Tuesday Morning Book Review || Into the Storm

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Into the Storm (kindle version) by Dennis Perkins. I reviewed his first book Leading at the Edge here.

From the author:

Into the Storm looks at The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is among the most demanding sailing competitions in the world. Unpredictable seas make the 628-nautical-mile course grueling under the best conditions, but the 1998 race proved to be the most perilous to date when a sudden and violent storm struck. Winds gusted over 100 mph and monstrous 80-foot waves towered over boat masts. Six sailors perished and another 55 were saved in what became the largest search and rescue operation in Australia’s history. In the face of turmoil and tragedy, a crew of “amateur” sailors piloted their tiny vessel, the AFR Midnight Rambler, not only to the finish but to overall victory. While bigger, better-equipped yachts attempted to maneuver around the storm, Ed Psaltis and his crew made the daring decision to head directly into its path. Their triumph–perhaps even their survival–owes itself to an extraordinary level of teamwork: an alchemy of cooperation, trust, planning, and execution. “Into the Storm” chronicles their nearly four-day ordeal and draws parallels to the world of business, revealing 10 critical strategies for teamwork at the edge. Illustrated with examples from the story and compelling case studies, the book sheds light on what teams need to do to succeed in tough times.

Perkins points out 10 things leaders and teams can learn from journey:

  1. Make the team a rock star versus making an individual a rock star.
  2. Remove all excuses for failure.
  3. Find and focus on the winning scenario.
  4. Build a gun-ho culture of learning and innovation.
  5. Be willing to sail into the storm.
  6. Cut through the noise of the wind and the waves.
  7. Find ways to share the helm.
  8. Step up to conflict – and deal with the things that slow you down.
  9. Master the art of rapid recovery.
  10. Never give up-there’s always another move.

Like his last book, this one was fascinating. Perkins has an incredible writing style that pulls you right in. Great book on teamwork and leadership.

Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Take the Lid off Your Church

Just finished reading Tony Morgan’s new book Take the lid off your church. What I love about Tony’s books is how short they are. This one clocks in at about 30 minutes to read it.

In it, he answers these basic, but important questions about the leadership team of a church:

  • When should you begin building a senior leadership team?
  • What are the roles of this team?
  • Who should be on the senior leadership team?
  • How does this team empower other leaders in the organization?
  • What should the senior leadership start and stop doing? What’s their focus?

Who is on a leadership team at a church is the most important decision a leader of a church makes. This team will decide how money is spent, how ministry is done, how people are cared for, how the vision and values will be passed on and ultimately, they will determine the health of a church.

The rest of the church will take its cues from this team. The leaders of a church and the leaders on the senior leadership team of a church will define a church.

Now, if you are looking for a lengthy book on team and leadership, this isn’t the book. I can’t imagine a pastor who has time for that book. This one is short, practical, right to the point and reads like a collection of incredibly helpful blog posts.

You Rock

Last night we had our volunteer appreciation dinner. What a night.

The theme of the night was “You Rock.” We (as the staff team) even sang a song with the same title about what our volunteers do and mean to us as a team. When we say they are the backbone of what we do and that what we do as Revolution would not happen without them, those are not just words. Here is the video of the song:

The goal of the night was to say thank you but to also remind everyone that we couldn’t do Revolution without them, that it would fall apart. We showed that with dinner. We grilled chicken that wasn’t done on time (in fact it wasn’t ready until almost 45 minutes late, not on purpose). When everyone arrived, I had over 10 people ask me what they could do to help. We even had to tell people to stop working and enjoy the night. Love that attitude.

It is humbling to me that guys show up at 7am to set up signs on the side of the road so that people can find out about our church and find their way, that people show up at 2pm to start setting up for the band, kids areas, signs, prepping food and drinks, that teachers prep during the week and then show up to love on our kids and teach them the gospel, that people sit in booth running lights, sound and computers, that greeters make people feel welcome, the list goes on and on. Then, they tear it all down after we are done and they do it week in and week out without complaining, always bringing their A game all so we can help people find their way back to God.

As I stood in front of our volunteers last night, I was struck by a thought. There were 4 times as many people in the room last night as compared to when we started the church. It is amazing to see what God has done and the people who have bought in, the time and effort they pour in to make Revolution happen every week. I cannot say thank you enough.

Pictures of a Follower of Jesus: Farmer

Saturday was part 2 of our Ultimate Fighter series. In 2 Timothy 2, Paul gives 3 pictures of what a follower of Jesus is to be like. The first is a soldier. The second is an athlete. And the third is a farmer.

While the other two images can sound glorious and exciting, while this one is rather ordinary and mundane. A farmer works long, hard hours. Many of them in the heat or rain, through drought, snow, whenever it is necessary. The farmer though has his eyes on the prize, the harvest. It is all about the harvest.

To be a farmer though, is to do many seemingly thankless, insignificant things. While it may seem that way to an outsider, they are all necessary. Without one of those tasks being done, the harvest suffers.

For many Christians, we want to big, public assignment from God. We don’t want the assignment that seems insignificant, thankless or in the background, we want to be out in front. In short, we want credit. We want to be seen, to be known. This desire keeps God from using many of us because we are more concerned with getting noticed and getting the credit than we are with moving the gospel forward.

Practically, this means there are no unimportant roles in the church or the kingdom. There is nothing too small. Every part matters. Whether that means you use your gifts to hold babies, play in the band, make people feel welcome, follow up, lead a small group, run lights or preach, they all matter because without each one, the harvest is not what it is.

Farmers, every year keep their eye on the prize of the harvest. They know that everything matters and if everything doesn’t happen, the harvest will not be what it could be.

How a Staff Supports a Lead Pastor

Ron Edmondson is doing a great series of blogs on being a lead pastor and understanding the role and how leaders can support them (you can read his first part here). In his second post, he talks about what a lead pastor needs from a staff, volunteers and elders:

  1. Have a Kingdom perspective. It’s not really about either one of you…it’s about God and we get to play a part in His Kingdom work.
  2. Know yourself. Some people are wired for a supporting role and some are not, which is why so many are planting churches these days. You may be able to serve in this role for a short time but not long term. It takes a great deal of humility to submit to someone else’s leadership at times. Know who you are. Being in the second (or third) position in an organizational sense doesn’t always get to make the final decision. Are you comfortable with that fact?
  3. Support the pastor. That’s an obvious for this list, but unless the senior pastor is doing something immoral, you should have his back. If you can’t, move on… You should make this decision early in your relationship, preferably before you start, but definitely soon into the process. Resisting the leadership of the senior pastor is usually not good for you or the church.
  4. Realize you are in the second (or third) chair. If you don’t want to be, then work your way into a number one seat, but while you are in this position, understand your role.
  5. Don’t pray for, wish or try to make your pastor something he is not. Most likely, the basic personality of your leader is not going to change.
  6. Add value to the pastor and the organization. Do good work. Even if you are not 100% satisfied where you are at in your career at the current time, keep learning and continue to be exceptional in your position. Be a linchpin.
  7. Be a friend. This is a general principle when working with others, but especially true in this situation. If you aren’t likable to the pastor, he isn’t going to respond likewise. Have you ever heard, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”? That works when working with a leader too.
  8. Brand yourself in and out of the organization. Don’t wait until you are in the number one position to make a name for yourself. This helps you, the pastor and the church.
  9. Compliment the pastor. Most likely, you are needed for your abilities that are different from the senior pastor. Use your gifting to make the church better and improve the overall leadership of the pastor. This will serve you well also.
  10. Pick your battles. Even in the healthiest organizations, there will be conflict and disagreements. Don’t always be looking for a fight. Ask yourself if the battle is worth fighting for or if this in the hill on which to die.
  11. Learn all you can. Most likely, the pastor knows some things you don’t. Sometimes you will learn what not to do from your pastor. Let every experience teach you something you can use later to make you a better leader.
  12. Leave when it’s time. Be fair to the church, the pastor, and yourself and leave when your heart leaves the position, you can no longer support the pastor or the organization, or you begin to affect the health or morale of the church and staff.

I am grateful for the team that I serve with as they understand the weight and enormity of what we are trying to do at Revolution and the weight of being a lead pastor, as a staff can make being a leader incredibly hard and painful. I’m grateful for their support.

To read the rest of his post, go here.

Don’t Say No For Someone

One thing I have noticed in the lives of pastors and those who are on church staff is a fear when it comes to volunteers and delegation. I understand where it comes from and appreciate it (because I used to feel the same way), but there is also a lot of danger in it and a robbing of our churches.

It goes something like this. A leader in a church has a need, a role that needs to be filled. They have someone in mind who could fill it and do it very well, but they don’t ask them. It might be because they think the person is too busy, that they will say no or that they won’t want to do it (most leaders normally feel this way because we assume that if we don’t like to do something every person on the planet also dislikes doing those things).

What happens then is the leader says no for the person without giving them a chance to say yes or no. Would that person say no? I have no idea and neither do you.

I hear from many pastors though who feel guilty for asking people to give their time in building the kingdom. I understand this sentiment as people are incredibly busy. But I think this also says something about our theology. If all Christians are given spiritual gifts and will one day make an account to God for how they stewarded those gifts, it is our job as leaders to help them develop those gifts and use them (Ephesians 4). When we don’t challenge people, make the big ask of them to step up, we are robbing them of becoming all that God wants them to become and we are keeping them from using all the gifts and talents that God gave to them.

I remember talking to a mentor a few years ago about this fear I had of asking people to get involved or get more involved and he looked at me and said, “Don’t ever say no for someone.”

So, I started letting people tell me no instead of doing it for them. What is has done is required me to trust God more when it comes to leaders and the holes that our church has, it has forced me to make some big ask’s of people and cast vision to people, but God has also had people step up in ways that I didn’t expect them to do because “I didn’t say no for them.”

How to Keep People from Serving

I was talking to a friend the other day and he was asking me a question all pastors wrestle with. And that is, what to do and what to give away to other staff or volunteer leaders.

He was sharing how he showed up to help with the set up and tear down for his church because they are portable.

While my friend wasn’t saying this, what this stems from for many pastors is a desire to not seem lazy (after all, we get paid for this), for some it is because they don’t trust people and are afraid to give something away (not the case with my friend). He looked at me and said, “You don’t think I should do that do you?”

My answer was simple. No. Not because it isn’t worth his time. Sadly, that is the criteria many pastors use for deciding what to do. But my reason was simple. By doing that, he was actually keeping someone else from serving. Because the set up team doesn’t need another person because he is there every week. Many times, out of a sense of duty, not wanting to seem lazy or whatever reason we have, we actually keep people from serving.

So, what do you do on a weekly basis that you should stop doing? What are you doing that someone else can do? Every pastor or leader does things that someone else can do? But, we also do things we can’t pass off to someone. Those are the things we need to pour time and energy into.

Everytime I give something away at Revolution, it is nerve wracking because I am putting trust into someone else. It also takes work because I have to spend time with that person passing it off, bringing them up to speed. Although, truth be told, the reason leaders take so long to pass something off has more to do with the leader and less to do with the capability of the person we are passing that thing off to.

For me, the idea of keeping someone from doing something has actually changed the way I view giving things away and developing other leaders.

Revolution’s Reach Outside of Tucson

One of the dreams of Revolution is not only to change the city we are in, Tucson, but to change the state and beyond. Over the weekend I got an email I thought I’d share with you to show how that is beginning to happen.

Recently, after hearing some advice about how to spend your free time with God, I was looking up my own church on iTunes. My church is also called Revolution. After downloading services I had missed from my own church to listen to on my commute to work, at the bottom of the list there was a section that said persons who bought this also bought this. And there is where I found your podcast. So I listened to the services missed and found that I really enjoyed this time to learn about God. I was out of things to listen to and so I downloaded your Book of Nehemiah series. Although this church is marketed for men, I am a woman who is so grateful for this podcast. You have brought the Bible alive for me and helped me to see things from a different perspective. I  need you to know how much this has impacted my life. My favorite was Nehemiah 3, which I had never heard even spoke about before and how you brought out how excited everyone would have been to see their name in this book. Also how under appreciated volunteers can be and how we need to always remember them. If ever I were to find myself in the Tucson area, I would feel that I had a church there already. I find myself waiting to hear what God is saying through you next. Thank You so much for podcasting this and for making your study notes and quiet time schedule available online. I have found all these very useful. I felt compelled to communicate to you how much this has all impacted my life. I am so grateful and am sure that you know that God is doing great things with this church. I know I am not the only one here who has heard  these podcast, because of where I found them. I thank God for you.

– Heather, Schertz/ Cibolo, TX

Love technology and what it enables us to do for the kingdom. I’m grateful for Paul and his team and how hard they work to make this area of our church work.

Letting Go

It seems like the older I get, the more I have to let go of.

It is this way physically. The older you get, the less you can do and you have to let go. It takes longer to recover from a long run than when I was 18. I have to eat differently now.

Parenting is the same way. It seems like a series of letting go. As our kids get older, I give up more and more control over them.

Leadership is the same way. The longer you lead and the larger your church grows, the more you let go of.

This is definitely what is happening in my life right now and what God is teaching me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently as we are in the process of moving to a new facility for Revolution. When Revolution started, Katie and I were involved in everything. From the printing, set up, greeting, first impressions, signs. Everything. In a way, it was kind of nice because I got to do things the way I wanted them done.

As our church has grown, we have raised up more and more leaders. To the point that we have a large leadership team overseeing a variety of teams. The other night we had a meeting about the move. I sat there looking at the list of tasks (numbering in the 30’s) of things that needed to be done for us to be ready to have a service there on July 17th. My name was next to 3 things. And 1 of them was already done. In fact, I wasn’t even leading the meeting. Paul was (as he is in charge of the move).

Now, this is a good thing because this is our plan at Revolution. By having the team we have, it frees me up to do what only I can do.

But, just because it is a good plan does not make it easy. Letting go is hard in any avenue of life, but as a leader, it is essential for you to take the next step and for your church to take the next step.

Like parenting, health and leadership. When you let go, you hope that you have done a good job of preparing those you are letting go of to do what they need to do. When my kids are grown and leave the house, hopefully I have taught them well and prepared them for what lies ahead. As a leader, when you let go, you find out if you have done a good job of leading and preparing people to lead. This is why many leaders don’t let go.

Craig Groeschel has two great blog posts about what a leader needs to “know”:  letting go of the need to know and what a leader doesn’t know.

Why do you think letting go is so hard to do?

Do What Only You Can Do

All leaders are the same. They all have strengths. They all have weaknesses.

Many leaders and churches want to focus on weaknesses and figure out ways to improve on them. Ironically, this makes sense but is the wrong way to go. Larry Osborne said, “Successful ministries (and leaders) ignore their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.” Put another way for leaders is the question Andy Stanley asks in his book The Next Generation Leader, “What about your job, your abilities, your passions can only you do? Figure those things out and give everything else away.”

Now, as I have made this a part of my leadership and as we have strived to get to this place at Revolution, there are some roadblocks in our thinking. People can look at that statement and say that “the leader is just trying to be lazy.” Or, “They are giving away jobs no one wants to do and keeping the good jobs.”

The lazy part will depend on the leader, but the second part is not true.

Here is what I’ve learned, the things that drain me excite someone else. The things I dread to do makes someone salivate at the thought of doing that task. The same is true for the things I love to do.

As our church has grown, this has shifted for me. While I made a list of what only I could do when we started, more was on the list because of what needed to be done every week to make Revolution happen. But that list gave me a framework of who I was looking for so that I could hand stuff off. While I am not doing what is on the final list (Andy suggests having 3 things on your dream list), I’m getting closer.

So, what about your job can you give away? What can’t you give away? What can only you do? Why are you doing more than those things?