Last Thursday afternoon/Friday morning I snuck down to the “Multiply Conference” in Colorado Springs hosted by Vanguard Church.  I’d not heard of Vanguard, or Multiply before, but when I saw that Larry Osborne was the keynote speaker, I wanted to go.  Larry is a personal hero of mine for many reasons, the top being his absolutely unpretentious wisdom.  The guy is a walking proverb for leaders.  Below are some highlights from his talks:

1) The “Magic Johnson” rule of teamwork, “for the team to be the most, you should be a little bit less than you can be.”

2) For your church to grow and reach unchurched people, your people have to be willing to sacrifice your preferences.  Larry says that most churches don’t grow because too many in the church have an unspoken agreement that their preferences trump reaching lost people.

3) Relational capacity is like a lego board.  Different people have different amounts of lego connectors, but whatever their number, once their connectors are full, they’ll stop connecting with new folks.   Therefore a church can be friendly but not help people plug in – all the friendly people’s connectors are full.

4) One Solution is to help unconnected folks meet other unconnected folks and allow your “friendly connected” folks to be “matchmakers” or “cruise directors” – facilitating connections between people with open connectors.

5)  High relational skills and ability to adapt are the top two criteria for effective staff and leaders (this point presumes Titus and Timothy qualifications are met.)  Any time we violate this proven principle, we have trouble.

6)  Artistic creativity is about “thinking outside the box” but often, the best organizational creativity thinks inside the box.  Ie, it knows its limits and finds creative solutions within those limits.  No money?  Not enough volunteers?  Name your limits and work a creative solution.  Larry talked about the move “Apollo 13” where the guys at NASA had to solve an oxygen problem the astronauts were facing.  The Mission Control Director dumped a whole bunch of items on the table for the engineers to use.  “This is all we can use to fix this problem.”  Organizational creativity dumps the resources at hand on the table and asks for a creative solution.

7)  Count faces instead of counting numbers.  North Coast is an 8000+ member church with 6500 of those folks in midweek community.  Larry challenged leaders to ensure a quality pastoral system where every person has an opportunity to care and be cared for by others.

8) (no, I can’t ever seem to stop wordpress from turning an “8” into a smiley…..8) )  For Small group size, consider “units” not people.  If the group is mostly couples, look for 10-14 people (5-7 “units.”)   But if the group is largely single, then look for 5-7 total people, as in a couple setting, one voice often speaks for two people.

9) The goal of deep relationship in a church:  everybody needs somebody who can see through “I’m fine.”

I also went to a couple of workshop sessions on discipleship and once again felt that we’re all grappling with discipleship, struggling to define it and process it.  Its telling that both workshop presenters had recently “blown up” their model of discipleship and were trying a new approach.  I think we’re all afraid to define it or map it.  Might post more on this phenomenon later…..