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4 Symptoms Your Church Needs More Volunteers

As you might guess, our Volunteer Rocket coaching is primarily about helping churches get more volunteers. With that in mind, you may be surprised to learn there are instances when getting more volunteers can actually create more problems.

The primary reason this happens is because you have a leadership shortage. If more volunteers create more problems, you very likely need more leaders. Here are some symptoms that you have a leadership shortage.

1. Your “span of care” is too high. In business, it’s called a “span of control.” Fortune 500 CEOs usually have seven direct reports. In ministry, I would argue our span of care should not be any higher than that because we’re trying to accomplish a mission and disciple people. So add up the number of volunteers and then divide by the number of staff and volunteer leaders. If the result is higher than seven, you have a span of care issue, and you need more leaders.

2. The mission is getting in the way of your relationships. Because we’re in the ministry, we can’t just focus on getting things done. We are also in the people business. When it comes to volunteer teams, that means we need time to share life together. We need to create space to coach, encourage, challenge, care for and pray for the people we lead. When was the last time you prayed for each person on your team? If you can’t remember or you didn’t know specifically what to pray, you need more leaders.

3. You are making all the decisions. If you have to touch every task and every decision, you haven’t learned how to empower your team. Of course, this begins with clarifying mission, vision, values and strategy. Everyone must understand their role and know the expectations for what success looks like. Once that’s in place, you need to challenge leaders to move from doing tasks to actually leading their teams. If they don’t have the capacity to do that, you need more leaders rather than doers.

4. You are waiting for leaders to magically appear. If you’re hoping and praying for more leaders but you don’t have an intentional strategy to develop people, you probably have a leadership shortage. Leaders just don’t grow on trees. They need to be mentored and discipled. They need to watch you handle leadership challenges. They need the experience of facing leadership challenges themselves. If that isn’t happening, you need more leaders.

When you don’t have enough leaders, more volunteers can lead to more problems. As you might expect, we don’t suggest you avoid adding more volunteers to the team. The solution is to raise up more leaders.

Because churches have limited resources, hiring staff leaders to do everything won’t work either. The only way to grow your teams will be to raise up more volunteer leaders. Here’s the great news–the spiritual gift of leadership isn’t just limited to people who are on church staff. Volunteers can be leaders too!

We’ll teach you how in our FREE upcoming event called Get More Volunteers. We’ve interviewed nine leading pastors and church leaders about how they’ve built healthy, thriving volunteer ministries and put it all together in this online training event to help you and your team.

You’ll learn from Dave Ferguson, Pete Scazzero, Larry Osborne, Ronnie Floyd, Chris Mavity, Dave Gibbons, Carey Nieuwhof, Sue Miller, and Matthew Barnett.

Click the banner below to register now!


Posted in Volunteers

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6 Qualities of a Leader I’ve Followed

Desert Road

Over 18 years of full-time ministry I’ve had the opportunity to work some great leaders and my friend Scott Ridout is one of the best. Scott has recently been appointed to be the next President of Converge Worldwide, the movement of churches that Sun Valley (the church I serve at) is a part of. I don’t single out individual leaders as examples very often, and if you knew Scott, he’d be embarrassed by the fact that I’m even writing this, but I believe the best place to learn leadership is from leaders. And I think there is a lot we can learn from the way Scott has led. So here are 6 qualities of a leader that I’ve personally followed…

1. Humility

When most leaders these days protect, posture, and hang onto their leadership power, Scott consistently shares and gives it away. He isn’t afraid of other strong leaders, rather he recruits them to his team and then frees them to excel and lead in their area of brilliance. Even if that means submitting at times to others where they bring strength to the team. This has allowed him to build and keep a high performing team when they could have gone elsewhere.

2. Courageous

Scott doesn’t shy away from risk. When it became apparent that Sun Valley Gilbert, the original Sun Valley Campus, would eventually max out on attendance due to property, parking and facility constraints Scott had the courage to lead the Board to consider not just planting new churches (which he has led the church to plant more than 20 churches in his time as Sr. Pastor), but take the risk of going multisite. When the opportunity to adopt a church to be a Sun Valley Campus came up, Scott took the risk to leave the original campus to build the Sun Valley culture at the new location. Leadership always requires risk, growth, and loss; and Scott courageously embraces them all.

3. Shepherding

Unlike many high profile leaders Scott is consistently available. He makes it a priority to get to know his staff and their families. Even intentionally scheduling time to take them out to dinner to invest in those relationships outside the context of work. If you’ve ever served on a team that Scott has led you knew that your leader cared deeply for you, not just the performance that he could get out of you.

4. Resolute

Years ago when Scott became the Sr. Pastor of Sun Valley he successfully grew the church from 400 to 200. A little known fact he jokes about now. But he didn’t give up on the dream that God put in his heart. Scott is disciplined in his daily pursuit of what God has called him to lead the Church to become. Today Sun Valley runs more than 5,000 people in attendance across 3 campuses. Much of that is due to the fact that Scott didn’t give up even when things got difficult.

5. Coach

Scott is a coach at heart. He loves seeing others get better and he loves helping them get better. He’s a trainer and has built a culture on his teams of insentient tinkering and improvement. He himself has taken on the posture of a learner and in doing so encourages a culture of learning.

6. Moral Authority

Scott leads with moral authority. If he expects his team to be in a small group, he’s going to be in a small group. What you see on stage, is what you get in person. He is the same person, all the time. His public life, personal life, and private life align.

Photo Credit: Kay Gaensler via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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6 Keys to Sustaining Growth

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Most churches experience growth at some point, but few churches sustain growth over the long haul. There are all kinds of reasons that churches get stuck, but few understand how to sustain growth. Fortunately there are some great resources and leaders out there that we can learn from.

In the book “On Leading Change” by the Drucker Institute William Steere, the former CEO of Pfizer, mentions these Six Keys to Sustaining Growth.

These 6 principles would be a great starting point for the leadership team at your church to have a conversation about change and sustaining growth!

1. Focus on What You Do Best

“To identify opportunities, you must identify your primary strength. Put energy into what is already bringing great results and shed the rest.”

2. Cast a Wide Net

“Seek out growth opportunities both inside and outside the organization. Promoting internal innovation is necessary but insufficient; external partners also are essential to bring better products to market, faster.”

3. Create Transparent Objectives

“Everyone needs clear performance targets, and those should be shared at the appropriate level. Senior executives should review their colleagues’ annual goals (and performance) twice a year.”

4. Listen to Divergent Points of View

“While believing strongly in their view of the business, leaders must encourage other perspectives and invite rigorous debate on key issues.”

5. Create a Culture of Trust

“To excel, people must have autonomy. Let others make their own decisions, unless they prove to be untrustworthy – in which case they must go.”

6. Go With Your Instincts

“Effective leaders have the confidence to challenge conventional wisdom. You must be willing to withstand criticism in order to move the organization forward.”

Photo Credit: ecstaticist via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Why Bringing Problems to a Leader is a Problem

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Leaders aren’t looking for problems. They’re looking for solutions. That’s one of things that make leaders…well, leaders. They find solutions, not problems. They lean into the future, not the past. Leaders naturally create chaos and tension in an organization they don’t resolve it. Because they know that every organization needs a certain amount of chaos or it stagnates and dies. And that’s why consistently bringing problems to a leader is a sure way to get your leader frustrated with you.

How to approach problems with your leader:

1. Seek Coaching: Seek out your leader early and often. Especially when you sense a problem is coming your way. If you are working with a good leader they’ll be happy to coach you…but don’t expect them to make the play for you.

2. Provide Solutions: If you are facing a problem that you feel like you need your leaders input on, then bring a couple of viable solutions with you.

3. Don’t Ask Them to Solve It: Don’t ask your leader to do your job for you. Your leader trusts you to execute the vision of the organization within the scope of influence you’ve been given or you wouldn’t be in the seat you’re in.

You know you have a problem with your team when:

1. Repetitive Problems: When you’ve got a staff member that has a problem that comes up over and over again, you’ve got a problem.

2. When you have to Point it Out: When your staff member is facing a problem, and they don’t recognize that they are facing a problem…especially if it’s a trend, you’ve got a problem with that team member.

Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Meet my New Leadership Coaching Network

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I’m really excited about my next Leadership Coaching Network that’s beginning in a couple of weeks! I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to these incredible leaders that I’ll be spending the next 6 months with, including links to their churches and social media so you can get to know them!

1. Brian LaMew, Campus Pastor at Sun Valley Community Church Tempe Campus located in Tempe, AZ

2. Brian McCoy, Pastor of Discipleship & Outreach at Foothills Baptist Church located in Phoenix, AZ

3. Danny Wells, Executive Pastor at The Vertical Church located in Yuma, AZ

4. Eric Allred, Campus Pastor at Sun Valley Community Church Gilbert Campus located in Gilbert, AZ

5. Matt Martin, Executive Pastor at Northrock Church located in San Antonio, TX

6. Ronnie Bunton, Student Pastor at Harvest Community Church located in Mesa, AZ

7. William Sullivan, Lead Pastor at Endurance Church of the Valley located in Tempe, AZ

Although this coaching network is closed, it’s not too early to apply for the next one. Here are the coaching network details including a link to the application.

In the mean time say hello to my new friends, check out their church websites, and connect with them on Social Media!

Photo Credit: djwtwo via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership
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