5 Minute Mentoring: Leading Change More Effectively

A helpful chart for processing changes

goldfish seeking a change

Leading change in a local church is a tough task.  Just about any pastor has one of these stories:

  • a needed change that crashed and burned after it was presented to a church board…
  • a “church boss” who couldn’t bear to see their pet program canned…
  • a brilliant plan plan shot down by failure to process it properly with key leaders…

An indisputable fact: Change COSTS.  Financially.  Spiritually.  Emotionally.  Chronologically.

So how can we help ourselves know which changes to take on, and help people process them?

Here’s a helpful chart shared with me by my “brother in the Gospel” Darrell Underwood (MS, USAF, Ret.), who pastors a church plant in Clovis, NM called Servant’s Heart Chapel.  From his years of work in Process Improvement for the Air Force.

#3 – PICK Chart: Leading Change More Effectively from Darrell Stetler II on Vimeo.

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How to Be More Creative

Developing Your Idea Factory

Do you think it’s possible to become more creative?  Is creativity natural, or developed?  Is it a limited commodity, and you’re just stuck with however much of it you have?  Is it even possible for a small-church pastor to be creative with limited budgets, no staff, and few options?

I think you CAN become more creative.

Here’s my definition of creativity: The skill or ability to view problems and possibilities in new ways, and find solutions that are novel and courageous.

So how do we develop the skill of creativity?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read broadly.

Take some time and check out authors that break boxes, think fresh thoughts, and have an “upside down” way of viewing things.  This will mean reading people who disagree with you politically, who synthesize differently than you are used to.

Try some of these:

2. Strategically break your routine.

Seeing the same things the same ways will eventually result in stifled creativity, because it doesn’t give you new experiences and info to process and synthesize.

  • Eat somewhere new.
  • Take a new road to work.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Read a book about something different or weird
  • Do a new kind of recreation (If you’re an inside guy, go out. Or vice versa!)
  • Talk with someone outside your normal circle – ask them questions

Identify what is unique and different about these experiences.  You may not like them – you might even decide not to do it again.

3. Think childish.

Kids see ways to solve problems creatively because they haven’t been discouraged yet by how many WRONG answers there are. What if you recaptured that mindset, by deciding to ignore the voice that says there’s only one right answer?

  • Shut down the inner voice that says “that’s stupid.”
  • Deliberately suspend your disbelief.
  • Force yourself to come up with 10 different ways to do something, even if 4 of them are completely ludicrous.

The person who rolls their eyes at an over-the-top suggestion may be RIGHT, but they are not creative.  So don’t be that guy.

4. Involve others.

Some people are “Yes, and…” people.  Some are “yes, but…” people.  You know who I’m talking about.  When you want to get creative, it is important who you choose to be around you.  The right people will help you break through a creative block.

“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.” ~ Sherlock Holmes (Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir A. Conan Doyle)

5. Be ready to capture ideas.

Brainstorming is a huge part of the art of creativity.  But you have to have a way to capture those creative ideas.

Don’t let a flash of insight slip by!  Write them down in Evernote, or put them in your Todoist list.  Sketch it on a napkin.  Take pictures with your smartphone.

6. Plan ahead.

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Creativity is useless if you don’t have time to execute the idea.

Time pressure only creates the base layer of creativity.  Going to the next level of great creative ideas requires margin. So start early.

7. Get enough sleep.

There is abundant research saying that if you don’t sleep, your life will suffer.  You’ll make less effective decisions, your productivity will drop, and your creativity will suffer.  So make yourself go to sleep.  Check out Michael Hyatt’s post on evening routines for help.

8. Ask “What if…?” and “Why not?”

The more you ask these two questions, the more you unleash your creativity.  Even if the answer is “obvious,” go ahead and ask the question.  What you gain from the question is more than the answer – it is perspective.

9. Use metaphor and simile often.

If creativity really is the synthesis of ideas, metaphor is a great laboratory.  To practice this, think these kinds of thoughts:

  • “How is this problem LIKE other problems?”
  • “If this situation was a ___ (car, storm, war, family, factory, etc), what would each piece be called?”

This forces your brain into a synthesis mode of completely different sets of ideas, which is the essence of creativity.

10. Laugh at yourself.

Creativity = Ridiculous.
Ridiculous = funny.
Funny = people laugh at it.
People laughing at you = bad.
THEREFORE, Creativity = bad.

If that’s your logic, you’ll never grow your creative skill.

So if you decide that you’re OK with being a little ridiculous, and can develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you’ll be further down the road toward being truly creative.

In the comments below, share this: Which of these ideas surprised you?  Why?

Pastor, Here’s Why You Can’t Quit

If the stats are right, several pastors reading this are burned out and thinking of quitting… or at least wishing it could happen. The old joke about “writing your resignation letter every Monday” has a grain of truth. You’re burned out. Used up. Frustrated. In conflict. Spiritually drained. Unappreciated.

I don’t know if you’re one of those. I hope not. But odds are, someone reading this said under your breath, “That’s me.”

For the next few minutes, I’m talking to you.

For just the next few minutes, you are a boxer. The bell has rung, ending the round — just in time. Literally, saved by the bell. You stagger back to the corner, battered and bleeding. Collapsing onto the stool, you say, “I’m done. I can’t do it. I’ve got to quit.” A quick swipe of the towel, and I’m down in your face. Through clenched teeth, in a low growl, here’s what I’ve got to say:

“Jesus called you to suffer this.”

Not all pastors are called to blowout success. I don’t know the “Why of heaven” on this. But you know in your gut it’s true — there are too many godly & gifted men through history who didn’t see big numbers. If you see this as the calling of God to face the attack of the enemy, it makes a difference.

“This will not last forever.”

Don’t quit because of a season! You can outlast that critic. Those children will not always be so small. God will answer prayer. Someone will be changed. You will not always feel this alone. Your spouse will not always be sick.

“This is where you prove your grit.”

You must — you MUST. Watch this video. If you’re reading this post on my email list, click through to the blog, right now, and watch it.

Click to watch on Youtube: Facing the Giants VIDEO

“Heaven is worth this.”

I know you’re doubting it will ever be any different, and thinking that you have no more strength. But remember your brothers & sisters in Moslem countries. Remember those have lost eyes, hands, jobs… those who have been tied to stakes and flogged.

They found that Christ was worth the pain.  They found that He satisfies here on Earth, and they proved his supreme worth by what they suffered.  And when we arrive in heaven, whatever pain you’re experiencing will only produce greater glory when you’re in His All-Satisfying Presence.

“This is the price of Christian leadership.”

1 Corinthians 4:9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
10 We are fools for Christ… We are weak… we are dishonored!
11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world. (NIV)

This is not new!  You think you’re better than Paul?  Or Stephen?  Or Jesus?

Get your head up. No, look up here. Look me in the eye.

Grit your teeth and say it: I will not quit.

No, don’t you mumble and drop your eyes. LOOK AT ME.

Say it.

SAY IT.

I WILL NOT QUIT.

I. WILL. NOT. QUIT.

Now, call a preacher friend or mentor and tell them you’re not going to quit. Email me and tell me you need prayer, but you’re not going to quit. I will stop and pray for you as soon as I get the email. We are in this thing together. We need you. No more men running for the safety of the rear lines while the shells of the enemy scream overhead!

Now, type I WILL NOT QUIT in the Comments below.

Then, go read this post about action steps you can take if you’re burned out and discouraged as a pastor!

How Living In the Urgent Can Kill Your Creativity

And how to reclaim your life from the stress...

If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s excellent book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” you’re missing out.  Out of the many helpful things in the book, here’s one I have found most useful:  Covey’s distinction between URGENT things and IMPORTANT things.

  • Urgent things shout at you – flashing lights, ringing phones.
  • Important things will not – maintenance, relationships, planning.
  • Urgent and Important things must be done or things will fall apart immediately.
  • Important, not Urgent things must be done or things will fall apart eventually.
  • Urgent and Important things are like filling up with gas when you’re on empty.
  • Important things are like changing the oil after 3,000 miles.

He draws a matrix like this:

Quadrant 2 graphic

As you can see, Quadrant 1 is Urgent & Important.  Quadrant 2 is Important, but not Urgent.

Now, think about your life in terms of this diagram.

I think of Sunday as a Quadrant 1 day.   If you don’t lead worship, don’t preach… if you fail to do whatever your core activities are, there will be an immediate negative effect.  Some activities eventually change quadrants.  For instance, sermon prep is a Quadrant 2 activity, but Saturday night… it’s moved up.

Here’s why it’s better to do activities while they’re still in Quadrant 2:

1. Living in Quadrant 1 is exhausting.

Living your whole life in Quadrant 1 means you’ll be like Mario, leaping from crisis to crisis, barely escaping destruction at each turn, always inches from disaster.

It means not being able to sleep because of the stress of upcoming deadlines.

That’s exhausting.  Better to live in Quadrant 2, where you do important things before they move into Quadrant 1.

2. Relaxed thinking is better than crisis thinking.

You do better quality thinking when you’re relaxed.  Research is clear: You make better quality decisions when your stress is lower.

In his ground-breaking book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell tells of a study where college students were brought to a snack table, and offered a choice between healthy snacks (fruit, etc) and unhealthy snacks (cookies, cupcakes).  Half of the students were given a phone number to memorize and repeat back after the snack.  Those students were much more likely to choose the unhealthy snack.  Why?  They defaulted, under even that mild stress, to choosing what was immediately rewarding, instead of what was smarter.

3. Creativity flows better when you are not in urgent mode.

Ever think that your creativity goes up right before the deadline?  It doesn’t.  Your desperation does.  You may produce, but it’s not your creativity that gets your sermon finished!  It’s shame, and the potential embarrassment of having nothing to say.

It’s not more creative, it’s just… finished.

Instead, take time and focus early in the week to get in a creative flow.  (I’ll be writing more on this soon.)  You may not think of yourself as a particularly creative person, but I bet that you’re more creative when you aren’t “under the gun.”

4. Creativity is useless when you have no time left to execute.

In Quadrant 2, when you think of a really creative way to present a sermon, you can do it.  You can find that prop, create that Powerpoint, locate that great historical story, find that song that complements, think of that person whose testimony should be shared.

But in Quadrant 1, even if you think of it, you often don’t have enough time to do anything about it. I’ve been there too many times, finishing up a sermon on Sunday morning, when I realized – “You know what would be GREAT?!… ah, never mind, I don’t have time to do that this morning!”

Don’t do it.  Commit to living in the Important, not Urgent.

One final thought:

“What if I’m already overwhelmed?  How do I get into Quadrant 2 when Quadrant 1 is already so full?”

I’m glad you asked.  You can’t just stop doing Quadrant 1 activities.  Everything would fall apart, because they really ARE important!  There are only 2 places that you can find time to do Quadrant 2 activities at first: Quadrants 3 & 4.

Here’s what that might look like:

  • Turn off the phone.
  • Block Netflix.
  • Shut off talk radio.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Use Stayfocusd to keep off Facebook.
  • Get off Youtube.
  • Turn off your wireless access altogether for 3 hours.

And do something Quadrant 2.  Like this:

  • Prepare for NEXT week’s message.
  • Prep for a series that’s a month away on your sermon calendar.
  • Invest in a key relationship.
  • Learn something new.
  • Do that item you’ve been putting off.
  • Check your calendar for tomorrow.
  • Schedule lunch with someone.
  • Pray.

I think you’ll find that if you’ll do this for a week, Quadrant 1 will be slightly smaller, and Quadrant 2 will be slightly larger.

Now, imagine 6 months from now, if you did that every day!

A Pastor’s After-Easter Action Plan

The songs have been sung, the message has been preached, the celebration is over… and the pastor is tired.  I know.  You definitely need to take some time off this week.  But here’s a short list of actions you should take to make sure that your efforts leading up to Easter Sunday don’t go to waste.

A Place to Start for Small Church Pastors

1. Follow up on spiritual decisions.

If someone came to know Jesus, that’s of paramount importance.  Check in with them, confirm their decision, share your joy, communicate your availability, answer questions.

2. Take care of the administrative details.

This is the “unsexy” part of your week, I know.

  • Entering guest cards into the database…
  • writing follow-up letters…
  • communicating “thanks” to your team…

Those kinds of things may not feel like exciting things to do on an emotionally exhausted “morning after Easter,” but paying attention to these kinds of details is exactly what will put you in a good place for the future.  If you have recruited administrative help, this is a good time to make a list of tasks they need to take on.

3. Keep the conversation going with guests.

Use information you’ve captured with your guest card to communicate a couple times with guests from Sunday.

  • Send them a personal thank you note (we do ours hand-written, with a little gift card to a local restaurant inside).
  • If someone asked for info on a particular next step on your guest card, then that could be a next step they’re motivated to take.  Follow up on that.
  • Find a way to “wow” guests with your love.  After all, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:35

Due to a couple rounds of sickness in my family, I have delayed launching my Guest Follow-Up Coaching program & releasing the ebook I’ve written.  Join my email list to know as soon as it launches!

4. Clearly communicate a general next step.

In today’s world, it’s doubtful that people are suddenly 100% committed to coming every Sunday from “now ‘til Jesus comes.”

Lifetime commitment to your church is probably a tough sell after one Sunday.  It’s like a store owner asking you to only shop at that store after your first visit.  Probably not gonna happen.  It’s better to communicate a specific next step people can take if they were attracted by what you offered on Easter.

It’s probably best not to have 6 next steps.  Simplicity and clarity mean you need to decide about 1 next step you want new guests to take.  Is it:

  • Come to a membership class?
  • Show up at a relationship-building event?
  • Come to your church dinner next week?
  • Volunteer at your outreach event to kids?
  • Attend the start of your new series next Sunday?

5. Do a review with your team.

I wrote about this in my post “The Easiest Way to Continually Improve Your Outreach.” Check that post out.  The best way to make sure all the lessons of this Easter get learned and captured is a quick review of:

  • What went right
  • What went wrong
  • What we can improve next time
  • Who’s responsible for it

6. Thank God & your team.

You didn’t do this Easter alone.  Even if it was a bit less than you hoped for, people labored to make it happen, and it wasn’t a waste in the eyes of Heaven.  So spend some time thanking God in faith for what he’s doing, and how he’s going to continue that work.

Then make a few phone calls or write a few thank you notes to people who made the weekend happen.

Here’s to small church pastors, who labor faithfully… thanks for what you do for God’s Kingdom!

I’m going to make a checklist for this post, and give it away.  What other steps should I include after Easter?  Tell me in the comments below.

Leadership Lessons from the Rise of Donald Trump

His hair is legendary.  He has an ego the size of the Grand Canyon.  He might possibly be the next President of the United States.  He’s definitely making waves.  His name is Donald J. Trump, and the enormity of his wealth is only surpassed by the Trumposity of his personality.

Let me start by saying this is no endorsement.  I didn’t vote for him, and frankly, find the thought rather disgusting.  But whatever you think of him politically, his candidacy has generated more buzz and traction than anything in recent memory.  There is a long list of pundits and bloggers who are astounded at his ability to transcend accepted political wisdom.

I’m not getting political in this post.  I’m not going to talk about how to stop him, or talk about his faults & failings.  I have only one question.

Why?  

Clearly, he’s tapped into something.  Why?

What’s he doing, and what can we learn from it?

No doubt, the analysts will argue about it for years.  But here’s my list.

Note: These observations are amoral.  A case could be made that the following things are what dictators or fascists do as well.  But for this post, I’m concerned ONLY with the leadership observations, not the morality of their uses.

Pastor, Go Be A Man

There’s a powerful story in Mark Twain’s book, Huckleberry Finn.  Last year, I read this book to my children, and was so struck by this story, that I stopped to highlight it.

In a town Huck is visiting, an angry mob gathers, infuriated over the actions of a man named Sherburn.  Read on if you’re a real man:

Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched. In about a minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.  They swarmed up towards Sherburn’s house, a-whooping and raging… They swarmed up in front of Sherburn’s palings as thick as they could jam together, and you couldn’t hear yourself think for the noise. It was a little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out “Tear down the fence! tear down the fence!” Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing, and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like a wave.

Just then Sherburn steps out onto the roof of his little front porch, with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca’m and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave sucked back. Sherburn never said a word—just stood there, looking down. The stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to outgaze him, but they couldn’t; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that’s got sand in it. Then he says, slow and scornful:

“The idea of you lynching anybody! It’s amusing. The idea of you thinking… you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man! Why, a man’s safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind—as long as it’s daytime and you’re not behind him.

“…I know you clear through. I was born and raised in the South, and I’ve lived in the North; so I know the average all around. The average man’s a coward… Why don’t your juries hang murderers? Because they’re afraid the man’s friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark—and it’s just what they would do.  So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back, and lynches the rascal.

“Your mistake is, that you didn’t bring a man with you; that’s one mistake, and the other is that you didn’t come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought part of a man—Buck Harkness, there—and if you hadn’t had him to start you, you’d ‘a’ [never come].

“You didn’t want to come. The average man don’t like trouble and danger. You don’t like trouble and danger. But if only half a man—like Buck Harkness, there—shouts ‘Lynch him! lynch him!’ you’re afraid to back down—afraid you’ll be found out to be what you are—cowards—and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves onto that half-a-man’s coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you’re going to do.

“The pitifulest thing out is a mob… But a mob without any man at the head of it is beneath pitifulness. Now the thing for you to do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching’s going to be done it will be done in the dark… and when they come they’ll bring their masks, and fetch a man along. Now leave—and take your half-a-man with you”—tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.

The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking tolerable cheap.

I could ‘a’ stayed if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to.

Isn’t that powerful??!

c22-189

A man can speak for himself.

Don’t join the mob just because they’re screaming loudly, and you don’t want to be taken for a coward.

A man takes responsibility for his actions.

A man feels the fear and walks toward the danger anyway.

A man can look his critics in the eye.

A man can take criticism without breaking, because he hears the Other Voice.

A man doesn’t have to run down his opponents.

A man doesn’t have to quit.

I don’t know what you’re facing, pastor.

It may be an angry mob.

It may be spiritual attack.

It may be the forces of hell lining up against you in temptation.

It may be criticism.

And frankly, if it’s one of these, it’s often ALL of them.

Whatever it is, you can face it.

Pastor, go be a man.

If you’re inspired to face your fear, share what it is you have to face in the comments below, and if you’re inspired… share this post!

The Simplest Strategic Planning Process for Your Church

Some fancy terms that get thrown around in the world seem complicated — but really are more simple than you might think at first.  One is “strategic planning.”  It can sound scary.  It leads to lots of questions:

  • What if I don’t have any strategy?
  • What if our plan doesn’t work?
  • How do we know what is best to do?
  • What if we don’t have a mission?
  • How detailed are we supposed to go?

Entire books have been written on this subject.  And they’re great.  But I’m guessing most pastors on this list don’t feel that they have time to read an entire book on strategic planning… and don’t feel like you have the time to do a “deep dive” into a process even if you did.  One strategic planning resource says “… a good rule of thumb is to plan on spending 3-4 months developing a complete strategic plan.”

That might be nice in their world, but mine is too full of pre-marital counseling, training greeter volunteers, and preaching 3X per week.

But what if it doesn’t have to be scary for your first experience?  What if your first try could be rather simple, be accomplished in a few hours, and then you could learn and build on it the next time?

That’s what this post is about.

Strategic planning is basically 3 things:

  1. Recognizing and recommitting to your mission, vision and values.
  2. Creating a set of goals & actions you believe will help you fulfill the mission & vision.
  3. Creating measurements that will help you figure out whether you accomplished it.

So here’s the simplest process I’ve ever seen, just to get you started for 2016.

Step 1: Gather a few influencers, and lay out an agenda. (15 minutes)

Get the right people in the room.  You want

  • people with influence
  • people with ideas
  • people whose influence you want to grow.
  • people who are “yes, and…” people, not “yes, but…” people.

Step 2: Review your mission & vision. (15 minutes)

For the purpose of this post, I’ll assume you have a mission and vision.

Mission is why you exist.

Vision is what you will become, or the impact you will make.

Our mission: To help people Love God, Love Others, & Serve the World.

Our vision: By the year 2020, we will:

  • Grow to a total attendance of 1,000 at all sites.
  • See 500 people filled with the Spirit.
  • See 500 people in community groups.
  • Plant 5 churches in US cities.
  • Help plant 5 churches in other countries.
  • Help equip and support 10 international pastors.

Write your versions of mission and vision on a piece of posterboard, and post them visibly in the room where you’re meeting.  Ask them to rate their commitment to it, or if they think it should be changed.  Then pray over it and continue.

Step 3: Do a SWOT analysis. (1 hour)

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

Strengths & Weaknesses are internal (in your control)

  • – What do we do well?
  • – What do we not do well?

Opportunities & Threats are external (not in your control).

  • – What could really boost us if we took advantage of it? What’s going on in our location we should be involved in? What needs exist around us that we could meet?
  • – What could really hit us if we don’t watch out? What has the potential to limit our growth? What’s going on in our location that’s not good for us?

Don’t try to solve problems yet!  Just identify them and move on.  Just recognizing them will help you be clear as you go through the next few steps.

Step 4: Split up your mission.  (5 minutes)

In our example, it would be:

  • – Love God (worship & discipleship)
  • – Love Others (fellowship)
  • – Serve the World (ministry & outreach)

Step 5: Brainstorm lists of ideas for each area. (1 hour)

As fast as you can, list as many ideas as you can.  This is not the time to evaluate or judge, just write ideas.  Go until you have anywhere from 10-30 ideas for each area.

In the previous example, if it’s “Serve the World,” you might have 20 ideas:

  • * start a food pantry
  • * advertise on Facebook or with Google
  • * do street preaching
  • * prayer station ministry
  • * do an evangelism class
  • * teach people to invite others
  • * create better church invitation materials
  • * plan big outreach days like Friend Day
  • * invite a high-powered evangelist
  • * plan more outreach-oriented sermons
  • * go door-to-door calling
  • * do a prayer walk in the neighborhood
  • * Improve the church sign
  • * kindness outreach at the local skate park
  • * We Care Ministry

Step 6: Organize ideas into groups. (1 hour)

Some of the ideas you brainstormed will naturally group together.  List them together in boxes on your whiteboard.  Usually, you will see 3-4 groups begin to emerge.  For instance, in the above list you might group them into:

  • Marketing (church sign, materials, Facebook, door-to-door)
  • Training (evangelism class, inviting training)
  • Good Works (We Care, kindness outreach, food pantry)
  • Events (Friend Day, outreach sermons, invite evangelist)

You’ll want to phrase them as sentences, such as “Execute a church Marketing Plan” or “Provide quality training to our congregation.”  Any ideas that are by themselves and don’t fit into these groups, you can set aside for now.

Step 7: Trim your ideas into a list of GOALS. (1 hour)

Decide which ideas under each group are achievable & worth your time and money.

These ideas you commit to will become your GOALS.

Step 8: Under each GOAL, write out 5-10 ACTIONS you can take. (1 hour)

These ACTION STEPS should be phrased as completely as possible, in SMART Language.  That stands for:

  • * Specific
  • * Measureable
  • * Action-oriented
  • * Realistic
  • * Time-based (deadline)

“Improve church materials ASAP” will not cut it.  “Dan will submit design for a new church invitation materials by April 9th” is far better.

Step 9: Ask influencers to team up and adopt one of the GOALS to champion.

Teaming up builds in accountability & assures more gets done.  Adopting a goal builds in ownership and increases buy-in.

Step 10: Print copies for everyone, ask them to highlight ACTIONS they’re responsible for.

This is why step 8 is so important.  Action steps are necessary to make sure people know EXACTLY what needs to be done, and when it will be expected.

Step 11: Schedule your next follow-up meeting in 30 days to measure where you stand, and see what’s next.

For a bonus, text people at the 15 day mark and tell them you’re praying for them, and ask how it’s going.  If you use Mighty Text, you can schedule this text early, of course — from your computer.

There you go.  Now, share this article with 3-4 people in your church and tell them, “I’d like you to be in the room when this happens!”

Always Learning: What I Learned About Church From Walmart

In John Maxwell’s book How Successful People Think, the story is told of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, when the store chain was just taking off.  Sam took a couple of his colleagues, regional store managers to visit some of the competition in Huntsville, AL.  Don Soderquist (later, CEO of Walmart) related the story:

“We went into one [store], and I have to tell you that it was the worst store I’ve ever seen in my life. It was terrible. There were no customers. There was no help on the floor. The aisles were cluttered with merchandise, empty shelves, dirty, it was absolutely terrible. He [Walton] walked one way and I’d walk the other way and we’d kinda meet out on the sidewalk. He said “What’d you think, Don?”

I said, “Sam, that is the absolutely worst store I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, did you see the aisles?”

He said, “Don, did you see the pantyhose rack?”

Why We Still Do Sunday Night Services

Sunday night services have fallen on hard times.  I can understand why.  Attendance is low.  It’s tiring for pastors & their families, especially for those who have 6 children.

People are busy.  They feel overworked, overcommitted, tired and stressed.  Family time is drained by a million things.  (I know, I know — family time is mostly drained by TV & the internet.  And it’s not like people who stay home from Sunday night are using that time to sit and have quality conversation & fun with their kids.)

Pastors are also tired.  Administration and stresses drain the creativity and energy it takes to draw out Biblical content and present it in fresh, memorable way.  Pastors also complain of not enough family time.  (TV & internet? Hmm.)

People used to “go to church every time the doors were open.”  But that assumption isn’t there any longer, unfortunately even among Christians.

But we still do them at our church.  I’ve had people ask me why, even suggest that we cancel it.  But I haven’t, and I don’t plan to.

Here are 4 reasons why we still do Sunday nights:

1. It gives me freedom to focus on non-core people on Sunday AM.

I have two different audiences with two different needs.  While you don’t have to “dumb down” the Gospel, or the Bible, preaching to an audience of young Christians & biblically illiterate people does require changes in preaching.  You have to think about assumptions, different cultural connection points, different levels of biblical literacy.

2. It gives me a chance to encourage the leadership of the church.

I often talk with pastors frustrated because EVERYONE doesn’t attend on Sunday PM.  I’ll be honest… that’s not the end of the world to me.

It’s no secret that those who come to Sunday PM service are the most committed people you’ve got, at least in terms of faithful attendance.  Board members, musicians, children’s workers, nursery attendants, and more get up from their Sunday afternoon time and have given years to serving faithfully.  What an opportunity to encouage those who make the place run!  As a leader, honestly, if I didn’t have Sunday night to do that, I’d have to create a new venue to do it.

Even though they were present for your Sunday morning service, they were probably serving anyway.  They gave out.  They come into Sunday evening with deflated tires — you are the air compressor.  Pump ’em up.

3. It gives me a chance to develop systematic Bible study content.

Preaching is a lot of work.  It makes sense to figure out how to make some of your work do double duty.

Sometimes, I’ll develop the material, and teach it Sunday nights.  It lets me outline the book, develop the flow of thought and application, locate illustrations, do the background and language studies. Then when I re-preach it on Sunday mornings, I can develop it further, develop graphics, artwork & Powerpoint slides, add another layer of communication smoothness on it.

I don’t feel badly about doing that, and you shouldn’t either, as long as it’s not all the time.  I’ve probably only done it with 5-6 series over the years.  Your core people will not mind, as long as you are serving them well.  They might even enjoy hearing it again, with another layer of polish on it.  Learn this from Top 40 Radio & Christmas music: If the song is good, it’s worth playing again.

4. It gives me a chance to cast vision to the core.

When you’re doing church in a way that people are not used to, communication is crucial.  John Maxwell was right when he said, “People are down on what they’re not up on.”

I realized the potential value of this when I taught a series on the purpose of the church on Sunday nights early on in my ministry.  One of my core people said, after going through a few weeks of inductive study on the purpose of the church, “You know, I am realizing that the church is here for more than just to keep it going and keep the doors open.”

Exactly!  From a leadership standpoint, you can’t put a price tag on that.  And I realized that this was a chance I had to keep communication lines open with people who needed to hear from me outside of the Sunday AM context… to hear that it was going to be OK.  Even though there were people coming that were new, and didn’t hold our values, and didn’t look or talk or smell the same… it was going to be OK!

Crucial for church revitalization.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about ways you can keep Sunday night from being a drag.