Successful Scheduling Using Reality, Not Rules

Over the course of my working years, I’ve run the gamut of various jobs. In the world of 9-5 jobs, I’ve stocked shelves, worked in a machine shop, worked in a funeral home, team leader for the 2000 Census Bureau, and director in a large publishing/resource company. In ministry, I’ve served as a youth minister, single adult pastor, education minister, church planter, pastor of established churches, consultant, conference speaker, and currently as a director with the Baptist World Alliance. Each position gave me the opportunity for personal success and ministry fruitfulness. But, at every turn, it requires discipline.

Sometimes, I had it. Many times, I did not.

In this new season of work with the BWA, I’m covering a lot of territory in both my work responsibilities and in my travel geographically. To maintain my sanity, I’m moving into a more intentional schedule of life. It’s not perfect and I’ll adapt it along the way. Knowing that we’re all looking for a life hack that will increase our effectiveness, here’s my latest go at scheduling for success.

Daily Schedule:

  • Rise early for exercise, private devotions, and writing. The older I’m getting, the closer to 5:15am I awake. For exercise, I currently aim for either cycling (four-eight miles) or just grab my jump rope (can get in 500+ jumps in no time).
  • Get ready. Even though I office from home, I get ready because it sets me into work mode.
  • Make a list. Whatever I need to do, I decide to get it done. As others have said, eat the frog first.
  • Tackle the first round of emails for staff issues.
  • Late mornings are for phone calls and emails to church leaders.
  • Short lunch break.
  • Early afternoon is all about logistics for upcoming trips or events.
  • Late afternoon is the time to return emails, phone calls, and reading.

Project management: Asana is my go-to for project management. I use Evernote to keep up with random information when it comes up. It allows me to have it digitally and not transfer from handwritten to digital everyday.

Meetings: Given my current work, meetings happen with pastors and church leaders at various times. However, it’s usually coffee shop or lunch meetings. Meetings with people trump logistical work. My advantage is that I work from anywhere so my laptop can come with me along with Asana, Evernote, and all the rest of the World Wide Web.

Reading:

  • Daily reading includes websites on world news, what’s happening in the church, life among the Baptist family, and blogs by church thought leaders.
  • Weekly reading focuses on the major topics are ministry leadership, business leadership, financial advancement, and missiology.
  • Monthly reading is for fun. I have a novel going but I use the entertaining reading generally for flights (becoming more numerous) or off days.

When travel happens: I will generally take two domestic trips a month and three or four international trips a year. Obviously, this throws all of my schedule up in the air. But because I work remotely, I maintain a semblance of my schedule no matter where I am in the world. It is tough but doable.

Walk away: I need to physically walk away sometimes. It is for both a break and for clarity. Often, it is is just to get the blood pumping. But sometimes it is to clear the mental cobwebs.

… and now for one bonus idea that will help pull it all together …

The key is to be intentional instead of being legalistic.
No one but the leader of a large organization that has an untold number of minions can have any control over their schedule. Even then, it’s an illusion. As my friend Brian Daniel said to me once, “Anyone who has your email address is your boss.” It’s true in so many ways so be intentionally flexible with yourself and people. Be intentionally focused on what you want to accomplish. Be intentionally willful about the vision for your work. Intentionality is not the same as rigid legalism. Use your work to help the people involved. Never use people to get your work done. Then, you’ll find your way on a clear path of a successful personal schedule.

> Read more from Philip.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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Clarity Process

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Great Teams Have These 5 Characteristics

Who’s your favorite team in the NFL? How’d they do last season?

Are you proud or was it painful?

I know… we all want to win. Of course, we do. Who wakes up and thinks, I hope we lose?

Your church team is no different. It’s God’s church and His purpose, so positive results are important. As long as it’s all about Jesus and not so much about us, let’s press the pedal to the metal.

I acknowledge that we might sometimes measure long-term success differently than God does. For example, we can all agree that the Great Commission calls us to reach more people and help them mature in their faith. But I don’t think that we get to determine how large our churches become. I think that’s up to the sovereignty of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

As long as we acknowledge that, we can invest ourselves deeply into the mission of successful church leadership. And your church team, your staff, make all the difference.

  • Your vision determines the direction you go.
  • Your structure and strategy determine the path you take.
  • Your staff determine if you get there.

Your staff (your team) may be paid staff or volunteer. And the fullest scope of your team includes all your volunteers.

(This post will lean toward your paid staff team, but again, ultimately includes many more people.)

For your team to get along and perform well, the overall environment needs to be healthy. As a rule, toxic teams do not win, and if they do, they don’t win for long.

Five indicators of a healthy team:

  1. Trust and morale is high.
  2. Insecurity and politics are low.
  3. Honesty and ownership about flaws and problems is open and evident.
  4. Commitment to the vision and each other is unwavering.
  5. Accountability is high, and a passion to succeed is strong.

5 Core Components of Great Church Teams:

1) Trust is at the core of all great teams.

When someone says “I trust you,” what are they saying? What does trust mean?

There are several possibilities such as:

  • I trust your character.
  • I trust your intentions.
  • I trust that you have my best interests at heart.
  • I trust that you have the ability to help me grow.
  • I trust that you won’t betray me (hurt me) (turn on me) (abandon me).

Trust is a powerful word and concept.

Trust is a powerful word and concept.

Kevin Myers is the founding, and senior pastor at 12Stone Church and I can tell you that I trust him without question, and he trusts me. The same is true among are full senior leadership team. Trust always starts there.

Trust can break down further out in the organization, but trust will never span the full scope of your team if it isn’t solid at the top.

Three core components establish trust:

  • First is character, (trustworthiness). You are who you appear to be, and people can count on you.
  • Second, is competence. You have the ability to lead and the skill to succeed.
  • Third, is caring. You demonstrate that you have their best interest at heart.

When it comes to trust, your team will catch what is modeled.

2) Unity in vision and alignment in strategy is essential.

Narrow your focus.

Your vision will help unite your team. A great vision draws your team together in such a way that makes it possible to achieve together what you could not accomplish alone.

What is your clearly defined purpose or goal? How will you measure your progress?

It’s very easy for your church vision to be so broad and all-encompassing that you accomplish far less than you hoped to and certainly less than your potential.

The point isn’t to see how much you can include under the banner of your mission statement. You are better served to think through and decide what few things will help you reach farther and more effectively than ever before.

Narrow your focus.

What will you all agree on as your central target, that if accomplished, God will be pleased and you can celebrate your intentional efforts?

3) Uniqueness among a team is something to embrace.

I love people and the uniqueness of their personalities. The different temperaments and wiring among the people on your team makes life interesting and work fun. It’s important to create an environment where people are free to be themselves. They will lead better and enjoy their work more when they are their true selves.

There are so many possibilities. Introverts and extroverts. Morning people and night owls. Planned and spontaneous. Detailed and big picture. Grace and Truth. Risk takers and play it safe. Dominant and easy-going. Which ones are you? Do you know your team well?

This doesn’t give anyone the license to have a bad attitude, behave with insecurity or in general – be a jerk. That’s not what freedom means. Freedom to be you at its core includes your responsibility to do your part well and in the best interest of others. That kind of freedom is life-giving.

4) Conflict resolution is an ongoing endeavor.

The best teams experience conflict, and they’re not afraid of it. However, they don’t live in a perpetual state of unresolved conflict. Great teams learn how to resolve conflict quickly, grow from it, make better decisions and greater progress.

A good test to discern if your team is maturing is similar to the test of a maturing marriage relationship.

A husband and wife are a team of two. All couples experience conflict, and the way to test their growth is two-fold.

First, when you have that occasional argument, it’s about something new. That means you are moving forward in life and experiencing new territory. You are thinking and growing.

If you’re arguing about the same things you were arguing about last year, that’s not growth, and it might be immaturity.

Second, you resolve those arguments faster and easier than before. That’s also a sign of growth and maturity.

That guideline also applies to your team and will serve you well. Don’t hesitate to have the difficult conversations, even if they lead to tough decisions. You and your team will be better for it. Unresolved conflict, or worse, conflict that is ignored, is toxic to a healthy and productive team – just like it is in a marriage.

5) Results matter.

Just because church teams ultimately win and lose in a spiritual realm, doesn’t mean that measurable results don’t matter. In fact, they matter more.

It’s all about Kingdom-based stewardship. The combined time, resources and talent of your team are God-given and God-provided. They belong to Him, and we are the servant-leaders that steward what has been entrusted to us. If we bury it or use it poorly, we have missed the opportunity. If, however, we multiply what we have been given, God’s Kingdom is expanded!

How do you measure results on your team?

One of the best ways is to intentionally mine stories of life change. Tell the stories and thank God for them!

> 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); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Ways Your Team Struggles with Execution

According to Donald Sull, Charles Sull, and Rebecca Homkes in their Harvard Business Review article titled “Why Strategy Execution Unravels,” execution suffers because people fail to collaborate horizontally. After interviewing and researching thousands of employees, researchers found that execution suffers not because teams are not aligned vertically but because they fail to work together horizontally. It is important to understand the difference.

If you are a leader or if you have a leader, the people you lead or the person you report to are in “your vertical.” Execution often does not suffer because of breakdowns in these relationships. Savvy and wise leaders learn to communicate well, to hold people accountable, to set goals, and to move people in a direction.

But more than “vertical leadership” is required. Working with people on other teams, working laterally across multiple areas, is essential in execution. According to the research, struggles with execution happen because people who need to work together across teams struggle to do so. When coordination falters, so does execution. Why do teams and leaders often struggle here? From my observation, for at least 3 reasons:

1. Lack of community

People desire to help those they trust and respect, but trust takes time to build. And if there is lack of community across teams, working laterally will be a challenge. A staff at a local church, for example, can quickly degenerate into a plethora of sub-ministries that share the same office space, each focused solely on his/her areas of responsibility. When the relationships are not fostered, trust is low; thus, people have a difficult time influencing others laterally.

2. Lack of care

Execution on a broad scale requires multiple people and teams carrying the burden. If execution falters, care and concern likely did not spread widely enough. If care for an initiative or project is localized only to your team, it won’t reach levels of broad adoption. For some things, this is fine, as much of the work of your team is localized to your team. But for projects or tasks or initiatives that spread across multiple areas, a lack of care across those areas will doom execution.

3. Lack of communication

Both community and care require communication. In many ways, lateral leadership is the hardest kind of leadership. You serve alongside people but don’t report to them, and they don’t report to you either. But because leadership is about influence, execution requires influencing people who do not report to you. This will not happen without communication of goals, priorities, and sequencing. If execution is faltering, lateral communication is likely faltering as well.

Peter Drucker quipped, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” The hard work of execution requires more than just you, and even more than just your team.

> Read more from Eric.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about execution.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

20 of the Most Important Things You Should Know About Your Church

Below you will find what I believe to be 20 very important, if not the most important things you should know about your church. Keep in mind these are things to measure about your church as an organization.  (This is NOT the top things to measure in terms of individual spiritual formation.)  I have told pastors for a long time I wouldn’t consider pastoring again unless I had the congregation’s commitment to measure these 20 things every two years.

But first the backstory…

For the last 12 years, the Auxano team has developed, used and refined a survey designed completely around the culture, vision  and strategic mid-term decision-making priorities of the church. I have led this process by turning over and inside out every possible church survey I could find. After about five years I felt like we had a good template to start with as we helped local churches with their specific needs and challenges.

We  have never advertised and I have never even blogged about this product. Why?  Despite its incredible benefit to our church clients we did not have the capacity to offer the service to churches unless they were engaged in our core experience called the Vision Pathway. The desire to bring this to more churches eventually led me to LifeWay Research. We have worked with them over the past year to bring the best survey to local churches that has ever been designed for YOUR LOCAL CHURCH.

Here is what we measure:

#1: Percent of new attenders in prior two years

#2: Guest percentage

#3: Profile of new attenders and guest including reason for attending

#4 Age of the church vs. age of the community

#5 Age of church vs. the age of new attenders in the prior two years

#6 Spiritual growth satisfaction

#7 Sense of connection to the church

#8 Giving patterns

#9 Adult conversion percentage

#10 Influence of ministries

#11 Group assimilation percentage

#12 Group assimilation obstacle identification

#13 Assimilation rate for groups and membership (if applicable)

#14 Serving assimilation percentage

#15 Serving assimilation obstacles

#16 Invitation activity

#17 Invitation obstacles

#18 Total assimilation percentages

#19 Strategic direction question cluster one

#20 Strategic direction question cluster two

What other things would you include on this list? The tool we use to get this info is what we call the RealTime Survey. Feel free to download our PDF about the survey by clicking here.

If you are interested in learning more, fill out this form and I’ll make sure one of my team reaches out to you.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Build for Team Alignment, not Individual Achievement

Does your church have a vague or undefined strategy, and therefore your leaders are inventing their own?

Auxano Founder Will Mancini believes that over 90% of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity. Many churches have some kind of expression for mission and values, but not for strategy. The absence of strategy, as Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church.

This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits to advance the mission.

When you don’t have a strategy, or your strategy isn’t clear, a threefold problem can occur:

  • too many ministry or program options and no prioritization;
  • ministry options that have no relationship with one another;
  • ministries themselves have no connection to the mission.

Having a clear map – one that shows how you will get things done – is a strong indicator that the effectiveness of your mission will go through the roof. Strategic clarity can birth a quantum leap in your ministry.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Execution is the Strategy, by Laura Stack

In today’s world of rapid, disruptive change, strategy can’t be separate from execution—it has to emerge from execution. You must continually adjust your strategy to fit new realities. But, if your organization isn’t set up to be fast on its feet, you could easily go the way of Blockbuster or Borders.

Laura Stack shows you how to quickly drive strategic initiatives and get great results from your team. Her LEAD Formula outlines the Four Keys to Successful Execution:

  • The ability to Leverage your talent and resources
  • Design an Environment to support an agile culture
  • Create Alignment between strategic priorities and operational activities
  • Drive the organization forward quickly

She includes a leadership team assessment, group reading guides, and bonus self-development resources. Stack will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to help you hit the ground running! 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

If members of your team are working hard but have lost focus of the mission of your organization, you are facing a double threat: your overall mission is not being accomplished and your team members are likely heading toward burnout.

The most successful team members work together for more than a paycheck or for keeping busy. They are engaged in the mission, and feel that they are an important part of achieving that mission. They are serving with a sense and purpose of something that is greater.

On the other hand, team members who have lost focus on the mission of the organization may just be going though the motions of working together. When this occurs, the organization is entering a danger zone.

Even those who work the hardest will inevitably crash and burn in their productivity if they lose track of the mission. Help them reorient and align themselves if they’ve lost their focus on their mission with a 4-R Reconnection Strategy.

Reestablish awareness. Have team members evaluate their current positions by asking, “Which of my activities contribute most of my value to my organization.” If they can’t answer that, have them invest personal time in figuring out where they got off course and how they might fix it.

Realign them. Make sure the mission and their perception of it match up. If your team becomes misaligned, they may be wasting time on the wrong things. If that is the case, it doesn’t matter how hard they work to get the job done; their productivity will crash.

Repair their connection. Once your team members know where they are and where they should be, have them make any necessary course corrections. After that, help them tweak or overhaul their workflow process to get it back on track and in sync with the mission.

Rededicate them to the mission. Have the team members reaffirm their commitment to your organization. Help them understand how each contributes to the collective effort to move the organization forward.

Laura Stack, Execution IS the Strategy 

A NEXT STEP

Using the Four-R process above, realign your leadership team to the mission of the church.

First, write “Our Mission” on the top of a flip chart page and hand every person a sticky note. Without looking at phones, tablets, or printed materials, have each leader write the mission of the church from memory on a sticky note. Place all the notes on the flip chart page. Discuss the results, noting the degree (or lack of) shared knowledge of the church’s mission. (Remember Howard Hendricks’ ageless quote: if it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.)

Now write the actual mission on another flip chart page, and with a renewed focus on the missional mandate of the church, have each leader write ministry activities that CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission on one color sticky note and ministry activities that while good, DO NOT CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission.

How can your leaders help each other to focus activity toward mission accomplishment? How can you learn from each other and lean toward God’s calling for the church? Record some specific initiatives and next steps on a third flip-chart page, assigning responsibility to a team member.


 

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 38-1, issued April 2016

 


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Signs Your Team is Getting Along But Not Going Anywhere

Healthy teams are both aligned and attuned. Alignment refers to the commitment to the mission and identity of the organization. Attunement refers to the relational care and concern that the team exhibits for one another. Both are essential. In this post I wrote about warning signs your team is aligned but not attuned. Today I want to offer three warning signs your team is attuned but not aligned:

1. Fuzzy mission

Without alignment around mission, people begin to only exist for each other and not those the team is designed to serve. When a team is not aligned, the mission is unclear or buried on a document somewhere. When alignment is missing, a sense of mission is missing as well. The result is actions and activity disconnected from a sense of “this is why we exist.”

2. Low accountability

When a team has a compelling mission and a deep-seated conviction that “this mission must be accomplished,” accountability will likely be high. But because accountability can be uncomfortable, a team not aligned around an overarching agenda will fail to offer it. Conviction and mission foster expectations and accountability. When a team is not aligned, expectations are low. Low expectations always result in low accountability.

3. Results?

Attunement without alignment results in people who enjoy each other but don’t accomplish much. In fact, a team attuned to one another but not united around a grand mission will rarely evaluate their impact. Why would they? Though they may never say, “Results? That is not why we exist,” collectively they believe it.

If a fuzzy mission, low accountability, or failure to evaluate results plagues your team, engagement in and alignment around an overarching mission must be ramped up. And wise leaders know mission drift is inevitable unless it is constantly clarified and communicated.

> Read more from Eric.


If you would like to learn more about team alignment and attunement, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Great Vision, Bad Execution: 6 Common Mistakes

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Eight Reasons You Are Wasting Your Resources

Most churches keep their members so busy they don’t have time to do ministry.

Indeed, I spoke to a lay elder of a church recently who told me he simply did not have time to get to know his neighbors because he was so busy in his church.

Something is not right with this picture.

In an earlier post, I talked about how our churches can become more intentional about doing real ministry instead of busy work. But in this article, I address how churches became so busy. Perhaps understanding the origins of dysfunctional busyness will help churches avoid this problem in the future.

  1. Activities became synonymous with ministry. I am familiar with a missions support group in a church. It includes over 30 people, representing over 20 percent of the weekly worship attendance. The group is very active with fellowships, meetings, and speaker events. But the missions support group has never supported missions, nor have they ever been involved in missions. But they sure are busy.
  2. Programs and ministries are added regularly, but few or none are ever deleted. This reality is glaringly obvious at a church in the Southeast with an average attendance of 60. The church has 15 committees and nearly 30 different programs and ministries throughout the year. They almost have one ministry or program for every member. They add some activity every year, but they never delete the dead or useless activities.
  3. Programs and ministries become sacred cows. They were once the pet project of a particular member or a group of members, alive or deceased. The thought of eliminating the non-functional ministry started by Sister Harriett or Brother Frank 35 years ago is deemed blasphemous.
  4. The alignment question is not asked on the front end. Even a good ministry may not be the best use of time for a church. In one church, the membership voted to initiate a ministry because one person had become a believer through the ministry in another church over a two-year period. But the church members never considered if there might be other ministries that could be more effective and better aligned with the direction of the church.
  5. Silo behavior among the different ministries of the church. A worship ministry in the church began a new ministry that required extensive volunteer help. But the leaders never considered they were hurting other ministries in the church. Members don’t have unlimited time; they have to make choices.
  6. Lack of an evaluation process. Most churches have an annual budgetary process. That is an ideal time to ask tough questions about existing ministries and programs. Very few church leaders take that opportunity.
  7. Ministry becomes facility-centered. In other words, if it’s not happening in the church facilities, it’s not “real” ministry. As a consequence, we keep our members too busy to do ministry outside the walls of the church.
  8. Lack of courageous leadership. It takes courage for a leader to look at the busyness of a church and say “no” or “enough.” Some leaders would rather not rock the boat and, as a consequence, lead a church toward mediocrity and malaise.

We are wasting too much time, energy, and money in our churches. Often we are doing more things and becoming less effective. It’s time for busy churches to become simple churches.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to avoid wasting your resources.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

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5 Reasons Why Disciples Need Ministry Tools More Than Sermons

The discipleship results of your ministry are not defined by content of your preaching alone.  One significant factor that impacts disciple-making is tool-making.  Unfortunately, you might not recall any seminary classes or conference breakouts on making ministry tools.

Why not? The simplest explanation is that we rely too much on teaching. As a result, we as pastors, do not become good at training and spend little time on toolmaking. In fact the average pastor rarely pursues improved competency as a trainer. But pastors go to great lengths— attending workshops, digesting sermons, and reading books— to become better preachers. 

Think about it for a minute: Is your church better characterized as a teaching center or a training center? Do you consider yourself more of a bible-communicator or a people-developer? When is the last time you thought about finding or making ministry tools?

I know what you want to say— “It’s both Will, why would you separate it?” Of course your intent is both to communicate well and see a disciple form as a result.  But I want to separate the two so that you can double check your assumptions and expectations about how people change and grow. Does your teaching provide the pathway toward the modeling, practicing, and evaluating of new life skills? Are you really helping people develop new life competencies in the way of Jesus?  Or are you just preaching?

One proof that you are good at training is the presence of ministry tools. What tools have you given to people lately through one of your sermon series? When was the last time you brainstormed with your team about a new ministry tool to create? If you have small group leaders in the church, what ministry tools have you provided for them in the last year?

What’s the bottom line? If you are not adding ministry tools to the lives of your people, you are not close to maximizing a disciple-making culture. You are probably not equipping people that much.

Before explaining why, let’s define what we mean by a tool. One definition reads:

Tool: A handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task. The basic definition brings to mind a hammer or screwdriver that you hold in your hand. The definition may expand if a tool doesn’t have to be literally handheld. Another definition reads: a device or implement used to carry out a particular function.

The term “device” broadens the range for disciple-making purposes. For example, the model prayer of Jesus was a device to train the disciples how to pray. Jesus used questions, metaphors and parables as devices or tools of disciple-making that weren’t “handheld” per se.

So what are examples of ministry tools? Here are five:

  • A church does a sermon on praying and provides a prayer journal (ministry tool) as people walk out the door.
  • A pastor preaches on missional living and creates a table tent (ministry tool- a triangle-shaped brochure that stands in the middle of the dinner table)  for family conversations designed to encourage the application of being better neighbors for the sake of the gospel.
  • A team codifies a definition (ministry tool) of what kind of disciple their church is designed to produce and then creates a self-assessment (ministry tool) to use in small groups.
  • A pastor uses a 4-question, gospel fluency matrix (ministry tool) –drawable on a napkin–to help the congregation apply the gospel to the daily fluctuations of sinful emotions and actions.
  • A bible study leader passes out a business card (ministry tool) with a daily bible reading schedule and three applications questions to ask for every passage of scripture.

This is a short list that begins to illustrate the endless possibilities of ministry tools. Keep in mind that I didn’t even reference the internet or digital devices that really explode the possibilities ministry tool-making.

Now that we have defined and illustrated what a ministry tool or device is, let’s get to the heart of the post. Why do disciples need ministry tools more than sermons? Why should we not rely on preaching alone if we are to train people to follow Jesus?  Here are five compelling reasons:

#1 – A ministry tool signifies importance.  A tool highlights the greater importance of the idea thus setting it up for application and helping stand out among the competing messages in every area of life. When a tool is introduced in the flow of communication, the idea behind the tool will trump every other idea. The tool immediately indicates the value of repeatability as well.

#2 – A ministry tool activates learning. A tool utilizes a part of human brain that is activated by a concrete object to hold and use, or an audio device to return to like a question or repeatable story. Again this sets up an important step toward application. It engages visual and kinesthetic learners.

#3 – A ministry tool guides application. This is the main idea. The tool itself provides a “how to” that can be practiced, repeated and eventually mastered. It shows the way and validates when action has been taken or not.  The device clarifies a step of implementation. In a way, a tool gently brings accountability to the table–every time I see the tool, I know whether or not I have used it.

#4 – A ministry tool creates energy. A tool helps people feel excited about ideas. It helps people win. And by the way, may pastors can unintentionally create a sense of failure for their people.  As people listen to sermons year after year, they oftentimes feel like they aren’t growing like they should. A tool can reverse that dynamic. It’s focuses application, so they can do it. And that gives pastors the opportunity to celebrate their new skill development. Then, even more energy is created!

#5 – A ministry tool reproduces training. A tool makes every person a trainer not just the pastor or preacher. As a leader, it’s not important what you can do; it’s important what you can duplicate. If you make a tool, it can outlast you and be passed from disciple to disciple to disciple until Jesus returns again.

This last principle has changed by personal conviction that I must spend time to make tools. In fact my two most important books (tools themselves) are Church Unique an God Dreams each of which cover how to create a master tool for church leadership, the Vision Frame and the Horizon Storyline, respectively.

I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite ministry tool? What ministry tools have you created recently?

A final illustration of one of my favorites is a how-to PDF and video on creating a family tree. This tool comes from a short sermon series at Clear Creek Community Church, my home church. To help people gain perspective and apply the gospel to the brokenness of extended family dynamics, they encouraged everyone to practice writing out their family diagram.

> Read more from Will.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Your Church Making the Same Mistake Over and Over Again?

It’s one thing to make mistakes in leadership.

It’s another to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Any idea what your frequent mistakes might be?

And if you have mistakes that you make, why do you keep making the same ones over and over again?

One of the reasons many leaders and organizations repeatedly make the same mistakes is because our actions spring from our viewpoint, viewpoints that in fact may be wrong.

Get the viewpoint wrong and the actions follow.

As you’ll see from the list below, the mistakes I see church leaders make repeatedly spring from a view point that can best be described this way:

What we do in the church doesn’t really matter.

The reality is nothing could be further from the truth. What we do in the church matters incredibly, because the church actually is, as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world.

If the church has the most important mission on earth, behave like it.

But so many churches don’t.

Here are 5 mistakes I see over and over again.

1. Thinking cheap

Too often in church, leaders carry a dollar store mindset. Get as much as you can for as little as you can and you win.

But do you?

What leaders miss is that cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s actually more expensive.

First, you end up with inferior products, whether that’s furniture, technology or even ministry (Here, leader…do world class children’s ministry on $140 a year).  Cheap things break earlier and more easily, and you end up replacing them frequently. So often, you don’t even save much money.

Cheap even translates to team.

Paying church staff poorly is not only unbiblical, it’s stupid. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Do I think you should pay outrageous salaries to church leaders? Absolutely not. But you should pay people a living wage.

If you want a radically different view on why non-profits shouldn’t be cheap on salaries, Dan Pallotta makes a powerful case for decent pay in the non-profit sector.

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth?

2. Starting late

I’ve been to numerous church services and events that regularly start late, after the published start time.

Why?

Maybe it’s just me, but that just oozes “Hey, what we’re doing doesn’t matter much…and we don’t really value your time.”

Some people got their kids up early, made breakfast, showered quickly and fought traffic to show up on time. When you start late, you dishonour all their effort.

I know some church leaders think they want to wait until ‘everyone is here.’ Well guess what? No matter what time you begin, people will always wander in late.

We had an ‘everyone shows up ten minutes late’ problem a few years ago. Rather than start late, we actually told people to arrive on time and then put some of the best, most creative elements in the first 5 minutes of the service.

When people showed up late, we told them “Man, it’s too bad you missed it.” That was it. We never apologized.

Guess what happened? We went from 30% of people being present when the service started to about 70% of people being present when the service started.

It’s amazing what happens when you provide great value on time. People show up.

The other 30%? Too bad they missed it….

3. Deciding it’s good enough

Even if you invest some money in ministry, too many church leaders behave as though a moderate effort is good enough.

As Jim Collins has famously pointed out, bad is not the enemy of great (because that’s obvious). Good is the enemy of great.

A ‘good enough’ attitude can create a false sense of satisfaction, leaving a meaningful part of both your mission and potential unfulfilled.

That’s why I love that at Connexus Church, where I serve, one of our stated values is ‘Battle Mediocrity.’

I love that phrase because first of all, ‘mediocrity’ names ‘good enough’ for what it is—massively unsatisfying mediocrity. Second, ‘battle’ is a call to arms. This is a fight, and mediocre has to die. (I teach on battling mediocrity in this talk.)

God didn’t decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? He gave his best. His all. He threw the full force of his majesty not just into creation, but into redemption.

Strangely, many people will give 100% to the marketplace, a hobby or their family, and then give 60% when they serve God. Makes no sense. At all.

4. Choosing easy over effective

Being effective as a leader is difficult. Which is why it’s so easy for leaders to settle when so much more is possible.

Being effective means you dig in when others retreat. It means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. It means you wake up early and sometimes stay up late trying to figure out how to do better.

It means you call out the best in people and ask them to bring their best energy, focus and skill to advancing the mission of the church.

That’s effective.

And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

5. Thinking that conversations like these are  unspiritual

Some leaders understand why conversations like these matter to the church. But there are always some who don’t.

In some circles, talking strategy is seen as ‘unspiritual.’ Instead, the goal is to not get too concerned with strategy and just try to keep everybody happy. Or to pray about things and maybe they’ll just get better.

The best prayer is rooted in action. Praying about forgiveness when you’re unwilling to forgive is pointless.

Praying for your church if you’re unwilling to act on it doesn’t make any sense either.

If we believe God is the author of our hearts, minds, souls, strength and gifts, then we should be willing to lend all of the above to further the mission.

I outline 7 other key issues the church needs to tackle in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, I’d love to know some of the mistakes you see churches make again and again.

Read more from Cary.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 
comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.