My friend Steve Barnett who runs St Andrew’s Bookshop has asked me to put together my top ten recommended books on Leadership. This is very hard! There are more books on leadership than anything other than romantic fiction. Thankfully as I never read the latter I have lots of time to spend on the former, so here goes (these are just Christian ones, when I teach on Transformational Leadership at Westminster Theological Centre I have many more eclectic, business focused and academic suggestions for students too). I’d love to know which ones you would add to the list? Leadership Axioms Bill Hybels Willow Creek’s founder distils decades of leadership at the sharp end on issues such as envisioning others, people skills, financing the dream and releasing the power of everyone. My favourite axiom? ‘Don’t say anybody else’s no for them.’ 76 short chapters to dip in and out of over and over again. Down to earth and actionable – itself a model for leaders and communicators. The 360 Degree Leader John Maxwell I was going to say I’ve read everything Maxwell […]

BE A BOTH/AND CHURCH – Dave Smith (Kingsgate)

Face the challenge – and seize the opportunity. How? Hold together attractional and missional Both/and Come and see and Go and share church From the outside in AND Equip to go from the inside out. Because we want to see the multitudes around us saved! COME AND SEE This isn’t new and invented by Willow Creek! It’s in the OT. Isaiah 2. The mountain of the Lord that many peoples come to it! Direction there = outside in. Temple, tabernacle. Jesus, the Word became flesh – tabernacle among us. So – ‘Come and see’ is there in the gospel. Jesus is the living temple. Acts 2, and 11. Multitudes converted to the new temple – US! Living stones. We have to rediscover the wonder of gathering as God’s people and increase our expectation of what can happen when people ‘come and see’ a church alive! Full of the presence of the living God in the gathering. This needs INVITATION. Someone bold enough to say ‘Come and see.’ We want to be part of God building something that people come and see. […]

How To REALLY Change The World?

I love a good TED talk and this one is awesome – you have to click on the link up there or here.  It turns so much of how we think about changing the world through charities and non profits (including the church!) on its head. Or perhaps the right way round? There are some very challenging thoughts from Dan Pollotta here. but I found myself saying “YES! YES! YES!” at various points. Here are my favourite quotes – what do you think? “People are weary of being asked to do the least they can possibly do, people are yearning to measure the full distance of their potential on behalf of the causes they care about deeply. But they have to be asked.” “When you prohibit failure you kill innovation.”  “We confuse morality with frugality.”  “Our generation does not want our epitaph to read, ‘We kept overheads low…. we want it to read that we changed the world.”  “Next time you look at a charity don’t look at the rate of their overhead, ask about the scale of their dreams.”

The Most Hated Machine At The Gym – Measures To Motivate

I started my talk at the LAUNCH conference by talking about this machine. Two years ago, overweight and with blood pressure on the rise, I stepped on it and held the handles. There are lots of machines in the gym but I hated this one, because the readings were not pretty. I was 50 but the machine said I had the body of a 51 year old. What do you do? Resign yourself to the inevitable? Go to the cafe at the gym and buy a donut? Resolve to never go on that machine again? Or – CHANGE. I stopped some things, and I started some things. That’s a strategy. Dietary changes. I got coached toward a new exercise plan – and worked it. I stopped drinking alcohol (that’s a lot of sugar!). I drink a lot of water. This changed my results. I went on the machine today. 2 years on, my ‘metabolic age’ is 36. If I carry on, in a few years time I’ll be 21!  Maybe not. But with all the hard work of the conference […]

5 Keys To Lead Yourself And Others – Floyd Woodrow TEDx Video; Skills Of Leadership

Before we’re even 2 minutes into this TedX talk, Floyd Woodrow starts to unpack the 5 key virtues leaders need to unleash potential. There’s so much packed into this, imagine how much you’d get out of a day being coached by this incredible leader? I just got off the phone with this former SAS Major to discuss the training days he is doing for us and I was so excited to be planning ‘The Warrior, The Strategist And You’ event here in Manchester’s Hotel Football event on 2nd December. Take one day before this year ends for you and your team to get the direction and map you need and the action steps that will take you forward into 2018 and beyond! The whole of Ivy’s leadership is booked in so we can plan how we move forward together and I‘d love you to join us. This event is not a ‘religious’ thing but open and accessible to everyone wherever you want to lead, and whether you or your guest would describe yourself as a person of faith. Lunch provided – […]

I’m Teaching – About Preaching

The preaching class at my theological college ended with an Egyptian monk called George telling me, ‘If God could speak through the mouth of a donkey I suppose he can use you.’ Since then I’ve read thousands of books and learned from everyone I can on public speaking and preaching, because I always want to get better at something so important! The Bible says not many people should step up to be a teacher, because we’ll be subject to a stricter judgement. How much more for if you presume to teach others to do it! Despite that, the Ivy staff team have asked me to put together some teaching to help them to preach. I might do more than one of there’s a good turn out, and this one’s open to all not just Ivy people. 7.30pm 24th November at Ivy Didsbury I’ll also touch on how to lead services well, and a lot of what I say will help anyone in business who has to stand up and present. I’ll have fun talking about something I love – you’re […]

One Mission (Book Summary – my leadership ‘must read’ this year)

One Mission is my ‘must read’ leadership book so far for 2017. It follows straight on from another great book (Team of Teams) by the guy who wrote the Foreword – Gen Stanley McChrystal. I read that book and was blown away by it. Team of Teams documents how the Industrial Age introduced Frederick Winslow Taylor’s ‘Scientific Management’ model, which equated to Time and Motion/ Efficiency studies and Command and Control leadership. That used to serve us well when you were making Model T Fords, now – not so much (though its influence prevails far too much – for a crushing critique of how very unscientific that model actually is I recommend The Management Myth by Matthew Stewart). When McChrystal was placed in charge of JSOC, battling Al Qaeda in Iraq – he found that despite having all the men, the money and machines – they were losing against a far smaller group of insurgents in an agile, connected network organisation. The reason? They were efficient, but not effective. He was playing chess, while they were playing draughts! He had a hierarchy, they […]

You Can Build A Ship, But You Can’t Make The Wind Blow. Matt Chandler

My notes from a stand out talk from this year’s Exponential West 2016; At conferences, you see the speakers up there, like they have something special going on, and then there’s’ little old me.’  Like they have these great big ocean liners and you’re in your little rowboat. But that’s not what matters. We can all aim to implement great practices; we can try to build that a bigger, better ship.  But… we can’t make the wind blow.  We can gather, we can motivate, but we can’t transform.  We are so much in need of the Holy Spirit to blow that wind, in the hope that we move forward. We must not think though, that He isn’t a magical genie in a lamp that you simply rub and it will happen! What we can do is look at the place where the wind blows. If we position ourselves where the wind has a tendency to blow, it will happen. Amid the books, the conferences or podcasts we can all think ‘the Church needs Tim Keller, or someone…’ but he put Keller […]

Time To Go Can Be Your Time To Grow!

Today I got TWO letters of resignation from two of our best leaders. Matty and Nick aren’t leaving because they don’t want to be at Ivy (they’re not even leaving Ivy, they’ll still be part of the church). The letters were expected, because we’ve talked at length about where they’re at and what God’s calling them out of – and into. Both have a different path ahead of them, but what’s common is that it will always all be about Jesus. Someone asked me recently, ‘What’s Ivy’s biggest challenge?’ I said, ‘When you tell people they can go and change the world for Jesus, they start to believe you – and go and do it.’ Ivy’s that kind of a place and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is why we need to keep raising up more leaders. Leaders we invest in, and hope will stay, but only as long as they should. Leaders with backbone enough to let go of certainty and not retreat into what’s safe – because they are NOT leaders. You can’t play it safe […]


As part of Ivy’s ‘Year of Equipping’ we have booked selected world class leaders to lift the lid on our leadership and help us all go to the next level. If you were to give yourself a score 1 to 10 in terms of how you lead, how well you steward your God-given influence, what score would you give yourself? If you’re brave enough you could ask those you lead to rate you! We aim through these ‘Equipped To Lead’ events to help those who lead at Ivy go from where they are now, to where God intends them to be. My friend Nick Klinkenberg visited this week to bring a wealth of experience having pastored various churches in New Zealand as well as coaching and planting across Europe. This really is a great talk and Nick’s passion for leadership that makes a difference and love for people just shines through! Make some notes on how to ‘LEAD BY VISION.’