By Carey

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Church. His latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Can Help Your Church Grow, releases in the summer of 2015. Carey speaks to audiences around the world about change, leadership, and parenting and hosts the top rated Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

Carey Orange 2014

Anticipating the Change You’re Not Expecting (Orange Conference 2015 Talk Notes)

This week I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia.

As a way of serving those who attend my talks (and couldn’t be there but want to track with what’s happening) I’ll be posting the outline to each talk I give here on the blog.

Even if you don’t attend the conference, I hope you can glean a few insights from them that might help you lead better now.  And if you’re in the session, you won’t have to guess what that pesky blank you forgot to fill in was all about.

Here’s my talk outline for my Anticipating The Change You’re Not Expecting session, along with some additional posts and references if you want to go deeper.

Carey Orange 2014

Overview

Anticipating the change you’re not expecting.

Yes, we know that’s contradictory. But think back through the past few years: how many times did something blindside you when you should have seen it coming? The key to navigating personal and professional change lies in studying the people and organizations who’ve traveled further down your road.

Discover ways to learn from their lessons by doing your homework and looking ahead.

Introduction

1. At some point along the journey, most of us get blindsided.

 a. Leaders who see the future are in a better position to seize the future.

b. Knowing what’s coming is most of the battle.

4 Changes Most Leaders Aren’t Expecting

1. Growing Cynicism

a. Knowledge brings sorrow.

 b. You project past failures onto new situations.

c. You decide to stop trusting, hoping and believing.

d. The antidote to cynicism is curiosity.

2. Burnout

a. Most people don’t burnout overnight.

b. Passion fades.

c. Your heart grows hard.

d. Rest no longer refuels you.

e. You simply can’t function any more.

f. The antidote to self-medication is self-care.

3. Irrelevance

a. Irrelevance happens when the speed of change outside an organization is greater than the speed of change inside an organization. – Rick Warren

b. When you’re young, the current cultural dialogue is your native tongue.

c.  Culture never asks permissionto change. It just changes.

d. The older you get the harderthis gets.

e.  Organizations that don’t change becomes museums to another era.

f. The antidote to irrelevance is change.

4. Ineffectiveness

a. Churches become ineffective when, over a long period of time, leaders begin to love the method more than they love the mission.

b. Leaders become ineffective when they fail to grow both their character and their competency.

c. Reinvention and renewal are the antidotes to ineffectiveness.

Two Questions to Help You See the Future So You Can Seize the Future

1. What am I not seeing that I should be seeing?

2. Who can help me see what I’m not seeing?

 Want More?

Here are some related posts that can help you dig deeper on this subject.

6 Reasons Leaders Grow Cynical (And How to Fight the Trend)

How Perry Noble Hit Rock Bottom While Pastoring One of America’s Largest Churches (Episode 2 of the CNLP)

9 Surefire Ways to Make Your Church Completely Ineffective

For further resources, access the free archive of thought-provoking, practical interviews with today’s top church leaders on The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

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7 Keys to Leading High Capacity Volunteers (Orange Conference 2015 Talk Notes)

This week I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia.

As a way of serving those who attend my talks (and couldn’t be there but want to track with what’s happening) I’ll be posting the outline to each talk I give here on the blog.

Even if you don’t attend the conference, I hope you can glean a few insights from them that might help you lead better now.  And if you’re in the session, you won’t have to guess what that pesky blank you forgot to fill in was all about.

Here’s my talk outline for my 7 Keys to Leading High Capacity Volunteers session.

carey-nieuwhof-orange-tour

Introduction

As a leader, you aspire to attract, keep and grow a team of high-capacity volunteers. But are you dreaming the impossible dream? Learn to keep your vision grounded by starting with a look at the flipside: where and why you’re losing your top volunteers.

Then take a guided tour through the 7 key ways to get your best people on board… and keep them there.

7 Keys To Leading High Capacity Volunteers

1. Give them a significant challenge.

a. People with significant leadership gifting respond best to significant challenges.

2. Continually communicate your mission, vision and strategy.

a. Mission and vision unite.

b. Strategy begins as divisive, but ultimately aligns a church.

3. Be organized

a. Few things are more demotivating to a volunteer than discovering the staff person didn’t set you up to succeed.

b. Some people will put with disorganization, but high capacity leaders will ultimately give up.

4. Refuse to let people off the hook

a. Your organization will drift to the level of accountability the team leader establishes.

b. Ask yourself, whom would I rather lose: highly motivated volunteers or poorly motivated volunteers?

5. Play favorites

a. Spend 80% of your time with the people who give you 80% of your results.

6. Surround high capacity people with high capacity people.

Like attracts like and like keeps like.

7. Pay them in non-financial currencies.

a. People gravitate most toward where they are valued most.

b. 5 non-financial currencies:

 I. Gratitude

II. Attention

III. Trust

IV. Empowerment

V. Respect

Want More?

Here are some related posts that can help you dig deeper on this subject.

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Says Out Loud

How to Get Your Volunteers to Own Your Mission Like Staff (CNLP 020 With Frank Bealer)

6 Very Avoidable Reasons You’re Losing High Capacity Volunteers

For further resources, access the free archive of thought-provoking, practical interviews with today’s top church leaders on The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

5 Reasons Churches Stop Growing (Orange Conference 2015 Talk Notes)

This week I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia.

As a way of serving those who attend my talks (and couldn’t be there but want to track with what’s happening) I’ll be posting the outline to each talk I give here on the blog.

Even if you don’t attend the conference, I hope you can glean a few insights from them that might help you lead better now.  And if you’re in the session, you won’t have to guess what that pesky blank you forgot to fill in was all about.

Here’s my talk outline for my 5 Reason Churches Stop Growing session.

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Synopsis

It may not be wise to measure your church’s health by exactly how many people showed up on Sunday or attended your new member class last month. But stalled growth can be a sign of deeper problems. Whether your church is stuck or has momentum, take a look at the 5 big reasons churches stop growing, and figure out how you can get – or keep – moving again.

I.  Introduction

  1. Church growth is not as mysterious as we think.

2. In one way or another, healthy things grow.

II. 5 Reasons Church Stop Growing

1. You are more in love with the method than you are with the mission.

a. Your church’s passion for the past or present is more compelling than your vision for the future.

b. You’re afraid to risk what is for the sake of what could be.

2. Your structure is designed to keep you small.

a. The clergy-based model is designed to keep a church under 200 attenders.

b. If you want the impact of a supermarket, you can’t run things like a mom and pop store.

Church governance is often more of a hindrance than a help to growth.

3. You don’t understand the people you’re trying to reach.

a. 48% of millennials are classified as post-Christian.

b. Family has changed significantly.

c. Culture is undergoing a massive shift.

4. You’ve bet too much on being cool.

a. What you define as contemporarymay not be contemporary.

b. Authentic is more powerful than cool.

5. You’re really not willing to change.

a. The gap between what you say and what you actually do is too large.

b. You are unwilling to plot trajectory.

c. You’re afraid (and the team hasn’t realized you can’t follow fear)

 

III. Moving Forward

  1. Create a white hot sense of mission.
  1. Structure for growth.
  1. Understand and love the people you’re trying to reach.
  1. Be authentic.
  1. Commit to change.

Want More?

Here are some related posts that can help you dig deeper on this subject.

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Less Often

5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials)

10 Very Possible Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing

For further resources, access the free archive of thought-provoking, practical interviews with today’s top church leaders like Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Jon Acuff, Kara Powell, Ron Edmondson, Derwin Gray, Mark Batterson and more on The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

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CNLP 033: Growing Up With Gay Parents—An Interview with Caleb Kaltenbach

Caleb Kaltenbach has an incredible story.

Born to parents who soon divorced to pursue gay relationships, Caleb grew up to become a Christian and then a pastor, much to the alarm of his parents.

Caleb shares his honest, gutwrenching story of confusion, hope and reconcilliation with his mom, his dad and their partners.

Welcome to Episode 33 of the Podcast.

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Guest Links

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction - Available October 20, 2015!

MessyGraceBook.com

Caleb Kaltenbach on Twitter

Caleb Kaltenbach on Facebook

Discovery Church

Links Mentioned

The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is too Important to Define Who We Are by Jenell Williams Paris

Kara Powell; Episode 4

Gene Appel at East Side Christian Church

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Conversation about homosexuality in the church can be uncomfortable, and as a pastor with gay parents, Caleb Kaltenbach has felt the tension within each community. Here’s how you can get started with bridging the gap between each side:

  1. Understand the difference between acceptance and approval. When someone we love comes out to us, it doesn’t mean we change our relationship. Thank them for allowing you to come into this season of their life and trusting you. That doesn’t mean you have to approve of the behavior. Sexuality is between a man and a woman; it’s not the only thing that defines them, and that’s where the line is drawn. We can love the person, but we don’t have to approve of what happens.
  2. Invite the conversation into church. Christians in the church think they have to “get their act together” and have to play a certain part. But Caleb says that when we don’t allow messy conversations in churches, we create sanctuary for fake people. Start engaging with your leadership team, and let the conversation work through the entire church. Keep communication open and affirming, and talk to other churches about what the conversation looks like in their ministries. Be honest and allow people to feel like they belong before they believe.
  3. Create a safe environment. Discussion of sexuality opens up vast vulnerabilities on both sides, and it’s not a black or white issue. It was difficult for Caleb when he “came out as a Christian” to his gay parents, but it encouraged him to show the same love and compassion he always had for them. “I had to spend so much time treating them well, loving them, even when they came at me with patronizing Bible questions. I wanted to build that trust again so they could see that nothing really had changed,” he said. You can apply the same principles in your church as you open up the conversation with others. Invite others out to dinner, and get to know them. Put a face to the individual instead of looking at them by just their sexuality.

 

Quotes from Caleb

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Your rating and review helps gets the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

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In Atlanta This Week? So Am I!

This week, April 29-May 1st, I’ll be at the Orange Conference 2015 in Atlanta. All the details are here.

Come hang out. And even if you’re not there, you can follow along online. Here’s how.

Next Episode: Wayne Cordova

Some leaders are tech geeks. Others are not. In an incredibly helpful, practical episode, GeekPastor.com’s Wayne Cordova walks leaders through beginner, intermediate and geek level apps, tools, hacks and strategies that can help every leader free up time to do the real work of leadership.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 34.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

As I said on the podcast, given the sensitive and important nature of the conversation around same sex relationships and the church, I will be watching comments carefully. Any inflammatory or mean-spirited comments will be deleted.

That said, I’d love to hear from you! The conversation is so important.

Leadership Hacks

5 Ultra Simple Leadership Hacks That Can Help Anyone

Sometimes leadership can seem so overwhelming.

In reality, though, leadership is simpler than it first appears.

In many ways, great leaders master some very basic things that other people miss. The advice in this post is so simple you might be thinking “well, my mother used to tell me to do that”.

Maybe that’s the point.

You can have a PhD in leadership and read everything there is on leadership and still not be effective.

And yet there are leaders who have little formal education but who lead powerfully and effectively every day.

Often, these leaders gain influence because they’ve mastered a few basic skills others miss.

Here are 5 of my absolute favourite basic leadership skills that are far too easy to overlook.

Own them, and you’ll become a much more effective leader. Leadership Hacks

1. Make someone else the hero

Few of us have a healthy relationship with ourselves.

The narcissists make it all about them.

Insecure people focus on themselves because they can’t bear to give anyone else air time.

And even people who lack confidence can end up being selfish because their lack of self-esteem means no one else gets attention.

How do you escape the trap of narcissism, insecurity or low self-confidence?

Just make someone else the hero.

If you’re a preacher, like me, make sure you point to God, not to yourself when you speak. Worry more about whether people connect with God than whether they connect with you.

What else does this principle look like?

Well, if you’re a writer, make your reader the hero. The filter through which I try to run every post I write on this blog is what I call a “helpful” filter. I want the post to help you as a reader. I want you to win.

Think about it. You and I love leaders who point beyond themselves to someone else. Why not be that leader?

So when you struggle with narcissism, insecurity or low self-confidence (and we all do…me too), step aside and make someone else the hero.

It works. Every time.

2. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it

If there’s one piece of advice I want my sons to remember, other than everything I taught them about Jesus, it’s this:

Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it.

It puts you ahead of about 99% of the planet.

Think back on your last week. Who frustrated you most? Probably the people who didn’t do what they said they were going to do when they said they were going to do it.

Now picture the people you lead. Who are you most likely to promote, reward or even want to hang out with? The people who do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it.

Doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it is the basis of trust. It’s also the basis for confidence.

Hey…sometimes I’m still the guy who didn’t do what he said he was going to do when he said he was going to do it. But I try so hard not to be that guy.

So what do you do if you struggle in this area? Just stop promising and start delivering.

When your walk catches up to what your talk would have been, reintroduce your talk.

3. Focus on outcomes

Also in the ‘please stop driving me nuts’ category are people who focus on process, not outcomes.

I realize it’s axiomatic these days to say the journey is more important than the destination. But not always. Really. Come on. What fun is the journey if you end up nowhere with any meaning?

It’s frustrating when you ask someone if something is done and they tell you

Well I emailed him.

She never got back to me.

I’ve called 5 times.

I think they must have changed their address or something.

And they feel like the project is complete because they tried.

Trying isn’t the same as doing.

Often, I feel like saying “You didn’t hear the question. The questions is Is it done?

A few years ago, I started encouraging the leaders I work with to stop focusing on process, and start focusing on outcomes.

When you focus on outcomes, you eventually stop emailing someone who never returns emails and you text them instead, or call them, or go to their office, or release them and find someone who will help you get the project done.

If you focus on outcomes, you’ll also have a shot at mastering #2. If you don’t, you never will.

And getting things done actually makes the journey more enjoyable, at least in my view.

4. Look people in the eye

Sure, this is an “I don’t need a blog post to remind me of this”. (So is the next point, by the way.)

But do you ever notice how hard it is to actually look someone in the eye—to make them the sole focus on your attention?

I’m pretty sure I’m ADD and it’s so hard for me not to focus on shiny objects, moving parts or anything else in the room. Or my phone for that matter.

But the most effective leaders always look someone in the eye.

Sometimes I’m in a conversation with someone and I’ll create a voice in my head that just keeps repeating “Look them in the eye…look them in the eye.” It helps.

I’ll even position myself in a restaurant or coffee shop so I face a blank wall, not the door or a TV. Otherwise, I just instinctively look at whatever is moving.

Watch for it…the very best leaders look you in the eye and make you the sole focus of their attention.

Practice that this week.

5. Smile

Everyone has a default expression. It’s hard to know what yours is because you never see yourself as others see you.

I learned years ago that my default facial expression is…uptight. If I’m having a good time, I apparently forgot to tell my face.  I’m also a fast walker, so I tend to look uptight and annoyed.

How’s that for a guy who’s leading you?

People have given me very helpful advice like walk slowly across the room and smile. 

I know that’s so basic, but remember, you’re programming against your default here, so it’s not easy.

I have to remind myself to smile when I teach, to smile when I greet people and to smile in conversations.

It makes a huge difference.

Apparently Michael Hyatt has a similar issue and in this post outlined 5 positive impacts of smiling more as a leader.

So smile. :)

What Would You Add?

So that’s my short list of ultra simple leadership hacks. What are some you’d add to the list?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

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8 Ways to Get the Most From Orange Conference 2015 (Even If You’re Not There)

I am super excited, because this week (Wednesday April 29-Friday, May 1st) I’m excited to be speaking at the Orange Conference in Atlanta Georgia, where over 6500 leaders from around the world will gather to talk about how to best make an impact on the next generation.

Speakers include Perry Noble, Reggie Joiner, Jon Acuff, Jud Wilhite, Jeff Henderson, Jenni Catron, Kara Powell and more.

One of my very favourite things to do in this life is connect with other leaders who are trying to make a difference in the local church, whether as staff or volunteers. Gonna spend three days doing that this week…and I hope if you’re there, we get a chance to say hey!

I’ll make the rounds in different spots throughout the conference, but am so stoked to be hosting the Senior Leader Track again this year. That’s where you’ll find me most of Wednesday and Thursday.

And…(I think this is really cool) there will be a very limited advance run of my brand new leadership book available at the conference! See below for more.

But you don’t have to be there to get all the benefit. So how do you get the most out of a conference, even if you can’t be there?

Well, here are 8 tips. The first one is just because…well, I’m excited.

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1. Snap Up An Advance Run Copy of My New Book, Lasting Impact

Okay, so this is an Orange Conference exclusive.

I’m so pumped that my publisher has made a limited edition, advance reader’s edition of my new leadership book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow available only at the conference. Everyone worked so hard to get it ready for this week!

How advance run is it? Well, I haven’t even got a copy yet. I’ll see it when you see it!

The book focuses on 7 key issues almost every church is struggling with, and it’s designed to facilitate 7 conversations that will help your church grow and have a lasting impact.

Here’s the jacket:

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The full release version of the book comes out in the summer of 2015. I’ll keep you posted.

If you want to be on the inside track for the release of Lasting Impact, just sign up here for free.

2. Connect In Person At My Meet Up

Never done this before at Orange Conference, but this year I’m hosting a meet up on Wednesday, April 29th. If you want to connect, ask a question, meet other leaders or otherwise connect personally, I’d love to see you.

Register here. Tickets are totally free, but space is limited so hop on to RSVP today!

It will be so fun to hang out!

3. Follow the Hashtags

One of the easiest ways to track everything that’s happening is through some nifty hashtags whether you’re at the conference or at home. Most of my personal updates at the conference will be via twitter or Instagram, but I will make occasional ventures onto Facebook (where hashtags work less well).

The hashtags are perfect for those who don’t attend, but will optimize the experience for those who do.

#OC15 is the official conference hashtag.

#OC15Live is the official hashtag of the live stream (see #6 below)

#CNLP is my personal hashtag. I’ll be checking that hashtag regularly, and use that hashtag if you have a question for me. I’ll be saving the best questions for a bonus edition of my podcast I’ll be releasing after OC 15. What does #CNLP stand for? It’s short for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast. (Now you know…but I’ll use it for anything directed at me.:))

4. Live Tweeting

I’ll be live tweeting much of the conference, and my sessions will also be live tweeted (thanks to my assistant, Sarah). That will make it easy to follow along.

Just follow me on Twitter to catch the latest.

5. Periscope!

Have you discovered Periscope yet? I stumbled on it last month and think it’s amazing. It’s basically live video streaming made simple. Just hit the App Store to download it for free. 

I’ll be doing some live segments using Periscope throughout the conference…just for fun.

Notifications of live broadcasts will push to your phone if you follow me. I’m simply cnieuwhof on Periscope…it’s integrated with twitter but you can use the app to follow me directly.

6. Live Blogging Session Notes

I’m teaching three sessions at the conference, all brand new talks for Orange Conference this year.

My notes will go live here on my blog when my talks start. It’s a courtesy to people sitting in my talks (a companion to taking notes), but in past years, many who haven’t been at the conference have appreciated them too.

5 Reasons Churches Stop Growing notes will go live Wednesday, April 29th at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

7 Keys to Leading High Capacity Volunteers will go live Wednesday, April 29th at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

Anticipating the Change You’re Not Expecting will go live Thursday, April 30th at 4:45 p.m. EDT

Also, my friend Brian Dodd will be live blogging the entire conference.

Brian is a leadership blogging machine…so make sure you check his site regularly. There’s no one like Brian when it comes to leadership!

7. Live Stream!

So you can’t make it? Orange Conference has a live stream. You might not get every session, but you’ll get a ton, I mean a ton, of the experience.

I’ll be doing a live interview on the stream Friday at 1:45 p.m. with Jared Herd and Elle Campbell. That is always so much fun. (We’ll periscope that interview too…just for fun.)

Follow the live stream at www.theorangeconference.com.

8. Evernote

Okay..now a bonus tip. Ever wonder how to synthesize the best learnings you’re trying to capture?

My hands-down top choice for note taking is Evernote. I know almost everyone knows about Evernote, but if you’re not using it at conferences, you’re missing out. Evernote’s free primer on how to use it will get you started if you’re new to it.

I love that I can do a search through the last few years of Orange Conference notes simply by searching “Orange Conference”, or the name of the speaker, or a key word, or anything I might half remember. It always calls it up. And you can be far more organized for that. And it syncs seamlessly across all devices. Brilliant.

I write a lot of my blog posts on it while offline, write all my podcast interview questions on it, outline my talks in it and do so much more.

Anyway, I hope this helps you get the most out of Orange Conference 2015.

If you’re there, I can’t wait to say hi. If you’re watching online, make sure you shout out on social media.

It’s going to be an incredible week.

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Why “Just Pray About It” Won’t Solve Your Church Problems

Every once in a while I hear from a leader who says “We don’t any need more ideas/strategies/conferences…all we need to do is pray.”

Well actually, writing this blog, quite often I hear from people like that.

Maybe you have people like that at your church.

You even know the conversation.  Every time you suggest “Why don’t we try reformatting our services/changing our kids ministry/reaching out into the community” they shoot back with “what we really need to do is just pray” (or “what we really need to do is get back to the Bible…”) as though that settled the discussion.

It puts you in a horribly awkward position.

If you disagree, you sound like you’re coming out against prayer.

If you agree, you’ve just mothballed any productive strategy conversations.

I mean who really wants to come out against prayer?

Not me. Not you.

And so, not sure what to do, we shut down the leadership conversation and all the potential that comes with it.

Can it be that something that sounds so spiritual can actually stop some very spiritual work?

In the name of God, some leaders might end up opposing the work of God.

And it’s all done in the most holy-sounding way.

Who’s right? How should you respond?

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We Need To Pray

So before you freak out, I haven’t become an atheist.

Far from it. It’s not an exaggeration to say I pray every day. I also read the scripture daily and love it deeply.

I also believe I need to pray more. I agree that the church needs more prayer.

Finally, I believe all authentic, effective ministry is rooted in prayer.

But saying “All we need to do is pray” really misses how God actually works.

If all we needed to do was pray, we could lock ourselves in a closet and never come out. But I’m not sure that’s how God has moved historically.

What begins in prayer should usually end in some kind of action.

 

And We Need To Do More Than Pray

While prayer is foundational, God almost always moves people to do something.

The walls of Jericho ultimately fell down because having heard from God, people obeyed God, marching around the city for a week, blasting trumpets and shouting.

Come to think of it, that kind of sounds like a strategy doesn’t it?

Interestingly enough, the scripture is filled with strategy if you look for it.

 

Strategy Is Not the Enemy

Sometimes church people behave like strategy is the enemy.

It’s not. It never has been.

Strategy is not the enemy.

Apathy is.

Overly simplistic thinking is.

But strategy isn’t. A great strategy is actually a companion to a great prayer life.

Strategy is inherently biblical. For example, God noticed that Moses had a bad leadership strategy that was ultimately going to wear out both him and the people. So God used Moses’ father-in-law (of all people) to give him a new strategy that required tremendous reorganization.

Jesus intentionally organized his community of disciples into concentric circles of 70, 12, 3 and then 1. His prayer resulted in action…thoughtful action.

Finally, the early church continually rethought its strategy as the church grew and the mission expanded (see Acts 6Acts 13 and Acts 15 as examples).

We’re Supposed To Love God With More Than Our Hearts

So what’s the point?

Strategy should be a good word in the church. And it should be a good word in your church.

That means you should have the tough conversations.

You should surface disagreements (even pray through them).

You shouldn’t skirt tough issues.

It also means you need to lead.

Leadership requires your heart but it doesn’t stop there. It requires  your soul, your strength AND your mind.

So use your mind. And your strength. And your soul.

So Next Time

So next time someone interrupts the conversation and says “What we really need to do is pray”…what should you do?

I think you might agree…and say “I agree. We should pray.”

But then add.

“And after we pray, let’s get working on the most important issues facing us. The mission is just too important to ignore them.”

Great prayer can and should lead to great action.

It’s time for the church to act. And to get the best strategy we can find to accomplish the mission God has given us.

Have you ever run into leaders who block action in a holy-sounding way?

What’s been effective as you’ve navigated this?

mark-batterson

CNLP 032: How Mark Batterson Writes—A Behind The Scenes Look at the Publishing Life of a Pastor and NYT Bestselling Author

New York Times best-selling author Mark Batterson has written 12 books in ten years that have sold millions of copies.

What’s even more remarkable is he’s done this while planting a church and raising a family. Mark takes us on a rare behind-the-scenes tour to show us his process for writing and how he gets it all done.

Welcome to Episode 32 of the Podcast.

mark-batterson

 

Guest Links

MarkBatterson.com

National Community Church

Mark Batterson on Twitter 

Mark Batterson on Facebook

Mark Batterson on Instagram

The Grave Robber

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears

Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny 

Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity 

Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Purusing God

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge 

Links Mentioned

Jeff Goins

Geeks and Geezers by Warren G. Bennis

Ted Talks

Radiolab

Video Version of this Podcast Episode (Unfortunately, the video is not currently available due to bandwidth issues. We are working to get it uploaded again soon with a better format. Thanks of your patience.)

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Mark didn’t know he was meant to be a writer until he received a calling from God at 22. No one in his family was a writer. Aptitude tests discouraged Mark from writing. The cards didn’t seem to play into his favor until he set out to obey God, and he became a New York Times best selling author. Mark talks about three things you can do to get started:

  1. Obey what God has called you to do. If you believe God has called you to write, it’s more than just a talent; it’s a way to worship and honor what God has given you. Mark says that the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory, so figure out your theme and start writing. What’s your life story? What gets you fired up? Start keeping a journal or writing a blog. If it’s about money, stay out of the game. Don’t worry about an agent or publisher, and don’t be too consumed with your audience. If what you’re writing is good, you’ll attract the right readers. The key thing is to be obedient to that calling.
  2. Start writing. Mark says that a dream without a deadline is dead. He had written six half-completed manuscripts before he was 35 because he didn’t give himself a time frame for completing an entire book. “If I didn’t set a deadline, I would have written my first book for the rest of my life,” he says. Find a reasonable deadline and then reverse engineer how you’re going to get to that goal—even if you don’t have a publisher. Since birthdays often commemorate milestones, Mark suggest using your birthday as a deadline.
  3. Read as much as you write. Readers are writers, and writers are readers. Mark says he’s read about 3,000 books to study the style of writing and to become in tune with the author’s writing voice. He became a student of life to educate himself on a variety of subjects to give more credibility to his craft. He also kept a master document with all of his ideas so he could go back and reference them as he needed to, and he never read a book without having a pen so he could underline and take notes.

Want Incredible Training from Today’s Top Leaders?

Then don’t miss the Orange Conference 2015 on April 29-May 1st in Atlanta.

Learn from leaders like Perry Noble, Jeff Henderson, Jud Wilhite, Jon Acuff, Josh Gagnon and more. I’ll be teaching at the conference as well and have put together a senior leader track designed exclusively for senior pastors, executive pastors and campus pastors.

Register here today.

Quotes from Mark

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Next Episode: Caleb Kaltenbach

Caleb Kaltenbach has an incredible story. Born to parents who soon divorced to pursue gay relationships, Caleb grew up to become a Christian and then a pastor, much to the alarm of his parents. Caleb shares his honest, gutwrenching story of confusion, hope and reconcilliation with his mom, his dad and their partners.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 33.

In the meantime, got a question?

Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

5 Important Ways Evangelism is Shifting In Our Post-Christian World

Almost every Christian leader I talk to has a passion for reaching people who don’t know Christ.

But as we’ve seen before, our culture is changing so rapidly before our eyes that many of the methods we’ve used to tell people about Christ become less effective with every passing month.

If you keep using methods that worked decades ago to talk to people outside the Christian faith about Jesus, you might see some fruit. But I’m quite certain you’ll lose the vast majority of people you’re trying to influence, and I’m positive you’ll lose the vast majority of people under age 35.

In the post-Christian, post-modern age in which we live, the methods of evangelism have to change in order to keep the mission alive.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the post-Christian mind looks like, this study from the Barna Group outlines 15 criteria that delineate the trend.

So what’s changing in evangelism? More than you might think.

While there are many things that are shifting in how we should approach evangelism in a post-Christian, post-modern world, these 5 stand out to me as shifts I’m seeing not just in the ministry I lead, but across many churches:

1. Embracing the question is as important as giving an answer

For me, evangelism used to be mostly about helping people find answers. In fact, I’ve been very anxious to get people to answers. I still am.

But, often, in the process of getting people to an answer, I would fail to really embrace or honour their question. Increasingly, that’s a massive mistake.

Almost no one likes going into a store and asking a question only to have a customer service person blow past your question or make you feel stupid. In fact, your most positive experiences have likely been those in which someone listens to your question, takes it seriously, appreciates it, and then tries to respond to it thoughtfully and helpfully.

Too often, Christian apologists rush past the question to get to an answer.

Church leaders who embrace people’s questions will be far more effective in the future than leaders who don’t.

Listen to the difference:

“So when I die, will be in reincarnated?”

Answer: Christians don’t believe in reincarnation. So no, not at all. You’ll be resurrected in Christ. 

or

Answer: That’s a great question. Thanks for asking it. Actually, the Christian experience focuses on resurrection. Would you like to talk about that? 

Which answer would you rather hear?

 

2. Steering the conversation is better than pushing for a conclusion

One of my favourite environments at our church is Starting Point. It’s an eight week small group experience for people who are new to Christianity, new to faith or returning to church after an absence.

Our best Starting Point leaders are not the people with all the answers or the leaders who are always trying to ‘close the deal’.

If you have 12 people in a conversation, you’re likely to have 12 different world views, many of which might seem “Christian” but in truth aren’t.

Our best Starting Point leaders are people who can steer a conversation.

They don’t freak out at people’s questions, no matter how strange they might be.

They listen without judgment.

They affirm a person’s intentions.

Our best leaders listen, don’t judge, thank people for their input, and then gently steer the conversation back toward truth.

Listening, empathizing, and then steering the conversation back toward truth will often get you much further with post-moderns than slamming on the brakes and telling them they’re wrong.

3. Being open is more effective than being certain

Don’t get me wrong, Christians can be certain. Ultimately, Christians must be certain because our faith is certain. Our faith stands on a sure and certain ground.

But, when talking to post-moderns, coming across as certain is far less effective than coming across as open.

I mean, people will be able to tell that you have a depth of conviction if they spend more than a few minutes talking to you.

But leading with that conviction all the time can be counter-productive.

The person who is always certain thinks they’re being convincing when the opposite is often true. You’re less convincing because being perpetually certain makes you appear anti-intellectual, closed and a bit arrogant (see below).

If you’re open to people and their views, they’ll be more open to you. Even if underneath all that, you’re certain. Because you likely are.

4. Arrogance, smugness and superiority are dead

For too long, Christian apologetics has carried with a tone of arrogance, smugness and superiority.

If you want to repel anyone under 40, lead with that.

Arrogance is so ingrained in many Christian cultures that Christians don’t even see it or hear it anymore.

Humility is attractive. Humility is what makes Jesus so much more attractive to people than the Pharisees who lack it.

Arrogance is only ever attractive to the arrogant.

Arrogance also a sin. So repent. Get over your smugness and superiority.

Humbly love your God, love your community, and love the people who don’t know him. God does.

5. The timeline is longer

I’m so A-Type I’d love to conclude everything in about 35 seconds.

Increasingly, evangelism doesn’t work that way.

Ever notice that people who come to faith when pressured often leave it after a few years? And that, conversely, the people who come to faith on their own timeline tend to be flourishing years down the road?

Jesus said he would draw all people to himself, and he will. But he didn’t promise to do it in 3 minutes, or during a 90 minute service or even an eight week class.

You need people and leaders who will take the time to go on a journey with people.

It kind of took the disciples 3 years to figure out who Jesus was, didn’t it? Why do you think your church will be any different?

Don’t get me wrong, we can’t lose our sense of urgency in the mission. I feel that urgency every day. Sometimes I think I feel it more every day. But we need to give people space and we need to give the Holy Spirit space to do His work.

So give people time and space to come to faith. Apparently, God does this too.

How About Your Context?

I’m not saying high-pressure evangelism never works or that God has stopped using it entirely.

I’m just saying I’m seeing it becoming increasingly less effective and that another methodology that shares the same end appears to be even more effective.

What are you seeing about how evangelism is changing in your community?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

alignment

5 Ways An Aligned Team Is A Better Team (What I’ve Learned From North Point)

Ever wonder what would happen if you got everyone in your church or organization moving in the same direction?

For the last seven years, I’ve led a North Point Strategic Partner Church and have learned so much about the benefit of having an aligned church. One of the key benefits of a simple church model (which North Point and its partners practice) is alignment.

Alignment happens when you have a team of people – from the top leadership right through to the newest volunteer – pulling in the same direction not only around the same goals, but using the same strategy.

Seems simple, but it isn’t.

Everybody I talk to is in favour of aligning their organization (why have hundreds of people working at crossed purposes?), but few people seem to be able to pull it off.

Rarely have I seen an organization more intentional about alignment than North Point.

When people approach us as a partner church, few leaders ever ask us about alignment. But as they are leaving after some time with us, they inevitably remark on the level of ownership the staff and volunteers have.

I agree. Team and organizational alignment is a powerful thing when it happens.

That’s the power of alignment. To get very different people rallied around a common cause is a wonderful thing.

An aligned team, quite simply, is a better team.

alignment

Here are five benefits to working in an aligned organization:

1. Alignment creates a badly needed dividing line 

Being everything to everyone is pretty much the same as being nothing to everyone.

Few organizations struggle with this more than the church. Alignment forces you to be about a few defined things rather than about everything (aka nothing).

Once you choose the things you are going to do and align around it, the people who want you to be about everything will sometimes leave, but that’s okay.

Being aligned almost always means you will accomplish more.

2. Alignment forces out personal agendas 

I learned this early on from Andy Stanley.

When the organization’s agenda becomes clear and the main priority for everyone, it forces out competing personal agendas.

Everything from politics to selfish personal goals get squeezed out.

Why does alignment do this? Well, alignment forces out personal agendas, because leaders commit to something bigger than themselves.

3. Alignment does not mean full agreement; it means full focus 

Critics of alignment say that alignment means you snuff out independent thought and, in its extreme form, create a culture of yes people. I disagree.

Most high capacity leaders actually want to work in an environment that is going to produce results.

Alignment around key objectives does that.

Alignment does not mean full agreement; it means full focus.

4. Alignment removes all excuses

We’ve had several staff join us our team who used to be part of other, less aligned organizations.

Within a year, they had the same experience I did once we got our teams fully aligned: all your excuses for a lack of progress disappear.

You can’t blame anyone else because everyone actually supports you and your agenda—because there is only one agenda.

This allows you to realize your potential, but the excuses you used to use for lack of results are gone. And church leaders can be notorious excuse makers.

5. Alignment allows you to harness more creativity, not less

Counterintuitively, having a common mission and strategy means that your team can harness greater – not lesser – creativity.

Because you agree on direction and priorities, you spend significant time getting creative about implementing your vision.

You no longer waste hours debating what to do. Instead, you can spend hours getting better at what you’ve agreed you’ll do.

What About You?

If you are facing internal or external resistance to alignment, I want to encourage you to move past that resistance. You’ll be so glad you did.

That’s what I’m learning and enjoying about being part of an aligned organization. What are you discovering?