Month: July 2016

3 Keys to Burger-Flipping Revival

Growing up I remember hearing people say, “You don’t want to spend the rest of your life flipping burgers, do you?” It was their way of saying “You should do something meaningful with your life.” They thought simply serving people well wasn’t a meaningful life career. They thought I could do “better.” Well, I might not be flipping burgers these days, but my thoughts on this topic have changed drastically.

Check out Acts 6 (thanks, Caleb, for the insight). The work of God was going incredibly well. But there was a lack of the spiritual gift of administration. There were needs in the community going unmet. People were struggling because the gift of service wasn’t being utilized. In this moment, the apostles realized each one of us has a gift and all the gifts are necessary and important. So, they decided to choose seven (a number of completion) people who had the character and capacity to do the job well. The first person they chose was Stephen, who was “full of faith and the Spirit.” He, along with six others, were commissioned the same as anyone else, and given the duty of serving well. As a result, the world multiplied, many people came to faith, and even the shape of the religion of the land changed. The story gets better in Acts 7. Stephen is doing all kinds of crazy miracles and it says he’s “full of grace and power.” This obviously make some people unhappy and jealous so they try to challenge him with words. Stephen basically destroys them with God’s wisdom, so they got some people to lie in order to get Stephen in trouble. At his “trial,” Stephen gives one of the strongest testimonies of the New Testament and his life ends while getting to literally look into heaven, seeing God’s glory, and asking God for forgiveness for the people who are murdering him.

Stephen spurred on a city-wide revival, performed astounding miracles, had a heaven encounter, and walked in extreme forgiveness and radical obedience all well “flipping burgers.” If you’re in a position that’s “merely” serving well. If you get up everyday and do “menial” tasks. If you’re just flipping burgers… Flip on my friend. You’re more likely to get into the history books with “world changer” next to your name than you even realize. The keys to Stephen’s breakthrough are these

1. Calling. Stephen knew his job was from God. He looked at it as much more than a job to do. It was a life calling (Romans 11:29). He had vision from God to see what he was to focus on. Stephen knew who he was and whose he was. He knew his identity. Have you discovered God’s calling? Are you walking in it?
2. Character. Stephen had the kind of character that was above reproach. No one could call him out because he walked in holiness. And when the moment of decision came, Stephen had the intestinal fortitude to ask God to forgive the people murdering him. He walked like Jesus did and thus made a place for Holy Spirit to dwell (Ephesians 4:30). Are you building the character of Jesus into your life today?
3. Capacity. Stephen didn’t see his duty as something in which he could slack off. He did it was such extreme excellence, he got noticed. Everything we do is for God (Colossians 3:17). His source of power was Holy Spirit. He had wisdom, Grace and power. Are you working with excellence? Do you rely on the Holy Spirit in your everyday work?

I wonder if McDonald’s has any openings.

If this blog has touched you, please consider doing any one (or more) of these three things: 1) Share this with a friend who needs to understand how meaningful their work is. 2) Partner with us financially at The Aroma. 3) Consider serving with Aroma. We are looking for people who want to change the world with the radiance of faces turned to God as they serve tables well.


BAM, What are you?

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The Coffee Shop at Aroma is one aspect of business as mission, but it’s an important first step.  I’ve outlined these 5 levels of business + Jesus just from a few conversations.  I’m reading “BAM” the official “business as mission Bible, if you will,” from which I hope to gain more insight in the coming weeks and months.  What do you think of these five levels?

  1. Christian + Business: As believers, it’s our responsibility to re-present Christ to the world around us.  Regardless of our position in a company, we have opportunities to live as servants and show the world who Jesus is.   This is represented by the idea of being in and not of (John 17:14-15).
  2. Christian Owning Business: As owners of businesses, we have opportunities to bless our suppliers, employees, and customers in special ways.  We have been given natural and spiritual authority to be a part of fulfilling a commission given to us through the Lord’s prayer: in heaven as it is on Earth.  In particular, Joel Manby has an excellent read entitled “Love Works” in which he outlines management and leadership principles based on 1 Corinthians 13.
  3. Social Entrepreneurship: as Christians in business and Christian business owners, we should be seeking to find ventures that not only produce profit, but also have positive social impact.  I think of Jesus asking us to give water in His name (Matthew 10:42).
  4. Business As Mission: The fourth step of business as mission is to be intentional at your establishment. This is where you learn to outreach to customers, looking for opportunities to share Jesus with them.  I look at heroic examples, like Paul being a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) who used this opportunity to share with those around him.
  5. Kingdom Business or Heaven in Business: This is the epitome of living like Jesus in the context of your missional life.  This is where we learn to rely on Jesus for his insight into how to run business, do marketing, excel in management, and be successful in order to change the atmosphere of the community. Examples that come to mind include Jesus cursing the fig tree (Mark 11, it should be ready to bear fruit in all seasons and circumstances as in John 4:35), Jesus producing/finding a coin in a fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27), and most clearly the Lord’s Prayer – on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).

3 High-Impact Steps to Funding Your Business or Organization

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You need money for ministry or business and you have no idea how to start your fundraising. Today, I will share with you three steps that increased my funding by a minimum of 46% in less than three months. The first two months were spent researching and failing, so you can accomplish these three steps in less than a month and see better results.

  1. Live Your Vision. Too many people focus on the needs and the solution rather than the impact of the vision. Your vision is too small, guaranteed. You need to get some time with God and ask him to clearly define the vision of your ministry or business and how to communicate it. My experience started with a strategic assessment that outlined Aroma’s Vision and Mission. We answered questions like, “If Aroma’s the hero, what’s the villain?” We spent time praying. We came up with a lot of conceptual stuff like “creating spaces where people belong, believe and become.” But we finally ended on the good old mantra: Smell, Become and Spread The Aroma. You have to first cast your vision to yourself. Make sure you are 100% on board with the preferred future you’re trying to see realized.
  2. Make a Plan. Order the people and organizations that will listen into categories based on geography and inclination. Geography is about location. Inclination is about giving capacity and initial desire to give. An individual can probably give between $20 and $100 per month. A church might be able to sponsor $200 per month. An investor might look to get a return on a $20,000 investment. They all want to have something to believe in. Many people who donate and invest are buying into your vision because of a specific point. It might be the style of ministry you have or it might simply be because they know you. Find out why they’re passionate, and show how you relate to that. Prioritize your plan based on the amount of time you have, dollars you need, and other factors. Find out when individuals are available and when organizations make decisions. Sculpt an outline for a plan based on what you discover through these. I was able to zero in on 10 churches and a little over 30 individuals that would at least consider. I was in a church a week for 12 weeks and had several phone calls during the week. I created materials (prayer cards, email signups, products to give away) that were Aroma and O’Dell branded.
  3. Land the Plane. Develop stories that communicate the impact you’re making. Good stories share context, action and result. Good stories, like Sticky Ideas, are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional. Good stories talk about real people. Good stories help the listener to relate. Have at least 10 good stories, but repeatedly share 2-3 so that you get really good at them. Each sharing time should 1) cast your vision, 2) share stories, and 3) land the plane. Landing the plane is the most crucial thing you can do. It’s why the majority of my fundraising success happened in the last two weeks of my fundraising period. Landing the plane is going into each situation with a manageable chunk of your BHAG to unpack and specifically ask. The first few churches I went to heard that we had a need. Most Sunday’s no one signed on board with us. The last church we went to heard that we were looking for 5 people to partner with us for $50 per month. We left that Sunday with commitments from 4 people for $50/m and received an email the next day from the 5th person. That evening, I got on email and Facebook telling people we were within a few hundred dollars of our goal and we had 5 more people sign on. You have to be specific about the amount you ask for and specific in following up. Let them know you’re excited for them to be a full partner and you’ll be in touch by a certain time to see how God’s leading them.

If you will live from vision, make a plan, and land the plane, I promise that you’ll see drastic improvements in the work you’re doing. My final bonus piece of advice is this: Get someone who will walk with you in this. For me, it was Tailored Fundraising. I highly recommend them.

If I had written “4 High Impact Steps to Fundraising Success,” what would the last one be?

Is Your Org Chart Too Complicated?

What’s the easiest way for you to explain your organization’s vision and mission? What’s the most impactful thing you can do to help your people continually remember who they are and what they’re going after? How do you create clear delineations between employees in various departments, while also letting them see how they can work together and make the biggest impact in society? How can you help them remember what in the world it is that you’re trying to communicate everyday? At The Aroma, we are three separate organizations, rolled into one: a coffee shop, a church, and a missions center. How do we help these three areas stay focused on what’s important and create positive energy to achieve the mission and vision?

I’m addicted to coffee. I drink several cups a day and really enjoy sipping on a cup during each of my many conversations. Additionally, I recently started reading Visual Meetings and GameStorming. Put these two together and Bam; we’ve got a Sticky way to connect people to our vision and mission. I present to you, THE COFFEE CUP! Here’s a simple picture that literally creates the healthy Boundaries for Leaders necessary to help everyone achieve the goals we are after.  Our coffee shop is the cup, our church is the coffee, and our missions center, Envision, is the saucer.
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The cup provides structure. As it’s strengthened or even multiplied, we are going to be able to hold more coffee. The coffee shop’s job is to help people smell The Aroma. Our goal is getting more people in the door in order to have the experience of “good coffee, great friends” that draws them closer to Jesus. The church is the coffee. It’s organic. It’s fluid. It’s focused on making the smell, or helping people to become The Aroma. It’s free to move about and given structure and support from the cup. As the coffee gets stronger, its smell goes up to God first (2 Corinthians 2:15) and then out to the rest of the world. We want our coffee to overflow (Psalm 23:5) out of the cup, over the edges and onto the saucer as a picture of God’s anointing and unity. Envision is the saucer. It’s here for support. It’s focus is on helping the cup and the coffee to get into and stay into the right place. This might even fix a logo issue we’ve been going through.

Each area has it’s own special way of helping people smell, become and spread The Aroma. If anyone asks me how our organization works, I’m going to point to my cup and say, “It’s just that simple.” We’re on the precipice of something great and so are you! What simple drawings could you use to represent your organization’s goals and departmental relationships? Try sitting down with a few simple shapes (like circles and lines) or items you use everyday in your organization. See if something you come up with could help add clarity to the mission, vision and work distribution of everyone.

Start with Why

On June 12th, we started a renewal process at The Aroma. A group comprised of some of the leaders of the coffee shop, church and Envision are coming together for weekly times of prayer and discussion revolving around our intimacy with God, vision, values, teamwork, workflow, and learning and growth moving forward. Much of what I share throughout the coming weeks will be insights gained from this 90 day process.

So far, we’ve had a lot of insightful and even painful discussion about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. But the best conversation so far has revolved around our prayer meeting. We started by talking about why we have prayer meetings. Answers included “unity” and “discernment.” But, we broke out into a fury of interesting conversation around what our expectations are. It didn’t occur to me until the day after (following prayer and other conversations) that the biggest issue centered around answering this question: “Why am I coming to this prayer meeting.” Simon Sinek was right: you Start with Why. For us, starting with why had two main concerns that go all the way back to the first prayer meetings we ever did in 2008: grow personally, grow in community and grow on mission. This simple outline that I’ve used 1,000 times became a thorn in the side of many people in our organization. It’s because we confused our purpose of these prayer meetings. We actually need three kinds of prayer: our personal prayer connecting with God, our community prayer connecting with each other, and our missional prayer connecting us with God’s purposes for the ministry He’s called us to. We decided to find ways to integrate all three, but we learned a valuable lesson: you start with why and if you have more than three goals, you have none. Define one most important goal for anyting you’re doing and do it well.

Our revised prayer meetings are going to kill it in the goal they’ve set out to accomplish. We’re committed to connecting with God, each other, and the mission He’s called us to.

It’s the same with you, do you have any idea about why you do X? If you don’t know why, maybe you should kill it, like we did to our 30/90 Meeting.


Further insights are coming from 42 Rules, Your First 90 Days, Visioneering and other resources.