How a Better How Helps Every Leader

“People respond not primarily to what you do, but to how you’re being … toward them.”

The goal of every leader is to develop people. But if you’ve spent any time in a leadership role, you know it’s not easy. That’s why there are thousands of books, seminars, and blog posts written on the topic.

If we want to cultivate the kind of authentic life change in the people we lead, there’s one thing that matters more than anything else – authentic leadership. Authentic church leadership produces authentic results – members and volunteers that consistently convey a genuine love for their work and a commitment to your vision to help you reach your better ‘how’ through ministry.

So how can we as church leaders express our genuine motives and cultivate life change? Here are a few key ideas:

  1. Process – your HOW – must be considered first. Process should be mapped out with a core team, which includes the people with the authority to make it happen and hold people accountable. Document the process and ask this question: If all we had were people, pencils, and paper to execute the process, would it work? If the answer is ‘yes, then you have a solid process.
  2. Then determine your WHY. Church leadership must articulate why their vision and new strategy matter to them, the church, and the staff. If no one knows why they matters, the strategy will fail.
  3. Check yourself. The first sign that you might be in danger of falling into the trap of inauthentic leadership is believing you’re not susceptible to it. The greatest obstacle to engaging a broad base of people in your church in authentic community could be that you’ve lost touch as a leader with the people you’re leading.
  4. Start with your staff. Your staff knows the truth about your church more than any other subgroup in your church. A church whose stated values don’t line up with the values expressed in the church offices Monday through Friday will leave staff leadership feeling cynical and limited in their ability to ignite ministry activity. Authentic community starts with the staff.
  5. Embrace authenticity in every area of ministry, not just your preaching. Many pastors think authenticity only comes from the pulpit. However, the weekend message is only a springboard to authenticity. Creating authentic experiences doesn’t happen in an hour on Sunday morning; it comes from adopting a mindset of authenticity in everything we do.
  6. Find systems – your WHAT – that support and sustain. From supporting the efficiency of a process to making sure gaps are closed, systems exist to help us do process better. This is where technology begins to enter the conversation.
  7. The right technology accelerates and scales your processes for growth. Everyone needs to get this – not just the ‘tech-savvy people. This is one of the primary goals to consider when evaluating technology. ‘Techies’ don’t always have the full view into the vision and processes technology must support, yet they are often the ones making the decisions about which technology is best for your church. Prepare for misalignment when you let this happen.

And once you develop and implement a leadership strategy and process, you’ll need to apply those same guiding principles to filling your leadership pipeline.

Because – if you’re like many church leaders – you may often feel like your church has more ministry to do than people or time to do it. And if you’re a good leader who values healthy ministry, you will constantly face this challenge; it comes with the territory.

While so many church leaders say they value the idea of developing more leaders, few have processes in place to implement and measure the idea.

Tony Morgan suggests, “However many hours you are paid for or volunteer, you should take 20 percent of those hours to invest in other leaders.”

But how do you implement the 20-percent rule for developing leaders in your ministry?

Here are three simple ways church leaders can implement Tony’s 20-percent rule:

  1. Make it a priority. When you’re faced with those overwhelming times of ministry, consider that the feeling is an indicator that it’s time to do one of two things: simplify or delegate. Tony points out that you don’t just wake up one day with a healthy leadership team. You have to prioritize it and then build new systems to make it happen.
  2. Equip, then ask. Growing your ministry and growing leaders work hand-in-hand. Potential leaders need to go through an intentional discipleship process before they are ever approached about taking on leadership responsibilities.
  3. Develop a pipeline for multiplying leaders. Leaders don’t materialize out of thin air. Determine what this process looks like for your specific church and what characteristics you are seeking in potential leaders. Churches experience exponential growth when they disciple in their community and build a leadership pipeline.

When you align your HOW (processes), WHY (vision) and WHAT (systems) with your leadership pipeline, you can directly – and positively – impact how those systems will produce the results you desire.

Dedicating a portion of your time toward authentic leadership and multiplying leaders is about more than getting rid of an overwhelming feeling. Ultimately, it’s about impacting more lives as you and your leaders begin to lead and care for those that are touched by your ministry.

> Read more from Church Community Builder.

 

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Church Community Builder

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A Sinful Leader is the Only Kind of Leader Your Church Needs

There is only one kind of leader.

“Sinful.”

I’ve often told folks at Meck that a sinner has to lead the church, so I might as well be honest about it, and to make sure they know that’s what they’ve got. To fail to do so would only add “deceit” to my list of sins.

Now, by “sinful” I don’t mean disqualifying patterns of public sin. Yet non-disqualifying sin abounds.

Don’t get me wrong.

The vast majority of pastors are good people.

Very good people.

They have deep consciences and wrestle with their sins and inadequacies more than anyone needs to point out for their benefit.

But yes, they are sinful.

Which means sinful people have to lead the church. Not formerly sinful, but currently sinful.

So what does that mean for the health and well-being of the church?

Four things come to mind:

1 – You need to be a sinful leader who is continually seeking forgiveness and striving for repentance. The Bible is full of habitual sinners, often in the same areas over and over again, but what marked God’s ability to use them tended to be their equally habitual contrition.

2 – You need to be a sinful leader who does not boast about things you have neither achieved nor maintained. Notice my language. Every leader will have to teach biblical truth about virtues they do not maintain. What is key is that there is not the heartbeat of hypocrisy which boasts as if you are above the fray.

3 – You need to be a sinful leader who works diligently to protect your life from the kinds of public sins that would shame the church and hurt her witness. Ask the family of any pastor to name that pastor’s sins, and they could. And no pastor would ask that such sins be excused. But what is essential is that the sins of that pastor are not the kind that will find their way into the news. I’m not talking about a cover-up, I’m talking about a wise-up. To be “above reproach” does not mean to be “above sin.” It means to live in such a way that you fight the hardest, and are disciplined the most, against the sins that are most prone for public display. And you do it not for the sake of your reputation, but for the sake of the church.

4 – You need to be a sinful leader who knows that it is only by the grace of God you are able to sustain another day of leadership. So you lean on God, depend on God, drink deeply from God. You know you are a sin-stained, sin-soaked person, so you pray like a drowning man to God for rescue. In other words, your sin leaves a deep mark of humility.

So let’s recap:

You have a sinful leader.

Pray they are the kind of sinful leader God wants.

>> Read more by James Emery White.

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James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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A Ministry Momentum Killer

I have a crucial piece of advice for any ministry leader who is seeing God bless them with a current wave of momentum:

Make sure your private devotion keeps pace with your ministry momentum.

As your ministry gains speed, the demands on you are just going to become greater. You might think that once you gain the momentum you’ve been working towards, it will finally free up space in your life. But it won’t. In fact, your time will be even more constrained.

The temptation you’ll face will be to ride your own spiritual coattails.

The great prayer time you had. Last week.
The eye-opening moment you had in your private Bible study. Two months ago.
The game-changing time of fasting you engaged in. Last year.

But it doesn’t work like that. Your relationship with God is only as strong as your most recent encounter with Him.

You must never get to the point where you’re too busy ministering for God that you’re too busy to meet with God. Or you can consider yourself on the clock. For burnout. For a lack of fresh vision. For a moral failure.

And then because of those things, for losing your momentum.

No matter how great your ministry is going…
You’re never going to outgrow your need for prayer.
You’re never going to outgrow your need for study of God’s Word.
You are never going to outgrow your need for God.

He’s what gave you your momentum. He’s what’s going to maintain it. And He’s what’s going to sustain you through it as the demands on your life become greater.

Even Jesus felt the need to go off by himself and spend time in prayer as people began flocking to Him. Personally I’m not going to be the one who says I need less private time with God than Jesus.

Make the decision now. Wake up earlier. Stay up later. Clear out your schedule during the day. Whatever you do, do whatever you have to do to prioritize the presence of God in your life.

And then keep riding the momentum.

Read more from Steven here.

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Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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Learning How to See

If you want to make something new, start with understanding. Understanding what’s already present, and understanding the opportunities in what’s not. Most of all, understanding how it all fits together.

Watch the last two minutes of the classic film, 2001. Today’s technology would allow someone to make a short film like this with very little effort. But could you? The making isn’t the hard part, in fact. It’s the seeing.

Would you have the guts to go this slow? To use music this boldy? To combine iconography from three different centuries over two millenia?

Where is the explosion of the death star and where are the hackneyed tropes of a hundred or a thousand prior sci-fi movies?

Stanley Kubrick, the film’s director, saw. He saw images and stories that were available to anyone who chose to see them, but others averted their eyes, grabbed for the easy or the quick or the work that would satisfy the boss in closest proximity.

When everyone has the same Mac and the same internet, the difference between hackneyed graphic design and extraordinary graphic design is just one thing—the ability to see.

Seeing, despite the name, isn’t merely visual. I worked briefly with Arthur C. Clarke thirty years ago, and he saw, but he saw in words, and in concepts. The people who built the internet, the one you’re using right now, saw how circuits and simple computer code could be connected to build something new and bigger. Others had the same tools, but not the same vision.

And all around us, we’re surrounded by limits, by disasters (natural and otherwise) and by pessimism. Some people see in this opportunity and a chance to draw (with any sort of metaphorical pen) something. Others see in it a chance to hide, to settle and to sigh.

The same confidence and hubris that Kubrick and Clarke brought to their movie is available to anyone who decides to give more than they ‘should’ to a charity that has the audacity to change things. While others believe they can (and must) merely settle.

In our best possible future together, I hope we’ll do a better job of learning to see one another. 

Some people see a struggling person and turn away. Others see a human being and work to open a door or lend a hand. There are possiblities all around us. Not just the clicks of recycling a tired cliche, but the opportunity to be brave. If we only had the guts.

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Seth Godin

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7 Characteristics of an Effective Critic

A few days ago I had a long conversation with a critic of me. Actually, it would be better to say that he is a critic of a decision I made. He would not want to describe himself as a critic of me in the general sense.

Rare is the person who actually enjoys criticisms. I certainly would not be among that unique group. But this man made the criticism tolerable. And he certainly gained my respect by the way he handled it.

Immediately after the conversation, I began to think through how he had approached me. I thought about his words, his body language, and even his preparation for criticizing me. I realized I had a case study on effective criticism. I also was able to note seven of the characteristics of this conversation where he criticized me.

  1. He had no pattern of having a critical spirit. Some people are perpetually critical. Their negativity is known and often avoided. Such people have little credibility. Even if they have something worthy to say, it is often ignored because of their patterns in the past. That was not the case with this man. He was not known as a negative person. He did not speak or write in a critical way on an ongoing basis. Because of this pattern, I was inclined to listen to him.
  2. He prayed before he criticized. In fact, this man prayed every day for two weeks before he ever approached me. He asked God to stop him if his mission was not meant to be. He did not take the moment lightly. To the contrary, he treated it with utmost seriousness.
  3. He communicated concern without anger. This critic did not once raise his voice. His body language did not communicate anger. He was passionate in his position while maintaining his composure.
  4. He avoided any ad hominem attacks. My critic wanted to be certain that I knew he was not attacking me personally. He affirmed me in many ways. He voiced respect for my character. But he did not waver in his expressed concern. Never once did I feel like I was under attack personally.
  5. He asked for my perspective. Frankly, most of my critics through the years have not expressed any desire to hear my side of the story. They are so intent to communicate their position that they leave no room for me to speak. Such was not the case with this critic. He asked a surprising question early in the conversation: “Thom, why did you make this decision? I really want to hear your thoughts straight from you.”
  6. He listened to me. Undoubtedly you’ve been in those conversations where the other person really does not indicate any desire to listen to you. Even while you are speaking, it is evident that he or she is formulating the next response rather than hearing your words. This critic not only asked for my perspective, he really listened as I spoke. The only time he interjected was to ask clarifying questions.
  7. He was humble. One of the primary reasons we get defensive when we are criticized is the attitude of the critic. They often seem to have an all-knowing and condescending spirit. To the contrary, my critic was genuinely humble. He was not a know-it-all. He did not act like the smartest man in the room. Frankly his humility was humbling to me.

You can’t be a leader without being criticized. Leaders have to make decisions, and it’s rare that everyone will agree with your decisions. While dealing with critics is not the most pleasant part of leadership, it is a necessary part. Sometimes leaders must discount the message because of the lack of credibility of the messenger. But, in my case, I heard from a critic who truly made me pause and consider his position. Not only did I hear his position, though, I learned even more about being an effective critic and recipient of criticism.

For those reasons, this fallible leader is very grateful.

Read more from Thom here.

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Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

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

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What Happens When Your Church Slows?

I was talking with a young pastor recently. He is battling the leadership of the church to make changes he feels he was called to the church to make, but because they have experienced some difficult years recently, they are resisting any efforts he makes. He’s questioning if he should give into them or push forward with more changes.

Of course, the way change is introduced is incredibly important, but after years of decline, change is certainly needed if they expect to see any new growth. As the saying goes, “More of the same will not produce change.”

It reminded me, however, of some common characteristics I have observed in organizations, whether the church or in business, when growth begins to slow or future progress appears to be in question. In uncertain times, probably because both the church and businesses involve people, each has a tendency to react similarly.

During times of difficulty, organizations:

  • Resist taking risks
  • Avoid change
  • Cling to tradition
  • Think inward
  • Control everything
  • Become selfish

Granted, I’ve been in both sides of the equation. I’ve been in the times of fast growth and the times of steady (even rapid) decline. I’ve even contributed to each of these reactions at one time or another. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen them work. They feel needed, even more comfortable for a time, but they fail to produce that for which they were intended.

In my experience, these are the exact opposite reactions that spur growth and progress.

Here is why I’m writing this post:

If you are in a time of decline, perhaps it’s time to think differently than your natural, even understandable emotions would lead you to act.

Perhaps you need to:

  • Take new risks
  • Embrace change
  • Hold tradition loosely
  • Think outward
  • Empower others
  • Become generous

To the church leader, I would say this: Walk by faith. Keep walking by faith. I know it is natural to react in fear and hold on to what you can easily understand when circumstances become difficult…I’ve been there…but if you want to grow again…you’ll have to walk by faith again.

Have you seen an organization react this way in times of decline?

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Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson

As pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church a church leader and the planter of two churches, I am passionate about planting churches, but also helping established churches thrive. I thrive on assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. (For more information about these services, click HERE.)

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Clarity Process

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Is Your Church Microsoft or Apple?

For many years I was a Microsoft devotee. I laughed at all the Apple fanboys to the point that when I met one of Steve Jobs right hand guys I proudly announced, “I’m a PC”. (I’m special that way) But in my old age I have seen the light. I now have a Mac and two iPads, my only non-Cupertino inspired device is my Samsung Galaxy S III. I kind of like the Google map app that actually gets me to my destination. Which sort of gets me to my point.

Microsoft and Apple have two very different philosophies about when to ship. Microsoft ships as soon as its good enough and then offers patches and fixes as bugs are discovered in the software. Microsoft software always kind of sort of works. Apple, on the other hand, ships when its perfect. They have a near zero tolerance policy for bugs and defects. Steve Jobs was always willing to stop everything until they got it exactly right. It is this dedication to perfection that led to my defection to the cult of Apple.

The challenge with the Apple approach is that it absolutely, positively has to be perfect right out of the box. Us fanboys won’t tolerate iterations, updates or patches. We want excellence served in an exquisite black or white box. That’s why Apple Maps was such a crushing disaster. If it were Microsoft we would expect the Denver airport to be missing the first time, we’d know they’d find it eventually. For Apple that kind of imperfection is intolerable.

Over the past 20 years we have seen the Apple-ification of the church. We have convinced ourselves and the attenders that God deserves, nay, demands excellence. The lights, the sound the video should be the best of any venue in town. Every weekend should be more amazing than the weekend before. (“I’m so excited about this weekend I’m about to wet myself!!”) The sermon should be spell-binding and funny and heart wrenching every week. As pastors we can be transparent and authentic as long as everyone knows that under that veneer of “real” is a substrate of “really good”.

I’ve come to realize that as much as I want to be Apple I’m really Microsoft. I put out the best that I can, but my best will always have flaws and be full of bugs and it will need frequent updates, patches and fixes. My best never comes in a shiny white box with invisible flaps and secret compartments, my best comes on a paper plate with pizza stains on the edges. Its kind of a relief to be honest. Trying to be Apple all the time is exhausting.

Right before my pastor went on stage this past weekend I asked him if the message was going to be any good? He responded immediately, “Not really, mediocre at best.” He was wrong, it was an amazing message, but I love attending a church with a Microsoft attitude. They do their best, but we all know its never perfect. And that’s ok, that’s how we all are.

Just don’t take away my iPad.

Read more from Geoff here.

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Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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12 Keys to Authentic Leadership

Here are 12 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a leader. Authenticity rules. Some best practices I’ve found helpful:

1. Be real in all mediums. Digital age makes it easy to be inauthentic. Although we are always “on,” ultimately we can create a fake persona behind a profile on Facebook or a twitter account. It’s easy to live a secondary life and feel like we are someone we aren’t. Have to be authentic across the board.

2. Constantly turn the rocks over in your life and in your leadership. Uncover the areas that need to be made clean. Big things are at stake. It’s exhausting to not be the real you. It’s easier and less work to be who you really are.

3. The more successful you become, the less accessible you are. It’s reality. More people clamor for time with you, but it’s not possible to be available to everyone. Be wise and discerning, but also open to helping where you can. As Andy Stanley says “do for one what you wish you could do for many.”

4. Learn to open up. You can impress people more easily from a distance, so many leaders keep others at arms length. For example, we often prefer digital interaction to life-on-life exchanges. This insulates us and prevents others from uncovering our weaknesses and flaws. But it also reduces our ability to influence others.

5. Ask great questions. Great leaders I know solve problems and create solutions through the questions they ask. Questions many times reflect your values.

6. Invite direct reports to do a 360 degree review of you on a regular basis. It’s uncomfortable, but also helpful. As Rick Warren has said, “You can’t love people and influence them unless you are close to them. Up close means you can see my warts.”

7. Accept a better standard. The goal of every Christian is to become more like Christ, but often our standard becomes some “great” leader who we admire. When we exalt fellow influencers, we try to dress like them, talk like them, pray like them, tell jokes like them, and achieve like them, it’s dangerous. By emulating them we hope to someday become like them. This never works, and a painful side effect is that deep down we end up feeling like a cheap knock-off.

8. Be interested over interesting. Start with leaning into others and caring about them vs. only worrying about yourself.

9. Be accountable to those who know you best. Know your blind spots in your leadership. We all have areas of weakness. Know what they are and give your team, your family and your friends permission to call you on them. Are you comfortable enough in your leadership that those around you have the freedom to tell you the truth without repercussions?

10. Authentic leaders make more of those around them, and less about themselves. They are servant leaders and willing to be less in order for others to be more. Authentic leaders seek to serve and understand the power of putting others first. And great leaders attract great people to their team. Like attracts like.

11. Actively Build a Support Network– Beware of CEO disease, the temptation to surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear. Keep honest people in your life so that you can stay grounded in the reality of your experiences. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re not a big deal. Seriously. I don’t care who you are. Humility is way more attractive than arrogance.

12. Be who you are. Authenticity requires true honesty, self awareness and a selfless approach to leadingOne of the challenges in organizations today is actually creating space for leaders to admit and share their challenges. We need to create community where you can talk about the things you are dealing with without getting arrows in the back. Be willing to share your struggles. Create and find environments where we can deal with things and be honest and real.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick

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

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.