15 New Books I Recommend

It's the end of the year. And this is probably more than you can read over the Christmas holiday, but wanted to provide my current top 15 list of new books I recommend you read. In no particular order:

1. Team of Teams - Stanley McChrystal 

2. How's Your Soul? - Judah Smith

3. Designed to Lead - Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck 

4. Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss

5. Originals - Adam Grant 

6. Grit - Angela Duckworth 

7. Smarter, Faster, Better - Charles Duhigg

8. When You, Then God - Rusty George 

9. The Content Trap - Bharat Anand

10. Present Over Perfect - Shauna Niequist 

11. The Ideal Team Player - Patrick Lencioni

12. TED Talks - Chris Anderson 

13. Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

14. Living Forward - Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

15. #AskGaryVee - Gary Vaynerchuk

BONUS: Thomas Friedman's new book Thank You for Being Late

Young Influencers List, November Edition

Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here

1. Chelsea Crockett- actress, writer, and über popular You Tuber on lifestyle, fashion, beauty and makeup. 

2. Josh Surratt - lead pastor of Seacoast Church in South Carolina. 

3. Rashawn Copeland - OKC based teacher, evangelist, soon to be author, and college and young adult leader. 

4. John Crist - stand up comedian, funny video creator, and recent comedic host of Catalyst. 

5. Melodie Malone - Atlanta based singer, songwriter, part of the Passion Band, worship leader and door holder at Passion City Church. 

6. Sammy Lopez - San Antonio based pastor and ambassador/spokesperson for I am Second, and founder and president of the Ministers Initiative. 

7. Jenn Sprinkle - Dallas based designer, creative strategist, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the Well Studio

The Unreasonable Power of Discipleship and Community- guest post from Rich Birch

Here's a guest post from Rich Birch, the author of a new book entitled Unreasonable Churches. If you don't know Rich, he's been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. He also blogs and podcasts weekly at UnSeminary.com

How Pursuing Discipleship Created an Unreasonable Church that’s Reaching Disney Employees

Journalist Shane Snow surveyed 3,000 people with this question: “Who would you trust more as your leader? J.K. Rowling or Queen Elizabeth?” The vast majority would rather follow the storyteller than the world leader. The famous proverb reveals why: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” This saying, attributed to Plato and to native Americans, describes why the most established story-telling juggernaut in the world, the Disney Corporation, continues to cause parents everywhere to hear “Let It Go” 35 times a day.

Stories are ultimately about people, with all the trials and victories that people blunder through. The storytellers themselves immerse their lives into their stories; just like the characters of their stories, they wander down life’s unknown paths with doubts and fears. Who will reach these storytellers with the greatest Story of all? Only an unreasonable church!

A New Testament Church

Cast Member Church—one church with three locations in Orlando, FL and Anaheim and Burbank, CA—is one of the most unique churches in North America. Steven Barr launched and pastors the church along with leaders at all three locations throughout the week. The focus and vision of Cast Member Church is to bring a Kingdom influence to every corner of The Walt Disney Company—the largest media company in the world. The Walt Disney Company employs over 100,000 people in all of its facilities, and the majority of the Cast Members do not attend church anywhere, nor are they Christians.

Cast Member Church gets its name from the title which the Disney Company gives to its employees. No matter what job they have at the parks and resorts, the workers are all called “cast members.” Every employee has a role to play.

Pastor Steven had worked as a cast member for a season, and during that time, he thought, “It would be great if there was a church just for cast members.” He had forgotten about this thought, but it came back to lead him to this one-of-a-kind ministry. Pastor Steven set out to reach cast members with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he certainly had some obstacles ahead of him.

As he began efforts to establish the Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven spent several weeks meeting with church leaders in Orlando. He was trying to figure out what had worked and what had not worked from established churches trying to reach out to the employees at Disney. All he heard was horror stories of churches trying and failing. This group of people was so diverse and different. He quickly found that a typical church model was not going to work.

In prayer, he decided to go back to the Bible to figure out what kind of ministry he should do to reach out the cast members at Disney World. He asked the question, “How did it work in the New Testament?” He studied the book of Acts and how the Lord grew the infant church. As he studied the Scriptures, he recalled what author Mike Breen said, “If you plant churches, you might get disciples, but if you make disciples, you always get the church.”[1]

A Micro-Church of Disciples

So, to birth the unique Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven did it the old fashioned way. Trusting the truth of Scripture, his plan was to make disciples instead of planting a church for the cast members. He began this effort of unreasonable discipleship believing that as he made disciples, God would take care of the church. Pastor Steven began to gather a group of young cast members whom he taught, mentored, and discipled. These disciples, in turn, began to gather a group of people around themselves whom they also discipled. They named this network of groups, CommuniDs (D for Disney, or also for Discipleship).

To continue the growth of the Cast Member Church, Pastor Steven began to enter the parks as a guest on an annual pass (Disney doesn’t pay him, and he is not endorsed by Disney World). He connected with cast members at the Disney parks and hotels, as a paying guest, and engaged them in conversation. As cast members showed interest in the unique ministry, Pastor Steven invited them to the CommuniD groups.

The CommuniDs are “micro churches” of four or five cast members that meet at all kinds of times and places, mostly in hotels where the cast members can find a small quiet space. Some of them meet online. The CommuniD also functions as a family element, providing a secure relationship in which it’s safe to share questions and doubts. Once a month, all the CommuniDs come together for a time of extended worship, prayer, and fellowship. Pastor Steven is constantly working to grow the network and expand the reach of the micro-church concept.

Every new group is introduced to Life Beyond Imagination, which Pastor Steven developed. Life Beyond Imagination is a process which provides a way to share about Jesus without having the conversation shut down before the gospel even comes up. Pastor Steven discovered early on that if he told cast members that he was a pastor, or talked about Jesus, then the conversation quickly ended. But alternatively, he found that cast members were very interested in talking about their purpose, and Life Beyond Imagination uses that route to introduce the gospel.

The series of conversations use “Disney speak” to talk about finding their purpose in ways that the cast members relate to, using words such as “dream,” “quest,” and “story” to help them understand the significance of God’s Word and His gospel in their lives. Cast members at Disney World often have these questions floating around in their heads: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” “What does it even matter?” These issues open up the opportunity to share their purpose in Christ. In the process of introducing Christ, the lessons teach that each cast member has a purpose, but they have been separated from the One that gave them purpose. At their micro-church meetings, group leaders work with their CommuniD groups through this process of understanding their purpose in life and how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to them.

To read more about Cast Member Church and stories of other UNREASONABLE CHURCHES, visit http://www.UnreasonableChurches.com


Rich Birch has been involved in church leadership for over 20 years. Early on he had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,500 people in 6 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, as well as on the Lead Team at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing communities of New Jersey.

Rich speaks at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. He's a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, ChurchLeaders.com and MinistryBriefing. He's honored to blog and podcast weekly at unSeminary.com

Rich is married to Christine and together they parent two wonderful teens, Haley and Hunter. Collectively they try to keep their dog, Rory, from chewing everything that lands on the floor.

Young Influencers List, October Edition

Here you go, the October edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here

1. Meighan Stone - president of Malala Fund, speaker with Propel Women, and previously vp of communications at World Food Programme USA.  

2. Stan Johnson - Atlanta based producer at World 50, singer, songwriter, road manager, and hype man. 

3. Melody Moody - founder of JOYN, an India based fair trade company, providing opportunity and changing lives through fashion. 

4. Nick Runyon - US director for Christian Vision, a UK based global evangelization project. 

5. John McCann - New Orleans based founder of soon to launch fashion and lifestyle brand Nave, along with serving at Vintage Church

6. Hayley Morgan - Indianapolis based speaker, entrepreneur, and founder of children's clothing company Wildly Co, author of Wild and Free, and founder of the Influence Network and Influence Conference. 

7. Okey Nwoke - program director at Catalyst, style consultant, and founder of Atlanta Fashion Tech Collective

8 Thoughts on Creating Great Partnerships

Collaboration is crucial in today's culture. Great organizations seem to always have a strong ability to partner well. Partnerships are not always easy though. Teaming up with one another can result in true synergy. Or many times can result in ultimate failure.

Here are a few thoughts on why creating Great Partnerships is a must for you and your organization:

1. Partnerships allows you to share risk and reward. Creating less downside, and potentially way more upside always make sense.

2. Partnerships create innovation, breakthrough and discovery. Working with others allows for input from outside your "normal" circle of staff or key team members.

3. Ministries and Churches have to work harder to create partnerships. Partnerships are very common in the business world, but for some reason in the not-for-profit world it's difficult to work together. Ministries and churches don't partner well, but when they do, it can be revolutionary.

4. Kingdom building. If we truly wish to reach our mission with the greatest velocity possible, we have to work with others. Achieving our vision and mission is much more possible when working together.

5. Good partnerships start with a deep knowledge of the other. Know your partners well before entering into one.

6. Transparency is crucial. Authenticity and honesty make for long term impact.

7. Strength/Strength. Build partnerships on each other's strengths, not necessarily on trying to improve a weakness.

8. Good fences make for good partnerships. Many times we don't take time to spell out all the details of a partnership in full disclosure. It is crucial to put everything on paper, in an agreement, and make sure all the details are spelled out.