church

Team Energy

Your team has an energy.

Over time, your church or organization will adopt this same energy.

What is energy? It’s a combination of intangibles like relational and organizational unity, momentum, support, morale, attitude and ultimately spirit.

Webster defines energy as: a usually positive spiritual force; vigorous exertion of power; a fundamental entity of nature that is transferred between parts of a system in the production of physical change within the system and usually regarded as the capacity for doing work; usable power.”

Energy is the real stuff of life God put in motion from the beginning.

Alright. So, what is Team Energy? It’s all the above either multiplied, subtracted or even divided by the energy of each team member.

Collectively, it’s the soul-condition of your organization.

Why does this matter? Two reasons.

#1 – Because people matter. Specifically, the health and well-being of your Lead Team matters to the Lord and should matter to you.

#2 – Because your vision matters. Your Team Energy will either be moving you collectively towards or away from fulfilling your unique vision.

For those of us trying to reach our communities with the Good News of Jesus, this is a big deal.

What does this have to do with your role as a pastor or especially as a lay-leader?

You are an Energy Manager. Wait. That’s not good enough and can often be counter-productive.

You are at your best as an Energy Multiplier.

(and so is your church!)

As an Energy Multiplier you should make it your goal to come alongside your Lead Team (fellow Pastoral Staff, Elders, Team Leaders, etc) to see that Team Energy is and remains at a high level.

This should be a shared role and goal and especially applies to the Team Energy of the Pastoral Staff.

Again, why does this matter?

Your vision is the reason and your church’s capacity to fulfill it will rise and fall with your Lead Team’s ability to model it and partner to move it forward.

And this takes ENERGY!

What are your thoughts on Team Energy? Share your take in the Reply section below.

Viral Volunteerism Part 1

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 1 – Clarity of Vision

“How do I get more volunteers?” I hear this question from leaders across the country. Why? Because of what I have never heard from anyone, anywhere… “We have too many volunteers!”

So, how do you get (and keep) more volunteers? Let’s explore this together over the next few posts… It all starts with leadership.

Let’s be more specific. By leadership we mean CLEAR leadership. Why? Because, the leadership must have clarity in several essential areas for people to develop the trust necessary to follow. Here are a few of those vital areas…

Clear Vision. Do people have a clear sense of where all of this is going? Are the leadership teams united in the pursuit of a shared vision for the church or organization? Has this been clearly communicated to those being asked to get on board? If not, get this done! People are slow to get on board a train with an uncertain destination.

Clear Goal. This is different than the overall vision of the organization. This one is specific to the initiative or event you are asking people to volunteer for. To get people to not only volunteer but to be excited about it, you have to clarify the win.

In other words, what does success look like if all goes even better than expected? The more specific you can be, the better. For example – Our goal is to pack 450 homeless care packets and deliver them to the shelter by 1pm.

Clear Information. This one is simple, but essential. Do people know what they are getting themselves into? Have you taken the time to let people know the who, what, when, where and how of what you are asking? We will cover this more specifically in an upcoming post, especially as it concerns the #1 factor in people’s willingness to volunteer.

Again, people will be slow to sign-up and show up if they aren’t sure what they are signing up for.

Clear leadership is central to creating a culture of Viral Volunteerism where the people have a high level of trust in a team that has done their homework!

Need some help gaining organizational clarity? Reply below and let’s get started with a free coaching call!

I Love BIG Churches 2

Unknown-4I Love BIG Churches – Part 2

4 Ways to Beat BIG Church Bitterness

It’s been said that, “A few apples spoil the bunch.” The big bad BIG Church reputation may actually apply to a few who have, unfortunately, earned it well. Still, I have found these to be the exception. Regardless, how we respond and relate to others is on us. Bitterness of any kind, for any reason, is unhealthy and quickly becomes a disease that infects a lead team (staff) and even entire church culture. So, what do you do with it once you recognize it?

Here are 4 Ways to Beat BIG Church Bitterness

1. Confess it. Get rid of it. You’ve held on long enough. Confess it to the Lord. Then, go to those you have spoken ill of and seek their forgiveness. Do the same with those you have infected and then repent of it. How? By speaking encouragement and blessing. Remember the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice…”

2. Pray for them. It’s hard to have bad feelings towards people you are sincerely praying for. I don’t know how this works, I just know it does. Pray those BIG Church leaders receive wisdom, faith, influence, blessing, peace and more as they serve the One they will ultimately answer to… just like you. Do this privately, do it as a lead team and even in your large settings, meetings and services. Remember, “What goes around, comes around.”

3. Learn from them. They may not always know better than you, but they might know some things you don’t. Maybe you know what they know and they have simply done what you haven’t? Either way, be humble enough to admit that they might know (and practice) somethings that may yet prove very healthy for you and your ministry culture. DON’T NOT BE AND NOT DO EXCELLENT THINGS JUST SO YOU WON’T BE LIKE “That BIG Church.”

4. Partner with them. Could it be that God’s people are better together than apart? Of course. And, I get it… different groupings of God’s people have and will exist until Jesus comes again. God uses them in unique ways to carry out His greater will. Still, aren’t there some things we could do better together to reach the lost and impact our communities for Christ? You won’t know until you try, until you ask. Take the lead on this…

Seek out that BIG Church leader. Encourage them, share concerns with them, pray for them. Yes, you will probably have to make an appointment. That’s just areality of leading a larger organization with a different system of doing business. Yes, it is a business… and, there is no more important business than the Father’s business. Jesus thought so. No, they may not be interested. However, imagine what God could do through His people if they did!

Whatever you do, don’t live and lead bitter. Let BIG Church bitterness go. It will only burn you and, worse, those you love. Refocus your energy. Big, small, mega, milt-site, home-based… there is so much potential yet to be realized as you invest in God’s unique plan for you and those you serve with!

 

4 Preoccupations of Great Leaders

UnknownEveryone is preoccupied by something. What separates the difference makers from those who simply don’t comes down to what they are preoccupied with. Especially for those serving in ministry life, here are 4 Preoccupations of Great Leaders…

Who are we serving? It’s easy to get off-center and become a people-pleaser. Let’s face it, so much is tied to the support and morale of those under our influence. Are we called to serve a world of others? Yes. However, they shouldn’t be our deep motivation. Besides, falling in and out of favor based on the preferences of people is just a fact of life for leaders. Remember, what we do is ultimately done “as unto the Lord.” It is his “well done” that we are striving for and are living in by His grace, through faith.

Why are we doing this? Any leader worth their salt has looked toward heaven and asked, “What am I doing and why am I doing it!?!” While it may have become a little too familiar in leadership circles, knowing and constantly returning to our “Why?” is a healthy practice, essential, really. When I’ve found myself wandering and wondering as a leader I have returned again and again to thoughts that focus on the good of others, the health of my family and the glory of the Lord. What is your “Why?”

How can I help? We vision and value. We strategize and plan. We resource and equip. We do a lot of things  in the pursuit or our organizational missions. But, somehow, we can still fall short of leading effectively. Return often to a simpler place as a leader and ask those you have empowered, “How can I help?” We may just be surprised to find that some of what we offer is of little help. In short, let others help you help them.

Who’s next? Most of us are so preoccupied with answering,  “What’s next?” that we miss the more important and far more influential question, “Who’s next?” Who are investing in? Who are you developing, encouraging, helping to grow and get better, BE better? Whether you are just getting started or are coming down the final stretch, your season as a leader will pass all too quickly. There will always be something else, but there will never be someone else quite like you and, even more important, those you can and should be preparing to lead next. Invest in “Who’s next?” and the “What’s next?” will become far more effective.

What are your preoccupations as a leader? I would love to hear your thoughts below! Need some help discovering your “Why?” Email me at tompelt1@gmail.com and let’s talk about partnering to become a healthier leader.

 

5 Beliefs of Good Leaders

Unknown-2Are you up against something you don’t know how to handle? Is your church or organization stuck with what seems like few solutions?

Here are 5 things good leaders believe and say in tough times…

This is happening. The first people to face facts should be those tasked with leading. Look the problem square in the eye. Don’t let others around you deny the realities or even dumb them down. “It is what it is.” However, you know the deeper truth… it isn’t what it will be, either.

This is hard. Admit your limitations, even your fears. Size up the situation, not making it out to better or worse than it is. This is going to take sustained effort and a lot of focused energy. This won’t be the most fun you’ve ever had as a lead team. Roll up your sleeves and get to it!

God is able. It’s time to apply some stubborn faith. Refuse to give in to negativity and doubt. Start speaking a greater reality over your leadership, people and the situation. Rally around the power of the promises of God in His Word. Speak with the win that is yet to come in heart and mind. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV)

We can do this. It always takes more people (and time!) to get out of trouble than into it. Gather your leadership team. Take the best next step. Engage your people. Partner with experienced outside help through coaching. Whatever you do, don’t go it alone.

There is more. This ins’t the end. You will face this, get through this and you will move on to greater influence, challenge and success as you stay focussed on your mission. You will take a hit or two along the way. However, stay grounded with the humble knowledge that God will be true to His Word & see you through to the other side.

Believe it and speak it while you work it out together!

Living & Leading “off the grid”

IMG_7325Social media is here to stay. Call it the “new normal,” it’s really not been “new” for quite some time. What matters today is how we as leaders incorporate it into our lives and leadership. Notice… we incorporate it into our lives, not the other way around. With the ease of access and the lure of having the world at our fingertips, how do we manage our use of social media? Here are 3 suggestions…

1) Plan for it. Like anything else of priority, plan on some strategic time slots for writing posts, reading up (blogs, articles, news, etc) and even for your more social side of social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc).  Be sure to include a specific time limit (10-11pm or 6-7am, etc). Otherwise, you may end up caught in the “surf” of the cyber world and realize you have wasted 2+ hours that could and should have been spent living and leading with real people in the real world.

2) Go for it. If you are going to be in the social media stream, then do it right. Write that blog article, share that inspirational post, send that picture that captures just the right family moment. Congratulate, well-wish, emoji to your heart’s content. Please, stay above the fray of all the personal “TMI” and worse, the vicious name-calling, side-taking, and the drama of it all… personal, political or otherwise. Invest your social media time in constructive, thoughtful and productive ways, especially when using your platform to address relevant issues of the day. Michael Hyatt has a wealth of instruction on how to create and manage your social media platform.

I think the Apostle Paul’s instruction to the Christ followers in Ephesus applies well here… “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV) 

3) Turn it off. You don’t have to socially document every waking moment. One professional platform guru I follow ( Jon Acuff) just unplugged for a week and probably only ended up increasing his following for it. People were just waiting for him to get back in the stream and even share a little about what he and his family did while on vacation. Other social media giants never seem to do this when, in reality, they have people they pay to keep up their presence 24/7. You probably don’t have “people” for this and you shouldn’t hold yourself as a leader to their standard. That’s a trap and only creates unrealistic expectations. Find your social media pace and stick to it… posting 1-2 times a week, checking social media 1-2 times a day, etc.

Whatever you do, unplug from the social media world and just take a walk with your spouse, play with your kids, or spend some time in God’s Word and prayer. Resist the temptation to narrate your life and the organization you lead and just live and lead in the reality of the moment. Trust that you have planned for your social media “fix” and just relax and enjoy life in the here-and-now.

You can live and lead in increasingly productive ways and have a strong and consistent social media presence. Manage it well and never let it take over your life and leadership. Live, lead, love, and laugh in the real world with real people. Speaking of the real world…

The Journey of Lent (& life)

lent_desktop

What is Lent and why should we experience it? Especially for those not of a Catholic or more liturgical background, how can this tradition help us go deeper in our relationship with Jesus and wider in our influence for Him with others?

Lent is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Many Christians traditionally fast, pray, repent and/or practice moderation during this time in preparation and recognition of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. One source explains, “The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.” In many respects, this is a journey that is reflective of Jesus’ own path from the places of his popular ministry to the unfolding of His passion on the lonely cross of Calvary.

Perhaps this journey is summarized in the recollection of Luke, one of His closest followers, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51, NIV) This wouldn’t be an easy road. Still, Jesus had known His mission from the beginning. He knew His purpose and pursued it with a singular passion. He journeyed with compassion for the fickled crowds and words of instruction and rebuke for both close followers and critics alike along the way. Fixed on the cross He came to a crisis on the Mount of Olives, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV) It is this journey, this crisis point that Lent leads us in.

What will you give up in order to gain a deeper identity and fellowship with Jesus? How will you join Him in the journey He now entrusts to us as His followers… the daily commission to “carry the cross” in such a way that others are convicted by His sacrifice and catch a glimpse of His enduring love for them? In the end, ours are simple sacrifices… going without coffee or soda, fasting from certain foods or, (dare I say it?), all forms of entertainment media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, movies, TV, etc). It is helpful to go down this road with others who will pray with you, for you and share in making an accountable sacrifice during this sacred season.

As Jesus “set out for Jerusalem,” may this season of Lent help us focus our lives on a deeper intimacy with Him and a greater commitment in the Great Commission journey He has set out for us.

What are some ways you or others are observing Lent? Share your thoughts with others in the discussion section below!

Sources include: http://www.umcmission.org/Learn-About-Us/News-and-Stories/2011/March/Lent-as-a-Journey and http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/qt/whatislent.htm

 

 

 

5 Ways to Get Over It

UnknownWe all get hurt. We’ve all hurt others. This isn’t optional, though we desperately try to avoid it. What we do with it is. While it won’t be easy and will take some time, here are 5 Ways to Get Over It when you’ve been hurt in life and leadership.

1) Get real. Don’t be brave and deny your pain. It will haunt you. Don’t “bottle” it up. It will blow up on you and those around you. Go ahead. Be hurt. Be shocked. Be angry. Be sad. After all, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35, NIV) Whether from the unbelief of his closest followers or just because his friend died, he cried over it openly. Though sinless, He also expressed anger, disappointment, loneliness and every emotion we experience in life and leadership today.

Be whatever it is you are feeling. Be real about it. Fail to do this and you only prolong and even intensify the pain. Say the words. Journal about it (No… don’t blog it, rant on Facebook or tweet about it). Look yourself in the mirror and face your reality. God is big enough to handle your hurt and you won’t befooling anyone but yourself if you fail to take this vital step.

2) Go to it. By “it” we mean “them.” You can’t get past it if you try to go around those involved in whatever “it” is. You may have to do this more than once as you first go to God, then to those who wronged you (or you wronged), and then to those in your life who can help you (family, friends & accountability partners). Be honest with them. Don’t minimize or exaggerate. Be genuine as you forgive and seek forgiveness. There is no other step until this step is taken. (See Matthew 6:12-15 & Matthew 18:15-20) 

3) Get over it. This will take some time. The deeper the pain, the longer it may take. It sounds more spiritual to say you can simply, “Forgive and forget.” The reality is we may truly forgive and be forgiven and still be tempted with lingering issues, regrets, cynicism, defensiveness or become very guarded. When this happens, do something about it.

  1. Be accountable. Admit it to yourself, the Lord and someone you trust.
  2. Give it the antidote… speak a word of Scripture, of faith, hope, or encouragement over yourself, your situation or someone you’ve already forgiven.
  3. Control your atmosphere. Refuse to throw private, let alone public, pity-parties. Create atmospheres of gratitude, expectation, and joy… at home, your car, your workplace, etc.

4) Give yourself time to get over it… but determine to get over it and go forward with God’s grace and the accountability of others. Our emotions will often circle and cycle around as we move forward. So will the feelings of others involved. They may come to you and then, together, you can process the hurt and gain a better understanding together of how to learn and grow from it. Take your time because that’s what it will take.

5) Get on with it. It’s time to move on. You may or may not be moving on locationally, but you can move on in heart and mind. Determine with some real “grit” to focus on what God is doing in your life right here, right now. Dare to dream a little about your future while you are at it. Then, find someone to listen to, lift up and help get through the challenge they are facing in their life. Stay busy in these ways and there will be little time to obsess about you or listen to the lies from the enemy of our souls whispering doubt and defeat, hoping to trap you in the past. Not you. Not this time. You are moving forward!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:17-19, NIV)

Finally, be grateful for it. This is perhaps the ultimate way of cementing closure and moving on. Call it the “Joseph Principle.” Having been betrayed by family, co-workers, promoted, demoted, imprisoned, promoted again and everything in between, Joseph responded to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:19-21, NIV) (See Matthew 5:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Peter 4:12-14) 

God hasn’t something new and next for you, not in spite of what you need to get over, but through it… maybe even because of it. No, you won’t get there in “5 easy steps.” However, you can and will get there as you determine to find help and healing in the Lord.  Start by getting real…

The Best (re)Action

images-3What is our first reaction to a challenge, problem, or crisis? How many panic or just plain freak out? How many get all “hero” and do something immediately… even if it’s wrong? How many retreat ASAP to get away, process and plan?

What if we did something altogether different? What if, instead of immediately asking, “What am I going to do?” we first asked, “Lord, what do you want to do?”

Pray first. Consider a small but powerful commentary on some of our Biblical heroes found in Scripture, “Abraham prayed…” “Isaac prayed…” “Jacob prayed…” “Moses prayed…” “Samson prayed…” “Hannah prayed…” “David prayed…” “Elijah prayed…” “Elisha prayed…” “Nehemiah prayed…” “Daniel prayed…” “Jonah prayed…” “Jesus prayed…” “Stephen prayed…” “Peter prayed…” “Paul prayed…”

…you get the picture.

Then again, do we get the picture when it comes to prayer? The great theologian, John Bunyon lends perspective, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Sure, we can spend a lifetime doing things by pure initiative. But what if, through prayer, we partnered in God’s initiative, His plan and purpose? We won’t know until we try.

The next time something comes up and we don’t know what to do, let’s make our first reaction taking action through prayer. Remember, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers) 

31 Tips for 2016 – #16

Unknown-1Here is Tip #16 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Use plenty of “shortening” in the mix. 

“Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.” (Acts 20:9, NIV) Paul really knocked’em dead with that sermon! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Pastors and preachers are not known for being pithy. Guilty as charged. While there are many ingredients in the recipe for a powerful sermon, the “secret ingredient” may be as Shakespeare observed, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Hamlet)

Don’t kill Eutychus. Saying it shorter accomplishes 3 things…

It forces you to know your material better. If you know it well enough to say it, illustrate and apply it succinctly, you know it well. If you find yourself “circling the runway,” unable to land, you don’t. The more prepared we are, the less we feel the need to restate and ramble. Don’t blame this on the Spirit or anyone else. Be prepared and make the point.

It makes a statement of value. If time is one of our most valuable commodities, then wasting it is a crime. Create an expectation of respect for people by starting and ending on time. Any verbal presentation lasting more than 30 minutes better be engaging… or most have checked out. See Q Ideas or  Ted Talks for brilliantly brief examples.

Finally, it leaves people wanting more. Better to leave people feeling… “I could have heard more about that…” than, “C’mon. When will this guy be done?” Less is more.

Speaking of…