vision

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!

The Shepherd CEO

UnknownTwo extremes pull and tug at most pastors, especially those that lead small/medium sized congregations . They may be called upon at any time of day or night to be one or the other. It can be as overwhelming as it is exhausting to find balance between caring for and leading the flock. In other words, being the Shepherd and the “CEO.”

The pastor as shepherd. This role calls on the pastor to be listener, comforter, intercessor, counselor, friend and more. While this can be as rewarding as any aspect of ministry, it can also be exhausting. Without some checks and balances pastors can easily find themselves suffering from compassion fatigue and worse, burn-out. This role isn’t isolated to the pastor and is shared in so many ways by spouses, kids and other ministry team members.

Still, being a shepherd never goes out of style. As a small church pastor I cared personally for the church one family, couple or individual at a time. When I was a large church pastor I was there for the staff, lead teams and their families who in turn cared for the larger congregation through small groups. To be honest, this is will always be the best method regardless of size… God’s people caring for one another! Regardless, the call to love the people we lead is still relevant, and always will be. Shepherding never goes out of style. Only the context changes with size.

Then there’s the pastor as CEO. Regardless of polity, structure and/or staffing, the pastor can’t ignore the realities of organization life (visioning, goal-setting, staffing, budgeting, planning, training, etc.). I have had the privilege of pastoring churches from 9-900 and the overall responsibility is the same, only the administrative method changes. For many in small and medium-sized churches, they often find themselves as their own secretary, executive assistant, administrative pastor and more all rolled into one. There is a better way and we would love to help you find it! (Let’s talk coaching!)

Whether you have paid staff or not to handle daily operations, the reality is that the church has a business side to it and it should be handled with a practical professionalism, and a lot of prayer! After all, administration is a biblical gift. For those with the benefit of dedicated staff for all the above, you still bear the responsibility of oversight, equipping and encouraging each leader and each area of ministry well.

Pastors have long since been tasked with leading as both shepherd and CEO. “Old school” pastors and churches emphasize one while millennial ministers and their ministries have trended to the other. However, both are vital to the health of the organizational culture and congregation.

Bottom line? Pastors must be all about the business of being there for people while simultaneously overseeing the nuts and bolts of organizational life. Both never stop begging for attention and deserve equal parts compassion and excellence.

The question is, how do pastors do this without losing it? Is balance even possible?

Share your suggestions in the reply section below. Need some help finding a balance or renewing your focus on one or the other? We would love to help you find a more effective balance. Let us know how we can help through an ongoing coaching partnership. Just reply, “Let’s talk coaching!” in the reply section below and we’ll get connected!

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!

Lead like there is no “it.”

images-13“If I could just find it, that one thing that will turn this thing around!” We’ve all wished this, maybe even dropped everything and focused on finding “it” or “pulling it off” in hopes that “it” will be the thing that helps us break through and take things to the next level, never to return. Here’s a reality check for all of us, there is no “it.”

Here are 4 ways to Lead like there is no “it…”

1) Get “it” out of your own head. Life and leadership are a process. It is faith, hard work, risk, creativity, passion and perseverance… all wrapped up in the amazing grace of the Lord. Stop with the tunnel vision that has you hanging your hopes on any one thing to create success for you and your organization.

2) Stop saying “it.” Be careful over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to that “next big thing” you’ve got going. By all means, plan, pray and promote it with enthusiasm. However, be careful not to give the impression that any one event or initiative will make or break your vision. This is rarely the case.

3) Get passionate about it. Embrace the process with great excitement. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the little wins along the way with others. Talk about your ongoing goals, your mistakes and outright blunders, as well as areas you hope to grow in together over the next quarter or year.

4) Find another and another “it”. Always be planning on and for something that will help you BE better as a team at realizing your vision. As John Maxwell has challenged, “Leaders see first and see farther.” 

The real “it” is the culture that you are creating and the lives you are transforming. For ministry leaders this is all about making disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ, and this is anything but a “one and done” proposition. It is a process of learning, growing, believing, trying, failing, resting, trying again, and again and again.

Let’s do this! Let’s lead like there is no “it.”

31 Tips for 2016 – #18

Unknown-1Here is Tip # 18 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Watch your language.

Are you using “curse words” without even knowing it? We’re not talking about one of the infamous “4-letter words.” As a matter of fact, the worst one may just have only one letter… “I.”

When it comes to the power of the plural and how we frame our conversations, two examples come to mind…

Jordan Spieth has taken the professional golf world by storm. One of the youngest in history to win so much, so fast on the biggest stages in golf. Of course, those in the know have watched his career grow steadily from the junior golf tour to #1 in the world. How did he get there? It wasn’t overnight and he wasn’t alone. Just listen to a pre or post-round interview and he will tell you his secret, every time. No, it isn’t a magic move in his swing or hidden course strategy, it’s in the way he intentionally and consistently answers questions with… “We have been working on that over this past month…” “We have been trying that out and have plenty of room for improvement…”, etc. With Jordan, it’s almost always a “WE” thing. He includes his family, coaches, friends and fans in just about every conversation concerning his young and stellar career, giving and sharing the credit for the wins with others while personally shouldering the blame when things go wrong.

Peter and the other apostles learned this language as the early church struggled mightily and grew rapidly. Take Acts 15 for example… “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (v11) “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them…” (v19-20) “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” (v36) Whether teaching, confronting, encouraging, or strategizing it was almost always a “WE” thing as the Spirit led the apostles in the rapid expanse of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How do we frame our conversations as leaders? Let’s determine to create a culture where “WE” vision, work, pray, risk, fail, create, do-over, and keep on striving together with our lead teams and volunteers. Unless taking responsibility for how we’ve fallen short or failed to lead, let’s watch our language and use the “I” word sparingly,

We are truly better, together. Remember, its a “WE” thing! 

31 Tips for 2016 – #7

Unknown-1Here is Tip #7 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Visit influential ministries.

We may sometimes feel like our organizations are the center of the universe. News flash… they aren’t. Worse, there is sometimes an undercurrent of unspoken competition, even between churches. This is one of the “dirty little secrets” of the church world. As it turns out, God is moving and working in and through people all around the world, maybe even close to home. 

Determine to get out there and draw from those who are reaching their communities for Christ in ways you may not be. Hint: They may or may not be “mega churches.” However, it is often helpful to gather from those who are impacting on a larger scale than you. Go with your team members to learn from how they do what they do, their processes and strategies, values and leadership flow. Target specific areas such as kid’s ministry, outreach, guest services and worship.

Want to really make this worth while? Contact the leadership well in advance. Tell them what you will be doing and ask for a “behind the scenes tour.” Take notes, pictures and then schedule a time to unpack together in an informal setting. Then, apply some of what you have learned going forward.

Regardless of how well you are leading and how many your are reaching for Christ, we can always do better, be better for His kingdom come where we live and serve.

7 Things Effective Leaders Do

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If you are a pastor or lay-leader hoping to lead well through a season of change, you are going to need a great team! The wisdom writer reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV)

By whatever name you call your lay-leadership or organizational board (Elders, Deacons, Directors, Trustees, Team Leads, Council Members, etc), the effective ones are far from perfect, but do have a few things in common and I’ve had the privilege to work with many who model these practices! Here are 7 Things Effective Lay-leaders Do in churches of any size…

1) Pray. Effective lay-leaders are passionate, persistent and prevailing in prayer. They intercede for everyone from guests who filled out the latest “Connect Card” to the Children’s pastor’s spouse who has a job interview. They pray and fast with the team for major decisions, initiatives, and that routine meetings will be anything but. In short, they create, guide and guard the culture through prayer.

2) Prepare. Effective lay leaders don’t just show up. They are read up, prayed up and pumped up. Their reports are on time and to the point. They prepare both insightful comments and probing questions to add value to the greater discussion. They also help other leaders prepare. Specifically, the Lead Pastor. “How can I help you get ready for? What resources do you need to lead?” These are questions they intentionally ask the staff and other leaders to help them be and do better.

3) Ponder. Effective lay leaders ask great questions… and ask a lot of them. Jesus modeled this one so well, often answering questions or prompting discussions with hard questions that forced the issues that may have otherwise been avoided. Good leaders also ask questions they themselves don’t know the answers to, but know everyone else is thinking. This takes a healthy combination of humility and desire to see the bigger picture for the greater good at the expense of appearing constantly competent. Then, they listen intently to others as everyone processes together.

4) Promote. Effective lay leaders help get the word out about the latest and greatest via social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth. They don’t wait for it… they create the “buzz” that get’s everyone else talking about the vision, value or event. In other words, they drive the vision forward with a purposed passion!

5) Present. Effective lay leaders are ready to give their 2-cents (report, presentation, proposal, etc) in clear, concise and creative ways. They are well aware that they aren’t the only one’s who will have the floor, nor are they the “main event.” They do have a grounded understanding of the importance of their area and contribution to the greater team.

6) Protect. Effective lay leaders are the first to confront negativity, critical spirits or gossip. They guard the vision and values of the organization almost as passionately as they guard the people in it… especially fellow leaders and their families. While they have a holy discontent for mediocrity and the status quo, they have little tolerance for bad attitudes and non whatsoever for seeds of discord and side-taking.

7) Praise. Effective lay leaders set the example in giving God the glory and others the credit when things are going well, and shouldering the blame when they aren’t. They intentionally create a culture of praise, gratitude, celebration and ownership of wins and losses along the way.

Bonus: Effective lay leaders know when to listen and when to speak. They will wait and watch or stand up and be counted whenever it is appropriate to do so. In other words, they are both patient and proactive. How do they know when to be one or the other? See #1 above.

These are just a few… what do great lay leaders do in your ministry or organization? (And, no, it doesn’t have to start with “P.”) What other traits do effective lay-leaders have in common? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…

3 Questions to Ask First

images-13Have a BIG decision to make as a team? Here are 3 simple but vital questions to ask first and answer well before you pull the trigger as part of our ongoing “Small Church, BIG Change” series…

1) Is this the right thing? Be honest with yourself, the Lord and your team. This is about motivation. “Why are we doing this?” Do you truly believe this is the right thing to do for the overall health and to forward the vision of your church or organization? Resist the temptation to simply “go with the flow” when you may not be fully in agreement. Don’t. Good executive level leaders don’t want you to and good team leaders shouldn’t. How do you know if it is the “right thing?”

Here are 3 Tests

  • Does it align with God’s Word? This is your #1 concern to discern.
  • What has wise counsel said? Agree together to get some outside advice from those who have “been there, done that.”
  • Who will this help and who will this hurt? This isn’t an option and, no, you aren’t doing this to please or put-off any particular group (at least, you shouldn’t). However, make an honest assessment of who will will and won’t be likely to follow your lead and what that might mean going forward… then do the right thing, anyway. Too many leaders ask, “Who will we lose if we do?” Instead, we should be asking, “Who will we gain if we do?” (Or, “Who won’t we gain if we don’t?”) Any way you ask it, as “fishers of men,” take some more of the focus off the fish you already have in the boat and onto those yet to come on board!

2) Is this the right time? The landscape is littered with the fallout and debris from the meltdown that was the right thing at the wrong time. Jesus modeled this on numerous occasions when He would say things like, “My time has not yet come…” (John 7:8, NIV). And, we are reminded by the Wisdom writer,There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV). Talk through the timing of this decision along with the “who, what, when, where and how” of launching it well.

3) Will I love and lead people through it? There is no “cruise control” on this ride. It is your job to lead well start to finish. So, don’t lose sight of the fact that you and your team have been praying this through and processing it together for some time. Those you lead are just hearing about it and even your best supporters may need some processing time before getting as enthusiastic as you are about it. Be prepared to listen well, answer questions, and be sensitive to all those who will be adjusting to this new direction.

You may just be surprised… some you thought would get behind it won’t and some you thought wouldn’t, will! Be prepared to lead in love with one voice and with a firm but gentle touch as people grow through this with you.

These aren’t the only questions to ask nor things to consider when making a BIG decision. However, these 3 questions will go a long way towards making a right decision, at the right time, for the right reasons.

What questions would your recommend asking before making a BIG decision?

6 Things Effective Board Members Do

imagesIf you are a pastor or lay-leader hoping to lead well through a season of BIG change, you are going to need an effective team. The wisdom writer reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV) 

By whatever name you call your leaders (Elders, Deacons, Directors, Trustees, Team Leads, etc), the good ones are far from perfect, but do have a few things in common.

As we continue our “Small Church BIG Change!” series, here are 6 Things Effective Board Members Do in churches of any size…

1) Pray. Effective board members are passionate, persistent and prevailing in prayer. They intercede for everyone from guests who filled out the latest “Connect Card” to the Children’s pastor’s wife who has a job interview. They pray and fast with the team for major decisions and that routine meetings will be anything but.

2) Prepare. Effective board members don’t just show up. They are read up, prayed up and pumped up. Their reports are on time and to the point. They prepare both insightful comments and probing questions to add value to the greater discussion.

3) Promote. Effective board members help get the word out about the latest and greatest via social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth. They don’t wait for it… they create the “buzz” that get’s everyone else talking about the vision, value or event. (They never use social media to question or critique… but are free to do so one on one or in team meetings.) 

4) Present. Effective board members are ready to give their 2-cents (report, presentation, proposal, etc) in clear, concise and creative ways. They are well aware that they aren’t the only one’s who will have the floor, nor are they the “main event.” They do have a grounded understanding of the importance of their area and contribution to the greater team.

5) Protect. Effective board members are the first to confront negativity, critical spirits or gossip. They guard the vision and values of the organization almost as passionately as they guard the people in it… especially fellow leaders and their families. They have little tolerance for bad attitudes and non whatsoever for seeds of discord.

6) Praise. Effective board members set the example in giving God the glory and others the credit when things are going well, and shouldering the blame when they aren’t. They intentionally create a culture of praise, gratitude and celebration.

Bonus: Effective board members know when to listen and when to speak. They will wait and watch or stand up and be counted whenever it is appropriate to do so. In other words, they are both patient and proactive. How do they know when to be one or the other? See #1 above.

These are just a few… what do great board members do in your ministry or organization? (And, no, it doesn’t have to start with “P.”) Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…