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Leadership
We’ve previously advocated the importance of focus. But have you ever noticed how some hours you’re absolutely cranking out work, whereas during other parts of the day you have to summon all your will just to focus for five measly minutes? Bestselling author Tony Schwartz suggests making use of our ultradian rhythms, natural cycles in our days. He works in 90-minute intervals, and then takes 20-minute breaks. Schwartz explains why in a Harvard Business Review article… keep reading
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Thom Rainer had a great post this week on why people get fired.  Take heed… one of these could be your downfall (and soon): 1.  Failure to keep current in your field // I quite frankly don’t see this that much in the church world.  Most people are at least interested enough in their ministry area to keep connected and current.  But if you don’t, you’ll get passed (and possibly fired) quickly 2.  Poor relational skills // This on the other hand, I’ve seen quite often.  Many church staffs as a whole don’t communicate well together, and sometimes you’ll have one person that is just really bad at communicating.  Fight the temptation to shut your office door all the time.  Work hard at communication. 3.  Moral failure // If you’re a baker or a garbage truck driver and you cheat on your wife, you probably won’t lose your job.  If you’re a pastor, you most certainly will.  I’m constantly amazed at the number of pastors who not only sacrifice their families but their careers for 20 seconds of pleasure 4.  Failure to carry out assignments // If you don’t get your work done, termination will (and should) be close. 5.  Failure to take initiative // This is touchy and different in every situation.  But as a staff member, you need to take initiative.  I’m not sure that all that many people are fired for not stepping out and doing more… but it’s like we’ve always told our kids:  “Initiative is the highest form of obedience”. 6.  Negative talk // So easy to do in a church setting.  Let’s face it… there’s always something to complain about… and plenty of willing ears to listen.  But that negative talk comes a cost… usually the person you report to.  And it can and may get you fired. 7. Laziness // I’ve seen a few of these in my day as well.  If you’re lazy, you simply need to move on. 8.  Attitude of entitlement // I’ve seen this firsthand as well.  It will cost your your job.  Employers (and the church is no exception) love to reward and give freely.  But when they’re asked or expected, it’s another story.  It will get you fired. 9.  Failure to demonstrate productivity // This goes hand in hand with #7. 10.  Self-centered attitude. // You have to work as a team.  This is especially valuable in church work.  Sometimes I see this and #2 combined in an individual, but not always.  If you’re always thinking about yourself, you may find that you soon have much more time on your hands to think about yourself (and how you’re going to make a living now that you’ve been fired). What areas do you struggle with? And for those of you who’ve had to fire staff recently…  was it because of one of these things, or something differently? I’d love to hear your input… You can read more of Thom’s thoughts here… Todd
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Dave Travis is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Encouragement Officer of Leadership Network. He is the co-author of Beyond the Box: Innovative Churches that Work and Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News and CNN, and in other numerous articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other major news outlets. This interview explores his latest publication What’s Next? A Look Over the Next Hill for Innovative Churches and Their Leaders (2012 Edition) Tell us the gist of What’s Next? The idea is to trace the outlines of the recent past and attempt to discern the contours of the future. For more than 15 years, Leadership Network has studied the world around us, especially trends for churches. We’ve done our own research, as well as reviewing the best work of others, to better understand our cultural climate. Overall, how do you view what’s ahead for church ministry? For thoughtful and well-prepared leaders, there will never be a shortage of fresh opportunity. Our vision is to help them preach, teach, disciple, and baptize more people who, in turn, will go out themselves in exponentially increasing numbers to be salt and light in a dark and thirsty time. Dave Travis answers why he wrote What’s Next? in this video.
  Why focus on the need for “innovative churches”? When the world changes, innovation becomes necessary. Innovation, in turn, changes the world. We don’t pursue innovation for its own sake. Its value is in creating a higher level of performance. Our focus is not on every new idea, but on those few that transform the shape of future ministry. We value innovative entrepreneurs because they are game-changers. They create movements of ideas and actions that galvanize those around them. When the forest begins to seem too thick, they are the ones who invent new tools for path-clearing. These innovators work within their own cultural milieu, making the gospel come to life within the specifics of how local people live and think. You list several developments we’ll be seeing more of. One involves “second- and third-tier” cities. Conventional wisdom called for us to look for large, innovative churches in the biggest cities and their suburbs. This has changed in the last decade or so. Expansive church campuses are cropping up in all types of locales. A few could be classified as rural or even as villages; we see them predominantly in towns, exurbs, and resort/retirement havens. We look at “these old bones” – our cities – and wonder if they can live again. They can, particularly with churches smartly built to reach younger seekers. But the greatest movement and opportunity will continue to be in circles that extend from those cities. Dave talks about the big idea of What’s Next?
  What’s next, economically, for innovative churches? We’ve seen a trend toward churches establishing annual budgets that are at 80% to 90% of the previous year’s income. Overages are then reserved as “opportunity funds” for strategic purposes throughout the year. With the recession driving prices down, greater opportunities present themselves in the areas of land, buildings, or mission opportunities—a classic example of turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Other churches and leaders have been wise enough to take a greater role in helping church attendees reduce their personal debt. In your section on authenticators, you reference social capital bundling. What does that mean, especially for the church? As churches carry out various practical ministries that improve their communities, in our view these ministries become the “authenticators” of the church locally. The church has credibility not because of the pastor’s communication abilities, but because the members act for the good of the surrounding area. Younger people in particular are no longer won over by just Christian apologetics or social programming. They believe the church is validated by how it collectively lives out its core beliefs. That’s not the case for every new church visitor, of course, but social capital is a strong ingredient in the recipe of churches that are reaching people currently. Dave tells leaders why they should read What’s Next?
  Some people wrongly think Leadership Network works only with megachurches. We champion all sorts of innovation. An example would be innovative church planting. It seemed like a radical move a decade ago when Leadership Network formed a core group of churches that would each aggressively train, support, and launch at least four new churches per year. But the trend only accelerated. Nearly every large church is now involved in planting new fellowships at some level. Churches are engaged in startups, either from their own church programs, or from a network program composed of two or more partners. As a result, this past decade has been a time of exponential growth in terms of new churches. In fact, we documented a few years ago in the book Viral Churches by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird that church starts were now exceeding closures—a significant trend reversal. Is ethnic diversity in churches on the rise? Younger generations have come of age with diversity as an expected condition. They see no reason why the church would not “look like America,” as they see it. Thus racial and ethnic diversity become another authenticator of a genuine church. If they look around and see a homogeneous congregation, they tend to discount the effectiveness of the church experience. Since 2000, our surveys have pointed to larger churches having a fairly high degree of racial diversity, as compared to smaller churches. If you are a large, growing, innovative church in a diverse community, your participants, staff and leadership need to reflect that reality—or risk being discounted by younger generations. Dave explains the most challenging concept in What’s Next?
  Where will most staff come from in the future? Most likely a combination of places, as always. But one of the key development arenas will be structured internship and residency programs, targeting younger generations who come forward to ask for practical training. How is Leadership Network best helping churches these days? Part of our mission is to help our clients move from ideas to implementation to impact. We do this through our Leadership Community and InnovationLab processes, where ideas are refined into implementation plans, and progress is then measured. At Leadership Network, we identify innovative, entrepreneurial churches to engage with our core processes. Last year alone, we held 55 small gatherings of leaders, with 6 to 12 or more churches represented at each gathering. We are also the “diffusers of innovation,” as Everett Rogers in Diffusion of Innovations would say. We share with others in multiple ways what those teams are learning, so new ideas can be adapted to other places and other local contexts. Dave tells leaders which chapter they should read in What’s Next? if they only have time to read one.
  Your under-$10 purchase price for What’s Next? won’t cover the cost to gather all this knowledge. How is Leadership Network funded? While our clients pay fees for various processes and services, we are primarily funded by visionary and generous donors. Our initial launch came on U.S. soil in 1984, but we now serve client churches in Canada and Europe, and we plan to expand even further. Our “elite” processes are limited to selected clients, but we’re always eager to build new relationships and to find out how to serve new friends—helping them move from ideas to implementation to impact. What’s Next? is available in paperback or Kindle editions. Order 10 or more copies and get free shipping! This interview was based largely on quotes from just a few of the 64 pages of What’s Next? To read the full publication, designed to be read in just under an hour, go to What’s Next? for both the print and Kindle editions. To dialog with the author, write dave.travis@leadnet.org. To learn more about ways to engage with Leadership Network sign up for the free e-newsletter Advance atwww.leadnet.org/advance or explore our program offerings at www.leadnet.org/programs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Warren Bird, Ph.D., research director at Leadership Network, is a former pastor and seminary professor, and is author or co-author of 24 books for ministry leaders, the most recent one with Jim Tomberlin: Better Together: Making Church Mergers Work. Some of Warren’s recent online reports include “The Heartbeat of Rising Influence Churches,” “Pastors Who Are Shaping the Future” and “A New Decade of Megachurches.” Follow him on Twitter @warrenbird
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Trends
Seth Godin writes: More and more, we’re finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren’t. I can appear just as engaged (and probably enjoy some of the same endorphins) when I beat someone in Words With Friends as I do when I’m writing the chapter for a new book. The challenge is that the pleasure from winning a game fades fast, but writing a book contributes to readers (and to me) for years to come. One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work. The distractions come along with the productivity. The boss (and even our honest selves) would probably freak out if we took hours of ping pong breaks while at the office, but spending the same amount of time engaged with others online is easier to rationalize. Hence this proposal: The two-device solution Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something. Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line). Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important. Read more at Seth’s Blog: Are you making something?. What do you think?  Do you think it’s problematic that the same device you write your sermons on or prepare your song charts on is the same device on which you play angry birds or use twitter?
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