I shared this talk at Southbrook Church called #GOSMALL. It is based off my latest book. I share 5 ways you can #GOSMALL in your life. 

Limited Number of #GOSMALL prints

I took some of my favorite quotes from #GOSMALL and had my buddy Ashton Owens turn some of them into some great prints. We have 19 or so downloadable images that we are asking people to share on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can download a zip file with all of the images HERE.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Post image on social

2. Tag it with #GOSMALL and www.gosmallbook.com and each day we will pick some random people and will mail you one of these limited editions posters that you see below. 

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The book is available is out now! Click here to buy.

How to Go Small, Part 5: Life Is Not An Emergency

My new book I wrote with Adam Palmer comes out this week. You can purchase it at www.gosmallbook.com and you will be entered to win the smallest car in the U.S. I have 5 blogs I wrote about going small. Here is #5.

How to Go Small, Part 5: Life Is Not An Emergency

Slow down.

Move out of the way.

Accept the ordinary.

Little things are big. 

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve been spelling the word small this week. And so, as we wrap up our introductory lessons in going small, we add the second “l” to the word and learn that life is not an emergency. 

I’m borrowing that phrase from the author Ann Voskamp, who uses it a lot but I want you to think about those five words for a moment. Meditate on that phrase. Let it sink in. 

Now ask yourself: How often do I treat life as if it is an emergency? How often do I rush around trying to get from one place to the other? When I’m driving, how many times do I switch lanes in order to get around the next car, and then the next car, and then the one after that—all so I can beat that yellow light before it turns red? How many times have I rushed through the grocery store or the coffee shop or the wherever-I-go because I had to be somewhere

What would happen if you didn’t have to be there? 

What would happen if you scheduled some slow time into your day? 

Would the world stop spinning? 

Would everything collapse? 

Or would you just … finally … breathe?

Speaking of breathing: I am what many people would call an alpha male, so I’m not necessarily a giant fan of flowers; but I do appreciate the delicate beauty they bring to the world. Though I’m not going to learn how to grow roses in my backyard, for example, I will occasionally bring flowers home for my wife or notice them in the neighborhood as we take family walks. 

When you think about it, flowers are some of the most ordinarily extraordinary things we have on the planet. They make the place look nicer and smell nicer, for one thing, but then there’s all the scientific stuff we don’t notice—the business with bees and pollination that helps keep mankind alive. You know: no big deal. 

But while flowers in general are some of the best small things we have, there’s one particular flower I want to focus on right now, one that botanists have given quite the mouthful of a name: Selenicereus grandiflorus. I’m not even attempting to provide a pronunciation key, because from here on out I’m just going to refer to it by a more common name, which, in the interests of full disclosure, it shares with a couple of other types of flowering plants: “Queen of the Night.”

This is a fascinating plant. A species of cactus originally found in South and Central America, the Queen of the Night exhibits very interesting behavior, especially for a flowering cactus. The Queen of the Night only blooms—at the most—one night per year. 

For 364 days of the year, the Queen of the Night is just a plain old cactus, sitting there, doing cactus-y things like being green and having sharp spikes and being a special nuisance when the kids kick the soccer ball into the shrubbery by the front of the house. 

But then comes the night—the one night—usually in late spring or early summer, when the Queen of the Night stops being ordinary and becomes extraordinary. On this one special evening, this unique cactus will put out any number of tremendous white, royal-looking flowers during the night, while no one is watching, usually fully blooming around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. By the time dawn arrives, the flowers are wilted and withdrawn, gone for another year. 

We could look at this another way, saying that on this one night of the year, the Queen of the Night reveals itself for what it truly is. It shows its true nature. 

It does what it was created to do. 

The rest of the time it sits dormant, looking—in all honesty—pretty darn plain. I mean, maybe you have a thing for cacti, but I’m not a big fan of the look. There’s not much of what the majority of us would consider inherently attractive in a cactus—and yet, on that one special night, the Queen of the Night comes alive with delicate beauty and fragrance. This is the extraordinariness that was there all along, that we just couldn’t see because it wasn’t time yet. 

My favorite thing about the Queen of the Night is that it doesn’t bloom during the day. Ever. If you don’t know what Queen of the Night is or looks like in its nonflowering state, you could have it around your house for years without ever knowing what it was doing in the secret, quiet stillness of that magical, special evening. Even if you happened to get up in the middle of the night for some reason—to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water or to let the dog out—the odds are 1 in 365 (that’s a 0.27% chance, by the way) that you’ll get to see the Queen of the Night for what it is, for what God created it to be. 

Those flowers don’t bloom for us. They don’t bloom for the people who keep the cactus in their yard. They don’t even bloom for the wildlife that might happen to be around. They won’t be added to anyone’s garden or make their way into a bridal bouquet or into a centerpiece on the cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine. 

Those flowers bloom because that’s what God had in mind for them. Though no human would naturally see those flowers without making a substantial effort to notice them, God does see them, and He rejoices in their beauty. 

The Queen of the Night doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition from humans. 

But God sees it. And He loves it. In fact, He delights in it. 

The Queen of the Night does what it does for the glory of God, just like it was created to do. 

Everything else is just ordinary buildup to that extraordinary moment, when the glory of the Queen of the Night gets to be revealed for an audience of One. 

This is the role of that flower; this is the essence of going small. Life can happen on its own time, and as we slow down, move out of the way, accept the ordinary, let little things be big, and reject the notion that life is an emergency, then we are going small ourselves. And when we go small, Jesus can be big. When we decrease, he can increase. And isn’t that the whole point?

[This post is adapted from the new book Go Small]

How to Go Small, Part 4: Little Things Are Big

My new book I wrote with Adam Palmer comes out this week. You can purchase it at www.gosmallbook.com and you will be entered to win the smallest car in the U.S. I have 5 blogs I wrote about going small.  Here is #4.

How to Go Small, Part 4: Little Things Are Big

Slow down.

Move out of the way.

Accept the ordinary.

These are the first three things we’ve learned so far as we’ve learned how to go small. Today, we’re going to add another thing: we’re going to talk about how little things really are big. 

Can I let you in on a dirty little secret from the world of organized religion and nonprofit ministries? This isn’t usually said out loud in the church world—and many, if not most, church leaders may not even realize this is how they think—but it’s subtly understood that numbers determine outreach “success.” How many people “got saved” versus how much was spent to reach them. No one would really put it in this kind of terminology, because it sounds coldhearted, but it’s true. Many churches and ministries look at people coming to Christ as a return on their investment. That’s how they determine success. 

Once you write it down, though, the ridiculousness of that type of thinking becomes universally clear. Because Jesus doesn’t play by our rules or restrictions. I heard on the radio recently someone say that you should be able to share Christ with anyone in under three minutes. Really? This is how we’re representing the gospel, as an elevator pitch that you would use for your business or screenplay idea? People who don’t know Jesus are skeptical and want to see how you’re living this out, and they likely aren’t going to be convinced in a three-minute conversation—it may take three hours, or three months, or three years, or more.

Let me tell you—I’ve talked to a lot of lost people, and many of them already know the basics of the gospel. There aren’t many people—not in the Western World, anyway—who don’t know who Jesus was, who don’t know about sin and redemption and the story of the cross and the resurrection. It’s an integral part of our culture. 

No, what lost people want to know about is not some big, gigantic Jesus rally or whatever—they want to know how you’re living. How you function as a Christian in the everyday world. They won’t care about Christ if you’re a jerk to them because of their beliefs or their occupation or their sexual orientation. Or if you only invite them to your church’s Easter service but don’t ask about their kids. Or if you won’t have them over to your house for dinner because they might use a swearword in front of your dog. 

They want to know if you’re consistent. If what you do matches up with what you say. And those things you do? Those are the ordinary things that don’t make it into the ministry newsletter or get thousands of retweets. 

The truth is, everyone who volunteers alongside XXXchurch.com can spend thousands of dollars to go to these porn shows to hand out Bibles and tell people that Jesus loves them, and it’s usually a mind-blowing time of interacting with people who desperately need Jesus. The conversations we have and the seeds of the gospel we’re able to plant are genuinely humbling and magnificent. It’s impossible to go on one of those outreaches and not come away changed. 

And yet one of the most deflating things that can happen is when we come home and begin sharing the stories of what Jesus did in our lives while we were at the porn show, only to have someone ask, “So how many people did you rescue out of porn?” or “How many people got saved?”

They want a number. 

And the true answer—“I don’t know!”—is not good enough for many of them. People want to know results instantly. They want the numbers and they want them now. 

Which is the great thing about big, extraordinary events—you can get those numbers right away, and trumpet them in social media and on your website and in a press release to all the major news organizations. You can feed the meter and show a return on your investment.

But is that what Jesus did? 

Yes, Jesus spoke to some big crowds—huge ones that would get Him a lot of publicity and airtime today—but the people in those crowds didn’t gather because He advertised some huge event. Jesus didn’t buzz-market the Beatitudes or platform-release the Sermon on the Mount. 

Jesus did incredible, miraculous things during the course of His ministry—which was only about three years of His life, I might add. He probably spent most of the time leading up to that doing ordinary stuff like studying and mystifying His parents, but if you look over the Gospels, you’ll see that Jesus spent quite a bit of His time hanging out with His disciples. 

Twelve people. 

He went small. On purpose. 

And what do you imagine Jesus talked about with His disciples? Those guys did a lot of walking around from town to town, so they obviously got into some discussions. I know when I go on road trips, while I can have some pretty heady conversations with my wife or friends, usually we wind up talking about random things. Stories from childhood or fun memories. Quoting movies or singing along with the radio. 

Ordinary stuff. 

Can you imagine Jesus—during the all-important, history-changing course of His ministry—hanging out with His disciples and just cracking jokes? Or telling a funny story about growing up as the son of a carpenter? I doubt Jesus was a nonstop joke machine, but I also doubt He spent the majority of His time as the self-serious wisdom-spouter that we often imagine Him to be. 

Jesus spent most of His time interacting with only twelve people, and though much of what He did wouldn’t make the news, it changed the world. 

Nothing is too small for Jesus. 

Nothing can be so big and important that it impresses Him.

With Jesus, everything is one size fits all. And that size is the size of His kingdom. 

[This post is adapted from the new book Go Small]

How to Go Small, Part 3: Accept the Ordinary

My new book I wrote with Adam Palmer comes out this week. You can purchase it at www.gosmallbook.com and you will be entered to win the smallest car in the U.S. I have 5 blogs I wrote about going small. Here is #3.

How to Go Small, Part 3: Accept the Ordinary

In our quest this week to go small, we’ve now learned to slow down, to move out of the way, and today, we’re going to learn to accept the ordinary. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the concept of New Monasticism, but it’s a fairly recent resurgence in communal living—sort of a modern, updated version of living in a monastery or convent, but without all the separation from society. It’s generally a bunch of good-hearted Christian believers living together in the same house with a strong spiritual intentionality. These people generally have a rhythm of communal and individual prayer, Scripture reading, meals, and community service, among other things. 

One such community was fairly well-known in the new monastic movement. How, exactly, they became well-known is a story I do not claim to know or understand, but they famously posted http://thewell.intervarsity.org/blog/courage-ordinary  a sign on one of their walls that very succinctly sums up all I’ve just been talking about. It read:

Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.

A revolution? That’s the type of big thing people like me—and maybe even you—are looking for, are trying to bring about. We’re hoping for a revolution of God’s love and grace to envelop the world with the wonderful message of Jesus’ sacrifice and redemption. That a better, more fulfilling, more peaceful and wonderful life awaits those who would give it over to the Lord. 

That’s the big idea behind what we do at XXXchurch.com, and it’s the big idea behind countless other nonprofit, church, and parachurch organizations. 

We all want revolution. 

But boy, we do not want to do the dishes. 

The boring, bland, everyday tasks and chores, the foundational material of just living life? That stuff is so far away from the excitement of the revolution that it almost feels like a step backward to do it. 

But it’s necessary. And it’s good. 

It’s part of the revolution. The three-times-daily work of doing the dishes to make sure everything is clean and orderly at mealtime. To ensure no one gets sick from eating off dirty plates. To develop the discipline of routine and organization. 

Doing the dishes—the ordinary, small stuff—is the raw material that the revolution is built out of. Without someone doing the dishes, you wouldn’t have a revolution in the first place. 

This is why I’m encouraging you to go small—because we need far more small works than we do big ones. And there’s really no single thing that is too small or ordinary for God to use. Want an example?

Here’s a sobering one: 

The Golden Gate Bridge, connecting the city of San Francisco with Marin County by spanning the Golden Gate Strait, is one of our world’s most recognizable landmarks. Its red, wiry structure is a remarkable symbol of connectivity, of the feats that humans can achieve through collaboration and intelligence. 

It’s also the second-most popular destination in the world for people to kill themselves. 

Roughly once every two weeks, a person caught in a dark web of isolation, depression, and hopelessness chooses to climb over the protective guardrails and jump, plummeting a total of 250 feet down, down, down into the cold waters of the strait. When they reach the bottom, they’re traveling roughly 75 miles per hour. Most people die upon impact. 

There was once a suicide note, collected a few years ago, written by an anonymous person as they made their way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The writer remarked that they were walking to the bridge with the intent of ending their life; but one sentence of the note immediately leapt out at me. 

“If one person smiles at me on the way,” this person wrote, “I will not jump.”

They jumped.

Suicide affects men and women of all ages and races, and since it is an ultimate choice, it is not something that anyone embarks upon lightly. The person who wrote this heartbreaking and tragic note hadn’t decided on the spur of the moment that life was no longer worth living, and likely they had people in their world—family, friends, coworkers—who may have been able to provide the hope or welcoming arms that they were obviously missing. It’s also worth remarking on the very real possibility that this person wouldn’t have been able to recognize a hopeful smile if anyone had given them one. 

But what if someone had? 

What if, as this tormented person made their solemn way to the Golden Gate Bridge, some stranger had seen them—really seen them—and offered the smallest, simplest gift we can offer another human being? 

Is it possible that something as simple as a smile can save a life? 

[This post is adapted from the new book Go Small]

How to Go Small, Part 2: Move Out of the Way

My new book I wrote with Adam Palmer comes out this week. You can purchase it at www.gosmallbook.com and you will be entered to win the smallest car in the U.S. I have 5 blogs I wrote about going small. Here is blog #2.

Yesterday we learned to slow down; as we continue learning how to go small this week, let’s take a look at another step: moving out of the way. We must understand that our acts of service are all about Jesus and have nothing to do with us. What do I mean? I mean simply: God doesn’t need your ministry idea. 

His plans aren’t going to come crumbling down if you don’t do your thing. 

God’s kingdom is not contingent on you. Or me. Or any of us. 

Does He use our works? Absolutely. 

Does God want us to partner with Him in bringing about His plans and purposes for this world and all the individual people in it? You better believe it. 

Does Jesus need you to do your part? No way. 

Think about it. If Jesus needed you to do something, then you’d have some sort of sway over Him, wouldn’t you? You could hold Jesus’ feet to the fire. It would make Him powerless to act unless you let Him do it. He would be saying, “Come on, man—I just really want to do this great thing in this person’s life, but I can’t do it because you aren’t doing what I told you to do.” 

Do you really think that’s how this whole thing works? I don’t. 

I think God is God and He’s going to do what He wants, while respecting the choices we all make. If someone makes the choice to send their life spiraling down into a depressive haze of drugs, porn, and high-fat foods, God is going to allow that person to do that. This is the free will part of the world He created. 

And when that person’s horrible life choices affect other people in their world—their spouse, or their parents, or their kids—God’s going to work in those situations too. Maybe not in the ways we expect Him to, and not on the timetable we’d always want, but He does work. He will do His thing. 

God is all about redemption sooner or later, and He will bring it. If you’re in the midst of suffering as a result of someone’s choices—be they your own or someone else’s—please understand that I’m not dismissing those or even saying God brought them on you. You can trust Jesus even in the midst of that. 

I’m saying this for those of us who are tempted to think we’re a big deal, who pastor a megachurch or who write best-selling books or who head up a well-known, well-regarded international ministry that helps people stop using and making pornography. When you get in the spotlight—even a small one—you can be tempted to think the spotlight exists for you. That you did something to earn the recognition. 

That it’s about you

And if it’s about you, then God must be impressed, right? He must be all, “Man, I sure am glad Craig Gross is doing what he’s doing.” 

Which is true. 

But then we can tack on a little extra to make it untrue. We can add this thought from God: “Thanks, Craig. I couldn’t have done it without you.” 

Boom. 

Not true.

Everything I’ve ever accomplished in ministry is something that God could’ve done without me. He doesn’t need me. I need Him. I need to use my gifts and callings and talents for God’s kingdom, and I need to use them because it adds to me

No, we must learn to move out of God’s way and let him do what He does best. Paul wrote about seeds and gardening in 1 Corinthians 3, specifically talking about how it’s the job of the Jesus-follower to plant seeds and water them, but it’s God’s job to make them grow. 

Have you ever had a garden? How long does it take to harvest fruits and vegetables from a garden, compared to the length of time it takes to actually grow those fruits and vegetables? You can pick a tomato in a couple of seconds—a tomato that you carefully cultivated over a few months

I’m wondering how many of us exclusively want to be harvesters—and my guess is most. I’m also curious as to whether we only consider harvesting to be the major work of the kingdom of God, the reward, the thing that we’re here on this earth to do. 

I’m thinking we should take a few steps back to look at this process the same way God does—that it’s a long haul requiring a lot of planting and watering. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is really easy, especially when you consider the transformation a seed undergoes to turn into a fruit-bearing plant. 

You know what most of gardening is? It is waiting. 

It’s doing a bunch of other stuff while God does His thing in the ground. It’s coming by every now and then and splashing water on the plant, and that’s about it. Sure, there are things you can do to give your plant a better chance of taking root and thriving. For example, you can pull weeds from a bed, or you can plant your seeds in rich and fertile soil, or you can use pesticides to keep bugs away; but those are more maintenance tasks that assist the plant—they aren’t necessary for growth. 

Planting and watering. 

And a whole, whole lot of boring, ordinary waiting. 

You know: God stuff. 

[This post is adapted from the new book Go Small]

How to Go Small, Part 1: Slow Down

My new book I wrote with Adam Palmer comes out this week. You can purchase it at www.gosmallbook.com and you will be entered to win the smallest car in the U.S. I have 5 blogs I wrote about going small. 

How to Go Small, Part 1: Slow Down

Because I travel a lot, I walk through a lot of airports; because I walk through a lot of airports, I often find myself on those moving walkways they have there. Usually I just hurry down them, walking rapidly and feeling like I have super-speed, but the other day I was kind of tired and had a couple of hours before my connecting flight, so I just stood still on the right side and let everyone rush past me. 

And rush they did. I was the only person on the very long moving walkway who stood and waited. Now this was a rare moment for me – I’m usually the guy rushing along, looking to get to the next terminal, the next flight, the next destination. But as I stood there, a notion I’ve long been considering was reinforced: sometimes we need to slow down. 

Around this time last year, I had a pretty major health scare. It’s too long of a story to go into here, but basically I got crippling headaches out of nowhere, with no warning. Just out of the blue, my head hurt so badly I blacked out. After several trips to the ER in several different states, and after months’ worth of tests that yielded no results, the only reason any of my doctors could give me for my condition was this: I was going too fast. 

I needed to slow down. 

See, one of the things I began to realize was how much effort I was putting into our ministry, and how much responsibility I placed on myself to get results. I know now that this is a backward way of thinking, and even then I never would have said it in quite those words, but that is definitely the mindset I was carrying around with me. 

It got so bad that I began traveling with someone, just in case something bad happened while I was out on the road away from family. Shortly afterward, I was in New York City promoting the release of my book Open when a friend who lives there invited me to dinner. We met, and as I told him what was going on with me, he quoted a verse of scripture that stopped me in my tracks: 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30, ESV)

My friend suggested that I needed to do the same thing – I needed to decrease in order for God to increase, and that, as a side benefit of letting God do more in my life and through my life, my health might get better. So I took him up on his advice and slowed down. I wrote a blog post about it [http://www.craiggross.com/post/58923963876/slowing-down ] and had this to say:

I’m also going to take some time off, just to be home. I am still going to be working, but I’m going to try to let our team lead a bit more with me out of the way. I plan to help coach my daughter’s soccer team, drive my son around on auditions, and sit on the sideline at his soccer games and work a little less then I have.  

I won’t have automatic email replies that indicate I’m at the beach and am not responding to emails for the rest of the year. My phone will still work, but I just might not respond to texts within seconds, and I might not call you back within the hour.

At the beginning of 37, I felt like I was just getting started, but now, toward the end of 37, I feel like my best days might be behind me. I know that’s not true, but that’s how it feels. I don’t like the waiting, the not-knowing, especially when it comes to my health. Slowing down will be a challenge, but I believe it’s a challenge God is putting in front of me. 

At the time I wrote that, my friend Adam Palmer and I were putting the finishing touches on our new book, Go Small: Because God Doesn’t Care About Your Status, Size, or Success. We wrote about my health scare and about my personal need to slow down, as well as a few other ideas that we’ll be looking at through the rest of this week. But I still have the same questions for you now as I did when I wrote that blog post: 

Are there areas of your life where you need to slow down? Where God is calling you to decrease so He can increase, and show you the miraculous world of the ordinary? 

What might they be? Let’s take a look at those this week and really learn how to Go Small. It starts by Slowing Down. 

New Book Go Small

I am excited to share with you all my new book GO SMALL.

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Back in August I wrote a post called Slowing Down that you can read that might explain a little bit more about my last year. I learned a lot in this season and a lot of it came out in this new book.

I think the best way to explain the book is that it’s really a celebration of the everyday. 

That we need to have grace for ourselves and not get down on ourselves when we feel like we had a mundane day. 

That we just do the best we can with what we have and trust that God knows how to make something come of it. 

That we don’t pursue the big moments JUST TO PURSUE the big moments, but rather build to them and let them come to us naturally. 

I’m finding that, when I describe the book to people, they breathe a sigh of relief and say something like, “That sounds awesome.” There’s a felt need; people want permission to relax and to work to build the Kingdom of God without anxiety. I hope you feel the same way after reading it because the world we live in is all about going big or going home. That bigger is better than small, that more is better than less, and that success is all about who has the most stuff. 

Sound exhausting? That’s because it is. 

We believe God doesn’t care about your size, status, or success. We believe God’s definitions of those things make our definitions look small by comparison. 

We’re giving you permission to do whatever God has put in front of you. We’re giving you the opportunity to redefine what “success” means for you. 

Check out the Go Small Website and enter for a chance to win the smallest car in the Country.

Buy the book online here.