Why Innovation is Not So Innovative

Ever wonder why some leaders hit home runs—or even change the world—and why others don’t?

I wonder about that all the time.

Recently I spent a few days in Silicon Valley, the tech and startup capital of the world—a strip of cities that run between San Francisco and San Jose California.

It was exciting for me. A number of podcasts I listen to are based out of Silicon Valley. For years, I’ve read and listened to stories of entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists and bootstrappers who have one thing in common—they live and work in Silicon Valley.

My wife and I roamed through San Francisco, Cupertino and almost everything in between. Our hotel was right on the border of Menlo Park and Palo Alto, literally five minutes from Steve Job’s house. You can’t get further into the heart of Silicon Valley than that.

We ate in restaurants frequented by VCs and entrepreneurs (one turned out to be a place where Tim Ferriss eats) and walked the streets where the founders of Apple, Google, Facebook, Nest, LinkedIn, eBay, Lyft, Uber, Twitter, YouTube, Box, Airbnb and more hang out.

There are lots of theories about why Silicon Valley has been so successful in being a hotbed of innovation (like the ones this HBR article outlines), but what struck me about Silicon Valley was what I didn’t see.

Here are 5 quick and surprising leadership lessons I took away from my weekend in Silicon Valley.

1. Innovation Looks Surprisingly…Normal

I don’t know what I imagined Silicon Valley to look like, but the truth is it looked surprisingly…normal.

I’ve had the privilege of traveling to hundreds of cities and communities across North America and around the world. Silicon Valley didn’t look that different than many other places I’ve visited.

There were relatively normal office buildings that bore unusual names like Nest or Greylock. The buildings weren’t spectacular. What’s happening inside them was.

Ditto for Apple’s current campus. While their new campus looks like a spaceship, their current campus (which they’ll continue to use) is beautiful but not that remarkable.

Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Cupertino are decent places for dinner or hanging out at night, but they’re not that different than many other towns and cities I’ve been in.

Stanford is right next door to many of the startups, as is Berkley. But again, there are hundreds of universities that don’t produce nearly the entrepreneurs that these two schools do in Silicon Valley.

Sometimes as leaders we convince ourselves that we need a better building, a better location, or a better anything to be innovative.

Innovation almost always comes from otherwise normal looking environments.

2. Work Precedes Perk

In a similar way, stories about the perks of working at startups are legendary. Whether it’s gourmet onsite kitchens and chefs, gaming and foosball tables, free gym memberships, stock options or big maternity/paternity benefits, stories abound about how generous Silicon Valley companies are to their employees.

Yet the perks didn’t make any of these companies successful. The work did.

Perks follow work.

In an age of instant entitlement, many of us want the perks without putting in much work.

Apple started in Steve Job’s parents’ garage and Facebook was headquartered out of a dorm room long before anyone got preferred shares or free food. In fact, in the early days of any company or organization, nobody’s thinking about the perks. They’re singularly focused on the work.

Similarly, if you want to make progress, focus on the work, not the perk.

Take it a level further. If you’ve had some success and you’re enjoying a few perks, the best way to kill your future is to focus on the perks and ignore the work ahead.

As soon as you start to love perks more than work, the end is near.

3. Overnight Success Is A Long Night

So what makes startups so successful?

A lot of it is years of hard work before breakthrough. If you look at most leaders and organizations who break through, there’s a relentless pursuit of a goal.

Apple took off in the 70s and 80s, but almost died in the late 90s. Its real breakthrough happened in 2001 and again in 2007 with the introduction of the iPod and iPhone respectively. The iPhone came 31 years after Apple’s founding.

Airbnb went through many incarnations and almost died several times before it reached its tipping point several years after its launch.

It’s easy to dismiss someone as an overnight success. But you’re missing the point.

Most overnight successes are preceded by a very long night.

4. Mindset Matters More Than You Think

I talk to leaders almost every day of my life. One of the things you can spot almost immediately in talking to a leader is their mindset.

One of my favorite quotes of all time on mindset comes from non-Silicon Valley entrepreneur Henry Ford who said: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

What’s prevalent in the Valley is a can-do mindset. It’s populated by people who believe they can make a dent in the universe, that they can disrupt industries, that they can innovate in a way that changes the world.

And as a result, many do.

The mindset goes far beyond initial success.

As we walked around the Apple Campus, I saw a Steve Jobs quote on the wall that demonstrated how he thought about success:

“If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

Convicting.

So, do you think you can or think you can’t? You’re right. (For more on how mindset makes or breaks churches, read this.)

5. Synergy Is A Life-Line

One of the huge advantages to being in Silicon Valley is it surrounds you with innovative people.

Some of the most advanced thinkers on the planet have gathered there, along with creatives, engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, investors and so many others.

Obviously, this is an incredible incubator for innovation, new ideas and fresh approaches to the problems we face. But it’s deeper than just ideational synergy.

One of the greatest dangers of leadership is isolation.

Innovators tend to be outliers in their denominations, industry or field, and outlier often equals outcast.

It’s critical for innovative thinkers to surround themselves with people who inspire them and challenge them, because normally what happens is your friends and colleagues shoot you down. This is one of the reasons so many denominations and industries are in trouble today: they shoot their innovators.

In many ways, Silicon Valley is the Island of Misfit Toys. Apple’s famous ad makes even more sense when you consider the synergy in the Silicon Valley of people who didn’t fit in elsewhere.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square hole, the ones who see things differently.”

Get enough people around you like that, and not only can you can disrupt the status quo, you probably won’t quit when you’re trying to do it.

Too many leaders quit moments before their critical breakthrough. If you surround yourself with support, you’re far less likely to do that.

What Do You See?

Have you been to Silicon Valley or read up on it?

What do you see?

> Read more from Carey.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Seven Truths About Authentic Discipleship

One of the ways you know you’re making progress is that you stop having the same discussion over and over again.

If you’re discussing the same issues on your team or at home year after year, you’re probably stuck.

When it comes to much of the discussion around discipleship, I believe we’re getting it wrong in the church.

We’re stuck.

What if the popular understanding of discipleship is producing some of the ill health and even stagnation and decline we see all around us in the church?

And what if you could do something about it by rethinking what you mean by discipleship?

Different Day, Same Conversation

From my earliest days in ministry, I’ve had a conversation about discipleship that repeats itself again and again.

It goes like something like this:

Me: People need to reach out more and focus more of their time, energy and resources on evangelism.

Other person(s): That’s a great idea but what we really need to focus on is discipleship. There’s such an immaturity in Christians today that we need to focus on growing the ones we have first. And besides, evangelical churches are known for producing shallow, immature Christians.

Pretty compelling logic.

Unless, of course, it’s wrong.

Flabby Christians

I agree that often Christians in the West are immature. I agree our walk doesn’t always match our talk.

But I also think the average North American Christian is about 3000 bible verses overweight.

The way many leaders approach maturity is to assume that knowledge produces maturity. Since when?

It’s wonderful that people understand what they believe, but knowledge in and of itself is not a hallmark of Christian maturity. As Paul says, knowledge puffs up. Love, by contrast, builds up. And some of the most biblically literate people in Jesus day got by-passed as disciples.

The goal is not to know, but to do something with what you know.  I wrote more on why our definition of Christian maturity needs to change here.

7 Truths About Authentic Discipleship

Here are seven things I believe are true about biblical discipleship church leaders today should reclaim:

1.  Jesus Commanded Us To MakeDisciples, Not Be Disciples.

The way many Christian talk, you’d think Jesus told us to bedisciples. He commanded us to make disciples. The great commission is, at it’s heart, an outward movement.

Could it be that in the act of making disciples, we actually become more of who Christ designed us to be? It was in the act of sharing faith that thousands of early Christians were transformed into new creations.

I know personally I grow most and learn most when I am helping others. It gives me a place to apply what I’m learning and to take the focus off myself and place it on Christ and others, where it belongs.

2. Discipleship Is Simply Linked To Evangelism.

The thrust of all first century discipleship was to share Christ with the world he loves and died for (yes, Jesus really does love the world).

You can’t be a disciple without being an evangelist.

And for sure, the opposite is true. You can’t be an an evangelist without being a disciple. But somehow many many people would rather be disciples without being evangelists.

3. A Mark Of An Authentic Disciple Includes Getting It Wrong.

A common criticism of churches that draw in large numbers of outsiders and newer believers is that these new followers of Christ get it wrong as often as they get it right. They might not realize that reincarnation isn’t biblical or struggle to understand the faith they’re stepping into.

What if that’s a sign that their discipleship is authentic?

After all, Peter didn’t get it right most of the time when he was around Jesus. Many leaders in the early church needed correction. And even Paul would later confront Peter about his unwillingness to eat with Gentiles.  And yet Christ chose to build the early church on Peter and Paul. Imagine that.

4. A Morally Messy Church Is…Inevitable

One stinging criticism of churches that are reaching people is that many of their attenders don’t bear much resemblance to Jesus.

These new, immature Christians can be

  • swayed by powerful personalities
  • still be sexually active outside of marriage
  • have questionable business practices
  • end up in broken families
  • be too swayed by the culture
  • not know how to conduct themselves in worship
  • doubt core doctrines like the resurrection

If these issues remind you of why you so dislike growing churches or megachurches, just realize that I pulled every one of those problems out of 1 Corinthians. The church in Corinth struggled with every problem listed above and (I think) every problem growing churches today struggle with.

And last time I checked the church in Corinth was an authentic church Christ loved.

The fact that you have these problems may actually be a sign you’re making progress with the unchurched. You don’t want to leave them there, but when people really start engaging with Christ, tidy categories are hard to come by.

In fact the most morally ‘pure’ people of the first century (the Pharisees) were the very ones Jesus most often condemned. Go figure.

5. Maturity Takes Time And Is Not Linear

It would be great if there was instant maturity in faith and in life. But it never works that way.

You can’t expect a 3 year old to have the maturity of a 13 year old, or expect a 23 year old to have the maturity of a 43 year old. When you place expectations on people that they are just not able to bear, you crush or confuse them.

And yet we do that in the church all the time. People grow and mature over time. And our progress isn’t always as linear as a 101, 201, 301 progression would make it. In fact, I know some 23 year olds who are more mature than some 43 year olds.

Expose new Christians to the love of God and community, to great teaching, great relationships, and solid accountability and over time, many will grow into very different people than they were when they first came to Christ. They may grow at different rates and in different measures, but I believe Jesus talked about that. Just don’t judge them after a few months or even a few years.

6. Christian Maturity Was Never About You Anyway.

Christian maturity has never been about you anyway. It is certainly not about how awesome you are compared to others, how smart you are, how righteous you are, or how holy you are.

It is about Jesus. And it is about others.

It was never about you anyway.

7.  Love Compels Us

If you love the world, how can you ignore it? Jesus said the authentic mark of his followers is love. He defined the primary relationship between God and humanity as one of love. The truth he ushered in is inseparable from love.

The primary motivation for evangelism and discipleship is the same; it is love. That should characterize both the discussion about evangelism and discipleship and also the way we go about both.

This isn’t an exhaustive treatment of discipleship and evangelism, but in the time it takes to sip a coffee I hope it helps some way advance the conversation about evangelism and discipleship in your church.
And if we advanced our understanding of discipleship in the church, maybe the church and our culture would be transformed.


Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Seven Struggles of a Growing Church

Ever think that growth will solve all your problems?

It’s tempting to believe that. I know, because I still fall into that line of thinking unless I stop myself.

I’d be the first to admit that I’d rather be part of something that’s growing than something that’s stuck or dying, but growth doesn’t mean your issues disappear.

In fact, leaders of growing organizations just sign up for a new set of problems. While I’ll take those problems any day, they’re still problems.

Having started ministry in very small churches, I can relate to each of these struggles personally.

As our church has grown from a handful of people to 1,200 people who now attend and 2,500 people who call our church home, we’ve navigated all of these challenges. So has almost every growing church.

What’s true in church is true in any organization or business. We’re even working through rapid growth issues associated with this blog, my writing, and my podcast. You hope and pray people show up, but when they do, you get a whole new set of challenges. As things grow, everything gets more complicated.  It’s the leader’s job to create simplicity in the midst of it all.

Bottom line? Your struggles as a leader or as a church don’t go away when your church or organization starts to grow. They simply change.

Here are 7 things every leader of a growing church or organization struggles with.

1. The Senior Leader Being Less Available

I began ministry in a church of 6 people (and that was a normal Sunday…a bad Sunday was 2 people). When your church is really small, you’re pretty much available to do anything anyone needs. How can you argue you’re not available when you lead a tiny church?

But as your church grows, you need to begin a transition away from being available all the time. If you don’t, you will implode or your church will stop growing.

You can be generally available to 20 people.

You will wear yourself out trying to be consistently available for 200 people.

You’ll die trying to be available to 2000 people. Frankly, you’ll never even serve that many people because it’s humanly impossible, even if you worked 7 days a week, 20 hours a day. People will just walk away, their calls unanswered and their needs unmet.

As my friend Reggie Joiner says, the problem with needs-based ministry is there’s no end to human need.

Your church will struggle with the pastor being less available as it grows.  But it will struggle even more if you don’t restructure to grow bigger.

To reach more people, you need to be available to fewer people.

I wrote more about scaling your ministry through different stages in my new book, Lasting Impact: Seven Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow, available here.

2. The Leader Not Doing Everything

A companion of being less available as a church grows is the reality that a pastor can’t do everything.

Many pastors of small churches start out as jacks of all trades: preacher, pastor, chaplain, wedding officiant, funeral officiant, bible study leader, team leader, curriculum designer and even friend who drops by.

When your church is small, it’s natural for the pastor to do almost all the work, because it seems there is no one else available to do it, and no money to outsource it or to hire anyone else.

When I started in ministry, in addition to preaching, teaching and vision casting (my primary gifitings) I also designed and printed the bulletins, created any computer graphics, performed weddings and funerals, visited in hospital, led the church bible study and was actively involved in our kids ministry. I was only mediocre at most things on that list, and terrible at a few.

As our church has grown, my role has become narrower and narrower.

At 200 Pastoral care became a groups and congregational responsibility. So did bible study (which became small groups instead).

At 400, I let go of graphics and design entirely (thankfully).  I also go out of direct involvement in student and children’s ministry as we hired people (I still share the the vision, but no longer own the responsibility).

At 800, I stepped back from leading and attending most meetings and almost everything else to focus on preaching, teaching, vision casting and senior leadership.

The struggle here is dual: you will struggle with letting go, and people will struggle with you letting go.

If you want to grow, you have to let go.

And, of course, as Andy Stanley says, by doing less you’ll accomplish more. Far more.

This sounds like a small thing, but it’s a big thing.

3. Not Knowing Everyone’s Name

People who are part of a small church panic about not knowing everyone’s name as a church grows.

Time to challenge that assumption. Why panic?

Truthfully most people don’t know everyone, even in a church of 50.

Human reality dictates we can only truly know about 5 people deeply and about 20 people well.

Which again leads to small groups and serving teams. You can (and should) organize hundreds and even thousands of people to be known in smaller circles of groups and teams.

The point or church is not for everyone to know everyone. The point is for everyone to be known.

I think I have a personal capacity to know between 1,500 to 2,000 people by name and then my mind fries. Our church (and my life) has grown beyond that. At one point I tried to know all of our volunteers by name, but even now, I get stumped (the volunteer name tags really help me).

If you’re leading a growing church, embrace that. Create a church where everyone who wants to be known…is.

You will reach far more people if you do.

4. Shifting From Leading People To Leading Leaders

If you’re going to lead a growing church effectively, you have to begin leading leaders instead of leading people.

That’s a hard shift for many people, including church staff.

There’s a temptation to want to be known and recognized by everyone you’re leading. The truly great leaders are prepared not to do that.

They realize that their greatest success will be found in leading staff and volunteers who can, in turn, lead others.

Which also means sometimes they get the credit rather than you. Which again, is fine if you’re committed to becoming an effective leader.

If you’re not fine with others receiving the credit, you’ll eventually stunt the church’s growth to the level of your insecurity.

If you struggle with insecurity, by the way, this is an amazing conversation with Josh Gagnon, who leads a top 5 fastest growing church in America and has had to battle his own insecurities in doing so.

But you must shift from leading people to leading leaders if you hope to reach more people.

5. Adding Systems

This is a hard one for any entrepreneurial leader (like myself). I love freedom and even spontaneity.

But for your church to ever sustainably pass 500 in attendance, let alone 1000, you have to have systems.

Many entrepreneurial leaders are afraid of systems and structure because they think it means the creation of a bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy stifles mission. Great systems fuel it.

Like an office tower designed to house thousands of people, great systems and structure support the goals of the organization with lean but solid processes around finances, management, discipleship and even the weekend services a church offers.

Without structure, freedom collapses into chaos and disorganization.

The novice leader values freedom from structure. The mature leader values freedom in structure.

Without great systems that foster care for people, you won’t care for people.

6. Saying No

‘Yes’ gets you to initial growth; ‘No’ gets you to sustained growth.

Many pastoral leaders are people pleasers. As I argue here, that can be deadly.

Most great organizations become effective not just because they decided what they are, but fundamentally because they decided what they are not.

As you grow, more and more people will show up with ideas about how to make things better.

It’s much easier to say no when you have a clearly defined mission, vision, strategy and culture.

The leader who says yes to everything ultimately says yes to nothing.

7. Dealing With Critics

So once you start growing, all the critics will disappear, correct?

Sorry to break the news…but just the opposite. They’ll line up.

You’ll have internal critics who want things to be the way they used to be. After all, the people heading for the Promised Land always want to go back to Egypt.

But the critics are not just internal, growth attracts a growing number of external critics.

Our generation seems to specialize in encouraging leaders and organizations to grow and then criticizing them when they do.

And before you accuse others, there’s a 99% chance you’ve thought or said something negative about a large church pastor you resent.

Growth attracts critics. It just always does.

So how do you process the criticism when you’re the one being criticized?

The best way to process what your critics have to say is to understand why they say it.

First, take whatever good there might in what they said and reflect on it. You’re not perfect. You can learn and develop from it.

But then process why the critics are often so mean-spirited.

What usually fuels a critics’ animosity toward success and growth? Three things:

  • Jealousy
  • A need to justify their own lack of progress
  • Sin

Once you understand that a critic’s arguments are often less about you than they are about them, you’re free to show compassion and even concern for them.

> Read more from Carey.


 

Talk with an Auxano Navigator about the growth struggles you are encountering right now.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Change-Killers in Every Church

Almost every leader I’ve ever met wants to change something.

If I asked you right now what you’d love to change in your church or organization, you’d probably be able to offer an answer within seconds.

Some of you want to change everything. If you don’t want to change anything, you’re probably not a leader.

The truth about change is that it’s more mysterious than it needs to be.

Many people aren’t sure how the dynamics of change work, and have seen so many leaders get skewered trying to lead change that they’re afraid to try.

Other leaders—unaware of the dynamics of change—storm change so aggressively that they look over their shoulder to discover than nobody’s following.

You can learn how to lead change well.

Leading change requires a skill set. And the good news is that skill set can be learned.

A question all of us face when leading change: What do I actually say when I’m leading change?

Say the right thing…and change can happen easily.

Say the wrong thing…and plans can unravel in front of you.

7 Things NOT To Say When You’re Leading Change

Some language is simply more helpful in leading change than other language.

So…let’s take it from a reverse angle today. If you want to ruin the chance of change happening in your church, just say these 7 things.

1.” These Changes Are Great. I Can’t Understand Why You Don’t Like Them.” (Lack Of Empathy)

Leaders who navigate change successfully learn the skill of empathy.

Not everyone is going to cheer wildly when you introduce change. Be prepared for that.

If you want to turn an enemy into a friend, empathize with them. Try saying something like: I can understand you don’t like the changes…I would be upset if I were you too.

If you want to learn more about developing the skill of empathy, this post might help you.

2. “God Told Me This Is What We Should Do.” (Speaking For God)

Please, please, please don’t pull the God card when you’re navigating change.

I mean by all means invoke God’s name when you’re preaching about Jesus rising from the dead or other core essentials of the Christian faith.

But don’t tell your congregation that God told you to buy your next building or change the music or stop wearing a suit or change the carpet or build a new wing or whatever else you’re proposing.

Even if you believe God told you to do something, suggest it as a plan…or a wise course to follow…or the best options we see right now.

Rather than being less credible, you will become more believable and more trustworthy.

Too many leaders use God as a trump card for the plans they’ve designed.

I pray about the plans we make, seek wise counsel and honestly believe they are the best thing for our church. But these days I never pull the God card out.

Why? Because if the plan fails, it just makes people suspicious or cynical. I don’t want to bring God’s name into disrepute. If I stick to the Gospel, I won’t.

So what should you say?

How about this? Our team has looked at this and prayerfully considered the options. We believe this is the best move we can make at this time for these reasons….

Ironically, you won’t lose credibility. You’ll gain it.

3. “We’ve Got This All Figured Out. Trust Me.” (Know It All)

Don’t try to be the guy who ‘knows it all’. You don’t.

You haven’t got this all figured out—you have a strategy. That’s it.

So be honest. Why not say something like: No, we’re not 100% sure this is going to work. But what we were doing was not working. So we’re going to try this.

Better, isn’t it?

4. What Happened In The Past Is Completely Irrelevant…Focus On The Future. (Dismissing The Past)

I’ve been tempted to dismiss the past. Who hasn’t?

Some of that is the arrogance of the leader. History did not start with your arrival.

Brian White, who works at Disney, has a great philosophy about handling the heritage at Disney (after all, Disney has almost 100 years of history, and Frozen is a long way from Steamboat Willie.) Disney’s approach?

Honor the past without living in it.

Love that. Acknowledge that what happened in the past mattered and is important, and point the way to the future.

Maybe say something like: We’ve had some great moments and seasons in the past, and we want to ensure we have many more in the future. That’s what I’m hoping this change will accomplish.

5. “Everyone Needs To Get On Board Right Now.” (Impatience)

People will take differing amounts of time to get on board. Be okay with that.

You’ll have a handful of highly enthusiastic early adopters. Run with them.

Let others come on board over time.

Say something like: I realize this is going to stretch all of us, and I appreciate those of you who are willing to give this a chance even though you’re not sure. We so value that!

6. “I Know People Are Leaving…Who Cares?” (Indifference)

When you make changes, it’s almost guaranteed that some people will leave.

But don’t gloat or pretend it doesn’t matter.

Because leaving hurts you, you’ll be tempted to pretend you don’t feel it or to vilify your opponents.

People who disagree with you are not bad people. They just disagree with you.

Are there times when people should leave your church? Yes. In fact, here are 7 instances when you should invite people to leave your church.

But in the moment—when people are leaving—this is a moment for empathy. Express concern both for people who are concerned about people who are leaving and express regret.

But then say maybe say something like:

Yes, it is sad. But I think what need to remember is that they will have another church to go to. I’m excited about creating space for people who haven’t yet been to church…and I’m excited that you want to create space for them here too.

7. “This Plan Is Bullet-Proof.” (Hubris)

No matter how well thought-through your plan is, it’s not bullet proof.

It might fail. Really, it might.

So why not just be honest?

Instead, say something like: I agree. We don’t know for sure if this plan is going to work. But it’s helped a lot of other churches (or…if no one’s tried it that you know of, say ‘nobody’s really tried this before…’), and we believe it’s our next best step. So we’re going to try it. And after we’ve given it our best, we’ll make sure to evaluate it. Thanks for the freedom to try new things.

What Do You Think?

Those are some lessons from the trenches in leading change. If you are interested in more, you can read about the five essential strategies every leader needs when handling opposition to change here.

What have you said or heard people say when leading change that you think is a mistake?


Talk with an Auxano Navigator for help in steering your church through change.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How NOT to Run a Church

Something’s driving your church.  There are a variety of things that run a church…the challenge for many church leaders is no one is really quite clear on what that is.

What drives your church is critical because it impacts everything you do. Ultimately, it directly impacts both your health and your growth as a congregation.

As I talk to leaders of churches of all sizes, I find different factors at work.

As much as we’d all love to say Jesus runs the church, the reality is that church is a partnership. God seems to delight in human interaction, and while God is in control, we have a role.

How we play that role can can create health or dysfunction.

Here are 4 bad ways to run a church and one good one.

1. A Person

Small churches are almost always run or controlled by a single person. That’s rarely—if ever—healthy and almost always an impediment to growth.

The usual candidate for this kind of church is a matriarch, patriarch or the pastor.

Matriarchs and patriarchs often emerge in a small church as the one person that effectively keeps the doors open and the lights on.

Interestingly enough, the matriarch or patriarch doesn’t even have to be on the board to exercise their control. It’s just that everyone knows nothing gets done without the approval, blessing or consent of X.

The commendable side of a matriarch or patriarch is that the church likely wouldn’t still be in existence without them. They are deeply committed to seeing it exist.

The challenges outweigh the benefits though for a number of reasons. First, the church is programmed to stay small…one person leadership naturally stunts growth.

Second, churches run by a single person are usually in preservation mode—the goal is to keep it going.

Sometimes the single person who runs a church is the pastor. That’s also a bad idea.

It’s the pastor’s responsibility to lead the church, but not to run it.

Again, scripture makes it clear the role of a church leader is to equip people to do the work of ministry, each operating in their area of gifting.

Clergy who insist on doing everything deny people their ability, and the church ends up with a much smaller impact than if the pastor truly led. Leaders who insist on running everything end up with relatively little to run.

Churches were never designed to be run by one person.

2. A Personality

Being run by a person and personality are two variations of a similar theme.

Personality driven churches are usually bigger and actually more effective in reaching people than person-run churches.

Usually in a personality-driven church, the personality of the senior leader functions like a magnet, attracting staff, volunteers and new people to the church.

The challenge is that both the growth engine and the loyalty in the church are to the senior leader. And that’s the achilles heel.

The problem with a personality-driven church is that when you remove the central personality, the church falters.

It can also distract people from following who they should be following—Jesus.

No personality should ever compete with the centrality of Christ in the church.

God can use people to lead people (Moses and Paul were pretty imposing figures), but the goal of a leader should always be to point people to Christ.

Personality-driven churches are only as strong as their leader. And that’s an often fatal flaw.

3. An Agenda

Nobody likes a hidden agenda. Except people who have agendas.

If you’re not careful, an agenda other than the main mission of the church end up running the church.

This happens when an influential leader (staff or otherwise) gets the church to focus on something minor until it becomes a defining characteristic of the church.

The possibilities are endless. They include:

  • Opposition to change (Nothing changes around here; everything stays the same)
  • A theological sub point (How we do baptism becomes more important than why we do baptism)
  • A political viewpoint (This is a Republican/Democrat only zone)
  • A single, non-biblical issue (Our church is all about X)

Churches that allow agendas to dominate usually only attract like-minded people who are more passionate about the cause in question than the Gospel itself.

4. Staying Alive

When only a small percentage of churches are actually growing and the church as a whole is lagging behind population growth, it’s no surprise that many churches are battling simply to stay alive.

Unfortunately, that can easily become the mission. When the mission is to merely keep a church alive, death is the most likely outcome.

You effectively end up saying “Come join our church so we can keep our church open.” That begs about 1000 questions.

As soon as you start to maintain what you’ve built, rather than build something new, you know the end is near.

5. The Mission

The one good way to run a church is simple: let the mission drive everything you do.

As Rick Warren so helpfully pointed out 20 years ago, purpose or mission-driven churches are always the most effective.

Why?

First, the mission is bigger than anyone and anything. The true mission of the church has lasted 2,000 years and will endure until Christ comes back. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

Second, the mission outlasts every leader. The church is far less affected by personality when the mission is bigger than any one personality.

Finally—and most importantly—the true mission of the church resonates because, well, it’s the true mission of the church. Enough said.


Learn more about how mission can drive your church – talk with an Auxano Navigator today!


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Habits That Grow Your Influence as a Leader

Ever wonder why some people are influential, and others, well, aren’t?

Take getting others to buy into your ideas, for example. Some people seem always to be able to win the day with their ideas. Others, not so much.

I get asked all the time by leaders how to get their team members to take their ideas (and their leadership) more seriously.

What’s fascinating to me is that the conversation almost always begins from the angle of how to pitch ideas. It’s as though most of us have convinced ourselves that we just need a better argument, point or insight and then our ideas will catch on.

Sometimes that’s the case, but more often than not it’s deeper than that.

It’s easy to think leaders buy (or reject) our ideas. But I’m not sure what’s what really at play most of the time.

At a deeper level, it’s often a question of whether leaders buy you.

As harsh as it sounds, here’s the truth: if a leader doesn’t buy you, they’ll rarely buy your idea.

Leadership, as John Maxwell says, is influence. So the question about whether your ideas or viewpoint catches on quickly becomes a discussion about influence.

Your influence as a leader is never static. It’s either advancing or declining.

If you’re struggling to get your ideas adopted, you’ve likely got an influence issue as much as you have a communication problem.

If you have a strong influence at work, leaders will usually race to embrace or adopt your input. Conversely, if you’re not respected in the workplace, your ideas will likely get ignored no matter how logical or persuasive your ideas seem to you.

So how do you gain influence in the workplace? Here are 6 non-negotiable traits of leaders who have influence.

1. Be Sensational At What You Do

Not surprisingly, there’s a direct connection between competence and influence.

Leaders instinctively develop a habit of listening to their highest performing team members, even if they might initially disagree with their approach on issues.

When I see to leaders who never seem to be able to get their ideas adopted, I often wonder if it’s because their teammates don’t respect them.

If you want more influence at work, be sensational at what you do.

Your ideas are always attached to you. If people respect and admire you, they’ll tend to respect and admire your initiatives.

2. Grow Your Character

Being great at what you do is one thing.

But we’ve all met competent people who we don’t like spending time with.

Character impacts your influence as much as competency does.

And long term, it even matters more. Ultimately your character, not your competency, determines your capacity.

Why?

Because character is still the ultimate lid on leadership. Every day, highly competent leaders lose their jobs, their careers and their families because their character imploded.

Your competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you. So work hard on your character. It’s the last cap on your leadership.

3. Cultivate Humility

The only person who likes a know-it-all is the know-it-all himself.

Paradoxically, if you want to cultivate greater influence, make your leadership less about you and more about others and the cause.

Prideful leaders are incredibly reluctant to share the spotlight. After all, you’ve worked so hard and so long, why share this moment with anyone? So if you’re a proud leader, you want the stage as often as it’s available. You want to chair everything and are reluctant to let anyone truly lead or get credit.

But humble leaders willingly push others into the spotlight.

They share credit. They share the stage. And they don’t have to lead everything.

In fact, they intentionally develop others leaders and even replace themselves in many key roles because the mission is more important than they are.

A humble leader rejoices in the success of others. A proud leaderresents the success of others.

If you want to overcome envy and insecurity, do what proud people fear doing: push others into the spotlight. It will break the stranglehold of envy in your life.

4. Do What You Said You Were Going To Do When You Said You Were Going To Do It

Honestly, if you want more influence starting tomorrow, just do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.

So few people do this.

Missed deadlines and excuses are the staples of the vast majority of people, including people in leadership positions.

Do you have any idea how many bosses/employers wake up every day to a string of phrases like:

  • I’m sorry
  • I didn’t get it done
  • Sorry, I had a bunch of things come up
  • Oh, I didn’t think it was that important
  • I’m so slammed right now
  • I just forgot

If you simply do what you said you’re going to do when you said you were going to do it, you’re ahead of 98% of the population of planet earth.

Furthermore, people will gain confidence in you.

And confidence, of course, is the basis of trust. If they know they can trust you, they’re far more likely to trust your ideas.

5. Initiate

A surprising number of people sit around waiting to be told what to do next.

The best leaders never do that. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

If you’re not sure whether you have permission, ask.

An occasional “Hey is it all right if I reorganize this entire system?” is better than “I went home early because I couldn’t find anything to do.”

Leaders look for self-starters. Self-motivated people always have more influence than people who sit around waiting for their next assignment.

You likely have more permission than you think.

6. Finish

It’s great to start things. It’s another to finish them.

So many projects get started and then get abandoned. You and I can both point to hundreds of blogs and podcasts that started well and died a dozen posts or episodes in, because leaders had a lot of passion to begin but none to finish.

Ditto with projects at work.

So many great new initiatives fail to see daylight not because they were bad ideas, but because team members never finished what they started.

Shipping beats dreaming. Finishing trumps starting. Completing beats planning.

What Do You See?

These are 6 non-negotiable traits I see in leaders who are increasing their influence.

How about you?


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Momentum Swing: 7 Questions to Ask

Chances are you would like what every leader would like—momentum.

All of us hit both personal and organizational plateaus. As much as we think momentum should be a permanent state, it never is. No one lives in a state of momentum all the time.

So if you hit a plateau or fall in a rut, how do you get out of it—both personally and organizationally?

How do you find momentum when you don’t have it?

Sometimes the answers on how to get momentum can prove elusive until you’ve discovered the right questions.

Here are 7 questions I’ve collected over the years that I ask myself on a semi-regular basis to push through to the next level and find momentum.

While I can’t guarantee they will help you, I promise they have helped me get unstuck over and over again.

1. Are You Spending Most Of Your Time In Your Sweet Spot?

You may be good at many things, but you’re actually only great at a few things.

And you’re only truly passionate about a few things.

This is true for individuals and organizations.

Jim Collins asked the question this way: What can you be best in the world at?

I know that’s an audacious question, but the more you can align your gifting and passion with how you spend your time, the more effective you will be.

Sure, in start-up mode, you need to do a little of everything, but over time, the more you spend doing what you’re best at, the more you will love what you do and the greater value you’ll bring to your team and cause.

Often churches and leaders who plateau get stuck because they’re not operating in their area of peak giftedness or effectiveness.

2. In Your Weekly Routine, What Are You Having To Manufacture Energy To Do? Why Are You Doing It?

You don’t approach everything you do with the same enthusiasm.

Neither does your organization.

Sometimes you have to manufacture energy to do things, personally and organizationally. That’s okay every once in a while, but if you’re consistently having to manufacture energy, it can be a sign it’s either time to stop doing what you’re doing or hand it off to someone else.

Maybe a program that was once effective has stopped being effective. No matter how much you promote it, you know it’s accomplishing nothing.

As the famed marketing genius, David Ogilvy, once said, great marketing just makes a bad product fail faster.

As hard as it is to admit, maybe you’ve plateaued because you simply have a bad product. So either make it great or kill it.

On a personal level, maybe you’re spending a lot of your time doing something you’re not great at. Change that.

3. Who Are You Spending Time With That You Don’t Need To Be Spending Time With? 

This is a huge question. Don’t overlook it.

It’s tempting to think you have to spend your time with whoever asks to meet with you. And if you do that, you’ll always lead a small organization. That kind of time management doesn’t scale. As I shared here, that’s almost always a mistake.

Second, you’ll ignore your best leaders (because they’re low maintenance) and spend all your time trying to prop up your weakest leaders or with people who simply always have problems (you know who I’m talking about).

The people you spend the most time with don’t have to be the smartest people or the richest people by any stretch (that can be sinful), but you should spend most of your time with the key people you’ve trusted most deeply to carry the mission forward.

Chances are they won’t ask for more of your time because they manage and lead themselves well. But they should get it anyway.

Great leaders spend most of their time with the leaders who generate most of their results.

Do that, and you’ll almost always either find momentum or discover why you don’t have it.

4. Who Are You Not Listening To That You Should Listen To?

Leadership is isolating. You tend to hear from the same people again and again, and it generates a confirmation bias: the people around you say the same thing and it confirms the theory you have about why you’re stuck.

One of the best things you can do when you’ve hit a plateau is to get out of your office and even break from your usual circle to do some selective listening.

Create a focus group and ask them what they’re seeing or feeling.

Design a survey to solicit feedback. If I find myself in a preaching rut (it happens), I’ll often convene a focus group or survey the congregation on a topic I’m going to address. I learn so much about how people actually think through and talk about an issue that it reframes how I’m going to preach a subject. (Here’s an example of a current survey I’m running. And yes, you can take it.)

Bottom line? No matter how you do it, get out of your normal circle and listen.

5. How Can I Put More Fuel In The Areas That Are Seeing The Most Traction? 

Just like you need to spend most of your time with your best leaders, you and your organization should spend most of your time focusing your efforts on what’s producing the majority of your results.

If you can apply the Pareto Principle to all areas of your organization, you’ll go further.

For example, let’s say your kids’ ministry is seeing huge growth right now. Do you give resources to other areas that are weaker, or do you give more money and resources to kids ministry to further their growth?

I would vote for giving more money and resources to kids ministry. And then jump to question 6, below.

6. What Areas Of Your Ministry Are Seeing The Least Traction? 

Kill what’s not working. As my friend Reggie Joiner says, “It doesn’t take a leader to kill what’s dead. It does take a leader to kill what’s living.”

You need to prune and cut your organization as much as possible to fuel momentum. In the same way that a pruned apple tree grows more apples, a pruned ministry bears more fruit.

7. If You Were An Outside Consultant, What Would You Tell You And Your Team To Do?

I love this question.

It might seem a little strange, but it will give you distance.

If you were an outsider, what would you tell yourself to do? Most of the time you already know the answer to this… you’re just afraid to say it.

So say it.

And then once you figure that out, just go do it. Often answering that question can lead to a breakthrough.


Want to know more about regaining momentum? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Reasons to Stop Imitating

If you’re like me, you like to track with people who are ahead of you in what they’ve accomplished, both in terms of their lives and in terms of their leadership.

Chance are you do this in real life (I hope you have mentors). But the online world has changed the imitation game.

Thanks to social media, our phones, and other devices, we have access to anything anywhere all the time. As a result, almost everyone tracks with more than one ‘celebrity’ type leader.

Please hear me. This is a great way of learning and growing.  I do it too.

But have you ever found yourself imitating others—in style, in content, and in strategy? I mean sometimes you can hear preachers who sound exactly like their ‘hero’. They’ve adopted the same style, same approach, and even the same cadence in their voice as the leader they admire.

Why do people do this? They might think, If I imitate a great leader, I’ll become a great leader. 

Well, yes and no. Learning from great leaders can make you a better leader.

Constantly imitating other leaders can actually do damage.

Imitate often enough and guess what happens?

You’ll kill something God-given inside.

Chances are the person you’re imitating didn’t become a great leader by mimicking someone else. Far more likely, they developed the gifts God gave them to their fullest potential.

Which leads us to the first problem with constant imitation of leaders: Envying someone else’s gift will cause you to neglect your own.

It will do other things that will permanently hamper your leadership if you’re not careful.

Is Imitation Always Bad? No…

Imitation isn’t all bad.  There are instances when imitation is just wise and expedient.  Here are a few:

When someone else has done something better than you could and you are free to use their material, strategy or approach.

When someone has figured out a smarter, faster way to get things done.

No one on your team has the creativity to create a better mouse trap.

In those cases, imitation can be a good thing. And, naturally, it’s good to adopt best practices from great leaders.

But persistent imitation goes deeper than that. And that’s why it’s deadly.

Here are 5 ways imitation hurts your leadership.

1. Constant Imitation Kills Innovation

Leaders who constantly imitate rarely innovate.

Imitate long enough, and imitate hard enough, and there won’t be much innovation left in you or your organization.

Constant imitation means you’ll rarely take risks. It means you will wait for someone else to blaze trails.

Imitators are always one, two or five steps behind. They have to wait for the next product, approach or strategy to be revealed. Then they madly copy.

If you are always imitating, your trajectory will never be greater than the person you’re copying. Ever. It will always be a shadow of theirs.

Remember too, that the last thing the innovator you’re copying thought about when creating what you’re looking at was “Now what should I imitate next?”

2. You’ll Never Really Be Creative

If your creative meetings essential consist of “what did so and so do?” and then adapting it to your service, you’re not very creative.

I totally believe wisdom has many counsellors, and I learn from a ton of people and a ton of organizations.

But there’s a world of difference between spring boarding off others and relying on others to think for you.

True creativity is risky. It means you don’t know how it will turn out. It means you have to trust God and trust your judgment.

If your creativity consists of copying what other people have done, you’re not that creative.

 3. You’ll Never Grow Past Your Insecurity

So we’re all a little insecure as leaders.

I am. You might be too.

True innovation forces you to stare down your insecurity for about 1000 reasons, not the least of which is that innovation almost always seems like a dumb move at the time.

When I look back on my life, many of the decisions I’ve made that turned out to be good ones looked dumb at the time.

I walked away from law to pursue ministry. I left a prestigious church in Toronto to come north of the city and start with three tiny, rural churches.

We left an almost paid-for new building to start over again as a portable, non-denominational church to reach unchurched people.

Even in starting my leadership podcast 2 years ago, most people thought a 1 hour, long-form interview format would never work in the church space. Attention spans were shrinking. Shorter was better. And nobody was doing an interview mix of well-known guests and completely unknown guests. Most people thought it wasn’t a great strategy. (It’s a little hard to believe now because there are many interview-based podcasts in the church space…but that was 2014.)

I wasn’t sure it would work either except for a feeling deep in my gut that it would. 2 million downloads later, I’m so thankful I pushed through the uncertainty.

Innovation is messy, uncertain, scary and fraught with failure. Which is why it’s so much easier to imitate. And so less rewarding.

Some of the best ideas you’ll ever have seem dumb—to you or to others—when you first have them. And sometimes they stay dumb. Then you discard them and start over again.

But often they don’t…what’s crazy to begin with can become powerfully effective.

Key insight? It’s way safer to imitate than to innovate, until you innovate.

4. You Won’t Discover Your True Voice

So here’s an obvious but often-missed truth: if you are always trying to be someone else, you will never be yourself.

And that’s a shame, because God actually created you.

Your voice always sounds worse to you than anyone else’s voice (unless you’re an egotist).  I get that.

But God created you. He knew what he was doing when he put you together.

There are two parts to using your own voice: discovering it, and developing it.

Neither happens when you are obsessed with imitation.

Can you be influenced by other voices? Of course. Should you imitate them? Nope.

Not if you want to develop yours.

The greatest communicators are influenced by other voices, but never imitate them.

5. You’ll Stifle Your Relationship With God

Not only does innovation often look dumb at the time, it can make you afraid.

Personally, fear moves me in one of two directions: I either back off on the idea, or I trust God.

Imitation never pushes you to trust. You just blindly adopt and strategy believing it will work.

I think there is a push-pull in listening to others versus listening to God.

If you listen mainly to others, you’ll eventually stop listening to God.

So…two questions for you personally: what (or who) are you imitating?  And what’s it costing you?


Imitating is also dangerous for your organization. Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to discover your uniqueness.


> Read more from Carey

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Church Learnings from Falling TV Ratings

When was the last time you sat down to watch a TV show (other than, say, a football game) when it aired live?

And in the car, how often do you listen podcasts or your own playlists compared to the radio?

Even just a few years ago, you likely would have answered very differently.

The world around us continues to change because people are changing with it. The church is never immune from cultural change, and the decline of radio and television give us a window into some of the changes the church is struggling with now and will continue to struggle with in the future.

The mission of the church will never change, but the methods have to. Otherwise, you die. Plain and simple.

The television and radio industries have adapted better to the changing world than, say, newspapers have, but as this Pew Research Centre report makes clear, the industry is changing dramatically.

Here are 5 changes I see happening both now and in the future and some implications for the church.

1. Disappearing Radios Create A Value Crisis

One mainstay of the car dashboard in the last 60 years has been the radio. But that’s changing.

As this article so insightfully points out, the car radio is now disappearing off of dashboards. Instead, a media console is appearing that basically resembles your phone. You now have to scroll several screens deep to find any AM/FM or even satellite stations.

The question, of course, is will anyone listen to the radio if they have to work to find it? Or, asked another way, did we really only listen because it was the only option?

In many ways, the church was to the community what the radio was to the car dashboard. Churches dotted the countryside, towns and cities and people went. Now you’re just as likely to find antique stores in those historic churches as you will people worshipping God. Or, if you pass by the local church, the assumption is that it’s become a club for people of similar views and persuasions to which the public is not really invited, despite what the sign says.

So how will radio get heard when it’s not front and centre in the future car? Only one way: by providing sensational content no one else is producing.

In an age of customized playlists, podcasting and on-demand content, I’m not sure how that one’s going to go. (If you’re interested, I did an interview for a broadcasting student on the future of radio that you can listen to here. As a former radio DJ, I find the subject fascinating.)

So what about the church? Our buildings aren’t the key to the future. Nor are our signs. Nor is merely being there.

The greatest statement to the community any church makes is through the lives of its members. And as you know, sometimes that works for us and sometimes it works against it.

When the Gospel displayed in the lives of a church’s members becomes irresistible, the church will grow.

2. Set-Hours Programming Only Really Applies To Live Events Anymore

The change goes far beyond having a radio on the dashboard or a TV in the family room. It’s much more sweeping than that.

Some of you remember having to be home Thursdays at 8 or Mondays at 9 to catch the latest episode of your favourite show.

And if you do, chances are you’re over 40.

The idea of having to be home to watch a show at a set hour is fading quickly. VCRS, DVRS or as we call them in Canada – PVRS – and now on-demand programming have made traditional ‘don’t miss’ moments easy to miss.

The exception? Live events. Sports, award shows, or live shows like The Voice make instant, real-time results meaningful. Otherwise, you can watch Suits or The Walking Dead whenever you want.

The challenge for the church, of course, is that we’ve almost always done live, scheduled programming for which you show up at a set hour. Even with multiple service options, churches are still largely run off of a “be-there-at-10 a.m.” approach to gathering.

And yet every church leader has noticed that it’s getting harder and harder to fill rooms. While there are many reasons for this, we’ve already seen that even people who attend church attend less often (here are 10 reasons for why that’s happening).

So how do you counter that trend? Or should you even try?

Well… let’s think this through. What makes a live event worth attending is that something is at stake in the moment, or if you miss it, you miss it. This is why you watch it live on TV or try to find it on the radio.

Consequently, if your church service consists of interchangeable content with no sense of urgency, immediacy or transcendency, attendance will always feel more optional.

On the contrary, churches that facilitate an experience orencounter with God, or that drive an urgent sense of mission will always be events that people will not want to miss.

Fortunately for church leaders, the activity and movement of God in the lives of his people is something that, when accurately and faithfully facilitated, drives engagement.

The more your church feels like a live event with God moving, the more people will be drawn to attending at a fixed time and place. And in that context, even watching live online won’t feel like being in the room.

Conversely, the more static or interchangeable your services feel, the less people will feel the need to come at a set time and place.

There’s no doubt that a growing number of younger adults seem to be drawn to a more passionate, engaged, almost charismatic form of worship and church. Witness the rise of Hillsong, Elevation Church or the Passion movement.  While that’s not the only template for how to do church, the passion and engagement in those services and experiences helps explain why people are willing to line up for them.

The attenders are immersed and consumed. They are anticipating that something is going to happen.

As a result, they’re engaged. And as we’ve already seen, in the future church, engagement will be the key to attendance.

3. Fixed-Formatting Limits Your Options

One of the things traditional radio and television struggle with is what you might call ‘fixed formatting.”

Essentially, radio and TV have to function through paid advertising, so content is interrupted every 2-10 minutes for commercial breaks.

Podcasting creates options that commercial radio can’t match.

I love the fact that on my leadership podcast, I get to have 40-90 minute conversations with leaders that are uninterrupted. I promise you conversations unfold very differently when over an hour than they do if the host is always interrupting the guest with “we only have a few minutes left” or “we have to throw to a commercial and we’ll be right back”.

People interview differently over an hour than they do in five-minute segments. They’re more relaxed. They tell you things they otherwise might not mention and you have a far more authentic conversation than you would if you were constantly interrupted.

With over 100 long-form interviews under my belt on my leadership podcast, I’m sold on the benefits of open-ended formatting. And with podcasting, there’s no limit.

It makes me wonder whether church leaders have far more options available to us than we realize.

What kind of long-form content or alt-format content can your church produce now that more channels are open to it?

At Connexus Church where I serve, we’re starting to experiment with online bonus messages for our series that we don’t run on Sundays.

Our most downloaded bonus episode so far is an indepth interview I did with a spiritual warfare expert that we ran in conjunction with a series on the supernatural. People loved it, and it accomplished something that would have been far more difficult to do during a service on a Sunday.

There are far more options for churches to explore than we’ve explored.

The greatest limits you face as a leader or organization are those you impose on yourself. What limits have you constructed for you and your mission?

4. You No Longer Go To Content… Content Comes To You

Some churches have decided not to do online ministries for a variety of reasons, one of which includes not wanting to compete with live services.

And while I don’t think online church will ever replace church (it can’t…God designed us to gather), it can serve as a great supplement to it.

News networks now have apps and a tremendous social media presence. And can you think of a radio station that doesn’t have a Facebook page?

In the old paradigm, you got the news by going to a station. Now the station sends the news to you. Think about it… you probably first heard most of your news this year via social media.

The church can learn from this. To box content up for consumption only on a Sunday morning, or to simply place it on a website or podcast alone in 40-minute blocks completely under-utilizes content.

Taking snippets or a message to post on social media, insert into blog posts and repackage in various ways so it reaches more people is a much better use of the time, energy and resources that goes into a great message. Not to mention the redemptive potential of exposing more people life-changing messages.

It’s also an incredible outreach strategy. Andy Stanley puts his messages on a separate app and on NBC after Saturday Night Live, reaching an entirely different audience than he does through North Point channels or than most do through traditional Christian channels.

If you’re not repurposing your content, why not? Think about it.

Everybody who was not in your church on Sunday was online. Why aren’t you?

You can expect people to come to you. Or you can go simply go to people.

5. The Explosion Of Information Has Created A Crisis Of Meaning

Our culture has never had access to more information than we do now. Three networks on TV has exploded into hundreds of channels. Radio went from AM to FM to satellite and beyond. And then there’s this thing called the internet.

In all of human history, people have never had access to more information than they do today. But somewhere in the midst of it, meaning has been lost.

The crisis our culture is facing is not a crisis of information. It’s a crisis of meaning.

This is perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for the church in history. No one should be better at providing meaning, hope and perspective.

I don’t mean jumping on Facebook and offering your half-formed opinion on politics, supreme court decisions and anything else you want to rant about. That just adds to the noise and detracts from the Gospel.

I mean sharing intelligent, honest, transparent, soul-nourishing, grace and truth that springs from and points to the source of all wisdom—Jesus Christ.

The Gospel satisfies the deepest needs of the human heart and mind for meaning. And no one should be better at proffering meaning into a culture so desperately in need of it than the church.

What Do You See?

As things continue to change in industries like radio and television, what are you noticing?


Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about how the changing radio and television industry impacts the way your church communicates the Gospel.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Practices of Better Communication

So you want to be a better communicator. You’re just not sure how to do that.

Sometimes the art and science of becoming better seems so complex, you’re not sure where to start.

After all, most people who hear you talk can’t give you meaningful feedback. They can tell you whether they liked it or not, but rarely can they tell you why they liked it. Even if you did a great job, you will have a hard time repeating it if you don’t understand what made it great.

That’s why it’s so critical to get feedback and coaching from other communicators. They can often explain why your talk worked or why it didn’t, just like a hitting coach in major league baseball can help a .300 hitter become a .310 hitter by offering far more helpful tips than a simple “Hey, just strike out less.”

So in this post, I share some of my favorite communication tips (including a few I’ve never written about before) that can make a surprisingly big difference.

 

Here are 5 simple tips that can definitely make you a better communicator before you give your next talk. They’ve definitely helped me.

1. Don’t Memorize Your Talk, Understand It

This may be my favorite speaking tip of all time. It just solves so many problems and reduces tension before you speak and while you speak.

I get asked all the time how I can speak for 45 minutes or even longer without looking at notes. I learned the secret when I was in seminary and asked Tom Long, a Princeton professor, how he did it.

He told me: Don’t memorize your talk; understand it.

He was right. Memorizing a talk is extremely difficult. Especially a longer talk. I personally find that trying to recall a memorized talk stilts your delivery because you can’t focus on the moment.

So instead of memorizing your talk, understand your talk.

Think about it. You do this intuitively when you talk to someone. For example, you don’t memorize inviting someone to dinner. (Okay, maybe you memorized a dinner invite once, when you were asking that girl you had a crush on out on a first date…And remember how awkward that was? Point made…)

No, if you’re inviting a friend to dinner, you just intuitively know that you need to see if they’re free, set up the details and maybe figure out where and when and who’s bringing what. Your conversation follows that flow.

Your talk is no different. It’s an introduction, a body, a conclusion and some transition points along the way. If you can grasp those main points, it’s amazingly easy to see how you will naturally fill the space in between with what you prepared.

You need to be familiar with your talk and you need to understand it, but you’ll never need to memorize it.

I wrote more on how to deliver a talk without using notes here.

2. Begin Writing  Your Talk Weeks In Advance

It’s good to get ahead on your talk for so many reasons. But here’s one you may not have known.

Your brain actually has both long term and short term memory capacity.

If you write a talk shortly before you give it, the brain stores your talk in your short term memory. This is why, sometimes, if you’re a preacher who wrote Sunday’s message on a Thursday (or worse, on Saturday night!), it can feel so unfamiliar to you on Sunday.

Contrast that with a talk you’ve worked on weeks ago and maybe delivered recently. For some reason, you probably feel like you know that talk much better than the others you write just before delivery. The reason is simple: your brain stored that information in your long term memory because it’s been around longer.

Ideas stored in long term memory are just easier to recall.

I know it’s hard to get ahead, but try it. I’m working on a series I’m delivering two months from now. I’ve even got most of the bottom lines developed for the series and I’ll flesh out most of the messages in detail two to three weeks before I preach them. My guess is that by the time I deliver the first message, the series will already feel like an old friend.

Because I’m comfortable with it, the talk will immediately connect better with the audience. Your comfort with the subject may even appear to give you more authority on the subject, too, because your audience will assume you understand it well. They’ll realize you own it, because you do.

Speakers, this is also why conference talks you’ve repeated once or twice are so easy to recall: they’re stored in your long term memory.

By beginning every talk well in advance, you give every talk the opportunity to flourish into something better.

3. Include At Least One Self-Deprecating Story

If you want to build rapport with your audience, show them your weaknesses, not just your strengths.

I almost always try to find one mildly self-deprecating story in any talk I’m giving. (Fortunately, I seem to have an endless supply of self-deprecating moments from which to draw.)

This does two things. First, it put you on the same level as the audience, which is exactly where you want to be in a post-modern, post-Christian culture. Theologically, that’s a good thing, because you actually are on the same level as your audience. But in our post-modern, anti-authoritarian culture, the audience wants to know you’re one of them.

In a post-modern, post-Christian culture, your authority actually goes up, not down, when you display your vulnerability.

Second, the audience empathizes with you. They see themselves in you, and your honesty makes them quietly cheer for you.

Can you overshare? Yes. Can you under-share? Absolutely.

How do you know where the line is? If you’re not sure, I wrote this post on how to be an appropriately transparent leader without oversharing.

The bottom line, though, is this: people may admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses.

4. Pay Attention To The Logical Flow Of Your Talk

Every talk should take people on a logical journey. Even our stories are sequenced logically, with a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t believe it, try watching a movie with the scenes in random order. It will drive you crazy and the story, of course, will make no sense.

Our brains are hardwired to search for meaning, and logic brings order out of the chaos around us.

Your talk should have a beginning, middle and end, and each section should be logically and sequentially related.

For example, if you start your talk by describing a problem, then your talk should also offer the solution or at least a response to that problem. If it doesn’t, you’ll just annoy people.

Similarly, move the different sections of your talk through a logical grid. It should look something like this: If A, then B, then C and then, finally, D.

Here’s the logical flow of a recent message I gave.

  • Some of you don’t like Christians because you think most Christians are hypocrites.
  • In fact, aren’t some non-Christians actually better moral people than the Christians you know?
  • Well, you’re right. Most of us are hypocrites.  You have a moral standard. The question is: have you kept it?
  • But what if our personal morality isn’t the basis of Christian salvation? Christianity doesn’t make moral people better. It makes dead people live.
  • God is actually more critical of hypocrites than you are.
  • Fortunately he forgives, and challenges those ready to throw stones at others to drop them.
  • In light of God’s incredible mercy, it’s time to drop the stone.

Most messages typically have 3 to 7 key logical moves in them. This one had seven. Whatever it is, understanding the logical flow of your argument will help you understand your talk, which as we saw in Point 1 above, eliminates the need for memorization.

If you can’t figure out the logical flow of your talk as a communicator, your audience never will.

5. Speak With Double Your Normal Energy During Delivery

One final quick tip: whenever you’re communicating, speak with double your normal energy.

It’s going to feel weird at first, but it’s vital.

Speaking in normal conversational tones when you have a microphone in your hand actually makes you sound boring. So double your energy.

Start by doubling your normal volume. I’m not talking about yelling. I’m talking about speaking more loudly and passionately.

Many speakers get freaked out by the microphone. Don’t. The sound person will turn you down when you project your voice.

A quick hack? Pretend you have no mic on and you’re speaking to the person at the back of the room. That will automatically make you a more compelling speaker.

Energetic speakers are always more compelling.


Want to learn more about becoming a better communicator? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Carey.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.