Rethink Leadership Conference Day 1 Wrap Up

As many of you know, I am working to plant a church. For this reason, I have struggled with whether I should be at this conference or at the Exponential Conference in Orlando. I mean Exponential is a CHURCH PLANTING CONFERENCE. Plus, it’s in my back yard. I could attend that one and sleep in my own bed with my wife each night. But, I had made a decision and a commitment to come to Atlanta. So, here I am. Before lunch time yesterday it was clear that I was exactly where God wanted me.
That was the topic go discussion for the first part of the Rethink Leadership Conference. You see many pastors and leaders have a vision. However, as they pointed out yesterday, many lack a solid strategy for how to accomplish the vision. Here are a few soundbites from these first sessions.
Reggie Joiner
  • It’s not your vision that determines your success. It’s your strategy.
  • It’s alignment the will make a different in achieving our goals or not.
  • You can’t get everyone on the same page if you can’t get them in the same room.
Carey Nieuwhof
  • Not having a strategy is like driving a 12 year old Ford Focus on the German Autobahn.
  • Mission and vision determine intention, but strategy determines direction.
  • The reason you can sleep at night is not because of clear vision, but because of a clear strategy.
Leone Crump
  • Strategy is good. It needs to happen. But, sometimes you get to a point where strategy meets reality and some things have to change.
  • What is our unique contribution during this era of God’s work and will?
  • The church is a centrifugal institution. If you poor into those at the core it will spin out to those on the outside.
  • It’s your job, not to keep every person, but to consistently communicate that your vision has not changed as you change the strategy that is moving you towards your greater goal.
  • Culture is an environment you build around people, not information you give to people.
  • Balance is a myth. Rather it is a matter of understanding the different seasons in your life and ministry. When are your seasons of rest and when are you sprinting?
  • Ignore the wrong people in your life and invite the right ones.
Jon Acuff
  • The hardest part of strategy is that it forces you to admit your limits.
  • If you don’t have strategy the things that re most important get the rest of your time, not the best of your time.
THIS was all just during the first main session of the Rethink Leadership Conference. At this point I was already blown away. But, there was more. Here are a few thoughts from the first “Affinity Conversation”. This is what most conferences would call a breakout session. However, these really were designed to be more of a conversation. The room I was in had about 30 people or so in it. The speaker spoke for about 15 minutes, then the remainder of the hour was open to Q&A. Different from any other conference I’ve been too and it worked great. Here are some of the highlights from this session with Leonce Crump:
  • What is our unique contribution in this era of God’s work and will? (Ok, I know I repeated this one from earlier, but it’s so good I had to. Plus, there was more to it this time.)
    • Demographics don’t come into play until you first answer this question.
  • Are all churches to engage culture? Yes, on some level or another. But, what does that look like for your church in your context?
  • I want to you be you, how you be you, while we do this to the glory of God.
  • If you can’t be committed to this local church, let me help you find a local church you can be committed to.
As you can see the content was rich in all of these sessions and this doesn’t even cover the entire day. I look forward to the content from day 2. Not sure I have capacity for any more, but I’ll take great notes and share with you all.
Matt Norman

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What is the Rethink Leadership Conference?

I was just about to post a recap of the first day of the Rethink Leadership Conference when I realized that some people may not know what this conference is. So, I thought I would give you a quick description of what it is.
I’ve been to a bunch of conferences. Most of them end up looking and feeling very similar. Large numbers of people gather in a big room for the main sessions. Speakers come out and speak at you for hours, while you frantically try to absorb as much as you can. Rethink is different. Let’s look at how.
Senior leaders only. This isn’t about age. They are not offering a discount for AARP members. While there was a lot of grey hair in attendance, it is not a requirement.The Rethink Leadership Conference is a conference for senior leaders. It’s aimed at lead pastors, campus pastors and executive pastors. As a long term children’s pastor this would be the first such event I have attended. However, as I move from children’s pastor to starting a church this seemed like an appropriate step for me to take.
TED style talks. If you have never heard of TED talks do yourself a favor and Google it. TED talks tend to run from around 10 to 20 minutes. Sometimes a little longer, but usually 20 minutes or less. This conference was set up that way. Each speak was given around 15 minutes. If you don’t think that loads of powerful content can be delivered in such a short time I would again recommend you check out some of the TED talks that are available. I can certainly say from this experience that these short bursts of content were extremely effective.
Discussions encouraged. The brief talks were, occasionally, broken up with times set aside for Table discussion. The tables on the first day were assigned. This was designed to ensure that you ended up at a table with people that you didn’t know. The Rethink team provided discussion questions and table guides to help encourage discussion during these times. However, after the first session or too the conversation flowed pretty naturally. As I said earlier I have been to a bunch of conferences. None ever were this intentional about connecting people with one another and including time for discussion into the schedule of the conference.
Affinity Conversations, not Breakouts. Ok, this may seem like to just a clever, hip naming scheme. However, it really is more than that. The entire attendance of the conference was limited to around 700 hundred. I think only around 500 were actually in attendance. That meant that in these sessions there were only 30-50 people in each room. This was at least true for the ones I one into. The speaker was given 15 minutes to speak, then the remaining 45 minutes were open for Q&A. Generally it is the other way around the speaker speaks for 45 minutes to an hour and 10 or 15 minutes are given to Q&A. That’s assuming, of course, that the speaker doesn’t go over. So, conference attendees are stuck sitting there listening and hoping that the specific question they came to the conference or to the breakout with gets answered.
Final impressions. As i write this there are still a couple more hours of conference left. However, I can confidently say that I love this conference. The content has been perfect for my position as a senior pastor. The format has been great. I have always been one to seek out connections while at conferences. However, the people at Rethink made it so much easier to do. If you are a senior leader, I would highly recommend that you consider coming to the Rethink Leadership Conference next year.
Matt Norman

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ReThink Leadership Conference Day -1 Recap

Well, I arrived in ATL for the ReThink Leadership Conference today. It actually doesn’t start till tomorrow, but they had a VIP reception for those of us that got in early. It was good. I actually got to chat with Carey Nieuhoff. He’s actually a really nice guy. I mean I know he sounds that way when you hear him on his podcast or preaching or something, but he is actually really cool in person.

I also got to reconnect with an old blogging friend, Ryan Reed, and found out he now lives not far from me.

Anyways, stay tuned for tomorrow as I share some real info from the ReThink Leadership Conference.

Matt Norman

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I’m Going To A New Conference Next Week

For the past few years I have attended and blogged from the Orange Conference in Atlanta. I will still be traveling to Atlanta for a conference next year, but I will not be at the Orange Conference, at least not entirely. This year the people that put on the Orange Conference are putting on a new conference just for senior church leaders, the ReThink Leadership Conference. Since I am now kinda the senior pastor of Journey Church I’ve decided to go there instead. Ok, technically Journey Church is not really a thing yet, but it’s coming on fast and I am the pastor. Anyways, I wanted to give a brief heads up of what to expect from me next week.

Tuesday: It’s travel day. I’ll be making the approx. 7 hour trek from home to ATL. I’ll be picking up my good friend David Maddron at the Airport. From there the fun begins. Later that night I will be gathering at a special event for RT16 attendees. I’ll be hanging with people like Andy Stanley, Carey Nieuwhoff and others.

Wednesday – Friday: These days it is totally on. Full on conference mode. Drinking from a firehose of inspiration and information. This is one of my favorite things to do and I can’t wait.

Social Media: I will be blowing up social media with info from these sessions. Especially Twitter. Follow me @kidminmatt to keep up with all the highlights and some of the fun as well. Stay up with all the social media stuff from RT16 with #RT16. Follow #OC16 to keep with everything from the Orange Conference as well.

Cross overs: RT16 shares some of the main sessions with the Orange Conference. So, you’ll see some of the content from these sessions reflected in my tweets and bog posts as well.

Daily summary: Each day I will try to post a brief summary of all the great stuff that I learn and experience during that day.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, I am super excited. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I’m looking forward to being inundated with more information than I can ever process in a week. I’m looking forward to the sort of inspiration that can only come from a gathering of God’s people. I’m looking forward to worshipping with 7000 of my closest friends. I’m looking forward to the chance to meet and learn under some of the greatest minds in church leadership. Heck, I’m even looking forward tot he long drive that get’s me there.

Check back next week to catch all that happens, here and in social media.

Matt Norman

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Book Review: 8 simple tools for raising great kids

One thing that just about every parent has in common is that they want to be a good one. If we are honest, most of us would admit that we could be better at it than we are. That’s why there are so many books on the subject of parenting. In fact a quick search on Amazon for the term “parenting” brings up over 180,000 results. With that in mind why would we need another parenting book? How could we even know which book to buy? I certainly will not begin to tell you which of the 180,000 plus parenting books on Amazon you should buy. But, I did want to share my thoughts on a new parenting book that I had the opportunity to read recently.
8 simple tools for raising great kids. by Todd Cartmell
Let me start with a bit of transparency. As I read the introduction to this book I read that the author was a child psychologist I immediately rolled my eyes. It has been my experience that many such parenting experts are what I would consider too soft. I had a psychology professor in college that insisted that talking to kids about what they had done wrong was the only way to handle poor behavior. There is certainly a time for talking, and there is a time for punishment. However, as I began to read into the book I found that this guy had some good thoughts to share. I certainly wouldn’t say that I agree with everything he says, but that is true of pretty much every book.
The problem with a child psychologist writing such a book is that they only see behaviors that have resulted in a negative outcome. For this reason they can assume that if a parent does a certain thing than it will always have a negative effect. That simply isn’t true. However, what the psychologist does bring to the conversation is proof, from their experience, that certain behaviors have the potential to cause a negative outcome. For this reason, as caring parents who love our children we should listen to their thoughts and, as with anything we read, take what is useful and applicable for us and set aside the rest. In so doing we must be careful that we don’t simply set aside the pieces that we don’t like or that hurt our feelings.
So, what about the book? Turns out Mr. Cartmell has some really good things to say. He breaks his advice into, well, 8 simple tools. He then breaks each of these tools into a hand full of tips. Let’s take a brief look at the first tool and the tips that go along with it. 
Tool #1 – TALKING
  • Tip #1: Your communication style with your kids is REALLY REALLY important. Not their communication style. Yours.
  • Tip #2: If you are not sure what to say, a brief pause can make all the difference between wise words and hurtful ones.
  • Tip #3: When you initiate a conversation with your kids, it shows them that at that moment, you are more interested in them than in anything else.
  • Tip #4: When you are an easy to listen to parent, your kids will be more open to the important lessons you want to teach.
  • Tip #5: When your conversations are like a friendly game of catch, everyone will want to be involved.
As is often the case, much of the wisdom shared in this book is not rocket science. In fact much of it is what many of us would come up with if we took the time to really examine our behavior and methods. But, somehow when we hear someone else say these things they impact us in a way that our own thoughts often don’t. This book is filled with that sort of wisdom. I will not go so far as to endorse every word of the book, but I will say that there is much wisdom that, if implemented, will make us a better parent. More importantly, it will improve the relationship between parent and child.
I will not tell you that this is the one parenting book that every parent should have. However, I will tell you that if you are looking for a book to help you be a better parent and improve your relationship with your children, this one should be on your list.
Matt Norman

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