into full-time ministry. His church is anything from normal – Mike recounts the history, miracles and values of the movement they are working to create in Denver. His church is church without the usual trappings and traditions, but also without the angst of the anti-church-as-it-is movement. Mike sees a place for both, while fiercely believing all should be busy reaching the low and the lost. For a church planter, or someone wanting to be encouraged to think different about church, this book would be good reading.

JG



Here’s a look at HSM’s summer calendar of events (click the image to blow it way up). Couple of things that we’re trying this year:

Emphasis on low cost events
Camp is really the only event that has a price tag on it this summer – and we’ve decreased the price by more than $100 from last year. Most of the other events might cost a couple bucks, but probably not much more than that. The economy is hitting us where it hurts right now, so we’re making a conscious effort to go cheap.

Tons of relational opportunities
In the summer we still have programs (like our weekend services) but wanted to move away from more events and activities and head toward spaces where we can hang out, play, eat, relax, have fun and challenge students toward Christ. Programs fit us very well in the school year, when we have more time we try to kick back more.

Room for spontaneity and margin
We don’t have a jammed-full calendar this summer – although it looks pretty solid, not empty by any means. We have room for vacation, room for new ideas and get togethers we invent on the fly, time for plenty of conversations, planning and of course … getting ready for the big September back to school launch and small groups.

JG

Just finished up Seth Godin‘s latest book, Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? This is easily one of the best business books I’ve read so far this year – the emphasis is that the cogs in the wheel are infinitely replaceable and that creative artists are the real linchpins of the workplace. There were so many great learnings in the book for me – primarily that the art of relational youth ministry far outweighs the ability to get tasks done. You have two choices in the new world: be the best at something in the world, or do something so uniquely and specially that no one else can do. I loved the segment about “thrashing” and shipping products – how we’re tempted to process and brainstorm very late in the launch of a product and end up sabotaging it in the end. I want to be the linchpin in our youth ministry – what I bring to the table is excellent and unique that I become indispensable to the church. I want develop my team of staff, interns and volunteers into linchpins. Easy to read segments (like blog posts strung together) and super easy to translate to the church and youth ministry, too.

JG



Finished up reading Steering Through Chaos: Mapping a Clear direction for Your Church in the Midst of Transition and Change. It wins the award for the longest subtitle in book history – and it is a great read if you’re in transition. And let’s be honest, who isn’t? Even in a “change-friendly” church like Saddleback, there were great moments in the book where I nodded about resistance to change and the importance of early and strategic change to spur on more growth. Too often leaders are too eager to make change or miss the optimal window – both cause problems and division. One of the best keys in the book was recognizing the chaos that leadership creates when we make change, and how that is part of the process. It hits on a few familiar themes like authenticity and the leadership gap (with frequent nods to Good to Great, etc), and forges new learnings with chapters focusing on all too often overlooked prayer and celebration. The last couple of years in HSM has been nothing but change so lots to connect with for me, this book will help you navigate it in your church, too. Good stuff.

JG

Live Large Preivew

Want to read the first chapter of Live Large Shine Bright Be Different? You can (embedded above) right here – hit full screen and enjoy! I hope the book will be useful for your students – we’re giving them to graduates next month as a gift from our student ministry.

JG



Finished up In-N-Out by Stacy Perman – I bought a copy for a friend a while back but when I saw it at the bookstore recently I couldn’t resist picking up a copy for myself. For the uninitiated, In-N-Out is a Southern California hamburger chain that is known for fresh burgers, quality food and great people. The family-owned business is extremely simple and remains faithful to the original little hamburger stand. Went there for lunch with the team, not coincidentally.

Anyhow, it is a lengthy book. I’m a huge In-N-Out fan but got bogged down with so many names and details – I wish the book was a hundred pages shorter – I motored through it because it is quite the tale. Why are there crossed palm trees in the front lawn of every store? What’s the story behind the Scripture verses on the bottom of every cup? With such amazing food, why are they limited to locations in just a handful of states after all these years? The book answers all of those questions, and fills you in on the ups and downs of family-run business. It also pounded again and again in the message of simple. I love how In-N-Out takes care of their people, and likes to let their product do the talking.

JG

mY Generation: a Real Journey of Change and Hope by Josh James Riebock was the latest stronghold to fall in my weekend book-reading assault. Josh was our camp speaker last summer and it was fun to see his personality come through in his book. Relationships are key to Josh’s life – it seems like each section of each chapter focuses on a friend of his and what he learned about life and God from that person and their experiences. If you are a friend of Josh and were disappointed didn’t make the cut this book, I’m sure you’ll be in the follow-up – seems like being friends with Josh could easily land you in his writings, so look out! I’m not a huge fan of books that try to characterize an entire generation but really enjoyed Josh’s take on spirituality and faith through the eyes of the 20-30 year old community.

In light of today’s survey and analysis about spirituality vs. religion in the Millenials, the book feels timely and fresh. I couldn’t help but think about the book UnChristian as I read these pages, it felt like Josh was unpacking the back-story behind the findings in that fantastic earlier work. I especially like the chapters on community and authenticity, but the chapter on forgiveness is the best in the book. Just when you think Josh has it all together and is nearly perfect – he goes after himself with honesty and openness that invites you to hear his observations about God through the eyes of the next generation. Well written, honest, funny – I really liked his take on the Christian faith and life illustrated by stories from his friends of the Y Generation. A good read!

JG