The Shape of Your Influence – Part 2

The great (and true) quote that “we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us” is credited to Winston Churchill. Other less insightful quotes are credited to him on the Internet as well, but this quote is really good because it is so true. As I shared in this post, leaders form their organizations by forming the values, mission, strategy, measures and leadership development approaches of those organizations. Today I want to offer five more things leaders can shape that in turn shape the organizations they lead. Here is part two of ten things leaders shape that in turn shape the organizations they lead.

  1. Values
  2. Mission
  3. Strategy
  4. Measures
  5. Leadership development

6. Buildings

Kenton Beshore, my predecessor and genius friend, walked me to the center of Mariners church campus one day, a spot right outside our worship center. He said, “Tell me what you see and don’t see.” After I stood there unsure of what to say for a few seconds, he said, “you can see every entrance to every building but you cannot see a car in the parking lot. The facility was designed to keep you here. When you leave a worship service you do not see your car or a parking lot. We wanted that so that it would help you stay and connect with others.” The facility choices at Mariners have formed the culture I enjoy, as people really do stay and connect with one another.

7. Moments

There are moments in a ministry or organization that form the culture. Moments where there is clarity of belief or direction. Moments where memories are made. Moments where people are invited to internalize and commit to what is most important. Moments of honest dialogue with leaders. Wise leaders steward these moments well and don’t rush through them.

8. Structures

How an organization or ministry is structured is no small matter. The structure declares who will collaborate together and who will just politely nod at one another in the hallway. The structure impacts who is ultimately accountable, how communication occurs, and what priorities receive the most attention. Leaders shape the organizational structure and the organizational structure shapes them.

9. Systems

Andy Stanley once said, “Systems create culture.” A system has a powerful impact on shaping the culture because it operationalizes an important value. For example, if there is an effective system for recruiting and training leaders, the system helps create a culture of leadership development. We cultivate the cultures of our organization by the systems we create and communicate.

10. Policies

Because policies impact behavior, they impact how people in an organization relate to one another. By policies I do not mean the “rules’ in writing that no one takes seriously or have not been updated in years, but the standards that really matter (by the way, these should be the actual policies too). Leaders have the ability to set and shape these standards as they definitely shape the culture. Sometimes the policies conflict with the vision of the team, and when this occurs the policy must be changed as quickly as possible. A common example I noticed when I consulted churches was a church leader who would articulate a desire to develop future staff and hire from within the church, yet a policy that stated all staff must have a specific degree. The vision and the policy were at odds and the policy actually impacted the behavior, in most cases, more than the vision did.

We shape our buildings, moments, structures, systems, and policies, and they in turn shape us. So shape wisely, leaders, shape wisely.

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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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Clarity Process

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7 Steps to Church Failure

It only takes a 30-second internet search to find blog after blog listing the top 10 things your church must do to be successful, transform lives, and generally be a wonderful, fantastic place.  The myriad of blogs on the subject are both helpful and informative.  As I read them, I find myself aspiring to be a better leader.

What seems to be missing are the steps to ensure your church’s failure.  You may be asking, “Why would anyone write that blog?” The success of your church is not only about aiming at the right targets, but also about avoiding the pitfalls that can damage your ministry.  Unless we are careful, we may be sending messages about the value of people that are not what we intend.  These unintended messages can do measurable harm to your ministry and keep people from engaging.

Here are seven unintended messages that can close your doors:

  1. If they signed up for the email list, they want to hear from you.  Contact them as often as you want. I’m sure Mr. Davis is interested in the women’s prayer breakfast.
  2. Don’t sweat it if the bathrooms are dirty or the coffee runs out. This isn’t a coffee shop, and no one really means it when they say ‘it was clean enough to eat off the floor’.
  3. So what if your small groups seem like a clique? There is nothing that makes people want to be on the inside of community like feeling excluded!
  4. We need tithes to run this place.  Ask first, get to know them later. And don’t forget to use guilt frequently.
  5. Relationships are messy and hard. Instead of investing in someone’s life, let’s just plug them in to a program — the more programs the better.
  6. If people want to get connected, they will keep trying. The connections cards we printed are expensive and that’s why we call back almost half of the people who fill it out.
  7. We are in need of some volunteers. Who cares if it’s not their gifting or interest?  We have real needs right now!

While no church leader begins with the attitudes above, without the right systems and processes in place, they can begin to creep into your ministry. It only takes one or two of these attitudes to do long-term damage to your ministry.

Here are a few resources that can help prevent these attitudes from creeping into your ministry:

  1. An effective communications strategy can help you connect, engage, and inform your people. Done poorly, it can simply become noise.  Here are a few communications strategies to help cut through the noise.
  2. The first impression a visitor gets is not a worship song or a sermon. It starts in the parking lot and stretches into the atrium as they find their way into services. Creating space that is welcoming and easy to navigate is important.  Here are a few tips on optimizing your space.
  3. Moving people from casual attenders to engaged members doesn’t happen by accident.  It requires a process and an invitation.  Here is how to move people from the observer to participant.
  4. While the financial needs of the church are very real, the act of tithing is a function of discipleship and obedience to Scripture.  Here are a few ways to cultivate generosity.
  5. Transformation happens in the context of community.  The tendency to limiting engagement to being involved in a program can actually interfere with creating healthy community.  Even though relationships are messy, they’re worth the effort.
  6. Your connection card may be the most important piece of paper in your church. Don’t miss out on the value to connect with visitors.
  7. One of the best ways to retain volunteers is to plug them into roles that are a good fit for their gifts. Leading volunteers doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are seven ways to boost your volunteer engagement.

How are you preventing these attitudes from affecting your Church?

Read more from Steve here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A 5-Part, Vision Centered Systems Model for Your Church

Over the past few years I have consulted with a number of fast growing churches to help them get unstuck.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The church is a living organism designed to grow.
  • Growing churches grow.
  • Growing churches get stuck.
  • Growing churches are often one big decision from getting unstuck.
  • These big decisions are often predictable.

As a result of this work I’ve put together a little model that has help me in working with growing churches.  Represented in the model below are five areas to which every church, regardless of model or context, must pay attention.  Let me give you a brief overview.

DavidPutmanSystemsModel

 Vision

At the very center of this model is the Vision Frame developed by Will Mancini.  Pastors of growing churches do the hard work of vision. This work comes first and forms the vision frame of any growing church.  They recognize that God has given them a unique vision.  They understand this vision frame consists of five irreducible questions of clarity.  These questions include:

  •  What are we doing (mission)?
  • Why are we doing it (values)?
  • How are we doing it (strategy)?
  • When are we successful (measures)?
  • Where is God taking us (vision proper)?

These leaders understand that vision is more than a statement.  Best practices among visionaries are:

  • They have spent hours in prayer and scripture seeking God’s heart.
  • They have taken their team through a healthy process to discover God’s vision for their church.
  • They have crafted a culture, shaping language to articulate their unique vision with absolute clarity.
  • They value the “law of the outsider” and have consulted with someone who can help them navigate this unique journey.
  • They focus on implementing the vision frame over time.

Leaders who lack in vision ultimately end up getting stuck.

Leadership

Churches often get stuck when the churches growth outpaces that of the leadership.  This is why it is so important that we understand in order to grow the church, we must grow the leader.

There are five areas that every Senior Leader must grow.  They are:

  • Visioneer – Ability to discover, to communicate, and implement vision.
  • Communicator – Ability to communicate God’s word in a gospel-centered, passionate, and relevant way.
  • Team Leader – Ability to discern leadership, develop a leadership pipeline, develop new leaders, and execute ministry through others.
  • Funder of Mission – Ability to create a culture of generosity and raise capital for big endeavors.
  • Vitality – Ability to grow personally, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and professionally over the long haul.

Discipleship

As the church we have one and only one mission.  It’s a disciple-making mission.  Growing churches have a systematic process for accomplishing this mission. We often refer to this as disciple-making assimilation.  Disciple-making assimilation is different then church assimilation systems.  Church assimilation systems often focus on church membership.  Disciple-making assimilations systems focus on the quality and quantity of disciples.  It ultimately answers three questions:

  • What is a disciple?
  • How are disciples made in this context?
  • What are the measures of a disciple?

Environment

Space is important.  I wish it wasn’t.  It would make our work and lives much easier.  At the end of the day when a church runs out of space or has a poor environment it causes growth to slow and often time stop growing.  I often get inquires from new church planters wanting help for their lack of growth.  Many times it’s simply hindered by their meeting environment.

Many of our church buildings were built during a time when Christianity was the dominant worldview in the US.  That is no longer true.  We must become much more intentional about our environments if we are to reach people who begin their journey with their backs toward Christ and the church. Our partners at Visioneering Studios understand this.  I first encountered them at a conference during an Architectural Evangelism presentation.  We (Mountain Lake Church) were well into our design phase of a new worship space.  We were so convicted about the importance of space and environment that we ditched our project and began from scratch.  Growing churches that resolve the space and environment issues most often explode in growth.

A healthy practice is to utilize a Guest Service Perspective.  This service is designed to have a consultant who is trained in space and environment issues come in and do a kind of secret shopping experience in your church context.

Finances

A lack of funding is one of the best ways to kill a good idea.  The same is true for churches and ministry.  This is among the top two or three issues I deal with in helping fast-growing churches.  Vision most often out paces our resources.  Without exception, I watch young churches hit the financial huddle sooner or later in their ministry.

This happens due to a number of reasons.  They are:

  • Failure to disciple new and existing disciples in generosity.  Somewhere along the way we bought into the lie that people won’t come to your church if you talk about money.
  • No practical tools for teaching people how to get out of debt, budget, and give.  The number one tool for increasing a churches financial health over the long haul is a consistent financial ministry for the people, by the people.
  • Lack of healthy financial systems in the church.  Churches consistently spend inordinate percentages of their income on staffing and facility-related issues.  A balanced budget with appropriate checks and balances goes a long way.
  • Lack of communication about church finances.  People often feel in the dark when it comes to church finances.  We ask them for their money, but we refuse to tell them how God is using it.
  • Failure to conduct discipleship-oriented capital campaigns.  Churches make two common mistakes when it comes to raising capital for specific needs.  First, they often fail to hire an outside consultant.  Research consistently demonstrates that a consultant makes a huge difference when it comes to a campaign.  Secondly, they conduct a poorly executed campaign.  When conducting a campaign you must go all in.  A well-done campaign can compel a church into the future, enabling you to overcome the barriers that come along with lack of funding.

As a part of the Auxano Team we are eager to serve you and your church as you deal with those natural barriers of a growing church.  Don’t hesitate to contact us.  We offer a number of on-site consulting services.  They include: Vision Pathway, Resourcing, Leadership Pipeline, Communications, and StratOps.

Read more from David here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Secret Sequences & Systems of Ministry Innovation

Sequencing matters. Service matters.  Systems matter.

And so do people.

When sequencing and systems fail to help our guests effectively experience quality service, or take practical steps toward desired outcomes, people are not valued. We don’t communicate that they matter. At least we fall obviously short.

Our connections team has been assessing processes, systems, staffing and teams that most effectively help our people take their next step toward Jesus – particularly, new guests to our church. Although someone’s very next step after an initial weekend service may be to come back the next weekend, we can’t assume that is the only step a guest may want or need to take.

How do people meet others? Find a sense of belonging? And in doing so take a step on their journey toward and with Jesus? 

Sequence matters. And that means opportunities must be carefully planned and offered.

Environments, services, gatherings, resources – all matter. They help people meet, focus, grow and figure out their next step.

Systems matter. Clarity makes the next step even possible.  Following up communicates care.

Susan Abbott over at theIdeaStudio talks about sequencing as a way to innovate the guest’s or customer’s experience. No, she is not observing church ministry; she is looking at fast food delivery systems and insurance claims processes. She suggests that by altering the sequence of events, an organization can discover process innovation.

She offers this exercise:

Consider the sequence of delivery of the elements in your consumption chain. Write them on a piece of paper. Mix up the papers. Describe a sequence for each random mix you come up with. Try not to reject it out of hand … see if you can think of a way to make it work.*

Okay, this whole exercise goes south if you think of your church guests as a “consumption chain,” so don’t. You get the point. What helpful sequencing might come of this exercise in your ministry team? Non-profit? Marketplace business?

If you’re brave enough to give it a shot – report back through a comment.

Our team is going to dive into it. I’ll let you know…

Read more from Mark here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Waltz

Mark has spent the past 25 years serving and leading people. While many of those years were focused within the local church, he brings marketplace experience from retail management, as well as career development and training. Regardless of his work or ministry context, he is about investing in people, because he believes people really matter. Think of him as a "people advocate." A sought after consultant and trainer, Mark has helped local churches of all sizes improve their guest services experience. Today Mark serves as executive pastor at Granger Community Church where for the past fourteen years he has been a unifying force, overseeing adult relational connections, including groups, guest services and volunteer strategies. As Granger’s chief guest services practitioner he still inspires teams of volunteers who make Granger Community Church a relaxed, rejuvenating and relevant experience for members and guests. Mark also oversees Granger’s multisite campuses.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Critical Systems for a Healthy Culture

There are many systems in place at churches of every size, location & style; most are borne out of necessity, but some are adopted because they’ve been seen at work in other churches. While the list of church systems could be exhaustive, I’ve come to define them into three distinct but important categories. There are, of course, many, many sub-systems within these broad categories, but I believe each of the three to be vitally important to creating, maintaining and exporting a healthy culture.

The diagram below illustrates the following:

Right Fit + Right Systems = Consistent Results

Right Fit + Wrong Systems = Frustration

Wrong Fit + Right Systems = Inconsistent Results

Wrong Fit + Wrong Systems = Poor Outcomes

Systems Quadrant

I believe that it’s possible to “right fit” every person. As my good friend pastor Brad Stahl (Volunteer pastor at Gateway Church) says, “Everybody’s a ’10′ somewhere!”. The right fit with the right systems is always the goal.

Relational Responsibility System

Once you get past about 50 people that you can know well, it’s hard to keep up with the rest of the people in your sphere of influence. So, in essence, any local church with more than 50 people is, for all intents and purposes, a mega church (which is commonly associated with being “too big” for many). Today, many churches have adopted some form of an electronic database for keeping track of attendees (some still track membership – but if they’re a member, aren’t they attending & serving? Why count membership?). The practicality of an electronic ‘Rolodex’ is helpful, but ultimately insufficient.

The point of keeping up with ‘people information’ is to help facilitate relationships, so any tool that merely acts as a glorified Rolodex is only marginally useful.

Of course many companies have realized this, thus the plethora of church management software offerings for churches of every size. Every one of these software solutions has built their tool from their own bias and understanding of how they would ‘do ministry’. As a result, while many offer similar features, the reality is that the way the software works is ultimately geared towards a way of doing ministry. If you go this route (and I recommend that you do), make sure the software you choose values what you value and functions along how your church does day-to-day ministry. A quick note: there’s not a single platform that’s doing everything really well, so you’re simply choosing the one that fits >80% of your relational responsibility needs.

Stewardship System

Church finances are obviously important, but I’ve come to understand that finances are only one part of being a good steward. As such, I believe that stewardship encompasses a different mindset than is typically found in the conventional church financial office.

Being a steward is defined as a responsibility to take care of something belonging to someone else.

From shepherding people well to wisely managing finances to designating resources effectively, a stewardship system involves a holistic approach. The leader overseeing this system is both generous and wise and manages this system (and sub-systems) through the filter of being a good steward more than ensuring Account Receivable and Accounts Payable are up-to-date. Church leaders are entrusted with much, so much is required. Luke 12:48 says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The fundamental shift of leading from this paradigm changes things up.

Communications System

It’s interesting to me how much emphasis the vast majority of churches place on having an event, promotion or need shared from the platform on weekends. Announcements have their place, but the truth is that by the time something makes it to the announcements from the senior pastor (which should be very few things indeed), the audience should have had the opportunity to hear about it from at least five other methods. I don’t think enough churches are thinking about their external communications nearly enough. Email (mass group emails as well as demographic-specific campaigns), print, website, social media, word-of-mouth, advertising, groups promotion and the like are all avenues that should be strategically coordinated (editorial calendars, anyone?).

Great communication ensures the right message is getting to the right people in the right way at the right time.

In addition to external communications, churches need to also put the same effort into internal communications. Frankly, in even smaller churches, the proverbial left hand doesn’t often know what the right hand is doing. As a result, people and project details often fall through the cracks.

In both cases, a unified communications system is less about a specific tool(s) and more about defining a healthy way of communicating effectively.

Owning these three systems is critical to churches. Is your church leveraging these three important systems? Share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter: @anthonycoppedge

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Anthony Coppedge

Anthony Coppedge

On the team at Auxano. Lover of Jesus, my wife and my kids. Unapologetic Apple fanboy. Slightly addicted to MindMaps, but in a good way.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

College Football and Your Church: Lessons about Systems and Process

Man, I love college football!! It is, by far, my favorite spectator sport. The energy, excitement and yes, even the controversy, is unmatched by any other sport.

As we head into the final weeks of the college football season, there’s going to be a lot of debate about who deserves to be in the National Championship game. Though my loyalties lie with the Georgia Bulldog Nation, I still appreciate the way coaches like Nick Saban (Alabama) and Chip Kelly (Oregon) have lead their teams to get to this point. Have you noticed that their teams are in the top 5 national rankings every year? As you analyze their leadership, there’s one principle that has helped define their success which also has tremendous application in the local church:

The church systems and processes you implement as a leader directly impact the behaviors and outcomes of those you lead.

Goals without defined processes and systems are nothing more than pipe dreams. While focusing on the weekend experience is very important, it’s not enough to engage people in real relationships and authentic community. None of this just happens; there must be a method behind what you want to accomplish.

For example, maybe you want to raise up more leaders and volunteers. But the only system you have in place to accomplish that goal is to make more announcements from the pulpit. That is not a purposeful strategy, and it won’t create more volunteers. Quite simply, it won’t do anything to move the ball down the field.

The best college coaches in the country don’t make it to the National Championship game by focusing solely on some motivational speech they give before each game. They have a detailed strategy, from how they recruit to how they practice to how they create a game plan each week to accomplish their goals.

As church leaders, we must approach our work in the same way. A solid process will actually help us reach our goals by influencing and dictating the behavior of the people who help us get there. Here are a few ways that effective processes impact outcomes:

  • Effective Processes set expectations
  • Effective Processes offer clarity
  • Effective Processes help people self-select or opt out based on their “fit” and “passion”
  • Effective Processes equip and train
  • Effective Processes identify the right tools to support people.
  • Effective Processes evaluate success and offer accountability

Let’s use small group leadership as a practical example. As a small group leader, my end goal is to create and facilitate a healthy small group that is engaging in community and experiencing life change. But you can’t just trust my abilities to make that happen. Church leadership must provide process for me to operate in if they really want to see consistent success.

  • Set expectations for me that eliminate ambiguity about what is expected. For example, make sure I know I am expected to turn in individual attendance each week. Be sure I understand why it’s important.
  • Train me to be effective. Give me practical tools which help me better facilitate communication and community.
  • Support me by telling me where to go if I hit obstacles or situations I am not equipped for.
  • Give me tools that help me meet expectations in an easy and efficient manner. Preferably, they are online so I can access them from anywhere.
  • Hold me accountable to the health of my group by evaluating results. Good leaders (and I try hard to be one) desire accountability and seek to know how they are doing.

In the end, the process you establish and follow will guide my behavior and help me create a healthy small group.

Inspiration alone will not create the Kingdom impact we desire. Hope is not enough. You must start by creating systems and processes that will help you get wherever it is your feel God is leading you. It may not be perfect at first, but as you begin to implement it, you can identify what’s working, what’s not, and be able to make the adjustments moving forward.

Nick Saban won a National Championship at Alabama in his first season. He did this with the very same players who finished 6-6 the year before. When he was asked how he did it in the post game interviews, he referenced the word PROCESS every single time!!

How have you seen this principle play out in the work you do? What encouraging words would you have for someone looking to create processes that lead the life change?


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.