Tag Archives: Followup

remembering three words 8 ways

Some of us created lists of three words at the beginning of the year. But how do you remember them? Because it’s Tuesday and February, I figured we could all use a reminder about reminding ourselves.  (See Chris Brogan’s post on three words for 2009 for background.)

1. Create a wordle (wordle.net) of the three words and other words that matter to you. If you type the three words multiple times, they show up bigger. If I were good, I’d provide a wordle tutorial, but I’m not that good. (Besides, there is this issue of focus that I’m working on).

2. Let other people know your three words. They can help you find material or ideas or accountability. For example, I have a guy in Texas feeding me ideas and asking how I’m doing. (Thanks, Tim).

3. Explore your three words regularly. I’m doing it here at the Levite Chronicles. In fact, if you look back through my posts this year, you will find regular links to focus and to deliberate practice. Singing is my own problem and I’m not writing about it.

4.  Find opportunities to talk about your words in other settings. For example, I had the opportunity to do some training. I had my choice of topic. Of course I picked deliberate practice. The more we become our own experts on our own words, the more likely we are to do what we wanted to do.

5. Be willing to change your words. So your three words for the year become your three words for six weeks and then two of them change. Big deal. You are adjusting.

6. Write summaries of your progress. Whether in your blog or in a journal or using a Sharpie on your bathroom mirror, let yourself know that you are working on this list. You’ll be more likely to trust yourself in the future if you are holding yourself accountable to yourself for encouragement as well as criticism.

7. Lighten up.

8. On your calendar for April 22, write “three words review.” That way, after Easter, after spring break, around the equinox, you’ll have a reminder to think through what you are doing.

So, do you remember your three words?


Teaching as a performance – TNS part 3

I’m involved with people trying to make a difference, people trying to help people grow.

I watch people teach lessons, tell stories, give sermons and speeches. I help people plan events, whether church services or training seminars or concerts. I spend time talking in small groups or individually with people who are wanting to understand how to sense of stuff, whether computers or relationships or life or God.

You do too.

We know that it’s important to consider the next sentence, the sentence after the great illustration, the followup after the great event. The last two posts have been about the idea of the next sentence. I talked about where the idea came from and then told you about a recent instance of forgetting the idea.

The next two posts in this series are going to talk about why we neglect to plan the next sentence, the next step.

Reasons we forget: Teaching as a performance

There is always a performing component to teaching. There is something about a group that sparks something. But if we look at teaching as a performance, we are in trouble.

When you are giving a performance, you are playing a role. You turn it on, you turn it off. You memorize the lines without thinking about them. They may not even be your lines. And the measure of a performance is, did I make them laugh or cry? Did I entertain them? Was it good? Was I good?

But the measure of teaching is, the measure of discipling is…what can they do?

There are times for performances. There are times for drama in teaching. But unless you are an artist, only on the way to something.

Where are you after you speak?

That’s one way to tell if you are giving a performance or teaching. After a performance you wait for the applause and go backstage. After a lesson, you are looking into eyes, providing additional explanation. It’s a conversation. It’s clarification. It’s involvement in lives. It’s…it’s….it’s….not just another speech.

Where are the camels?

I’ll tell you a secret about church. Many people only come to the building twice a year: Christmas and Easter. (If there’s a funeral or a wedding or a christening, those are exceptions). The people with that schedule have their reasons. The people who run church often think, “We need to plan big events for those two times. It will be impressive and chreasters will want to come back.” (Yes, that’s what we call you. I’m sorry. I didn’t make it up.)

The problem with that idea is simple: no one has camels on the Sunday after Christmas.

If the goal of gathering from Sunday to Sunday (and in between) is growth, then to have a huge pageant to entertain means that people are entertained, and then incredibly disappointed when there isn’t something entertaining the next week. So people come back the next time there is something entertaining, for the next pageant.

(Truth in advertising time. A couple years ago, after having written and then watched a Christmas drama based on a Cubs fan entitled, of course, “maybe next year”, I walked out of the church building and said to my boss, “time to start working on Easter.” He made me shut up.)

If you want people to grow in understanding, then the next step isn’t the next pageant, it’s a conversation that says, “here’s how to live between the emotional highs.”

“But what do you want me to do?”

So how do you avoid turning lessons and events and stories into performances (if you want more from them)? Next week, we’ll look at several ways to be effective with writing the next sentence. But I have to tell you something now, right? Because otherwise this post is just a performance.

Always give people something to do. Now. Right away. And then one to do in a day. And then one to do in a week. And then for a lifetime. Sound like too much? Chris Brogan talks about giving people Five takeaways in every presentation (and he comes close).

Some people need something right now. Some people need something for a lifetime. Speak to both of those groups.

So what are the takeaways from this? You write them.


Coming up next in this series, why fear keeps us from the next sentence?


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the next sentence – part two

We had a newcomer lunch. We wanted to have something for people who have started coming to church services here within the last year. It’s the first event like that we’ve had around here in at least 13 years.

It seemed like it would make sense to help people get connected, to find out more about who we are and what we believe.

We announced it out loud. We put it in our publications. We sent invitations to everyone we knew of that fit in that demographic.

We had between 20 and 30 people signed up to come. We invited a bunch of staff and a couple elders and the fellowship committee. We had 75 people. We had a great time.

And then I started thinking about the next sentence. I realized I needed to take a next step with that event. So I created a postcard to send to them with four questions.

Thanks for coming to the Newcomer Lunch. 
Those of us who are oldtimers enjoyed it. We hope you did, too.
Because this was the first time we’ve done this,
we would appreciate your help. Would you answer
these questions and drop this card in the offering plate
the next time you come to church? (or hand it to
a staff member or mail it in or attach it to a homing pigeon) 
Pastor Jon Swanson
Our goal was to help you get a clearer picture of Grabill Missionary Church.
1. Given that goal, what was the most helpful part of the hour?

2. Given that goal, what one thing could we do that would make Newcomer Lunches more effective?

3. What were you expecting that we didn’t do?

4. Should we keep doing this?  Yes No
Name (optional)

It was a simple card, inviting another level of involvement.

And then we started looking for addresses. And we realized that we didn’t have a list of the people who showed up. And we didn’t have the list of people who had said they were coming. And we didn’t remember to have people sign a sheet when they filled out a name tag.

We had a great event, we had people wanting to do it again, but we had no way to follow up.

Since then, we’ve been able to build a list of the newcomers. Our people did a wonderful job of mingling and talking and learning names and building connections. And we have already gotten back several cards, with very positive comments.

The lesson? Think about what comes after the thing that you are doing now. After this story, what’s the moral? After this presentation, what’s the followup? After this lesson, what’s the application?

So what’s your story about missing out on the next sentence?


Coming up next in this series, what keeps us from thinking about the next sentence?


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