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Staffing, Staffing, Start Here
What if you could create the perfect work atmostphere at your church?  One that made your staff really happy and really successful?  An atmosphere that promoted teamwork, taking risk, and enabling leadership?  What if…? I think much of what your staff thinks about you (personally) and your church (corporately), they’ll learn in the first few months.  It’s important for the senior leader to set the tone and make a great first impression.  In fact, if you don’t get off to a great start in the first few months, the chances of having a well-rounded, long-term staff member are reduced significantly.  They’ll simply find another place to serve after a couple of years.  It happens all the time. But how do you start off a good relationship with a new employee?  What if you send something like this to your new staff member.  In this case, we’ll call him Bob.

Dear Bob,

I am so glad to have you here with us on staff.  I know that you and your family will be a great addition to our team here at [your church name].  On your first day, I wanted to share a few things that may help you feel a little more at home with us as a church, and with me, personally:

1.  My most important priority is your happiness and ministry here at the church. If there’s anything I can do to make you happier and more efficient, tell me right away. This isn’t idealism, it’s good ministry, because happy and fulfilled people are more productive in their Kingdom work.

2.  I will not burden you with endless rules and regulations. You’re an adult. I trust you to use your best judgment.

3.  You have my full permission to screw up, as long as you own up to it, apologize to those affected and learn from it.

4.  Please tell me when I screw up so I can apologize and learn from it.

5.  Please make sure to hunt down people who do great work and praise them for it. I will do this as much as humanly possible, but I can’t do it alone.

6. If I get it right occasionally, I’d love to hear about it from you, too :o)

7.  I will always have time for you. My calendar will never be so full that my next free time to talk to you is three weeks from next Friday.

8.  I want to know about you as an employee AND as a human being. I DO care about your private life, about you and your family’s health and well-being.

9.  Life is more than work. If you’re regularly working overtime, you’re just making yourself less happy and more stressed. Don’t join the cult of overwork, it’s bad for you and the company.

10. I expect you to take responsibility for your own well-being at work. If you can do something today to make yourself, a co-worker or me a little happier at work,“ do it!

I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your family, and to you having many fruitful years of ministry here with us.  Welcome!

[Your name]

If you sent this letter to a new employee, and actually held to it, would it make a difference?  I think it would. I’ve seen many a church that didn’t value their employees.  This letter sets the standard that people on staff are valued.  It gives permission to fail.  It expects that the staff person will lead.  And it perfectly balances work and family as well as employee and team player. A few of questions for you today… 1.  What do you think of the letter?  Could you honestly send this to your new employees?  Does your church practice what this letter preaches? 2.  Would this letter have made a difference in your employment if you had received it? 3.  What would you add or take away from this letter? 4.  Is this type of thing a great or horrible idea? I’d love hear your input… Todd This post was inspired by Alexander Kjerulf’s Chief Happiness Officer Blog, who revised it from Michael Wade’s post over at ExecuPundit called Note from boss to employees.

How do you develop a culture of innovation in your church? Rick Warren has some ideas for you:
  • You need a theology of innovation. We are the most like our creator when we’re creative. God wired us to be creative. Children are very creative. They are born creative. It’s normal. We get the creativity kicked out of us as time goes by. We learn to be afraid. But a theology of innovation always reminds us that God intends us to be creative.
  • You need a creative atmosphere. There are certain environments I can be very creative in, and certain environments where I can’t. We’ve never had a boardroom or a board table at Saddleback. We have recliners. Meetings don’t start at Saddleback until we kick our feet up. It’s when I get in a totally prone position that I can be the most creative and can discover what God would have us do.
  • Stay playful. Playfulness stimulates creativity. When you get people laughing, you get the endorphins going. Creativity is often putting together two exactly opposite ideas, which is often ludicrous or seemingly stupid. It just makes people laugh. When people start to laugh, I know creativity is coming. When they’re serious, we’re not going to get creative.
  • You need the freedom to fail. Innovation means not being afraid to fail. There’s no such thing as failure at Saddleback. We experiment. Sometimes we guess. It’s trial and error. But I give my staff the freedom and flexibility to fail. You’re never a failure at Saddleback until you stop trying. We’ve done more things that didn’t work than did. I want all of my staff members to make at least one mistake a week. If they aren’t making mistakes, they aren’t trying!
  • Think big! You foster innovation by setting goals that are so big that you’re bound to fail unless God bails you out. We did this before we started 40 Days of Purpose back in 2002. We had been planning to start 300 new small groups through the campaign. That would have been a big deal. But God told me, “Add a zero. Start 3,000 small groups.” But we didn’t have 3,000 small group leaders. So we innovated. We came up with a brand new way to do small groups, as we focused on finding hosts, not leaders.
Rick has three other ideas for you here… via How To Create A Culture Of Innovation In Your Church –  Ministry Toolbox – Pastors.

Great quote from Rick Warren as we move on from the election:
“The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is, you can — you can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye. And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, politically, religiously, economically in our nation. We have many different streams in our nation . . . What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences . . . In fact, the Bible tells me in I Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.”
HT:  Andrian Warnock

Many Christians have an impending sense of doom about our country and the world. But are their fears based on reality or myth? In this book Wright examines issues of concern to Christians, including poverty, sickness, sexual morality, the environment, and the global church. Did you know that global poverty has been cut in half over the last several decades? That infant deaths have decreased dramatically in recent years? That Christianity is a growing and influential force in Asia and Africa? Maybe the world isn’t in a downward spiral after all. In an age of pessimism, this book offers good news to Christian readers looking for glimpses of hope. It’s easy to get discouraged or feel paralyzed by what you hear about the terrible state of the world. But what if the media and other prophets of doom have misled us? Could the world actually be getting better? In Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World, sociologist Brad Wright uses the best available data to uncover the truth about the world’s most important issues, including poverty, sickness, education, morality, and the environment. While admitting there is still work to be done, he shines a light on why so many things are improving and why no one is talking about it.  

Read an Excerpt…

Upside:  Surprising Good News About the State of Our World – Chapter 1:  Pessimism About our Nation and World  

About the Author…

Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. After receiving tenure, he switched his academic focus from crime to religion in order to research American Christianity. Brad received his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, the top-ranked sociology graduate program in the United States. He has a popular blog ( based on his research. His first book, Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Toldreceived the 2011 Christianity Today Book Award. He’s appeared on numerous national media outlets including,, Moody’s Chris Fabry Live!, and the Drew Marshall Show. Brad is married with two children and lives in Storrs, Connecticut.  


Author Video:  Upside Author Video:  Upside  


SeekingExcellence says:
The author’s goal is to separate fact and fiction, and he does that well, so that we can recognize and celebrate the genuine progress and successes on this earth. I recommend this book. It is worth reading for an accurate assessment of the state of the world, especially our country, and an appreciation of how far we’ve gone in the past century… [more]
Fundamentally Reformed says:
Reading Upside, was like inhaling a deep breath of fresh air. On so many fronts, there has been remarkable progress in the world. Life expectancy, health and disease, poverty and access to clean water, air pollution, crime, financial well-being, literacy — all these areas and more have seen astounding improvement in the last 200 years… [more]
Gently Mad says:
In his book “Upside” he takes on the challenge to prove that the world is not getting worse but mostly getting better. Using studies and graphs, Wright shows, statistically, people’s perception about the state of our world and if these perceptions match up to the concrete math of the graph.
Wright breaks down these perceptions in each chapter, covering finances, intelligence and education, health, crime, war, religion, marriage and the environment. He looks at what studies say people believe about these different topics and how our perceptions actually measure up… [more]
Kruse Kronicle says:
Wright is not saying that everything in the world is getting better (think things like obesity and environmental challenges) but it is hardly a planet on the verge disaster. In fact, there are reasons for considerable optimism. Following Matt Ridley’s lead, he sees the coming to fruition of specialization and exchange as a key to the recent rise in human welfare. One area where I would like to have heard more, is why pessimism is so pervasive. He offers some insights. For one, our modern society is highly adaptive due to the rise of specialization and exchange. But it is incomprehensibly complex. Because of our inability to grasp complexity, we are prone to simply extrapolate present trends … particularly negative ones … indefinitely into the future. There is a radical underestimation of our adaptive ability. Furthermore, we seem programmed not to see incremental improvements in life. Once an improvement arrives it quickly becomes the new normal. But we easily fixate on negative news and trends that we experience as threats. And, of course, news sources are aware of the fixation and they highlight such news to attract readers. That is how we create a society where are large majority think there life is good or getting better but also think other people’s lives are going downhill… [more]
Portland Book Review says:
This book takes a look at many of the most important topics of our day: health, crime, the environment, and war to name a few, and then takes a moment to explain, in real world and measurable terms how things have improved, or are improving. An optimist, he says that most of the problems we face are fixable, and that in a real sense, our lives today are measurably better than those of generations past… [more]

Get this book at…

PAPERBACK: Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World KINDLE EDITION: Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World  

People are hungry to make a difference in their community, yet most don’t know where to start. In fact, ‘serving the least’ is often one of the most neglected biblical mandates in the church. Barefoot Church shows readers how today’s church can be a catalyst for individual, collective, and social renewal in any context. Whether pastors or laypeople, readers will discover practical ideas that end up being as much about the Gospel and personal transformation as they are about serving the poor. Here they will see how the organizational structure of the church can be created or redesigned for mission in any context. Drawing from his own journey, Brandon Hatmaker proves to readers that serving the least is not a trendy act of benevolence but a lifestyle of authentic community and spiritual transformation. As Hatmaker writes, ‘My hope is that God would open our eyes more and more to the needs of our community. And that we would see it as the church’s responsibility to lead the charge.’ About the author:  Brandon Hatmaker is pastor of Austin New Church (ANC), co-founder of Restore Austin, and a missional strategist with Missio ( After years of serving in the megachurch, Brandon and his wife, Jen, refocused their ministry on church planting and mobilizing the church to meet the needs of the poor and marginalized. Together, ANC and Restore Austin have developed a unique network of churches and non-profits that serve in a collective effort to impact their city and world.
Excerpt:  Read now!
What Your Peers are Saying about Barefoot Church Cross Leadership says:
When I received my digital review copy of Barefoot Church, the first thing I noticed was the title. And the first thing I thought was, “Oh. Another book trying too hard to be edgy and cool. Like The Gospel According to Tony Soprano or something like that.” Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the content of this powerful book. Within minutes, I was in tears over the powerful truth that I encountered. Barefoot Church:  Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture is a book about how churches do (or don’t do) mission, evangelism, discipleship, social justice, and outreach. Please don’t expect another book debating the pros and cons of social justice. Instead, expect to be taken on a journey that explores what the Bible says about the church’s mission, and how that should look in your city, in your own assembly, and in your local context… [more]
Logan Leadership Blog says:
I’ll tip my hand right from the beginning. Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It’s filled with great, inspiring stories that come from real life, hands-on ministry experience. If you’ve ever wondered whether this church thing ever works, you need to read this book. It provides much-needed hope and direction, as well as a shift in the way we think about what defines “success” in the church. Hatmaker is careful to avoid common pitfalls. Without in any way letting the church off the hook for all its failings, Brandon still keeps the perspective positive: on what we can do. There’s no sense of giving up. He also addresses the tangling and untangling of evangelism and social action deftly and realistically: a solid theological work… [more]
Simply Missional says:
I wish Barefoot Churchwas written before I planted my first church.  It would have saved me a lot of pain and mistakes.  This is a book filled with practical action-steps that will help the church embrace the beauty of Sunday and prepare for living out the mission, to love God and love our neighbor; locally and globally. I would encourage pastors to share this book with their board members, staff members and key church leaders. Take time to process what is at stake here.  You will get a behind-the-scenes snapshot of  what a living church can be like if we are willing to take risks, move away from the “known” and see how we can truly love our broken world. Brandon has penned a missional guide…he leads us down a practical pathway that will help us discover some tangible ways that will cause our churches to be more effective… [more]
Pastor Dave Online says:
I loved this book. Hatmaker is honest about the weaknesses of the western church. But he never engages in church bashing, nor does he dwell on the negative. He is also honest about his weaknesses and the story behind Austin New Church is encouraging and grants hopes to its readers that there is, in fact, “something more.” Barefoot Church encourages that there can be more than just week-to-week existence, more than just big budgets, big buildings, and full auditoriums. There can be satisfying ministry that makes a difference. There can be church fueled to sharing Christ in both word and deed, there can be Christians living on mission… [more]
Michael Brower Online says:
In just over two hundred pages Brandon efficiently challenges me and the modern American church to examine it’s current methods, structure, and focus. Are we doing church in a way that allows Jesus to build his church effectively (Mt 16:17, p152)? When we look at how the church has been marginalized in much of society there is a simple conclusion, no. Barefoot Church is challenging, encouraging, refreshing, instructional, raw at points, and overall I found a very good message inside. Pastor Hatmaker is genuine in his desire to follow Jesus’ instructions to serve the least in our world. His approach, along with the people of Austin New Church (ANC), is opening doors of opportunity to those many never consider…. [more]
Steps says:
Within these 175 pages is a book on being missional that goes beyond theory. The personal stories from Hatmaker and the practical ideas presented is what every leader and layperson could ask for. Every pastor wants his church to be big on outreach. Often their congregation says the same thing yet wanting to keep things the way they’ve always been. Opting for the chance that they could convince the nonchurched to become more like the churched before they have to change… [more]
Author Video:  Barefoot Church Introduction: Author video:  What is the idea behind the Barefoot Church? Author video:  What prompted you to write the book? Author video:  What is the most challenging concept in the book? Author video:  What is your favorite quote from the book? Author video:  How will Barefoot Church improve leaders’ lives? Author video:  Barefoot Church:  Serving the least in a consumer culture   Get this book at Paperback: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture Kindle Edition: Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture

How do you feel about this song? I find the message to be off-putting. We are working to share the good news about Jesus with the whole world. Material like this only widens the gap between Christ and the world that he died to save. The mall does not define my relationship with Christ. Biblical liturgy is not associated with some advertising-advent. It is ironic that the mission of God could become hijacked by “Merry Christmas.” You are free to shop wherever you wish; it is a matter of conscience for you and your family. If you dont say merry Christmas in your window I want to meet you. I want to have a relationship with you and welcome you to walk right through MY door. If fact, you can come to my church. Both you and Santa would be welcome to hang out any time of the week. Brent Colby is a pastor at Evergreen Christian Community in Olympia Washington. You can track him down at

Carol Howard Merritt suggests that churches aren’t the most culturally savvy places: I know that some congregations are still fighting about whether they should be singing “contemporary” songs, which were written in the 1980s. Or they’re wrestling over the use of PowerPoint, which can be tiresome for people who have endured two decades of PP board meetings… But there are cultural shifts that congregations and church leaders need to track and respond to sensibly. Here are five of them. 1) Finances. Younger generations are not faring well in this economy. They didn’t do so well when the rest of the country was booming either. Why? Younger generations face high student loan debt, high housing costs and stagnant wages (if they’re even able to get a job). The shame they bear matches our debt load, and they feel like they need to get their life together before they go to church. 2) Work hours. People who go to mainline churches are wealthier. Or wealthier people go to mainline churches. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing. We don’t know what comes first. But young workers know one thing: many people in their 20s and 30s work retail or in the service industry. The blue laws faded long ago, and you don’t get Sunday mornings off unless you’re management. 3) Families. People marry and have children later in life. Some people say that adults in their 20s and 30s are just extending adolescence, having fun in their odyssey years, or they’re too commitment-phobic to settle down. Yet, we’re a society that expects financial stability before a couple gets married, and many younger adults can’t manage financial stability. 4) The Internet. Church leaders have a lot on their plate. Many don’t think they have any time for Facebook or Twitter. They may still be working with the misconception that the only things people are blogging about are what sort of breakfast they had on Tuesday (although if you’re reading this, you probably realize that blogs are good for more than personal over-sharing). But there’s no way to ignore it any longer. Even if a church leader shies away from the web, people may be talking about you on Google Map reviews or Yelp. 5) Politics. A new generation is exhausted from the culture wars. Many people growing up in the last few decades had a difficult time keeping “Christian” and “Republican” in two separate boxes. Emerging generations look at poverty, the environment and war as complex issues, and many younger evangelicals are less likely to vote on pro-life credentials alone. Many young Christians who grew up evangelical are trying out mainline congregations . Read more here:  Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog   // What do you think?  Are this cultural shifts the main ones that you are watching?   What else are you watching? What is the most important shift/change you see coming in the next 5 years? Todd