From Strategy

Why Most Churches Greet You Like It’s 1999

So your church has a website and a Facebook page. The adventurous have perhaps added Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Or maybe you’ve gone all out, even podcasting your messages or building an app for iOS or Android. (The links are to Connexus Church sites, where I get the chance to serve!)

We’re still in the early days of social media and everyone’s trying to figure out what ministry online means.

Whatever your church might be doing, my guess is you’re trying to connect with people online in some way, which is awesome.

Here’s the question though.

When you welcome people to your church, do you still behave like it’s 1999?

Strangely, most churches do.

I’ve been to very large, high budget churches who have a digital presence everywhere and—for whatever reason—still welcome people like it was back in the day when the cassette ministry was booming.

I even caught myself doing this earlier this year.

The good news, the fix is quick simple and free for all of us.

Is My Glaring Omission Yours Too?

So what do you say when you welcome people to your church?

For years, our hosts (including me) have said something like:

Welcome to Connexus! We’re so glad you’re here. If you’re new here, we’d love to connect! Drop by our guest services desk. We’d love to connect with you there.

Today, we’ll be here for about 70 minutes, sing some songs together, open up the bible to see what it means to us today and pray together. (Then we share one or two announcements we want everyone to know.)

See what I missed there?

Did you catch it?

I said ZERO (as in nothing at all) about our online presence.

Nothing about our social media. Nothing about our app. Zippo about our podcast. Nothing.

Yet 80% of the people (or more) are sitting there with their phones in their pocket.

During the week, we try to behave like it’s 2014. But Sunday morning, I was behaving like it was 1999.

This is the Opportunity You’re Missing

If it was actually 1999, people would have to drive to your church or to someone’s home to connect with someone else from the church.

Or they would have to buy (or pick up) a cassette or CD to listen to a message or series.

For the most part, in ministry you would show up in peoples’ lives occasionally at best.

Now, you can show up in a person’s life every time someone checks their phone courtesy of social media, email, your app, your podcast and more.

I realize that’s a double edged sword. There are definitely people you don’t want showing up in your life every day.

But I’m guessing there are some people you’d really appreciate hearing from regularly.

What if your church became one of them?

What if people were genuinely thankful to hear from you during the week?

See…you and I have moved from a world in which we had the ability to encourage people once or twice a week, to a world in which we can connect daily.

This isn’t just a promotional thing (don’t miss our big cheesy dinner Tuesday night!), it’s a discipleship thing.

Seriously, you can gain permission to speak into people’s spiritual journey regularly.

Publish helpful, useful content, and people will sign up to follow you. Don’t, and of course, they’ll unfollow you. The online world gives you instant feedback on whether you’re helping people or not. Just check your stats.

The Fix is So Simple

So don’t miss this simple fix.

If you’re publishing helpful, online content (and I realize we’re all growing in this and trying to figure out what that means), then just make sure you mention it Sunday morning.

Behave on Sunday morning like you can help someone during the week.

And the easiest way to help them, encourage them, inspire them and inform people during the week is via social media and your online presence.

So talk about that.

This is what we say now when we welcome people at Connexus:

Welcome to Connexus! We’re so glad you’re here. If you’re new here, we’d love to connect! Drop by our guest services desk. We’d love to connect with you there. Today, we’ll be here for about 70 minutes, sing some songs together, open up the bible to see what it means to us today and pray together.

We’d love to stay connected with you this week. The easiest way to do that is by following us on social media. You’re welcome to take out your phones right now and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (we show the links on the screen as we say them). We also love hearing from you and this is great way to keep up the conversation.

Then, during the week…help people. Encourage, inspire and occasionally inform.

If you hand out a program or bulletin, make sure you include how to connect with you online.

And if you have a website, have a prominent place to follow your church on social media. People will connect with you 100x more on your social media platforms today than they ever will on your website.

Bottom line?

If you’ve got any online presence, talk about it on Sunday morning. Strangely, so many churches still don’t.

The change is free, easy, instant and everyone can do it. Just change what you say when you welcome people.

We’re All Learning

Want more? I’m not sure anyone has cracked the code on how to optimally use social media. But here are some resources that have helped me and some churches I like to follow online:

Cross Point Church

North Point Church 

Lifechurch.tv

New Spring Church

Elevation Church

Casey Graham and I also talked about how to connect with people using email marketing in Episode 3 of my leadership podcast.  (Subscribe for free here to hear feature length interviews with Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Casey Graham, Kara Powell, Jon Acuff and more.)

Finally, nobody writes better stuff on church announcements than Rich Birch. Make sure you mine his site at Unseminary.com for posts like this that will change your announcements from a few minutes people tolerate to a few minutes people will anticipate.

So…what are you learning about connecting with people online during the week?

How do you highlight your social media on weekends?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Says Out Loud

So you’d love to see more volunteers serve in your church or organization.

Who wouldn’t?

And yet when it come to volunteers, a surprising number of leaders struggle. Many leaders suffer from:

A chronic shortage

High turnover

Mediocre or poor morale

Ask most leaders why this is, and they can’t tell you.

And yet the reasons are not that difficult to figure out. Often you just need to shift perspectives.

questions volunteers askStart With This One

Here’s a simple place to start. If you’re always short on volunteers, ask yourself

Would you volunteer for you?

Answer honestly. The response can be very telling.

If the answer’s no (or you think the answer is yes, but almost everyone else would answer it for you differently), then the next step is to figure out why. Why aren’t people stepping up or sticking around?

That’s where the next 7 questions can help.

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks

Almost every volunteer at some point probably asks variations of these 7 questions, whether they ever say them out loud or not. If you’ve volunteered for someone else, you’ve probably asked them whether you realize it or not.

Develop great, healthy answers to these 7 questions, and volunteers are far more likely to stick around.

Better, yet, they’re likely to grow and flourish under your leadership.

1. Is this really about the mission?

Most people want to give themselves to a cause that’s bigger than themselves. In my view, no cause is greater or more worthy than the mission of the local church.

Yet many churches lose focus on the mission.

Volunteering ends up being about

Filling a slot

Meeting a need

Doing your duty

Or, in the worst case scenario, volunteering can become more about serving the ego of the leader than it does about serving Christ.

When you keep the true mission of the church or your organization central, people rally.    For example, in addition to leading a local church, I sit on the Board of Directors for an extremely well run local food bank. Their mission? A city in which no one is hungry. That’s inspiring.

When you lose focus on the mission, volunteers lose heart.

Every volunteer wants to give their time to something bigger than us or bigger than themselves. So give them that opportunity.

2. Are the relationships around here healthy?

No community should have better relationships than the local church.

After all, our faith is based on a saviour who reconciled the world to himself, forgiving our sin. What could we possibly hold against one another?

And yet often the local church has some of the most fractious, passive-aggressive relationships out there.

We have a saviour who came full of grace and truth, yet often church leaders will often swing to either extreme: all grace, so issues are never dealt with, or all truth, so people get hurt.

Even if you don’t lead a church (leaders from a variety of backgrounds read this blog), realize that many people love the mission of the organization they work for, they just can’t stand the personal politics and dysfunction.

One of the greatest gifts church leadership can give to a congregation is healthy relationships. So be healthy.

Not sure what that means?

Start by changing one thing. Talk to people you disagree with, not about them. That will change far more than you think.

Additionally, almost every organization has toxic people in it. Here’s a primer on how to spot and deal with toxic people.

3. Will serving help me grow spiritually?

It’s ironic that in many churches and organizations, people equate serving with burning out, not being renewed.

And yet Christian service should be a paradox of renewal: when we give our lives away, we find them. When we serve, we grow.

Part of growing is providing a healthy environment. Pay attention to the issues addressed by the other six questions and you’ll have an environment that favours growth.

But you also need to care for volunteers spiritually, or at least provide an environment in which spiritual growth flourishes.

Pray for them.

Pray with them.

Share your journey.

Encourage theirs.

Mentor your key leaders.

You can’t guarantee spiritual growth will happen, but you can provide the conditions in which it can easily happen.

4. Am I just a means to an end?

I wish I could get some of my early years of leadership back. As much as I would have denied it at the time, I think I naturally saw people as a means to an end.

The end was (and is) a great one: fulfilling the mission of Christ’s church.

But people matter. A lot.

Nobody likes feeling used, but that’s often how churches and other organizations treat people.

Care about them. Encourage them. Ask questions. Listen to their stories. Pray for them.

When you have a healthy, Christ-centered, energized team that knows they’re valued, the mission advances further and faster anyway.

 5. Will you help me develop the skills I need?

I have a friend who has visited a lot of churches and non-profits tell me recently that—as well intentioned as leaders are—the vast majority of organizations are, in his view, poorly run.

That’s a tragedy.

Why is the local Walmart better run than the local church?  Seriously. One is selling products that last a day, a month or a year. The other is brokering life change that lasts forever. The church should be the best in the world at recruiting, training and releasing people into ministry and their calling.

Many volunteers who come your way are highly capable people who just need a little training to know how to master the specific task you’re giving them.

A good heart just needs to be supplemented with a good skill set. Set aside an evening or a Saturday to properly train volunteers as they start serving, and then top up their training from time to time to help them get better at what they do.

6. Are you organized, or are you going to waste my time?

Disorganization is epidemic among church leaders and non-profits.

Too many volunteers show up to do their job only to discover that they also  have to do yours because once again, you’ve dropped some balls.

The more organized you are (on time, prepared, other holes plugged), the more your volunteers will be able to excel at what you’ve asked them to do.

As I first outlined in this post, disorganization is one of the six reasons many leaders lose high capacity volunteers. Here are 5 more.

7. So, am I signing up for life?

In many churches, serving is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

You’re a Christian for life, but that doesn’t mean you have to serve in one role for life. But many churches just assume people will.

What if you start putting a time line on every role? What if your conversation sounded more like:

Why don’t you try this for a season?

Can you serve with us for this semester/year?

People in this position typically serve for a 3 year term. You can try it out for a month before you commit to that term.

We definitely have some long term serving roles at Connexus (for example, we ask our high school small group leader to serve for four years), but we’re clear on the term from the outset.

Most other roles can easily be shortened to a few months to a year.

If you start providing end dates for roles, you’ll notice something surprising. Many people stay after their term has ended. They sign up for more.

Surprisingly, when you give volunteers an out, many lean in.

Want More?

In churches and non-profit world, leading and managing volunteers is one of the most important tasks you’ll have.

If you’re looking for more tangible resources, my friends at Volunteer Rocket will help take you in depth. It’s a year’s worth of resources to help you gain, train and retain volunteers that can help you completely change your volunteer culture. And they have a free seven day trial on now.

And you work in pre-school or children’s ministry, Live to Serve, with Adam Duckworth and Sue Miller, is a new practical, hands on training day for you as a leader that’s coming to four cities in 2015.

Hope this helps!

So what would you add to this list?

What questions do you ask when you volunteer somewhere? What other unarticulated questions do you think volunteers are asking?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

How To Know Whether You’re Trusting God…or Just Being Stupid

One of the most perplexing questions a Christian and, to be sure, a Christian leader will face when it comes to risk is this:

Am I trusting God, or am I simply being foolish?

The question isn’t as dumb as it seems.

There’s a fine line between faith and irresponsibility, and at times it’s almost impossible to see.

You know that big leadership risk you’re thinking about?

your new role

the massively daunting project

the big mission trip

that new campus

your start up

hiring a team

a new facility

the big move?

So…is it a step of faith, or is it just stupid?

Is it trust…or is it irresponsibility?

How would you know?

risk

Real Risk Lives on the Edge of Spectacular

Recently I had a call from a pastor friend who wanted to get his church out of a portable situation and into a new facility.

We had talked about the move several times, and on this particular day he was down the wire. His church had given at unbelievably sacrificial levels, but he was still at least 6 figures short of his goal. Yet they had a building deal in front of them that they could move on now before costs escalated beyond what they could afford.

He asked me what I thought. I asked more questions. The answers really didn’t help me get much clarity at all, despite my friend’s best intentions.

I asked him what other wise people he and I both knew were saying. He said everyone thought it was pushing the known limits.

I said I tended to agree.

We talked some more.

So what advice did I end up giving him?

I told him:

I think this will be spectacular. It will either be spectacularly wonderful or a spectacular failure. And I don’t know which.

That’s quite literally what I told him. (Bet you don’t want to call me for advice anymore….)

But that was the truth. I just didn’t know which. I told him I’d be watching with prayerful anticipation, which I did.

So what did my friend do?

He put out one last call for giving and people…responded.

They signed the deal. And recently I saw his amazing new facility that’s nearing completion.

I’m glad I kept my mouth shut. He was right. It looks like it was a spectacularly great decision for his congregation and all those they’ll reach in the coming years.

The Bible Sometimes Makes Things…Complicated

Ever really read the Bible?

So when you read it…what do you see? Faith or foolishness?

What was Abraham thinking when we set out with his entire family to go to a land he’d never been to, risking everything for a voice he thought he’d heard?

Who was Moses to think he could stand up to the most powerful king in the land, or to even attempt it after he had so much doubt about his calling?

The prophets were….not very typical suburban people. Ezekiel lay on his side for 390 days and all eating a specific diet cooked over excrement and played with a scale model of Jerusalem to show its pending destruction…wow!)

Imagine how Daniel felt being thrown into the lion’s den. Had he lived his life faithfully, or foolishly? He was about to find out.

Would you have advised your kids to do what Peter James and John did, leaving it all (including you, mom and dad!) to follow a man that had just burst onto the scene and some are starting to think is God?

How about Paul, who went from place to place, prison to prison, painfully misunderstood but absolutely committed to proclaiming this Jesus so many people rejected?

We say we want our kids to lead faithful lives, but do we even have a clue what that means?

None of our biblical heroes were exactly on the top college/stunning career track.

If you were advising any of these biblical figures, what would you have told them to do?

What is a Godly decision?

Is it always wise, prudent, restrained, responsible?
Or is it always risky, edgy, out-there, half-crazed?
Or neither?
Or both?

That’s a tough one, isn’t it?

Two Helpful Questions

For the record, I don’t believe there’s an easy way, five step, bullet proof way to resolve the tension between faith and foolishness.

Pivotal decision making should be navigated through prayer, through pouring over scripture (prayer and scripture should always be married) and through seeking advice of trusted, Christian mature people around you (click here for how to develop an inner circle like that). But sometimes that even lands in a place of uncertainty.

Here are two questions I’ve started asking myself to help when things aren’t clear:

1. Is ‘wisdom’ killing my trust in God?

2. Does my ‘trust’ in God disregard all wisdom?

Q 1:  Wisdom Killing My Trust?

I think the first question—is wisdom killing my trust in God—is more disturbing for me.

I’ve led for 20 years and learned a lot of lessons. I’m wiser than I was decades ago (hopefully that’s true for all of us who have led for a while).

And that can lead me to choose what I know, can see and can predict without honestly going for broke and trusting God wholeheartedly.

More over, the more successful you become—the more money you have, the more people you’ve reached, the more influence you have—the more conservative you tend to become. I’m not talking politics here, I’m simply saying you tend to not want to lose what you’ve got, so you naturally conserve more and risk less.

You know what’s underneath that? Fear.

Fear is clever. And fear can hide behind wisdom.

You can get to a certain season in leadership in which you no longer want to take risks in the name of being ‘wise’, ‘prudent’ or ‘ responsible.”

But the truth is you don’t want to rock the boat. If you examined your motives, you’d be honest and say you don’t want to lose what you’ve already gained. You simply don’t want to sacrifice what is for the sake of what could be.

You’d be forced to admit that having is more comforting than trusting.

And you’ve allowed ‘wisdom’ to become a substitute for trust.

And that’s bad.

That’s why young leaders are often better risk takers than seasoned leaders—they have less to lose so they risk more.

And that can lead some leaders to stop trusting God because ‘risk’ looks unwise.

When was the last time you had to trust God for the outcome of something? I mean really trust God?

If you can’t remember, it might be a sign you’ve let wisdom kill your trust in God.

Q 2: Does My Trust in God Disregard All Wisdom?

The opposite of course, can also be true. You have so much faith that you’re…well, reckless.

What people claim to be ‘trust’ can easily be:

their ego
their insecurity
a cruel disregard for other people
deep disobedience
irresponsibility

Just because you label it ‘faithful’ doesn’t mean it’s faithful.

If you are disregarding wisdom entirely and likely to hurt a bunch of people you’re likely not being faithful.

Trust still looks like Jesus…and it should have outcomes consistent with his character and with scripture.

If your decision makes you and the people you lead look nothing like Christ, it’s not from Christ.

The Final Call

So…you can go through all of these steps and still not be clear. You knew that, didn’t you?

So what happens if all of this (prayer, scripture, wise counsel and questions like the two questions above) doesn’t lead you to a conclusion?

Here’s what I do.

I just make a decision. So should you.

So many dreams have died because people were terrified to make the wrong decision. Don’t be.

Whatever decision you make, offer it up in faith. Make it faith. Dedicate the decision and the outcome to God, like Paul suggests in Romans 14:23.

A prayer like that can sound something like this:

God I”m doing this (or not doing this) because I trust you. If it’s wrong, I trust you will show me. If it’s right, I trust you will show me. I’m trusting you with the outcome.

Then go for it. With confidence and faith. Don’t hold back.

For as Augustine said:

Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.

So…what do you think? What are you learning?

What would you add to this discussion?

And maybe even tell me what big decision you’re weighing right now.

Scroll down and leave a comment!

6 Very Avoidable Reasons You’re Losing High Capacity Volunteers

The following is a best-of post that I hope helps you lead your volunteer teams better than ever before. It’s a reprint of the most popular volunteer post I’ve written on my blog.

If you’re interested in taking your volunteer development to a new level, don’t miss the Get More Volunteers Online Training Event, Tuesday November 4th beginning at 1:00 EST.  I’ll be participating along with other leaders, and best of all it’s completely free. Just click on this link to register now for free.

My guess is you could use a few more high capacity volunteers.

You know—the kind of volunteer who:

Can attract other capable leaders

Doesn’t drop balls

Loves a challenge

Constantly overperforms

I mean, who doesn’t want more of those people on their team?

But today in many churches, and in many not-for-profits, staff leaders are wondering where the high capacity leaders have gone.

The paradox is they’re probably in your organization. They might be attending, and some are helping to fund it.

But so many aren’t serving, and even if they step up, far too many high capacity people walk away way too soon.?

Why?

 

6 Reasons You’re Losing High Capacity Volunteers

I know this is a bit of a tough post. But you need to know I’ve made every single of of these mistakes over my time in leadership.

So if your response to reading this is “oh no”…just know that if you make some changes you’ll find yourself in a very different (and better) place.

There are at least 6 reasons high capacity volunteers never join a team or leave it early.

 

1. The challenge isn’t big enough

It’s really quite simple. People with significant leadership gifting respond best to significant challenges.

Under challenge them and they won’t stay engaged for long.

So many church staff and non-profit staff I talk to are worried about giving their volunteers too much responsibility. Newsflash: that might be exactly why you don’t have enough high capacity volunteers (not to mention a thousand other problems on your team.)

2. Your vision, mission and strategy are fuzzy

People want to serve a cause bigger than themselves. And actually, that’s what the church (and most non-profits) are all about: causes bigger than ourselves.

But often our mission, vision and strategy are fuzzy.

Mission is the what.

Vision is the why.

Strategy is the how.

Even if they’re written on a piece of paper most people functionally can’t tell you what they are.

That’s a tragedy. The motivation for volunteers IS the vision. It’s the why behind the what.

And—get this—the church has the best vision and mission on planet earth. So why on earth do we hide it?

Quite seriously, helping people discover the God who created them and the Saviour is the most rewarding work volunteers will do in their lives, regardless of what they get paid to do their day jobs.

3. You’re disorganized

Few things are more demotivating than giving up your time as a volunteer only to discover the staff person responsible didn’t set you up to succeed.

The tools they need to do the job are missing or incomplete. The rest of the team is late.

Or maybe—worse—they’re not even 100% sure what they are supposed to do or how they are supposed to do it.

You can always find people who will put up with disorganization, but many more will simply give up.

And high capacity people will make a beeline for the door.

4. You let people off the hook too easily

I know I know.

They’re volunteers. And you can’t hold a volunteer accountable can you?

Wrong. You most certainly can. And should. For everyone’s sake.

If a volunteer is late, it’s really no different than if a staff member is late. Sure, you want to address it kindly, but you need to address it.

Again, few things are more disheartening for a motivated volunteer than if they did their homework and showed up early only to find that others didn’t, and then, to top it all off, have a staff person excuse the behaviour of the people who didn’t pull their weight with lines like “it’s okay, we’re just glad you’re here”.

The high capacity leader dies a thousand deaths every time he or she hears a staff person utter those words. And then, almost 100% of the time, the organized, highly motivated exactly-the-kind-of-leader-you-were-hoping-to-keep will leave, and the slackers will stay.

5. You’re not giving them enough personal attention

Another big challenge for church leaders and non-profit staff is the innate desire most of us feel to treat all people ‘equally’.

You don’t want to play favourites, so everyone should be treated the same.

Again, wrong.

The church should always be a loving organization. But certain people require more of your time and attention.

Unless you’re intentional, you’ll end up spending most of your time with your most problematic people and the least amount of time with your highest performing people.

Flip that.

Cut ties with the low performers and spend most of your time walking alongside and developing your best leaders.

And before you think that’s completely unfair, just know your entire team will thank you for it because you’ll end up with a strong team.

By the way, Jesus did this too. He had crowds of disciples, but then a group of 72, an inner group of 12, an inner circle of 3 and placed his greatest investment in 1 (Peter).

6.  You don’t have enough other high capacity volunteers around them

It’s never fun to lead alone.

As soon as you find a high capacity volunteer, your next step should be to recruit more and move others alongside them.

Nurture this team. Build into them. Take them for lunch. Take them with you when you travel. Do life with them (again, I think Jesus modeled this pattern).

Sadly, many leaders don’t do this, and high capacity leaders once again walk away, demotivated.

Those are 6 reasons I see in the church and organizations around me

Want more? Sign up for the Get More Volunteers Online Training Event, Tuesday November 4th beginning at 1:00 EST now for free!

How to Lead Change When You’re NOT The Senior Leader

If you were in charge, everything would be different, wouldn’t it?

But you’re not. At least not yet.

So how do you effect change when you’re NOT the senior leader? How do you lead change when you’re a staff member or simply a volunteer?

Because I’ve written on change, I get that question all the time. That shouldn’t be a surprise, really. Far more people are NOT the senior leader than are the senior leader.

It’s easy to think you’re powerless, or to try to work around a leader you disagree with. But neither is a great strategy.

So what do you do if you want to bring about change but you’re not the key decision maker?

Not the leader

If you do a little homework and learn to think differently, you can be exceptionally effective at leading change well, even when you’re not the senior leader. Even if you’re ‘just’ a staff member or ‘just’ a volunteer.

How?

Here are five ways you can ‘lead up’ to your senior leader when you want to broker change:

1. Think like a senior leader.

So you’re not a senior leader, but try to imagine that you were. Imagine the pressures and issues facing your senior leader and approach the conversation accordingly.

Think through how it impacts the entire organization.

Understand that your senior leader may have budget restraints and many other interests to balance, like a board of directors or elder board. Show him or her that you understand that and you’re willing to be flexible on some points.

Showing your senior leader you understand the bigger picture is huge.

I’m a senior leader and I’ll disclose a bias here.

When someone on my team comes to me with any idea and I realize they have thought it through cross-organizationally (that is, they’ve thought through how it impacts the entire organization), I am far more open to it than otherwise.

Why? Because

They’re thinking about more than just themselves.

They did their homework.

They helped me do my homework.

They showed me they’re leading at the next level.

I always try to be open to new ideas, but here’s the truth. Often before the person is done their presentation or we’re done the discussion, I’ve already thought through 15 implications of their idea.

If they show me theyve thought through the 15 implications before they got to my office, I’m completely impressed and very open.

I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just saying it’s a true thing.

And I think it’s true of most senior leaders.

When you think like a senior leader, you’re more likely to persuade a senior leader.

2. Express desires, not demands.

No one likes a demanding person.

In fact, when someone demands something there’s something inside me that wants to not give them what they asked for.

I don’t always follow that impulse, but expressing demands damages relationships. Instead, talk about what you desire.

Show respect and tell him how you feel – don’t tell him how you think he should feel. And above all, don’t be demanding.

3. Explain the why behind the what.

As Simon Sinek has so rightly pointed out, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Your best argument is not the what (we need to completely transform our church) or  the how (here’s how you should do it).

It’s the why (I think I’ve discovered a more effective way to reach families in our community and help parents win at home…can I talk to you about that?)

The more you explain the why, the more people will be open to the what and the how.

Lead with why. Season your conversation with why. And close with why.

4. Stay publicly loyal.

Andy Stanley has said it this way: public loyalty buys you private leverage.

It’s so true. If you start complaining about how resistant your senior leader is, not only does that compromise your personal integrity, he’s not dumb.

He’ll probably hear about it and he will lose respect for you.

In my mind as a senior leader, the team members who conduct themselves like a cohesive team always have the greatest private influence.

Your public loyalty will buy you private leverage.

5. Be a part of the solution. 

If you’re discontent (which you should be, as I wrote about here), it’s not that difficult to drift into the category of critic. Unless – that is – you decide to be part of the solution.

Offer help. Don’t end-run your leader, run with your leader on the project.

Be the most helpful you can be.

Offer to do the leg work.

Bring your best ideas to the table every day.

Offer to help in any way you can.

If you won’t be part of the solution, you’ll eventually become part of the problem.

So be part of the solution.

Those are five ideas on how to lead change when you’re not the senior leader.

Do they always work? No…human dynamics are more complicated than that.

But they often work, and if they don’t, you will know you gave it everything you had and then you can weigh your options. (Click here for 5 signs it’s time to move on.)

If you want more on change, I wrote about effectively leading change in my best-selling book Leading Change Without Losing It.

Non-senior leaders, what would you add?

Senior leaders, what other advice would you give?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Some Quick & Dirty Leadership Lessons I Learned When I Bought the Massive iPhone 6 Plus

So I’m a bit addicted to technology.

How about you?

My guess is a relatively high number of you are too.

According to my Google Analytics, half of the people who read this blog read it on their phone. Another 20% read it on their tablet. So, like me, you like your tech. (By the way, if you don’t know those number for your church website and blog, you should…and you should design your content and layout accordingly.)

So when the iPhone 6 was announced, I was super excited. Faster, bigger, sleeker. Count me in. (Yes, I’m that superficial.)

I got up extra early the morning the phones were available for pre-order online and, after two hours of finding only crashed websites, finally got through and ordered mine.

I went for it, and ordered the massive 6 Plus.

I think I learned as much (or more) about change in the ensuring weeks than I did about phones.

iPhone 6 plus, leadership, change

5 Quick and Dirty Leadership Lessons About Change

I’m a student of change, and have even written a book on it. It amazes me how much the dynamics of change surface in every day life.

And if you become a student of those dynamics, you will learn how to lead change better when it counts.

So here’s what I’ve learned from my decision to get the biggest-yet iPhone 6 Plus.

1. Nobody is as excited about the change you want to make as you are.

I LOVE technology. I love new technology even more.

When I finally got the phone I was like a kid at Christmas.

I realize that other people were excited too. Apple sold 10 million 6 and 6 Pluses in the first 72 hours after they went on sale.

But, clearly, I was not personally surrounded by all 10 million people in my immediate circle.

Lots of people I know were not so excited.

Didn’t you just get one last year? (Yes I did. But I’m dumb enough to buy again.)

It’s really not that different than other phones. (Okay, but it’s bigger, right?)

It’s just a phone. (And you’re just a person.)

Principle: Whenever you introduce change, few people will be excited about it as you are.

That’s okay. Really.

If it’s a good change, it will catch on. Just keep going.

Just be prepared for indifference and ridicule.

Speaking of ridicule, on to point 2.

2. People Make Fun of Different

Android fans pointed out that my phone has the same features theirs did two years ago.

People who still send their mail with stamps asked me whether my phone bent yet.

Others who saw it asked how I liked my new iPad.

I mostly just smiled.

To those who persisted, I pointed out that Consumer’s Reports ran independent testing to show that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are no more bendable than most phones on the market. And that if mine did, I’m sure Apple would replace it.

Principle: Every change is met with resistance, even ridicule. Just get that.

As Arthur Schopenauer said:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Almost everything new you try—if it pushes the envelope of what people are used to—will be met with opposition.

So, when it comes to critics, don’t play their game. Play yours.

3.If the change is truly different, you’ll think you made a mistake.

I got the case for my phone two weeks before my phone shipped.

It was…massive. I began to think I’d made a mistake.

Then the phone arrived. It was huge.

For the first day I thought “I can’t believe I spend all this money on something so big…should have gotten the 6 like everyone else I know.”

That line of thinking lasted about a day, as I’ll explain.

Just know if the change you’re embracing is radical, at some point even you’ll think you made a mistake.

4. Mastering new features makes the experience much better.

I always think the way you use a device within the first ten days of getting it will determine how you use it forever.

The human brain longs for the familiar and will try to get you onto a familiar course as soon as possible, often at the expense of exploring all the possibilities in front of you. I wrote about creating whole new patterns for your life based on this principle in this post.

So I try to learn all the new features and rethink how I use technology before I settle in to a new pattern.

I read tutorials, watch videos and try to master new ways of using the product.

For you iPhone 6 Plus users, the key for me was to shift the centre of gravity from the base of my palm (where I usually rested older phones) to the centre of my hand. Once I did that, I could access any part of the screen with my thumb. Voila.

Plus I’m trying to master all the tips and tricks of iOS8 that the 6 Plus was built for. Here’s a handy article on the iPhone 6 and iOS8 to help you and couple of 6 Plus hacks that can help.

5. If it’s a good change, it doesn’t take long to not want to go back.

After my one day of “why did I order such a big phone?”, I quickly became a fan of it.

I do have relatively big hands and fat thumbs. Love the keyboard! It’s big.

Probably the best thing is that the screen is big enough that I can easily read iBooks and Kindle on my phone, not just my iPad.  I always found my old phones frustrating because you could only get a couple of paragraphs of text on a screen at once.

Now, because my phone is always with me and really is my go-to device, I think that’s going to mean more quality books read and less time wasted meaninglessly meandering through apps.

Just a week into it, I don’t want to go back. In fact, when I hold a smaller phone, it now seems strange to me.

The point: spend enough time adapting to change and you will find a new and better normal.

I think you can see the parallels between something as trivial as a phone and some of the big changes you want to bring about.

And if you want to read more about mastering the dynamics of change when people oppose it, check out my book on that subject here.

What are you learning about change these days?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

CNLP 004: Why Young Adults Are Walking Away from the Church & What You Can Do About It—An Interview with Kara Powell

You want kids to follow Christ.

You want your kids to follow Christ.

And yet between 40-50% of students who are active in the church in their senior year of high school will drift away from the church as young adults.

Why?

Kara Powell’s decade long research project sheds light—and hope—on a growing problem for parents and church leaders.

Welcome to Episode 4  of the podcast.

 

Guest Links: Kara Powell

Find and follow Dr. Kara Powell here:

Kara on Twitter

Kara on Facebook

The Fuller Youth Institute

Links Mentioned in This Episode

The links and resources mentioned in this episode include:

Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell

Sticky Faith, Youth Worker Edition by Kara Powell, Brad M. Griffin and Cheryl E. Crawford

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Kara’s interview was full of great advice from the unique perspective of an academic, church leader and even as a mom.

While there’s so much you could do after listening to Kara, here are 3 things you can begin this week:

1. Provide opportunities for adults to connect with kids and teens. Create services teens love to attend. Get them involved. Get kids and teens serving together. Think about how to ensure kids have more than just other kids at work in their lives.

2. Talk to your kids about your own faith journey with your kids. Don’t just interview your kids about what they’re learning or how they’re growing spiritually, talk about how you’re learning and growing. It helps your kids see that you are in a relationship with God. You don’t need to be more spiritual than you already are. Just share the spirituality you already have. It helps kids develop their own faith.

3. Create a place for young people to express doubts. Don’t dismiss faith questions that kids have, even if they bother you. Don’t trivialize their questions. Get comfortable saying “I don’t know but…” It is not doubt that is toxic to young people’s faith. It’s unexpressed doubt. Create space where kids and teens can express their doubts. What’s critical is not that young people get all the answers (sometimes there are no answers), but that they stay engaged in the conversation.

Quotes to Share from Kara

 

A New Episode Every Week…Just Subscribe.

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Your wish is granted. There’s a new episode every Tuesday.

That’s a great reason to subscribe now.

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Let’s Have Lunch In Washington DC or Indianapolis || Orange Tour 2014

I’m going to be in Washington D.C. this Thursday, October 9 and Friday October 10th, and in Indianapolis on Thursday October 16 and Friday October 17th for the 2014 Orange Tour.

I’ll be giving some keynotes and doing some breakouts on parenting, leadership and the church, and hosting a lunch for senior leaders each Friday of the Tour Stop. I’d love to hang out. Sign up below!

2014 Orange Tour

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Washington DC Orange Tour Stop

Have lunch with Carey: Register for the Indianapolis Orange Tour Stop

 

Next Episode: Craig Jutila

Sometimes leadership makes you hard to live with. Ever felt that in your family?

Craig Jutila, a ministry leader at one of American’s largest churches, went home one day to find his wife had written “I hate my husband” in her journal.

Craig talks honestly and openly about how he had to learn how to lead and live differently, saving his marriage and his future as a leader.

Craig is a sought after speaker, author and he blogs here.

If you want to make your marriage or personal life better, don’t miss Episode 005. It goes live Tuesday, October 14th 2014.

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5 Ways Your Emotions Help and Hurt Your Leadership

I had a blah day earlier this week.

Nothing terrible happened. There was no direct trigger.

I just didn’t feel great emotionally.

Chances are you have more than a few of those days yourself.

Sometimes they’re provoked (a nasty email, conflict on your team, a difficult meeting) and sometimes they’re not. For me, my blah day wasn’t provoked by anything I could see.

Sometimes bad days and seasons just happens. As John Mayer so poignantly puts it:

When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask.
It just walks in, where it left you last.
And you never know, when it starts
Until there’s fog inside the glass around your summer heart.

So many leaders I meet live in that space for more than a short season.

I believe misunderstood and unaddressed emotions sink more leadership potential than most of us realize.

And I also realize if I don’t jump on a bad day quickly, it can lead to a bad season.

If you don’t understand your emotions or know how to manage them, you will never reach your leadership potential.

So how do you do that?

emotions, leadership

There are at least five ways emotions can help you or hurt you in leadership.

Understanding how emotions can work for you or against you is key to becoming a healthy leader and cultivating a healthy culture on your team.

2 Ways Emotions Help You

Emotions can be great friends to any leader. Here are two ways your emotions can make you a better leader:

1. Emotion fuels passion.

Who wants to follow an emotionless leader?

There is no passion without emotion.

As John Wesley said

Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to see you burn.

That’s just true.

You are attracted to people who are passionate, or at least you can’t easily dismiss them.

When you lead with passion, teach with passion and preach with passion, your leadership becomes far more magnetic.

Plus, passion ends up fueling you. It’s what makes you get out of bed in the morning and drives you on.

When your emotions are healthy, passion comes more naturally.

2. A fully alive heart generates powerful leadership.

When your heart is engaged and alive, you become a better leader.

When you feel a full range of emotions (both positive and negative) you can empathize with people who are hurting and celebrate with people who are celebrating.

You can walk with a group or congregation through a hard time and celebrate joyfully in the great moments.

To do that, you need to keep your heart healthy and in tune.

I wrote about the top 10 habits of leaders who effectively guard their hearts here.

3 Ways Emotions Hurt You

Often, the negative impact of emotions exacts an incredible toll on leaders and the people who follow them.

Here are 3 ways emotions can hurt your leadership:

1. Emotions can distort reality.

When you’re having a bad day, you convince yourself it’s over when it’s actually just beginning.

You see negative things more negatively than they should. You take things personally when you shouldn’t.

Even positive emotions can hurt you when they are detached from reality. If you’re overly positive, you can ignore reality, miss impending dangers and gloss over problems that actually require your attention.

That’s why keeping a healthy heart is so important.

2. Negative emotions make everything about you.

Bad days or bad seasons are most often fuelled by pain. A stinging email triggers a deep hurt. A bad staff situation eats away at your joy. A season without momentum erodes your self-confidence.

You end as a leader in pain. And pain is selfish.

In the same way that stubbing your toe makes you forget about whatever else you were doing until the pain is resolved, your emotional pain (no matter its source) makes you more selfish as a leader.

People in pain

Don’t listen well to others.

Withdraw and sulk.

Blame others.

Eventually turn every conversation to a conversation about themselves and their needs.

Want others to share their misery or sadness.

Seek attention.

All of that behaviour is selfish.

And selfish leaders are never effective leaders.

The best way to get rid of your selfishness? Get rid of your pain.

Pray about it. See a counsellor. Drill down on your issues.

3. Emotions make you do things today that you’ll regret tomorrow.

When emotions drive decisions, you almost never make great decisions.

For sure, great decision making is a combination of the head and the heart.

But think about all the terrible decisions you’ve made when you were emotional:

You said terrible things.

You fired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You hired someone you wish you hadn’t.

You lost your temper in a meeting.

You broke up.

You ate too much.

You drove so fast you got a killer ticket.

You almost quit.

You did quit.

Years ago—largely because I learned not to trust my emotions—I made a decision: Don’t base tomorrow’s decision on today’s emotions.

Now when I’m having a bad day (or one that’s unrealistically good), I just don’t make decisions. I wait until I’m feeling more healthy. And, I’ve learned to always draw in other voices and decision makers into important decisions (here’s how to do that).

That’s what I remind myself when I’m having a not-so-good day, or whenever my emotions aren’t firing properly.

I’ve also realized that if that seasons continues for more than a few days, it’s probably a sign God has further work to do on my heart or even go back to a counsellor. I outlined other steps you can take to get off the emotional roller coaster of ministry in this post.

What helps you get through a season when your emotions aren’t reliable?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Reasons Churches That Start Small Stay Small

So…you want your church to grow, right?

When I ask ministry leaders whether they want to see growth, almost every leader I’ve ever talked to says yes.

Sure…there are some house church movements that want to stay small. And some long time or xenophobic churches have lost their appetite for growth. And there are always a few people who think big=evil.

But most leaders want their churches to grow…and for good reasons most of the time. They want to reach people with the life changing love and forgiveness of Christ.

That is awesome.

But most churches don’t grow.

And most churches that start small stay small.

Why?

iStock_000003969312Small

 Almost Nobody Starts Big

Well first of all, almost no church starts big. There are a few exceptions, like North Point.

But that’s the rare exception—almost all of churches start small. Even mega churches most often start with 5 people meeting in a living room and grow from there.

Big doesn’t have to be the destination for everyone.

But clearly, if you want to reach your community, growth is a natural by product of a mission being fulfilled.

 

I Don’t Want to Start Another Debate

Before we get to the main point, a qualifier. The last thing I want to do with this post is to start a debate on small church v. large church. We’ve had them before on other posts and keyboards have been set on fire on other blogs over this issue. No more, okay?

So, for the record:

There are lots of great small churches.

There are lots of great large churches.

There are some bad small churches.

There are some bad big churches.

There is no perfect or biblical number for church size.

No one can claim moral high ground in this discussion.

Can we agree on that? And even if you have different views, can we please not be disagreeable?

Once and for all, size doesn’t determine how significant your ministry is.

Rather, size becomes relevant only for those who are attempting to reach their community.

If you’re going to reach your community, you’re going to grow.

And if you’re going to grow, you have to figure out why certain things make a church grow and why certain things curtail growth.

5 Reasons Churches That Start Small Stay Small

For sure there are more than 5 reasons (I outline 8 related but different reasons why churches never grow past 200 here).

But just know there is no silver bullet.

Doing these 5 things is no guarantee your church will grow.

But the opposite is true.

If you don’t pay attention to these 5 factors, there is a very good chance your church won’t grow. At least not substantially or sustainably.

Read more