Six Reasons to Avoid the Pitfall of Isolation

An isolated leader is a dangerous leader. The sting of criticism, the burden of the responsibilities, and the pace of leadership can nudge a leader towards isolation, but every step towards isolation is a step towards danger. Sadly, many leaders move towards isolation. They have taken the cliché “it’s lonely at the top” as justification to remove themselves from people. Though there is truth in the cliché, it must not be used to practice unwise and ungodly leadership. Here are six reasons isolated leaders are dangerous.

1. Isolated leaders don’t receive care and encouragement.

Leading is continually challenging, and leaders who don’t receive care and encouragement are in a dangerous position. But isolation makes it impossible to receive care from others.

2. Isolated leaders don’t receive necessary confrontation.

Because no one leader is perfect, every leader needs confrontation at times. An isolated leader removes himself/herself from those opportunities by only being surrounded with people who are unwilling to confront, which means spiritual maturation and growth will suffer. And a ministry leader who is not growing in godliness is dangerous. Healthy ministries are led by healthy ministry leaders.

3. Isolated leaders make foolish decisions.

The writer of Proverbs reminds us that plans fail for lack of counsel (Proverbs 15:22). An isolated leader won’t gain the perspective necessary to lead well.

4. Isolated leaders don’t learn effectively.

Leaders must continually learn, and leaders who are isolated greatly limit their learning, thus greatly limiting their effectiveness.

5. Isolated leaders are divorced from reality.

Isolated leaders are divorced from the reality of their context, so they lead in ways that are out of sync with reality.

6. Isolated leaders are removed from the people they lead.

Leaders are responsible for the people they lead, are responsible to serve and love them well. But an isolated leader can’t love and lead well, thus the people won’t receive the care they need.


> Read more from Eric Geiger.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Develop Leaders from the Inside Out

When ministry leaders start to consider an intentional plan for developing leaders, inevitably they get to this question. The answer to the question will dramatically impact how they execute leadership development. Here is the big question about leadership development for church leaders: What will be centralized?

Some churches centralize everything.

They appoint someone to oversees all volunteer recruiting, and that person stewards the process that places new volunteers in different ministries through the church. Leaders of ministry departments, such as groups, kids, and students, don’t engage in training their leaders other than inviting those serving in their ministry to training events that the whole church offers. The advantage of this approach is consistency. The disadvantage is training often lacks contextual application and ministry leaders can lose a sense of responsibility for development.

Some churches decentralize everything.

If development happens, it happens at a ministry level and not the church level. The ministry directors are responsible for training the leaders in their specific ministry. One ministry may offer lots of intentional development while another offers nothing. The advantage of this approach is that the training is contextual and ministry leaders are close to the action. The disadvantage is the church can really become several mini-churches with a completely different approach to ministry because people are developed differently.

There is another way, a way that can maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the previous two approaches.

In leadership development: Centralize the approach, decentralize the execution.

A centralized approach means the ministry leaders agree to a common framework for leadership development, such as a leadership pipeline, so that the church is moving in the same direction. A centralized approach includes consistent language and literature, meaning, what people are called (leader, coach, director, etc.) and what people read are consistent. And then execution is decentralized. When execution is decentralized, responsibility and ownership spreads. Ministry leaders embrace responsibility to equip leaders for ministry.

“What will be centralized?” is a question ministry leaders must wrestle with. Consider centralizing the approach and decentralizing the execution.


Learn more about leadership development at your church – connect with an Auxano Navigator today!


> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Reasons Encouragement is a Non-Negotiable

If you read any leadership book, you are likely to be encouraged to encourage the people you lead. If you have served with an encouraging leader, you know the impact the encouragement makes on the morale of the team, the focus of the people, and the commitment to one other. Here are five reasons leaders must encourage:

1. Teams can drift.

Some have defined courage as sticking to one’s core beliefs or convictions. Thus, in this regard, to encourage is to prod people to continue sticking to their core beliefs and convictions. Leaders must encourage the team they lead to stay focused on the mission and to live their collective core convictions. Without encouragement, mission drift is inevitable.

2. Disunity can fester.

Because people are different, with unique personalities and perspectives, disagreements are certain when people work alongside one another. But disagreements don’t need to degenerate into disunity. A leader who encourages the team to unite around a larger agenda proactively fights against the disunity that can fester.

3. Distractions can overwhelm.

Many have pointed out that information is increasing at a relentless pace, and those we lead are bombarded with tons of messages and a plethora of information. Without encouragement, minds are easily distracted from what is most important. Leaders must encourage those they lead to remember the sacred why behind all the work and the essential aspects of the work.

4. Work gets discouraging

While work is a gift from God, it has been marred by the fall, just like everything else in creation. God told Adam that work would be painful (Genesis 3:17). Because work can be discouraging, morale will suffer without leaders who offer encouragement.

5. Hearts grow cold.

When leaders don’t encourage those they lead, hearts grow cold. The writer of the Book of Hebrews challenged Christians to “encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” Encouragement is the antidote for a hard heart.

How can leaders be more encouraging? By first being encouraged by Christ. An encourager has an encouraged heart. If being united with Christ encourages our hearts, we will encourage others.

> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Ways Taking Care of Your Body Also Takes Care of Your Mind

I recently read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and walked away from the read more convinced in the importance of exercise. While we often think of exercise as critical to a healthy body, it is also essential for a strong mind. In his book, Dr. John Ratey offers a compelling case for exercise significantly and positively impacting our mental health, growth, and capacity. While he does not discount exercise for the sake of caring for your body, he argues, “Exercise is the single most powerful tool to optimize your brain function.”

The case study that nudged Ratey to write the book comes from Naperville, Illinois. Naperville District 203 is known as the fittest school district in the nation, and one of the smartest. Years ago, as maverick physical education teachers piloted scheduled running and exercise sessions before school started, the students in those sessions saw their grades dramatically improve. As the strategy spread, “guidance counselors began suggesting that students schedule their hardest subjects immediately after gym to capitalize on the beneficial effects of exercise.” Exercise, according to Ratey, directly lifted the student’s test scores and academic performance.

When it comes to stewarding our minds well, here are five ways exercise helps (all taken from Ratey’s research and book):

  1. Exercise increases learning ability: As we exercise, our minds are put in a better position to receive and apply new information.
  1. Exercise lowers the impact of stress: Exercise puts stress on your mind and body and trains your mind to handle stress better by teaching you that you can manage and master it.
  1. Exercise lowers sensitivity to anxiety: Anxiety is going to bombard leaders, but exercise builds a resistance to it. Ratey writes, “When we increase our heart rate and breathing in the context of exercise, we learn that these physical signs don’t necessarily lead to an anxiety attack. We become more comfortable with the feeling.”
  1. Exercise helps fight depression: While I am not naively suggesting merely to “read your Bible and run a mile and you will be fine,” exercise can help fight depression. According to Ratey, “Exercise influences the same chemicals that antidepressants do.” In other words, exercise is a form of medicine.
  1. Exercise increases memory capacity: A fascinating study, highlighted in Spark, was conducted by neurologist Scott Small, who put volunteers on a three-month exercise regimen and then took pictures of their brains. He discovered that the capillary volume in the memory area of the brain increased by 30 percent! 

Leaders sometimes think of exercise as a tool to help them steward their bodies, but the reality is that exercise is also a tool to steward our minds better. We are integrated people, and taking care of our bodies cannot be separated from taking care of our minds. Plato said it this way:

In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activities. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Ten Time Management Ideas for Leaders

Several months ago we ran a blog survey seeking to understand those who read the blog on a regular basis and what would be helpful to them in future posts. Many people asked about managing schedules and getting the most out of time. It is wise to ask the question because desiring to steward time well is an act of wisdom. For example, Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:12). Likewise, the apostle Paul challenged us to walk wisely and make the most of the time (Ephesians 5:15-16). While we are incapable of creating more time, we can get more out of the limited time we have. Here are ten ways I work to get the most out of my time:

1. View time as a precious resource.

Some abhor the thought of wasting money yet squander immense amounts of time. Wise people recognize the brevity of this life and steward their time well.

2. Wake up early.

If you want to have more time in your day, you really only have two options: stay up later or wake up earlier. The wisdom writer scolded: “How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).

3. Exercise

When you are busy, exercise can feel counterintuitive. After all, you are not doing something else that needs to be done so you can exercise. But exercise makes you more productive by helping you sleep better, fight stress, and fuel mental energy.

4. Find a repeatable rhythm in your schedule.

As quickly as you can, discover when the best time is to execute important tasks. And repeat over and over. Some have asked how I prepare sermons while serving as a vice president of LifeWay. The bulk of my sermon prep is every Monday night from 7pm-1am. Which brings me to the next point…

5. Choose a work night.

Kaye and I choose a “work night” each week (sometimes twice a week) where each of us knocks out work. Because we are both working during the evening, neither feels neglected. I use that night for message preparation, reading, or writing.

6. Keep a “stop doing” list.

Peter Drucker said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” At key pause times in a year, reflect on your leadership and life and create a “stop doing” list. Steal energy and thinking from the things that are not as important and give energy and thinking to what is most important.

7. Develop and trust others.

One way to squander your time is to micromanage. When you have capable men and women of character around you, trust them. While developing others requires time, when people are developed, your time is multiplied.

8. Schedule meetings back to back.

If you have a meeting that ends at 9am and another one starts at 9:30, typically those 30 minutes in between are not very productive. Much better is to stack meetings back to back and create larger blocks of time not in meetings.

9. Block off large sections of time.

To engage in deep preparation, planning, creative work, or strategic thinking, large blocks of time really work best. Schedule and guard those well.

10. Don’t let email own you.

Don’t let email own you, especially when in those large blocks of creative or planning time. If emails in your inbox drive you mad, you can move non-urgent emails to a follow-up folder and deal with them in a time you regularly set aside for emails.

> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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Josh — 05/02/17 4:27 am

Still working on this one :)

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Health Doesn’t Just Happen: 2 Ways to Avoid Drift

Organizations and churches drift away from their identity and mission. Without constant care and godly leadership, drift pulls a church from her core message and mission. A church doesn’t drift into greater health or better focus.

We drift as individuals in the same manner. We don’t drift into physical fitness or spiritual growth. We drift away from those things, not toward them. D.A. Carson wrote, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.”

In terms of strategy and mission, there are two common and related drifts that plague churches.

1. Churches drift toward complexity.

As a church grows and matures, there is an inevitable pull to add layers of bureaucracy and to fill calendars with lots of events and programs. As a church drifts toward complexity, staff members become program managers instead of equippers. Communication becomes increasingly challenging because there is increasingly more to communicate. New people have a difficult time figuring out what is most important because there are so many things happening. Ministries, within the same church, compete for resources and energy. Complexity presents a plethora of problems.

Ironically, many pastors have told congregations, “If Satan cannot get you to walk away from God, he will tempt you to be busy.” Or, “Just because you are busy doing things for God does not mean you are walkingwith God.” So while lamenting the busyness of people and of the surrounding culture, many churches grow busier.

2. Churches drift off mission.

As a church increasingly drifts toward complexity, she also increasingly drifts off mission. If a church is complicated, she will not have the energy or the resources available to be highly engaged in mission. The church will spend her time existing for herself, setting up systems for herself, and communicating to herself. When you are complex, you tend to be inward. When there is so much to manage at the church building, there is so little time to think strategically about the community and minimal energy to serve those in the community.

Complexity isn’t always the beginning point. A drift off mission will result in complexity. When a mission and strategy are not clear, anything can be added to the church. When mission does not grab the collective soul of the church, something else will.

Mission drift never self-corrects. Leaders must constantly address the pull away from mission and the pull toward complexity. Here’s how:

Keep the mission central.

The core message of a church must be the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves sinners by giving us His righteousness in exchange for our sin. And the core mission of a church must be the mission He gave us: make disciples. Churches may express their mission in contextual terms, but the mission must be in constant view. Leaders must continually point people to the church’s mission and work to embed a passion for the mission into everything the church does.

Keep the strategy simple.

Strategy is how the mission is accomplished. A simple strategy fights against the inevitable drift toward complexity. When the strategy is simple, the most important environments that flow from the mission of making disciples are emphasized. An overcrowded calendar is abhorred because it would drown the strategy.

> Read more from Eric.


Learn more about strategy for your church; connect with an Auxano Navigator today.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Eat, Sleep, and Breathe Your Values

I recently met with all the managers and directors of the Resources Division at LifeWay, the division I am responsible to lead. We have nearly 650 employees in the division, and they all report to the leaders who were in that room. At the beginning of each calendar year, I remind our team of our mission and values, our identity that is foundational for all we do. For five years we have lived with the same mission and values and have seen the impact on the culture of being crystal clear about our identity.

I have given up on the fantasy that a leader can get in front of a group of people and declare a culture into existence. We are not the Lord; we cannot speak something into existence. Creating and cultivating a culture takes time. I asked our team if they really believe our mission and values have worked their way into our culture. They shared stories of how our values impact decision-making, inform execution, create shared energy and enthusiasm, and increase our ability to attract the right people to the team. Here is a copy of our team’s mission and values.

So how, over five years, have we driven these deeply into our team? Here are five practical ways:

1. Teach the mission and values.

We invest time to re-teach our mission and values to the team. Sometimes the whole meeting is about the mission and values (as in early January), but most often we embed teaching into our regular meetings. For example, for the last two years I have taught on one value each meeting at each of our division-wide meetings.

2. Discuss them regularly.

We discuss our mission and values in team meetings, and the language is a filter for how we make decisions. If values are only shared from the microphone, they have little chance of being driven into a culture.

3. Hire with a mission/values lens.

We hire through the lens of our mission and values. We want to make them so clear that if someone has not fully bought into them, they self-select out of the hiring process. If you don’t lead with mission and values, you cannot expect to hire the right people.

4. Celebrate stories that illustrate.

We give awards based on our values. The awards are based on great stories that illustrate the commitment to the mission and values we desire to live by. Stories can give people a tangible example of what living a value really looks like.

5. Evaluate honestly.

We regularly evaluate how our execution is rooted or fails to be rooted in what we say we believe. From annual evaluations to evaluating a particular project, evaluation through the lens of mission and values further drives them into the culture.


Learn more about driving your values deeply into your team – connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Missional Value of Being Constant

It is one thing to have a mission and quite another to have a missional lens, where all activity is viewed through the lens of that mission, where all decision-making is filtered through the lens of the mission. It is one thing to have a mission hanging on the wall and another to work hard to align activity to that mission.

At the beginning of each calendar year, I remind our team of our mission and values, our identity that is beneath all the activity. I know the reminders are redundant, but redundancy is important in communication of mission and values. I recently met with all the managers and directors of the Resources Division at LifeWay, the division I am responsible to lead. We have nearly 650 employees in the division, and they all report to the leaders who were in that room. For five years we have lived with the same mission and values and have seen the impact on the culture of being crystal clear about our identity. As I shared recently, we have been intentional about driving mission and values into our culture. I asked our team about the impact of living with the same mission and values for a sustained season, and we identified many wins, including:

1. Attracting the right players

If mission and values are not part of the hiring process, you don’t really have a mission and values. You merely have a statement on a website or a brochure. When you really have a mission, it becomes central in recruiting. And because it is central, the wrong players are more likely to be filtered out and the right players, those already aligned, are more likely to surface.

2. Mutual accountability

When mission and values are really in a culture, the leaders are not the only ones holding people accountable. The whole team views the work through the lens of the mission and the values, and the culture holds people accountable. People remind each other of the values, and violations are called out because people want to protect the culture they love.

3. Increased enthusiasm

When tasks are viewed through the lens of mission, the enthusiasm that drives the execution increases. On the contrary, when people don’t see how tasks they are fulfilling are connected to a grand mission, the tasks feel more mundane and less meaningful.

4. Unity around mission

There is strength in a diverse team, particularly when the people are united around a mission that transcends the differences. People can only unite around a mission and values when they are continually made clear.

It is challenging to live with the same mission and values over a sustained period of time as we can so easily drift from rooting our activity in our identity. But doing so is well worth it.


Learn more about the importance of viewing everything through your mission lens. Connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


> Read more from Eric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Two Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid In Your Next Staffing Decision

Every hire is a risk. Every time I have hired someone or have been hired, there was a risk involved. Some argue that proven track records eliminate the risk, but in reality a great history only minimizes the risk. Even when hiring someone who has a proven track record, it is hard to separate the individual’s performance from the organization’s performance. For example, we have seen great assistant coaches hired to be head coaches with dismal results. And sometimes when the coach returns to an assistant role, he is unable to reclaim the “mojo” he once had. In those cases, clearly it was the system around him at his former school that lifted his performance above his capacity. Thus the hire was a risk, as all hires are.

The risk in hiring can be minimized, but it can’t be eliminated. To help you minimize the risk in your staff hires, below are two of the most common hiring mistakes you must avoid making in church ministry.

Mistake One: Hiring the Best

Many church leaders and churches have gone down a common hiring path. They (a) identify a role they want to fill and then (b) search for the “best person” to fill the role. I have heard many senior pastors describe the desire to “hire the best and give immense amounts of freedom.” One proudly told me his hiring strategy was simply to “hire thoroughbreds and let them run.”

While “hiring the best” may sound wise, the practice can easily lead to disastrous division. Imagine a staff meeting where directors of student ministry, small group ministry, and children’s ministry are seated around the same table. They have been recently recruited with the promise of “freedom to run.” And because they are the “best,” they are strong leaders with a solid track record of execution. They are able to put ministry philosophy into practice, able to implement and make “it” happen. But as they are seated around the same table, each has a different understanding of the “it” that needs to happen. They have different convictions about where the church should head and how ministry should be executed. Quickly, the strong leaders with differing philosophies of ministry will lead, as they were recruited to do, in a plethora of directions. And they will take the church with them.

Instead of seeking to hire the best leaders, seek to hire the right leaders. The right leaders hold deeply to the ministry philosophy of the church and the values that make her unique. With the right leaders, there is strong overlap between their personal ministry philosophy and values and that of the church. In other words, what matters to the church also matters deeply to the staff member.

Does wanting the “right” leaders mean you don’t look for the “best” leaders? Absolutely not! A team of strong leaders passionate about the same values and focused in the same direction is truly powerful. However, the “best” leader is only best for the ministry/organization if there is alignment on both philosophy and values. To check alignment around ministry philosophy, you need to know both your church’s philosophy of ministry and the values that guide how you minister.

Philosophy Alignment

Your church’s ministry philosophy is essentially your church’s collective thinking about ministry, specifically how ministry should look in your specific context. The right leaders hold deeply to the theology and the philosophy of the church. It is a massive mistake to only hire people who ascribe to the church’s doctrinal statement or creed because it is very possible to have theological alignment without philosophical alignment. And while theological alignment is essential, alignment around ministry philosophy is equally important.

At one church I consulted there were two staff leaders who theologically held to the same soteriology, the same view of eternal hell, and the same passion for evangelism. Yet philosophically, their view of how to lead a church to engage the culture evangelistically was diametrically opposed. They both were recruited to the same staff team on theological alignment alone, and because they were so different in philosophy and practice they were leading (even unintentionally) the church in multiple directions.

Values Alignment

Your “church values” are not what you do, but they affect everything you do. They are the shared passions and convictions that inform your unique church culture. For example, two churches of similar size and doctrinal positions offer “worship services” that on the surface sound the same: 30 minutes of music and 40 minutes of biblical teaching. Yet when you visit them, they are very different. Perhaps church A deeply values “authenticity,” and that value manifests itself in everything from the subtle greeters to the transparency in the teaching. Church B values “hospitality,” and that feels very different. It’s not as if church A is not hospitable and church A is inauthentic, but the pronounced values distinctly mark the culture of each church.

Obviously you want to hire staff that hold to the actual values (values already in place) of the church. Additionally, if your church has some aspirational values (values you have identified that you long to embed in the culture but are not currently), then also look for staff who possess these values.

First, identify your ministry philosophy and the values (both actual and aspirational) that make your church who she is. Then look for the right players. And as you do, consider carefully the second mistake.

Mistake Two: Hiring from the Inside (or Outside)

Often church leaders make a grave mistake when they hire from outside their church instead of raising up a leader from within the body. The opposite is equally true; often church leaders hire from the inside when they should look outside the church for a new leader.

Hiring from within is both the safe and risky option. It is safe because you are able to observe the person’s character and service before he/she even knows a staff role exists. And as an insider, the person has already committed to the ministry philosophy and values of the church. From a discipleship vantage point, hiring from within helps set a mindset and expectation that “our church raises up her own leaders.” The risk is that there is still a risk, and if the new staff member doesn’t work out, it will be much more painful to move an insider off the team.

Hiring from outside the church gives an opportunity for a fresh perspective and to acquire some leadership experience needed for the church’s next season of ministry. For example, the church may be entering a season of expansion or growth and an outsider who has a track record of experience related to what a church needs could be very helpful. At the same time, an insider could be developed for the task. But in some cases, the development will fall well short of the skills that past experience provides.

So how do you know if you should hire from the inside or the outside?

I have found John Kotter’s insight to be helpful. Kotter is a Harvard professor and leadership guru. He teaches that if you want to change the culture, you should hire from the outside. If you want to sustain or build upon the current culture, you should hire from within. If the culture is healthy within a particular department within your church, look first to hire from within. Only look outside if there are skills and experience needed that can’t be developed within your church in a reasonable matter of time. If the culture is unhealthy or you desire to change the culture with an infusion of some new values and leadership, look to hire externally.

I have put together a simple chart (seen below) to help you think through the decision to hire from within or from the outside. I hope it serves you well. While only one box indicates you should “hire from within,” some churches execute the majority of their hires from this vantage point because they posses a strong, equipping culture.

Every hire is a risk; therefore, every hire requires faith. Ultimately all of the above is mere fodder when the Lord makes it clear who the next leader should be. So while I wrote this article so that we could hone our hiring strategy, I want to listen carefully to the voice of the Lord whose foolishness is wiser than our wisdom and who, as in the case of king David, often selects leaders that we tend to consider last. For while we tend to look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

Read more from Eric here.

Learn how to maximize the value of your hiring process. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Tips for Spotting a Lazy Leader

Lazy leadership is unfaithful stewardship. Instead of wise stewardship, lazy leaders foolishly squander resources, gifting, and opportunities rather than make the most of the brief season in which they are privileged to lead. When attempting to uncover and address laziness, people often look in the wrong places. Lazy leadership is not about office hours, email response time, and vacation days—as someone can be incredibly lazy while checking emails in the office. Here are four ways in which lazy leadership tends to manifest itself:

1. Lazy leaders dump rather than delegate.

It takes work and intentionality to effectively delegate responsibilities to another person. Training, care, and being continually available are all essential in effective delegation. Dumping responsibilities on someone else requires only laziness.

2. Lazy leaders rely on personality rather than preparation.

Here is why laziness does not always reveal itself immediately. Someone can rely on his or her personality for a while, but in time the lack of preparation is obvious.

3. Lazy leaders take on too little rather than too much.

I am not suggesting that it is wise to perpetually take on too much, but lazy leaders never get close to that threshold. They avoid overwork like the plague and err toward taking on too little.

4. Lazy leaders offer excuses rather than results.

Lazy leaders may have new excuses, but they always have excuses. Someone else is always at fault for the lack of execution or follow-through.

The people of God have always understood laziness to be a sin. Laziness is a sin because laziness fails to appreciate the gift and blessing of work and fails to make the most of the time we have been graciously given. The writer of Proverbs exhorts us:

Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest. How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit. (Proverbs 6:6-11)


Developing a Leadership Pipeline will minimize the risks of lazy leaders. Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more.


> More from Eric.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.