Leading “THAT” Generation Matters

Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, makes a pretty excellent point. Every time you eat (or have coffee) alone, you’re missing out on one of the most opportune moments for mentoring.

Aside from those rare times when you really just need to work alone for a while, always ask yourself, who could do coffee with me?

Give Resources

A few years ago, a mentor of mine gave me a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, The Little Black Book of Connections. I’ve since given away a few dozen copies. I keep a few in my car for when I’m doing coffee with a young leader.

That book taught me a big lesson about leadership – that if you want to succeed, add value to people’s lives. And Jeffrey was saying it before it was so cool to say it.

When you come across a great book about leadership, buy an extra copy to give away. And when you use an app that makes you more productive, share about it on social media.

Gather a Group

You can and should grab coffee with individual leaders. But you can also draw together a learning community – young leaders who will sit at the table with you on a regular basis.

  • They’ll learn from you.
  • They’ll learn from each other.
  • And you’ll learn more from them than you expected.

Start off with some “life” talk and then ask a couple of powerful questions to stimulate productive discussion. Close it with a word of encouragement.

Guide through Coaching

Coaching is a little different than mentoring. With mentoring, your goal is to pour knowledge into someone and help them to apply it. With coaching, your goal is to ask powerful questions about whatever a leader may be struggling with to help them get unstuck and growing again.

Coaching is really a special skillset. I’m a big believer in getting coached and in coaching others. The value of great leadership coaching is hard to estimate.

When I was starting a church, which I’d never done before, I had a lot of questions about what to do next and how not to fail miserably. I found coaches who asked me tough questions and helped my work through my biggest obstacles. It’s worth it!

Give Permission

Think, for a second, about the first time you were invited into an opportunity by someone in a leadership position. It was probably a little scary. And it was probably life-changing. It was a defining moment.

Don’t hog all the good projects for yourself. Give some of the best opportunities away to allow young leaders to stretch their wings and get their legs under them.

When you give a young leader a project that is just beyond their present capabilities, you stretch them to learn, to grow, to expand their current knowledge and skill set. It’s part of leadership development.

The world needs recurring generations of leaders who will influence their world boldly for good. Invest in them, or become obsolete!


Learn more about Auxano’s Leadership Pipeline process.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Keys to Growing Personal Generosity

Is it really possible to just stop being poor? Not always.

There are places in this world where there are no opportunities to pursue, no jobs to work, and no resources to multiply. Generational poverty is sometimes caused by a lack of natural resources, corrupt governments, oppression, and injustice.

So this isn’t a post designed to shame people who have lacked the chance to climb. In fact, I need to be clear about something right up front:

Life is not about you.

If you wind up wealthy, healthy, and happy, that’s great. But why? Hint: It’s for others.

It’s so that you can grow from being a consumer to being a contributor in a variety of ways – giving, serving, employing people, paying taxes, supporting nonprofits, etc.

Let me also say that it’s sometimes the most honorable and purposeful thing you can do to bypass wealth and opportunity to choose a higher calling.

Take William Borden, for example. He entered Yale as heir to the Borden family fortune (think Borden milk and dairy). While at Yale, he surrendered his life to a missionary calling and began traveling the world to help, to serve, and to teach people in other parts of the world. At age 25, he contracted spinal meningitis and died.

Some called his death a premature event or even a “waste.” But William Borden chose to become poor in this life so that he could enjoy a kind of wealth most people will never know.

So, wealth is not a virtue. It’s never the goal. Financial wealth is not always God’s will and sometimes a financial safety net is a distraction from living a life of risk-taking faith.

Having established that wealth isn’t everything, let me get to the real point of this post.

Sometimes, we do dumb things that cause us to stay poor. For example…

10 Common Mistakes That Keep Us Poor

  1. Quitting jobs before we have a plan for what’s next.
  2. Not understanding where our income will be generated.
  3. Not tracking where our money is being spent.
  4. Failing to plan and be intentional with our spending.
  5. Using credit with little guarantee of being able to pay it back.
  6. Never saving anything for a rainy day.
  7. Forgetting to pay things on time and racking up late fees.
  8. Paying easily avoidable interest and penalties on debt.
  9. Assuming our circumstances (job, expenses, health, economy) will never change.
  10. Paying premium prices for everything we buy.

And the list could go on, of course.

Angie and I have learned a lot about personal finances – some of it the hard way – and we’re still learning daily. Somewhere along the way,

  • We committed to living within our means.
  • We stopped using credit for minor purchases.
  • We started to live on a budget.
  • We started taking debt seriously and paying it off.
  • We kept giving a tenth of our income away.
  • We began to prepare for the future.

How to live on a budget.When we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, it was a game changer. Ramsey is well-known for teaching some pretty simple truth in some pretty profound ways. Such as…

  • Snowballing debt to get rid of it faster.
  • What kind of insurance is really needed.
  • Talking about finances with your spouse.
  • How credit really works.
  • How to negotiate pricing.
  • Getting ready for retirement.

And more. If you’ve never gone through FPU, do it as soon as possible! Ramsey isn’t always right about everything, but you can’t possibly get any worse off by following his advice until you actually have financial peace. Then, you can do your own research and disagree with him.

A great place to start is his Total Money Makeover book (get it here).

Get a Grip on Your Financial Reality

Start a spreadsheet and put everything in it. Every account. Every balance. Every interest rate. Every bill and due date. Every income source. Put it all on one single page so that you can see a complete but panoramic view of where you are financially.

If you’ve lost track of where all of your debt is and what bills you’re paying, you’re already behind. Check your credit and monitor it regularly.

 

Set Some Reasonable Financial Goals

Assuming you can go all gangbusters and spend zero dollars for the next six months on food and fuel is not aggressive action. It’s just unrealistic. And being unrealistic leads to frustration and to quitting early.

At the same time, this should hurt. It should be uncomfortable. It requires sacrificing some of what you’ve enjoyed until now so that you can enjoy peace a little later.

Stop Borrowing Money for Small Purchases

Dave Ramsey would disagree with the last three words of that. But not all debt is created equal. Nonetheless, if you’re not currently paying all of your credit cards off every single month, stop using them. Completely. Cold turkey.

Once you’ve done some research, you’ll start to understand why making small purchases with a credit card and it’s revolving debt interest can ultimately mean paying $5 for a $1 candy bar. Multiply that by thousands.

Generate Some Extra Income

Cutting your expenses might be enough, but often, it’s not. Sometimes a second job fits into your picture and sometimes it doesn’t. At the very least, I would highly recommend turning your hobbies and interests into a means of making money online.

When you jump into it, bootstrap it. In other words, don’t spend thousands of dollars hoping to make millions. Spend as little as possible on your extra income idea so that it at least pays for itself until it starts returning even more income.

Have Some Hard, Honest Conversations

This is the toughest part of all. Why? Because it isn’t about the money. It’s about the heart. Money is an extremely emotional thing to talk about.

We feel shame over our financial mistakes. We feel anger when someone takes more of our money than we think they should. We feel sad when something goes wrong and we don’t know what to do next. Let’s face it, we get downright depressed about our money woes!

But when it comes to money, most of the people we interact with on a daily basis are also making the same mistakes. We’re all so quiet about it that we all stay trapped in the secrecy.

Talking to an advisor, getting direction from a mentor, and especially being honest with our spouse is all part of the healing and recovery process.

Do Some Thorough Research on Personal Finances

I’m not an expert. I’m nowhere close to being an expert. But I’ve learned a lot by reading, listening, and taking courses here and there. And we’re way better off than we used to be because of that newly acquired knowledge. So,

There’s nothing wrong at all with being poor. But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the millions of people on the planet who makes mistakes that keep you unnecessarily poor.

My favorite thing about Dave Ramsey is the way he casts a vision for financial peace. He says to people who take his course, “we’re going to get out of debt so we can save more money so we can give a bunch of it away!”

Let’s do it.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator about developing a generosity culture at your church.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Areas of Communication that Church Leaders Need to Audit Regularly

Everything your church does is communication, from the condition of the parking lot to the content in your bulletin to the tone of your sermon. Everything you do communicates something about what you really value, regardless of what you say you value.

I’m a church communications nut. I read dozens of blogs on design, branding, social media and marketing. I’ve designed logos, websites, and print pieces for dozens of churches. So I’ve perfected the art and science of church communications, right? Actually, in the last week, I received an email from someone who couldn’t find a location for our services, another who had a hard time finding out how to get involved, and a third who couldn’t find details on a couple of upcoming events. #humbled

But our bulletin does look kind of pretty…

Since the publishing and communication of the gospel is paramount, I’ve learned the value of doing some punch-me-in-the-gut audits of our communication strategy. We’re constantly tweaking and improving so that we can put our best foot forward and do the best possible job of getting the word out, connecting people to each other, plugging people in, and staying in touch.

To every Lead Pastor I would say, you need to perform an audit of your church’s communication strategy to see if all those sermons you’re studying so hard for will have maximum reach in your community. Here’s a questionnaire, divided by areas of communication.

BRANDING

Phil Cooke defines a brand as “the story people tell about a person, product, or organization.” Yourchurch has a brand in your community whether you realize it or not. The key to understanding your brand is to find out what story people tell when your church gets brought up in conversation. That’s your brand.

  • What story do we want people to associate with our church? How would we like people to feel when they think about us?
  • What story do people actually tell about us? And how do we know this?
  • Does the appearance of our building, landscaping, and outdoor signage communicate the feelings we want people to experience?
  • Do we have a church logo that communicates the feeling and the story we want people to experience?
  • Does our website, bulletin, and other printed materials such as brochures, business/invite cards, or postcards uniformly agree with the story we’re telling across the board?

CHURCH WEBSITE

If you’re not found in a Google search for churches in your area, you don’t exist to people moving into town. A website is essential, even if it’s a free or inexpensively made website. And while not every church can afford the fees charged by professional designers, we still ought to invest in our website with both energy and resources that honor the importance of this crucial area of communication.

  • Is our website responsive and mobile-friendly?
  • Is our most basic information easy to find on our main homepage (location, service times, etc.)?
  • Do we use imagery that tells people that we’re human, we’re alive, and we’re welcoming?
  • Are event listings available and up-to-date?
  • Can people easily know what we believe? what we value? and how we function?
  • Do we have links to our Facebook page and other social profiles on our website?
  • Is there a way for people to reach out and get in touch with us without leaving our website?
  • Can people easily know how to pursue next steps such as baptism, joining a small group, or volunteering in an area of ministry?
  • Do we have a page dedicated to our staff and/or key leaders so that potential visitors can know who we are?

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a weird phrase. Media is just information, and “social” simply refers to how information spreads – from person to person, socially. When we use the phrase “social media” we’re generally referring to the websites or web-based platforms used for social networking. While a previous generation got to know social media as an optional activity, an up-and-coming generation sees social media the way we see oxygen – it’s just part of the air people are breathing.

  • Do we have a main church Facebook page?
  • Do the header and profile images represent us well? Are they consistent with the branding on our website and print pieces?
  • Are we a location that people can check into when they visit on Sunday?
  • Is our address, phone number, and website address displayed in the ‘about’ area?
  • Are we posting regularly? At least weekly if not several times per week?
  • Are we posting a variety of content such as pictures, text, and links?
  • Are we offering more than just announcements? Are we also telling stories, giving valuable content, and extending the preaching of our church in a positive way?
  • Do we engage our fans and followers by responding to comments?
  • Are our key leaders using social media? Are they on Facebook and Twitter? And do they promote the ministry of the church through those platforms?

PRINT DESIGN

Many experts claim that “print is dying” but most people walking through the doors of a church building on Sunday still expect some kind of bulletin to know what’s going on.

  • Does our bulletin look nice and clean? Does it match the look of our website and other communication mediums?
  • Have we put guests first, using bulletin space to explain what to expect during their visit?
  • Have we made it clear what announcements are really the most important?
  • Do we use valuable space to communicate church-wide what could be communicated via a different means to only a few people?
  • Have we offered clear “next steps” such as were to go online to get more information, how to sign up for events, and who to talk to about knowing Jesus, baptism, or church membership?
  • Are we using readable typefaces?

COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

A lot of work goes into planning special events and ministries. It’s a shame for that work to go to waste when the right people don’t know about the event or service we’re working toward. Systems are imperative if we’re going to communicate effectively.

  • Do we have a process to follow when an event is planned?
  • Do we have a calendar that can be seen and shared by all leaders to avoid scheduling conflicts?
  • Do we have a checklist to glance at to be sure we’ve communicated events using every necessary means?
  • Have we made it clear that only major, church-wide announcements need to be communicated from the stage or pulpit?
  • Do we have any kind of content calendar or plan for what updates get posted on our website and social profiles and what times they should be posted?

There is more. Much more, in fact. But these 33 questions offer a great starting place for the leadership team of any small to medium-sized church. Knowing where we are and how we’re doing is half the battle!

> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Responses to Mission Resistance

Every great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question in the comments – how, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some very legalistic Jews known as the Judaizers were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a closed discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. (Acts 15:19-22 NLT)

As I walk through this passage, I think there is some key wisdom to be applied all these centuries later in a more modern context.

We are charged to defend not only the faith of the gospel, but also its fruit. That is, we must uphold the content of the gospel as well as protect its ability to reach new people. To claim to hold to an orthodox view of Scripture while allowing non-scriptural viewpoints to be interposed in our doctrine, resulting in the alienation of those who need Jesus most, isn’t faithfulness to the gospel.

Let me put it more practically. Our role as pastors is to protect the flock from wolves and from false teachers. But it’s also to remind our flock that there are sheep who haven’t joined the fold yet and we must do everything in our power to take the gospel to every last one of them.

There are battles that aren’t worth fighting. When it comes to our preferences over style and approach, we are called to make allowance for differences of opinion.

And then there are battles that absolutely are worth fighting. In fact, there are battles worth risking everything over. The vision, the mission, and the purposes of God for his people are worth being stubborn about. The cause of evangelism and the pathway to discipleship are well worth working for and defending from error.

But how? How do we handle the Judaizers and joysuckers and complainers who would rather keep their preferred religious systems to the detriment of evangelism? I think we handle people the way the early apostles did.

  1. Get godly counsel. The elders consult with one another. James probably could have handled it himself, but he chose to invite input from other godly leaders.
  2. Be bold in your calling. The elders stand with confidence, believing God had called them to lead through this particular moment with clarity and conviction.
  3. Stand with and for the lost. They made it clear that we should not make it any more difficult than it already naturally was for non-Jewish people to come to know Jesus.
  4. Show them what grace is like. Nobody got kicked out. Everyone was still welcome and the apostles set an example of grace for everyone to observe.
  5. Fight against anything that competes with discipleship. They kept the pathway clear and asked people to make voluntary sacrifices for the benefit of others.
  6. Point to Jesus. The pointed people back to the gospel – the good news that Jesus Christ alone saves by grace alone through faith alone.

So, when confronting legalists and traditionalists who would ultimately stand in the way of lost people coming into God’s family to protect their own preferences, always choose to stand on the side of the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

I often pray for God to give me the boldness of a lion. Granted, sometimes I choose to have the boldness of an angry chinchilla, but I’m a work in progress. I’m still learning to love everyone – even the legalists and traditionalists – while being mean about the vision.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about dealing with resistance to your vision and mission.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The “One-Anothers” of Social Media

How can we avoid the potential distraction of social media and use it to really advance our mission?

 

As a leader, you can only influence those whom you can reach (Rick Warren). The social media platforms in use today – and the ones that will be developed tomorrow – allow you to extend your reach and listen to the people God is calling you to serve and disciple.

The danger is that a beginning trickle of social media communication can become a flood of unfiltered information that will wash you away unless you channel it into a useful tool for the irrigation and growth of your message. What are some of the solutions to do keep all of your social media focused?

Solution – See social media through the lens of “one another.”

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Rewired, by Brandon Cox

There’s no going back. Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate. We are connected with people all over the planet with technology that didn’t even exist ten years ago. The world around us is having a conversation about life, meaning, culture, and eternity, and we have an amazing opportunity not just to join the conversation but also to lead it.

Brandon Cox demonstrates the real, connecting power in online social networks, showing you how to connect and tell God’s story relationally and creatively in our social, digital age. He encourages leaders to dedicate their lives to telling the Good News using every means possible, and to be the relational bridge that brings someone into a right relationship with Jesus – even if it does mean jumping on the social media train.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

God approaches us, seeks us, and searches for us. He offered His Son so that we might be reconciled to Him. In turn, God expects us to reconcile others. From one relationship to another, God wants us to reach others.

Social media isn’t an escape from the real world. It is the real world, whether we are ready for it or not.

God is the great designer who has masterminded a plan to put people in relationships with each other. “Viral” isn’t a concept the inventors of YouTube conjured up—God has always determined to utilize the viral nature of human relationships.

God knew we would struggle with this relational thing, even inside the church, so He gave some rather helpful suggestions and guidelines that we often call the “one anothers” of the New Testament.

These may or may not be familiar to you, but try to hear them with the ear of one who is engaging the culture via social media:

  • “Be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50, NIV).
  • “Love one another” (John 13:34, NIV).
  • “Be devoted to one another. . . . Honor one another” (Rom. 12:10, NIV).
  • “Live in harmony with one another” (v. 16, NIV).
  • “Accept one another” (Rom. 15:7, NIV).
  • “Agree with one another” (1 Cor. 1:10, NIV).
  • “Serve one another” (Gal. 5:13, NIV).
  • “[Forgive] each other” (Eph. 4:32, NIV).
  • “Submit to one another” (Eph. 5:21, NIV).
  • “Encourage each other” (1 Thess. 5:11, NIV).
  • “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24, NIV).
  • “Pray for each other” (James 5:16, NIV).

This list is only partial, but it’s a good starting checklist as we answer the question, Am I being relational? Part of the redemption story is the beautiful benefit of our being able to relate to one another within the body in a new way.

Brandon Cox, Rewired

A NEXT STEP

It’s never been more important to produce quality social media content that people actually want to interact with. How can you use social media to practice the one-another commands at your church?

  • Are your social media platforms an integral part of your ministry strategy?
  • Do you use social media platforms to tell the stories of God’s work in your people’s lives?
  • Do you connect with staff and volunteer teams through the use of social media?
  • Do you lead your teams to connect with others through social media?
  • What social media content are you producing that people most want to share with others?

Using social media is just the latest extension of the New Testament’s one-another ministry. When you as a leader understand and practice social media as a one another ministry, you are well on the way to living out the presence of Christ within your congregation– and it becomes very obvious to those who are connecting to others.

 


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Make Your Sunday Bulletin Simple AND Effective

How many announcements should you include in your church bulletin?

Pretty much… none.

My philosophy about church bulletins (i.e. worship folders, programs, brochures, handouts, etc.) has changed a lot over the years. A decade and a half ago, I wanted it to be as large and stuffed with information as possible. It was my way of thinking bigger than our church was at the time.

Now, I want our weekly bulletin to be as small as possible, with as few announcements as possible. In fact, here’s a photo of our current bulletin.

Bulletin161009

And in case you’d like to have the printable or editable version:

 

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That’s it. NO actual “announcements” are included. At least, not the kind you’d normally think of. We print this on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of card stock, both sides, cut them in half, and hand them out. It’s a single half-sheet, sturdy enough to take notes on. And, we print one bulletin per sermon series and only change it during the series if something drastically changes and needs to be communicated.

Why is it so slim on information?

It’s all about who it’s for!

We print a Sunday bulletin with one person in mind – the guest. We want our guests to know that they belong, that we have next steps for them, that we don’t want their money and that we want them to know what to expect.

The weekend bulletin is really just an excuse to greet people with something printed. It offers the basic next steps, how to find out more, and how to stay in the loop.

We’re also very aware that every announcement is a “signal” that gets sent to the minds of those who are reading or listening. Our minds only have room for so many signals. So if you want people to remember two or three things, in particular, don’t tell them to remember five or eight or thirty things.

In fact, if you’ll notice, every piece of information in the bulletin actually has a short hyperlink that leads to an information page online that is mobile-friendly. Sometimes, that short link forwards to a Facebook Event so people can RSVP and share. Sometimes, it leads to a page of our website dedicated to a certain ministry. But our goal is to get people to engage with us online, beyond Sunday, so that we can communicate throughout the week with everyone.

So where do we announce stuff?

Here’s how we see it.

There are announcements that everyone needs to hear, and those are included in the bulletin, which everyone gets. Then, there are announcements only pertinent to regular attenders, which we communicate through various other means, including:

  • Our email list.
  • Our open Facebook group (not our main Facebook page).
  • Our mobile app (including one push notification per week).
  • Our website, especially the events page and the blog.
  • Some slides that cycle as people are coming in.
  • Our various Facebook “sub”-pages (men, women, students, kids, etc.).
  • Word-of-mouth, especially through small groups.

Does it work?

Not perfectly. Sometimes, someone is unaware of something happening. But we rarely hear about it. We’ve spent a long time creating a culture where people don’t expect to be spoon-fed and taken by the hand and personally led through every event.

We’re always learning and tweaking. I may have to scrap this blog post a few months from now when we flip our strategy on its head. But for now, we’re confident that growth is happening because we’re able to communicate the big signals to the many and the smaller signals to the few.


Learn more about effective communication with your Sunday bulletin by connecting with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Keys for Whole-Church Discipleship

I grew up attending church a lot. I was in a church classroom a lot. When I was a kid, my family attended Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night preaching and prayer services, plus Sunday school, plus missions education programs and Vacation Bible Schools. But… I didn’t grow spiritually, didn’t really experience spiritual depth, and didn’t really learn what following Jesus looked like outside the walls of the church.

When I hit adulthood, I started to grow spiritually, but I would say it was still rather slow going. I started attending church with my wife and soaking up biblical knowledge like a sponge. I entered ministry and attended Bible college and developed the spiritual disciplines. But something was still missing.

Finally, several things happened that prompted a complete perspective change in me and kickstarted my journey toward being more like Jesus. In particular…

  • I walked through pain – depression, specifically.
  • I began to repent of pride, self-centeredness, and other sins.
  • My wife and I began to have tough conversations.
  • I went on staff at a church with a strong culture of discipleship.
  • We joined a small group of people who cared a lot about doing life together.

After a year in that atmosphere, God led us to Northwest Arkansas to plant a church and gave us a passion for creating a place where people could truly grow. We started planting Grace Hills with some particular convictions about the role of the local church in discipleship, such as…

  • The local church, as a community of believers, was always integral to Jesus’ plan for discipleship.
  • The local church should balance the five purposes of worship, evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry.
  • The local church should also be balanced in ministering to the community, the crowd, the congregation, the committed, and the core.
  • If the local church is going to facilitate discipleship, it has to be more than a classroom. It has to be a community of people who are coming to know Jesus together and serving one another for God’s glory.

In the last few years, we haven’t gotten everything right. In fact, I think it would be easier to write about our mistakes than our success. But I’ve watched our staff and volunteer team make disciples well, and I can point to at least six specific ways we’ve been setting the table for discipleship to happen.

1. From the pulpit, a vision is cast and an example is shared about the role of spiritual disciplines.

It’s not just about conveying information in a “deep” sermon format. It’s about creating a hunger and getting practical in terms of how each message should be lived out, and how every person can go deeper beyond Sunday. I spent 15 years doing deep, expositional preaching, but failed to call people to really develop their own faith at home. One of my newer goals is to help people, through my preaching, to become self-feeders by talking about the value of the disciplines as well as the how of them.

2. Lay counseling and counseling-as-discipleship is utilized to disciple people through crises.

We must develop a culture and a system for involving people in the messes of other people. The broken-and-healing need to be pouring into the broken-in-need-of-healing. And the most effective counseling we can do is essential discipleship. Some of the best marriage counseling we can do is having a man disciple a husband and a woman disciple a wife. I’ve learned to lean heavily on my wife, Angie Cox, an LCSW and a master at empowering lay people for counseling.

3. The importance of micro-groups or groups-within-groups is talked about.

It’s usually when a group gets smaller that real discussion happens. This happens when men and women divide during group time. It also happens when two or three from a group grab coffee to get more personal. So we encourage group leaders to encourage group members to get together beyond the weekly meeting to dive deeper into specific struggles.

4. Everybody is challenged to join a ministry team.

A ministry team is like a cohort of people who are in proximity to each other as they serve. This creates an atmosphere for on-the-job discipleship. People sharpen one another in the trenches together, so we let ministry teams function a little bit like small groups. It’s been thrilling to watch people sharing their stories and challenging one another while serving together.

5. Schedules are simplified and families are encouraged to do discipleship at home.

Some of the most important discipleship work that a church can do is by empowering fathers, mothers, and guardians to make disciples of their kids, as well as their neighbors’ kids. We fight against busyness so that families have time away from church together.

6. Pastoral ministry becomes personal ministry carried out within small groups.

Groups are challenged to provide care for one another. People pray over fellow group members before or during crises, deliver meals, and keep tabs on one another. No promises are ever made that the church staff will be doing “pastoral ministry,” even though we often do.

We don’t do any of these perfectly, but where we see them happen, we see them working. And we hope to do more of each of them. Jesus never intended us to try to carry out the work of disciple-making while ignoring his primary engine for the task – the local church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How 30 Seconds Can Change the World

There are often crucial moments when we have an opportunity to be vision-casters with people, one-on-one. It may be a car ride making a visit, coffee with a fellow member, or a staff meeting with five extra minutes at the end. It begs the question, could I state my vision for my church if I only had a few floors to travel in an elevator with someone?

You see, vision is great, but it needs to be transferrable. Members of a church should be able to share their church’s vision with their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, but they can only share a vision that has been concisely articulated from their leadership. And a vision isn’t “reaching people” or “glorifying God.” Those are eternal purposes, universal to every church. A vision (in an elevator speech format) would be more like…

We’re going to be a church that wraps our arms around the broken with an abundance of both truth and grace. We’ll have a multiplying network of small groups where people can really bear each other’s burdens. And we’ll gather in the middle of the marketplace for passionate worship and relevant teaching each week. The community will be better because we’re here – marriages will be fixed, education will improve, and people with all kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups will find healing and recovery in a new life with Jesus.

That’s my elevator pitch. What’s yours?

Read more from Brandon.


Learn more about Auxano’s Vision Clarity Process.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Investment Strategies for Leadership Equity

When you walk into a leadership opportunity, you go with a little bit of equity by virtue of your position and the inevitable honeymoon period during which those you lead will let you get by with just a bit more than they will a decade later, but you have to be very careful with that equity. Every decision you make, and every risk you lead your organization to take will require an investment of some of your leadership equity (the trust people place in you).

Make good decisions – your equity grows. Make poor ones, you lose and it’s nearly impossible to lead when you’re bankrupt of influence. As a Pastor put it whom I was recently listening to, “Choose the right color carpet today, the congregation may let you relocate them tomorrow.”

So how do you handle the equity you have?

Risk It, Don’t Horde It

Jesus told a parable about three investors, one of whom buried his lent wealth instead of risking it – he got in big trouble! The two who earned a return were entrusted with greater opportunities. You can’t walk by faith without taking risks.

Calculate, then Calculate Again

I used to apologize for making decisions slowly. I dont’ anymore because I remember my grandfather’s great carpentry wisdom, “Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once.” When you think you’ve prayed it through and thought of all the possible outcomes, think it through one more time. In short: take risks, but don’t do anything dumb.

When You Decide, Decide Fully

Remember in the movies when they would ask, “which wire should I cut?” The bomb squad expert never says, “Well, I’m kinda thinkin’ the red one, but I’m not so sure, let’s give it a shot.” If you are leading in the right direction, lead with confidence and strength, otherwise stay put, but don’t balk. There’s always a penalty for balking.

Always Be Personally Invested

Don’t ask those you lead to take risks in situations where you don’t have to do so. Put something on the line. Make it personal.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Words “I Was Wrong.”

Those are tough to say, but sometimes we have to back up and ask forgiveness. Never proceed with a terrible decision if it becomes evident you should have led otherwise. Instead, use the recovery as a time to demonstrate strength the best you can.

Respect people who trust you. It takes a lot for people to trust you, so treat their trust like precious porcelain. It’s part of being a good shepherd.

> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Calculated Risks to Build a Healthy Structure

Let’s face it. The way we manage churches usually makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to the outside world. And before we quickly write off this statement with a “well, that’s because churches shouldn’t be businesses,” consider this.

You can have a structure that works, but isn’t biblical. That’s bad. Some examples?

  • Having powerful marketing machinery but no discipleship process.
  • Firing people over inefficiency with no concern for their soul or their family.
  • Prioritizing results over relationships and numerical growth over spiritual health.

You can also have a structure that seems biblical, but doesn’t really work. For example…

  • Worship that honors traditional liturgical approaches but makes no sense to outsiders.
  • Giving everyone an equal voice in every decision the church makes.
  • Keeping leaders under control so they don’t do anything that scares anyone.

I spent a lot of years serving wonderful people in wonderful church families that had a poor and unhealthy structure. And I was partly to blame for not getting to the root of our issues, or knowing what to do and not having the guts to make people uncomfortable enough to change the status quo.

Now that I’m serving a newer church plant (we’re currently just over four years old), things work very differently because we’ve been able to organize and manage our growth in ways that are both biblical and effective. What surprises many people who come from traditional churches is that we don’t have any committees or business meetings. The congregation has never voted on anything, and won’t until we get ready to buy land, build a building, or hire a new Lead Pastor.

You may assume that we have, then, either a dictatorship or all out chaos. But to clarify, we also don’t have power struggles, fights over the death of traditions, or clamoring for positions of influence. I wrote about a similar subject recently and someone on Facebook asked a great question.

How do you get things done without voting on anything?

I’d like to answer the question, but I’d also like to expand on it. The problem isn’t voting, or not voting, necessarily, even though I did write about 19 reasons Baptist should just stop voting on stuff. The problem is a faulty ecclesiology that assumes a democratic form of church polity – an Americanized, or at least westernized take on the New Testament. And it’s also a psychological problem. We fear losing our share of the control as a group grows, so we create structures to keep it small.

So… how do you create and sustain a biblical, healthy church structure that enables a church to move forward without the red tape of committees and business meetings? Here are at least five things I’ve seen working well.

1. Create a healthy, unified culture.

Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” True. Here’s what that means for pastors and church leaders…

You can attend conferences, read books, write vision statements, preach missional messages, offer training, and pass along all the rules and policies your heart desires. But you won’t see forward momentum until you create a healthy culture.

And how do you create a healthy, positive, visionary, forward-leaning culture within a congregation? You write out your core values, make sure they’re framed positively with a bent toward action, boil them down to six or eight phrases, and then repeat those phrases over and over to your staff, your leaders, your church, and your community.

In other words, as the leader, you model a this is who we are set of core values as you lead, preach, relate to people, and make decisions.

Most of the long term attenders at Grace Hills can tell you something like…

We’re a church that welcomes everybody, that’s heavy on grace and light on judgment, where everybody matters, everybody belongs, and everybody has a part to play. We’re flexible. There are no sacred cows. This is who we are.

Why is that? Because we’ve based our core values in the content of the New Testament, we’ve articulated them and repeated them, and we’ve lived by them consistently.

2. Fight FOR people rather than fighting against them.

You’re the leader, right? So don’t be a baby, or a whiner, or a fit-thrower, or a conniver, or a manipulator. Be mature. Be positive. Be visionary. Paint a bright picture of the future. Value and listen to everyone. And refuse to get into a firefight.

Too many Pastors have chosen hills to die on that weren’t worth people getting hurt over in the first place. Pick your battles, and try to do everything you can not to let it become a battle. Do everything you can to stave off walk-out’s, uprisings, splits, and schisms.

Obviously, sometimes this is beyond your control as the leader. Sometimes you inherit a fight. But as much as is in your power, be intentional about what culture you’re not going to create. It’s important to remind people of the culture you’re trying to create with both a this is who we ARE as well as a this is NOT who we are… now put down the rocks...

3. Teach leadership, and set leaders free.

The Bible has a TON to say about good leadership. It’s filled with stories of great leaders, mediocre leaders, and terrible leaders. There are also proverbs and principles sprinkled throughout the wisdom literature of Scripture. And then there is the amazingly effective leadership approach of Jesus, and later, his well-trained and Spirit-filled apostles.

So look to the Bible as the basis for structuring your church. Point out Acts 20, 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5 and other passages that spell out the leadership responsibilities of Pastors (which is twofold: to lead and to feed the flock). Teach what Ephesians 4 has to say about Pastors being equippers of leaders who carry out the ministry as a healthy body. Remind the congregation of Acts 6, where great leaders were hand-selected to take ownership of major areas of ministry.

At some point, you may need to re-write your church’s by-laws and articulate publicly and in writing your intended leadership structure. (Here’s a link to a page on Grace Hills’ site where you can find our versions of these documents, and more.)

4. Make decisions at the lowest possible level.

Every church body needs to have a clear understanding that leaders are empowered to lead with confidence, not to constantly beg for permission. The ability to make decisions should be handed down to the lowest possible level. If you’re unfamiliar with this organizational style, let me illustrate with some examples…

  • The youth leader should be able to plan an event and order pizza without having to call a meeting with a youth committee.
  • The maintenance leader should be able to replace or upgrade broken equipment without waiting for next month’s business meeting and an hour long church-wide discussion and vote.
  • The preschool leader should be able to make a preschool classroom look amazing to preschoolers without the feedback or approval of a committee of people who don’t even volunteer to help lead the preschool class.

I love it when leaders and volunteers ask me the question, as the Lead Pastor, what do you want us to do next? Most of the time the next words that come out of my mouth are what do YOU think we should do next? See how empowering that is? To grant freedom? To invite people to create, to dream, to have a vision and pursue it is one of the greatest blessings you can have as a Pastor.

So cut the red tape. Stop making people feel afraid that they’re going to be scrutinized, shut down, cut off, or removed from leadership over preferences and issues that should never have been discussed by a bunch of people with no vested interest in the particular issue at hand.

5. Be transparent and protect the integrity of the organization.

If we stop having business meetings and votes and committees, won’t people get suspicious and fearful? Possibly. And that’s why you need to work extra hard to build trust, which is the currency of all effective leadership.

The more often you make good, wise, biblically-informed, Spirit-filled, and elder-blessed decisions that produce fruit and positive results, the more people will trust and follow your leadership. And the more transparent you can be about how and why you’re leading the way you are, the better.

The only reason to keep people in the dark about why and how you’re leading is to keep them distant and prevent them from being a threat. We do that, usually, because we’re insecure. Pastors who get labeled as “dictators” usually aren’t arrogant. They’re insecure. And in their insecurity, they refuse to be transparent, to share leadership, to give away ministry, to be held accountable for their personal and spiritual health.

At Grace Hills, we publish an annual report showing how much money we spent, and what areas we spent it on. Further, all of our bookkeeping is outsourced to MAG Bookkeeping so that as much as possible is out of our hands and double-audited. And we invite volunteers to lead, leaders to get close, and teams of people to do ministry together in the trenches.

Let’s be honest. We invented the idea of voting long after the early New Testament era of the church. We decided “deacons” should be a board of decision-makers and pastor-evaluators pretty recently in church history. And business meetings – one of the church’s most awful of human inventions – are pretty much the last place where disciples are going to be made.

Good leaders, leading good people, can remain stagnant and die on the vine all because of a poor, unbiblical, and ineffective structure. If your church has been plateaued or declining for long, there is a high likelihood this is a big part of the problem.

To lead forward, you’re going to have to take some risks. Are you up to it?

> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 
Good stuff Carey
 
— Josh
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.