Currently Browsing: Leadership

Taking Your Church’s Pulse: Are you Thriving or Diving?

As church leaders, we all look at numbers.

But what numbers are you looking at?

Any churches just look at butts and bucks… How many people are sitting in the seats and how many dollars coming in the offering.

But we all know that the old butts and bucks measure only feels part of the story. In fact, it’s very possible to have more but some more bucks and a very unhealthy church.

So what should you measure? What indicators actually give you A good idea of how your churches doing? Executive Pastor Dan Reiland from 12 Stone Church suggests these 10 numbers that REALLY matter…

1. Serving the poor.

2. Visitors that don’t look like you.

3. Next generation called to ministry.

4.  Restored marriages.

5. New Christians/Baptisms.

6. Addictions broken and fear conquered.

7. First time tithers.

8. New leaders and volunteers.

9. Hours devoted to prayer.

10. Kids treated with respect.

You can read more of Dan’s thoughts on each of these items here.

The fact of the matter is, what gets measured, gets done.

Be honest. What are you measuring? If you’re only measuring butts and bucks, you’re missing out.

Each of the items in the above list can be tracked and measured. Pick one or two and start. My guess is that what you start measuring, I’m not only be more excited about seeing results but improving the results.

So… What are you measuring your church? I’d love to hear! Please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail to ToddRhoades@gmail.com.

Todd

Two Essential Questions to Ask About Your Leadership Team or Your Board

Would’ve the biggest frustrations many lead pastors and church leaders deal with on a day-to-day basis is dealing with their board or leadership team. In many churches, leadership meetings can take hours and yet seem to accomplish very little.

Communication, of course, is key. So is cultivating relationships of trust.

What what do you do when you’re stuck? What do you do when it just seems that you’re making no progress whatsoever?

Mike Bonem suggests that as a group you ask your leadership team these two simple questions:

1.: Are the issues we’re discussing important for our future? In other words, are these the issues that are main leadership team should even be dealing with? Be open and honest… Is this really something we should be talking about, or is this a decision that can best be made by someone else or another group?

2. Do we make and follow through on decisions made in our team meetings? The point here is: your decisions are not valuable if they’re not carried out. In some churches, it’s all talk and no decision. But in other churches decisions are made but are never carried out. Both are tragic.

Mike says, “Here’s my recommendation. First, answer the two questions on your own. How do you evaluate your team? Then makes these two questions the focus of your next leadership team meeting. Push hard for an honest conversation and if changes are needed, make a clear decision on what will be different in the future. It could be the most important thing that your team will do this week.

So… How are you doing in your leadership team meetings? Are they extremely valuable? Or are they sometimes what seems to be a huge waste of time?

For additional help, Mike also recommends the book “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni.

Let me know what you’re learning in yourLeague team meetings.Send me an e-mail with your thoughts to toddrhoades@gmail.com.

Why Video is So Stinkin’ Important In Your Church

As a church leader, you need to use every tool at your disposal to communicate your mission, vision, and values at your church.

Don’t discount video.

According to a post at Insivia.com, here are some very important things to remember about video and the power it has in your ministry:

  • Each day 100 million internet users watch an online video.
  • 90% of user say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision process.  (What ministry implications does this have when people visit your church’s website?)
  • According to ComScore, the average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. – The key word here is ‘ads’.  These are JUST the ads.
  • They say a picture is worth a million words.  Insivia says that one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words. (Not quite sure where they get that, but it IS interesting).
  • Comedy is the most popular form of online video content among all viewers at 39% according to Burst Media.  (Question:  How can you use comedy to help people remember your point?)
  • BUT… Keep it Short:  45% of viewers will stop watching a video after 1 minute and 60% by 2 minutes, according to Visible Measures.
  • It’s the future:  By 2016, 2/3rds of the worlds mobile data traffic will be video according to Cisco.  2/3 by 2016?  Sounds like we have some work to do.

How is YOUR church uniquely using video?

Do you think video will play an important role in the next 5-10 years of ministry?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Todd

How to Reorganize Your Church Without Freaking People Out

Dan McCarthy thinks that you can change an organization without freaking people out.

People freak out in churches all the time.

And change makes many people totally freak.

When congregants freak out, they leave.

Or they make waves (which, in turn, freaks out a whole new group of people).

And, I might add, I’ve seen a few pastors freak out in my day as well.

So… how do you make changes without everyone getting their underwear in a wad?

According to McCarthy, the first step in changing an organization takes a little bit of organization.  A plan. A well-thought-out-plan.

Many (many) leaders just try to change things without a plan.

That freaks people out.

To tell you the truth… that freaks me out when a leader does that.

Here are Dan’s steps for a ‘change plan’:

1. Start with a strategy. 
It’s critical to know where the organization or team is going – what’s important, what’s not, what are the goals, etc…. While this may sound obvious, it’s an often overlooked step. Don’t have a strategy? Then maybe it’s time to create one before you start messing with the organization chart. Structure should always follow strategy. A new organization chart is not a strategy!

2. Develop your criteria.
List the problems you are trying to solve and/or opportunities. Then weight (High, Medium, Low) each one. This becomes the criteria that you’ll use to evaluate design alternatives and to measure your success.

3. Develop and evaluate design alternatives.
I’ve seen a lot of teams fall in love with one idea and then spend all of their time trying to justify it or make it perfect. Instead, try to come up with multiple alternatives (3-4), and then rank those against your criteria. The reality is none of the options will ever be perfect – there will always be trade-offs and risks.

Take the best one, and then come up with action plans to mitigate the risks.

This is also a good time to discuss other alternatives that DON’T involve reorganizing. Sometimes, the best change is no change.

4. Test the final design with scenarios.
Spend time testing the design by discussing how various business processes would work within the new structure. These “what if” discussions help fine tune the structure and clarify roles.

Let’s be frank.

Freaking people out is not good leadership.

Sure… you’ll always have people that won’t go along with your plan, won’t like your plan, or (honestly) won’t like you.  But a plan will at least give these people your rationale for the changes you are trying to make.

So… don’t just make changes… make a plan to make the changes, over time, with as many people on board.

There’s no need to freak out here, people.  :)

Thoughts?

Read more here.

Todd

Mission Drift: How Churches and Organizations Get Off-Mission

In 1636 Harvard was founded as a place to train clergy.

In 2014 many in the church find this hard to imagine.

So what happened over the last three hundred years to change the way that we view this venerable institution?

Chris Horst, Peter Greer, and Andy Crouch recently teamed up to write a book called Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, in it they explain exactly what happened: Mission Drift. A couple months back Chris sat down with my friend Matt and I to help us understand what mission drift is, how to recognize it, and how to protect against it. The video is fifteen minutes long, but it is well worth your time.

Check it out:

How are YOU protecting against mission drift?

In the video we mention that the book was in pre-release… it has since been released and you need to buy several copies which you can do by clicking here.

12 Things You Should Do When Something Goes Right

You’ve always heard that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Well, many times as leaders, we only try to oil the squeaky things… the things that are going badly. The more badly they go, the more attention we pour into them.

When things go badly, we call meetings, we hold accountable, and we take action.  Many times we kick the cat; knowing that we have to hold someone responsible for something that went terribly wrong (because we know that it’s our butt on the line at the next elder’s meeting).

But maybe we should stop being so stinking reactionary all the time.

Sure… you have to hold accountable; and you have to deal with the bad.

But when was the last time you handled something urgently when it went really, really well?

Ouch.

Dan Rockwell (aka The Leadership Freak) contrasts how leaders handle the failures and the successes; and gives your twelve pretty simple ways that you can actively act on the great things that are happening all around you:

  1. Call “what went right” meetings.
  2. Send emails to higher ups bragging about the team.
  3. Instill urgency.
  4. Identify behaviors that produce achievement and create success.
  5. Make decisions quickly. Action follows decisions. When leaders don’t decide, everyone waits.
  6. Identify expediters, multipliers, and progress makers.
  7. Assign responsibility for useful behaviors. Keep doing…
  8. Devise plans to keep success happening.
  9. Elevate accountability. “Let’s review our success plan next week.”
  10. Reward if it’s happened before.
  11. Have tough conversations. What needs to continue? How could we be better?
  12. Take action quickly and persistently until the next milestone is reached. Don’t ease up.

Read more from Dan here…

A good leader celebrates success just as much as they learn from failures.

How are you doing in this area?

Todd

The Three Minute Dare

I dare you to watch this three minute video. Give it your full attention. Then we’ll discuss.

Well… how hard was it?

While this video may be kind of a parody of our current culture, there is much truth in it.

And how we communicate as leaders.

It is VERY hard for many to concentrate on anything for very long.

For me, it’s not so much hard to concentrate.  I can do that.  I have trouble unplugging and relaxing.

For those of us in the church, we do have to be sensitive to how people communicate today.

While many people are communicating best in snippits (i.e. 140 characters or a single picture); we are asking people to give us their undivided attention for an hour and fifteen minutes on Sunday mornings.

For many people, it’s hard.

In the day and age of short; we still preach, uninterrupted for 30, 40, even 50 minutes, trying to pop the word ‘gospel’ in there as many times as possible.

And that’s all good.

But understand, it’s a stretch for many people.

People with phones buzzing in their pockets.

It’s killing them.  You’re killing them.

What am I suggesting?

I have no idea.

But here are a couple of things, just off the top of my head:

1.  Why not try this week to tweet your sermon.  Take this week’s message, however long it is, and find 20-30 tweetable moments.  Wake-up call:  if you can’t find 20-30 tweetable moments in your sermon… well… that’s not a good omen.

2.  Take 30 minutes and record 3-5 short youtube videos to engage your Sunday attenders throughout the week. Just a webcam and 30 minutes required.  Post them to youtube; and add them to facebook and twitter.

Look.  I’m not suggesting you compromise the gospel.

I’m not even suggesting that you cut the time of your sermon back by 20% (although I hear a roaring crowd from the congregation on that one)  :)  I’m just asking you to consider how your people are communicating and consuming; and try to fit your message into that mold so that you can have a greater impact on their lives.

After all… isn’t that why you got into this job?

Todd

Pastors who are Jerks

Have you ever met a pastor who is a real ‘jerk’?

Professor of Philosophy Eric Schwitzgebel has an actual academic theory about jerkiness. After much study, here is Schwitzgebel’s working definition:

The jerk culpably fails to appreciate the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or idiots to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers.

In other words… try this on for size:  Are you surrounded by fools? Are you the only reasonable person around? Then maybe you’re the one with the jerkitude?

Youch.  I think we all feel like this from time to time.

All drivers are idiots.

All airlines and every single one of their employees are inept.

My board (substitute ‘staff’, ‘elders’ ‘attenders’) just don’t get it.

Schwitzgebel writes a fascinating, rather short piece on jerkitude.  It’s worth the read.

But let’s cut to the chase.  Are YOU a jerk? Am I?

Here’s what Eric (I’m tired of typing out his last name) says can help you determine if you’re a real jerk.

(My guess is… you are).  [see what I did there?]

How can you know your own moral character? You can try a label on for size: ‘lazy’, ‘jerk’, ‘unreliable’ – is that really me? As the work of Vazire and other personality psychologists suggests, this might not be a very illuminating approach. More effective, I suspect, is to shift from first-person reflection (what am I like?) to second-person description (tell me, what am I like?). Instead of introspection, try listening. Ideally, you will have a few people in your life who know you intimately, have integrity, and are concerned about your character. They can frankly and lovingly hold your flaws up to the light and insist that you look at them. Give them the space to do this, and prepare to be disappointed in yourself.

Done well enough, this second-person approach could work fairly well for traits such as laziness and unreliability, especially if their scope is restricted: laziness-about-X, unreliability-about-Y. But as I suggested above, jerkitude is not so tractable, since if one is far enough gone, one can’t listen in the right way. Your critics are fools, at least on this particular topic (their critique of you). They can’t appreciate your perspective, you think – though really it’s that you can’t appreciate theirs.

To discover one’s degree of jerkitude, the best approach might be neither (first-person) direct reflection upon yourself nor (second-person) conversation with intimate critics, but rather something more third-person: looking in general at other people. Everywhere you turn, are you surrounded by fools, by boring nonentities, by faceless masses and foes and suckers and, indeed, jerks? Are you the only competent, reasonable person to be found? In other words, how familiar was the vision of the world I described at the beginning of this essay?

If your self-rationalising defences are low enough to feel a little pang of shame at the familiarity of that vision of the world, then you probably aren’t pure diamond-grade jerk. But who is? We’re all somewhere in the middle. That’s what makes the jerk’s vision of the world so instantly recognisable. It’s our own vision. But, thankfully, only sometimes.

It seems to me that jerkiness is really some deviated form of selfishness. And if that’s the case, I am, more often than not, guilty as charged.  :)

What about you?

Todd

 

Who’s Your Newman?

Every church leader has their Newman…

And you know exactly who he/she is.  :)

You know… the person you find annoying.

The person who’s always foiling your plans.

The person you just don’t care for.

Thing is… you have to work with ‘Newmans’ every week.  Maybe they’re on your staff.  Maybe they’re on your board.

Hopefully you’re not married to your ‘Newman’.

Who’s YOUR ‘Newman’?

And more importantly… how do you deal with ‘Newmans’ in a ministry context?

OK… go… tell your story.

Todd

 

How to “Hit a Home Run” in Your Next Sermon Series…

Today’s post is by Dr. Charles Arn.  Charles is a Visiting Professor of Christian Ministry & Outreach at Wesley Seminary.  I think you’ll like his practical tips for your next series…

Here’s how to be guaranteed that listeners will eagerly anticipate your next series of messages, waiting to hear your words—and God’s—on the selected topic.

First, some background…

A few years ago the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps asked me to research the attitudes of incoming 18-, 19-, and 20-year old recruits toward religion and church.  I interviewed young men and women across mainstream America.  One of the questions I asked was, “What is your opinion of church?”  Two words came back over and over: boring andirrelevant.

“Relevance” is one of the hallmarks of an effective, contagious church. Attendees who find their church speaking clearly and creatively to life issues not only return, but bring friends. “Relevance” is found in the words and rhythm of songs…in the style and appearance of facilities…in children’s Sunday School and topics in the adult classes.  But perhaps more than any other area, relevance must be found in the sermon.

In his book, What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, veteran pastor James Emery White talks about how to make preaching relevant: “The most important thing has to do with your sermon topics. They should address people’s life issues and questions about the faith… That means you try to bring as much of the counsel of God as you can to them through the door of their interests.”

How do you learn the interests, concerns, and needs of your congregation so that you can connect God’s Word with their world in a relevant way?  Rather than guess, why not ask them?

HERE’S HOW… 

Insert a 3×5 card in each church bulletin or program for the next several weeks, and point it out during the service.  Explain that one of your goals, as pastor, is to help the Word of God to be understood and applied in people’s daily lives so that it is relevant to both those in the church, and those in the community.  Describe the purpose of the card—to list key life issues they are facing at the moment.

Give listeners time to think about their responses to three questions, and then write them down on the card. At the end of the service attendees should drop their completed “answer cards” in one of several marked boxes on their way out. The cards should, of course, be anonymous.

THE QUESTIONS ?

  1. What do you wonder about?  What do you just not understand—or wish you did understand—about how life works?  Is it “Why bad things happen to good people?”  Or, maybe “Does prayer really work?”  Perhaps you wonder about “What happens when you die?” or “Why do innocent children suffer?”  If more than one thing comes to mind, write them all down.
  2. What do you worry about?  What keeps you up at night; causes your heart to beat faster, your anxiety to rise?  Perhaps it’s a financial issue.  Maybe a relationship gone bad.  Is there realistic hope in your worse case scenario?
  3. What do you wish for?  If money were no obstacle, time or other commitments could not stop you, what is your dream?  What would you love to see, or do?  Maybe travel somewhere. Have lots of money.  A particular job, or a special relationship?  Dreams are powerful motivators.  What’s yours?

After the service, collect the cards.  Repeat the process for the next two weeks so that people can add additional items, and those who did not attend the previous week can contribute.

On your computer create three different documents (one for each question) and transcribe the responses.  (Asking a secretary or volunteer to help may be a better use of your time.)

Then, review the responses to each question and look for common themes.  Identify general response categories for each question and make tic marks (IIII) for similar answers.  Finally, identify the most frequent responses to each question.  Once you have identified what people wonder about…worry about…wish for… you have tapped into relevance.

Your congregation will be interested in the results.  On the Sunday after your last survey, share the list and frequency of the responses.  A visual illustration or printed document will add interest.

Explain that you will be taking these responses seriously, doing research, and sharing messages in the coming months that speak to these issues.  If you are organized enough, print a list of upcoming dates in which the service will address these topics.  Encourage members to bring a friend or relative on the day(s) which may be relevant to them.

AND THEN…

Ask a group of creative people to help you plan the services.  Use the entire service to focus on the issue.  Consider drama, a panel discussion, personal testimonies, video clips.  You have an hour to address the issue.  Remember that the sermon is not the message…the service is the message.  Make it a comprehensive and engaging growth experience.

Use the series as an opportunity to invite past visitors, parents of VBS kids, inactive members, and other groups with whom you have a connection.  And in this context, communicate to all who come that Christ’s “…grace is sufficient for all your needs”  (2nd Cor. 12:9).  That’s another name for relevance!

Read some more great thoughts from Charles here…

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