Making Vision Stick (Define the Problem)

It’s important that leaders choose to be students of communication. We should never assume we have ‘arrived’ or ‘know’ how to communicate effectively. Our culture is constantly morphing. History is made every day. Innovation and creativity demand that we stay sharp. To fail to do so means we will only reach a small segment of our community.

In today’s post I want to share a quick quote and recommend Andy Stanley’s small, yet well written book, ‘Making Vision Stick‘. I urge you to add it to your library. I reference it several times through my year and ask many of the leaders I work with to purchase and read it. What I really like about it is it’s simplicity. Andy lays out five key principles to ensure that vision stays front and center in the hearts of your church attendees.

The following quote is the first of three steps found under the second main principle in the book, “Cast the Vision Convincingly”.


Define the Problem

“To cast a convincing vision, you have to define the problem that your vision addresses…. Every vision is a solution to a problem. If your vision doesn’t get traction, something that needs to happen won’t happen. A problem will continue to go unaddressed. To make vision stick, your audience needs to understand what’s at stake. It’s the ‘what’s at stake’ issue that grabs people’s hearts. Only a clear explanation of the problem will cause people to sit up and say, “Something must be done!” If your target audience doesn’t know what’s at stake, the vision will never stick…. 

To cast your vision in a convincing manner, you need to be able to answer these two questions: What is the need or problem my vision addresses? and What will happen if those needs or problems continue to go unaddressed?”


EXAMPLE #1

This Sunday, pastors are casting a vision, right? Whether it’s giving an announcement about an upcoming church activity or preaching about forgiveness, people need to know why it’s important; what’s at stake.

EXAMPLE #2

Someone on your team is likely in need of more committed volunteers (probably in the children’s ministry!). It’s very important that you follow Andy’s advice when recruiting others to get involved. At the end of the day, it’s not about filling an empty spot, it’s about making a difference in the lives of those you serve. That’s the need your’re addressing (not the need of a warm body in a room to babysit.)

EXAMPLE #3

You may even need to cast the vision to yourself at times. Perhaps this week you have a funeral that you will need to administrate and speak at. Defining the vision, and consequently, the need, will help clarify what you will say and do to best care for the needs of those attending that event.


What vision are you casting this week? There’s no doubt in my mind you should be casting the vision about something, it’s just a matter of what. When you do, don’t forget to FIRST define the problem!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Five Steps of Leadership Development

If you haven’t had a chance to read Dave & Jon Ferguson’s book, Exponential: How You and Your Friends Can Start a Missional Church Movement, I recommend you do so this summer. 

In today’s post, I thought I’d share their very simple formula for leadership development. That is, how to train staff and volunteers (or anyone, for that matter) to do whatever it is they need to learn to do in both life and ministry. Don’t let the simplicity of these five steps deceive you. It’s a powerful and effective tool that you want to keep in your back pocket at all times. In fact, the authors of the book even wrote, “If there is one section of this book that I want you to photocopy and send to somebody else, it is this section.”

The Five Steps of Leadership Development

1. I do. You watch. We talk.

As an experienced leader leads a team, an apprentice takes the time to observe him or her. Within a few days the two should meet to discuss what the apprentice has observed. This debriefing time should include three simple questions: (1) “What worked?” (2) “What didn’t work?” and (3) “How can we improve?” This time of debriefing needs to continue throughout the process.

2. I do. You help. We talk.

In this phase of development, the leader gives the apprentice an opportunity to help lead in a particular area. For example, if someone is being developed to lead a student ministry small group, the leader might ask that person to lead the prayer time while the experienced leader leads the remainder of the time together. Again, this experience should be followed up with a one-on-one to talk.

3. You do. I help. We talk.

Now the apprentice transitions from supporting or helping the leader to taking on most of the leadership responsibilities of the team or group. If a person is being apprenticed to lead a team of sound technicians, he or she will operate the sound system and provide leadership for the other sound technicians. The more experienced leader now begins releasing responsibilities to the new, developing leader. As in the previous steps, the leader and apprentice leader should meet regularly to debrief the ministry experience.

4. You do. I watch. We talk.

The apprentice process is almost complete as the new leader grows increasingly more confident in his or her role. Consider how this step might look in a children’s ministry. A children’s group leader, at this point, would give his or her apprentice the opportunity to fulfill all the functions of leadership, with the more experienced leader now looking on and watching the new leader in action.

5. You do. Someone else watches.

This is where the process of reproducing comes full circle. The former apprentice is now leading and begins developing a new apprentice. Ideally, the leader who has developed and released several apprentices will continue to work with those leaders in a coaching capacity.

 
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What to Read

There’s so much great content available on the internet and through both books and ebooks. Sometimes it can be hard to sift through it all for the good stuff. So I thought I’d share some of the ‘good stuff’ with you, at least by my reckoning. Enjoy.

power-of-habitBook: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I love this book. It’s a bestseller for a good reason. It’s well written and well thought out. The Power of Habit discusses what a habit is, why it’s so difficult for us to break out of a habit and provides practical input as to how to do so. The book introduces a few very important concepts for churches and non-profits too, the most interesting and powerful being what he calls, “Keystone Habits”. I strongly urge any leader who is trying to run an organization or pastor/counselor who is trying to help people get out of old habits and into new habits to give this book a try. Warning: it is not written from a christian perspective – but most definitely hits the mark.

Some Great Articles Online

6 Ways to Derail Your Church Announcements by Rich Birch

Announcements are a great tool for moving people to action. However, it can be difficult to keep them fresh and creative every weekend. Even worse, the people who do them can get lazy and some bad habits sneak in that undermine their effectiveness. Here are some of the habits I’ve seen over the years. Read More.


Five Things A Church Leader Can Do To Avoid Burnout by Perry Noble

#1 – Talk to your spouse. I can promise you that your spouse may not completely understand what you are going through (I wrote about that here in an article entitled, “The Pastors Pain”), but your honesty is what they are craving the most. One of the things I am most ashamed of in regards to my battle with depression and anxiety is I did not tell Lucretia for quite a while. If I would have told her earlier she could have understood me better and prayed for me as I battled through the issue. Read More.


Three Lessons Learned From My PK’s by John McGee

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into your children’s shoes – in other words, to have you as a parent? How would you feel if you were the PK in your family? Recently, a friend was sharing some thoughts he had gleaned from Barnabas Piper’s book about growing up as a Pastor’s Kid. This made we wonder what my kids might say if they ever wrote a book about being a PK. Rather than waiting 20 years for the book, I asked them what it’s like to be a PK at our church. Read More.


Five Things Pastors Need to Say to Their Children by Thom Rainer

Over a year ago, I wrote a post at this blog on pastors’ children. According to the comments and the views, I obviously hit a nerve. Some of the comments came from pastors themselves. But a number of comments came from the children of pastors. Since that article, I have continued to receive comments from children who grew up in pastors’ homes. There is a consistent theme going through many of their perspectives and emotions. Many of them had very positive experiences; but many did not. Through hundreds of comments and conversations, I have been able to distill five things every child of a pastor would like to hear from their pastor/parent. Indeed, those who heard these five things consistently are those who have the healthiest attitudes toward the church today. Read More.


26 Lessons from 15 Church Annual Reports by Rich Birch

Churches use their annual report as a tool to communicate with leaders, volunteers, donors and the general community about what happened over the past year. Done well, annual reports engage people in the mission … done poorly, they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on (or the hard drive space they are stored on)! I asked the unSeminary community to share their annual reports, to see what I could learn from them. I received a lot of reports! Here’s what I discovered from studying them. Read More.


Top 10 Small Group Curriculum Reviews of 2014 by Mark Howell

Looking for great studies to add to your approved list? Here are my top 10 small group curriculum reviews from 2014. Read More.


Five Reasons Why Millennials Do Not Want to Be Pastors or Staff in Established Churches by Thom Rainer

Not all Millennials are averse to serving in leadership roles in established churches. But many of them are. And our churches are approaching a tipping point where many are unable to attract Millennial members or leaders. It will likely soon be a crisis. What is it about established churches that push away Millennials? Let’s examine that question first, and then let’s look at some possible solutions. Read More.

Communicating For A Change

I’ve listened to a lot of public speakers. Unfortunately, many tend to operate under the assumption that they are ‘good’ speakers when, really, well, they aren’t. Don’t worry. I won’t name names (that way I can ensure my name stays off the list too). I think we can often come to the conclusion that we know how to preach, or teach, because people listen to us – and maybe even nod their heads at times.

Of course, the real issue isn’t whether people listen to us so much as what happens after they are done. Is there any change or transformation taking place in their hearts? Do they have something they can and will do? Are they motivated to become more of what God desires of them?

Every preacher or teacher wants to see people’s lives impacted for eternity through their message. This is why I am recommending the book, Communicating For A Change, by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones. This book has played a HUGE role in my own career as a speaker. That’s not to say I’ve ‘arrived’, but I know I have grown. If you don’t already own it, I urge you to purchase and devour this book this week! If you do own it, I recommend you crack it open and give it another read. I know you won’t be sorry.

Here’s a great & simple excerpt from the book:

Create A Map: ME, WE, GOD, YOU, WE.
With this approach the communicator introduces a dilemma he or she has faced or is currently facing (ME). From there you find common ground with your audience around the same or a similar dilemma (WE). Then you transition to the text to discover what God says about the tension or question you have introduced (GOD). Then you challenge your audience to act on what they have just heard (YOU). And finally, you close with several statements about what could happen in your community, your church, or the world, if everybody embraced that particular truth (WE). page 120

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What to Read

Every once in a while I like to post some great articles I’ve stumbled across on the web that I think will be helpful to my readers. Here are some great ones for you to consider looking over! Enjoy!

Twelve Ways Pastors Went from Burnout to Vision  by Thom S. Rainer
There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions, and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout. I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries. Read More.


10 Symptoms of an Inwardly-Focused Church  by Tony Morgan
Can you imagine a business that never focused on reaching new customers? Imagine Apple saying, “We have no plans to sell phones, tablets and computers to new customers in the future. We’re going to focus solely on our existing customers from now on.” For a season Apple would likely continue to thrive because it has plenty of existing customers. But, over time, Apple would slowly lose it’s customer base until eventually everyone has either started purchasing products from other companies or passed away. Read More.


Gather Stories as If Lives Are in the Balance  by Mark Howell
As important as quantitative measurement is, today we need to talk about gathering stories, the qualitative aspect of small group ministry. Why? Let’s just say that while your ministry intelligence depends on the numbers we gathered yesterday, lives actually hang in the balance and depend on the stories you gather. Read More.


Never Start a Ministry Without a Minister  by Rick Warren
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance at the church. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance. And I’m glad we didn’t. It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. Read More.


3 BIG Reasons People Leave Your Church  by Dan Reiland
Why do you think people leave your church? Why do you think people leave churches in general? We’ve read reasons (and I’ve written about these too) like: “I just didn’t get anything out of the messages.” Read More.


Leadership Development Insights From Ephesians 4  by Aubrey Malphurs
One of the constant struggles church leaders face is determining how to achieve alignment between congregational and pastoral expectations. If you are reading this, you likely are a Christian leader. You also are likely to attend a church that expects the pastors to do the ministry of the church (most do). After all, that’s what they hired you for, right? Wrong! Kind of…   Many churches hire their pastor looking for someone to do the ministry. People are busy, and the other staff is overloaded. Read More.


Preaching Without Words: 10 Things To Consider When Using Visuals  by Troy Page
Many of us grew up in a church where children and student ministry was fun, creative and caught our attention. Then as we grew older and started attending “big” church, everything seemed to get boring! Thankfully during the last twenty plus years, there has been a wave of new churches who place a value to make things more creative, exciting and interesting. One way this is done is when speakers use visuals such as props and videos to capture the attention of the audience. Read More.


The Lonely Pastor: Nine Observations  by Thom S. Rainer
The conversation took place just yesterday. A young man told me his dad, a pastor, recently committed suicide. He talked about the pain his father experienced in ministry as well as the intense loneliness. Though suicide is not an inevitable outcome, I do know the number of pastors experiencing loneliness is high—very high.  Read More.


3 Pieces of Advice from a Church Planter to Church Planters  by Ed Stetzer
Church planting is difficult, but a few simple actions can make it a bit easier. When I planted my first church in Buffalo in 1988, I was considered strange. People asked why I was planting a new church instead of pastoring an established one and wondered aloud if maybe I couldn’t land a real ministry job. Read More.

Leaders Are Readers (Part 2)

This updated article was originally posted on Transforming Leader January, 2011. Being both a popular and a particularly long post – we decided to split it into two parts and re-post. Haven’t read part 1 yet? No problem – click here to read it right now! Enjoy!

leaders-are-readers-3

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR READING SKILLS (part 2)

Go digital.
If you already own a smart phone, Kindle or iPad and have regular internet access with them, then I urge you to begin taking advantage of the digital options available to you. For example, you already have the basic tool needed to begin reading blogs (see next point). Additionally, Amazon will let you download the kindle apps for free on your device, which can then be used to purchase and read audio books. This year alone I have read about 5 books on my phone/Kindle using the kindle app. In fact, I read the entire book, Crucial Confrontations, on my phone each night during a 15 minute slot in my day when I was doing nothing else, but didn’t have a book handy nearby.

Discover the power of blogs.
I know many pastors and leaders who are afraid of the word “blog”. It’s an unknown so it’s intimidating. It’s something for the younger generation, right? Not true. I’ve discovered that reading blogs is one of the best ways to stay fresh on just about any topic or issue without stealing too much time. In fact I read an average of 10-12 blogs a day if possible, all within chunks of time when I wasn’t going to be doing anything else important anyway. Here’s a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Use an rss (blog) reader.
    Nowadays, there are several free apps/services you can use to keep track of blogs you’d like to read. Among the most popular is feedly.com (check it out – just go to the website and type in ‘transforming leader’ to find my blog.) This is a great place to keep track of any blogs you come across that you would like to read. Feedly will keep track of the articles you haven’t read so you can catch up later. It also allows you to search for new blogs that might interest you. You can search either by author, blog title or your subject of interest and then save what interests you to your account. Feedly offers you a free account that enables you to keep track of what you’ve read, are reading or hope to someday read. I’m currently following more than 500 blogs including some great and popular ones like: michaelhyatt.com, thomrainer.com, ronedmondson.com, churchm.ag, tonymorganlive.com and more.
  • Afraid of rss? Just subscribe via email instead!
    If you aren’t interested in learning how to use an rss reader like feedly.com. No worries. You can still subscribe to most blogs via email to get their posts in your email inbox. If you’re like me, you won’t want to clutter up your inbox with more emails though. One suggestion you might consider is to create an email with a popular email service like gmail.com that is dedicated just to your blogs. That way, you can just receive email updates for your blogs in that email without gumming up your main email address. Just a thought.

Here’s the main thing you should understand about blogs if you are new to them. Don’t read every one. That’s right, unless you’re only subscribed to mine (joke) you’ll want to look through the list of blog titles that pop up in your reader or email each day or week and decide which ones sound or look interesting to you. You’ll then skim or read those as you see fit and mark the rest read. Every once in a while (almost daily for me) you’ll find one you really like and want to either forward or keep for future reference. If that happens, I recommend you take care of it right then, or it will likely not happen at all

Take advantage of dead time.
This may seem obvious, but it actually takes diligence, preparation, and intentionality to take advantage of the dead time in your life (time that you aren’t really doing anything valuable). One of the best ‘dead time’ tools is, as I already mentioned, a phone with reading materials available on it like e-books or blogs. If that’s not available to you, I recommend you try to keep one or two books with you at all times that you can pull out to read whenever you have a few minutes. If I stay focused, I can read a whole book in one month just by taking advantage of the white space in my life.

Become a bathroom reader.
Uh, well I just covered this above, but thought perhaps it was worth mentioning specifically. Most of us can often spend anywhere from 4 to 24 minutes alone in the bathroom. Other than the obvious, there’s not much else to do in there. It’s a great place to get some reading done. Even the four minute sessions can be valuable if you pick the right kind of book – one with short chapters. For instance, I read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Axiom from start to finish in the bathroom. Find a good book that will work, or some magazines that are relevant to your life or ministry, and just leave them in the bathroom. Don’t read them except when you’re umm, you know, busy in there.

Kill your guilt.
I used to get so frustrated with myself if I didn’t finish a book or if it took forever to read. I’d even feel guilty if I was reading the book (which someone else told me was awesome) but thought it was real boring. My suggestion . . . don’t be so hard on yourself. Some books are going to hit you as amazing, relevant, and inspirational, others won’t. Don’t worry about it.

Read a whole book in 8 pages (or listen in 20 minutes.)
OK, I guess you won’t actually read the whole book, but there is an awesome way to get all of the relevant highlights and major points of hundreds of popular books on leadership, management, marketing, etc. A while back I stumbled across www.summary.com and www.studyleadership.com. These have been awesome resources to me and my team. Basically, you pay the fees you feel are appropriate for your situation and find yourself with access to all sorts of great book reviews. You can download them as pdf’s – each one being 8 pages long or you can listen to someone read the summary in a 20 minute period by downloading the mp3 version. You can even subscribe to them in a blog if you want. For me, I occasionally walk to work. It takes me almost exactly 20 minutes. I can listen to one book review in that one walk. It’s awesome.

Read while exercising or commuting (audio-books).
You already know about audio-books. I actually don’t utilize them myself too often, but have several friends who do very successfully. Audio-books are perfect for your 15 – 45 minute commute, for when you exercise, or when everyone else is watching that program that you just aren’t interested in. I also know that the national literacy rate is about 14%, which means some people just don’t read very much. Additionally, I have friends who can read fine, but hate doing it. Audio-books are a great alternative.

How about you? What other ideas might you suggest on how we can stay sharp as readers and leaders?

Leaders are Readers

This updated article was originally posted on Transforming Leader January, 2011. Being both a popular and a particularly long post – we decided to split it into two parts and re-post. Enjoy!

leaders-are-readers

There was a time when I absolutely dreaded reading anything besides fiction (including the Bible, I am embarrassed to say.) I would be assigned to read some book on leadership by my boss. It would sit on my desk at work or my nightstand at home unread for weeks at a time. Every once in a while I would open it up and give it a token effort, perhaps getting through the first 2 or 3 chapters. Then my boss would kindly but firmly give me some extra incentive, like remind me that quarterly reviews were coming up soon. Ugh. So I would finally plot the appropriate hours and plow through.

As is often the case, the book usually ended up being a great help to my life and ministry; but it was a bear to get through! Perhaps you relate. Maybe it’s not a motivation issue so much as a life management issue. When are you supposed to find time to read in the midst of everything else going on in your life?

You’ve probably heard people quote Harry Truman, “Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader.” I would qualify that statement by adding, “every growing leader is a reader.” I am so glad to say that I’ve finally figured out ways to incorporate reading into my life and ministry. I’d like to share some pointers with you; perhaps one or more of these ideas will help you as well. You may be interested to know that I don’t always set time aside specifically  to read each day or week, yet I get a lot of reading done each month.

HOW TO INCREASE YOUR READING SKILLS (part 1)

Learn how to skim.
This is a skill I have developed over the years that has served me very well. For some books, blogs, or articles, I will simply skim over them. I have successfully “skimmed” 300-400 page books in just a couple of hours and sometimes less than that. I can still tell you today what I learned from some of those books. Sometimes I will skim a book first, and then read it word for word later. Skimming is a lot easier than you think (as opposed to speed reading, which is an acquired skill.) Here are two articles I would recommend that will give you the basics:

 

Determine when to read and when to skim.
I evaluate every book I read to determine if it’s a “really read this book” or a “skim and get the meat book”. Sometimes I will decide to skim a book and realize within the first chapter or two that this is a “really read this book.” At other times I will “try” giving a book a solid word for word and find I am just not interested or motivated, so I switch to the skim method. Here are a few of the criteria I use to make this determination:

  • A leader I highly admire/respect requests or recommends the book: READ.
    (My pastor once suggested I read the book, Next Generation Leader, by Andy Stanley. I read it and now highly recommend it myself.)
  • The content is very engaging and interesting to me: READ.
    (I started to skim the book, Crucial Confrontations and found it so engaging that I ended up reading through it word for word.)
  • The content is important to me (though not necessarily engaging)READ.
    (I found the book Getting Things Done sort of hard to read, but I knew the information was important and would help me, so I read it all the way through.)
  • I want the information, but don’t have time for a full blown read: SKIM.
    (Sometimes if I’m preaching or teaching in a few days I may skim to get some extra info on a topic. If I found the book really engaging, I’ll set it aside to read through more in-depth later.)
  • The author hasn’t impressed me in the past, but I know he/she has something good to say: SKIM.
    (For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to get into Max Lucado’s books, though he’s a best selling author, so I’ll often skim his books for the good stuff instead.
  • I have already read the material before, but want to remember what it was about or get some quotes/illustrations: SKIM.
    (I recently skimmed the book, Thinking for a Change, by John Maxwell which I read last year in order to prepare for a lesson I was about to teach.)
  • The topic is something I am already very knowledgeable in or the material is stuff I already know: SKIM.
    (I read a blog a while back that was talking about a key principle I’ve already learned and implement from the book Eat That Frog, I skimmed through that article.)
  • The topic is not something I need to be well-versed in or I already know the gist of the book: SKIM.
    (I have the book Drive, by Daniel Pink on my reading list. I’ve already watched him present the content from this book, so I’ll likely just skim it.)
  • The book has been sitting on my bookshelf forever and I’m dreading reading it: SKIM.
    (I purchased the book, Brain Rules more than two years ago. If I actually get to it, I’ll likely skim it. If I don’t read this book within the next year I’ll likely just give it a 15 minute leaf through and either sell, give away, or throw away.)

Notice that I have more criteria for skimming than reading. You’ll also realize that not only do I skim quite a few books, but I also read more than just books every week. See below.

Strategically mark up books when you can.
I have used many methods for tracking information in books, or marking them up for future use. I’m still not sure which methods are the best. I have taken notes from books and created my own “cliff notes” on some books. For others I’ve highlighted/underlined and placed a number next to sections with notes on the back inside cover telling me what that particular section/highlight was about for future reference. I am a big believer in underlining key sentences, highlighting headings or sections I want to stand out, and writing in the margins several words that summarize the selected text for easy retrieval. The point is, find a method for marking up books so that you can quickly get the meat out of it when you need to.

How about you? What other ideas might you suggest on how we can stay sharp as readers and leaders?

Check out Part 2 of this article by clicking this link now!

 

What to Read

 what-to-read

Three Key Qualities for a New Pastoral Staff by Rob Hurtgen
In my church we are looking for a new member of our pastoral staff. The most difficult part of this task hasn’t been reading through the mounds of resumes or trying to get a feel for candidates during interviews. The hardest part of this task was deciding where to start.  Read More.


10 Commandments for Creating a Culture of Mission In Your Church by Will Mancini
1. Thou shalt have a clear statement of mission and no agenda above that mission. 2. Thou shalt have a clear definition of what mission success looks like. Read More.


6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Comforting a Mourner by Larry Barber
I thought my days of having to listen to and tolerate the painful words of would-be comforters had ended, but I was wrong. Even as I approach almost 20 years after the deaths of my wife and two-year-old daughter in a multicar accident I still hear and endure upsetting statements from people who do not think before they speak.  Read More.


Four Ways To Become A Leader People Want to Follow by Michael Hyatt 
We’ve all had bosses we were proud to follow. People we’d do anything for. Even run through brick walls.  On the other hand, most of us have also had bosses we follow only because, well, they’re the boss. So what separates the leaders we want to follow from the leaders we have to follow?  Read More.


5 Steps to Discern a Change In Ministry Assignment by Ron Edmondson
How do you know when God is closing one door in ministry and opening another?  I get this question a lot and have previously addressed that, but recently I have received it more frequently so I decided to update this post. (I always note that this post is written about my experiences for people who may currently need it.)  Read More. 


Don’t Leave Out These Essential Elements Of A Vision Cast by Mac Lake
Getting an opportunity to cast a God-given vision is a weighty privilege. Having spent time with God, you’ve heard the heart of God and are called to lead toward a preferred future for your church, organization or community.  Before you even speak your first word your audience’s mind is like a canvas. The words you speak can paint a picture of a new reality, move people to action, enthuse commitment and even drive them to make personal sacrifice for the cause.  Read More.


10 Things I’ve Learned About Church Drama by Ron Edmondson
I love the local church. I really do. I believe it is God’s design and His plan to reach the world with the Gospel…with life and hope.  But, I hate church drama.  I really do. I hate destructive drama in any setting, but especially in the church. It shouldn’t exist. It especially shouldn’t exist in the church. We have to violate a lot of principles of God’s plan for the church and for believers for it to exist at all, but, even still, it does.  Read More.


The Importance of a Leader’s Heart by Michael Hyatt 
We live in a very externally-focused culture. However, there is an internal issue which is largely ignored: the condition of your heart.  The corporate world is increasingly aware of the fact that you can’t improve productivity without increasing engagement. In other words, people have to show up at work with more than their education, experience, and skills. They have to come with their heart.  Check it Out.

photo credit: Johan Larsson via photopin cc

What to Read

Following are some more great links and articles I’ve found browsing my blog roll. I hope you find one or two helpful and encouraging. To see a list of all posts in the ‘What to Read’ category, click this link.

READERS-ARE-LEADERS

12 Ways Pastors Went from Burn-Out to Vision by Thomas Rainer
There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions, and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout.  I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries.  Read More.


A Pastor’s Calling: Just Beyond His Ability by Dr. Steve Drake 
Over the years as, serving in various churches and positions, I ran into a mindset that disturbed me. For years, I couldn’t put my finger on the issue that caused me so much concern, but felt certain it was not of God. I associate this mindset with certain events, such as a congregational discussion about the purchase of an expensive item or funding a building project. It normally surfaced at the point when someone would question whether or not the church could afford something.  Read More.


Church Hopping by Dr. James Emery White 
A man approached one of our Guest Services volunteers and asked, “Where are the Sno-Cones?”  For the past few summers, we’ve offered Sno-Cones following our weekend services as part of our Guest Services experience. The goal was to give exiting kids a final pleasant memory of their time at Meck (Mecklenburg Community Church), as well as create a “linger” factor for parents to connect with each other and the staff.  This summer, we’ve been offering them as a “surprise” on select weekends, but not every weekend.  “I go to another church,” he continued, “but during the summer I come here for the Sno-Cones. So where are they?”  Read More.


Creating a Better Volunteer Culture by North Point Community Church, Andy Stanley 
One of our favorite things at Drive is talking with all of you. We learn so much as we swap stories and ask each other questions. After you leave, we continue these conversations with our teams.  A subject that seems to come up a lot is our volunteer strategy. We’re no different than you. We love our volunteers! We try to create a great volunteer experience. But we’re always looking for ways to get better.  Below are a few common questions we’ve been asked this week that we thought we’d try to answer.  Read More.


Church Giving Matters by Tony Morgan 
Over the next two days, I’m going to be wrapping up my current leadership coaching networks. We’ll hit several topics in this final gathering, but one conversation will be about financial stewardship in churches. To prepare for today’s conversation, I had everyone read Church Giving Matters by Ben Stroup and Joel Mikell. Here are the top ten highlights from my reading.  Read More.


Don’t Allow the Process to Defeat the Purpose by Dan Reiland
I recently spent a couple thousand dollars cutting down and stump-grinding nine trees that I spent hundreds of dollars planting 10 years ago. Seems dumb, I know. But sometimes, that’s what it takes.  Perhaps you’ve seen these trees—they are called Cryptomeria.  They grow extremely fast and easily reach 35 to 40 feet and more with a 20-foot spread at the bottom. They are similar to the Leyland Cypress but typically seem to grow larger, more lush, and are deeper green in color.  Read More.


Training For Oversees Workers by Elim Fellowship
You are driving in a foreign country, minding your own business when you are suddently stopped at a roadblock . . . with a gun pointed at your head. What do you do?  JoJo Copenhaver of Angel Alert Network provides basic training for overseas safety and security. While this training is presented for missionaries, this is essential training for anyone traveling or working in potentially dangerous foreign settings. Read More.


Mental Illness & Medication vs. Spiritual Struggles & Biblical Counseling by Ed Stetzer
These past few weeks have been very trying. From deaths of people who inspired us to yet another reminder that we are not completely immune from the horrible acts of others, grief seems to be everywhere we turn.  Read More.


Teamwork and Vision Go Hand in Hand by John C. Maxwell
Have you ever been a part of a team that doesn’t seem to get anything accomplished? Where the team may work and work, but nothing actually gets done? If so, you’ve probably been on a team that lacked vision.  Vision works like a rudder on a ship. Without it, the ship may travel a distance, but not necessarily in the right direction. With it, the ship reaches the destination by the shortest route possible. Read More.

What to Read

 Following are some more great links and articles I’ve found browsing my blog roll. I hope you find one or two helpful and encouraging. To see a list of all posts in the ‘What to Read’ category, click this link.

what-to-read-613Bill Hybels – Who Can Leaders Learn From by wcavideo
In this six minute excerpt from the Willowcreek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels challenges us to expand our influence base to those we might question or outright disagree with.


6 Essential Components of a Small Group Launch by Mark Howell
There are six essential components of a successful small group launch.  This is a transferable concept whether you’re using a church-wide campaign, a small group connection or the semester approach.  Every launching strategy depends on these same components. Read More.


5 Bits of Fatherly Advice for Youth Pastors by Tony Morgan
I have four kids — three of them have been engaged in student ministry. I’ve worked at three great churches — all of them have incredible student ministries because of their focus on reaching young families. I’ve worked with many churches across the country — some with solid student ministries, and some that weren’t so solid. What does all that experience mean? It means I’m now one of the old guys. And, since I’m officially one of the old guys, I think I’m qualified to give a little fatherly advice to youth pastors. Read More.


Copyright and the Local Church by Wayne Hedlund
Sadly, many churches and ministries are guilty of plagiarism and/or copyright infringement. What’s worse is that many of them either know it or suspect it, but don’t do anything about it. This doesn’t just apply to things on the internet. It applies to everything from worship songs, lyrics, movie clips, YouTube video’s, images, and more. Read More.


My VIP Experience at Elevation Church :: First Impressions Matter by Tim Schraeder
First impressions matter. Oftentimes in the programming and planning of church services we can quickly neglect an important aspect of our worship gatherings: how we welcome first-time visitors. As I travel around and visit churches, one thing I love to do is play the part of a ‘secret shopper’ and experience how a first-time guest is welcomed at a church. I thought I had seen and heard all of the tricks and styles of welcoming visitors to churches, but my recent visit to Elevation Church in Charlotte changed my perception. They literally treat their first-time visitors like VIPs. Read More.


Clean Bathrooms by Seth Godin
The facilities at DisneyWorld are clean. It’s not a profit center, of course. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.  Read More.


If Systems Are So Great, Why Don’t They Work For Me? by Kenneth Vogt
Everyone is looking for the shortest path from where they are to where they want to be.  A proven method for success is to model those who have already achieved the very thing you would like to achieve.  After all, they know the way, they know the pitfalls, and they know the sweet, sweet taste of success.  Read More.


Moving Past Church Hurts means Having A Different Conversation by Lisa Whittle
If I had a dollar for every person who told me they were hurt by the church, I’d be writing this post on a much newer MAC.  This we know: imperfect people reside in corporate worship spaces. And since they do, imperfect things go down inside them.  Read More.


6 Times When It’s A Good Idea to Change Your Church’s Mission Statement by Will Mancini
Classic wisdom taught us that our mission or purpose statements are timeless. In many ways that’s true and its a helpful teaching concept. And in an ideal world, it works. But in reality, there are times when a leader should change or renew or recreate the sense of mission. So don’t let the classic wisdom freeze you and prevent a significant opportunity to create fresh meaning and new progress for God’s people under your care today. When should you rewrite your mission?  Read More.


Trust and Competence: Leaders Must have Both to Succeed by Maurilio Amorim 
Some people you trust with your life. Some people you know will get the job done. These are two essential qualities that every leader looks for in building their organization. But unless you find both trust and competence in those whom you lead, you don’t have a dynamic team who can grow your business, church, or not-for-profit. As a matter of fact, without trust and competence, the only thing you have is a mess in your hands.  Read More.

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