Tag Archive - content

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It’s Time for the Church to take a Different Approach to Leadership Development

There are three prevailing thoughts about leadership development that I’ve been noticing in churches across the country.

First, churches are complaining that their leadership bench has become pretty thin. If God gave them a new opportunity they’re not sure they’ve got the leadership depth to say yes. I get this, I’ve also observed that the leadership bench in the American Church is becoming pretty thin. It really concerns me.

Second, churches are scouring the landscape for an off-the-shelf solution like a class or some curriculum that they can use to magically build a deeper leadership bench at their church. This one is frustrating for me. Yes, there are leadership principles that can be learned and content that can support leadership development but, when are churches going to wake up and learn that leadership development doesn’t happen in a classroom?

Finally, I’m seeing more and more churches hire young, inexperienced, and untrained staff members who attend and love their church but have no bible training or ministry experience. Then they basically throw them to the wolves and hope they’re going to somehow magically work out.

I think it’s time for churches to take a different approach to leadership development.

Optimism

You can’t play a good game with a bad attitude. It’s a true statement when I encourage my 10-year-old son with those words before a practice or game and it’s a true statement in church leadership. Your attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference and when it comes to leadership development in the church it can be the difference between you developing a deep bench or starving your church of good leadership. You’ll always find what you’re looking for and if you’re looking for deficiencies you’ll find them. A critical spirit is a guaranteed way to discourage and put a lid on growth in others. Leadership development is optimistic by its very nature, because you’re helping someone become something that they’ve never been before, and while blind belief won’t make them become a leader they’ll never become a leader if you don’t believe they will.

Encouragement

You’ve probably read about social experiments that have been done to test the correlation between expectations and performance. In one such study teachers were told that a group of students they had in their classroom had tested incredibly high at the beginning of the year. However, these teachers were duped. These students weren’t gifted, but the fact that the teachers believed they were influenced the way the teachers viewed and behaved towards the group of students. When tested at the end of the year the students that the teachers believed were gifted actually outperformed the rest of the class. Sometimes people behave the way you treat them. If you want to build leaders, then start treating them like leaders. Encourage them through your words, actions, attitude, and approach to become what they’re not.

Opportunity

The thing about leadership is you can’t learn it in a classroom. Leadership development is an immersive, hands on learning experience. To get better at it you’ve got to get reps. The first ministry leadership opportunity I ever had scared me to death. As a freshman in college my pastor asked me to teach a Jr. High Sunday School Class. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and took a risk on a young guy. It paid off, and the next opportunity came along, and the next. That’s leadership development. You throw a young promising leader in the deep end of the pool and see if they can swim. If they don’t make it, you jump in, make sure they don’t drown, coach them up and give them another shot. If they do make it, you coach them up and throw them into a bigger pool.

Coaching

So, what do you do after you give a young promising leader an opportunity to have some responsibility? You coach them up. Coaching involves turning on the game tape and reviewing how things went. Great coaches reinforce what went well and redirect what didn’t. They start with reinforcement because they know that’s how consistent culture is built. What gets noticed and celebrated gets repeated. Then when it comes to parts of the project that didn’t go as well good coaches assume the best intent and redirect what went wrong.


Posted in Leadership

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Choosing the Right Small Group Model for your Church

When it comes to Small Group most churches jump from model to model. They get all fired up about the latest book they’ve read or conference they’ve gone to and change models so quickly that they end up confusing people. They don’t allow any one model to take root and produce fruit.

There are pros and cons to all of the models below, but the goal of all of this group stuff is to simply make disciples. If that’s happening, then choose the best model that fits the unique personality of your church.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post that came out of a conversation I had with the consulting team at the Unstuck Group. We were talking about helping churches get unstuck when it comes to the disciple-making ministry at their church. In particular we were discussing Small Groups. In the conversation Chris Surratt who runs SmallGroup.com and serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group identified 6 different kinds of group models I wanted to share with you.

#1 Free Market Groups

In free market groups the old adage “birds of a feather, flock together” rules. Groups are built based on affinity. In this kind of group, the content isn’t as important as the relationship. Groups typically pick their own content. There are hiking groups, fishing groups, scrap-booking groups, surfing groups, you name the hobby and there can be a group built around it.

#2 Closed Groups

Closed groups are simply that, closed. They form and commit to meet together for 18-24 months and go through a particular curriculum together. They don’t add anyone new to that group once the group begin, hence the term “closed.” At the end of that time commitment they either re-up or intentionally break apart to start new groups.

#3 Sermon Based Groups

Sermon based groups reinforce the sermon that is preached each weekend at church. There is no curriculum needed, only discussion questions provided to the group leaders for further study of Gods’ Word and discussion about the sermon. Anybody can participate if they heard the sermon that weekend or listened online.

#4 Host Groups

Host groups are often campaign oriented. Similar to a “40 Days of…” campaign. The content is completely provided in a kit and all you have to do is host the group in your home, play the video for everyone to watch and facilitate a prescribed conversation. Often times in this kind of group the host doesn’t even need to be a Christian, they just need to host the group.

#5 Hub Groups

Hub groups are similar to free market groups except they’re built around key stage of life “hubs.” Ministries such as men’s, women’s, parents, singles, and marriage ministries would all fall into this category.

#6 On Campus Groups

On campus groups are groups that meet on the church campus on a weekly basis. The most common example of this is Sunday School Classes. On campus groups have a tendency to be more lecture format and content heavy in nature.

*What other kinds of groups have you seen or been a part of? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experiences!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Mastering the Art of Facilitation

If you haven’t noticed leadership and leading young leaders in particular is changing. Peter Drucker, considered to be the father of modern management, actually predicted this shift. He once said that:

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.”

Most leaders find it easier to tell than to ask. And that’s because it is. It takes less time and it requires less personal security (among other things). But facilitating leaders have got this “ask first tell second” concept down.

The Team Outperforms the Individual

Great facilitators believe that the team outperforms the individual. That “we” is always better than “me.” While you may be a fantastic leader, no leader gets everything right every time. Involving the team reduces your “miss-rate,” and builds trust and buy-in at the same time.

Process not Content

Great facilitators believe that they’re “process” and the “content” lives within their team. The job of the facilitating leader is to mine out and unlock the best ideas from their team. They trust the process and their team. Try believing in your team, you may just be surprised how they rise to the occasion.

Questions not Answers

Instead of leading with answers, facilitating leaders lead with questions. Even if your experience and leadership intuition tells you the right answer, resist the temptation to tell, and instead ask. Facilitating leaders don’t believe they have all the right answers so they ask good questions. Asking great questions teaches people to think and begin to develop their leadership muscle instead of just blindly follow by being told what to do.

By the way, if you haven’t connected the dots yet, let me help. Peter Drucker didn’t think this one up all by himself. This idea is a very Gospel centered idea. The Apostle Paul wrote about this idea multiple times throughout the New Testament comparing Christians to the “body of Christ.” Stating over and over again this idea that we are better together and none of us are as good as all of us.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Building an Effective Central Services Team in a Multisite Church Model

If you’re leading in a multisite church or if you’re thinking about becoming a multisite church, at some point you’re going to have to make some big decisions about the role of your Central Service Team. Somewhere along the way you’re going to be faced with building a Central Service Team, Ministry Development Team or All Campus Staff Team…different churches attach a different label to it. But essentially it’s a centralized team of people tasked with supporting decentralized campuses that are geographically separated. Think of it as a matrix leadership model. The Central Service Team influences each campus while the Campus Pastors are responsible for the ministry on each of their respective campuses. Through learning from other great friends in the multisite world and facing this personally in the context I lead in, there are four (4) healthy perspectives of a great Central Services Team that I’ve discovered.

1. Content:

This team ensures that content is the same across campuses. This includes teaching on the stage during the weekend services, as well as content for Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Small Groups and so on. One of the powerful benefits of a multisite model is that great teaching can be delivered to each campus no matter their size or location. Instead of taking time to “recreate the wheel,” specific campus staff can focus their attention on leading volunteers, developing the ministries, and shepherding the congregation.

2. Consistency:

The Central Service Team is also tasked with working to make sure that ministry best practices are consistent on each campus. One of the other great strengths of a multisite model is the opportunity it brings to replicate learnings from innovation. As you launch new campuses in new communities you’re going to face unforeseen obstacles. Those obstacles will force you to innovate, and every campus will have the opportunity to benefit from it. Consistent ministry practice will allow you to ramp up efficiency, drive down cost, and allow newer campuses to learn from the mistakes of others who have gone before them.

3. Communication:

As you have more and more campuses, communication will have the tendency to become more and more difficult. That’s where your Central Service Team comes into play. They have the opportunity to develop the processes to keep everyone on the same page. Whether it’s the business department, the weekend worship team, kids ministry, small group, or missions. This team uses cascading communication strategies to help everyone stay on the same page, moving the same direction.

4. Consultant & Coach:

There are a couple of characteristics you’re looking for in a Central Services Team Member. But one of the most valuable to me is the ability to take on the posture of a coach or a consultant and to know when to do which. A consultant offers expert outside input and allows the individual to choose to implement or not. The consultant is not responsible for the implementation. Great coaches can see things the player can’t see while they’re on the field and they help the player break down game film and get better. It’s more hands on than consulting. Either way great consultants get invited back and recommended to others while players keep coming back to great coaches for input on their game. That’s what I’m looking for. People whose input and presence are welcomed by campus staff.

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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How to Handle Success

Ever wonder what the dog would do if he actually caught the car he was chasing? What then? What do you do when you actually reach your goals? What do you do when you actually experience success? What happens after you win? What then?

“Success is a lousy teacher. It reduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Bill Gates

1. Don’t Believe Your Press Clippings

When you win people will notice, period. But the goal is not to bring attention to you. I’m not prescribing a false humility; rather, leveraging the platform that success has brought you to bring more attention to Christ and advance the mission of the Church.

2. Build the Right Team

When you’re winning other people are going to want to be a part of it. In fact winning can provide you with the opportunity to attract team members that could really help make the vision become reality!

3. Stay Disciplined

Keep doing what you’ve been doing that got you here and if you don’t know why you’ve been successful your first priority is to find out, and I mean quick. Stay focused on the mission and screening every decision through the filter of where you’re going. Avoid the temptation to overreach. Remain relentless in your pursuit of the mission.

4. Invest in Others

The most successful leaders, leaders that last, are those who are personally secure enough to share success with others. Use the opportunity that winning has brought to develop and invest in those around you. One of the most effective methods to keep highly talented leaders on your team is to share success, share leadership opportunities, and invest in them.

5. Stay Consistent

Just because you won once, doesn’t mean the pressure is off. If anything it means the pressure is on. Now people are going to want to see if you’re a one hit wonder or if you’ve got what it takes to build a consistent winning record.

6. Be Content

Winning can be addicting. It can make people do crazy things. If you can’t be happy with a little, you’re not going to be happy with a lot. Winning just puts the spotlight on you and accentuates everything that’s good or bad about you. If you don’t have the character to handle things as they are, chances are you’re not going to be able to handle the spotlight that comes with winning.


Posted in Leadership