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What Do I Do First?

to do list

If you are leading in a local church setting, chances are there are moments when you feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that are screaming for your time and attention.

There are staff to lead, volunteers to recruit and develop, a budget to manage, mission trips to plan, a building to take care of, people who are in crisis that need counseling, prayer and care, a board to meet with, people to get into groups and disciple, kids and students to invest in, and oh yea there is this thing called weekend worship service that comes every 7 days that you need to prepare an awesome message for all while being awesome at everything else. The list literally goes on and on. Most people in ministry that I talk to express that they feel like their job is never done.

So, with some much screaming at you to get done, how do you know what to do first?

What’s the worst thing that would happen if it didn’t get done?

I mean really. What would happen if you decided that you simply weren’t going to give attention to that thing that’s screaming at you for attention? What if you just said, “No, I’m not going to do that right now?”

Are you doing something that someone else could or should be doing?

Is it possible that everything is coming back to you to do because you’ve unknowingly adopted some poor behaviors? Are you pushing decisions down (letting others make decisions) or pulling decisions up (taking away decision making responsibility from others). Are you delegating tasks to others and empowering them to make their own decisions within the framework of the direction your moving and the values of the team?

Realize you can’t do everything at once

This may sound elementary, but you’ve got to come to the realization that you simply can’t do everything. You can’t be everything to everyone. You aren’t Jesus. Jesus is Jesus. Learn to evaluate the highest priority problem and then come up with a plan to solve it. Involve others in the solution and provide direction to them. Then move on to the next problem and repeat. While doing this you can learn to solve multiple problems at the same time through teams of other people all while seeing the big picture.


Posted in Leadership

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How Insider Language is Keeping Outsiders Away from Jesus

communication

My wife recently hosted a baby shower for some friends of ours that ended up upsetting our youngest son. Wyatt is 5 years old, he’s the youngest of 4, and has 2 older sisters who dote all over him. He was really excited about the baby shower. Until he discovered about half way into it that he wasn’t going to be able to bring the baby upstairs and give the baby its first bath.

He mistakenly thought that a baby shower was a party to celebrate giving a new baby their first bath. Cute, funny, and at the same time I can see how the mind of a 5-year-old can come to that confusing conclusion.

What’s not so cute or funny is that churches confuse people who are unfamiliar with Jesus and His Church all the time by the words and language that they use. What’s really sad is that the point of this whole thing is to make the Gospel clear not confusing.

The most obvious way to tell if a church is insider focused or outsider focused is the language that they choose to use. It either says that the church is “inclusive” or “exclusive.” And it’s important because words build worlds. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches, here are 3 big ones…obviously there are more (in fact I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve seen in churches…leave a comment).

Preaching

Preaching as though everyone already knows Jesus and comes to the room with basic Bible knowledge. They don’t. Unless you’re just doing church for church people (which isn’t really Church). Most people don’t even know the books of the bible or what the big numbers and little numbers mean.

Branding

Coming up with “cool names and brands” for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church. You can find a list of real life funny but sad examples if you follow this link.

Announcements

Stuff like mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are. For instance, I’ve been to a church where an announcement was made to go see “Jim” to join a small group. I’m thinking to myself if I don’t know Jesus and am unfamiliar with church world…who’s Jim, how do I find him…and what the heck is a small group?

Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: clear always trumps cute or cool and you’re always better off just calling things what they are.


Posted in Leadership

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See you After Sabbatical!

rest

There are a lot of reasons that I love working at Sun Valley Community Church. It’s the best staff culture I’ve ever experienced on a church staff team, every week there are incredible stories of life change, over the past 6 years we’ve opened 4 new locations and there have literally been 1,000’s of people baptized. It’s a really special place to be a part of.

It’s also a place that values and takes care of the staff team. In fact, after 7 years, full-time Director level staff (and up) qualify for a paid sabbatical. It’s a great way to invest in, value, reward, and incentivize longevity with our team. Each person builds a written plan and budget that focus on three key areas that are submitted for approval.

Professional Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your career?
What skills, training, or development do you need in order to get better at your craft? Is there a class you need to take, a church or organization you need to visit to learn from, or some kind of process certification you need to complete that will resource you to improve your professional capacity?

Personal Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in yourself?
What about you? It’s a question most people in ministry rarely ask. Ministry Staff Members typically spend the majority of their time and energy serving other people. What do you need to do for you that brings you energy? I don’t mean just sitting on the couch vegging out and watching Netflix but doing something that fills you up.

Family Development

Key Question: What are you going to do to invest in your family?
Why don’t you ditch the kids over sabbatical and go do something with just you and your spouse? But then again, plan something with just the kids too, you’ve got the time. What kind of experiences and memories do you want to build with your family?

Over the summer I’ve got a plan to do all three of these things, and I’m grateful to serve at a church that values their staff in this way. So, at the risk of not being very consistent here at Helping Churches Make Vision Real or on social media you’re going to notice that I’ll be around a lot less this summer on these digital platforms. So, I’ll see you after sabbatical!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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10 Articles that will Help your Church Make Vision Real

viewfinder

Each month I curate the top 10 most popular blog posts I’ve shared recently. These are the articles that got had the greatest engagement in the past month. They were the most visited, shared, helpful or disagreed with. At any rate, thanks for staying in contact with me through engaging in the content on this site, I hope it’s been helpful to you! In case you missed any of them here they are all in one nice tidy place for you!

10 Insider Focused Ministry Names

I wrote this post 5 years ago. It came out of a conversation that I had with a Leadership Coaching Group I was facilitating for Church Staff and it’s remained a fan favorite.

How Many People should your Church have on Staff?

It’s a big question that most churches are asking. The answer may surprise you.

18 Churchy Things the Class of 2018 Won’t Get

A friend of mine at the Unstuck Group wrote this post, and it’s great! This spring’s high school graduates were born in the year 2000. Here are some churchy things for which they have little to no context for…

What is a Campus Pastor?

A lot of churches are still trying to get their hands around this new role in the modern church. This post will help.

5 Ways Successful Church Leaders Think Differently 

Successful church leaders naturally think differently than the majority of church leaders. It’s one of the things that set them apart. The good news is you can learn to think just like them.

20 Helpful Metrics for Measuring Church Health

You can actually measure church health and this report will help you!

The Rules of Innovation

Innovation doesn’t just happen. To much structure will kill it…but surprisingly too much freedom will to! This post will help your church become more innovative.

Why Following Jesus is all Backwards 

Following Jesus is weird. It doesn’t make sense. Anyone who tells you different is lying to you or selling something.

The Difference between a Shepherd and a Leader

I love helping churches and leaders get unstuck and make vision real. In fact out of all the stuff I get to do with churches and leaders one of the things I enjoy the most is Leadership Coaching. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to spend a day coaching a group of Pastors and Church Leaders from Australia (unfortunately their cool accent didn’t rub off). One of the topics we spent time digging into was the difference between shepherding and leading in relation to why some churches are stuck while others move forward. Here are couple of thoughts from the conversation.

The Difference between Preparation and Planning

Do great organizations prepare for the future or do they plan for it? The answer is, “yes.” To be clear preparation and planning are not the same thing, and great organizations become great by doing both.


Posted in Leadership

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Do you Care more about the Strategy or the Results?

If you’ve ever been a part of a fast-growing church, you know what chaos feels like. New people are showing up every week and space can quickly become an issue. You’re making adjustments on the fly, sometimes weekly. Finding room for kids, adding new worship service times, figuring out where you’re going to park everyone, on-boarding new staff members…searching for new staff members. It can feel a bit hectic to put it mildly. It’s exciting, it’s fun, but sometimes for those people who are strategy and structure oriented it can feel a bit out of control.

In seasons like these eventually someone comes along and says something like, “We can’t keep operating like we’ve been operating. It’s time to change and take a more strategic approach.” It’s usually someone from the Board, the Pastor, or a trusted senior level Staff Member. But eventually someone will say something like; “We need to stop living on momentum and start building a strategy to get us to the future.”

This is where things can go south, quick. While various strategies, structures, systems, and processes can be helpful; they’re not the goal, they’re not the reason. Here’s a quick refresher…

Mission answers the question: “Why do we exist?”
Vision answers the question: “Where are we going?”
Strategy answers the question: “How are we going to get there?”

The reason (mission) why Jesus put the Church on the planet is to reach people (all people) with the Gospel.

I appreciate strategically minded people in the Church, heck, I am one. And I think the Church is at a deficit when it comes to these kinds of people. But I’ve also seen people like me in the name of strategy and structure squelch growth and results instead of fueling them.

Mike Tyson, who was a great boxer (or puncher) in his day and among other things bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off in the ring, said that, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” That statement is a spin-off of an old military principle that states. “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

In other words, people who win chase results more than they chase strategy. That’s not to say that they’re not strategic, it’s just that they are willing to adapt their strategy to fit the current situation.

Is your church winning? Are you experiencing great results? If not, it may be time to adapt your strategy. If you need help I’d recommend connecting with the Unstuck Group. There’s not a better Church Consulting Firm you could employ to help you get from where you are to where Jesus wants you to be. It’s what we do.


Posted in Leadership
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