If you want to bake a cake, you need at least five ingredients - eggs, flour, sugar, butter, and milk. Same is true for the cake of transformation.
As a twenty-year entrepreneur in advertising, learning, and communication, I've spent many years in the kitchen, so to speak, trying to help people change. I've seen many "recipes for success" fall flat. But I've also watched the master chefs really cook it up. This quest for the secrets of effective change has taken me into the halls of Harvard, Global 1000 corporate headquarters, and some of the biggest ad agencies in the world.
In all that searching, here's what I've found: the right mix of people, information, methods and technology has the power to create some pretty tasty transformation - ten times more effective than standard lecture, seminar, and small group methods.
Here are what I call the five basic ingredients of transformation:
Ingredient 1: Concise, relevant information.
In an age of information overload, attention spans are shorter. This means the answer isn't more information, but less. Anything that isn't relevant to the transformation process should be eliminated. It's also critical that the information be dead-on relevant to the needs of the listener. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 6:11, "The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?" That's good wisdom.
Ingredient 2: Short-form and frequent self-study.
In Ecclesiastes 12:12, Solomon said, "Much study wearies the body." I heartily concur. Even though I've developed the habit of reading two significant non-fiction books per month for the past twenty years - about five hundred fat books so far - I'm nowhere near a superhuman reading machine. Truth is, I get weary in about fifteen minutes. So how do I read so much? I do it in short, frequent bursts. I take "reading breaks" many times a day. Just like I eat five small meals a day to energize my body, I enjoy five or more small reading meals too. This frequent, short-form approach helps me digest and apply what I read.
Ingredient 3: Structured weekly group interaction and reinforcement.
When a discipleship group or small group gets together to reinforce and apply what they learned during the week, they sharpen each other. "As iron sharpens iron," wrote Solomon, "so one man sharpens another." Group interaction energizes the content, gives you different points of view, and helps you put it to work much more effectively than when you're going solo.
Ingredient 4: Monthly measurement and coaching.
A friend of mine is a Weight Watcher's lifetime member. "Every time we get together," she tells me, "we get on the scale." Without measurement, there's no way to know what you should be aiming for, and there's no way to know where you are in the journey. Measurement is a powerful tool for transformation. Without some sort of sense of where we are and where we're going, we're all just sittin' on the dock of the bay, wasting time.
Ingredient 5: Peer and group leader accountability.
When groups get together to reinforce learning and assess how each member is doing, it creates a powerful accountability that motivates us to excel. This is why office pool weight loss challenges are often so effective. Whenever we have leadership and peer groups holding us accountable to a clear standard, our performance goes up. We participate in a whole different way, and we accelerate our transformation.
My dream is that these ingredients of transformation find their way into the DNA of churches and small groups. It is sure to help them become the powerful transformation centers God created them to be.
Erik is the author of the personal finance discipleship system, Breaking Free: Financial Strategies that Transform Debt into Wealth. Breaking Free is like driver's ed in your financial life, a powerful integrated video curriculum that offers experiential learning, assessment, and transformation! Take our free MoneyFinder Quiz to see just how much payoff Breaking Free can create for you!