team building

Viral Volunteerism Part 4

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 4 – Timing is Everything 

It’s been said that, “Timing is everything.” While it may not be everything, it does play a valuable role in gathering and keeping great volunteers in your ministry or organization.

Answer the following questions from the perspective of those you seek to engage as volunteers..,

When is the training? How long will it take? When training is involved, be clear about the investment of time this will take in addition to the actual event.

What is the prep or setup time? Cleanup/tear down? Follow-up? It’s easy to overlook these practical parts of the equation as “givens.” However, factor this in so that people have a realistic view of what they are committing to and how much time it will take.

When does it start? Your event or initiative isn’t likely the only thing people have going. Are other things in your ministry starting at the same time? Be clear about when their commitment begins so they can plan effectively.

When does it end? Remember, people have other places to go and things to do. This one is BIG!!! Create a culture where things “running late” are the rare exceptions.

When people know you value them and their investment, they are far more likely to partner with you. Few things say this like valuing people’s time. Create a culture where people can “set their watch” by the way you communicate and stick to the timing you have asked your volunteers to give.

Need some help taking your volunteers and teams to the next level? Let us know the best way to contact you in the thread below. Let’s partner together to take you volunteerism viral in the coming year!

 

Viral Volunteerism Part 3

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 3 – “Why should I?”

Who wouldn’t love to partner with more great volunteers? Getting and keeping them doesn’t just happen. You have to give great people a great reason to partner with you. Let’s get more specific about this by answering a simple question from the perspective of the volunteer… “Why should I?”

1) Answer the “why?” first. Don’t just show them the need, give them the reason. Paint the picture for them of what their effort means to the the need at hand and, more importantly, the people involved. Show and tell people how their involvement will make a real difference.

2) Crunch the numbers of the need. The more specific, the better. How many people are being affected? How long has the need existed? Where is “ground central?” What will the stats be in 3 or 5 years if nothing is done about it?

3) Set a clear goal. You may not be able to meet all of the need. However, what is your part as a church or organization? Again, be specific with your goal. How much money do you hope to raise? How many homeless care packets do you hope to make?

4) They need to “see it!” in person or at least video (or both). This is all about painting the picture of the “Why?” for those you hope to engage in the effort. Find those gifted at this and enlist their services from your hard-copy literature to your on-line presence, be sure to promote with honesty (don’t oversell it… people will see through this!), excellence and consistency.

 5) Finally, remember that information is inspiration! Consider using some type of graphic that tracks the giving or effort toward the goal and keep it updated. Don’t wait until the end to thank people for their investment of time, resources or money. Thank them for every step achieved towards the clear goal and then… celebrate the win!

Great volunteers will more often respond to a clear call for a worthy cause. Your job as a leader is to give them the reason why they should!

Need help discovering the “Why?” of your next effort or for your overall ministry or organization? Respond below with your contact information and let’s talk about how we can partner to take your volunteerism viral!

Viral Volunteerism Part 2

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 2 – A Worthy Cause

Non-profit organizations, churches and para-church ministries all require one thing to succeed… great volunteers! One of the common questions I hear in conversations with other leaders across the country is, “Why can’t we get more volunteers?”

Let’s talk about some practical answers to this pressing question…

Ask yourself as a lead team, “Is it a worthy cause?” And, before you insist, “Of course it is!” Think about it from several different angles (besides your own)…

Don’t assume your cause is THE cause. Could the group of volunteers you are trying to engage be otherwise invested in another or even several other causes outside of your ministry at the moment? Have you asked? Would the timing be better when other initiatives have run their course?

How many other causes are being championed within your own organization? In other words, could there be a conflict of causes? Maybe it’s time to apply the “less is more” principle? What would it look like if, instead of doing a little for a whole lot, you did a lot for fewer? I would suggest that making a greater impact less often for fewer is more impactful in the long run!

Does your cause meet a need not already being met? Let’s face it, charity has become big business. Is the organization or need you are seeking to support already well funded? Are there others in your area (another church or organization) already effectively addressing the need?

Who told you it was a worthy cause to begin with? Just because its a worthy cause and making headlines in one part of the country (or world) doesn’t mean it will rally support in your unique area or culture. Are their causes that may hit closer to home for those you hope to partner with?

If you are trying to sell an unfamiliar cause to your volunteer base, you better do your homework… we’ll talk more about what this means in an upcoming post.

There are many worthy causes. Make sure it is a cause worthy for all of the right reasons.

Need some help engaging your volunteer base? Let us help you. Reply below with your best contact information for a free coaching call! Let’s explore how a coaching partnership might help you create a Viral Volunteer culture in your ministry or organization!

How to be a BIG Church

Unknown-12I Love BIG Churches – Part 4

How to be a BIG Church!

Bigger is always better when it comes to some things… but we aren’t talking about mere numbers. Regardless of the size of your ministry and the greater demographic you are hoping to influence, here are some ways you can go BIG for Christ.

5 Ways to be a BIG Church…

1) BIG prayer. You can be certain of this, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray!” (Charles Spurgeon) Fast and pray together in increasingly creative ways… 24hr prayer summits, days of fasting, scripture praying, prayer walls, stations and more. Simply put, you and your ministry family cannot pray enough as you align yourself with God’s unique purpose for you!

2) BIG worship. It doesn’t have to be a large venue or a long service to worship well and dive deep together into the Word of God. Make your times of gathering as a congregation a priority not only for you, but for those neighbors and friends you are inviting to join you. Give your best and make it all about Jesus!

3) BIG service. Who are you partnering with in your community to meet needs and be the hands and feet of Jesus? From a local school’s tutoring program to a homeless shelter, from a foster parenting group to a ministry fighting human trafficking, there are people with a heart for service you can partner with in your sphere of influence!

4) BIG giving. Don’t be afraid to inspire and inform often about the importance of tithes and offerings. Why? Because of the partnership potential it brings to the Kingdom of Christ. Keep the motivations before your people… from missionaries abroad to local and regional ministries, remind often that giving makes it go as God multiplies it for His glory!

5) BIG love. “Love one another.” The most influential thing any church has going for them is their capacity to love each other. People are attracted to people who genuinely care for one another, in spite of faults, failures and sins. Through small groups gathering often to simply being there for each other on a daily basis… leave no doubt in your communities mind that you are love by God and love one another in a BIG, BIG way!

Be BIG and go BIGGER and BIGGER in the ways that truly matter. The numbers will take care of themselves as people come to Jesus and you grow disciples who make disciples!

Here’s a BIG BONUS for small/medium sized churches… check out Breaking 200 Without Breaking You by Carrie Nieuwhof.

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!

5 Ways to Encourage Educators

Unknown-1We all have that teacher, coach, bus-driver, librarian, administrator or other educator who played a vital role in us becoming who we are today (Thanks “Coach P” & Mr. Pyle!). As a new school year begins, let’s pay this forward by practicing…

5 Ways to Encourage Educators in Your Life

1) Pray for them daily. Who couldn’t use more prayer? Remember, they face the same real world stuff of life as us. Pray the Lord blesses and strengthens them for their task.

2) Encourage them often. Don’t assume they know how important they are and how much they are appreciated as they mold the minds of our kids! Let them know… often.

3) Be kind in your critique. Take the tone and choose the words you would prefer they use when evaluating your kids or, better yet, your parenting skills. Think honesty and encouragement as a good combo.

4) Be generous at holidays (or anytime “just because.”) Educators aren’t in it for the money. Give them a restaurant gift card, gas card, movie card, coffee shop card… or get together with other parents to buy them a new iPad, send them on a paid weekend away at the destination of their choice. Why not? When they are at their best, so will our kids!

5) Be grateful for their influence on our kids. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” (Henry Adams) They are investing in life changing moments with our kids. Think of even more ways you can help them do the job and fulfill the call they have assumed.

THANK YOU EDUCATORS!

How do you honor the educators in your life? Share your suggestions in the Reply section below…

31 Tips for 2016!

Unknown-1Here is Tip #24 for leaders (especially my pastor friends out there!)… Finish What You Started. Which is why I’m including #25-31 practical tips in this post as well…

It’s so easy to get sidetracked, especially for most visionary type leaders. While we may have done a good job planning, prepping, promoting, praying, and more… we are often too quick to move on to what’s next and forget to follow-through and follow-up on what’s already going. Take a deep breath, gather your team and do your due diligence to see that what gets going, gets done.

#25 – Put down that sticky bun and pick up some clean eating habits. Every day (or meal!) can’t be a “cheat day.” Check out the lifestyle options Advocare has to offer. Yes, I use it. No, I’m not a distributor. I am much healthier than I was last year before I started being a steward of this aging body God has loaned me. Cut way down on the carbs (bread, potatoes and “country fried” anything) and load up on the lean meats, fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

#26 – Create a standing work station. I use a cafe table that is adjusted high enough to do the trick. You might check out some actual standing desks such as those at Ready Desk. However you do it, don’t just sit there. Stand up, walk around, stay as mobile as possible throughout the day.

#27 – Pray about it. We miss this one constantly. Stop worrying, waiting, planning and plotting and pray for them, it or whatever you are facing. Find some trusted partners to step up, kneel down and pray with and for you. Worry is a waste. Don’t. Do pray vocally, specifically, passionately and constantly.

#28 – Drink half your weight (in ounces) of water every day… or give it a shot, anyway! AND STOP DRINKING THE EMBALMING FLUID KNOWN AS SODA. Take it from a recovering Diet Mountain Dew addict… it’s not doing you any favors. H2O is a large part of the stuff God made us of. Fill your body with it morning, noon and night.

#29 – Stop focusing (obsessing) on those who are against you and your vision. It’s pride masquerading as “concerned” leadership. Pray for them, whoever “they” are, (“Lord, move them up or move them out.”), deal with them in a redemptive but firm way if needed, and then focus on Jesus. Invest in those who are with you and if you must obsess, obsess on getting it done for God’s glory and the good of others.

#30 – Lighten up. Some of the very best advice my dad has given me is this… “Tommy, the world was doing just fine before the two Tom Pelts came along and will do just fine when we are gone.” Ouch… thanks, dad. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Live, laugh, love and lead light.

#31 – Invest in your family! Date your spouse. Put in overtime with your kids. Make family memories and make no apologies for it. In all of the deathbed conversations I have been privileged to take part in, not one person has lamented not making more money, gaining more position and power, or spending more hours at work. I have, however, heard many wish they could have done more for Christ and with their families.

Take nothing for granted and lead with a grounded sense of gratitude to the Lord for the privilege to learn from and lead with others! There you have it… 31 Tips for Leaders in 2016. Got your own tips? Add them to the discussion thread below!

 

 

Leading at Elevation Part 3

IMG_7330You’ve reached your goal, pulled off that event, launched that initiative and otherwise climbed that mountain as a team. Congratulations! Enjoy the view. Take in the moment. Give God glory and thank those who helped you get there. Now, how do you get down? What do you do with the fact that more than 2/3 of all injuries and deaths on peaks such as Mt. Everest happen on the descent?

Here are 4 suggestions for leading well on the way down…

Plan and prepare for coming down well before going up. Talk as a team about what it will look like after the goal is reached or event is over. What will it mean to the overall organization and the leadership team? What do you hope to accomplish and learn? What about the more practical matters… do we come down the same way we went up? Who will clean-up, tear-down, pack-up and otherwise “leave no trace” in order for the next expedition to launch? Don’t be caught off-guard by over-looking the age-old axiom… “What goes up, must come down.”

Take your time. Gravity has a way of encouraging a rapid descent. Resist the temptation to rush down and move on to the next “big thing.” You went up as a team, now come down as one. Watch your step. Be sure to monitor the descent… how is everyone doing along the way? What was their view from the “top?” How are they feeling as they come off the “high?” Divers know this reality in reverse as they explore the depths of the ocean… you can surface too quickly and become very ill, even die if you don’t take your time, giving your body time to adjust at every change in depth.

Leave no trace. If you packed it in, pack it out. Consider how your success will impact other teams, goals, events or initiatives. Talk about this with your team and other teams. Don’t clutter the route that others will be traveling and spaces others will be using. Do your part to clear the way, leave it as you found it or improve it when possible by cleaning up any other messes that may have been made by you or anyone else.

Unpack (and repack) together. Finally, debrief intentionally. Gather shortly after everyone has made it off the mountain. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Then, gain perspectives. Did we accomplish what we set out to accomplish? What went well? What didn’t? What surprises were there? What caught us off-guard or unprepared? How do we improve? How do all of these lessons help us pack for the next trip together?

Reaching great heights as a team is only half the journey. Come down off that mountain as well or better as you gained it’s summit and enjoyed it’s views.

Leading at Elevation Part 2

images-6What does it mean to lead at elevation? Whether you have made game-changing connections with your community, added staff, merged with another ministry, been given more responsibility, increased your budget, remodeled environments, launched a new ministry, or made any other significant gains or changes… what does it take to lead well in the midst of it all?

Leading at Elevation takes prayer. Prayer is the difference between a good thing, a great thing and a God-thing! A God-thing is something that, unless God shows up, it is doomed to fail. Prayer acknowledges the deeper reality that all our efforts are in vain if not rooted in the will and glory of God. As God said through Zechariah to King Zeruababel, “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

Leading at Elevation takes honest communication. Create an environment that encourages honesty at every turn and every gain in influence. The truth that should be embraced is that new heights bring new challenges. It is not only normal to be a little nervous about it, it is a good thing to stay humbled by it. Talk about the fears, ask the tough questions and don’t settle for easy answers as you sort through a changing array of emotions that accompany new heights!

Leading at Elevation takes preparation. Plan your route (knowing there will be detours). Scout out the trail and establish clear goals as to where you want to be and by when. However, remember this… the wider your influence, the farther your reach, and the higher your elevation, the more you will need to prepare, plot, pack, encourage, equip, train and keep track of your progress. Remember, this doesn’t mean MORE of everything. Pack light. Don’t pile on. Less is more when it comes to going the distance on any trail, especially those that lead you higher and higher.

Leading at Elevation takes work. You’ve heard the old saying… “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” Clearly, everyone isn’t. The way of greater influence for Christ is rockier, the path narrower, incline steeper, air thinner, commitment greater and the critics louder. Keep hiking, keep climbing and climbing and climbing. The view will be worth it.

IMG_7323Leading at Elevation takes evaluation. You’ve heard it said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Take time to take stock in where you are at and how well you are reaching your goals along the way. Task someone, perhaps an outside coach, with keeping you on track as you go. Consider them your “Sherpa…” an indispensable guide for your expanding expedition!

Leading at Elevation deserves celebration. Whenever you have reached and exceeded a goal, it’s worth rejoicing with all of those who helped the team get there. Acknowledge the effort and the organizational win. Take the time to enjoy the view. This, in itself, is a form of worship and God is worthy of it!

IMG_7332

You can lead well at elevation. Determine to grow together in Christ as you gain influence and reach new heights for His glory and the good of others. Let me know how I can help you and your team reach new heights in healthy ways. I would love to partner with you!

 

Living & Leading at Elevation

images-6Can you go and grow too far, too high, and too fast as an organization? What does it mean to live and lead at elevation in the realtionships that matter most? Let me tell you a story…

We had been steadily hiking for about three hours, gaining elevation with every step from roughly 10,000 to over 12,000 feet. The views had been amazing and we were now gazing down on the Upper Colony Lake basin, still encompassed by the towering peaks of three “fourteeners…” Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Mt. Humboldt (see photo). A fourteener is mountaineering lingo for the 72 mountains in excess of 14,000 feet in North America. Not quite Everest or Denali, but far from your local state park stroll. To give perspective, we were above the tree line and several small ice fields are below our level on the opposite slope. We had been planning for months and would soon have completed the first of what we hoped would be many fourteeners to come.

The truth was that my heart was beating out of my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. My head had been pounding for over an hour already and, if I lifted my head from the rocky trail too quickly, I saw “stars.” I was also in denial. I knew what I was experiencing was classic elevation sickness. My body had not had time to adapt to the elevation difference between the Bluegrass of Kentucky and the mountains of Colorado. I had been way too eager, insisting that we should “go for it” the day after getting to Grandpa’s Mountain, itself at a little over 8,000 feet. In short, I overestimated my ability and, worst of all, underestimated the mountain. Never underestimate the mountain.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and almost 70 degrees. Then, in minutes, dark clouds rolling over themselves and folding over the mountains let loose a volley of lightening that seemed to land all around us. The thunder was deafening as it echoed off the massive granite formations. Then it began to rain. Briefly. The momentary pause would have been welcomed if it hadn’t been so ominous, giving way to marble-sized hail. The temperature plummeted 20 degrees faster than anything I had experienced, and I grew up in Ohio. Welcome to the the Sangre de Christo high country.

IMG_7325We were exposed on the side of Mt. Humboldt in an area known as the switchbacks. Before the hail started we could see still see our campsite (see picture left), albeit a speck, and we knew we had to get low, fast. We scrambled to put on our rain gear and lift our packs over our heads to take the brunt of the intensive pounding. Ironically, it was a distraction from my throbbing head. Eventually we made it down to our soggy site, about the time the sky cleared and sun came back out… birds chirping and marmots scrambling among the rocks and brush, oblivious to it all. We were as exhausted as we were stunned at our ill-fated first attempt.

Do we stop and camp out for the night? Maybe take the 3 hour hike back to the old Jeep? Honestly, this sounded good. Still, we had started very early and it was only around noon, though it seemed much later. My son asked if I wanted to press on. He could tell I was in rough shape. We would still have to face the switchbacks, the steep ridge, the false summit, the saddle and then, the summit. Over 2,300 feet of hard hiking and technical scrambling to “bag the peak” and enjoy the view dared us to try. I insisted we could do it, praying to God for strength under my breath. We checked our gear, ate a power bar, hydrated and hit the trail.

Only half-way up the switchbacks I had already had to stop twice. My legs were so heavy and the 35 pound pack weighed on me like a ton of bricks. I was now experiencing “tunnel vision,” that dark “closing in” sense and very real lack of sight. “Am I having a heart attack? Maybe a stroke?” I remember thinking to myself, “If I don’t stop, Andrew will be left alone and they will have to call in a rescue helicopter to lift me out of here… how embarrassing.” Not that he wouldn’t be okay. At a fit 24 years old, he was in much better shape than me. I just hated the thought of letting him down. Still, I had already pressed on far beyond the bounds of common sense for an out of shape 47-year-old.

He now insisted with genuine concern and stated the obvious… “Dad, you don’t look very good. We better stop.” I gave up and gave in to the better part of valor… well after wisdom’s first calls. My symptoms lessened as we rested at the campsite for a while, packed up and began the hike down and out. My headache persisted but my energy increased and my pack seemed lighter as we decreased elevation. The sometimes bone-jarring four-wheel drive (more of a crawl) the rest of the way down was going to prove a welcomed respite. Little was said until we found ourselves back in town, debriefing at our favorite watering hole. A hard and humbling lesson learned.

Elevation matters in life, leadership and relationships. You can go higher, faster, you just can’t do it healthier. Only time at elevation will work it’s wonder as everyone and everything adjusts to each new, subtantial gain. What does this look like? How do you keep from getting a case of elevation sicknesss as a lead team, organization or family? Check out Living and Leading at Elevation Part 2 coming soon!