Less (Words) Is More (Impact)

The bread aisle at the grocery store confounds me.

I just wanted to buy a loaf of bread to make a sandwich – I didn’t really want to wade through 7 long shelves of every imaginable type of bread possible.

My grocery store is just like your grocery store: when you stand in any aisle in any retail store in the U.S., you will be inundated with choices. Whether you are buying cereal, candy, TVs, or jeans, you’ll likely have huge number of items to choose from. Whether it’s a retail store or a Web site, if you ask people if they’d prefer to choose from a few alternatives or have lots of choices, most people will say they want lots of choices.

This is true in ChurchWorld, too.

Too Many Choices Paralyze the Thought Process

The book Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar details research on choice. In graduate school, Iyengar conducted what is now known as the “jam” study. She decided to test the theory that people who have too many choices will not choose at all. In a booth set up in a busy grocery store, Iyengar and her associates posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table: half the time there were 6 choices of fruit jam and half the time there were 24 jars of jam.

When there were 24 jars of jam, 60 percent of the people coming by would stop and taste. When there were only 6 jars of jam only 40 percent of the people would stop and taste. More choices were better – right?

Not exactly.

You might think that people would taste more jam when the table had 24 varieties – but they didn’t. People stopped at the table, but they only tasted a few varieties whether there were 6 or 24 choice available.

People can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time; likewise, they can decide from among only 3 or 4 things at a time.

The most interesting part of Iyengar’s study is that 31 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 6 jars actually made a purchase. But only 3 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 24 jars actually mad a purchase.

More people may have stopped by, but less people purchased.

The study may have proved that less is more, but why do people always want more choices?

Information is addictive.

Dopamine, a chemical created and released in our brains, is critical in all sorts of brain functions: thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking, and reward. Dopamine also causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your search for more information. A fascinating topic, but it will have to wait for later!

It’s only when people are confident in their decisions that they stop seeking more information.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  • Resist the impulse to provide large number of choices
  • If you ask people how many options they want, the will almost always say “a lot” or “give me all the options.” If you ask, be prepared to deviate from what they ask for
  • If possible, limit the number of choices to 3 or 4. If you have to offer more options, try to do so in a progressive way. Have people choose first from 3 or 4 options, and then choose again from that subset.

inspired by and adapted from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Susan Weinschenk

Read more from Bob.


Would you like to learn more about why less is more? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 39 years. They have 4 children, 3 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Can I Lead My Team to Believe “Less is More” in a “More is More” World?

Every day, ministry leaders spend too much time, managing too much church “stuff,” for too little life-change. It is safe to say that the church in North America is over-programming her calendar and under-discipling her people.

Behind this reality is a stark irony: The effectiveness of our gospel work is limited, not by a lack of ministry effort but by an excess of ministry action.

The gospel-centered, transformational impact of your church sits as a malnourished beggar beside an every-growing buffet of church ministry programs.

We get too little discipleship precisely because we have too much church stuff

Church stuff is the whole of the ministry activities that make up your church calendar. Programming that ranges from weekly worship and groups, to monthly programming or quarterly training opportunities.

Church Stuff = Any event service, meeting, class, or group that your church offers this year.

It’s time to make better decisions.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simple Rulesby Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt

Complexity surrounds us. We have too much email, juggle multiple remotes, and hack through thickets of regulations from phone contracts to health plans. But complexity isn’t destiny. Sull and Eisenhardt argue there’s a better way. By developing a few simple yet effective rules, people can best even the most complex problems.

In Simple Rules, Sull and Eisenhardt masterfully challenge how we think about complexity and offer a new lens on how to cope. They take us on a surprising tour of what simple rules are, where they come from, and why they work. The authors illustrate the six kinds of rules that really matter – for helping artists find creativity and the Federal Reserve set interest rates, for keeping birds on track and Zipcar members organized, and for how insomniacs can sleep and mountain climbers stay safe.

Whether you’re struggling with information overload, pursuing opportunities with limited resources, or just trying to change your bad habits, Simple Rules provides powerful insight into how and why simplicity tames complexity.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

How often do you attempt to address complex problems with complex solutions? An extreme example that must of us are familiar with is the operations of governments – local, state, or federal. It seems that in every case, governments both create and attempt to solve complexity by creating regulations to cover every imaginable scenario.

In reality, trying to “solve” complex situations with more complexity almost always creates more confusion than it resolves. Again, a governmental example comes to mind: the U.S. income tax law. Every April taxpayers struggle to understand the new regulations that have been enacted since the previous year. In the meantime, the bureaucracy grows larger while the “answers” it provides are often contradictory and confusing.

While applying complicated solutions to complex problems may be an understandable approach, it is flawed. Complicated solutions quickly overwhelm people.

What if, instead of looking to complicated solutions for complex problems, we turned to simple rules?

Simple rules are shortcut strategies that save time and effort by focusing our attention and simplifying the way we process information.

Simple rules work because they do three things very well:

  • They confer the flexibility to pursue new opportunities while maintaining some consistency.
  • They produce better decisions.
  • They allow members of a community to synchronize their activities with one another on the fly.

We’ll start with boundary rules, the most basic variety of simple decision rules. Boundary rules can help you decide between two mutually exclusive alternatives. Boundary rules also help you to pick which opportunities to pursue and which to reject when faced with a large number of alternatives.

  • Boundary rules narrow down the alternatives, helping people decide which opportunities to pursue in the face of an overwhelming number of choices.
  • Boundary rules can also help pick the most promising opportunities when money is the binding constraint.
  • Boundary rules can translate statistical findings into easy-to-use decision aids.
  • Boundary rules can also translate broad policies into practical guidelines.

Boundary rules guide the choice of what to do (and not do) without requiring a lot of time, analysis, or information. Boundary rules work well for categorical choices, like those with a yes-or-no decision. These rules also come in handy when time, convenience, and cost matter. Boundary rules cover the basics of what to do.

Donald Sull and Kathleen Eisenhardt, Simple Rules

A NEXT STEP

Since we are talking about focus, again, select five to ten ideas (current or future) that you consider may have potential for ministry action.

On a chart tablet, number the ideas and write them on the top row of a matrix. Write the following concepts on the left column: money, knowledge, skills, scale, and time. These concepts will form the framework of your simple rules.

Together with your team, define how much money, the type of knowledge, the type of skills, scale (how much and how far), and the time necessary to develop each idea. Write a description of each concept in the matrix.

Add a last row at the end of the matrix and write down a realistic check-up of your own resources per idea.

Highlight in red where you lack resources, and reflect on our team whether you can find ways to acquire them, or if the idea should be shelved.

Choose the idea with the least amount of red highlights.

After completing this exercise, discuss with your team if this simple rules framework will work in your regular ministry planning. Revise any areas that need tweaking.

Distribute the simple rules framework to your team with instructions for use on future ideas.


You can make better disciples with less church activity. You and your church can see and act on the beauty of a less-is-more approach by making better decisions.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 42-3, published June 2016.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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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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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Sidestepping 5 Communication Pitfalls that Trap Vision

Effective communication is absolutely critical to creating movement toward your vision.

The challenge then is keeping the vision of your church central in your messaging. Does clarity of vision drive your communications strategy or does communication rely on the loudest voice or greatest need? Without an intentional, strategic, vision-soaked communications plan, it is easy to fall into the pitfall of calendar maintenance and program sustenance. A pitfall that always traps vision.

Here are 5 Communication Pitfalls that every church faces and one side-step for each to keep your vision on solid ground.

1. The Program-Focus Pitfall

Many churches rely on communicating about programs rather than through vision. Every Sunday announcement begins to sound the same:  “Here’s what we’re doing! Sign up today.” Response wanes quickly, if any response happens at all, because nearly everyone in the congregation already feels overwhelmed by their schedule. The last thing they came to church to do was sign up for something else. 

If all you do is communicate programs or events, your communication will likely go in one ear and out the other. So how can you sidestep this pitfall?

Never communicate about a program without first communicating vision. Ask: How does this program or event enable people to be a part of the vision and mission God has given to your church? What part of our Great Commission call might people miss if they do not participate? What are some life-change stories you can tell to demonstrate Gospel effectiveness and generate missional excitement around the program?

Side-Step #1: WHY before WHATInstead of just standing and announcing your church homecoming Sunday in July, hoping to convince everyone to show up and sweat together around some sketchy potato salad, stop and frame the why. Is gathering as a family important or missing in your culture? Will guests get to know the church behind the Sunday service formality? Are there stories of impact from last year’s homecoming that you can communicate through a short video clip? First, communicate WHY this program or event matters to the vision of the church before you tell the congregation WHAT side dish they need to sign-up for. 

2. The Too Many Choices Pitfall

Without a clear understanding of success in the mission, it is easy to elevate doing many activities above developing the few attributes of gospel-centered disciples. We proudly communicate, “There’s a lot going on around here!” but do people truly know what they are accomplishing by making a particular choice?

The vast menu of options for people to get involved, simply does not work. Major research studies exist on the concept of “decision paralysis.” These scientific studies reveal that offering people too many choices actually leads to people to not choosing anything at all. It is easier to do nothing than to guess at one thing.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is to develop a comprehensive communication plan. A great plan defines one specific next step of engagement you want people to take in each ministry environment or program. Make it clear why these next steps are important for missional engagement and give clear instructions on how to do it. The number of activities you offer may decrease, but you will increase the overall participation of your congregation around what matters the most.

Side-Step #2: One + One. Pull out the worship bulletin from last Sunday’s service and stop to count the number of next-step choices you communicated. How many were applicable to your first-time guests and how many were members-only? Could the average attender even tell the difference? Commit to simplifying everybody’s world in the future and carefully craft one intentional next step for your guests and one next step for the congregation each week.

3. The Ineffective Messaging Pitfall

Some studies suggest that the average adult views close to 3,000 marketing messages per day. That’s about 3,000 intentionally designed advertisements, by marketing professionals, to creatively connect with people emotionally to compel or require action. In contrast, we in the church often assume that people will engage with our service announcement in the same way, simply because we are the church. Carrying the mandate of the Gospel requires us to be intentional and effective in church communication. The stakes may be eternal.

How much time do you spend working on and refining the language you use to communicate your mission and vision? Bill Hybels, in his book, Axiom, tells a story of how he spent an entire transatlantic flight working on two specific words that would ignite passion in people around God’s vision for Willow Creek Community Church. Words create worlds, and every word matters. Who can help you hone and sharpen your vision language for transformational impact?

One quick way to evaluate your existing vision is to simply ask yourself: Does this vision get me excited? Am I compelled to do something new or be someone better because of the language we use to communicate our calling?

Side-Step #3: Emotion Creates Motion. How much more effective would your immediately-swiped-left-to-delete weekly emails be if you spent as much time developing a compelling subject line as you did on the content itself? Stop and think about what really matters to the average church member in what you are communicating. If you cannot answer this, maybe do not send an email this week. If you cannot decide which one, go ahead to Pitfall #4 below. Either way, invest the time necessary to develop language that connects people at both the head and heart level to your missional calling.

4. The Too Many Messages Pitfall

Even when the message is highly crafted, it is easy to communicate too many messages. Remember those 3,000 marketing messages per day? When people come to services on the weekend or even visit your church Facebook page during the week, they have likely already been bombarded with too many ads and calls to action. Everybody has something or wants something. Unfortunately, we are sometimes a part of the problem adding multiple messages by saying the same thing many different ways.

As church leaders, we get to do more than market…we get to remind people that there is something bigger going on in the world and that they are a part of it—that is the mission God has given us. We can cut through the cultural marketing madness by focusing the church on the few simple, memorable goals that we are working toward, together. That is our vision.

To sidestep this pitfall, develop a clear, concise and compelling articulation of both your mission (what are we doing?) and your vision (what’s the next milestone on the horizon?), and then say them over and over and over.

Side-Step #4: Less is More. Stop and think about your last small groups emphasis. Whether it was plugging into a Sunday bible study or committing to another night out each week, you were asking for a significant commitment. How many different and creative ways did you communicate this? More than one was probably too many. How consistent was the message of why from each of your leaders? Allowing personalization potentially creates confusion. Say more with less by refining your language of mission and vision, or even creating a complete vision frame. Then develop a team discipline to say the same thing in the same way – every time. Until leaders are tired of saying it, the congregation has not yet heard it.

5. The Lack of Follow-Through Pitfall

It is easy for church leaders to get more excited with the next new thing rather than remaining focused on the current important thing. Leaders lose credibility with staff and congregation by moving on to the next big idea before the last big idea has come to fruition.

When you communicate vision clearly—with clear milestones that everyone understands—continue to work toward those milestones as a church until you achieve them. Stay the course. Concentrate on the language to connect with your people and invite them into what God has called you to do as a church. Do whatever you have to do in order to hit those milestones. Then, move on to the next big thing.

Side-Step #5: One Thing Focus. Everyone wants to be a part of a church that is winning by doing something significant for the Kingdom. During the next church-wide emphasis, celebrate small wins along the way and tell the stories of life change. If your people have been called to invest above and beyond their typical pattern of attendance or giving, provide closure when the goals are met or the season ends. Spend the time and resources necessary to demonstrate completion, or over-communicate how the next initiative helps fulfill the last one. Stay focused on one big vision milestone at a time, communicate it in compelling ways, and celebrate it when God leads you through it.

How do you keep your church communication from falling into a vision-trapping pitfall? Keep these 5 Sidesteps in mind to stay on course and Go Ahead with vision clarity:

  1. WHY before WHAT
  2. One + One
  3. Emotion Creates Motion
  4. Less is More
  5. One Thing Focus

 

If you’re not satisfied with your communication strategy, 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

Auxano Content Team

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COMMENTS

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Dr.Shirley Lynn — 11/01/16 5:12 pm

We are a small church and our vision sometimes gets lost in so many things and our staff is not easy to understand how important communication and vision are and another thing is being excited about vision and seem to not be able to create excitement in our congregation.

Mike Maye — 11/01/16 10:56 am

This article was extremely helpful

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Less is More: Dealing with Sideways Energy in Your Ministry

I’ve posted about SIDEWAYS ENERGY before, but I wanted to bring this topic back up.

Are you busy but not intentional? Do you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not getting any traction? Does there seem to be a lack of any kind of momentum in your organization? Could be you are dealing with way too much “sideways energy.” There is good energy and bad energy- and bad energy usually shows up as sideways… not because it is necessarily bad, but because it is usually a distraction.

We need to avoid sideways energy. It drives me crazy!

So what is Sideways Energy?

Sideways energy is showing up to work but spending two hours talking about what you should have done an hour and a half ago.

– Sideways energy is gossiping about your boss or co-workers.

– Sideways energy is procrastinating.

– Sideways energy is the same meeting eight times in a row regarding the same idea that still has yet to be implemented.

– Sideways energy is having three sales to close and not calling them back because you are asked to help clean up the office for the Christmas party .

– Sideways energy is a staff handbook that collects dust but took hours to create.

– Sideways energy is an organizational system that takes 4 weeks to move a sale through the process because there is too much bureaucracy.

– Sideways energy is a meeting with no follow up, action plan, next steps or implementation that everyone knew would be a waste of time but no one was willing to say so.

– Sideways energy is cleaning your office or cube instead of finishing the project that was due yesterday.

Paper shuffling is sideways energy.

– Dealing with the same problem multiple times is sideways energy.

Too many cc’ed emails is sideways energy.

– Creating new policies for the company that everyone knows will never be implemented is sideways energy.

Micromanaging is sideways energy. Lack of trust is sideways energy.

Brown-nosing is sideways energy.

Office politics is sideways energy.

And many times, the reason sideways energy becomes such a regular happening is because there is pressure coming from all sides within and around an organization- the very top, your boss, and those who you are leading. And the side seems to be the only place to find some relief and maybe focus on something, even if it is not the right thing to be focused on at the time. And growth can cause pressure that facilitates MORE sideways energy. Ultimately, this all leads to a lack of focus, which causes pressure because you choose not to deal with reality and instead want to focus on things that ultimately don’t matter.

How to combat sideways energy? 

  • First, realize it exists and will paralyze an organization.
  • Second, identity it and deal with it.
  • Third, measure your productivity and create a system that will help you determine how much sideways energy you are creating, both for yourself as well as for your team.
  • And finally, be clear on your goals and what the right kind of energy looks like for your team- if you model the right kind of energy, your team will follow in the same direction. Ultimately, use common sense.

Most of us can identify sideways energy in others, so being self aware and making sure we don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in sideways energy personally is really important.

Read more from Brad here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick

In a nutshell, I’m an Oklahoma boy now residing in the South. I am a passionate follower of Christ, and have the privilege of leading and directing a movement of young leaders called Catalyst. We see our role as equipping, inspiring, and releasing the next generation of young Christian leaders, and do this through events, resources, consulting, content and connecting a community of like-minded Catalysts all over the world. I appreciate the chance to continually connect with and collaborate alongside leaders.

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Laws of Subtraction: How to Innovate in the Age of Excess Everything

“Our businesses are more complicated and difficult to manage than ever. Our economy is more uncertain than ever. Our resources are scarcer than ever. There is endless choice and feature overkill in all but the best experiences. Everybody knows everything about us. The simple life is a thing of the past. Everywhere, there’s too much of the wrong stuff, and not enough of the right. The noise is deafening, the signal weak. Everything is too complicated and time-sucking.

Welcome to the age of excess everything. Success in this new age looks different, and demands a new and singular skill: Subtraction.

Subtraction is defined simply as the art of removing anything excessive, confusing, wasteful, unnatural, hazardous, hard to use, or ugly—and the discipline to refrain from adding it in the first place.”

Click here to download Matthew’s Change This manifesto on “The Laws of Subtraction.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew May

In addition to The Laws of Subtraction, Matthew E. May is the author of four previous manifestos. He is also the author of three awardwinning books: The Elegant Solution, In Pursuit of Elegance, and The Shibumi Strategy. A popular speaker, creativity coach, and close advisor on innovation and design strategy to companies such as ADP, Edmunds, Intuit, and Toyota, he is a regular contributor to the American Express OPEN Forum Idea Hub and the founder of Edit Innovation, an ideas agency based in Los Angeles.

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Want to Get More Done? Stop Doing So Much!

The world is accelerating, and there are more platforms and opportunities for expression than at any point in history. As a result, we often expect more of ourselves and others. If time is available for a project, then it seems reasonable to agree to take it on or to expect others to do so. However, as these commitments build they can quickly begin to suffocate our capacity to engage with the work. We find that we are still able to technically get around to everything, but our effectiveness is decreasing. We are sinking slowly into a sea of mediocrity.

This is why pruning is critical.

In a vineyard, the vine keeper knows that if a vine is not regularly pruned, new fruit will eventually begin to steal resources from the older, more mature, fruit-bearing parts of the vine. Over time, the unpruned vine will eventually succumb to systemic mediocrity because it simply can’t support that much fruit. There aren’t the resources available. The good fruit suffers in order to support the less mature fruit.

Read the rest of Todd’s post here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd Henry

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Choices and Your Announcements

In an earlier post I referenced Barry Schwartz’s work The Paradox of Choice, which advocates that too many choices leads to regret because we are never confident we made the right choice. While I pointed out that this regret is really a result of our sinful hearts seeking satisfaction in things other than Christ, I do agree with Schwartz’s hypothesis that too many choices leads to “decision paralysis.”

In a talk at the well-known TED conference, Schwartz gave an illustration of Vanguard financial services, which conducts voluntary retirement programs at companies for more than 1 million employees. These voluntary retirement programs include matching funds from employers, meaning they are deeply beneficial and advantageous to the employee. According to Schwartz, participation in the retirement program drops 2 percent for every 10 options presented to employees. If 50 fund options are presented, participation drops 10 percent.

The employees are overwhelmed by the number of options, walk away from free matching money, and go home thinking they will sign up another day. The plethora of choices leads to “decision paralysis.”

After consulting with a lot of churches, I am convinced the same thing happens each week for them. The number of things that are presented as “next steps” or “opportunities for involvement” are too many and lead to paralysis. It is often hard to keep up with the barrage of announcements unloaded in a 3-4 minute time frame. Calling the person giving the monologue an MC or tour guide (yes, I have seen that happen) or putting together a great video will not solve the problem of too many announcements.

A better way is to say less. We really do say more by saying less.

What is the magic number of announcements? I am not sure. I have seen some churches effectively bundle three announcements to feel like one because everything was deeply woven together and connected to an overarching direction. At the same time, I have seen others make one announcement feel like ten because the details were so confusing.

The point is that too many choices results in paralysis. Consider helping your people benefit from the great ministry your church is offering by pushing less options.

Read more by Eric here.

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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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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
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
 

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