Keys to Unlocking the Power of Your Leadership Energy

Some leaders seem to bring more energy to the mix than others.

Leadership energy is more about intentionality than personality. Yes, some leaders have bigger personalities than others, but there is much more to leadership than charisma, “woo” and persona. In fact, personality alone can be detrimental to enduring leadership.

Many great leaders are reserved, introspective or introverted. Again, it’s not about personality; it’s more about making something happen. Great leaders don’t just get things done, they make things happen. There is a big difference. Being a closer – that is successfully finishing what you start, is a vital part of successful leadership, but making things happen is the action that triggers momentum.

The flashing yellow caution light is about leaders who are willing to coast in the wake of other leader’s energy and effort. Those who are willing to let the rest of the team carry the weight of anything from prayer and deep thinking, to making that one extra phone call, does not help the team. In fact, over time, they hurt the team.

The Apostle Paul writes about his energy as a leader.

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energyChrist so powerfully works in me. 

Colossians 1:27-29

Paul makes three things clear.

  1. The purpose is proclaiming Christ, and helping followers become mature.
  2. Paul gives it all he’s got. (strenuously contents, with ALL his energy)
  3. The source of energy is Jesus.

This is how we know the playing field is more equal than personality alone would reveal. It is Christ working in and through us. That is the starting place for all of us.

Then what parts are up to you and me?

What can you do to activate the fullness of the energy that God places in you?

6 questions to help you maximize your leadership energy:

1) Are you all in?

Do you love your role and responsibility as a leader? If you are on staff, are you called and passionate or is it just a job? Can those around you count on you or are you quietly holding back, watching, and letting others carry the load?

It’s impossible to maximize your effort and energy if you are not all in where you’re at. Jump in all the way, commit! If there is a risk, it’s all in your favor!

2) Are you fighting any distractions?

We all face distractions. They might be financially related, about a difficult relationship, or health oriented. The list of possibilities is long. Distractions must be intentionally battled. They never go away by themselves.

Temporary distractions are commonplace, and you can usually handle them. But long-term distractions often require help to resolve. Give the things you can’t control to God, and take action to shut down the distractions you can.

3) Are you in the right place?

Are you serving in the right place? I’m not suggesting that you make a change. But if you are uncertain that you are leading in the right environment for you, you will hold back and not leverage your full capacity.

You can’t lead with full energy if you lack confidence you are on the right team. If you are not certain, get wise counsel and decide.

4) Are you physically in shape?

You don’t need to eat Paleo, flip tires, and bench-press Buicks to be in good shape for your age and body type. But it is important to keep active. Choose something you like that is easily accessible, and stick with it. Think decades, not New Year’s resolutions.

If you are exercising regularly, great, keep it up. If you are more sedentary than you would like, do something simple. Take a walk. Just go out your front door, and keep moving. If you walk briskly for 40 minutes 4 times a week, it will have a fantastic impact on your overall well-being and energy level.

5) Is your mental attitude positive?

There is a great truth about the difference between your cup being half empty or half full. Think about it. Who do you like being around more? Negative people or positive people? Negative people are draining. But the surprising truth is that the person they drain the most is themselves.

The wonderful news here is that your attitude is a choice!

6) Is your personal life in order?

You may not be able to resolve a struggle at home quickly, but progress increases hope and thereby increases your energy for everything you do.

It may be as simple as an apology, or perhaps formal counseling is needed, or maybe it’s intentional time with your kids. Take the first step toward progress today.

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Seven Cures for a Toxic Culture

The culture of your church is essentially comprised of who you are, what you value, and how you get things done.

All churches begin with an enthusiastic vision of a culture that is so inviting people can’t resist. But leading a church is complicated. Vision for the culture will not naturally stay aligned without diligence and intentionality.

Candidly, it’s easy for a church to lose its way.

Even in the healthiest of churches, culture can drift. New people come, new staff gets hired, culture drifts. It needs constant attention.

Perhaps your church, however, has passed common drift. It’s possible that your culture has become unhealthy.

Here are some symptoms of a toxic culture:

  • Consistent and unresolved conflict among the leaders.
  • The morale of the staff is low.
  • There is a sense of “politics” in the church.
  • Critical decisions are delayed or unwisely made.
  • There is more conversation about problems than stories of life change.
  • There is high defensiveness.
  • Trust is low.
  • There are very few visitors.
  • There is a lack of vision.
  • There is little joy.

Please don’t read this list and panic. Even the best churches can experience one or two of these symptoms for a short season. That’s normal.

In a healthy culture you name the problem, talk about it openly, make the needed corrections and go on.

No church is perfect. The idea here is to help churches where it’s evident that the culture needs improvement.

Let me be candid and name the number one problem of a toxic culture:

No one is taking ownership and responsibility for the condition of the culture.

Until a leader, the leader, steps up and says, ‘The culture of our church is not healthy, and I own that problem. I take responsibility for the solution.’, the church will remain in trouble. This doesn’t necessarily mean the leader is the cause of the problematic culture. He or she may have inherited it, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The leader must step up and take ownership.

I don’t know your story or what you are going through, but I’ve worked with hundreds of churches, and I’m confident that while this plan may not be custom for you, it will serve you well as a general guideline.

1) Own it.

Again, the current condition of your church’s culture may not be your fault, but as the leader, it is your responsibility. However, if you have been there for a while, whatever culture, behavior and results you have, you have either created or allowed.

I love the book Boundaries for Leaders, by Henry Cloud. Chapter two is worth the book. “You are Ridiculously in Charge.” He tackles this topic in more depth; I highly recommend it.

2) Tend to your soul.

It’s easy for you as the leader, whether as the senior pastor of a small or large church, executive pastor, campus pastor or department leader in a mega-church, to carry the weight of an unhealthy culture almost as if you did something wrong.

There are no perfect churches. It’s your job to help your church become healthy, not perfect. Give yourself grace as you get ready to lead this change. Take plenty of time for reflection and prayer.

3) Identify the gap.

Write down how you describe the current culture. Write it from three perspectives:

  1. How visitors experience it.
  2. How long term attendees experience it.
  3. How staff and key leaders experience it.

Be as objective as possible.

Gather a small, but trusted group to help you.

1) Choose five words that describe the problem/culture.

  • You might write keywords like defensive, distrust, political, silos…etc.
  • Then, write one sentence for each word to describe what that means in your context.

2) Write five words of how you want the culture to experienced.

  • Such as loving, bold, trusting, empowering, fun, honest…etc.
  • Write one sentence describing specifically what that means.

Don’t make the lists long or complicated. The difference between the two lists is the gap.

Note: It is possible that you will write a different experience for visitors than for long term attendees, leaders, and staff. If that is true, describe why.

4) Lead toward solutions.

The solutions are the specific plans that you design to close the gap between what your current culture is to what you want it to become.

These conversations can get tense. It’s easy to be tempted to ascribe blame; resist that temptation, that never helps. It is, however, essential that you are honest about your current reality and speak very candidly about what is necessary to bring change. (Close the gap.) Remember, you will get what you allow.

5) Consider getting outside help.

It is possible that you may hit an impasse and need an independent outside voice to help you walk through at least the initial stages of change.

You are not looking for a consultant to assist you with ministries and mechanical programming and processes. (What you do and how you do it.) You need a reliable and trusted leader who can guide you through the nuances of the experience of your environment. More of what it “feels” like to be part of your church. This is not as “fuzzy” as that might sound. Remember how particular your sets of five words are. Stay focused.

6) Make tough decisions.

This is the part where you first go back and re-read the chapter on “You are Ridiculously in Charge.”

The absence of these means you choose to allow things to remain as they are. This is a costly process. You may lose some people. No one ever wants that to happen, but it’s often necessary to realize change.

7) Plan for the long term.

Don’t bail at the first sign of rough water. It may get rocky; keep in mind this will take time. The larger the church and more problematic the culture, the longer it takes. I can promise you this, if you continue to pour your energy into practical ministry without tending to your unhealthy culture, all you will get in return is exhaustion.


Think long term. Get some help. Lean into God (wisdom and favor) and don’t give up. It’s worth it. Changing your culture is possible.

Another great resource is the book Cracking Your Churches’ Culture Code, by Sam Chand.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about dealing with a toxic culture.


> Read more from Dan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Power of a Positive NO

It’s never fun to tell someone no, even when you know it’s best.

If you are like the vast majority of leaders in ministry, you love people. You want to help and empower others, but more often than we prefer, leadership requires unpopular answers.

In fact, a great deal of leadership is learning and practicing the art of saying no in a way that encourages, earns trust, and even inspires, rather than in a way that may alienate or discourage people.

Set aside (just for a moment) strategy, culture, and what has been discerned in prayer, even the simple practicality of a leader’s schedule reveals that you simply can’t say yes to everyone.

All churches receive weekly requests such as:

  • Can I start this new ministry?
  • Can I get personal financial assistance?
  • Will you promote my cause on stage?
  • Will you make this change in the worship service?
  • Would you endorse this political candidate?
  • Would you financially support this ministry I care about?
  • Will you bring in my favorite speaker or evangelist?

I have often responded in these conversations by saying, “If we said yes to all the requests we receive, we’d no longer be the church you love to be part of.

It is not only possible, but it’s also our responsibility to learn how to deliver the undesired response, and still leave the person encouraged and hopefully spiritually empowered.

5 practical suggestions on how to say no in a positive way:

1) It’s important to know why you want to say yes.

What motivates you to say yes, when you know the best response is no?

  • Do you want to avoid disappointing someone?
  • Are you out of time and this is how you move on?
  • Do they have a strong personality and you want to avoid the pain of conflict?

Perhaps this is a rare situation that needs an exception. It’s important to know when the request is open for consideration, and when it’s not up for negotiation.

If you don’t know where you stand, what you believe, and what would best reflect the church’s culture, you can’t lead. You are merely in an ongoing negotiation.

When you can’t lead, you will be led.That causes insecurity, and you attempt to feel better by saying yes. That never works well in the long run, especially if your yes is misaligned with the church as a whole.

If you remain aligned with a compelling purpose, healthy culture, clear strategy, and all under the Holy Spirit’s direction, saying no may still not be easy. Still, you can do it with confidence and a humble spirit.

2) You must believe your answer is in the best interest of the person and the organization.

You can’t make the right decision every time. No leader can.

But you must believe your answer is in the best interest of the person and the church. This requires thoughtful preparation and prayer.

To fight for what is in the best interest of the church and for each individual is often the greatest tension a leader must handle.

To alter the direction of the church to serve a particular group or even an individual is often short-sighted. And yet, if we are not willing to consider the individual, we are in danger of missing the heart of a shepherd.

That tension leaves us in a good place of dependence upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom to know the right answer and the strength to own it and deliver it well.

3) Never merely say no.

It’s important to listen, and it’s essential that you engage in a genuine conversation.

When you must say no, don’t power up or get defensive, and above all, don’t pull spiritual authority and hide behind, “God said.” Pray and get God’s mind, yes, but also own the decision for yourself.

This is not a battle for you to win; it’s a conversation. If you lead it that way, it will likely go well.

Seek to understand the person’s point of view, not convince them you are right. Then, if your position has not changed, be honest and direct. Explain why you think the way you do.

The answer no one wants to hear is “no,” but you have honored the person, communicated respect, and likely strengthened a relationship.

There is always the possibility of an alternate yes. What I mean by that is sometimes you may need to say no to a specific request, but there is another way to accomplish the same thing.

4) Don’t apologize for the need to say no.

If you say, “I’m sorry I have to say no,” that sends a confusing message.

It’s better to say something like: “I’m sorry this disappoints you, but it’s the right thing for now.”

Keep in mind your answer of “no” comes after a genuine and honoring conversation. And it’s never delivered bluntly. Make it clear, but not with a hammer.

The conversation is usually easier if there is an established relationship of trust, and you have a solid track record of leadership.

But even if the relationship is relatively new, trust can be established relatively quickly by taking time to connect, communicate appreciation for who they are, and understand the why behind their request.

Don’t mistake saying yes as automatically a good way to empower a leader. Sometimes saying yes can hurt a leader or the church.

The best decisions that must include no for an answer helps develop the leader and strengthen the church.

5) Say yes as often as you can.

Empowerment, not control, is the better choice whenever possible. Therefore, always say yes when you can.

For example, there have been many times when someone has approached me about wanting the church to start a ministry.

We obviously can’t take ownership of every ministry someone wants to start. But I can often say, “Yes, and you can start the ministry.” You can do it personally and start as soon as you would like.

(Generally, it’s not a ministry inside the church, but one outside in the community. Starting more and more ministries within the church is rarely a good idea.)

On that topic of “a lean ministry” I’ve written a post you can read here.

I might continue the conversation with something like, you are very capable, and if God has placed this idea or vision within you, you don’t need to hand it off to the church to do, you can go for it. And they often do!

You can offer to meet with them to brainstorm and to help get them started, but they own it, not the church.


It’s never easy to say no, but as leaders, it is often our responsibility to be courageous, direct, and deliver the answer no one wants to hear.

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Characteristics of a Relational Leader

Very few leaders possess what I refer to as “Stadium Filling Charisma.”

You know what I mean, a personality that is larger than life and people flock to be around that person.

When they are in the lobby of the church there is always a crowd of maybe 20 — 25 – 30 people gathered around them!

I don’t have that kind of charisma, do you?

The good news is, that kind of charisma is not a qualifier for you to become a great leader.

In fact, in some cases, it can be a detriment. Organizations tied to a leader with a big personality can become dependent on that person.

That can happen even at a church campus, a ministry team, or in a small group. That isn’t always the case, of course, but the point is, don’t assume that’s the ideal.

And most importantly, don’t think you are handicapped as a leader if you don’t have a big outgoing persona.

That said, some degree of an appealing personality is necessary to lead effectively, and to that end, everyone can have what I refer to as “Relational Charisma.”

However, relational charisma is not defined by the size of your personality, but the generosity of your spirit.

Many great leaders with a high quotient of relational charisma are more subdued, thoughtful, and some have a slight bent toward introversion.

So when it comes to charisma, don’t think personality, think intentionality.

Relational charisma is a kind of personal magnetism that everyone can have. If you want it, and if you are willing to work on it intentionally, it’s yours to develop.

Relational charisma carries an authentic personal appeal that endears people to you and allows you to lead more effectively.

This is the foundational practice to develop relational charisma:

When you walk into a room,
focus on helping the people in the room to feel better about who they are,
rather than causing the people to feel better about who you are.

In other words, make it about them, not you.

In concept, it’s simple, but in practice, it can be challenging to remain consistent with this idea. We all get what it feels like to be moving fast, and under pressure with lots to do!  That truth about leadership makes it more challenging than it appears.

It’s really more of a way of life; that is often life-changing for both you and those you are around.

A quick list of 4 things that will shut down your relational charisma:

  • Insecurity – You are focused on or worried about what others think of you.
  • Lack of social-awareness – You fail to notice or be aware of what is happening in the room.
  • Pre-occupied or distracted – Your body may be in the room, but your mind and heart are elsewhere.
  • Image focused – You walk into a room, and it’s all about you. How the people see you, the impression you make, connecting only with people who can help you, and your agenda.

4 characteristics that enable you to live out a genuine sense of relational charisma consistently:

1) You genuinely love and care about people.

You know if you sincerely care about others and when you don’t. My assumption is that you do!

However, it is possible to want to care, but without gaining some ground in self-confidence and self-awareness, it is difficult to genuinely care because you are consumed with your own concerns.

This is not an indictment; it’s an encouragement to give yourself grace and work on self-confidence and self-awareness. The idea is this, when you set your needs and wants aside, and focus on others, you become a “larger” and more effective leader.

2) You have a sense that something is happening that is bigger than you are.

Have you ever walked into a room and wondered what God thinks about what’s happening in the room?

It’s a great way to approach your spiritual leadership and embrace relational charisma.

Who would Jesus want to talk with? What would he say? What would He want to see happen in the room?

When you practice that kind of thinking, you gain a sense of something larger, a glimpse of eternity. You connect with the Kingdom of God and the body of Christ in a deeper way.

3) You possess a healthy sense of self-confidence.

A healthy self-confidence means you think about yourself the way that God does, nothing more and nothing less. With that as a foundation, when you believe in yourself, you know who you are, and you like who you are, your confidence as a leader increases tremendously.

You possess a sense of personal security that allows you to make your presence in the room about others and not about yourself.

In general, you think to yourself, “I can do this.” Not out of personal bravado, but from an inner sense that God is with you.

4) You possess a strong degree of self-awareness.

If a leader walks into a room and is mostly unaware about what is going on with others, and or has little idea how he or she is perceived as a person and a leader, their social awareness is low.

Gaining a stronger sense of social-awareness begins with a healthy sense of self-awareness and personal security.

Knowing who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, abilities and capacity, etc., help you become more secure in yourself. That security creates mental and emotional margin that allows you to be more aware of others, and available to them at a heart level.

In a practical summary, relational charisma looks like this when you “walk into the room.”:

You embody a positive spirit and sense of hope about the future.
This point is about your personality. You can be an easy-going person and still be positive, hopeful, and bring some energy to the conversation.

You ask questions and listen well.
Make it about their agenda, not yours. Smile, and if you don’t know them, learn their name quickly. Approach them, don’t wait for people to find you, take the initiative.

You look for the best and believe in each person you connect with.
It’s easy to find good stuff about people when you look for it.

You encourage sincerely.
You just can’t encourage people too much. The most important element in your encouragement of others is sincerity. People see and smell surface level hot air really fast.

You add value to others.
Ultimately your role as a leader is to add value to a person’s walk with God that results in their spiritual growth as a disciple of Christ.

Adding value, however, is not limited in its scope. It includes a vast range of practical value, such as helping people to be better leaders, parents, friends, and spouses, etc. I hope you lean into relational charisma as a natural part of your life. It truly makes a life-changing difference for you and for those you lead.

> Read more from Dan.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Case for Healthy Church Membership

Church membership should not consist of rules to keep people out, but ramps to help people grow.

Membership in a local church may seem outdated or unnecessary, but if led well, it adds great strength to your church.

Candidly, nearly all churches have some form of “membership.”

  • Some formal, calling it church membership.
  • Others informal, using words like belonging, discipleship, culture, team, or community, etc.

Both are referring to the same idea, but with different words, in a different style, and with differing amounts of emphasis.

I’ve served in two churches that are part of The Wesleyan Church, a great denomination. In both churches, I’ve taught all or part of the membership class for many years.

It’s been my practice to remain after the class and field questions from anyone who wants to talk. I’ve listened to thousands of questions over thirty years.

These are among the five most often asked questions.

  1. What if my spouse is not a believer?
  2. What if I’m not sure about being baptized?
  3. What if I don’t have time to serve in a ministry?
  4. What if I can’t give a full tithe?
  5. What if I’m not qualified to be a leader?

These questions are packed with doubt and uncertainty. Those who have asked these questions wonder if they measure up to what they’ve been encouraged to embrace for spiritual growth.

In each case I emphasize a grace-filled path for growth rather than an either-or, you are in or out, kind of membership loaded up with a list of do’s and don’ts, rules and requirements.

Church membership is most effective when you emphasize vision, values, teamwork, and life change. Church growth is essential, but focus on the growth of the person, not the growth of the church.

I’ve wondered at times why questions like the five I mentioned arise in a class taught with so much grace, encouragement, and opportunity. So, I’ve asked those who attend.

The most common response includes two things:

1) Their church background.
Their previous experience is not always positive. They have often only known a list of do’s and mostly don’ts.

2) Culture is changing – rapidly.
Membership is no longer something desired unless there is perceived value. People want to be part of something they value.

Membership in current culture does work, from frequent flyer miles on Delta to discounts at Costco, and from a free sandwich at Subway to Prime Membership with Amazon where you receive free shipping.

People do join where they perceive value.

This might sound like an approach that builds consumer Christians, that’s not at all what I want to communicate.

In fact, it’s the opposite. Let’s not use the word membership for a minute.

Maybe you communicate; become part of our church family, or find a place to belong within our community, or discover your place on the team.

Use whatever language you would prefer and fits your culture.

The concept of belonging to a body of believers, (whether you call it membership, team, community or family, etc., is about spiritual growth, a call to maturity, and giving yourself away to others.

The foundational leadership principle that makes this work is: You as the leader(s) give first.

Good leaders always give first and invest more. When you model this lifestyle, the people in your congregation discover that you really do want more for them than from them.

5 ways you can invest first and invest more in those you lead:

1) Give generous amounts of spiritual encouragement and challenge.

Your primary responsibility as a leader is to provide spiritual guidance based on God’s word that results in growing spiritual maturity. The person must own the process of personal growth, but as a leader, you are the champion of their growth.

2) Provide leadership development.

For all who are ready and willing, invest in their potential for leadership or increased leadership capacity.

This development is not only focused on leadership for church ministry but even more for their leadership at home and in the workplace. (. . . more for them than from them.)

3) Communicate love and concern.

Your role as spiritual shepherd is one of prayer, nurture, and care.

4) Create and offer opportunities that are not possible on their own.

The vision of your church is much larger than what any one person can do on their own. That’s the beauty of team, family, and community. The “member” is part of something bigger than they are on their own.

The opportunities are many such as, being part of a grand vision, being connected in a community within a small group, biblical insights, and inspiration on Sunday, and incredible serving or global mission experiences.

In all these elements, you add value to their life by providing what an individual or family cannot create on their own.

5) Model a life of integrity and consistency.

Your character is the foundation not only for the principle of authentically modeling the life you teach but for the entirety of your leadership. This serves as great inspiration and encouragement for those you serve.

The consistency of your life and character paints a hopeful picture for those you lead.

Your church structure may or may not embrace a formal membership, but we all want people to find a place to belong and join the team to experience meaningful spiritual growth by pursuing God and serving others.

To this end, a membership class is a great opportunity to inspire, encourage, and breathe life into people who have already indicated interest in your church.

Let them know you love and appreciate them! Emphasize the vision and what you have to offer that helps them mature in their faith and live life to the full. (John 10:10)

Here’s a practical list of the kinds of things you can focus on:

  • Your culture and values – who you are.
  • Your vision for the future – where you are going.
  • Stories of life change – the meaning and purpose of the church.
  • The value of serving – the beauty of giving yourself away.
  • Opportunities for meaningful serving that are directly connected to the vision.
  • The benefit of participating – the joy of sharing life with others. (Small groups)
  • The power of prayer and scripture – the nature of an intimate walk with God.
  • The significance of reaching the lost – the primary focus of ministry energy.

Make the class fun, serve those who attend well, and keep the energy up. Make the class a gift to the people rather than appearing only as an ask of the people.

> Read more from Dan.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Ways to Engage the Sermon, not just Evaluate It

After the service what do you hear about the sermon? What do you read on social media?

  • “It wasn’t deep enough.”
  • “I loved the message, God spoke to me!”
  • “Pastor Bob’s sermon from 1st Church was better, he connects better.”
  • “That teaching was challenging and convicted me, thank you!”
  • “It was boring and I didn’t get anything out of it.”
  • “Pastor brought the heat, can’t wait for next Sunday!”
  • “I really couldn’t listen, I’m not happy with the Pastor right now.”

If you have been part of a church for some time you’ve heard all these and more. It’s not a slam on the local church, it’s part of our humanity, but that doesn’t mean it’s all good.

There’s nothing wrong with some constructive criticism, in fact helpful critique is good. But there is a big difference between helpful critique and hurtful criticism about the Sunday sermon.

A pastor and close friend showed me the manuscripts of his sermons that one person in his church typed out every week, and marked all the grammatical errors, how many times he said the word “I,” and corrected his theology – all in red.

Yes, that’s extreme, but the art of evaluating the pastor’s sermon is at an all-time high. That’s why I’m eager to write these thoughts on moving away from evaluating the Sunday message to engaging it.

Most of my teaching is in the arena of spiritual and strategic leadership for church leaders, so I don’t personally get many of these sermon-oriented comments. But I coach the pastors that do, so I’m current and know how real the impact is.

I’m hoping this post helps us all stay focused on the purpose and value of a Sunday sermon.

Candidly, the Sunday message is designed for people’s spiritual growth, not their evaluation. There should be a small team in place to evaluate the sermon and help the pastor become a better communicator. Let them do that part.

Before we jump into a list of practical thoughts, let me offer three simple, “Please don’t do this, it’s hazardous to your spiritual health,” statements.

  1. Don’t allow your spirit to become critical, thereby lowering or possibly blocking your receptivity to God’s Word.
  2. Don’t compare your pastor to the dozens of other communicators you can hear online.
  3. Don’t think about all the other people who need to hear the sermon until it has changed you first.

Let me be very candid, there are some sermons that could have been better, I know, I’ve delivered a few of them. Thank God for people’s grace and my improvement over time.

However, I honestly believe that if you and I want to get something out of it, we can – every Sunday.

5 practices that will benefit your spiritual growth from the Sunday message:

1) Focus on the message not the messenger.

What is the main point of the sermon? What is God saying to you?

It’s easy in our current culture to assess and evaluate the speaker, and not necessarily in a mean or attacking way.

We are all evaluated, so we naturally evaluate. However, in the Sunday morning setting, evaluating the speaker is rarely helpful or productive.

If the pastor stumbles on a word or two, looks at the notes too often, has a unique speaking idiosyncrasy, etc., let it go. Let the designated team work on that.

Your sole focus is to engage the message in order to hear God’s voice with anticipation of an insight just for you. That takes us to the second practice.

2) Listen for insight more than entertainment.

I’ll quickly admit I love humor and communicators with a sense of humor. But I sometimes catch myself talking more about my favorite funny story than the spiritual insight that God meant for me.

Purposeful humor is a strong and desirable asset in a sermon, but entertainment isn’t the main thing the hearer should look for.

Enjoy the humor but seek the insight the Holy Spirit has for you, look for it. Look for what is new for you in that moment.

A biblical or spiritual insight can be new or a refresher, but either way it hits you as an “aha moment,” something relevant and meaningful to your life right then. Anticipate the aha moment.

3) Make it an act of worship more than education.

God teaches us through His Word, and that is always important, but information over transformation is not the point of the Sunday message.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

I thoroughly believe in biblical education, but there is something else, arguably larger, in play. It is the worship of God from the self-revelation of His Word.

Worship is the high calling for all Christians. As you listen to the message what does God reveal to you about his character, heart and will? What is He making known to you about who He is?

The more you know the one and true God the greater the depth and passion of your worship.

4) Engage the moment spiritually rather than remaining detached.

No one walks into church completely carefree. We are all distracted by the burdens we carry, the problems we face and the curve balls that life throws our way.

Yet, that 60 minutes or so of worship and teaching may be exactly what you need most. In fact, my hunch is that the more engaged you are the more you receive God’s guidance for you.

Worry, stress, and problems keep us distracted and detached when we desperately need to be engaged to what God is saying.

A great way to resist being detached and fully engage the moment is to not only seek what God is saying to you, but to be aware of what is happening in the room and pray for others.

For example, the pastor may be making a point that you sense a need to pray for others in that moment. Pay attention to what is happening in the spiritual realm and engage God in his work.

The Holy Spirit may put someone on your mind, pray for them right then! In this way you are actually entering into and aligning with what God is doing.

5) Pursue personal change over perfect content.

Spiritual growth is the purpose of your Sunday morning experience and your hearing of the message in particular.

There may be days where you just need comfort, wisdom or to sense the nearness and love of God. That’s good. But ultimately, the purpose is the development of your faith, spiritual maturity and to be transformed by the power of God.

Candidly, the content does not need to be perfect and polished for that change to take place. The power to change is up to God, the choice to change is up to you.

Yes, your pastor needs to work hard to be prepared, but in the end, God delivers what we need, then we choose if we will respond or not.

I’m often amazed at what people have said to me after I preach. (Besides “When is the senior pastor coming back?”) 😅

They tell me about the thought that really helped them, challenged them, or was exactly what they needed in the moment. And that thought was nowhere in my notes, nor did I say it even once!

It is simply God at work speaking to the person who is fully engaged and seeks to change.

> Read more from Dan.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Hopes for the Future Church

There is a rising tide that the Church has lost its edge, and for some, even lost its way. In some cases, there is truth to that. But ultimately, the general conclusion cannot be that the Church is irrelevant.

I know the “irrelevant” message can be discouraging to so many of you who serve your church in positions of leadership. This post will encourage you and provide positive direction.

The Church was never meant to remain the same; change is part of its design.

As the Church changes, largely to adapt to the shifts in culture, it’s vital that we stay focused on the original purpose of the Church.

“His [God] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 3:10-11

This article is not written as a position of defense. It’s not a “how to” article to fix all the problems. It’s a clear reminder of foundational truths that help us all stay focused no matter the pressure or opposition, and practical helps to keep going.

The Church is a great force for good. The stories of salvation, baptism, and life change worldwide are too numerous to ignore.

Yes, some churches are ineffective, but the most ineffective church is more helpful than the person who does nothing.

Let’s jump into the reasons the church has a promising future.

5 Reasons:

1) An attempt to dismiss the Church is like an attempt to dismiss God.

The Church isn’t a building, and it’s not limited to one day a week. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the people of God, destined for the hope of eternal life.

We are sent out into our communities and the world to make a difference for Christ.

Currently, most churches meet in buildings and on Sunday. That may change, but what God set in motion won’t be dismissed.

In the last few years, there has been a great deal of meaningful and productive conversation about changes to the mega-church and the attractional approach to ministry.

The result has been re-focusing from a church service with an emphasis on drawing the people in to hear the message of the gospel to sending the believers out to share the gospel. It’s not an either or, but the shift is intentional and good.

I’m listening in on what changes smaller churches are anticipating they need to make.

(Leave a comment at the end of this post if you have an insight that may help.)

Regardless of the size of the church, God’s plan is still in full force.

2) The purpose of the church is not yet fulfilled.

The New Testament makes the mission of the church clear. From the well-known
Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to the passage in Ephesians 3 – I mentioned earlier, the purpose is communicating the gospel and grace of Jesus. With the clear end of making disciples of Christ.

God’s heart has always been for eternal life. For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” Ezekiel 18:32

In Gwinnett County (population of just under one million people) where 12Stone’s eight campuses are located, a suburb of Atlanta, hundreds of thousands don’t profess to follow Christ.

What would you estimate that number or percentage to be in your city?

There is much more for us to do. Let’s continue to help our churches get better so we can reach further.

3) The church is imperfect, but not ineffective.

As I talk with leaders across the country, I get to hear incredible stories of transformation and life change. It’s so inspiring.

At 12Stone Church we have begun casting vision for what is next and new — what God has in store for the next couple years.

One element is the transformation of families and how we are elevating Re-Engage, an approximately twenty-week marriage small group based on the gospel.

Each time Pastor Kevin talks about Re-Engage, people can’t hold back. They interrupt and tell their story of a stuck marriage, or one headed toward divorce and how it is now restored, healthy, and growing again!

It’s truly astounding. Transforming families is only one of three areas we believe God is stirring. The other two are transforming souls and transforming communities. The vision is huge and humbling at the same time.

12Stone is an imperfect church that is being used by God to change thousands of lives.

Your church is imperfect too, but no church needs to be ineffective.

Don’t let the difficulties, problems, and setbacks of your church discourage you; they are part of life. The Church has always faced difficulties and solved problems.

Personally, I love solving problems when they are attached to a purpose greater than myself!

This simple plan may be helpful to you:

  1. Be honest about what needs to be improved.
  2. Prioritize the list.
  3. Select the top three problems that must be addressed. (Set the others aside for now.)
  4. Commit to solving those three problems in the next six months. (Or the appropriate time-frame.)
  5. Measure your progress against pre-determined goals and celebrate what God does!

4) People still intuitively head to the church when in need of help.

I briefly mentioned a point similar to this one in a recent article offering seven reasons why I stayed in ministry for thirty-seven years. You can read it here.

Marriage breakdowns, spiritually lost or confused, wanting a positive environment for kids, health concerns, lonely and hungry for meaningful relationships, these are just a few of the reasons why people still seek the church. I meet them every week.

The church, Christianity, or God himself never promises to remove trouble and difficulties from a person’s life, but they do show us a better way to live our lives with resilience and purpose.

5) Personal growth and strategic innovation continue to be objectives church leaders strive for.

The church is never stronger than its leaders.  First, pray for them! Ask God to grant them wisdom, favor, stamina, and clear vision.

The leaders I know are passionate about personal growth; they are truly hungry for it. They change, get better, and increase their capacity to improve the church.

Healthy and growing leaders lead healthy and growing churches.

What is your plan for personal growth?

Healthy and growing leaders are also passionate about innovation. They never settle for the status quo.

Innovation is not about change for the sake of change, and it’s not merely making something different.

Positive innovation embraces practical change that makes a measurable difference directly connected to your vision.

What one or two innovative improvements are you making to your current ministries that will increase the effectiveness of your church? I pray this article encourages your love and commitment to the future of the church.

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Ways to Start Your Day in the Right Way

Have you ever come to the end of your workday, or even a workweek, and asked yourself, “What did I accomplish?”

You know you showed up, went to meetings, worked hard, but somehow, sometimes, wonder if you really accomplished much.

You are not alone.

The good news is that there is something you can do about it.

It’s always important to start with the big picture in mind. Or as Stephen Covey has said, “Start with the end in mind.” If you don’t know where you’re headed or where you want to go, you will likely arrive somewhere else. Somewhere you don’t want to be.

At some point, however, you live out those big-picture goals based on very practical plans, one day at a time.

Admittedly, the five questions are relatively simple on the surface, but underneath they are complex, and the discipline to execute daily is not so easy. That’s one of the reasons that question number five is so important. We’ll get to that.

Before the questions, let me briefly cover three things that block daily productivity.

Distraction

The source of distraction is internal. That means it’s from within you. It can be anything from social media to doing the things that you like to do rather than the things that are required of you. The remedy is learning to focus and focus in particular on what is important.

Disruption

The source of disruption is external. Disruption comes from others around you. Being disrupted from your focused work is part of life and leadership. It’s going to happen. Your ability to handle it with poise and firm resolve enables you to greatly increase your productivity. The remedy is learning to gracefully say no, postpone the request or handle something important quickly.

Direction

The source of direction must be unified. You may be the visionary source of the direction, or you may be enthusiastically supportive, but either way, the people you lead must also buy into the direction you are all attempting to go, or you’ll end up going in circles or stuck.

In terms of productivity blockers, I mean more accurately, directionless, or multi-directions. Without an agreed-upon crystal clear direction, productivity is nearly impossible.

5 simple questions for a highly productive day.

1) What are you required to do?

Always start with the most critical projects and appointments with people that align with what you are required to do, and that produce the greatest return for your investment of time and energy.

Leaders who get things done, but not the right things slowly become ineffective.

Productivity is not assessed merely by how much you do, but if you do the right things that produce the greatest return. Even if you don’t finish your to-do list, this will increase your productivity dramatically.

As you deliver increasingly higher levels of quality and excellence in what you accomplish, your leadership begins to create space and freedom to do a little more, over time, of what you want to do.

2) Who did you help?

Long term legacy leadership in the church never takes place without helping people. Don’t fall prey to becoming an event planner with a theological degree.

Ultimately our spiritual responsibility is to lead people to Jesus and see an eternal transformation. Facets of this happen from the boardroom working on a strategy to out in the community with those who are far from God.

Bottom line – always think people.

At the end of each day, ask yourself:

  • Who did I encourage?
  • Who did I strengthen with wisdom?
  • Who did I train with helpful skills?
  • Who did I take a developmental moment with to coach their leadership?
  • Who did I bless with compassion, whether a staff member or a homeless person?

You get the idea; how did you add value to people?

It’s not likely that you can do all these things in one day, but don’t go a day where your leadership touches no one.

3) What did you complete?

This can be a discouraging or invigorating moment. A moment, literally sixty seconds, where you jot down what you accomplished.

Sometimes you finish something, and many days you advance something just a little further. All progress counts, as long as you remain focused on what is required, what is important, and what produces the greatest return.

This is where your ability to handle distractions, disruptions, and remain headed in the right direction is essential.

If your day was unproductive and maybe discouraging, shake it off, and start fresh and focused the next day.

It is smart to make a list the night before of what you want to accomplish. Remember the old adage, if you don’t plan your time, someone else will.

4) What did you learn?

Don’t skip this step, and don’t make it complicated.

This can take two or three minutes, maybe five. When you reflect on your day from what you learned in prayer and Scripture, to perhaps a difficult conversation with someone, crystalize what you learned.

The goal isn’t to make a long list. The purpose is to focus on the most significant thing you learned – that you will apply. Even just one a day is a lot over a year. I have found that I “re-learn” many things over the course of a year. The Holy Spirit makes things fresh and new as I lead at greater levels.

It might be something you read in a book or a blog. It might have been something you wouldn’t do again in a talk. It might be a deep truth that came from confession; it might be a pearl of wisdom from a friend.

If you are looking for what you learn, there is much there for you, even in a single day.

5) Why did you do it?

Motivation is a powerful subject in the life of a leader.

“Why do you do what you do?” That is an important question. Yes, in part, we do much because it is required. That’s why it’s so important to be in the exact place God wants you, with leaders you trust.

But let’s be honest about the “why.” There’s nothing wrong with a bigger church, greater opportunity, and reward for your hard work, as long as that’s not your primary motivation.

When motives turn inward for personal gain and a serving heart turns to the presumption of entitlement, any leader is in the danger zone. Guard your heart!

This may not be likely, but it can happen to any of us!

Instead, remind yourself often of why God called you to serve others. Reflect on why He gave you an opportunity to lead.

“Why” is always an important question.

And from me to you, I hope and pray that what you do also rewards you with great joy.

Scriptures to reflect on for a productive day:

  • Ecclesiastes 11:6
  • Proverbs 14:23
  • Matthew 25:14-30
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6
  • Ephesians 5:15-16

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Unpardonable Sins of the Guest Experience

Some of your visitors are looking for reasons not to return.

These guests are difficult to please. If they look for the flaws in your church, they will find them. There are no perfect churches, and pleasing everyone is impossible.  Do your best to love everyone, but the prospect of chasing people who are intent to run is usually a futile process.

Some of your visitors are looking for reasons to stay.

These guests are looking for a few things that are important to them, such as friendship, spiritual growth, help in a crisis, or a healthy environment for their kids. If they find a few things they care most about, they will overlook a few less than ideal aspects of your church.

In fact, it’s amazing how forgiving people can be if you treat them well as a person.

The musicians on your worship team may not be world class, or perhaps you don’t have enough parking, or maybe your student ministry isn’t what you want it to be. But if you treat people well they are usually pretty forgiving.

This is not an excuse to ignore the things that need attention, but it’s enough grace to know that you can still do great ministry while you work on what needs to be improved.

First time guests and people new to your church will give lots of grace for the flaws and shortcomings if you treat them with:

  • Kindness
  • Respect
  • Love

But there are some things people who are new to your church will not forgive. These are mistakes you cannot afford to make.

3 Experiences Guests Won’t Forgive:

1) If you treat their kids as a program to be managed rather than kids to be loved.

Structure can beat out spirit, and the programs and processes can become more important than the person.

This can happen in any ministry in your church, but there is little to no grace when it comes to people’s kids.

I’m willing to bet that the heart of your church is about life change, meaning, and real spiritual transformation through Christ. You want to see the children love Jesus and enjoy church!

But here’s where it breaks down. If you begin to make your children’s ministry easier on the staff and volunteer leaders by making it more difficult for the parents and kids, you are making a big mistake. You’d never do that on purpose, but it happens.

The leaders must always absorb the pressure, not the guests.

If the kids become a number in the check-in process or are scolded more than encouraged because they didn’t behave just right, or there are so many rules that it’s impossible to keep up with, it’s highly unlikely that the new families will return.

2) If you treat the adults in any way “less than.”

Most reasonable adults are pretty resilient. As I’ve said, they understand there is no perfect church. But if you treat them poorly as a person, you don’t get a second chance.

One thing that’s easy to forget is that even though someone may be spiritually unresolved or disconnected, they are still usually spiritually sensitive.

If the pastor says something that makes a person feel spiritually foolish, or an usher or greeter treats someone with disrespect, they won’t give you a second chance.

We can’t live on pins and needles worrying about offending everyone, but we can do our best to serve with intentional love and grace.

I remember several years ago trying to help a young mom tend to her crying baby in church. I did my best to be kind and respectful, but I inadvertently offended her by asking her to take her child to the nursery. Maybe I could have done a better job, or perhaps it was a no-win situation, but the result was she was upset and said she’d never come back.

Most of these situations are nuanced and unintentional, but it’s so important to do our best to treat our guests with love, respect, and kindness.

3) If you treat any guest with an eye to get more than you give.

It might seem nearly impossible for a church team to treat any guest in such a way where that person felt like you wanted more from them than for them. But once again, this is easier than it sounds.

Church leaders are often under pressure. They are under pressure for things like more volunteers, larger offerings, and support in general for the vision and direction of the church.

For example, if a church is hurting for more volunteers, they can put pressure on people, including guests, to sign up.

When pressure (or even guilt) is employed rather than inspiration and encouragement, you have fallen into the mistake of wanting more from the people than for them. Your guests have no appetite for that.

Another example might be if a church is behind in the budget. That can sometimes “leak” out in a sermon, or during the time to receive the offering. This kind of pressure makes it feel like the church wants more from the person than for them. If this is what your guests experience, they are not likely to return.

Kindness, respect, and love will always help you treat people well.

> Read more from Dan.


 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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What Does An Usher Really Do?

Your ushers can make or break your worship service.

The difference between a grumpy, distracted, and untrained usher compared to a cheerful, engaged, and “serve you with a smile” usher is huge!

I’ve always loved the usher team; it was one of my favorite ministries to lead.

The usher’s role is so important but often undervalued, undertrained, and less than organized.

Your ushers are a tremendous force in setting the tone for worship and helping to prepare the people to hear and respond to the Word of God.

This post is adapted from a portion of our Usher Training Manual. If you would like the full usher training manual (free) click here.

An usher is a spiritual ambassador for your church – God’s ordained and organized body of believers. Each usher serves as a “first representative” of Jesus Christ for a worship service. Though we all love the creative edge of our worship services, make no mistake, this is a holy event where God is meeting with His people.

From the tabernacle in the Old Testament to the temple and synagogue in the New Testament, God’s presence and the teaching of His word is of supreme importance.

Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Exodus 40:34

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Mark 1:21-22

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. John 8:2

Who Can Serve as an Usher?

Not just anyone can be an usher, in the same way, that not just anyone can be on the worship team, work in children’s ministry or lead a small group. The right gifts, passion, and ability make a big difference.

As you recruit new ushers keep spiritual qualities, characteristics and usher responsibilities in mind. Please make sure you work in coordination with your team leader rather than practicing “random recruiting.”

The fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 is a solid guideline for a good usher. The point is not about perfection, but a heartfelt motive and desire to live a life of a spirit-filled believer.

Qualifications of an Usher:

  • You understand the vital role of the usher ministry.
  • You enjoy and care about people.
  • You possess a servant’s heart.
  • You are committed to the vision of your church.
  • You are supportive of the leadership at your church.

3 Responsibilities of an Usher:

1) Commitment to Serve

Prepare yourself spiritually.

This is not to be seen as a duty, but a privilege to connect with God as part of your preparation. Don’t feel like this requires an hour of Bible study before you show up. God is far more interested in the commitment of your heart than the amount of your time. Take a few moments at home to connect with God and ask Him to use you as a representative of His love and an agent of His redemptive plan.

Take initiative!

The cardinal sin of an usher is not to pay attention. At all times watch what is going on in your section and jump in to handle it. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your team leader. The only wrong choice is to do nothing. Never assume “someone” else is taking care of the need.  Pay attention, take the initiative, and make it happen!!

Absorb the pressure of the moment, don’t transfer it.

Most of the ministry of an usher is pure joy. Seriously, it’s a lot of fun. But on occasion, there are moments of pressure when someone is upset, or something isn’t working right. In these moments never transfer the pressure to the person entering into their worship experience. You are the leader. You absorb the pressure. Get help if you need it, but never make the issue their problem. You help deliver a solution.

Own your section, lead your section, shepherd your section.

In an average environment with average ushers, once the seats are filled the ushers relax and mentally check out. As leaders, the ushers are empowered to take ownership of the section of seats they serve in and give leadership where needed.

Each usher should do everything in their power to ensure that the people have the best opportunity possible to connect with and hear from God. Each usher can shepherd the people by getting to know them, praying for them, learning their names, and meeting appropriate needs.

Follow the direction of your head usher.

All good leaders are good followers.

It is important that each usher follows the leadership of the team leader. Be supportive and encouraging. Offer suggestions if you have good ideas, but don’t be overly sensitive if your ideas aren’t used. Your head usher will do his or her best to serve and lead you and the rest of their team well.

2) The Core Tasks

Help people find a seat.

This seems obvious, but there is an art to it. The art is all about making people, especially new people and people far from God, feel comfortable. Their insecurities can rise, and their feelings of self-consciousness prevent them from connecting with God.

Imagine what it feels like to walk into an unfamiliar restaurant or other environment and not know what to do.

  • Do I seat myself or do I wait to be seated?
  • Who do I talk to if I have a question?
  • Who do I tell if I have special circumstances? (e.g. potential medical condition)

The usher’s job is to move toward and engage people quickly and with the confidence to help them know what to do.

 Don’t leave people hanging. Let them know that you can handle anything they need and that you are the one that can make this a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Don’t make them come to you and ask. You approach them with confidence and a smile. Take charge with grace and poise.

Collect the offering.

On a spiritual level, the offering is part of worship. It is the opportunity for worshippers to express their love, trust, and obedience toward God. On a practical level, the financial needs of a large church are significant. Your smooth and coordinated execution of an offering can and does impact the resources that fund the Kingdom. On a security level, this is one of the most detailed functions of an usher.

The ushers need to be trained in the actual physical process for receiving an offering in a live service.

The ushers need to receive detailed training that will help us ensure compliance with legal guidelines and practical security issues.

Assist in the execution of special moments.

Many churches are known for creativity in their worship services. From motorcycles to doughnuts, to tractors and bottles of soda, you just never know what may be coming down the aisles! Some of the special moments are fun, some are crazy, and some are deeply spiritual. Things like crossing a bridge, writing in journals, or taking communion. The service of an usher is crucial to these moments being leveraged toward life-change.

The service depends on your flexibility. Don’t get flustered when last minute changes are made. That will happen. Just keep positive, stay flexible and know that creativity is at work to help people connect with and hear from God.

Get an accurate people count.

Why does this matter?  Why must these numbers be so accurate? Why can’t we just make a good estimate? The answer is that every number represents a person. We want to be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us, and therefore it matters that we know how well we are reaching people.  Just like in the book of Acts, they counted, recorded, and celebrated how many people were saved. Your church counts too!

Reset and clean up the auditorium.

People will leave papers, cups and “stuff” behind. The glamorous part of an usher’s ministry is cleaning up after each service. Also, supplies such as Bibles and pens are replenished.

Remember, many hands make light work.  If all ushers jump in and help, it takes just a few minutes.

3) Common sense

  • Maintain proper appearance and personal hygiene.
  • Show up on time.
  • Read the bulletin – get informed, stay informed.
  • Wear your name tag.
  • You will probably not be required to usher every Sunday, but when you are on the schedule, give it 100%.
  • If you are on the schedule and can’t make it, be sure to call and let your team leader know. Don’t just no show. People are counting on you.
  • Smile, talk to people, and learn their names!!

Happy ushering!!

> Read more from Dan.


 

Want to know more about Guest Experiences at your church? Let’s talk! Connect with an Auxano Navigator here.

Interested in bringing your team (up to 5 people) to Auxano’s Guest Experience Boot Camp coming to West Palm Beach, FL on February 26-27? Find out more here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.