Tag Archive - time

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What Do I Do First?

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 so 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 your Church can Produce more Leaders

Leadership scarcity is one of the most significant lids that prevent growth in churches today. While many churches are providing great leadership content and training in the form of conferences, classes, or coaching groups few are actually producing more leaders. There is more to developing leaders than providing good leadership content. It doesn’t happen without these 5 key underpinnings. 

1. Humility

It takes a certain amount of humility to develop young leaders. It’s a choice you make to give tasks and responsibility away and allow others to gain experience knowing they won’t do it as fast as you would, as well as you would, or the way you would. 

2. Believe in People

You have to believe in people in order to empower them and develop them through coaching. If you’re like me and you have a tendency to see opportunities to strengthen organizations and people then believing in people is not going to come very natural to you. You can’t approach developing people from a negative or pessimistic viewpoint. You have to choose to look for and see the best in people, encourage them, and help them build upon their strengths.

3. Time

Leaders can’t be microwaved. It takes getting people practice and preparation, encouraging them while they’re on the field and then coaching them up afterwards. In other words it doesn’t magically happen in a moment but in a series of moments up close and over time.

4. Shift your Focus

If your church is going to produce more leaders it means you’re going to have to shift your focus from doing ministry to developing people. Churches that build leaders don’t pay their staff to do ministry (outside of specialty skill roles), but rather to invest in people, build teams, and lead people to do ministry.

5. Scout for Talent

Most churches are anti-leadership organizations. They have a tough time attracting, developing, and keeping leaders because most churches are consumed with preserving the past while leaders are consumed with moving towards the future. That’s why you have to work hard to become a talent scout. Leaders see leadership in others; they can smell it, because they understand it at an intuitive level. It’s their job to constantly be looking for small glimpses of leadership in people and fuel those by celebrating them. Because what you celebrate gets repeated.

I’d like to give a special shout out to the Central Ministry Staff Team at Sun Valley Community Church for the leadership conversation that led to this blog post! I love leading with you guys!


Posted in Leadership

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How to Speed up Decision Making at your Church

After working with over 25 churches across the country this past year, I realized there is a common challenge that growing churches face. It’s a challenge that frustrates leaders, slows progress in critical areas, and causes an undercurrent of strain between teammates. This challenge is lack of clarity around decision making. When churches are small, and there are a few leaders who lead the church, it’s pretty clear who makes what calls. But as churches grow and more leaders are added to the team, it’s not long before confusion sets in around “Who gets to make what decisions”. Often all decisions start to feel like we have to have total consensus to move on anything. Did I mention frustration sets in?

About 5 years ago the fog lifted for me. On a team retreat, our Executive team had the privilege of working with Jim Dethmer, Co-Founder of Conscious Leadership Group. He walked us though an exercise called Decision Rights. He said before a decision can be made, the team has to first decide how the decision will be made. Who holds the decision rights?

The chart below illustrates the 7 ways decisions can be made. The two variables to keep in mind are the amount of time it takes to make a decision and the level of buy-in it generates.

7 Levels of Decision Rights

  1. Leader Decides: This is the quickest way to make a decision because no other input is required in the decision making. A leader is simply appointed to make the decision. Buy-in is often very low at this level.
  2. Leader Decides with Input: A leader is appointed to make the decision, but is also instructed to get input from others prior to making the decision. Because other voices are in the mix, there is an increased level of buy-in.
  3. *Sub-Group decides: A small team or a sub-group is tasked with making the decision.
  4. *Sub Group decides with Input: The sub-group makes the decision after getting input from others.
  5. Majority Vote: Just like it sounds, once options have been discussed, whichever option gets the most votes wins.
  6. Consensus: Consensus is reached once all team members involved in making the decision are no longer opposed or are neutral towards the option that’s been laid out.
  7. Alignment: Different from consensus, alignment requires that all team members are in total agreement that it’s the right decision.

* For’ Sub-Group’ and ‘Sub-Group’ decides with Input – the sub-group still needs to determine how they will make the decision (Majority Vote, Consensus or Alignment)

Here’s a practical example of how this works. Let’s say your church is out of space on Sunday morning. Your two services are full, and you know you need to launch a 3rd service in the fall. How will, and who will, make that decision? Here are the options:

  1. Leader Decides: You appoint a leadership team member to make the call. It takes very little time to make the decision, but also creates very little buy-in. There will most likely be a lot push-back and complaining from the team members that have to rally their teams to accommodate this decision.
  2. Leader Decides with Input: You appoint a leader to make the decision, but require them to go and talk to the key ministry leaders that will be impacted by whatever decision is made. While not adding a lot of time in the decision-making process, the leader has more wisdom in making the best decision, and a little more buy-in is created.
  3. Sub-Group decides: You appoint the heads of worship, ministry, and operations to make the decision. You feel they know their areas and will make the best decision with the time you have to make the decision.
  4. Sub Group decides with Input: Same as above, but you add time and potential buy-in to the process by requiring them to get input from all of their team leads.
  5. Majority Vote: The leadership team brainstorms all of the options, narrows it to three, and then you take a vote. The option with the most votes wins. (By the way, Majority Vote can be good for a lunch decision like “Chipotle or Chick-fil-A” – but not much else.)
  6. Consensus: All of the options are vetted by the team and then each team member gets a vote – opposed, neutral, favorable. Our team did it this way. Once the options were narrowed down, and there appeared to be a leaning towards the best service time, we would do a rock-paper-scissors style vote. On the count of three, we would put each put out the number of fingers that represented our perspective. 1 finger=opposed, 2 fingers= still opposed, but less strongly, 3 fingers= neutral, 4 fingers= favorable with a few remaining concerns, 5 fingers= very favorable. Once we were all at a 3 or above, we had “consensus”.
  7. Alignment: Drawing from the last illustration, everyone on the team puts out 5 fingers. One 4 – and you do not have alignment.

3 Key Learnings as our team adopted the Decision Rights model:

  1. Not every decision warrants consensus. Different types of decisions warrant different types of decision rights. By thinking through what level of buy-in is needed and how much time you have to make a decision, this allows the right level of decision making.
  2. You can strive for consensus, but can also have a back-up plan. In this example of adding a service time, you can shoot for consensus, but you also have to make the decision by a certain date in order to allow time for the teams to prepare for the change. The back-up plan, set up from the get-go says, “if we aren’t able to come to consensus by July 31, Jim’s going to decide (Leader Decides).
  3. Bringing clarity in advance to who is making the decision is freeing! Everyone knows their role. If you have no role in it, then you don’t have to expend any energy on it. If you’re giving input, you can speak honestly and openly, and then your job is done. If you have a vote, that’s clear as well.

This is a guest post by Amy Anderson who serves as a Ministry Consultant with the Unstuck Group. Amy served as the Executive Director of Weekend Services for over 12 years at Eagle Brook Church in the Twin Cities, helping the church grow from 3,000 to over 20,000. Today she works with churches of all sizes, providing a fresh perspective and concrete strategies to strengthen their processes, staff health and weekend experience.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing, Testimonial

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You Can’t Lead in a Hurry

As a leader it is possible to be busy and have peace. A leader can carry a lot of responsibility and the natural pressure that comes as a result of that responsibility and still have peace. It’s possible to have a full schedule and a long “to-do list,” and still have peace. The future that a leader is tasked to lead through can be daunting and yet it is possible for that leader to still have peace.

But it’s impossible to be hurried and have peace. You can’t lead in a hurry. You can spin plates in a hurry, rushing from one task to the next, but you can’t lead in a hurry. You can make decisions at a fast pace but you can’t lead in a hurry. Being hurried as a leader is not about pace, volume of work, or the gravity of responsibility. It’s something that happens inside of a leader. When the leader gets hurried bad things happen…

1. Staffing

When you are hurried as a leader your team becomes an expendable commodity to get you where you want to go instead of people to be invested in.

2. Metrics

When you become hurried as a leader metrics and goals become burdens to bear as opposed to benchmarks to celebrate.

3. Fun

When you are hurried as a leader the excitement, passion, belief, and simple fun that you used to have becomes substituted by anxiety.

4. Inner-Life

When you are a hurried as a leader you trade peace for anxiety, anger, disappointment, and bitterness. When this happens the leader is not only a danger to themselves but to the whole organization. Leaders know the longer you lead somewhere the more the organization begins to look like and take on the “personality” of the leader. Their “inner-life” begins to naturally be put on display throughout the behavior of the organization. Everyone suffers when the leader suffers.

So if you were honest with yourself today, are you a busy leader or a hurried leader? What are you willing to do about it? What would change this week if instead of calendaring for what you need to get done you calendared for what kind of person you want to become?

Photo Credit: RobSheppard via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Soul Care and the Leader

We’ve all heard the statistics. And what the statistics are telling us is that beneath the surface of appearances, a majority of pastors are hurting and discouraged. Do a quick Google search on “pastor burnout” and you’ll easily find the following statistics and more!

• 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches.

• 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.

• 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Great, so that’s reality. Really encouraging right? So what are Pastors to do about it?

1. Learn to say “No”

Believe it or not “no” can be a complete sentence. The Church already has a Savior and He’s doing quite well. Jesus already died for the Church, you don’t need to!

2. Learn what “Fuels Me”

You’ve got to discover what fuels you and then do that. Whether it is recreational or spiritual (it can be both) you’ve got to take the time to understand your own soul. One of the reasons there are so many spiritual disciplines is because there are so many different personalities and styles. Don’t do what works for somebody else. Do what works for you!

3. Protect Each Other

Life is best lived in community. In fact life-change happens best in the context of relationship. That’s not just a cliché we use to get people into small groups. Who are you doing life with? Who knows you? Who are you intentionally opening your soul to? Who is protecting you, and who are you protecting?

4. Control your own schedule

Time is simply an asset to leverage in order to get you where you want to go. Use it how you want to, so you can get where you want to. Intentionally schedule time with your family, vacation, time to evaluate, personal retreat days, etc. If you don’t control your calendar, everyone else will.

What have you found helpful in avoiding burnout in ministry? Leave a comment!


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing
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