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Top Posts of 2014 #10: “What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?”

HomeDepot

For the next couple of days I’m going to be counting down the top 10 posts from 2014 here on Helping Churches Make Vision Real. These are the posts that generated the most traffic, comments, and were the most shared on social media. The most popular topics this year had to do with strategic planning, insider focused churches, leadership, church growth, teams, and even pastors wives. We start off with a post that I wrote just a week ago but has quickly gained traction and shot into the top 10 posts of the year (that was fast…if only all of my posts were that good).

For the last month we’ve been getting ready for Christmas at my house and that means multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to pick up the Christmas tree and then back again to get more lights because the ones from last year don’t work this year. Then yet another trip for a new Christmas tree stand because the stand from last year doesn’t work. Oh, and I need a new pack of staples for the staple gun to put up the Christmas lights. And so on. You get the idea.

After spending half of the holiday season in the local Home Depot, I started thinking about how different Home Depot is from the majority of churches I’ve visited over the years, and what it would look like if Home Depot functioned like most churches in America.

  • Instead of everyone in the store wearing an orange Home Depot apron, each department would have it’s own uniquely colored apron.
  • Instead of having a hardware department and an appliance department, they would have really cool names like Ignite, Epic, and J.A.M. that are completely confusing to new customers.
  • Of course each department would have it’s own logo instead of using the one that’s already on the outside of the store.
  • Instead of having clear way finding and signage that easily directs you to what you’re looking for you’d have to aimlessly wander around hoping to find the power tools or stop a complete stranger and ask for directions.
  • Instead of picking up one flyer at the entrance of the store that has all the sale adds in it, you’d have to pick up printed material at each unique department and of course they would all have their own logos on them and look like they came from different stores.
  • The store would only be open on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights.
  • Customers would be able to vote on who the store manager was going to be and then appoint a board made up of the best customers who then get to tell the store manager what to do.
  • This special board made up of the best customers would also get to decide what products the store sold and what kinds of other customers were allowed to shop at the store.
  • If you were in the electric department and had a question about plumbing, the electric department employee would have no idea how to help you because electricity and plumbing have nothing to do with each other.

While we all know that the Church is not a business, I hope this post challenges some of your thinking about the Church. And I hope you got a good laugh at this tongue in cheek approach to the conversation.

What else would you add to the list?

Photo Credit: JeepersMedia via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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What if Home Depot Functioned like a Church?

HomeDepot

For the last month we’ve been getting ready for Christmas at my house and that means multiple trips to Home Depot. The first trip to pick up the Christmas tree and then back again to get more lights because the ones from last year don’t work this year. Then yet another trip for a new Christmas tree stand because the stand from last year doesn’t work. Oh, and I need a new pack of staples for the staple gun to put up the Christmas lights. And so on. You get the idea.

After spending half of the holiday season in the local Home Depot, I started thinking about how different Home Depot is from the majority of churches I’ve visited over the years, and what it would look like if Home Depot functioned like most churches in America.

  • Instead of everyone in the store wearing an orange Home Depot apron, each department would have it’s own uniquely colored apron.
  • Instead of having a hardware department and an appliance department, they would have really cool names like Ignite, Epic, and J.A.M. that are completely confusing to new customers.
  • Of course each department would have it’s own logo instead of using the one that’s already on the outside of the store.
  • Instead of having clear way finding and signage that easily directs you to what you’re looking for you’d have to aimlessly wander around hoping to find the power tools or stop a complete stranger and ask for directions.
  • Instead of picking up one flyer at the entrance of the store that has all the sale adds in it, you’d have to pick up printed material at each unique department and of course they would all have their own logos on them and look like they came from different stores.
  • The store would only be open on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights.
  • Customers would be able to vote on who the store manager was going to be and then appoint a board made up of the best customers who then get to tell the store manager what to do.
  • This special board made up of the best customers would also get to decide what products the store sold and what kinds of other customers were allowed to shop at the store.
  • If you were in the electric department and had a question about plumbing, the electric department employee would have no idea how to help you because electricity and plumbing have nothing to do with each other.

While we all know that the Church is not a business, I hope this post challenges some of your thinking about the Church. And I hope you got a good laugh at this tongue in cheek approach to the conversation.

What else would you add to the list?

Photo Credit: JeepersMedia via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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4 Reasons Why Churches become Insider Focused

Focus

It’s rare that I ever come across a church that started off as an insider focused church. Most churches start with a desire to reach new people with the Gospel. In those early stages of a church plant they have to reach new people or they die due to a lack of viability. So how does a church that’s eager to help people outside of the faith follow Jesus drift towards becoming insider focused and spending all of it’s energy taking care of people who are already convinced? Here are the four most common reasons why churches become insider focused:

1. Stop Taking Risks

By its very nature everything about a church plant is risky. It’s a brand new start up. Everything is new and everywhere you turn there is a new risk to take. Somewhere along the way when some measure of viability is reached churches begin to mitigate risk by taking care of key stakeholders (insiders). It’s a lot easier (and less risky) to keep church people happy than it is to continue to reach out to people who are outside of the church. When is the last time your church risked something big for God? If you have outgrown your original risk taking ethos then your church is probably moving towards becoming insider focused.

2. Stay Married to Old Methods

If you don’t have a well of new ideas that you can go to and possibly implement at any given time then you’re probably spending a lot of energy propping up old methods and programs. And those old methods and programs bring a certain comfort with them, because they keep people who are already in the church happy. Every idea has a shelf life. If your church isn’t constantly evaluating and strategically stopping old things and starting new things then you’re probably moving towards becoming insider focused.

3. Planning overtakes Chaos

One of the most common misunderstandings of strategic planning is that the goal is not order; the goal is to accomplish the vision. In a growing church you want planning and management to lag slightly behind the chaos of change and movement. It’s possible to manage and plan your way into losing momentum. When planning and order become higher priorities than chaos and movement your church is teetering on becoming insider focused.

4. Lack of Vision

Clear vision is the greatest catalyst for movement and action in the church. When vision is fuzzy things slow down and naturally drift towards becoming insider focused. We all wake up every day thinking about ourselves, it’s what comes natural to us. That’s why both Jesus and the Apostle Paul paint a clear vision of spiritual maturity as living an others focused life. If your church is not sure where it’s going, chances are your moving towards becoming insider focused.

Interested in reading up some more on Insider Focused Churches? Check out the posts below:

Photo Credit: BrianTuchalskiPhotography via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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Tearing Down Ministry Silos

silo

One of the common challenges that I see in churches that are stuck is ministry silos. Another word for this is departmentalization. Multiple unique individual ministries operating under one roof. Most churches don’t set out this way, but over time they naturally drift towards ministry silos and operating independently from one another. Instead of working with one another, ministries end up competing for volunteers, budget resources, facility space, announcement time, and so on.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact here are 5 steps you can take to begin to get rid of silo thinking and behaviors at your church.

1. Share the Mission, Vision & Values

Clearly articulate one mission, vision and set of value statements for the church and then set the expectation that each ministry will live those out within their own context and audience. Allowing segment ministries to develop their own values, vision or mission statements fuels silo thinking.

2. Get rid of Sub-Ministry Brands

Call things what they are. Children’s Ministry is Children’s Ministry and Student Ministry is Student Ministry (and so on). When you allow segment ministries to develop their own sub-brands not only is it confusing to new people who attend the church to navigate but it encourages silo thinking (it’s also more expensive).

3. Coordinated Calendaring Process

Instead of each ministry having their own separate ministry calendars, do the work of annually planning one coordinated ministry calendar for the year. This will force the team to work cooperatively, communicate with one another, understand what each other are doing, and get rid of competing events. You can even take 5 minutes in a meeting once a month to review the upcoming month together and make sure everyone is on the same page.

4. Budget Together

Instead of having each ministry build a budget in isolation and then turn that proposal into an individual or board to make decisions, come together as a team and present your proposals to one another. Then work together to come up with a holistic ministry budget approach for the next ministry year. You know you’re getting somewhere when ministry leaders begin to sacrifice financially for one another when they see a proposed initiative or idea from a different segment ministry gets the church further, faster.

5. Replicate Best-Practices

Don’t waste time and energy with every ministry department coming up with their own systems for how to do Guest Services, Volunteering, Mission trips, etc. Instead, identify your best practices and the unique approach your church takes to each of these things and then replicate them in each ministry.

Photo Credit: dawn_perry via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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The Freshmen Get Smaller Every Year

locker

I took a trip down memory lane this weekend. I spent some time back east consulting with a great church in my hometown of Stafford, VA. It’s been 20 years since the last time I was in Stafford. And while I was there I took a minute to drive around a bit; and let me tell you a lot has changed in 20 years! I felt like I could get lost in my own hometown! I went by the house I grew up in and even past the High School I graduated from. First thing that came into my mind? “I remember my High School being a lot bigger than that.” And then another thought raced into my mind. It was a statement from a conversation that I had with Larry Osborne when he said to me, “The freshmen get smaller every year.” In other words every year there is a new freshman class. Every year as you get older they seem to get smaller, weirder, and more clueless. And somehow the older you get the more it seems you were never that small, that weird, or that clueless. But you and I know better, don’t we?

The best leaders I’ve ever been around know there’s great value in hanging out with the “freshmen.” In fact here are a couple of things I’ve seen some great seasoned leaders do over the years to invest in the next generation leaders.

1. Surround yourself with Young Talent

Not so they can admire how experienced and how incredible you are. You don’t need groupies. But so you can invest in them. Spend time with them, let them ask questions and simply talk about leadership. Let them see you lead up close and personal. And then debrief with them about what you did and why. Share with them your greatest leadership struggles, challenges, failures and successes.

2. How Young Can you go with your Next Hire?

When you are getting ready to make that next hire ask yourself, “How young can we go with this hire and not jeopardize the job that needs to get done?” It’s a simple question that will force you to think differently about bringing young talent onto the team. And frankly, it’s a question that I wish I started asking a long time ago.

3. Invite Young Talent to the Adult Table

Thanksgiving was just a couple of weeks ago. And if your house is similar to mine you had a kids table and an adult table. In leadership the same is often true. One of the most simple and overlooked opportunities to develop young talent is to periodically invite young talent to the adult table. Let them sit in Sr. Leadership meetings and see how the top leaders in your organization or church think, problem solve, interact with one another, make decisions and well, lead. This kind of access is an incredible gift to a young up an coming leader.

4. Remember to Tell Yourself the Truth

No matter how good you were as a young leader, you weren’t as good as you remember yourself being, you just weren’t. And neither was I. The further you and I get away from being a young leader the more we think, “I was never that small, I was never that weird, I was never that clueless.” Tell yourself the truth and instead of criticizing the freshmen why don’t you choose to hang out with them and invest in them?

Photo Credit: Russ Allison Loar via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Staffing
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