Wednesday, February 10, 2010

‘The Big Idea: Focus the Message – Multiply the Impact’ by Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson, and Eric Bramlett – Book Review

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The Big Idea: Focus the Message – Multiply the Impact’ is a result of the observation of the team members of the Community Christian Church in the Chicago area that people are overloaded with so many little ideas that they are too confused and overloaded to implement the Big Idea.  They endeavored to implement – with the leading of the Holy Spirit – a plan that would make their church and their weekend services more effective for God’s Kingdom.

There are three authors listed on the cover of this book.  The first, Dave Ferguson, is the Lead Pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL.  CCC has multiple sites and a team teaching approach.  At last count, they had 11 locations in the Greater Chicago area.   

Dave describes himself on his Twitter account this way:  

Bio Spiritual Entrepreneur and Lead Pastor at Community Christian Church & visionary for the NewThing Network

The other authors of this book are Jon Ferguson (Dave’s brother), cofounder and Community Pastor of Central Community Church, and Eric Bramlett, CCC’s Creative Arts Director.

The authors start off the book with a provocative title for Chapter 1 – ‘No More Christians!’  They share the statistic that 85 percent of the people in the United States call themselves Christians.  Yet their actions are no different than the other 15 percent.  Real change is expected when people are truly following Jesus.  Dave explains the difference:

I am a Christ follower.  I follow Jesus step by step as his Spirit moves me in his community called the church.   When Jesus steps, I follow.  When Jesus speeds up, I increase my pace.  When Jesus slows down, I slow down too.  The direction, the speed, and the ultimate destination of my life are determined by keeping in step with Jesus’ Spirit.  Simple.  Clear.  Not Easy! (p. 29)

The purpose of this book is to present a church model - the Big Idea - that employs synergy, teamwork, and, most importantly, the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.  The purpose is to pass along to people the tools that they need to live out the truths of scripture and to accomplish Jesus’ mission.

The Big Idea (as stated on the back cover of the book):
  •  can help you creatively present one laser-focused theme each     week to be discussed in families and small groups
  • shows you how to engage in a process of creative collaboration that brings people together and maximizes missional impact
  • can energize a church staff and bring alignment and focus to many diverse church ministries

Dave explains it this way:

….I’m farther ahead to give them [his children] one task, ask them to check in with me once it’s finished, then give them the next task.  This is the Big Idea approach.  It provides clarity and produces action….  [W]hat we want is to challenge our people with the truth of God’s Word and insist that it be lived out missionally. (p. 22)

The book goes into great detail to explain how Community Christian Church implements this Big Idea approach.  Teamwork, brainstorming, and advanced planning are of high significance.  Wonderful results that emerge for the team are collaboration, humility, trust, fun, competition and “yes.”    

The aspect that was particularly intriguing to me is to ‘lead with a “yes.”’   Dave elaborates:

Leading with a yes is an important part of the implicit curriculum that makes the Big Idea process work.  The “yes” mindset gives outrageous, seemingly impossible ideas a chance to live and breathe and sometimes be implemented in whole or in part.  The “no” mindset refuses to give any outside-the-box idea a chance to live and stifles innovation and creative collaboration. (p. 180)     

I found the Big Idea approach to be very creative and innovative.  In imaging/picturing the process which they employ, and seeing how innovative they are, I am guessing they are employing  Google Wave; it seems like it would be the perfect application for the Big Idea!
In thinking further about the process, I wonder if the extrovert personality is more comfortable with the team approach than the introvert (in terms of the sharing their thoughts with the group).  The approach seems to be very nurturing, so I imagine all personalities feel comfortable in expressing their ideas. 

Although I am not in full-time ministry, I am involved with several ministries at the church which I attend.  One of the ministries is the Creative Arts Team; I am on the Video Tech team.  I plan on passing along what I have learned through this book to leadership team, with the objective to make our church more effective – more fun and perhaps a little less stressful!  

I was so pleased to see the emphasis on God’s leading and the Holy’s Spirit’s direction.  So many churches seem to be run by charismatic pastors who have large egos and chart their own course - and build a church that is man-made, with God being an afterthought.  Dave acknowledges that the approach may seem unconventional and unwieldy to some:

….so far we consistently find ourselves responding to the Spirit’s leading.  It feels risky and sometimes disorganized.  But it’s just as Jesus told his disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8) (p. 188)   

Dave closes the book with this memory of a conversation he had with a successful entrepreneur named Larry.  Early in Dave’s ministry, Larry asked him: “So, Dave, what is the dream?  If you could do anything, what would you do?”  When Dave shared his lofty goal, Larry’s response was “You can do it!”  Dave shared his reaction:

For me, everything changed in that moment.  How powerful it was to have someone look me in the eye and listen to my heartfelt dream and then say with absolute confidence. “You can do it!”

I found this book’s approach to be very creative, innovative, and inspirational.  The Big Idea has been successfully implemented so far and will continue to impact the mission of the church - to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  I appreciated the heart for the lost that is very evident in the team members of this wonderful church.   

The next book by the Community Christian Church team is ‘Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement (Exponential Series),’ by Dave and Jon Ferguson, which will release on May 1, 2010.  I look forward to reading more about their innovative – and biblically sound – ideas.

This book was generously provided to me by Dave Ferguson for review purposes.

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